A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1973.
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12. THE PRIORY OF PYNHAM (fn. 1)
Adeliza, queen of Henry I and subsequently wife of William d'Albigny and countess of Arundel, sometime before 1151 gave a small parcel of land on the east bank of the River Arun for the support of two or three chaplains who were to live under monastic rules, to celebrate daily in the chapel of St. Bartholomew—which was to be built there; and were further to keep in repair the causeway and wooden bridge across the river, for which purpose the earl of Arundel granted them leave to take wood in his forest— the stone for the causeway being obtained close at hand; and to maintain a hospital or hostelry for poor travellers. (fn. 2) A number of small grants of land were made by various persons, William Hareng giving the tithe of bread and drink in his household, but afterwards changing this inconvenient grant for a piece of meadow land. The land on which the hospital, or Augustinian priory, was built, was called Pynham, but the priory was more usually known as 'the Causeway' (de Calceto, la Chaucée). It was originally under the patronage of St. Bartholomew, but an attempt was apparently made to add St. Thomas of Canterbury's title, though this latter did not long continue patron. (fn. 3) Although it held land in about ten parishes it was never anything but a small house and a poor one. The priory would seem to have got deeply into debt in 1309 if one accepts the evidence of the Close Roll for that year, which records the prior's acknowledgement of a debt of £400 to Thomas de Burne; (fn. 4) the very magnitude of the sum, however, makes it probable that this was a formal bond of some kind. In 1340 orders were given not to levy the ninth of sheaves, fleeces, and lambs from the canons of this house, as they were so slenderly endowed that their lands did not suffice for their maintenance without the alms of the faithful (fn. 5); and five years later they were exempted from taxation for the same reason. (fn. 6) In each of these grants the canons are called 'keepers of the bridge of Arundel.'
For reasons not stated Robert Coitere was deposed from the office of prior in, or before, 1355, and sent to do penance at Shulbred, the prior of which house reported that he was behaving well and obediently; the earl of Arundel, however, informed the archbishop that the deposed prior was wandering about the neighbourhood bringing scandal upon the order, whereupon the archbishop commanded that he should be kept within the precincts of Shulbred, and imprisoned if disobedient. (fn. 7) In 1380 there was only one canon besides the prior, (fn. 8) and the same was the case in 1439 (fn. 9) and 1441, (fn. 10) at which latter date the property of the house was in the hands of trustees until it could be cleared of debt. At a visitation held in 1478 (fn. 11) the prior said that there used sometimes to be three canons, but usually only a prior and his chaplain; there were at this time two canons besides the prior, but they had both been nonresident for the last six years, by licence of the late prior. The priory was burdened with a number of small corrodies, and the rents had fallen from £40 to 40 marks. The buildings were in bad repair, vestments few and books still fewer, but there were two chalices (one gilt), a silver salt cellar, and a silver cup and two spoons, as well as twenty-four cattle, and the debts were not more than 4 marks. When the priory was visited in 1521 the prior and his two canons reported that all was well, (fn. 12) but when this prior, William Aylyng, died in December, 1524, only one canon remained, and the place became 'desolate and prophane.' (fn. 13) Three months before Prior Aylyng's death the fate of Pynham was decided, Cardinal Wolsey having obtained licence from the pope (fn. 14) and from the king (fn. 15) to suppress it and grant its revenues to the great college that he was founding at Oxford. Accordingly, in 1525, the priory was suppressed, (fn. 16) and in the following year the bishop, dean, and chapter of Chichester quitclaimed the site of the monastery to the authorities of Cardinal's College, Oxford. (fn. 17)
Priors of Pynham
Ivo, occurs 1230 (fn. 18)
Stephen, occurs 1252 (fn. 19)
William, occurs 1320 (fn. 22)
Robert Coitere, deposed (fn. 23)
Henry, occurs 1346-56 (fn. 24)
John Hormer, elected 1402 (fn. 29)
John Baker, resigned 1438 (fn. 30)
John Buryman, resigned 1488 (fn. 35)
Robert, surrendered 1525 (fn. 42)
The fifteenth-century seal is circular (2½ in.) and shows St. Bartholomew, standing in a niche with trefoiled canopy, crocketed and pinnacled, and with elaborate tabernacle work at the sides; in the right hand a knife, in the left hand a book. In base, a human head between two oak-leaves. (fn. 43)