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The Abbesses of Lacock Abbey

Tenants 1261 - 1539


Introduction

Following the death of Ela the various properties and land, including Lacock were tenanted by the Order of Augustinian Canonesses. The Abbey itself was run by the succesive Abbesses’ until the Dissolution.

The Abbesses during this time were

  • Alice
  • Julianna
  • Agnes de Saint Croix
  • Joan de Montfort (1303-1332)
  • Katherine Le Cras (1332-1334)
  • Sybil de Saint Croix (1334-1349)
  • Maud de Montfort (1349-1356)
  • Agnes de Brymesden (1356-1361)
  • Faith Selyman (1361-1380)
  • Agnes de Wyke (1380-1403)
  • Elena de Montfort (1403-1429)
  • Agnes Frary (1429-1445)
  • Agnes Draper (1445-1473)
  • Marjery Glowcester (1473-1483)
  • Unknown (1483-1516)
  • Joan Temmes (1516-1539)


Dissolution of Lacock Abbey 1539


According to Henry VIII’s official documents, on the 21st January 1539 Joan Temmes, who was the last Abbess of Lacock Abbey, officially surrendered the Abbey and all it’s substantial possessions to the King’s Commissioners, John Tregonwell and William Petre.

On the same day Pensions were confirmed by the Commissioners to the Abbess and sixteen nuns. These were named as :

Joan Temmes, Abbess, 40/.; Eleanor Monmorthe 100s.; Anne Brydges, Annys Patsall, Elyn Benett, Marg. Legetton, Eliz. Baynton, Agnes Bygnor, Marg. Welshe, Joan Marshall, Eliz. Wye, Eleanor Basdale, Anne Trace, Eliz. Wylson, Scoleast Hewes, Eleanor Maundrell, Tomesyn Jerves, from 4/. to 40s. each.

One of the nun’s listed is Elizabeth Baynton, sister of Sir Edward Baynton of Bromham House, who together with his eldest son, Andrew were Chief Stewards of the Abbey. The Abbess, Joan Temmes was Sir Edward Baynton’s first cousin.


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Lacock Abbey Seal


There are some impressions of the Abbey seal which have survived from the 13th Century and later. If you look at the artists illustration above, it consists of a pointed oval measuring about 70mm by 45mm. It shows the Virgin, seated on a throne with the Child on her left knee. Over her is a canopy surmounted by a cross, and in the base, under an arch, is a kneeling figure with hands raised in prayer. It was long held to represent Ela, but as the head appears to be uncovered some are now saying that it may represent St. Bernard instead. The Latin inscription around the edge, starting at the top right, says:

S' CONVENT BEATE MARIE SANCTI B'NARDI DE LACOC

Ela had a seal of her own, which was a pointed oval, measuring about 51mm by 32mm. This can be seen below, with the inscription :

SICILLVM ELE COMITISSE SARESBERIE


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Ela’s personal seal