Houses of Benedictine monks: The cathedral priory of the Holy Trinity or Christ Church, Canterbury

A History of the County of Kent: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1926.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.

'Houses of Benedictine monks: The cathedral priory of the Holy Trinity or Christ Church, Canterbury', in A History of the County of Kent: Volume 2, (London, 1926) pp. 113-121. British History Online [accessed 11 April 2024]

In this section



Bede (fn. 1) tells us that
' the bishop St. Augustine, as soon as he received the episcopal seat in the royal city, repaired and restored with the king's help the church, which he learned had been constructed long ago of old Roman work; and he consecrated it in the name of our Lord and Saviour Christ; and there he established a habitation for himself and all his successors.'

Thorne's version (fn. 2) is that in 598, the year after his arrival at Canterbury, the king granted to him his royal palace within the city, and he restored it to a church and consecrated it in the name of the Saviour. The two accounts do not differ in any essential point, and may no doubt be considered reliable descriptions of the foundation.

The first point to be noted is that from the foundation to the Conquest the cathedral establishment, as on the Continent, consisted of secular clerks and not of monks. Gervase declares that monks were settled there originally, (fn. 3) and that it was only on account of a great mortality among them that clerks were introduced under Ceolnoth and tolerated by his successor Ethelred; (fn. 4) being afterwards removed by Sigeric (fn. 5) and again tolerated by Ethelnoth. (fn. 6) But, apart from the fact that a monastic chapter was a comparatively late institution even in English cathedrals, there is the conclusive evidence that the head of Canterbury was always a dean before the Conquest and never a prior. The introduction of the monks was only brought about in the time of Lanfranc; (fn. 7) Dunstan himself, the great supporter of monasticism, riot having effected it.

Very little is known of the history of the cathedral before the Conquest. Archbishop Cuthbert (fn. 8) began the system of the burials of the archbishops there instead of at St. Augustine's, but the story belongs rather to the latter house. In September, 1011, Canterbury was sacked and the cathedral burnt by the Danes, who killed Archbishop Alphege because he refused to pay ransom. (fn. 9)

William the Conqueror treated the cathedral well, confirming its liberties and restoring many lands which had been taken away from it. Lanfranc made a division of these, retain ing some himself, allotting others to the convent and surrendering some which properly belonged to Rochester. (fn. 10) After his death the see was vacant for four years, and William Rufus heavily oppressed the church, confiscating its lands and annulling its liberties. (fn. 11)

The cathedral church, which had been begun by Lanfranc and enlarged by Anselm, was dedicated by Archbishop William on 4 May, 1130, in the presence of the king and queen, David king of Scotland, and a large number of bishops, abbots and nobles. (fn. 12) Archbishop Theobald crowned Stephen and his queen there. (fn. 13) Archbishop Becket was murdered in the church on 29 December, 1170, and in consequence of the pollution it was closed for nearly a year, being reconciled by the bishops of Exeter and Chester on 21 December following. (fn. 14) On 12 July, 1174, the king made a solemn pilgrimage to Becket's tomb. (fn. 15) On 5 September in the same year, the church was destroyed by fire, and an elaborate account of the catastrophe and the rebuilding is given by Gervase, who was probably an eye-witness. (fn. 16) This was the third conflagration, the first having occurred at the time when Alfege was murdered and the second at the arrival of Lanfranc. Gervase quotes Eadmer's account of the old church, and himself describes Lanfranc's and the newest. There was a difference of opinion among architects as to the course to be adopted, but at last the work was entrusted to William of Sens, who carried it on until he was disabled by an accident in 1178, when he was succeeded by another William, an Englishman; arid the choir was finally re-consecrated on 19 April, 1180.

Several large registers and a great number of miscellaneous documents relating to its history are still preserved in the cathedral. These have been described or partially calendared by the late Dr. J. Brigstocke Sheppard for the Historical Manuscripts Commission; (fn. 17) and the possessions and liberties of the house will be found set out in great detail in them. Very many privileges were granted by various popes. (fn. 18) The prior and monks had almost complete self-government; and the prior obtained from Honorius III the right of wearing the episcopal ring and mitre, in addition to other insignia. Alexander III exempted the lands of Christchurch from the payment of small tithes. Urban IV empowered the prior to absolve monks lying under ecclesiastical censures.

Many charters of grants and confirmations of liberties were also obtained from successive kings; (fn. 19) and several of the liberties were successfully proved before justices and commissioners in eyre in 1279, 1286, 1293 and 1313. (fn. 20) Henry III on 27 February, 1264, granted to the prior and convent free warren in all their demesne lands in the counties of Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Buckingham, Oxford and Devon, but without specifying the towns in which they held lands; and on account of this vagueness they obtained a fresh charter, in which the place-names are given, from Edward II in 1316. (fn. 21) Richard II on 2 October, 1383, granted to them four fairs yearly within the site of the priory. (fn. 22)

The possessions are recorded in detail in the registers, and lists of the names and dates of donors are given by Gervase and others. (fn. 23) Archbishop Theodore is said (fn. 24) to have made the division of the estates of the archbishop and the chapter, which was clearly recognized at the time of the Domesday Survey. (fn. 25) The prior and convent owned the manors of Meopham, Basser, Leysdown, Eylwarton, Copton, Ham, Selgrave, Boyton, Hollingbourne, Westwell, Orpington, East and West Farleigh, Loose, Ebony, Appledore, Chartham, Godmersham, Brook, Little and Great Chart, Orgarswick, Ruckinge, Fairfield, Aghne Court, Seasalter, Shouart, Thorn den, Ickham, Bramling, Adisham, Eastry, Monkton and Brooksend, and the churches of Farningham, Meopham, Halstow, Milton, Faversham, Sheldwich, Preston, East Peckham, Boughton under Blean, Cranbrook, Tenterden, Westwell, Godmersham, Willesborough, Fairfield, Brookland, Stone, Seasalter, Brook, Littlebourne, West Cliffe, Eastry, Monkton and Birchington in Kent; the manors of Cheam, Merstham, Charlwood, Horsley, Vauxhall and Walworth in Surrey; the manors of Bocking, Bocking in Mersea, Milton, Lalling, (fn. 26) Southchurch, Stisted, Panfield and Borley in Essex; the manor of Wotton in Sussex; the manor of Newington in Oxfordshire; the manors of Risborough and Halton in Buckinghamshire; the manors of Eleigh and Hadleigh in Suffolk; (fn. 27) the manor of Deopham in Norfolk; and the manor of Daccombe (fn. 28) in Devonshire. In the Taxation of 1291 the temporalities in the diocese of Canterbury were valued at £1,066 8s. 1d. yearly. (fn. 29) In the Valor of 1535 the gross value of the possessions was returned as £2,493 6s. 2¾d., with deductions of £143 17s. 9½d., leaving the net value £2,349 8s. 5¼d. yearly. (fn. 30)

The formal revenue as set out in the Taxation and Valor of course does not represent the whole income of the cathedral, which was swelled by offerings and other irregular receipts, and which can still be traced in the . treasurer's accounts. (fn. 31) In 1207 the whole income amounted to over £1,460 and the expenditure to £1,425. Then the monks were exiled for seven years and an administrator was appointed by the king; but in 1219 the total receipts were £1,527. In the next year the translation of the relics of St. Thomas took place and the ceremony attracted an enormous crowd of visitors, the receipts rising to £2,707; the average being £1,460 for the six years preceding 1220, and £2,340 for the next six. The offerings at the shrine of St. Thomas and other holy places formed a large proportion. It must be remembered that these sums must be multiplied about twenty-fold to represent the corresponding value at the present day.

Louis VII of France, who had offered his devotions at the shrine of St. Thomas for the recovery of his son from illness, made a grant to the chapter in 1179 of 100 muids (1,600 gallons) of wine yearly, which was confirmed by several of his successors. It came originally from Triel near Poissy, but when the vineyards there were ruined in the last part of the fifteenth century it was taken from Gascony and the Bordelais. (fn. 32)

The convent claimed the right of election of the archbishop as a reality and not merely a form, and came into collision with the king and pope on several occasions in consequence. In 1123, in spite of their protests, the election was made at Gloucester by an assembly of bishops, abbots, and nobles, and William, prior of St. Osyth's, an Austin canon, was chosen. (fn. 33) In 1184 the bishops again claimed to take part in the election, declaring authority from the pope, and a long dispute followed, in which the king and Ranulph Glanville intervened, until Baldwin, bishop of Worcester, the nominee of the bishops, was eventually chosen; though the chapter secured the observance of their formalities. (fn. 34) After the death of Hubert in July, 1205, the king persuaded the convent to postpone the election until after St. Andrew's Day, and in the meantime sent messengers to Rome, on hearing of which the convent sent the sub-prior and some other monks there to watch over their interests. (fn. 35) The king came to Canterbury in December, and the convent elected the bishop of Norwich, but the monks at Rome disputed this, and the election was quashed, and Stephen Langton chosen; with the result that in July, 1207, all the monks were expelled from Canterbury by the angry king, and took refuge abroad at the abbey of St. Bertin, where they remained until peace was made by Pandulf in 1213. On the death of Langton in 1228 the chapter obtained licence for election from the king, and chose Walter of Eynesham by compromise, but the election was quashed by the pope, who appointed Richard le Grant, chancellor of Lincoln; (fn. 36) and after his death in 1231 the chapter made no fewer than four elections, including their own prior, until the pope was satisfied. (fn. 37) Pope Innocent IV granted that the bishops of the province should not interfere in the election, (fn. 38) but the time of freedom of the chapter was already really past. In 1270 they again chose their own prior, Adam de Chillenden, but he was rejected by the pope and Robert Kilwardby appointed. (fn. 39) The new archbishop quarrelled about the expenses of the election, which amounted to the enormous sum of 3,000 marks, and eventually they were divided, the convent paying 1,300.

But though the convent claimed to elect the archbishop, who stood in the position of their abbot, and was the persona of the cathedral, they hardly recognized his authority when elected. (fn. 40) They were generously treated by Anselm, who gave them a large degree of independence, made many gifts, and settled on them the whole oblations of the high altar and the xenia or Christmas and Easter offerings: but Eadmer distinctly states that his object was not to exempt them from the authority of the archbishop, but to save the estates from the king during the vacancies of the see. Archbishops Thomas and Richard were also generous. William de Corbeuil, a canon archbishop, quarrelled with them about the church of Dover; and Theobald with the prior Jeremiah, who was forced to resign. The real dispute began in 1150, when the conventual property was so much wasted by war and other expenses that the prior restored the administration of it to Theobald, asking him to provide for the convent until better times should come. Theobald exercised strict economy in every way, only allowing them the simplest food; and this forced abstinence was so little to their liking that they charged him with selfaggrandisement at their expense, and appealed to Rome. He retorted vigorously, and after three years of quarrel a compromise was come to, by which the estates were restored; but the prior resigned.

Archbishop Baldwin, who succeeded Richard in 1184, was a Cistercian monk and a scholar, and did not look favourably upon the luxury, independence, and ignorance of the chapter. Urged probably by the clerks around him, he planned a large collegiate church, to be maintained out of the property of the see; and obtained from Lucius III permission to recover the estates alienated to the convent by his predecessor, of which the principal were the oblations, belonging canonically to the archbishop, and the churches of Monkton, Eastry, Meopham, and Eynsford; and began proceedings by confiscating the xenia on 15 December, 1185, and taking possession of the churches of Monkton and Eastry on 25 January, 1186. The monks, besides resenting this loss, considered that the cathedral would be supplanted by the new church, among the canons of which were to be the bishops of the province, and appealed to the new pope, Urban III. Baldwin, however, secured bulls from him, and in November came down to found his church at Hackington, a suburb of Canterbury, where he instituted the canons on 16 December. Alan, the prior, had been made abbot of Tewkesbury, but his successor Honorius was confirmed in fidelity to the convent by a vision which appeared opportunely to one of the monks, and went abroad to Verona to lay his case before the pope in person.

Everywhere sympathies were divided between the parties. The king favoured the archbishop, and the convent looked for support from the friends of Becket. St. Augustine's was equally hostile to both, but the other great Benedictine and Cluniac houses supported the convent, and the Cistercian houses the archbishop. The bishops were mostly on his side, but the king's ministers, the foreign princes, and the cardinals were divided. Henry II came to Canterbury to offer mediation on 11 February, 1187, but the monks refused, and they won an initial success by securing help from the pope. Baldwin changed the site of the college to the parish of St. Dunstan and built a wooden chapel there, which he proceeded with in spite of the pope's prohibition. Then followed many months of squabbling. Urban died; his successor only reigned for a few weeks, but was favourable to the archbishop; and the next pope, Clement III, was lukewarm. The monks were blockaded in their monastery from January, 1188, to August, 1189, and Honorius died abroad. After the death of Henry II Baldwin visited the convent and offered some concessions, but no agreement was come to, and he appointed as prior Roger Norreys, who was extremely distasteful to the monks and seems to have been quite unfit for the position. Finally Richard I, who was much firmer than his father in the matter, came to Canterbury in November, 1189, and an agreement was made by which their estates were restored to the convent, the prior was removed, and the proposed collegiate church was abandoned; but, on the other hand, another was to be built on land at Lambeth obtained by the archbishop by exchange with the convent of Rochester, and he made the appointment of a new prior, Osbert de Bristo. Baldwin soon afterwards went to the Holy Land on the crusade and died; and as soon as the news reached Canterbury Osbert was forced to resign.

The college at Lambeth was begun before Baldwin left England, but in May, 1192, Celestine III gave orders that the canons there should be released from their oath and the church closed. They probably appealed, for the same pope in January, 1193, took them under his protection; and in 1197 the new archbishop, Hubert Walter, who in the mean time had acquired the manor of Lambeth and had by common law the right to build a religious house on it, proceeded with the scheme. In November he sent envoys to lay before the convent the proposals he had drawn up to secure their rights, but after some delay they definitely refused to agree to them; and once more appeal was made to Rome, and a new pope, Innocent III, ordered the demolition of the college within thirty days. The king forbade the execution of the mandate, took the college under his protection, and seized the possessions of the convent for infringing the liberties of the realm. The old dispute went on, with the king on one side and the pope on the other; Hubert agreed to demolish the chapel, but obtained a bull for the erection of another on a new site at Lambeth, and seemed to be winning; but the death of the king turned the scales. Probably John's support could not be relied on in the same way; and on 30 June, 1201, it was agreed that the archbishop might build a church on a new site at Lambeth, but it was to be of Premonstratensian canons, endowed from the archiepiscopal estates and only to the value of £100 yearly, and no consecrations or ordinations were to be celebrated in it. Practically Baldwin had won, and Hubert lost, all the important points.

Archbishop Edmund had a similar quarrel with the convent in 1238-9, in which he is said to have wished to erect a prebendal church, consecrate bishops elsewhere than in the cathedral, and expel the monks and institute seculars; but nothing much happened beyond his excommunication and suspension of the convent, the chief points of interest being the acknowledgement by some monks of the forgery of a charter of St. Thomas and the burning of a papal bull. (fn. 41)

The chapter claimed to exercise almost all the spiritual rights of the archbishop during the vacancies of the see, and two large registers (fn. 42) are filled with their acts at the vacancies from 1343 to 1413, 1500 and 1502. Gervase notes that they exercised complete jurisdiction in the dioceses of Bath and Wells, St. Asaph, and St. Davids in 1293 without any opposition, these bishoprics being then vacant simultaneously with the archbishopric; (fn. 43) and he also records several similar acts. (fn. 44) On the death of Archbishop Edmund in 1241 the archdeacon of Canterbury, an old enemy of theirs, took advantage of their quarrel with the archbishop to usurp their rights. (fn. 45) In 1243 they came into conflict with the bishop of Lincoln, who had deposed the abbot of Bardney. (fn. 46)

About 1275 there was a quarrel between Thomas Ringmer, then prior, and a faction of the monks, who charged him with mismanagement and oppression. (fn. 47) The truth of this is not likely ever to be known, but in 1284 this prior resigned and joined the stricter Cistercian order at Beaulieu in Hampshire; (fn. 48) and at the vacancy the priory was taken into the king's hands, which had never been done before. The sub-prior and convent protested, and the king eventually withdrew his claim, but nevertheless in 1297 again took possession of the monastery. In 1320 another quarrel broke out between Prior Henry of Eastry and some monks, (fn. 49) which appears to have lasted for some years; for in 1325 the archbishop interfered about one of the mutinous monks, Robert de Aledone, whom he declared to have been punished with excessive severity. (fn. 50) A long list of offences attributed to Robert is set out, and he was believed by some to be mad; but he rose in after years to eminence in the convent. Two years later there was still trouble with six monks; and one of these, Thomas de Sandwico, fled from the monastery, but was eventually allowed to return, after making a complete subjection. (fn. 51) Prior Henry was at the head of the house for many years, and reached a great age; and several letters are preserved between him and Archbishop Reynolds, who was a comparatively young man, and sought his advice on many occasions. (fn. 52) Archbishop Mepeham also sought advice from him and his successor, Richard Oxenden; but John Stratford, the next archbishop, was more self-willed, and Oxenden soon lost all his influence, the friendly correspondence ceasing or turning to bickering. (fn. 53)

Several times in the fourteenth century attempts were made to compel the attendance of the prior at the provincial chapter; but he invariably refused, as he considered himself the chief person of the order in England and did not wish to have to take a place below the president of the occasion; and he was backed up by Edward III on the ground of his special position, and also by Urban V and Innocent VI. (fn. 54) In 1395, after the usual refusal, the chapter appointed the abbot of Battle to make a visitation of the priory in their name; and the prior appealed to the archbishop, who forbade anyone to make any visitation of the cathedral except himself. (fn. 55) Urban VI granted a bull of exemption from attendance at the chapter, (fn. 56) and after this the prior does not seem to have been troubled further.

Edward the Black Prince, in consideration of a dispensation for his marriage with his cousin, the countess of Kent, founded a chantry of two priests in the cathedral in 1362, granting the manor of Vauxhall, in Surrey, to the chapter for their maintenance. (fn. 57) In the middle of the next century a dispute between the priests was settled by arbitration, (fn. 58) and in 1472 the chapter complained that the income of the chantry was insufficient, and wished to be relieved of the charge. (fn. 59) The earl of Warwick offered the manor of Easole for a chantry in 1368, but it was refused. (fn. 60) Archbishop Courtenay founded a chantry in 1395, (fn. 61) which was augmented later by Archbishop Arundel. (fn. 62) Archbishop Bourchier granted the manor of Panfield, in Essex, for the foundation of a chantry in 1473; (fn. 63) and chantries were also founded by John Buckingham, bishop of Lincoln, in 1389, Joan Brenchley in 1458, Archbishop Warham in 1529, and others. (fn. 64) Anniversary services were maintained for Henry VII and his queen.

We read of three Canterbury monks staying at Oxford in 1331, living there in hired lodgings under the charge of the senior, and being supplied with necessaries from the convent's manor of Newington; but they appear to have moved soon afterwards to the general Benedictine establishment known as Gloucester College. Archbishop Islip in 1361 obtained a royal licence to found a college of religious and seculars at Oxford, and to endow it with the church of Pagham in Sussex, his nephew adding the manor of Woodford in Northamptonshire; and soon after he allowed the chapter of Canterbury to nominate three persons to it, one of whom was to be warden. Towards the end of his life the influence of the seculars prevailed, and one John Wyclif succeeded in ousting this warden; but Archbishop Langham took up the cause of the monks. The seculars appealed to Rome, but were finally defeated in 1370, and from thence until the Dissolution the college seems to have been considered a daughter to Canterbury. Archbishop Courtenay remodelled the statutes in 1382, with considerable differences; and in 1396-7 the building of the college was carried out, the details and expenses being still preserved. (fn. 65)

The cathedral and the city seem always to have been quarrelling. (fn. 66) Early in the thirteenth century the monks provided some timber for fortifying the city, but induced Hubert de Burgh, the justiciary, to certify that it was given out of goodwill and could not be taken as a precedent. In 1428 the city seized some fish which had been bought by the convent, on the ground that it was an act of forestalling, and the dispute was submitted to arbitrators. In 1492 a long agreement was made to put a final stop to all the quarrels, and the city released to the cathedral a part of the town wall with some waste land. Nevertheless, eight years later the quarrel broke out again fiercely, the prior accusing the mayor of trespass, assault, and various other offences, and the mayor retorting with other charges, such as that of fouling the city ditch with sewage. Near the Dissolution the city presented another long list of wrongs done to them by the chapter. (fn. 67)

John Stone, a monk of the cathedral, wrote a chronicle (fn. 68) of the house from 1415-71. This is chiefly concerned with the deaths of his brethren, but he also mentions the enthronements of the archbishops, a few consecrations, the battles and other political events of the Wars of the Roses, epidemics of the plague, the worst of which were in 1420 and 1470, and the visits of many important people to Canterbury, generally on their way between London and the Continent. Henry VI and Edward IV each visited the cathedral several times. Fifty offices in the cathedral are mentioned, possibly with some repetitions.

Several unimportant letters from the prior to Cromwell are preserved, (fn. 69) but not much is known of what happened at the cathedral immediately before the Dissolution. Prior Thomas and sixtynine others signed the acknowledgement of the royal supremacy on 10 December, 1534. (fn. 70) Richard Layton visited the cathedral in October, 1535, and was nearly burnt in his bed by an outbreak of fire, which did a great deal of damage; and he gave several injunctions which the monks seem to have resented extremely. (fn. 71) Among other things, they were to remain within the walls of the monastery, to dine together, to keep three or four more of their number at Oxford besides the five whom they had been accustomed to maintain there; the sextons and other church officers were to sleep in the dorter and not in the church; the fairs at the abbey were prohibited; and seculars were forbidden to keep shops within the monastery. The prior and a few others seem to have carried out Cromwell's orders, though some said that the prior was merely a hypocrite and really disobeyed. The principal murmuring was against 'young men coartyng them to use prescrypt meates, nother savery nor holsom,' a form of abstinence which was evidently highly unpopular. In January, 1537, when the number of the monks had sunk to fifty-eight, there was trouble (fn. 72) about seditious words used by some and the mention of the names of two bishops of Rome, but not much notice seems to have been taken.

Dissolution was already spoken of in 1538, (fn. 73) and in the next year some exchanges of lands were made with the king. (fn. 74) Canterbury was of course to be one of the new cathedrals; and the scheme for the establishment was in existence in November, when it was criticized by Cranmer in a letter to Cromwell. (fn. 75) A commission to the archbishop and others to take the surrender of the monastery was issued on 20 March, 1540; (fn. 76) and on 4 April pensions were allotted of £80 to the prior, and smaller sums to those monks who were not provided for on the new foundation. (fn. 77)

The new cathedral was reconstituted by letters patent on 8 April, 1540, with Nicholas Wotton as dean and twelve priests as prebendaries, (fn. 78) and endowed in May with numerous possessions, including most of those of the old monastery and also some from other houses, (fn. 79) and fresh statutes were given for it. (fn. 80)

A number of inventories of the cathedral of various dates, from 1294 to the eighteenth century, have been printed in Inventories of Christchurch, Canterbury, by Messrs. J. Wickham Legg and W. H. St. John Hope.

Archbishop Parker made a visitation of the cathedral on 3 July, 1570, and gave several injunctions concerning it, and in the same year put an end to some disputes between the prebendaries. (fn. 81) In September, 1573, he made another visitation, with fresh injunctions, (fn. 82) the most important of which related to the granting of leases and division of fines, by which the dean and prebendaries had enriched themselves at the expense of the common chest. Dispensation was granted for the non-observance of such statutes as were repugnant to the Word of God and the statutes of the realm, and a reader of divinity was to be appointed. In November commissioners were sent to Canterbury to see whether these injunctions had been properly observed, and replies were received from the dean and chapter, who do not appear to have been pleased. (fn. 83) Archbishop Whitgift appointed commissioners to visit the cathedral in 1597, and several faults were noted and orders for reform made by them. (fn. 84) Archbishop Laud made a visitation of the diocese in 1634, (fn. 85) and issued fresh statutes for the cathedral in 1635, (fn. 86) which were confirmed by the king on 3 January,1637. (fn. 87) On 9 May, 1637, the same archbishop made an order for the proper keeping of all muniments and records belonging to the church. (fn. 88)

Deans Of Canterbury (fn. 89)

Cuba, occurs 798
Beornheard, occurs 805
Heahfrith, occurs 813
Ceolnoth, resigned 833 (fn. 90)
Æthelwine, occurs c. 860
Eadmund, occurs c.871
Æthelnoth, resigned 1020 (fn. 90)
Godric, occurs 1020, 1023
Æthelric, resigned 1058 (fn. 91)
Ælfric (fn. 92)

Priors Of Canterbury

Henry, (fn. 93) resigned 1096
Ernulf, (fn. 94) 1096-1107
Conrad, (fn. 95) 1108-26
Geoffrey, (fn. 96) 1126-8
Elmer, 1128-37
Jeremiah, (fn. 97) 1137-43
Walter Durdent, (fn. 98) 1143-9
Walter the Little, (fn. 99) 1149-50
Wibert, (fn. 100) 1150-67
Odo, (fn. 101) 1167-75
Benedict, (fn. 102) 1175-7
Herlewin, (fn. 103) 1177-9
Alan, (fn. 104) 1179-86
Honorius, (fn. 105) 1186-8
Roger Norreis, (fn. 106) 1189
Osbert de Bristo, (fn. 107) 1189-91
Geoffrey, (fn. 108) 1191-1213
Walter, 1213-22
John Sittingborne, 1222-32
John de Chetham, (fn. 109) 1232-8
Roger de la Lee, (fn. 110) 1239-44
Nicholas de Sandwyco, (fn. 110) 1244-58
Roger de Sancto Elphego, 1258-63
Adam de Chillenden, 1264-74
Thomas de Ringmere, (fn. 111) 1274-84
Henry de Eastria, 1285-1331
Richard de Oxenden, 1332-8
Robert Hathbrande, 1338-70
Richard Gillyngham, 1370-6
Stephen Mongeham, 1376-7
John Fynch, 1377-91
Thomas Chillenden, 1391-1411
John Woodnesbergh, 1411-28
William Molashe, 1428-38
John Salisbury, 1438-46
John Elham, 1446-9
Thomas Goldston, 1449-68
John Oxne, 1468-71
William Pettham, 1471-2
William Sellyng, 1472-94
Thomas Goldston, 1495-1517
Thomas Goldwell, 1517-40, the last prior

Deans Of Canterbury

Nicholas Wotton, 1540
Thomas Godwin, (fn. 112) 1567
Richard Rogers, 1584
Thomas Neville, 1597
Charles Fetherby, 1615
John Boys, 1619
Isaac Bargrave, 1625
George Aglionby, 1643
Thomas Turner, 1644
John Tillotson, (fn. 113) 1672
John Sharpe, (fn. 114) 1689
George Hooper, (fn. 115) 1691
George Stanhope, 1704
Elias Sydall, (fn. 116) 1728
John Lynch, 1734
William Friend, 1760
John Potter, 1766
Brownlow North, (fn. 117) 1770
John Moore, 1771
James Cornwallis, (fn. 118) 1775
George Home, (fn. 119) 1781
William Buller, (fn. 120) 1790
Ffolliot Herbert Walker Cornewall, (fn. 121) 1793
Thomas Powys, 1797
Gerrard Andrewes, 1809
Hugh Percy, (fn. 122) 1825
Richard Bagot, (fn. 123) 1827
William Rowe Lyall, 1845
Henry Alford, 1857
Robert Payne Smith, 1871
Frederic William Farrar, 1895
Henry Wace, 1903

The seal (fn. 124) (twelfth century) of the cathedral is of red wax, measuring 3⅜ inches.

Obverse.—The cathedral from the south carefully detailed; central tower with pent roof capped with a four-winged seraph, four turreted towers, and at the east end a towered apse. In the body of the church under the crossing is shown the figure of the Saviour full-length with nimbus and cross, lifting up the right hand in benediction. The two side towers nearest to view contain heads of saints in the lower stories. The two turrets on the left bear weathercocks, those on the right flags and crosses. In the field overhead two stars. Legend:—


Reverse.—A pointed oval counterseal measuring 2½ by 1⅜ inches, representing the Saviour seated on a rainbow with nimbus, lifting up the right hand in benediction, and holding in the left hand a book. Legend:—


Another seal (fn. 125) (1418) is of red wax measuring 3¾ inches.

Obverse.—An elaborate elevation of the west front of the cathedral, showing the central and two side towers pinnacled. Over the portal is a triangular tympanum in which is the Saviour with the inscription Iac bc. On the corbel table below this figure the inscription EST DOMUS H' X`I, completed by MURI METROPOL' ISTI upon the embattled and turreted walls of the city of Canterbury in the foreground in the base. The side towers of the cathedral are pierced, each in two stories, the upper containing, within quatrefoils, two female heads, the lower, within niches, saints' heads with inscriptions, S DUNSTAN' on the right and S ELPHEGUS on the left. In the field over the roof line two angels descending from clouds and swinging censers towards the central tower, which is capped by a seraphic figure with four wings. Legend:—


Reverse.—Becket's martyrdom in the cathedral, shown behind a shaft supporting two pointed arches. In the spandrel between is a small panel with a head in it: in the three windows of an arcade or clearstory the soul of the martyr in a cloth held up by two angels; and in a trefoiled niche above them the Saviour, half-length, with nimbus and crown on breast between the letters A Ω. The side compartments contain two knights in armour; above them in circular openings two angels issuing from clouds. In the sky above the roof two angels, each holding a crown. An arcading and Wall with three faces run round the base of the building. Legend:—



On the rim of the seal the legend:—




  • 1. Hist. Eccl. i, c. 33.
  • 2. Twysden, Decem Scriptores, 1760.
  • 3. Gervase of Cant. Opera (Rolls. Ser.) ii, 28.
  • 4. Ibid. 348-50.
  • 5. Ibid. 357.
  • 6. Ibid. 361.
  • 7. Gervase of Cant. Opera (Rolls Ser.), ii, 368.
  • 8. Ibid. 345.
  • 9. Ibid. 53, 359; Anglo.-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 117.
  • 10. Gervase, op, cit. ii, 64.
  • 11. Ibid. 370.
  • 12. Ibid, i, 96; ii, 383.
  • 13. Ibid, i, 123.
  • 14. Ibid, i, 226, 236; ii, 395.
  • 15. Ibid, i, 248.
  • 16. Ibid, i, 1-29.
  • 17. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. v. App. pt. i, 426-62; ibid, viii, App. pt. i, 315-55; ibid, ix, App. pt. i, 72-129. Some selections from these have been printed in Literae Cantuarienses and Epistolae Cantuarienses (Rolls Ser.) and Christchurch Letters (Camden Soc.). One of the cathedral registers is now in the University Library at Cambridge (Ee. v, 31).
  • 18. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. viii, App. pt. i, 317-18.
  • 19. Ibid. 318-19.
  • 20. Plac. de Quo Warr: (Rec. Com.), 86, 321, 325, 335, 341 348, 352, 355, 357.
  • 21. Chart. R. 10 Edw. II, No. 60.
  • 22. Ibid. 7-8 Ric. II, No. 32.
  • 23. Gervase, op. cit. ii; Decem Scriptores 2207-26; Dugdale, Mon. i, 89, 95-8.
  • 24. Gervase, op. cit. ii, 64, 341.
  • 25. V.C.H. Kent, iii, ' Domesday Survey.'
  • 26. Granted by Brithnoth before the battle of Maldon in 991.
  • 27. These two manors were situated within hundreds belonging to the abbey of Bury St. Edmunds, and a keen dispute about rights and jurisdictions raged between the two houses for more than two centuries. It is mentioned by Jocelin of Brakelond, and was only finally settled by arbitration and compromise in 1408 (Pat. 10 Hen. IV, pt. i, m. 18).
  • 28. Granted by William de Tracy as atonement for the murder of Becket.
  • 29. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 4.
  • 30. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 7-16.
  • 31. Lit. Cant. (Rolls Ser.), ii, Introduction.
  • 32. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. v, App. pt. i, 460-1; ibid, viii, App. pt, i, 321, 350, 353.
  • 33. Gervase, op. cit. ii, 380.
  • 34. a Ibid, i, 318-25.
  • 35. Ibid, ii, 98-101.
  • 36. Ibid, ii, 115-27.
  • 37. Ibid. 129-30.
  • 38. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. viii, App. pt. i, 318.
  • 39. Gervase, op. cit. ii, 252-73.
  • 40. The principal documents relating to this dispute are given in Epistolae Cantuarienses (Rolls Ser.), and the story is told admirably and in considerable detail by Bishop Stubbs in the Introduction.
  • 41. Gervase, Opera, ii, 130-79; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. v, App. pt. i, 439.
  • 42. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. yiii, App. pt. i, 331-40.
  • 43. Gervase, Opera, ii, 301.
  • 44. Ibid. 251-2.
  • 45. Ibid. 180.
  • 46. Matt. Paris, Chron. Maj. (Rolls Ser.), iv, 245.
  • 47. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep v, App. pt. i, 438.
  • 48. Ibid. 432; viii, App. pt. i, 345.
  • 49. Ibid, v, App. pt. i, 438.
  • 50. Ibid, ix, App. pt. i, 92, 94.
  • 51. Ibid. 96.
  • 52. Lit. Cant. i, passim.
  • 53. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. ix, App. pt. i, 84.
  • 54. Ibid, v, App. pt. i, 461; ibid, viii, App. pt. 1, 342; ibid, ix, App. pt. i, 74, 82, 83, 89.
  • 55. Ibid, viii, App. pt. i, 339.
  • 56. Ibid. 318.
  • 57. Lit. Cant. ii, 422-31.
  • 58. Ibid, iii, 210.
  • 59. Ibid. 257.
  • 60. Ibid, ii, 484-8.
  • 61. Ibid, iii, 41.
  • 62. Ibid. 109, 123.
  • 63. Ibid. 258, 263, 316.
  • 64. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. v, App. pt. i, 435-6.
  • 65. Lit. Cant.; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. v, App. pt. i, 444, 450-1.
  • 66. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. v, App. pt. i, 433.
  • 67. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xv, 453.
  • 68. Printed in Camb. Antiq. Soc. Publ. 34. The same volume also contains full and detailed lists, with references, of all the known deans, priors, and other members of the house before the Dissolution.
  • 69. L. and P. Hen. VIII, passim.
  • 70. Ibid, vii, 1594 (1).
  • 71. Ibid, ix, 669, 707, 784, 832, 840, 879, 881.
  • 72. Ibid, xii (1), 256, 436-7.
  • 73. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiii (2), 139, 465.
  • 74. Ibid, xiv (1), 219, 252, 1286; (2), 281.
  • 75. Ibid. 601.
  • 76. Ibid, xv, 378.
  • 77. Ibid. 452; xvi, 718.
  • 78. Ibid, xvi, 779 (5).
  • 79. Ibid. 878 (59).
  • 80. Ibid. App. 4.
  • 81. Strype, Life of Parker, ii, 21-6.
  • 82. Ibid, iii, 309-316.
  • 83. Ibid, ii, 299-306, 308-13.
  • 84. Strype, Life of Whitgift, ii, 384; iii, 382.
  • 85. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1633-4, P. 401; 1634-5, P. 470.
  • 86. Ibid. 1635, p. 512.
  • 87. Rymer, Foedera, xx, 99.
  • 88. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1637, p. 87.
  • 89. The names of the early deans and of the priors are taken from lists in Camb. Antiq. Soc. Publ. 34, collected from various sources. Those of the later deans are taken from Le Neve's Fasti.
  • 90. Became archbishop.
  • 91. Became bishop of Selsey.
  • 92. Only the obituaries of these are known.
  • 93. He became abbot of Battle.
  • 94. He became abbot of Peter borough and bishop of Rochester.
  • 95. He was confessor of Henry I, and became abbot of St. Benet, Holme.
  • 96. He was sub-prior, and became abbot of Dunfermline.
  • 97. He resigned and became an inmate of St. Augustine's.
  • 98. He became bishop of Coventry and Lichfield.
  • 99. He was chaplain of Archbishop Theobald, and was deposed.
  • 100. He was sub-prior.
  • 101. He became abbot of Battle.
  • 102. He was chancellor of Archbishop Richard, and became abbot of Peterborough.
  • 103. He was chaplain of the same archbishop.
  • 104. He became abbot of Tewkesbury.
  • 105. He was cellarer and chaplain of Archbishop Baldwin.
  • 106. He was cellarer and treasurer.
  • 107. He was deposed.
  • 108. He was sub-prior.
  • 109. He resigned and became a Carthusian.
  • 110. These resigned.
  • 111. He resigned and became a Cistercian at Beaulieu, and afterwards a hermit at Brookwood in Windsor Forest.
  • 112. He became bishop of Bath and Wells.
  • 113. He became dean of St. Paul's, London.
  • 114. He became archbishop of York.
  • 115. He became bishop of St. Asaph, holding the deanery in commendam, and then bishop of Bath and Wells.
  • 116. He became bishop of St. David's, holding the deanery in commendam.
  • 117. He became bishop of Lichfield.
  • 118. He became bishop of Lichfield.
  • 119. He became bishop of Norwich.
  • 120. He became bishop of Exeter.
  • 121. He became bishop of Bristol.
  • 122. He became bishop of Rochester.
  • 123. He became bishop of Oxford, holding the deanery in commendam.
  • 124. B.M. Seals, xl, 2.
  • 125. B.M. Cott. Chart, xxi, 11.