Houses of Austin canons: Priory of Bricett

Pages 94-95

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

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Ralph FitzBrian and Emma his wife, about the year 1110, founded a priory for Austin canons at Bricett, which was dedicated to the honour of St. Leonard. The foundation charter endowed the priory with the tithes of Bricett and of 'Losa' with its chapel, a moiety of the church of 'Stepla,' and the church of Stangate, Essex, in addition to various plots of land in the vicinity. The founder also gave to the canons a large garden on the south of the monastery and a smaller one on the east, and he ordained that whenever he was in Suffolk the canons were to act as his chaplains and to receive a tithe of his bread and beer. (fn. 1)

These gifts, with slight additions, were confirmed to the canons both by the son and grandson of the founder and by Sir Almaric Peche, who married the great granddaughter and heiress. In 1250, Walter bishop of Norwich, with the assent of the prior and convent, licensed a chantry in the chapel of Sir Almaric and his lady, within the court of their house, on condition that the chantry chaplain, at his first coming, should swear, in the presence of the prior, to restore to the mother church of Bricett every kind of offering made in the chapel, without any deduction, on the day or the day after the offering was made; and also that no parishioner should be admitted to the sacrament of penance or any other sacrament by the chaplain, save in peril of death. It was also stipulated that Almaric and his wife and household and their heirs should attend the mother church at Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, the Assumption, and St. Leonard's Day, and make the accustomed offerings at high mass. (fn. 2)

Although the founder had enjoined that the canons of this house were to be under the special protection of the Bishop of Norwich, and that the prior was to have the power of appointing and removing canons, the priory of Bricett was claimed, early in the thirteenth century, as pertaining to the monastery of Nobiliac, in the diocese of Limoges and the duchy of Berry. (fn. 3) This claim was resisted, but in 1295 an agreement was arrived at favourable to the foreign house, whereby Bricett became an alien priory; this composition was renewed and confirmed by the Bishop of Norwich in the chapter-house of Bricett, on 16 July, 1310. (fn. 4)

The taxation roll of 1291 gives the annual value of the temporalities of Bricett priory in various Suffolk parishes and in Pentlow, Essex, as £13 18s. 0½d. Under spiritualities there was the church of Wattisham with an income of £5 6s. 8d. and portions from Castle Acre of £1 13s. 4d., and from Wenham of 6s. (fn. 5)

In a long list of royal protections to religious houses in 1295, in return for bestowing on the king a tithe of their income, the priory of Bricett is described as a cell to the priory of 'Noblac in Lymoches.' (fn. 6)

In 1325 Thomas Durant and Margaret his wife obtained licence to enfeoff John de Bohun of a fourth part of the manor of Great Bricett, together with the advowson of the priory of St. Leonard of the same town. (fn. 7)

Licence was granted in 1331 for the alienation by Thomas le Archer, rector of Elmsett, and Richard his brother, to the prior and canons of Bricett of three parts of the manor of Great Bricett, of the yearly value of £7. (fn. 8) The fourth part of the manor of Great Bricett of the annual value of 36s. 8d. was assigned to the priory in 1346 by Richard Hacoun and Anne his wife. (fn. 9) In the same year John Bardoun and Isabel his wife released to the prior and canons of St. Leonard's all their right and claim in the manor of Great Bricett. (fn. 10)

The prior, with a great number of other priors of alien houses and cells, was summoned to appear before the council at Westminster, on the morrow of Midsummer, 1346, 'to speak with them on things that shall be set forth to them,' upon pain of forfeiture and the loss of the priory, lands, and goods. (fn. 11)

On the general suppression of the alien priories, Bricett came into the hands of the crown. In 1444 Henry VI granted the whole of the possessions to the college of SS. Mary and Nicholas (afterwards King's), Cambridge. (fn. 12) This grant was confirmed by the same king in 1452, (fn. 13) and it was again renewed by Edward IV in the first year of his reign, namely on 24 February, 1462. (fn. 14)

In a book of surveys of the University of Cambridge, 1545-6, the annual value of the priory or manor of Bricett is set down under the possessions of King's College at £33 11s. 8d. (fn. 15)

Priors of Bricett

William Randulf, appointed 1312 (fn. 16)

John de Essex, appointed 1337 (fn. 17)

Alan de Codenham, appointed 1372 (fn. 18)

Nicholas Barne, appointed 1399 (fn. 19)


  • 1. Foundation Charter among King's Coll. Camb. muniments. Cited in Dugdale, Mon. vi, 174.
  • 2. Ibid. 174-5.
  • 3. Prynne, Pap. Usurp. iii, 682, 707.
  • 4. Bodl. Chart. Suff. 188.
  • 5. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 17b, 115, 117b, 122, 124, 128, 128b, 129b, 130b, 131, 131b, 132, 133.
  • 6. Pat. 24 Edw. I, m. 21.
  • 7. Ibid. 18 Edw. III, pt. ii, m. 37.
  • 8. Ibid. 5 Edw. III, pt. ii, m. 26.
  • 9. Ibid. 20 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 4.
  • 10. Close, 20 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 23a.
  • 11. Ibid. 21 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 6 d.
  • 12. Parl. R. (Rec. Com.), v. 93.
  • 13. Pat. 31 Hen. VI, pt. i, m. 20.
  • 14. Ibid. 1 Edw. IV, pt. iii, m. 23.
  • 15. Dugdale, Mon. vi, 175.
  • 16. Norw. Epis. Reg. i, 46.
  • 17. Ibid. iii, 5.
  • 18. Ibid. vi, 14.
  • 19. Ibid. vi, 256.