Colleges: Marwell

Pages 211-212

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

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Bishop Henry de Blois (1129-71) founded a small college of secular priests in the church or chapel of Marwell Park, Owslebury, which was augmented by his successors, Bishops Peter des Roches and Woodlock. The foundation charter recites that the church was built by Bishop Blois and dedicated in honour of the martyrs SS. Stephen, Lawrence, Vincent and Quintin. At the same time he erected houses and other buildings near to the church, to serve for four priests, who should there continuously pray for the King of England and the Bishops of Winchester, and for other benefactors and faithful Christians. For the endowment he assigned £13 of rents at Twyford; of which sum 60s. each was to be assigned to the chaplains, and 20s. for the ornaments and lights of the church. (fn. 1)

To Bishop Blois' foundation Peter des Roches added, by a deed dated the second Sunday in Lent, 1226, a deacon, and laid down rules for the general governance of the chaplains on a collegiate basis. The four priests were annually to choose one of their number to act as prior, to whom due obedience was to be paid both within and without the church; no one was to be absent from the saying of the canonical hours, or from their common meals, or at night time, without the prior's special leave; no one was to be granted longer leave than eight days by the prior; if more was desired the bishop's licence was to be sought; any one guilty of incontinence or any other serious fault, or even if suspected, was to be expelled without hope of restitution; surplices and black copes were to be worn in the quire; the Sarum use was to be followed from mattins to compline; and of the £12 for stipend of Bishop Blois, £1 was to be assigned to each for clothes, and the remaining £8 were to be spent for common purposes by the prior with the advice of his brethren. Bishop Peter added an annual gift of fifty quarters of grain. This was to be given by the rector of the church of Bishopstoke on the five feasts of St. Michael, St. Nicholas, the Purification, SS. Philip and James, and SS. Peter and Paul; three quarters of corn, three of barley, and four of oats on each occasion. They were also to receive from the rector of Bishopstoke four reasonable cartloads of hay at the time of hay harvest. The prior was to prepare an annual balance sheet, and if there was any surplus it was to be divided amongst them. (fn. 2)

Bishop Woodlock (1305-16) also added to the property of the college as recorded in his register. (fn. 3) Marwell or Merwell was his birthplace; hence he was sometimes called Henry de Merwell.

From Bishop Wykeham's institution register we find that he collated Richard Merke and John Aubeoyle to priests' offices in capella de Merewell in 1371; Richard Alien in 1373; Walter Oures in 1376; John Mikeltone in 1384; William Elkstoke in 1395; Richard Beck in 1396; John Wegull in 1398; Thomas Tellere in 1399; Walter More and John Grene in 1402; and Richard Stanstede in 1404.

As time went on and the purchasing power of money became so materially lessened, the pension from the church of Bishopstoke was utterly inadequate for the support of four priests. At the time of the Valor (1535) this small college was termed a chantry, and supported two priests, William Atkinson and Thomas Smyth; the sum of £12 was then divided between them.

This chantry was of course suppressed; it went with the episcopal estate and manor house of Marwell to Sir Henry Seymour.


  • 1. This charter is recited in an inspection and confirmation of Edward II.; Pat. 18 Edw. II. pt. 2, m. 15. It is printed in Dugdale's Monasticon, vi. 1344.
  • 2. Pat. 18 Edw. II. pt. 2, m. 15.
  • 3. Wharton's Anglia Sacra, i. 316.