House of Knights Hospitallers: Preceptory of Standon

Page 444

A History of the County of Hertford: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1971.

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The Knights Hospitallers received from Gilbert de Clare Earl of Hertford, in the reign of King Stephen, (fn. 1) the church of Standon and 140 acres of land and his vineyard in this parish, (fn. 2) and from Gilbert's brother and successor Roger before 1174 (fn. 3) a mill outside the gate of Standon. (fn. 4) Here, according to Tanner, a preceptory was established for sisters of the order, who in 1180 were removed to Buckland (co. Somerset). (fn. 5) As regards the sisters no evidence has been found, but it seems certain that the knights had at one time a preceptory here. In certain agreements of 1280 and c. 1291-3 the Hospitallers arranged that payments should be made to 'their house of Standon,' (fn. 6) and all doubt about the connexion of the hospital of Standon mentioned in 1319-20 (fn. 7) and in 1323 (fn. 8) with the Knights of St. John is removed by the entries in the manorial court rolls of 1360. (fn. 9)

Scarcely anything is known of the history of the house. The master in 1319-20 was accused of carrying off the corn of the lord of the manor from the fields by night and of assaulting the lord's reaper (fn. 10); but when the prior, apparently as the master's superior, answered the charges (fn. 11) it was found that the Hospitallers had only taken their own corn. In 1323 the master was said to have broken into the king's parks of Little Hadham and Milkeley, hunted there and carried off the deer. (fn. 12) Possibly the character of the head of the house at Standon had something to do with the neglect of duties (fn. 13) incumbent on the Hospitallers, of which from 1320 to 1328 there are frequent complaints.

In August 1330 Prior Thomas Larchier leased the hospital's manor and the church of Standon to William de Langford for 67½ marks, and as Langford was to receive the brothers coming to the manor, (fn. 14) it seems improbable that there was a preceptory here then. (fn. 15) Yet if the cell had been given up, it was revived, for in 1358 there are references to the master of the hospital of St. John of Jerusalem at Standon, (fn. 16) and in September 1360 to the preceptor of Standon, against whom charges of trespass were then brought. (fn. 17)

After this nothing more is heard of the preceptory. In the 15th century the rectory and lordship of Standon were let to Ralph Asteley, who in March 1443-4 bequeathed his lease to his sons William and Thomas in equal shares for the term of their lives on condition that they supported the charges on the estate. (fn. 18) It was therefore no innovation when in 1505 the knights let the manor and parsonage of Standon and Pagwell to John Kirkby, (fn. 19) who had to provide a priest for the chapel of the manor and maintain for two days the steward and surveyor of the Hospitallers coming to hold the manorial courts and transact other business.

The Hospitallers' property here was estimated in 1338 at £34 15s. 4d. a year gross value and £10 15s. (fn. 20); in 1535 its annual value was reckoned at £23 10s. (fn. 21)

Masters or Preceptors of Standon

Thomas de Bassele, occurs November 1323, (fn. 22) 1324, and October 1326 (fn. 23)

Thomas Hether, occurs July (fn. 24) and September 1360 (fn. 25)


  • 1. Earl Gilbert's grandfather died in 1150 and was succeeded by his son Richard. Gilbert himself died in 1152 (Dict. Nat. Biog.).
  • 2. Confirmation by King John, August 1199 (Cal. Rot. Chart. 1199-1216 [Rec. Com.], 16).
  • 3. He died before July or August 1174 (Dict. Nat. Biog.).
  • 4. Confirmation by Roger's son Richard Earl of Hertford (Cott. MS. Nero, E vi, fol. 123).
  • 5. Tanner, Notitia Mon.
  • 6. Cott. MS. Nero, E vi, fol. 119. The same expression is used for Clerkenwell in an indenture of 1376 (ibid. fol. 138).
  • 7. Ct. Rolls (Gen. Ser.), portf. 178, no. 37.
  • 8. Cal. Pat. 1321-4, p. 383.
  • 9. Ct. Rolls (Gen. Ser.), portf. 178, no. 45.
  • 10. Ibid. no. 37.
  • 11. The prior and master were accused separately, as if there was no connexion between them, but the master's case was postponed until the lord could be consulted, and nothing was said about it in the later court when the prior made his settlement.
  • 12. Cal. Pat. 1321-4, p. 383.
  • 13. Withdrawal of a chantry and alms (Ct. Rolls [Gen. Ser.], portf. 178, no. 37, 39).
  • 14. Cott. MS. Nero, E vi, fol. 120.
  • 15. The same conclusion might also be drawn from Prior Philip de Thame's report in 1338, that the chaplain at Standon was paid a stipend of 5 marks because he had no board, though the mention of the prior's visitation in the same account might of course be taken to prove the existence of a community (Larking, The Knights Hospitallers in Eng. [Camd. Soc.], 89).
  • 16. Ct. R. (Gen. Ser.), portf. 178, no. 45.
  • 17. Ibid.
  • 18. Cant. Archiepis. Reg. Stafford. fol. 135 d.-136.
  • 19. Cott. MS. Claud. E vi, fol. 10. The lease of 1524 (ibid. fol. 245 d.) is exactly the same.
  • 20. Larking, op. cit. 89-90.
  • 21. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 403.
  • 22. Cal. Pat. 1321-4, p. 383.
  • 23. Brother Thomas de Bachele is mentioned in the Standon court rolls at these dates, but not called master of the hospital (Ct. R. [Gen. Ser.], portf. 178, no. 37, 38).
  • 24. He is not called preceptor then (ibid. no. 45).
  • 25. Ibid.