Friaries: The house of Crutched friars

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

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'Friaries: The house of Crutched friars', A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2, (London, 1907), pp. 148-149. British History Online [accessed 23 June 2024].

. "Friaries: The house of Crutched friars", in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2, (London, 1907) 148-149. British History Online, accessed June 23, 2024,

. "Friaries: The house of Crutched friars", A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2, (London, 1907). 148-149. British History Online. Web. 23 June 2024,


The Friars of the Holy Cross, who were distinct from the order of Cross-bearing Friars, (fn. 1) came to England about 1248, (fn. 2) but do not seem to have had a house in Oxford till nearly a hundred years later. (fn. 3) On 29 July, 1342, the Crutched Friars of London had licence to acquire land in Oxford, not held in chief, to the value of £10 yearly. (fn. 4) On the same day Simon de Gloucester of Oxford had licence to alienate in mortmain a messuage in Oxford to the prior and Crutched Friars by the Tower of London, 'that they may found there a dwelling-place for thirteen student friars of their order, to stay for study in the University there, and for the increase of the service of God and his Church, and to celebrate divine service for ever, for the good estate of the king and his children, as long as they live, and for their souls after death and for the souls of his progenitors and the faithful dead.' (fn. 5) The position of this messuage is not known, but it may be noted that in February, 1342-3, Simon de Gloucester made recognition that he and his predecessors were wont to pay to St. Frideswide's 9d. a year for his tenement called White Hall in Schidyard Street. (fn. 6)

In 1343 Thomas Legh, of Oxford, townclerk, sought permission to grant to the Friars of the Holy Cross in London a messuage without the South Gate of Oxford, in Grandpont. (fn. 7) This was probably Broadgates Hall or Plomerhall. (fn. 8) In May, 1349, Richard Cary, several times mayor of Oxford, had licence to grant the same friars two messuages and a plot of ground contiguous to their dwelling-place. One messuage was held of the abbess of Godstow for 5s. rent, the other messuage was held of St. Frideswide's priory at a rent of 6d., and the plot of ground which lay between the tenement of Thomas Legh on the north and that of Nicholas de Longford, fisherman, on the south, was held of the same priory at a rent of 4s. The net value of the whole to the friars was 2s. 6d. (fn. 9)

About this time the friars came into possession of a new site near the East Gate. They had licence 24 June, 1349, from Libertus, the general of the Order, to hold lands, houses, and tenements and receive novices, (fn. 10) and a papal decree of 27 September, 1350, addressed to the prior and Augustinian Friars of the Holy Cross in Oxford and signed by the pope and ten cardinals, confirmed the property and privileges of the friary, including the site of the house, the hall called 'Schipalle' with its. garden, with meadows, woods, pastures, water-mills, and other liberties and immunities. (fn. 11)

The new site was on the property of the warden and fellows of Merton College, who stipulated (fn. 12) that the friars should pay 1 mark yearly for tithes to the parish church, which belonged to the college; that one of the brethren should pray daily in the oratory for the founder, warden, and fellows of the college; that they should pay a rent of 20s. a year for the ground; that they should not celebrate divine service in their oratory with a loud voice when the parishioners were at mass in the parish church, except on the two festivals of the Holy Cross; that they should not hear confessions nor bury any of the parishioners in their chapel without leave from the vicar of the parish church or the warden of Merton College, or at least unless the deceased had willed his body to be buried there; that they should do nothing to the prejudice of the mother church in receiving or enticing legacies from any of the parishioners on their deathbeds, upon penalty of refunding threefold to the vicar; with other considerations. Upon giving security for the performance of these conditions, they proceeded with their building, which contained in length on the south side 59 ft., and at the east end 30 ft. But before the foundations were up the Bishop of Lincoln forbade them to go on with the chapel, 26 July, 1349; (fn. 13) and Richard de Medmenham, proctor of Merton College, met Thomas, (fn. 14) the prior of the friars of the Cross, on the site (24 March, 1349-50), and formally 'announced' the said work by throwing a pebble; he explained his words in English to the prior, who replied: 'God will help us.' (fn. 15) The friars gave up the attempt to build on this site, but in 1352 they began publicly to celebrate divine service in another place hard by, called the people to mass by the sound of a bell, and received offerings. Acting on the instructions of the bishop, Thomas abbot of Oseney cited the prior, Simon Veal, 'called of Cornwall,' (fn. 16) to appear before him, and, on his failure to do so, excommunicated him. Simon appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who summoned the warden and scholars of Merton to appear before his court in London. (fn. 17) The result of the appeal is not known. The friars seem to have succumbed to this opposition, combined perhaps with pestilence. There is no evidence that they had a house in this district when New College was founded.

John son of Walter Wrenche of Milton, (fn. 18) spicer, bequeathed to them five quarters of corn, 4 May, 1349, and Edmund de Bereford left them 13s. in his will, dated 8 January, 1350-1. (fn. 19)

Of their tenements without the South Gate, Broadgates Hall was conveyed by Richard de Charingworth, prior of the Crutched Friars (probably in London), to Sir Adam de Shareshill, knt., in 1362, with two shops adjoining it, for the term of his life, he rendering to the prior and convent a rose on the feast of St. John Baptist. (fn. 20) Further there is mention in an indenture of 1377 of a tenement in Grandpont which the friars of the Holy Cross were wont formerly to inhabit; this was demised in 1377 by Thomas Fourneys and Richard Boteler to William Witteneye, parson of St. Michael's in the South Gate, and John Grom. (fn. 21)


  • 1. York MS. of Eccleston, fol. 24a; Pat. 28 Hen. III, m. 2; Matt. Paris, Hist. Angl. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 496 (1244).
  • 2. Pat. 33 Hen. III, m. 2.
  • 3. Wood, City, i, 65, refers to the Crossed Friars in 1273; this is a mistake for Crusaders; see Twyne MS. xxiii, 83. In the will of Nicholas de Weston, 1271, money is left to five houses of friars in Oxford, and to eight other religious houses and nine anchorets; as the Crutched Friars are not mentioned, it may be assumed that they had no house in Oxford in 1271; Bodl. Oseney Charters, 14.
  • 4. Pat. 16 Edw. III, pt. ii, m. 25.
  • 5. Ibid. m. 22. Wood says the number of friars was 30 (City, ii, 492, from Coll. Milonis Windsore in bibl. C.C.C. Oxf.).
  • 6. Cartul. of St. Frideswide's (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), i, 134-5. Wood states that he was the owner of Bekes Inn and Kepeharme Hall (City, i, 538-9). He was bailiff in 1331, mayor in 1336, and one of the parliamentary burgesses in 1340 (Wood, City, iii, 14, 15, 45).
  • 7. Inq. a.q.d. 268 (18).
  • 8. Cf. Wood, City, i, 303; Cartul. of St. Frideswide's, i, 342-3. There were several Broadgates Halls.
  • 9. Pat. 23 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 11. Inq. a.q.d. 294 (6); the writ is dated 8 Feb. Cartul. of St. Frideswide's, i, 188. This property was not near the East Gate, as Wood says (City, ii, 490-1).
  • 10. Wood, City, ii, 491; the original in Merton Coll. Archives, No. 1,861, is now illegible for the most part.
  • 11. Cal. of Papal L. iii, 381.
  • 12. Wood, City, ii, 491 (from various muniments of the City and Merton Coll.).
  • 13. Merton Coll. Muniments, No. 8.
  • 14. Probably Thomas de Castro; Cal. Papal. L. iii, 410.
  • 15. Merton Coll. Muniments, No. 7.
  • 16. Cf. Cal. Papal L. iii, 410.
  • 17. Merton Coll. Muniments, Nos. 9, 11, 12, 13. There is no entry concerning the matter in Islip's Register.
  • 18. Wood, City, ii, 388, 492; Wood MS. D, 2, p. 540.
  • 19. Reg. Abp. Islip, fol. 105a.
  • 20. Wood, City, i, 303; Wood-Gutch, Hist. i, 443; Twyne MS. xxiii, 474-5.
  • 21. Wood, City, ii, 490.