Westminster Abbey Charters, 1066 - c.1214. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1988.

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'Introduction', Westminster Abbey Charters, 1066 - c.1214, (London, 1988), pp. 1-23. British History Online [accessed 23 June 2024].

. "Introduction", in Westminster Abbey Charters, 1066 - c.1214, (London, 1988) 1-23. British History Online, accessed June 23, 2024,

. "Introduction", Westminster Abbey Charters, 1066 - c.1214, (London, 1988). 1-23. British History Online. Web. 23 June 2024,

In this section


Westminster Abbey from its foundation to 1214

Saeberht, king of the East Saxons, and his wife founded a church dedicated to St Peter, on Thorney Island, in the Thames, to the west of London. (fn. 1) This couple were allegedly buried there, early in the seventh century but no further royal burials occurred on the site over the next 400 years or more. (fn. 2) Early in the eighth century, Offa of Essex restored this church. (fn. 3) Subsequently, Offa the Great of Mercia is said to have granted land to St Peter's, Westminster. (fn. 4) King Edgar, c. 959, sold the site to Archbishop Dunstan, who founded a monastery. (fn. 5) Edgar gave several manors to this foundation, and Ethelred Unraed gave or confirmed others. (fn. 6) Benefactions were received from further donors in the early eleventh century, by which time the house was moderately prosperous. (fn. 7) In 1040, King Harold I Harefoot was buried at Westminster, but his body is said to have been disinterred by his successor and half-brother, Harthacnut. (fn. 8) Since Harold was also regarded as a usurper by Harthacnut's uterine brother and successor, Edward, this royal burial presumably did not establish a precedent for him, when resolving to be buried at Westminster himself. (fn. 9) It is said in his biography, the Vita AEdwardi Regis qui apud Westmonasterium requiescit, that he was apprised of his belated accession to his realm by a vision of St Peter, whom he continued to hold in the highest regard. (fn. 10) The Westminster monk Sulcard, writing at the command of Abbot Vitalis (1076–c. 1085), maintained that Edward intended to make a pilgrimage to Rome, but abandoned this project in case the realm was endangered by his absence. Instead, he would honour St Peter by restoring the church which was dedicated to him at Westminster. (fn. 11)

This pre-existing dedication to St Peter may well have attracted Edward to Westminster, but perhaps equally important was its location near the reviving commercial centre of London, which commanded major routeways within England and also cross-Channel routes. A royal mausoleum would provide a better focus for national unity on this site than it would if built in Winchester, the old capital of Wessex.

Edward's endowment of St Peter's comprised almost twice the amount of land which the abbey already possessed. (fn. 12) He perhaps intended that Westminster should become the English counterpart of the abbey of St Denis, outside Paris. (fn. 13) Edward perhaps believed that the endowment of a comparable cult church (fn. 14) would help ensure the stability of the English monarchy, after the traumas of the previous decades.

During his last years, the church of St Peter at Westminster was rebuilt on a grand scale, as his mausoleum. (fn. 15) Earlier in the eleventh century, several large churches had been built throughout the western empire, designed intentionally to reflect the weight of the emperor's rule. Edward's grandiose plans for the rebuilding of Westminster may in part have consciously imitated these imperial projects. (fn. 16) Architectural influences probably drew heavily, too, on recent Norman buildings, especially Jumièges, no doubt due to the influence of its former abbot, Robert Champart, bishop of London from 1044, and archbishop of Canterbury 1051–2. (fn. 17) The rebuilt St Peter's was consecrated on 28 December 1065 and Edward died on the night of 4–5 January 1066. (fn. 18)

Both Harold II Godwinson and William I were crowned in the abbey, (fn. 19) establishing its traditional role as the coronation church, but the Norman dynasty established in 1066 made no attempt to associate its fortunes with St Peter's. In 1075, Queen Edith, widow of Edward, was buried in the abbey beside her husband. Queen Matilda, the Anglo-Scottish first wife of Henry I, died at Westminster in 1118, when she was buried next to them, (fn. 20) but no further royal burials followed before that of Henry III. William I and his sons intermittently celebrated the feast of Christmas, or that of Pentecost, at Westminster. (fn. 21) A monetary offering was traditionally made to the abbey on such occasions (58).

Successive Anglo-Norman kings did not regard Westminster Abbey as having any special claim on their generosity. The royal charters, leaving forgeries aside, reveal their grantors as responding to requests for confirmations (e.g. 4, 27), or for the rendering of justice (e.g. 22, 56). King Stephen's charters display a certain generosity (114, 118), only natural in that his bastard son Gervase was abbot from 1138, but even this king chose to establish a new royal mausoleum at Faversham, rather than to regard the abbey as such. Henry II and his sons, like their Norman predecessors, looked elsewhere when establishing their mausolea, (fn. 22) and their attitude generally was one of response, rather than of active benefaction.

The composition of this volume

The present volume comprises only those charters, whether surviving in their original form or as transcripts, which were granted to the abbey, or were issued by the abbot, prior or monks, between the accession of William I and the deposition of Abbot Ralph Arundel in January 1214. The genuine charters granted to the abbey before the autumn of 1066 are excluded from this volume, but there is detailed discussion of them in other works. (fn. 23) Spurious charters of King Edward, and others, which contain clear signs of post-Conquest amendment, reflect the interests of the abbey in the period covered by this volume, and are briefly tabulated on pp. 321–2. The reader is there referred to their detailed discussion elsewhere.

There follows a calendar of royal, papal and episcopal documents issued for the abbey in the period October 1066 to January 1214. The decision not to print these in full was reached both on the pragmatic grounds of keeping the size and cost of this volume within manageable proportions, and also in order to avoid an overlap with the work of other editors. Papal documents are readily accessible, chiefly in the volumes of Papsturkunden in England. Episcopal charters are in some cases printed in monographs devoted to a single cleric, and the remainder are either already published in existing volumes of the English Episcopal Acta, or are intended for forthcoming volumes in that series. Royal charters are either already published, usually in the volumes of the Regesta Regum Anglo-Normannorum, or are in process of being edited for inclusion in its further volumes. (fn. 24) Yet by bringing together in calendar form the large number of charters pertaining to Westminster which have previously appeared in a wide variety of publications, the impact upon the abbey of the authorities of church and state can be more readily determined, while the content of their charters provides valuable background to those of the monks and the rank-and-file donors. The texts of these donors' charters, with those of the abbots and convent, are printed in full.

Some of the abbots' charters have previously been printed, as have a very small proportion of the donors' charters, but these have appeared in widely scattered publications. Their full texts are therefore included here, in their appropriate places among the unpublished charters in both groups.

Many twelfth-century documents which are now in the Abbey's possession are excluded from the present selection, on the grounds that they do not reflect Westminster's interests in the period 1066–1214. Charters concerning the foundation or endowment of the cells of Great Malvern, (243), Hurley, (462) and Kilburn (249–50) are included, since these documents take the form either of grants to the abbey or by the abbot and convent. Also included are a few charters concerning Westminster's relations with these cells (280, 285), and a rare document relating to that of St Bartholomew's, Sudbury (72, 130). Documents relating to further acquisitions by these houses are excluded entirely, as are other collections, such as the early charters of St Martin le Grand, or Poughley Priory, which came to the abbey only at the end of the middle ages. While the Luffield priory charters at the abbey have previously been published, (fn. 25) the opportunity remains for other scholars to produce selfcontained editions of the charters of some of the houses whose estates supported the last great building phase of the medieval abbey church. (fn. 26)

The Manuscripts

In general, there have survived at the Abbey the originals, or in some cases the purported originals, of the most important royal grants of lands or privileges, while the texts of administrative writs are largely known from copies. Papal bulls usually survive only as copies, since the originals were lost at the Reformation (but see 179, 191). More than half of the episcopal charters also survive only as transcripts, but the major proportion of the abbots' charters, and of those of the donors, survive in their original form. There are also a few original muniments, and purported originals, in the British Library, notably among the Harleian (e.g. 446–8) and Cotton Charters (e.g. 1, 57).

The Abbey Muniments contained in this volume are generally in good condition, considering both their great age, and also their repeated consultation, as evidenced by endorsements of successive dates. A considerable number of originals even preserve their seals, the legends of which can sometimes contribute to the identification of donors (e.g. 387). In a small number of cases, time has taken its toll, and the relevant description slip in the Abbey's boxed catalogue contains a terse note, such as 'damaged by damp'; 'damaged by damp and beetles', and, in a memorable instance, 'found in a rat's nest'.

Certain of the abbey's cartularies are invaluable, in filling the lacunae of damaged charters. (fn. 27) In the compilation of the present volume, two cartularies have proved invaluable. Muniment Book 11, usually known as the Westminster Domesday, and therefore cited in this volume as WAD, is a large volume dating from the early years of Edward II's reign. (fn. 28) It records in full many of the muniments, including most of those of the donors who appear in this edition, and normally gives full attestations. Separate sections of this manuscript are reserved for those charters relating to the income of particular obedientiaries. Probably at the time this cartulary was planned, many of the muniments were endorsed with the name of the relevant obedientiary, and numbered in red ink, but a check of such endorsements against folio headings and entries in WAD revealed that charters were not always entered systematically. A detailed index of this volume may be consulted at the abbey.

British Library MS Cotton Faustina A III, hereafter cited as F, is a handsome volume, slightly earlier than WAD, which includes copies of many of the muniments, but chiefly those of notables, such as kings, popes and bishops. (fn. 29) Although its texts are often clearer than those in WAD, attestations are frequently omitted.

Further Westminster cartularies which have proved useful in compiling the present volume (fn. 30) are British Library MS Cotton Titus A VIII, hereafter cited as T, a cartulary of privileges dating from the earlier fourteenth century; British Library MS Cotton Claudius A VIII, cited hereafter as C, compiled c. 1450, and largely comprising extracts, notably from John Flete's History of Westminster; Westminster Abbey Muniment Book I, known as the Liber Niger Quaternus, cited hereafter as LN, a fifteenth-century compilation; Westminster Abbey Muniment Books 3 and 12; and London College of Arms MS Young 72, hereafter cited as CAY. (fn. 31) These latter volumes usually contribute little beyond further late copies, abstracts or simply memoranda of texts known from their originals, or from WAD or F. On occasion, though, their corroborative detail can be helpful. The text of the fugitives' oath (349) is taken from LN, while the best surviving text of one charter of William I is transcribed in a manuscript of the seventeenth century (83).

When original charters have been lost, their texts are often preserved in WAD, and sometimes additionally, or alternatively, in F. Occasionally, further copies are to be found in one or more of the later cartularies. On occasion, muniments have been mutilated as a result of a later medieval economy drive in the scriptorium. Some early-thirteenthcentury documents were trimmed and stitched together at a later date, so that the backs could be used for an account roll. As an afterthought, a scribe queried on one, in a memorandum, whether the deed had been registered, i.e. copied into WAD or F. It had not (347). In many cases where texts survive only as late copies, it is likely that the originals were re-cycled at a later date.

Further muniments were lost in comparatively modern times. There are instances where an eighteenth-century editor, such as Thomas Madox, printed a text 'from the autograph in the Westminster archives', (e.g. 35) but no such original is now to be found. Other originals disappeared even more recently. Indeed, until the red Martlet stamp was imprinted on each individual charter at the Abbey, a practice introduced c. 1900, a privileged researcher might abstract documents to work on at home, and then 'forget' to return them. The Dean and Chapter have, on occasion, been obliged to buy back documents which had earlier gone astray.

At the Dissolution, all but two of the illuminated manuscripts were seized from the abbey. The survivors each contained a text of the Coronation service. (fn. 32) Attendant upheavals caused the dispersal of certain of the cartularies (F, C and T) and charters (e.g. 36, 45) which eventually found their way into the collections of antiquarians, notably that of Sir Robert Cotton, and hence, ultimately, into the British Library.

At the Public Record Office, there are to be found some copies, or variants, of Westminster charters, normally in the form of enrolments in royal records. The Abbey possesses some early final concords, of which several (e.g. 310, 314, 316), although not the very earliest (287,296), can be collated with the corresponding feet of fines now in Chancery Lane. Cartularies of other religious houses (e.g. Reading, Godstow), which are now in the British Library or the Public Record Office, occasionally preserve a text of a charter granted by an abbot of Westminster. The records of other major religious foundations in London, notably St Paul's cathedral (fn. 33) and the Augustinian priories of Holy Trinity Aldgate (fn. 34) and St Bartholomew, Smithfield, (fn. 35) while providing an occasional variant text (e.g. 367, 377), have been more useful as sources of background information.

Selection and dating of the texts

The transcripts made by Desmond Murphy were very largely confined to those royal, papal, abbatial and episcopal charters which were issued 1066–1214, but this collection was incomplete, since it was virtually confined to those which had been published in standard works such as the Regesta Regum Anglo-Normannorum, Monasticon Anglicanum and Papsturkunden in England. I added further texts in all existing categories, and discovered originals of others which were previously represented by transcripts from cartularies. This enlarged collection was further augmented by the addition of many contemporary grants by other donors.

Selection and dating were greatly facilitated by use both of the abbey's card-index of people and places in the muniments, and of the separate boxed catalogue of descriptions of the charters. In many cases, each Muniment has two distinct description-slips: one in copperplate longhand, and a more modern, typed one. While the latter is the more legible, it does not usually give all the attestations, unlike the handwritten slip. The vast majority of the early muniments are undated and have been assigned dates by the compiler of the earlier description slips. However, these notional dates, including the very popular 'early Henry III', are often too late, when compared with the attestations on the hand-written slip.

Donors' charters are normally undated, and the donor does not usually name the abbot of the day. Approximate dates can often be determined by the attestations of figures whose term of office, or whose date of death, is known, e.g. London's first mayor, Henry Fitz Ailwin, or the royal treasurer, William of Ely.

In the task of dating the charters, much use has been made of the work of Susan Reynolds, who identified the more prominent citizens of London in this period. (fn. 36) Another valuable work is Gervase Rosser's unpublished thesis on the development of the vill of Westminster, (fn. 37) in which he identifies the major property owners, and lists the reeves of the vill and the early seneschals of the abbots.

While the leading witnesses can be used to date the vast majority of donors' charters, there is one joker in the pack, Odo the goldsmith. (fn. 38) In fact there were two men of this name, probably grandfather and grandson, whose many attestations range over several decades, extending from the abbacy of Ralph Arundel (e.g. 327–8) well into the reign of Henry III. Dating of donors' charters by attestations can be corroborated to some extent by the hand, terminology and content. In one or two cases (e.g. 439), a charter known to be slightly later in date has been deliberately included, to round off a series of related documents. Inevitably, as with any edition of charters of this period, some borderline cases remain.

Royal, papal and episcopal charters which fall within the chronological span present problems only in rare cases. Occasionally, when a text survives only as a cartulary entry, it happens that the scribe, in reproducing only the initial letter of the benefactor's name, has misunderstood it (e.g. 52). This failing is more often found in attestations (e.g. 40). Another problem in dating some royal charters is that the regnal style employed by William Rufus is identical with that of his father. While their respective charters can usually be identified on internal evidence, there are a few cases where the grant might have been issued by either, and the question is difficult to resolve.

Editorial method

The charters are presented here in the order of royal, papal, and episcopal, all in calendar form, followed by full texts of the abbots, prior and convent, and finally donors. The arrangement within each category is chronological, so far as the evidence permits, and the donors' charters are additionally grouped according to district and property.

The text of each charter is printed from the original, where it exists, and any gaps in a damaged document are supplied from the cartulary copies. The scribe's spelling, however unorthodox, is reproduced exactly; grammatical errors are amended and annotated; omissions are indicated in square brackets. Where texts are known only from copies, WAD is given, for the sake of its fuller attestations, in preference to F, although significant variations are noted. Punctuation is modernized and spelling of c/t, i/j and u/v is standardized throughout. Details of endorsements and of seals are given. Charters are numbered in one sequence. An asterisk following a number indicates that a text is less than genuine in its present form. Persons and places are indexed.

Comment on the texts has been kept as concise as possible. Variant transcripts are noted, but except in special circumstances, those dating from later than the reign of Edward III are excluded. Printed or calendared versions of texts are noted, and the reader is referred wherever possible to authorities on specific aspects of the abbey's charters, notably Barbara Harvey and Pierre Chaplais. Commentators on the abbey's muniments are heirs to a long tradition, which extends back through Armitage Robinson, dean of Westminster 1902–11 (fn. 39) and M. R. James, (fn. 40) through the eighteenth-century antiquarian Richard Widmore (fn. 41) to the fifteenth-century monk John Flete. (fn. 42) The twelfthcentury prior, Osbert de Clare, and the eleventh-century monk Sulcard should be considered as creators of Westminster manuscripts rather than as commentators upon them.

The political background and the forgeries

The monks of Westminster had good reason to be on the defensive in the later eleventh and twelfth centuries. The lavish patronage of Edward the Confessor was followed by the destabilizing of their endowment as a result of the Norman Conquest. William I ordered the exchange of certain estates with Westminster, to facilitate the creation of Windsor Forest (9), and withheld from Westminster bequests which were due to take effect on the death of Queen Edith. (fn. 43) Following the death of the last English abbot, Edwin, probably within two years of the Conquest, there was evidently a vacancy of some years before the succession of Geoffrey, who was deposed during his fourth year in office. (fn. 44) During the twelfth century, the financial and territorial interests of the abbey were damaged during several vacancies, (fn. 45) notably that which ended with the election of Abbot Herbert, c. January 1121 (73, 75), while at his death in 1136 the finances of the house were probably again in a poor state. (fn. 46) Lands were confiscated at the time of Gervase's deposition, 1157 × 58, (fn. 47); a two-year vacancy followed the death of Abbot Laurence, (fn. 48) and William Postard's election in 1191 was secured only after the fall of the justiciar, William Longchamps, who had been enforcing the candidacy of his brother. (fn. 49)

While successive kings and their agents were the chief predators on the abbey's financial and territorial rights, there were also other culprits. For instance, the London church of St Mary Newchurch was lost to Colchester abbey; (fn. 50) during the troubles of Stephen's reign, lands were attacked or appropriated by rapacious barons: in the West Midlands, by Earl Robert of Gloucester and his followers, (fn. 51) and by others further east (195). In the reign of Henry II, his minister Richard of IIchester took a rapacious interest in the abbey's properties (457), while during the troubles in King John's reign, there were incursions into the very precincts (151). It is not surprising that the monks embarked upon a vigorous policy of self-help, namely to reinforce their title to their lands by judiciously augmenting their archives.

The creation of forged charters at Westminster can perhaps be traced back to the eleventh century, when a charter was drawn up which purported to have been issued by Offa the Great. (fn. 52) Propaganda designed to improve the status of the abbey was generated by the monk Sulcard, in the later eleventh century, (fn. 53) but the greatest flowering of imaginative literature in the guise of forged charters may be ascribed to the activities of Prior Osbert de Clare, in the 1120s and 1130s, and to those who worked under his direction. (fn. 54)

The career of Osbert was somewhat stormy. Successive abbots and indeed his fellow monks may have experienced difficulties in working with him, but his overriding motivation was zeal for the wellbeing of the abbey, linked with a devotion to its patron, King Edward. (fn. 55) This zeal manifested itself in an indefatigable output of forged charters, designed to defend and strengthen the abbey's territorial and franchisal interests, and, tangentially, to promote the canonization of King Edward. To this end he composed a prose Life of the King, for production at the papal curia. (fn. 56)

Financial and managerial difficulties which grew during the abbacy of Herbert, 1121–36, evidently prompted the production of a forged bull of Pope Innocent II, designed to ensure that the new, young Abbot Gervase must henceforth act in concert with his chapter (161). (fn. 57) Other major products of Osbert and his subordinates included the texts, as they now survive, of Edward the Confessor's First, Second and Third Charters, and diplomas of Ethelred Unraed and Edgar. These and other 'preConquest' forgeries are briefly tabulated, and references are given to those authorities who discuss them most fully.

The handiwork of Prior Osbert and his associates can also be detected in a considerable number of post-Conquest muniments, chiefly charters and writs of William I (e.g. 1, 14–15), of Henry I to a lesser extent (e.g. 57, 70), and perhaps in some spurious charters of King Stephen (110–11, 119). Great energy and resourcefulness were displayed by Prior Osbert, and those who worked under, and followed after him. Their major productions have been examined in detail by Pierre Chaplais. (fn. 58) The output of less spectacular documents also presents a tantalizing challenge. The forgers were not complacent about their successes in this latter category, but strove to better their first efforts, notably in their steady output of spurious royal writs (e.g. 70, Where the text of the genuine, original writ survives, it is sometimes possible to trace through several stages the accretion of alleged privileges which were later thought appropriate to the property in question (e.g. 62–4). Sometimes a genuine writ has had inserted into it a clause, or clauses, awarding legal and fiscal exemption. Often, place of issue and attestations have been added, either to a genuine grant (e.g. 11–12) or to one which, in an intermediate phase, had already been embellished with clauses of exemption. Genuine writs of William I sometimes lacked attestations, but Osbert and his team, working in the 1120s and 1130s, when attested writs were the norm, clearly decided to up-date their muniments by adding attestations to those which lacked them. The witnesses usually chosen are prominent men of the late eleventh century, but sometimes their mutual attestation of any one document is impossible, given the respective dates at which they acquired their offices and titles, or, conversely the dates of their deaths (e.g. 11, 25). The numbers of such charters are asterisked in the same way as documents which are more seriously suspect.

The purpose of adding a place of issue to some of the eleventh-century charters was to build up evidence to suggest that in the latter part of William I's reign, the king, keeping Christmas in state at Westminster, traditionally made a gift to the abbey—perhaps a manor or two (e.g. 11, 28, 34).

The majority of forged royal documents are those purporting to date from the reign of William I, when there was a need to demonstrate that certain lands were held in the reign of Edward the Confessor (e.g. 17, 20) or, at latest, by the time of the Domesday Survey, (e.g. 13) which would strengthen Westminster's title to them. The forgeries purporting to have been granted by Henry I were made largely to ascribe franchisal rights to genuine Westminster properties (62–4, 74). Forged documents ascribed to his successors are comparatively rare, apart from some imaginative documents purporting to have been issued by King Stephen (119–21), and a series of Charters of Liberties, allegedly issued by successive kings at their coronations or early in their reigns. This latter series exemplifies the virtue of economy of effort to be derived from recycling. Apart from adjustments to the attestations and dating clause, virtually the same improbable grant was ascribed to successive kings (57, 110, 123). The language of these charters is that of a monastic scriptorium rather than the royal chancery, but it might be argued that newly-crowned kings were willing to seal documents produced in the house where their coronation took place. However, the lavish concessions embodied in these grants are unlikely to have appealed to any King, however euphoric his mood at the outset of his reign. These, and a few later suspect charters suggest that Osbert de Clare's immediate subordinates left their own well-trained successors. Some Westminster forgeries known from the thirteenth century (e.g. 121, 271) were designed to circumvent new legal impediments to the enjoyment of title, seignorial control or franchisal rights. (fn. 59)

Royal charters

The generous endowment of Edward the Confessor was quickly threatened by the circumstances of the Norman Conquest and settlement. It was essential that the abbey's lands and franchisal rights should be secured, and that the king's help should be enlisted for this purpose. Abbot Edwin (c. 1049–68) allegedly obtained the support of William I in several matters (e.g. 2, 3). No surviving royal charter is addressed to the first Norman abbot, Geoffrey (c. 1072– c. 1076), which perhaps suggests his failure in the basic responsibility of obtaining royal support for the house. However, if, as is discreetly hinted, there were scandalous grounds for his removal, it is possible that his name was 'edited out' of the texts of such writs as were addressed to him as abbot. (fn. 60) When early writs of William I survive only as cartulary copies, it may be asked whether Geoffrey was indeed the recipient (e.g. 6–10).

Geoffrey's successors, Abbot Vitalis (1076–85?) and Gilbert Crispin (?1085–1117/18), diligently enlisted royal protection of the abbey's interests (e.g. 19, 41).

Despite the inflation by the staff of the scriptorium of the numbers of charters and writs ascribed to William I, and, to a lesser extent, to Henry I, the numbers of their genuine documents considerably exceed those of other kings, although most of their grants simply represent a response to Westminster's petitions, rather than any spontaneous benevolence towards the abbey.

During abbatial vacancies, the more remote of the Westminster properties no doubt offered a tempting prey to the unscrupulous. The first priority of Abbot Herbert, on obtaining office after a vacancy, was to petition Henry I for the recovery of lost rights and possessions (75–82). The flow of documents in Henry's name continued until his final departure from England in 1133 (95–6). The abbey possesses one charter issued by his first wife. Queen Matilda (97), and another by their daughter, the Empress (98). There are comparatively few genuine charters of King Stephen. These include several grants of exemption from legal and financial obligations (105, 112–13, 116, 118). The limited number of Stephen's genuine grants is remarkable in that he was the father of Abbot Gervase (1138–c. 1157).

Following the burial at Westminster of Queen Matilda in 1118, her brother Earl David granted land in Tottenham to finance the commemoration of her obit (99). Later, as King of Scots, he issued further charters concerning this property (100–101), and confirmations were also obtained from his son, Earl Henry (102), and grandsons Malcolm IV (103) and William (104).

The charters of Henry II and his sons do not display any particular interest in the abbey, notwithstanding the newly-sanctioned cult of Edward the Confessor. (fn. 61) Their tone overall is rather that of a perfunctory response to urgent petitions for support (e.g. 125, 127). Given the length of Henry II's reign, the number of charters issued in his name on behalf of Westminster, even including his highly suspect charter of liberties (123), is not lavish, while those issued in the names of Richard and John total seven and five respectively. With the virtually continuous survival of the Pipe Rolls from this period, there is clear evidence that the abbot did not enjoy any special relationship with the crown, and that such royal support as the monks obtained might be purchased at considerable cost. (fn. 62)

Several charters issued in the later twelfth century suggested that the abbey was expected to present to some of its more lucrative livings royal clerks who were destined for high office (286, 463). (fn. 63) Moreover, the royal favour could be exercised to the detriment of the abbey's interests, as when its church of Bloxham was donated by Henry II to the nunnery of Godstow, where his mistress Rosamund Clifford was buried (225).

Papal documents

Letters ascribed to popes down to Paschal II (152–4) are spurious, while those of Innocent II and his successors are normally genuine. One exception is a letter ascribed to Innocent II, rebuking Abbot Gervase (161). Barbara Harvey has demonstrated that this should be regarded as the handiwork of Prior Osbert de Clare. (fn. 64)

Numbers of letters increase from the pontificates of Eugenius III and Adrian IV, and markedly from the time of Alexander III. That of Pope Innocent II to Henry de Blois, concerning the restoration of the abbey's property (159) reflects the occasional vulnerability of its holdings. Letters of Innocent II (158) and Alexander III (167–8) pronounce on successive efforts to achieve the canonization of King Edward. The pope was also petitioned for privileges in such matters as liturgical dress (173–4). Papal rulings were also requested concerning the exclusion of the jurisdiction of the bishop of London (172, 179), or the confirmation of the abbey's lands and churches (171, 177).

Papal legates were usually dispatched to resolve some major problem which had arisen within the ecclesia anglicana. Consultations and legatine synods sometimes took place in London or even at Westminster itself, (fn. 65) when the legate was thus conveniently at hand to be petitioned in the interests of the abbey. In 1138, the legate Alberic of Ostia 'ordained' Abbot Gervase. (fn. 66) More often, the legate would be petitioned for an indulgence for those worshippers who attended the abbey on certain major feast days. These indulgences demonstrate how the monks encouraged first one, then another saint's cult, in the hope of attracting the devotions, and the offerings, of the populace. St Peter's cult was favoured in the earlier of these grants, sometimes in tandem with St Paul (187–9). (fn. 67)

The cult of St Edward was encouraged around the time of his canonization (190), but was never popular. By the early thirtenth century, the cult of the abbey's Holy Relics (193) was considered more promising.

Naturally there is no mention in these documents of any quid pro quo. The only hint of this appears in the register of Hugh of Wells, bishop of Lincoln, in an entry made just after the close of the period covered by this volume, where the nephew of Nicholas, bishop of Tusculum, is recorded as being presented to the church of Launton by the abbot and monks. (fn. 68) The reader may conjecture whether this was in return for the indulgence recently granted to the abbey by Nicholas, in his capacity as papal legate (193), or for his role in the deposition of Abbot Ralph Arundel, whom the monks considered was overriding their interest in the management of their properties. (fn. 69)

With the increase in canon law jurisdiction in England in the later twelfth century came the regular employment of papal judges-delegate. Their rare verdicts concerning Westminster's interests in this period relate to the abbey's claim to certain churches (194, 225).

Episcopal charters

Most of these documents were issued by successive bishops of London. One was granted by Richard de Belmeis I (1108–27) (203) and another by his nephew, Richard II (1152–62) (204), but the majority were issued by Bishop Gilbert Foliot (1163–87) and by his successor, Richard Fitz Nigel (1189–98). These largely concern the abbey's claims to churches in the diocese, and in this respect, the bishop might be a valuable ally, since Westminster's claims to its parish churches were not always successful (90, 93). Charters of archdeacons of the diocese, concerning institutions to some of these churches' are printed in full among the Donors' charters (e.g. 368–9). However, the monks claimed exemption from visitation by the bishop. Sulcard of Westminster related that St Peter himself had consecrated the earliest church on Thorney Island, thus forestalling the intention of Bishop Mellitus to perform this office. (fn. 70) A somewhat suspect Westminster account maintained that Bishop Gilbert 'the Universal' (1127–34) celebrated mass in the church, and took the offerings of the altar, thus challenging the abbey's claim to immunity, and prompting the monks to seek papal confirmation of their supposed rights. (fn. 71) Westminster's claim to be directly under papal jurisdiction to the exclusion of the bishop of London was confirmed in several bulls issued during the twelfth century (e.g. 155, 172).

The bishops of Lincoln are also frequently represented, owing to Westminster's possession of several churches in that diocese (222–27). The abbey's lands and churches in other dioceses occasioned the infrequent issue of charters from the bishops of Chichester (228), Winchester (231–2) and Worcester (233), among others, while the acquisition of episcopal property in Westminster prompted the issue of one charter by a bishop of Exeter (230).

Charters of archbishops feature to a lesser extent. One royal charter refers to a territorial dispute between Westminster and Anselm of Aosta, at that time still abbot of Bec (26). Archbishop Theobald, towards the end of his primacy, issued several confirmations for the abbey (197–9). While there is no direct mention of Thomas Becket, the monks agreed to the presentation of his nephew John to one of their churches (365). Archbishop Richard is represented by two confirmations, to successive members of one family, of land which was acquired by Westminster towards the end of this period (201–2).

There are, in the Donors' section, charters of three former senior royal clerks, who were appointed to Continental sees. Their charters for the abbey concern English properties in which they had earlier had an interest (365, 401, 463). The texts of these charters are printed in full, since they would not otherwise be readily accessible to readers in England.

Transactions with other religious houses

This collection includes surprisingly few charters concerning other religious houses in the London area. There is no charter issued on behalf of any house within the City of London. The Cluniac priory of Bermondsey claimed against Westminster the city church of St Magnus the Martyr (287) and there were dealings with the nunnery of Kilburn, a cell of Westminster (280); with St James's hospital (392); with the nunnery of Clerkenwell (292); and the canons of St Martin le Grand (257). One charter was issued by the Master of the Templars (354).

Further afield, the great Benedictine house of St Albans intermittently challenged Westminster over lands and other rights in Hertfordshire (281–2), disputes which were allegedly exacerbated by the activities of Abbot Laurence of Westminster. Prior Alquin of St Albans, on being deposed from office, following allegations concerning the existence of an illicit seal, fled to Westminster, where Laurence admitted him. In due course Alquin's exemplary conduct led to his election as Prior there, and he was eventually exonerated of charges detrimental to St Albans. (fn. 72)

The little Benedictine nunnery of Shouldham issued one charter after negotiations involving its patron, Geoffrey Fitz Peter (476–7). When papal judges-delegate awarded Bloxham church, previously held by Westminster, to the Benedictine nunnery of Godstow (225), its abbess issued a charter reserving a pension to the abbey (481). A memorandum survives of an exchange of land made with Merton priory (268). There is also one confirmation issued for the Cluniac priory of Lewes (260), and abbots of Bec occur in two charters (26, 361).

Confraternity agreements with other houses rarely survive from this period. Abbot Vitalis made one such with Durham cathedral priory (235), while in the later twelfth century another was made with the canons of St Victor, Paris, probably as a result of previous contacts between Abbot Laurence and that house (400). It may be conjectured that agreements with other religious houses were recorded in the martyrology, which is now lost.

Charters of the abbots of Westminster

No charter has survived in the name of Abbot Edwin (c. 1049–68), or in that of his successor, Geoffrey (c. 1072-c. 1076). Abbot Vitalis (c. 1076–85) has left only two charters (234–5). Seven charters survive from the long abbacy of Gilbert Crispin (1085–1117/18) (236–42). (fn. 73) Herbert (1121–c. 1136) has left nine (243–50). Such limited numbers in proportion to the length of their abbacies preclude any realistic analysis of their policies.

Abbot Gervase (1138–c. 1157), in contrast, has left some twenty-four charters (251–74). His later reputation at Westminster, as recorded by John Flete in the fifteenth century, is that of an unsatisfactory abbot who had mismanaged the abbey's estates. In recent decades, the reputation of Gervase has been somewhat rehabilitated. H. G. Richardson and G. O. Sayles noted the extent to which his reputation suffered at the hands of his pro-Angevin successor, Laurence. They suspected, probably rightly, that the real reason for the dismissal of Gervase was his kinship to King Stephen. (fn. 74)

Barbara Harvey has re-examined the traditional allegations against Gervase, with particular reference to Flete's accusation that he granted several fee-farms on terms which were detrimental to the interests of the abbey. She demonstrated that several of the grants in question were actually made by other abbots. In particular, both the text and the hand of the Deerhurst grant reveal that, in its present form, it is a thirteenthcentury product (271). (fn. 75) Of the remaining grants, the majority were made on reasonable terms, from Westminster's viewpoint, given the prevailing economic and political conditions. Of the charters in the present edition, many state that Gervase was acting in conjunction with his monks. Others are attested by Prior Osbert (254) or Prior Elias (261). There are three grants which were more favourable to their recipients than to the abbey (258, 261–2). On the evidence of these, later generations of monks, struggling to manage their portion of the Westminster estates without abbatial interference, came to regard Gervase as a symbol of abbatial autocracy. The most notorious of the grants was that of the manor of Chelsea to Gervase's mother Damette, 'the Little Lady' (262). (fn. 76) Richardson and Sayles suggested that it was the installation of King Stephen's mistress on a manor so close to the royal palace at Westminster which provoked much of the criticism of Gervase. (fn. 77)

Once England was firmly under Angevin rule, it is highly likely that Henry II instigated the deposition of Gervase, not wishing the coronation church to remain under the control of an abbot of the house of Blois. (fn. 78) At the outset of the new reign, Henry confirmed Gervase in the abbatial lands (122), but on the occasion of his deposition, probably in the latter part of 1157 (cf. 341) took the opportunity to seize lands belonging to Westminster. (fn. 79)

Gervase was probably appointed at an early age, (fn. 80) but his numerous charters provide evidence of considerable exertions on behalf of the abbey. He granted a regular income for the repair of books (251), and made grants to supplement the monks' clothing allowance (255, 258) and to provide lights and other necessities for the high altar (252–3). He also utilized recent technological innovations in his administration of the abbey's lands. The mill which he constructed on the River Wandle in Surrey (268) was perhaps one of the earliest fulling mills in the region. (fn. 81) His assertion of Westminster's jurisdiction over Great Malvern was strongly endorsed by Archbishop Theobald and Gilbert Foliot, early in Henry II's reign, when support of Gervase might be considered courageous. (fn. 82)

Abbot Laurence (c. 1158–1173), left twelve charters (275–86), a small output considering his ambitions and his intellectual capacity. (fn. 83) His most notable achievement, reflected in two bulls of Pope Alexander III (167–8) is that he successfully steered the canonization process of Edward the Confessor through the papal curia. (fn. 84)

Charters of the prior and monks

Many of the abbatial charters in this volume were issued in the name of the abbot and convent, or in that of 'the abbot and monks'. A formal division of the Westminster estates, between those administered by the abbot, and those managed by the convent, dates only from the early thirteenth century, but there are earlier documents which illustrate the administration or acquisition of property by the prior and convent, or even simply by 'the monks'. Probably the earliest is a text recording 'the monks' farm', but this is not necessarily a document drawn up during an abbatial vacancy (339). (fn. 85) From the mid twelfth century there survive several documents which were issued collectively by the monks, concerning properties in the City of London (340, 343–3).

Prior Robert of Moulsham and the convent jointly issued several charters around the end of the twelfth century (345–8). Robert, like Osbert de Clare and Abbot Laurence before him, masterminded a project designed to further the interests of the abbey, and, perhaps, his own, simultaneously. Whereas the hopes of Osbert and Laurence rested largely on the projected canonization of King Edward, Robert of Moulsham, as precentor, actively fostered the cult of the Blessed Virgin, which was manifested at Westminster by devotion to the Lady Altar. Numbers of the Donors' charters date from Robert's time as precentor, when he was also proctor of this altar, and administered the rent income which provided for its illumination (e.g. 411, 429). He continued as proctor after he became prior (346–7).

One rather different charter issued by Robert and the convent conceded the request of Abbot Ralph Arundel that four (additional) feasts in the year should be celebrated in copes, and with processions. As was usual on major festivals, these solemnities were to be followed by wine and pittances, no doubt to encourage hearty chanting beforehand (cf. 283, 285). The abbot, in return, gave back the monks' manor of Benfleet, which he had been holding at farm (345). There are no charters issued by other obedientiaries from this period, but two bulls of Pope Alexander III were issued respectively for Roger the infirmarer (169) and Walter the sacrist (170) confirming at their request and that of Abbot Laurence, certain churches of which they administered the income.

Donors and witnesses

In the aftermath of the Norman Conquest, it soon became clear that the abbey must look to benefactors other than the monarchy for the reinforcement of its endowment. The charters of the donors reflect the success which was achieved in this area. A small number of charters date from the late eleventh century, notably grants by Geoffrey de Mandeville I (436, 462), whose descendants and territorial successors, down to the justiciar Geoffrey Fitz Peter, intermittently made further grants (350, 464, 470, 476). There is a gradual build-up in the numbers of donors' charters surviving from the earlier twelfth century. A more marked increase can be discerned in the numbers of charters from the 1160s and 1170s, then a rapid acceleration from c. 1190, largely as a result of the acquisition of properties to support the Lady Altar.

From the middle years of Henry II's reign, Westminster effectively replaced Winchester as the centre of government. Consequently, royal officers, and especially the personnel of the Exchequer, began to acquire houses in the vill of Westminster. (fn. 86) Charters were increasingly granted to the Abbey by Exchequer personnel (e.g. 414, 439) and such men are also found among the witnesses (e.g. 449).

Richard of IIchester, both before and after his elevation to the see of Winchester, was involved directly and indirectly with Westminster. On occasion he appears as its benefactor (231) but he was on occasion recalled also as a predator (457). His kinsmen also appear in this collection, including Herbert le Poore, his reputed son (457); members of the Barentin family, of whom the younger generation were Richard's nephews (134–5, 139), and the ubiquitous Adam 'nephew of the bishop' (412–14, 437). (fn. 87) William of Ely, royal treasurer and near kinsman of his predecessor in office, Richard Fitz Nigel, bishop of London, (fn. 88) occurs as a donor (439), and also as a leading witness to the abbey's charters (409, 434, 446). Other leading officers who occur include Jocelin Fitz Hugh, marshal of the Exchequer (409, 434); (fn. 89) and the young Alexander of Swerford, who was employed as a clerk of Abbot Ralph Arundel (327) before joining the Exchequer staff (414), where he acquired a great reputation, and is now remembered as the compiler of the Red Book of the Exchequer. (fn. 90) His benefactions to the abbey were partly made in association with Edith de Barra, the mother of his children (413–14).

Joint donations by husband and wife, or by less formally-linked couples, occur several times in this collection. Robert Mauduit, an Exchequer chamberlain who accumulated considerable property in Westminster, (fn. 91) obtained from Abbot William Postard a licence to maintain a private chapel in his town house (312). Isabel Basset, Robert's wife, bought up properties in Westminster to bestow on the Lady Altar (422, 450) and in due course, the couple obtained from Abbot Ralph Arundel an agreement that all benefactors of this Altar should have their names inscribed in the martyrology (329). (fn. 92) Another benefactress was Rose la custerere, alias Rose de Bleis, the window of William Turpin of the King's Chamber, acting with Ralph Mauduit (386–7, 435). (fn. 93)

The majority of donors and witnesses were inhabitants of London or of Westminster. Their surnames reflect the wide variety of trades and professions then practised in these places. The clergy of several of the city churches are named (365, 368–9, 380–1), while one charter was attested by nine goldsmiths (381). Similarly, the deeds concerning Westminster document the personnel of the Exchequer, down through the hierarchy to the smelters (414, 446, 448) and reckoners (446). The names also appear of a number of the lay personnel of the abbey—both its hereditary officers such as the seneschal (411) and the summoner (402–3), and lesser figures, including a bevy of sergeants, who often attest en bloc (430, 443–4) and some painters (443–4, 447–8). Gerin the engineer (ingeniator) attests a charter of Abbot Gervase (255), and it has been suggested that the reeve, Roger Enganet, a frequent witness to the later charters in this volume, was perhaps also named from the office of engineer. (fn. 94) Whether the activities of these men were confined to construction work within the immediate precincts, or extended to the harnessing of water power from the Wandle (268) and the Winterbourne (486) is uncertain.

Immigrants from overseas are found with surnames such as Burgundian (278), Lombard (307, 353) or Fleming (378). High-flyers among the clerks of Henry II might find that successive promotions led them to cross the Channel first in one direction, then in the other (365, 463). Church dedications are a further source of evidence on immigration patterns in this period, since settlers brought with them their native religious cults. Westminster, after a long struggle, acquired a half-share in the London church of St Magnus (287) dedicated to a martyred earl of Orkney. (fn. 95) The charters also contain briefer references to other churches whose dedications reflect non-native cults, such as St Denis (259), or St Clement Danes (394–7).

Properties in London and Westminster

Among the charters in the present collection, many relate to small residential plots of land in London and Westminster. In the absence of any sustained royal support after 1066, the abbey had to look elsewhere for the augmentation of its endowment. The growing population of London and Westminster might be enlisted to this end, particularly if attracted by the offer of the abbey's spiritual services. Barbara Harvey has demonstrated that it was never difficult for people of modest means to obtain burial within the abbey precincts, or an agreement that the anniversary of their deaths would be commemorated by the monks in perpetuity. Certain charters also grant the spiritual benefits of confraternity (359). In return for such concessions, the abbot and monks were able to consolidate their urban properties in certain parts of London and the growing suburb of Westminster, presumably those which would generate a good rent income.

In the vill of Westminster, there was evidently an early concentration on Charing, and on Tothill Street, in particular, with some concentration too on those areas which are now known as Ebury and St James's. Of the two latter, Ebury comprises only a part, but a substantial one, of the manor of Eye, granted by Geoffrey de Mandeville I, late in the eleventh century (436). Although part of this manor later became detached, (fn. 96) the term Ebury is used in the headings and notes in the present volume, for the convenience of non-specialist readers. The area now known as St James's takes its name from a leper house of that dedication (288). Another district of the vill which is mentioned several times in this volume is Endiff (e.g. 437–8). This place-name, now lost, represents an area slightly down-river from the palace of Westminster. (fn. 97) The gradual urbanization of the whole vill, from the late twelfth century almost to the Reformation, has been admirably documented by Gervase Rosser, to whose work the reader is referred for a detailed account. (fn. 98) Since most charters are careful to give the boundaries of the tenements which accrued to the abbey, the names are known, in most cases, of the donors' neighbours, and it is possible to document the sequence in which particular groups of tenements were acquired (416–18). The major phase of consolidation can be dated to the 1190s onwards, when rents in Westminster were accumulated for the Lady Altar. In the case of many of the charters, both those concerning Westminster and others relating to the City of London, the measurements of each boundary of the tenement are given. Normally measurement is made in the ells of the reigning king (e.g. 367), although there is an occasional instance where those of his predecessor appear to be cited (419), perhaps in order to correlate with an earlier title deed. The foot is sometimes used, too, in measuring these plots (354, 356).

In London, the abbey had interests from the mid-eleventh century, at latest, if the evidence of the spurious charters of King Edward, and of King William I (25, 33, 36, 39–40) can be accepted. One charter of Abbot Vitalis (234) reflects Westminster's interests in the City. These interests were enlarged during the reign of Henry I (68, 77–9), including an extension of the abbot's wharf (97). The systematic administration of property in various parts of London, already documented in the charters of Abbot Gervase (255–9), is amplified in those of Laurence (275–8) and in those of his immediate successor, Abbot Walter (287–95). During the abbacy of William Postard, the correlation of the charters of priors and donors reveals the accumulation of further tenements. On occasion, rents in the City were acquired for the Lady Altar, from the 1190s (356), but others were wanted for a variety of purposes (350).

Perhaps the overall majority of tenements were residential, in Ludgate, for instance (358), but there was a marked interest in areas with commercial potential, such as Cheapside (355) or the Fishmarket (356–7), while shops (356–7) and selds (295) were acquired on occasion, as were plots fronting the Thames (353). The occasional specific mention of stone buildings (370) suggests that others were of less durable materials. (fn. 99)

From the 1180s onwards, clauses of warranty are almost invariably found. In charters relating to London properties it seems to have become usual, c. 1200, to include a clause prohibiting the owner from dislodging the lessee on any pretext (366–7).

While rents, in both London and Westminster, were normally due on the standard English quarter-days, occasional charters specify payments in instalments other than quarterly, and consequently due on different dates (340). While most payments were reckoned in proportions of the mark (13s. 4d.), a few were stated in besants, (fn. 100) or in shillings and pence sterling. When a grant was made for a consideration (gersum), this was virtually always a monetary one.

Grants concerning properties within the boundaries of the City of London were usually attested by the mayor and aldermen, and sometimes state explicitly that they were ratified in the Husting Court (361). Notable Londoners rarely attest deeds concerning property outside the walls, such as the district beyond Ludgate and the parishes of St Clement Danes and St Martin in the Fields. The location of extra-mural properties presents some difficulties, but these can often be resolved by reference to the attestations. The donors' charters afford good evidence of the development of the suburb of London, and its gradual expansion in the direction of Westminster.

Lands further afield

There is a relatively small number of donors' charters relating to lands further afield. These latter properties vary in size from a small plot bought to facilitate the making of a conduit (486) to large tracts of land (475). Most such charters relate to properties in the region which would now be termed the London commuter belt. The extension of control over churches (459, 463, 469–70) and tithes (456, 478) is a marked feature of this group. Properties in more remote counties were often held at farm, hence charters concerning any individual estate were normally issued only at infrequent intervals. Many of the more remote properties of the Abbey scarcely occur in the charters contained in the present volume. (fn. 101)

The Abbey Sanctuary

From an early date, the abbey claimed the right to offer sanctuary to fugitives from the law. (fn. 102) There survive, as copies in WAD and in F, texts of several writs concerning this right (238–40, 248, 272–4, 279). In most cases, the sheriff of the fugitive's home shire is notified of the man's flight and advised of the abbey's right, and later writs contain additional clauses. Presumably these writs represent only a small proportion of those which were issued, and were perhaps copied into the cartularies as examples of the formulae employed at various times. Related to these writs is the Fugitives' Oath (349), which survives only in two late transcripts. Its terms were designed to ensure the orderly conduct of these refugees from the law.


My thanks are offered to Phyllis Murphy who, on the untimely death of her husband, invited me to continue his work. The texts of Westminster Abbey Muniments, and of entries in the abbey's various Muniment Books, are published by courtesy of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster. Crown-copyright material in the Public Record Office is reproduced by permission of the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office. I am also grateful to the British Library, and to St Bartholomew's Hospital, for permission to publish texts in their possession.

The staff of Westminster Abbey Library and Muniment Room have given much invaluable advice and practical help. Regrettably, neither Nicholas MacMichael, Keeper of the Muniments, nor Howard Nixon, Librarian, lived to see the completion of this volume. I am also indebted to Enid Nixon, Acting Librarian, Christine Reynolds, and Richard Mortimer, Acting Keeper of the Muniments. My thanks are also offered to the staff of the British Library Students' Room, and to those of the College of Arms, the Public Record Office, the Archives Department of St Bartholomew's Hospital, and the Department of Manuscripts of the Guildhall Library.

Barbara Harvey commented on a considerable proportion of the calendar entries and the texts, besides advising on many specific points of detail. The remaining calendar entries were variously commented upon by Diana Greenway, Jane Sayers and David Bates, according to their respective areas of interest. Any remaining defects in text or calendar are my own responsibility.

Those who have generously advised on specific points include Janet Bately, Brenda Bolton, Christopher Brooke, Kenneth Cameron, Pierre Chaplais, Janet Cowan, the late R. R. Darlington, John Dodgson, Alison Finlay, Annabel Gregory, Bill Kellaway, Patrick McGurk, Shayne Mitchell, Philip Riebold, Jane Roberts, Gervase Rosser, Ian Short and David Smith. Eleanor Thomas typed the Introduction and some revised textual material.

Jennifer Bray died at a tragically early age, just as this volume was about to go to press. Her enthusiasm and commitment to the project went far beyond what would reasonably be expected of a research assistant. She typed the text and calendar onto a word-processor; exhaustively checked successive print-outs; did some preliminary work on the index and pursued many bibliographical references. Her assistance was generously financed, first by the Leverhulme Trust, which awarded me a Research Fellowship in 1983, and extended it in 1984, and secondly by a grant awarded in 1985 by the Nuffield Foundation. Contributions to the cost of publication were generously made by the Marc Fitch Fund, the British Academy, and the Publications Fund of Birkbeck College.

In the interval between the completion of this edition and its publication, the British Academy made me a most generous Personal Award, which financed the further assistance of Jennifer Bray in a detailed analysis of the Westminster Charters for the period 1066–1214. It is hoped that the results of this will be published in a series of articles on topics including the abbey's generation of propaganda; relations with both the crown and the papacy; dealings with the ecclesiastical hierarchy in England, and with other religious houses; the management of Westminster's parish churches; the prosopographical study of the men and women named in the charters; the policy of property management in London, Westminster and elsewhere, and the concomitant recourse to a variety of local courts; methods of record-keeping, fugitives to the sanctuary, and the fostering of various religious cults.


  • 1. Scholz, 'Sulcard of Westminster', 82–3; Harvey, WA, 20; Flete, 36.
  • 2. Harvey, WA, 372, and notes 1–2. Saeberht became king ante 604, and d. 616 × 617 (HBC, 9).
  • 3. Scholz, 'Sulcard of Westminster', 85–6; Harvey, WA, 21. Offa, who acceded 694 × 709, abdicated and went to Rome 708 × 709 (HBC, 10).
  • 4. Sawyer, Anglo-Saxon Charters, no. 124. This text, in its present form, is of doubtful authenticity, but may represent a genuine grant (Harmer, 501). Offa perhaps supported the church with the intention of asserting Mercian supremacy in the neighbourhood of London (Brooke & Keir, 295).
  • 5. Scholz, 'Sulcard of Westminster', 86–7; Harvey, WA, 22–3.
  • 6. Harvey, WA, 341–2, 346, 352–4, 358–9; Sawyer, Anglo-Saxon Charters, nos. 670, 774 (spurious), 894 (spurious), 903.
  • 7. Sawyer, Anglo-Saxon Charters, nos. 1487, 1522; Harvey, WA, 23–4.
  • 8. ASC E, sub an. 1039, records Harold's burial at Westminster. C and D, sub an. 1040, record that Harthacnut ordered the body to be dug up and thrown 'into the fen'. Following a further removal into the Thames, it was recovered and buried by the Danes in their cemetery in London (Florence of Worcester, I, 194).
  • 9. Scholz, 'Sulcard of Westminster', 91; Vita AEdwardi Regis, 44, 81.
  • 10. Vita AEdwardi Regis, 9, 44. This earliest biography, ascribed to an anonymous monk of St Bertin's, at St Omer in Flanders (ibid., xli–lix), is that usually referred to in the present volume. Further Lives of King Edward were subsequently written by Osbert de Clare, prior of Westminster, and by the Cistercian abbot Ailred of Rievaulx, a kinsman of Abbot Laurence (ibid., xiii–xiv). On King Edward's devotion to St Peter, see also J. H. Round, Calendar of Documents preserved in France illustrative of the History of Great Britain and Ireland, I, A.D. 918–1206 (London, 1899), no. 1374; Barlow, Edward the Confessor, 36 and n.1.
  • 11. Scholz, 'Sulcard of Westminster', 90–91. On Sulcard's monastic career and commission to write, see ibid., 59–60, 80, 91.
  • 12. Harvey, WA, 27.
  • 13. Brooke & Keir, 296–8. Two related grants of King Edward for the abbey of St Denis date from the 1050s (Sawyer, Anglo-Saxon Charters, nos. 1028, 1105).
  • 14. On the supportive role of St Denis towards the contemporary French monarchy, cf. Gabrielle M. Spiegel, 'The cult of St Denis and Capetian Kingship', Jnl. of Medieval History, I (1975), 43–60.
  • 15. Vita A Edwardi Regis, 44–6; J. Armitage Robinson, 'The Church of Edward the Confessor at Westminster', Archaeologia62 (1910), 81–100.
  • 16. R. H. D. Gem, 'The Romanesque Rebuilding of Westminster Abbey', Proceedings of the Battle Conference on Anglo-Norman Studies III. (1980), ed. R. Allen Brown (1981), 52–3.
  • 17. Ibid., 46, 50, 53–4; HBC, 214, 220.
  • 18. Vita AEdwardi Regis, 73, 80; ASC C, D, sub an. 1065; E, sub an. 1066.
  • 19. ASC D, E, sub an. 1066.
  • 20. ASC D, E, sub an. 1075; ASC E sub an. 1118; Harvey, WA, 373 and n.6; Barlow, Edward the Confessor, 270.
  • 21. Martin Biddle, 'Seasonal Festivals and Residence; Winchester, Westminster and Gloucester in the Tenth to Twelfth Centuries', Anglo-Norman Studies VIII, ed. R. Allen Brown (1986), 51–72.
  • 22. Knowles & Hadcock, 65; Elizabeth M. Hallam, 'Henry II, Richard I and the order of Grandmont', Jnl. of Medieval History, 1 (1975), 165–86; Emma Mason, 'St Wulfstan's Staff: a legend and its uses', Medium AEvum, 53 (1984), 157, 170–1.
  • 23. Harmer; Sawyer, Anglo-Saxon Charters.
  • 24. The charters of William I are being re-edited by David Bates, and those of Henry II and Richard I by J. C. Holt and R. Mortimer.
  • 25. Luffield Priory Charters, ed. G. R. Elvey, I, Buckinghamshire Rec. Soc. 15 (1968); II, Northamptonshire Rec. Soc. 22 (1975). For the late acquisitions, see Harvey, WA, 31, 198–202, 337–8, 355.
  • 26. Among the early charters excluded from the present volume are documents relating to Great Malvern, Worcestershire, and a group from Yorkshire, for some of which see Yorkshire Deeds, VII, ed. C. T. Clay, Yorks. Archaeological Soc. 83 (1932), nos. 8–9, 18, 132, 137–9, 450,468.
  • 27. On the Westminster cartularies, see Robinson & James, 93–102; Davis, 116–17; Keene & Harding, no. 248.
  • 28. Robinson & James, 93–4; Davis, 116.
  • 29. Robinson & James, 98–100; Davis, 116.
  • 30. Certain late medieval manuscripts record only transactions beyond the chronological range of this volume (Davis, 117).
  • 31. Robinson & James, 94–8, 100–102; Davis, 116–17; Keene & Harding, nos. 247–8.
  • 32. The Liber Regalis and the Litlyngton Missal also contain the burial service, with illustrations of royal burials.
  • 33. E.C. St Paul.
  • 34. Cart. Aldgate.
  • 35. Cart. St Bartholomew's.
  • 36. Reynolds, 'The Rulers of London', 337–57. Miss Reynolds's Index of Londoners to c. 1216 is held by the Social and Economic Study of Medieval London, care of the Museum of London.
  • 37. Rosser, 'Medieval Westminster'. The published version of Dr Rosser's thesis, Medieval Westminster 1200–1540, is forthcoming.
  • 38. Richardson, 'William of Ely', 88n; R. Kent Lancaster, 'Artists, suppliers and clerks: the human factors in the art patronage of King Henry III', Jnl. of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 35 (1972), 97–8.
  • 39. Flete; Gilbert Crispin; J. Armitage Robinson, The Abbot's House at Westminster (NDWA no. 4, 1911). On the dean himself, see also Edward Carpenter, A House of Kings: the History of Westminster Abbey (1966), 343–4.
  • 40. Robinson & James.
  • 41. Widmore.
  • 42. Flete.
  • 43. Harvey, WA, 27.
  • 44. Heads, 76.
  • 45. Ibid., 77.
  • 46. Letters of Osbert de Clare, pp. 5–6; ep. 2, p. 56; Harvey, 'Fee Farms', 128. On the situation during Herbert's abbacy, see PR 31 Henry 1, 150.
  • 47. Curia Regis Rolls, I, 464–5.
  • 48. Heads, 77.
  • 49. Diceto, II, 100–101; Ric. of Devizes, 39, 54–5.
  • 50. Gilbert Crispin, 158–66.
  • 51. Flete, 92.
  • 52. There are two texts of this grant at the Abbey. WAM II is probably 12C, while WAM III is 11C or 12C: Sawyer, Anglo-Saxon Charters, no. 124.
  • 53. Scholz, 'Sulcard of Westminster', 59–91.
  • 54. Chaplais, 'Original Charters', 91–5, 97–8.
  • 55. Letters of Osbert de Clare, 1–20.
  • 56. Barlow, Edward the Confessor, 274. Spurious bulls were also incorporated into the texts of long, forged charters of King Edward, briefly tabulated in the present volume, relating to the circumstances surrounding his re-foundation and endowment of the abbey.
  • 57. Harvey, 'Fee Farms', 128–9.
  • 58. Chaplais, 'Original Charters', 91–5, 97–8.
  • 59. Harvey, 'Fee Farms', 132.
  • 60. On Abbot Geoffrey, see Flete, 84, 141; Widmore, 18–19.
  • 61. Barlow, Edward the Confessor, 278–85.
  • 62. PR 11 Henry II, 33; PR 4 John, 11; Rot. de Oblat. et Fin., 222, 325, 337; PR 9 John, 52.
  • 63. Consultation did not necessarily occur. Henry II granted the church of Ashwell to Walter Map, during the vacancy which followed the death of Abbot Laurence (Curia Regis Rolls VI, 93).
  • 64. Harvey, 'Fee Farms', 128–9.
  • 65. Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents relating to Great Britain and Ireland, ed. S. W. Haddon and W. Stubbs (2 vols., Oxford, 1869), II, 317; Councils and Synods, II (i), 21, 36–8.
  • 66. John of Worcester, 53.
  • 67. In the twelfth century, St Paul's cathedral itself was forstering the cult of St Eorcenweald, an early bishop of London: Brooke & Keir, 272, 356; A History of St Paul's Cathedral, ed. W. R. Matthews and W. M. Atkins (1957), 5–6.
  • 68. Rotuli Hugonis de Welles episcopi Lincolniensis, A.D. MCCIX-MCCXXXV, ed. W. P. W. Phillimore and F. N. Davis (Canterbury and York Soc., 3 vols., 1907–9), I, 70. This entry, of uncertain date, occurs in membrane 10, which covers the bishop's episcopate down to 1219 (I, iv). Although Nicholas is described simply as bishop of Tusculum, Westminster's obligation to him probably dates from his time as legate, for which see Councils and Synods, II (i), 36–8. The abbot who made the presentation would thus be William d'Humez.
  • 69. Harvey, WA, 83–4; Flete, 100.
  • 70. Scholz, 'Sulcard of Westminster', 65, 83–85. See also Flete, 40–43.
  • 71. Brett, English Church, 55; Beryl Smalley, 'Gilbert the Universal', Recherches de Theologie Ancienne et Medievale, VII (1935), 245–7.
  • 72. Gesta Abbatum, 107–10, 112, 133–4.
  • 73. It is possible that one lost charter of Abbot Gilbert concerned his grant of the manor of Powick to the priory of Great Malvern: Monasticon, III, 447–8; W. Thomas, Antiquitates Prioratus Majoris Malverne (London, 1725), iv.
  • 74. Richardson & Sayles, 413–21. Gervase's kinship to King Stephen was probably a major consideration when the pope rejected him as a candidate for the see of Lincoln in 1148 (L & C Foliot, nos. 75, 80).
  • 75. Harvey, 'Fee Farms', 131–3.
  • 76. Ibid., 127–41.
  • 77. Richardson & Sayles, 415–6.
  • 78. Ibid., 421.
  • 79. Curia Regis Rolls, I, 464–5.
  • 80. Richardson & Sayles, 413.
  • 81. Emma Mason, 'Westminster Abbey's fulling-mills at Wandsworth', Bulletin of the Wandle Group, no. 13 (1984), 4. The known early fulling mills in England are mainly later in date: E. M. Carus Wilson, 'An Industrial Revolution of the Thirteenth Century', Economic History Review 11 (1941), 39–60; R. Lennard, 'Early English Fulling Mills: Additional Examples', Econ. Hist. Rev. second ser., 3 (1951), 342–3.
  • 82. Letters of John of Salisbury, I, no. 45.
  • 83. A further charter of Abbot Laurence, now lost, is cited by Abbot Walter in his grant to Robert of Wick of the vill of Upton Snodsbury (305). On Abbot Laurence, see Flete, 91–4; Richardson & Sayles, 420–21.
  • 84. Flete, 92–4; Barlow, Edward the Confessor, 277–83.
  • 85. On the division of possessions between abbot and monks in this period, see Harvey, WA, 85–6.
  • 86. Rosser, 'Medieval Westminster', 18–21, 23, 26; Beauchamp Cartulary, nos. 183–203.
  • 87. See also Beauchamp Cartulary, nos. 183–6, 191–2, 199–200; Richardson, 'William of Ely', 86n.
  • 88. Richardson, 'William of Ely', 45–90; Fasti I, 35.
  • 89. Beauchamp Cartulary, xv, xxxij, xlj, nos. 199–200, 204, 226, 312–14; Richardson, 'William of Ely', 85n–86n.
  • 90. RBE, I, xxxv-xlix; F. M. Powicke, King Henry III and the Lord Edward (1966), 90–1, 94, 97n–98, 315; Fasti I, 22, 43, 89.
  • 91. Beauchamp Cartulary, nos. 183–200.
  • 92. In 1221 × 22, Robert Mauduit granted rents to the abbey, in return for the solemn celebration of his obit: WAM 3456, printed in Mason, 'The Mauduits and their Chamberlainship', 22–3. On the donors of this period, see also Emma Mason, 'The Donors of Westminster Abbey Charters: c. 1066–1240', Medieval Prosopography, 8:2 (1987), 23–39.
  • 93. Mason, 'The Mauduits and their Chamberlainship', 9, 23. In 1176–7, Ralph Mauduit was responsible for the collection of escheats in the New Forest. The sum due from him was entered on the Pipe Roll of the following year: PR 34 Henry II, 17.
  • 94. Rosser, 'Medieval Westminster', 362. Roger Enganet was perhaps the son of Ailnoth the engineer (ingeniator), who, although a skilled engineer, was latterly employed as keeper of the King's houses at Westminster (C. T. Clay, 'The Keepership of the Old Palace of Westminster', EHR 59 (1944), 6–7; J. H. Round, 'The staff of a castle in the twelfth century', EHR 35 (1920), 93–4).
  • 95. Orkneyinga Saga, transl. H. Palsson and P. Edwards (1981), 93–7, 103–8.
  • 96. Rutton, 'Eye next Westminster', 31–58; PN Mddx, 167–8.
  • 97. PN Mddx, 168; Rosser, 'Medieval Westminster', 21, 23.
  • 98. Rosser, 'Medieval Westminster', passim.
  • 99. According to City tradition, during the mayoralty of Henry Fitz Ailwin, regulations were made encouraging the use of stone in building walls, to lessen the spread of fires: London Assize of Nuisance 1301–1431: a calendar, ed. Helena M. Chew and W. Kellaway, (LRS 10, 1973), ix; T. Baker, Medieval London (1970), 202.
  • 100. On the exchange-rate of the besant in shillings and pence sterling, in 1162 and 1213, see Spufford, HME, 295.
  • 101. On the administrative problems arising from the subinfeudated properties, see Harvey, WA, 70–85.
  • 102. Honeybourne, 'Sanctuary Boundaries', 316–32.