Houses of Cistercian monks: The abbey of Vale Royal

Pages 156-165

A History of the County of Chester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1980.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


In this section


According to its own historian, Vale Royal owed its foundation to a vow made during a storm at sea by the future Edward I when he was returning from the Holy Land. He promised to found a Cistercian monastery in England, and endow it richly enough to maintain 100 monks for ever. The vow is well authenticated and was probably made in the winter of 1263-4 during a stormy voyage from France, but the civil wars of the following two years delayed the implementation of Edward's plan to found the largest Cistercian house in England. (fn. 1) In 1266 the general chapter of the Cistercian order authorized the abbots of Buildwas (Salop.), Neath (Glam.), and Flaxley (Glos.) to inspect the site proposed for the new house which was to be a daughter house of Abbey Dore (Herefs.); (fn. 2) the monks of Dore had shown kindness to Edward during his captivity at Hereford in 1265. (fn. 3) The site chosen was at Darnhall in Delamere Forest and on 2 August 1270, on the eve of Edward's departure on crusade, a foundation charter was issued for the monastery of St. Mary, Darnhall: the monks were given the site of the house, Darnhall and Over manors, Langwith hay in Wheldrake (Yorks. E.R.), and the advowsons of Frodsham and Weaverham and of Ashbourne and Castleton (Derb.). (fn. 4) It is likely that the original plan had already been modified as the endowment was hardly sufficient to support 100 monks and, according to a later tradition, the house was founded for a community numbering only 30. (fn. 5) The process of foundation was slow: in January 1271 Henry III appealed to the abbeys and convents of England for theological books for the abbey which his son had 'begun to found' at Darnhall and the colonizing monks from Dore did not arrive at Darnhall until February 1274. (fn. 6) They were not welcome: in October 1275 some of the tenants of Darnhall were trying to withdraw customs and services owed to the abbot and convent, the opening shot in a dispute which was to last for the next half century. (fn. 7) There were also complaints from the men of Middlewich about the loss of revenue from two salt pits given to the abbey. (fn. 8) The house had initial financial difficulties and in 1274 the abbot was allowed £30 from the exchequer of Chester to clear part of its debts and maintain the monks. (fn. 9) In 1275 an annual grant of 50 marks was made to the abbot until land of that value could be assigned to him (fn. 10) and he received Weaverham manor which the king had regained from Roger Clifford. (fn. 11) That was followed in 1276 by the grant of Conewardsley or Conersley manor, in Whitegate, regained from Walter Vernon. (fn. 12) At the same time the abbey was allowed free warren in Darnhall and Weaverham, its lands were disafforested, and it was granted privileges in Delamere forest, including the right to keep bees and have a quarry. (fn. 13) In 1276 it granted Langwith hay to Warter Priory (Yorks. E.R.) and in 1278 sold the advowson of Ashbourne to the dean and chapter of Lincoln. (fn. 14)

Meanwhile the site had proved unsuitable for the new abbey and Edward permitted the monks to choose a more suitable one 'out of all the kingdom of England'. (fn. 15) They settled on a place only 4 miles away in Darnhall manor, called 'Wetenhalewes' and 'Munecheneswro', (fn. 16) which the king renamed Vale Royal to show that no monastery should be more royal in liberties, wealth, and honour. (fn. 17) On 13 August 1277, at the height of his preparations to invade Wales, Edward laid the foundation stone of the great altar in honour of the Virgin and Sts. Nicholas and Nigasius. The queen placed stones for herself and her son Alfonso and other stones were laid by Edward's companions: the earls of Gloucester, Cornwall, Surrey, and Warwick, Maurice of Craon, Otto of Grandson, John de Greilly, Robert Tybetot and Robert de Vere. (fn. 18) Edward had given a portion of the Holy Cross to the abbey at its foundation and later he and his queen added gifts of relics, vestments, and books. (fn. 19) The years after 1277 were dominated by building operations and the problems of financing the king's ambitious plan: 'an object lesson in the unreliability of princes and the folly of monks who had allowed themselves to be drawn into grandiose building schemes inconsistent with the architectural simplicity which had once been one of the most cherished principles of their order'. (fn. 20) Edward intended that the revenues of the county of Chester should pay for the building of the abbey and at the end of 1277 he ordered an initial payment of 1,000 marks to the abbot 'towards the construction of the church'. (fn. 21) In 1278 the financing of the project was put on a more regular footing with the appointment of a royal clerk, Leonius, son of Leonius, as chamberlain of Chester and custodian of the works at Vale Royal; Leonius was to use all the issues of the county for building the abbey. (fn. 22) In addition, certain casual revenues were added to the fabric fund over the next few years: the custody of the Wirral lands of Hugh de Ouram during the minority of his heirs; (fn. 23) revenues totalling £335 10s. 6d. a year during the minority of Richard FitzAlan of Oswestry; (fn. 24) a fine of £100 on the county of Chester (fn. 25) and a larger fine of 1,000 marks imposed on Richard of Hethersett, a sergeant of the Exchequer. (fn. 26) Money was freely available during the three years of Leonius' custodianship and he spent an average of £500 a year on building materials and the wages of workmen. (fn. 27) Timber was supplied from Delamere Forest and stone from the near-by quarries at Eddisbury. In 1283 the abbot was given custody of lead mines at Englefield (Denb.) and in 1284 was allowed ferns from Delamere forest to make glass. (fn. 28) Masons were assembled from all over England and the names of some, such as Dore, Furness, and Roche, indicate connexions with other Cistercian houses. (fn. 29) They were under the direction of Walter of Hereford, the master of the works and one of the most notable masons of the period; he was still in charge in 1290 and was presumably responsible for the design of the buildings put up at that period. (fn. 30) In 1278 the place 'on which the ground plan of the monastery was to be traced' was levelled and the foundations of the church were dug out. (fn. 31) Ten years after the laying of the foundation stones work had begun on the cloisters; in 1287 the abbot entered into a contract with Ralph of Chichester and John Doget for a supply of polished marble columns, capitals, and bases which were to be shipped to Chester or Frodsham, probably from the Isle of Purbeck. (fn. 32)

The abbot and convent had moved from Darnhall to temporary buildings at Vale Royal in 1281 (fn. 33) and the move heralded a change in the arrangements for financing the building works. In June 1281 the abbot succeeded Leonius as chamberlain of Chester but he held the office for only a few months. In November the new justice, Reynold de Grey, undertook to farm the revenues of the county for 1,000 marks a year which he was instructed to pay to the abbot for the building works. (fn. 34) The abbot became keeper of the works and by 1284 another royal clerk, William of Perton, who had been keeper of the works at the castles of Flint and Rhuddlan (Flints.), was associated with him in the post. (fn. 35) Money was less readily available under the new arrangement as Grey was obliged to divert part of the farm to meet the costs of suppressing the Welsh revolt, and between 1281 and 1284 the abbot received less than half the amount to which he was entitled. (fn. 36) To meet the deficit it was arranged that he should be paid 890 marks from the royal wardrobe. (fn. 37) The building was far enough advanced for the site to be consecrated and the boundaries of the precinct marked out during a royal visit in 1283. (fn. 38) The visit was followed by another adjustment of the financing at the parliament of Acton Burnell: the total annual contribution from the king was increased to £1,000, of which 790 marks were to be paid from the revenues of the county of Chester and 710 marks from the wardrobe. (fn. 39) That arrangement remained in force until 1290 but did not work satisfactorily as arrears of £1,808 accumulated over the next seven years. (fn. 40) Some of the money may have been diverted by the abbot to other purposes; royal displeasure was certainly incurred for that or some other reason since in 1290 the master of the works, Walter of Hereford, was informed that 'the king has ceased to concern himself with the works of that church, and henceforth will have nothing more to do with them'. The barons of the Exchequer were ordered to ensure that a later grant towards the arrears was not used for any other purpose. (fn. 41) Thereafter Edward made only one meagre grant of £40, for the church roof in 1305, to help a project which he had begun so ambitiously and abandoned so suddenly. (fn. 42) Work seems to have stopped almost immediately as the abbot complained in 1301 that not a single workman had been employed for the previous ten years. (fn. 43) Increasingly desperate appeals were made for the payment of the outstanding arrears but even a legacy of 350 marks from Queen Eleanor which was partly intended for the foundation of a chantry for two monks and partly for the building works was not paid in full until 1312. (fn. 44) In 1305 the abbot suggested that the arrears of £549 which were still owing should be paid from the bailiwick of the Peak which was within reasonable distance of the abbey and, although the request was granted, £409 was still owing in 1312 when Edward II allowed the abbey £80 a year from the revenues of Ashford manor in the Peak; even that payment ceased in 1315 when the manor was granted to Edmund of Woodstock. (fn. 45) Although the monks of Vale Royal believed that Edward I had paid £32,000 towards the building of their abbey, the total contribution of Edward and his son towards the grandiose and unfinished project was less than a third of that sum. (fn. 46)

Although the first thirty years of the history of Vale Royal abbey were dominated by an over-ambitious building programme, the community had at the same time to face the usual problems in establishing itself. Additional endowments were needed to help with the costs of building and to support the monks but, as was perhaps understandable in view of the circumstances and late date of the abbey's foundation, few benefactors other than the royal family can be traced and even some apparent gifts of land and other property may have been purchases by the abbey. (fn. 47) Ralph Vernon gave land in Stanthorne and Richard Bostock added to that holding and also gave Parme in Mooresbarrow; (fn. 48) the abbey had acquired the lands of James le Vilour in Mooresbarrow by royal grant in 1284. (fn. 49) In 1281 the king bought land in Twemlow to give to the abbey, and its holding there was increased in 1288 by a gift from Thomas Twemlow. (fn. 50) Another example of an initial royal grant attracting a further gift occurred in London where the abbey acquired houses and rents in the suburbs. (fn. 51) In 1285 the king increased the abbey's holdings in its neighbourhood by the grant of several small parcels of land in Over, Bradford, and Sutton. (fn. 52) Five years previously he had made the more substantial gift of Gayton manor in Wirral but in 1312 that distant property was exchanged, with land in Lach Dennis, for Marton manor in Over. (fn. 53) Edward I added one further church to his initial endowment: in 1280, after deciding that the resources of the house were insufficient, he granted it the advowson of Kirkham in Amounderness (Lancs.) and papal agreement to its appropriation was obtained from Honorius IV through the good offices of Otto of Grandson. (fn. 54) If Edward's endowment of lands and churches did not meet his original intentions, he was, until 1290 at least, generous in his gifts in money and kind for the monks' maintenance. In 1276 the abbot and convent were granted an annual tun of wine for mass (fn. 55) and in 1278 the abbot was given 14 marks to buy clothing for himself and his monks. (fn. 56) The annual grant of 50 marks for the maintenance of the community which was first made in 1275 was paid until 1289 (fn. 57) and when the farmer of Northwich joined the community in 1277 the farm of the town was given to the abbot and convent; it was still in their hands in 1301-2. (fn. 58) The lands of the abbey in Delamere forest were disafforested and the abbot and convent were allowed free warren on their demesne lands and given extensive privileges in the forest; (fn. 59) in addition, the abbot was given two bucks from Delamere forest in 1283 and in 1302 the abbot and convent were allowed to take firewood from Peak forest for five years. (fn. 60)

Little evidence has survived for the internal state of the abbey during its first half century. It is not known how many inmates were recruited locally to swell the initial colony from Dore though a few members of the official class of the county and the diocese became monks or lay brothers. (fn. 61) In 1276 and 1278 the abbot was allowed to send agents to Ireland to buy corn for the house and in 1279 to import 100 tuns of wine and other goods. (fn. 62) By 1275 the house had begun to produce wool for sale to alien merchants and, although the abbot was ordered by the general chapter in 1282 to settle debts due to merchants immediately, £172 was owed to merchants of Lucca in 1288. (fn. 63) The indebtedness increased as the money for the building works ran out and at that period the abbots acknowledged considerable debts to the archbishop of York, the dean of Wells, and the royal clerk, William Hamilton; (fn. 64) in 1311 £200 was still owed to William of Perton, the joint custodian of the works in 1284. (fn. 65) The early abbots of Vale Royal, who were frequently absent on the business of the house at the royal court or at meetings of the general chapter, (fn. 66) had formidable problems to contend with at home. They were probably obliged by financial difficulties to be overexacting landlords and their disgruntled tenants found support in the neighbourhood from those who were jealous of the new abbey's privileges. The history of the first four abbots, probably written by Abbot Peter in the 1330s, (fn. 67) contains several accounts of attacks on the abbey and its superiors. The first abbot, John Chaumpeneys, was said to have overthrown the enemies 'who would have attacked his house', while his successor, Walter of Hereford, prevented a group of armed men from forcing a passage through the precinct and defended the rights of his house in the courts against the justice of Chester. (fn. 68) The third abbot, John of Hoo, complained that the justice, Robert Holland, had prevented the abbey and its tenants from enjoying their forest privileges and had denied the abbot custody of prisoners taken for offences in the abbey's manors. (fn. 69) Abbot Hoo, who seems to have been a stern disciplinarian capable of expelling errant monks from the convent, cited the ill will of the common people, as well as his infirmities when he successfully asked royal permission to resign his office. (fn. 70) His successor, Richard of Evesham, who had a reputation for sanctity yet guided the house safely through the 1316-18 famine, (fn. 71) also had to face local hostility: he was attacked while collecting tithes and in 1320 one of his monks was attacked at Tarvin and one of his servants was killed at Darnhall. (fn. 72)

It was the fifth abbot of Vale Royal who had to deal with the most determined and persistent hostility from the abbey's tenants at Darnhall and Over. Abbot Peter, who held office between 1322 and 1339, (fn. 73) was an energetic defender of the rights of his house and, by later repute, a man of great wisdom. (fn. 74) In 1328 the abbey came under attack from several quarters. Its claim to Kirkham church was challenged by the archbishop of York and was defended by Walter Welsh, the cellarer and Abbot Peter's closest associate. (fn. 75) The abbot appeared in person at the Northampton parliament to claim rights of estover and pasture which were being withheld by forest officials; having obtained charters of confirmation he immediately returned to Vale Royal to deal with his rebellious tenants. (fn. 76) The tenants, aggrieved by exceptionally harsh exploitation, had carried their complaints against their new landlords, together with their plough-shares, directly to their former lord but were told by Edward, 'as villeins you have come and as villeins you shall return'. (fn. 77) On their return the abbot had seized their goods and thrown them out of their houses. (fn. 78) In 1307 an inquest before the justice of Chester confirmed their bondage. (fn. 79) The dispute reached a climax in 1328 when the bond tenants, whose claims to trial by jury and to the leasing of their land without licence were denied in the manor court, rose in arms and their ringleaders were imprisoned; they offered a fine of £10 which the abbot reduced to £4. (fn. 80) A succession of manumissions in 1330 (fn. 81) did not cure discontent, which in 1336 erupted. (fn. 82) The villeins of Over, whom the abbot denied admission to burgages in the newly chartered borough, (fn. 83) joined those of Darnhall in complaints to the justice of Chester. Some were imprisoned, others journeyed to Westminster and Windsor seeking the king's help, but on successive hearings judgement was given in Chester in favour of the abbot. The men of Darnhall attacked the abbot and cellarer as they were travelling through Rutland and killed the abbot's groom. They were captured and eventually submitted to the abbot but not before three of their leaders had tried to lay further bills of complaint in the county court. (fn. 84) Probably in the course of a later attack on the houses, crops, and possessions of Vale Royal (fn. 85) in 1339 the abbot and cellarer were killed. (fn. 86)

In the middle of those troubles Abbot Peter moved the convent from the 'unsightly and ruinous' buildings which they had occupied since 1281 into its new abbey; the move took place on 15 August 1330 in the presence of the abbot of Vale Royal's mother house of Dore. (fn. 87) It seems, however, that the conventual buildings, like the church, were not yet fully built. In 1336 Abbot Peter noted in a report on the revenues and expenses of the house that the vaults of the church were yet to be erected, 'together with the roof and the glass and the other ornaments'. In addition, 'the cloister, chapter-house, dormitory, refectory, and other monastic offices still remain to be built in proportion to the church'. (fn. 88) He pointed out that the revenues of the house were not sufficient to meet the cost of completing the buildings and asked for help from the general chapter. The revenues of the house were said to amount to £248 17s.: £101 6s. 8d. a year from the churches of Kirkham, Frodsham, Weaverham, and Castleton and the remainder from the manors of Darnhall and Weaverham, the granges which had been established at Conewardsley, Bradford, Knight's (or 'Bieurepeir'), Marton, Twemlow and Mooresbarrow, salt pans at Northwich, and rents in Chester and London. (fn. 89) Annual expenses were estimated at £200 and included £20 for the maintenance and repair of the granges, £60 for hospitality, £16 for the wages of abbey servants, £21 for the expenses of the abbot and other officers of the house, £30 in 'farms and fees to clerks and esquires for the defence of the monastery', and £50 in 'gifts, damages, and contributions'. The remaining £48 17s. hardly sufficed to maintain the abbot and 20 monks even 'according to the poor way of living in the district'. Although Abbot Robert de Cheyneston covered the choir and north part of the church with lead between 1340 and 1342 at a cost of £100, (fn. 90) the resources were too limited to complete the great church. (fn. 91) In 1353, however, the Black Prince decided to continue and complete the work begun by his great-grandfather. (fn. 92) He granted a tenth of the fine of 5,000 marks offered by the county of Chester for the postponement of the eyre and promised another 500 marks when he visited Vale Royal in 1358. The first grant was to be paid over 4 and the second over 5 years. (fn. 93) Commissions to impress masons and other workmen were authorized by the prince in 1354 and by the royal chancery in 1360. (fn. 94) Emboldened by the revival of royal munificence the abbot and convent embellished their incomplete church with a chevet of thirteen chapels, alternately polygonal and four-sided, at the east end; (fn. 95) unique in England, it is thought to derive from Toledo cathedral. In 1359 they entered into a contract with the master mason, William of Helpeston: the abbot at his own expense was to build the twelve remaining chapels from the foundations to the string course and Helpeston was to complete the masonry work; he was to be paid £860 in instalments by the prince and to receive an annual pension of 40s. from the abbey for life. (fn. 96) The work was expected to take at least six years; (fn. 97) in 1362 the prince had to order the abbot and convent to carry out the terms of the contract, and Helpeston was still at work in 1368 when he was given authority to impress workmen. (fn. 98) Meanwhile, on 19 October 1360, a violent storm blew down the nave 'from the wall at the west end to the bell-tower before the gates of the choir'; although no weakness had been observed the piers fell 'like trees uprooted by the wind'. (fn. 99) The appropriation of the church of Llanbadarnfawr (Cardig.), the advowson of which had been given by the Black Prince in 1359, was immediately licensed to help towards the cost of the repair of the nave. (fn. 100) Already heavily in debt and burdened with the steadily increasing costs of hospitality, (fn. 101) the abbot and convent could not contemplate rebuilding the nave without further outside help which was not forthcoming. They eventually had to ask permission from Richard II to curtail the nave and he agreed that the church should be 'reduced in height and width according to the advice of our justices and chamberlains of Chester'. (fn. 102) The grants of timber from Delamere forest made in the 1390s were probably for this limited rebuilding. (fn. 103) If it had been completed to the original plan the church would have been 421 ft. long, more than any other Cistercian church in Britain and only a few feet shorter than Vaucelles, the largest in Europe. (fn. 104)

During the rest of the Middle Ages the house attracted little further royal interest, apart from occasional nominations to corrodies (fn. 105) and periodic concern about its disturbed state, and the abbot and convent were obliged to defend their existing property and privileges with little hope of receiving new ones. The distant churches of Kirkham and Llanbadarnfawr occasionally caused problems. In 1357 the abbot and convent were allowed to present a member of the house to the vicarage of Kirkham but in 1362 they were accused of allowing a chantry service in the church to lapse and in 1378 of failing to carry out the terms of the ordination of the vicarage. (fn. 106) Their right to the newly acquired church of Llanbadarnfawr came under attack from the Crown in 1398 and from the abbot of Strata Florida (Cardig.) in 1435. Its distance from Vale Royal caused considerable inconvenience; in 1442 the abbot complained that he had been attacked by Welshmen and imprisoned when attending petty sessions in connexion with the church. (fn. 107) The forest privileges enjoyed by the house continued to cause contention between the abbot and convent and the officials of Delamere forest. In 1348 the abbot's claim of privileges before the forest justices was allowed, in 1357 the extent of the common rights of the abbot's tenants within the forest was settled by perambulation, and in 1443 the forest privileges of the house were confirmed once more. (fn. 108) The privileges were, however, liable to be abused and in 1351 the Black Prince requested the abbot not to exercise his right to take fuel from the forest, warned him and his fellow monks not to frighten his game while hunting, and ordered him to allow no outsiders to hunt in the forest. During the 15th century the abbot and monks were often accused of forest offences. (fn. 109)

Another continuing theme in the history of Vale Royal was the involvement of the house in local disorder. There is no evidence of any further trouble from the abbey's servile tenants but there were frequent legal disputes and violent feuds with gentry tenants and neighbours and cases of unruly behaviour by members of the house. In 1375 fighting broke out between Abbot Stephen and members of the Bulkeley of Cheadle family. (fn. 110) In 1394 Abbot Stephen gave refuge to the murderer of a member of the Bostock family and in the following year the Bostocks attacked the abbot's mill at Darnhall. (fn. 111) Stephen, abbot c. 1373-c. 1400, seems to have been incapable of managing the finances of the house or of maintaining internal discipline. He was accused at various times of cutting down and selling large quantities of timber, of taking a bribe to allow a prisoner to escape, and of harbouring members of his household who had been accused of criminal offences. (fn. 112) An inquisition in 1395-6 found that he had sold or destroyed much of the abbey's property in Darnhall and elsewhere over the previous ten years and had generally impoverished the house. (fn. 113) A visitation by the abbots of Oxford, Croxden, and Dieulacres in 1395 was halted by a mob led by members of the Bostock family and two of the monks, one of whom was later accused of rape and the other of theft from the abbey. (fn. 114) The early 15th century appears to have been free from such incidents, although the abbey was in the king's hands in 1408 and 1410, (fn. 115) but it was followed by another 30 years of similar disturbances. In 1424 one of the abbot's servants was accused of an armed attack on the prior and in 1429 the arrest was ordered of those who had attempted to interfere, 'by arms or threats', with a recent election to the abbacy. (fn. 116) A visitation was ordered in 1436 and as the visitors feared they would be obstructed in their duties the sheriff and escheator of Cheshire were ordered to protect them. (fn. 117) The visitation was prompted by the behaviour of Abbot Henry Arrowsmith or Warrington; he had been accused, but acquitted, of rape at Over in 1433 and of harbouring an outlaw at Marton in 1435. (fn. 118) In 1437 he was ferociously murdered at Bradfordwood in Over by a band of armed men from Cheshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire, and Staffordshire led by George Weaver of Lea; the vicar of Over drove his sword several times through the abbot's throat to make sure that he was dead. (fn. 119) The abbey was taken into royal protection in 1439 when it was said to be 'so wasted by misrule that £1,000 would be required to repair its estate' and the management of all its possessions was given to Humphrey, earl of Stafford. (fn. 120) In spite of the royal protection, which seems to have continued for several years, the abbey was still at the mercy of acquisitive local gentlemen. In 1446 the justice and chamberlain of Chester were ordered to imprison those who had seized Onston mill and other possessions of the abbey and to see that 'their tenants within their lordship fellowship them with no gentlemen within that country which will cause such gentlemen to malign against the said abbot and convent to their destruction, as they have done aforetime'. (fn. 121) Two years later Hugh Venables of Kinderton was imprisoned in Chester castle for destroying one of the abbey's mills, driving away cattle, threatening to kill the abbot, and refusing to allow the dispute to be settled by arbitration. (fn. 122) There was further internal trouble in 1453 when five of the monks were said to have stolen goods, including a bow and arrows, from the abbot's chamber. (fn. 123) In 1455 the abbot wrote from London to the abbot of Cîteaux to complain that he had been driven from his house by the conspiracies of laymen and some of the monks; he asked that the abbots of Fountains (Yorks. W.R.) and Dore be invited to visit the abbey and transfer the offending monks to other houses. In the following year the general chapter ordered the abbots of Warden (Beds.) and Coggeshall (Essex) to investigate the 'damnable and sinister régime' at Vale Royal. (fn. 124)

There is little further evidence of disorder until the last few years of the house's existence and its condition may have improved during the latter years of the long abbacy of Thomas Kirkham who became bishop of Sodor and Man in 1458 (fn. 125) and during the even longer, though interrupted, abbacy of William Stratford. (fn. 126) After a long interval work was resumed on the fabric of the abbey; in 1422 an aisle was apparently being added to the church. Between 1486 and 1534 regular grants of timber from Delamere forest were received for repairs. (fn. 127) The size of the community probably remained constant during the late Middle Ages: there were 18 monks, including the abbot, in 1379 and 1381 and the community was the same size in 1509; there were 15 monks, including the abbot, at the dissolution in 1538. (fn. 128) The revenues of the house were estimated for tax purposes during a visitation by the abbot of Dore in 1509 at £346 0s. 4½d., of which £248 13s. 4d. came from spiritualities. (fn. 129) The total was probably an underestimate since in the 1535 valuation the total revenues were £540 6s. 2d.: £239 1s. 9d. from temporal possessions and £301 4s. 5d. from spiritualities. (fn. 130) In 1509 £253 3s. 2d. remained clear after payments for wages, fees, and pensions totalling £92 17s. 7d. in 1535 £518 19s. 8d. remained clear after outgoings of £21 6s. 8d. which included fees for the steward, auditor, and bailiffs in Weaverham, Over, Frodsham, and Chester, a corrody of £3 6s. 8d., various rents, and a pension of £4 to the abbot of Chester. (fn. 131) The record of the visitation of 1509 includes a partial inventory of the goods of the house and lists the contents of the abbot's chamber, the hospice, the pantry, the kitchen, and the brewery. In the church were 30 copes, 2 silver crosses, 6 chalices, and the furnishings, including a gold collar and silver pastoral staff, for the image of the Virgin Mary. The house had many oxen and other cattle, and the granges of Darnhall, Knight's, Bradford, and Hefferston and the churches of Frodsham and Weaverham were in the monks' own hands. (fn. 132)

There is renewed evidence of internal disorder and the involvement of the house in the power struggles and feuds of the county under the last two abbots. Accusations were brought against Abbot John Butler, and probably in September 1529 Wolsey ordered an inquiry which was carried out by Dr. Lee, probably Rowland Lee, later bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, (fn. 133) accompanied by the abbots of Combe (Warws.) and Whalley (Lancs.). Butler, who had 'made officers of religious men and also seculars', was deprived in or before November, (fn. 134) but in December 1529 entered into a bond for £1,000 with William Brereton of Malpas agreeing to be ready at all times to resign his office to a nominee of Brereton in return for a pension of 100 marks but not to resign without Brereton's consent. (fn. 135) Whether through Brereton's influence or Wolsey's fall, Abbot Butler was soon back in office; in May 1530 'my lord of Vale Royal is in his possession again, with the king's favour and letters, and some of his brethren in the castle of Chester, not all at their pleasure, no thanks to Mr. Lee'. (fn. 136) On Abbot Butler's death in 1535 William Brereton tried to get his nominee among the monks elected (fn. 137) and Sir Piers Dutton also presented a candidate to Thomas Cromwell as the monk most likely to carry out Cromwell's intentions. (fn. 138) A free election was allowed, however, and John Hareware, abbot of Hulton, became the last abbot of Vale Royal. (fn. 139) He tried to placate Brereton, 'who had all the rule of the county of Chester', with the offer of a bribe of £100 and at the time of his execution Brereton was receiving an annuity of £20 from the abbot. (fn. 140) Abbot Hareware had also to contend with Thomas Cromwell, who was appointed steward of Vale Royal in 1536. (fn. 141) In March 1538 Cromwell requested a lease of Darnhall manor on the grounds that the abbot had sufficient land and tithes in hand to furnish the monastery with corn and pasture. The abbot protested that Cromwell had been misinformed; he offered Cromwell any other lands rent-free but agreed to comply with the original request, even at the expense of the 'maintenance of good service and poor hospitality' in the house. (fn. 142) Cromwell's request prompted the abbot to start leasing the property of the house wholesale in anticipation of its dissolution; some of the leases, including one of the two tuns of prise wine, were sealed the day before the surrender of the house and most stipulated that the lease would be void if the abbey were not dissolved. (fn. 143) On 7 September 1538 the abbot, the prior, and thirteen monks surrendered the house to Thomas Holcroft the royal commissioner. (fn. 144) Soon afterwards the abbot questioned Holcroft's commission and denied that he and his fellow monks had agreed to the surrender. (fn. 145) Holcroft alleged that after he and the abbot had agreed on the surrender, the abbot asked that he alone should be allowed to stay in the abbey, demanded, and was given, all the remaining plate, and asked for the organs in the church, money to satisfy the house's creditors, and sureties for the payment of his debts and pension. Holcroft also claimed that the abbot had asked him to ante-date one lease and seal another of Frodsham rectory to Dr. Lee (fn. 146) in settlement of a debt of £80. He pointed out that the abbot had leased most of the demesnes, depleted the stock, and felled over 5,000 oaks. Apart from the plate, 20 fothers of lead, and the bells, valued at £80, the goods of the house were worth no more than £10 and the debts could not be met from two years' revenues. (fn. 147) The abbot's efforts to repudiate the surrender were fruitless and in December 1538 he and his fellow monks obtained dispensation for a change of habit. (fn. 148) In the following year an attempt was made to discredit him, but he continued to draw his pension of £60 until 1546. (fn. 149)

The Abbey of St. Mary the Virgin, St. Nicholas, and St. Nicasus, Vale Royal

The property of the abbey (fn. 150) consisted of the manors of Darnhall, Over, and Weaverham, the granges of Conewardsley, Bradford, Hefferston, Marton, Earnslow, and Knight's, Onston mill, lands and rents in Twemlow, Middlewich, Northwich, Allostock, Withington, Swettenham, Lymm, Nether Peover, Stanthorne, Capesthorne, Mooresbarrow cum Parme, Dutton, Acton, Bartington, Chester, and London, the appropriated churches of Llanbadarnfawr, Kirkham, Castleton, Frodsham, Weaverham, and Whitegate at the outer gate of the abbey. After the dissolution the tenants of Over and Weaverham, whose predecessors had struggled with the abbey, claimed that certain boon services which the officials of the Court of Augmentations were attempting to commute to money rents had been paid to the last two abbots in return for haybote, housebote, timber, and the 'comfort of hospitality' from the abbey. (fn. 151) The site of the abbey and most of the property in its vicinity were leased and in 1544 sold to Thomas Holcroft (fn. 152) who 'plucked down' the great church. (fn. 153) The house which he built on the site of part of the monastic buildings, although much altered since his day, still stood in 1979. The plan of the church that was laid out in 1278 was established by excavations in 1911, 1912, and 1958. (fn. 154) It had a cruciform plan with a central tower and probably two smaller towers above the western ends of the aisles. Excluding those towers the nave had eight bays, the transepts three, each having an eastern chapel, and the chancel four as well as a semi-circular ambulatory. The cloister, on the south side of the nave, was about 140 feet square and was presumably intended to form part of a conventional, if large, Cistercian conventual layout although the extent to which this was built remains uncertain. Despite the delays over the completion of the domestic buildings work began in 1359 on the remodelling of the east end of the chancel to form a chevet and this appears to have continued after the disastrous storm of 1360 which blew down much of the still unfinished nave and may have severely damaged the range on the west of the cloister. That range, as now existing, appears to have been built in the early 16th century and to have been resited some distance east of its original position, probably to take account of the reduced length of the nave after 1360. The new east range incorporated the cloister alley within its ground floor and had larger rooms, presumably for the lay brothers, above. The south cloister range was also rebuilt in the early 16th century, although some older walling may remain, and is largely timber-framed above the ground floor. The central portion, which is distinguished by a more elaborate roof, was presumably the monks' refectory. (fn. 155)


Walter, first abbot of Darnhall. (fn. 156)

Henry, apparently between 1270 and 1275. (fn. 157)

John Chaumpeneys, first abbot of Vale Royal, occurs between 1275 and 1289. (fn. 158)

Walter of Hereford or Dore, occurs between 1294 and 1307. (fn. 159)

John of Hoo, occurs between 1308-9 and 1314-15. (fn. 160)

Robert of Evesham or Eynsham, occurs 1316, 1320. (fn. 161)

Peter, occurs from 1322, died 1339. (fn. 162)

Robert de Cheyneston, occurs between 1340 and 1349. (fn. 163)

Thomas, occurs from 1351, died 1369. (fn. 164)

Stephen, occurs between 1373 and 1400. (fn. 165)

John, occurs 1405. (fn. 166)

Thomas Oxenford, occurs 1414, 1418. (fn. 167)

Henry Arrowsmith or Warrington, occurs from 1428, died 1437. (fn. 168)

Thomas Kirkham, occurs from 1438-9, died 1475. (fn. 169)

William Stratford, D. Th., occurs between 1476 and 1494. (fn. 170)

Thomas, occurs 1495 and 1496. (fn. 171)

William Stratford, occurs between 1498 and 1504. (fn. 172)

Richard, occurs 1505. (fn. 173)

William Stratford, occurs from 1509, resigned by 1517. (fn. 174)

John Butler or Buckley, occurs from 1517, removed 1529. (fn. 175)

William, occurs 1529. (fn. 176)

John Butler or Buckley, restored 1530, died 1535. (fn. 177)

John Hareware or Harwood, elected 1535, surrendered the abbey in 1538. (fn. 178)

A seal in use at the dissolution (fn. 179) is a pointed oval 2 by 13/8in. and depicts an abbot standing on a carved corbel with a pastoral staff in his right hand and a book in his left hand; there is a crown in the field on each side. Legend, lombardic: SIGILLUM ABBATIS ET CONVENTUS MONASTERII DE VALLE REGALI. Another seal, said to be 13th-century in date, (fn. 180) is circular, 1¾ in. in diameter, and depicts the Virgin, crowned and seated on a throne between tabernacle work, holding the Child on her left knee; in the field are eight small fleurs-de-lis in orle and the inner border is carved with small quatrefoils. Legend, lombardic: SIGILLUM CONVENTUS ECCLESIE VALLIS REGIS. An abbot's counterseal, (fn. 181) a pointed oval 1½ by 1 in., depicts a right hand and vested arm issuing from the right hand side of the field and holding a staff enfiled with a crown; there is a wavy sprig in the field on the left hand side. Legend, lombardic: CONTRA SIGILL[UM] ABBATIS . . . [VA]LLE REGALI. An abbot's seal in use in 1509 (fn. 182) is a pointed oval 17/8 by 1¼ in. and depicts the Virgin, crowned and seated in the centre of three canopied niches, with the Child on her right knee and a sceptre in her left hand; on the left is a standing figure holding a staff in his left hand and a book in his right hand; the figure on the right is missing. In the base under a carved arch is the head of an abbot, with the body broken away, between two shields of arms: on the left those of England; the other is missing. Legend, black letter: . . . TIS DE VALLE REGALI. Another abbot's seal in use in 1529 (fn. 183) is a pointed oval about 1 by 7/8 in. and depicts the Virgin with the Child on her left arm and the abbot kneeling before her to the right. Legend said to be: MATER DEI MEMENTO MEI.


  • 1. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. (R.S.L.C. lxviii), pp. vii–viii, 2–3; Ann. Mon. (Rolls Ser.) iii. 227.
  • 2. Canivez, Statuta Capitulorum Generalium, iii. 42–3.
  • 3. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 4.
  • 4. Dugdale, Mon. v. 709.
  • 5. Ormerod, Hist. Ches. ii. 150 n.
  • 6. Dugdale, Mon. v. 709; Cal. Pat. 1266–72, 505; Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 4.
  • 7. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 43–4, 48–9; P.R.O., SC 8/309/15406.
  • 8. Cal. Inq. Misc. i, p. 303; Cal. Pat. 1272–81, 111–12.
  • 9. Cal. Close, 1272–9, 140.
  • 10. Cal. Pat. 1272–81, 105.
  • 11. Cal. Close, 1272–9, 220; Cal. Chart. R. 1257–1300, 197. The abbot and convent undertook to pay 6 marks a year to Chester abbey in compensation for lost tithes: Cart. Chester Abbey, ii, p. 284.
  • 12. Cal. Close, 1272–9, 292, 342; Cal. Chart. R. 1257–1300, 199.
  • 13. Cal. Pat. 1272–81, 193–4, 270; Cal. Chart. R. 1257–1300, 197.
  • 14. Cal. Chart. R. 1257–1300, 198, 208; Cal. Close, 1272–9, 497.
  • 15. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 8.
  • 16. For a discussion of the place names see P.N. Ches. iii. 179–80.
  • 17. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 4, 7–8; Cal. Chart. R. 1257–1300, 215. The new name is found from Nov. 1277 (Cal. Pat. 1272–81, 246) although a grant was made to the abbot of Darnhall as late as Nov. 1278: Cal. Close, 1272–9, 320. In 1294 Edw. I confirmed to the abbot and convent of Vale Royal all possessions held by their former style: Cal. Pat. 1292–1301, 62.
  • 18. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 5; F. M. Powicke, Hen. III and the Lord Edward (1947), ii. 722.
  • 19. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 9.
  • 20. R. A. Brown and H. M. Colvin, Hist. King's Works, i. 248; D. Knoop and G. P. Jones, 'First Three Years of the Building of Vale Royal Abbey, 1278–80', Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, xliv. 5–47; Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 193–231.
  • 21. Cal. Pat. 1272–81, 247.
  • 22. Ibid. 252; Cal. Close, 1272–9, 460.
  • 23. Cal. Pat. 1271–81, 247.
  • 24. Ibid. 309, 311, 404, 416; 1281–92, 32, 66, 113, 169; Cal. Close, 1279–88, 171, 373.
  • 25. Cal. Close, 1279–88, 89.
  • 26. Cal. Pat. 1281–92, 150. In 1298 the remainder was being paid in annual instalments of £20: Cal. Close, 1296–1302, 158.
  • 27. Hist. King's Works, i. 249; Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 193–231.
  • 28. Hist. King's Works, i. 250; Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 197, 203; Cal. Close, 1279–88, 264; Cal. Pat. 1281–92, 69; Cal. Fine R. 1272–1307, 198.
  • 29. Hist. King's Works, i. 249; Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, xliv. 29.
  • 30. Hist. King's Works, i. 249–50.
  • 31. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 226, 228.
  • 32. A. J. Taylor, 'Cloister of Vale Royal Abbey', J.C.A.S. N.S. xxxvii(2), 295–7.
  • 33. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 5.
  • 34. Cal. Fine R. 1272–1307, 150; Cal. Pat. 1272–81, 464–5; Cal. Chanc. R. Var. 189.
  • 35. Cal. Close, 1279–88, 264; Hist. King's Works, i. 251.
  • 36. Hist. King's Works, i. 251; Cal. Close, 1279–88, 216–17.
  • 37. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 64; Hist. King's Works, i. 251.
  • 38. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 11–12; Cal. Pat. 1281–92, 74.
  • 39. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 64–5.
  • 40. Ibid. 65; Hist. King's Works, i. 252.
  • 41. J.C.A.S. N.S. xxxvii(2), 296; Hist. King's Works, i. 252; P.R.O., SC 8/279/13916.
  • 42. P.R.O., E 403/128 m. 2.
  • 43. Hist. King's Works, i. 253.
  • 44. Ibid. 252–3; Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 52–3; Cal. Pat. 1307–13, 508; Cal. Close, 1307–13, 481.
  • 45. Hist. King's Works, i. 253; P.R.O., SC 8/219/10914; SC 8/276/13784; SC 8/279/13916; Cal. Close, 1302–7, 247; 1307–13, 478; Cal. Chanc. Wts. i. 319; Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 44–5, 52.
  • 46. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 65; Hist. King's Works, 253 n.
  • 47. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. pp. vii, 130; 3 Sheaf, xxxiv, p. 3; Cat. Anct. D. i, A 206; ii, B 3474.
  • 48. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 186; Hist. MSS. Com. 1, 2nd Rep. Antrobus, p. 69.
  • 49. Cal. Chart. R. 1257–1300, 272; Cal. Close, 1272–9, 436.
  • 50. Cal. Chart. R. 1257–1300, 252; Cal. Inq. Misc. i, p. 436.
  • 51. Cal. Pat. 1292–1301, 437; Cal. Chanc. Wts. i. 319–20; Cat. Anct. D. i, A 1538.
  • 52. Cal. Chart. R. 1257–1300, 282.
  • 53. Ibid. 1257–1300, 225; 1300–26, 204; B.L. Harl. MS. 2074, f. 69v.; 3 Sheaf, xvii, p. 13; Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 130.
  • 54. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 10–11, 133; Cal. Chart. R. 1257–1300, 245; V.C.H. Lancs. vii. 145–7.
  • 55. Cal. Chart. R. 1257–1300, 198; Cal. Close, 1272–9, 297.
  • 56. Cal. Close, 1272–9, 320.
  • 57. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 230; Cal. Close, 1279–88, 171, 308; 1288–96, 2, 106, 182.
  • 58. Cal. Pat. 1272–81, 246; Ches. Chamb. Accts. 2.
  • 59. B. M. C. Husain, 'Delamere Forest in Late Mediaeval Times', T.H.S.L.C. cvii. 27, 36–8; Cal. Chart. R. 1257–1300, 272; Cal. Pat. 1272–81, 247; Cal. Chanc. Wts. i. 319.
  • 60. Cal. Close, 1279–88, 209; Cal. Pat. 1301–7, 50.
  • 61. Cal. Pat. 1272–81, 246; 1281–92, 391; Cal. Fine R. 1272–1307, 182; Cal. Chester Co. Ct. R. 64; Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 16.
  • 62. Cal. Pat. 1272–81, 185, 265, 315; Cal. Doc. Ireland, ii, p. 275.
  • 63. Cal. Close, 1272–9, 254–5; 1288–98, 29; Canivez, Statuta Capitulorum Generalium, iii. 227; W. Cunningham, Growth of Eng. Industry and Commerce, i. 634.
  • 64. Cal. Close, 1279–88, 306, 359, 423, 492; 1288–96, 393.
  • 65. Ibid. 1307–13, 383.
  • 66. Cal. Chanc. Wts. i. 112; Cal. Close, 1313–18, 69; Recs. of Wardrobe and Household 1285–6, pp. 3, 11, 24, 43.
  • 67. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. p. vii.
  • 68. Ibid. 14–15. His successor was released payment of £200 for a pardon which Abbot Walter obtained from Edw. I: Cal. Pat. 1307–13, 402.
  • 69. Cal. Pat. 1307–13, 128–9.
  • 70. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 16.
  • 71. Ibid. 18.
  • 72. Ibid. 18, 50–1.
  • 73. See below, list of abbots.
  • 74. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 75.
  • 75. Ibid. 68–74.
  • 76. Ibid. 45–7. The charters were dated 3, 5 May 1328; the 'rising' at Darnhall took place on 6 May 1328, rather than 1329 as it is dated in the Ledger Bk.: ibid. 31–2.
  • 77. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 121; Essays in Econ. Hist. ed. E. M. Carus-Wilson, ii. 84.
  • 78. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 121.
  • 79. Ibid. 121–2; P.R.O., CHES 29/20, rot. 5.
  • 80. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 31–2.
  • 81. Ibid. 28.
  • 82. The abbot was under royal protection between 1333 and 1336: Cal. Pat. 1330–4, 392; 1334–8, 56, 90.
  • 83. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 31, 187–9.
  • 84. Ibid. 37–42.
  • 85. Cal. Pat. 1338–40, 485; Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 163.
  • 86. 36 D.K.R. 429, 487.
  • 87. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 5–6, 179–80.
  • 88. Ibid. 163; Hist. King's Works, i. 253.
  • 89. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 161–2. Cf. a rental of property c. 1334: ibid. 92–113.
  • 90. Ibid. 163; Cal. Close, 1343–6, 380.
  • 91. At some unrecorded date, possibly early in the 14th cent., 6 completed altars had been consecrated: Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 12.
  • 92. For a full account of the new works and their financing see Hist. King's Works, i. 253–6.
  • 93. Blk. Prince's Reg. iii. 122, 308–10; Ches. Chamb. Accts. 216.
  • 94. Blk. Prince's Reg. iii. 144; Cal. Pat. 1358–61, 441.
  • 95. Hist. King's Works, i. 254–5; F. H. Thompson, 'Excavations at Vale Royal 1958', Antiq. Jnl. xlii. 186–7.
  • 96. Blk. Prince's Reg. iii. 344–5, 361–3; L. F. Salzman, Building in Eng. down to 1540, 439–41. Helpeston was to construct a drawing office in the north transept: Hist. King's Works, i. 254.
  • 97. Ches. Chamb. Accts. 255.
  • 98. Blk. Prince's Reg. iii. 445; 36 D.K.R. 230.
  • 99. Cal. Pat. 1358–61, 547–9; Hist. King's Works, i. 256.
  • 100. Cal. Pat. 1358–61, 296–7, 547–9; Cal. Papal Reg. iv. 88.
  • 101. Cal. Pat. 1358–61, 547–9; Blk. Prince's Reg. iii. 393.
  • 102. Hist. King's Works, i. 256–7.
  • 103. 36 D.K.R. 483.
  • 104. Hist. King's Works, i. 256; B. Pendleton, Notes on the Cistercian Abbey of St. Mary, Vale Royal, Ches. (priv. print., 1912), 20.
  • 105. Cal. Close, 1377–81, 126; L. & P. Hen. VIII, v. p. 398; 26 D.K.R. 27.
  • 106. V.C.H. Lancs. vii. 145; Cal. Inq. Misc. iii, p. 183; Cal. Pat. 1361–4, pp. 527–8.
  • 107. Cal. Close, 1396–9, 273–4, 412; 1429–35, 364; Cal. Pat. 1396–9, 355, 513; Rot. Parl. v. 43; P.R.O., SC 8/145/7218.
  • 108. T.H.S.L.C. cvii. 36–7; Blk. Prince's Reg. iii. 283, 363; Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 24–5, 138–42.
  • 109. Blk. Prince's Reg. iii. 8, 9, 13; P.R.O., CHES 25/12, rot. 30; 25/15, rott. 32–32d.; 25/17, rot. 1; Vale Royal Ledger Bk. p. x.
  • 110. P.R.O., CHES 25/4, rot. 32; 25/7, rot. 1.
  • 111. Ibid. CHES 25/8, rott. 41, 51.
  • 112. Ibid. CHES 25/4, rott. 33–33d.; 25/7, rot. 1; 25/8, rott. 17d., 41.
  • 113. Ormerod, Hist. Ches. ii. 150n.
  • 114. P.R.O., CHES 25/8, rott. 49d., 51d.
  • 115. Ibid. CHES 25/10, rot. 31; Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 21, 148.
  • 116. P.R.O., CHES 25/12, rot. 8d.; 37 D.K.R. 109.
  • 117. 37 D.K.R. 735.
  • 118. P.R.O., CHES 25/12, rot. 29d.; 3 Sheaf, xx, p. 31.
  • 119. Ibid.; P.R.O., CHES 25/12, rott. 34d.–35.
  • 120. Cal. Pat. 1436–41, p. 389.
  • 121. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 169–70.
  • 122. Ibid. 171–5.
  • 123. Ibid. p. ix n.
  • 124. Letters from Eng. Abbots to Chapter at Cîteaux (Camd. 4th ser. iv), p. 41; Canivez, Statuta Capitulorum Generalium, iv. 753–6.
  • 125. Below, list of abbots. He was allowed to hold the abbacy in commendam for life: Cal. Papal Reg. xi. 343–4, 359.
  • 126. He seems to have been displaced twice and even after his resignation in 1516 or 1517 may have returned temporarily to office in 1529: Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 22; below, list of abbots.
  • 127. Reg. Chichele (Cant. and York Soc.), ii. 257; 37 D.K.R. 735; 39 D.K.R. 268.
  • 128. T.H.S.L.C. cxxiv. 22; Traditio, ii. 195; Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 191; L. & P. Hen. VIII, xiii(2), p. 118.
  • 129. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 192.
  • 130. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), v. 208–9, wrongly giving the total from spiritualities as £301 4s. 6d. and the income from Kirkham as 100s. instead of £100.
  • 131. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 192; Valor Eccl. v. 209.
  • 132. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 191–2.
  • 133. D.N.B.
  • 134. L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv (3), p. 2700; B.L. Stowe MS. 141, f. 12.
  • 135. P.R.O., E 326/B 10693. The bond was not that of Abbot Hareware as stated in Letters and Papers of Wm. Brereton of Malpas (R.S.L.C. cxvi), 8, 31, 103.
  • 136. L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv (3), p. 2878.
  • 137. Ibid. vii, p. 322 (date corrected ibid. viii, p. 417); P.R.O., C 1/902/16. His candidate, Ralph Goldsmith, or Castleton, took priestly orders in 1523 (Lich. Jt. R. O., B/A/1/14ii) and, as 'previously monk of Vale Royal', was dispensed from religious orders in Mar. 1538: Faculty Off. Regs. ed. D. S. Chambers, 125.
  • 138. Letters Relating to Suppression of Monasteries (Camd. Soc. [1st ser.], xxvi), p. 52. Dutton's candidate, Ranulph Wilmslow, also took priestly orders in 1523: Lich. Jt. R. O., B/A/1/14ii. Anne Boleyn also intervened on behalf of 'a friend of Robert Powre': L. & P. Hen. VIII, viii, p. 417.
  • 139. P.R.O., C 1/902/16; L. & P. Hen. VIII, vii, p. 423 (date corrected: ibid. viii, p. 417). Dr. Thos. Legh was later accused of taking an excessive fee at the election: ibid. ix, p. 211.
  • 140. P.R.O., C 1/902/16; Letters and Accounts of Wm. Brereton, 255, 258, 263, 271, 278; E. W. Ives, 'Court and County Palatine in Reign of Hen. VIII', T.H.S.L.C. cxxiii. 24; L. & P. Hen. VIII, x, p. 365.
  • 141. His appointment was to take effect after the death of the earl of Shrewsbury but the fee of £20 was payable immediately: J. Youings, Dissolution of the Monasteries, 228 n.; L. & P. Hen. VIII, xiii (1), p. 52; xiv (2), pp. 318, 324.
  • 142. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xiii(1), pp. 208–9. Another version is entered under 1537: ibid, xii(1), p. 306. For a full transcript see Dugdale, Mon. v. 701–2.
  • 143. P.R.O., SC 6/Hen. VIII/407.
  • 144. 8 D.K.R. 46.
  • 145. Letters Relating to Suppression of Monasteries, p. 244. The abbot's signature on the doc. there printed is said to differ from that on the surrender: L. & P. Hen. VIII, xiii (2), p. 244.
  • 146. Presumably Bp. Rowland Lee, whose commissary was said to have been a witness of the transaction.
  • 147. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xiii (2), p. 123.
  • 148. Faulty Off. Regs. ed. D. S. Chambers, 162.
  • 149. Ormerod, Hist. Ches. ii. 152; L. & P. Hen. VIII, xiv (1), p. 248; xiv (2), p. 599; xxi (1), p. 309.
  • 150. P.R.O., SC 6/Hen. VIII/7384 mm. 76–80. For Whitegate church see Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 187; 3 Sheaf, xxiv, p. 27.
  • 151. Youings, Dissolution of Monasteries, 228.
  • 152. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xv, p. 250; xix (1), p. 169.
  • 153. Ibid. xiii (2), 123.
  • 154. Pendleton, Notes on the Cistercian Abbey of St. Mary, Vale Royal, 15, 19–22; Antiq. Jnl. xlii. 183–99.
  • 155. For an early assessment see G. D. Holland, 'Preliminary Notes on Hist, and Development of the Building', Vale Royal Abbey and House (Winsford Local Hist. Soc. 1977), 27–32.
  • 156. Named in 1307 as recipient of the manor of Over: P.R.O., CHES 29/20, rot. 5; Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 20.
  • 157. B.L. Harl. MS. 2072, f. 50.
  • 158. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 20; Cal. Close, 1272–9, 254; Cal. Chester Co. Ct. R. 141.
  • 159. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 20, 121; B.L. Harl. MSS. 2060, f. 109v.; 2072, f. 50; 2074, f. 69v.
  • 160. B.L. Harl. MS. 2162, f. 17; 36 D.K.R. 482; Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 20, 91. He seems to occur in 1305 (B.L. Harl. MS. 2064, f. 44) but this may be a mistake in transcription.
  • 161. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 20, 84; 36 D.K.R. 482.
  • 162. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 20–1, 37, 74–5. He was still alive in Aug. 1339: B.L. Harl. MS. 2072, f. 77.
  • 163. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 21, 29, 159–60, 163.
  • 164. Ibid. 21, 60, 163; Earwaker, E. Ches. i. 172.
  • 165. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 21, 62; Cal. Pat. 1413–16, 201.
  • 166. P.R.O., CHES 25/8, rot. 41.
  • 167. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 21; P.R.O., CHES 29/118, rot. 10d.; Cat. Anct. D. iv, C 4787.
  • 168. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 21, 155–6; 3 Sheaf, xx, p. 31; P.R.O., CHES 25/12, rot. 34d.
  • 169. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 22, 157. He was bp. of Sodor and Man from 1458: Cal. Papal Reg. xi. 343–4.
  • 170. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 22; P.R.O., CHES 25/15, rot. 32d.; Harwood, Hist. and Antiquities of Lichfield (1806), 407 (admission to Lich. Guild, 1484); Emden, Biog. Reg. Oxford, iii. 1801; P.R.O., CHES 25/17, rot. 1d.
  • 171. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 22; P.R.O., CHES 25/17, rot. 1.
  • 172. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 22; 3 Sheaf, xviii, p. 276; Cal. Close, 1500–9, 246.
  • 173. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 22; 37 D.K.R. 735.
  • 174. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 22, 192.
  • 175. Ibid. 22–3; see above.
  • 176. L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv (3), p. 2700. Possibly Wm. Stratford: see above.
  • 177. Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 23; L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv (3), p. 2878; vii, p. 322 (date corrected: ibid. viii, p. 322).
  • 178. L. & P. Hen. VIII, vii, p. 423. He was abbot of Hulton: V.C.H. Staffs. iii. 237 (giving incorrect date of election).
  • 179. Ormerod, Hist. Ches. ii. 171; Birch, Cat. of Seals in B.M. i, p. 785 (where it is said to be 12th-cent. in date).
  • 180. Birch, Cat. of Seals in B.M. i, p. 785.
  • 181. Ibid.; cf. sketch in J.C.A.S. [1st ser.] i, facing p. 161.
  • 182. Birch, Cat. of Seals in B.M. i, p. 786; Vale Royal Ledger Bk. 192.
  • 183. P.R.O., E 326/B 10693; cf. Birch, Cat. of Seals in B.M. i, p. 786.