Friaries: The crouched friars of Donnington

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

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'Friaries: The crouched friars of Donnington', A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 2, (London, 1907), pp. 91-92. British History Online [accessed 15 June 2024].

. "Friaries: The crouched friars of Donnington", in A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 2, (London, 1907) 91-92. British History Online, accessed June 15, 2024,

. "Friaries: The crouched friars of Donnington", A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 2, (London, 1907). 91-92. British History Online. Web. 15 June 2024,


The first mention of the house of Crouched Friars at this place that we have been able to find occurs in the year 1404, when William Graunfelde, prior of the priory of Crouched Friars at Donnington, in the diocese of Salisbury, obtained from Boniface IX an indult of plenary remission (being penitent) from the confessor of his choice at the hour of death. (fn. 2)

It does not seem possible to ascertain the date of the foundation of this house, or the name of its original founder.

Sir Richard Abberbury in 1393, the year after he had refounded Donnington Hospital, directs that the inmates should 'every day go to masse to a chappel of Fryers neer adjoining, and should say sixty Pater-Nosters and as many AveMaries. (fn. 3)

Lysons cites the will of Robert Harre, minister of Donnington Hospital, dated 1500, wherein he directs his body to be buried in the new chapel of Jesus, on the south side of the church of the Friars of the Holy Cross in Donnington; his two great standards of laten and four candlesticks of laten were to stand before the altar of Jesus in the said chapel. (fn. 4)

Further information as to this small house is very meagre. Among the grants of suppressed houses, &c., made to Cardinal Wolsey in July, 1528, occurs 14s. annual rent for a portion of tithes in Donnington, paid by the prior and convent of Donnington. (fn. 5)

The prior of Donnington was among those summoned to convocation in 1529. (fn. 6)

The friars of Donnington surrendered to John London on 30 November, 1538. The surrender is signed by Henry Whete and Richard Ungull, (fn. 7) and the house is here stated to be of the Trinitarian order. (fn. 8)

Williams and London, writing to Sir Richard Riche, chancellor of the Augmentations, from Newbury in December, stated that on taking the surrender of the 'Crossed Friars of Donnington' they assigned the minister (or prior), Henry Whete, an extreme aged man, a pension of £6 13s. 4d., and to Richard Ungull, priest and brother there, £4. They begged him to ratify this (which was duly done) and stated that the house was worth £20 a year, and was out of debt. (fn. 9)

At the end of the same month London wrote from Oxford to Cromwell (inclosing 'a poor token' for the new year, with a half-year's fee from him and his house) saying that he had doubtless heard from Williams as to what they had done at the 'Crowche Friars at Newberye.' In another letter of the same date, probably to Thomas Thacker, London stated that at the 'Crutched Friars, Newbery,' there was nothing but a poor chalice. The lands, he added, were worth £22 a year, but all the goods not £6. (fn. 10)

There is a cast of an imperfect impression of a fifteenth-century seal of this priory in the British Museum. There is a full-length saint, but the emblems are indistinct. Below is a friar kneeling in prayer. Legend:—



  • 1. Messrs. Lysons, in their account of Donnington in the Magna Britannia, made the mistake of denying the existence of a priory apart from the hospital of Donnington; but in their 'Additions and Corrections' they retract that statement, though making several other blunders (repeated in Dugdale) both as to hospital and priory which the improved marshalling of the public records enables us to some extent to correct.
  • 2. Cal. Pap. Let. v, 562; Grunfelde is wrongly described in the calendar as 'brother of the house of St. Cross,' but this is corrected in the corrigenda and the index.
  • 3. Dugdale, Mon. vi, 1562.
  • 4. Lysons, Berks. 716.
  • 5. Pat. 20 Hen. VIII, pt. i, m. 20.
  • 6. L. and P. Hen. VIII, iv, pt. iii, 6047.
  • 7. Rymer, Foedera, xiv, 613.
  • 8. The various names here assigned to this house and its inmates confirm the opinion as to the identity of the Crossed or Crouched Friars with those termed Trinitarian or Maturine.
  • 9. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiii, pt. ii, 1025.
  • 10. Ibid. 1153, 1154.