A History of the County of Kent: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1926.
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HOUSE OF CLUNIAC MONKS
14. THE PRIORY OF MONK'S HORTON (fn. 1)
The priory of St. John the Evangelist, Horton, was founded as a cell to the priory of Lewes in Sussex, probably early in the reign of Stephen, by Robert de Vere, son of Bernard de Vere and constable of England, and his wife Adelina the daughter of Hugh de Montfort. The founders granted to the priory the manors of Horton and Tinton (fn. 2) and the churches of Brabourne in Kent, Purleigh in Essex, and Stanstead in Suffolk, with various lands and liberties; and decreed that the prior should pay a mark of silver yearly to Lewes as recognition of the authority of the latter house, but might receive whom he chose as novices. Their heir Henry of Essex, constable of England, confirmed the grants and made others. Pope Lucius II granted a bull of confirmation on 11 May, 1144; and Stephen and Henry II confirmed the lands and liberties of the priory by charters. The latter mentions a long list of benefactors by name.
The temporalities of the priory in the diocese of Canterbury were valued at £65 10s. yearly in the Taxation of 1291. Licence for the appropriation of the church of Purleigh was granted in 1337 (fn. 3) and confirmed in 1401, (fn. 4) but seems never to have taken effect. The priory seems to have parted with its right in the church of Stanstead at an early date.
Horton is mentioned several times in the Cluniac records. In the visitation of England in 1275-6 the visitors were at Horton on Thursday before the feast of St. Lucy. (fn. 5) They found eleven monks there, or two below the proper number, and they proposed to make the deficiency good. The mass of St. Mary was not celebrated, and this was ordered to be done daily. The Gospel was to be read by a deacon daily at high mass, as the house was conventual, and there was to be regular reading at dinner in the refectory. The seal of the convent was to be kept by three, and not by two as it had been. They appointed a third for hearing confessions in addition to the prior and sub-prior. Regulations as to boots were made; and the prior and convent were ordered not to eat meat before seculars. The house owed 80½ marks, but everything else was in order.
In 1279 the visitors found thirteen monks at Horton, and the house was in an excellent state. The prior, who was English, had newly roofed the church and extended the cloister. (fn. 6)
In 1314 the visitors complained that they were irreverently received and their expenses not paid. The prior disobeyed their command to send a monk to Prittlewell, and when cited to the general chapter to answer for this did not come. The prior of Lewes was ordered to send him to Cluni before Michaelmas to receive punishment. The sacrist had not rents enough properly to supply lights and other ornaments for the church or provide for the sick, and the prior of Lewes was ordered to go to Horton and see that this was amended. (fn. 7)
In an enumeration of the Cluniac houses of England (about 1450) it is said that there should be at Horton according to some eight monks, and according to others thirteen. There should be there three masses, the greater and second of St. Mary and the third for the dead. (fn. 8)
Horton, being a Cluniac house, was treated as alien and frequently taken into the king's hands during the war with France. In 1295 the prior was allowed to remain in his priory, notwithstanding the order that aliens should be removed from the coast, as it was testified that he was not French. (fn. 9) In the account (fn. 10) of the keeper of the priory for the time when it was taken into the king's hands in 1325 its stock and expenses are set out in detail. Wages of 3s. weekly were allowed to the prior, and 1s. 6d. to each of seven monks. In 1338 (fn. 11) the prior paid 40 marks yearly to the king for the custody of the priory during the war; but in 1339 (fn. 12) he was permitted to hold it without rendering any farm as an alien, as he had shown that he was an Englishman, and neither he nor his predecessors had been bound to pay any tax to any religious house beyond the seas. This favour was probably merely due to the fact that this particular prior was the son of the earl of Surrey, for in 1341 the priory was again treated as alien. (fn. 13) In 1373, however, Lewes and its cells were finally made denizen. (fn. 14)
In the Valor of 1535 the possessions of the priory, including the parsonage of Brabourne and the manors of Horton and Tinton, were valued (fn. 15) at £111 16s. 7d. yearly; but deductions of £16 4s. 5d. in fees and rents brought the net income down to £95 12s. 2d. The priory was accordingly dissolved under the Act of 1536, the prior receiving a pension of £15 yearly. (fn. 16)
Priors Of Horton
William, (fn. 19) occurs 1144
Adam, (fn. 20) occurs 1227
Peter de Aldinge, (fn. 21) occurs 1258, 1264
William, (fn. 22) occurs 1272, 1278
Geoffrey (fn. 23)
Hugh, (fn. 24) occurs 1282
James, occurs 1297, (fn. 25) 1302 (fn. 26)
Conon, resigned 1320 (fn. 27)
John, occurs 1324 (fn. 28)
James, occurs 1310, (fn. 29) 1327 (fn. 30)
John, occurs 1331 (fn. 31)
William de Warenna, (fn. 32) occurs 1336, 1339
Hugh Falouns, (fn. 33) occurs 1345, 1348
Peter de Tenoleo, occurs 1363 (fn. 34)
Peter de Whitsand (fn. 35) or Huissant, (fn. 36) occurs 1370, (fn. 37) 1384, 1401
John Pepynbury, occurs 1416 (fn. 38)
James Holbech, occurs 1438 (fn. 39)
William Wynchelse, occurs 1445 (fn. 40)
Richard Keter, occurs 1477 (fn. 41)
Richard Brysleye (fn. 42) or Gloucester, (fn. 43) the last prior