Houses of Austin canons: The priory of Mountjoy

Pages 387-388

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

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William de Gyney or Gioneto, in the reign of Richard I, founded a chapel dedicated to the honour of St. Laurence at a place called Tueit, afterwards known as Montegaudio or Mountjoy, in the parish of Heveringland. The land on which the chapel was to be erected was called the old stew (vetus vyvarium), with the alder bed adjoining. He endowed it with houses for the brethren to live in, a mark of rent from a mill, thirty acres of the assart of Sudfrid, twenty acres of the assart of Rumholt, three ditches of turf to be dug yearly near the ditches dug for the use of his court of Heveringland; feeding for six pigs in his park at acorn time without pannage, and 1,000 red herrings of the rent that is due yearly at Michaelmas at Dilham for the buying of herrings. (fn. 1)

It is said that originally this chapel and houses for brethren, otherwise a. priory, was granted to the priory of Wymondham, and that they were to maintain two or three monks at Mountjoy. But at all events, soon after its foundation, the founder by another charter conveyed to Brother Vincent, a canon there, and his successors, the mill of Likkemilne, with the meadow by the millstream and an acre of land. (fn. 2) A third grant of the founder of a piece of his turbary, with the soil, water, and fishing in Heveringland, was made to the prior and canons of Mountjoy. (fn. 3) A fourth charter, witnessed by the founder, whereby William Henecote grants the priory a piece of land on payment yearly of a root of ginger, and two other almost equally early charters name canons and not monks. (fn. 4)

It may therefore be accepted that an Austin prior and canons were established here early in the reign of John, and that Vincent was the first prior. There are five other undated charters, of the beginning of the thirteenth century, at the Public Record Office, whereby small grants were made to the prior and canons of St. Laurence's, Heveringland. (fn. 5)

Roger de Gyney, lord of Heveringland, materially increased their pasture rights. (fn. 6) On 3 May, 1294, Roger de Gyney granted lands and rents to the priory, to the annual value of £10, of his fee in Heveringland, Sweningtone, and Dilham, as their rents and profits were so attenuated that they did not suffice for their support, (fn. 7) and in 1306 Sir Roger de Gyney granted to Prior Thomas and the canons that none of his bondmen should implead them in his court by reason of any plea of trespass. (fn. 8)

On 28 October, 1311, John de Felthorp, clerk, entered into an obligation, in the Mountjoy chapter-house, to pay to the prior and canons a mark of silver, a quarter of wheat, and a quarter of barley as yearly pension during life, for his sojourn of thirteen weeks in the year at their house, payable in each year at Michaelmas before his sojourn. (fn. 9)

Peter the prior of Mountjoy occurs in various charters temp. Edward II, up to 1324. (fn. 10) Whilst Peter was prior the house received considerable augmentation of an endowment from Thomas de Quitwell, rector of Felthorpe, of land and services in Felthorpe; in return for which the priory was to provide a canon to celebrate mass daily for the souls of the donor, of Richard and Alice, his father and mother, and of Sir William de Quitwell.

In 1343 John Fode and John de Hadescho, chaplains, had royal licence on payment of 100s. to assign to the priory two messuages and 7s. 7d. rent in Heveringland, Felthorpe, &c., to support two canons to celebrate daily for the souls of John Fode and John de Shelton, (fn. 11) and next year John the prior and the canons of St. Laurence had released to them by Walter Neel of Heveringland all right in two pieces of land called ' Tolkesker ' and ' Netheryd.' In the same year Peter, rector of Irmingland, released to the priory all his rights in the advowson of that church, as well as land and rents in the same parish. (fn. 12)

In 1364 Pope Urban V granted an indulgence of a year and forty days of enjoined penance to those penitents who should visit the convent and conventual church of Mountjoy on Christmas Day, Circumcision, Epiphany, Easter Day, Ascension, and Pentecost, as well as on the Nativity, Purification, and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, and on the festivals of St. John Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and St. Laurence. (fn. 13)

An indenture of 8 June, 1490, relates that whereas the parish church of St. Andrew, Irmingland, with the patronage and advowson, were given many years ago to the convent of St. Laurence of Mountjoy, and the church, rectory, and tithes cannot now support a fit priest to officiate there, and the chancel and rectory house are ruined, and the parishioners wander elsewhere to hear divine service, William the prior and his convent demise the site of the rectory and the church and rectory to Thomas Bettes of Irmingland, with all tithes, for ninety years, to provide a priest there, power being reserved to remove such priest and institute another. (fn. 14)

In 1515 Thomas Clerke, B.D., was instituted by the bishop. On 28 June, 1517, Prior Clerke granted to Henry Fermour of East Barsham his foldcourse and pasture in Mountjoy and Felthorpe, with the great close and all liberties of pasturage for seven years, paying £14, viz. £5 in hand towards the sustentation and repair of the monastery, and 26s. 8d. each year till the last, and then 20s. The prior was to provide a barrel of tar (for sheep marking?) every second year, and a close house with lock and key to lay the wool in till sold. (fn. 15)

This priory was one of those intended to be suppressed by Pope Clement's bull of 1528 towards the endowment of Cardinal Wolsey's colleges at Ipswich and Oxford; but his fall prevented this being carried out.

The prior of Mountjoy was summoned to convocation in 1529 (fn. 16); but probably this was an oversight, for on the attainder of Wolsey the priory was seized by William Hales, lord of Heveringland, the patron of the house, as an escheat to him, and was thus united to his lordship, (fn. 17) Thomas Clerke, the last prior, becoming rector of Moulton Parva.

Priors Of Mountjoy

Vincent, (fn. 18) occurs c. 1200

Thomas, (fn. 19) occurs c. 1225

John Weting, (fn. 20) elected 1304

Thomas Carlevile, (fn. 21) elected 1305

Peter de Cleye, (fn. 22) elected 1308

John, (fn. 23) occurs c. 1323

Simon de Fleg, (fn. 24) elected 1349

John Ewedon, (fn. 25) occurs 1357

John de Cotton, (fn. 26)

Philip de Tideshale, (fn. 27) 1379

Edmund Ayms, (fn. 28) 1401

Edmund de Walsingham, (fn. 29) 1429

John Sudbury, (fn. 30)

Robert Snape, (fn. 31) 1448

Thomas Everhard, (fn. 32) 1465

John Clement, (fn. 33) 1470

Christopher Brown, (fn. 34) occurs 1479

William Lovell, (fn. 35)

William Kyrteling, (fn. 36) elected 1491

Thomas Grimston, (fn. 37) elected 1502

Thomas Clark, (fn. 38) elected 1515


  • 1. Anct. D. A. 3014.
  • 2. Ibid. 3013.
  • 3. Ibid. 3012.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Ibid. 2999-3003.
  • 6. Ibid. 2782-3-4.
  • 7. Ibid. 2781.
  • 8. Ibid. 2788.
  • 9. Ibid. 2750.
  • 10. Ibid. 2807, 3043-6, 3051.
  • 11. Ibid. 2748; Pat. 17 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 27.
  • 12. Anct. D. A. 2732-3; Pat. 18 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 28.
  • 13. Rymer, Foedera (Rec. Com.), vi, 439.
  • 14. Anct. D. A. 2739.
  • 15. Ibid. 2825.
  • 16. L. and P. Hen. VIII, iv (3), 2699.
  • 17. Blomefield, viii, 231.
  • 18. Anct. D. A. 3012-3.
  • 19. Ibid. 2782-4.
  • 20. Norw. Epis. Reg. i, 17
  • 21. Ibid. 19.
  • 22. Ibid. 28.
  • 23. Anct. D. A. 2749.
  • 24. Norw. Epis. Reg. iv, 96.
  • 25. Anct. D. A. 2884.
  • 26. Abp. Wittlesay, Reg.
  • 27. Norw. Epis. Reg. vi, 64.
  • 28. Blomefield, Hist. of Norf. viii, 232.
  • 29. Ibid.
  • 30. Ibid.
  • 31. Norw. Epis. Reg. xi, 19.
  • 32. Ibid. xi, 147.
  • 33. Ibid. 178.
  • 34. Blomefield, Hist. of Norf. viii, 232.
  • 35. Ibid.
  • 36. Ibid.
  • 37. Ibid.
  • 38. Ibid.