A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
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23. THE AUSTIN FRIARS OF ATHERSTONE
Ralph Lord Basset of Drayton, in 1375, founded a house of Austin Friars at Atherstone, assigning them twelve acres of land for a site. (fn. 1) An agreement was arrived at between John Combe, the first warden or prior, and the rector of Mancetter that the site should be exempt from tithes on payment of 20s. a year. This agreement was made in the presence of Ralph, the founder, the abbot of Leicester, Thomas Harecurt, lord of Bosworth, and others. (fn. 2)
The church and buildings took some little time to complete, for the will of lord Basset, dated 12 September, 1383, gave the friars a legacy of 500 marks towards their completion.
The Valor of 1535 (fn. 3) proves how true this small house of mendicant friars had been to their rule of poverty. Their total income was but 58s., and out of that they had to pay 26s. 8d., to the abbey of Merevale for the land on which their house stood, and 14s. to the lord of Atherstone, leaving them a clear income of 30s. 2d.
In May, 1538, Ingworth, then bishop of Dover, was at Atherstone on his mission of harrying the friars. He reported to his master Cromwell the creditable poverty of the house; the goods had gone and the house was worth but little, he had left the prior there for the time 'to see God served.' (fn. 4) In the following August he wrote again to the effect that he had received into the king's hands the friary of Atherstone, which he then described as a little house in decay, but might spend four marks a year, of which they paid four nobles a year in rent. One Amyas Hill, a servant of the king, had most of the ground on lease. There was no lead on the roofs, and the stuff was not worth 40s., besides a chalice and a bell. He found the Grey Friars the most difficult to deal with, for they were so loyal to each other, and so loth to depart though in such beggarly circumstances. He begged Cromwell to send down the warrants to these friars to change their habits. (fn. 5)