Houses of Cistercian monks: The college of St Bernard, Oxford

A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.

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'Houses of Cistercian monks: The college of St Bernard, Oxford', A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2, (London, 1907), pp. 86. British History Online [accessed 21 June 2024].

. "Houses of Cistercian monks: The college of St Bernard, Oxford", in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2, (London, 1907) 86. British History Online, accessed June 21, 2024,

. "Houses of Cistercian monks: The college of St Bernard, Oxford", A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2, (London, 1907). 86. British History Online. Web. 21 June 2024,

In this section


In 1437, (fn. 1) Archbishop Chicheley founded a college near Oxford for Cistercian monks in honour of St. Mary and St. Bernard. As the college of this order at Paris had long been known as the Studium beati Bernardi, the same title was naturally adopted in England. The founder probably gave little more than the site, part of which was acquired from Durham College. (fn. 2) The buildings, no doubt, were erected by the order, and were still unfinished in 1483. (fn. 3) In 1449 the abbot of Morimond, commissioned by the general chapter of the Cistercians to hold a visitation 'of the college of our order,' gave certain injunctions to 'the college of St. Bernard near Oxford,' which are preserved in a mutilated record; (fn. 4) none but Cistercians were to stay in the college; the seniors were not to have more than one servant apiece; there was to be reading at meal times; the gates of the college were to be shut early; in one place it is described as endowed (dotatum), but what the endowments were is unknown. In 1482 the chapter of the Cistercians decreed that in every monastery of twelve monks one was to be sent to the college of St. Bernard at Oxford; if there were twenty-six monks, then two were to be sent. Monasteries with two or three monks were to unite so as to make up the necessary allowance for one scholar, (fn. 5) and in 1490 the abbot of Cîteaux ordered the abbots of Fountain and Stratford, as his commissaries, to enforce this decree. (fn. 6)

In May, 1530, permission was given by the Bishop of Lincoln that Robert, bishop of Rheon, should consecrate the chapel in Bernard College. (fn. 7)

There is reason for thinking that Bernard College, like Durham College, survived the dissolution of the monasteries, at least for a few years. In a grant concerning Thedge Grange, made in the year 1542, it is stated that there was a rent due to St. Bernard's College, as though it were still in existence. (fn. 8) There is a survey of the buildings of Bernard College, preserved at the Record Office, evidently drawn up when it was in the hands of the crown, but it is undated. (fn. 9)

The head of the college was styled 'provisor.'

Heads of Bernard College (fn. 10)

John Staynbourne, occurs 1461

James Kepas, occurs 1498

Thomas Stoknay, occurs 1502

John Ford, occurs 1514

Arnold Gye, alias Buckfast, occurs 1528

Robert Cumbe, occurs 1532

Philip Acton, c. 1535


  • 1. The date is 1432 in Rashdale's Hist. of Universities, ii, 479; but the land of Durham College was accuired in 1437; Collectanea (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), iii, 61.
  • 2. Collect. iii, 61.
  • 3. Maxwell Lyte, Hist. of the Univ. of Oxf. 343.
  • 4. Bodl. Chart. Oxon. 180.
  • 5. Martene, Thes. Anecd. iv. 1638.
  • 6. Aug. Off. Cart. Misc. ix, 227.
  • 7. Linc. Epis. Reg. Longlands, Mem. fol. 50.
  • 8. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvii, 443 (39).
  • 9. Rentals and Surv. Roll 548.
  • 10. Wood, City of Oxf. (ed. Clarke), ii, 308.