Barlings Abbey

The remains of Barlings Abbey lie at Low Barlings about seven miles from Lincoln.  The abbey was built around 1154 by monks (known as canons) of the Premonstratensian order, on land given to them by Ralf de Haya.  It’s thought that they first settled on higher ground at Barlings Grange, but then moved to this site known as Oxeney – the island where the oxen graze.

The canons built a causeway of about half a mile to cross the fen and link the abbey  to higher ground and it still forms the foundation of the narrow lane which twists through the fields to the site of the remains.

The land is privately owned but access is allowed. Follow the footpath through the gate and you will see the remains of one side of the nave rising to the skyline. All around you will see grass covered mounds where other stonework peeps out from under the grass, giving clues to the once magnificent abbey church that stood here.

Not far from here Alice de Lacy is buried alongside her second husband Eble le Strange. Alice’s links with the abbey go back to its foundation.  She is a descendant of Ralph de Haya through her mother Margaret.  Both Alice and her mother are also descended from Nicola de la Haye, famously known as a constable of Lincoln Castle who defended it against a siege in the reign of King John.  Nicola is buried at the church of St Michael at Swaton and when Alice’s lands were forcibly taken from her after the execution of her first husband Thomas, earl of Lancaster, she pleaded to be allowed to endow the manor and church of Swaton to Barlings Abbey for prayers for her soul and the souls of her parents and ancestors.

When her second husband, Eble le Strange, died in Scotland in 1335, his body was brought home and buried at Barlings Abbey.  On her death in 1348, Alice asked to be buried beside him.  (Although she had taken a vow of chastity after his death she was later abducted and forced into a third marriage, but she wished to spend eternity beside Eble.)

Here is a detail of some of the carving on the remains:

Agriculture, and particularly wool production, made Barlings Abbey one of the richest and most influential of the Premonstratensian houses in England.

The canons wore a white habit and cap and were known as the white canons.   Unlike ordinary monks, they did not always stay within the cloisters of the abbey, but served as village priests and missionaries in the local community.   Edward III, lodged at Barlings on at least three occasions and his chaplain was a canon of Barlings and later its abbot.

The last abbot was Michael Mackarel.  At Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries he was charged with treason after being accused of involvement with the Lincolnshire Rising.  He was imprisoned in Lincoln Castle and later taken to the Tower of London where he was hanged in March 1537.

You can read more about Barlings Abbey here: http://www.lincsheritage.org/community_heritage/guides_information/witham_abbeys/site.php?key=barlings_abbey

The house at Low Barlings, complete with holiday cottages, stable block, 7.7 acres of land and the site of the abbey is currently for sale. So if you have some spare cash and you’d like to own this historic site, it can be yours for £650,000. If I had that sort of money I might just be tempted.  http://www.primelocation.com/uk-property-for-sale/details/id/rbln6964301/  One of the photographs on the site is taken from the air and gives a different perspective of the abbey ruins.

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