Houses of Benedictine nuns: The priory of Davington

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

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'Houses of Benedictine nuns: The priory of Davington', in A History of the County of Kent: Volume 2, (London, 1926) pp. 144-145. British History Online [accessed 20 April 2024]

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This priory was founded, according to Tanner, by Fulk de Newenham in 1153. It is said that he gave the church to it, but the abbey of Faversham claimed it under another grant, and the dispute was referred to Hubert, archbishop of Canterbury, who gave the church to the nuns subject to the payment by them of a rent of 2 marks yearly to the abbot and convent. (fn. 1)

Henry III by a charter (fn. 2) dated 22 April, 1255, confirmed the possessions of the nuns and granted liberties to them, which they claimed successfully in 1279. (fn. 3) The priory is not mentioned in the Taxation of 1291, but a return (fn. 4) in 1385 shows that it then owned the churches of Harty, Newnham, and Davington, worth £ 12, the church of Bardfield, worth 13s. 4d., and temporalities worth £ 14 6s. 5d. yearly. Lands were acquired in mortmain in 1341 (fn. 5) and 1392. (fn. 6)

Archbishop Peckham on 10 October, 1279, committed the custody of the priory to the vicar of Faversham, ordering him to be careful of its possessions, and to see that the provisions made by himself and his predecessor at their visitations should be observed. (fn. 7)

In 1343 the king remitted (fn. 8) to the prioress and nuns the demand made upon them for wool, sheaves, and lambs, granted by the commons, and the tenth granted by the clergy. They had complained of their poverty, and a return (fn. 9) of their possessions had been made; and it was found that these hardly sufficed for their maintenance and the support of alms and other works of piety ordained.

Archbishop Langham briefly reported all things well after a visitation on 20 April, 1368. (fn. 10)

Archbishop Warham made a visitation of Davington in the autumn of 1511, when Maud Awdeley was prioress. The convent had rents to the value of £31 14s. besides demesne lands which they held and cultivated to the value of £10 yearly. The house had to pay 20s. to the archbishop for board at the time of his visitation. Elizabeth Awdeley, professed at Cambridge, had been there twenty years, and Elizabeth Bath, professed at Mailing, ten years; and they said that all was well except that the revenues of the house decreased. There were also two other inmates, not professed, who had been there for fifteen and ten years respectively. (fn. 11)

Davington eventually succumbed to poverty, as happened also to a few other small priories in England. (fn. 12) It was found by inquisition on 26 October, 1535, that there had been there a priory of Benedictine nuns dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen, where one Maud Dynmarke was prioress, Elizabeth Audle a nun, and Sybil Moonyngs a novice. Elizabeth had died on 12 June, 1526, and no more nuns had been professed there, and the prioress died on 11 March, 1535, and after her death Sybil left the priory, so that it was forsaken and extinct. The prioress and convent owned the manor of Fishbourne, two parts of the manor of Monkton, the advowsons and rectories of Davington and 'Stanger,' the rectory and advowson of the vicarage of Newnham, and lands in Davington, Fishbourne, Faversham, ' Overperston,' Newnham, the Isle of Harty, ' Durdevile,' Minster in Sheppey, Harbledown, Norton, Luddenham, Sittingbourne, Sandwich, Thanet, Ash by Sandwich, Sellinge, Linsted, and Stanstead at Ospringe; and they also had once the advowson of Bradfield, and two parts of the advowson of Monkton, but John, archbishop of Canterbury, in 1522 united these churches to Otterden with the consent of Joan, then prioress. The priory and all its possessions thus came into the hands of the king, who on 8 September, 1546, sold them to Sir Thomas Cheyne, treasurer of the household. (fn. 13)

Prioresses Of Davington

Maud, occurs 1232 (fn. 14)
Joan, occurs 1259, 1263 (fn. 15)
Lucy de Apuldrefeld, resigned 1350 (fn. 16)
Margaret Borstall, appointed 1350 (fn. 17)
Isabel Northoo, elected 1383 (fn. 18)
Elizabeth Harrys, died 1401 (fn. 19)
Marjory Neulond, elected 1401 (fn. 19)
Loreta Sorenden, died 1437 (fn. 20)
Alice Lyndesey, elected 1437 (fn. 21)
Ellen Urmeston, died 1507 (fn. 22)
Maud Denmerke, appointed 1507 (fn. 22)
Maud Awdeley, occurs 1511 (fn. 23)
Joan, occurs 1522 (fn. 23)
Maud Dynmarke, died 1535, the last prioress (fn. 23)


  • 1. Lewis, Hist, of Faversham, 36.
  • 2. Chart. 39 Hen. III, m. 7; Dugdale, Mon. iv, 289.
  • 3. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.}, 347.
  • 4. Twysden, Decem Seriptores, 2168.
  • 5. Pat. 14 Edw. III, pt. 3, m. 3.
  • 6. Pat. 16 Ric. II, pt. 1, m. 26.
  • 7. Reg. Epist. J. Peckham (Rolls Ser.), i, 72.
  • 8. Close, 17 Edw. III, pt. 1, m. 3.
  • 9. Mon. iv, 290, from Dodsworth MS. cxv, fol. 158.
  • 10. Cant. Archiepis. Reg. Langham, fol. 78.
  • 11. Ibid. Warham, fol. 40.
  • 12. For the similar cases of Bicknacre and Latton in Essex see V.C.H. Essex, ii, 'Religious Houses.'
  • 13. Pat. 38 Hen. VIII, pt. 5; Chan. Inq. (Ser. 2), vol. 81, No. 257; Exch. Inq. (Ser. 2), file 489, No. 1.
  • 14. Feet of F. Kent, 16 Hen. III.
  • 15. Ibid. 43, 47 Hen. III.
  • 16. Cant. Archiepis. Reg. Islip, 30b.
  • 17. Ibid. 36b.
  • 18. Ibid. Courtenay, 255.
  • 19. Ibid. Arundel, i, 465b.
  • 20. Ibid. Chicheley, 50b. Lora, probably the same, occurs in 1416 (Assize R. 1528, m. 32d.).
  • 21. Cant. Archiepis. Reg. Chicheley, 50b. Alice occurs as prioress circa 1465 (Early Chan. Proc. 30 (45) ).
  • 22. Cant. Archiepis. Reg. Warham, 326.
  • 23. See above.