House of Knights Hospitallers: Preceptory of Baddesley or Godsfield

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

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'House of Knights Hospitallers: Preceptory of Baddesley or Godsfield', in A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 2, (London, 1903) pp. 187-188. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]

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Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester (1129-71), granted his land of Godsfield to the knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in England, (fn. 1) and in 1207 Adam de Port gave to the same community all his lands and manor of Godsfield in free alms. (fn. 2) Walter de Audely also granted lands in Chilton Candover, Laurence rector of the church of Serveton granted his small tithes, and many other persons made grants of small parcels of land and houses in Preston Candover and Child Candover. How early a preceptory of the Hospitallers was formed here is not exactly known, but the first preceptor of whom we have mention is Thomas le Archer, whose name appears in a deed concerning a tenement in Fleshmonger Street, Winchester, in 1304. From this date the grants are for the most part to the brethren of Godsfield, and not as heretofore to the parent house in London.

In 1355 John Pavely, prior of the Hospitallers, confirmed to Thomas Purchas a messuage and lands in Ibsley at a yearly rent of 12d. to the preceptor or warden of Baddesley. This is the first mention in the chartulary of a preceptor of Baddesley; it probably denotes the date, soon after the Black Death, when the headquarters of this preceptory were moved from Godsfield to Baddesley.

In 1338, when Prior Philip de Thame made a return to the Grand Master of the possessions of the Hospitallers in England, full particulars were given of the 'Bajulia de Godesfield,' with its members of Baddesley and Runham.

At Godsfield there was a messuage with the buildings in poor repair, with a garden valued at 3s. 4d. a year; 300 acres of land worth 58s. 4d.; house rents that were actually fixed at £20 3s. 4d. were then only £14 10s. 0d. on account of the sterility of the land and the firing of Portsmouth and Southampton by foreigners; an acre of meadow at Swarton, 2s.; harvest work of the villeins, 10s. 6d.; pleas and perquisites of the court, 13s. 4d.; pasturage for 9 oxen and 6 horses, 15s.; and pasturage for 900 sheep, 75s. Another important item of the income of every preceptory, though bound to be fluctuating in amount, was the voluntary contribution from the district, which was probably regularly collected. The total of this amount, usually termed confraria, from the whole of England, even in a bad year like 1338, reached the large sum of £888 4s. 3d. The voluntary contributions of the Hampshire preceptory averaged 60 marks; but that year, owing to the distress of the country, the royal exactions, the taxes on tenths and fifteenths of all movables from year to year, the dues on wool, the warding of the seas, and many other oppressions that crop up (emergunt) from day to day, as the return states, there had been great difficulty in gathering 40 marks.

At Baddesley there was a messuage with a garden, the herbs of which, together with a pigeon cote, were of the yearly value of 10s.; 360 acres of land; 18 acres of pasture; 40 acres of meadow; pasturage for 24 oxen; pannage for pigs; pasturage for 30 cows; pasturage for 400 sheep; with certain rents and works of tenants. At Baddesley there was also a wood of large timber, 100 acres in extent, which was common, so that nothing could be taken from it for sale, but it was reserved for repairing the houses of the preceptory, and of the bailiwicks of Templecombe, Ansty, and other places of the Templars that were in decay.

At Rownham there was a messuage in decay and ruin, of the annual value of 12d.; 80 acres of land; pasturage for 200 sheep; pasturage for 8 oxen; and pasturage for 30 bullocks.

The whole realized a total annual receipt of £66 13s. 11½d. for the preceptory.

As to the outgoings, the members of the house were brother William de Multon, the preceptor, and brother John Couffen, the chaplain. The number of the household servants was four; and it is noted that the expenses in cluded hospitality to visitors, which they were bound to exercise according to the will of the founder of the house. Thirty-three quarters of corn had been used in the year for making bread, at 3s. a quarter, £4 19s. 0d.; for brewing beer, 20 quarters of barley at 2s., and 20 quarters of oats at 16d., £66 0s. 8d.; flesh, fish, and other victuals in the kitchen, 104s.; robes, mantles and other necessaries for the preceptor and the chaplain-brother, 69s. 4d.; a life corrody to Ralph de Basing of 6½ quarters of corn, at 3s., 19s. 6d.; a steward's robes for use at courts, 20s.; dress for four servants, 32s.; the wage of a labourer acting as wood-warden, 10s.; at the visitation of the prior for four days, £4; repair of the houses, 20s.; and the stipend of a chaplain (without board) serving the chapel of Godsfield, 4 marks. There were also small payments due every year to the Bishop of Winchester, the church of Afford, the abbess of St. Mary's, Winchester, the prior of St. Swithun's and others. The total of the expenses and payments came to £30 3s. 8d., leaving a balance for the treasury of £36 10s. 3d. (fn. 3)

The house at Baddesley had the honour of having among its preceptors three who became much distinguished in the Order, two of them being Grand Priors of England. Thomas Launcelyn, who was preceptor of Baddesley, and afterwards of Dalby and Rothely, was appointed Turcopolier by bull of the Grand Master, dated Rhodes, 3 October, 1421. He died in 1442. (fn. 4) William Tornay, preceptor of Baddesley and Mayne, became successively Receiver-general of England and Bailli of Aquila, and was finally appointed Grand Prior of England by bull of the Grand Master, dated Rhodes, 29 August, 1471. He died in 1476. (fn. 5)

Sir William Weston, preceptor of Baddesley, was elected Turcopolier in the chapter held in Candia after the expulsion of the Order from Rhodes in 1523. He commanded the grand carracque of the Order, and was named Grand Prior of England by bull of the Grand Master, dated Corneto, 27 June, 1527. During his rule came the conflict between Henry VIII. and the pope, when the Order resolutely resisted the divorce of Queen Katharine. The result was the complete overthrow of the English Order or Language and a bitter persecution which lasted from 1534 to 1540, during which many of the knights died on the scaffold. In April, 1540, an act of parliament vested all their property in the Crown. A pension was granted to the venerable prior, but he died of grief at the utter annihilation of the English Language, on Ascension Day, 1540, in the very year that it was granted. He had been present at the siege of Rhodes in 1522, when he greatly distinguished himself. (fn. 6)

The Valor of 1535 returned the total annual value of the preceptory of Baddesley, both in spiritualities and temporalities, at £131 14s. 1d., and the clear value at £118 16s. 7d. After the suppression of the preceptory, its lands were granted first to Sir Thomas Seymour, and afterwards, in 1551, to Sir Nicholas Throckmorton.

It has been conclusively established that the preceptory of Baddesley, which first bore the name of Godsfield, had its headquarters in later years at North Baddesley, and not at South Baddesley as usually asserted.

Preceptors of Godsfield or Baddesley

Thomas le Archer, (fn. 7) 1304, 1306
Robert de Coneygrave, 1312
Simon Launcelyn, 1315
William de Basing, (fn. 8) 1325
William Hulles, 1388, 1397
William de Multon
Thomas Launcelyn
William Tornay
Sir William Weston, 1518, time of Hen. VIII.

In addition to the preceptories or commandories, the Order also possessed smaller estates called camerœ or chambers, where there was usually no establishment, and which were as a rule farmed out. This was the case with their estate at Woodcote, Hants; it was farmed out in 1338, and produced a rental of £13 6s. 8d.


  • 1. Charter Roll, 1 John, p. 1, No. 114, printed in Dugdale's Monasticon vi. 808.
  • 2. Harleian MSS. 6603 (pp. 141-252). This is a transcript of a register of the preceptory of Baddesley, in the possession of the Duke of Portland, made in the year 1739, and collated with the original in 1830 by Sir F. Madden. By its title this register claims to be a calendar of all the charters and muniments of Godsfield, Baddesley, Rownhams and all other manors pertaining to the manor of Godsfield, drawn up by William Hulles, brother of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in England, and preceptor of Baddesley in the year 1397. The register gives extended copies of upwards of one hundred deeds and indentures. At the end is added a rental, with a customal of the manor of Baddesley as it was held in 5 Henry IV., and also in 9 Henry VIII. when brother William Weston was preceptor.
  • 3. Larking's Knight Hospitallers in England (Camden Society, 1857), pp. 21-3.
  • 4. Porter's Knights of Malta, ii. 288.
  • 5. Ibid. ii. 284, 293.
  • 6. Ibid. 284, 289, 319.
  • 7. This list is compiled from entries in Harl. MSS. 6603.
  • 8. He describes himself in a deed relating to North Shorewell as custos humilis et devotus domus de Godesfeld (ibid.).