Houses of Benedictine monks: The priory of Freiston

Pages 128-129

A History of the County of Lincoln: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1906.

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The priory of Freiston was probably founded soon after the year 1114. It was in that year that Alan de Creoun presented to Crow land Abbey the church of Freiston, (fn. 1) and later on, according to Peter of Blois, placed there a prior and monks. (fn. 2) A few years after the monastery was built he increased the endowment by further gifts. (fn. 3)

The house has very little history apart from Crowland. In 1283 a commission of oyer and terminer was issued against certain persons who broke through the doors of the monastery into the church, stole the keys, and consumed the victuals provided for the household, and for some time maintained themselves in the priory at the expense of their unwilling hosts. (fn. 4)

The priors of this house were not presented to the bishop for institution, and consequently few of their names can be recovered. One of them was cited before the bishop in 1416 for withholding altarage and oblations from the vicar of Butterwick. (fn. 5) Not long after this, Bishop Gray, visiting the abbey of Crowland in 1431, discovered that the number of monks at Freiston had dwindled to seven; and these were all aged and infirm, and unable to maintain the divine office in a seemly manner day and night. He gave orders that as soon as possible the original number should be made up, and that they should be young men, able to keep the choir: at the same time enjoining that they should be properly fed and provided for that they might continue to serve God dutifully and contentedly. (fn. 6) In 1440, however, when Bishop Alnwick made inquiries, the number had not yet been made up, and a monk of Crowland said that the fall of the house was daily expected, through the negligence and non-residence of the prior. (fn. 7) We may presume that a reform was effected at this time, as the cell continued until the dissolution of the mother house in December, 1539.

The original endowment of the cell included the churches of Freiston, Butterwick, South Warnborough, Stonesby, and Burton Pedwardine, with divers parcels of land. (fn. 8) In 1291 its revenue amounted to about £32 9s. in temporals and spirituals. (fn. 9) In 1534 it, was valued at £167 8s. 1½d. clear annual income. (fn. 10) The Ministers' Accounts give a total of £105 15s. 9d. exclusive of the rectory of Freiston which was worth £44 18s. 3d. a year. (fn. 11)

Priors of Freiston

John, (fn. 12) occurs 1158

Nicholas, (fn. 13) occurs 1208

John Sutton, (fn. 14) occurs 1503

Richard Sleaford, (fn. 15) occurs 1534


  • 1. Foundation Charter, Dugdale, Mon. iv, 125. The year is said to have been that of the refounding of the new abbey church of Crowland, 1114.
  • 2. Petri Bles. Contin. ad Hist. Ingulphi in Rerum Angl. Script. (ed. Gale), i, 119, 125.
  • 3. Charter ii, Dugdale, Mon. iv, 126.
  • 4. Pat. 11 Edw. I, m. 19 d.
  • 5. Linc. Epis. Reg. Memo. Repingdon, 156.
  • 6. Ibid. Memo. Gray, 128.
  • 7. Visitations of Alnwick (Alnwick Tower), 64 d.
  • 8. Foundation Charter.
  • 9. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), iv.
  • 10. Valor Eccles. iv, 8 5-86.
  • 11. Dugdale, Mon. iv, 126.
  • 12. Lans. MS. 207, C, fol. 270.
  • 13. Boyd and Massingberd, Abstracts of Final Concords, i, 94.
  • 14. Dugdale, Mon. iv, 125.
  • 15. Ibid.