Alien houses: Priory of Wolston

Pages 132-133

A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.

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The small alien priory of Wolfricheston or Wolston, pertaining to the Benedictine abbey of St. Pierre-sur-Dive, in the diocese of Sées, was founded soon after the Conquest. The diligence of Dugdale failed to find any exact account of its foundation; (fn. 1) but the original archives of the abbey have been searched by Mr. Round with the result that Hubert Boldran is established as the founder. Between the years 1086 and 1194, with the consent of his wife Aeliz, he gave to God and St. Mary of St. Pierre-sur-Dive the church of Wolston in free alms for ever, together with all its privileges and appurtenances, and two hides of land quit of all secular dues, with rights of common in plain and wood, in meadow and pasture. He also gave them the church of St. Peter of 'Ledleford' (Church Lawford), with its tithes and a hide of land. (fn. 2)

In 1226 the abbot and convent of St. Pierresur-Dive granted the church (rectory) of Wolston to the prior and convent of Tutbury for a payment of £10 a year. (fn. 3) But the patronage of the vicarage of Wolston remained in the monks' hands. The proctor of St. Pierre presented to the vicarage in 1300; the prior of Wolston, in 1317; and the king by reason of his holding the alien priory during the war, in 1357.

Edward II, in consideration of a certain rent to be paid into the Exchequer, suffered the prior of Wolston to have custody of his cell during the king's pleasure whilst the war should last. When Edward III came to the throne this prior, in conjunction with many other superiors of alien houses, craved restitution of lands, goods, chattels, and advowsons, together with pardon for arrears of rent due to his predecessor. The prayer was for the time granted. (fn. 4)

The priory was, however, ere long again in the hands of the crown. Edward III, on 3 August, 1337, suffered the prior to retain charge of this alien house, but he was to pay annually to the crown £15, and 5 marks additional for the custody. On 28 August the sheriff of Warwickshire was directed to obtain these sums from the prior, or on refusal to distrain on the priory's goods and chattels and arrest the prior. (fn. 5)

Shortly afterwards, the rent due to the crown being in arrear, the king committed the custody of the priory to Roger de Gray and Henry Arderne. The prior humbly asked for a sufficient maintenance, and the sum of 3s. a week was assigned to him. As there was no request nor grant for any allowance for a fellow monk, it may be assumed that the prior was then the only religious occupant of this cell. (fn. 6)

Some time before 1357 a new arrangement had been made, and the then prior of Wolston again had the custody on paying £20 yearly to the Exchequer; but being in that year in difficulties, Edward III agreed to lessen the rent by 10 marks a year for three years. (fn. 7)

An extent of the priory's property in 1380 gave the annual value as £28 9s.; out of which the prior paid 60s. to the vicar of Wolston, to be used in alms; 7s. for procuration, and half a mark as an annual pension to the prior of Kenilworth. (fn. 8)

An inquisition of 1388 returned the value at a much higher rate, namely £43 0s. 5d.; but this total included the value of the grain and goods then at the priory (£8 8s. 4d.), in addition to the annual value of the tithes, lands, and rents. The jury found that the hall, stable, grange, and barn had become much dilapidated, whilst Nicholas Cheryton, a monk of Westminster, farmed the rectory, and that it would cost £10 to make them good. (fn. 9)

On 10 December, 1394, the abbot and convent of St. Pierre-sur-Dive concluded a sale of this priory and its possessions (including the advowsons of Wolston and Lawford, Warwickshire, Potterspury, Northamptonshire, and 'Homton Ozehell,' Leicestershire) to the newly established house of Carthusians at Coventry, for the sum of 2,400 francs in good gold of French coin. In this covenant the abbey set forth that by reason of the wars and distance of the place they had not received any benefit from this cell for fifty years; that their charges in sending over always exceeded their profit; and that even if there was abiding peace between France and England the profits would only admit of their sending over one religious person to reside at the priory. (fn. 10)


  • 1. Dugdale, Warw. i, 35-6.
  • 2. Round, Cal. Doc. France, i, 202.
  • 3. Autogr. penes Pet. Wentworth mil. de Balneo, cited by Dugdale.
  • 4. Close, 1 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 22.
  • 5. Ibid. 11 Edw. III, pt. ii, m. 37, 30.
  • 6. Ibid. 13 Edw. III, m. 31 d.
  • 7. Pat. 3 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 27.
  • 8. Add. MSS. 6164, fol. 356-7.
  • 9. Ibid. fol. 494-5; Memo. R. K. R. Hil. 11 Ric. II.
  • 10. Dugdale, Warw. i, 37.