Barrow Gurney
Community ID
Alternate Names
Minchinbarrow or Minchin Barrow, Bearwe according to the first known document.
West Bath
West Bath
Modern Location
Barrow Gurney
Corporate Status
S.Mary, S. Edward, and in the 15th century the Holy Trinity
Date Founded
1200 or earlier
Date Terminated
Religious Order
Foundation Information

It was probably founded by a member of the Gurney family of the branch related to the Fitzhards and for the usual 13 nuns, but probably fewer nuns in the period from the 14th to the 16th centuries. S. Thompson postulates Hawise de Gournay as a possible founder (Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries After the Norman Conquest, 218).

Notable Heads

The earliest recorded head is NULL, who was prioress in 1300. In 1315, an un-named prioress is mentioned. The next known head is NULL: she was elected in 1316, but she was not actually a nun, so her election was invalid until 1317, when she was inducted as a nun and the bishop appointed her prioress. In 1323, she was restrained from wandering, and in 1325 she was removed. She was followed by NULL (1325-1328), NULL (1328-1340), NULL (1340-), and NULL (1348-). After her, the next recorded prioress is NULL, mentioned in 1377. She was followed by Fitz Nichol, Stabler, NULL, Cogan, Bowle.

Notable Members/Residents/Guests

Agnes di Saut [sic]Marais in 1317, Milburga di Durnford in 1317, Elizabeth da Hamon Fitz Rich appointed by bishop in the 14th century and Sibyl Prest in 1463. In 1398 the nuns, Isabella Poleyns and Joan Bozum, asserting penury and poor food, left and later returned.


In 1315 there was an ecclesistical visit during which the bishop disciplined the Prioress and appointed William Sutton the administrator. There were also difficulties with elections between 1316-26. Vagrant nuns 1398.


Fitzhardings become Lords of Berkeley in 1283. Hugh di Welles, Bishop of Lincoln according to the second known document, Richard di Acton in 1362 and 1369 followed by John Blanket, from the city of Bristol in 1370.

Secular Political Affiliations

The Abbess, kin of the founder, was removed by the Bishop in 1323.


The community had land and other urban property in Wells and West Bath given by Richard d'Acton. John Blanket donated urban and suburban property in Bristol. In 1535 the community assets were valued at 29 pounds.


Income was derived from a chaplaincy and from gifts of the founder and Richard di Acton. Maladministration was alleged in 1315 and again in the period 1323-5. In about 1338 the community was in poverty. In 1535 the net income was estimated at over 24 pounds (Medieval Religious Houses in England and Wales, 210).


The Abbess, who was kin to the founder, was removed by the Bishop in 1323.

Early Documents

[1] Mappa Mundi dating from About 1200.
[2] Testament of Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln dated 1212.

Admin. Notes

6/10/97 mad [V0060]

WRL Project
Date Started
Date Finished