Religious houses: The priory of St Michael

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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Eneas Mackenzie, 'Religious houses: The priory of St Michael', Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827), pp. 134-137. British History Online [accessed 24 June 2024].

Eneas Mackenzie. "Religious houses: The priory of St Michael", in Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827) 134-137. British History Online, accessed June 24, 2024,

Mackenzie, Eneas. "Religious houses: The priory of St Michael", Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827). 134-137. British History Online. Web. 24 June 2024,


This house was occupied by the Trinitarians, or Maturines, styled of the order of the Holy Trinity, for the redemption of captives. This order rose in 1198, under the pontificate of Innocent III. The founders were John de Mantha, a native of Provence, and Felix de Valois. This order had the rule of St. Austin, with some peculiar constitutions, and wore white robes, with a red and blue cross upon their breasts; by which three colours, white, red, and blue, is supposed to be represented the mystery of the Trinity. One part of their revenue was appropriated to their own use, another to the poor, and the third to the liberation of Christians in captivity among Infidels. They came into England in 1224, where they established ten or twelve houses. The foundation charter of this convent is dated the Wednesday before Pentecost, A. D. 1360. It was confirmed by the bishop of Durham in 1361, and by the dean and chapter there in 1363. The founder was William de Acton, burgess of Newcastle. (fn. 1) The house was dedicated to St. Michael; and the place where it stood was, from its lofty situation, called St. Michael's Mount.

The society were to consist of three chaplains, including the warden, three poor and infirm persons, and three clerks to teach school and instruct in the chapel of the house. Three beds were always to be kept prepared for accidental guests. William de Wackefield was the first warden. The property, by which they were to be supported, consisted of a tenement that belonged to Hugh de Haldenby, two cellars opposite to Cale-Crosse, a piece of ground near the town wall, a rent of 33s. 4d. from a house near Lorteburn, a rent of 57s. 4d. from a tenement in the Flesher Rawe, and another of 10s. out of a tenement opposite Cale Crosse; all given by the founder in frankalmoigne. The master of St. Robert's, at Knaresburgh in Yorkshire, was to be visitor, to visit them annually about Trinity Sunday, on which occasion the master of this house was to present him with an horse-load of fish, and make other proper recompense for his trouble: failing him the mayor and bailiffs of Newcastle were to be visitors.

In 1361, king Edward III. granted a license of mortmain to the White Friars of Newcastle, authorising them to give their former house to William de Acton, to found thereon this hospital of St. Trinity anew; and to enable him to assign to it a messuage, two cellars, and a piece of ground, and also £6, 3s. 4d. of his annual rents in Newcastle, for its support for ever. These being all held of the king in burgage of the town, by the service of 7d. per annum, he paid the king a fine of £20.

King Edward III. likewise granted a license of mortmain, in 1370, to Thomas Bentele, chaplain, to enable him to assign a certain void place, and 13s. 4d. of rent in Newcastle, held of the king in free burgage to William de Wakefeld, keeper, and minister of the Holy Trinity, for the redemption of captives of the Wall Knoll there, and the brethren of that house, in aid of the support of a chaplain to perform divine service, for the souls of the said Thomas and of William Thorald, their fathers, mothers, and ancestors, and all the faithful departed, daily, in St. Nicholas' church in that town.

This priory, in 1378, held "tenements in Gallewey Croft, in Shelefeld, and Byker;" and in 1394, king Richard II. granted a license of mortmain to John de Bamburgh, chaplain, and John de Refham, of Newcastle upon Tyne, to empower them to grant three messuages, fourteen cottages, one toft, three gardens, and 13s. of rent, in that town, to support for ever certain charges in the hospital of the Holy Trinity on the Wall Knoll. In 1397, John Gaudes and Robert de Alnewyk, chaplains, by a similar authority, assigned to this hospital a messuage, with its appurtenances, in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Roger de Thornton, in 1429, bequeathed two fothers of lead to the reparation of this house; and in 1485, John Preston, of Crossgate, Durham, left by will 3s. 4d. to the brethren of this priory. Before the dissolution, John Felle, one of the brother hood, was convicted of incontinence with a married woman and a single woman. Thomas Wayde, the last master or warden of the house, surrendered it in 1539, and had a pension assigned him, the Harleian MSS. says of £3, (fn. 2) but a book of pensions remaining in the Augmentation Office, of £5 per annum.

It appears from the bailiff's accounts from Michaelmas, 30 Henry VIII. to that term the year following, remaining in the Augmentation Office, that this place was granted for a term of 21 years, from Michaelmas, 31 Henry VIII. to William Brakenbury, of Bislete, in Surrey, at the annual rent of 20s. 2d. There occurs in this indenture a particular and curious account of the property of the Hospital of the Holy Trinity.

In the year 1546, this priory, with its revenues, was granted to Sir Richard Gresham, (fn. 3) and Richard Billingford, Gent. who, in 1548, conveyed them to William Dent, alderman of Newcastle upon Tyne. In the conveyance, the property is described as consisting of the house or priory of St. Michael de Wall Knoll, with a garden and orchard of about an acre of ground; an enclosure, or close, near the town wall, of about four acres, thirty-four messuages, three gardens, and a close; also a close called the Colerigges, and four ridges in the Shield Field. In 1582, the said William Dent, with his son William, conveyed this priory, with an house, orchard, and garden, consisting of an acre of ground, to William Jennison, mayor, and Richard Hodshon, alderman, in trust for the corporation, in whose possession it remains. A rent appears to have been reserved for the crown. (fn. 4)

This priory is marked in Speed's plan of Newcastle, A. D. 1610. In Bourne's time, who wrote about 90 years ago, the east end of the church of the convent was standing. There was anciently a common way from the south side of the monastry to Fishergate, now the Stock Bridge; for in the conveyance of some land, about the year 1287, it is described as extending "from the street of the Wall Knoll to the south side of the monastry of the Carmelites, even to the highway which formerly led to Fishergate." This passage Bourne concluded to have been the stairs which, in his time, led from the Stock Bridge to the gardens on the Mount; "and which, were it not for a wall, would lead directly from this street to the remains of this monastry." This obstruction was removed some years ago; and the place acquired the name of Craike's Alley, from Mr. Craike, a draper, who erected some houses on the side of the bank. It is now named Coburg Place. On the west side of the lane above the stairs, and opposite to Mr. Belt's weaving manufactory, a door-way, window, and other vestiges of the old priory still remain, amongst some wretched dwelling-houses and stables. The area of the convent contains a dunghill, and is used for carts to stand in. A smith's shop, belonging to Mr. Frost, occupies the scite of the burying-ground of the chapel, which is proved by the quantity of bones that have been found here.


  • 1. "There was a house in Barwike ordanis S. Trinitatis: but Anthony Beke, Byshope of Duresme, destroyed it, and then one William Wakefelde, master of the house in Barwyke, at the defacing of it cam to Newcastell, and by the aid of Gul' and Laurence Acton, bretherne, both merchaunts of Newcastell, builded within the towne of Newcastell a howse of the religion S. Trinitatis, where Wakefeld himself was first master."—Leland's Itinerary, vol. viii. pp. 23, 24, new edition.
  • 2. "A brefe certificate made upon the dissolucions of diverse monaster' &c. 30 Hen. VIII. Newcastell—Wallknole there—James Rokesby, keeper, clere valew &c. £6, 4s. 4d.—The nombre and pensions, prior 60s, confrat' nil.—The clere money &c. 64s. 4d.—The stok &c. 45s. 4d.—Rewards &c. nil.—The remaner &c. 45s. 4d.—Lead and bells, lead nil. bells 2.—Woods &c. nil—Playte &c. 8 unc.—Detts owyng unto the house, nil. gratia assign' prior pro solut' debit'.—Detts owyng by the house nil. eadem causa."—Harleian MSS. 604.
  • 3. Bourne says, "Sir John Gresham, alderman of London." The above Sir Richard Gresham was an eminent merchant of London, and third son of John Gresham, of Holt, in the county of Norfolk, Esq. He was father of the famous Sir Thomas Gresham, who built the Royal Exchange in London.—Biog. Brit. vol. iv. p. 2375. This grant also included seventeen more messuages in Newcastle and the suburbs, belonging to Tynemouth Priory, four tenements and a garden belonging to the monastry of Alnwick, three houses belonging to the nuns of Holystone, six houses the property of Newminster Abbey, and a house belonging to the monastry of Blanchland, all in this town.—Bourne, p. 142.
  • 4. Among the fee-farm rents, received by John Widdrington, Esq. 1783, for the representatives of Edward Pauncefort, Esq. occurs the following:—"2s. 0¼d. the scite of the Walknowle hospital recd of mayor and burgesses of Newcastle."