A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 4, the City of Oxford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1979.
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SITES AND REMAINS OF RELIGIOUS HOUSES
St. Frideswide's priory.
The Augustinian priory, (fn. 1) founded in the early 12th century by a royal chaplain, Gwymund, was built on the site, near the south wall of the town, of a pre-Conquest monastery or collegiate church which Gwymund had acquired from Roger, bishop of Salisbury. (fn. 2) Henry I confirmed the site to the canons in 1122, (fn. 3) and between 1135 and 1140 King Stephen granted them their gate in the town wall, with permission to build over the wall itself. (fn. 4) The church had probably been rebuilt by 1180 when the relics of St. Frideswide were translated, but in 1190 it and the priory buildings were burnt down. (fn. 5) Money for the rebuilding was being collected in 1194 (fn. 6) and evidence of the resultant work survives in the church, which was completed first, the chapter-house, dating entirely from the early 13th century except for a 12th-century west wall, and the dorter, much altered but probably also of early-13th-century date.
In 1423 the bishop of Lincoln ordered a new house to be built for strangers and laymen, formerly lodged in the infirmary: evidently a guest house next to St. Lucy's chapel, recorded c. 1230, was no longer in use. (fn. 7) The cloister was rebuilt in the late 15th century and a large new prior's lodging added south of the dorter. (fn. 8)
After the priory's suppression in 1524 Cardinal Wolsey, to make way for his college, took down much of the priory including the west ends of the church and of the cloister which adjoined the nave on the south. The church became the cathedral of the new Oxford diocese in 1546. The rest of the cloister survived, as did the chapter-house on the east side, the frater on the south, and the dorter to the south-east. The prior's lodging became the east range of the Chaplain's Quadrangle, but was removed later. (fn. 9) The kitchen, which lay west of the frater, and the refectory, presumably in the west range of the cloister, were demolished by Wolsey.
The house was founded as an Augustinian priory by Robert d'Oilly on his manor of South Oseney in 1129 and raised to the rank of an abbey c. 1154. (fn. 10) By the early 13th century the buildings included a number of separate lodgings within the abbey court, one at least with its own chamber, kitchen, oratory, and stable. (fn. 11) Much of the abbey was rebuilt during the abbacy of John Leech, from 1235 to 1249, and the work continued in the later 13th century. (fn. 12) At the Dissolution the monastic buildings included, as well as the dorter, frater, refectory, infirmary, and chapter-house, seven 'lodgings', one with its own chapel, the abbot's lodgings, Abbot John's hall, the guest hall, the great hall with the parlour beneath it, the school-house and the schoolmaster's chamber, chambers for the petty canons, the prison-house, St. Nicholas's chapel, and numerous out-buildings. (fn. 13)
The abbey precincts were entered from Oseney Lane, on which lay the great gate, two smaller gates, the alms-houses, and St. Nicholas's chapel. Inside the great gate was the great court, its east side formed by the west end of the church, its south by the refectory and kitchen, and its west perhaps by the canons' lodgings. South of the refectory, perhaps in another court, was the infirmary with its chapel. (fn. 14) The main cloister lay on the south side of the church, its west and south ranges containing the dorter and frater; the chapter-house extended eastwards from the east range. South of the frater stood the abbot's lodgings with its own hall, gatehouse, and yard. (fn. 15) A range of outbuildings extended along the river bank between the abbot's lodging and the mill. (fn. 16) The abbey church was c. 300 ft. long and comprised a nave with double north and south aisles, a presbytery and choir, a north-east Lady chapel, a west tower, and a central tower; behind the high altar were five small chapels. (fn. 17) The nave, a Lady chapel at the east end of the choir, and probably the lower stages of the west and central towers, were built by Abbot Leech; the presbytery and central tower were completed by 1267. (fn. 18) Thomas Kidlington, abbot 1330-73, added the Lady chapel on the north side of the presbytery. (fn. 19) The outer aisles of the nave seem to have been added in the late 15th century, for in 1480 there were said to be only three nave aisles. (fn. 20)
In 1542 the abbey church became the cathedral for the new diocese of Oxford, (fn. 21) but in 1546 the see was moved to Christ Church, as were the furnishings, lead, and bells from Oseney church. (fn. 22) In 1547 the dean and chapter leased the site of Oseney to the clothier William Stumpe who removed most of the remaining lead, glass, iron, and woodwork, unroofing the dorter and partially demolishing the great barn and the long stable. (fn. 23) In 1555 or 1556 the great gate, the great hall, and the abbot's hall were demolished, and in a lease of 1565 Christ Church reserved the right to take stone from the remaining buildings. (fn. 24) By 1578 only the walls of the church, a few detached houses, the dovecot, and the range of buildings by the mill remained standing. (fn. 25) An explosion in a powder-house on the site in 1643 caused further destruction, and the last vestige of the church, the west tower, was taken down c. 1650. (fn. 26) Part of the range by the mill was intact in 1720, (fn. 27) and some walling and a small 15th-century building survived in 1974.
Part of the site was conveyed by Christ Church in 1847 to the commissioners for building new churches, for a cemetery; the remainder was sold in 1929. (fn. 28)
The abbey, founded in 1280 by Edmund, earl of Cornwall, as a house of study for Cistercian monks, (fn. 29) lay on the west bank of a branch of the river Thames opposite Gloucester (later Worcester) College. The church, dedicated in 1281, (fn. 30) stood beside the river in the south-east corner of the site; the cloister and monastic buildings seem to have been north of the church. From the outer gateway, on the south side of the site, an avenue of elms led to an inner wall and gate. (fn. 31) In 1285 a chamber jutting over the Thames impeded navigation. (fn. 32) In 1300 the abbot's gates, close, and houses were damaged by townsmen. (fn. 33) Building was in progress on the church in 1461, and the choir was being rebuilt in 1488. (fn. 34)
The abbey was suppressed in 1536 and in 1541 its site was granted to George Owen of Godstow, (fn. 35) who in 1546 surrendered it to Henry VIII for the endowment of Christ Church. (fn. 36) The college retained the site, leasing it to a succession of tenants, mainly Oxford men, until c. 1850 when it was sold to the L.N.W.R. (fn. 37) Most of the monastic buildings had disappeared or been converted into a dwelling-house and outbuildings by 1720, (fn. 38) but two buildings at the northwest corner, one of which may have been the refectory, survived in ruins until their demolition c. 1850 to make way for the railway. (fn. 39) Only a section of the precinct wall, including a small 15th-century gateway, survived in 1974.
Hospital of St. John the Baptist.
The hospital, founded outside the east gate of the town in the later 12th century, was greatly enlarged by Hugh Malaunay between 1191 and 1199. (fn. 40) It was refounded in 1231 by Henry III on part of the Jews' garden or burial ground near East (later Magdalen) Bridge, adjoining its earlier site, (fn. 41) and in 1293 Edward I added the remainder of the garden, to the south of the road, as a cemetery. (fn. 42) Between 1232 and 1257 the hospital was completely rebuilt. Work was in progress on the chapel in 1232 and 1240, (fn. 43) on the kitchen in 1235, 1256, and 1257, (fn. 44) the infirmary in 1238, (fn. 45) a chamber for women in childbirth in 1240, (fn. 46) and a grange in 1246. (fn. 47) By 1245 there seem to have been two chapels, one for the brethren and one for the patients. (fn. 48) One range of buildings, including a chapel, lay along the street frontage; the infirmary was apparently some distance away to the north and on a slightly different alignment, on the site of the north range of Magdalen College cloister. North of the infirmary and aligned with it was a two-storey building, perhaps for the sisters of the hospital. The kitchen, which became the college kitchen, was on the east side of the site. The chapel by the street was of four bays with a vaulted chamber or charnel-house beneath it; a mid-13thcentury drawing shows it with three pairs of lancet windows in the side walls and a tower at one end, presumably the west. (fn. 49)
The hospital was granted to William Waynflete, bishop of Winchester, in 1456 and suppressed in 1458 for the foundation of Magdalen College. (fn. 50) Most of the hospital buildings were demolished, but the late-12thor early-13th-century infirmary block formed the north range of the college cloister until 1822; the building to the north of it survived as the college stables until 1733, and some late-13th- or early 14thcentury rooms adjoining the kitchen served as the divinity reader's lodgings until 1783. The chapel survived almost intact until 1790, having been converted into a lecture-room and alms-houses in the 16th century. The lower part of the building survived in 1974 in the south range of the college buildings; in the angle formed by its south-west buttress is a late-15thcentury external pulpit. The hospital kitchen, with three blocked lancet windows in its north wall, was used as the college kitchen in 1974. (fn. 51)
St. Bartholomew's leper hospital, about a mile east of Magdalen Bridge, was founded by Henry I before 1129 and granted by Edward III to Oriel College in 1328; (fn. 52) its later history and buildings are described elsewhere. (fn. 53)
Two other hospitals, presumably unendowed, were recorded in the 14th century. The master and brethren of the hospital of St. Giles, Rotherweye, were given protection while collecting alms in 1330, 1336, and 1346, and the poor of 'le Spital' next to St. Giles's church received a legacy in 1390. (fn. 54) A hospital of St. Peter, perhaps associated with the church of St. Peterin-the-East, was recorded in 1338. (fn. 55)
The Black Friars settled in the Jewry, on the west side of the later St. Aldate's Street, in 1221. (fn. 56) They enlarged their chapel, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, in 1227, and in 1233 built a school, (fn. 57) but in 1237 they acquired a new site beside the Thames outside Littlegate, and they moved there in 1245. (fn. 58) The new church, dedicated to St. Nicholas, was completed in 1246, the cloister was under construction in 1251, and 'studies' needed repair in 1269. (fn. 59)
Much of the plan of the second priory has been revealed by excavation. (fn. 60) In the north-east corner of the site was the church comprising an aisleless choir, a nave with narrow north and south aisles, and a walking place, probably with a tower or belfry above it, between nave and choir. North of the walking place there seems to have been a chantry chapel. The nave was extended westwards by one bay in the late 13th or early 14th century, and about 100 years later a galilee was added at the west end. The north aisle was partly re-built or at least refenestrated in 1426, (fn. 61) and a 'north nave' like that at the Greyfriars may have been added at a later date. The choir was rebuilt c. 1500. (fn. 62) The main cloister lay south of the church, the chapterhouse projecting eastwards from its east range. The dorter, on the first floor of the east range, was rebuilt c. 1500. (fn. 63) South of the chapter-house was a large building, perhaps a school. Along the river bank on the south of the site was a range of buildings probably including a water-gate; between them and the main cloister were other buildings, perhaps the infirmary cloister. Other buildings lay west of the church. A gate or gatehouse in Littlegate Street formed the main entrance to the priory but there was probably a separate entrance to the church from Preachers' Bridge.
The friary was surrendered in 1538; (fn. 64) its site was leased to William Frere and John Pye of Oxford for 21 years from 1540, and sold in 1544 to Richard Andrews of Hailes (Glos.) who in the same year sold it to Frere. (fn. 65) Frere demolished the church and most of the friary buildings, selling the materials. (fn. 66) By c. 1800 the only surviving portion of the friary was part of the main gatehouse, then used as a private house. (fn. 67) The blocked 15th-century gateway survived in 1975. (fn. 68)
Between 1225 and 1236 the Grey Friars acquired a site in St. Ebbe's parish between the later Church Street and the city wall. (fn. 69) In 1244 they obtained land outside the wall as far south as the Trill mill stream, and were given permission to extend their buildings across the line of the wall. (fn. 70) The site was further enlarged by grants of adjoining properties in 1245 and 1246, and of the adjoining friary of the dissolved order of the Friars of the Penance in 1309. (fn. 71)
By the early 16th century the friary buildings included the church, cloister, schools, and two libraries, and the grounds were laid out as gardens and a grove. (fn. 72) The mid-13th-century church comprised a choir, walking-place, nave, and north aisle; late in the 13th century the nave and aisle were extended westward by one bay, and early in the 14th century a long north transept or 'north nave' almost as long as the nave was built; along its east wall were seven small chapels. Before 1480, probably in the mid 14th century, the north nave was extended northwards, making room for three more chapels, and in the late 15th or early 16th century it was blocked off from the church by a partition wall. (fn. 73) On the north side of the north aisle was a small structure, probably the tomb and chantry chapel of William, Lord Lovel (d. 1455). (fn. 74) The cloister, schools, and domestic buildings lay south of the church, one range extending as far south as the Trill mill stream. (fn. 75)
The friary, its buildings already ruinous, surrendered in 1538. (fn. 76) Part of the site was leased, with the Blackfriars, to William Frere and John Pye in 1540, and the whole was included in the sale to Richard Andrews in 1544. (fn. 77) Andrews sold it the same year to Richard Gunter of Oxford, whose son Richard sold it in 1563 to John Warner, M.D. The bells, lead, glass, and buildings of 'churches, refectories, dormitories, and chapter-houses' were specifically excluded from the last sale; they were probably already being demolished, and in 1572 Reynold Reading, lessee of part of the site, bequeathed 40 loads of stone from it to Ralph Flexney. (fn. 78) By the mid 17th century only one small, decrepit building remained. (fn. 79) A few portions of walling survived in 1939, (fn. 80) but the whole site, except for one column-base, was completely destroyed in the building of the Westgate Centre in 1970 and 1971.
In 1256 Sir Nicholas de Meules gave to the Carmelite friars a site in Stockwell Street, which was enlarged by Oseney abbey with grants of adjoining land in 1257, 1260-1, and 1282. (fn. 81) The church and other buildings were built between 1258 and 1268; further work was done on the church in 1276 and 1286. (fn. 82) A gate, built next to the hithe at Hythe Bridge before 1282, was presented as a nuisance by the abbot of Rewley in 1292-3, but was apparently allowed to remain. (fn. 83)
In 1318 Edward II gave to the Carmelites his houses in Oxford, (fn. 84) and the old site was sold in 1321 to the Benedictines for Gloucester College. (fn. 85) The new site was enlarged in 1324 and 1337 by grants from burgesses of adjoining properties, (fn. 86) and in 1401 Henry IV gave to the friars more land to enlarge their 'strait and narrow' house. (fn. 87) The buildings of the king's houses were adapted to the friars' use: a large room near the chapel was furnished as a library, and the chapel itself was enlarged, the additions including a steeple and bells. (fn. 88)
When it was surrendered in 1538 the friary was ruinous, the land let for a term of 30 years, and some of the trees felled. (fn. 89) The site, which included the main friary buildings, two houses and gardens, the entry from Magdalen Street, and 6½ a. of land in three closes, was granted in 1542 to Edmund Powell of Sandford. (fn. 90) In 1560 Isabel Powell, widow, and her son Edmund granted it to St. John's College. (fn. 91) The buildings were being demolished in 1546 when 30 loads of stone were carried to Christ Church; the great hall or refectory was pulled down in 1595, having served as a poorhouse for St. Mary Magdalen parish, and by 1714 only one small building, thought to have been the prior's oratory, remained. (fn. 92) It contained a round window and three medieval doorways, of which one may have been of 13th-century date. (fn. 93) During the building of Beaumont Street in 1825, which destroyed the remaining building, a number of burial-sites were found west of the junction with St. John's Street, presumably marking the friars' graveyard, and the foundations of a wall were uncovered running north and south across the west end of Beaumont Street. (fn. 94)
The Austin friars obtained land outside East Gate in 1267, (fn. 95) but the following year they settled outside Smith Gate in St. Cross parish. (fn. 96) Before 1270 Bevis de Clare, rector of St. Peter-in-the-East, granted to the friars land for their chapel. (fn. 97) The site was further enlarged by grants of 1295 and 1335. (fn. 98) Building was in progress between 1270 and 1275, and again in 1316. (fn. 99) Sir John Haudlow (d. 1346), an important benefactor to the friary, was described in 1456, in a grant to one of his descendants, as the second founder, (fn. 100) but no details of his gifts were recorded.
The chapel, which seems to have occupied the north-west corner of the site, was c. 210 ft. long and c. 66 ft. wide, the choir and nave being of almost equal length. (fn. 101) When the friary was surrendered in 1538 the buildings were said to be ready to fall down, and they were apparently demolished and the materials sold soon afterwards. (fn. 102) The site was leased for 21 years from 1542 to Thomas Cardon of the king's household; (fn. 103) in 1552 Edward VI granted it to Henry, duke of Suffolk, and Thomas Duport, who sold it immediately to Henry Bayley, from whom it passed in 1553 to Edward Frere. (fn. 104) Frere's son William sold it in 1587 to the city, from whom it was bought by Dorothy Wadham in 1610 for the foundation of Wadham College. (fn. 105) Any surviving buildings on the main part of the site were presumably demolished between 1610 and 1613 during the building of the college, but a house on Parks Road, said to have been part of the friary, survived until 1810, (fn. 106) and some late-medieval stonework remained in a wall on the east side of the site in 1974. (fn. 107)
Other orders of friars.
The Friars of the Sack or Penance acquired land in St. Budoc's parish in 1261 or 1262, perhaps from Ela, countess of Warwick; in 1265 Henry III gave St. Budoc's church for their chapel. (fn. 108) The order was suppressed in 1274, and its Oxford house was given to the Franciscans in 1309. (fn. 109)
The Trinitarian friars had arrived in Oxford by 1286; (fn. 110) in 1292 Edmund, earl of Cornwall, gave to them a site outside the East Gate acquired from St. John's hospital. (fn. 111) By 1311 the friars had obtain from St. Frideswide's priory the chapel of the Holy Trinity at the East Gate, and from the city land inside the gate. (fn. 112) The city granted the reversion of another property outside the gate in 1314, and in 1331 the friars were licensed to acquire other lands and rents in mortmain. (fn. 113) By c. 1352, however, all the friars were said to have died, and the order does not seem to have been re-established in Oxford, although the friary at Hounslow (Mdx.) continued to hold the chapel of the Holy Trinity and its property. (fn. 114)
The Crutched friars arrived in Oxford in 1342 and occupied successively sites outside South and East Gates, until 1352, after which there is no further record of their presence in the town. (fn. 115)
The Benedictine Gloucester College (founded 1284) and Durham College (founded 1291), and the Cistercian St. Bernard's College (founded 1437) became respectively Worcester, Trinity, and St. John's Colleges, and the history of their sites and buildings has been given elsewhere. (fn. 116) The third Benedictine college, Canterbury College (founded 1362), was granted by Henry VIII to Christ Church and incorporated into that college. (fn. 117) St. Mary's College for Austin canons was founded in 1435 in New Inn Hall Street; it was largely rebuilt by Cardinal Wolsey in 1518, and in 1541 its buildings included a chapel with a library above it, a hall, about eight chambers, a kitchen, buttery, and bakery. (fn. 118) The site was granted in 1580 to Brasenose College which demolished the chapel in 1656 and used the materials, notably the roof, in its own chapel. (fn. 119) In 1974 part of St. Mary's gatehouse in New Inn Hall Street, which included an arched gateway and two bays of vaulting, survived, and there was also an adjoining section of walling, and a fragment of a timber-framed range further south in the same street. (fn. 120)