Houses of Benedictine monks: The abbey of St Benet of Holm

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

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'Houses of Benedictine monks: The abbey of St Benet of Holm', in A History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 2, (London, 1906) pp. 330-336. British History Online [accessed 25 April 2024]

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In a solitary spot among the marshes, at the junction of the Rivers Bure and Thurne, a little company of Saxon monks or recluses, under the government of one Suneman, as early as the year 800, erected a church or chapel, dedicated in honour of their patron St. Benedict; but in the general devastation of this district by the Danes in 870, the fraternity were scattered and their buildings destroyed.

In the following century a holy man named Wolfric, with seven companions, reoccupied the site, and rebuilt the church with houses for their accommodation. (fn. 1) They had lived here for some sixty years, when the attention of Cnut was drawn to them by alleged miraculous intervention. The king took the recluses under his patronage, and in the year 1019 (fn. 2) founded here an abbey of black monks of the rule of St. Benedict, bestowing on them the manors of Horning, Ludham and Neatishead. (fn. 3) In the first of these three manors, about thirteen miles from Norwich, was the site of the abbey. The king's example of munificence was followed by many Saxon nobles and men of wealth, amongst whom we find Ralf, 'the Staller' and Edric, the king's steersman, whose names are familiar from the pages of Domesday, and the still more famous Edith 'Swanneshals.' The privileges and possessions of the abbey were considerably extended by Edward the Confessor in 1046. Among the possessions enumerated in the Confessor's charter were the twenty-eight churches of Horning, Tunstead, Neatishead, Belaugh, Hoveton, Wittistede, Horning, Thurgarton, Thwaite, Calthorpe, Erpingham, Antingham, North Walsham, Swanton, Scottow, Lamas, Ludham, Beeston, Stalham, Somerton, Winterton, Waxham, Thurne, Ashby, Caister, Bastwick, Ranworth, and St. Martin, Shotesham.

From the enumeration of the extensive abbey property, which lay entirely in Norfolk, as given in the Domesday Survey, it appears that the money value of the different estates had materially increased between the time of the Confessor and the date of the survey, though, owing to the prominent part taken by its abbot in resisting the Norman invasion, its lands had not been added to by the Conqueror or his followers.

William Rufus, Henry I, Stephen, Maud, Henry II, Richard I, Henry III, and Edward I all granted charters confirming the monks of St. Benet in their liberties. Stephen granted them the two hundreds of Foley and Happinge, with their rents and customs, and also a small portion of land in Yarmouth. Henry III, in 1247, granted the abbey two fairs to be held at Grabbards Ferry—instead of in the immediate neighbourhood of the abbey, where they had been found to disturb religious tranquillity—one on the vigil and day of the translation of St. Benedict, and the other on the vigil and day of St. James; (fn. 4) he also granted them, in 1253, free warren over all their Norfolk lordships.

The chartulary contains transcripts of various papal bulls of a confirmatory nature, or extending certain special privileges to the abbey. The earliest of these is one of Eugenius III, 1145. The most important is one granted by Lucius III in 1183, whereby divine service might be celebrated in the abbey (with doors closed, and without ringing of bells) during an interdict; it also contains a proviso strictly prohibiting the exaction of any fee by bishop, archdeacon, or any official, when the abbot sought benediction at the hands of his diocesan. (fn. 5)

The taxation roll of 1291 showed that the abbey had property in seventy-six Norfolk parishes, and that its annual income was £326 4s. 3¾d., which sum was much augmented by further grants and the rise in value of the abbey's estates, so that the Valor of 1535 shows a clear annual income of £583 17s. 0¾d., though it is notable that its spiritualities had much decreased, only eleven churches being in the monks' hands at this date.

Elsin is called the first abbot by Oxenedes, and was abbot in 1020, when there were twentysix monks in the convent, of whom twelve, under the control of their good Prior Uvius, were sent by King Cnut with half the books and other furniture of the house to form the nucleus of that monastery which afterwards attained to such fame as the abbey of Bury St. Edmunds. Under Elsin the church, which had previously been of mud (ecclesia lutea), was reconstructed in stone, and he was still abbot in 1046, at the time of the Confessor's charter. (fn. 6)

Thurstan de Ludham, the second abbot, was assiduous in the construction of the monastic buildings. He died on 7 October, 1064, and was buried before the altar of St. Michael; Oxenedes gives the epitaph which was on his tomb in the thirteenth century. His successor, Ethelwold, is described as prudent and honourable in everything he undertook. He completed the various buildings undertaken by his predecessors, including an eastern campanile for the church; but left a western tower half finished. Harold entrusted Abbot Ethelwold with the defence of the sea-coast, on which account he had many differences with the Conqueror; but he retained the abbacy until his death, which took place on 14 November, 1089, (fn. 7) when Ralf, the first abbot of Norman origin, succeeded, who died on 6 October, 1101.

Richard, or Richer, the fifth abbot, completed the western bell-tower of the church which Abbot Ethelwold had begun, and placed therein two great bells. He is said, however, to have alienated monastic lands to relatives. He died on 19 January, 1126. His successor was Conrad, sacrist of the church of the Holy Trinity, Canterbury, a man of holy and wise life, and confessor of Henry I. He brought with him to Holm two chasubles and a benedictionary of St. Dunstan, as well as a chalice made by the saint's own hands, and these were still preserved with honour when Oxenedes wrote his chronicle. He died on 16 February, 1128, and was succeeded by William Basset, who was to some small extent a despoiler of the substance of the monastery. He was originally a monk of Utica, Normandy; he died in 1134, after a rule of seven years. Anselm, said by Dugdale to have been prior of Dover, was the next abbot; he began to rule in 1133, and died on 9 December, 1140. (fn. 8) Daniel, whose profession was that of a glassmaker, and who before his entry into religion had a wife and child, succeeded Anselm as abbot, but was soon followed by Hugh, a nephew of King Stephen, who defended the rights of the monastery with much vigour. He, however, became involved in a painful scandal through the machinations of his enemies, and although innocent according to Oxenedes's Chronicle, was so overwhelmed with shame that he resigned his abbacy and left the neighbourhood, but was subsequently appointed abbot of Chertsey by his royal relative. (fn. 9) On Hugh's cession, about 1151, Daniel was reinstated as abbot. (fn. 10) He began to build a new chapterhouse and dorter for the monastery, and built the hospital of St. James, Horning. Abbot Daniel ordained that on the 'month's mind' of a deceased monk sixty poor folk should be fed with bread, vegetables, and two dishes from the cellarer; also that the chanter on the seven principal yearly feasts should receive from the abbot a cake (placentum) and a pottle of wine, with one dish from the kitchen. He died on 8 November, 1153.

William II, who succeeded Daniel, completed the chapter-house and dorter begun by his predecessor; he died on 8 February, 1168, when the abbacy was apparently left vacant for seven years, to its great injury. (fn. 11) Thomas, prior of Tofts, whom William of Worcester particularizes as 'the good abbot,' was the next ruler of St. Benet's; he reconstructed the frater and parts of the cloister, and did other necessary work for the house, dying on 11 September, 1186, when Ralph, the prior of the house, was elected abbot. He is described as a man who was provident and discreet in matters spiritual as well as temporal. He conferred many benefits on the monastery, rebuilding from the foundations the rest of the cloister, and the farmery with its chapel and cloister, and covering with lead the church, frater, dorter, chapter-house, farmery, and other offices. He also assigned to specific monastic purposes the revenues from the churches of Hoveton, whose appropriation he had secured. (fn. 12) He died on 4 February, 1210, during the interdict, and was buried outside the cemetery. The body was, however, re-interred with much honour in the abbey church by his successor, Abbot Reynold. His anniversary was specially solemnized in albs. After Ralph's death John, a monk of St. Edmund's, styled John le Channel by William of Worcester, was elected abbot. He only ruled for about half a year, dying suddenly before he had even received episcopal benediction, in the year 1214. It is manifest from this that King John must have kept the abbey vacant during the interdict, after the death of Abbot Ralph. Reynold, who succeeded on the death of John, built the great hall of the guest-house, and covered it with lead.

On the death of Reynold in 1229, Sampson, the prior of St. Benet's, was elected abbot, and received the royal assent to his election in June of that year. (fn. 13) Oxenedes describes him as a man of holy conversation, leading a regular and simple life, and during his spare time giving himself up altogether to painting, in which art he had much skill. He died on 27 May, 1237. Robert de Thorkeseye, prior of Ramsey, was the next choice of the convent; the king's assent to his election was given on 15 June, 1237. (fn. 14) Abbot Robert sold much of the wood of Swanton, but he bestowed on the church three copes, one of which was embroidered with Indian gold and silver; two great silver basins, and a silvergilt thurible of great price. He also built a stone chamber with a chapel at the eastern part of the church, and rebuilt the bakehouse from the foundations. He died on 12 August, 1251; but his successor, William de Ringfield, chanter of St. Benet's, did not receive the royal assent to his election until 15 October. (fn. 15) Oxenedes describes him as a somewhat pompous man and greedy of praise. He endeavoured to secure the exemption of the abbey from seizure by the royal escheator during vacancies, but died when in the midst of these negotiations, on 21 April, 1256. On 8 May Adam de Neatishead received the royal assent to his election as William's successor. (fn. 16) Oxenedes gives him a high character, and says that he was much more worthy of praise than some of his predecessors. In the second year of his rule he laid with his own hands the first stone of the foundations of the new presbytery, and added much to the ornaments of the church. He procured the appropriation of the churches of Felmingham, Neatishead, and Bastwick, assigning their incomes for the sustaining of hospitality; and he reassigned the fruits of the church of Horning for the relief of the poor. Although he ruled during a time of strifes and war, nevertheless Abbot Adam safely secured all the possessions of the abbey.

Abbot Adam died on 19 August, 1263, and Richard de Bukenham received the royal assent to his election as Adam's successor on 2 October. (fn. 17) Richard is described as severe in the correction of offences, but solicitous for the saving of souls, of good life, and of honest conversation. He brought to an honourable conclusion the work that his predecessor had begun in the new presbytery. On 4 December, the day of the interment of St. Benedict, 1274, Abbot Richard celebrated solemn mass in honour of their patron at the high altar of the new presbytery; and on 8 June, 1275, he died at a good old age. It would seem that during his illness the abbot either passed into a state which was mistaken for death, or else appeared certain to die within a few hours, but subsequently rallied, as on 15 May, 1275, custody of their abbey during voidance through the death or cession of Abbot Richard was granted to the prior and convent of Holm for a fine of 120 marks. This grant, however, was vacated, and the letters patent securing it were surrendered as not made use of. (fn. 18) The abbot, however, died next month, and on 13 June news of his death reached the king at Westminster, and leave to elect was granted. The convent were very prompt in their new election, for two days later the king signified to the bishop of Norwich his assent to the election of Nicholas de Walsham, the prior, and the temporalities were restored on 4 July. (fn. 19)

Archbishop Peckham held a visitation of the monastery on 6 and 8 December, 1280, (fn. 20) but no record of the proceedings has been preserved.

In the winter of 1287-8 there was a terrible irruption of the sea. The abbey of St. Benedict suffered severely. The sea invaded all the outbuildings to such a depth that they could only be approached by boats, and it was found necessary in a time of such danger to give shelter to the horses in the (nave of the) church. (fn. 21)

Abbot Nicholas, after a rule of twenty-seven years, died on 15 November, 1302. On 15 December royal assent was given to the election of Henry de Broke; (fn. 22) the temporalities were restored on 8 January, 1303, but at the same time the king's escheator distrained the abbot for a palfrey and cup alleged to be due to the crown from each newly appointed abbot. At an inquest held on 27 February the jury found that no such service had ever been made or claimed from the abbots of Holm. (fn. 23) Nevertheless, on some plea not now apparently discoverable, the abbey evidently reverted to the king's hands, as in November, 1303, and in July, 1304, the crown presented to the respective livings of Antingham and Stalham, which were in the abbey's gift. (fn. 24) On 29 May, 1305, however, Edward I granted to the abbot and convent of St. Benet that the prior and convent in time of voidance might have the temporalities, saving knights' fees and advowsons, when they fall in; and that no escheator, sheriff, or other official was to intermeddle with the custody of the abbey, its manors, cells, or goods, save that the escheator or his minister might at the beginning of every voidance take simple service within the gates of the abbey, and immediately retire without carrying away anything, or staying beyond a day, or leaving any substitute in his place. (fn. 25) The result of this concession was to much simplify the process and much reduce the expense consequent on a new election; but royal assent and formal seizing and restitution of the temporalities continued.

The ancient connexion of the abbeys of St. Benet and St. Edmund naturally tended to promote good feeling between them, and the relations of the two houses appear to have been particularly friendly during the first half of the fourteenth century, the abbots alternately inviting one another to various functions. (fn. 26) Consequently, when the townsfolk of St. Edmund's attacked the abbey in 1326-7 and drove its inmates to seek shelter, it was to Holm that William Stowe, the sacrist, fled for safety, and there he was joined by many of his brethren who had been absent from the monastery at the time of the riots. (fn. 27) The abbot of St. Benet's was further consulted on this occasion by the abbot of St. Edmund's, and was afterwards appointed by the pope to enforce restitution of the property stolen at Bury, by virtue of which authority he excommunicated the offenders in spite of a humble petition for leniency from the burgesses. (fn. 28)

The abbey's sympathy with their sister house may have been partly due to their having themselves suffered occasionally from the lawlessness of the age, as the abbot of Holm in 1316 complained that when he sent his fellow-monk, Roger de Neatishead, to the hundred of North Erpingham on business, Roger de Antyngham, with his brother Nicholas and others, assaulted the monk at Southfield on his return, took him from place to place through the town-fields, cut off the tail of his horse, and surrounded the manor of the abbot at Antingham so that the men therein could not go forth to carry victuals to the abbey for the sustenance of the abbot and convent or to do any other work; seized and imprisoned a groom riding the abbot's palfrey through the town; impounded the palfrey with its saddle and kept it without food; seized another horse of his on the king's highway at North Walsham; harassed him at Antingham by taking his plough-cattle, and in other ways, so that he has been unable to cultivate and sow his lands, and have so threatened his men and servants of the town of Antingham that they have fled away. (fn. 29)

Besides losses incurred through the animosity of their neighbours the monks were occasionally put to further expense in supporting pensioners quartered upon them by royal authority. Thus William Dautre, an old servant of the king and his father, who had obtained life lodgement at Pentney in 1318, was transferred to Holm in 1321, there to receive the necessaries of life in the place of Roger Ussher, deceased. (fn. 30) The result of all these onerous burdens and losses through acts of oppression is seen in 1344 when the abbot and convent successfully petitioned Clement VI for the appropriation of the church of North Walsham, value 62 marks, signifying that they had by lay power lost their appropriated church of Scottow, and that their possessions were greatly reduced by floods, oppressions, and the duties of hospitality. (fn. 31) It was probably on similar grounds that Boniface IX, in 1401, sanctioned the appropriation of the church of Ashby, in this diocese, to the mensa of the monks of Holm. (fn. 32)

The most notable instance of violence, however, from which the abbey suffered was in 1381 when the revolted peasantry attacked it in the hope of capturing the bishop of Norwich, whom they believed to be within its walls. (fn. 33) Although unsuccessful in this object they were able to compel the abbot to surrender his court rolls, which they burnt in company with those of the priories of Norwich and Carrow. When the rising had been suppressed the abbot set about making a fresh series of rolls, and it is much to his credit that he did not take advantage of his defeated tenants to increase their services, but allowed them to remain exactly as they were before the insurrection. (fn. 34) In the autumn of the following year, 1382, a fresh rising was planned in Norfolk, of which the chief feature was the design of seizing the abbey of St. Benet and occupying it as a fortress, for which its strength made it very suitable; the plot, however, leaked out, and the scheme was nipped in the bud. (fn. 35)

Among the Norwich city muniments are many fifteenth-century documents relative to the prolonged disputes between the abbot of Holm and the mayor as to the alleged damage done to the abbot by new mills on the River Wensum. An award of the Earl of Suffolk was given against the citizens in 1442, ordering them to sign a bond of £100 to the abbot in default of obedience. The city refused and rose in rebellion, the mayor was arrested and imprisoned in the Fleet, and the abbot's party destroyed the mills. The city liberties were forfeited for four years, and during that time a bond of £100 was signed. The mills were rebuilt in the reign of Edward IV, c. 1482, and the abbot sued the city for damages, but the decision was against the abbey, on the grounds of the illegality of the bond, which had been signed when the mayor was in prison. (fn. 36)

Licence was granted by Henry VI on 25 October, 1470, during his brief resumption of royal power, for the prior and convent to elect to the vacancy caused by the resignation of Abbot John Keling. On 16 November the king signified to the bishop his assent to the election of Thomas Pakefield, cellarer of Holm and professor of theology, and the temporalities, in Norfolk and Suffolk were restored to him on the 26th. (fn. 37) In December, 1471, Edward IV confirmed this election and pardoned the trespasses alleged by accepting the licence and assent of Henry VI. (fn. 38)

Bishop Gold well visited the abbey on 15 July, 1494, when Robert Cubitt, the abbot, John Bay, the prior, and twenty-two monks were severally and privately examined. The report shows that there was considerable laxity of discipline; the door of the dorter was left open and seculars entered by day and night, and often there was no light there; silence was not well observed in quire; the monks were overburdened with recitals of the psalms, hymns, and canticles, and no time was left for study, according to the rule of St. Benedict and the local statutes; there was no clock in the monastery; the younger brethren were impudent to their elders and the servants insolent; there was no schoolmaster for the novices; many of the abbey jewels were in pawn; the late abbot had given the vicarage of St. Peter's, Hoveton, to a relative of his own; the present abbot had too many servants; the steward had the abbey evidences in his own house; and the court rolls were not entered on parchment. (fn. 39)

Bishop Nicke visited Holm in July, 1514, when twenty-three monks were examined. Eleven of the number reported 'omnia bene'; but John Rising testified that there was a conspiracy among many of the monks to report nothing. John Tacolston, prior, said that the abbot returned no accounts. Robert Cowper, subprior, said that during the vacancy of the monastery he had lost two pieces of silver plate and two masers. The prior was accused by several of not rising for mattins, and he was suspected of incontinency. The abbot retained such offices as cellarer, sacrist, and almoner in his own hands. There were no lights in the dorter and no seats in the cloister. The bishop enjoined that the abbot should for the future present his accounts to the convent on St. Clement's Day, and that three of the most trustworthy monks should be elected by the chapter to assist with the accounts. An order was also made for preparing a tripartite inventory of the goods of the house. Sub-prior Cowper was ordered to pay £4, at the rate of 20s. a year, to make good his losses. (fn. 40)

The superior of the large monastery of Holm, being a mitred abbot, was often summoned away on national and other business, which probably accounts for the absence of Abbot John Redyng at the visitation of 1514.

Abbot Redyng died toward the close of the year 1516, and his successor came from the priory of Colchester. John Salcot (or Capon), who was elected abbot in February, 1517, was a man of much academic distinction at Cambridge. Although he gained an evil repute in his later days, for avarice, when bishop of Salisbury, he seems to have revived the discipline of the abbey of Holm. At the visitation of 20 July, 1520, held by the bishop of Chalcedon and other episcopal commissaries, Abbot Salcot and twenty-one monks were examined. Unless there was a singularly successful conspiracy to deceive, the condition of things at Holm had most materially improved; for all, save one, of the monks contented themselves with the statement 'omnia bene.' The one complainant, Nicholas Norwich, objected to Prior Tacolneston keeping in his own hand the offices of chamberlain and sacrist. The abbot said that the house had not incurred any debt in his time, but that it had been so burdened in the days of his predecessors. The visitors ordered him to produce his accounts and inventories at the Michaelmas synod at Norwich. (fn. 41)

Dr. Jessopp thinks that there is good reason to believe that this abbot in the following years was more often at Cambridge than at Holm, being anxious to take his part in the controversies of the times. At the next recorded visitation, held in June, 1526, Abbot Salcot handed in the accounts of the abbot's and cellarer's offices, and also a very considerable schedule of the indebtedness of the monastery. Some twenty monks were examined, half of whom considered that all was going on well. The complaints of the others were not serious. There was an excess of dogs within the precincts; the altar cloths were not clean, and there was a lack of due service for the sick. The abbot, supported by several of the monks, complained that William Bynham set a bad example by continually absenting himself from mattins, under the pretence of illness, although they all knew that he enjoyed good health, and by day ate and drank like the rest. William Hornyng said that many buildings and barns on their manors had been blown over that year in a violent gale. Hornyng is styled an 'oute-rider,' a term that was evidently applied to a monk whose duty it was to visit the outlying granges. The injunctions consequent on this visitation provided that two of the senior and most suitable monks should be deputed once a year to supervise the manors and their repairs; that an unnecessary number of dogs should not be fed in the monastery, for they devoured the fragments from the tables which ought to be distributed to the poor; that Bynham should be severely punished; that better and more diligent attention should be paid to the sick; and that the altar cloths should be kept in better condition. The bishop also ordered that Bynham should be confined in the episcopal prison at Norwich, but afterwards remitted this punishment, at the urgent request of the abbot. The sub-prior, however, was advised that if Bynham was disobedient in the future, he should be at once sent to Norwich for imprisonment. (fn. 42)

The last visitation was opened on 14 June, 1532. Abbot Salcot had been preferred to the great abbey of Hythe, under strong pressure from the king, and he had been succeeded by William Repps, D.D., the late sub-prior of Norwich, in 1530. At this visitation the abbot declared that all things were as they should be, save the considerable debt. The complaints of the fifteen monks who gave evidence were much varied and showed considerable irregularity and laxity of discipline. Several of the monks were charged with using linen shirts and boots instead of sandals (ocreis) outside the monastery. It was again said that there were too many dogs, and Richard Norwich, the new 'outrider,' was charged with negligence in the repair of the granges. The prior excused to the bishop his use of boots, owing to the disease in his shins, and for this he had the abbot's leave. Roger Rawworth, sacrist, complained much of the prior's negligence, particularly in not rising for mattins, and neglecting other offices; he also mentioned five of the junior monks, who knew nothing of grammar. The third prior was charged with being wholly given over to hunting, both in winter and summer, after mattins, about three or four o'clock. It was considered that the sacrist was much at fault as to the condition of the vestments and ornaments of the church. The conduit into the cloister was choked up, and the rear dorter was in a shameful condition; both of these neglects were the fault of the sacrist. There was also much irregularity in paying the monks their pittances or pocketmoney. The injunctions consequent on this visitation have not been preserved; but there is an entry of the debts of the abbey, which had then reached the great total of £600 12s. 5¾d., (fn. 43) although the clear annual value of the monastery, according to the Valor of 1535, was only £583 17s. 0¾d.

When Ap Rice and Legh visited St. Benet's at the close of 1535, they professed to have obtained confessions of incontinency from four of the -monks, and added to their report that they had strong suspicions of confederacy to reveal nothing, and reflected strongly on the abbot's conduct. (fn. 44)

Early, however, in 1536, Henry VIII made choice of Abbot William Rugge or Repps to fill the vacant see of Norwich, and he was consecrated bishop on 11 June. An Act of Parliament (fn. 45) had, in the meanwhile, been passed, whereby the ancient possessions of the bishop of Norwich were given to the king, and the abbey of St. Benet, with its possession, granted and annexed to the bishopric. With his subsequent extravagant life and squandering of the abbey's revenues we have no concern.

It may be remarked that though the abbey buildings of this ancient foundation have long ago practically disappeared, the monastery of St. Benet, Holm, was the only religious house in England not actually suppressed by Henry VIII, and its revenues still serve the religious purpose of providing an income for the bishop of Norwich.

The Norfolk Rolls at the Bodleian include several obedientiary rolls of the abbey of Holm; namely, those of the cellarer, for 1373, 1511 and 1517; of the chamberlain for 1464, and 1499; of the pittancer for 1412; of the precentor, for 1529; and of the sacrist, for 1379, 1517 and 1535. (fn. 46) They throw a good deal of light on the working of this retired but important Benedictine house through its different officials, but they cannot be dealt with in the space here available.

Abbot of St. Benet of Holm (fn. 47)

Elsinus, 1020

Thurstan de Ludham

Ethel wold, 1064

Ralph, 1089

Richard, 1101

Conrad, 1126

William Basset, 1128

Anselm, 1133

Daniel, 1140

Hugh, c. 1150

Daniel (reinstated), 1151

William, 1153

Thomas, 1168

Ralph, 1186

John, 1210

Reginald, 1214

Sampson, (fn. 48) 1229

Robert de Thorkeseye, (fn. 49) 1237

William de Ringfeld, (fn. 50) 1251

Adam de Neatishead, (fn. 51) 1256

Richard de Bukenham, (fn. 52) 1268

Nicholas de Walsham, (fn. 53) 1275

Henry de Broke, (fn. 54) 1302

John de Aylsham, (fn. 55) 1326

Robert de Aylsham, (fn. 56) 1347

William de Hadesco, (fn. 57) 1349

William de Methelwold, (fn. 58) 1365

Robert de Sancta Fide, (fn. 59) 1395

Simon de Brigham, (fn. 60) 1395

Richard de South Walsham, (fn. 61) 1411

John Marte, (fn. 62) 1439

John Kelyng, (fn. 63) 1439

Thomas Pakefield, (fn. 64) 1470

Robert Cubitt, (fn. 65) 1492

William Forest, (fn. 66) 1505

John Redinge, (fn. 67) 1510

John Salcot, alias Capon, (fn. 68) 1517

William Repps, (fn. 69) 1530

A fragmentary example of the twelfth-century seal (fn. 70) shows that it was round (2 inches), and represented a seated figure with nimbus, the two hands outstretched, in the left a book (?).

Legend:—SIGILLV. . . . . . BENDIC . . . . .


  • 1. Dugdale, Mon. i, 282 3, 'from Brompton MS. in Bibl. Cotton, fol. 7 d.'
  • 2. Certain chroniclers have dated Cnut's foundation after his return from Rome in 1031, but this is impossible from the known dates of the witnesses. The year 1019 is the date given in the Chronica Johannis de Oxenedes (Rolls Ser. 19), himself a monk of Holm, and this date exactly tallies with the witnesses.
  • 3. Cott. MS. Galba E, ii, fol. 1. A full analysis of the contents of this fine chartulary is given in Dugdale, Mon. in, 66-79. Where no other references are given the statements in this sketch are taken from this chartuiary.
  • 4. Chart. R. 31 Hen. III, m. 13.
  • 5. There are numerous charters and rolls relative to this abbey at the Bodleian; Cal. of Bodl. Chart. 239-49. Among them are confirmatory bulls of Gregory I, Innocent IV, and Alexander IV.
  • 6. Oxenedes, Chron. (Rolls Ser.), 291-2. There is a full account of the early abbots down to Richard de Bukenham, in the chronicle of John of Oxnead, 291-300, a monk of this house. This chronicle (Cott. MS. Nero D, ii) was printed and edited by Sir Henry Ellis in the 'Chronicles and Memorials' series, in 1859.
  • 7. This is Oxenedes's statement; it is more reliable than that of William of Worcester, who asserts that he fled into Denmark at the time of the Conquest and never returned.
  • 8. This abbot does not occur in Oxenedes's chronicle or list; the reference to his name in the extended Dugdale is 'Obit Cant.'; the date of his death is given as 1140 in Chron. Minor Sci. Benedicti de Hulmo (printed at the end of Oxenedes, Chron. (Rolls Ser.), 432).
  • 9. Oxenedes, Chron. (Rolls Ser.), 295. It is clear from this passage that the Hugh, 'nepos' of King Stephen, and abbot of Chertsey, was not identical with the Abbot Hugh who rebuilt the church in 1110, as he was alleged to be, in the account of that abbey in V.C.H. Surrey, ii, 57.
  • 10. Oxenedes, loc. cit. says nothing about his first period of office, which is, however, definitely referred to in a passage quoted from the chartulary by Dugdale, Mon. iii, 63.
  • 11. Dugdale, Mon. iii, 69, N. g; from William of Worcester.
  • 12. The two churches of Hoveton were those of St. Peter and St. John; Cal. Bodl. Chart. 248.
  • 13. Pat. 13 Hen. III, m. 7.
  • 14. Prynne, Papal Usurpations, iii, 69-70.
  • 15. Pat. 35 Hen. III, m. 1.
  • 16. Ibid. 40 Hen. III, m. 10-11.
  • 17. Ibid. 52 Hen. III, m. 2.
  • 18. Pat. 2 Edw. I, m. 18.
  • 19. Ibid. 3 Edw. I, m. 20, 19, 16.
  • 20. Oxenedes, Chron. (Rolls Ser.), 257.
  • 21. Ibid. (Rolls Ser.), 270-1.
  • 22. Pat. 31 Edw. I, m. 45.
  • 23. Prynne, op. cit. iii, 996.
  • 24. Pat. 32 Edw. I, m. 29, 11.
  • 25. Ibid. 33 Edw. I, m. 23.
  • 26. Mem. of St. Edmund's Abbey (Rolls Ser.), iii, 36-8.
  • 27. Ibid. 38-9.
  • 28. Ibid. 40-8.
  • 29. Pat. 9 Edw. II, pt. ii, m. 20d.
  • 30. Close, 14 Edw. II, m. 4d.
  • 31. Cal. Papal Pet. i, 36; Cal. Papal Reg. iii, 116, 176.
  • 32. Cal. Papal Reg. v, 415.
  • 33. Powell, The Rising in East Anglia, 33.
  • 34. Antiquary, xxix, 215.
  • 35. Chron. Anglia (Rolls Ser.), 354.
  • 36. The whole case is set forth in great length in the Liber Albus, 66-91, and printed in Hudson and Tingey, Rec. of City of Norw, i, 348.
  • 37. Pat. 49 Hen. VI, m. 20, 19, 18.
  • 38. Ibid. 11 Edw. IV, pt. ii, m. 21.
  • 39. Jessopp, Norw. Visit. (Camd. Soc.), 60-3.
  • 40. Norw. Visit. (Camd. Soc.), 126-8.
  • 41. Ibid. 174-5.
  • 42. Ibid. 213-5.
  • 43. Ibid. 278-84.
  • 44. L. and P. Hen. VIII, x, 143.
  • 45. 27 Hen. VIII, c, 45.
  • 46. Norf. R. 71 to 810.
  • 47. The dates throughout are those of election; the abbots from 1023 to 1214 are taken from Oxenedes, Chron. (Rolls Ser.), 291-300.
  • 48. Pat. 13 Hea. III, m. 7.
  • 49. Pat. 21 Hen. III.
  • 50. Pat. 35 Hen. III, m. 7.
  • 51. Pat. 40 Hen. III, m. 10, 11.
  • 52. Pat. 52 Hen. III, m. 2.
  • 53. Pat. 3 Edw. I, m. 19.
  • 54. Pat. 31 Edw. I, m. 45.
  • 55. Pat. 19 Edw. II, pt. i, m. 11, 10, 5.
  • 56. Pat. 21 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 27.
  • 57. Norw. Epis. Reg. iv, 108.
  • 58. Ibid. v, 64.
  • 59. Ibid. vi, 209
  • 60. Ibid. vi, 217.
  • 61. Ibid. vii, 42.
  • 62. Ibid. x, 26.
  • 63. Ibid. xi, 113.
  • 64. Pat. 49 Hen. VI, m. 19.
  • 65. Norw. Epis. Reg. xii, 161.
  • 66. Tanner, Norw. MSS. ii, 813.
  • 67. Norw. Epis. Reg. xv, 38.
  • 68. Tanner, Norw. MSS. ii, 811.
  • 69. Ibid.
  • 70. Ackn. of Supr. (P.R.O.), No. 65*.