Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead. Originally published by Mackenzie and Dent, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827.
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THE CARMELITES, OR WHITE FRIARS.
This order of Mendicants was founded in 1122, by Albert, patriarch of Jerusalem, who, with a few hermits, resided on Mount Carmel in Syria, from which these monks were expelled by the Saracens in 1238. They entered England about the year 1240, and were settled at Hulne Abbey, near Alnwick, under the patronage of Vescy and Grey, two barons who had visited their original convent during the Holy Wars. These friars were called Carmelites, from their first residence; White Friars, from the colour of their habit; and also Brethren and Friars of the Blessed Virgin, with whom they boasted a familiar intercourse. The first residence of these friars in Newcastle was on the Wall Knoll, which, by licence of king Henry III. they were permitted to hold in fee of John de Byker. On the arrival of king Edward I. at Newcastle in 1299, their pittance for two days was 16s. 8d.; and in 1307, this king granted them the house of the Friars of the Sac, as before mentioned; they being at this time much straitened in their premises on the Wall Knoll, by the encroachments of the town wall on their scite.
In 1337, king Edward III. granted a license of mortmain, to enable Ada Page, of Newcastle upon Tyne, to assign to the prior and brethren of this monastry a garden that lay contiguous to their house; and in 1361, the king permitted them to grant the place of their former residence on the Wall Knoll to William de Acton, for the purpose of founding thereupon the Hospital of the Holy Trinity.
A suit occurs, in 1424, between William Glynn, vicar of Newcastle, and William Boston, prior of this convent, concerning the offering of wax candles on Candlemasday. (fn. 1) In 1539, it was surrendered to king Henry VIII. by Gerald Spor, prior, with seven brethren and two novices, when it was valued by Nicholas Harpsfield at nine pounds, eleven shillings, and four-pence. (fn. 2)
The church of this convent was dedicated to St. Mary, who, according to Speed, was the patroness of above thirty houses of this order in England. In 1546, this house was granted to Richard Gresham and Richard Billingford. It extended between the West Gate and the side of the river Tyne. In 1647, it belonged to Dr. Jennison, vicar of Newcastle, who, as the proprietor, claimed of the corporation a pound of pepper annually on Christmas-day. This was an acknowledgment that the adjoining part of the town wall had been built on the ground of the convent. An old woman in Brand's time recollected when all the ground from the Close to the Postern was laid out in gardens, except the remains of the White Friars, which was converted into a gardener's house. The scite of this convent was afterwards purchased by Dr. Adam Askew, who, in 1740, built a handsome house upon it. Brand says that part of the kitchen wall next to the town wall, two small windows and an arched door-way of the old priory still remains. (fn. 3)