Alien houses: Priory of St Helen

Pages 215-216

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

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The small Cluniac priory of St. Helen, situate on the northern shore of Brading Haven, was founded circa 1090. (fn. 1) It is mentioned in 1292 with a long list of other houses of the Cluniac order, to whose superiors the king granted protection. (fn. 2) In 1295 there was but one professed monk (an Englishman) in the house, in addition to the prior. The prior left the island and the monk joined the Carisbrooke community. (fn. 3)

Brother Aymo, the prior of St. Helen, together with the majority of the beneficed priests of the Isle of Wight, got into serious trouble with Bishop Sandale, apparently for resisting his diocesan authority, and were excommunicated. In the case of Prior Aymo, the excommunication was relaxed, and due intimation of his absolution forwarded to the secular authorities on 20 November, 1316. (fn. 4) In 1347 Peter de Chirlu, prior of St. Helen, quitclaimed to John de Wallup, prior of Breamore, the advowson and rectory of Brading. (fn. 5)

On 8 May, 1388, Richard II. remitted for seven years the annual farm of 50s. with all the arrears, by which the priory of St. Helen was held of the Crown by Richard Newbury, the prior thereof, during the wars with France on account of the poverty of the house. This remission was made on condition that Prior Newbury continued in residence, and maintained divine service and the buildings so far as the means of the priory admitted. (fn. 6)

St. Helen was suppressed with other alien houses in 1414 and made over to the Crown. At Michaelmas, 1461, the priory was granted by Edward IV. to William Beaufitz for ten years, and in the following year this grant was renewed for twenty years. (fn. 7) Nevertheless, in 1467, Edward IV. granted it to Eton College; and again in 1474, in free alms, to the warden or dean and canons of the king's free chapel of St. George within the castle of Windsor. (fn. 8)

Priors Of St. Helen

Aymo, 1316
Peter de Chirlu, 1347
Richard Newbury, 1388


  • 1. Stone's Arch. Antiq. I. W. pt. i. p. 102, note A.
  • 2. Pat. 22 Edw. I. m. 7.
  • 3. Stone's Arch. Antiq. I. W. ii. 197.
  • 4. Winton. Epis. Reg., Sandale, ff. 5, 22b.
  • 5. Ancient Deeds P.R.O., B. 533-5, 539, 677; see the account of Breamore Priory.
  • 6. Pat. ii. Rich. II. pt. 2, m. 4.
  • 7. Ibid. 1 Edw. IV. pt. 4, m. 22, p. 5, m. 6.
  • 8. Ibid. 7 Edw. IV. pt. 3, m. 13; 14 Edw. IV. pt. 1, m. 1.