Houses of Benedictine monks: The priory of Aldeby

Page 328

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

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Agnes de Beaupré, who was afterwards the wife of Hubert de Rye, gave in the time of Henry I, the church and manor of Aldeby to the monks of Norwich. Whereupon Bishop Herbert placed here a prior and three Benedictine monks, establishing the house as a priory cell of Norwich. When the conventual church was founded, Bishop Herbert laid the first foundation-stone and Hubert and Agnes the second. Henry I confirmed to the priory, which was dedicated to the honour of St. Mary, the grant by Hubert de Rye of tithes in Swanton, Hockering, and Deepham, together with the church and manor of Aldeby, and other grants of Henry de Rye, the son of Hubert. The temporalities were valued at £71 5s. 6d. in the year 1428.

In 1275 the jury of Knavering hundred found the prior of Aldeby had assize of bread and beer, and held view of frank-pledge, but they knew not by what warrant. (fn. 2) In 1286 William Rosalyne purchased of the prior and convent of Norwich the lordship of this town, except certain messuages and lands and the advowson of the church, which were reserved to the convent and henceforth called the prior's manor.

On 27 May, 1355, John de Bedingfield, prior of Aldeby, was appointed by Laurence, prior of Norwich, acting as vicar-general for the bishop, to hear the confessions of the nuns of Bungay.

In 1376 Sir Thomas Savage was buried by the south porch of the priory church. In 1466 Lady Isabel Morley died patroness of the priory, being heir to the founders, Hubert and Agnes de Rye. (fn. 3) In 1481 Edmund Salle, Roger Framlingham, and William Spink were the three monks of this cell.

The priors of the several cells of Norwich had to present annual accounts to the prior of Norwich. Various of these account rolls for Aldeby are extant in the treasury of Norwich Cathedral, namely from 1422 to 1426, from 1440 to 1442, for the year 1462, and twelve others at irregular intervals, the last being for 1523.

At the visitation of Norwich Priory in 1514, John Lakenham, the prior of Aldeby, could only give a poor account of himself and his cell. He had not handed in the accounts of the last year, though he said he was prepared to do so; the house was in debt to the extent of £10; he had only paid £5 of his annual pension to the mother house, but the cellarer held a marsh pertaining to the cell by way of exoneration; the gates of the cell and the brewery were in a ruinous state. The bishop's injunctions consequent on this visit insist on all cells returning annual accounts to be deposited in the Norwich treasury each Michaelmas. (fn. 4)

Edmund Norwich was prior of Aldeby at the visitation of 1532; he was examined, but only as to the condition of Norwich Priory. (fn. 5)

Priors of Aldeby (fn. 6)

John de Bedingfield, occurs 1355

Richard de Rye, occurs 1422

Thomas Hethyll, occurs 1462

William Bexwell, occurs 1505

John Lakenham, occurs 1514

Edmund Norwich alias Drake, occurs 1532


  • 1. Blomefield, viii, 2, 3; Dugdale, Mon. vi, 461-2; Taylor, Index Monasticus.
  • 2. Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), i, 540.
  • 3. Inq. p.m. 6 Edw. IV, No. 21.
  • 4. Jessopp, op. cit. 72-3, 78-9.
  • 5. Ibid. 263.
  • 6. The first four priors are named by Blomefield, and the last two are cited in the visitations.