Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Monday, 8 March 2021

Lenton Priory revealed

The Daily Express website has a report about the most recent excavations on the site of Lenton Priory in the inner suburbs of Nottingham. The report ties it to the burial there of Philip Marc, King John’s sheriff of Nottingham and so to the legend of Robin Hood. I am inclined to look beyond that - the Robin Hood stories originate in Yorkshire and only became located in Nottinghamshire in about the seventeenth century - and look more at what is being revealed about Lenton Priory itself. One new discovery is a hitherto unexplored eastern Lady Chapel. The report can be read at Archaeology breakthrough as Robin Hood's Sheriff of Nottingham may have been found

Lenton was a Cluniac foundation, one of the nine sizeable English monasteries of the Order. As one of the others of that group was in my home town of Pontefract I have always had a particular interest in the Cluniacs. It was an especial joy to visit Cluny itself in 2014.

Virtually nothing survives above ground today of Lenton Priory as the report indicates, but in the nineteenth century parish church is the spectacular early twelfth century carved font from the medieval priory church, which clearly had a parochial function. Recovered from a garden it was given to the nee church in 1842.

I regret that when I used to visit Nottingham as a boy to visit friends I never got to see this wonderful survival.

The Lenton font
This side displays scenes from the raising of Lazarus and the resurrection of Christ. 
Image: Holy Trinity Church / Flickr/ Medievalists.net
Wikipedia has an account of the history of the priory, including a long running dispute over some of its endowments in Derbyshire with the cathedral at Lichfield and references to royal grants that help date some of the thirteenth century building work, and of the fragments that survive at Lenton Priory
There is another history of the monastery and of the remains at Lenton Listener Articles- Priory Street
There is more about the history of the monastery, including a reconstruction drawing, at Lenton Priory and an article with a plan of the site as recovered by previous excavations at Nottingham’s medieval Black Friday: The Martinmas tradition at Lenton Priory
There is an article in connection with archaeological work there a few years ago at The Rise, Fall and Rediscovery of Lenton Priory
The font is illustrated and described in detail at Nottinghamshire history: The font of Lenton Priory, Notts

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