A History of the County of Essex: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
47. THE PRIORY OF PANFIELD
In a charter (fn. 1) of William I to the abbey of St. Stephen, Caen, witnessed by Hugh, bishop of Lisieux, who died in 1077, Panfield is said to have been granted to it by Waleran Fitz Ranulph. It appears from the Domesday Survey (fn. 2) that Panfield did not belong to the abbey before the Conquest, and so the date of the grant must be between 1066 and 1077. Waleran also granted land in Wood Street, London, and tithes in several places.
Another benefactor to the abbey was William de Escoiis, who granted the church of Moreton in Essex and the manor of Well Hall in Gayton in Norfolk. Probably through motives of economy, the unusual course was adopted at an early date of placing the Essex and Norfolk properties under the control of a single prior, who is generally spoken of as the prior of Panfield and Well. By the priory of Panfield the joint property is usually meant, until the dissolution of the alien priories, when the two parts were separated. These possessions were confirmed to the abbey by Henry II. (fn. 3)
Henry III on 17 April, 1252, granted (fn. 4) to the prior and monks free warren in all their demesne lands in Panfield in Essex and Holt in Norfolk.
At the time of the Taxation in 1291 the temporalities of the priory were valued at £12 17s. in Panfield and £1 10s. in London, and those in Norfolk at £28 12s. 9d. yearly. The spiritualities, besides the churches of Moreton and Gayton, consisted of portions of £2 in the church of Aveley, £1 in the church of Elsenham and £3 6s. 8d. in the church of Fulbourn in Cambridgeshire.
An extent of the priory was taken in 1324, when it was in the king's hands, and its possessions in Panfield were valued (fn. 5) at £14 10s. 2½d. yearly. They included 260 acres of arable land, 20 acres of fallow, 18 acres of meadow, 10 acres of pasture, 40 acres of wood, and a windmill, besides various rents and services. The priory received £12 yearly from the church at Moreton. Further details are also to be found in the account (fn. 6) by the keeper of the priory for the time.
The priory was taken into the hands of the kings, like other alien priories, on account of the war with France, and restored at farm. In 1338 (fn. 7) the prior paid £75 yearly, (fn. 8) but on 28 October, 1341, at the request of Queen Isabel, the king reduced (fn. 9) this to £40. On 29 July, 1342, orders were issued (fn. 10) for the arrest of William Naget, who had been sent as prior from Caen to replace the existing prior, William Pogier, as it was suspected that he was a French spy; but in August, 1343, the king called this suspicion a frivolous suggestion and restored his lands. (fn. 11) On 29 August, 1342, the priory was granted to him at farm for £40 yearly, besides an additional rent of £20 yearly until the arrears, which amounted to £150, were cleared off. (fn. 12) Naget appears as prior in 1345, when he was ordered (fn. 13) to give maintenance to William Pouger, the late prior.
On 14 May, 1378, the custody of the priory was committed (fn. 14) during the war to William de Fulbourn and Hugh Fastolf. They were to pay £40 yearly to the king and £10 to a monk, besides maintaining the houses and paying tenths and other similar charges. Licence was granted (fn. 15) on 24 March, 1382, for John Devereux to acquire the priory for life from the abbot and convent, with successive remainders for life to Margaret his wife, John their son and Joan their daughter, at a rent of £40 yearly at the Exchequer during the war. Joan married Walter Fitz Walter, and on 25 May, 1400, the king committed the custody during the war to them and John Tanner at the same rent. (fn. 16)
Henry V on 6 July, 1413, granted the priory to John Wodehous so long as it should remain in his hands, and on 9 July granted licence for the abbot and convent to sell it. (fn. 17) There was probably some trouble connected with the Act of dissolution passed in the next year, for on 25 June, 1415, the king granted (fn. 18) the priory to Wodehous and his heirs and assigns. It came back later to the crown, and on 5 December, 1461, Edward IV granted it to Gresilda Hende with all its possessions in Essex and London. (fn. 19) The reversion was granted by Henry VI in 1471 to King's College, Cambridge, (fn. 20) but on Edward IV's return to power it was transferred in 1472 to the prior and convent of Christ Church, Canterbury, (fn. 21) whose possession was confirmed by the same king on 7 February, 1483. (fn. 22) The prior and convent granted (fn. 23) it in exchange to Henry VIII on 4 February, 1539, and on 12 March he granted (fn. 24) it to Sir Giles Capell in fee.
Priors of Panfield
Peter, (fn. 25) occurs 1301 and 1303.
John, (fn. 26) occurs 1321.
Laurence, (fn. 26) occurs 1325.
John Moryn, occurs 1403. (fn. 31)