Houses of Austin canons: Priory of Christchurch, Twyneham

A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1903.

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'Houses of Austin canons: Priory of Christchurch, Twyneham', in A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 2, (London, 1903) pp. 152-160. British History Online [accessed 11 April 2024]

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The secular canons of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Twyneham, had large holdings in Hampshire at the time of the Survey, which they held in the time of Edward the Confessor. These possessions consisted of 5 hides and a virgate in Christchurch Twyneham, a hide in the Isle of Wight, Bortel Bashley in Milton, and 8 acres in Audret in the New Forest Hundred, together with certain tithes in Christchurch, Twyneham, and Holdenhurst. (fn. 1) The establishment consisted of twenty-four canons, who served their own minster as well as the churches of Herne, Burton and Preston. One of them, by name Godric, was regarded as their head; but, like Southwell Minster throughout its history, the canons did not recognize any one as dean (of which name even, as the chronicle says, they were ignorant), but regarded Godric as the elder and father of their household. They were accustomed to divide the mass offerings and the profits from the churches under their control after an approved and equitable manner. Meanwhile, Ranulph Flambard, of infamous memory, obtained from the king a grant of the church and town, coveting the possession, as the chronicler states, because the minster was so prolific in miracles, and hence abounded in treasures and relics. He beguiled the canons into allowing him to appropriate all their incomes, saving a bare sustenance, in order to build a greater church. He pulled down the old church (primitivam ecclesiam), and nine other churches, or rather chapels, that stood within the surrounding churchyard. As Godric and ten of the other canons successively died, Ranulph suppressed their prebends, and is said to have applied the income to the church building.

With the death of the Red King came the downfall of Ranulph Flambard, who was imprisoned, and, escaping, fled the kingdom. He died on 5 September, 1128. The minster of Twyneham, with its poor remnant of five canons, was granted to Gilbert de Dousgunels on the overthrow of Ranulph. He restored, as much as was possible, the old order of services, and continued the building of the church and canonical houses. When all was finished, Gilbert set out for Rome to obtain licence for the due refounding of the house, but died on the return journey.

Meanwhile Henry I. gave the manor, town and church of Twyneham to his cousin, Richard de Redvers, and Richard persuaded one of his barons, Roger del Estre, to give to the canons his manor of Apse in the Isle of Wight. A clerk, Peter de Oglander, about the same time gave the manor of Ningwood, and the parishioners of Twyneham agreed to pay their tithes to the canons. Then Richard de Redvers appointed Peter de Oglander dean over the canons, and gave him the church of Twyneham and all its privileges, which Ranulph and Gilbert, the deans, had held, with all the possessions, to wit, the towns of Herne, the land of Bortel, Stanpit, Huborne, Stroud and 'Duslecompa,' and the two Prestons, Apse, Hampstead, Ningwood in the Isle of Wight, and certain churches and chapels. (fn. 2)

Ralph was the next dean of Twyneham, and he was succeeded by Hilary, a clerk of Henry de Blois, Bishop of Winchester.

Baldwin de Redvers, Earl of Devon, confirmed to Dean Hilary and the canons, in a long charter, all the lands and liberties, and all the privileges they enjoyed, which included the town school. They were to have tithe of wreck happening in the de Redvers fee except great fish, a fishery for their servants, save the salmon fishing at the junction of the Avon and Stour, and were entitled to the first salmon of the season. They could also claim two cartloads of fuel daily, and a hundred cartloads of peat annually for use in the kitchen, provided they had not a sufficient supply in their own lands, and certain rights in the market at Christchurch. (fn. 3)

In the year 1150, Dean Hilary (who had been consecrated Bishop of Chichester in 1142), in conjunction with the Bishop of Winchester, petitioned Richard de Redvers to turn the house into a priory of canons regular of St. Austin. With the sanction of Baldwin, Earl of Devon, Richard's father, this was accomplished. (fn. 4) Reginald was placed at its head as the first prior, and the house was termed Christchurch. It was arranged that the secular canons should receive their prebends for life, subject to good conduct and obedience to the prior. Those in charge of churches or chapels pertaining to the priory were not to be disturbed in their benefices; on their death no hereditary claim of parents or others was to be admitted, but the canons were to provide for the due service of the churches. On their establishment as a priory further charters were granted both by Baldwin and Richard de Redvers. (fn. 5)

Reginald ruled as first prior of Christchurch for thirty-six years. Ralph, second prior, was elected in 1186; he died in 1195, and was buried in the chapter-house.

The date of the consecration of the high altar and the altar of St. Stephen gives the time of the completion of the quire of the great church. On 29 December, 1195, the altar of the Saviour, the high altar of the canons, was dedicated by Rainald, Bishop of Ross, (fn. 6) in which altar there were deposited the following relics: fragments from the place in which our Lord was born, from the manger in which He was placed and of His cradle, from the place where His feet stood, from Gethsemane and from the place of lamentation; also parts of the cloth in which the cross of Christ was wrapped, and parts of His sepulchre.

On the same day and year the same bishop dedicated the altar of St. Stephen. The relics that were placed in this altar were bones of Saints Stephen, Lawrence, Victor, Blasius, Hypolytus, and part of the hair shirt, of the sandals and the cowl of St. Thomas of Canterbury. (fn. 7)

It would appear, from the date of altar dedications, that the building of the nave of the great church was not finished until about 1234.

On 12 November, 1214, the altar of the Holy Trinity, which was the parochial altar in the nave, was dedicated by Walter, Bishop of Whitherne (1209-25). The relics placed in the altar included parts of the manger, the sepulchre and the table of our Lord. On the same day the same bishop also dedicated the altar of the apostles Peter and Paul. The relics included bones of both those saints, and of St. Bartholomew and the Holy Innocents. At the same time a third altar was dedicated to the honour of St. Augustine. The relics enclosed were some of the hair of St. Bernard, some of the bones of St. Columba, part of the girdle of St. Peter, part of the wood of St. Martial, and part of the girdle of St. Malachy. On 7 December of the same year an altar was dedicated by the same bishop to the honour of St. John Baptist. The relics placed therein were exceedingly numerous, and included parts of the vesture and robe of our Lord; part of the vestments of the blessed Virgin; bones of St. John Baptist and of Sts. Peter and Paul; some of the blood of St. Stephen; bones of Sts. Lawrence, Blasius, Victor, Vincent, Alban, Hippolytus, Polycarp, Urban, Chrysogonus, and Holy Innocents; bones of the martyrs and confessors, Martin, Julian, Simplicius, and Joseph of Arimathea; some of the oil of St. Nicholas, monk of Rome; and bones of the virgin saints, Agnes, Alice, Lucy, Julianna, Perpetua, Margaret, Agatha, Barbara, Beatrice and Martha. On the same day and year the same bishop dedicated a third altar to the honour of St. Edmund, placing therein some bones of Sts. Peter, Lawrence, Blasius, Hippolytus and King Oswald. (fn. 8)

In 1221, Nicholas, Bishop of the Isles, (fn. 9) dedicated an altar to the honour of St. Michael the Archangel. The relics were remarkably numerous, and included portions of the manger and cradle of our Lord, and of the stone upon which our Lord stood when speaking in the Temple; fragments from Gethsemane, from the Sepulchre and from Mount Sion; part of the vesture of the blessed Virgin; some of the bones of St. Columba; parts of the chasuble and altar-pall of St. Remigius, and part of the shroud in which he rested 400 years; and a piece of the sepulchre of St. Anne, the mother of the Virgin.

At the same time Bishop Nicholas dedi cated another altar to the honour of St. Martin, the relics of which are not enumerated. (fn. 10)

Whilst Peter was prior, the house had repeatedly to entertain an expensive and doubtless unwelcome guest. King John tarried at Christchurch, sometimes for two or three days, in the years 1200, 1204, 1205, 1206, 1208, 1210, 1212 and 1215. (fn. 11) In January, 1216, the king confirmed to the canons the gift of the manor of Fleet.

By an undated grant Prior Nicholas assigned to the Abbot of Quarr land called Ma Gore' in the manor of Apse, Isle of Wight, and a yearly rent from the same manor; in return for which the abbot granted to the prior and convent of Twyneham all the lands in the manor of Fleet, which he had of the gift of Hawise de Redvers. (fn. 12)

The chartulary supplies minute particulars as to the receipts and expenses of the different manors pertaining to the priory, as well as customaries, about the year 1270. An entry of that date gives particulars of the synodals paid to the bishop and procurations to the archdeacon, on behalf of different churches and chapels, by the sacrist of the priory. In synodals the payment was 4s. 4½d.; namely the church of Twyneham and the chapel of Milton, each 15d.; and the chapels of Holdenhurst, Winkton and Haytokesle, 7½d. each; whilst the archdeacon received 22s. 4½d., being 7s. 5½d. from each of the three churches of Twyneham, Hope and Milford. (fn. 13)

The taxation of 1291 returned the annual value of the temporalities of the priory in Hampshire at £35 17s. 2d., whilst the rectory of Twyneham and chapels were estimated at £36 13s. 4d. In the diocese of Salisbury they held temporalities to the annual value of £32 3s. 4d., with £4 from the rectory of Fleet, and a pension of £1 from the church of Iwerneminster and the chapel of Hinton.

Prior Mawry died in 1302; his sepulchral slab is still to be seen in the south aisle of the quire. On 3 April the royal assent to the election of William Quyntyn as eleventh prior was signified to the bishop, and he was duly installed. The temporalities were restored on 16 April. (fn. 14)

In November of the same year Peter de Donewyco, the king's clerk, was appointed to act in conjunction with the sheriffs of Sussex, Hants, Somerset, Dorset, Gloucester, Devon and Cornwall, to induce the bailiffs and good men of various towns to send ships furnished with men and necessaries to be ready to set forth by the feast of the Ascension against the Scots, at the king's wages. Twenty-five was the total of the ships demanded from these shores; Southampton was to send two, Portsmouth and Gosport one jointly, and Yarmouth and Lymington another jointly. Only three ships were to be supplied at the expense of the religious houses of this district, which embraced the whole of the west of England. The abbot of Battle was to supply one, the alien sea-coast houses of Hamble and St. Helen's another, and the prior of Christchurch a third. (fn. 15) This may be taken as a proof of the importance and supposed wealth of this priory, but it was an honour with which the canons would gladly have dispensed.

In 1306 a mandate was issued by Bishop Woodlock interdicting John de Warham, sub-prior of Christchurch, from leaving the monastery, and in quire and chapter he was to be on a level with the rest of the canons. (fn. 16) This bishop visited the priory in 1310, on the Thursday after the feast of St. Benedict. (fn. 17) His register contains no adverse decrees.

It was during Prior Quyntyn's term of office, viz. in 1312, that the very elaborate chartulary of the priory's evidences and possessions was drawn up, which is in itself a proof of vigorous temporal administration.

The priory was renowned for the amount of its alms to the poor. On each of the anniversaries of Richard de Redvers the elder, of Adeliza his mother, of Hadewise his daughter, of Richard his son, and of Baldwin, William and Baldwin, Earls of Devon; of Lady Joan de Briwere, of Bishop Henry de Blois, of Roger Martel, of Adeline of Stampit, and of the priors Reginald and Nicholas, after solemn high mass for the benefactors, forty poor persons received a loaf of bread, a pottle of beer, and a dish from the kitchen. On the anniversaries of Isabel de Fortibus, Countess of Devon; of Nicholas de Lakinges, sub-dean of Sarum; and of Walter de Herford, the mason, one hundred poor folk were similarly entertained; on the anniversary of Ralph Bardolph, sixty poor; and on the anniversary of Richard de Orestull, who gave to the priory the church and mill of Stourpayne, fourteen poor. On the anniversaries of other priors, thirty loaves and thirty gallons of beer were distributed. The total anniversary distributions to the poor for each year amounted at that time to 1,354 loaves, 467 gallons of beer and 934 dishes from the kitchen, in addition to broth (potagium).

Up to Prior Quyntyn's time four black (rye) loaves and four dishes were distributed on the anniversary of a canon; but Quyntyn further directed that on the death of a canon 100 loaves should be given to the poor, fifty on the obit and fifty on the morrow, the former from the almonry and the latter from the cellarage. It was further enjoined that for the year the deceased canon's corrody in the frater should be given to the poor.

On the anniversaries of Mabel, Countess of Devon, and of Hadewyse, daughter of Baldwin the elder, 6s. 8d. was divided among forty poor folk. On the anniversary of Peter, Bishop of Winchester, 5s. worth of bread was distributed at the gates; and on the anniversary of Edward of Porchester 50s. was divided among one hundred poor. (fn. 18)

Every day two masses were said in the priory church for benefactors, one of our Lady and one of the Holy Ghost. At the beginning of each month there was a special solemn mass for the souls of friends and benefactors. The year's total of masses, in addition to the regular mattin mass and high mass and private masses, was 1,468. (fn. 19)

In the year 1316 Prior Quyntyn's health began to fail. He was an old man, for at the time of his death he had been a canon of the house for fifty-nine years. In consequence of his age and feebleness, Bishop Sandale granted him a dispensation, dated 30 November, 1316, for meat in Advent. (fn. 20) He died in April, 1317, and the convent elected Walter Tydolneshide, one of the canons, in his place. (fn. 21) On 14 August, 1319, Bishop Sandale cited the prior and convent to appear at his forthcoming visitation of the priory. (fn. 22) As this visitation is not followed by any decrees, it may be presumed that everything was satisfactory. In October of the same year the priory was ordered by the bishop to receive Stephen de Stapelbrugge, a brother of the late order of the Temple, in his first tonsure. (fn. 23)

On 30 April, 1324, Bishop Stratford wrote a letter of monition to the prior as to the grave excesses of John de Sandon, one of the canons, but no particulars are given. (fn. 24) In the following year Canon Thomas de Montague was excommunicated for laying violent hands on John Wastour, clerk; but the bishop absolved him by commission. (fn. 25) A visitation was held by the bishop in January, 1327, and various articles of reformation were forwarded to the prior at the end of the month. These articles dealt with the attendance at the offices of all save the obedientaries, steward and cellarer; the number of masses at particular altars; the appointment by the prior of four confessors for the monastery; the observing of silence, and that talk at permitted times should be in Latin or French, and on no account in English; the custody of the doors of the cloisters, etc.; a bell for each service; abstinence and dietary; money affairs and the steward; the custody of the seal; prohibition of games of chess and dice; prohibition of keeping hounds save by the prior, according to custom, if he desires it; and the prohibition of writing letters or causing them to be written, without leave from the prior or sub-prior. The bishop also enjoined on the prior to finish the new cloister with all despatch. (fn. 26) There was evidently much criticism in the priory of this decree that covered so wide an area of conventual discipline. News of this talk reached the bishop, and on 30 July, 1328, he ordered an inquiry to be held as to certain canons defaming their diocesan in connection with his recent visitation and forwarded a citation asking for names. (fn. 27)

On 1 January, 1328, the prior of Christchurch was ordered to appear before the king at York, on Monday after the Purification, to answer for his contempt in not obeying the king's late order to come to him to treat of certain of his affairs. (fn. 28)

Bishop Stratford inhibited the prior on 19 November, 1331, from celebrating in the chapel of St. Katharine on the Hill of Rishton, constructed on the soil of the priory, on account of the lack of certain formalities. Licence for celebrations in the chapel was not granted until 1 February, 1332. (fn. 29)

In January 1333 restitution was made by the Crown to Prior Edmund, in mortmain, of the advowson and lordship of the house of St. Leonard, Rishton, by Palmersbridge, on payment of a fine of ten marks. The original grant of the premises had been made by Elias Deverel without the licence of Edward I., and the king, in consideration of the fine made by the present prior, pardoned the trespass committed by his predecessor, Prior Quyntyn, in entering upon the premises without licence. (fn. 30)

On 9 February, 1337, Bishop Orlton visited Christchurch and preached in the chapter house from the text, 'Ascendente Jesu in naviculam, secuti sunt eum discipuli ejus.' (fn. 31)

In the following month Prior Edmund died, and the convent, with the consent of their patron, William Montague, Earl of Salisbury, elected Richard de Bustehorne as their fourteenth prior. (fn. 32) There was clearly, some great irregularity about this prior, for in July, 1337, after a rule of only a few months, the bishop ordered the sub-prior to administer the affairs of the priory, and appointed a commission to inquire into and punish the excesses noted in his late visitation. (fn. 33) The bishop held another visitation in July 1339. (fn. 34)

During the previous voidance of the priory on the death of Prior Edmund, the Crown ordered Ralph de Middleneye, the escheator, not to meddle further in the manors of Piddleton, Little Piddle, Bernardsley, and Fleet, co. Dorset, removing the king's hands and restoring the issue. The king had granted to William Montague and his wife the castle and manor of Christchurch, and the escheator had considered that the custody of the priory (which was appurtenant to the castle and manor) pertained to the king during a vacancy, and had not permitted the sub-prior and convent to intermeddle with it. For this action the zealous escheator was reprimanded. (fn. 35)

In March 1342 licence for alienation in mortmain was obtained on payment of the heavy fine of twenty-four marks, by William Everard and Elizabeth his wife, of a messuage, 60 acres of land, 4½ acres of meadow and 71s. 2d. of rents in Odeknolle, Southwelbergh and Eccinswell, to find a canon of the priory as chaplain to celebrate at the altar of St. Andrew in the parish church of Twyneham for their good estate and their souls after death, and for the ancestors and heirs of Elizabeth, and also a wax light to burn before the altar on the five feasts of Our Lady, from the beginning of first vespers to the end of second vespers. The chaplain was to be paid 13s. 4d. beyond what other canons received, to celebrate the anniversary of William and Elizabeth as was usual for a founder of the house, to transmit the obits to every religious house of the same order in England, as was wont to be done for a deceased canon, and to distribute early on the days of the obit and anniversary, bread and beer and a dish from the kitchen to sixty poor persons of the town of Twyneham. (fn. 36)

From a relaxation of penance enjoined on the canons of Christchurch at a recent visitation, dated 23 May, 1343, we learn that Bishop Orlton must have held another visitation shortly before this date. (fn. 37)

By the feudal aid of 1346, it appears that the prior of Christchurch held a quarter of a knight's fee in Whippingham and a twelfth part in Delbourne. (fn. 38)

In 1359 Prior Henry made a most interesting and precise statement before the bishop's official as to the vicarage of Twyneham, giving the value of all the numerous payments in kind, and citing the original ordination of the vicarage and its augmentation in 1312. It was stated that the annual value of the corrody for the vicar and his servant came to £10 14s. The vicar received weekly seven loaves of convent bread, 3½d.; twenty-one gallons of good beer, 21d.; and a daily dish from the kitchen, 14d. His servant received fourteen loaves (one of oats and one of barley, daily), 2¼d.; three gallons of beer, 3½d.; and dishes from the kitchen at ¾d. per day, 5¼d. He received for his horse a share of a meadow worth 13s. 4d., and oats worth 5s. He was also paid a salary of 10s., as well as 2d. every Sunday and a candle worth 1d. As to offerings, there was a population of 2,000 at Christchurch, and the confession offerings of one penny were estimated at 41s. 8d., showing that a fourth were expected to be of age for that sacrament; and the pennies at burial masses, purifications and marriages were estimated at £10. The parish also gave the vicar ten quarters of oats valued at 16s. 8d. The rental value of the vicar's manse was 13s. 4d., and it was repaired by the priory; so that the profits beyond the corrody were worth £15 13s. a year. The vicar had no synodal or procuration burdens, nor had he to find books, vestments, wax, bread or wine. He also received ten loads of peat yearly, worth 3s. 4d.; half a quarter of barley a day, 8s. 8d.; a robe once a year, 20s.; in pence, 3s. 4d.; legacies, 6d. Moreover, the vicar had wine on the greater and double feasts and some other occasions, which was worth on the average 35s. 4d. The prior estimated the total value of the vicar's portion at the then large sum of £21 2s. 10d. (fn. 39)

Prior Henry's eyesight began to fail him in 1367, and at last his blindness increased to such an extent that he was unable to discharge either the spiritual or temporal functions of his office. In January, 1368, the bishop formally enjoined the prior to provide himself within six days with a coadjutor. He nominated Peter Travers, a canon of the house; the bishop in sanctioning and confirming this appointment in the following June described the prior as wholly deprived, by the will of the Most High, of the sight of both eyes. (fn. 40)

About this time one of the brethren, John Cossham, absconded and assumed a secular garb. On expressing his penitence, he was absolved by the bishop and sent back with a letter to the prior and convent ordering his readmission with suitable discipline. The prior however refused to admit him, alleging that he had been a sower of tares among them, as well as guilty of a diversity of crimes. The bishop replied, expressing his fear of losing a soul, and formally citing the prior and convent to show cause why the penitent brother should not be readmitted. (fn. 41)

On 21 March, 1360, Wykeham addressed a long and serious remonstrance to Sir William Montague, second Earl of Salisbury, for quartering his people on the canons of Christchurch. The prior had complained to the bishop that the earl, sometimes for a year and sometimes for half a year, was in the habit of occupying all the houses of the priory with his whole household of both sexes, to the great oppression and considerable disturbance of the religious, and that his servants kept the keys of the houses in the earl's absence. He was further charged by the prior with causing the convent and their representatives to be treated unfairly at the hundred and manorial courts. Moreover, the prior had in the past kindly permitted a bridge to be made for the entry and exit of the Lady Katharine, his mother, now deceased, for her quiet and honourable use; but that now it was giving rise to scandals to religion and to the house. The bishop reminded the earl that he was as patron of the monastery not to subject it to a military thraldom, nor to oppress it, but rather to defend it from all attacks, and concluded with a strong appeal to his sense of religion and charity of heart to cease all this oppression and wrongdoing, and formally cited him to remove his family from the houses of the priory before the Feast of the Holy Trinity next ensuing. (fn. 42)

In April 1386 Prior Wodenham received a mandate from Bishop Wykeham, directing him to censure severely, and to canonically punish for any further offence, those canons who disobeyed the claustral prior. (fn. 43) In the following year a commission was directed by the bishop to John Sydeforde, the official, and another, to visit Christchurch amongst other priories. (fn. 44)

In February 1402 there was a grievous rebellion in the priory. Seven of the canons, Roger Milton, John Andrew, John Manere, Thomas Portlande, John Wymborne, Thomas Snoke, and Thomas Corf, animated by a devilish spirit, entered into a conspiracy binding themselves by an oath on the Blessed Sacrament violently to eject the prior and their other superiors, and afterwards made an apostate flight, taking with them after a sacrilegious and furtive manner, certain goods and valuables of the priory. The bishop commissioned John Elmore, the official, and Robert Keeton, to inquire into the matter and report. The commissioners held the inquiry, associating with themselves the priors of two other Austin houses, Mottisfont and St. Denis, as assessors. They found all the accused, except Snoke, guilty and deserving of deprivation, but proceeded to modify their sentences. Milton, who is described by them as the ringleader and an intolerable whisperer of slander and a scandalous mischief-maker, as well as a thief of conventual goods, was sentenced to removal to another priory in the diocese, there to undergo penance. Manere, who is called a man of great astuteness, dangerous, and given to contumely, and the counsellor of Andrew, himself an evil man, received a like sentence; they were both to be kept in solitary confinement. The others were sentenced to penance (solitary confinement) in their own priory, and were disqualified for holding any office for two years. These sentences were pronounced on 13 March, but on 22 March the bishop revised the sentences on Portlande, Wymborne and Corfe, namely that they were to be strictly confined to the cloister and not suffered to speak to any secular person until Michaelmas; to receive discipline openly from the president in chapter every Friday up to the Feast of the Holy Trinity; to receive discipline humbly and devoutly from the whole convent on the first Friday after this sentence; to leave their stalls in the quire for the like time and to sit with the servants and novices; and to take their share of the menial work; and for a whole year after this sentence to fast on Fridays, Corfe and Wimborne on bread, beer and brothy and Portlande on bread and water.

On 3 July of that year, Manere was released from solitary confinement elsewhere, and restored to Christchurch, but to undergo a sentence there like that just detailed on his three colleagues. (fn. 45) Meanwhile Andrew and the other canons took proceedings against the prior for false imprisonment in the Arches Court, and on 8 February, 1403, the prior was discharged from further observance, and the matter remitted to the bishop and the archbishop. (fn. 46) Previously to this, however, namely in November, 1402, the ringleader Milton, who was undergoing solitary confinement in another Austin house, convinced the bishop of his penitence, and was discharged from his obligations to Christchurch, and received the episcopal licence to enter a stricter rule of religion. (fn. 47)

On Wykeham's death the religious houses of Winchester diocese were visited during the vacancy of the see by John Maydenhith, dean of Chichester, acting as commissary for the Archbishop of Canterbury. Christchurch priory was visited in November, 1404; amongst the findings of the visitor may be noted that there were twenty-two canons instead of the statutory number of twentysix; that there were twelve sick in the farmery; and that Prior Borard had not rendered a proper balance sheet in the presence of the chapter. (fn. 48)

Sir Thomas West, who married Jane, daughter of Roger, Lord de la Warre, by his will dated 5 April, 1405, ordered that his body should be buried in the new chapel of Christchurch, where his mother Alice was buried. He left £100 to the priory building fund, as well as large chantry bequests.

Thomas Talbot, the twentieth prior, died in August, 1420; his sepulchral slab is in the north quire aisle, while that of his predecessor, Prior Borard, is in the south quire aisle.

An inspection and confirmation of royal charters was granted by Edward IV. to the prior and convent of Christchurch on 23 June, 1461, for a fee of five marks, when charters of William II., Stephen, Henry II., John, Richard I., Edward I., Edward II. and Richard II. were produced at Westminster. (fn. 49)

On 12 November, 1494, the priory was visited during the vacancy of the see by Robert Sherborne of Hereford (afterwards Bishop of Chichester), as commissary for Archbishop Morton. At this visitation the prior and each of the canons were severally examined. Prior Draper deposed ' nil'; the sub-prior and fifteen other canons followed his example. It was reserved for Canon Thomas Selby to make the only complaint to the archbishop's commissary, which was duly entered in the metropolitical register, namely that the convent beer was remarkably weak (valde tenuis). (fn. 50)

This priory was again visited on 22 March, 1501, by Dr. Hede, the commissary of the priory of Canterbury, in the vacancy of that see. The prior, John Draper, stated that the attendance at the night and day offices was regular; that the sub-prior of the house also held the offices of sacrist and master of the mills, of which an annual balance sheet was furnished; that the common seal was under four keys, kept respectively by himself, the sub-prior, the steward and the third prior; that none of the valuables of the house were pledged, and that there was no debt. William Eyre, sub-prior, John Warner, steward, Richard Cogin, third prior, Nicholas Bryght, precentor, John Baker, almoner, John Gravy, cellarer, John Gregory, warden of the frater, William Beaver, warden of the chapel of St. Mary, Walter Lodge, master of the works, and various other canons holding no particular office testified omnia bene. Robert Godewyn, sub-deacon, stated that the sick in the farmery did not have what was necessary for them. The prior expressed his inability to state the statutory number of the canons of Christchurch, but Thomas Wimborne, one of the canons, on the following day (for the visitation extended over two days), testified that the number was twenty-four.

Prior Draper died on 12 November, 1501, and the convent elected William Eyre, the sub-prior, in his place. It was afterwards alleged, on the accession of Henry VIII., that this appointment was invalid in consequence of the Royal assent not having been obtained, and an inquisition held by the abbot of Quarr and others confirmed this statement. Finally, however, in 1515, this inquisition was declared untrue, and the Master of the Rolls was ordered to cancel it. (fn. 51) Prior Eyre died on 6 December, 1520. To him succeeded, as twenty-sixth and last prior, John Draper II., who was installed on 31 January, 1521. (fn. 52)

Sir James Worsley and the other commissioners first appointed to visit the Hampshire houses with a view to their overthrow reported in May, 1536, most favorably of Christchurch; and Prior Draper (who was Bishop of Neapolis partibus infidelium) addressed an able letter to the king, which has been already cited, (fn. 53) pointing out what a great convenience and boon the priory was to the surrounding district. But this priory was far too wealthy to be treated after any exceptional fashion. Visitors of a totally different character to the first commission, including the notorious Dr. London, paid several visits; and by threats and cajolery induced what was termed a ' surrender.'

The surrender was made on 28 November, 1539. The original letter announcing the surrender, dated at Christchurch, 2 December, and signed by Southwell, Carne, London, Poulet and Berners is extant. The commissioners say, ' We founde the prior a very honest conformeable person, and the house well furnyshyd with juellys and plate whereof some be mete for the kinges majestie in use, as a litell chalys of golde, a gudly large crosse doble gylt, with the foote garnysshyd and with stone and perle; two gudly basons doble gylt. And ther be also other thinges of sylver right honest and of gudde valew as well for the churche use as for the table reserved and kept to the kinges use. In thy churche we finde a chaple and monument curiusly made of Cane (Caen) stone preparyd by the late mother of Raynolde Pole for her buriall wiche we have causyd to be defacyd and all the arms and badges clerly to be delete. The surveying of the demasnyes of this house wiche be lardge and baryn and some parte thereof xx myles from the monastery wiche we also do survey and mesure hath causyd usse to mak longer abode at thys place than we intendyd.' (fn. 54) The visitors declared the clear annual value to be £519 3s. 6½d. The buildings to be sustained were, ' the late prior's lodging wholly as it are sette in a quadrauntly,' with hall, buttery, pantry, kitchen and lodgings over the same. Also the gatehouse to the base court, the bakehouse, and brewhouse, with stable and barn. The buildings deemed superfluous were the church, cloister, chapter house, frater, farmery, and sub-prior's lodging, with outer cloister and gallery, with the chapel in the same cloister and all the houses thereto adjoining. The lead on the church, cloister and buildings was 38 fodders. There were seven bells, of which five were assigned to the parish. The ornaments, goods and chattels sold realized £177 0s. 10d., whilst there were 26 ounces of gold plate and 1,907½ ounces of silver-gilt, parcel-gilt and silver plate reserved for the king. (fn. 55)

The ' conformable' Prior Draper was rewarded with the big pension of £133 6s. 8d. as well as the mansion house of Somerford Grange, where there was a prior's lodging, for life. Robert Beverey, the sub-prior, obtained a pension of £10, and seventeen other canons pensions varying from £6 13s. to £3 6s. 8d. (fn. 56)

There was however sufficient influence in the county and neighbourhood to save the splendid church, which Cromwell's visitors naturally deemed 'superfluous.' The quire, body, bell-tower, with seven bells, stones, timber, lead of roofing and gutters of Twyneham priory church, together with the cemetery on the north side, were granted, in 1540, to the churchwardens and parishioners. (fn. 57)

At the dissolution this priory held the manor of Christchurch Twynham, with the toll of the fair and the rectory, the manors of Somerford, Aisshe and South Chewton, Hinton, Herne, Milford with the rectory, Lymington, Walhampton, Sway with the rectory, Ningewood, Shalfleet, Apse, ' Barnerdesligh,' ' Hynbury,' Puddletown, Eastington, Fleet, ' Odiknolle,' and ' Chameleygh.' Also the rectories of Buldoxley, Brockenhurst and Southdown, and land and rents in Gorley, Brookhampton, ' Gunter,' Rackhams and Radcliff, 'Swartelinghide,' Boldre, Paynshill, Northampstead, Easthampstead, Avon and Ripley. They likewise had the manor of Clopton and lands at Porton in Wiltshire, the rectory of Blandford and tithes, etc., in Hampreston, Westport, ' Penyton,' and elsewhere in Dorsetshire. (fn. 58)

Deans or Heads of the House

Ranulph Flambard, to 1128
Gilbert de Dousgunels, 1128
Peter de Oglander
Hilary, about 1140


Reginald, about 1150
Julian, (fn. 59) 1161
Ralph, 1186-95
Peter, 1195-1225 (?)
Roger, 1225
Nicholas de Warham
Nicholas de Sturminster, 1272
John de Abingdon, 1272-8
William de Nitheravene, 1278
Richard Maury, (fn. 60) 1287-1302
William Quyntyn, (fn. 61) 1302-17
Walter Tydolneshide, (fn. 62) 1317
Edmund de Ramsbury, 1323-37
Richard de Bustehorne, (fn. 63) 1337
Robert de Legh, (fn. 64) 1340
William Tyrewache, (fn. 65) 1345-57
Henry Eyre, 1357-77
John Wodenham, (fn. 66) 1377-97
John Borard, (fn. 67) 1397
Thomas Talbot, d. 1420
John Wimborne
William Norton
John Dorchester, (fn. 68) about 1450
John Draper I., 1477-1501
William Eyre, (fn. 69) 1501-20
John Draper II., (fn. 70) 1521-39


  • 1. V. C. H. Hants, i. 476.
  • 2. Cott. MS. Tib. D. vi. (printed in Dugdale's Monasticon, vi. 304). This first chartulary of the Priory of Twyneham, compiled in 1312, was much injured in the fire that destroyed so much of the Cotton library, but has been cunningly restored and mounted, and is now for the most part legible. It consists of 310 large folios bound in two volumes. Some charters of a later date have been inserted, the latest being of the year 1459. The account of the foundation of the priory, and of the canonical church which preceded it (ff. 193, 194), has been printed in Dugdale. Strange to say, the larger Dugdale (1830) states that this chartulary was lost in the Cottonian fire of 1731. Richard de Redvers' charter is copied on f. 13a. There are five pages of excerpts from another chartulary of this priory in Cott. MS. Claud. A. viii., but they are of. no special importance.
  • 3. Cited in Pat. 3 Hen. V. pt. 2, m. 3 (printed in Dugdale's Monasticon, vi. 304).
  • 4. Cott. MS. Tib. D. vi. pt. i. f. 13b.
  • 5. There are two lists of the twenty-six priors of this house given in the chartulary, pt. ii. ff. 32b, 134b. Dugdale's Monasticon, vi. 302, only gives eight.
  • 6. Rainald or Reginald, Bishop of Ross, was consecrated 1195 and died 1215.
  • 7. Cott. MS, Tib. D. vi. pt. ii. f. 149b.
  • 8. Ibid; vi. f. 149b.
  • 9. 'Episcopo Insulari.' Possibly this was Nicholas of Meaux, Abbot of Furness, Bishop of the Isle of Man; see Stubbs' Registrum Sacrum Anglicanum, pp. 210-1 (2nd edit.).
  • 10. Cott. MS. Tib. D. vi. f. 150.
  • 11. John's Itinerary, Introduction to Patent Rolls (1201-16), vol. i.
  • 12. Ancient Deeds, P.R.O. i. B. 91.
  • 13. Cott. MS. Tib. D. vi. pt. ii. f. 131.
  • 14. Pat. 30 Edw. I. mm. 27, 24. There is a full transcript of all the formalities in Pontissera's Register, f. 34.
  • 15. Pat. 30 Edw. I. m. 2.
  • 16. Winton. Epis. Reg., Woodlock, ff. 53b, 56.
  • 17. Ibid. ff. 146, 161.
  • 18. Cott. MS. Tib. D. vi. pt. ii. ff. 32, 33b.
  • 19. Ibid. f. 32b.
  • 20. Winton Epis. Reg., Sandale, f. 1.
  • 21. Ibid. f. 11b.
  • 22. Ibid. f. 33b.
  • 23. Ibid. f. 34b (vide supra, p. 27).
  • 24. Winton. Epis. Reg., Stratford, f. 46.
  • 25. Ibid. f. 13b.
  • 26. Ibid. f. 179.
  • 27. Ibid. ff. 39b, 40.
  • 28. Close, 1 Edw. III. pt. 2, m. 2d.
  • 29. Winton. Epis. Reg., Stratford, ff. 63b, 68.
  • 30. Pat. 7 Edw. III. pt. 1, mm. 15, 13.
  • 31. Winton. Epis. Reg., Orlton, i. f. 50.
  • 32. Ibid. f. 53; and chartulary lists.
  • 33. Ibid. f. 56b.
  • 34. Ibid. f. 77b.
  • 35. Close, 11 Edw. III. pt. 1, m. 17.
  • 36. Pat. 16 Edw. III. pt. 1, m. 32.
  • 37. Winton. Epis. Reg., Orlton, i. f. 120b.
  • 38. Feudal Aids, ii. 337, 340.
  • 39. Cott. MS. Tib. D. vi. pt. ii. ff. 228b, 229.
  • 40. Winton. Epis. Reg., Wykeham, iii. ff. 4b, 10a.
  • 41. Ibid. iii. f. 5a.
  • 42. Ibid. f. 8b.
  • 43. Ibid. f. 222.
  • 44. Ibid. Wykeham, f. 229.
  • 45. Winton. Epis. Reg., Wykeham, iii. ff. 343b, 346a.
  • 46. Ibid. iii. f. 353b.
  • 47. Ibid. iii. 351b.
  • 48. Cant. Archiep. Reg., Arundel, i. 502b, 503.
  • 49. Pat. 1 Edw. IV. pt. 5, mm. 11 and 10.
  • 50. Cant, Archiep. Reg., Morton, f. 91b.
  • 51. Letters and Papers, Hen. VIII. ii. 1236.
  • 52. Winton. Epis. Reg., Fox, iv. ff. 31-6.
  • 53. Supra, pp. 57, 58.
  • 54. Cott. MS. Cleop. E. iv. f. 324.
  • 55. Aug. Off., Misc. Books, ccccxciv. ff. 23-8.
  • 56. Ibid. ccxlv. f. 65.
  • 57. Pat. 32 Hen. VIII. pt. 3, m. 43.
  • 58. The first Minister's Account quoted in Dugdale's Monasticon, vi. 306.
  • 59. Charter at Belvoir.
  • 60. Winton. Epis. Reg., Pontoise, f. 4.
  • 61. Pat. 30 Edw. I. mm. 27, 24 (There is a full transcript of all the formalities in Winton. Epis. Reg., Pontoise, f. 34).
  • 62. Winton. Epis. Reg., Sandale, f. 11b.
  • 63. Ibid. Orlton, i. f. 53; and chartulary lists.
  • 64. Ibid. i. f. 95; and chartulary lists.
  • 65. Ibid. Edingdon, i. f. 43; chartulary, f. 134b.
  • 66. Ibid. Wykeham, iii. f. 86, and also chartulary.
  • 67. Ibid. ff. 277-9. Full details of the confirmation and installation are given.
  • 68. Ibid. Waynflete, ff. 47b-53, c. 1450.
  • 69. Letters and Papers, Hen. VIII. ii. 1236.
  • 70. Winton. Epis. Reg., Fox, iv. ff. 31-6.