Bourne Archive: Abbey House          ©2007 R.J.PENHEY

http://boar.org.uk/abiwxs1AbbeyHouse.htm                  Latest edit 5 Apr 2011


The Bourne Archive


Bourne Abbey Church: Abbey House


About 230 years after Bourne Abbey was dissolved in 1536, George Pochin, the lord of the manor of Bourne Abbots built himself a house on the site of the abbey’s claustral buildings. It is now referred to as ‘Abbey House’ but when it was owned in turn by him, by his sister, Mary and his widow, Eleanor, it was known as ‘The Abbey’, or ‘Bourne Abbey’. It subsequently became the vicarage house and in 1879, it was pulled down and according to oral reports, its materials used to build the succeeding vicarage (Birkbeck p71), which is now the core building around which the Cedars retirement home has been developed. Certainly, the porch appears to have been re-used though without its little pediment. In 1985, when the latest vicarage was planned, an archaeological excavation was made. This clearly revealed the footings of the gentry part of the building but the service side was less thoroughly examined as the focus of attention in the time available, was on the medieval claustral buildings, under and to the east of Abbey House, where the eighteenth century work had least disturbed them. The present vicarage house stands on the garden of Abbey House, immediately adjacent to the house’s east side.

Clicking on the relevant picture gives a more detailed view, with the caption expanded.

Loading Bourne Abbey: Pochin Monument.
Thiese high resolution photographs will probably take some seconds to load.Fig. 1. This monument is mounted on the south wall of the chancel of Bourne Abbey. There are several memorials commemorating the more socially prominent Bourne people from this period, following the rebuilding of the chancel in 1807.

This one will have been erected after Eleanor Pochin’s husband had died in 1798 but stylistically, it is certainly earlier than Eleanor’s death in 1823. Though it is in keeping with the 1790s, it may date from after the building in 1807, of the wall on which it is mounted. That it is earlier than 1823 is a conclusion supported by the fact that the lettering styles in the two panels detailing the achievements respectively of George and Eleanor, do not match. The monument portrays a widow watching over an urn representing the deceased husband but provision had been made for commemorating her in turn, as her details are not simply added at the bottom of a panel.

George and Eleanor had lived in Abbey House, built by George Pochin in 1764.





Fig. 2. The memorial’s details of the lives of George and Eleanor Pochin. By 1825, the date of the Bourne Abbots estate map, the manor and Abbey House were the property of trustees, apparently on behalf of William Ann Pochin. Eleanor had inherited them on the death of her sister-in-law, Mary in 1804. Mary had inherited them on George’s death in 1798 (Birkbeck pp56 & 82).



Fig. 3.         The map is a detail from the Bourne Abbots Estate Map. It shows South Street on the western edge. The tail race of Baldock’s Mill (on the site of the castle’s mill) lies in a culvert under the road and the Bourne Eau leads from it, through the garden of the vicar’s house of the time, and alongside that of the house now known as Bourne Eau House. The latter was held copyhold of Bourne Abbots. The river then appears in the map, more faintly where it passes through the grey/green colour code of the directly-managed Pochin property, adjoining George Pochin’s house (The Abbey) and its sheep lawn (The Abbey Lawn). The fish pond which became the public swimming pool is in the south-east corner.


Fig. 4.         The Abbey Church is on the north side of the churchyard with service buildings of Abbey House adjacent to the north of the church. The residence is next to the north and a single-storied part of the house, perhaps a billiard room, stands over the river. To judge from the figures given for its area, plot 57 did not extend east of the river. Therefore, the area between the river and the house and church looks like a yard accessed from the north, over the river. It is shown as being copyhold of Bourne Abbots but there is no reason why the lord and ladies of the manor, George Pochin, Mary, his sister and Eleanor, his widow should not have held it in turn, themselves.

The complex course of the river around the church and Abbey House premises arose from its use as a boundary around the monastic buildings. The 1985 excavation revealed that it had originally passed close to the north of the refectory (RJP1). Its course had subsequently been moved a little to the north. This accounts for the kink in the west-east part of its course. Its old course would have taken it very close to the foundations of the eighteenth century house. The later course now lies in a culvert past the present vicarage, though it was culverted well before that house was built.



Fig. 5. A photograph of the east front of Abbey House as it was during its period as the vicarage. The river flows from under the low wing to the north and the kink in the river is evident in the foreground. To the south of the main block, the chimney on what is likely to have been the kitchen, has been rebuilt in nineteenth century style since Coney did his engraving in 1819 (Fig. 6.). Beyond Abbey House, the ends of the buildings of the house now known as Bourne Eau House are visible north and south. In the foreground, some of the sheep of the Abbey sheep lawn are visible though they have moved during the exposure of the photographic plate.


Fig. 6. Detail from Coney’s engraving of the west front of Bourne Abbey; 1819. The façade of the Abbey Church is to the right and the domestic service buildings of the Abbey House to the left. At the extreme left is part of the back of the main block of the house. To judge from the chimneys, the building adjacent to the church was a wash-house. Part of the yard, mentioned with Fig. 2., appears in the foreground. At his stage, parishioners’ access to the church was via the south door. The font used to be positioned in the south aisle, just inside that door.



Fig. 7. The doorway between Abbey House and the Abbey Church. This is an adaptation of an arch of the blind arcade, which appears to have been part of the monastic almonry, to form a doorway between the house and the west end of the church, presumably for ushering the household into the church. However, the tower stump into which it leads appears never to have been completed and not to have been in use as part of the church, until it was roofed and renovated for church use, after the demolition of the house. The north-west tower stump may therefore have contained part of the premises of the house. This might account both for the modest nature of the doorway and its close connection with the apparent wash-house.



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