Alien houses: Carisbrooke priory

Pages 230-231

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

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The priory of Carisbrooke, which was situated on the high ground to the north-west of the castle, was dedicated to the honour of the Blessed Virgin. It was a cell of the Benedictine abbey of Lire, and established to collect the dues of the parent house in the Isle of Wight. The church of Carisbrooke, and other property, had been granted to the abbey of Lire, probably by William Fitz Osborne, Earl of Hereford. They were at all events owned by that house while he held the lordship of the Isle of Wight (fn. 1) (circa 1067-70). The priory of Carisbrooke is said to have been founded by Baldwin de Redvers about 1156. He gave to the abbey of Lire all the churches, tithes, lands, rents and benefits that he held throughout the island. Further grants by his son, William de Vermin, were made direct to the church of St. Mary, Carisbrooke, and to the monks there serving God. Henry II.'s confirmation charter to Lire Abbey particularizes their possessions throughout England. The abbey then held in Hampshire the churches of Clatford and St. John's, Southampton, and in the Isle of Wight the churches of Carisbrooke, Arreton, Freshwater, Godshill, Whippingham, Newtown and Newchurch. (fn. 2) Godfrey, Bishop of Winchester (1189-1205), empowered the abbot to convert the church of Carisbrooke and chapel adjoining it ad usus suos proprios. (fn. 3) Several churches were afterwards granted to the monastery by various persons.

Edward I., in 1285, licensed the prior and monks of Carisbrooke to hold a road going through their priory from the south gate to the north gate, which they closed to keep out persons wandering there day and night, and in exchange for which they made another road, 40 feet long, to the west of the said priory, with the assent of Isabel de Fortibus, lady of the Isle of Wight. (fn. 4)

Simple protection was granted by the Crown for a year in 1290, and again for a like period in 1292, both to the abbot of Lire staying in Normandy, and for the prior and monks of Carisbrooke, (fn. 5) and in 1298 Edward I. recognized the right which Isabel de Fortibus had granted to the monastery of Lire of the custody of the temporalities during a vacancy in the priory. (fn. 6)

A survey of alien priories of the year 1295 shows that the priory had granges at Sheet, Chale and Northwood. The prior had a palfrey worth £4 13s. 0d., a pack-horse worth 20s., and a white horse. The expenses of the prior and five monks in removing from the island to some place remote from the coast by royal command amounted to 4s. 4d. When taken into the hands of the Crown by reason of the war, there were found, besides grain, 11 plough horses, 2 draught horses, a two-year-old colt, a mule, 51 oxen, 1 bull, 22 cows, 8 heifers, 15 calves, 3 sheep, 106 lambs, 1 boar, 4 sows, 42 pigs, 23 young pigs, 7 sides of bacon, 2 poids of cheese and 3 sacks of wool. (fn. 7)

In 1333 the prior of Carisbrooke, as proctor in England for the abbot of Lire, contributed five marks towards the expenses of the marriage of Eleanor, the king's sister, with a proviso that such contribution should not prejudice the priory as a precedent. (fn. 8)

In 1374 the prior of Carisbrooke petitioned the king against the exactions of the sheriff, pleading that the enemy had burnt their granges and cowhouses, as well as their conventual buildings, and had despoiled their tenants and parishioners. (fn. 9)

The monks of Carisbrooke served the chapels of Newport and Northwood, receiving from the former town the annual pension of two marks granted to them by Richard de Redvers circa 1180. They had also under their care the burial ground, with its chapel dedicated to the Holy Cross, under the castle of Carisbrooke, consecrated by Bishop Henry of Winchester (probably Henry Woodlock, 1305-16), as a place of sepulture for the small religious communities in the Isle of Wight.

The seal of the priory (here illustrated) is oval in shape, and shows the Virgin and Child and below a kneeling figure. The legend runs: + SIGILLVM: ANDREE: PRIOR . . . ROC.

The grants to the priory were of small extent and value, (fn. 10) the parent community of Lire treating the prior as their locum tenens and absorbing the larger benefactions.

The priory was seized by the Crown during the reigns of Edward I. (fn. 11) and Edward III., and being in the king's hands was granted by Richard II. to the Carthusian priory of Mount Grace, Yorkshire. Restored to Prior Thomas Val Oseul by Henry IV. on condition of the ' apport ' or customary tribute to Lire being paid to the Crown, and future appointments of monks being filled by Englishmen, it was seized again by Henry V. and bestowed on his new charter-house at Sheen, and the monks dispersed.

The temporalities of Carisbrooke priory were declared of the annual value of £28 1s. 2½d. by the taxation of 1291. The various rectories of the island pertaining to the priory or the abbey of Lire were then of great annual value—Carisbrooke, £80; Freshwater, £60; Godshill, £66 13s. 4d.; Newchurch, £66 13s. 4d.; Arreton, £33 6s. 8d.; Whippingham, £24; and Newtown, £8. Two of these, namely Carisbrooke and Arreton, were at that time appropriated to the abbey of Lire.

A survey of the priory made in 1385 gave the annual value at £86 13s. 4d. In 1446 the value was £194 1s. 2½d., whilst in 1538 the annual worth of the priory as parcel of the possessions of Sheen was declared to be £133 6s. 8d.

Priors Of Carisbrooke

Hugh, temp. Henry II.
John de Insula, (fn. 12) circa 1190
William de Glocester, (fn. 13) circa 1205
Robert of S. Pier-sur-Dire, circa 1257
Andrew, circa 1264
Richard Preause, circa 1279
John de Caleto, (fn. 14) circa 1286
WarinPyel, (fn. 15) circa 1298
John Poucyn, (fn. 16) circa 1313
Blase Doubel, circa 1336
John Pepyn, (fn. 17) circa 1348
Nicholas Gavaire, (fn. 18) circa 1361
Peter de Ultra Aquam, (fn. 19) circa 1363
Thomas de Val Oseul, 1371
Odo de Ulmis, 1401
Nicholas de Ulmis, 1405


  • 1. Transcript of the chartulary of Carisbrooke priory in the possession of W. A. Lindsay, K.C., F.S.A., Windsor Herald, p. 1. Charter by Baldwin de Redvers to Hildebrand, abbot of Lire, of the church of Carisbrooke, to hold it as ever the abbot held in the time of William Fitz Osborne or Richard de Redvers father of the grantee. See also V.C.H. Hants, i. 407-8.
  • 2. Dugdale's Monasticon, vi. 1040-1.
  • 3. Transcript of Carisbrooke chartulary.
  • 4. Pat. 13 Edw. I. m. 1.
  • 5. Ibid. 18 Edw. I. m. 16; 20 Edw. I. m. 9.
  • 6. Transcript of chartulary of Carisbrooke, p. 20.
  • 7. Stone's Arch. Antiq. 1. W. ii. 197.
  • 8. Pat. 7 Edw. HI. pt. 2. m. 20.
  • 9. Stone's Arch. Antiq. I. W. ii. 198.
  • 10. Transcript of chartulary already referred to.
  • 11. Pat. 5 Edw. I. pt. i. m. 12d.
  • 12. Ancient Deeds (P.R.O.), B. 2836.
  • 13. Transcript of Carisbrooke chartulary, p. 16.
  • 14. Ibid. p. 20.
  • 15. Ibid.
  • 16. John Poucyn presented to the rectory of Newchurch in 1322. He is described as prior of Carisbrooke and proctor of the abbot of Lire. Winton. Epis. Reg., Asserio, f. 23.
  • 17. Winton. Epis. Reg., Edingdon, i. f. 33.
  • 18. Ibid. f. 110b.
  • 19. Ibid. f. 123.