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The Gilbertines or Order of Sempringham

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.