The Nuns of Wherwell Abbey

Dr Rhoda Bucknill, whose doctoral thesis was about Wherwell abbey, writes as follows about the fine, mentioned in last week’s blog, of the prioress and nuns of Wherwell to have custody of their abbey during the vacancy caused by the death or resignation of their Abbess Euphemia.  

Euphemia  died on 26 April 1257. The fine  is undated but occurs between entries belonging  to  27 and 29 April.  Since the fine was clearly made while Euphemia was thought to be still alive, the nuns presumably set off shorly before 26 April, which would fit with the time needed to travel the fifty or so miles from Wherwell to Merton priory.   Henry knew Wherwell well as it was conveniently placed to stop off at when visiting Winchester, just a few miles to the south, thus many gifts of wine and deer by the king are recorded over the forty-four years in which Euphemia was abbess, probably in return for the hospitality he received.  He was well acquainted with the ambitious building projects that Euphemia had initiated in the abbey precinct and beyond, and contributed timber from Chute Forest to assist her. His last visit was in December 1256, just four months before her death.

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