Alien houses: Priory of Ellingham

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

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'Alien houses: Priory of Ellingham', in A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 2, (London, 1903) pp. 229-230. British History Online [accessed 1 March 2024]

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An alien priory was founded at Ellingham, as a cell to the Benedictine Abbey of St. Sauveur-le-Vicomte, in the diocese of Coutarices, by William de Solariis in the year 1160. The charter specifies the church of St. Mary of Ellingham with all its appurtenances, together with 43 acres of land and 20 of meadow in that vill, and 3 acres near the church on which to build. (fn. 1) A charter of Henry II. notifies that the endowment of William de Solariis at Ellingham was under his care and protection. (fn. 2)

A charter of Walter de St. Quintin, circa 1170, granted to the Abbey of St. Sauveur, for the honour of God and the Blessed Virgin, and for his weal and that of his friends, his chapel at Rockford (a mile to the east of Ellingham) and all his demesne in his fee of Rockford; the chapel to be subject to the church of Saint Mary and All Saints of Ellingham, as daughter to mother, and to receive from it the service of masses three days a week at the hands of the chaplain of Ellingham, or of a monk (of the priory). The chartulary of St. Sauveur also records two other small bequests of land to the priory of Ellingham of about the same date, (fn. 3) and two others, at Fordingbridge and Chardford, occur in the charters at Eton.

In 1292 Bishop Pontoise assumed the custody of the priory in consequence of the prior having departed across the sea without a licence; (fn. 4) but on 13 July, 1292, the bishop instituted to the priory, on the death of Michael the last prior, Thomas dit le Petit, presented by the abbot of St. Sauveur. In 1298 Thomas de Bere, acting for the Bishop of Winchester, made an award in favour of William Cancelot, then prior, who claimed to present to the church of Ellingham.

Of the next two priors there is apparently no record of their institution, but in September, 1305, the official of the Bishop of Bath and Wells made an award in favour of Geoffrey, prior of Ellingham, who claimed half a mark yearly from John, rector of Babington, Somerset, of which the church had been given to St. Sauveur by William Fitz John of Harptree, temp. Henry II. (fn. 5) On 10 April, 1311, Bishop Woodlock granted Prior Geoffrey leave of absence (fn. 6) until 1 August; and on 5 September, 1318, Bishop Sandale granted leave of absence to John le Vyonn, prior of Ellingham, to visit his abbey, from that date until the next feast of St. Peter ad Vincula (1 August). He was enjoined, after this eleven months' absence, to return without further delay. (fn. 7) A second leave of absence to cross the seas was granted to Prior John by Bishop Strafford on 19 October, 1327. His death occurred whilst he was abroad, and the priory was sequestrated by the bishop on 19 January, 1328. (fn. 8)

When Edward I. seized Ellingham priory in 1294, in consequence of the war, it was found that the prior held a messuage and 10½ acres of land worth by the year 10s. 3d., that there were thirteen tenants holding 23 acres of land and 10½ acres of meadow, paying a rental of 41s. 7d., a pound of pepper, and a pound of cinnamon worth 8d., and that the church was worth £12 a year.

On 17 March, 1328, Richard Pelleue, a monk of St. Sauveur, was instituted by Bishop Stratford, on his abbot's presentation. Protection was granted in July, 1337, to various aliens to secure the goods in their custody, among whom was Prior Pelleue. (fn. 9)

The references to Ellingham Priory on the Patent or Close Rolls are very few. In May, 1385, the king, by reason of the alien priory being in the hands of the Crown through the war with France, presented William Olyver, keeper of the neighbouring hospital of St. John's, Fordingbridge, to the vicarage of Ellingham. (fn. 10)

At an inquisition held at Ringwood on 10 September, 1397, concerning the true value and extent of the priory of Ellingham by virtue of a letter of the king to the escheator, the jurors declared the clear annual value at £11 6s. 8d., and stated that Thomas Trewyn, who had been appointed by letters patent custodian of the priory, had secured the tithes of corn and hay for that year about the feast of St. Peter ad Vincula (1 August). (fn. 11)

After the final dissolution of the alien priories the rent reserved to the Crown from Ellingham Priory was bestowed by Henry VI. on Eton College, to which Edward IV., in 1462, added the fruits of the parish church of Ellingham. (fn. 12)

Priors Of Ellingham

Richard de Wauville, (fn. 13) 1240
Michael, died 1292
Thomas dit le Petit, (fn. 14) 1292
William Cancelet, 1298
Denys, instituted 1301
Geoffrey, 1305, 1311
John le Vyoun, 1318, 1327
Richard Pelleue, instituted 1328
Galicanus de Hamberga, instituted 1347
William de Albigneye, instituted 1361


  • 1. Round's Cal, of Documents in France, i. 348. The foundation charter is recited in Winton. Epis. Reg., Pontoise, f. 102b. It differs somewhat from the above and is of the year 1163; the acres of land are increased from 43 to 72, and the church is described as the church of All Saints with the chapel of St. Mary. This latter charter is still preserved at Eton, together with its confirmation by Richard, Bishop of Winchester.
  • 2. Ibid. i. 349.
  • 3. Ibid. i. 351.
  • 4. Winton. Epis. Reg., Pontoise, f. 11.
  • 5. His charter of donation is now among the Ellingham deeds at Eton. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. ix. App. I. p. 350.
  • 6. Winton. Epis. Reg., Woodlock, f. 163.
  • 7. Ibid. Sandale, f. 30b.
  • 8. Ibid. Stratford, ff. 32b, 34b.
  • 9. Pat. 11 Edw. III. pt. 2, m. 13.
  • 10. Ibid. 9 Rich. II. pt. 2, m. 15 and m. 8.
  • 11. Add. MSS. 6165, p. 113.
  • 12. Pat. 1 Edw. IV. pt. 3, m. 24.
  • 13. Charter in archives of St. Lo.
  • 14. This and other episcopal institutions to Ellingham priory are taken from a return made by Bishop Wykeham in 1401 of all the Winchester institutions to alien priories recorded in the episcopal registers; but in each case the original has also been consulted.