Houses of Austin canons: The priory of Chalcombe

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

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, 'Houses of Austin canons: The priory of Chalcombe', in A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 2, (London, 1906) pp. 133-135. British History Online [accessed 26 May 2024].

. "Houses of Austin canons: The priory of Chalcombe", in A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 2, (London, 1906) 133-135. British History Online, accessed May 26, 2024,

. "Houses of Austin canons: The priory of Chalcombe", A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 2, (London, 1906). 133-135. British History Online. Web. 26 May 2024,

In this section


Hugh de Chacombe, lord of the manor of Chalcombe, founded here a priory of Austin canons in the reign of Henry II., dedicated to the honour of SS. Peter and Paul. The foundation charter is witnessed by Walkelin, abbot of St. James, Northampton, and Alexander, prior of Canons Ashby, both of the same order, among others. (fn. 1)

There is no known register or chartulary of this priory extant, but its original endowment and subsequent benefactions are set forth in a royal charter of confirmation in 1328. (fn. 2) The first endowment consisted of the churches of Chalcombe, Great Dalby or Chalcombe Dalby (Leicestershire), Barford St. Michael (Oxfordshire), Penn (Buckinghamshire), and half the church of Rotherby (Leicestershire), together with lands, etc., at Chalcombe, and in other parishes where the priory held the advowson of the church. Subsequent gifts were not considerable, and consisted chiefly of lands and rents in Oxfordshire. According to the Taxation of 1291 the prior and convent at that time held temporalities amounting to £48 18s. 8d. within the archdeaconries of Northampton, Oxford, and Leicester, and a pension of £4 from the church of Boddington; the church of Chalcombe was valued at £10. (fn. 3)

Little is known of the early history of this foundation till the middle of the thirteenth century. William of Colingham was elected prior in 1241, and admitted by the bishop. (fn. 4) During the rule of his successor, Adam of Appleby, Pope Martin IV. sent to collect cess and other dues. In the list appended to his letter to the archbishops and bishops authorizing the collection appears the item obolus massabut. due from the priory of SS. Peter and Paul of Chalcombe. (fn. 5) The convent was called on in 1310 with other religious houses to assist the king with a loan of victuals for the Scotch expedition. (fn. 6) In 1315 the brethren obtained a licence from the crown at the instance of John de Segrave permitting them to acquire in mortmain lands and rents to the value of ten marks. (fn. 7) In the same year the convent was charged with a grave trespass. A commission was issued in December, on the complaint of John de Port and Agnes his wife, that Alexander, prior of Chalcombe, Philip the cellarer, a canon, and others had broken by night into their closes and houses at Wormleighton in Warwickshire, hunted and killed their rabbits, consumed with cattle a great part of the corn in their granges, as well as trampled down the remainder, done much damage to pastures and meadows, carried away their corn and chattels, seized their ploughoxen, and refused to permit them to receive any profits issuing out of land and tenements at Wormleighton, which they held by certain services. (fn. 8) The affair seems to have arisen through a dispute as to the tenancy of the plaintiffs, John and Agnes, of lands pertaining to the priory in Wormleighton. (fn. 9) The upshot cannot be stated exactly, but Agnes appeared before the king at Doncaster on 15 December, 1315, and subsequent occasions, and sought to replevy their land at Wormleighton, taken into the king's hand for their default before the justices of the bench against Alexander, prior of Chalcombe, (fn. 10) so the canons appear to have won the case.

On the death of Prior Alexander in 1326 an inquisition was held to ascertain the rights of the patron in regard to the election of superiors and the custody of the priory during a vacancy, the patron, Stephen de Segrave, being at that time a minor and king's ward. (fn. 11) It was found that Hugh de Chacombe, founder of the priory, formerly granted by his charter free election to the canons, but with the assent of him and his heirs; that Amabilia de Segrave, heiress of the said Hugh, granted that the canons, on the voidance of the priory by death or cession, should have free administration of all their goods, saving a servant or a boy staying in the priory during a voidance for the defence of the priory and its goods; that the sub-prior and convent had had free election on the occasion of each voidance from the time of the charter without seeking a licence from the patrons of the priory, and free administration of their goods without any hindrance, save that a servant was placed during voidance at the gate of the priory for protection; that after the convent had elected a prior they were wont to send him forthwith to the ancestors of Stephen de Segrave with letters patent under their common seal, whom the said ancestors received without challenge and presented by their letters patent to the bishop of Lincoln; that the prior elect, on his confirmation by the bishop, returned to the priory without doing fealty or service to Stephen's ancestors, and that the servant at the priory gate left without letter or order from his lord immediately on the entrance of the new prior. The king, on the receipt of this return, gave instructions to the escheator of Northampton not to meddle further with the temporalities of the priory now void by the death of Alexander, late prior. (fn. 12)

Shortly before the election of Thomas of Saxton in March, 1332-3, Edmund de Bereford, clerk, made a grant to the priory of the manor of Grandborough, Warwickshire, on condition that the convent should find four canons to celebrate for the souls of his father, mother, and himself, and for King Edward and Henry, bishop of Lincoln, and should distribute 40s. yearly on his anniversary to the poor, and 20s. on the anniversary of his father. (fn. 13) This grant was made, however, without licence from the crown, and the manor was shortly afterwards recovered by the heirs of the Braundeston family, from whom the Berefords had purchased it. (fn. 14)

Edward III. in 1346 granted a licence for the alienation in mortmain to the prior and convent (1) of eight messuages, etc., the gift of John de Lyouns; (2) of a messuage and nine acres of land in Thorpe Mandeville, from John de Wardyngton; and (3) two acres of land in Chalcombe, from John de Segrave, in full satisfaction of the 100s. yearly of land which they had leave to acquire. (fn. 15) The prior is entered in the following year, 1347, for a loan of £5 13s. 4d. to the king towards the expenses of the war in France. (fn. 16)

The priors of Chalcombe are mentioned in various deeds and documents during the remainder of the fourteenth, fifteenth, and early sixteenth centuries. Sir John de Segrave, who died at Bretby, Derbyshire, in 1352, left his body to be buried in the priory of Chalcombe, appointing the prior as one of his executors. (fn. 17) The pope in 1411 sanctioned the appropriation of the church of Barford by the prior and convent, being of their patronage, on the ground that their buildings were much in need of repair, and their revenues greatly impaired by reason of the extensive hospitality they were bound to maintain. The annual value of the priory was declared to be under 200 marks. (fn. 18) In the same year Thomas Brackley, canon of the priory, obtained papal dispensation to hold a benefice with or without cure of souls, and this dispensation was renewed to him in 1413, after his election as prior. (fn. 19) John Ferneall, who succeeded Thomas Brackley, was a brother of the Corpus Christi Guild, Coventry, in 1495 and 1498; (fn. 20) he was also vicar of Chalcombe from 1491 to 1499, (fn. 21) and these dates probably represent the duration of his rule. Pope Julius II. in 1504 issued a bull granting the appropriation of the parish church of Slipton to the priory in consequence of the loss incurred through a recent fire. (fn. 22) Prior Saunders was vicar of the church of Chalcombe from 1511 to 1534; in the latter year he and seven of the canons subscribed to the acknowledgement of the king's supremacy. (fn. 23) He died shortly afterwards, and was succeeded by Henry Austen, whose rule must have been very brief, for at the time of the survey of 1535 the office was vacant, and Thomas Stone in charge as sub-prior. The income of the house at that time amounted to £85 13s. 5½d., out of which there was a charge of £1 14s. 8d. in alms and distribution to the poor; (fn. 24) it fell thus within the scope of the earlier Act of Suppression of houses of less yearly value than £200. (fn. 25) The prior received a pension of £14, but no mention is made of the rest of the community. (fn. 26)

The messuages and lands belonging to the suppressed priory of Chalcombe, at Wardington, Oxfordshire, with court-leets, views of frankpledge, etc., were granted to Thomas Pope, treasurer of the Court of Augmentations, in February, 1537, (fn. 27) and in the following September he expressed a desire to Cromwell to purchase the residue of the priory property. (fn. 28) Five years later, however, the site of the priory and the adjacent lands were granted to Michael Fox. (fn. 29)

According to a manuscript note of about the year 1550, the conventual church of this small priory was the burial place of a remarkable number of distinguished persons. (fn. 30)

Priors of Chalcombe

William of Colingham, (fn. 31) elected 1241

Adam of Appleby, (fn. 32) elected 1274, died 1299

Robert of Wardon, (fn. 33) elected 1299, died 1302

Alexander of Kaysthorpe, (fn. 34) elected 1302, died 1326

Roger of Silby, (fn. 35) elected 1326, died 1332-3

Thomas of Saxton, (fn. 36) elected 1332-3, resigned 1340

Henry of Kegworth, (fn. 37) elected 1340

Adam, (fn. 38) occurs 1370

Edmund of Thorpe, (fn. 39) elected 1371

Thomas Brackley, (fn. 40) occurs 1413

John Furneall, (fn. 41) occurs 1491 and 1499

Thomas Saunders, (fn. 42) occurs 1503, died 1534

Henry Austen, (fn. 43) elected 1535

Pointed oval seal of the thirteenth century, taken from a cast at the British Museum, (fn. 44) represents St. Paul full-length, on the left, holding in his right hand a long sword; St. Peter, fulllength, on the right, holding two keys in his right hand. In base, under a semi-circular arch, a prior is kneeling in prayer. Legend:


Pointed oval seal of prior Henry de Kegworth, taken from another cast, (fn. 45) represents SS. Peter and Paul as above, standing in a canopied niche with two arches, the prior in base kneeling in prayer. The legend is partly defaced:


The seal, of which fragments remain, attached to the deed acknowledging the king's supremacy is similar to the first seal given above. (fn. 46)


  • 1. Cited by Bridges (Hist. of Northants, i. 155), from the Hatton muniments.
  • 2. Pat. 2 Edw. III. pt. 2, m. 36.
  • 3. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), pp. 38, 43b, 55b, 67.
  • 4. Extracts from Reg. of Linc. Harl. MS. 6950, f. 112.
  • 5. Cal. of Papal L. i. 476.
  • 6. Close, 3 Edw. II. m. 5d.
  • 7. Pat. 8 Edw. II. pt. 1, m. 3.
  • 8. Ibid. 9 Edw. II. pt. 1, m. 13, pt. 2, m. 26d.
  • 9. A virgate of land in that parish had been given to the priory by Hodierna, widow of Richard Waleys, as lady of the manor, half a virgate in the same lordship, by Petronilla, her daughter, and four acres by John Passelewe. Conf. Charter, Pat. 2 Edw. III. pt. 2, m. 36.
  • 10. Close, 9 Edw. II. m. 21d. 17, 11d.
  • 11. Inq. p.m. 19 Edw. II. No. 91.
  • 12. Pat. 19 Edw. II. pt. 2, m. 13.
  • 13. Linc. Epis. Reg. Inst. of Burghersh, f. 197.
  • 14. Dugdale, Antiq. of Warwickshire, p. 312.
  • 15. Pat. 20 Edw. III. pt. 1, m. 15.
  • 16. Ibid. 21 Edw. III. pt. 2, m. 24.
  • 17. Nicolas. Test. Vet. 55.
  • 18. Cal. of Papal L. vi. 276.
  • 19. Ibid. and 396.
  • 20. Baker, Hist. of Northants, i. 594.
  • 21. Bridges, Hist. of Northants, i. 157.
  • 22. Linc. Epis. Reg. Memo. of Smith, f. 7b.
  • 23. P.R.O. Acknowledegment of Supremacy, No. 29.
  • 24. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv. 338.
  • 25. L. and P. Hen. VIII. x. 1238.
  • 26. Ibid. xiii. pt. 1, p. 575.
  • 27. Ibid. xii. pt. 1, 539 (19).
  • 28. Ibid. pt. 2, 664.
  • 29. Vincent, Visitation of Northants.
  • 30. Add. MS. 5758, f. 24.
  • 31. Extracts from Reg. of Linc. Harl. MS. 6950, f. 112.
  • 32. Ibid. f. 207.
  • 33. Linc. Epis. Reg. Inst. of Sutton, f. 68.
  • 34. Ibid. Inst. of Dalderby, f. 104d.
  • 35. Ibid. Inst. of Burghersh, f. 175d.
  • 36. Ibid. f. 196d.
  • 37. Ibid. f. 230.
  • 38. Cal. Anct. D. (P. R. O.), B. 3526.
  • 39. Bridges, Hist. of Northants, i. 156.
  • 40. Linc. Epis. Reg. Memo. of Repingdon, f. 133.
  • 41. He was vicar of Chalcombe during that time. Bridges, Hist. of Northants, i. 157.
  • 42. Baker, Hist. of Northants, i. 594.
  • 43. Linc. Epis. Reg. Inst. of Longlands, f. 116.
  • 44. B. M. lxix. 68.
  • 45. Ibid. 69.
  • 46. P. R. O. Acknowledgement of Supremacy, No. 29.