The history of Newstead Priory
It was in the year 1171 that King Henry II, gave to St.Gilbert of Sempringham and the canons of his order an island called Ruckholme, in the parish of Cadney and founded there Newstead Priory.
The Gilbertine order, the only order of English origin was founded at Sempringham by Gilbert of Sempringham in 1139. On Christmas night 1188, Gilbert lay seriously ill at Newstead Priory and from there he was carried home to Sempringham, where on February 4th he died.
Henry II endowed the priory with the whole island of Ruckholme on which the priory stood and other lands in Cadney and Hardwick. King John added land in Howsham, but its total endowmnet was small and the number of canons and lay brothers was limited by St.Gilbert to thirteen. The Gilbertine order was unique in its revival of the Saxon system of monks and nuns sharing a common monastery, though unlike the earlier system they were rigorously separated. They each had a cloister with its separate set of domestic buildings.
Unfortunately some 400 years later because the Pope would not grant Henry VIII a divorce, Henry renounced papal supremacy, proclaimed himself head of the church and dissolved the monasteries. On October 2nd 1538 the Prior and five canons had to surrender Newstead Priory to the King's agents.
Remains of religious houses in Lincolnshire are very scanty, in many cases there is not a stone to be seen above ground, only earth mounds and dry moats. Newstead Priory has been a little more fortunate, as there is still a little of the original building incorporated in the present Newstead Priory farmhouse. This part of the house consists of a vaulted room (where the civil ceremonies are carried out) which is around 7m x 6m in size and has it's fantastic arches supported by pillars and corbels. This particular room, commonly called the chapter-house is thought to have been the refectory or parlour below it.
Originally there was a curious arched door way which was believed to have formed the entrance to the church, it was removed and taken to nearby Brocklesby Park in 1828 by Lord Yarborough when he owned Newstead Priory.
An ancient fish pond still remains at the priory which has recently been restored and stones from parts of the original priory are used around the grounds and gardens.