Friaries: The Carmelite friars of Sandwich

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

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'Friaries: The Carmelite friars of Sandwich', in A History of the County of Kent: Volume 2, (London, 1926) pp. 204-205. British History Online [accessed 25 April 2024]


This friary, situated in the south-west of the town, is said by Richard Hely, prior of Maldon, to have been founded by Henry Cowfield, an ' Almain,' in 1272; (fn. 1) but his endowment of the house was so small, according to other accounts, that Raynold, or more properly William Lord Clinton, who was a much larger benefactor to it in 20 Edward I, was afterwards reputed its sole founder. (fn. 2) It is also said that Thomas de Crauthorne, who lived about the time of Edward I, was a principal benefactor towards re-edifying the priory of the Carmelite Friars of Sandwich. (fn. 3)

However this may be, it is certain that the friars were settled here before 1280 when John of Sandwich gave them a plot of ground adjoining their place. (fn. 4) In 1300 Edward I gave them 5s. for one day's food; (fn. 5) there were probably fifteen friars in the convent at this time. From Thomas Shelving of Sandwich they obtained a spring of water in Woodnesborough in 1306, with leave to make an underground conduit through his lands to their house. (fn. 6) In 1336 John de Welles, Raymond de Sparre, John de Thaxstede, Thomas Gilet, John Botoun, and William de Mounty gave them 2 acres of land. (fn. 7)

A friar of this house, Thomas Tulyet, gave evidence against the Knights Templars in 1311. (fn. 8) Two Carmelites were arrested in the port of Sandwich in 1344, with papal bulls and letters prejudicial to the king. (fn. 9)

In 1370, Thomas Brentingham, bishop of Exeter, granted forty days' indulgence to those of his diocese who should devoutly visit the church of the Carmelites at Sandwich, 'in which, as we have heard, a fair image of the blessed virgin and martyr Katherine is held in great veneration.' (fn. 10)

Thomas Walden, provincial prior, conferred on Friar Lawrence Clerke, who had long been a member of this community, a special dwellingplace in the priory for life, with the consent of the prior and friars of the house; the grant was confirmed by Pope Martin V in 1421. (fn. 11)

The epitaphs of several friars buried here in the fifteenth century have been preserved, (fn. 12) namely, those of John Sandwich, prior, 1403; Thomas Legatt, S.T.P., 1409; Thomas Hadlow, prior, 1417; William Beckley, prior, S.T.P. of Cambridge, 1438; (fn. 13) Denys Plumcooper, 1481. A provincial chapter was held here in 1482, to the expenses of which the town contributed 5 marks. (fn. 14) In 1487 Bernard Manny, who confessed to a murder in 1483, took sanctuary in the friars' church and forswore the realm. (fn. 15)

Henry Lunys of St. Peter's parish in 1477 desired to be buried before the image of Our Lord in the north side of the choir. John Drye, rector of Hame, 1486, desired to be buried before the altar of St. Ninian in this church, and left 6d. or 4d. to each friar, bedding for the infirmary, robes to Friars Richard Alkham, John Bradgate, Thomas Baker, and William Sexten; 12d. to Friar William Coly, and 3s. 4d. to Friar William Ash, lector. Richard Swinderly in 1510 desired to be buried before the image of St. Anne, Joan Frevill in 1526 before the crucifix in the church (for the reparation of which church she left 53s. 4d), Agnes Hilton in 1529 before the image of St. Anne. (fn. 16)

Bequests to the house were made by Sir Richard atte Lease, kt. (1393), (fn. 17) Thomas Walter of Birchington (1414), John Sackett of St. Peter's, Thanet (1444), John Malyn of Monkton (1464), (fn. 18) William Mountford, cordiner (1479), who left 6 lb. of wax to the light of St. Crispin and St. Crispianus in the church; (fn. 19) Richard Tilley (1485), (fn. 20) William Harrison (1489) and William Tanner (1493), who each left wax to the light of St. Cosmus and St. Damian; Robert Saunder (1499), who gave 8d. for prayers for the soul of Constance at St. Trunian's altar; (fn. 21) Benett Webbys (1508); (fn. 22) Jane Aschowe of St. Bartholomew's Hospital left her great kettle to St. Anne in the Friars in 1524, and 20 marks to the master prior, Sir John Kete, who was to sing two years for her soul—one in Eastrey church and the other in the White Friars; Alice Simpson, widow, 1526, wished to be buried 'before Our Lady in St. Barbary's Chapel,' and bequeathed some legacies to the friars. (fn. 23) Sir John Peniel, kt., and William Eve were also among their benefactors. (fn. 24) John Trapham, prior, in 1508-9 granted two gardens in the parish of St. Peter to John Goldestone of Sandwich for ever at a rent of 12d. a year. (fn. 25)

The house was surrendered to the bishop of Dover in December, 1538. (fn. 26) The property was worth to the crown 51s. 7d. a year; much of it was already let out in small holdings; thus Elizabeth Ingeham and Thomas Gilbert held a barn, stable, and I acre of pasture for 10s.; among the other tenants were John Goldestone and John Trapham. The site, with its appurtenances, was purchased by Thomas Arderne of Faversham in 1540. (fn. 27)

The seal is an interesting one; it is oval inform, and consists of a patriarchal cross sable with a key on either side of the shaft of the cross, a crescent to the right, a star of six points to the left. The legend, in letters of ancient form, which has been misunderstood or carelessly copied by the engraver, runs:—



  • 1. Harl. MS. 539, fol. 143; the author adds that the second founder was Thomas Balsford, earl of Worcester (?).
  • 2. Dugdale, Mon. vi, 1571; Hasted, op. cit. iv, 267 and note (s); Boys, Hist. of Sandwich, 175 (William is perhaps a mistake for John de Clinton)
  • 3. Hasted, op. cit. iii, 506; iv, 267.
  • 4. Pat. 8 Edw. I, m. 1.
  • 5. Liber Quotid, etc. 28 Edw. I. (ed. Topham), 30.
  • 6. Pat. 34 Edw. I, m. 20.
  • 7. Ibid. 10 Edw. III, pt. 1, m. 37.
  • 8. Wilkins, Concilia, ii, 361.
  • 9. Close, 18 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 27d.; Rymer, Foed. (Rec. Com.), iii (1), 11.
  • 10. Exeter Epis. Reg. Brantyngham, i, 223.
  • 11. Cal. Pap. Let. vii, 182.
  • 12. Weever, Fun. Monum. 263-4.
  • 13. See Stevens, Add. to Mon. ii, 171.
  • 14. Boys, Hist. of Sandwich, 178.
  • 15. Ibid. 176.
  • 16. a Test. Cant, ii, 293-4.
  • 17. P. C.C. Rous, fol. 22.
  • 18. Boys, Hist. of Sandwich, 178.
  • 19. a Test. Cant. ii, 293.
  • 20. Nicolas, Test. Vet. 384.
  • 21. a Test. Cant. ii, 293-4.
  • 22. Ibid. 492.
  • 23. a Test. Cant. ii, 293.
  • 24. Hasted, Hist. and Topog. Surv. of Kent, iv, 267; Boys, Hist. of Sandwich, 842.
  • 25. Boys, Hist. of Sandwich, 180.
  • 26. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xlii (2), 1058.
  • 27. Mins. Accts. 30 & 31 Hen. VIII (Kent), No. 105, m 73; Partic, for Grants, file 33; L. and P. Hen. VIII, xv, 831 (17); Boys, Hist. of Sandwich, 176; Hasted, op. cit. iv, 267-8.
  • 28. Reproduced in Boys, Hist. of Sandwich, 177; the matrix is still among the seals of the corporation.