Alien houses: Priory of Andwell

Pages 223-225

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

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This small priory was a cell or dependency of the great Benedictine abbey of Tiron. It was founded early in the twelfth century by Adam de Port of Mapledurwell. His grant of lands in Nately and other rents were confirmed by a charter of Henry I. Roger de Port, the eldest son of Adam, much increased his father's benefaction by giving to the monks of St. Mary of Andwell lands at Winchester, the mill of Andwell before the gate of their house and a virgate of land pertaining to it, and a virgate of land at Mapledurwell. The churches of Stratton, Hinton and Bradford were also granted to them, together with numerous minor gifts by the De Port family of Mapledurwell. (fn. 1)

The church of this priory, the successor no doubt of an earlier structure, was dedicated by John, Bishop of Ardfert, acting as suffragan for Peter de Roches, Bishop of Winchester, about the year 1220. An indulgence of forty days was granted to all who, having confessed and repented, had come to the consecration and offered alms, and also of ten days for those who had made like attendance at the dedication of the altars, which had taken place on the Feast of the Holy Innocents. The church was dedicated in honour of St. John Baptist. The thirteenth century seal of the priory represents that saint carrying an Agnus Dei in his right hand, with a monk kneeling before him, and the legend Sigillū Prioris de Anedewelle.

Only one of the grants in the Cartulaire de Tiron mentions Andwell by name; this occurs in the charter of Roger de Port, circa 1150, by which he gave to his monks at Andwell (Henedewella) the mill before their gate with the land belonging to it, as freely as he held it on the day of the gift. But several of the papal confirmations of English grants to Tiron, such as those of Eugenius III. (1147) and Alexander III. (1179), specify the church or priory of Mapledurwell. As the parish of Mapledurwell adjoined the extraparochial district of Andwell, and as Tiron held land and served a chapel in that parish, there can be no doubt that it is but an alias for the priory of Andwell. (fn. 2)

In 1223 an agreement was come to between Theobald, abbot of Tiron, representing the cell of Andwell, and Alan Basset. The abbot and convent released to Alan all claim in Hookwood, and gave him land in the field of the chapel at Mapledurwell, retaining a third of the moor called Eastmoor. He restored to them a way sufficient for a laden horse to go along with his leader at the head of his tillage toward the water of Mapledurwell to the house of Andwell. (fn. 3)

Richard de Beaumont and James Pasquier, who were priors in succession of the sister priory of Hamble, were also priors of Andwell. Probably Pasquier, who died whilst prior of Hamble and who was instituted to that house in March, 1345, on the resignation of Beaumont, exchanged priories with the latter. The absence of all reference to the admission of priors to Andwell throughout the episcopal act books makes their succession doubtful.

In 1274 the prior had in Up-Nately ten tenants who held of him in villenage five yardlands that formerly belonged to Basingstoke manor. In 1290 the holdings of the prior of Andwell at Nately and Mapledurwell were worth £2 per annum, whilst in his own manor the rents, meadow and mill were valued at £3 yearly. An extent and inventory of the possessions of the priory taken in 1294 show that within the precincts were a messuage, garden and dovecot worth 10s. yearly, whilst the lands and other possessions yielded a total of £6 14s. 2d. From free tenants the prior received £4 8s., and twentyone customary tenants who held three virgates paid 48s.; but deductions left a clear rental of 43s. 8d., so that the whole income of the priory only came to £8 17s. 10d. (fn. 4) The inventory showed that the priory stock included a horse worth a mark; two carthorses, 8s.; six plough-horses, 19s.; a mare and foal, 6s. 8d.; three colts, 6s.; eighteen oxen, 108s.; two cows, 7s. 6d.; three better cows, 15s.; three yearling bullocks, 2s.; one heifer, 2s. 6d.; thirty-three sheep, 14s. 2d.; forty-two lambs, 20s.; twelve hogsteers, 8s.; and twenty hogs, 20s.; yielding a total of £12 10s. 8d. The dead stock was worth 29s. 4d., by far the largest item being a brazen pot in the kitchen at 16s. 8d. The seed-corn and crops were valued at £12 12s.t leaving the total value of the inventory at £26 12s. (fn. 5)

It would seem that the priors of Andwell were simply the nominees of the abbot of Tiron, and were apparently removable at pleasure. The distance of the controlling force and the complete freedom from episcopal supervision or even recognition, worked evilly for the discipline of the house. The exactions of the Crown during the reign of Edward III., when there was war with France, in seizing not only the apport or usual annual tribute to the abbey of Tiron, but further sums under the guise of securing the custody of the house to the respective priors, were also a sore burden. Eventually in May, 1368, Bishop Wykeham sequestrated the priory of Andwell (together with that of St. Cross, Isle of Wight) for dilapidations. In the document securing this, addressed to the archdeacon of Winchester and the warden of the college of St. Elizabeth, the bishop comments severely on the faults, negligences and carelessness of the priors which had brought about the loss and collapse of both the spiritual and temporal affairs of the priory; adding that the house and buildings would soon be in irreparable ruin unless some speedy remedy was provided.

In 1385 the priory was in the hands of Thomas Driffielde and Eleanor his wife, and was returned as being of the annual value of £13 6s. 8d. (fn. 6) It was let to farm by the king's treasurer in order to secure the apport. After Richard came to the throne it was let to one Thomas Thorpe for £10 a year, and in December, 1387, John de Uvedale, sheriff of Hampshire, and four others were appointed to inquire touching waste and defects in the alien priory of Andwell, before its custody was committed, at a certain yearly farm, to Thomas de Thorpe. (fn. 7)

During the latter part of the reign of Richard II. the parent monasteries of these alien houses were permitted to sell them to other religious houses, or to particular persons who desired to use them for founding chantries, hospitals or other works of charity. (fn. 8) Bishop Wykeham availed himself of this privilege by purchasing Andwell from the abbey of Tiron, and paying Thomas Thorpe £20 for his interest therein. The bishop bestowed the priory and its lands on his newly founded college at Winchester, to which it still belongs.

Andwell at the time of its purchase was valued at £10 10s. a year. The other Hampshire purchases made by Wykeham from the abbey of Tiron were Hamble, valued at £13 6s.; St. Cross, Isle of Wight, valued at £5; and Worldham Chapel, valued at £1. Roughly speaking, he obtained £30 a year for about £380, rather more than twelve years' purchase. (fn. 9)

Wykeham no sooner secured the Andwell property than he saw to its repair. In a list of extraordinary expenses incurred by the college from the opening day in 1393 down to 1401, occurs the then very large sum of £538 4s. for the repairs of manors, rectories and chancels that had been secured from various alien priories. The items are not separated, but the repairs included the grange and chamber at Andwell. (fn. 10)

At Epiphanytide, 1410, the warden kept open house for two days to a number of country gentlemen. The manor of Andwell contributed a heronshaw towards the feasting; the man who brought it to Winchester, a distance of twenty-two miles, received 1s. for his pains. (fn. 11)

Priors Of Andwell

Hugh (fn. 12)
Walter Britell
William de Pulchra Quercu
Gervase, 1210, 1216 (fn. 13)
Nicholas, time of Henry III. (fn. 14)
Robert, time of Edward I.
Richard Edward II.
Godfrey de Insula, time of Edward III.
Richard de Beaumont
James Pasquier


  • 1. See article on the alien priory of Andwell by Rev. W.H.Gunner (Arch. Journ. 1852, ix. 24661), corrected by Mr. Round in Genealogist, n.s. xvi. 7-10; also Lucien Merlet's Cartulaire de l'Abbaye de Tiron, 2 vols. (1882-3).
  • 2. Round's Cal. French Documents, i. 358, 527.
  • 3. Ancient Deeds, P.R.O., A. 3242.
  • 4. Add. MS. 6164, ff. 6, 7.
  • 5. Roll 22 Edw. I. P.R.O.; Woodward's Hampshire, iii. 283-4.
  • 6. Winton. Epis. Reg., Wykeham, iii. f. 213.
  • 7. Pat. 2 Rich. II. pt. 1, m. 1d.
  • 8. Rymer's Fœdera, vii. 697.
  • 9. Leach's Winchester College, p. 145.
  • 10. Kirby's Annals of Winchester, pp. 150-1.
  • 11. Ibid. p. 158.
  • 12. This and the two following names are taken from the Winchester College muniments.
  • 13. Ancient Deeds, P.R.O., A. 241.
  • 14. This and the following names are taken from the Winchester College muniments.