Alien house: Priory of Tooting

Pages 129-130

A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1967.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


In this section



The name of Tooting Beck or Tooting Bec still preserves the former association of a part of this town with the great Benedictine abbey of Bec in Normandy. A certain part of Upper Tooting, in the parish of Streatham, was given to the abbey of Bec in the life of the Conqueror by Richard de Tonebridge, and the abbey placed some monks there in charge of their property establishing a grange or small priory. The chapel at Streatham mentioned in the Domesday Survey (fn. 2) as paying 8s. may have been the church or chapel of this priory. The estate was sometimes accounted as a distinct alien priory and sometimes as a member of Okeburn, Wilts, which was the chief English cell of Bec.

The prior of Tooting (Theuteng) was appointed by Pope Innocent IV., in 1251, conservator of certain pensions from certain churches granted to the abbot and convent of Westminster. (fn. 3)

The taxation roll of 1291 returns the abbot of Bec as holding an income of £4 out of the church of Streatham as part of the alien priory of Streatham.

In 1315 it was said that the prior of Okeburn held the manor of Tooting (Totynge) Bec and Streatham of Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, by the service of one knight's fee. (fn. 4) Hugh le Despenser, heir of the Earl of Gloucester, died seized of a knight's fee in Tooting and Streatham, which the prior of Okeburn held of him. (fn. 5)

When the alien priories were definitely seized by Henry V. in 1414, Tooting Bec was granted to his brother John, Duke of Bedford. The duke died seized of it on 14 September 1436, whereupon it devolved on Henry VI. as his nephew and heir. Thereupon Henry VI. granted it to John Ardern for ten years at a rent of £19; which rent, with the reversion, was granted in 1440 to the college of Eton. (fn. 6)


  • 1. Manning and Bray, Hist. of Surrey, iii. 382-3; Dugdale, Monasticon, vi. 1053.
  • 2. V.C.H. Surrey (i. 315).
  • 3. Cal. of Papal Letters, i. 271.
  • 4. Inq. p.m. 8 Edw. II. No. 68.
  • 5. Ibid. 23 Edw. III. pt. ii. No. 169.
  • 6. Dugdale's Baronage, ii. 702.