Alien houses: Hospital or Priory of Hornchurch

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

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'Alien houses: Hospital or Priory of Hornchurch', in A History of the County of Essex: Volume 2, (London, 1907) pp. 195-196. British History Online [accessed 1 March 2024]

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This house, (fn. 1) the only dependency in England of the Hospice of St. Nicholas and St. Bernard, Montjoux, in Savoy, was founded by Henry II; probably early in 1159. Two charters from him are known. In one he grants to the hospice land worth £25 yearly in Havering and £8 in Chislehurst in Kent, with various liberties. The charter cannot be dated with certainty; but the grant is referred to on the Pipe Roll of 5 Henry II and succeeding years, and may therefore fairly be ascribed to that year, even though the charter be later. Mr. Round suggests that it is very probable that the envoys sent by the king to the Emperor Frederick in the winter of 1158-9 crossed the Alps by the pass of the Great St. Bernard, and that the endowment may be traced to this connexion. In the other charter the king grants the church of Havering with its appurtenances, to find firing for the brethren and the poor. Both grants, including the chapel of Romford, were confirmed by a bull of Pope Alexander III in 1177.

The grants of land were confirmed by Richard I and Henry III; (fn. 2) and the latter in 1253 confirmed to the master and brethren of Hornchurch their possessions in detail, and also in 1270 (fn. 3) a further grant by Richard de Ulmis. In 1228 he made a grant to the prior of an oak for the work of his church. (fn. 4) In 1268 he confirmed (fn. 5) the grant by Peter of Savoy, uncle of Queen Eleanor, of the property known as the Savoy in London; but this was sold by the brethren to the queen in 1270 for £200. In 1274 she remitted (fn. 6) to the master a rent of 46s. due to her, under the condition that he should find a chaplain to celebrate certain masses (fn. 7) in the chapel of the manor of Havering, the chaplain receiving the 46s. and other obventions of the chapel. The charters of the house were confirmed by later kings in 1285, (fn. 8) 1373 (fn. 9) and 1379. (fn. 10) The prior claimed view of frankpledge and gallows at Havering in 1285. (fn. 11)

No vicarage was ever ordained in the church, which was served by the canons themselves. They had no convent or common seal and could not plead or be impleaded, but were completely subject to Montjoux, the masters being merely the proctors of the hospice and therefore removable at the will of their provost. (fn. 12) We find it recorded, however, in 1227 that 'the prior who looked after the church and land (at Havering) has been removed by the master of the Hospice without the king's licence, so that the land is seized into the king's hands.' (fn. 13) In 1315, no doubt largely through the exactions of the hospice, the master and brethren had come to such poverty that the house was sequestrated (fn. 14) at their own request.

The hospital shared the fate of other alien houses; and in November, 1389, it was in the king's hands, and John Dautry and Robert Kent were appointed (fn. 15) to inquire about waste of its possessions. It was evidently put into the custody of the bishop of Aire, as in March, 1390, a rent of £40 due from him for the priory of Hornchurch was remitted, (fn. 16) the reason being that he could not obtain the money through an error in the wording of the grant made to him, in which the priory was called the church and rectory. In 1391, apparently after earlier negotiations (fn. 17) had failed, William of Wykeham had licence (fn. 18) to buy and grant it to New College, Oxford; its temporalities then including the manors of Sutton in Essex and Chislehurst in Kent, the manors or granges of Russebrugge and Newbury in Havering, an inn called Montejeofysyn in London within the gate of Aldgate, and four messuages in Little Jewry in Aldgate Street, London. This transfer and the appropriation of the church and chapels to New College were confirmed by a bull (fn. 19) of Pope Boniface IX in 1392.

Masters of Hornchurch

Almaric, occurs 1240. (fn. 20)

Turumbert, occurs 1243. (fn. 21)

Peter, occurs 1303. (fn. 22)

Cristinus de Antyngue, occurs 1315. (fn. 23)

Boniface, occurs 1327. (fn. 24)

Gerard, occurs 1364. (fn. 25)

Peter de Brenoz, occurs 1370. (fn. 26)

John de Curia, occurs 1384. (fn. 27)


  • 1. Dugdale, Mon. vi, 652. See an article by J. H. Round in Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. vi, 1.
  • 2. Chart. 26 Hen. III, m. 8.
  • 3. Ibid. 54 Hen. III, m. 4.
  • 4. Close, 12 Hen. III, m. 9.
  • 5. Duchy of Lanc. Royal Charters.
  • 6. Pat. 18 Edw. I, m. 15.
  • 7. viz., on Monday and Wednesday for the souls of the king and all the faithful departed, on Tuesday and Saturday the service of the Blessed Virgin, on Thursday that of the Holy Ghost, on Friday that of the Holy Cross, and on Sunday that of the Trinity, in every mass making mention of the soul of Henry III.
  • 8. Chart. 13 Edw. I, No. 56.
  • 9. Ibid. 47 Edw. III, No. 23.
  • 10. Pat. 3 Ric. II, pt. 1, m. 14.
  • 11. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 232.
  • 12. Anct. Petn. 5807.
  • 13. Assize R. 229, m. 16.
  • 14. Pat. 8 Edw. II, pt. 2, m. 7.
  • 15. Ibid. 13 Ric. II, pt. 2, m. 34d.
  • 16. Ibid. pt. 3, m. 20; 14 Ric. II, pt. I, m. 40.
  • 17. Ibid. 13 Ric. II, pt. 3, m. 4.
  • 18. Ibid. 14 Ric. II, pt. 2, m. 11.
  • 19. Cal. Papal Letters, iv, 439-41.
  • 20. Cal. Feet of F. (Essex Arch. Soc.), 123.
  • 21. Ibid. 144.
  • 22. Pat. 31 Edw. I, m. 41.
  • 23. Ibid. 8 Edw. II, pt. 2, m. 22. 'Mestre Cristien,' warden of the church of Hornchurch, complains (Anct. Petn. 5,807) that on the death of the last warden the bailiff of Havering seized the goods of the house.
  • 24. De Banco, Hil. 1 Edw. III, ro. 40.
  • 25. Coram Rege. Mich. 38 Edw. III, ro. 10.
  • 26. Cler. Sub. 63, 9a.
  • 27. Chanc. Misc. 18. 3.