Alien priories: The priory of Steventon

A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.

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'Alien priories: The priory of Steventon', in A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 2, (London, 1907) pp. 112-113. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]

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A small alien priory was established at Steventon in the time of Henry I, when the manor was granted by that king to the great abbey of Bec, Normandy. (fn. 1)

In 1294 the king caused a complete survey to be made of the lands and goods throughout England owned by abbeys subject to French government. According to that return the priory manor of Steventon had a garden and two dovecotes within the precincts, worth yearly 12s. 8d. Also 1,500 acres of arable land, worth £21 10s. a year, at 6d. an acre; 220 acres of meadow, £6, at 12d. an acre; twenty acres of pasture for sheep and oxen, worth 17s. 8d. at 10d. an acre; two water-mills, worth 57s. 2d. a year; total, £31 17s. 6d. There were sixtythree customary tenants, whose labour was worth £25 7s. 5d. a year, in addition to rents of £18 17s. 9d., and cocks and hens worth 67s. 1d.; total, £47 12s. 3d. The income from the appropriated church was £20, so that the full annual income amounted to £99 11s. 9d.

The goods of the priory of Steventon, according to the same return, included a silver cup on a foot, worth 16s.; another silver cup, 5s.; three masers, 5s.; ten silver spoons, 8s.; also a palfrey, 60s.; another horse, 40s.; four cart-horses, 36s.; a colt, 20s.; eight oxen (a team), 53s.; eight oxen, 50s.; a third team, 53s.; two teams, 86s.; a sixth team, 60s.; six cows, 27s.; eight cows, 38s. 8d.; five heifers, 15s.; twelve calves, 9s.; two boars, 3s. 4d.; nine sows, 9s.; thirty-nine yearling pigs, 39s.; four little pigs, 12d.; a hundred sheep, 66s. 8d.; three wethers, 3s.; a hundred lambs, 91s. 8d.; two peacocks, 2s.; and eight geese, 16d.; total, £37 8s. 8d. Other household utensils were estimated at 20s. 7d.

A hundred and sixty acres of sown corn were valued at £29, at 3s. 6d. an acre; forty acres of winter wheat at 46s. 8d., or 14d. an acre; fiftyeight acres of drage at £7 5s.; thirty acres of oats, 60s.; thirty acres of beans, 60s.; thirtyfour acres of pease, 56s. 8d.; and hay, 40s. The full total amounted to £87 17s. 7d. besides tithes (in kind) which averaged £20 a year. (fn. 2)

The Patent Rolls afford certain other particulars relative to this priory in the reign of Edward I. In 1302 a commission was issued to John de Batesford and Roger de Suthcote, touching the persons who had reopened a way in Steventon which the prior had stopped for the enlargement of his court by the king's licence, after inquisition had been made by the sheriff of Berkshire that such closing of the way would damage no one. (fn. 3)

Although the advowson of the vicarage of Steventon was in the hands of the prior on behalf of the abbey of Bec, Edward I, in consequence of the wars with France, took the advowson into his own hands, and presented both in 1303 and 1304. (fn. 4)

Pardon was granted to the prior of Steventon on 8 May, 1305, in consideration of a fine made by him in Chancery, for acquiring without leave, in mortmain to himself and his house, a messuage in Steventon from John Braundiz, and a moiety of an acre of land there from John de Sale, and others, which for that reason had been taken into the king's hands, but were at that date restored to him. (fn. 5)

When the difficulties as to alien priories were renewed in the latter part of the reign of Edward III, the abbey of Bec was allowed to sell the valuable manor and impropriated rectory of Steventon, with the advowson of the vicarage, to Sir Hugh Calveley. (fn. 6) After Sir Hugh Calveley's death his trustees conveyed it to John, bishop of Salisbury, and Roger Walden, and they in their turn granted it to Richard II, who bestowed it on the abbot and convent of Westminster. This gift was confirmed by Henry IV in 1400. (fn. 7)


  • 1. Henry II, in a confirmation charter in Bec, refers to Steventon as the gift to that abbey by King Henry his grandfather. Dugdale, Mon. ii, 954.
  • 2. Add. MS. 6164, fol. 37.
  • 3. Pat. 30 Edw. I, m. 17.
  • 4. Ibid. 31 Edw. I, m. 43; 32 Edw. I, m. 22.
  • 5. Pat. 33 Edw. I, pt. i, m. 3.
  • 6. Ibid. 35 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 14; Lysons, Berks. 375.
  • 7. An endeavour was made by David and John Calveley, heirs of Sir Hugh, to claim the property. The repeated transfers are somewhat complicated See Pat. 17 Ric. II, m. 7; 23 Ric. 2, m. 7; 1 Hen. IV, pt. vi, m. 5; pt. viii, m. 37.