Saturday, 10 September 2011

Nocton Hall - Revelations of an Imp - Chapter 5

The last days of Nocton Priory

By 1535, King Henry's bank statement showed he was deeply in debt. This situation called for drastic measures to put his Royal account into credit. On the advice of those who kept the money supply topped up, it was suggested that the Religious Houses throughout his realm, might provide a flush of funds to meet the Court's expenditure. An order was issued that any Monastery with an income of less than £200 per annum, should be closed and both buildings and land transferred to the Crown. Nocton Priory, even after Sir Nicholas Wymbishe's skill in stabilizing their financial position, fell far short of the Royal limit. Young Sir Thomas Wymbishe shared the deep feelings and sadness of the Prior and Canons. There was no way to save their Religious House, established over 400 years through the original generosity of Robert D'Arcy. It had become complimentary to Nocton Hall. Its way of life harmonised with the village and above all, the quality of the honey, for its medicinal value, was the envy of the Lincolnshire countryside.

Sir Thomas, acting in a most vigorous manner, did what he could and although after his death he was criticised as a 'big spender', no one gave credit for the young man's generosity and help in acquiring a 'golden handshake' for the Prior, and others of their religious order, living at the Priory on the 'day of doom'.

The fortunate gentleman, to receive the gift of the Priory and 300 acres estate, was none other than Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. He lived a further 10 years as the proud owner of this small and re-styled ducal establishment. In accordance with the King's wish, any building suitable for worship, was destroyed, but Charles Brandon, with the persuasion of his fourth wife, Katherine Willoughby, converted what remained of the Priory into a comfortable home, well sheltered with fine trees and giving the house an open view across the Roman Car Dyke to Nocton Fen, in the direction of Bardney.

It is possible that both the Duke's sons, Henry and Charles were born in his Nocton home, but during their education at St. John's College, Cambridge, the two brothers became seriously ill and were taken to the Bishop of Lincoln's home at Buckden in Huntingdonshire where they died (Mary, the former wife of Charles Brandon was the King's sister and widow of the King of France).

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