Houses of Austin canons: The priory of Flitcham

Pages 380-381

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

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This small Austin priory was founded about the beginning of Henry III's reign by Sir Robert Aguillon, as is proved by documents cited in Blomefield. (fn. 1) Damietta de Flitcham is sometimes named as the foundress, but this lady merely gave the manor of Snoring in Flitcham parish to the priory of Walsingham. Although the priory of Flitcham became a cell of Walsingham at an early date, the manor of Snoring was held by Walsingham down to the dissolution independently of Flitcham Priory.

In 1275 the jury of the hundred of Freebridge found that the prior and convent of Flitcham held a carucate of land in free alms of the gift of Robert Aguillon in times beyond their memory. (fn. 2)

The taxation of 1291 shows that the priory had possessions at that date in eight Norfolk parishes, and its annual income was estimated at £27 10s. 7d.

From the year 1316 the vicars of the parochial church of Flitcham were presented by the priory, the great tithes being appropriated by the convent. The diocesan muniments generally term this house St. Mary ad Fontes or de Fontibus. Documents of the sixteenth century name it as the priory of St. Mary at the Welle.

In 1365 the prior and convent received the fourth part of the manor of Flitcham at the hands of John de Cheverston. (fn. 3) Five years later the priory obtained the additional endowment of 180 acres of land at Anmer from Thomas Balle and others. (fn. 4) At this latter date there were five canons here, in addition to the prior. In 1383 the priory received a grant of lands and rents of the annual value of 70s. 2d. from Thomas de Flitcham and Nicholas Barome, to find a canon-chaplain to celebrate three days a week for the good estate of the donors whilst living and their souls after death. (fn. 5) These and other grants brought the income of the priory up to just double its former amount, the clear annual value in 1535 being £55 5s. 6¼d. (fn. 6)

Edmund Litchfield, appointed prior of Flitcham in 1498, was consecrated bishop in partibus of Chalcedon in 1502, and acted as suffragan in Norwich diocese; he was followed as prior by John Martin.

The priory was visited on 12 July, 1514, by Bishop Nicke. John Martin, the prior, stated Canon Thomas Hokar had handed £11 to the prior of Walsingham. Canon Geoffrey Swaffham said that the barns and other buildings of the priory required repair, and that agriculture was neglected. He further stated that the prior and John Stinge had made a compact for the delivery to the latter, at a date now passed, of a hundred combs of barley for the sum of £6 or £7; and because the prior had failed to deliver the barley at the appointed time he would have to hand over 160 instead of 100 combs. He also alleged that the house was in debt for barley to WIIIiam Fuller, of Castle Acre, and for sheep to Master Fyncham, of Marshland, and that the common seal of the priory was in the exclusive keeping of the prior. As a consequence of this visitation, the prior was summoned to Norwich.

The brief entry relative to this priory in the visitation of 1530 is IIIegible through injury to the MS. (fn. 7)

The county commissioners of 1536 reported that 'the priory of Chanones of Flychame ys namyde to be a cell to the priory of Chanones of Walsynghame.' (fn. 8) In consequence of this it escaped at the time of the destruction of the smaller houses, but fell with Walsingham on 4 August, 1538. (fn. 9)

Priors of Flitcham

Philip, (fn. 10) occurs 1256 (fn. 11)

Fulk Briton, (fn. 12) occurs 1300

Vincent de Flitcham, (fn. 13) elected 1332

John de Flitcham, (fn. 14) elected 1349

Lawrence de Weston, (fn. 15) 1374

John de Hillington, (fn. 16) elected 1375

John Flitcham, (fn. 17) elected 1404

Thomas Berdon, (fn. 18) died 1438

Thomas Pope, (fn. 19) elected 1438

John Leson, (fn. 20) elected 1448

John Dorking, (fn. 21) elected 1458

WIIIiam Wiltshide, (fn. 22) elected 1467

Richard Gottys, LL.B. (fn. 23) elected 1490

Edmund Litchfield, (fn. 24) elected 1496

John Martin, (fn. 25) occurs 1514

Thomas Podishe, (fn. 26) occurs 1526

Richard Vowell, (fn. 27) occurs 1535


  • 1. Blomefield, Hist. of Norf. viii, 418.
  • 2. Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), i, 463.
  • 3. Inq. p.m.; 39 Edw. III, pt. ii, 20.
  • 4. Ibid. 44 Edw. III, pt. ii, 44.
  • 5. Cal. of Pat. 6 Ric. II, pt. iii, m. 15.
  • 6. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iii.
  • 7. Jessopp, Norw. Visit. (Camd. Soc.), 110, 168.
  • 8. Chant. Cert. Norf. No. 90.
  • 9. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiii (2), 11.
  • 10. Blomefield, Hist. of Norf. viii, 417.
  • 11. Assize R. 567, m. 58.
  • 12. Blomefield, loc. cit.
  • 13. Norw. Epis. Reg. ii, 53.
  • 14. Ibid. iv, 102.
  • 15. Ibid. vi, 29.
  • 16. Ibid. 40.
  • 17. Ibid. 308.
  • 18. Ibid. x, 19.
  • 19. Ibid.
  • 20. Ibid. xi, 15.
  • 21. Ibid. 107.
  • 22. Ibid. 161.
  • 23. Ibid. xii, 144.
  • 24. Ibid. 205.
  • 25. Jessopp, Norw. Visit. 110.
  • 26. Tanner, Norw. MSS. i, 259.
  • 27. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iii.