Houses of Franciscan Friars: Winchelsea

Page 96

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

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The Grey Friars were established at Winchelsea before 1253, in which year they are mentioned in the will of St. Richard. (fn. 1) Another early reference is in a plea of 1263 concerning land in Pevensey salt-marshes, when it is mentioned that the father of one of the parties, not being able to afford the cost of protecting the land from the sea, leased it at a low rent to 'a certain prior of Winchelsea,' who can only have been the prior of the Grey Friars, on condition of his embanking it. (fn. 2) When the old town of Winchelsea was destroyed by the great storm of 1287 and rebuilt by King Edward the barons stipulated that he should allow no religious establishment to be erected, save only a house of Friars Minors. (fn. 3)

With the exception of a casual reference in 1294, when the abbot of Westminster, as a penalty for harbouring an apostate friar, was condemned to pay 60 marks to be divided between the houses of Winchelsea and Litchfield, (fn. 4) and of numerous bequests of goods and money, the history of the church of St. Francis (fn. 5) of Winchelsea is practically a blank until July, 1538, when the bishop of Dover, who was visiting the friaries to receive their surrender, came here. (fn. 6) He found the Grey Friars very poor; the warden was absent or would probably have given up the house, as indeed he must have done shortly after this.

Priors, Or Wardens, Of Winchelsea

John Beere, occurs 1510 (fn. 7)

Robert Beddington, occurs 1530 (fn. 8)


  • 1. Suss. Arch. Coll. i, 167.
  • 2. Assize R. 912, m. 13.
  • 3. Parl. Proc. file 2, No. 6.
  • 4. Mon. Francisc. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 60.
  • 5. Obit. R. (Surtees Soc.), 28.
  • 6. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiii (1), 1456.
  • 7. Suss. Arch. Coll. xvii, 129.
  • 8. Ibid. vii, 220.