A History of the County of Suffolk: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1975.
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22. THE PRIORY OF ST. PETER AND ST. PAUL, IPSWICH
The priory of St. Peter and St. Paul was established in the parish of St. Peter, Ipswich, for Austin canons about the end of the reign of Henry II. It is said to have been founded by the ancestors of Thomas Lacy and Alice his wife; (fn. 1) but the crown claimed the patronage as early as the reign of Henry III, and continued to issue a congè d'èlire on vacancies down to its suppression.
Very little is known of its early history.
The gift of Letheringham, early in the thirteenth century, and the establishment of a small cell of this house, is described under Letheringham priory.
From the taxation roll of 1291 we find that it was then in possession of a considerable income. It held the appropriation of the Ipswich churches of St. Peter, St. Nicholas, and St. Clement, and also the rectories of Cretingham and Wherstead, and a portion of Swineland; the annual total of the spiritualities was £36 10s. The temporalities in lands and rents, chiefly in Ipswich and the suburbs, amounted to £45 17s. 5d. a year, giving a total income of £82 7s. 5d. (fn. 2)
A grant was made 15 February, 1289, to the sub-prior and convent of the church of SS. Peter and Paul, for a fine of £10, of the custody of their house during voidance. John de Ipswich, a canon of the church, had brought word to Westminster in the previous week of the resignation of William de Secheford, their prior. Licence was obtained for a new election, and the assent of the crown to the election of John de St. Nicholas was forwarded to the bishop on 5 May. (fn. 3)
Licence was obtained by the prior in 1303 to enclose, with the assent of Hugh Haraud, a void plot of land, six perches long by three broad, a little distance from the priory, together with an adjoining road, to build on the same for the enlargement of the priory, on condition that a like road was made on their own adjacent ground. (fn. 4) The priory obtained licence in 1320 to acquire lands in mortmain to the annual value of £10; in the same year they had benefactions to the annual value of 41s. 4d. a year. (fn. 5) In 1329 the priory obtained further grants, under this licence, of the annual value of 55s. (fn. 6)
Robert Bishop, at the request of Edward I, had obtained sustenance for life at this priory; and on his death Edward II had made a like grant to Gerard de Cessons of sustenance fit for a man of gentle birth, adding that Nicholaa, Gerard's wife, should receive the same for her life if she survived her husband. Edward III, in 1330, granted to the priory that, after the death of their pensioners Gerard and Nicholaa, the house should not be further burdened by the crown after that fashion. (fn. 7)
Thomas de Lacy and Alice his wife obtained licence in 1344 to alienate to this priory land at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, and the advowson of the church of St. John Baptist of that town, for the celebration in that church of masses for their souls and their ancestors; the licence also authorized the appropriation of Duxford church to the priory. (fn. 8)
The priory paid in 1392 for licence to accept, from Roger de Wolferston and others, considerable benefactions in lands at Thurlston and other places, to find a canon-regular to celebrate daily in their church for the souls of Thomas Harold and John de Claydon. (fn. 9)
Archdeacon Goldwell visited this priory as commissary of his brother the bishop in January, 1493, but no particulars were recorded in the register. (fn. 10) The next recorded visitation is that by the vicar-general on behalf of Bishop Nykke, in August, 1514. Prior Godwyn presented his accounts from the time of his appointment, but not as an inventory; he complained that the brethren did not duly rise for mattins. John Laurence, who was serving the church of St. Nicholas, Ipswich, said that the brethren were disobedient in not rising for mattins. Geoffrey Barnes, who served the church of St. Peter, considered that everything was well and laudably done. William Browne complained that the foundation of a chantry within the church of St. Peter was not observed, that the brethren did not have their usual pension and that there was no schoolmaster. There were other complaints as to the absence of a schoolmaster, and as to comparatively small matters, such as no lunch (jentacula) in the morning. Nine canons were examined, in addition to the prior. The injunctions of the vicar-general ordered the canons to rise for mattins and to be obedient to the prior, and the prior to provide a chest with three locks for the custody of the seal before Michaelmas, and a teacher in grammar for the canons. (fn. 11)
A visitation was held on 2 August, 1520, by the Bishop of Chalcedon and Dr. Cappe, as the diocesan's commissaries, but no particulars are recorded. (fn. 12) The next visitation was held by Bishop Nykke in July, 1526. William Brown, the prior, four canons, and two novices were examined, all of whom reported omnia bene. The bishop found nothing worthy of reformation, but he enjoined the providing of a preceptor to teach the novices in grammar. (fn. 13)
When Wolsey formed his design in 1527 for the establishment of Cardinal's College, Ipswich, this priory was one of the small monasteries marked out for suppression for that purpose. Pope Clement issued a special bull sanctioning the dissolution of this house in May, 1528, in favour of the college. Therein it is described as holding the Ipswich churches of St. Peter and St. Nicholas, St. Clement and St. Mary-atQuay, and also the parish churches of Wherstead and Cretingham. (fn. 14)
On the disgrace of Wolsey, the Cardinal's College came to an end, and the king granted the site of this monastery of six acres, which served as the deanery of the short-lived college, to Thomas Alvard, one of the gentlemen ushers of the king's chamber. (fn. 15)
Priors of St. Peter and St. Paul, Ipswich
Gilbert, (fn. 16) elected 1225
Nicholas de Ipswich, (fn. 17) 1252
William de Secheford, (fn. 18) resigned 1289
John de St. Nicholas, (fn. 19) elected 1289
Henry de Burstall, (fn. 20) elected 1304
Henry de Kurseya, (fn. 21) elected 1311
Clement de Ipswich, (fn. 22) elected 1343
William de Ipswich, (fn. 23) died 1381
John de Monewedon, (fn. 23) 1381
John de Ipswich, (fn. 24) elected 1419
Geoffrey Stoke, (fn. 25) elected 1444
Geoffrey Grene, (fn. 26) died 1476
John York, (fn. 27) elected 1476-96
Thomas Godewyn, (fn. 28) occurs 1514
William Brown, (fn. 29) occurs 1526
The late twelfth-century seal of this priory is of much interest. It shows the priory church from the south with central tower and spire, nave, chancel, and south transept; over the roof, each side of the tower, are circular panels containing respectively the half-length figures of St. Peter with key and St. Paul with book. Legend:—
SIGILLUM ECCLE SCOR' PETRI ET PAUL' DE GIPESWIC. (fn. 30)
A small oval counterseal, probably the signet of the thirteenth-century prior, has the bust of an emperor with antique crown, from an ancient intaglio gem. Legend:—
MITTENTIS: CAPITI: : CREDIT' SICUTEI. (fn. 31)