Gilbert of Sempringham, a Lincoln
man, founded a small order for women in 1131, known as the Gilbertines
or the Order of Sempringham. The women followed the Rule
of St Benedict and were helped by lay-sisters who carried out
practical tasks such as laundry, cooking and providing for guests.
Canons were later incorporated to provide for the nuns’ spiritual
needs. Gilbert was greatly influenced by the Cistercians but in
1148 the General Chapter of Cîteaux
turned down his request to incorporate the nuns. The Gilbertines
were an exclusively English order and did not spread outside the
country; most foundations were in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. Gilbert
was canonised by Innocent III in 1202.