Collegiate house: Thele or Stanstead St Margaret's

Pages 454-455

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

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The rectory of St. Margaret's, Thele, is said to have grown so poor that at the beginning of the 14th century it was becoming almost impossible to find a priest to accept the living. (fn. 1) It was in these circumstances that Sir William Goldington, the patron, the better to provide for divine worship, established in the church at the altar of St. Mary a chantry of five chaplains (fn. 2) which he endowed in May 1316 (fn. 3) with a messuage, a carucate of land, 8 acres of meadow, 15 acres of wood and £10 rent in Thele, Amwell and Bowers Gifford, pasturage for six cows and 100 sheep in his demesne lands in Thele, and the advowsons of the churches of Thele and Aldham (fn. 4) (Essex), with leave to appropriate them to their own uses.

The rectors of Thele and Aldham having resigned, Gilbert Bishop of London agreed to appropriate the churches to the college on condition that a vicarage should be ordained at Aldham and that the Bishop of London should present the vicar of Aldham and the warden of the college, who was to have cure of souls at Thele; his choice, however, was to be restricted to members of the college, vacancies in whose ranks were to be filled up by Goldington and his heirs. (fn. 5) The bishop died before he could carry out his intentions, but his successor, Richard, in August 1317 (fn. 6) completed the appropriation and laid down certain rules for the chaplains: they were to say all the hours and were to celebrate five masses daily, one of St. Mary, another of the day which was to be sung, and three others for the dead in a low voice; they were to live together in obedience to the warden and at service were to wear black. (fn. 7)

In 1348 Philip de Aungre and his wife Alice gave the college three messuages and some land in Chelmsford and Broomfield, co. Essex, towards the maintenance of a chaplain to celebrate for them daily, (fn. 8) and Alice the next year bequeathed to them a place in the parish of St. Bartholomew the Less, London. (fn. 9) The chaplains also obtained in 1353 land in Amwell, Stanstead and Hoddesdon (fn. 10) in part satisfaction of land and rent to the value of 100s., which in 1346 they had received the king's permission to acquire. (fn. 11)

The college came to an end in 1431, after an existence of a little over a century. (fn. 12) It was alleged by the Bishop of London, in his request for the royal consent to its dissolution and the transfer of its property to Elsingspital, London, that much of its property had been alienated through the carelessness, neglect, and illgovernance of the wardens, and for want of the defence of pleas often brought against them, (fn. 13) and the rest would probably soon be lost, unless a remedy were provided. Yet, on comparing what they then possessed with the grants made to them, the difference is not striking. Probably the condition of the college was unsatisfactory and a fresh arrangement needed to secure the due performance of the religious services. It was ordained that henceforth three regular canons should celebrate in Elsingspital for the souls of the founders, and two at Thele.

Masters or Wardens of Thele College

Richard, occurs Michaelmas 1326 and Easter 1327 (fn. 14)

Hugh, occurs 1349 (fn. 15)

Ralph at Hall, resigned 1384 (fn. 16)

John Buk, appointed 6 August 1384, (fn. 17) resigned in 1385 (fn. 18)

John Brunne, appointed 5 May 1385, (fn. 19) resigned 1386 (fn. 20)

John Aston, appointed 4 November 1386, resigned in 1395 (fn. 21)

Richard Shellee, appointed 21 October 1395 (fn. 22)

John Howeden, occurs at the dissolution of the college, March 1431 (fn. 23)


  • 1. Cott. Chart. xxix, 44.
  • 2. To pray for himself and Margaret his wife, Robert Earl of Oxford and Thomas his son (Lond. Epis. Reg. Braybrook, fol. 199 d.). Earl Robert confirmed Goldington's grant to the chantry (ibid.).
  • 3. Ibid. The royal licence for the alienation in mortmain was given in February (ibid. fol. 199; Cal. Pat. 1313-17, p. 434).
  • 4. a Morant, Hist. of Essex, ii, 201.
  • 5. Cott. Chart. xxix, 44.
  • 6. Lond. Epis. Reg. Braybrook, fol. 200. Goldington's ratification of the appropriation made at his instance is dated 12 Mar. 1317-18 (Cott. Chart. v, 46).
  • 7. 'Superpelliciis et capis ac amiciis nigris superius induantur.'
  • 8. Cal. Pat. 1348-50, p. 100.
  • 9. The will was proved Nov. 1349 (Sharpe, Cal. of Wills proved in Ct. of Husting, London, i, 618).
  • 10. Cal. Pat. 1350-4, p. 433.
  • 11. Ibid. 1345-8, p. 87.
  • 12. Ibid. 1429-36, p. 146.
  • 13. It is interesting to see that in one case recorded, a claim by Ralph son of Arnald in the Hale in 1326 and 1327 to land, wood and pasture in Amwell, the master of St. Margaret's did not appear (De Banco R. 269, m. 48).
  • 14. De Banco R. 269, m. 48.
  • 15. Sharpe, loc. cit.
  • 16. Lond. Epis. Reg. Braybrook, fol. 28 d.
  • 17. Ibid.
  • 18. Ibid. fol. 36.
  • 19. Ibid.
  • 20. Ibid. fol. 49.
  • 21. Ibid. On 9 Nov. a man of the same name is mentioned by the Bishop of London as preaching without licence and spreading erroneous doctrines (ibid. fol. 330 d.), but he can hardly be the warden.
  • 22. Lond. Epis. Reg. Braybrook, fol. 49.
  • 23. Cal. Pat. loc. cit.