A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1970.
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17. THE PRIORY OF ST. THOMAS NEAR STAFFORD
The priory of St. Thomas the Martyr on the north bank of the Sow two miles east of Stafford was founded about 1174 by Gerard fitz Brian, who was evidently a burgess of Stafford. (fn. 1) Gerard's foundation charter (fn. 2) shows that he had obtained some canons from Darley Abbey in Derbyshire and provided them with a site on land which he held from the bishop. Gerard stipulated that the house should be independent of any other and that he should be its patron and protector. The charter cannot be later than 1175 since it was witnessed by Ralph, Archdeacon of Stafford, who ceased to hold office in that year; (fn. 3) it cannot be much earlier since St. Thomas of Canterbury, to whom the priory was dedicated, was canonized in 1173.
Gerard's original gift consisted of almost 70 acres called Sheepwash Meadow and as much of the River Sow as belonged to it. (fn. 4) The only land, apart from this, which Gerard gave the priory was some property in Stafford subject to a yearly rent of 8s. due to his heirs. (fn. 5) It seems that, although Gerard lived for some years after the foundation of St. Thomas's and continued to take an interest in it, (fn. 6) he did not finish what he had begun. His foundation was completed by Bishop Richard Peche (1161-82) who referred to it in a grant as 'the church of St. Thomas the Martyr of Stafford . . . which we have founded'. (fn. 7) Later, in his confirmation of the canons' possessions, the bishop referred to the site of the priory as 'that place ... in which, by Gerard's own concession, we have founded their church'. (fn. 8) In 1182 Bishop Peche resigned his see, took the habit of a regular canon of St. Thomas's, and was buried there the same year. (fn. 9) By later chroniclers he was regarded as the founder and builder of the priory, (fn. 10) and the patronage of the house remained with his successors in the see of Coventry and Lichfield.
The bishop's first grant to the canons (fn. 11) consisted of a burgage in Lichfield; housebote, (fn. 12) haybote, and firebote from his woodland in Cannock Forest; common of pasture in his manor of Baswich; and 'the whole River Sow' from Stafford to the 'Watur Wending' (fn. 13) (evidently a grant of fishing rights) with a marshy place called 'le Kocholme' and a thicket near the confluence of the Sow and the Penk. By the time the bishop confirmed the canons' property a few years later (fn. 14) his benefactions to the priory had increased, and the canons had received from him land called 'Estmora' in Baswich on the opposite bank of the Sow from the priory, land at Orberton (in St. Mary's, Stafford), another burgage in Lichfield, and quittance of pannage in Baswich manor. Another of the bishop's gifts recorded in this confirmation is noteworthy as indicating the improving activities of the canons. The bishop had given them a meadow which had belonged to his manor of Eccleshall and which was 'often ruined by frequent flooding'; in return the canons 'by their own labour reclaimed to [the bishop's] use another meadow ... in Eccleshall better and more fertile'. The canons had by this time acquired the right to fish the River Penk as well as the Sow and had also been allowed to construct fish-ponds on the Sow and the Kingston Brook.
It seems clear from the bishop's confirmation of their property that the canons possessed two mills in the immediate neighbourhood of the priory from an early period. One of these stood on the Sow at the south-west corner of the precinct and was erected by permission of the bishop. The other stood on the Kingston Brook, less than half a mile north-west of the priory; it was erected with the permission of local landowners who had rights in the area. (fn. 15)
Much of the priory's early landed endowment, listed in the bishop's confirmation and in a papal confirmation a few years later, (fn. 16) came from local manorial lords or lesser landowners, typical members of the class which patronized the Augustinian order in the later 12th century. (fn. 17) Thus Alan of Hanyards gave a cultura beside the Kingston Brook and another on Tixall Heath; (fn. 18) Nicholas de Mauvesin, lord of Coton (in St. Mary's, Stafford), gave 7 acres of land there; (fn. 19) Eudes (or Ives) de Mutton gave 6 acres of land in his manor of Ingestre; (fn. 20) Reynold le Waite, of Rickerscote (in Castle Church), gave meadow there; (fn. 21) Alice de Hopton and her son, Robert de Bek, gave lands and pasture rights in their manor of Hopton (in St. Mary's, Stafford); (fn. 22) and Robert de Whyston gave 3 acres of land with a house and garden in Oulton (in Stone). (fn. 23) The priory also acquired property in Orberton, (fn. 24) Stafford, (fn. 25) and Donisthorpe (Leics., then in Derb.), (fn. 26) near Gnosall, (fn. 27) and in 'Falmerisham'. (fn. 28)
The canons continued to receive small benefactions of this sort; before 1194 they had acquired land in Acton Trussell and Bishton (in Colwich), (fn. 29) and about the same time a rent in Callowhill (in Kingstone). (fn. 30) In the early years of the 13th century Simon the cook gave the canons land in Stockton (in Baswich). (fn. 31) On the basis of half a virgate in Whitgreave (in St. Mary's, Stafford) which they bought for 5½ marks from Walter Geri, the canons built up quite an important estate out of small gifts and purchases during the earlier 13th century. (fn. 32) One William, son of Adam de Whitgreave, gave them an acre of land in Whitgreave about 1210. (fn. 33) Clement, son of Herbert de Whitgreave, sold the canons 8 acres of land there about 1220 and gave them another 3 acres; (fn. 34) a little later Avice de Sogenhull gave 10 acres in Whitgreave which she had bought from Clement. (fn. 35) About 1252 Philip le Poer, a canon of St. Mary's, Stafford, gave the priory another 3 acres of land there. (fn. 36) At the end of the 13th century the estate at Whitgreave was evidently worked in demesne as a member of the priory's grange at Orberton. (fn. 37)
In 1194 the canons acquired their first considerable property when, for 35 marks, they bought the manor of Drayton (in Penkridge) from Hervey Bagot and his wife, Millicent de Stafford. (fn. 38) More large properties were acquired during the course of the 13th century. About 1200 Walter de Gray gave the canons that half of the vill of Fradswell (a detached portion of Colwich parish, near Chartley) which he held as one-tenth of a knight's fee. A condition of Walter's gift was that the canons were to receive him and his three children in concilio suo and were to keep them in food and clothing. (fn. 39) In the later 13th century the priory acquired lordship over the whole of Fradswell. (fn. 40) Another important estate acquired in the earlier 13th century lay at some distance from St. Thomas's, in the north-west of the county at Maer. Eudes de Mere gave the priory all his lordship there and his capital messuage with an orchard, a garden, buildings, fishponds, and the wood, meadows, and pastures belonging to the lordship. (fn. 41) This was probably a quarter of the manor of Maer of which Eudes seems to have been one of four coparceners; (fn. 42) the canons later acquired another quarter of the manor from Thomas, Rector of Standon. (fn. 43) Eudes also gave the priory half of the advowson of Maer church; (fn. 44) the other half was later acquired by the canons from two of his coparceners. (fn. 45) In 1203 Oliver Meverell gave the priory land in Drointon (in Stowe). (fn. 46) Other property was acquired there during the 13th century; Oliver's daughter Alice gave the priory a rent of 10s. and one Geoffrey de Drengeton and his son Robert gave land there. (fn. 47) In 1257 Hugh, lord of Weston-underLizard, granted the priory 2¼ virgates of land, various smaller properties and all his common pasture rights in his lordship of Newton (in Blithfield) just over a mile south-east of Drointon. (fn. 48) About 1275 the canons acquired a small estate in Lea about a mile to the south of Drointon. (fn. 49)
By the mid 13th century the priory had received other small grants in Billington (in Bradley), Blithfield, Bradley, Brocton (in Baswich), Chorlton (in Eccleshall), Colton, Dilhorne, Stowe (in St. Chad's, Lichfield), and Silkmore (in Castle Church). (fn. 50) Outside the county it acquired an estate in Quinton (then in Glos.) from Philip de Mutton, the grandson of an earlier benefactor. (fn. 51)
The priory also received gifts from the Crown. In 1245 Henry III gave the canons £10 to buy a chasuble of red samite with orphreys; (fn. 52) in 1255 and 1269 he gave them six timber oaks from Teddesley Hay in Cannock Forest and in 1272 ten from Kinver Forest. (fn. 53) In 1257 the priory was exempted on account of its poverty from providing transport for the expedition against Llewelyn, Prince of Wales, (fn. 54) in 1263 it received a grant of protection, (fn. 55) and in 1272 it was exempted from jury service in the county. (fn. 56)
During the Barons' Wars in the later years of Henry Ill's reign the priory received a number of grants from Robert de Ferrers, Earl of Derby, a leading opponent of the king. (fn. 57) In 1261 the earl granted the priory a considerable estate at Pendleton (in Eccles, Lanes.). (fn. 58) About two years later he gave the advowson of the church of Stowe-by-Chartley with 2 messuages and 17 acres of land in Chartley and expressed a wish to be buried in the priory; in 1278 the church was appropriated to the canons by the bishop. (fn. 59) Other small grants followed, (fn. 60) including a toll which had belonged to the Hospital of St. John the Baptist, Ashbourne (Derb.), and which the earl had obtained by force during the wars. (fn. 61) The priory's connexion with the earl, however, seems to have been without any harmful consequence; the canons retained the property at Ashbourne, (fn. 62) and the earl's other gifts were ultimately confirmed to them. (fn. 63) Moreover the priory continued to receive gifts from the Crown and other marks of royal favour. In 1275 Edward I gave the canons 10 timber oaks for the roof of their church, and in 1290 another 6 for the same purpose. (fn. 64) The priory was again exempted in 1282 from providing transport for a royal expedition into Wales, and in 1294 it received a grant of protection. (fn. 65) In 1284 the Crown granted the canons free warren in all their demesne lands providing these were not within the royal forest. (fn. 66)
The priory acquired a number of important estates in the later 13th century. William de Caverswall gave the canons land and houses in Caverswall and also the advowson of the church there. (fn. 67) He also gave them the manor of Coton which he had bought from Saer de Mauvesin. (fn. 68) In 1277-8 John de Pendeford sold his manor of Pendeford (in Tettenhall) to the priory. He had recently committed a serious forest offence and fled abroad, but by the time of the sale he seems to have returned and to have sought refuge in the priory. It was evidently a condition of the sale that the canons should keep John in food and clothing and pay him a pension of 40s. a year. (fn. 69) In 1281 Archbishop Pecham granted the church of Audlem (Ches.) to the priory. In April and July of the previous year he had stayed at the priory in the course of his visitation of the diocese, (fn. 70) during which he had evidently found that Audlem church had long been vacant. By presenting one of his own clerks the archbishop had obtained the advowson and the rectory; he granted the advowson to St. Thomas's Priory and shortly afterwards allowed the canons to appropriate the church. (fn. 71) About 1285 Philip de Mutton, descended from a family who had been benefactors of the priory in the earlier 13th century, (fn. 72) gave estates in Reule (in Bradley) and Apeton (in Gnosall). (fn. 73) The canons never seem to have obtained effective possession of Reule, (fn. 74) but the manor of Apeton was retained until the Dissolution. (fn. 75)
In the Taxation of 1291 the annual value of the priory's possessions was given as £49 0s. 9d.; (fn. 76) temporal estates were worth £20 0s. 9d. while the appropriated churches of Audlem, Caverswall, Maer, and Stowe-by-Chartley were worth £29. These figures, however, give an incomplete notion of the priory's endowment; its temporal estates in Ashbourne, Donisthorpe, Quinton, and Pendleton are not mentioned, and in 1535 the last of these was the priory's most valuable single possession. (fn. 77) It was thus one of the wealthier houses of the order in Staffordshire. At the quo warranto inquiry of 1293 the prior claimed the right of free warren in Coton, Orberton, Hopton, Fradswell, Drointon, Haywood, Lea, Colton, Whitgreave, Maer, Drayton, Stockton, Acton, Pendeford, and Shredicote (in Bradley). (fn. 78)
As a result either of conditions attached to various gifts made during the 13th century or of agreements with benefactors, an unusually large proportion of the community came to be nominated by outside patrons. In the earlier 13th century Sir Adam de Mutton and his heirs were granted the right to present a canon to the priory who was to celebrate mass for the soul of Philip de Mutton. (fn. 79) Similar agreements were made about 1260 with Giles de Erdington, (fn. 80) in 1281 with Thomas de Audlem, and in 1292 with Rose de Standon. (fn. 81) The size of the early community is not known before the 14th century. Including the prior it numbered 13 in 1342, (fn. 82) 7 in 1377, 6 in 1381, and 11 in 1389. (fn. 83) Although the priory was not a royal foundation requests for a corrody were made from time to time by the Crown. In 1316 the canons were asked to receive William Deuros, an infirm royal servant, into their house and to feed and clothe him during his lifetime. (fn. 84) A similar request was made on behalf of William le Ferour two years later. (fn. 85) A demand was made by Bishop Meuland that the priory should grant a 40s. pension to his barber; in 1280, however, Archbishop Pecham forbade the prior to pay this and castigated such use of monastic revenues as sacrilegious. (fn. 86)
In the later Middle Ages St. Thomas's Priory seems to have increased its possessions rather more than might have been expected. About 1300 the priory was given a rent of 10s. from the mill of Bupton (in Longford, Derb.) by Sir Geoffrey de Gresley, a former companion in arms of Robert de Ferrers, Earl of Derby. (fn. 87) In 1335 the Crown granted the canons a licence to acquire property worth £10 a year. (fn. 88) Small acquisitions followed. In 1347 grants of land in Hopton and Pendeford were permitted by the Crown; these were worth 5s. a year. (fn. 89) In 1383 the Crown allowed the acquisition under the licence of 1335 of various properties worth altogether £1 a year; (fn. 90) these included messuages, shops, gardens, and 6s. rent as well as arable land and meadow and were situated in Stafford, Salt (in St. St. Mary's, Stafford), Hanyards (in Tixall), Silkmore, Walton-on-the-Hill (in Baswich), and Acton Trussell and in Amerton (in Stowe), Lea, and Newton. (fn. 91) The licence of 1335 was not used up until 1404 when the priory was allowed to acquire lands worth £3 6s. 8d. in Salt and Enson and in Stafford. (fn. 92) The annual value of the lands granted under the original licence was thus a nominal £10; in reality they were worth only £4 11s. 8d. Nevertheless the priory did acquire other more valuable properties during the 14th century under separate licences from the Crown. In 1351 Ralph, Earl of Stafford, gave the priory a messuage and an acre of land in Bushbury and also the advowson of the church; (fn. 93) the church was appropriated to the priory in 1356 by Bishop Northburgh. (fn. 94) In 1389 Sir Robert Ferrers gave the priory the advowson of the church of Weston-upon-Trent and also stipulated that the brethren should receive 52s. a year from its revenues to augment their pittances every Wednesday by 1d. each. The church was appropriated to the priory in the following year. (fn. 95)
Bishop Northburgh visited the priory in March 1347 and found much to criticize. The frequent absences of the subprior on business had led to a breakdown of regular discipline and had encouraged waste and needless expense. No accounts and no inventory of the priory's goods were available. Three of the canons had kept hounds in the priory and gone hunting in the company of laymen. Some canons, considering themselves better born than their brethren, had adopted worldly fashions in their dress and had gone about in tunics and peaked boots and with knives at their belts. The bishop forbade the prior to employ the subprior on business outside the priory and ordered that annual accounts were to be kept by the obedientiaries and by any canon who was given charge of the priory's goods. In future no canon was to hunt or keep hounds or hawks and all were to adopt the regular dress. Any canon wishing to visit his family or friends was to do so only once a year for eight days, and only if accompanied by one of his brethren. The bishop also ordered that his visitation decrees were to be read in chapter four times a year. The prior's resignation later the same year was presumably a consequence of the unsatisfactory state of affairs which the visitation had revealed. (fn. 96)
In 1400 a papal indulgence was issued to penitents who visited the priory church and gave alms for its support. (fn. 97) The priory continued to acquire property in the 15th century. (fn. 98) In 1408 Bishop Burghill gave the canons the advowson of the vicarage of Baswich church; a few days later he appropriated it to them and allowed them to serve it either by a suitable secular chaplain or by one of their own number. (fn. 99) The bishop's grant states that the priory was poverty-stricken and burdened with much almsgiving being situated on the road to Stafford. In 1411 Henry IV, who had stayed in the priory before his victory at Shrewsbury eight years previously, (fn. 100) granted the canons licence to acquire property worth £10 a year; once again the grant was made on account of the poverty of the house. (fn. 101) In 1414 the canons received property in Rickerscote, Orberton, and Stafford under this licence, (fn. 102) and in 1416 they purchased land in Stafford and Marston from Sheen Priory (Surr.). (fn. 103)
Little is known of the priory during the last century before the Dissolution. An early-15thcentury book of Augustinian observances, once belonging to St. Thomas's Priory, (fn. 104) is one of only three such English custumals to have survived. Apart from this and the records of lawsuits (fn. 105) there is no light on the internal history of the community before the visitation of 1518. (fn. 106) The community then numbered 8 including a novice; according to the subprior this was one below the complement of brethren. The officials were the subprior, precentor, and sacrist. The prior ruled the house autocratically but well. He gave the income of the priory as £140 a year, which he claimed to have increased by 20 marks a year. The house was £49 in debt but was owed £100. He stated that the standard of observance was satisfactory, and that there was daily reading of the Benedictine constitutions as well as of the Augustinian rule. (fn. 107) According to the precentor the prior relied too much on the advice of Richard Hervy, one of the brethren. (fn. 108) The truth behind this complaint may be that a few senior brethren had obtained an undue influence over the prior's conduct of business; the subprior stated that the inventory of the priory's goods was not read out before the whole convent, while the prior himself admitted that his account 'was delivered each year to the senior brethren, not before the whole convent'. A few irregularities were noted: some brethren did not sleep in the dormitory; the canons had ceased to use the refectory for meals and ate each day with the prior; (fn. 109) according to the precentor the prior's servants did not show proper respect towards the brethren, and since the last visitation the number of hunting dogs had increased. The visitor ordered the prior to render his annual account before the whole convent, to make a new inventory of the priory's goods, to take the advice of his brethren only and not that of laymen, and to secure payment of the debts owed to the priory, if necessary by process of law. The number of brethren was to be increased; three of them were to eat with the prior each day, the other five eating in the refectory. The prior's servants were to behave more suitably towards the brethren and the hunting dogs were to be removed. Another visitation in 1524 shows that some of the instructions of 1518 had not been complied with: (fn. 110) some brethren still did not sleep in the dormitory, the complaint about the neglect of the refectory was repeated, some of the servants were alleged to be dishonest, the number of brethren had not increased, and the prior did not render an account or keep an inventory. Nevertheless the prior's rule was praised by his brethren, and the visitor merely repeated his previous instruction about rendering an annual account.
In 1535 the Valor Ecclesiasticus gave the gross annual value of the priory's possessions as £180 18s. 9½d., a figure which made it the wealthiest house of the order in the county. (fn. 111) Gross temporal income amounted to £130 16s. 5½d. and was derived mainly from estates within the county; the most valuable single estate, however, was the manor of Pendleton valued at £18 18s. 6d. Net income from temporalities amounted to £115 12s. 6½d. after deductions which included an annual fee of £4 to Lord Ferrers, of Chartley, steward of the priory's Staffordshire manors, and one of £1 to Sir Alexander Ratclyffe, steward of Pendleton manor. Gross spiritual income amounted to £50 2s. 4d., but various payments reduced this to £26 0s. 72/3d. Total net income was thus £141 13s. 21/6d., almost exactly the figure given by the prior in 1518. An extent of most of the priory estates, (fn. 112) made early in 1543 after they had passed to Brian Fowler, gives the gross annual income from the property as £208 5s. 2d. The spiritual possessions, then worth £47 10s. 8d. a year, consisted of the appropriated churches of Stowe-by-Chartley, Bushbury, Caverswall, Westonupon-Trent, Gayton, Maer, and Audlem, and the appropriated vicarage of Baswich. The temporal property, producing £160 14s. 6d. a year, consisted of the priory site and the demesnes belonging to it (by then known as Lees Grange), Orberton Grange, the manors of Coton, Drayton, Maer, Apeton, and Pendleton, and lands and rents in Stafford, Marston (in St. Mary's, Stafford), Tillington, Amerton, Drointon, Grindley (in Stowe-by-Chartley), Newton, Lea, Acton Trussell, Hopton, Shredicote, Whitgreave, Admaston (in Blithfield), Rickerscote, Lichfield, Bishton, Oulton, Marchington (in Hanbury), Bednall, Walton-on-the-Hill, and Stockton (all in Baswich), Ashbourne, Kniveton (Derb.), Donisthorpe, Quinton, Nantwich (Ches.), Westonupon-Trent, Charnes (in Eccleshall), Stowe-byChartley, and Audlem. The extent does not include the manors of Fradswell and Pendeford which had by this time passed to William and James Fowler respectively, or the priory lands in Colton and Salt which had passed to Roland Fowler; (fn. 113) in 1535 the gross annual value of these properties had been £29 12s. 4½d. (fn. 114)
Early in 1536, when the dissolution of the priory seemed imminent, there began a scramble for its property. In April Rowland Lee, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield and patron of the priory, wrote to Cromwell:
... I pray you remember my suit for the priory of Saint Thomas, and if it shall stand the king's highness shall have not only a certain sum but you also for your goodness. And if that will not be, then my trust is that forasmuch as the demesnes came from the mitre that I may have the preferment of the house and demesnes for one of my kinsfolk . . . (fn. 115)
By June Lee had evidently received assurances that he would obtain the priory's lands. (fn. 116) In July, however, St. Thomas's was exempted from suppression under the Act dissolving the lesser monasteries, (fn. 117) probably in return for the £133 6s. 8d. which the canons had promised to the Crown for 'toleration and continuance'. (fn. 118) The payment of this large sum, almost a whole year's net income, evidently created difficulties. In 1537 the prior sent Cromwell £20; in an accompanying letter he recalled that £60 had been sent earlier in the year and asked for another £20 to be respited. (fn. 119) It was perhaps the canons' efforts to buy exemption which led to Bishop Lee's accusation in 1538 that the prior was making 'unreasonable waste'. The bishop repeated his request for the possessions of the priory 'at an easy rent that the poor boys my nephews may have some relief thereby'. (fn. 120)
In October 1538 Prior Whytell and five canons surrendered the priory and its possessions to the Crown. (fn. 121) The prior received an annual pension of £26 13s. 4d. and the five canons pensions ranging from £6 to £5. One other canon, William Boudon, did not sign the surrender; he received the smallest gratuity of any of the brethren and no pension. Gratuities were paid to 29 servants of the priory as well as to the prior and brethren. (fn. 122) The following year the ex-prior became Vicar of Audlem, and he retained this living until his death some 18 years later. (fn. 123) On the day following the surrender Bishop Lee paid over £87 for part of the fabric of the priory church, the cloister, and the chapter-house, for the furnishings and fittings of the priory, for timber and hay there, and for grain, farm implements, and cattle at the nearby granges of Baswich and Orberton. (fn. 124) Plate weighing 28½ ozs. remained unsold while other plate had been mortgaged for more than £43, doubtless to raise the money for continuance. (fn. 125) Lead worth £40, four bells worth £54, and the fabric of certain buildings within the priory precinct also remained unsold. (fn. 126) The priory's debts amounted to almost £236. (fn. 127) In October 1539 the priory and all its landed possessions and churches were granted in fee to Bishop Lee. On his death in 1543 the site and most of the property passed to his nephew Brian Fowler under a settlement of 1540; three other nephews received most of the remainder. (fn. 128)
The present entrance to Priory Farm is almost certainly on the exact site of the medieval entrance to the precinct. (fn. 129) The most considerable remains are those of the conventual church and the western and southern ranges of the cloister court. (fn. 130) Part of the conventual church is to be seen in a stretch of walling some 39 feet long on the north side of the garden of Priory Farm. The work is without doubt of the earlier 13th century and is part of the north wall of the north transept; two main features of the wall are a respond standing to full height with its original capital and, immediately to the east, a plain aumbry. These were probably parts of a chapel against the east wall of the transept. (fn. 131) The west end of the church may have been in line with the west wall of the present house. (fn. 132) The cloister lay on the south side of the church and was almost certainly — and unusually—rectangular rather than square. (fn. 133) Priory Farm incorporates medieval features and rooms which probably belonged to the western range of the cloister. The inventory of 1538 mentions the Water Chamber, the Great Chamber, two inner chambers, a chamber over the chapel, and the carter's chamber, all of which were probably in or near the western range. The Prior's Parlour, also mentioned in the inventory, was probably on the first floor of the western range. Of the southern range of the cloister the best preserved part is its south wall, the greater part of which remains to about first-floor level. This range evidently projected well beyond the western range of the cloister and probably contained the buttery, kitchen, brewhouse, and bakehouse mentioned in the 1538 inventory. The frater was probably on the first floor at the east end of the southern range. Nothing is now to be seen of the eastern range of the cloister, which probably contained the chapter-house and dorter and through which a passage led to the cemetery near the east end of the church. (fn. 134) At the south-western corner of the precinct the bridge (which retains a little medieval work) and the present Mill Farm certainly stand on medieval sites. (fn. 135)
Walter, occurs by 1181 and at some time between 1184 and 1197. (fn. 136)
Adam, possibly occurs at some time between 1189 and 1216. (fn. 137)
Robert, occurs at some time between 1198 and 1208 and in 1199. (fn. 138)
Ralph, occurs 1203. (fn. 139)
Philip, occurs probably at some time between 1215 and 1225, in 1221 and 1227, and at some time before 1242. (fn. 140)
Richard, occurs 1248. (fn. 141)
Nicholas, occurs 1255 and 1276. (fn. 142)
Richard, occurs 1277 and 1277-8. (fn. 143)
Nicholas of Aspley, occurs 1278 and 1294. (fn. 144)
Richard of Hilderstone, occurs 1295, died 1343. (fn. 145)
Thomas of Tittensor, elected 1343, resigned 1347. (fn. 146)
Robert of Cheadle, elected 1347, occurs 1358. (fn. 147)
Richard de Mere, elected probably in 1365. (fn. 148)
Nicholas de Huxton, occurs 1374 and 1403-4. (fn. 149)
Thomas Swyneshede, elected 1405, died 1412. (fn. 150)
Richard Bowyer alias Stafford, elected 1412, occurs 1445. (fn. 151)
Richard Colwich, elected 1447, resigned 1478. (fn. 152)
William Chedull, elected 1478, occurs 1488. (fn. 153)
John Messyngham, occurs 1504 and 1533. (fn. 154)
Richard Whytell, occurs 1534, surrendered the priory 1538. (fn. 155)
A seal of the priory in use by about the end of the 13th century, possibly a counterseal, (fn. 156) is a pointed oval, 1 by 1½ in. It depicts the martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket by the four knights; in the base under a trefoiled arch is the head and shoulders, in right profile, of an ecclesiastic praying. Legend, lombardic:
A seal in use in 1433-4 (fn. 157) and at the time of the surrender (fn. 158) is a pointed oval, 1½ by 2½ in. It depicts St. Thomas seated on a panelled throne under a three-arched canopy; his right hand is raised in blessing and his left hand holds a crozier. In the base is a corbel. Legend, black letter: