Colleges: St Elizabeth, Winchester

Pages 212-214

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

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Near to the gate of his castle at Wolvesey, Bishop Pontoise built, in 1301, the college of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. The foundation consisted of a number of secular clergy and choristers living under the rule of a provost, with so clearly an expressed' object that it was in reality a chantry on a large scale. In the episcopal registers and other documents, it is most usually described as the chapel of St. Elizabeth, but frequently as a college and sometimes as a chantry.

By the foundation charter, (fn. 1) the bishop established three altars in the great chapel. The dedication of the high altar was to the honour of St. Elizabeth; the second to the honour of St. Stephen and St. Laurence; and the third to the honour of St. Edmund and St. Thomas of Canterbury. To serve these altars and to maintain a stately ritual, the foundation provided for the establishment of seven chaplains, one of whom was to be provost, three were to be in deacons' and three in sub-deacons' orders. All were to be appointed, as vacancies occurred, by the bishop; they were to live together and have a common table; to be satisfied with one dish and pittances on week days and two dishes on Sundays and double feasts; to dress humbly, and to wear in chapel surplices and black copes; to receive annually in addition to their board for clothes and other necessaries: the provost 6 marks, the chaplains 40s. and the clerks 20s.; to have a common dorter for the clerks save in sickness; each chaplain to have a young shaveling, between the age of ten and eighteen, to wait on him, and to sing in surplice in church; and the choristers to dine together in hall at a separate table. Their clerical duties were to rise each day at daybreak and say together (submissa voce aperte et distincte) mattins of our Lady, and afterwards to chant antiphonally mattins of the days; after mattins to celebrate solemn Lady mass after the use of Sarum; next to intone the proper day hours, followed by the hours of our Lady in a low voice; immediately afterwards, the mass of St. Elizabeth was to be sung, followed by the saying of three masses at the three altars, two for the departed and one of the Holy Spirit; and about nine o'clock (fn. 2) high mass was to be solemnly sung. Each chaplain was to say at each mass six special collects (1) for the founder, (2) for the then Bishop of Winchester, (3) for all the departed bishops of the diocese, (4) for the king and queen and their children, (5) for kings and queens and all faithful departed, and (6) a general collect for the quick and dead, but especially for the prior and convent of St. Swithun's. Before evensong, all the chaplains and clerks were to say, in low but distinct voice, Placebo and Dirige; afterwards to say evensong of our Lady, and to sing evensong of the day, to be followed by compline of our Lady and compline of the day. Everything was to be according to the use of Sarum; the provost and chaplain were to appoint one of their number as precentor, to order the masses and services. The provost, in the presence of the chaplains and the treasurer of Wolvesey, was yearly at Winchester to deliver a statement of account, and a report as to the condition of the chapel and house. No one was to be absent from masses or hours save by special leave. No chaplain or clerk was to be admitted, unless first examined in letters and singing, and in knowledge of the divine offices. Women were not to enter any part of the house, save the chapel and hall. Each chaplain and clerk on admission was to swear to be faithful to the statutes and rules, and to continue in personal residence.

The original endowment included the appropriation of the church of Hursley and 6 acres in the meadows of St. Stephen where the college stood. Soon after the foundation, Simon de Fareham gave to the college the manor and church of Botley. Other gifts were the manors, etc., of Kingsclere and 'Culmestone Gynninges,' and lands at Shedfield. (fn. 3)

John de Wynfred was the first provost appointed by the founder.

In 1307, Edward II. inspected and confirmed the letters patent of his father confirming the foundation charter of the chapel of St. Elizabeth with the chapel of St. Stephen; and at the same time confirmed to Richard de Bourne, the provost, and the chaplains and clerks, the grant of appropriation of the church of Hursley, which had been made without the licence of the late king. (fn. 4)

In February, 1313, licence was obtained sanctioning the gift to the college of the manor of Norton St. Walery by Robert de Harewedon, clerk, and William de Stamford. (fn. 5) In the following April, the provost and chaplains of St. Elizabeth were excused the service of rendering yearly a sore sparrow-hawk for the manor of St. Walery, at the request of Hugh le Despencer the younger, of whom it had been held in chief by that service. (fn. 6)

Bishop Asserio collated priests, deacons and sub-deacons to the chapel of St. Elizabeth, (fn. 7) and Peter, Bishop of Corbavia, held ordinations in this chapel, on behalf of the Bishop of Winchester, on 21 November and 18 December, 1322, and also on 19 February and 12 March, 1323. (fn. 8) The ordination of 18 December was a large one, there being 75 acolytes, 27 sub-deacons, 36 deacons and 47 priests.

We find that in 1346 the college held one knight's fee in Norton and Sutton Scotney, a twelfth part of a fee in Clerewodcott, one fee in Culmeston and half a fee in Botley. (fn. 9)

In 1350, Bishop Edingdon, in direct contravention of his predecessor's statutes, obtained the papal sanction for John de Nubbelaye, rector of Alresford and canon of Romsey, to hold the provostship of the chapel, together with his rectory and canonry, as the income of the chapel was too small to be held by itself. (fn. 10)

Bishop Edingdon, when ratifying to the college the gift of Hursley church, contrived in some way to secure to himself and successors the rectory house. The possession of the rectory was however restored to Provost John de Sheptone and the chaplain by Wykeham in 1373, when the college undertook to pay an annual pension of 13s. 4d. to the bishop. (fn. 11)

In September, 1400, the bishop commissioned John Elmore, the official, and Simon Trembury, treasurer of Wolvesey, to visit the college. (fn. 12)

After the death of Bishop Wykeham, the provosts of St. Elizabeth were in the main non-resident and the holders of other preferments.

The college of St. Elizabeth was visited on 4 March, 1501, by the commissary of the prior of Canterbury, during the vacancy of the see. The visitation entry merely states that Richard Wilmer, precentor, appeared as proctor for Richard Newport, the provost, and gives the names of five chaplains, five clerks and seven choristers who were present.

When the Valor of 1535 was taken, 'Doctor Pers' (Peers) was provost; the gross annual value was declared at £120 0s. 8d. and the clear value at £112 17s. 4½d.

On the dissolution of this college among the smaller houses, in 1536, it formed one of the numerous grants made by Henry VIII. to Thomas Wriothesley, who sold the site to the warden and fellows of Winchester College for £360.

Leland describes the college of St. Elizabeth as 'situate Est upon the New College; and ther is but a litle narro causey betwixt them. The mayne Arme and Streame of Alsford Water devidid a litle above the College into 2 Armes on eche side of the College. Withyn these 2 Armes not far fro the very College Chirch of S. Elizabeth is a Chapel. of S. Stephan.' (fn. 13)

Mr. Kirby describes the acquisition of this site by Winchester College as a piece of good fortune. It stood in what is now the warden's kitchen garden, facing the cloisters. On the ordnance map, in the meadow near the school bathing place, is marked 'site of St. Elizabeth College'; but the foundation of an oblong building on that site really belonged to the chapel of St. Stephen.

When Wriothesley sold St. Elizabeth's to Winchester College, he imposed a condition that the buildings should be either pulled down or converted into use as a grammar school before Pentecost, 1547. In the deed of sale, 18 April, 1544, the college of St. Elizabeth is described as having a church, belfry and cemetery, and containing 4½ acres. Possibly there may have been orginally some idea of turning St. Elizabeths into a boarding house for scholars; but within a year of the purchase the new owners began the work of demolition, stripping the lead from the church, and using the stones for building the wall which bounds the south side of Meads. (fn. 14)

The rather clumsy fifteenth century oval seal (see illustration) represents St. Elizabeth of Hungary standing in a canopied niche, with a palm branch in the right hand and a book in the left. Behind her is an angel with extended wings holding a crown over the saint's head. The idea of this seal is far better than its execution. Legend: s' COMMUNE · COLLEGII · SANCTE · ELIZABETH.

College Of St. Elizabeth, Winchester Provosts

John de Wynfred, 1301
Richard de Bourne, 1307
Adam de Capel, (fn. 15) 1316, 1317
Nicholas de la Flode, (fn. 16) 1320-2
John de Gorges, (fn. 17) 1322
John de Thynden, (fn. 18) 1334
John de Nubbelaye, (fn. 19) 1350
John de Peveseye
John de Sheptone, (fn. 20) 1373
Thomas Boys, (fn. 21) 1381-7
John de Ketone, (fn. 22) 1387
Simon Wylet, 1387-97
John Hulyn, (fn. 23) 1397-1401
Walter Hardene, 1401
Richard Newport, about 1501
Dr. Pers or Peers, 1535, 1536


  • 1. Printed in Dugdale's Menasticon (from the Patent Rolls), vi. 1339-41.
  • 2. The third hour; but the actual time would vary materially according to sunrise.
  • 3. Inspection and confirmation charter of Edward II. (Pat. 13 Edw. II. pt. 1, m. 13).
  • 4. Pat. 1 Edw. II. pt. 2, m. 9.
  • 5. Ibid. 6 Edw. II. pt. 1, m. 1.
  • 6. Ibid, 1 Edw. II. pt. 2, m. 15, 11.
  • 7. Winton. Epis. Reg., Asserio, ff. 447, 451, 460, 505.
  • 8. Ibid. Asserio, Hants Record Society, pp. 544-52.
  • 9. Feudal Aids, ii. 326, 331, 334, 337.
  • 10. Cal. of Papal Petitions, i, 208; Cal. of Papal Letters, iii. 456.
  • 11. Winton. Epis. Reg., Wykeham, iii. f. 79b.
  • 12. Ibid. iii. f. 327.
  • 13. Leland's Itinerary, iii. 85.
  • 14. Kirby's Annals of Winchester College, 256-8.
  • 15. Winton. Epis. Reg., Sandale, passim.
  • 16. Ibid. Asserio, f. 14. Provost Adam exchanged with his successor for the rectory of Newchurch, Isle of Wight (ibid. f. 23).
  • 17. Ibid. f. 23.
  • 18. Pat. 8. Edw. III. pt. 1, m. 35; pt. 2, mm. 33, 25.
  • 19. Cal of Papal Petitions, i. 208; Cal. of Papal Letters, iii. 456.
  • 20. Winton. Epis. Reg., Wykeham, i. f. 48; iii. f. 79b. Provost Shepstone exchanged the church of Smarden with the preceding provost.
  • 21. Ibid. i. f. 129.
  • 22. Ibid. iii. f. 231a. Provost Ketone, treasurer of Wolvesey, held for six months in commendam.
  • 23. Ibid. i. f. 178, 271.