The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 11. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1800.
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A list of Deans of this priory.
Ceolnoth is the first dean, whose name is to be found as such, in any record, being mentioned by several writers. (fn. 1) He lived in the time of archbishop Wlfred, who came to the see in the year 807, but being promoted to the archbishopric in 832, on the death of Fleologild, the immediate successor in his place was
Ægelwin, who was constituted dean, as appears by a Saxon record, (fn. 2) in whose time all the monks, except five, died of the plague, and the monastery became almost desolate, and the church deserted; for there were not left monks sufficient to celebrate in it, nor were there any found, partly through fear of the raging pestilence, and partly through terror of the Danes, who would take on them the monastical order, insomuch that the archbishop was obliged to fill up the vacant places with secular priests and clerks, in such number as was requisite for the due and decent performance of the service of the church, which, as well as the monastery, appear to have continued in the possession of these seculars, without any admission of regulars, for the space of about one hundred and fifty years; but on archbishop Elfric's coming to the see in 993, he disliking the seculars, resolved to dismiss them, and to restore the monks; for which he obtained the pope's consent, which was confirmed by the king, at the archbishop's request, in the year 1006, as appears by the Saxon chronicle, which gives a full account of it.
I shall now return to the deans, who continued to
preside over this monastery during the time that the
seculars continued in the possession of it; Ægelwin,
the dean, being dead, the obituary of this church,
which does not mention the year of his death, records
barely the names of (fn. 3)
Alfric, in whose time, most probably, monks were again established in this church, as before mentioned.
Egelnoth, a monk, was the next dean, who, as is intimated in the register of the church, and in the Saxon annals of Peterborough, was consecrated archbishop of Canterbury in 1020; nine years before which, this city, with the inhabitants of it, had been almost entirely destroyed by the Danes, this church laid in ashes, and only four out of forty monks, who were then in the monastery, left alive; this was the state of it when Egelnoth succeeded to the see of Canterbury. He rebuilt the church and provided secular priests and clerks to officiate in it, in the room of the monks that had been slain; Gervas calls them monks, and says, they were like the canons of cathedral churches, who wore indeed the habit, but did not observe strictly the rules of the monastical order; (fn. 4) but it ought to be remembered, that this was owing to the necessity of the times.
Egelric was a monk, and dean of this church, and elected bishop of Chichester in 1058.
Godric succeeded him, and according to Osbern, was a disciple of St. Alphage, and was present when the body of that saint was translated from London to Canterbury, in 1023. (fn. 5) The narrative of which transaction is given by that writer, who was informed by Godric of all the solemnities of this translation; this dean was sent to Rome by archbishop Stigand for his pall, which journey was performed some years after he had been made dean of this church; he was succeeded in this dignity by
Henry, who was constituted first dean, (fn. 6) and then prior of this church. The office was the same, only the name and title was changed, which was done by archbishop Lanfranc, who new modelled this, as well as the other churches in this kingdom, according to the usage and custom of his own country of Normandy. (fn. 7)
A list of the priors.
HENRY, above mentioned, had been some time abbot of Caen, in Normandy, and was probably brought over by archbishop Lanfranc, and made first dean, and then upon that archbishop's new modelling this church, prior of it about the year 1080, in which dignity he continued till 1096, when he was installed dean of Battel, in Sussex. (fn. 8)
In his time flourished Osbern, the monk of this house, a learned and religious man, and much esteemed by archbishop Lanfrance. He was much skilled in music, of courteous behaviour, pleasant and witty conversation. He wrote in a good style, if we take Malmsbury's word, the life of St. Dunstan, and likewise of Elphage, archbishops; which last is in verse and prose, and other books; he lived till the year 1074. (fn. 9)
ERNULPH, a monk of this church, was constituted prior by archbishop Anselm, (fn. 10) and was intrusted by him during his troubles with the rebuilding of this cathedral, at which time he is always mentioned by the name of venerable, either from his age or wisdom, or perhaps it might be for both, being stiled Vir laude dignissimus & in scientia literali & Religione diu probatus; and Malmsbury (fn. 11) gives the highest commendations of him for his goodness, prudence and integrity, and for his honorable benesactions to the churches over which he presided, both here and at Peterborough, of which church he was promoted to be abbot; (fn. 12) both which flourished under him in the greatest prosperity, and his departure from them was equally lamented, as may be seen recorded in the registers of both churches; (fn. 13) and it appears that he well deserved this great character. He was lastly preferred to the bishopric of Rochester. (fn. 14)
In his time lived Folgard, a monk of this priory, a man of much learning and singular piety; he is said to have written the life of St. John of Beverley and other treatises, and the life of Odo, the first of which is in the Cotton library, Faustina, b. iv. 8. (fn. 15)
CONRAD, a monk of this church, was elected prior in his room, and was, like him, a man of a public and generous spirit; Edmer, speaking of him and his predecessor, lays, that archbishop Anselm put all the affairs of this monastery at the disposal of his own friends, constituting Ernulph and Conrad, both monks of this convent, successively priors of it, at whose command and pleasure all the business of it should be ordered and managed. He was sometime confessor to king Henry I. and was translated from this priory anno 1126, to be abbot of Hulme, in Norfolk. He finished with great care and judgment, the rebuilding of this church, begun in his predecessor Ernulph's time, the beauty and elegance of which is recorded by the writers of those times. His benefactions to this church were exceedingly large, and are recorded to his honor in the obituary of it. (fn. 16)
Edmer, a monk and chaunter of this monastery, at this time, was a learned man and wrote several books; among which were a treatise concerning the troubles of archbishop Anselm, whose faithful friend and companion he was; one on ecclesiastical liberty, some historical tracts, the life and acts of the archbishops Anselm and Elphege, in prose and verse; of St. Wulfred and other miscellaneous pieces. He was afterwards abbot of St. Alban's, and in 1120 was elected bishop of St. Andrew's, in Scotland, but having laid aside his intention of governing that bishopric, returned next year to his former station here. (fn. 17)
GOSFRID succeeded him as prior, and was afterwards in 1128, being a man eminently religious, according to the continuator of Florence of Worcester, at the suit of David, king of Scots, and with the consent of archbishop William Corboil, chosen abbot of the monastery of Dunfermelin, in Scotland. (fn. 18)
ELMER, or AILMER, as his name is written by some, succeeded Gosfrid the same year, being a monk likewise of this monastery, and continued prior nine years, dying in 1137. Gervas calls him Vir magnæ simplicitatis & eximiæ Religionis; and he certainly bore a great character for learning and piety. He wrote divers treatises mentioned by Pitseus, in whom more may be learned both of him and his two contemporaries above-mentioned. (fn. 19)
JEREMIAS, another monk of this monastery, succeeded as prior the same year, anno 1137, by the vote and election of the monks, the see of Canterbury being then void; though at first he was much in favour with archbishop Theobald, yet afterwards incurring his displeasure, he deposed him from his priorship in 1143, and placed one Walter in his room; upon which Jeremias appealed to the pope, Innocent II. who, against the archbishop's will, restored him to his office, and Walter was displaced and retired to Dover; but the former, dreading perhaps the uneasiness of continuing here under the archbishop's displeasure, renounced his government of this priory shortly after of his own accord; in consideration of which, he had however 100 marcs given him to pay his debts, and Walter was again received in his stead. (fn. 20)
WALTER, above mentioned, was surnamed Durdent, one of which name is mentioned by Pitseus, in his appendix to his catalogue of English writers, in all probability, this very prior, giving him a large encomium for his great learning, especially in divinity, and mentioning some of his works. He was removed from hence and preferred to the bishopric of Coventry, to which he was elected by the convent there in 1149, (fn. 21) and afterwards was consecrated in this church.
WALTER, surnamed Parvus or Petit, chaplain to archbishop Theobald, succeeded as prior, being instituted by the archbishop, with the advice of the convent. He afterwards displeased the archbishop so much, that he deposed him from this dignity in the year 1153, and afterwards had him conveyed to Gloucester, where he was kept in prison as long as the archbishop lived. (fn. 22)
WIBERT, sub-prior of this church, succeeded him in the priorship; he was a man worthy to be commended and admirable in good works, says Gervas. (fn. 23) His benefactions to this church are recorded in the obituary; among other things, he gave a large bell, which required thirty-two men to ring it, and restored the wood of Chartham to the convent; he caused the conduits of water to be made in all the offices within the court of the priory; (fn. 24) he died on 5 cal. October, 1167, and was buried in the chapter-house of this monastery, (fn. 25) where his gravestone remained till within these few years. It had once this inscription in brass on it: IIic jacet Wibertus quondam prior bujus ecclesie.
ODO (fn. 26) succeeded Wibert, and was prior in archbishop Becket's days, and is the same person undoubtedly whom Pitseus calls St. Odo; a man of approved virtue and eminent learning. (fn. 27) After that archbishop's death, the king fearing the election of another prelate who might tread in the same steps, and by his turbulence give him future trouble, requested this prior, with much intreaty, that for his peace and content of mind, such a one might be elected, whom he should appoint, and accordingly named a bishop, who was to his liking a plain single man; but the prior, without dissembling, answered, that he neither would, nor could without the consent of his convent, give any promise; and soon afterwards, in opposition to the king's request, they agreed to the election of another to be archbishop. This prior is said to have fallen out with his convent, upon account of his translating the reliques of St. Dunstan and St. Elphage. In 1175 he vacated the office of prior here, on being made abbot of Battel, in Suffex. (fn. 28)
One Sampson Dorobernensis, of Canterbury, a man famous likewise for his priety and learning, and an excellent preacher, who wrote a book of homilies and other tracts; was contemporary and companion to him here, being a monk of this church about the year 1170. (fn. 29)
BENEDICT, the archbishop's chancellor, was the next prior in succession, (fn. 30) and continued in this office till he was translated to be abbot of Peterborough in 1177, (fn. 31) and thence known by the surname of Petriburgensis, to which abbey he was a good benefactor, as appears by the register of it, (fn. 32) as having carried thither from hence with him, some of the stones from the martyrdom in this church, which had been stained with Becket's blood, of which an altar was afterwards made in that church. He was a great favorite of king Richard I. a man of great learning, and is said to have been a doctor of divinity of Oxford; he wrote two treatises concerning St. Thomas Becket, and his miracles, as a history of the life and transactions of king Henry II. a very curious treatise, and touching finely upon policy and church matters, and therefore much used by Bromton and Hoveden in the writing of their histories. (fn. 33)
HERLEWIN, chaplain to archbishop Richard, succeeded Benedict, and was prior in the days of pope Alexander III. who directed his bulls to him, commanding, that the offerings of this church should be disposed of for the repair of it; extreme age and a total deprivation of sight, having rendered him incapable of the government of his convent, he resigned his office on August 6, in the year 1179, in the third year of his being prior, (fn. 34) and was succeeded by
ALAN, who was elected the same day; he was by birth an Englishman, and had been before a canon of Beneventum, afterwards sacrist of this church and doctor of divinity, and lastly prior of it. (fn. 35) The monks had conceived such great hopes of his integrity and good conversation, that by the advice and consent of almost the whole convent, archbishop Richard was, as it may be said, forcibly compelled to promote him to the government of it. He is said to have been a man of wit, learning and piety; he wrote much, the particulars of whose labours may be found in Pitseus. (fn. 36) Being sacrist of this church in archbishop Becket's time, he was very intimate with him; but at length when he was prior, he opposed himself against archbishop Baldwin, both in his election, and in his proceedings afterwards; by whose policy, because he could not win him over to his interests, he at length, under pretence of his preferment, procured his removal from this priory to the abbey of Tewksbury, quasi in pænam suæ constantiæ, of which he was made abbot about the year 1185. (fn. 37) He was undoubtedly a man of strict and stout resolution, for it is recorded in the register of Christ-church, that in the year 1181, when in a procession, Sir Roger Mortimer, an excommunicated person, for his contumacy, intruded himself at it. This prior observing him there, informed the archbishop, who was then present, of it, and again a second time, as the archbishop would have connived at it, the servants of the latter dissuading the prior from it, for fear of the king's displeasure; but he finding the archbishop would take no notice of it, told him, that since he would use his authority without, he would use his own within the church, and accordingly having entered it, and mass being begun, he required the convent to cease, who immediately obeyed, and the excommunicated person, to his shame, was by strong hand cast out of the church, and then they proceeded in the mass. (fn. 38)
In his time lived Richard Pluto, a monk of this place, much commended by Leland for his skill in poetry, rhetoric, mathematics, philosophy and divinity, and especially ecclesiastical history, one of which he wrote of this kingdom, as well as other treatises; he died in 1181. (fn. 39)
HONORIUS, chaplain to archbishop Baldwin, and cellarer of this church, succeeded Alan on 7 cal. July, 1186; of whom, and of his two successors, more may be read in the account of the quarrels between the monks of this church and archbishop Baldwin, in Fox's acts and monuments. (fn. 40) Being sent to Rome, to oppose the archbishop, in his project of building a college at Hackington; he died there of the plague, in 1188, (fn. 41) and was buried in the cloyster of the church of the Lateran. (fn. 42) He is honourably recorded in the obituary.
ROGER NORRIS was made prior in his room, on 2 non. Oct. 1189, by archbishop Baldwin, by his own authority, who forced him on the convent much against their will; (fn. 43) on which account, in their treaty for conditions of peace and composition, one article was, that this prior should be deposed, and he was so accordingly, and promoted on November 22, next year, at the request of the archbishop, to be abbot of Evesham. (fn. 44)
About this time lived William Fitz Stephens, usually called Stephens and Stephanides, a monk of this church, descended of a noble family in Normandy. After spending most of his life in these cloysters he went over to France, where he grew famous for his knowledge in philosophy and divinity. He wrote much of St. Thomas, his miracles, &c. and of the affairs of king Henry II. He flourished in 1190; Pitseus gives a large encomium on him. (fn. 45)
OSBERN DE BRISTO succeeded him in the dignity of prior here, (fn. 46) with consent both of the king and convent, in 1190. He had before taken part with the archbishop, which so highly offended them, that immediately after his death they deposed him on 6 id. May, in 1191. (fn. 47)
JEFFRY, in Latin, Galfridus, sub-prior of this convent, was elected prior on the same day on which Osbern was deposed. (fn. 48) In this prior's time the controversy between the monks and the suffragans of the province, concerning the choice of the archbishop, was decided by the decree of pope Innocent III. who by another decree and letters to the archbishop, discarded secular priests out of the church and monastery. He seems to have died about the year 1205.
Contemporary with this prior, was the famous Gervasius Dorobernensis, or of Canterbury, a great historian and antiquary, whose authority printed in the Decem. Scriptores, is often quoted throughout this work, of whom Pitseus will inform you more; as also of Nigellus Wineker, another monk here, and chanter of this church, on whom the same author, from Leland, bestows a most ample commendation for his piety and excellent endowments. (fn. 49)
JOHN DE CHATHAM was promoted to this dignity on the death of his predecessor, in 1205, in which year a charter, granted by archbishop Hubert, to the hospital of Eastbridge, was confirmed by J. prior, and the chapter of Christ church. He died in July, 1217. (fn. 50)
WALTER, the third of that name, seems to have succeeded as prior of this church. There is a bull of pope Honorius, directed to him, dated Indict. Sext. (fn. 51) and in one copy anno 1218; in another copy of it 1219. The Indict. Sext. beginning in the former, and ending in the latter of those years, might give occasion for the diversity of the dates of those years, which observation would not have been made, had not the learned writer of the history of these priors (fn. 52) misnum bered the year, by calculating the sixth indiction to be anno 1217. (fn. 53)
JOHN DE SITTINGBORN, so surnamed, most probably from the place of his birth, succeeded to the priorship in 1222, and was prior in the time of the church's troubles in relation to the election of a new archbishop, after the death of archbishop Hubert; when the king, in the heat of his anger towards them, sent this prior and his monks, sixty-four in number, into banishment, and caused their places to be filled with others, from St. Augustine's abbey; but the king's wrath being at length appeased, they were, after seven years banishment, called home; full restitution was made, both to him and them, in every shape, and 1000l. given them as a recompence of all detriments they had sustained. (fn. 54) This prior afterwards, in the vacancy of the see, by the death of archbishop Richard, in 1234, was elected in his room, by the free choice or the chapter; but on his presenting himself at Rome for confirmation, (fn. 55) though the cardinals appointed for his examination, attested his fitness and sufficiency, yet the pope persuading him it was a charge of too great care and difficulty for him to manage, being an aged, plain man, he humbly renounced his election, and craved licence to return home; and St. Edmund afterwards filled the chair, by the pope's provision. (fn. 56) He died the same year.
ROGER DE LA LEE succeeded him as prior, and continued so for the space of ten years, when, I suppose on his death, (fn. 57) 9 cal. September, 1244,
NICHOLAS DE SANDWICH was elected prior on November the 1st following, and resigned his dignity in 1258. In the register book of Christ-church may be seen, the testimonial letters of archbishop Boniface, certifying that he did not depose him for going out of his cloyster contrary to rule, and taking a journey indiscreetly, as some reported; but that he only admitted of his resignation, at his own importunate entreaties. Four years after he had resigned this priorship, the archbishop made him precentor of this church; and he died in the middle of September, 1289, (fn. 58) and was, as is conjectured, buried in the cemetery, a little within the gate, and that his epitaph is that which is cut into the stone, at the foot of a buttress on the south side of Becket's chapel, in strange old fashioned characters, now hardly legible, but may be read as follows, according to Mr. Somner: (fn. 59)
Respice: care: mere: rogo: defuncti: miserere: Sandwicensis: vivens: frater: memor: en: sis: Qui: nunc: in: Limo:…e: stricte: jacet: ymo: Dic: Pater: binc: &: Ave: Deus: bunc: &: protegat: a: ve:
Omni: ne: baratri: penas: sibi: sentiat: atri: Set: celi: Solio: requiescat: in: agmine: pio: Omnis: orans: ita: perpete: vita: Amen:
ROGER DE St. ELPHEGE was elected prior in his room, on November 1, 1258. He is recorded to have founded and finished the small chapel, between the dormitory and the infirmary: in several of the windows of which were these words, Rogus de St. Elphege dedit hanc fenestram (Roger de St. Elphege gave this window). He died on September 29, 1262; (fn. 60) and was buried in this church. In whose room was elected, by the convent, after this office had continued vacant for about seven years, the see of Canterbury being at this time likewise vacant by the death of archbishop Boniface, who died in his native country of Savoy, in 1270,
ADAM DE CHILLENDEN, who became prior of this church in that year. (fn. 61) He was afterwards elected by the convent to be archbishop; but by their advice in 1272, he delivered to the pope with his own hands, the election which had been made of him. (fn. 62) He died in 1274.
THOMAS DE RINGEMER, (or more properly Ringlemere) a monk of this church, was chosen prior in his room, on the 13 calends of October, the same year. In his time several monks of his convent leaving the monastery, dispersed and seated themselves abroad in the country on the estates belonging to the convent, converting to their own private use the produce of them, and spending their time in the pleasures of the world, contrary to the canons and the rules of monastic discipline. These the prior, an honest and pious man, called home, and provided that for the time to come, the possessions of the monastery should be committed to the care and management of trusty laicks and not to the monks. In this alteration he had the support of archbishop Peckham, who took his part and befriended him in it; notwithstanding which, he found the monks very reluctant and averse to reformation, who being impatient of an unwonted restraint, plotted together to displace him and to scandalize the archbishop. Certainly, says Harpsfield, this archbishop and Robert his next successor, made several decrees very useful and conducing to the regulating of the monks, and the keeping of them within the compass of monastic discipline; and as thirty of the due and antient number of them were decreased and wanting, archbishop Robert restored them to their full number. But to return to our prior, who resigned this dignity 16 cal. April, 1285, (fn. 63) and put on the habit of a Cistertian, at Beaulieu, in the diocese of Winchester, and afterwards becoming still more rigid, turned anchorite in 1305, having obtained the archbishop's leave for this change.
HENRY DE EASTRY succeeded him as prior, being elected 11th id. April, in 1285, the same year in which his predecessor had resigned this office, and installed the same day by the archbishop. He was a great and valuable man, a person of singular prudence, well learned in the scriptures and diligent in the management of the affairs of the church, to which he was a considerable benefactor, by discharging the convent of a debt of 3000 marcs; besides which, during the time of his presiding over this convent, he is recorded to have done many worthy acts, not only about this church and monastery, but on their several demesnes abroad, his repair of the church and chapter-house especially ought not to be forgotten, which cost upwards of 1600l. the particulars of which have been already mentioned before, in the account of the fabric; besides which he repaired the several parts of the priory; as the prior's great and lesser chamber, with the chapel, the long chamber, the chamber by the treasury, with the lodgings there; the new chamber in the old plumbery, with the chapel; the great barn for hay; a cistern in the fish-pond, and another by the school of the novices; the prior's study; the great hall by the gate of the court; the new chamber of the prior was leaded, with the wardrobe, and the other chambers were paved; the new pantry and new kitchen in the prior's apartments were leaded; the cloysters were new paved, and a new gaol made; a new stable for the treasurer, with a haylost and small barn; a new barn in the maltery; several new studies made; a new malt-house, with a new barn and other new buildings: all which, with the repairs and buildings in the church and chapter-house, as above mentioned, and the bells, new vestments and other ecclesiastical ornaments which he gave to the church, and ten new shops which he built of stone in Burgate, amounted altogether to 2184l. and upwards; (fn. 64) and he built besides a new grange at the convent's estate at Barton. In his time, and principally by his means, their estates were plentifully furnished with vines, as at Copton, Barton, St. Martin's, Chartham, Brookland and Hollingborne, all manors belonging to the convent (fn. 65) They had to all or most of their manors, a domestic chapel, most of which, as well as the bertarys belonging to them, were new-built by him.
In his time a suit was brought by the city against him and the chapter, for building four score shops towards Burgate, and for stopping up the way between Queningate and Northgate; as to the latter, they defended themselves by the charter granted them by king Henry II. and as to the former, the jury sound, that though they had made these shops opening to Burgate, yet it was upon their own soil, and without prejudice to the city, as the church did not demand, nor had any stallage for them. In the list of the church's family, in this prior's time, a notary is mentioned as one. (fn. 66)
In his time, namely, anno 1296, the priory was for some time in great distress, and perhaps deservedly, for denying the king a subsidy, by example of archbishop Winchelsea, who had made a denial of the payment of it; in consequence of which, all their temporalities were consiscated, and all that they had within the gates of the church were seized upon, so that they had nothing to subsist on, but what was sent them by their neighbours of the next monastery, out of charity, and this continued till at last necessity compelled the prior and convent to redeem their goods and possessions, by an humble submission. (fn. 67)
This prior is recorded for his stout and faithful discharge of his duty in the maintenance of such rights and jurisdiction as belonged to and devolved on him and the chapter, during the vacancy of the see, after archbishop Walter Reynolds's death. But archbishop Parker's account of this matter will prove his best eulogium, who tells us, that this prior Henry was a man of great prudence and singular skill concerning the rights of his church; diligent in enquiring into the privilege, and no less diligent and industrious in managing the affairs of it. Within the space of a few months, he renewed and exercised all kind of jurisdiction which belonged to the prior and chapter, during the vacancy of the archiepiscopal chair, which had been before passed over and not exercised. He strictly enquired concerning such clergy as were presented to benefices, and the rights of their patrons; he granted letters of administration of the goods of intestate persons, received appeals, took the probates of wills, demanded accounts of executors and administrators, especially of the wills of deceased bishops, and of the administration of their goods. In particular he compelled the executors of the last will of archbishop John Peckham to give in their accounts; besides these things, prior Henry visited and received procurations, celebrated a synod, cited the clergy to parliament by the king's mandate, punished the contumacious and those that were disobedient against his jurisdiction, and collated to the benefices of vacant fees. Besides which, he claimed as the rights of his church of Canterbury, the choral copes, rings and seals from every suffragan bishop of the province of Canterbury; in short, he exercised in every instance all manner of archiepiscopal jurisdiction, except in the consecration of bishops, which, as he could not perform in his own person, he issued forth by his own authority his mandate and injunction to the bishop of London, that he, together with the rest of the bishops of the province of Canterbury, being assembled in the church of Canterbury on the day appointed for that purpose, should consecrate the bishops of St. David's and Bangor, then elect, and confirmed by his own authority; and when they were thus consecrated, he gave them testimonial letters of their consecration, sealed with the seal of the convent, &c. (fn. 68) Further than this, his acts and benefactions may be seen recorded in the obituary; (fn. 69) he died 6 id. April, in the year 1331, æt. 92, having governed this church with dignity and honour for the space of fortyseven years. (fn. 70)
During his time, anno 1324, Stephen Faversham, a monk of this church, was the first of the society of monks, who read theology in the cloyster of it. (fn. 71)
RICHARD OXINDEN succeeded him as prior, on April 25, the same year, in which office he continued for seven years, and dying in 1338, was buried in St. Michael's chapel, in this cathedral, where his memorial on brass still remains in these words, Hic requiescit in gratia & misericor dia de Richardus Oxinden, quondam prior hujus ecclesie qui ob. Aug. 4, 1338.
Johannes de Teneth, (Thanatensis, Pitseus calls him) a man famous for his piety and learning, was a monk of this church, contemporary with this prior, and was chaunter of it, (an office of some account in those days); he was a witness to the preceding prior's letters or faculty of notaryship above-mentioned. (fn. 72) He was well versed in the mathematics, and especially skilled in music. At this time likewise, lived Edmund Albone, doctor of divinity, and a monk of this church, whom Leland commends for his enquiries into divine misteries, and for his other treatises. (fn. 73)
ROBERT HATHBRAND succeeded to the priorship of this convent immediately after the death of his predecessor, being a pious, modest, and discreet man. He was a considerable benefactor to this church, and enriched it with many ornaments; he built and repaired the stone hall and seven chambers adjoining to it, for an infirmary, and another chamber covered with lead, near the gloriet, and the new convent kitchen. He gave the great organ, and the two great bells in the south-west tower, called Jesu and Dunstan, and the table at the altar of St. Thomas; besides which, he built many other edifices both within and without the convent, and purchased several manors and much land for his monastery. During his time, king Edward III. on June 23, in his 12th year, received of the prior and convent several vessels of plate and jewels, towards his voyage into foreign parts; all which he promised by his obligation well and truly to return, or the value in lieu of them, on the All Saint's day following; (fn. 74) and again in his 16th year, anno 1342, he directed his writs to the several abbots and priors throughout England, to borrow money to carry on his wars in France, specifying the sums he required of each, and promising to repay them out of the first money to be levied of the annual tenth granted to him by the prelates of the province of Canterbury; among the sums set down in them were, of the prior of Christ-church, 200l. and the abbot of St. Augustine, 100l. and again, in his 20th year, he borrowed great sums of money for the same purpose, of both clergy and laity; among which were, of the prior of Canterbury, 300 marcs, and of the abbot of St. Augustine's, 200. (fn. 75)
He governed this church for thirty-two years, and dying in 1370, was buried in the same chapel with his predecessor, his brass plate still remaining, with this inscription: Hic requiescit in gratia & misericordia Dei dominus Robertus Hathbrand, quondam prior hujus ecclesiæ qui obiit. xvij. die. Aug. Anno Domini MCCCLXX. Cujus animæ propitietur Deus. Amen.
In his time the monastery being visited with the pestilence, then raging generally throughout the kingdom, the whole convent almost died of it. (fn. 76)
RICHARD GILLINGHAM succeeded as prior, in 1370, and having sat as governor of this church for six years, died in July, 1376. (fn. 77)
STEPHEN MONGEHAM succeeded him on Sept. 10, following; and died the next year. (fn. 78)
JOHN FYNCH de Winchelsey was upon his death elected prior, in July, 1377, and governed this convent thirteen years, six months, and two weeks; and died on January 9, 1391. He was buried in the martyrdom within this cathedral, having been a good benesactor to this church, as his epitaph implies, which was remaining in part in Mr. Somner's time, as follows, though now the brass is gone: Hic jacet Johannes Fynch de Winchelsey quondam Prior hujus Ecelesiæ qui obiit 9. die Januarii . . . . . . . edificia constructa & plura a alia collata bona . . . . . cujus animæ. (fn. 79) There is a bull of pope Urban VIth, granted to this prior and his successors, the privilege of wearing the mitre, tunic, dalmatic, gloves, and the ring, episcopal ensigns, to which the pastoral staff and sandals were added, and granted to his successor and the succeeding priors for ever, but to be used by them only in the absence of the archbishop. (fn. 80)
Stephen Birchyngton, a monk of this church, lived here at this time; he wrote, says Pitseus, the lives of the archbishops of Canterbury, until archbishop Courtney; and a catalogue of the bishops of Ely.— He was professed a monk in 1382.
THOMAS CHILLENDEN, LL. D. succeeded John Fynch as prior, in 1391, being elected on Feb. 16. Concerning this worthy and excellent prelate, much has been already mentioned in the account of the church's fabric, to which he was a matchless benefactor, and deserves eternal memory for it. Leland, in his Itinerary, vol. vi. f. 3, p. 6, says, "Prior Thomas Chillendene alias Chislesdene was the greatest builder of a prior that ever was in Christes chirche. He was a great setter forth of the new building of the body of the church. He buildid of new the goodly cloistre, the chapter house, the new conduit of water, the priors chaumbre, the priors chapelle, the great dormitorie and the frater, the bake house, the brew house, the escheker, the faire ynne yn the High streate of Cantorbyri and also made the waulles of moste of the circuite beside the towne waulle of the enclosure of the abbaye
"This Chillendene was a doctor of both the lawes or he was made a monke and bp Wareham saide that he wrote certain commentaries concerning the lawes and that clerkely."
But besides these, he is recorded to have made the new way to the church, and to have curiously guilded the biggest altar, and those of St. Dunstan and St. Alphage, and beautified some others; he enriched the wardrobe with costly vestments and the church with rich jewe's and ornaments, and gave many choice books in different faculties. He obtained large privileges; as the grant and confirmation of the pastoral staff, sandals, &c. for the priors of this church, in absence of the archbishop. The buildings mentioned before by Leland, may be thus further particularized, viz. the bake-house, granary, prior's stables, the walls and towers of the court, the edifice called the paved chamber and two others; the prior's apartments in the dormitory, and study in the almonry, with the novices hall and other apartments, and was otherwise a great benefactor in all respects to his house. In Canterbury college, in Oxford, he provided a most elegant chapel, and many convenient rooms, according to the number of students; and in the several manors belonging to this church, he re-edified and repaired most of the buildings belonging to them. (fn. 81) He was well beloved by archbishop Courtney, but more so by his successor, archbishop Arundel, who made him his commissary of Canterbury, and lies buried near him at the upper end of the nave or body of the cathedral, a stately pile, and chiefly of his raising. When he had been prior almost twelve years, he was elected by the monks of Rochester to that see; which preferment he refused to accept of, as chusing rather to end his days in this place, which he accordingly did; and died, after he had so laudably governed this church, on August 15, 1411. His stone, which was formerly richly inlaid with brass, having had on it his portraiture in his prior's habit, remained till the new paving of the choir a few years ago, but the brasses have been all long since purloined. Mr. Somner has recorded the inscription round the edges of it, as follows: His jacet Thomas Chyllindenne quondam Prior bujus Ecclesiæ, Decretorum Doctor egregius, qui navem istius Ecclesiæ, cæteraque diversa edificia, quamplurima quoque opera laudabilia de novo fieri fecit. Pretiosa insuper . . . . . . ecclesiastica, multaque privilegia insignia buic Ecclesiæ accquisivit, qui postquam Prioratum bujus Ecclesiæ Annis viginti. 25 septimanis & quinque diebus nobiliter rexisset, tandem in die assumptionis beatæ Mariæ Virginis diem suum clausit extremum. Anno domini 1411. Cujus animæ propitietur Deus. Amen. (fn. 82)
William Gillingham, a monk of this church, was contemporary with this prior, of whom there is great commendation given by Pitseus, as an historian. He flourished about 1390. (fn. 83)
JOHN WOODNESBOROUGH was constituted prior in the room of Thomas Chillenden before-mentioned, on St. Gregory's day, Sept. 3, 1411. He is noted for having afforded succour to this city on the following occasion. In the year 1415, which was the third year of king Henry V. the king had prepared an army with the purpose of entering France, and recovering his rights in that kingdom; upon which the French sent the earl of Vendosme, the archbishop of Bourges, and others, as ambassadors, to treat of peace; they being attended with 350 horsemen, landed at Dover, and proceeded to Winchester and Southampton, where the king then was. But the treaty was soon broken off, and the French were ordered to return home; and to prevent all danger of a surprize in their return through Canterbury, the bailiffs of the city set a watch and guard; to strengthen which, the prior of Christ-church armed from his servants and vassals, 16 spearmen and 24 bowmen; and the abbot of St. Augustine likewise nine spearmen and 24 bowmen, all well accoutred and furnished with compleat arms, which was indeed as much to the safety of these churches, as of the city itself. (fn. 84)
This prior continued to govern this church for seventeen years, and dying on February 28, in 1427, (fn. 85) was buried next above his predecessor Chillenden, in the upper end of the nave of it, where his gravestone, once inlaid with brass, having his portraiture, habited as prior, but long since destroyed, remained till it was removed a few years ago on making the new pavement. Mr. Somner has recorded this inscription, in his time, round the edges of it:
Est nece substratus Jon Woodnesbergh tumulatus
Hujus erat gratus Prior Ecclesiæ numeratus;
Quem colit ornatus hic tantus ubique novatus,
Per loca plura datus sit sumptus testificatus:
Auctor erat morum, probitatis, laudis, honorum.
Largus cunctorum, cunctis dator ille laborum,
Quique Prioratum rexit sub schemate gratum.
Annos hunc plenos per septenos quoque denos:
Quadrigentenis Mil. ejus bis quoque denis
Annis septenis Domini nondum sibi plenis.
. . . . . . cum tibi Christe . . . . agone
Quem precibus pone radiantis forte corone. (fn. 86)
John Langdon, a famous monk and sub prior of this convent, was contemporary with this prior, being admitted in it in 1398; he was doctor of divinity and created bachelor of the same in 1400; he was a very great divine and afterwards bishop of Rochester, of whom more may be seen in Pitseus.
WILLIAM MOLASH succeeded as prior, on March 31, in 1428. The tower now called Dunstan steeple, built for the most part by archbishop Chicheley, being finished, this prior, in the year 1430, furnished it with a large bell, called Bell Dunstan; (fn. 87) he also bestowed on the convent brewhouse, a great cauldron, of the weight of 5475 pounds, as is recorded in the church book. (fn. 88) On his death, on 4th cal. March, in 1438.
JOHN SARISBURY, or Salisbury, S. T. P. custos, or master of Canterbury college, in Oxford, was chosen prior in his room; he died 14 cal. February, in 1415, (fn. 89) and was buried at the upper end of the nave of the cathedral, near his predecessors; his gravestone, which had been once ornamented with brass, in like manner as theirs, remaining till a few years ago.— Somner has given the epitaph on it, as follows, as it was in his time.
Preteriens flere discas & dic: miserere,
Et ne subsannes, quia victus morte Johannes,
Membris extensis jacet hic Sarisburiensis:
Sic non evades vindice morte cades,
Hic Prior Ecclesiæ Doctorque fuit Theoriæ:
Wulstani festo feria quarta memor esto
Mille quater centum x v. dant documentum
Sint animæ merces, lux, decor & requies. Amen.
JOHN ELHAM succeeded him as prior, on March 16, the same year, and governed this church for the space of two years, eleven months and four days; he died on Feb. 20, 1448, (fn. 90) and was buried just above his predecessor Woodnesborough, in the nave of this cathedral, under a large stone, having on it his portraiture in his prior's habit and an inscription inlaid in brass, all long since torn away from it; but the stone remained till within these few years, when it was removed with the others. Somner has given the inscription round it as in his time, as follows: Hic requiescit Dominus Thomas Elham quondam Prior hujus Ecclesiæ, Qui cum Ann. 2. mens. 11. & 4 dieb bonorifice vixisset. 20. Febr. 1440. obdormivit in Domino. (fn. 91)
THOMAS GOLDSTONE was the next prior, being promoted to this office on April 16, 1449. He was a good benefactor to his church, and the estates belonging to it; for he laid out 1200l. to prevent the inundations of the sea in the church's manor at Apuldore; he erected a chapel in this church, to the honor of the Virgin Mary, which he caused to be arched with stone and covered with lead; he made the belfry in the south part of the nave, at the west end; and built, in the city of Canterbury, an edifice, consisting of many apartments, called the Bole, near the cemetery gate; and finished, at a great expence, the spacious library in Canterbury college, in Oxford.— He presided here nineteen years, three months and twenty-five days; and dying, after five months sickness, on the 6th of August, 1468, he was buried in the above chapel of his own building, since called the dean's chapel; but his gravestone has not been there for many years, nor the particular part of it known where he was buried. Leland says, "Prior Goldstone the first, five priors before the secunde, buildid the stone tour yn the weste ende of the chyrche." (fn. 92)
John Stone, a monk of this convent, and a man of great piety, was contemporary with this prior; he wrote an obituary of this church and other treatises, now in Bennet college library; of whom more may be learned in Pitseus; he lived to a great age, and flourished about 1467. (fn. 93)
JOHN OXNEY was next elected prior on September 1, following, and having continued in his priorship near three years, died on July 2, in 1471, (fn. 94) and was succeeded by
WILLIAM PETHAM, who was constituted prior on August 13, 1471, and died in about a year afterwards, on August 19, 1472; on which
WILLIAM SELLING, S. T. P. was chosen in his stead, the 10th of September following. He was a learned monk of this convent, and had before, with leave of his chapter, travelled into Italy, and studying at Bologna, became a great scholar. Out of his affection to antiquities, he gathered together wherever he came in Italy, all the antient authors, both Greek and Latin, that he could procure, and brought them over into England, and to Canterbury. (fn. 95) Not long after his return, by the common vote and suffrage of the monks, he was chosen their prior, and Henry VII. taking notice of his worth, sent him ambassador to the pope, (fn. 96) and afterwards to France; in both which he acquitted himself with great honour, and obtained for his convent several large immunities. He was a great benefactor to this convent, on which he bestowed large sums of money; he covered the church with lead, and built a tower of stone from the foundation, afterwards called the prior's study, contiguous to the prior's chamber, called the Gloriet, and covered it with lead, glazed the windows, and otherwise adorned it. He handsomely ceiled the library over the prior's chapel, and placed books in it; he glazed the south side of the cloister and built the precinct wall, which extended from St. Michael's church to the old one, inclosing the convent garden. He built much on the several manors of the church, and many other edifices, both within and without the convent. At his request, archbishop Bourchier gave to the convent twenty seven rich copes and other vestments. (fn. 97) He died on Dec. 29, 1494, (fn. 98) and lies buried in the martyrdom or north cross of this cathedral, under a large stone of marble, round the edges of which was an inscription, and within that his portraiture in his prior's habit, inlaid in brass, but long since lost from it.— Somner has recorded the inscription, as remaining in his time, as follows: Hic jacet reverendus pater Wilhelmus Selling hujus sacrosanctæ Ecclesiæ Prior, ac sacræ Paginæ. Professor, qui postquam hanc Ecclesiam per ann. 22. mens. 5. & 24. d. optime gubernasset migravit ad Dominum, die viz. passionis Sancte Thomæ Martyris, anno 1494.
Doctor Theologus Selling Greca etque Latina
Lingua prædoctus hic Prior almus obit
Omnis virtutis speculum, exemplar Monachorum,
Religionis honor, mitis imago Dei. Adde quod ingenii rivorum tanta cucurrit
Copia cunctorum quantula rara virum.
Regius orator, cujus facundia mulsit
Romanos, Gallos, Orbis & ampla loca.
Hujus præsidio res ista domestica rata est
Et redimita annis plurimis egregie.
Pervigil hic Pastor damna atque incommoda cuncta
A grege commisso fortiter expulerat.
Dum brevi tumulo latet hoc, tota Anglia famam
Predicat, & tanto lugeat orba patre.
Huc iter omnis habens, stet, perlegat & memor ejus
Oret ut ascendat spiritus alta poli. (fn. 99)
In his time lived Thomas Causton, monk of this church, who wrote an account of the monks prosessed from 1407 to 1486, and their obits to the year 1286, now among the archives of the dean and chapter. (fn. 100)
THOMAS GOLDSTONE, S. T. P. the second of this name, succeeded as prior, on the 1 st of January following, and was likewise a man of great learning, and much in king Henry VIIth's favour, who sent him ambassador to Charles the French king; but his memory is still more lasting for the new buildings and the reparations which he made in and about this church and the precincts of it, particularly the great middle tower of the church and the handsome and stately gate at the entrauce from the city to it. These with his other works are easily discovered by his badge or rebus, being three gold-stones, the two first letters of his christian and surname T. G. and the mitre and pastoral staff, set up in many places about the church and monastery; besides which, he adorned the choir of this church with a suit of rich and costly hangings of tapestry.
His good deeds to his church are thus enumerated by Willis. (fn. 101) He says, that this prior magnificently finished, by the aid of archbishop cardinal Morton, the tower or lantern in the middle of the church, and glazed and adorned it with elegant carved work and gilding, and for the support of it made two large stone arches, and four lesser ones, which were supported by pillars; he caused several books of service for the use of the church to be written, some of which were curiously embellished with gilt letters, flowers and arms; he likewise gave a very fine missal for the high mass; he made the wooden shrine of St. Owen to be curiously carved and inlaid with gold; he caused to be made a certain silver vessel, in which was deposited a part of St. Dunstan's scull, discovered in his time among the relics of the church; he gave a reading desk, a brass eagle, three pieces of arras hangings, setting forth our Saviour's life and death, which were hung up at certain seasons of the year; and provided two copes and other ornaments, and adorned the prior's chapel with certain tapestry, &c. He made a large drain to carry the rain from the church through the precincts, and built the new lodging (near the prior's old mansion, called La Gloriet) consisting of lodging rooms, dining rooms and other necessary apartments, with a handsome porch to the court. He exchanged the old gold and silver vessels for new, and added many others to them; and in the prior's wardrobe, he not only repaired the old, but gave many new vestments to it, and in short there was not a manor or place belonging to the convent, in which he did not make several new and costly buildings, and reparations of the old ones; and he rebuilt the outward door of the church fronting the city.
He continued his government of this priory almost twenty-three years, and dying on Sept. 16, in 1517, was buried by his immediate predecessor, in the martyrdom of this church, with a like stone and ornaments, the brasses of which has been long since purloined from it; but Somner has given the inscription as follows, as in his time: His jacet reverendus Pater Thomas Goldstone hujus sacrosanctæ Ecclesiæ Prior, ac Sacræ paginæ Professor qui postquam hanc Ecclesiam per annos 24. 8. mens. & dies 16. optime gubernasset, migravit ad Dominum, 16. Septemb. Anno Dom, 1517. Cujus animæ propitietur Deus. Amen.
Tangite vos Citharam plangentes carmine, mole
Hic jacet occulta Religionis honos.
Occubuit Doctor Thomas Goldston vocitatus
Moles quem presens saxea magna tenet.
Arripit hunc patrem mors pervigilemque Priorem
Sic rapitur quoque lux istius Ecclesiæ.
Grex sibi commissus monachorum plangat eundem
Omissum Patrem, qui sibi fautor erat.
Largus in expensis fieri dat plura novata
Istius Ecclesiam vestibus ornat idem.
Sic fuit ad Regni laudem canit Anglia largus
Totus & is mitis pauperibus fuerat
O vos spectantes hujus jam funer a patris,
Nunc estis memores fundite quæso preces
Requiescat in sancta Pace. Amen. (fn. 102)
There were some learned men of this monastery who flourished about this time; among which were, John Uton, who wrote of the obiits and memorable things of this church. Laurence Vade, who wrote the life of Becket; and one Reginald, who wrote the life of Malchus of Constantinople, in Latin verse, translated from the Greek; and Martin Clyve, a famous preacher, who left behind him a volume of sermons. (fn. 103)
THOMAS GOLDWELL, S. T. P. of Canterbury college, in Oxford, succeeded to this priorship on his predecessor's death in 1517, and was the last prior of this convent. (fn. 104) He continued in the government of it till the year 1540, anno 31 Henry VIII. (fn. 105) in which year this priory was dissolved, and the prior and monks ejected, (fn. 106) and a dean and twelve prebendaries placed in their room. This prior being a person of exemplary virtue and revered character, was, on the new foundation of this church, offered one of the canonries or prebends of it, which he seems to have resused, for he retired with a pension of 80l. per annum, settled upon him during his life. (fn. 107)
It ought not here to pass unnoticed, that the priors of this church were, in general, men of a noble and public spirit, who undertook and accomplished great and wonderful things for the benefit of this church; and to bring it to that state and magnificence, it at last arrived at, and their benefactions to it from time to time were almost incredible, as they are recorded in the obituary of it; and the frequent mention made of their munisicence in the account given before of the sabric of the church, cannot but imprint on the reader's mind, a strong and lasting idea of their merit, as well as of their noble works.
The arms of this priory were, Azure, on a plain cross argent, the letters [I X] in old English characters. (fn. 108)