Alien houses: The priories of Weedon Beck and Weedon Pinkney (Weedon Lois)

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

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, 'Alien houses: The priories of Weedon Beck and Weedon Pinkney (Weedon Lois)', in A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 2, (London, 1906) pp. 182-185. British History Online [accessed 21 May 2024].

. "Alien houses: The priories of Weedon Beck and Weedon Pinkney (Weedon Lois)", in A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 2, (London, 1906) 182-185. British History Online, accessed May 21, 2024,

. "Alien houses: The priories of Weedon Beck and Weedon Pinkney (Weedon Lois)", A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 2, (London, 1906). 182-185. British History Online. Web. 21 May 2024,

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The celebrated abbey of St. Mary of BecHellouin, in the diocese of Rouen, was founded in 1034 by Hellouin or Herlewin, who became its first abbot. He had for his disciples two of the great ecclesiastics of the eleventh century, intimately associated with the church of England, Lanfranc and St. Anselm (the second abbot), both in turn archbishops of Canterbury. Roger de Thebovill gave a moiety of the manor of Weedon to the abbey of Bec, a gift which was confirmed amongst many others by a charter of Henry II. (fn. 110) Before, however, the end of this reign, the whole of Weedon was acquired by the abbot and monks of Bec-Hellouin, and hence became distinguished as Weedon-Beck, though sometimes known as Weedon-le-Street from its situation on the Watling Street road. It was certified in the hydarium temp. Henry II. that the monks held four hides at Weedon, of the fee of Leicester, including both Domesday manors. (fn. 120)

In 1203 the abbey of Bec was charged at the Exchequer for a fine of one hundred marks for holding forty-eight acres of new assarts and two acres of old assarts in the manor of Weedon and for a royal charter exempting their Weedon tenants from attendance at the swainmote or forest court for ever; the chief justiciar found, however, that the heavy fine of £66 13s. 4d. had been already paid by the monks to Hugh de Nevill, from whom it was due to the Exchequer. (fn. 130)

These privileges were confirmed by Henry III. in 1227, and again in 1253 with the addition of free warren. (fn. 140) In 1276 the abbot of Bec sustained his right to have gallows at Weedon, as well as free warren and court-leet. (fn. 150)

The abbey of Bec had large possessions in England, and its chief cell or priory was that of Okeburn, Wilts. (fn. 160) Apparently for the better management of their manor and small priory at Weedon, the monks of Bec assigned their Northamptonshire property towards the end of the thirteenth century to the rule of Okeburn (Ogbourne) Priory. The Valor of 1291 states that the prior of Okeburn held at Wendon or Weedon lands, rents, pannage, and court profits to the annual value of £16 2s. 8d., and crops, flocks, and herds to the annual value of £2 10s. 10d. (fn. 170)

In 1302 John de Brochull of Weedon was found by a jury to be a villein of the abbot of Bec, and taxable at pleasure; but being contumacious, William Grafton, steward of the abbot, took him and set him in the stocks. (fn. 180) In 1329 the abbot, at a 'quo warranto' inquiry at Weedon, held on the Saturday after Ascension Day, satisfied the jury, through the attorney, Richard Blount, that he had every conceivable right and privilege in all his demesne lands at Weedon. (fn. 190) Express mention is here made of the prior of Weedon, so it is clear that the ecclesiastical establishment of the monks at Weedon Beck was not a mere grange.

The priors of Okeburn (Ogbourne) appear in the Lincoln episcopal registers as patrons of the vicarage of Weedon Beck in the fourteenth century. At the general suppression of the alien priories in 1414, Weedon, with the other English possessions of the abbey of Bec, escheated to the crown. The advowson of the church was soon afterwards granted to the provost and fellows of the royal free chapel of St. George at Windsor, who presented to the vicarage of Weedon in 1421. In 1437 the king granted a life interest in the manor of Weedon Beck to Henry, earl of Stafford. (fn. 200) He was slain at the battle of Northampton in 1460, and Weedon was soon afterwards granted for life to Thomas Seyntleger for his services. (fn. 210) In February, 1462, the same manor, described as parcel of the alien priory of Okeburn, was granted by the owner to William Beaufitz for ten years. (fn. 220) The reversion of the manor was granted to the provost and fellows of Eton College by Henry VI. and confirmed by Edward IV. (fn. 230)

There are no remains of the priory or grange of the monks of Bec; there is not even a tradition as to its site. Bridges, writing about 1720, states that the privileges and annuities of the monastic tenants were traditionally remembered. 'A furlong in the commonfield is yet called gallow-furlong, and the stump of the gallows is visible not far from the high road.' (fn. 240)

The Valor of 1535 estimated the annual value to Eton College of the manor and appurtenances of Weedon Beck at the considerable sum of £40. (fn. 250)


The Benedictine abbey of St. Lucien in the diocese of Beauvais, Oise, France, was originally founded in the sixth century. A priory, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, as a cell of the French abbey, was established at Weedon Pinkney by Ghilo de Pinkney in the reign of Henry I. The Pinkneys were lords of this and several adjacent manors. The grandson of the founder, named Gilbert, and his great-grandson Henry, confirmed and increased the original endowments, which consisted of certain lands in Weedon, a mill with adjacent meadows, and tithes of all the demesne lands of the family wherever situated, together with the advowson of the parish church. This endowment was slightly increased by Robert de Pinkney, son of Henry, but with his gift the whole emoluments of the priory came to an end. (fn. 1) Little is recorded of this alien house beyond entries in the diocesan registers recording the presentation of priors by the abbey of St. Lucien and their admission by the bishop of Lincoln; these, however, are of a somewhat varied nature owing to the vexed question of the right form of presentation to the ordinary on the part of alien houses. The rule of heads of this dependent cell was in most cases short, and terminable by the superiors of the parent house. In 1265 Matthew Pressour resigned within a year of his appointment, (fn. 2) an inquiry was held by the dean of Brackley into his administration, and he was found to have brought the priory into debt. On the resignation through illness of Walter Glayne in 1286 Thomas de Compendio was presented by the parent house; the form of presentation, however, was not found correct, and he was admitted to the custody of the priory only as a simple monk till another had been procured; (fn. 3) he held the office for a year, when Thomas de Sancto Marcello was appointed; the bishop in this instance refused to admit the newly-appointed prior until he had received the resignation of Thomas de Compendio. (fn. 4) In 1291 we read that Hugh de Patay was appointed (revoking the previous presentation of Thomas de Marcello) on the resignation of Prior Thomas. (fn. 5)

Thus it is not surprising to find some confusion occasionally arising as to the head of the priory. In 1293 Hugh de Tyenloy appeared with letters of presentation to the bishop, but found that Hugh de Tilloy had been already admitted. (fn. 6) It is recorded of Hugh de Tyenloy that he was eventually instituted by Bishop Sutton on the promise that he would keep residence, but that he speedily left for foreign parts. (fn. 7) He was succeeded by Peter de Ayion in 1302, (fn. 8) who was summoned to resign in 1315 and Thomas de Neufville appointed to succeed him; (fn. 9) nevertheless, Peter contrived to evade the order of his superior, and retained his post till the year 1322, when he was called on to resign under pain of ecclesiastical censure. (fn. 10)

The insignificance of its endowment and the long continuance of the war with France made this priory of so little value to the monks of St. Lucien that they sought and obtained licence in 1378 to assign it to the Cistercian abbey of Biddlesden, at a yearly rent of £8 to the king so long as the war should last. On 6 May, 1386, Richard II. presented William West to the living of Pinkney, as the priory was at that time in the king's hands owing to the war with France. (fn. 11)

Although a licence was obtained for the conveyance of the priory to Biddlesden in 1378, the transfer was not legally executed until fourteen years later. By deed dated 30 May, 1392, the abbot and convent of St. Lucien conveyed to the abbot and convent of Biddlesden at perpetual farm the priory of Weedon Pinkney with all spiritual and temporal possessions and rights, to hold on either of the two following conditions at their choice—(1) That whenever England and France should be at peace they should pay to the abbot of St. Lucien £8 as a yearly pension for ever on the feast of St. John Baptist in the church of St. Mary, Calais, and should also pay £66 13s. 4d. at the Nativity of St. John Baptist next ensuing in the church of St. Donatian at Bruges, and a further sum of £33 6s. 8d. on the feast of St. Peter ad Vincula, 1393; or (2) they should hold the priory free of any pension, provided they would be ready to pay £200 in two instalments, to be completed on the last-named feast. Thomas Ludlowe, prior of Weedon, was a witness to the deed. (fn. 12)

The purchasers adopted the first of the two alternatives, but the total acquisition did not remain long in their hands, and in 1440 they had to surrender the manor of Weedon to the warden and scholars of All Souls, Oxford, to whom it had been granted, inter alia, by the crown for royal chantry purposes. (fn. 13) The abbey still retained the rectory and advowson of the vicarage with certain rents. The Valor of 1535 shows that the college of All Souls held the manor of Weedon of the annual value of £19, from which 6s. 8d. was deducted for their steward, and 5s. for their bailiff; at the same time Biddlesden Abbey received yearly rents from Weedon Pinkney to the value of £1 1s 9d. and £13 6s. 8d. from the rectory.

Even the site of this priory was unknown as far back as the time of Bridges. Another name for the priory and parish was Weedon Lois, Loys or Lees, from its association with the abbey of St. Lucien, the apostle of Beauvais. His shrine was the great attraction of the abbey, and some of the relics appear to have been brought by the monks to Northamptonshire and deposited in the parish church of Weedon Pinkney. When a vicarage was ordained early in the thirteenth century, the vicar was assigned a fourth part of the altarage, but special exemption was made of the offerings to the relics in the church of Weedon, which went to the priory. (fn. 14) Belcher, writing in 1614, says: 'In this church was the memorial of St. Loys (fn. 15) kept, whither did many resort for the cure of their horses; where there was a house at the east end thereof, plucked down within a few years, which was called St. Loys house.' (fn. 16)

Priors of Weedon Pinkney

Odo (fn. 17)

Adam (fn. 18)

Philip (fn. 19)

Nicholas, (fn. 20) occurs 1232

Matthew Charite, (fn. 21) resigned 1264-5

Matthew Pressour, (fn. 22) appointed 1265, resigned 1265

Matthew, (fn. 23) appointed 1265

Walte Glayne, (fn. 24) resigned 1286

Thomas de Compendio, (fn. 25) appointed 1286, resigned 1287

Thomas de Sancto Marcello (fn. 26) appointed 1287, appointment revoked 1291

Hugh de Patay, (fn. 27) appointed 1291, resigned 1293

Hugh de Tilloy, (fn. 28) appointed 1293

Hugh de Tyenloy, (fn. 29) appointed 1293, resigned 1302

Peter de Ayion, (fn. 30) appointed 1302, resigned 1322

Thomas de Neufville, (fn. 31) appointed 1315, and in 1322

Robert de Calceyn, (fn. 32) appointed 1330

William de Meiaco, (fn. 33) appointed 1342

Robert de Neufville, (fn. 34) appointed 1360

John Malengiene, (fn. 35) appointed 1365

Ralph de Ponte, (fn. 36) appointed 1368

Thomas Ludlowe, (fn. 37) occurs 1392


  • 110. Dugdale, Mon. vi. 1068.
  • 120. Cott. MS. Vesp. E. xxii. f. 95.
  • 130. Madox, Hist. of the Exch. i. 203.
  • 140. Chart. R. 2 Hen. III. m. 28; 37 Hen. III. m. 7.
  • 150. Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), ii. 10.
  • 160. Baker makes a curious slip in stating that Okeburn was the principal cell of the abbey of Bernay.
  • 170. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), p. 54.
  • 180. Abbrev. Plac. (Rec. Com.), 246.
  • 190. Plac. de Quo War. (Rec. Com.), 583.
  • 200. Pat. 16 Hen. VI. pt. 2, m. 33.
  • 210. Pat. 1 Edw. IV. pt. 3, m. 21.
  • 220. Ibid. pt. 4, m. 22.
  • 230. Rot. Parl. (Rec. Com.), v. 77.
  • 240. Bridges, Hist. of Northants, i. 94.
  • 250. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv. 217.
  • 1. From the chartulary of the abbey of Biddlesden, Bucks. Harl. MS. 4714, cited by Dugdale, Mon. vi. 1018.
  • 2. Linc. Epis. Reg. Roll of Gravesend.
  • 3. Ibid. Roll of Sutton.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Ibid. Inst. of Sutton, f. 48.
  • 6. Ibid. f. 34d.
  • 7. Ibid. Memo. of Sutton, f. 216.
  • 8. Ibid. Inst. of Dalderby, f. 104d.
  • 9. Ibid. f. 128d.
  • 10. Ibid. Inst. of Burghersh, f. 168
  • 11. Pat. 9 Ric. II. pt. 2, m. 16.
  • 12. Harl. MS. 4714, f. 250.
  • 13. Dugdale, Mon. vi, 1018, from Pat. 18 Hen. VI. pt. 2, m. 11. Confirmed in 1461; Pat. 1 Edw. IV. pt. 5. m. 10.
  • 14. Liber Antiquus Hugonis Wells.
  • 15. There seems to have been some confusion between St. Lucien of Beauvais and St. Eligius (St. Loy), a better-known Frankish saint invoked by horse-owners and metal-workers. According to the Golden Legend, St. Loy was in early life a goldsmith, who made for King Dagobert 'two right fair saddles of gold and of precious stones.'
  • 16. Cited by Bridges, Hist. of Northants, i. 258.
  • 17. He was a witness to the charter of Gilbert de Pinkney. Harl. MS. 4714, f. 248d.
  • 18. Occurs as witness to another charter of Gilbert. Ibid. f. 248d.
  • 19. Occurs as witness to a charter of Henry, son of Gilbert de Pinkney. Ibid. f. 249.
  • 20. Was a witness to the charter of Robert, son of Henry de Pinkney. Ibid. He is said to have presented to the church of Weedon in that year. Bridges, Hist. of Northants, i. 257.
  • 21. Linc. Epis. Reg. Roll of Gravesend.
  • 22. Ibid.
  • 23. Ibid.
  • 24. Ibid. Roll of Sutton.
  • 25. Ibid.
  • 26. Ibid.
  • 27. Ibid. Inst of Sutton, f. 48d.
  • 28. Ibid. f. 54d.
  • 29. Ibid. Inst. of Dalderby, f. 104.
  • 30. Ibid.
  • 31. Ibid. f. 128d. In the Inst. of Bishop Burghersh, Thomas de Neufville is given in the year 1322 on the resignation of Peter de Ayion, f. 168.
  • 32. Ibid. f. 188d.
  • 33. Ibid. f. 244.
  • 34. Ibid. Inst. of Gynwell, f. 183.
  • 35. Ibid. Inst. of Bokyngham, f. 164.
  • 36. Ibid. f. 172d.
  • 37. Harl. MS. 4714, f. 253d.