A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.
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25. THE BLACK FRIARS, GLOUCESTER
The house of the Black Friars of Gloucester was founded about 1239. (fn. 1) It is probable that Stephen, lord of Harnhill, gave the site, and that Henry III was also accounted a founder in virtue of his munificent gifts. (fn. 2) The house was over twenty-five years in building. (fn. 3) In 1246 the king gave 41 marks to buy a plot of land for the church, enlarging the churchyard, and making a road to the great thoroughfare of the town. (fn. 4) About 1265 the house was probably finished. (fn. 5) In the first half of the fourteenth century the number of friars varied from thirty to forty. (fn. 6) In 1365 a plot of land was granted for the enlargement of the site. (fn. 7)
It is probable that, as at Bristol and elsewhere, many of the Black Friars of Gloucester fled from England in 1534 and 1535. (fn. 8) The few who remained were miserably poor. On 25 July, 1538, Richard Ingworth, the royal visitor, reported to Cromwell that the Black and White Friars were ready to surrender. (fn. 9) They were in great penury, and had sold the greater part of their goods. Their chalices were changed to tin and copper, and they had nothing left to purchase their capacities. The Black Friars had 'a proper little house,' but no rents, only their garden which they had let on lease to Master Bell, the alderman. (fn. 10) Three or four days later the prior and six friars declared before the mayor and aldermen that they could not keep the visitor's injunctions and continue in their house, and therefore they delivered it into Ingworth's hands for the king's use. (fn. 11)
A seal of the thirteenth century represents two figures: one bald-headed and bearded, in flowing garments, holding a book and a reversed sword by the point, probably St. Paul; the other tonsured, in the habit of the Friars Preachers, holding a long cross and a book; in base the demifigure of a prior at prayer. (fn. 12) The legend is:—
26. THE GREY FRIARS, GLOUCESTER
The house of the Grey Friars of Gloucester, near the south gate of the town, was founded about 1231. (fn. 13) Thomas I of Berkeley gave the site, (fn. 14) and Henry III granted timber for building. Under the guidance of Agnellus of Pisa, provincial minister, the friars at first accepted only a small plot of land, (fn. 15) but about 1239 they needed more ground, and, by the persuasion of his wife, Thomas of Berkeley gave them all that he had at first offered them. (fn. 16) The enlargement of the site was sanctioned by Haymo of Faversham, the provincial minister; he held that it was better for the friars to have land to cultivate that they might provide their sustenance instead of begging from others. (fn. 17) In 1239 Ralph of Maidstone resigned the bishopric of Hereford, and entered the house of the Grey Friars of Gloucester. (fn. 18) In 1246 Henry III allowed them to hold schools of theology in a turret of the town wall. (fn. 19) In 1285 the friars again desired to enlarge their site, and sought permission to acquire a plot of land near their church. (fn. 20) They came into conflict with the Benedictines of St. Peter's, and appealed to Peckham, archbishop of Canterbury, himself a Minorite. In 1285 he wrote to the abbot and convent of Gloucester, bidding them satisfy the Grey Friars; it appeared that a man had desired to be buried in their churchyard, but that the monks had seized his body. (fn. 21) In the middle of the fourteenth century another dispute arose when the friars claimed the right to the water coming from a spring at Breresclyft, and it was settled in their favour through the intervention of the Black Prince in 1357. (fn. 22) In 1365 the friars acquired another half acre for the enlargement of their site. (fn. 23) There is no evidence of the mortality in the house during the Black Death; in 1337 the number of friars was thirty-one, (fn. 24) and the activity of the brethren a few years afterwards suggests that they suffered no permanent diminution in numbers. Towards the end of the fifteenth century a great part of the church was rebuilt. William, marquis of Berkeley, left £20 to the fabric by his will of 1491; (fn. 25) Maurice VI of Berkeley gave 10 marks for several years, and in 1520 he made a provision that if he died before the rebuilding of the church was complete, his executors should finish the work. (fn. 26) In 1538 Richard Ingworth, the royal visitor, reported to Cromwell that the Grey Friars was 'a goodly house, much of it new builded.' (fn. 27) It is probable that many of the Grey Friars fled abroad in 1534-5, (fn. 28) for only five remained at Gloucester in 1538. (fn. 29) They were not reduced to such straits of poverty as the Black and White Friars; nevertheless, on 28 July, they too stated in the presence of the mayor and aldermen that they could not keep the visitor's injunctions and continue in their house, and accordingly they delivered it into Ingworth's hands for the use of the king. (fn. 30)
27. THE CARMELITE OR WHITE FRIARS, GLOUCESTER
The house of the Carmelite Friars of Gloucester outside the north gate had its origin about 1268, (fn. 31) and was probably founded with the help of Queen Eleanor, Sir Thomas Giffard, and Thomas II of Berkeley. (fn. 32) In 1321 Henry de Ok gave a curtilage with stews, hays, dikes, walls and trees. (fn. 33) In 1337 the number of friars was thirty-one, (fn. 34) and in 1343 Edward III allowed them to acquire 3½ acres of land from Thomas of Berkeley, and a messuage from Richard of Hatherley for the enlargement of their manse. (fn. 35) In 1347, by an agreement with the prior and brethren of the hospital of St. Bartholomew, they obtained an aqueduct running through a leaden pipe from the spring called 'Gosewhytewell' to their enclosure. (fn. 36)
On 25 July, 1538, Richard Ingworth, the royal visitor, reported to Cromwell that the Black and White Friars were ready to surrender. (fn. 37) The White Friars had but a small house, 'and in decay, and some houses taken down and sold.' (fn. 38) Their rents were only 20s. a year, and some ten years before they had received the money down for twenty years. Three or four days after Ingworth's report had been made the three remaining friars declared before the mayor and aldermen that they could not keep the visitor's strict injunctions and tarry in their house, and they therefore gave it into Ingworth's hands for the use of the king. (fn. 39)