8. THE ABBEY OF STOW
The monastery of St. Mary, Stow, was
founded early in the eleventh century for secular
clerks (fn. 1) ; and its revenues were augmented a little
later by the generosity of Leofric, earl of Mercia,
and his wife Godiva. (fn. 2) The Eynsham registers
contain a copy of an agreement between Ulf,
bishop of Dorchester, and Leofric and his wife,
for the enlargement of the house, and for the
establishment therein of the same services as were
customary in the church of St. Paul, London.
The bishop was, as of old, to have two-thirds of
all offerings made in the monastery, and the
monks to have the third part. (fn. 3) King Edward
the Confessor and Pope Victor confirmed the
gifts of the earl and countess. (fn. 4)
After the Conquest Bishop Remigius found that
the house had been for some time desolate by the
carelessness of its rulers; and in 1091 he determined to convert it into a Benedictine abbey. (fn. 5)
It is probable that this arrangement was planned
in the lifetime of the Conqueror and received his
sanction, as the charter of William Rufus contains a confirmation of his father's gifts. (fn. 6) With
the permission of the king, the lands and revenues
of the abbey of Eynsham were annexed to the
new monastery at Stow, on condition that the
abbots should be appointed with his consent, and
all their lands should be held direct from him. (fn. 7)
Remigius issued a charter in which he ordained
that Columbanus should be the first abbot; and
handed over the site of the abbey to the monks
'in the hope that Mary, the mother of God, for
the sake of his gifts to her Son, would help him,
who was sore athirst for the water of life, to pass
from hope to open vision; if he might be found
worthy to behold the King in His beauty.' (fn. 8)
Rufus bade the monks to be obedient to
Columbanus as they had been to the bishop;
he sent another letter to Remigius to sanction the
transference of the Eynsham lands, adding, 'See
that I hear no more outcry, for on this condition
only have I suffered the change of place.' (fn. 9)
These arrangements, so carefully made and
confirmed, were not, however, destined to be permanent. In 1109 Henry I issued a new charter, (fn. 10)
at the desire probably of Robert Bloett, Remigius's
successor, (fn. 11) for the restoration of the abbey of
Eynsham. The monks of Stow were soon
afterwards transferred thither, and the estates of
their church were annexed to the see of Lincoln.
||The founder was evidently one of the bishops of
Dorchester; if the suggested date, 1040, be correct it
would have been Eadnoth III. Henry of Huntingdon
and Roger of Howden assign the foundation to
Leofric and Godiva; but in their agreement with
Ulf they only undertake to augment the house, and
speak of it as existing 'of old' before their time;
Dugdale, Mon. iii, 13.
||Ibid. Charters 1-3.
||Dugdale, Mon. iii, 13, Charters 1-3, and Harl.
MS. 258, fol. 3.
||Harl. MS. 258, fol. 3b.
||Dugdale, Mon. iii, 13, Charter 7.
||Bradshaw and Wordsworth, Lincoln Cathedral
Statutes, ii (i), 1.
||Harl. MS. 258, fol. 3b.
||Ibid. fol. 4.
||Ibid. fol. 5.
||Ibid. and Giraldus Cambrensis, Opera, vii, 195.