In 1121, his son having died after a fall from his horse, Walter l'Espec founded Kirkham Priory with a community of Augustinian canons in memory his memory, with the altar being placed on the very spot where he died.
A very singular tradition belongs to Kirkham Priory. Henry VIII, at the dissolution, bestowed the priory, then a nunnery, on one of his courtiers, a greedy and heartless man. He took immediate possession, insisting on the instant departure of the nuns, with great harshness and cruelty. They issued forth, sad and weeping at leaving their lovely home for the cruel and unknown world; the stately abbess leading them.
The chapel of the convent was at the time being rebuilt, and was, as yet, only half finished. The lay proprietor, who required a new wing for his house, availed himself of the circumstance, and removed a great part of the sacred edifice for the purpose of building the addition to his dwelling.
One day, while he was superintending the workmen, the abbess, attended by six of the most aged and venerable nuns, suddenly appeared before him, and, rude and fierce as the knight was, he received her with sullen courtesy, impressed by her dauntless and stately bearing.
"When," she said solemnly, "you drove me and mine from our holy shelter I breathed no word of anger or reproach against you, but taught my daughters to submit to persecution with a meek patience. But it was told me in my place of refuge that the spoliator of the church had laid profane hands on walls consecrated to divine worship, and behold I am here! I, a weak woman, stand boldly forth the champion of my Church, and in her name I curse the house that is established by sacrilege. Every third heir of every branch of thy family that shall possess the desecrated heritage of the Church shall perish untimely, beginning with thy son's son, who never shall enjoy the wealth thou hast perilled thy soul to gain." She turned and left him.
The curse has been strangely fulfilled. Till the middle of the present century every third heir of Kirkham has died - at least a very singular coincidence. The last died of consumption, and another family now possesses Kirkham.
GPS Coordinates: 54.08262, -0.87685
- Added: 2 Jul 2003
- Find A Grave Cemetery: #1966074
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