Houses of Benedictine monks: The abbey of St Augustine, Canterbury

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

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, 'Houses of Benedictine monks: The abbey of St Augustine, Canterbury', in A History of the County of Kent: Volume 2, (London, 1926) pp. 126-133. British History Online [accessed 19 May 2024].

. "Houses of Benedictine monks: The abbey of St Augustine, Canterbury", in A History of the County of Kent: Volume 2, (London, 1926) 126-133. British History Online, accessed May 19, 2024,

. "Houses of Benedictine monks: The abbey of St Augustine, Canterbury", A History of the County of Kent: Volume 2, (London, 1926). 126-133. British History Online. Web. 19 May 2024,

In this section


Augustine's following included both clerks and monks, and when the former were settled in the cathedral the latter were not neglected. Bede (fn. 2) tells us that

Augustine also erected a monastery to the east of the town, in which by his exhortation and direction King Æthelberht ordered a church to be erected of becoming splendour, dedicated to the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and endowed it with a variety of gifts; in which church the body of Augustine and also those of all bishops and kings of Canterbury might be laid.

There is little doubt, however, that the principal object of the foundation was the establishment of a residence for the monks, and not of a burial place.

Thorne and Elmharn both give 598 as the year of the foundation. They narrate (fn. 3) how Ethelbert with his queen Berta, their son Edbald, and Augustine and others celebrated the Christmas of 605 at Canterbury; and give the text of a charter by which a few days later he marked the boundaries of the land given by him for the monastery. But apart from the fact that Augustine died on 26 May, either in 604 or 605, it is plain from the style of the charter that it is a forgery of much later date, as are also several others belonging to the abbey. The Saxon place-names in it appear to be genuine, and the substance may perhaps be correct.

A monk named Peter was appointed as the first abbot, and soon afterwards was sent with Laurence the priest, afterwards archbishop, to Rome on a mission to Pope Gregory. He brought back, as a present from, the pope, several books, vestments, vessels of gold and silver, and relics, all of which are catalogued (fn. 4) by Elmham, though most of them had disappeared before his time. This abbot was drowned on 30 December, 607, at Ambleteuse near Boulogne, when sent on a mission to France by Ethelbert, and a monk, John, was elected in his place. (fn. 5) In the first year of the abbey the monks used for worship an old heathen temple which had been consecrated and dedicated to St. Pancras; but in 613 Archbishop Laurence consecrated the conventual church in the presence of Ethelbert and many others. (fn. 6) The body of Augustine was removed from the cemetery and re-interred in the north porch, as were also those of Queen Berta and her chaplain Liuthard, bishop of Senlis, in the porch of St. Martin. In 978 the church was re-dedicated by Dunstan in honour of Sts. Peter and Paul and St. Augustine. (fn. 7)

Ethelbert himself, and several of his successors were buried in the church, as were also the first ten archbishops of Canterbury. This of course was of great importance to the abbey, on account partly of the prestige it thus gained, but principally of the burial fees and offerings of visitors, and the jealousy of the cathedral was aroused. Cuthbert, the eleventh archbishop, determined to make a change, and secured the consent of the king. In 758, when he found his death approaching, he gave strict orders that it was to be kept secret for three days; and when the abbot and monks came to bear away his body they, found that it had already been buried. Bregowine, the next archbishop, played the same trick, and the monks were again defrauded; but Jaenberht, who was then abbot, appealed to Rome. The chapter of the cathedral elected him archbishop, probably thinking to win him over to heir side, but he was faithful to St. Augustine's, and was buried there. No more archbishops, however, were buried at the abbey; and the fact was bitterly resented by its historians, (fn. 8) and was probably one of the principal causes of the feud that always raged between the two houses.

Not much is known of the history of the abbey during these times, though several charters to it were preserved. Benedict Biscop, a celebrated figure in the north of England, appears to have been abbot for a short time in the seventh century. Thorne ignores him, and Elmham distinctly says that, he was never abbot; but on the other hand Gervase says that he was appointed by Archbishop Theodore, (fn. 9) and Ranulph Higden that he was appointed by the king. (fn. 10) Probably the monks declined to recognize him, and this may have been the reason of his retirement. He was succeeded by Theodore's friend Adrian, perhaps the greatest of the whole line, who ruled for about forty years, and had under him at one time St. Aldhelm, afterwards bishop of Sherborne. (fn. 11) He in turn was succeeded by Albinus, (fn. 12) the friend of Bede, a celebrated scholar and the first English abbot of the house. For the next two or three centuries the abbots, with few exceptions, are mere shadows.

St. Augustine's seems not to have suffered, as much as some other places in Kent from the frequent visits of the Danes. In 1011, when Canterbury, after three weeks of siege, was captured through the treachery of Ælfmaer the archdeacon, we are told (fn. 13) that his namesake the abbot ' was permitted to depart.' Thorne tells a story of a miracle which frightened the Danes away, but it seems more likely that they were bought off.

Egelsin, the last abbot of Saxon times, joined Stigand, then archbishop, in offering resistance to William the Conqueror. The latter promised well to them at first, but after his coronation began to lay hands on the possessions of the monasteries, and Egelsin fled to Denmark in 1070. (fn. 14) The king in consequence confiscated the abbey and appointed a Norman named Scotland as abbot, apparently against the wishes of the monks, who dared not object. Scotland, however, proved to be a most capable head, and recovered for the abbey Plumstead and Fordwich, which had been taken from it, besides obtaining grants from the king of the churches of Faversham, Milton and Newingtpn, and various liberties. He also began the complete rebuilding of the abbey, which was carried on by his successors. At his death the monks succeeded in electing one of their number as the new abbot, in opposition to the wishes of Lanfranc; but they were not so fortunate at the next vacancy, and William Rufus appointed a kinsman of his own named Hugh Flory, who had been a Norman warrior and was said to have been much impressed by a visit to the abbey. He added largely to the building at his own expense, obtained a grant of a five days' fair, and probably justified his appointment. The crown also made the appointment of the next abbot, Hugh de Trottesclive, a monk of Rochester, whose principal works were the assignment of definite estates to the officers of the abbey and the foundation of the hospital of St. Laurence. After him the monks elected their prior Silvester as abbot; but on the death of the latter Henry II appointed a secular priest named Clarembald, who pleased no one, and being opposed to the archbishop as well as to his own monks, is abused by both sets of historians. Gervase accuses him of having connived at the murder of Becket. (fn. 15) His rule was certainly unfortunate, for he lost the mint which the abbey had owned for centuries, alienated many of its possessions. and loaded it with debt. The monks never allowed him to enter the chapter or celebrate mass in the church; and eventually Pope Alexander III ordered the bishops of Exeter and Worcester and the abbot of Faversham to inquire into the complaints against him, with the result that he was removed. The king was exceedingly angry, and took the abbey into his own hands for two years and a half. (fn. 16) During this abbacy, on the day of the Decollation of St. John the Baptist, 1168, the church was almost entirely burnt; and many old charters perished, and the shrine of Augustine suffered wo fully. (fn. 17)

Everything in the history of St. Augustine's is overshadowed by the great question of its relations with the archbishop and the pope, the claim for privilege which was unsettled for centuries and cost far more than it gained. Augustine is said to have granted it absolute freedom from the jurisdiction of his successors; and this may have been the case, although the charter (fn. 18) attributed to him is certainly a forgery, as also are some of the early bulls. The abbey undoubtedly secured extensive privileges. Abbot Wlfric I went to a council at Rome in 1056, and Leo IX then granted that the abbots of St. Augustine's should have precedence over all others except those of Monte Cassino. (fn. 19) His successor Egelsin went to Rome on a mission seven years later, and Alexander II granted to him the right of wearing the mitre and other episcopal insignia; (fn. 20) this being the first instance of such a grant. The relations between the archbishops and abbots are said to have been very friendly before the Conquest, (fn. 21) but with the arrival of Lanfranc the quarrel soon began. He forbade the bells of the abbey to be rung for services before those of the cathedral, and as Scotland did not respond to the protests of the monks with sufficient energy, several years elapsed before they were specially allowed by papal bull to ring their bells whenever they pleased. (fn. 22) Lanfranc also endeavoured in vain to nominate the successor to Scotland.

Until the end of the eleventh century the new abbots appear to have been blessed by the archbishop in the cathedral; although Hugh Flory was blessed in the absence of Anselm by Maurice, bishop of London, at Westminster. (fn. 23) His successor, Hugh de Trottesclive, claimed to be blessed in the abbey church, and this the archbishop refused. The matter was referred to the king and the papal legate, who decided as a compromise that the abbot should be blessed by the bishop of Chichester. (fn. 24) The next quarrel occurred when Archbishop Theobald laid England under an interdict in 1148. (fn. 25) Abbot Hugh submitted, but his nephew William, whom the cathedral party called William the Devil, and Silvester, the prior, stirred up several of the monks to resist it and celebrate service as usual. The archbishop was eventually successful, and the abbey was condemned to a corresponding period of silence later on, (fn. 26) which unfortunately happened to coincide with the stay of the queen there, while her abbey of Faversham was being built, (fn. 27) with the result that monks from the cathedral were called in to celebrate service for her. Silvester himself was the next abbot, and it is not surprising to find that he pressed his claims vigorously. Thorne represents him as being completely victorious on all points, after fighting the matter before three popes; (fn. 28) but it is clear that although he was blessed in his own monastery, (fn. 29) he was at last, on 17 July, 1157, forced to make the profession of obedience to the archbishop which he had before refused. (fn. 30) Abbot Clarembald appears neither to have received benediction nor to have made profession, his own peculiar position and the strained relations between the king and Becket doubtless accounting for this; His successor, Roger, however, practically secured the victory. The archbishop rejected his claim to be blessed in the abbey with only a modified form of the oath of profession, and the matter was decided by Pope Alexander III, before whom Roger appeared in person. The forged privilegium of Augustine and other documents were produced and declared to be genuine by the pope, who ruled that the archbishops should give benediction in the abbey without any profession of obedience, and that failing this the abbots should go to receive benediction from the pope. He himself blessed Roger in 1179, and moreover granted him permission to wear the mitre and other insignia, a right which the abbots since Egelsin had dropped on account of the opposition of the archbishops. (fn. 31) There is no doubt about the matter, for it is admitted by the cathedral party, Gervase bitterly lamenting that not even lavish expenditure of money had availed to prevent it. (fn. 32) A formal agreement was made between the abbot and the archbishop in 1182, (fn. 33) and in 1185 Archbishop Baldwin was amicably and respectfully received at the abbey. (fn. 34)

But the dispute was not yet finished. Archbishop Langton refused to give the required benediction to Alexander, the next abbot, who had to go to Rome to receive it from Innocent III. (fn. 35) Langton was abroad when Alexander died in 1220. We have a long and detailed account (fn. 36) of the election that followed; but though Pandulf, the papal legate, superintended it with great care, he was unable to give the benediction to the abbot elect, who had also to go to Rome. So too had Robert of Battle, elected in 1224; and there he found the opposition of the archbishop so powerful that to gain his case he had to give to the pope the church of Littlebourne for the support of the monastery of Monte Mirteto. (fn. 37) Archbishop Rich yielded on the points of benediction and profession in a general settlement with the abbot in 1237; (fn. 38) but fresh quarrels on other subjects kept this one alive, and it was not extinguished until Archbishop Arundel came to an agreement in 1397. (fn. 39)

Meanwhile, having gained its exemption, the abbey was paying the bill. The abbots were too proud to meet the archbishops half way, and so sought benediction from the popes. Abbot Poucyn's expenses in 1334 on his journey to Avignon amounted to £148. (fn. 40) He only ruled nine years and his successor three, and then came two years of dispute. The monks elected William de Kenyngton, but the pope granted the abbacy to John Devenish, a monk of Winchester, to whom he had promised preferment as consolation for a disappointment about the bishopric of Winchester. (fn. 41) The king and the monks obstinately resisted him, and he never entered the abbey; but after his death in 1348 the monks had to pay his debts, which amounted to £1,000. These frequent vacancies were a heavy charge on the abbey, and in consideration of this the king in 1347 remitted two months' payment of the rent at which they held the temporalities, (fn. 42) with a further remission in 1349. (fn. 43) The next vacancy did not occur till 1375, and the pope then allowed the abbot to receive benediction in England from the bishop of Winchester instead of coming to Avignon; but the expenses of this, principally in bribes to the pope and cardinals, amounted to the enormous sum of £575. (fn. 44) When William Welde was elected abbot in 1387, Thorne, the chronicler, was sent to the pope to get confirmation of the election, and gives a graphic account of his experiences. (fn. 45) He reached the pope at Lucca on 11 June, and followed him to Perugia and Rome, but though he got smooth promises he was merely referred to a greedy cardinal, who procrastinated as long as possible. His bribes were insufficient, and a detailed explanation of the heavy charges on the abbey availed nothing. Meanwhile he made use of his delay to inquire about the monastery of Monte Mirteto, to which the abbey had granted the church of Littlebourne, and found that it was merely a cell to another monastery, and inhabited only by two disreputable monks; and part of the rent-charge was wrung out of them. The pope finally decided that the abbot must appear at Rome in person, which he did, and received the benediction on 13 December, 1388. But this delay and the long journey home occupied so much time that the temporalities were not restored until 5 April, 1389, (fn. 46) after having been in the king's hands for more than two years. In consequence of the great expenses incurred on this occasion, the king granted in 1392 that the convent should in future pay a yearly rent of 50 marks and have the custody of the temporalities at all vacancies. (fn. 47)

Besides enumerating a long list of grants of land and privileges, Thorne gives a considerable amount of miscellaneous information in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The rebuilding of the abbey was commenced in 1260 and continued for many years, Adam de Kyngesnoth, the chamberlain, making large benefactions towards this and other purposes in 1267. (fn. 48) The abbey had frequent disputes with the cathedral about their respective rights at the adjoining ports of Stonar and Sandwich, and agreements were made about these in 1242, 1270, and 1283, (fn. 49) and about buildings at Fordwich in 1285. (fn. 50) In 1264 a chantry for Hamo Doge was founded in the church of St. Paul, Canterbury; (fn. 51) and the engagement of professional barbers is recorded in the same year. (fn. 52) In 1268 an agreement was made with the citizens of Canterbury about the punishment of thieves caught on the possessions of the abbey. (fn. 53) Some disputes with the cathedral about lands were settled in 1287; (fn. 54) and in the same year an agreement of confraternity was made with the monks of the cathedral, (fn. 55) as had also been done earlier with those of the cathedral of Winchester. (fn. 56) Abbot Nicholas is noted as having made arrangements for the shortening of the services and the distribution of moneys to the convent on varipus occasions. (fn. 57) He was appointed conservator of the privileges of the Premonstraterisian order in 1277. (fn. 58)

Edward I was entertained at St. Augustine's on his return from France in 1279, and Archbishop Peckham visited him there with his cross borne before him, after solemnly declaring that this should not be to the prejudice of the abbey. (fn. 59) Ten years later the king was there again and invited the archbishop to dine with him; but on this occasion the abbot and monks objected to the bearing of the cross, and a long dispute followed. They yielded the point to please the king, but the quarrel continued about the wording of the archbishop's declaration that it should not prejudice the abbey, and here the king supported the monks against the archbishop, who withdrew in disgust, although afterwards friendship was restored. (fn. 60) In 1294 the king, when staying at the abbey, is said to have been frightened by a miraculous dream from depriving the monks of some possessions in Minster, as he had intended. (fn. 61) The archbishop of York was entertained in 1305, again after a formal renunciation of claim to authority. (fn. 62)

Archbishop Winchelsey summoned the abbot and monks to appear before him in his visitation in 1297 to show their claim to exemption and their title to appropriated benefices, but after a long dispute at Rome they were successful and obtained from the pope a new bull of privileges. (fn. 63) Relying apparently on this the abbot in 1300 ventured to form three new deaneries, under the names of Sturry, Minster, and Lenham, of the benefices belonging to the abbey, which were henceforward to be subject to the abbey alone. (fn. 64) Here, however, he sustained a humiliating defeat, for the archbishop appealed to Rome and gained every point; the pope deciding that the abbey had no special jurisdiction in this matter. The next two archbishops summoned the abbot and monks to visitations, but without success. (fn. 65) The relations between the abbey and the cathedral were not always hostile, however, for in 1320 and 1370 the abbot assisted at the celebrations of the jubilees of Becket in the cathedral, and was received with great respect. (fn. 66)

The abbey was at the height of its prosperity at the beginning of the thirteenth century, although extravagance was evidently setting in. We are told on one hand of large benefactions made to it by John Peccham, one of the monks, and John of Pontoise, bishop of Winchester; (fn. 67) and on the other of an elaborate banquet given by Ralph de Bourn at his installation as abbot, (fn. 68) when the guests numbered, over six thousand, and the cost amounted to £287 7s. This abbot did good service by clearing a waste and dangerous place and laying it out as a vineyard, (fn. 69) but found that the finances of the abbey were beginning to be insufficient for the building schemes. (fn. 70) In 1318 an insurrection of the tenants at Thanet caused great trouble and expense. (fn. 71)

Perhaps the most curious incident in the history of the abbey is the story of Peter de Dene. (fn. 72) He had been a distinguished ecclesiastical lawyer, and was at one time counsel to the abbey, to which he was a generous benefactor; but, getting into trouble in politics, in 1322 he sought admission there as a monk, and was received under a relaxed form of profession with many privileges, after bringing a present of silver and making his will in favour of the abbey. Eight years later he wished to leave it again, but the abbot refused to permit him; and he thereupon fled to Bishopsbourne, but a few days later was captured and brought back. He managed, however, to appeal to the pope, who in 1331 ordered the prior of the cathedral to inquire into the matter. (fn. 73) Great resistance was offered to the prior, and it was not till he had entered the abbey church with a powerful force that he was able to get any conversation with Peter at all; and then from a distance, surrounded by monks, Peter declared himself perfectly contented. It seems certain that Peter must have been forcibly detained and impersonated by someone else, but nothing more could be done for him; and the abbot and monks received pardon from the king for what they had done. (fn. 74) In 1334 Peter was one- of the monks who elected the new abbot. (fn. 75)

Archbishop Segrave of Armagh consecrated some ornaments in the church of the abbey in 1322, and in 1325 a Hungarian bishop dedicated some altars under a commission from the archbishop of Canterbury. (fn. 76) The abbot of Cluni paid a visit in 1361. (fn. 77) Archbishops Courtenay and Arundel came unofficially in 1389 and 1397; (fn. 78) and the provincial chapter of the Friars Preachers were entertained in 1394. (fn. 79) Richard II visited the abbey twice, in 1393 and 1397; (fn. 80) and Henry VI in 1432, an account of the expenses on the occasion being still preserved. (fn. 81)

After the chronicles of Thorne and Elmham come to an end little is known about the history of the abbey. In 1412 the abbot had licence to go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem; (fn. 82) and in 1468 a later abbot had licence to go on pilgrimage to any foreign parts for five years with one monk and four servants. (fn. 83) The finances of the abbey appear to have been in a bad state about this time, according to a letter from one of the monks in 1464. (fn. 84)

No details of any importance are known about the dissolution of the abbey; though a few letters from the abbot to Cromwell are preserved, (fn. 85) and some charges of sedition were brought against one of the monks in 1534. (fn. 86) It was of course rich enough to escape the first dissolution, but was finally surrendered (fn. 87) on 30 July, 1538, by the abbot and thirty monks, including a prior, infirmarer, treasurer, precentor, cellarer, sacrist, vestiary, sub-prior, third prior, fourth prior, and other minor officials. Pensions (fn. 88) were granted to these, the abbot receiving £61 yearly and the manor of Sturry.

A very large number of grants of lands and privileges are preserved in the registers (fn. 89) of the abbey; and the more important of these are also to be found in the general charters of confirmation by various kings. (fn. 90) Several of the liberties were proved before Edward I and Edward II. (fn. 91) The possessions at the time of the Domesday Survey have already been set out. (fn. 92) In the Taxation of 1291 the spiritualities of the abbey were valued at £424 13s. 4d. yearly and the temporalities at £808 1s. 0¼d. in the diocese of Canterbury and 22s. in St. Olave's, Southwark. (fn. 93) In the Valor (fn. 94) of 1535 the gross value of the possessions of the abbey is given as £1,729 9s. 11¾d., and the net value as £1,413 4s. 11d. Among them were the churches of Sturry, St. Paul in Canterbury, Chislet, Minster, Preston, Littlebourne, Tenterden, Lenham, Kennington, Milton, Faversham, Sellinge, Willesborough, Stone, Northbourne, Goodnestone, and Brobkland; and the manors of Minster, Chislet, Sturry, Northbourne, Stodmarsh, Littlebourne, Ripple, Deal, Goodneston, Langdon, Snave, Langport, Kennington, Burmarsh, Plumstead, Salmstone, Dean, Natingdon, Oare, Hull, and Swalecliffe.

The following list of seventy-two abbots is complete (fn. 95) :—

Abbots Of St. Augustine's, Canterbury

Peter, the first abbot, died 607
John, elected 608, died 618
Rufinian, elected 618, died 626
Gratiosus, elected 626, died 638
Petronius, blessed 640, died 654
Nathanael, elected 654, blessed 655, died 667
Benedict Biscop (fn. 96)
Adrian, appointed 669, (fn. 97) died 708
Albinus, elected 708, (fn. 98) died 732
North bald, elected 732, died 748
Aldhun, elected 748, died 760
Jaenberht, elected 760, resigned 762 (fn. 99)
Ethelnoth, elected 762, blessed 764, died 787
Guttard, elected 787, died 803
Cunred, elected 803, died 822
Wernod, elected 822, died 844
Diernod, elected 844, died 864
Wynher, elected 864, died 866
Bewmund, elected 866, died 874
Kynebert, elected 874, died 879
Etans, elected 879, died 883
Degmund, elected 883, died 886
Alfrid, elected 886, died 894
Ceolbert, elected 894, died 902
Beccan, elected 902, died 907
Ethelwold, elected 907, died 910
Tilbert, elected 910, died 917
Edred, elected 917, died 920
Alcherind, elected 920, died 928
Guttulf, elected 928, died 935
Eadred, elected 935, died 937
Lulling, elected 937, died 939
Beornelm, elected 939, died 942
Sigeric, elected 942, died 956
Alfric, elected 956, died 971
Elfnoth, elected 971, died 980
Sigeric, elected 980, resigned 988 (fn. 100)
Wlfric, elected 989, died 1006
Ælfmaer, elected 1006, resigned 1022 (fn. 101)
Elstan, elected 1022, died 1047
Wlfric, elected 1047, died 1059
Egelsin, elected 1059, fled 1070
Scotland, appointed 1070, died 1087
Wide, elected 1087, died 1099
Hugh Flory, appointed 1099, died 1124
Hugh de Trottesclive, appointed 1126, died 1151
Silvester, elected 1151, (fn. 102) died 1161
Clarembald, appointed 1161, ejected 1176
Roger, elected 1176, (fn. 103) blessed 1179, died 1212
Alexander, elected 1212, died 1220
Hugh, elected 1221, (fn. 104) died 1224
Robert de Bello, elected 1224, (fn. 105) died 1253
Roger de Cicestria, elected 1253, (fn. 106) died 1273
Nicholas de Spina, elected 1273, (fn. 107) resigned 1283
Thomas de Fyndone, appointed 1283, (fn. 108) died 1310
Ralph de Burne, elected 1310, died 1334
Thomas Poucyn, elected 1334, died 1343
William de Thurlegh, elected 1343, died 1346
John Devenish, appointed 1346, (fn. 109) died 1348
Thomas Colwell, elected 1348, (fn. 110) died 1375
Michael Pecham, elected 1375, (fn. 111) died 1387
William Welde, elected 1387, died 1405 (fn. 112)
Thomas Hunden, elected 1405, (fn. 113) died 1420
Marcellus Daundelyon, elected 1420, (fn. 114) died 1426 (fn. 115)
John Hawkhurst, elected 1427, (fn. 116) died 1430 (fn. 117)
George Pensherst, elected 1430, (fn. 118) died 1457
James Sevenoke, elected 1457, (fn. 119) died 1464 (fn. 120)
William Sellyng, elected 1464, (fn. 121) resigned 1482 (fn. 122)
John Dunster, elected 1482, (fn. 123) died 1496 (fn. 124)
John Dygon, elected 1497, (fn. 125) died 1510 (fn. 126)
Thomas Hampton, elected 1510, (fn. 127) died 1522 (fn. 128)
John Essex or Foche, elected 1522, (fn. 128) surrendered 1538, (fn. 129) the last abbot.

The seal (fn. 130) (twelfth century) of the abbey measures 2¾ inches.

Obverse.—St. Augustine seated on a carved throne with mitre, cusped nimbus and pall, lifting up the right hand in benediction and holding in the left a crozier. In the field on each side a quatrefoiled panel containing a head. Legend:—


Reverse.—St. Paul, with sword in right hand, and St. Peter, with keys in left hand, each with nimbus, seated on a throne ornamented with two stories of arcaded panel work, holding up between them a circular panel. In the field round the inner edge near the two saints are the names [S PAUL]US S PETRUS. In base under a semicircular arch, between two smaller arches, a man crouching. The border of this arch is inscribed HER. . . . Legend:—


Another seal (fn. 131) (1351) measures 3¾ inches.

Obverse.—An edifice representing a combined elevation and section of the conventual church, inclosed in the foreground at the base by an arcaded corbel table of three sides of an octagon with embattled parapet. The central subject is the baptism of Ethelbert by Augustine. Above this in a double niche, each with a cinquefoiled arch and crocketed canopy, seated on thrones, are St. Peter on the left holding book and keys and St. Paul on the right holding book and a sword by the blade. At each side in the transept, which has a double clearstory of small arcaded windows, two trefoiled arches with a full-length figure under each one, two monks on the left, and a king and a monk on the right. Over the roof on each side an angel issuing from heaven holding a censer; and on the left a star, on the right a crescent. Between these angels two shields of arms; two keys in saltire. Legend:—


Reverse.—St. Augustine, seated on a throne in a carved niche under a canopy with mitre and pall, lifting up the right hand in benediction and holding in the left a crozier. In the field at the sides the inscription AU-G'-TI-N'. On his breast a reliquary with three half-length saints on it, the one in the centre crowned, those at the sides mitred. Over the arch on each side in a small niche an archbishop seated with an indistinct name on the plinth below. In the field over these niches a shield of arms: a cross. At each side of the principal figure a small niche, containing on the left Birinus with pastoral staff and book, and on the right Queen Berta, the plinth below bearing their names. Over these niches on each side a smaller arched niche containing an archbishop seated with the names [THE]ODOR and IUSTUS on the plinth below. Over these on each side of the field a star of six points. In base, under the corbel table of the inscribed plinth, a horned head between a sea-dragon and a wyvern. Legend:—



  • 1. Our knowledge of the early history of the abbey is derived for the most part from its own historians. The thirteenth-century chronicle of Thomas Sprott appears to be no longer extant, but probably everything of value in it was copied by his successors. That of William Thorne (Twysden, Decèm Scriptores, cols. 1758-2202) extends from the foundation to the year 1397, and gives a large amount of valuable information, almost entirely about the abbey. Thomas of Elmham a few years later planned a more extensive account, but only part of it was finished (Historia Monasterii Sancti Augustini Cantuariensis, Rolls Ser.), and this, though fuller thah Thorne's, treats of many matters only remotely connected with his subject. Both make use of Bede and other early writers, and in addition give the text of several charters and bulls. A shbrt history was published in 1890 by the Rev. R. J. E. Boggis, B.D. The customary of the abbey has been edited for the Henry Bradshaw Society by Sir E. M. Thompson.
  • 2. Hist. Eccl. i, 33.
  • 3. Thorne, Chron. 1761; Elmham, Hist. 110.
  • 4. Ibid. 98-102.
  • 5. Ibid. 126-7.
  • 6. Thorne, Chron. 1767; Elmham, Hist. 131.
  • 7. Thorne, Chron. 1780.
  • 8. Ibid. 1772; Elmham, Hist. 317.
  • 9. Gervase of Cant. Opera (Rolls Ser.), i, 69; ii, 338.
  • 10. Ranulphi Higden, Polychronicon (Rolls Ser.), vi, 78.
  • 11. Dict. Nat. Biog. i, 245.
  • 12. Ibid. 234.
  • 13. Thorne, Chron. 1781; Angl.-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 117.
  • 14. Thorne, Chron. 1787.
  • 15. Gervase, Opera, i, 224.
  • 16. Thorne, Chron. 1819.
  • 17. Ibid. 1815.
  • 18. Elmham, Hist. 119.
  • 19. Thorne, Chron. 1784.
  • 20. Ibid. 1785.
  • 21. Gervase, Opera, i, 69.
  • 22. Thorne, Chron. 1792, 1797.
  • 23. Ibid. 1795.
  • 24. Ibid. 1798; Gervase, Opera, i, 73.
  • 25. Thorne, Chron. 1805.
  • 26. Gervase, Opera, i, 75-6.
  • 27. Ibid. 139.
  • 28. Thorne, Chron. 1811-14.
  • 29. Gervase, Opera, i, 76, 148.
  • 30. Ibid. 77, 164; Cathedral MS. A. 41.
  • 31. Thorne, Chron. 1824.
  • 32. Gervase, Opera, i, 78.
  • 33. Thorne, Chron, 1836; Elmham, Hist. 449.
  • 34. Gervase, Opera, i, 326.
  • 35. Thorne, Chron. 1864.
  • 36. Ibid. 1872.
  • 37. Ibid. 1880; Cal. Papal Let. i, 164-6.
  • 38. Thorne, Chron. 1882.
  • 39. Ibid. 2199.
  • 40. Ibid. 2067.
  • 41. Ibid. 2082.
  • 42. Pat. 21 Edw. III, pt. 1, m. 7.
  • 43. Pat. 23 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 27.
  • 44. Thorne, Chron. 2152.
  • 45. Ibid. 2184-94.
  • 46. Pat. 13 Ric. II, pt. 2, m. 12.
  • 47. Pat. 15 Ric. II, pt. 2, m. 12.
  • 48. Thorne, Chron. 1915.
  • 49. Ibid. 1888, 1919, 1933.
  • 50. Ibid. 1939.
  • 51. Ibid. 1913.
  • 52. Thorne, Chron. 1915.
  • 53. Ibid. 1916.
  • 54. Ibid. 1944.
  • 55. Ibid. 1948.
  • 56. Ibid. 1904.
  • 57. Ibid. 1935.
  • 58. Ibid. 1925.
  • 59. Ibid. 1929.
  • 60. Ibid. 1951-6.
  • 61. Ibid. 1962.
  • 62. Ibid. 2005.
  • 63. Ibid. 1966.
  • 64. Ibid. 1976.
  • 65. Ibid. 2013, 2039:
  • 66. Ibid. 2036, 2145.
  • 67. Ibid. 2003.
  • 68. Ibid. 2009.
  • 69. Ibid. 2036.
  • 70. Ibid. 2038-9.
  • 71. Ibid. 2034.
  • 72. Ibid. 2036, 2054-66; Lit. Cant. (Rolls Ser), ii, 7,17, 19, 40, 41, 43.
  • 73. Cal Papal Let, ii, 369.
  • 74. Pat. 6 Edw. III, pt. 1, m. 31.
  • 75. Cal. Papal Let. ii, 405.
  • 76. Thorne, Chron. 2038.
  • 77. Ibid. 2122.
  • 78. Ibid. 2194, 2198.
  • 79. Ibid. 2197.
  • 80. Ibid.
  • 81. Treasurer's return in Cathedral MSS.
  • 82. Pat. 13 Hen. IV, pt. 2, m. 17.
  • 83. Lit. Cant. (Rolls Ser.), iii, 243.
  • 84. Paston Letters, ii, 146.
  • 85. L. and P. Hen. VIII, passim.
  • 86. Ibid, vii, 1608.
  • 87. Ibid, xiii.(1), 1503.
  • 88. Ibid, xiv (1), p. 597.
  • 89. Exch. K.R. Misc. Bks. 27; B.M. Cott. MSS. Claud. D. x, Faust. A. i.; Canterbury Cathedral MS. E. 19. These last two collections contain several other documents relating to the abbey, and further, references are given in Tanner's Notitia Monastica.
  • 90. Chart. R. 20 Edw. II, Nos. 3, 6; ibid. 36 Edw. III, Nos. 2, 3; ibid. 8 Hen. IV,: No. 1; Pat. 2 Hen. VI, pt. 3, m. 5; ibid. 4 Edw. IV, pt. 4, m. 29; ibid. 14 Hen, VII, pt. 1, m. 7 (16).
  • 91. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 318, 341, 352, 353, 367.
  • 92. V.C.H. Kent, iii, 'Domesday Survey.'
  • 93. Pope Nick. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 4; Thorne, Chron. 2161.
  • 94. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 17-23.
  • 95. The names and dates of the earlier abbots are given by Thorne and Elmham, and the burial places and epitaphs of some are recorded.
  • 96. See above. Elmham does not recognize him, and declares that the abbey, was vacant for two years.
  • 97. By Archbishop Theodore, by authority from the pope. Thorne says in 670.
  • 98. He was the first English abbot.
  • 99. He was made archbishop of Canterbury.
  • 100. He was made bishop of Ramsbury, and afterwards archbishop of Canterbury.
  • 101. He was made bishop of Sherborne.
  • 102. He was prior.
  • 103. He was a monk of Christchurch, Canterbury.
  • 104. He was chamberlain.
  • 105. He was treasurer.
  • 106. He was chamberlain.
  • 107. He was third prior.
  • 108. By the pope. He was third prior.
  • 109. By the pope. See above.
  • 110. He was sacrist.
  • 111. He was chamberlain.
  • 112. Pat. 6 Hen. IV, pt. 2, m. 3.
  • 113. Ibid. m. 2.
  • 114. Ibid. 8 Hen. V, m. 5.
  • 115. Ibid. 5 Hen.VI, pt. 1, m. 17.
  • 116. Ibid. m. 16.
  • 117. Ibid. 8 Hen. VI, pt. 2, m. 31.
  • 118. Ibid. pt. 1, m.7. He was prior.
  • 119. Ibid. 36 Hen. VI, pt. 1, m. 11.
  • 120. Ibid. 3 Edw. IV, pt. 2, m. 2.
  • 121. Ibid. m. 1. He was prior.
  • 122. Ibid. 22 Edw. IV, pt. 1, m. 1.
  • 123. Ibid. m. 11. He was prior of Bath, and was charged afterwards by the latter house with dilapidation and waste. (Select Cases in the Star Chamber [Selden Soc.] 20-36.)
  • 124. Pat. 12 Hen. VII, pt. 1, m. 9 (15).
  • 125. Ibid. m. 5 (19).
  • 126. L. and P. Hen. VIII, i, 1056.
  • 127. Ibid. 1180.
  • 128. Ibid. iii, 1987.
  • 129. Ibid, xiii (1), 1503.
  • 130. B.M. Seals, lxvii, 63, 64.
  • 131. Ibid. 66, 67.