Religious Houses: House of Augustinian canons

Pages 169-170

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 1, Physique, Archaeology, Domesday, Ecclesiastical Organization, the Jews, Religious Houses, Education of Working Classes To 1870, Private Education From Sixteenth Century. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1969.

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Bentley was a priory or cell of Augustinian canons situated in Harrow, just inside the boundary with Great Stanmore parish. (fn. 1) It was dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen and in the patronage of the Archbishops of Canterbury. (fn. 2) It is said to have been founded in 1171 by Ranulf de Glanville, Justiciar 1180-89, (fn. 3) perhaps as a cell of the Priory of St. Gregory outside Canterbury. It was certainly dependent on St. Gregory's by the 14th century because in 1301 John de Bere, the former Prior, was said to have let the church at Wotton (Bucks.) to farm for twelve years without leave from his superior, the Prior of St. Gregory's, Canterbury, or from the diocesan. (fn. 4)

In 1255 the priory held 3 virgates of land in Wotton Underwood (Bucks.), two of which were in demesne and the third was held by Michael de Hamme at a rent of 4s. a year. One virgate had been given to the priory by Fredeshet de Wotton and the others by Alice de Ruppell. (fn. 5) The priory also held the advowson of Wotton church. (fn. 6) In 1291 the prior's goods at Stanmore were valued at 10s. and the lands and rents in Wotton at 13s. 4d. (fn. 7)

In 1243 the king pardoned the Prior of Bentley the interest on 60s. which he had borrowed from the Jews, (fn. 8) and in 1248 this prior, or his successor, died of suffocation under a load of corn which had accidentally fallen on him. (fn. 9) In 1318 Edward II sent John de Cotham to the 'abbot and convent of Binttlley', meaning presumably the priory of Bentley. (fn. 10) A few years later John de Merston, a canon of St. Gregory's, Canterbury, was living at Bentley. Two others were sent there from the mother house as a punishment by the Prior of Christ Church, Canterbury, who had been appointed to inquire into irregularities at St. Gregory's. Within a few weeks, however, one of them was appointed coadjutor of the Prior of Bentley. (fn. 11)

In 1535 the farm of the lands of St. Gregory's at Bentley was valued at £4 10s. and at Wotton at £4. (fn. 12) According to the court rolls of the manor of Harrow St. Gregory's had ceased to maintain a separate cell at Bentley many years before, although it was still responsible for providing a canon to celebrate in the chapel of St. Mary Magdalen. (fn. 13) In 1546 the former priory was granted to Henry Needham and William Sacheverell, in so far as it had belonged to the Priory of St. Gregory, and later to the Archbishop of Canterbury. (fn. 14) There remain no traces of the buildings, which were eventually replaced by a large house called Bentley Priory, built by the Dukes of Abercorn. No seal is known.

Priors of Bentley

Martin, occurs 1229-30 (fn. 15)
John de Bere, occurs before 1301 (fn. 16)
William de Carlton, occurs 1301 (fn. 17)
John Taleboth, occurs 1315 (fn. 18)
Robert, occurs 1321 (fn. 19)
John de Merston, occurs 1330-1 (fn. 20)
Adam, occurs 1334 (fn. 21)
Walter de Hancrisham, occurs 1337 (fn. 21)


  • 1. Lysons, Environs of Lond. ii. 568.
  • 2. M.R.O., Acc. 76/2421.
  • 3. J. Tavernor-Perry, Memorials of Old Mdx. 11.
  • 4. Cant. Reg. Winchelsey (Cant. and York Soc.), 748.
  • 5. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), i. 24.
  • 6. E. Lipscombe, Hist. of Bucks. i. 606; V.C.H. Bucks. iv. 133.
  • 7. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 14, 46.
  • 8. Close R. 1242-7, 132.
  • 9. Matthew Paris, Chronica Majora (Rolls Ser.), v. 33.
  • 10. Cal. Close, 1318-23, 117.
  • 11. Lit. Cant. (Rolls Ser.), i. 337-9, 345.
  • 12. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i. 24.
  • 13. M.R.O., Acc. 76/2421.
  • 14. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xxi (2), p. 92.
  • 15. Cur. Reg. R. xiii. 336, 538, 583.
  • 16. Cant. Reg. Winchelsey (Cant. and York Soc.), 748.
  • 17. Ibid.
  • 18. M.R.O., Acc. 76/2410.
  • 19. Ibid. 2411.
  • 20. Lit. Cant. (Rolls Ser.), i. 337-9, 345.
  • 21. M.R.O., Acc. 76/2412.