Houses of Austin canons: The hermitage of Grafton Regis

Page 137

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

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A beneficed hermitage or small priory of some importance stood near Shaw Wood at the extremity of the lordship of Grafton Regis, bordering on Stoke and Alderton. As the Widevilles had the patronage, it may be fairly assumed that it was founded by one of the family, though at what date cannot now be ascertained. The earliest known reference to this hermitage, which was dedicated jointly to the honour of St. Mary and St. Michael, is the name of Helias, hermit of Grafton, as a witness to a grant concerning Heynundcote chapel by Walkelin, abbot of St. James, Northampton, 1180-1205. (fn. 1)

Robert de Twyford, with the assent of Roesia his wife, by an undated charter gave to the hermitage of the Blessed Mary and St. Michael of Grafton and the brethren serving God there 22¼d. of yearly rent from lands in Shutlanger. (fn. 2)

Engelram Cumyn temp. Henry III. granted to the abbey of St. James, Northampton, 5s. 6d. yearly rental out of lands in Alderton, which the religious brothers of Grafton held of him, rendering 18d. yearly to the chief lord; and William de Bonde, of Alderton, remitted this 18d. yearly payment to the brethren of St. Mary and St. Michael. (fn. 3)

The Lincoln episcopal registers record the institution of six successive masters or chaplains of this small house between 1267 and 1373.

No further mention occurs of this hermitage in the registers, and it is supposed that its independent life ceased about the end of the fourteenth century, and that it became amalgamated with the Austin abbey of St. James, who found a chaplain to serve it.

Thomas Wideville, by will of 1434, directed his trustees to formally convey 'the Ermytage of Grafton,' with other lands to the abbey of St. James, and this was accomplished in 1442. Anthony Earl Rivers, however, dispossessed the abbey, and by will of 23 June, 1483, the day before his execution, ordered that 'all such land as I purchased by the means of Syr James Molaynes, priest, remayned still with the manor of Grafton towards the fynding of the priest of tharmitage.' In the following December the crown interfered, and the sheriff was instructed to restore the hermitage and other lands wrongfully assumed by Earl Rivers to John Wykeley, the abbot of St. James, and his convent. (fn. 4)

Masters or Chaplains of Grafton Regis (fn. 5)

Richard of Herleston, presented 1267

Walter Fruseler, (fn. 6) presented 1284, died 1313

Adam of Karifield, (fn. 7) presented 1313

William of Radeford, presented 1340

Simon of Olney, presented 1349

Walter Child, presented 1373


  • 1. Baker, Hist. of Northants, ii. 170. The reference there given is to the Bridges MSS. E. 412.
  • 2. Fermor Evidences, cited by Baker, Hist. of Northants, ii. 170.
  • 3. Bodl. Lib., Bridges MSS. E. 402–3.
  • 4. Fermor Evidences, cited by Baker, Hist. of Northants, ii. 162, 171.
  • 5. The list is given by Baker, Hist. of Northants, ii. 171, from the diocesan registers.
  • 6. Linc. Epis. Reg. Inst. Dalderby, f. 124d.
  • 7. Ibid.