Alien houses: Priory of Hamble

Pages 221-223

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

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The priory of St. Andrew, Hamble, was a cell of the great Benedictine abbey of Tiron, near Chartres, which was founded in 1109. Tanner is wrong in describing Tiron as a Cistercian abbey. The priory of Hamble was placed on the rise or point of land at the junction of the Hamble river with Southampton Water, and was hence usually termed ' Hamble-en-le-rys' or ' Hamblerice,' now Hamble-le-Rice. William Giffard, Bishop of Winchester, 1100-28, was the founder. The original charter is not extant, but there is a confirmation of Giffard's grant of Hamble to the monks of St. Andrew among the Winchester College muniments. (fn. 1) That charter, from the witnesses, cannot be later than 1140.

A bull of Pope Innocent II., of the year 1132, addressed to his dear son William, abbot of Tiron, confirming to him several English endowments, specifies the church of St. Andrew in England (ecclesiam Sancti Andree de Anglia) with its appurtenances, which other charters prove to be that of the priory of St. Andrew at Hamble. An undated charter, but apparently about 1135, is from Emma, wife of Roger Alis, notifying her gift to the monks of Tiron dwelling at St. Andrew's, Hamble, of the lands and meadows that she held at 'Auditon.' The charter recites that she made this gift in chapter of the monks of St. Andrew and placed it on the altar in the presence of Prior Geoffrey. About 1142, Ascelina, wife of Guimond, gave to God and the monks of Tiron at St. Andrew's, in the presence of her brothers who were dwelling there, the house and land pertaining to it, which had been given her by her brother Roaudus, who was then a monk. In 1147 Pope Eugene III. confirmed to the abbot and convent of Tiron, inter alia, the church of Hamble, which was again confirmed about 1175 by Pope Alexander III. On 23 August, 1179, an elaborate papal confirmation of all the benefactions and privileges of the abbey of Tiron enumerates the priory of St. Andrew in England. (fn. 2)

Among the Winchester College muniments is a charter of Henry II. confirming the rights of the monks of Tiron to a yearly pension of fifteen marks for their shoes (calceamenta), which had been granted them by Henry I., and another charter of the same king, exempting the monks of Hamble from toll, passage and pontage, etc., throughout England and Normandy.

Another interesting Hamble evidence preserved at Winchester is a lease by Prior Beaumont, in the year 1320, to John Poussant de tous les seruises corvus et coustumes of Hamble Manor. Raoul dit l'Ermite, prior of Andwell, was at that time proctor-general of the abbey of Tiron, and was a party to the lease. (fn. 3)

When Edward I. seized Hamble Priory in 1294, it was found that the prior held a house and garden and dovecot, valued at 4s. a year; 79 acres of land, 13s. 2d.; 8 acres of meadow, 5s. 4d.; pannage over 4 acres of wood, 18d.; and wood necessary for house repairs and fences. There were also four free tenants holding 21 acres of land, paying a rental of 6s.; twenty-seven customary tenants holding 4 acres of land and paying 28s. 4d., whose labour was worth nothing, propter capcwnem cibarum, and sixteen cottars, who paid 12d. a year. A pension of bread and of beer from St. Swithun's, Winchester, was valued at 58s. a year; the tithes of Worldham, 40s.; and land and meadow at Hunteborn at 22s. The total annual value of the priory was reckoned at £18 14s. 8d. (fn. 4)

Several of the religious connected with the three alien houses of Hampshire pertaining to the abbey of Tiron were accused in 1313 of conspiring to destroy charters. A commission of oyer and terminer was issued on the complaint of Master Robert le Wayte of Chiriton, that Alan, prior of Hamble; Ralph, prior of St. Cross in the Isle of Wight; Brother Robert de Andwell and Master Ralph de Mailings, with others, broke three charters and a deed of covenant at Andwell and Hamble. (fn. 5)

In 1331 a difference arose between the prior of Hamble and the parishioners as to the repairing the ruinous bell tower of the (parish) church. The bishop appointed John de Erdesope to act as his commissioner in inquiring into and settling the dispute. (fn. 6)

In May, 1334, Nicholas, abbot of Tiron, had letters nominating Richard de Beaumont, prior of Hamble, and another his attorneys in England. (fn. 7)

Hamble affords an instance of the peculiar use to which the incomes of alien priories were occasionally put. In 1352 Edward III. granted an annuity of ten marks to Agnes Pore, nurse to his daughter Margaret, to be paid yearly from the farm of the priory of Hamble as long as the war with France lasted, and when it was ended, by the exchequer. During the peace of 1360-8 Hamble was relieved of the pension, but at the latter date, on the renewal of the war, the priory had again to pay the ten marks. On the accession of Richard II. this grant to Agnes Pore and its payment by Hamble was re-affirmed. (fn. 8)

The priory was vacant in 1375, and as the abbot of Tiron neglected to present, the appointment lapsed to the bishop. Wykeham collated William de Foxele, or Foxle, a monk of Chertsey, to the priory on 10 August of that year. (fn. 9) It has been suggested that the new prior was possibly of the family of Thomas Foxley of Bramshill, the constable of Windsor Castle, under whom Wykeham served in early life.

Before the youthful Richard had been a month on the throne, a French expedition harassed the English coast, and in August, 1377, did sad havoc in the Isle of Wight and on much of the seaboard of the mainland. The priory of Hamble, notwithstanding its dependency on a French abbey, suffered much from the burning and plunder of its possessions. Its grievous condition was brought to the knowledge of the council, with the result that the priory and its possessions were ratified by privy seal to William Foxle, the prior, and he was exempted during the war from payment of any farm rent and pardoned all arrears, to the intent that the rents and profits should be spent on repairs. (fn. 10)

Prior William Foxle died on 31 May, 1386, and in the following August the king granted the priory for their lives, without any rent, during the continuance of the war, to Sir Bernard Brocas, knight, and Tydeman the monk. (fn. 11)

In 1391 the abbot of Tiron presented two clerks, John Beck and John Kent, to the bishop, and he admitted Beck to the priory on 20 February.

The priory was however purchased by Bishop Wykeham later in the same year from the abbey of Tiron, to assist in the foundation of Winchester College. Particulars as to its value have been given under Andwell.

Soon after Hamble came into the hands of Winchester College, namely in 1401-2, the large sum of £17 7s. 1d. was spent on the church, chiefly in providing it with a new roof. The manor was also furnished with a new dovecot. In 1410-1 the bell tower of the church was either entirely rebuilt, or underwent very considerable repairs. In the following year three new bells were provided for this tower; they were cast by Richard Brasier of Wickham, who was paid 40s. in addition to the three old bells. (fn. 12)

In 1404 the French, though a nominal truce existed, were making descents on our shores. The college, mindful of the severe losses of Hamble Priory from that cause in 1377, equipped a party of men and sent them down to their newly-acquired possessions at Hamble, but the expected foreigners did not land. The entry in the college balance sheet for that year includes a sum of £6 9s. under the heading, Custus pro defensione patrie. (fn. 13)

In 1411 one Nicholas Diford, a copyholder of Meonstoke, came to the audit with 100 oysters in payment of his quit rent. These doubtless came from Hamble, which was formerly in high repute for its oysters. The prior of Hamble used to render 20,000 oysters at mid-Lent to the monks of St. Swithun as an acknowledgment for an annual corrody of six gowns, six pairs of shoes, six pairs of boots, together with twenty-one loaves and forty-two flagons of ale weekly, which he and his brethren received from that monastery. After the property became vested in Winchester College, the corrody, valued at £10 yearly, was made the endowment of Wykeham's chantry in the cathedral church. (fn. 14)

Mr. Kirby is probably right in surmising that this early corrody is an indication that the monks of Hamble numbered six at the time of its foundation. If that was the case, the amount works out at half a loaf and one flagon daily for each monk. The weekly delivery of this food at Hamble must have been a serious charge on the Winchester house, though Bishop Lucy gave them the advantage of water carriage all the way by making the river Itchen navigable to Southampton.

Priors Of Hamble

Geoffrey, 1135
Alan, 1313
Richard de Florie
John de Estrepaniacho, (fn. 15) 1318-22
Richard de Beaumont, (fn. 16) 1322-45
James Pasquier, 1345
William de Monastery's (fn. 17)
William de Foxele, (fn. 18) 1375-86
John Beck, 1391


  • 1. Arcbœologia, 1. 259.
  • 2. Merlet's Cartulaire de l'Abbaye de Tiron, charters 182, 262, 291, 292, 326, 328.
  • 3. Arcbœologia, 1. 251-62, a valuable article on this priory by F. Kirby.
  • 4. Add. MS. 6164, ff. 4, 5.
  • 5. Pat. 7 Edw. II. m. 14d, 9d, 5d.
  • 6. Winton. Epis. Reg., Stratford, f. 58b.
  • 7. Pat. 8 Edw. III. pt. 1, m. 17.
  • 8. Ibid. I Rich. II. pt. 5, m. 13.
  • 9. Winton. Epis. Reg., Wykeham, i. 62b.
  • 10. Pat. 3 Rich. II. pt. 2, m. 19.
  • 11. Ibid. 10 Rich. II. pt. 1, m. 37.
  • 12. Archœological Journal, vii. 86, 87.
  • 13. Ibid. p. 156.
  • 14. Ibid. p. 158-9.
  • 15. Winton. Epis. Reg., Sandale, f. 42. Prior Estrepaniacho resigned in 1322.
  • 16. Ibid. Asserio, ff. 12b, 24b. Prior Beaumont had been appointed in 1320 to act during the absence of Prior Estrepaniacho.
  • 17. He was presented during the episcopate of Bishop Edingdon (1346-70). These last two institutions are taken from Bishop Wykeham's return of all the alien priory appointments. The date of the latter is not given.
  • 18. Winton. Epis. Reg., Wykeham, i. 62b.