A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1967.
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HOUSE OF CISTERCIAN MONKS
3. ABBEY OF WAVERLEY
A peculiar interest and importance attaches to the history of the abbey of the Blessed Mary of Waverley, inasmuch as it was the first house established in England of that great order which William de Malmesbury described as 'the surest road to Heaven.' (fn. 1)
This Cistercian monastery was founded on 24 November 1128 by William Giffard, Bishop of Winchester, (fn. 2) who brought over from the abbey of Aumône in Normandy twelve brethren with their abbot (fn. 3) to form the first colony. The name of the superior was John. Both he and the bishop lived only to see the foundation; the former died at Midhurst 1128-9 returning from a general chapter. (fn. 4)
The bishop's foundation charter bestowed on the house all the land at Waverley with meadow and pasture and two acres of meadow at Elsted, together with pannage for their swine and liberty to cut wood for fuel and other purposes in his woods at Farnham. (fn. 5) Henry de Blois, brother of King Stephen, who succeeded Giffard in the see of Winchester, added to his predecessor's endowment a virgate of land at 'Wanford' and full rights of pasture at Farnham with licence to cut and dig turf, heath, stone and sand. (fn. 6) The charter set out in detail the bounds of the abbey estates: 'From the oak at Tilford, called the King's Oak, along the king's highway to Farnham, as far as Winterborne, and from thence along the bank which runs from Farnham to the hill called Richard's Hill, and across the said hill and the bridge of "Wanford" to the meadow of Tilford called Ilvetham's Mead, and so on to the oak from whence this perambulation sets out.' (fn. 7) Among other early benefactors of the house were Adeliza, Queen of Henry I., who granted to the abbot and convent the grange of Northolt, (fn. 8) and King Stephen who gave them Neatham near Alton, (fn. 9) and by his charter, at the request of his brother (fn. 10) 'their father, founder and bishop,' granted that the abbot and convent of the Blessed Mary of Waverley should hold their lands quit of pleas and plaints, geld and danegeld and all secular service in frankalmoin under the king's protection. (fn. 11) Pharamus de Bologne, nephew of King Stephen, sold to the brethren the manor of Wanborough for the sum of 125 marks of silver, the sale being confirmed by charter of Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex, lord of the fee. (fn. 12) All grants up to 1147 were confirmed to the monastery by a bull of Pope Eugenius III., who also, in a clause of the same bull, exempted the abbey from all payment of tithes for their cattle and for such lands as were in their own occupation. (fn. 13) Richard I. confirmed to the abbey the privileges and liberties granted by his predecessor King Stephen, together with further benefactions: grants of land by Robert de Venuz and William his son and other donors. (fn. 14) John confirmed the charter of liberties granted by his predecessors and added fresh gifts. (fn. 15) During his reign Gilbert de Basseville, lord of the manor of Worplesdon, granted to the convent a piece of land within his lordship afterwards called 'la Newe Rude.' (fn. 16) Henry III. having recovered certain lands in Neatham which he claimed as belonging to his demesne bestowed them on the abbey in 1239, (fn. 17) and about this time also Savaric de Bohun confirmed a grant made by his ancestors of one mark yearly out of his mill at Midhurst for the maintenance of one monk in augmentation of the convent. (fn. 18) By a grant of Richard Malherbe de Bouegath in 1281 Hugh, abbot of Waverley, and his convent came into possession of two acres of meadow lying between their own holding and the Itchin. (fn. 19) The following year John Dabernon gave permission to the brethren to take turf from his wood called Stokewood to repair their fosse situated between their land and the said wood, letters in acknowledgment being issued by the abbot 'lest that which had been granted by favour should after be demanded as a right.' (fn. 20) The charter of liberties granted by Stephen and confirmed by his successors was inspected and confirmed by Edward II. on the 27 January 1317-8. (fn. 21)
Comparatively the abbey of Waverley was but slenderly endowed. In the Taxation Roll of 1291 the temporalities of the monastery amounted to £98 1s. 8d. (fn. 22) Contrasted with the vast estates of a foundation like Bermondsey such a modest rent roll sinks into insignificance, yet comparison can only result in admiration of the energy and wise government displayed by those who ruled the abbey, qualities so conspicuously lacking in the case of the richer house, but enabling the poorer to cope with difficulties and times of depression under which the other succumbed. In common with Bermondsey the Cistercian house suffered much from devastating floods, bad seasons, loss of crops, but embarrassments which mainly constitute the history of Bermondsey proved but temporary checks in the annals of the Blessed Mary of Waverley. It is a tribute to the rule and discipline maintained by the house that from its foundation to the year 1291 (fn. 23) seven of the brethren were selected to be abbots and several were chosen as heads of other foundations. The vitality of Waverley is evidenced by its many offshoots. Garendon Abbey in Leicestershire, Ford Abbey in Devonshire, Combe in Warwickshire and Thame in Oxfordshire were daughter houses, and no less than eleven Cistercian abbeys were descended from Waverley. The priority claimed by her over all other houses of the order in England was for a time disputed by Furness, (fn. 24) but established by the decision of 1232 that the abbots of Furness should have precedence through the whole generations of Aumône in England and Savigny in England, while the abbots of Waverley should have precedence everywhere, not only in the chapters of the abbots assembled in England but throughout the entire order. (fn. 25)
The exemption claimed by the Cistercians by right of papal indulgence from the payment of tithes, and assistance in those aids or subsidies to the king which it was customary to call on all ecclesiastics to grant, was at first strenuously upheld by them, and in the case of Waverley, as senior house of the order, drew upon the brethren much unfavourable attention in the days of the earlier Plantagenets. The wisdom of a gradual withdrawal of their opposition seems to have occurred to them in the reigns of Edward I. and his successors. At the time of the third Crusade in 1188 a heavy tax was laid on the whole of Europe by the authority of the pope. The poor, we are told, suffered grievously under this exaction, but the Cistercian order was exempt. (fn. 26) For the ransom of Richard I. in 1193 money was collected throughout the kingdom, abbeys and shrines were despoiled of their gold, silver and precious stones. Even the sacred vessels on the altars were not spared. The Cistercians, in whose houses precious metals were not found, (fn. 27) were compelled to contribute one year's wool. (fn. 28)
With the accession of John commenced a period of trial for the abbey of Waverley. The opening years of the thirteenth century were marked by natural misfortunes and losses. A violent storm in July 1201 did much damage to crops, the abbey buildings were flooded and all but carried away. (fn. 29) John, the sixth abbot, a man whose character and rule seems to have won the veneration of all, died at Merton on 16 September. (fn. 30) The rainfall of the year 1201 was followed by general failure of crops and consequent seasons of dearth. Nevertheless William, rector of Broadwater, undeterred by these misfortunes, laid the foundation of a new church at Waverley in March 1203-4, (fn. 31) but in the same year such a grievous famine and mortality arose in the district that the brethren were dispersed abroad in other religious houses owing to lack of sustenance. (fn. 32) King John's dispute with the pope resulted in the kingdom being laid under an interdict in 1208, followed by the seizure of all ecclesiastical property by the king, (fn. 33) that of William de Broadwater being confiscated among the rest. In the same year however John spent the last days of Holy Week at the abbey (fn. 34) and seems to have been favourably impressed by his hosts, for on leaving he issued an order for the release of the rents and possessions of William, priest of Broadwater, that the church of Waverley which he was building at his own expense might be continued. (fn. 35) In 1210, however, John was endeavouring to extort money by every means in his power, and the Cistercians (fn. 36) having refused to contribute, Waverley fell under the heavy displeasure of the king: 'Waverley with all her privileges withdrawn and monks and lay brethren scattered abroad throughout England, patiently sustained the wrath of the king. Abbot John III. in fear (of the king) left his house and fled away by night, and the king forbad any of the Cistercian Order to cross the sea or to come over into England.' (fn. 37) In 1212 John, continuing his persecution of all ecclesiastics in the kingdom, and especially the Cistercians, extorted from them false letters resigning their property to him. (fn. 38) The king's irritation against Waverley seems to have allayed when peace had been made with the pope, (fn. 39) and in October 1214 the abbot of Waverley, with the abbot of Reading and other envoys, was sent on a mission in the king's service in connection with which the treasurer of the Exchequer was directed to pay the abbot of Waverley the sum of ten marks, (fn. 40) and the bailiffs of Dover were instructed to find the envoys a good and secure ship to carry them, the charges for which would be made good at the Exchequer. (fn. 41)
On 10 July in the same year, 1214, the new church, the building of which had been carried on in spite of many difficulties, had so far advanced that five altars were dedicated by Albin, Bishop of Ferns, in the presence of Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester. At the same time the cemetery of those who had died during the interdict was blessed, and the consecration crosses of the church anointed and blessed. (fn. 42) The spring called Ludwell, which had abundantly supplied the lavatory and aqueduct constructed by the brethren in 1179 (fn. 43) and had served all domestic offices, dried up in 1216. (fn. 44) Brother Simon then began to consider how this inconvenience might be remedied, and gave himself to the task of discovering a fresh spring, in which after a diligent search he was successful, and brought the water by an underground conduit to the house. The new spring was named St. Mary's Well. (fn. 45) The building of the church proceeded slowly, and the builder, William de Broadwater, passed away long before his task was completed, and was buried near the south wall of the church in 1222: 'on whose soul may He have mercy who alone after death is able to heal.' (fn. 46) It was not until 1278 that the work was fully accomplished. On the feast of St. Matthew in that year it was dedicated in honour of the glorious Virgin Mary, Mother of God, (fn. 47) by Nicholas de Ely, Bishop of Winchester, who granted a year's indulgence to all present in pious devotion, and forty days' remission in perpetuity to all who should frequent the church on the anniversary of its dedication. Joy and feasting marked this great occasion, and the bishop, in order that nothing should be wanting that could add to the general happiness, supplied ample provisions at his own expense for all assembled throughout the nine days' solemnities. (fn. 48) Six abbots and other prelates with knights and ladies (fn. 49) not a few were among the concourse, and it is even stated, probably with some exaggeration, that as many as 7,066 sat down to meat on the first day. (fn. 50) At an earlier date than the building of the great church the chapel of the infirmary was dedicated at the latter end of 1201 (fn. 51) by Albin, Bishop of Ferns, previously mentioned, himself a Cistercian monk. Abbot Adam, who resigned his office in 1219 (fn. 52) but lived till 1229, (fn. 53) established a new ordinance for his house, a private mass to be said for all guests dying in the infirmary of the seculars on the day or morrow of their burial. (fn. 54) Giffard, the tenth abbot, instituted a private mass to be said on the anniversary of all who had annually benefited the brethren, and ordained that at the festivals of Christmas and All Saints candles should burn on all the altars of the church while Divine office was being celebrated at both evensongs, at nocturns, at lauds and at masses. (fn. 55) Additional ordinances made at the general chapter of Citeaux held in 1238 decreed that commemoration should be kept of the Blessed Benedict and Bernard at vespers and at lauds throughout the order; (fn. 56) and, in 1257, that from henceforth there should be twelve rasuræ during the year, whereas before there had never been more than seven, and that the abbots should wear copes and the ministers of the altar dalmatics, a use which was in future followed. (fn. 57) It was decreed in 1255 that on the day of St. Dominic, founder of the Order of Friars Preachers, and on that of the 'Blessed Peter, martyrof the same order,' there should be twelve lessons read throughout the entire order, (fn. 58) and similarly in 1259 that twelve lessons should be read on the day of St. Francis, founder of Friars Minor, and on the day of Blessed Robert the abbot, two masses in each convent of the order. (fn. 59) Waverley like all Cistercian houses was exempt from episcopal jurisdiction and visited by commissioners specially deputed by the general chapter. In the year 1188 a visitation of the English houses of the order by deputies of the general chapter is recorded, in the course of which the abbots of Tintern and Bordesley were suspended. (fn. 60) This is the sole entry relating to such visitation, and information as to the number of the brethren and the internal condition of the monastery is lacking. At the time of the election of Abbot Christopher in 1187 it is stated that there were 120 lay brethren and seventy religious in the house and about thirty plough teams at work on the estates. (fn. 61)
The relations of the abbey with John's successor seem to have been very friendly in spite of his struggle with the Cistercian order on the vexed question of aids to the king, from the payment of which they still claimed exemption. (fn. 62) In 1225, when the estates of the realm granted Henry III. a fifteenth of all their movables in return for his confirmation of Magna Charta and the Charta de Foresta, the brethren of the order in England agreed to contribute 2,000 marks of silver 'as much for the sake of their liberties as to gain the good will of the king.' (fn. 63) This diplomatic concession under the name of 'courtesy' was frequently repeated, though probably the exemption of the order as a right was not yielded. The royal favour was shown in a visit paid by Henry III. to the abbey of Waverley in the same year. He was received by the community on 16 December 1225 in solemn procession; on the morrow he entered the chapter-house, and at his own request was admitted associate of the order. (fn. 64) The following year John de Venuz, the king's forester, was directed to allow the abbot of Waverley to take five oaks out of his bailiwick (fn. 65); a similar order was given in 1231, permitting the abbot to take timber out of his wood of Wanborough for the building of his church, (fn. 66) and again in the year 1270 permission was granted to John de Eton, sub-prior of Waverley, to take six oak trees in Aliceholt forest for timber. Transgressions against forest law, (fn. 67) which came before the king's cognisance seem to have been treated with leniency and fines applied to the use of the convent itself. (fn. 68) In January 1226-7 letters of protection to last until Easter 1228 were granted to the abbot. (fn. 69) Besides the visit of the king, on Palm Sunday, 1. April 1245, Eleanor, the sister of Henry III. and wife of Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, described as 'a sincere lover of our house,' was permitted by papal indulgence (fn. 70) to enter the abbey accompanied by her husband, two sons—Henry and Simon—and three handmaidens. (fn. 71) The countess entered the church at the very moment of the elevation of the host at the high altar during the celebration of the mass of the Blessed Virgin, a coincidence which the bystanders ascribed 'not to chance but to divine appointment.' She offered a very precious cloth, which was to be placed on the altar on the days on which the relics there were to be exposed. Having been present at the sermon in the chapter-house, at the procession and at high mass, and having kissed the wood of the Lord (a relic of the true cross), she retired from the abbey greatly edified. Afterwards the convent received of her gift 25 marks and a further sum of 18 marks for the fabric of the church, and also by her aid the house accomplished the purchase of 125 acres of land at Neatham. (fn. 72) In the autumn of 1252 another lady obtained papal sanction to enter the abbey precincts. Isabel, Countess of Arundel, the widow of Hugh de Albini, visited the abbot to consult him in reference to founding a Cistercian abbey at Marham. She entered the chapter-house and was admitted an associate, and bestowed 4 marks and a cask of wine on the convent as a pittance. (fn. 73)
Waverley at this time seems to have attained to a very influential position. An incident which occurred in 1240 affords a striking illustration of the social life of the period and of the power wielded by the church; it would also tend to confer considerable prestige on the abbot of Waverley as one of the chief actors. At Eastertide of that year a young man arrived at the abbey, a shoemaker by trade, who was appointed to exercise his craft as shoemaker to the house. He followed his trade peaceably for some months, but on 8 August a certain knight arrived with his comrades for the purpose of arresting the young man on a charge of homicide. Notwithstanding the protests of the abbot and elder monks, who pleaded their privileges, and stated that the whole of their precincts were as much sanctuary as the very altars of the church, (fn. 74) they seized the young shoemaker and carried him off forcibly in bonds and committed him to prison. Dismayed at this bold defiance of their undoubted rights, and foreseeing that acquiescence in this violation of their precincts might result in the loss of all distinction between places sacred and places secular, the brethren agreed to suspend all celebrations until redress had been obtained, and the case was laid by the abbot before the legate Otho, who was then in England. As he proved remiss in the matter the abbot proceeded to the king with a complaint of grievous irreverence on the part of his officers, and a demand for the immediate restitution of the alleged offender. The king was inclined to grant the request, but the abbot's suit was opposed by the council, and he had to be content with a promise that his petition should be duly heard, on condition of his withdrawal of the interdict that he had laid upon his house. At last, after much trouble and labour, Abbot Walter Giffard's persistance won the day, and it was acknowledged that the enclosures of Cistercian abbeys and granges were exempt by episcopal authority from civil action, and all persons violating the same were ipso facto excommunicated. Thereupon the prisoner was restored and brought back to the abbey, and the violators of Holy Church, having been cited by the legate to appear at the gate of the monastery, there to make satisfaction to God and the abbot, were absolved, having previously been publicly scourged by the dean of the house and the vicar of Farnham. (fn. 75) The miraculous virtue supposed to attach to sacred places and buildings is illustrated in the following incident, which is stated to have occurred in 1248. A youth fell headlong by accident from the summit of the church tower to the ground without receiving the slightest injury. For some time he lay breathless, and was supposed to be dead, but in a little while he recovered breath, began to speak, and in a short time completely recovered. (fn. 76)
The abbey of Waverley suffered many times from devastating floods during the reign of Henry III. In 1233 inundations occurred throughout England, and great injury was done to the property of the convent; bridges and stone walls were carried away by the flood, which rose in places to a height of 8 feet. (fn. 77) Another inundation occurred on 28 November 1265, when all the offices of the abbey on the lower site were submerged and the monks had to take refuge in the church, treasury and hospice for the night, several days elapsing before the buildings could be cleansed from the deposits of mud. (fn. 78)
The abbot of Waverley was summoned in December 1264 with other barons and prelates to consult with Simon de Montfort on the affairs of the kingdom, the king having been taken prisoner by the barons, (fn. 79) and he was also among those summoned to attend Parliament held at Westminster in the September following the death of the great leader in 1265. The abbot and convent probably showed themselves favourable to Simon de Montfort and his party, for they incurred the displeasure of the king about this time; they received however a pardon for their 'transgressions' from Prince Edward, which was confirmed by the king on the departure of the prince to the East, with a mandate that they and their men should not be molested or disturbed. (fn. 80)
During the reign of Edward I. the abbot of Waverley seems to have attended the general chapter of the Cistercian order with regularity. In June 1277 the then abbot, Hugh, received protection till All Saintstide for this purpose, (fn. 81) and again in 1280, (fn. 82) 1281, (fn. 83) and 1285, (fn. 84) he crossed the seas probably with the same object. His successor, Abbot Philip, had licence in like manner to cross the seas in 1288. (fn. 85) In connection with this security it is recorded that in May 1277 the king granted letters of acquittance to the abbot of Waverley for the sum of £262 0s. 10d. that had been paid by him at Winchester as a 'courtesy' from the abbot and other abbots of the Cistercian order, (fn. 86) and a year later another acknowledgment was made of a further sum of £638 6s. 8d. in part payment of a 'courtesy' of £1,000 granted to the king by the whole order in England. (fn. 87) In 1282 the abbot and convent received a licence to appropriate in mortmain lands of their own fee to the value of 100s. (fn. 88) The abbot of Waverley wrote in 1291 to Edward I. to petition that the house, now in grievous poverty owing to the failure of crops for the last year or so, might be taken under his protection and placed in the custody of Hugh Despenser, Earl of Winchester, for two years. (fn. 89)
Notwithstanding the favour and security (fn. 90) enjoyed by the abbey at this period, sundry suits were brought against the brethren involving their liberties. In 1280 they were summoned respecting their alleged obligation to attend the king's court at Alton. Judgment was given in their favour on the ground that neither the abbot nor his predecessor had done suit at the court since the charter of King John freed them of all such suit and service. (fn. 91) In another suit brought by the Crown against the abbey for the possession of land at Essendon, which the abbot and convent claimed by a grant of King John, the king's advocate contended that the land in question was not contained in the charter produced by the abbot, and judgment was stayed until further inquiry could be made. (fn. 92) In 1283 a protracted suit commenced between the abbot and convent of Waverley and Peter de Sancto Mauro, archdeacon of Surrey, respecting certain small tithes. The dispute lasted fifteen years, and after various appeals was finally settled by the Bishop of Winchester to the satisfaction of both parties, each side paying its own costs. (fn. 93) In 1303 the sheriff of Surrey distrained the abbot for scutage towards the war in Scotland; the abbot claimed that his lands were held in frankalmoin by virtue of the charter of King John, and orders were sent to the barons of the exchequer to grant acquittance to the abbey if the plea could be substantiated. (fn. 94) By a successful suit in 1316 the abbot recovered 50 acres of arable land and 100 acres of pasture at 'Quidhampton' near Overton in Hants. (fn. 95)
A glimpse is given into the domestic arrangements of the house by a licence with safe conduct for a year granted in 1284 and the following year by Edward I., for lay brethren and men of the abbot of Waverley to proceed to Yarmouth with horses and carts to buy herring (fn. 96) and other fish.
In 1305 the abbot of Waverley was appointed with other commissioners to treat with the Scots on the affairs of Scotland. (fn. 97) In the last year of Edward I. he was represented at the Parliament held at Carlisle in January 1306-7 by Henry de Wynton the sub-prior, (fn. 98) Robert de Stoke, a monk of Waverley, being sent as one of the proctors of the abbot of Bindon. (fn. 99) By a royal mandate the abbot of Waverley was directed to read the Statute of Carlisle twice yearly in full chapter. (fn. 100)
The relations of the abbey with Edward II. and his successors maintained a very uniform character. The abbot received a licence to attend the general chapter of his order in 1312, and to take £20 with him for his expenses; (fn. 101) letters of protection were granted for one year in 1313, 1316 and 1317, (fn. 102) probably for the same purpose; and again a permit to attend the general chapter in 1331 was obtained from Edward III. (fn. 103) Edward II. called on the convent for aid in money and (fn. 104) provisions (fn. 105) during the war with Scotland, and in February 1321-2 they were requested to raise as many men-at-arms and foot-soldiers as they could to march against the adherents of the Earl of Lancaster, and to muster at Coventry on the first Sunday in Lent. (fn. 106) The abbot and convent received a guarantee from Edward III. that the sum of £10 lent by them for the expenses of his French expedition in 1347 should be repaid at Christmas in the following year, (fn. 107) and a similar promise was made by Richard II. in March 1378-9 for the sum of £20 lent him in like manner. (fn. 108) Numerous entries in the Close Rolls of Edward II. show that the house at that period had recourse to borrowing money from lenders of various descriptions, and in 1330 the abbey, which was stated to be 'largely of royal foundation,' was taken under the protection of the king, who placed it in the custody of John de Stratford, Bishop of Winchester, who was to receive all rents and issues, and apply them, after reserving reasonable sustenance for the abbot and convent, to clearing off the debts of the monastery and restoring its estate. (fn. 109) In addition to the confirmation of their charters by Edward II., (fn. 110) the brethren took the precaution of obtaining in January 1345-6 an exemplification of a certificate of their liberties as confirmed by the charter of John. (fn. 111) In 1312 Edward II. granted the monastery a patent for receiving annually a pipe of red wine in the port of Southampton for the celebration of the blessed Sacrament, a donation subsequently confirmed by Edward III. (fn. 112) Richard II. granted a pardon to the abbot of Waverley in February 1385-6, on payment of a fine of five marks, for his refusal to send a horse as promised to the Chancery for carrying the rolls of Chancery, and delivering them to John de Waltham, the keeper. (fn. 113)
A trial which took place in the reign of Edward III. involving the king's right to impose boarders on the abbey of Waverley as a house 'almost of the foundation of his progenitors' is of interest, as it established the protest of the abbot and convent against the royal pretension, and secured the recognition of the fact of which they made their boast, that they were of the foundation of the Bishops of Winchester. Early in the fourteenth century a practice seems to have grown up of sending men to the abbey to receive a life maintenance, and the abbot and convent, while denying any obligation, had admitted the boarder 'as by request.' Thus in 1315 Walter Mantel, who had long served the then late and present kings, was sent to receive a like allowance that had been received by William le Poleter. (fn. 114) In February 1327-8 Henry de Ditton was sent to receive a similar allowance to Walter Mantel, (fn. 115) and in 1329 John de Alvidele to receive maintenance as William de Greyby had received at the late king's request. (fn. 116) In 1334, when Richard Charrer was sent in place of Michael Charrer, deceased, (fn. 117) Abbot Robert addressed letters of protest to the king (fn. 118) and to Michael de Wath, keeper of the rolls of Chancery, (fn. 119) on the subject of these impositions, in which he pointed out that the abbey of Waverley was of the foundation of the Bishop of Winchester, and 'what we hold from you seigneur we hold of the gift of your progenitors in free and perpetual alms and by no other service,' and begged that it would not be required of the convent to give maintenance to Richard le Charrer as Michael le Charrer had received not of right, but by the special request of the king's father and 'la reine Marguerite,' the house being 'grievously encumbed by debt.' (fn. 120) The matter did not come to an issue till the year 1340, when the abbot was summoned for contempt of the king's writs, calling on him to admit Walter de Denham, the king's yeoman, in place of Walter Mantel, deceased. (fn. 121) The whole matter being brought before the court, the king alleged that William de Basyngstoke or Poleter had been admitted by Abbot Philip by the order of Edward I., that Walter Mantel had succeeded him at the mandate of Edward II., and that he could by his prerogative demand admittance to this house, almost of royal foundation, for Walter de Denham. The abbot recited the foundation of the house by one William Giffard, Bishop of Winchester, and its liberties granted by King Stephen at the request of Henry de Blois, his brother, who had succeeded as father, founder and bishop, and confirmed by subsequent charters, and pleaded that boarders had been admitted in the abbey contrary to the charter of the brethren, and at the king's request and not as of right. The king's advocates were unable to further sustain his right, and judgment was given for the abbot, who in the following year obtained an exemplification of the tenor of the plea. (fn. 122)
The friendship which existed between the abbey and the Bishops of Winchester furnishes a very pleasant side to the history of Waverley. Like all Cistercian houses the convent was exempt from episcopal jurisdiction, and no licence from the Crown was required for the election of superiors. The abbot received benediction at the hands of the diocesan, to whom he made profession of obedience, 'saving the rights of his Order,' but he was not instituted by the bishop. The confidence and affection which characterized their connection seem to have continued throughout the history of the monastery unclouded by anything resembling the stormy passages which occasionally strained the bishop's relations with his own fraternity. The size and importance of the monastery probably made it a convenient centre, and here in December 1204 representatives of the priory of Winchester were directed by King John to meet the Archbishop of Canterbury to hear his wishes respecting the choice of a bishop to the vacant see, (fn. 123) a conference which ended in the election of Peter des Roches to the bishopric. This famous ecclesiastic was present on two occasions during the building of the new and great abbey church, when altars were dedicated, and on his death in 1238 the affection which Waverley shared with his own cathedral city was expressed by his heart and bowels being buried in the abbey while his body found a resting-place in the cathedral. (fn. 124) On a later occasion there was a great gathering of prelates in the abbey church for the consecration of John Breton as Bishop of Hereford on 2 June 1269 by Nicholas, Bishop of Winchester, assisted by the Bishops of Worcester, St. David's, Llandaff, Salisbury, Bath, Exeter, and Coventry and Lichfield. (fn. 125) In January 1355-6 Bishop William Edendon, in the conventual church of Waverley, assisted by the Bishops of Salisbury and Chichester, consecrated Thomas de Percy as Bishop of Norwich. (fn. 126) By the permission of William de Raleigh, Bishop of Winchester, and the consent of Peter de Ryevals, rector of Alton, the abbot and convent were permitted in 1250 to celebrate divine service in the oratory which they had built within the grange of Neatham, saving the rights of the mother church of Alton and the chapel of Holybourne; there was to be no ringing of bells, the sacraments were only to be administered to the brethren, confessions of secular persons were not to be received unless on the point of death, and all the servants of the grange were to attend the chapel of Holybourne, to hear divine service and receive the sacraments as hitherto, and to remain subject to it. (fn. 127) Bishop Raleigh died abroad the same year, and was buried at Touraine. Before leaving England he gave a site on the heath within his warren of Farnham to the abbey to make a fishpond, for which the abbot and convent were to pay a rent of half a mark yearly. The fishpond was begun in 1250, but not completed that year. (fn. 128) Perhaps the benefactor whose kindness was most gratefully acknowledged by the brethren was bishop Nicholas de Ely, whose generosity on the occasion of the dedication of their church in 1278 has been already mentioned. He visited the convent on Maundy Thursday in 1274, and consecrated the chrism, afterwards dining in the frater with the brethren, but at his own charges. (fn. 129) On his death on 12 February 1280-1 he was buried in the abbey church he had so recently dedicated; three days later his heart was carried by the Bishop of Norwich and the Bishop of Bath and Wells to the cathedral at Winchester, and there deposited. (fn. 130) By his will he bequeathed 200 marks to the abbot and convent of Waverley. It was not till the year 1310 that the brethren established a lasting memorial of their great benefactor. A licence having been obtained for Ralph de Staunford, parson of the church of Alton, and Hugh Tripacy, (fn. 131) parson of the church of Martyr Worthy, to give the manor of Courage with one messuage, 59 acres of land, 5 acres of pasture and 4 acres of wood at Chieveley, to the abbot and convent of Waverley for the sustentation of a chaplain to celebrate daily in the conventual church for the soul of Nicholas, Bishop of Winchester, (fn. 132) the monastery undertook that one of the brethren should be deputed by the week for the daily celebration of a mass in the chapel of the Blessed Mary at the gate of Waverley, or failing that in the greater church for the soul of 'Lord Nicholas de Ely, of good memory, late Bishop of Winchester, whose body lies buried in our monastery.' (fn. 133) On the bishop's obit spicery was to be distributed to the monks to the value of five marks, and another mark to be delivered to the cellarer as a pittance for the convent; on the same anniversary twenty shillings' worth of shoes should be distributed by the porter to aged widows and the poor at the abbey gate. (fn. 134) Another benefactor of the abbey whose obit was observed by the brethren was a certain Maud of London, described as 'a kind of mother of the monks of Waverley' (mater quodammodo monachorum), who died in 1263 and was buried in the chapel of the infirmary. (fn. 135) 'Almost all her goods as well in life as in death she gave to Waverley.' (fn. 136) and by will she bequeathed to the convent 100 marks to be laid out in lands out of the proceeds of which two pittances should be distributed yearly, one on her own anniversary in February, and the other on the anniversary of Lebert, her husband on 13 December. (fn. 137) Also a lamp was to be provided to burn every night in the chapel of the infirmary until after the celebration of masses in the winter time, and in summer time until after lauds. (fn. 138) In 1362 John de Netherhaven bestowed lands in Farnham upon the abbey for the yearly celebration of his anniversary in the conventual church. (fn. 139) Bishop William Edendon, who died in 1366, (fn. 140) and William of Wykeham in 1404, (fn. 141) each left the sum of £10 to the abbot and convent of Waverley to pray for the soul of the donor. On 8 March 1339-40 the then Bishop of Winchester, Adam Orlton, issued a mandate proclaiming sentence of excommunication against certain evil-doers who had injured and made away with the goods and possessions of the abbey; (fn. 142) and Bishop Wykeham in January 1367-8 issued a general sentence of excommunication against trespassers on the house, manors or granges of the monks of Waverley, in consequence of the grave complaints of the abbot. (fn. 143) The sentence was repeated in 1375, (fn. 144) and in the following month a monition against those who withheld tithes from the convent was published. (fn. 145) A petition was addressed to the abbot of Citeaux, father-general of the order, in 1316, by Henry Woodlock, Bishop of Winchester, requesting him to grant permission for Robert de Redenhale and Amice his wife, a virtuous couple, who had acquired a perpetual corrody in the monastery of Waverley, and had erected at their own expense certain houses outside the gate of the monastery near to the chapel of St. Mary at the convent gate, to end their days at the abbey. (fn. 146) The abbot and convent were probably willing enough to extend a welcome to a nominee of their perpetual patron and benefactor, who had moreover himself shown generosity to their house and other houses of the order, and intended, according to the bishop, to bestow upon them eventually legacies of considerable value.
The entries relating to this foundation during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries up to the dissolution are very scanty; probably the abbey under wise management contrived to exist with lessened resources at least as well as wealthier foundations. The clear annual value of the house, according to the Valor of 1535, amounted to £174 8s. 3½d., the gross income being £196 13s. 11½d.
Cromwell was pressed by Sir William Fitzwilliam and another correspondent to favour the promotion of John, abbot of Waverley, to the vacant see of Bangor in August 1533. (fn. 147) John Salcot, alias Capon, abbot of Hyde, was however consecrated Bishop of Bangor at Croydon on 19 April 1534. John, abbot of Waverley, was probably successor of Thomas Skevington as abbot of Beaulieu. The last abbot of Waverley was William Alyng. Dr. Layton was Cromwell's agent in the visitation of the religious houses of Surrey, Kent and Sussex. He visited Waverley on 26 September, 1535, and the following day wrote a letter to the visitorgeneral, in which his views as to the inmates of the abbey were probably somewhat prejudiced by the lack of entertainment shown him by his hosts. The bearer of the letter, the abbot himself, he admitted to be 'honest but not one of the children of Solomon. Every monk is his fellow and every servant his master. . . . Yesterday, early in the morning, sitting in my chamber in examination, I could neither get bread nor drink, neither fire of those knaves (the servants) till I was fretisshed, and the abbot durst not speak to them. . . . It shall be expedient for you to give him a lesson and tell the poor fool what he should do.' (fn. 148) The simplicity and sincerity of the abbot is shown in the touching letter he wrote to Cromwell on 9 June 1536:—
To the right honourable Master Secretary to the King.
Pleaseth your mastership I received your letter on the viith day of this present month and hath endeavoured myself to accomplish the contents of them, and have sent your mastership the true extent value and account of our said monastery. Beseeching your good mastership, for the love of Christ's passion, to help to the preservation of this poor monastery, that we your beadsmen may remain in the service of God with the meanest living that any poor men may live with in this world. So to continue in the service of Almighty Jesus, and to pray for the estate of our prince and your mastership. In no vain hope I write this to your mastership, forasmuch as you put me in such boldness full gently, when I was in suit to you the last year at Winchester, saying, 'Repair to me for such business as you shall have from time to time.' Therefore, instantly praying you, and my poor brethren with weeping yes !—desire you to help them; in this world no creatures in more trouble. And so we remain depending upon the comfort that shall come to us from you—serving God daily at Waverley. From thence the ix day of June, 1536.
William the poor Abbot there, your chaplain to command. (fn. 149)
It is evident that the fair site of the abbey possessed attractions in covetous eyes. J. Husee, writing to Lord Lisle a few days previously suggesting religious houses that it might be desirable for the king to grant him, remarks, 'I am told Waverley is a pretty thing.' (fn. 150) On 14 June 1536 Sir Richard Page wrote to Cromwell stating that divers of the commissioners who were sitting at Waverley for suppressing that house had sent for him. He desired to know the king's pleasure in the matter. (fn. 151) The abbey was doomed; notwithstanding its celebrity the smallness of its endowment brought it within the mesh of the earlier Act for the suppression of religious houses. Abbot Alyng not many days after his earnest appeal surrendered his house and estates to Richard Weston and the other commissioners, (fn. 152) and the site of the monastery, the house of the foundation of the bishops of Winchester, passed into the hands of Sir William Fitzwilliam, K.G., treasurer of the king's household. (fn. 153)
Abbots of Waverley
John, (fn. 154) died 1128
Gilbert, (fn. 155) 1128-9
Henry, (fn. 156) died 1182
Henry of Chichester, (fn. 157) 1182, resigned 1187
Christopher (fn. 158) (abbot of Bruerne, Oxf.), 1187, removed from office 1196
John II. (hospitaller), (fn. 159) 1196, died 1201
John III. (cellarer), (fn. 160) 1201, died 1216
Adam (sub-prior), (fn. 161) 1216, resigned 1219
Adam II. (fn. 162) (abbot of Garendon, Leics.), 1219, resigned 1236
Walter Giffard (fn. 163) (abbot of Bittlesden, Bucks), 1236, died 1252
Ralph (fn. 164) (abbot of Dunkewell, Devon), 1252, resigned 1266
William de London, (fn. 165) 1266
William de Hungerford, (fn. 166) resigned 1276
Hugh de Leukenor, (fn. 167) 1276, died 1285
Philip de Bedwinde, (fn. 168) 1285
William, (fn. 169) occurs 1316
Robert, (fn. 170) occurs 1335
John III., (fn. 171) 1344
John IV., (fn. 172) 1349, died 1361
John de Enford, (fn. 173) occurs 1385-6
William Hakeleston, (fn. 174) 1386, died 1399
John Brid, (fn. 175) 1399-1400
Henry, (fn. 176) occurs 1433
William, (fn. 177) occurs 1452
William Martyn, (fn. 178) 1456
Thomas, (fn. 179) occurs 1478 and 1500
William, (fn. 180) occurs 1509
John, (fn. 181) occurs 1529
William Alyng, (fn. 182) occurs 1535
A pointed oval counterseal (fn. 183) (A.D. 1282) represents a hand and arm holding a crozier; on the right a crescent and star; on the left a branch of five foliations. Legend: CON[TRASIG:] ABBACIE: DE: WAVERLEIA.
A pointed oval fourteenth century seal (fn. 184) represents the crowned seated Virgin, with Holy Child on left knee, and flowering branch in right hand, beneath a trefoiled canopied niche. On each side three roses. In the base, under an arch, the abbot in prayer. Legend: S' ABBATIS ET CONVENTU . . . E WAVERL . . .
An imperfect pointed oval seal (fn. 185) of the thirteenth century, attributed to Waverley, represents a dexter hand and vested arm issuing from the right, and grasping two keys in pale: in the field on the left a star of six points, on the right a crescent; legend— SIG - - - - - IE.