Houses of Augustinian canons
The priory of Charley


Victoria County History



W.G. Hoskins (editor) assisted by R.A. McKinley

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'Houses of Augustinian canons: The priory of Charley', A History of the County of Leicestershire: Volume 2 (1954), pp. 23-24. URL: Date accessed: 24 November 2014.


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The circumstances of the foundation of the small Augustinian priory at Charley, in Charnwood Forest, are unknown. The first definite mention of the house occurs in 1190, when the Countess Parnel of Leicester gave to the Norman abbey of St. Évroul, Orne, the house of Charley, with a carucate at Anstey, on condition that the prior whom the abbot should appoint to Charley should be left undisturbed while he continued to be of good life. (fn. 1) The gift of Charley was confirmed, between 1203 and 1206, to the Prior of Ware, the subordinate in England of the Abbot of St. Évroul. (fn. 2) About 1220 the priory was described as a hermitage where there were usually three brothers. Its patron was the Earl of Winchester, (fn. 3) and it was apparently independent. (fn. 4) There is no definite evidence that Charley was then an Augustinian house, and it may still have been a hermitage not subject to any definite rule. At a later date it was certainly Augustinian, (fn. 5) and its priors were sometimes drawn from other houses of that Order. (fn. 6) The priory possessed the advowson of Ratcliffe on the Wreak by about 1220. (fn. 7) In 1291 the house's temporalities were valued at only £9. 2s. 9½d. (fn. 8) A licence was granted in 1307 for the alienation in mortmain to Charley of the advowson of Markfield (Leics.), and of 30 acres of land near Charley. (fn. 9) The title to the advowson was disputed, (fn. 10) and in 1327 the Prior of Charley seems to have been forced to abandon his claim to it. (fn. 11)

Information concerning the internal life of the priory is scanty. In 1285 the prior and one of the canons were accused of robbery. (fn. 12) When the prior, Thomas of Evesham, resigned in 1298 and became a Cistercian, the bishop refused to confirm the election of Robert of Radcliffe as his successor. (fn. 13) In 1444 Bishop Alnwick, hearing that the Prior of Charley was neglecting the celebration of the divine offices and spending his time in taverns, while the buildings'of the priory were lapsing into ruin, and its resources being wasted, ordered an inquiry into the state of affairs at Charley. The results of the investigation are not recorded, but the prior resigned shortly afterwards. (fn. 14) It was stated in 1444 that there was danger of the priory ceasing to exist, (fn. 15) and in 1465 Sir John Bourchier and his wife, as patrons, petitioned the Bishop of Lincoln to unite the priory with the adjacent Augustinian house of Ulverscroft. (fn. 16) This plan was apparently carried out shortly afterwards. (fn. 17) Mass continued to be celebrated yearly at Charley on Easter Day. (fn. 18)

Priors of Charley

William, occurs early 13th century. (fn. 19)
Simon, resigned 1264. (fn. 20)
Robert of Grimesby, elected 1264, (fn. 21) resigned 1272. (fn. 22)
John of Bawtry, elected 1272, (fn. 23) occurs 1283. (fn. 24)
Stephen of Keyham, resigned 1291. (fn. 25)
Thomas of Evesham, admitted 1291, (fn. 26) resigned 1298. (fn. 27)
Robert of Radcliffe, elected 1298, but confirmation refused by the bishop. (fn. 28)
John of Bawtry, admitted 1298, (fn. 29) resigned 1309. (fn. 30)
William of Segrave, elected 1309, (fn. 31) died 1318. (fn. 32)
William of Leicester, elected 1318. (fn. 33)
Henry of Stratford, resigned 1335. (fn. 34)
Roger, occurs 1371 and 1386. (fn. 35)
Richard Haitlee, presented 1382. (fn. 36)
John atte Well, occurs before 1390. (fn. 37)
Ralph, occurs 1390. (fn. 38)
John Ince, admitted 1414, (fn. 39) occurs 1418. (fn. 40)
John Botyler, admitted 1422. (fn. 41)
John Belton, resigned 1444. (fn. 42)
John Whitewyk, admitted 1444. (fn. 43)
Thomas Frisby, resigned 1458. (fn. 44)
John Zouche, admitted 1458. (fn. 45)

No seal is known.


1 Cal. Doc. France, ed. Round, 228. The locus Sanctae Mariae de Charleia was confirmed to Luffield Priory in 1174: Dugd. Mon. iv, 349. If the place concerned was the Leics. Charley, the connexion with Luffield was not permanent.
2 Cal. Doc. France, 227.
3 The Earl of Winchester had inherited some of the lands of the Earls of Leic.: L. Fox, 'The Honour of Leicester. Origin and Descent', E.H.R. liv, 393.
4 Rot. Hugonis de Welles, ed. W. P. W. Phillimore, i, 255.
5 Chapters of the Augustinian Canons, ed. H. E. Salter, 102, 271, 277.
6 Cal. Pat., 1381-5, 157; Visitations of Religious Houses in the Dioc. of Linc. [1420-49], ed. A. Hamilton Thompson, i, 163.
7 Rot. Hugonis de Welles, i, 259.
8 Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 69.
9 Cal. Pat., 1307-13, 14.
10 Farnham, Leics. Notes, vi, 359, 360.
11 Cal. Close, 1327-30, 80-81.
12 Cal. Pat., 1281-92, 102.
13 Rosalind Hill, 'Bishop Sutton and the Inst. of Heads of Religious Houses in the Dioc. of Linc.', E.H.R. lviii, 290.
14 Visitations in Dioc. Linc. [1420-49], iii, 390.
15 Ibid.
16 Linc. Reg. Chedworth, Memo., ff. 80-81.
17 Nichols, Leics. iii, 121.
18 Ibid. 1091.
19 Ibid. 120; Hist. MSS. Com., Hastings, i, 12.
20 Rot. Ric. Gravesend, ed. F. N. Davis, 143.
21 Ibid.
22 Ibid. 153.
23 Ibid.
24 Cal. Pat., 1281-92, 102.
25 E.H.R. lviii, 290.
26 Ibid.
27 Ibid.
28 Ibid.
29 Ibid. Probably the same person as the prior elected in 1272.
30 Linc. Reg. Dalderby, Inst., f. 204b.
31 Ibid.
32 Ibid. 218a.
33 Ibid.
34 Linc. Reg. Burghersh, Memo., f. 291b.
35 Cal. Pat., 1370-4, 140; G. F. Farnham, Charnwood Forest and its Historians, 86.
36 Cal. Pat., 1381-5, 157.
37 Farnham, Charnwood Forest, 86.
38 Ibid.
39 Visitations in Dioc. Linc. [1420-49], i, 163.
40 Cat. Anct. D. iii, D1301.
41 Visitations in Dioc. Linc. [1420-49], i, 163.
42 Ibid, i, 163; iii, 390.
43 Ibid, iii, 388, n. 4.
44 Linc. Reg. Chedworth, Inst., f. 97b.
45 Ibid.