Houses of Benedictine monks: The priory of Phelely

Pages 67-68

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

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This small priory is known to us only from three charters in the Eynsham Chartulary. (fn. 1) It was a gathering of Benedictine monks under a 'prelatus,' presumably a prior, and situated in a part of Wychwood, which was appendant to the manor of Bloxham, but adjacent to the parish of Charlbury. Though it is called a hermitage (heremum), it was not the abode of a solitary individual, for mention is made of several brethren, and the position of head of Pheleley was of sufficient dignity to be coveted by a monk of Tewkesbury. We may conjecture that during the reign of Henry I some Benedictine monk retired to a solitary life in Bloxham Wood, and, as happened in the case of Gilbert of Sempringham and Roger of Markyate, was joined by others and became their prior. One of the charters mentions that Henry I had assigned it as a cell to Eynsham, and that the two next owners of Bloxham, Stephen and the count of Meulan, renewed the grant. Finally, on the death or the removal of the head of the community, the count of Meulan, about 1145, asked the abbot of Eynsham to take charge of it, and apparently the monks and their endowments were transferred to Eynsham. There is no evidence to show what those endowments were; but in 1291 Eynsham possessed land in Bloxham worth £3 10s. a year, no doubt acquired from Pheleley.


  • 1. Eynsham Cartul. (Oxford Hist. Soc.), chart. 32, 33, 34.