Houses of Benedictine monks: The priory of Stanley St Leonard

Pages 72-73

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

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In or about 1131 Roger of Berkeley II founded on his manor of Stanley a small house of canons which was dedicated to St. Leonard. (fn. 1) Nothing is known of the foundation except that it was a college of secular canons. In 1146, with the consent of the prior and canons, Roger of Berkeley III gave the church of Stanley St. Leonard to the Benedictine abbey of St. Peter at Gloucester, (fn. 2) and it became a cell to that house. The endowment of the priory consisted of the churches of Ozleworth, Coaley, Arlingham, Slimbridge and Uley, (fn. 3) and in 1156 he added the church of Cam, (fn. 4) the church of Easton Grey, (fn. 5) a mill and messuage in Coaley, (fn. 6) and Fyfacre Wood. (fn. 7) In 1224 a dispute arose between Thomas of Berkeley, and Thomas, abbot of Gloucester, about the church of Slimbridge. The abbot renounced his rights in exchange for a grant of the hospital of Lorwing with its lands and appurtenances. (fn. 8)

There is no evidence as to the number of monks who were usually at the priory, but probably it did not exceed three or four. Monks usually disliked being sent to a cell. After his visitation of Gloucester in 1301, Winchelsey, archbishop of Canterbury, decreed that the brethren should be sent to dwell for a time at any of the cells, and also recalled, by a council consisting of the abbot, prior, sub-prior, third prior, precentor and five of the older monks who held no office. (fn. 9) Their stay should not exceed a year, and until they had spent a year in the monastery after their return, they could not again be sent to a cell unless they were contentious or out of health. The priors of the cells were bound to provide all things for the monks except clothes and boots. Like the other cells of Gloucester, Stanley St. Leonard was at no time wealthy, and in 1317, on account of a general complaint of poverty from the priors, Abbot Thoky decreed that they should receive a mark a year from the mother house for each of their brethren. (fn. 10) The prior was doubtless appointed by the abbot and convent. He was summoned to be present at the election of an abbot, (fn. 11) and in 1510 (fn. 12) and 1514 (fn. 13) the two monks who were with him at the cell, also recorded their votes. The house was subject to the visitation of the bishop of Worcester. (fn. 14)

In 1361, at the urgent petition of the abbot and convent of Gloucester, Reginald Brian, bishop of Worcester, appropriated the church of Cam to their use. (fn. 15) According to an ordinance of Abbot Horton, the custody of the church was left to the prior of Stanley St. Leonard, but he was bound to pay over a fixed sum out of the issues to the obedientiars of Gloucester for the provision of cakes, wines and a pittance of fruit on the abbot's anniversary. (fn. 16)

In 1535 the clear yearly value of the cell was £106 17s. (fn. 17) Its possessions included rents in the vill of Stanley St. Leonard, in Slimbridge, Stinchcombe, Easton Grey and elsewhere, the manor of Lorwing, the rectories of Cam, Arlingham, Coaley, Stanley St. Leonard and other tithes and pensions. (fn. 18) At that time there were only three monks at the priory. (fn. 19) As the revenues were under £200 a year the priory was visited by the commissioners who were appointed under the Act of 1536 for the suppression of the lesser monasteries. The prior showed that his house was appropriated to St. Peter's, Gloucester. The commissioners gave him an injunction to appear before the chancellor and council of the Court of Augmentations on 16 June, 1536, upon pain of a fine of 500 marks. (fn. 20) On 11 June, 1538, Henry VIII sent an imperative request to the abbot and convent of Gloucester to recall the monks from Stanley St. Leonard and grant a lease of the priory to Sir William Kingston. (fn. 21) They had no choice, and on 18 July the lease was drawn up at a rent of £36 13s. 4d., and a payment of king's tenths of £8 2s. 4d. (fn. 22) On the surrender of the monastery of Gloucester on 2 January, 1540, the rent passed to the crown. (fn. 23)

Priors of Stanley St. Leonard

Tabrith, occurs 1146 (fn. 24)

Thomas of Tyringham, occurs 1284 (fn. 25)

John Crosse, occurs 1449 (fn. 26)

Peter, occurs circa 1494 (fn. 27)

William Monynton, occurs 1510 (fn. 28)

Richard Wolryge, occurs 1514 (fn. 29)

John Rodley, 1535 (fn. 30) and 1538 (fn. 31)


  • 1. Brist. and Glouc. Arch. Soc. Trans. viii, 197, The Earlier House of Berkeley.
  • 2. Hist. et Cart. Mon. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 113.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Ibid. 114; Dugdale, Mon. iv, 470; Red Book of St. Augustine's, Bristol, fol. 80, Berkeley Castle MSS.
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 113.
  • 7. Ibid. 114.
  • 8. Ibid.; Dugdale, op. cit. iv, 469.
  • 9. Hist. et. Cart. Glouc. i, lxxxvii (Rolls Ser.).
  • 10. Ibid. i, 42.
  • 11. Ibid. iii, 22.
  • 12. Ibid. xxxiv.
  • 13. Ibid. xlix.
  • 14. Worc. Epis. Reg. Giffard (Worc. Hist. Soc.), 434.
  • 15. Worc. Epis. Reg. Brian, fol. 36.
  • 16. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 51.
  • 17. Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), ii, 419.
  • 18. Ibid.
  • 19. Dugdale, op. cit. iv, 469.
  • 20. Dublin Rev. April, 1894, p. 276.
  • 21. Reg. Parker, ii, fol. 163 (MSS. of D. and C. of Glouc.).
  • 22. Ibid.
  • 23. Dugdale, op. cit. iv. 469.
  • 24. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), 113.
  • 25. Ibid. iii, 23.
  • 26. Dugdale, op. cit. iv, 469.
  • 27. MS. Furney, 3, Brist. and Glouc. Arch. Soc. Lib.
  • 28. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), iii, p. xxxiv.
  • 29. Ibid. iii, xlix.
  • 30. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 419.
  • 31. Reg. Parker, ii, fol. 163 (MSS. of D. and C. of Glouc.).