Houses of Benedictine monks: The priory of Yarmouth

Page 330

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

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Bishop Herbert, the founder of the great church of St. Nicholas, Yarmouth, associated with it a small priory of Benedictine monks, which he made a cell of the cathedral priory at Norwich. The parish service was performed by three chaplains and a deacon, who were nominated by the prior.

This priory was so entirely dependent on Norwich, its accounts being included in those of that cathedral priory, that the references to it are scanty. The taxation of 1291 mentioned that the prior of Yarmouth held lands, rents, and a marsh at Thornton of the annual value of 9s. In the Valor of 1535 the spiritualities of the Norwich Priory at Yarmouth are returned at £31 10s. 4d.

In 1349 Simon de Halle, of Great Yarmouth, left by will 2s. to each monk of the Yarmouth Priory; in the same year Thomas de Drayton left a like sum to the prior and 1s. 6d. to each of the three parish chaplains. (fn. 2)

The dean and chapter of Norwich held the priory and its possessions at the dissolution, as the successors of the cathedral priory; in 1551 they leased the priory and parsonage of Yarmouth to Robert Sowel for the term of eighty years.

There are various points of interest in the account rolls of the Yarmouth cell preserved in the treasury of Norwich Cathedral. The first one, for 1355-6, gives the sum of the receipts as £212 2s. 11d. One of the largest items was £33 5s. 6d. as the offerings in the popular chapel of St. Mary on the west side of the churchyard. The offerings at the image of St. Nicholas and others in the great church amounted to 93s. 5d. The customary altar oblations brought in the large sum of £62 6s. 4d. The expenses of the year, however, considerably exceeded the receipts, being £235 5s.

The roll of 1442 shows £15 11s. as the oblations at the four principal feasts, together with Easter dues. Oblations and masses for the dead produced £11 0s. 10½d.; marriage offerings, 60s. 11d.; and purification offerings, 47s. 1d. In 1451 the sum of 8s. 11d. occurs among the expenses as the charges incurred for the castigation and reforming in the church of Yarmouth of those who fought against the citation of the lord bishop.

At the visitation of Norwich Priory in 1514, Henry Langrake, prior of Yarmouth, was examined by the bishop as to the state of his cell; he said it was in good repair and not in debt, and that he annually produced his account before the prior and auditors. (fn. 3)

John de Hoo occurs as prior about 1400. (fn. 4)


  • 1. Blomefield, op. cit. xi, 365; Dugdale, Mon. vi, 465; Taylor, Index Monasticus, 10, 11.
  • 2. Swinden, Hist. of Yarmouth, 818.
  • 3. Jessopp, Norw. Visit. 72.
  • 4. Exch. Eccl. Docs. 3, 27.