Bourne Abbey Church, Lincolnshire

Augustinian Friars

Baldwin FitzGilbert, castellan of Bourne, constructed the Castle around 1130 and having done so decided to look after the town’s religious life by founding an Augustinian Abbey at Bourne.

The Augustinians always provided access to the church to the parishoners, and so most of their Abbeys and Priories have surviving church buildings because during the Dissolution the churches were generally transferred to parochial use and this is what happened here in 1536. Almost all of the other structures of Bourne Abbey were taken down by Henry VIII’s Commissioners, but the Abbey Church survived almost untouched and became parish church for the town.

The Civil War rolled into Bourne and the Castle was destroyed in a siege, the Abbey also suffered in this period and it was allowed to deteriorate from the Commonwealth onwards. Drawings in the early 1800s show it roofless with bricked up doors.

A decision was made in the 1860s to start restoring the Abbey Church to its pre-Civil War appearance. Work began in 1869 and a second phase began in the 1880s.

It is said that Hereward the Wake was buried at Bourne Abbey, but it is also possible he was interred at Crowland which is closer to his Fen homeland.

Robert Manning, the first person to write down rules for English spelling was a monk here in the 14th Century. William Cecil, Lord Burghley, was born in Bourne and may have been christened at the Church.

Bourne Abbey Church today is a handsome building, but somewhat overlooked by the town and history groups.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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