A History of the County of Nottingham: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1910.
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HOUSE OF KNIGHTS HOSPITALLERS
14. THE PRECEPTORY OF OSSINGTON
Roger de Buron, toward the close of his life, in the latter half of the 12th century, gave the town of Ossington to Lenton Priory, joining the Cluniac order and wearing their habit. But early in his life he had bestowed the same town on the Knights Hospitallers, who held his charter. This not unnaturally gave rise to considerable litigation. His son, Walter Smallet, in 1204 confirmed the original grant to the Hospitallers. Eventually in 1208 the superior claim of the Hospitallers was admitted by the priory, with some slight modification. (fn. 1) Henry III granted them free warren over their demesne lands in Ossington. (fn. 2)
In a compendious chartulary of the possessions of the order, drawn up in 1434, it is stated that Archbishop William (probably William Fitz Herbert, 1143-54) granted them the church of Ossington with its appurtenances. The next entry adds that one Henry Hosatus gave the Nottinghamshire churches of Winkburn and Averham to the order, and that Adam Tyson gave the town of Winkburn. (fn. 3)
The gift of the two churches of Winkburn and Averham must have been earlier than 1199, for in that year they are included in a long general confirmation to the Hospitallers, executed by King John. (fn. 4)
Archbishop Gray confirmed to the brethren of the Temple in England in 1230 their rights in the churches of Marnham and Sibthorpe, with their annual pension of 2s. from the first and of 2 marks from the other. (fn. 5)
A letter of recommendation of the Hospitallers was issued by Archbishop Romayne in 1287 to the Archdeacon of Nottingham, by him to be forwarded to all the rectors, vicars, and priests of his archdeaconry, urging that when the messengers of the order arrived after their accustomed manner, they should be admitted, heard with kindness, and not hindered in any way whatsoever in expounding to their parishioners the nature of the business on which they were sent. (fn. 6)
The jury of the wapentake of Bingham stated in 1276 that the officials of both Templars and Hospitallers had on many past occasions and up to the present day treated the inhabitants unjustly and extorted money from them. Other jurors of the county at the same time certified that the Hospitallers held the manors of Deyvilthorpe (Danethorpe), Winkburn, Ossington, and 4s. rent in Willoughby, as well as free warren in Ossington, Winkburn, and Danethorpe, and a park at Winkburn. The jurors of Newark testified that both Templars and Hospitallers had made encroachments on the waters of the Trent. (fn. 7)
At the time of the cruel suppression of the Templars in 1312 there was an unseemly scramble for the property of the order in England. Edward II seized some for himself, and transferred not a little to his favourites. The strong remonstrance of the pope against this secularization of ecclesiastical property brought about an Act of Parliament in 1324, by which the Hospitallers were put into legal possession of that which had previously been declared to be theirs by papal decree. (fn. 8) Some, however, still remained in lay hands. The Templars had comparatively small estates in Nottinghamshire, but Hugh le Despenser managed to retain Templars' lands at Carlton worth 20 marks a year. (fn. 9)
In 1338, when Prior Philip de Thame made a return to the Grand Master of the English possessions of the Hospitallers, full particulars were entered of the Bajulia de Ossington, as well as of the smaller estate or camera of Winkburn, with its member of Danethorpe, (fn. 10) which throw much light on the working of these establishments.
The total receipts and profits of the preceptory of Ossington for that year amounted to £85 8s. 8d. The capital messuage and garden were valued at 16s. 8d.; two dovecotes at 12s.; 600 acres of demesne land at 6d. an acre, £15; 32 acres of meadow, at 2s. an acre, and 6 acres of pasture land, 20s.; two windmills, 40s.; labour and customary service of villeins, 79s. 4d.; rent in cocks and hens, 20s.; court pleas and perquisites, 40s.; a messuage at 'Thurmeton,' with 91 acres of land and 10 of pasture, 10 marks; common pasture at Ossington for 12 cows and 600 sheep, 2s. a cow and 1d. a sheep, 74s.; assize rents, £24; confraria, not quite accurately known, owing to the delay of certain donors, but averaging in recent years £22 10s.; and the appropriation of the church of Ossington, £8 10s.
The outgoings for the support of the household, namely a preceptor, a brother, a chaplain, two clerks de fraria and various servants, together with many occasional visitors and guests, included bread and corn, £9; 80 quarters of barley for brewing, £8; flesh, fish, and other necessaries for the kitchen at 2s. 6d. a week, £6 10s.; oats for the horses of the preceptor and guests, £5; habits and clothing for the preceptor and his confrater, 54s. 8d.; stipend of the steward, 20s.; stipend of the parochial chaplain, 26s. 8d.; clothing and salary of servants, 33s. 4d.; two boys of the preceptor, one cook boy, a swineherd, a cowherd, a carter, 5s. each, and three pages, 20d. each; repairs of the houses, 20s.; the two days' visitation of the prior, 40s., and archidiaconal fees, 14s. The outgoings also included four life pensions, which were a heavy charge on the house, namely £10 a year to Henry de Edwinstow, clerk of the king's chancery; 5 marks to Sir John de Bolynbrock; £20 to Sir Robert de Silkeston; and 5 marks to Brother Thomas de Warrenne. These charges brought the total of outgoings up to £77 7s.; this leaving a balance of £17 13s. 8d. for the general treasury of the English 'language.'
At the camera of Winkburn there was a manse with garden and dovecote, valued at 16s. 8d.; arable land worth £15, and meadow and pasture, 76s.; underwood (beyond that used in the house), 28s.; a windmill, 20s.; assize rents, £9 11s. 2d.; customary labour and service, 45s. 7d.; and court pleas and perquisites, 16s. 8d. The messuage of Danethorpe, with its lands, meadows, and pasture, was let out to farm at the annual rent of 10 marks. The appropriated church of Winkburn, with the chapel of Maplebeck, was of the yearly value of 25½ marks; common pasture for twenty cows produced 40s., and the same for 500 sheep 41s. The total receipts and profits of the camera realized 93 marks 8s. 5d.
The outgoings included a composition of 66s. 8d. for tithes to the rector of Kneesall; for tithes and archidiaconal fees, 9s. 9d; the stipends of two chaplains for the church of Winkburn and its chapel, 60s. There was also a payment of 10s. a year for life to Richard de Coppegrave, (fn. 11) who is also entered as a 'corrodian,' that is in receipt of board and lodging. The repairs of the house cost 6s. 8d., and a like sum was expended on wax, wine, and oil for the church and chapel. The expenses of the house, that is for the sustenance of the preceptor or warden, the chaplain, and household servants, amounted to 60s.; for bread and corn, grain for brewing, £4; kitchen expenses, 78s.; stipends and clothing for five servants, 33s. 4d.; robe, mantle, &c., for the warden, 33s. 4d.; and 2s. for the warden's page.
Perhaps the most interesting item in these accounts is the very large sum of £22 10s. (fully £400 at the present value of money) entered as confraria, which was collected throughout the county of Nottingham yearly by the two clerks appointed for that purpose. The confraria was a voluntary contribution made by the order throughout England, which Archbishop Romayne commended to the clergy of this county, as we have seen, in 1287. It seems to have been collected by a house-to-house visitation. The whole amount gathered in England in 1338 amounted to about £900; so that Nottinghamshire, when we consider its comparatively small size, contributed an exceptionally large share to the fund for holding the infidels in check. The Prior of St. John's, Clerkenwell, visited each preceptory annually at the expense of the house visited.
The chief expense was the maintenance of the household, and it should be remembered that most of the provisions would be furnished from the stock of the estate. In the hall were three tables, the first for the preceptor, his confrater and chaplain, and any corrodian of good birth; the second for the full servants; and the third for the hinds or labourers. The rule as to hospitality was a stringent one, and guests or wayfarers would be placed at table according to their station. In the stricter days of the order there were never more than two meals a day, and the food was moderate. The two collectors attached to each bailiwick were enjoined never to feed sumptuously when entertained on their travels. When dark they were always to carry a lanthorn, and to hold it before them when entering a house.
Maplebeck, a chapelry of Winkburn, had originally belonged to the Templars. (fn. 12) Rents at Sibthorpe, another Templar property, to the value of 10 marks a year, were in 1338 somewhat strangely returned to the Lincoln bailiwick of Temple Bruer. The transference of the church of Sibthorpe is mentioned under the college of that place. The rectory of Marnham was at that date farmed, up to 1340, by Sir Robert de Silkeston at 30 marks a year; whilst at Flawforth there was a messuage and a plough-land let for life to Thomas de Sibthorpe at 7 marks a year. (fn. 13)
From the Valor of 1534 it appears that the bailiwick of Ossington was then merged in the larger one of Newland, Yorkshire, of which Thomas Pemberton was preceptor. The Newland returns included £20 a year from rent and farms in Ossington bailiwick, and also £5 2s. from Roger Rogerson the bailiff of the same. In addition to this rents and farms in Winkburn came to £19, bringing the total up to £44 2s. Bailiff Roger was in receipt of a stipend of £2 14s. 4d. (fn. 14)