Houses of Franciscan Friars: Chichester

Page 95

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

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The date at which the Franciscans first came to Chichester is not known, but it may well have been soon after their arrival in England in 1225, as Brother Walter de Colevile, one of the first of the friars to come to this country, had relations in Chichester. (fn. 1) They had certainly been settled some little time before 1253, when Henry III confirmed the grant made in their favour by his brother Richard, earl of Cornwall, of a lane adjoining their premises. (fn. 2) In the same year St. Richard, bishop of Chichester, bequeathed to the Friars Minor of Chichester 20s. and a psalter. (fn. 3) In 1269 the friars were allowed to move their house from the original cramped position to the vacant site of the castle, (fn. 4) and here they built the church of which the graceful remains still stand, and in which Archbishop Peckham held an ordination in 1282. (fn. 5) Of history these Grey Friars appear to have had little; when the bishop of Dover visited the house in July, 1538, he found it in good order, (fn. 6) and so left it undisturbed until 8 October, when it was duly surrendered by the seven brethren then resident. (fn. 7) The inventory taken upon its dissolution (fn. 8) shows little furniture of value, save 140 ounces of silver; the buildings were in good repair, ' all ye holl howse new syleyde rownde abowte wyndaus and all ye wyndaus well gleseyd,' and there were 'in ye lybrary iiij stalls and a halff substancyally new made wt dyvrse olde bokes; item a goodely new presse wt almers for bokes.'

The seal of Hugh, warden in 1253, is a pointed oval: [the Virgin and Child] under a canopy upheld by two full-length saints, each holding a long cross and standing on a head ? of a lion. In base, under a trefoiled arch, the warden, half-length, in prayer to the left. (fn. 9) Legend:—



  • 1. Mon. Francisc. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 25.
  • 2. Pat. 37 Hen. III, m. 22d.
  • 3. Suss. Arch. Coll. i, 167.
  • 4. Pat. 53 Hen.III, m. 2.
  • 5. Reg. Epist. Peckham (Rolls Ser.), iii, 1029.
  • 6. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiii (1), 1456.
  • 7. Ibid. xiii (2), 562.
  • 8. Suss. Arch. Coll. xliv, 71–2.
  • 9. Harl. Ch. 83, C. 32. The letters M E of 'me,' U E of 'fove,' U L of 'Paule,' and U E of 'resolve,' are respectively conjoined.