Alien houses: The priory of Beckford

Page 102

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

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In the reign of Henry I Rabellus, the chamberlain of Normandy, gave the manor of Beckford-with-Ashton to the monastery of St. Barbe-en-Auge in Normandy, (fn. 1) which had been founded as a house of Augustinian canons in 1128. (fn. 2) A prior and one or two canons were sent over to occupy the cell. (fn. 3) In 1247 the abbot and convent of Cormeilles let the parish church of Beckford with the chapel of Aston at a rent of 60 marks to the prior and convent of St. Barbe-en-Auge. (fn. 4) The arrangement was recognized by Walter Cantilupe, bishop of Worcester, in 1248. (fn. 5) Another agreement to the same effect was concluded in 1267. (fn. 6) How long it lasted is uncertain; (fn. 7) in 1339 the prior of Beckford still paid procuration to the bishop for the parish church. (fn. 8)

The prior and convent of St. Barbe-en-Auge presented the prior of their choice to the bishop of Worcester, and the custody of the priory was committed to him as their proctor. (fn. 9) When the alien priories were seized by Edward I, Edward II, and Edward III, the prior seems to have retained his possessions on payment of a ferm to the exchequer. (fn. 10) In the reign of Richard II, however, the custody was granted first to one of the king's clerks in 1379 for a rent of 100 marks a year, (fn. 11) and in 1383 for life to a knight named Sir John Cheyne, (fn. 12) who was to hold it without rendering anything as long as the war lasted, and after peace was restored for 100 marks to the exchequer. It was a high demand, for in 1374 the value of the priory was only assessed at £40 a year. (fn. 13) At that time a prior and one canon dwelt there. In 1389 the prior and convent of St. Barbe-en-Auge confirmed the grant of the possessions of Beckford Priory to Sir John Cheyne. (fn. 14) In 1399, when Henry IV restored many of the alien priories which were conventual, Sir John Cheyne urged that the manor of Beckford was not a conventual priory and had no spiritualities attached to it, and thus succeeded in obtaining a confirmation of the grant by Richard II in 1383. (fn. 15) Beckford came under the Act of 1414 for the suppression of the alien priories, and the manor was in the possession of the crown until 1443, when Henry VI granted it to his new foundation of Eton College. (fn. 16) In 1462 Edward IV revoked that grant, and added Beckford to the endowment of the collegiate church of Fotheringhay. (fn. 17)

Priors of Beckford (fn. 18)

Peter de Hayn, ob. 1298 (fn. 19)

William de Bony, 1298 (fn. 20)

Lawrence Gerard occurs 1345 (fn. 21)

Robert occurs 1374 (fn. 22)


  • 1. Dugdale, Mon. vii, 1048.
  • 2. Ibid. 1112.
  • 3. Ibid. 1048.
  • 4. MS. Add. 18461, fol. 19 (B.M.).
  • 5. Ibid. fol. 22 v.
  • 6. Ibid. fol. 17 v.
  • 7. Cf. Newent, p. 106.
  • 8. Worc. Epis. Reg. Bransford, fol. 15d. No instance occurs in any of the bishops' registers of a visitation of the priory.
  • 9. Worc. Epis. Reg. Giffard (Worc. Hist. Soc.), 505.
  • 10. Lawrence Gerard occurs prior of Beckford in 1345 (Cal. of Close, 19 Edw. III, pt. ii, m. 22d.) when the alien priories were in the king's hands.
  • 11. Cal. of Pat. 2 Ric. II, pt. ii, m. 16.
  • 12. Ibid. 7 Ric. II, pt. i, m. 26.
  • 13. Worc. Reg. Sede. Vac. (Worc. Hist. Soc.), 308. In 1293 the manor with its goods and chattels was valued at £126 6s. 10d. per annum. MS. Donat. 6164, fol. 46 (B.M.).
  • 14. Cal. of Pat. 13 Ric. II, pt. i, m. 9.
  • 15. Ibid. I Hen. IV, pt. iii, m. 12.
  • 16. Dugdale, op. cit. vii, 1048.
  • 17. Ibid.
  • 18. Entries of the priors of Beckford, with one exception, are not to be found in the registers of the bishops of Worcester. This may be due to the fact that the prior had no spiritualities.
  • 19. Worc. Epis. Reg. Giffard (Worc. Hist. Soc.), 505.
  • 20. Ibid.
  • 21. Cal. of Close, 19 Edw. III, pt. iii, m. 22 d.
  • 22. Worc. Reg. Sede. Vac. (Worc. Hist. Soc.), 308.