Houses of Benedictine monks: Priory of Morville

Pages 29-30

A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1973.

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Morville church was originally a Saxon minster served by eight canons. After 1071 Roger, Earl of Shrewsbury, granted some of the prebends to his chaplains but between 1083 and 1086 he granted the whole church, with the reversion of the prebends, to Shrewsbury Abbey. (fn. 1) A new parish church was built and dedicated in 1118. (fn. 2) In or shortly after 1138, when the abbot applied for permission to appropriate the church, the Bishop of Hereford gave his approval on condition that the monks undertook responsibility for the service of the church and the provision of hospitality. (fn. 3) The chancel was enlarged in the later 12th century to provide for the needs of the monks. (fn. 4) The revenues from the extensive parish included, c. 1138, pensions from dependent chapels at Astley Abbots, Oldbury, and Tasley. The chapel at Astley Abbots, consecrated shortly afterwards, was appropriated c. 1219 to improve the hospitality of the priory. (fn. 5) The chapel of Aston Eyre, built and endowed by the lay lord of that manor at about the same time as Astley Abbots, was appropriated in the later 12th century. (fn. 6)

Morville was never more than a cell of Shrewsbury; the priors were dative and all revenues were the property of the abbey, though an occasional small rent might be specially allocated by a donor to the lighting or other needs of Morville church. (fn. 7) The house was able to provide lodging for the Bishop of Hereford, on his journeys round the diocese, at his own expense. (fn. 8) Numbers may never have been more than two or three; in 1372 the 'prior of Morville' seems to have been living alone, as the abbot's representative, collecting tithes and other dues and appointing dependent chaplains. (fn. 9) There was certainly only one monk, styled prior, at Morville in 1518 and 1521. (fn. 10) When Richard Marshall, Abbot of Shrewsbury, resigned in 1529 he was given the revenues of the priory to provide £30 of his pension of £40. (fn. 11) He was living there as prior at the Dissolution, when he was granted the priory for life. (fn. 12) In 1545, when the reversion was granted to John Dudley, Viscount Lisle, (fn. 13) its income was put at £30 0s. 9d. and its expenses, including salaries of the chaplains of Morville and Aston Eyre, were £13 9s. 10¼d. (fn. 14) The cell or grange itself was 'in a state of utter ruin' and the prior, who survived until 1558, seems to have lived elsewhere; by 1546 the site was occupied by Roger Smyth. (fn. 15) A tradition that fragments of the cell are incorporated in Morville Hall appears to be unfounded, although 12th-century stones have been re-used in its walls. (fn. 16)

Priors Of Morville

John, occurs 1220. (fn. 17)

John Wallensis, occurs 1253. (fn. 18)

John Perle, occurs 1353. (fn. 19)

Walter, occurs 1364. (fn. 20)

William Ball, occurs 1450. (fn. 21)

John Coly, occurs c. 1480. (fn. 22)

William Gough, occurs 1518, 1521. (fn. 23)

Richard Broughton, occurs before 1529. (fn. 24)

Richard Marshall alias Baker, appointed 1529, surrendered 1540. (fn. 25)

No common seal.


  • 1. N.L.W., Shrews. Cart. no. 1; V.C.H. Salop. i. 315; cf. R. Lennard, Rural England, 1086-1135, 396.
  • 2. Florence of Worcester, Chronicon ex Chronicis, ed. B. Thorpe, ii. 72; Cranage, i. 332.
  • 3. N.L.W., Shrews. Cart. no. 334. The chapel of Billingsley, included in the grant, was surrendered to the abbey of Séez a few years later: ibid. no. 337.
  • 4. Cranage, i. 335.
  • 5. N.L.W., Shrews. Cart. nos. 347, 348.
  • 6. Eyton. i. 206-10.
  • 7. N.L.W., Shrews. Cart. no. 99; Eyton, i. 52.
  • 8. Cf. Household Roll of Ric. de Swinfield (Camd. Soc. lix), 76; (lxii), p. clxxxv.
  • 9. Cal. Inq. Misc. iii, p. 320.
  • 10. L.J.R.O., B/v 1/1 (pt. 1), p. 30.
  • 11. E. 315/94 pp. 27-28.
  • 12. Ibid.
  • 13. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xx (2), pp. 541-2; S.P.L., Deeds 9549.
  • 14. Eyton, i. 40-41.
  • 15. Ibid. 41-42, 42 n.
  • 16. Cranage, i. 339; ex. inf. Miss Bythell, Morville Hall (1969).
  • 17. Eyton, vi. 184.
  • 18. Ibid. i. 38 n.
  • 19. Reg. J. Trillek (C. & Y.S.), 176-7.
  • 20. E 32/308.
  • 21. Owen and Blakeway, Hist. Shrews. ii. 122.
  • 22. C. 1/59/64.
  • 23. L.J.R.O., B/v 1/1 (pt. 1), pp. 30, 79.
  • 24. E. 315/94 pp. 27-28.
  • 25. Ibid.