Houses of Benedictine monks: Priory of Hatfield Peverel

Pages 105-107

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

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Ingelrica, the wife of Ranulph Peverel, (fn. 2) is said to have founded here in the time of William II a college of secular canons dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen, and to have passed the remainder of her days here until her decease about the end of the century. In the reign of Henry I her son William Peverel converted the foundation into a priory of Benedictines, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and subordinated to the abbey of St. Alban in Hertfordshire. He confirmed all that had previously belonged to the house, and granted in addition his own mansion and houses for the habitation of the monks as well as other possessions. (fn. 3)

The advowson of the priory accordingly belonged to the abbey. Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford and Essex, claimed (fn. 4) it in the eyre at Chelmsford in 1285 under a charter of William Peverel, though without evidence of seisin, and for a payment of 50 marks withdrew his claim.

On 16 March, 1231, the greater part of the priory was destroyed (fn. 5) by fire, only the presbytery, with the vestments, chalices and books, and the barns and granary being saved. The church, tower and offices and all the utensils perished, the bells and other metal objects being melted.

On the occasion of the abbot's visitation in 1230 great complaints were made against the prior, Alexander de Burgo, (fn. 6) and finding them justified the abbot removed him from office. (fn. 7) In 1254 the prior William de Huntendune and another monk of St. Albans were sent to Rome to defeat the insolence of certain bishops who wished to make a visitation of the abbey, contrary to its privileges. (fn. 8) About 1278 the abbot fearing that Archbishop Peckham in the course of visiting his province would find the church of Hatfield Peverel to be without a vicar and would appoint one, caused the prior, Adam de Wynchecombe, to appoint John de Sevenhamtone as the first vicar of that church. (fn. 9) A later prior, William Eversdon, was one of the six monks of St. Albans who joined the crusade under the bishop of Norwich in 1383; he died in Flanders, and the others all returned broken in health. (fn. 10)

On the occasion of the resignation of Prior Thomas Roose in 1478 an inventory of the valuable effects of the priory was taken. (fn. 11) In the church were four chalices, two gilt and two white, also two silver phials, a silver pax and a silver thurible. In the prior's chamber were two dozen silver spoons, a mazer cup with new mounting of silver gilt, a long standing piece of plate silver gilt with a gilt cover, two other pieces of silver of 'chasework,' one with a cover and the other without, a plain piece without a cover, a 'notte' (a cup made of a cocoa-nut) with a gilt cover, a silver gilt star. In the buttery were seven silver spoons, a silver salt cellar with cover, four mazer cups with silver gilt mounting, and a plain piece of silver, without a cover, for daily use.

The priory owned the rectories of Hatfield Peverel and Little Waltham in Essex, and Acton and Assington in Suffolk. In the reign of Edward I Sir Andrew de Nevile brought a suit against the abbot and prior for the advowson of the church of Assington, but finally released all right in it to them by charter in May, 1290. Besides these the priory also had tithes in Debden, Bradwell juxta Mare, Witham, and other places. A dispute with the parson of Debden about tithes was submitted to the bishop, who on 30 March, 1341, decreed that the parson should pay to the prior and convent a yearly rent of 6 marks. This was confirmed by Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford and Essex, patron of the church, on 24 December, 1346. (fn. 12) A dispute with Beeleigh Abbey about tithes in Ulting was settled on 24 April, 1510, by an agreement (fn. 13) by which Hatfield retained the tithes from the lands of Mugdon Hall, Spilmans and Chandlers and from nine acres of meadow across the river in Little Baddow, surrendering others to Beeleigh.

In July, 1281, the prior had licence (fn. 14) to cut down three acres of wood for shingles and timber for the repair of the houses of the priory and other purposes.

In the Taxation of 1291 the temporalities of the priory amounted to only £3 12s. 5d. yearly; of which £1 3s. 10d. came from Great Totham, and the remainder from Hatfield Peverel, Ulting, London, Woodham Walter, Woodham Mortimer, Terling, Maldon, Debden, Bradwell juxta Mare, Tolleshunt Tregoz and Goldhanger.

Hugh de Everisdone, abbot of St. Albans, and Peter de Maydenford, prior of Hatfield Peverel, and the monks of Hatfield Peverel granted on the morrow of St. Faith, 1317, to Thomas Ultyng a chantry in the new chapel of St. Mary the Virgin built by him in the form of an aisle within their church of Hatfield Peverel, so that one of their monks should celebrate divine service daily for the souls of him and Maud his wife and his ancestors, and granted to them all participations in benefits and orisons, and to him and his heirs, tenants of the manor of Ulting, new cloth suitable for two monks of the Benedictine rule worth half a mark, and half a mark for spices to be distributed by the sub-prior among all the monks except the prior. For this Thomas gave them a mark yearly rent. His kinswoman and heiress Sara, daughter and heiress of Nicholas de Ultyng, in her widowhood granted on SS. Philip and James, 1393, to Abbot Thomas and John, then prior, and the monks that they might celebrate at any altar they liked. (fn. 15)

It appears from a rental (fn. 16) of the priory that its spiritualities were valued at the dissolution at £46 5s. 4d. yearly. The temporalities were valued at £37 14s. 3d., the principal part being the manor of Hatfield Peverel, while other possessions lay in Witham, Ulting, Woodham Mortimer, Great Totham, Tolleshunt D'Arcy, Terling, Boreham, Little Baddow, West Ham, Debden, Bradwell juxta Mare and Acton. From this total of £83 19s. 7d. deductions were made amounting to £23 4s. 7½d. including £10 yearly to the vicar of Hatfield Peverel, 12d. weekly in food and drink to the poor for the soul of the founder, and 20s. on Maundy Thursday, and 40s. on the anniversary of the founder, payments to the archdeacon of Colchester and the abbot of St. Albans, rents and fees; so that the net income was £60 14s. 11½d. This being below the limit fixed by Parliament, the priory was dissolved in 1536. An inventory (fn. 17) was taken on 8 June of the goods in the various chambers and buildings, these amounting to £39 18s. 11d., besides cattle valued at £21 11s. 6d., and corn valued at £4. The debts due to the house reached the large sum of £93 6s. 8d

The king on 25 February, 1538, granted the priory and all its possessions to Giles Legh in fee. (fn. 18)

Priors Of Hatfield Peverel (fn. 19)

Matthew, (fn. 20) occurs 1197, 1199, 1206.

Alexander de Burgo, (fn. 21) deposed 1231.

Richard de Brantefeld, appointed 1231, (fn. 22) died 1239. (fn. 23)

William de Huntendune, occurs 1254. (fn. 21)

Adam (fn. 24) de Wynchecombe, occurs circa 1280. (fn. 21)

Luke de Bovindon, (fn. 25) occurs circa 1309.

Peter de Maydenford, occurs 1317. (fn. 26)

William de Norton, occurs 1351. (fn. 27)

William Trent. (fn. 28)

Ralph Whichchirche. (fn. 29)

William Eversdon, occurs 1383. (fn. 30)

John Mustoun, occurs 1396. (fn. 31)

John Bebsede, occurs 1401. (fn. 32)

William, occurs 1437. (fn. 33)

John, occurs 1439. (fn. 34)

Gregory Wynwyk, occurs 1452. (fn. 35)

John Thorntone, occurs 1465, (fn. 36) 1468, (fn. 37) 1474, (fn. 38) 1476. (fn. 39)

Thomas Roose, removed 1478. (fn. 40)

John Wolman, appointed 1478. (fn. 41)

Richard Stendon, occurs 1527. (fn. 42)

Robert Blackeney, occurs 1536. (fn. 43)

Richard Stevenage. (fn. 44)


  • 1. Dugdale, Mon. iii, 294.
  • 2. He is mentioned as holding Hatfield Peverel in Domesday (V.C.H. Essex, i, 526). The story of Ingelrica is very doubtful.
  • 3. His charter is printed in Mon.
  • 4. Gesta Abbat. Mon. S. Albani (Rolls Ser.), i, 471.
  • 5. Ibid. i, 273.
  • 6. Gesta Abbat. (Rolls Ser.), i, 272.
  • 7. Ibid. 274.
  • 8. Matth. Paris, Chron. Majora (Rolls Ser.), v, 461.
  • 9. Gesta Abbat. (Rolls Ser.), i. 456.
  • 10. Ibid. ii, 416.
  • 11. Registra Abbat. S. Albani (Rolls Ser.), ii, 180.
  • 12. De Banco, Hil. 28 Edw. III, 197 d.
  • 13. Newcourt, Repertorium, ii, 615.
  • 14. Pat. 9 Edw. I, m. 10.
  • 15. Close, 12 Hen. IV, m. 11 d.
  • 16. Exch. Aug. Office. Misc. Bks. 397, f. 113. Printed in Dugdale, Mon. iii, 296-7.
  • 17. Ch. Gds. (Exch. K. R.) 12, 33. See Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. ix, 280, 395.
  • 18. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiii (i), 384 (97).
  • 19. The priors were appointed and removed by the abbot of St. Albans.
  • 20. Cal. Feet of F. (Essex Arch. Soc.), 11, 20, 38.
  • 21. See above.
  • 22. Gesta Abbat. (Rolls Ser.), i. 275. He is called 'abbatis bajulus.'
  • 23. Matth. Paris, Chron. Majora (Rolls Ser.) vi, 275.
  • 24. Adam, probably the same, occurs as prior in 1285 (Assize Roll, 242, m. 23d, 26).
  • 25. Lansd. MS. 860 A. f. 295b. He was cellarer of St. Albans 1290-5 (Mon. ii, 212), and is probably identical with Luke, prior of Hatfield Peverel, who was one of the commissioners appointed by the convent of St. Albans to elect an abbot in 1309. (Cal. Papal Letters, ii, 66.)
  • 26. See above. He was prior of Beaulieu in Bedfordshire in 1299. (V.C.H. Bedford, i, 352.)
  • 27. Cal. Papal Letters, iii, 452.
  • 28. John Amundesham (Rolls Ser.), i, 436. He was at one time sub-almoner of St. Albans, and is mentioned as being a profound grammarian and a distinguished instructor of the monks. He was buried in the abbey church by the step of the extreme door.
  • 29. Gesta Abbat. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 418. He was prior at one time of Hatfield, and at another time of Wallingford, and held most of the greater offices of the abbey. About 1386 he and some other monks purchased papal chaplaincies; and these were forced to leave the abbey, but he, on account of his great age, was allowed to live at the cell of Belvoir.
  • 30. Ibid. 416. See above.
  • 31. Ibid. iii, 425. He was present at the election of the abbot. He is probably the same as John mentioned above as prior in 1393.
  • 32. Ibid. 485. At the election of the abbot.
  • 33. Lond. Epis. Reg. Gilbert, 80.
  • 34. Ibid. 87 d.
  • 35. Registra Abbat. (Rolls Ser.), i, 12. At the election of the abbot.
  • 36. Ibid. ii, 30. At the election of the abbot.
  • 37. Ibid. 79.
  • 38. Ibid. 114.
  • 39. Ibid. 145. At the election of the abbot.
  • 40. Ibid. 180.
  • 41. Ibid.
  • 42. He rendered his account (printed in Mon.) as administrator of the priory under Cardinal Wolsey, abbot of St. Albans, for the year ending Michaelmas, 18 Henry VIII, when there were three monks in the priory besides himself. He is not described as prior, though he probably was so.
  • 43. He is mentioned as prior in the inventory taken in 1536 (see above). He was cellarer of St. Albans 1531-3 and again in 1537. (Mon. ii, 213.)
  • 44. L. and P. Hen. VIII xiii (i), 583. A pension of £10 was granted to him, which ceased when he was promoted to be abbot of St. Albans. (Mins. Accts. 31-32 Hen. VIII, No. 257.) The relative positions of these last two priors is not clear.