GOSBERTON – RIGBOLT
Settlement at Rigbolt is first attested with the witness of Hugh, the chaplain of Wicctebald, to a charter of 1210-1226 (1). Noticed in 1237, the chapel which he served was manorial, and it would therefore seem that a manor was already established there at the same time (2). The complex is situated on 'newland' which was probably taken in from the fen by the early twelfth century (Fig 32), but the estate is almost certainly represented in whole or part in Domesday Book by the bishop of Lincoln's manor of Cheal. Subsequently it was parcel of a fee of two knights in Gosberton, Surfleet, Quadring, and Donington held of the same by the de Rye family (3). In c.1280 Ranulph son of John de Rye granted the manor of Rigbolt, along with its chapel of St Mary, to Sempringham Priory, and thereafter it was a cell and grange of that house (4). Of its internal organisation little is known, but at the Dissolution it was the administrative centre for the Priory's lands in Gosberton, Surfleet, Spalding, Donington, and Quadring (5). The site was afterwards acquired by the Ancaster estate and was reduced to a farm. Part of the medieval structure, interpreted as the chapel, was still standing in 1793, when it was reported that 'The old part of the house is built of stone, and some of the windows have stone mullions arched over. The walls near four feet thick. Upon the walls, in the room where I saw the bedstead [a sixteenth-century piece from Cressy Hall], are some paintings, but so whitewashed over that it is impossible to form any idea of the subject'. An accompanying engraving shows a building supported by three buttresses and lit by what appear to be sixteenth and seventeenth century windows (6) (Fig 33). The house was demolished sometime before 1816 when a new farm, the present Rigbolt House, was built. The finding of 'many human bones' nearby suggests a burial ground associated with the chapel (7).
The earthworks surveyed (Fig 34) enclose the site of the grange and are clearly related to it. Their antiquity and nature, however, have not been determined. The surviving ditches are on the north and west sides of the rectangular pasture field which surrounds Rigbolt House. The main outer enclosing ditch is flat-bottomed and averages about 12 metres across and about two metres deep. At the south end two other ditches enclose a sub-rectangular area of about 7,000 square metres. The remains of a less substantial ditch (probably a larger one filled in) can be seen parallel to the northern east-west ditch and there is a kink in the northern ditch which suggests a former southern extension that might originally have joined up with the ditch south of the house. It is possible that they represent a moat of some kind, but it is perhaps more likely that they are dylings like those found at Goll Grange in Cowbit and Weston parishes (8), at Wykeham (also in Weston) and at New Hall Grange, Pinchbeck. In either case it is equally possible that they are associated with the earlier manor as with the later grange. Aerial photographs show an extensive arrangement of parallel ditches and banks linking Rigbolt to Lowbrand Farm, 500 metres to the east, but it is not clear whether these are multiple fen banks or are related to some specific activity such as fish farming.
1. RA, no 1950.
2. D. M. Owen, 'Medieval Chapels in Lincolnshire', LHA 10, (1975), 18.
3. Lincs DB, 7/34; BF, 194, 1006; RH i, 305a; 'Charters Relating to the Priory of Sempringham', ed. E. M. Poynton, The Genealogist, new ser. 15, (1899), 35. Rigbolt may be the site of the Domesday manor house or represent a new site dating from the twelfth century. The Newdyke on which it stands has not been dated.
4. 'Charters Relating to the Priory of Sempringham', ed. E. M. Poynton, The Genealogist, new ser. 15, (1899), 35.
5. RH ii, 123.
6. Gentleman's Magazine 63 part 2, (1793), 889.
7. Marrat iii, 379.
8. H. E. Hallam, 'Goll Grange, a Grange of Spalding Priory', Lincolnshire Architectural and Archaeological Society Reports and Papers 5, (1953), 1-18.