Kirkstead Abbey

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Kirkstead Abbey


Kirkstead Abbey ruin - - 694757.jpg
Kirkstead Abbey ruins
Grid reference: TF18936164
Location: 53°8’18"N, 0°13’23"W
Village: Woodhall Spa
Order: Cistercian
Built 1187
Established: 1139
Disestablished: 1537
Condition: Bare ruins

Kirkstead Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery in Kirkstead, Lincolnshire. The ruins of which survive but no more. The ruins are a scheduled ancient monument and a Grade I listed structure.[1][2]

The monastery was founded in 1139 by Hugh Brito, (or Hugh son of Eudo), lord of Tattershall, and was originally colonised by an abbot and twelve monks from Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire.[3] The original site was not large enough however, and Robert, son of Hugh, found a better site a short distance away in 1187.[3] The 1187 date is probably completion of the Abbey, as the architecture dates it to around 1175.[4]

The monks were granted the lordship of Wildmore by the lords of Bolingbroke, Scrivelsby and Horncastle, although they did retain the right of common pasture for themselves and their tenants.[3]

The abbey remained in existence until 1537, when it was dissolved as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The last abbot, Richard Harrison, and three of his monks were executed by King Henry VIII following their implication in the Lincolnshire Rising of the previous year.

The land passed to the Duke of Suffolk and later to the Clinton Earls of Lincoln, who built a large country house. By 1791 that too had gone and all that remains today is a dramatic crag of masonry - a fragment of the south transept wall of the abbey church - and the earthworks of the vast complex of buildings that once surrounded it.


  1. National Heritage List 1005050: Kirkstead Abbey (Scheduled ancient monument entry)
  2. National Heritage List 1288192: Kirkstead Abbey (Grade I listing)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 A History of the County of Lincoln - Volume 2 pp135-138: Houses of Cistercian Monks: The Abbey of Kirkstead (Victoria County History)
  4. National Monuments Record: No. 351409 – Kirkstead Abbey