Houses of Benedictine monks: The abbey of St Peter at Gloucester

Pages 53-61

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

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In or about 681, with the consent of Ethelred, king of Mercia, Osric, under-king of the Hwiccas, founded a monastery at Gloucester in honour of St. Peter and St. Paul. (fn. 1) It is possible that a monastery for men was attached to it as to many other monasteries for women which were founded before the eighth century. (fn. 2) Osric's sister, Cyneburh, was consecrated as the first abbess by Bosel, bishop of Worcester. (fn. 3) She died in 710, and was succeeded by her sister, Eadburh. (fn. 4) On her death in 735, Eva was consecrated abbess by Wilfrid, bishop of Worcester. (fn. 5) During the rule of the three abbesses monastic life flourished, (fn. 6) and the possessions of the house increased. (fn. 7) But on the death of Eva in 767 no successor was appointed, (fn. 8) and it seems probable that the nuns dispersed during the confusion of civil strife in England. According to the writer of the Memoriale the monastery was deserted for the space of fifty years. (fn. 9) It has been suggested that King Offa took the lands of the monastery into his own hands as he did those of the abbey of Bath. (fn. 10) Bernulph, king of the Mercians (ob. 823), is said to have rebuilt the church, and to have endowed a body of secular priests with the former possessions of the nuns, and in addition five hides in Standish. (fn. 11)

Gloucester was untouched by the monastic revival in the reign of King Edgar. However, in 1022 Wulfstan II, who held the sees of both Worcester and York, changed the community of secular priests into a convent of Benedictine monks and put them under the rule of Abbot Edric. (fn. 12) According to one tradition, the men of Gloucester resented the reform, and killed seven of the monks, (fn. 13) and in atonement for that deed, Wulfin le Rue gave Churcham and Highnam to the convent. There is no evidence of a violent expulsion of the secular priests, (fn. 14) and Abbot Edric is said to have been one of them. (fn. 15) The house did not flourish, lands at Badgeworth and Hatherley were sold, (fn. 16) and the monastic buildings were destroyed by fire. (fn. 17) In 1058 Edric was succeeded by Wilstan, a monk of Worcester. (fn. 18) Aldred, then bishop of Worcester, rebuilt the church from the foundations; to recoup the expense he took possession of the lands of the monks at Leach, Oddington, Standish, and Barton, and annexed them to the see of York, to which he succeeded in 1061. (fn. 19) At the time of the Norman Conquest monastic life languished at Gloucester, as in many other houses. In 1072 the convent consisted only of two monks and eight novices, and Abbot Wilstan had gone on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. (fn. 20) After his death in that year, Serlo, a Norman monk of Mont St. Michel, was appointed by William the Conqueror. The monastery prospered exceedingly under his vigorous rule, and before 1087 he recovered the manors of Frocester and Coln St. Aldwyn, which had been alienated by his predecessor. (fn. 21) In the Domesday Survey the possessions of the convent in Gloucestershire (fn. 22) also included the manors of Boxwell, Buckland, Aldsworth, Hinton, Highnam, and Preston, of the old endowment, Ledene of the gift of Walter de Lacy, (fn. 23) Duntisbourne, of the gift of his wife; (fn. 24) in Hampshire, (fn. 25) Linkenholt, the gift of Ernulf de Hesding in 1082; (fn. 26) in Worcestershire (fn. 27) half a hide in Wick; in Herefordshire (fn. 28) the manors of Westwood, Brompton, and Lea, making in all 89½ hides. In 1093 Abbot Serlo regained the manor of Nympsfield. (fn. 29) In 1095, with the aid of the king, he compelled Thomas, archbishop of York, to restore all the lands at Leach, Oddington, Standish, and Barton, (fn. 30) which had remained in the possession of the see of York since 1058, when Aldred seized them. William the Conqueror gave the convent the manor of Barnwood (fn. 31) and the church of St. Peter Mancroft at Norwich. (fn. 32) When William II lay sick at Gloucester in 1093, he gave the church of St. Gundelay at Newport and fifteen hides. (fn. 33) Henry I granted the manor of Maisemore in 1101. (fn. 34) Lands and churches in the marches in Wales were lavishly presented by Norman lords; in 1088 Bernard of Newmarch gave the manor of Glasbury and the church of Cowarne; (fn. 35) Robert Fitzhamon granted the church of Lancarvan and fifteen hides at Penhow. (fn. 36) In 1100 Harold, lord of Ewyas, founded and endowed the cell of Ewyas in Herefordshire. (fn. 37) In the following year Hugh de Lacy gave the collegiate church of St. Peter at Hereford. (fn. 38) The church of St. Martin in the Vintry, London, was the gift of Ralph Peverel. (fn. 39) The number of monks increased rapidly, and in 1104 was said to have reached 100. (fn. 40) However, in a charter granted by Samson, bishop of Worcester, on 23 July, 1100, he expressly stated that Serlo had gathered around him more than sixty monks, and that the possessions of the house scarcely sufficed to provide for them. (fn. 41) In 1089 (fn. 42) the foundation-stone was laid of a new church which was dedicated on 13 July, 1100, with great pomp by Samson, bishop of Worcester, Gundulf, bishop of Rochester, and Hervey, bishop of Bangor. (fn. 43) Two years later the building suffered some damage by fire. (fn. 44) On the death of Serlo in 1104, Prior Peter became abbot. (fn. 45) Building and the acquisition of property continued, and Henry I gave the manor of Abload and Paygrove Wood in exchange for some land in Gloucester on which the castle was built. (fn. 46) Learning flourished, Abbot Peter had long been an earnest student of the Scriptures, and he gave many books to the library. (fn. 47) In 1122, during the rule of his successor, William Godemon, the monastery suffered serious damage by fire. (fn. 48) The convent appears to have already enjoyed the privilege of freedom of election, (fn. 49) and in 1130, Walter de Lacy, who had entered the monastery under Abbot Peter at the age of seven, was unanimously chosen. (fn. 50) On his death in 1139 the monks elected Gilbert Folliot, a monk of Cluny, (fn. 51) and when he was promoted to the see of Hereford in 1148, their choice fell on the sub-prior Hamelin. (fn. 52) Under these three abbots the possessions of the house continued to increase very rapidly. In 1134 the cell of Kilpeck, in Herefordshire, was founded and endowed by Hugh Fitzwilliam. (fn. 53) In 1135, Robert Curthose, a former benefactor, (fn. 54) received honourable burial within the church. (fn. 55) To find a light at the high altar for his brother's soul, Henry I gave the manor of Rodley, with a wood and fishery. (fn. 56) Robert, earl of Gloucester (ob. 1146), gave lands at Tregoff and Penhow in Glamorganshire. (fn. 57) The dependent priory of St. Guthlac at Hereford was founded between 1139 and 1148, with the aid of the bishop, Robert de Bethune. (fn. 58)

In 1141 Maurice of London founded and endowed the cell of Ewenny in Glamorganshire. (fn. 59) In 1144 the lands at Glasbury were exchanged for the manor of Eastleach. (fn. 60) In 1146 the college of secular canons at Stanley St. Leonard was given to the monastery by Roger of Berkeley III, with the consent of the prior and canons, and became another cell. (fn. 61)

In 1155 the secular canons of Bromfield in Shropshire surrendered their collegiate church to the monastery, (fn. 62) and themselves became Benedictines in the new cell. The old claim of the see of York to the manors which had been surrendered by Archbishop Thomas in 1095, was again put forward by Archbishop Roger. After a journey to the papal court, Abbot Hamelin made a final settlement by granting Oddington, Condicote, and Cherdington to the archbishop. (fn. 63)

In spite, or perhaps on account of the very rapid expansion, there are indications of that financial embarrassment which becomes so marked a feature in the history of the monastery in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The revenues were very large, but they frequently proved insufficient. In 1146, for a loan of £80, the abbot and convent handed over the manor of Tregoff, their land at Penhow, and the church of Lancarvan to Robert Fitzharding for a term of five years. (fn. 64) If they were able to repay him before the time had expired, he undertook to restore the property at once. The intellectual condition of the monastery was flourishing. Of the monks who are known to have added their works to the library, Benedict (fn. 65) wrote a life of St. Dubricius about 1130, and Osbern was conspicuous among his contemporaries for his knowledge of philosophy and theology. (fn. 66) The letters of Gilbert Folliot bear witness to his reputation for elegant scholarship and wisdom. (fn. 67)

He assigned the church of Glasbury, the tithes of Talgarth and those from the lordship of Brecon to the precentor to find parchment and ink to increase the library.

Between 1163 and 1179 one of the western towers fell while Roger, bishop of Worcester, was celebrating mass, and although the church was thronged with people they all escaped unhurt. (fn. 68) In 1168 the ritual murder of a boy named Harold was attributed to the Jews of Gloucester. (fn. 69) Abbot Hamelin and the monks gave the body honourable burial in their church.

The house suffered severely from the financial extortions of John. The chalices and silver vessels had been sold for Richard I's ransom in 1194, (fn. 70) and other chalices were sold to meet the king's demands in 1210. (fn. 71) On 28 October, 1216, Henry III, then a boy of nine years old, was crowned king of England by Guala, the papal legate, and other bishops, in the great church of the monastery. (fn. 72) A market in the manor of Northleach was granted by Henry III in 1222, (fn. 73) and in 1227 a fair on the vigil, feast, and morrow of St. Peter and St. Paul. (fn. 74) The church of Frocester was appropriated to the house by William of Blois, bishop of Worcester, in 1225; (fn. 75) in 1231 20 marks out of the revenues of the church of Newport were assigned to provide wine for the convent. (fn. 76) Some of the monastic offices were destroyed in a fire which did much damage in the town in 1222. (fn. 77) Building continued steadily. The central tower was erected under the supervision of Elias the sacrist about 1222; (fn. 78) he also made the monks' stalls and constructed an aqueduct. (fn. 79) In 1232 Henry III granted 100 oaks in the forest of Dean for the work of the church; (fn. 80) in the following year he gave ten, (fn. 81) and in 1234 he allowed the abbot to have a horse going to the forest to fetch dead wood to his mill at Rodley, to melt lead for the roof of the church of the monastery, every day from the Feast of the Purification until three weeks after Easter. (fn. 82) In 1227 the Lady chapel, which had been built and endowed by a benefactor named Ralph de Wilington, was completed. (fn. 83) The church was dedicated in 1239 by Walter Cantilupe, bishop of Worcester. (fn. 84)

In 1242 the vaulting of the nave, which, possibly from poverty, had been undertaken by the monks themselves, was finished. (fn. 85) The southwest tower was begun immediately and completed within a few years. (fn. 86)

Yet there are indications of mismanagement and lack of order. In 1239 the convent vainly attempted to deny the right of visitation to the bishop of Worcester, (fn. 87) and when Walter Cantilupe exercised that right in 1242 he removed the prior and other obedientiars from office. (fn. 88) Under the rule of John de Felda (1243-63) the monastery became heavily in debt. The exactions of both crown and papacy were felt as a very serious burden by most of the religious houses during those years, but building and the acquisition of land were probably responsible for financial difficulties. In 1246 the old frater was pulled down and a new one was begun. (fn. 89) Five years later the house owed 3,000 marks, and the abbot and convent were in such straits that they appealed to Bishop Cantilupe for help, (fn. 90) and he forbade the reception and entertainment of guests. Nevertheless in 1260 the abbot purchased from Laurence de Chandos 55 acres of arable land in Brockworth, 40 acres of meadow, and Buckholt Wood, covering 300 acres. (fn. 91) John de Felda's successor, Reginald de Homme, found a debt of 1500 marks in 1263. (fn. 92) In 1271 John de Breton, bishop of Hereford, allowed the abbot and convent to appropriate the church of Great Cowarne, (fn. 93) but the abbot's difficulties were so great that in 1272 he appealed to the crown. On 24 January, 1273, until the king should arrive in England, Reginald de Akele was given the custody of the monastery, which was reported to be decayed. (fn. 94) As was usual in such commissions he doubtless received the whole of the revenues, made provision for the abbot and convent and such servants as were necessary, and used the remainder to pay off the debts. However, on the accession of John de Gamages in 1284 the house was again in debt to the amount of 1,000 marks. (fn. 95)

The most interesting event in the abbacy of Reginald de Homme was the foundation in 1283 of a college at Oxford for monks of Gloucester by John Giffard, lord of Brimpsfield. (fn. 96) It bore the name of Gloucester Hall, but within a few years other Benedictine monasteries began to send students there and to have their own lodging within the college. (fn. 97) In 1298 William de Brok, a monk of Gloucester, was the first Benedictine to gain the degree of doctor in theology. The day of his inception, 11 June, was made the occason of a great gathering of Benedictines at the college. (fn. 98)

Fifty monks, including the priors of the cells, took part in the election of John de Gamages in 1284. (fn. 99) As prior, first of Ewenny, (fn. 100) and afterwards of St. Guthlac's, Hereford, (fn. 101) he had already gained some profitable experience of administration, and during the twenty-two years of his rule he effected many reforms. The life and management of the monastery satisfied even so stern a visitor as Giffard, bishop of Worcester, had shown himself to be elsewhere. The injunctions (fn. 102) sent in 1301 by Winchelsey, archbishop of Canterbury after his metropolitical visitation were in great part a confirmation, on the petition of the abbot and convent, of ordinances which they had made. In accordance with these, no one might henceforth become a monk, unless he were whole in body and mind, lettered and skilled in song, and of tried character. The abbot's household was strictly limited at home and when he went abroad, and he was not allowed to hold property of his own. The common seal could only be used in the presence of the greater or wiser part of the chapter. The duties of the chamberlain in providing clothes were carefully defined. No pensions or liveries might be granted except for the manifest use of the house and then only with the consent of the bishop of the diocese. No obedientiar might sell lands or grant corrodies, and thus burden his office, without the knowledge of the abbot and the consent of the chapter. Among the injunctions added by the archbishop was one for a strict yearly audit of the accounts of bailiffs of manors and of the obedientiars of the monastery. He limited the number of dogs kept for the chase, forbade the monks to play draughts, practise the use of the bow, or to enter alone any house in Gloucester or to wander about the countryside.

Owing to the abbot's watchful care, the manors were well stocked and profitable. (fn. 103) The number of sheep was increased to 10,000, and in one year 46 sacks of wool were sold, realizing probably over 550 marks. (fn. 104) More land was purchased in the manor of Upton, much building went on in the different manors, and included the abbot's chamber at Hartpury, the great granary at Frocester, and new houses at Upleadon. (fn. 105) Abbot John de Gamages' gifts to the church included plate and vestments, and an altar in honour of St. Paul was dedicated in 1306. (fn. 106) Among the books which de Gamages added to the library was a 'Legenda Sanctorum' and a cartulary. (fn. 107) It was during his rule that Robert of Gloucester compiled a chronicle in English verse of over 12,000 lines. (fn. 108) He wrote the praises of England as the best of all lands, (fn. 109) and desired that English should be spoken by great folk as well as by low-born men. (fn. 110) Abbot John de Gamages remembered the loss and damage when the escheators held the lands of the house in the vacancy before his accession, (fn. 111) and in 1306 he obtained from Edward I a concession to the prior and convent to retain the custody of the monastery lands during each successive voidance on condition that they rendered 200 marks for four months, and if it lasted longer, a further payment at the same rate. (fn. 112)

The first dispute with the prior of Worcester, who claimed the right of visitation of the diocese during a vacancy of the see, took place during the abbacy of John de Gamages. On 15 March, 1302, the prior appeared before the gates of the monastery and was refused admittance, (fn. 113) because the house had been visited twice within a year by Bishop Giffard and Archbishop Winchelsey. The prior excommunicated the abbot and convent. (fn. 114) They at once appealed to Winchelsey, archbishop of Canterbury, against the sentence, and the prior petitioned for the preservation of his lawful jurisdiction. The prior cited the abbot to appear before him on 21 March, 1302, in the parish church of Winchcombe, but as he did not come he was declared contumacious. However, the official of the archbishop intervened, inhibited the prior from taking any further proceedings, and summoned him to appear before the Court of Arches. In July he was compelled to absolve the abbot and convent from the sentence of excommunication.

The quarrel was renewed during the next vacancy of the see. (fn. 115) On 20 March, 1308, the prior of Worcester wrote to inform Abbot Thoky that he should visit Gloucester on the vigil of Palm Sunday. The abbot refused to admit the prior, and the controversy continued till 1309, when Winchelsey proposed to arbitrate, and both parties consented. His decision was that the priors of Worcester had had, and ought to have, the right of visiting the monastery of St. Peter at Gloucester. In spite of this award, the abbot and convent offered resistance at the next vacancy, and in December, 1313, Thoky and eleven of the great officers were excommunicated. (fn. 116) However, in 1317 the prior of Worcester's claims were admitted, (fn. 117) and no further controversy was raised during later vacancies.

The most interesting feature of the history of the monastery throughout the fourteenth century is the continuance of the building, which only falls within the scope of this article in so far as it throws light on the financial position of the house. Abbot Thoky continued the policy of his predecessors, and of him, too, the chronicler wrote: 'He obtained many good things in building and other ornaments' for the church. (fn. 118) On the feast of the Epiphany, 1300, a fire which began in a timbered house in the great court spread to the small bell-tower, the great camera, and the cloister. (fn. 119) The dorter suffered some damage; in 1303 it was pulled down to build a new one, which was not finished till 1313. (fn. 120) About 1318 the south aisle was rebuilt at great cost. (fn. 121) It was most probably in aid of the expenses that, in 1318, the abbot and convent sought to obtain from Cobham, bishop of Worcester, the appropriation of the church of South Cerney, urging that they were oppressed by grievous burdens, and that ruin threatened the fabric of their church. (fn. 122) The bishop ordered an inquisition. (fn. 123) The administration of the house was known to be unsatisfactory, and after the visitation, during the vacancy of the see in 1317, the prior of Worcester issued letters of absolution to Abbot Thoky, who was found to have transgressed certain rules, and especially the injunctions of Robert Winchelsey, archbishop of Canterbury. (fn. 124) On 18 March, 1318, Bishop Cobham wrote to remind the abbot that he had already bidden him to desist from wasting the goods of the house, and to compel others to refrain also. (fn. 125) Nevertheless, the abbot retained Walter de la Hurst as cellarer, who had already entirely cut down the woods of Littleton and Linkenholt in Hampshire, and was now felling those of Hope Mansel and Birdwood in Herefordshire. There can be no doubt that the maintenance of lavish hospitality was a serious drain on the finances of the house, and it would be felt chiefly by the office of the cellarer. However, in 1323 the bishop was satisfied, and effected the appropriation of South Cerney. (fn. 126) A new and important source of revenue was obtained in 1327. After the murder of Edward II at Berkeley Castle, the abbots of Bristol, Kingswood, and Malmesbury feared the vengeance of Roger Mortimer and Queen Isabella if they gave the king burial in any one of their churches. (fn. 127) Edward II was well known to Abbot Thoky, who had entertained him sumptuously at Gloucester, and he sent an escort to Berkeley to bring the body of the king to Gloucester, where it was buried with great honour near the high altar on the north side of the choir. It is somewhat strange, after the misgovernance of the king and the general unrest throughout the country during his reign, that his tomb became immediately an object of pilgrimage. According to the chronicler, the crowds which flocked thither were so great that the town of Gloucester could scarcely contain them. (fn. 128) Moreover, the offerings were so numerous and costly that the new work in the south transept was completed in 1335. The offerings at the tomb also paid for the vaulting of the choir in the time of Adam of Staunton. (fn. 129) In consideration of the great expenses incurred at the funeral of his father, Edward III granted many privileges to the monastery. In 1328 he diminished the payment to the crown during each voidance of the abbey, fixing it at the rate of £100 a year. (fn. 130) At the same time he also granted a licence to appropriate the churches of Chipping Norton, Cam, and Wyrardisbury. (fn. 131) These were not effected for some time, and in 1345, in exchange for the advowson of Wyrardisbury, Edward III granted the manor of King's Barton by Gloucester, the weir of Minsterworth, and half the weir of Duneye at a fee farm rent of £48 a year. (fn. 132) In 1336 he granted the hundred of Dodeston for a fee farm rent of £12 a year. (fn. 133)

The manor of Standish, which had been given to St. Peter's by Bernulph, king of the Mercians, when he founded a college of secular priests, (fn. 134) had from an early date been assigned to charity. In 1202 Mauger, bishop of Worcester, made an ordinance that it should be restored to the use of the poor, except in case of great necessity, and that the revenues should be administered for them by the almoner. (fn. 135) In 1301 Winchelsey, archbishop of Canterbury, issued an injunction that the poor should not be defrauded of the profits of the manor. (fn. 136) In 1346 Wulstan de Bransford was compelled to intervene again on their behalf. (fn. 137) In 1535, according to his ordinance, as much as £92 was distributed to the poor from the issues of the manor of Standish, (fn. 138) over and above other regular alms.

It is not easy to discover the mortality from the Black Death. In 1339 the number of the monks was forty-six, (fn. 139) in 1351 it was only thirtysix, (fn. 140) but during the abbacy of John Boyfield (1377-81) there were fifty-four monks, (fn. 141) so the numbers suffered no permanent diminution. The register of Thoresby, bishop of Worcester, bears witness to serious internal discord in 1350. The custom, or, as the bishop termed it, corruption, had grown up of allowing the monks so much a year for their food and clothes. (fn. 142) In 1350 Abbot Staunton experienced some difficulty in carrying on the administration of the house, the revenues being seriously diminished. Accordingly he abolished this custom, and provided the food and clothing. Although his object was evidently to economize, for he had been obliged to borrow money, the monks complained to the bishop of his action as an infringement of their privileges. However, the abbot seems to have effected his purpose, for on his death in 1351 he left the house free of debt and with 1,000 marks in the treasury. (fn. 143)

During the abbacy of Thomas Horton between 1368 and 1374, the new work in the north transept was completed at a total cost of £581 0s. 2d., out of which the abbot contributed no less than £444 0s. 2d. (fn. 144) Further building was undertaken; (fn. 145) vestments, silver vessels, and candlesticks were among his gifts, and at his own cost he purchased the tenement of Le Wast near Lettrington, and defrayed the expenses of the appropriation of Cam, which, although sanctioned by Edward III in 1328, had not as yet been effected. It became more and more necessary to make out a good case to induce bishops to consent to the appropriation of churches by religious houses, and the petition of the abbot and convent to Brian, bishop of Worcester, was strongly worded. (fn. 146) They urged that their buildings within and without the monastery were ruinous and in need of costly repair; the property in Wales from which they derived the greater part of their food was in the hands of enemies; their lands were sterile and numbers of their sheep had died in the pestilence. These arguments found favour with the bishop and he allowed the appropriation of Cam. Abbot Horton proceeded to charge the revenues of Cam with a provision of cakes, wines, and a pittance of fruit for the keeping of his anniversary. (fn. 147)

In 1359 the abbot and convent were able to withdraw their monks from the cell of Ewyas in Herefordshire, on the plea that its revenues no longer sufficed for the maintenance even of a prior. (fn. 148)

The revenues of the house, which under Abbot Boyfield (1377-81) were said to be greatly reduced through inundations, pestilences, and excessive hospitality, amounted to 1,700 marks a year. (fn. 149) There were at that time fiftyfour monks besides the abbot and 200 servants. The most important event of his rule was the meeting of Parliament at Gloucester in 1378 from 22 October to 16 November. (fn. 150) Richard II and the court lodged in the abbeys of Gloucester and Tewkesbury. Parliament met in the great guest-hall of St. Peter's. The place was more like a fair than a house of religion, and games were played on the cloister garth. According to the chronicler Boyfield was a gentle, simple-minded man, and his enemies gave him little rest. (fn. 151) He engaged in a dispute with Wakefield, bishop of Worcester, who is said to have demanded a sum of money on the resignation of Abbot Horton, and to have defamed the convent at the papal curia. In spite of the grant by Edward III of a reduction in the sum due to the crown during a vacancy, in 1377 the escheator demanded 200 marks. (fn. 152) A lawsuit followed, but at length judgement was given in favour of the abbot and convent. It was probably in consequence of these troubles, that, when Abbot Walter Froucester succeeded in 1381, he found a debt of 8,000 florins, (fn. 153) but under his rule the monastery recovered its prosperity. (fn. 154) The cloisters which had been begun by Abbot Horton were completed, much rebuilding took place on the manors, and they were well stocked with cattle and sheep. He pursued a very deliberate policy of increasing the rental of the house by appropriating churches. Richard II and John of Gaunt supported the petition of the abbot and convent to Urban VI in which they asked to be allowed to appropriate the vicarage of St. Mary de Lode, and to serve the church by one of their own number or a secular clerk removable at will. (fn. 155) They urged that 1,700 marks a year was not sufficient to maintain forty-four monks and 200 servants, and to meet other charges. After an inquiry which Urban VI directed the abbot of Winchcombe to hold, the appropriation was effected. On 30 June, 1391 he also consented to the appropriation of the parish church of Chipping Norton, which was worth 70 marks a year. (fn. 156) It was urged that the convent was obliged to maintain three or four monks at Gloucester Hall in Oxford, and furnish them each with 15 marks a year, which they then had difficulty in doing. (fn. 157) On 30 April, 1391, Richard II granted the advowson of the church of Holy Trinity, Gloucester, with the chapel of St. Mary, Grasslane, to the abbot and convent. (fn. 158) According to the petition to Boniface IX, the revenues of the convent had then reached 2,000 marks. (fn. 159) However, owing to representations which were made to him in 1402 he insisted that vicarages should be created. (fn. 160) Boniface IX also granted to Walter Froucester the privileges of a mitred abbot. (fn. 161) During his rule the muniments of the house, which were kept in the treasury, (fn. 162) appear to have been set in order. It was probably by his wish and influence that one of the monks compiled the chronicle which briefly relates the lives and good deeds of the abbots, concluding with Walter Froucester. (fn. 163) Several registers were compiled by him, and of these two have survived. (fn. 164) One of them contains a collection of royal charters and a series of documents referring to churches appropriated to the monastery. (fn. 165) The other, which was compiled in 1393, contains documents arranged in distinct sections, concerning the property of ten of the officers of the house, viz.: of the sacrist, almoner, hostiller, sub-almoner, master of the works, chamberlain, masters of the frater, the farmery, and Lady Chapel, and precentor. (fn. 166) The office of master of the works existed under Abbot Henry Foliot (1228-43), (fn. 167) it was perhaps created by him after the death of Elias, the sacrist, in 1237. (fn. 168) A register of the property of the common fund of the convent, which was administered by treasurers or receivers, (fn. 169) seems also to have been compiled at this time. (fn. 170) The other officers of the house, who are known to have held property (fn. 171) are the prior, kitchener, custos or master of the churches, and master or monk of the town. A document which may probably be assigned to the first half of the fourteenth century shows the relative value of the property held by each of these officers at a time when the total revenue of the monastery amounted to £1,623 16s. 4d. (fn. 172) It is interesting to note that at Gloucester the common fund was large, its income being nearly £830. The abbot's personal income was only £10. In view of the great expenditure of Abbot Horton, it may perhaps be concluded that he appropriated the offerings at the tomb of Edward II to his office, or that he got a larger share of the common fund. The separate income of the abbot, though usual in Benedictine houses, was contrary to the injunction of Winchelsey, archbishop of Canterbury of 1301.

The fifteenth century is almost barren of interest save in the continuance of the building. The west front was the work of Abbot Morwent (1420-37) (fn. 173) the rebuilding of the central tower was begun by Abbot Sebroke (1450-7) (fn. 174) and finished after his death by a monk named Tully. The Lady chapel was built during the rule of Richard Hauley (1457-72) and William Farley (1472-98). (fn. 175) In 1428 the cell of Kilpeck was united to the mother house by Thomas Spofford, bishop of Hereford. (fn. 176) When Thomas Polton, bishop of Worcester, visited the monastery early in 1429 he was extremely dissatisfied with its condition; pressure of other business apparently compelled him to depart in some haste, and he appointed a commissioner to conclude his work. (fn. 177) Abbot Boulers (1437-50) was a shrewd man of affairs and was sent on an embassy to Rome in 1449, when the convent allowed him £400 for his expenses. (fn. 178) In 1450 he was seized by Richard, duke of York, and imprisoned for a time in Ludlow Castle. In that year he was promoted to the bishopric of Hereford; in 1453 he was transferred to Lichfield, and shortly before his death in 1459 he willed his books to the library at Gloucester. In 1484 Richard III granted in mortmain to Abbot Farley £20 a year, the reduced fee farm payable by the burgesses of Gloucester. (fn. 179)

At the elections of the Abbots Braunche and Newton, there were hot disputes in the monastery. Matters reached such a pass that in 1500, and again in 1510, the king issued a mandate to the prior to maintain order. (fn. 180) In 1510 there were forty-eight monks in the house, two who were scholars at Oxford, and fifteen who were at the four cells. (fn. 181) All these assembled to elect an abbot, and the choice of the majority fell on John Newton, a bachelor of divinity, then prior of St. Guthlac's, Hereford, but sixteen voted for John Huntley, the cellarer, and appealed to the bishop of Worcester. However, Newton was declared elected. On his death four years later William Malvern or Parker, also an Oxford scholar, who had taken the degree of bachelor of divinity, was peacefully chosen. (fn. 182) The registers of the last three abbots have survived, (fn. 183) and relate chiefly to the granting of leases and presentations to livings. The manumission of bondmen occurs not infrequently, and corrodies were granted to faithful servants. In 1507 a doctor entered into a contract to live in the monastery and give his services; he was allowed to go away and see his friends for a week in each quarter. (fn. 184) In 1515 an annuity was granted to John Tucke, a bachelor of arts, in exchange for his services as master of the grammar school and of the song school. (fn. 185) He was appointed to instruct in grammar the younger monks, thirteen boys of the almonry, and five or six boys who 'were apt in learning to sing.' A special building in the monastery was set apart and known as the schoolhouse in or before 1378. (fn. 186)

In 1516 Abbot Parker made a fresh provision for the distribution of a portion of the alms, which were charged on the manor of Standish. In accordance with the ordinance made by Bishop Wulstan de Bransford in 1346 it was usual every year to give away corn, gowns, and money within the monastery. These occasions were marked by much unseemly behaviour, 'brawling, swearing, blaspheming, and fighting,' 'sick and unthrifty persons' resorted thither to the great disquiet of the monastery. (fn. 187) As a remedy the abbot and chapter founded a fraternity of the Holy Cross of thirteen poor and honest men to be called Peter's men, who were to be supported chiefly out of the alms from Standish. They were to be chosen from among the fathers and brethren of the monks, servants who had spent their youth in true service to the house, or from impoverished and decayed tenants, preferably those of Standish.

The acknowledgement of the royal supremacy was signed by the abbot and thirty-five monks, 31 August, 1534. (fn. 188) In 1538 Henry VIII sent an imperative request to the abbot and convent to recall the prior and monks from the cell of Stanley St. Leonard and grant a lease thereof to Sir William Kingston. They had no choice but to comply. (fn. 189) In 1539 Abbot Malvern died. (fn. 190) The monasteries were being surrendered everywhere. On 9 June, 1539, the prior, Gabriel Morton, wrote in the name of the convent to notify the abbot's death to Cromwell and to ask how to proceed in petitioning for a new election. (fn. 191) No reply seems to have been vouchsafed. On 2 January, 1540, the monastery with its cells was surrendered, (fn. 192) and the prior was discharged with a pension of £20. The receiver had the same amount, and twelve other monks had pensions varying from £10 to £5. (fn. 193) Other monks and some of the servants of the house who were left at the monastery under the charge of Thomas Bisley, late prior of St. Guthlac's until a scheme should be framed for a bishopric, also received pensions. (fn. 194)

The clear yearly value of the property of the monastery in 1535 amounted to £1,430 4s. 3d., and including the four cells of Stanley St. Leonard, Ewenny, St. Guthlac's, Hereford, and Bromfield, £1,846 5s. 9d. (fn. 195)

The possessions of the monastery included rents and tenements in Gloucester of the value of over £150 a year, the manors of Tuffley, Hartpury, Maisemore, Highnam, Droiscote, a third of Lassington, Abload, Barnwood, Brookthorpe, and Harescombe, Abbot's Barton, Matson, Wotton, Longford, Upton, Preston, King's Barton, the hundred of Dodeston, the manors of Boxwell and Leighterton, Frocester, Rudge and Farley, Upleadon and Highleadon, Cubberley, the borough and manor of Northleach and Eastington, the manors of Aldsworth, Coln Rogers, Coln St. Aldwyn, Eastleach, Ampney St. Peter, Duntisbourne, Buckland and Staverton, Hinton, Clifford, Standish, Churcham, Rudford, and Rodley in Gloucestershire; in Hampshire the manors of Linkenholt and Littleton; in Herefordshire of Hope Mansel, Brompton, Monkhide, Ullingswick, Dewchurch and Kilpeck; in Glamorganshire of Tregoff; and the rectories of St. Mary de Lode, Holy Trinity with the chapel of Grasslane in Gloucester, Hartpury, Maisemore, Barnwood, Frocester, Northleach, Coln St. Aldwyn, Kempsford, South Cerney, Standish, Churcham, Cowarne, Tregoff, Glasbury and Devennock, Newport and Chipping Norton, besides pensions and charges. (fn. 196)

Abbots of Gloucester. (fn. 197)

Edric, 1022

Wilstan, 1058

Serlo, 1072

Peter, 1104

William Godemon, 1113

Walter de Lacy, 1130

Gilbert Folliot, 1139

Hamelin, 1148

Thomas, 1179

Henry Blunt, 1205

Thomas of Bredon, 1223

Henry Foliot, 1228

John de Felda, 1243

Reginald de Homme, 1263

John de Gamages, 1284

John Thoky, 1306

John Wygmore, 1328

Adam of Staunton, 1337

Thomas Horton, 1351

John Boyfeld, 1377

Walter Froucester, 1381

Hugh of Morton, 1412

John Morwent, 1420

Reginald Boulers, 1437

Thomas Sebroke, 1450

Richard Hauley, 1457

William Farley, 1472

John Malvern, 1498

Thomas Braunche, 1500

John Newton, 1510

William Parker or Malvern, 1514

Deans of Gloucester (fn. 198)

William Jennings, prior of St. Oswald's, Gloucester, 1541

John Man, warden of Merton College, Oxford, 1566

Thomas Cowper, 1569

Lawrence Humphrey, 1571

Anthony Rudd, 1585

Griffith Lewis, 1594

Thomas Moreton, 1607

Richard Field, 1609

William Laud, 1616

Richard Senhouse, 1621

Thomas Winniffe, 1624

George Warburton, 1631

Accepted Frewen, 1631

William Brough, 1643

Thomas Vyner, 1671

Robert Frampton, 1673

Thomas Marshall, 1681

William Jane, 1685

Knightly Chetwood, 1707

John Waugh, 1720

John Frankland, 1723

Peter Allix, 1729

Daniel Newcombe, 1730

Josiah Tucker, 1758

John Luxmoore, 1800

John Plumbtree, 1808

Edward Rice, 1825

Henry Law, 1862

H. D. M. Spence, 1886

A seal of the fifteenth century represents St. Peter seated in a carved gothic niche with a crocketed canopy and tabernacle work at the sides; on his head a triple crown, in his right hand a crozier, in the left two keys; in base a shield of arms, two keys in saltire, wards upwards, over all a sword of St. Paul in pale, hilt downwards. (fn. 199) The legend is:—


The private seal of Abbot Staunton represents the abbot standing on a carved corbel in a niche; in his right hand a pastoral staff, in his left a book. (fn. 200)


  • 1. Hist. et Cart. Mon. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 3, 4.
  • 2. Hunt, Hist. of the Engl. Ch. i, 182; R. Hist. Soc. Trans. xiii, 168-83.
  • 3. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 4.
  • 4. Ibid. 6. She is here described as the widow of Wulphere, king of the Mercians, but this is impossible; cf. Brist. and Glouc. Arch. Soc. Trans. xv, 130.
  • 5. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. i, 7. She was however neither the sister of Cyneburh, nor the widow of Wulphere; cf. Brist. and Glouc. Arch. Soc. Trans. xv, 130.
  • 6. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. i, 6, 7.
  • 7. Ibid. 4.
  • 8. Leland, Itin. (ed. 1711), iv, fol. 171b.
  • 9. Dugdale, Mon. i, 563.
  • 10. Brist. and Glouc. Arch. Soc. Trans. xvi, 215.
  • 11. Dugdale, op. cit. i, 563.
  • 12. Ibid.; Hist. et Cart. Glouc. i, 8.
  • 13. Dugdale, op. cit. i, 563.
  • 14. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. i, 8.
  • 15. Dugdale, op. cit. i, 563.
  • 16. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. i, 8.
  • 17. Dugdale, op. cit. i, 564.
  • 18. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. i, 9.
  • 19. Ibid.
  • 20. Ibid. 10.
  • 21. Ibid.
  • 22. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), 165b.
  • 23. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 92.
  • 24. Ibid. 73.
  • 25. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), 43.
  • 26. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 93.
  • 27. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), 174.
  • 28. Ibid. 181.
  • 29. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. i, 101.
  • 30. Ibid. 11.
  • 31. Ibid. 65.
  • 32. Ibid. 102.
  • 33. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. i. 102.
  • 34. Ibid. 100.
  • 35. Ibid. 80.
  • 36. Ibid. 93.
  • 37. Ibid. 76, 285.
  • 38. Dugdale, op. cit. iii, 621; Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 84.
  • 39. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 94.
  • 40. Ibid. 13.
  • 41. Ibid. ii, 40.
  • 42. Ibid. i, 11.
  • 43. Ibid. 12.
  • 44. Ibid.
  • 45. Ibid. 13, 14.
  • 46. Ibid. 59.
  • 47. Ibid. 13.
  • 48. Ibid. 14.
  • 49. Ibid. iii, 3. It was confirmed by Innocent III in 1200.
  • 50. Ibid. i, 15.
  • 51. Ibid. 18.
  • 52. Ibid. 19.
  • 53. Ibid. 91.
  • 54. Dugdale, op. cit. i, 551.
  • 55. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 15.
  • 56. Ibid. 110, 111.
  • 57. Ibid. 115.
  • 58. Ibid. 85. The date 1163 is obviously incorrect. Robert de Bethune died in 1148. As the foundation took place while he was bishop of Hereford and Gilbert Folliot was abbot of Gloucester, it must fall between 1139 and 1148. Cf. Giles, Letters of Gilbert Folliot, i, 161.
  • 59. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. 75.
  • 60. Ibid. 80.
  • 61. Ibid. 113.
  • 62. Ibid. 19, 66.
  • 63. Ibid. 19.
  • 64. Glouc. Orig. Chart. Court of Chancery (P.R.O.).
  • 65. Hardy, Catalogue of Materials (Rolls Ser.), ii, 178.
  • 66. Ibid. ii, 238; Bibl. Reg. 6, D. xi (B.M.).
  • 67. Giles, op. cit.; Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 18.
  • 68. Wharton, Angl. Sacr. ii, 428.
  • 69. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 20, 21.
  • 70. Ibid. 23.
  • 71. Ibid. 24.
  • 72. Ibid.
  • 73. Ibid. 104.
  • 74. Chart. R. 11 Hen. III, pt. i, m. 11.
  • 75. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 78.
  • 76. Ibid. 28.
  • 77. Ibid. 26.
  • 78. Ibid. 25.
  • 79. Ibid. 28.
  • 80. Cal. of Close, 16 Hen. III, m. 10.
  • 81. Ibid. 17 Hen. III, m. 15.
  • 82. Ibid. 18 Hen. III, m. 31.
  • 83. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 27.
  • 84. Ibid. 28.
  • 85. Ibid. 29.
  • 86. Ibid. 29, 30.
  • 87. Ann. Mon. (Rolls Ser.), iv, 430.
  • 88. Ibid. 433.
  • 89. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 30.
  • 90. Ann. Mon. (Rolls Ser.), i, 146.
  • 91. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 65.
  • 92. Ibid. 31.
  • 93. Ibid.
  • 94. Cal. of Pat. 1 Edw. I, m. 18.
  • 95. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 39.
  • 96. Ibid. 32.
  • 97. Brist. and Glouc. Arch. Soc. Trans. xvi, 106.
  • 98. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 34.
  • 99. Ibid. iii, 26.
  • 100. Ibid. i, 39.
  • 101. Ibid. iii, 22.
  • 102. Ibid. lxxxiv-xcii.
  • 103. Ibid. i, 39.
  • 104. cf. Cunningham, Growth of English Industry and Commerce, i, 640 (ed. 1905).
  • 105. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. i, 40 (Rolls Ser.).
  • 106. Worc. Epis. Reg. Gainsborough, fol. 11.
  • 107. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. i, 40 (Rolls Ser.).
  • 108. Chronicle of Robert of Gloucester (Rolls Ser.). It is probable, though not absolutely certain, that he was a monk of Gloucester, cf. i, v-vii, xii-xiv.
  • 109. Ibid. i, 1-3.
  • 110. Ibid. ii, 544.
  • 111. Ibid i, 36.
  • 112. Cal. of Pat. 34 Edw. I, m. 13.
  • 113. Ann. Mon. (Rolls Ser.), iv, 551.
  • 114. Worc. Reg. Sede Vac. (Worc. Hist. Soc.), 11, 62.
  • 115. Ibid. 122-5.
  • 116. Worc. Reg. Sede Vac. (Worc. Hist. Soc.), 145.
  • 117. Ibid. 183.
  • 118. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), 41.
  • 119. Ibid. 35.
  • 120. Ibid. 41.
  • 121. Ibid. 44.
  • 122. Worc. Epis. Reg. Cobham, fol. 56.
  • 123. Ibid.
  • 124. Worc. Reg. Sede Vac. (Worc. Hist. Soc.), 188.
  • 125. Worc. Epis. Reg. Cobham, fol. 56.
  • 126. Reg. Froucester A. No. liii (MSS. of Dean and Chapter of Glouc.).
  • 127. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 44, 45.
  • 128. Ibid. 46.
  • 129. Ibid. 47.
  • 130. Cal. of Pat. 2 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 25.
  • 131. Ibid.
  • 132. Ibid. 1 Ric. II, pt. ii, m. 23.
  • 133. Ibid.
  • 134. Dugdale, Mon. i, 563.
  • 135. Worc. Epis. Reg. Bransford, fol. 112d.
  • 136. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, lxxxviii.
  • 137. Worc. Epis. Reg. Bransford, fol. 112d.
  • 138. Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), ii, 411.
  • 139. Worc. Reg. Sede Vac. (Worc. Hist. Soc.), 281.
  • 140. Fosbrooke, History of Gloucester (ed. 1819), 175.
  • 141. Ibid.
  • 142. Worc. Epis. Reg. Thoresby, fol. 9, 24, 24d.
  • 143. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 48.
  • 144. Ibid. 50.
  • 145. Ibid. 49-51.
  • 146. Worc. Epis. Reg. Brian, fol. 36.
  • 147. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 51.
  • 148. Reg. Froucester A, No. xc (MSS. of Dean and Chapter of Glouc.).
  • 149. Fosbrooke, History of Gloucester, 175.
  • 150. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 52-4.
  • 151. Ibid. 52.
  • 152. Ibid. iii, xxv, xxvi.
  • 153. Ibid. i, 57.
  • 154. Ibid. 55-8.
  • 155. Cal. Papal L. v, 599.
  • 156. Ibid. v, 599-600; cf. Linc. Epis. Reg. Buckingham Mem. fol. 443d.
  • 157. Cal. Papal L. v, 599-600.
  • 158. Cal. of Pat. 14 Rich. II, pt. 2, m. 17.
  • 159. Cal. Papal L. v, 600.
  • 160. Ibid. 601.
  • 161. Hist. et Cart Glouc. (Rolls Ser.) i, 56.
  • 162. Ibid. iii, 106.
  • 163. Ibid. i, 1-58.
  • 164. Reg. Froucester A. and B. (MSS. of Dean and Chapter of Glouc.).
  • 165. Ibid. A.
  • 166. Ibid. B.
  • 167. Ibid. Registrum Magistri Operis, fol. 3 v, 6.
  • 168. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 28.
  • 169. Ibid. iii, 105.
  • 170. An index, as far as Brompton, of the manors belonging to the common fund of the monastery, is to be found on fol. 1 of Froucester A. Brompton occurred on fol. 16, and it may be concluded that the index ends abruptly, because the scribe discovered that he was entering it in the wrong volume.
  • 171. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), 232, 233.
  • 172. Ibid. iii, 233, 234.
  • 173. Fosbrooke, History of Gloucester, 177.
  • 174. Ibid. 178.
  • 175. Ibid. 179.
  • 176. Heref. Epis. Reg. Spofford, i, fols. 113-4 d.
  • 177. Worc. Epis. Reg. Pulton, fol. 59 d.
  • 178. Fosbrooke, op. cit. 177-8.
  • 179. Cal. of Pat. 1 Ric. III, pt. iv. m. 24.
  • 180. Fosbrooke, op. cit. 178; Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), iii, p. xxxv.
  • 181. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), iii, pp. xxxiixxxiv.
  • 182. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), iii, pp. xlviii, xlix.
  • 183. Registers of Braunche, Newton and Parker (2 vols.). (MSS. of Dean and Chapter of Glouc.)
  • 184. Reg. Braunche, fol. 145.
  • 185. Reg. Parker, 1. fol. 24; Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), iii, 290; cf. Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), ii, 411.
  • 186. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. i, 53 (Rolls Ser.).
  • 187. Ibid. iii, lxxvi-lxxxix.
  • 188. Ibid. l-liii.
  • 189. Reg. Parker, ii. fol. 163. (MSS. of Dean and Chapter of Glouc.)
  • 190. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiv, pt. i, No. 1096. The belief that Abbot Parker refused to surrender his house and therefore lost his pension is first found in Brown Willis. Cf. Dugdale, Mon. i, 536. Cf. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), iii, l–liii. It has also given rise to the theory that Abbot Parker's body was not buried in his tomb in the choir.
  • 191. Ibid.
  • 192. Ibid. xv, No. 139 iv.
  • 193. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), iii, p. liv.
  • 194. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xv, No. 139, iv; Aug. Off. Bk. 494, fol. 93.
  • 195. Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), ii, 422.
  • 196. Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), ii. 409-18.
  • 197. The list is taken from Dugdale, Mon. i, 531-6, which has been carefully checked.
  • 198. The deans of Gloucester up to 1825 are taken from Le Neve, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglic. corrected by T. Duffus Hardy.
  • 199. Birch, Catalogue of Seals in British Museum, i, 566.
  • 200. Ibid. 567.