Houses of Gilbertine canons: Priory of St Mary, Poulton

Page 319

A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.

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Sir Thomas Seymour, lord of the manor of Poulton, founded and endowed a chantry in the parish church in 1337, and in 1348 he built the future priory church as a chapel for five chaplains. (fn. 2) In 1350, under an agreement between Seymour and the king, the manor and advowson of Poulton (except a messuage and 10 acres of land) were granted to the Prior and Canons of Sempringham to found a priory of St. Mary, and licence was given to appropriate Poulton church; a charter of liberties, privileges, and protection followed in 1354. (fn. 3) It is clear that the priory, which was for canons only, was founded in substitution for the college of chaplains originally proposed; and in 1361 the prior and convent were confirmed in possession of the chantry of 1337. (fn. 4) The appropriation was authorized by the Bishop of Salisbury in 1355, (fn. 5) and a canon was presented in 1366. (fn. 6)

Alice Seymour had licence in 1389 to move the bones of her progenitors and predecessors from the parish church to the priory church. (fn. 7) For the next 130 years there seems to be no record of the priory, except that in 1397 John, the prior, was summoned to Convocation. (fn. 8) Another prior, John Orrey, obtained in 1522 confirmation of the charter of 1354. (fn. 9)

The official return of 1535 gave the gross income as £21 15s. 2d. and the 'allocations' as £1 11s. 4d. (fn. 10) The prior, Thomas Lynwood, met the county commissioners on 28 June 1536, and was told to appear at the Court of Augmentations on 6 July. (fn. 11) Whatever course the second interview may have taken, Poulton was reprieved, with the other Gilbertine houses; but next year it was said by a neighbour that 'they think not to continue'. (fn. 12)

On 16 January 1539 the Bishop of Llandaff, 'perpetual commendatory of the office of master or prior general' of the Order of Sempringham, and Thomas, Prior of Poulton, surrendered the house; two canons added their signatures in the margin. (fn. 13) The prior obtained a pension of £5, one canon a pension of £2, and the other the cure of Poulton with £5 6s. 8d. a year (or a pension of £2 if he waxed unable or were removed). (fn. 14) The prior took £2 18s. 9d. for expenses between Michaelmas 1538 and the surrender. (fn. 15)

The priory church was used as the parish church of Poulton from the Dissolution until its demolition in 1873. (fn. 16) The site of the house, the manor, the demesne, and the rectory, with six named fields and 'the Park', were let to Richard Tomyow, and granted in 1544 to Thomas Strowde and two others. (fn. 17)

It may be noted that a canon of Poulton was ordained deacon in 1418, and priest, as a canon of the sister Gilbertine house of Marlborough, in 1419. (fn. 18)

Priors of Poulton

John, occurs 1397. (fn. 19)

Thomas Evesham, occurs 1434. (fn. 20)

Robert, occurs before 1522. (fn. 21)

John Orrey, occurs 1522. (fn. 22)

Thomas Lynwood, occurs 1536-9. (fn. 23)

The seal now attached to the instrument of surrender seems to be a signet used either by the Bishop of Llandaff or by the prior; it measures 5/8 by 3/8 in (fn. 24) But the Devizes Museum holds a cast, described as that of the seal used at the surrender: it shows a figure in a niche, over a shield of arms resembling that of the Howards.


  • 1. Poulton was transferred to Glos. in 1844: 7 & 8 Vic., cap. 61.
  • 2. Cal. Pat. 1343-5, 443; 1358-61, 562; Rose Graham, St. Gilbert of Sempringham and the Gilbertines, 219.
  • 3. Cal. Pat. 1345-8, 487, 540, 584; Cal. Chart. R. 1341-1417, 140; Dugd. Mon. vi, 980.
  • 4. Cal. Pat. 1358-61, 562.
  • 5. Sar. Reg. Wyville, i, f. 223.
  • 6. Ibid. ii, ad fin.
  • 7. Sar. Reg. Waltham, f. 10.
  • 8. Sar. Reg. Metford, f. cxvii.
  • 9. L. & P. Hen. VIII, iii, p. 868.
  • 10. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 129.
  • 11. SC 12/33/27; Dublin Review, cxiv, 274.
  • 12. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xii, (2), p. 86.
  • 13. E 322/199; 8 Dep. Kpr.'s Rep. App. ii, 38.
  • 14. W.A.M. xxviii, 314.
  • 15. SC 6/Hen. VIII/3985.
  • 16. Rose Graham, St. Gilbert of Sempringham, 42, 219.
  • 17. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xix, (2), p. 83.
  • 18. Sar. Reg. Chandler, ord. ff. 32, 34.
  • 19. Sar. Reg. Metford, f. cxvii.
  • 20. Sir T. Phillipps, Exc. ex Reg. Episc. Sar. 27; but the entry in Neville's Reg. has not been found.
  • 21. C 1/482/34.
  • 22. L. & P. Hen. VIII, iii, p. 868.
  • 23. SC 12/33/27.
  • 24. E 322/199.