Houses of Austin canons: Priory of the Holy Trinity, Ipswich

A History of the County of Suffolk: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1975.

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, 'Houses of Austin canons: Priory of the Holy Trinity, Ipswich', in A History of the County of Suffolk: Volume 2, (London, 1975) pp. 103-105. British History Online [accessed 30 May 2024].

. "Houses of Austin canons: Priory of the Holy Trinity, Ipswich", in A History of the County of Suffolk: Volume 2, (London, 1975) 103-105. British History Online, accessed May 30, 2024,

. "Houses of Austin canons: Priory of the Holy Trinity, Ipswich", A History of the County of Suffolk: Volume 2, (London, 1975). 103-105. British History Online. Web. 30 May 2024,

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An Ipswich church of the Holy Trinity is named in Domesday Book; but the foundation of Austin canons under that dedication was not established until the time of Henry II. The date of the first building is 1177. 'Normanius Gastrode fil. Egnostri' was the first founder, according to Leland; (fn. 1) at any rate Norman is shown by the charter of King John to have been one of the chief benefactors and a canon of the house. (fn. 2) This charter shows that the priory held, at the beginning of the thirteenth century, the Ipswich churches of the Holy Trinity, St. Laurence, St. Mary-le-Towers, St. Mary-atElms, St. Michael, and St. Saviour, and the churches of 'Wilangeda,' Henham, Layham, Foxhall, and Preston, and moieties of the churches of Tuddenham and Mendham; and lands in Nacton, Helmingham, Hemingstone, Bramford, Delf, Coddenham, Tunstall, Tuddenham, &c.

At an early date this monastery is said to have suffered from fire; it was rebuilt in 1194 by John de Oxford, bishop of Norwich. He placed there seven canons under a prior, but as endowments increased, the number was at one time raised to twenty. Richard I gave the patronage of the house at the time of its re-opening into the hands of the bishop. (fn. 3)

The Taxation Roll of the temporalities of this priory in 1291 shows that its lands and rents, which were chiefly in the town and immediate neighbourhood of Ipswich, produced an annual income of £47 14s. 9d. The spiritualities reached the much larger annual value of £88 14s. 4d. It would appear from this return that the canons then held the rectories of St. Laurence, St. Margaret, St. Mary-at-Tower, and St. Mary-at-Elms, Ipswich, and the country churches of Tuddenham, Foxhall, Rushmere, Bentley, Caldwell, and Preston, together with considerable proportions of three other rectories. (fn. 4) But possibly there was some error in these entries, as it seems scarcely likely that the priory would have lost so many appropriations between this date and the time of Henry VIII, when the Valor of 1535 gave the clear value of the temporalities of the house as £69 14s. 8d., but showed the spiritualities reduced to the rectories of Mendham, Rushmere, St. Laurence's Norwich, and Tuddenham, with a portion in Morning Thorpe, of the clear value of £18 12s. 1d. Thus the total net income was assessed at £82 6s. 9d. (fn. 5)

The prior and convent of the Holy Trinity obtained licence, in 1327, to acquire in mortmain lands or rents to the yearly value of £10. In 1335 a variety of small plots of land and rents were alienated to the canons at Preston, Rushmere, Bentley, and in Ipswich and the suburbs, to the annual value of 16s. 2d. under cover of the 1327 licence. (fn. 6) On payment of £20 the priory obtained leave in 1392 to accept the alienation to them, by Roger de Wolferston and others, of land and meadow in Ipswich and Rushmere; to find five tapers to burn daily at the Lady mass in the conventual church, and one lamp to burn continually day and night in the Lady chapel. (fn. 7)

In 1393 the royal pardon was granted to John Bendel, a canon of this house, for causing the death of Godfrey Neketon, cook. (fn. 8)

Trinity priory was visited by Archdeacon Goldwell, as commissary of his brother the bishop, on 22 January, 1493, when Prior Richard and six canons were present. Nothing was found worthy of reformation. (fn. 9) The next recorded visitation was held by Bishop Nykke in August, 1514, when eight canons were examined. Almost the only complaint, against which the bishop directed an injunction, was the insolence of some of the servants. The words that two of the servants addressed to certain of the canons are set forth in English: 'Yf soo be that ye medyll with me I shall gyff the such a strippe that thou shallt not recover yt a twelvemonyth after.' (fn. 10)

At the visitation held by Bishop Nykke in June, 1526, Prior Thomas Whighte complained of the disobedience of John Carver, but otherwise all was good. Of the four canons examined, two testified omnia bene; but Thomas Edgore said that the prior did not render annual accounts, and John Shribbs complained that daily chapters were not held, and there was no correction of excess in the chapter. The latter also stated that the canons confessed to whom they liked, and that they went out of the priory precincts without asking leave of the prior. The bishop's injunction ordered Carver to be obedient to the prior under pain of imprisonment, the holding of a chapter according to rule, the making of an annual account before two of the canons, the appointment of a confessor, the better observance of silence, and the non-departure of the brothers from the precincts save by leave of the superior. (fn. 11) The last visitation was in June 1532, when five canons were examined besides Prior Whighte. It was complained that the food and cooking were bad, the cook dirty, and no annual account rendered. The bishop issued injunctions as to each of these defects. (fn. 12)

The priory fell with the lesser monasteries which were condemned in 1536. On 24 August of that year the commissioners drew up an inventory of its goods and chattels. The conventual church, which was popular with the townsfolk of Ipswich, was well furnished. The plate included two cruets, a censer with ship, three chalices, and a cross, all of silver-gilt or parcel-gilt; the cross was valued at £5. In the quire were; a great and a lesser pair of standards of latten, 'a deske of latten to rede the Gospell at,' and a pair of organs. There were another pair of organs and a small pair of latten standards in the Lady chapel. The supply of vestments in the vestry was ample. In the pantry there was a salt, two standing cups, 'a lytell cruse,' and six spoons all of silver. The furniture of the hall, parlour, and chambers was simple and of little value. The cattle and corn, which were jointly valued at £42 8s. 8d., declared at £86 5s. (fn. 13)

The actual suppression of the house took place on 9 February, 1536-7. (fn. 14) On 20 February John Thetford (alias Colyn), the last prior, was assigned a pension of £15. (fn. 15) The site and lands were shortly afterwards granted to Sir Humphrey Wingfield and Sir Thomas Rushe. (fn. 16)

Priors (fn. 17) of Holy Trinity, Ipswich

Alan, (fn. 18) occurs 1180

William, (fn. 19) occurs 1239

William de Colneys, (fn. 20) occurs 1248

Nicholas de Ipswich (fn. 21)

William de Secheford (fn. 22)

John de St. Nicholas (fn. 23)

John de Kentford, (fn. 24) 1324

Thomas de Thornham, (fn. 25) 1383

John Pyke, (fn. 26) 1390

John Gylmyn, (fn. 27) 1411

John Mauncer, (fn. 28) 1417

John Pyke, (fn. 29) 1424

Thomas Hadley, (fn. 30) died 1437

John Bestman, (fn. 31) 1437

Thomas Gundolf, (fn. 32) 1470

Richard Forth, (fn. 33) 1479

Robert, (fn. 34) occurs 1513

Thomas Whighte, (fn. 35) occurs 1526

John Thetford (fn. 36) (alias Colyn), occurs 1535

The priory of Holy Trinity was sometimes known as Christ Church; it bore this name as early as the days of Richard II. (fn. 37) A circular seal of this house shows Our Lord seated, with crucifix nimbus, right hand raised in blessing, left hand resting on a book. The seven candlesticks are shown, four on one side and three on the other. The whole is enclosed in a quatrefoil, outside which are the Evangelistic symbols. Legend:—



  • 1. Leland, Coll. i, 62.
  • 2. Chart. R. 5 John, m. 16, 125.
  • 3. Angl. Sacr. i, 409; Dugdale, Mon. vi, 447; Wodderspoon, Ipswich, 200-2.
  • 4. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 84, 114b, 115, 117b, 119b, 122, 124, 129b, 133.
  • 5. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iii, 423.
  • 6. Pat. 1 Edw. III, pt. ii, m. 23; 9 Edw. III, pt. i. m. 10.
  • 7. Ibid. 16 Ric. II, pt. i, 36.
  • 8. Ibid. pt. iii, m. 11.
  • 9. Jessopp, Visit. 34.
  • 10. Ibid. 135-6.
  • 11. Ibid. 220-1.
  • 12. Ibid. 293-4.
  • 13. Proc. Suff. Arch. Inst. viii, 91-4.
  • 14. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xii, pt. i, 510.
  • 15. Misc. Bks. (Aug. Off.), ccxxxii, fol. 48.
  • 16. Ibid. ccix, fol. 40b.
  • 17. Several of the names of priors assigned to Holy Trinity priory in the lists of Dugdale and Wodderspoon are really priors of St. Peter's, Ipswich; but one or two canons seem to have held in turn the office of superior at each priory.
  • 18. Wodderspoon, Ipswich, 302.
  • 19. Ibid.
  • 20. Harl. MS. 6957, fol. 98.
  • 21. Harl. MS. 6957, fol. 107.
  • 22. Ibid. 6958, fol. 88.
  • 23. Ibid.
  • 24. Norw. Epis. Reg. i, 105-6. These are dates of election.
  • 25. Ibid. vi, 90.
  • 26. Ibid. vi, 149.
  • 27. Ibid. vii, 46.
  • 28. Ibid. viii, 25.
  • 29. Ibid. viii, 80.
  • 30. Ibid. x, 12.
  • 31. Ibid.
  • 32. Ibid. xi, 174.
  • 33. Ibid. xii, 71.
  • 34. Wodderspoon, Ipswich, 302.
  • 35. Jessopp, Visit. 220.
  • 36. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.).
  • 37. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. ix, 245-7.
  • 38. Engraved for Wodderspoon's Ipswich, opp. p. 300. In the B. M. Catalogue of Seals this seal is termed the second seal of St. Peter's priory.