Houses of Benedictine nuns: Abbey of Wilton

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

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'Houses of Benedictine nuns: Abbey of Wilton', A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 3, (London, 1956), pp. 231-242. British History Online [accessed 16 June 2024].

. "Houses of Benedictine nuns: Abbey of Wilton", in A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 3, (London, 1956) 231-242. British History Online, accessed June 16, 2024,

. "Houses of Benedictine nuns: Abbey of Wilton", A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 3, (London, 1956). 231-242. British History Online. Web. 16 June 2024,

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A poem probably written at Wilton in the first half of the 15th century purports to give a history of Wilton Abbey from its foundation until the time of Henry I. (fn. 1) According to this, Weohstan, first recorded ealdorman of Wiltshire, founded a chantry at Wilton to commemorate Alcmund, his father-in-law, who was killed in battle against the King of Mercia. (fn. 2) Weohstan died in 800 and in 830 his widow, Alburga, persuaded her brother, King Egbert, to convert the chantry into a priory for 13 nuns. (fn. 3) Alburga became the first prioress of this house, which was attached to the church of St. Mary. (fn. 4) The same source relates that in 890 Alfred laid the foundation-stone of another house for women at Wilton. (fn. 5) This took two. years to build and its church was dedicated to St. Mary and St. Bartholomew. Thirteen nuns are said to have taken the veil in the new house and to have been joined there by the nuns of the earlier foundation. (fn. 6) In the absence of any other evidence to support it, little confidence can be felt in this late account of the foundation of Wilton Abbey. There was, however, a religious house at Wilton by 934 for in that year Athelstan granted land to the monastery of St. Mary there, (fn. 7) and in about 955 it was included in the will of King Eadred with the nunneries of Winchester and Shaftesbury for a bequest of £30. (fn. 8)

The 15th-century chronicler tells how some 70 years after the foundation by Alfred, King Edgar visited Wilton and there met Wulfthryth, who became the mother of his daughter Edith. Wulfthryth at the time of her meeting with Edgar is described as one of the young girls who were being educated at the abbey. (fn. 9) Edith was born about 961 at Kemsing (Kent), (fn. 10) but spent almost her entire life at Wilton in the care of Wulfthryth, who later became abbess of the house. (fn. 11) Many miracles are attributed to the saint during her life at Wilton, (fn. 12) and after her death the abbey church was placed under her patronage, (fn. 13) but, dying before her mother, she probably never became abbess. Her well-known reply to Saint Adelwold when reproved for her fine dress, that she in garments of gold thread could be as virtuous as he in his filthy skins, (fn. 14) suggests that she was a young woman of strong personality. Shortly before her death Edith is said to have had built at Wilton a chapel dedicated to St. Denis which was consecrated by St. Dunstan. (fn. 15) Edith died on 16 September 984, (fn. 16) 43 days after the consecration ceremony, as predicted by St. Dunstan, and was buried at Wilton, where for many years miraculous events were connected with her tomb. (fn. 17) King Cnut is said to have venerated St. Edith highly and to have erected a magnificent shrine to her at Wilton. (fn. 18) He also bestowed many favours upon the abbey and undertook the repair of the church and other buildings. (fn. 19) The Conqueror is recorded as another benefactor. (fn. 20)

It is clear that for many years after her death St. Edith's shrine attracted pilgrims to Wilton, thus contributing to the fame and prosperity which the abbey undoubtedly enjoyed in the 10th and 11th centuries. From its earliest days Wilton was a house for nuns of the highest birth. Alburga, sister of King Egbert, was the first prioress of the first foundation. (fn. 21) Radegund, the first abbess of the second foundation, was the daughter of Ethelstone, Earl of Wiltshire; (fn. 22) Wulfthryth, mother of St. Edith, was described as a nobleman's daughter. (fn. 23) Elfeda, wife of Edward the Elder, and two of her daughters were buried there. (fn. 24) Edith, wife of the Confessor, was educated at Wilton, and returned there for a time during the troubles of her husband's reign. Later she rebuilt in stone the convent church, which had previously been of wood. In this work she is said to have been in 'pious competition' with her husband's building operations at Westminster. The church at Wilton, in spite of an outbreak of fire, was finished in 1065, when it was consecrated by Heremann, Bishop of Sherborne and Ramsbury. (fn. 25)

During the first 200 years or so of its history the abbey acquired a large amount of valuable property.The chronicler records many benefactions from early patrons, but the first reliable sources of information are the charters contained in the Wilton cartulary. (fn. 26) Many of the charters are not grants to the abbey, but their inclusion in the cartulary, and the fact that the lands that they refer to were, in almost every case, held by the abbey in 1086, makes it safe to assume that they were in fact the title deeds to estates acquired at an unknown date. The earliest charter addressed to the abbey is that from Athelstan in 934 giving 10 manentes in North Newnton, and 5 cassati in Oare in Wilcot, in the forest of Savernake. (fn. 27) Another charter from the same king dated 937 granted 6 mansae in South Burcombe. (fn. 28) In 955 King Edwy granted to the abbey 100 hides at Chalke. This is thought to have included Broad Chalke, Bower Chalke, Alvediston, Berwick St. John, Semley (detached), Tollard Royal, and Ebbesborne Wake (fn. 29) —all the ancient parishes in the hundred. It is, however, unlikely that any jurisdictional privileges were included. King Edgar was also a generous benefactor and in 968 granted 10 hides in South Newton, 10 hides at Sherrington, 3 hides at Baverstock, 10 hides in 'Hwetinegam' and 3 hides in Frustfield (now lost), (fn. 30) 20 hides at an unidentified 'Deverell', and 2 mills in Wilton. (fn. 31) In the same year he also granted the abbey 2 hides near Wilton. (fn. 32) From King Ethel red the abbey received 10 cassati in Fovant. (fn. 33) A charter from King Edgar purporting to confirm the earlier grant of 100 hides at Chalke and conferring other privileges upon the nuns must be looked upon with suspicion. (fn. 34)

The remaining charters in the cartulary are addressed to various individuals and concern 10 mansae in West Knoyle, (fn. 35) 10 mansae in Wylye, (fn. 36) 20 hides in Stanton St. Bernard, (fn. 37) 10 mansae in Little Langford, (fn. 38) 10 mansae in Kemsing (Kent), (fn. 39) 2½ hides in Ditchampton, (fn. 40) 5 mansae at Didlington in Charlbury (Dors.), (fn. 41) 20 cassati at Chilmark, (fn. 42) 10 hides at West Overton, (fn. 43) 9 mansae at Swallowcliffe, (fn. 44) 10 mansae at Upton Lovell, (fn. 45) 3 mansae at 'Rollandune', possibly in or adjoining Wilton, (fn. 46) and 4 hides on the Nadder close to Ugford (in Burcombe). (fn. 47) There are also two grants of land described as aet Afene, (fn. 48) presumably Avon (in Durnford), (fn. 49) and a grant of a hide aet Winterburnan, which from later evidence may have been Ford in Laverstock. (fn. 50)

By 1086 the abbey held 231 hides ½ virgate in Wiltshire and 12 hides outside the county. In Wiltshire adjoining Wilton it held 8½ hides at Washern, 4 hides at Ugford, and ½ hide at Ditchampton. Two hides, probably in Ditchampton, which a certain Toret had given to the abbey with his daughters, had in 1086 been taken by the Bishop of Bayeux. Within about 5 miles of Wilton the abbey held 6 hides in South Burcombe, 20 hides less a virgate in South Newton, 3 hides in Bayerstock, 4 hides in Little Wishford, 3 hides in Little Langford, 2 hides in Laverstock, and 4 hides in Durnford. Farther away, but within a radius of about 10 miles, the abbey held 10 hides in Fovant, 10 hides in Wylye, 4 hides and a virgate in Swallowcliffe, and 20 hides in Chilmark. Farther away still there was a hide in Wardour, 10 hides in West Knoyle, 13½ hides ½ virgate in North Newnton, 20 hides in Stanton St. Bernard, and 10 hides in West Overton. In the hundred of Chalke, some 5 miles south-west of Wilton, the abbey held 77 hides. Ebbesborne Wake and Tollard Royal, which probably account for the 23 hides needed to make up the 100 hides in Chalke granted by Edgar, appear to have been lost by 1086. Sherrington and Upton Lovell had been lost and an estate called 'Troi', now Trow Farm in Alvediston, had also apparently been granted away. In the borough of Wilton the abbey had rents amounting to £10 17s. 6d. (fn. 51) On the whole it will be seen that the abbey had lost very little of its early endowments of land.

In Dorset the Abbess of Wilton held 3½ hides at 'Winbourne' (Philipston in Wimborne St. Giles) and 6 hides at Didlington: (fn. 52) in Hampshire she had 2½ hides at Watchingwell (in Calbourne) in the Isle of Wight. (fn. 53)

The gross income from this property amounted in 1086 to £246 15s. This was the highest gross income recorded for any nunnery in England, (fn. 54) and Wilton ranked with the houses at Shaftesbury, Barking, and Winchester as a nunnery of the first importance. It continued to attract royal and noble ladies: Queen Edith retired to Wilton after the Conquest, (fn. 55) and Gunhild, a daughter of Harold, was a nun there for a time. (fn. 56) It was, moreover, a home of culture: Maud, queen of Henry I, was educated at Romsey and Wilton, where she studied letters as well as the more feminine ploys. (fn. 57) Wilton was also the home late in the 11th or early in the 12th century of the poetess Muriel, (fn. 58) and at about the same time of Eve (d. c. 1125) who later left Wilton to become a recluse with Goscelin. (fn. 59) There are, however, indications that the peace of the cloister at Wilton was much disturbed by the turmoils of the Anarchy. In 1141 the empress was probably at Wilton and there had her meeting with Archbishop Theobald, (fn. 60) and tradition has it that two years later the nunnery was fortified by Stephen. (fn. 61)

To offset its very considerable wealth the abbey had heavy obligations to meet. The Abbess of Wilton, like her sister of Shaftesbury, held her lands of the king in chief by knight service. The obligation to furnish knights for service with the Crown probably accounted to some extent for the financial difficulties with which the house, apparently so richly endowed, met in the 13th century. Moreover, the necessity of enfeoffing tenants to, discharge the duties involved must have influenced profoundly the policy of the abbey regarding the leasing of its lands. In 1156, when the rate was £1 for every knight's fee, Wilton was assessed at £5 as scutage for the Welsh war. (fn. 62) In 1166 the abbess certified by charter that the 5 knights she was bound to find for service with the king were: William St. Martin and Gerard of Chalke, responsible for one knight each, Gerard Giffard and Walter Calestone for one knight between them, Hugh de Curcellis and Ellis of Langford, responsible for one knight between them, and William Burnell and Philip of Wimburne, responsible for one knight between them. (fn. 63) Twice in the 12th century, in 1197 and 1198, (fn. 64) the abbey was assessed at 4 knights, but this was only a temporary reduction, and until the second half of the 13th century Wilton's servicium debitum was 5 knights. The enfeoffment of tenants to discharge these duties became more and more complex. In 1282 the scutage roll for the abbey lists some 70 tenures by knight service ranging from one whole fee to 1 / 40 of a fee lying in some 32 places. (fn. 65)

Towards the end of the 13th century, in accordance with the general trend, the quota of knights demanded from Wilton began to fall. In 1277 the abbey was assessed at I knight, (fn. 66) and in 1299 the abbess acknowledged that this was the quota due from her. (fn. 67) At the beginning of the 15th century it was expressly stated that the abbess held all her lands in Wiltshire of the king in chief by the service of 1 knight's fee. (fn. 68)

Usually the abbess compounded for her service either by scutage or by a fine, but occasionally her knights performed service. She had knights with the king in the Welsh expedition of 1223 and in that of Bedford in the following year, (fn. 69) and between 1277 and 1327 she offered service at least four times. (fn. 70) The payment of scutage and fines was a heavy burden upon the abbey. In the 12th century the payment exacted was usually £5 or 10 marks. (fn. 71) Failure to pay could meet with serious consequences, and in 1223 the abbess appears to have been temporarily disseised of her property for failing to answer the summons promptly. (fn. 72) Debts were carried over from year to year. In 1197 £10 was paid for scutages imposed in 1195 and 1196, but a debt of 30 marks for service due remained. (fn. 73) This was not paid off until 1208, (fn. 74) and in the meantime 10 marks as scutage were exacted and paid in each of the years 1200, 1201, 1203, 1205, and 1206. (fn. 75)

As did the other great nunneries at Winchester nd Shaftesbury, Wilton continued in the 12th and 13th centuries to receive a number of royal benefactions. In 1130 Queen Maud gave a right to fuel worth £2 15s. and the same year the abbey was in receipt of £1 5s. 7d. from a fair granted by Queen Maud and Henry I. (fn. 76) Claims arising from the right to hold this fair later brought the abbey into conflict with the mayor and burgesses of Wilton, who in the 15th century themselves held two annual fairs. (fn. 77) In 1212 King John extended the abbess's fair by eight days. (fn. 78) In the years between 1361 and 1374 the fair brought in £4 4s. 0½d. in perquisites and tolls. (fn. 79) Between 1231 and 1246 Henry III made grants of oaks for fuel, (fn. 80) and gave permission for the abbess to take over a hundred trees from her wood in Savernake. (fn. 81) In 1239 the same king offered three pieces of gold tinselled silk in the church of St. Edith for himself, his queen, and his son Edward, (fn. 82) and in 1246 he sent a gift of a tun of prisage wine for the abbess. (fn. 83) In 1297 Mary, daughter of Edward I, and a nun at Amesbury, presented in her father's name at the shrine of St. Edith 7s. and a gold clasp. (fn. 84)

In spite, however, of these marks of royal favour, the financial difficulties of the house appear to have increased as the 13th century progressed until about the middle years something in the nature of a crisis was reached. In 1229 royal letters were issued requesting the tenants of the abbey to contribute towards the relief of the house. (fn. 85) In 1242 the abbess was excused the payment of 5 marks due for the royal expedition to Gascony and was allowed to apply the money to the repair of St. Edith's shrine. (fn. 86) In 1252 another appeal was made to the abbey's tenants for assistance, (fn. 87) and this was repeated in 1276. (fn. 88) In 1257 scutage was again excused on account of the abbey's 'exceptional difficulties and oppressions that year'. (fn. 89)

By 1246 the buildings of the abbey had fallen into a serious state of disrepair, and the Bishop of Salisbury assigned part of the revenues of Bulbridge church for their restoration. (fn. 90) In 1256 Henry III made a grant of oaks for the fabric of the convent church and for repairing the house. (fn. 91) Five years later he gave 6 oaks to Beatrice Murdac for the chapel of the Blessed Mary at Wilton, (fn. 92) and 50 oaks to the convent for the refectory roof. (fn. 93) In 1267 the Treasurer of Salisbury bequeathed 100s. for the fabric of the conventual church. (fn. 94) Edward I also made a grant of oaks in 1276 and repeated his gift the next year. (fn. 95) These efforts to repair the abbey's buildings seem to have met with a serious setback in 1299, for in that year royal grants of oaks were made to rebuild houses destroyed by fire. (fn. 96)

An attempt to raise money at this difficult time was made by the abbess, who in 1256 accepted from the Dean of Salisbury 100 marks in return for an undertaking on her part to pay 5 marks annually for his obit in Salisbury Cathedral. In 1281 the abbess was three years in arrears with her payments: in 1285 the dean wrote demanding arrears amounting to 13 marks, and two years later he threatened the prioress, cellaress, and sacrist of Wilton with greater excommunication if the debt was not paid immediately. (fn. 97)

Against a background of financial difficulty it is not surprising to find some evidence of lax discipline within the community. In 1271 there was dissension among the nuns over the election of an abbess to succeed Maud de la Mar, and the house seems to have been without a head for some time. (fn. 98) Further evidence of a not very satisfactory state of affairs is probably to be deduced from the fact that in 1284 (fn. 99) and again in 1302 nuns of Wilton were guilty of misconduct. (fn. 100) To make matters worse the abbey must have suffered for a time from the lack of a firm head, for in 1317 the abbess, Emma Blount, was found by the bishop to be too old and infirm to attend satisfactorily to her duties and a canon of Salisbury was appointed guardian of the spiritualities of the house. (fn. 101)

Some detailed information regarding the daily life of the nuns at Wilton at the end of the 13th century is to be found in a fragmentary account of the larder. (fn. 102) The weekly expenditure on food and drink for the nuns varied over the seventeen weeks covered by the roll from 10s. to £1. Three or four sides of bacon (baco) and sometimes a few hens and pigeons were usually taken from stock (instaurum) weekly. A large quantity of eggs—usually between 200 and 300—was bought and consumed each week. Fish was eaten oh Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Visits from the steward of the abbey were recorded since extra food on those days had to be accounted for. Likewise a visit from the Bishop of Salisbury was noted because a young sheep (multo) and 6 pigeons were required that day. Extra food had also to be accounted for when servants or tenants brought Wood or dung to the abbey. A great feast was held in the 15th week when the new abbess was installed. (fn. 103) Among the delicacies eaten were swans, peacocks, and venison. Sixty gallons of milk and over 2,000 eggs were bought, and among other purchases were large numbers of candles and plates and dishes of many varieties.

Whether at this date any separate household arrangements existed for the abbess is not known. Some 50 years later there is evidence of such arrangements. (fn. 104) The abbess then had her own pantry from which came white loaves called 'abbessebred', and her own cellar in which was kept 'the better ale brewed for the abbess'. She also had her own kitchen. The prioress, too, at this time received some preferential treatment in the matter of food. The abbess's house is said to have stood near to her court of the Belhouse. (fn. 105)

The apparent poverty of Wilton in the 13th century should not obscure the fact that throughout its history the abbey continued to rank as one of the most important nunneries in the country. As in the other two great houses of nuns at Shaftesbury and Winchester, the conventual church at Wilton was a prebendal church with prebends for a certain number of secular canons. The origin of these prebends undoubtedly lay in the wish of these important and richly endowed houses to secure the services of canons who would ensure the celebration of mass in the conventual church, and who would also supervise the temporal affairs of the house. (fn. 106) When the arrangement first came into being is not known, but in 1312 in the course of an inquisition on the prebend of Chalke, one of the prebends at Wilton, a jury stated that the church had been prebendal from time immemorial. The same jury returned that the prebendary was bound to reside in or near the convent in order to assist the nuns with his counsel and help when required to do so and to have a vicar resident at Wilton for the celebration of masses in the conventual church. (fn. 107) Since, however, a prebend could be held without papal dispensation in addition to other benefices, it was often much prized by those who could not fulfil the first of these requirements.

In the prebend of Chalke the abbess possessed a particularly valuable piece of preferment since the prebendary had the right to present not only to the vicarage of Chalke but also to the chapels of Alvediston, Bower Chalke, Gurston, and Knighton annexed to it. (fn. 108) It was consequently coveted by the Crown and jealously guarded by the abbess. A claim by the king to present in 1299 by reason of the vacancy which occurred that year led to a dispute between the king and abbess which lasted until 1367. In 1299 the abbey's candidate was their steward, Henry of Tilshead, (fn. 109) while the king, on the assumption that Tilshead had not been admitted before the abbess died, presented John of Berwick, a clerk of the Household, whose preoccupation with royal business probably made him unacceptable to the abbess. (fn. 110) In 1344 (fn. 111) and 1346 (fn. 112) the case was heard in the King's Bench, Judgement was entered for the king, but the dispute continued. Opposition to the king's nominee was so strong that the Sheriff of Wiltshire and five other persons were deputed to arrest and bring before the king and council those who were preventing his admission. (fn. 113) Some months later the case was before the papal court. (fn. 114) The result is unknown, but later in the same year the king presented one of his clerks to the prebend. (fn. 115)

During the second half of the 14th and first half of the 15th centuries royal nominees continued to be presented to Chalke. In 1390, for example, the prebend was granted to the king's nephew Richard Holland. (fn. 116) In 1448 the abbess and convent granted the advowson to the king. In return, the convent was to have the issues from all temporalities during vacancies, paying £10 for each vacancy: the farm of the hundred of Chalke (see below) was reduced from £14 5s. to £10, and licence was granted for the appropriation of the church of South Newton, the advowson of which had long rested with the abbey. (fn. 117) Either this transaction was never carried out, or the advowson of Chalke was later restored to Wilton, for in 1475 the abbey was licensed to convey the advowson to 'the royal college of St. Mary and St. Nicholas, Cambridge? [King's]. (fn. 118) Later evidence shows that for this the college paid an annual rent of 20 marks to the abbey. (fn. 119)

The revenues of three other churches were assigned to the support of prebends at Wilton, namely South Newton, North Newnton, and Stanton St. Bernard. (fn. 120) The right of presentation to these prebends was, like that of Chalke, a valuable piece of patronage in the hands of the abbess. In 1536, for example, presumably with a propitiatory motive, the abbess granted the advowson of Stanton St. Bernard for one year only to Thomas Leigh, at that time one of the commissioners appointed to visit Wilton. (fn. 121)

The abbess also had the advowsons of Semley, Fovant, Baverstock, Chilmark, and Wylye. (fn. 122) In 1207 she unsuccessfully claimed the advowson of Great Wishford. (fn. 123) Licence to appropriate the church of Berwick St. John was granted in 1334 when the advowson was said to belong to the abbey already. (fn. 124) In Wilton the abbess had the advowson of St. Nicholas in Atrio, St. Mary's, West Street, and St. Mary's, Bread Street, later united with the church of Bulbridge; (fn. 125) also of Fugglestone church and Bemerton chapel, which was annexed to it in 1533. (fn. 126) In Dorset she had the advowson of Charlbury church. (fn. 127)

Presentation to the office of deacon in the conventual church was yet another piece of patronage in the abbess's hands. Like the prebends, this also appears by the 13th century to be much sought after by pluralists. (fn. 128) It is possible that the duties of deacon at Wilton were in fact carried out by the sub-deacon. In 1311 a certain Henry of Guildford, presented as sub-deacon by the abbess and convent, was barred from the post because he was blind and could not read. Philip de Curtyngton was appointed in his place on condition that he renounced his fellowship at de Vaux College. (fn. 129) In 1291 the deacon had a portion of £1 13s. 4d. out of West Overton church. (fn. 130) The sub-deacon at the same date had a pension out of Bromham church of 13s. 4d. (fn. 131) In 1535 the deacon and subdeacon respectively received annual fees of £2 1s. and £1 19s. 4d. (fn. 132)

In the 15h century there were attached to the conventual church, besides the deacon, 2 subdeacons, 3 acolytes, and 10 priests. (fn. 133) Some of the priests were presumably chantry chaplains. In 1419-20 there were three chaplains attached to the abbey, two of chantries within the abbey, and the third of the 'Maudelyn'. (fn. 134) In 1449 eight chantry chaplains are named. (fn. 135) In 1535 there was a chaplain for a chantry founded by the former abbesses Maud Bokeland and Sibyl Aucher and five other chaplains attached to the conventual church. (fn. 136)

In 1291 the temporal property belonging to the abbey was assessed for the taxation of Pope Nicholas at £340 6s. 8½d. (fn. 137) As far as can be judged from the return, which is incomplete for Wiltshire, the abbey retained property in all the places in which it had estates in 1086 except Wardour, Durnford, and Swallowcliffe in Wiltshire, and Wimborne St. Giles and Watchingwell outside the county. The hide of Wardour had been alienated at least by 1200 to William of St. Martin for the performance of knight service. (fn. 138) Durnford, Swallowcliffe, and Wimborne St. Giles were probably granted away for the same reason. Durnford and Wimborne St. Giles yielded rent to the abbey in 1528. (fn. 139) Watchingwell was alienated by the middle of the 13th century, (fn. 140) but by 1385-6 Urry's Place in Carisbrooke had been acquired. (fn. 141) The property in Kemsing, acquired before the Conquest, yielded a rent in 1225, (fn. 142) but seems to have been lost by 1291. By 1195 a hide at Bourn (Cambs.) had been acquired, (fn. 143) and in 1291 the abbey had a small estate there. Property was acquired by 1291 at Lydlinch (Dors.), (fn. 144) and at some time during the 13th century at Withypool (Som.) (fn. 145)

Little is known of the profits of the conventual estates or of their management. An account of the abbey's receipts for five weeks during the late summer of 1262 records a total of £100 3s. 5½d. (fn. 146) This included £55 13s. as aid from free tenants and tallage from villein tenants; £32 14s. 3d. from sales of stock; 8s. 4d. from profits of mills in Wilton, Wylye, Chilmark, and Chalke; £9 3s. 4d. from sales of grain at Chalke and £1 9s. 4d. from pleas and perquisites. There is no mention of profits from wool, but a taxation assessment of probably a slightly earlier date shows that sheep in considerable numbers were kept on many of the abbey's manors. (fn. 147) Mention of grazing rights for the abbey's flocks occurs frequently in the 12th-, 13th-, and 14th-century deeds belonging to the abbey, (fn. 148) and a 14th-century custumal of South Newton states that all customary tenants of the manor carried wool to Wilton. (fn. 149)

On one occasion in the 16th century wool seems to have been used as currency at Wilton. In 1521 it was alleged in Chancery that the abbess had failed in an undertaking to pay Richard Thurston £180 worth of wool from the woolhouse at Wilton. This she was said to owe Thurston for vestments and copes of silk and velvet 'wrought with gold and powdered with archangels'. The abbess claimed that the wool had in fact been given to Thurston, who had, moreover, been provided with food and drink while 'trying it'. (fn. 150) In 1528 the substance of the abbey was said to consist in wool to the value of 600 marks, (fn. 151) and in 1535 the abbey had pasture for 1,000 sheep at its manor of Chalke. (fn. 152)

From an early date the abbey had a wood within Savernake Forest. In 1221 (fn. 153) and 1233 (fn. 154) permission was given for the abbess to have reasonable estovers in her wood within the royal forest, and in 1224 the abbess was granted 'wudeward' and the custody of her wood as she had it before the Barons War. (fn. 155) Twice in the 13th century the abbey's beasts within the bailiwick of Savernake were distrained upon for trespass of the forest law, and on the second occasion the abbess's lands were also seized. (fn. 156) In 1246 the abbess was pardoned for assarting 19 acres in the forest, (fn. 157) and in 1280, in the course of a dispute with the Abbot of Hyde over pasture rights in Rainscombe, the abbess was again found to have reclaimed land for tillage which she was ordered to enclose. (fn. 158) The abbey also had woodland in the forests in the south of the county and in 1323 woods in Wylye and Baverstock, which had been seized for offences against the forest law, were restored to the abbess. (fn. 159)

As is to be expected, much of the abbey's property lay in and adjoining Wilton itself. Between 1361 and 1374 rents within the borough brought in an annual income varying from £4 18s. 6d. to £6 11s. (fn. 160) In 1539, besides property in Washern, Fugglestone, Quidhampton, and Netherhampton, the abbey had rents from tenements in South, East, West, Broad, Minster, and Short Streets, in Kingsbury, Bulbridge, and Great and Little Marsh. (fn. 161)

Although granted 100 hides in the 10th century, it cannot be said with certainty that the abbess held the hundred until the 13th century. In 1226 it was returned by inquisition that the hundred had been granted to the abbess by William Longespée, Earl of Salisbury. (fn. 162) This was repeated by the jurors in the hundred court in 1275 when the hundred was said to be worth 3½ marks a year. (fn. 163) The grant by Longespée was again referred to. in 1280-1 when the king unsuccessfully claimed the hundred on a quo warranto. (fn. 164) In 1535 perquisites of the hundred court were valued at £17; the farm paid to the Crown was £14 6s. 8d. and the fee to the bailiff was £1 6s. 8d. (fn. 165)

As well as franchisal jurisdiction in the court of her hundred of Chalke, the abbess had baronial jurisdiction in the court of her barony called the court of the Belhouse. In a memorandum drawn up some 20 years after the dissolution of Wilton and purporting to record earlier conditions, it is stated that all those who held land of the abbey by knight service did suit at this court 'from three weeks to three weeks' and from them the abbess could claim all the usual incidents of such tenure. The memorandum also records that in addition to the court of the Belhouse the abbess had a three-weekly court baron for all tenants within the suburbs of Wilton. (fn. 166)

Wilton appears to have been burdened with all the usual demands made upon houses under royal patronage. On the occasion of the creation of a new abbess the abbey was obliged to furnish a pension for one of the king's clerks until a suitable benefice could be provided for him. In 1347 the pension appears to have been £5 a year. That year William of Lambeth was in fact receiving £10, but in order that no precedent should be established he acknowledged in Chancery that he was receiving £5 awarded on the institution of Robergia de Popham, and £5 awarded on the institution of Lucy Loveny. (fn. 167)

The abbey also had to provide maintenance for boarders nominated by the king, and numerous instances are to be found on the Close Rolls between 1328 and 1442. In the first half of the 14th century there is evidence to show that the convent was maintaining at least two royal nominees at the same time, for in 1328 Roger Liseway was sent in place of Roger Danne, and in the next year John of Odiham, yeoman of Queen Philippa's chamber, was sent in place of John Asshe. (fn. 168) The appointment, in 1413, by the king of his servant Thomas of London to the post of gate-keeper at Wilton is presumably another example of this form of exploitation. (fn. 169) When the Bishop of Salisbury visited the abbey in 1379 the convent appears to have been overburdened by these commitments either imposed by the king or undertaken by the nuns themselves. It was then stipulated that no more corrodies or pensions were to be granted without very good reason, and only with the consent of the chapter and the advice of the bishop. (fn. 170) In 1535 the abbey was liable for corrodies amounting to £5 13s. 4d., and it seems that to these the Prior of Ivychurch, the Prior of St. Denys, Southampton, and the prior of St. John's Hospital, Wilton, had the right of nomination. (fn. 171)

Considerable financial strain was presumably imposed upon the house by the fact that the king, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Salisbury, and even apparently sometimes the queen, had the right to nominate nuns to Wilton on certain occasions. The king exercised his right on his coronation and on the creation of, a new abbess. A claim by the queen to present a nun on her coronation occurs in 1236 when Queen Eleanor renounced for life any such right in return for a grant by the abbey of two liveries for life to Mabel de Braybuf. (fn. 172) The bishop could present a nun on his consecration, as he did, for example, in 1408, (fn. 173) and in 1414 the archbishop nominated a nun 'in virtue of the customary rights of his church'. (fn. 174)

As at other houses of royal foundation, attempts were made to avoid the serious financial loss incurred during a vacancy by compounding for permission to retain the administration of the temporalities at such a time. In 1271 40 marks were paid into the Wardrobe for this privilege during the next vacancy, and on this occasion permission was given for the abbey's steward to remain in office during the vacancy. (fn. 175) In 1340 an attempt was made to establish that the abbey should retain its property during a vacancy in return for £40 a month during that time. This the abbess disputed, requesting that the concession should be granted in return for a fixed sum paid in advance, and on this occasion she purchased the privilege for £60 paid to the king for his next expedition overseas: (fn. 176) exemplification was obtained in the following year. (fn. 177) Thenceforth it was usual for the abbesses of Wilton to compound for this concession. Until 1385 the sum paid was £60. (fn. 178) Thereafter and at least until the middle of the 15th century it was £40, and occasionally a smaller sum was paid for an inspeximus and confirmation. (fn. 179)

Besides these more or less routine demands, the abbey was liable for special requests in times of crisis. In 1310 Wilton was included in the royal demand for a loan of victuals, (fn. 180) and in 1347 in the request for a loan of wool. (fn. 181)

To administer the revenues of the house so as to meet its obligations must have been beyond the capacity of many of the abbesses of Wilton and their stewards. Economic difficulties may, as in the 13th century, have been to blame, in part at least, for some slackness of discipline which is apparent at Wilton at the end of the 14th and beginning of the 15th centuries. For there appear to have been some grounds for criticism when the Bishop of Salisbury visited the abbey in 1379. (fn. 182) Breaches in the rules enjoining enclosure and prohibiting private property seem to be the most widespread offences at that time: it was also ordered that a careful check be kept on the admission of visitors: no married woman was to sojourn within the convent: all corrections were to be imposed publicly by the abbess in the chapter: the nuns were to reprove their pupils kindly, and were forbidden to entertain themselves with superstitious plays or games. The abbess was more rigorously to enforce the Rule, which had been translated into French for the benefit of the nuns. She was to visit the sick in the infirmary frequently, and she was to drink the same beer and eat the same bread as the nuns. A slackness in the administration of the house is perhaps implied from the command that no letter or deed was to be sealed with the common seal except in the chapter and in the presence of the convent: all deeds were to be registered and compared by at least two clerks of the house: annual accounts were to be kept and read before the convent: the steward was to be chosen with the consent of the abbess and convent. The buildings were apparently in a ruinous state since the repair of the dormitory and other buildings was ordered.

Archbishop Courtenay visited Wilton eleven years later in 1390, (fn. 183) The abbess and senior nuns were examined by the archbishop, and the junior nuns by his commissary. The visitation lasted for at least two days, but no trace of a report has been found. In 1400 Bishop Metford visited the abbey and appears to have found much the same state of affairs as Erghum had found in 1379. The prioress and sub-prioress were reputed to be too old to attend to their duties, and the abbess was ordered to appoint two other nuns to assist her. (fn. 184) There was another metropolitical visitation in 1423, when Archbishop Chichele reported everything to be in order. (fn. 185) In 1425 the Bishop of Salisbury granted an indulgence of 40 days to all who visited St. Edith's shrine on the anniversary of the saint's death (16 Sept.). (fn. 186)

Many accounts of elections of abbesses in the chapter house at Wilton are to be found in bishops' registers. After the celebration of mass the nuns were summoned to the chapter house by the ringing of a great bell. In 1441 there were 44 professed nuns, of whom three were in the infirmary owing to age and infirmity and voted by proxy. (fn. 187) In 1464 there were 23 professed nuns and 17 awaiting profession, who were, however, allowed to vote for the abbess as they were of age. (fn. 188) In 1485 there were only 14 professed nuns and 16 awaiting profession. (fn. 189) Numbers had risen slightly by the time of the Dissolution, when there were 31 nuns in addition to the abbess and prioress. (fn. 190) Little information about the abbey's obedientiaries has been found. A chantress (fn. 191) and a cellaress (fn. 192) are mentioned in the 13th century: (fn. 193) in the 14th century a third prioress is mentioned in addition to the sub-prioress, (fn. 194) and in the 15th century there is mention of a sacristan. (fn. 195)

Bequests continued to be made to the house. In 1386 Nicholas de Bonham bequeathed 12d. to each nun to pray for his soul and those of his parents and benefactors. To his daughter, a nun of the house, he left a number of spoons, dishes, and trinkets. To the abbess he left two silver cups. (fn. 196) John atte Mille left 12d. in 1394 for the fabric of the conventual church. (fn. 197) Henry Paunscefote left 10 lb. of wax to the abbey in 1522. (fn. 198) The election of an abbess to succeed Cecily Willoughby (d. 1528) appears to have been the occasion of interference by the Crown. The convent sponsored the election of the prioress, Isabel Jordayne, said to be 'ancient wise and discreet', but Anne Boleyn favoured a certain Eleanor Carey, sister of Philip Carey, brother-in-law of Anne. (fn. 199) Serious moral charges brought against Eleanor, however, made it impossible for the king to support her candidature and Isabel Jordayne was elected. (fn. 200)

At the time of this election Thomas Benet was sent to reform the house. Attempts by both the newly elected abbess and by Benet (fn. 201) were made to enforce enclosure, but they appear to have met with difficulties. Benet informed Wolsey 'in no wise any of them by gentle means nor by rigorous —and I have put three or four of the captains of them in ward—will agree and consent to the same'. (fn. 202) To add to the troubles of the community at this time there was an outbreak of plague in the house and the dormitory was destroyed by fire. (fn. 203)

The date of Isabel Jordayne's death is unknown. In March 1533 the prioress wrote to Wolsey complaining that the house had long been without a head. (fn. 204) She also complained that Richard Hilley, chancellor and vicar-general to the Bishop of Salisbury, was interfering in the affairs of the house: 'He orders us, as he says, after the law; but we are not wont to so much law as he doth exercise among us.' The appointment of Christopher Willoughby as steward of the hospice and general receiver was particularly resented, and the prioress accused him of alienating 'such of our farmers as bear us goodwill'. (fn. 205) Cromwell's reply to the prioress is unknown, but in June 1533 Hilley applied for letters patent to the justices to assist him in reforming 'certain enormities' at Wilton. (fn. 206) In October of the same year they were still without a head, for Cranmer promised the prioress 'to do all in his power in the election' about to be held. (fn. 207) This last election seems to have been thoroughly corrupt. Sir Richard Lyster supported a certain Cecily Lambert and promised Cromwell that if she were elected her friends would make him a gift of £100, and that he should have £10 and the stewardship of the house when it became vacant. (fn. 208) For the first time, however, the appointment was not made from among the nuns at Wilton, and Cecily Bodenham, Prioress of Kington St. Michael, was elected. (fn. 209) Cecily, as a suit in Chancery shows, had borrowed money to secure her election. (fn. 210)

In September 1535 Thomas Leigh was at Wilton attempting to enforce enclosure. (fn. 211) The abbess protested in a letter to Cromwell asserting that the house, already in debt, would suffer still further since 'good husbandry could not be exercised as well by any other as by herself. She asked permission, therefore, to leave the abbey on business accompanied by two or three of the nuns. She also asked that the nuns might be permitted to see their relatives in her presence in the hall of the convent. (fn. 212)

Although according to the abbess Wilton was in debt, its gross general income in 1535 was £674 6s. 27/8d.—the fourth highest of any nunnery in England. The net general income was £600 14s. 07/8d. Income from spiritualities amounted to less than £50. The gross temporal income amounted to £632 16s. 27/8d., (fn. 213) of which an unusually large proportion—about 1 / 7—was composed of revenue in kind. (fn. 214) Income from demesne in hand was £21 7s. 8d.; income from woods amounted to £10 11s. 8d., and from corn mills £4. (fn. 215) According to the assessment made by the king's ministers in the year after the Dissolution the net revenues of the house were just over £700. (fn. 216) No serious losses of land had been sustained since the 13th century. The abbey's estate in Little Langford is not accounted for in 1535: at Stanton St. Bernard and North Newnton—both over 15 miles from the abbey—the whole of the demesne was leased out: Bridmore (Berwick St. John) and parts of Semley and West Overton were leased at a fee farm rent. Laverstock was the subject of a dispute between the abbess, the heirs of Henry Milborne, and the occupiers. Rents were received from Sutton Mandeville, Figheldean, Frustfield (see above, p. 232), Winterbourne Ford (see above, p. 233), Durnford, Stoke Farthing and Knighton in Broad Chalke, Upton and Cuttice Down in Berwick St. John, 'Virif' in Alvediston, Chilhampton in South Newton, Steeple Langford, and 'Horewood' in Netherhampton.

Outside the county there were rents from Didlington, Philipston, Lydlinch, and Withypool. The estate in Carisbrooke had been lost, but a rent was received from Freshwater. The property in Bourn had also been lost, but rents had been acquired in Accott in Swimbridge and in Kentisbeare (Devon). (fn. 217)

Among the charges upon the house in 1535 were annual payments to a steward—the Earl of Shrewsbury, who held the stewardship in 11 other monasteries (fn. 218) —a steward of the hospice and general receiver, an auditor, and an under-steward: maintenance was provided for thirteen poor 'Magdalens' to pray for the souls of the founders of the abbey, and alms were given annually to the poor of the hospital of St. Giles: there was an exhibition for a scholar at each university, and there was an annual pension to the communar of Salisbury Cathedral. (fn. 219) An annual pension of £1 was also paid to the Vicar of Bulbridge. (fn. 220)

On 25 March 1539, on the same day as Shaftesbury, the abbey surrendered. The abbess was allotted a pension of £100, a house at Fovant with its orchards, gardens, and meadows, and a cartload of wood every week from Fovant wood: the prioress received a pension of £10, and 31 other nuns pensions ranging from £7 6s. 8d. to £2. (fn. 221) Three days after the surrender the commissioners reported that they had sequestered the tenants of Fovant, South Newton, Chalke, and Washerne because the abbess had leased those estates to her friends and kinsfolk 'as was surmised'. Since, however, she was 'without father, brother or any assured friend', she was allowed to retain the house at Fovant. (fn. 222)

The abbey buildings with most of the estates were granted to Sir William Herbert (cr. Earl of Pembroke 1551) in 1541 (fn. 223) and 1544. (fn. 224) No evidence has been found to substantiate Aubrey's story that the nuns returned to Wilton during Mary's reign and were received humbly by Pembroke, who, however, on Mary's death, rounded on them 'like a tygre' and turned them out again in no uncertain terms. (fn. 225)

At the time of the Dissolution the abbey buildings were in a ruinous state (fn. 226) and were pulled down to make way for the building of Wilton House, in the erection of which stone from the abbey is said to have been used. (fn. 227) The only building still standing which must have formed part of the abbey lies slightly to the north-east of Wilton House. This, it has been suggested, was the abbess's court of the Belhouse, since it has on its roof a small stone erection to hold a bell. It is a two-story building dating from the 14th century. It has a stone tiled roof, mullioned casements, and doorway on the south end. (fn. 228) The 15th-century antiquary, William of Worcester, has left some description of the abbey church. This, he recorded after a visit, contained '90 of my steppys', while the width of the nave with the two aisles was '46 of my steppys'. The late Sir Harold Brakspear considered that the 90 paces represented the length of the nave only, and that the dimensions of this expressed in feet would be 146 by 72½ ft., giving a nave rather longer than that at Malmesbury. (fn. 229)

A psalter from the abbey library has survived. It is a volume measuring 11½ by 8 in., bound in vellum and comprising v + 221 leaves. It is said to have been commissioned, written, and illuminated in about 1250, and to be the work of the Salisbury School. That the psalter was written for Wilton is proved by the prayers in the Litany for the abbess and congregation of the Church of St. Mary and St. Edith. There is also one pictorial reference to the life of St. Edith. The psalter appears to have left Wilton in or before 1523, when it was given to a nun at Romsey. (fn. 230)

Abbesses of Wilton

Alburga, traditionally the first prioress of house founded by King Egbert. (fn. 231)

Radegund, traditionally the first abbess of house founded by Alfred. (fn. 232)

Ælfgyth, occurs 955. (fn. 233)

Wulfthryth (Wulftrude or Woltrud), died 1000. (fn. 234)

Bryghtwyde, occurs 1065 (fn. 235) (said to be third abbess after Wulfthryth). (fn. 236)

Alfyne, succeeds Bryghtwyde 1065, (fn. 237) died 1067. (fn. 238)

Hawise, occurs temp. Hen. II. (fn. 239)

Alice, occurs 1192. (fn. 240)

Mary, occurs 1194. (fn. 241)

Asceline, occurs 1197, (fn. 242) 1208. (fn. 243)

Margaret, died before 12 Feb. 1222. (fn. 244)

Isabel de Warenne, elected 1222, (fn. 245) died before 1 Apr. 1228. (fn. 246)

Alice, elected 1228, (fn. 247) died before 7 May 1237. (fn. 248)

Alice, elected 1237, (fn. 249) died before 29 Aug. 1252. (fn. 250)

Maud de la Mare, elected 1252, (fn. 251) died before 2 Nov. 1271. (fn. 252)

Juliana Gifford, elected between 27 Dec. 1271 (fn. 253) and 16 Nov. 1272, (fn. 254) died before 6 July 1296. (fn. 255)

Parnel de Vaux, elected 1296, (fn. 256) died before 8 May 1299. (fn. 257)

Emma Blount, elected 1299, (fn. 258) died before 20 Nov. 1321. (fn. 259)

Constance de Percy, elected 1321, (fn. 260) died before 14 Aug. 1344. (fn. 261)

Robergia de Popham, elected 1344, (fn. 262) died before 4 May 1346. (fn. 263)

Lucy Loveny, 1346, (fn. 264) died before 30 Oct. 1361. (fn. 265)

Sibyl Aucher, elected 1361, (fn. 266) died before 20 June 1374. (fn. 267)

Maud de Bokeland, elected 1374, (fn. 268) died before 12 Oct. 1395. (fn. 269)

Felise Lavington, elected 1395. (fn. 270)

Joan Beauchamp, elected 1403, (fn. 271) died before 19 Nov. 1416. (fn. 272)

Christine Doulre, elected 1416, (fn. 273), died 1441. (fn. 274)

Christine Codford, elected 1441, (fn. 275) died 1448. (fn. 276)

Isabel Lambard, elected 1448, (fn. 277) died 1464. (fn. 278)

Edith Barough, elected 1464, (fn. 279) died before 11 Dec. 1470. (fn. 280)

Alice Comelonde, elected 1471, (fn. 281) died 1485. (fn. 282)

Cecily Willoughby, elected 1485, (fn. 282) died before 30 Apr. 1528. (fn. 283)

Isabel Jordayne, elected 1528; (fn. 284) on 28 Mar. 1533 abbey said to have been long without an abbess. (fn. 285)

Cecily Bodenham, elected 1534. (fn. 286)

There are two 13th-century impressions of the Wilton Abbey seal. Both are attached to undated charters of the Abbess Maud de la Mare (1252c. 1271). (fn. 287) These are round, 25/8 in. in diameter, and bear the three-quarter-length figure of St. Edith with her face in profile to the left. The saint's right hand is raised in benediction, her left holds a book. The legend round the seal is:


The matrix of the seal is thought to date from the 10th century. (fn. 288)

A 16th-century impression of the seal is attached to a charter of the Abbess Cecily Bodenham dated 1536. (fn. 289) There is a fourth impression of the seal in the muniment room at Wilton House unattached to any document.

Impressions of the personal seals of four of the abbesses of Wilton are known to exist. A fragment of that belonging to the Abbess Hawise (temp. Hen. II) is attached to an undated charter at Wilton House. (fn. 290) It is a pointed oval, 1¾ by 2¾ in., having on it a standing female figure with arms extended holding an object, possibly a key, in the left hand. (fn. 291) The seal of Abbess Maud de la Mare is attached to one of the undated charters mentioned above which also bears the seal of the abbey. (fn. 292) The abbess's seal is an oval 1½ by 2¼ in., bearing the full-length figure of an abbess, the right hand holding a pastoral staff, the left in front of the body, holding a book. On each side of the figure is a small vesical compartment, that on the right containing a head, possibly St. Edith's, that on the left being almost entirely broken away. All that remains of the legend are the letters ISSE. (fn. 293) An impression of the seal of the Abbess Sibyl Aucher is attached to a deed of 1371. (fn. 294) It is an oval, 1¼ by 2 in., bearing within an ornamented Gothic niche a full-length figure of an abbess, the right hand holding a pastoral staff, the left a book. Below the figure is a shield of arms. (fn. 295) A certificate by the Abbess Maud de Bokeland dated 1375 bears an impression of this abbess's personal seal. (fn. 296) It is a pointed oval, bearing a full-length figure of an abbess, with a crosier in the right hand and a book in the left. The figure stands within a Gothic niche and below is a shield of arms. (fn. 297)


  • 1. B.M., Cott. MS. Faust. B. III. This was edited in 1830 by R. C. Hoare and W. H. Black (Chronicon Vilodunense) and in 1883 by C. Horstmann (S. Editha sive Chronicon Vilodunense). The poem is based upon a number of sources which are listed by its author (S. Editha, ed. Horstmann, pp. 112-13) but mainly upon a life of St. Edith which is probably that written by the monk Goscelin towards the end of the 11th cent. La Légende de Ste Édith en Prose et Vers par la Moine Goscelin, Analecta Bollandiana, lvi (1938).
  • 2. S. Editha, ed. Horstmann, p. 8.
  • 3. Ibid. pp. 9, 4.
  • 4. Ibid. p. 4.
  • 5. Ibid. p. 14. This he is said to have done to meet the wishes of his wife and commemorate a 3-year-old child accidentally drowned in a bath during a Danish attack upon Wilton: ibid. pp. 14, 10-11.
  • 6. S. Editha, ed. Horstmann, p. 14.
  • 7. Cart. Sax. ed. Birch, no. 699.
  • 8. Engl. Hist. Doc. ed. F. E. Harmer, p. 34.
  • 9. S. Editha, ed. Horstmann, pp. 22-24.
  • 10. La Légende de Ste Éidith, An. Bollandiana, lvi, 41.
  • 11. Ibid. 43.
  • 12. S. Editha, ed. Horstmann, passim.
  • 13. S. Editha, ed. Horstmann, p. 64. There is evidence to show that at least once in the 12th cent. the abbey church was said to be dedicated to St. Olave and St. Edith: Wilton House MSS. Charters, no. 1.
  • 14. William of Malmesbury, Gesta Pont. Angl. (Rolls Ser.), 189.
  • 15. S. Editha, ed. Horstmann, p. 40.
  • 16. La Légende de Ste Édith, 94; Horstmann, op. cit. p. 46.
  • 17. S. Editha, ed. Horstmann, passim.
  • 18. Ibid. p. 78.
  • 19. Ibid. p. 81.
  • 20. Ibid. p. 97.
  • 21. Ibid. p. 4.
  • 22. Ibid. p. 14.
  • 23. Ibid. p. 23.
  • 24. Gest. Regum (Rolls Ser.), i, 137.
  • 25. Lives of Edw. the Confessor (Rolls Ser.), 403, 418.
  • 26. B.M. Harl. MS. 436. The charters in this 13th-cent. cartulary are printed in Cart. Sax. ed. Birch, in Cod. Dipl. ed. Kemble, and in Dugd. Mon. ii, 323. The cartulary has been edited by R. C. Hoare (Registrum Wiltunense). For comments on their authenticity see V.C.H. Wilts, ii, pp. 91-93.
  • 27. Cart. Sax. ed. Birch, no. 699.
  • 28. Ibid. 714.
  • 29. Ibid. 917; Arch. Jnl. lxxvii, 25 ff.
  • 30. 'Hwetinegam' is identified by Hoare (Reg. Wilt. 14) as Watchingwell, Isle of Wight; for Frustfield see P.N. Wilts. (E.P.N.S.), 386.
  • 31. Dugd. Mon. ii, 323-4, no. vi.
  • 32. Cart. Sax. ed. Birch, no. 1216.
  • 33. Cod. Dipl. ed. Kemble, no. 687.
  • 34. Hoare, Reg. Wilt. 49; Dugd. Mon. ii, 325-6, no. viii.
  • 35. Cart. Sax. ed. Birch, nos. 870, 956.
  • 36. Ibid. 757.
  • 37. Ibid. 600, 998, 1053.
  • 38. Ibid. 783, 934.
  • 39. Ibid. 1031.
  • 40. Cod. Dipl. ed. Kemble, no. 778.
  • 41. Cart. Sax. ed. Birch, no. 958.
  • 42. Ibid. 745.
  • 43. Ibid. 1285.
  • 44. Ibid. 756.
  • 45. Ibid. 992.
  • 46. Ibid. 795. East, West, and Middle Rollington are included in Washern in 1539: SC 6/Hen., VIII/3985, m. 2.
  • 47. Cart. Sax. ed. Birch, no. 1030.
  • 48. Ibid. 1120, 1286.
  • 49. P.N. Wilts. (E.P.N.S.), 363.
  • 50. Cart. Sax. ed Birch, 879. In the 14th cent. the abbey had a rent from a property in Winterbourne Ford: Wilts. Inq., p.m. 1327-77 (Index Libr.), 374.
  • 51. V.C.H. Wilts. ii, pp. 128-30.
  • 52. Dom. Bk. i, 79, a. 1.
  • 53. V.C.H. Hants, i, 519. Assessed at 3 hides in 1066, reduced to 2½ hides in 1086.
  • 54. D. Knowles, Monastic Order in Engl. 702. Shaftesbury with £234 5s. was the next highest: ibid.
  • 55. Lives of Edw. Confessor (Rolls Ser.), 418-21.
  • 56. Will. Malm. Vita Wulfstani, 34; Dom A. Wilmart, 'Une Lettre inédite de St. Anselme à une moniale inconstante', Revue Bénédictine, xli (1928), 319-32.
  • 57. Gest. Regum (Rolls Ser.), i, 493.
  • 58. J. S. P. Tatlock, 'Muriel the Earliest English Poetess', Pub. of Mod. Lang. Assoc. of America, xlviii (1933), 317-21.
  • 59. Revue Bénédictine, xlvi (1934), 414-38.
  • 60. Gest. Regum (Rolls Ser.), ii, 573.
  • 61. Gervase of Canterbury, Opera Hist. (Rolls Ser.), i, 125.
  • 62. Red Bk. of Excheq. (Rolls Ser.), i, 14.
  • 63. Ibid. 239.
  • 64. Pipe R. 1197 (Pipe R. Soc. N.S. viii), 214; ibid. 1198 (Pipe R. Soc. N.S. ix), 69.
  • 65. Wilton House MS. printed in Survey of Lands of William 1st Earl of Pembroke (Roxburghe Club), ed. C. R. Straton, i, 3-6.
  • 66. Cal. Fine R. 1272-1307, 85.
  • 67. Cal. Close, 1296-1302, 275.
  • 68. Feudal Aids, v, 226.
  • 69. H. M. Chew, Eccl. Tenants in Chief, 52.
  • 70. Ibid. 60.
  • 71. Pipe R. all vols.
  • 72. Rot. Litt. Claus. (Rec. Com.), i, 572.
  • 73. Pipe R. 1197 (Pipe R. Soc. N.S. viii), 212, 213, 216.
  • 74. Ibid. 1208 (Pipe R. Soc. N.S. xxiii), 57, 194.
  • 75. Pipe R. for these years.
  • 76. Pipe R. 1130 (Pipe R. Soc.), 13.
  • 77. To be dealt with in article on Wilton in another vol. of V.C.H. Wilts.
  • 78. Rot. Litt. Claus. (Rec. Com.), i, 123b.
  • 79. Wilton House MS. Rent Collector's Acct.
  • 80. Close R. 1231-4, 370; 1237-42, 160; 1242-47, 170.
  • 81. Ibid. 1231-4, 5; 1242-7, 492.
  • 82. Cal. Lib. 1226-40, 418.
  • 83. Ibid. 1245-51, 100.
  • 84. M. A. E. Green, Lives of the Princesses of Engl. ii, 420.
  • 85. Cal. Pat. 1225-32, 271.
  • 86. Close R. 1237-42, 424.
  • 87. Cal. Pat. 1247-58, 224.
  • 88. Ibid. 1272-81, 172.
  • 89. Close R. 1256-9, 149.
  • 90. Sar. Chart. & Doc. (Rolls Ser.), 313.
  • 91. Close R. 1254-6, 334.
  • 92. Ibid. 1259-61, 111.
  • 93. Ibid. 112.
  • 94. Sar. Chart. & Doc. (Rolls Ser.), 344.
  • 95. Cal. Close 1272-9, 318, 384.
  • 96. Ibid. 1296-1302, 236, 238.
  • 97. Sar. Chart. & Doc. (Rolls Ser.), 325-7.
  • 98. Cal. Pat. 1266-72, 602, 612.
  • 99. Reg. Simon de Gandavo (Cant. & York Soc.), i, 105, 116, 129.
  • 100. Cal. Fine R. 1272-1307, 207. Reg. Peckham, f. 119; Hoare, Mod. Wilts. Branch and Dole Hundred, 94.
  • 101. Hoare, Mod. Wilts. Branch and Dole Hundred, 96.
  • 102. Wilton Corp. MS. 201. The account is undated but internal evidence dates it 1299.
  • 103. A marginal note reads introitus Domine E Abbatisse. The abbess is Emma Blount (1299-1321).
  • 104. Cal. Pat. 1348-50, 90.
  • 105. Survey of lands of 1st Earl of Pembroke, ed. Straton, i, p. xlv. For court of the Belhouse see p. 237.
  • 106. For an essay on prebends in nunnery churches see A. Hamilton Thompson in the Abp. of Canterbury's Committee on the Ministry of Women, App. viii.
  • 107. Reg. Simon de Gandavo (Cant. & York Soc.), ii, 788-90.
  • 108. Ibid.
  • 109. Phillipps, Wilts. Inst. i, 2.
  • 110. Reg. Simon de Gandavo (Cant. & York Soc.), ii, 591-4.
  • 111. KB 27/298.
  • 112. Cal. Pat. 1345-8, 54.
  • 113. Ibid. 107.
  • 114. Cal. Pap. Reg. iii, 1342-62, 227.
  • 115. Cal. Pat. 1345-8, 144.
  • 116. Ibid. 1388-92, 226.
  • 117. Ibid. 1446-52, 209.
  • 118. Ibid. 1467-77, 518.
  • 119. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xiv (2), pp. 99, 347.
  • 120. Sar. Reg. Neville—flyleaf.
  • 121. Original grant in W.A.S. Libr., Devizes. See also W.A.M. xlvii, 327.
  • 122. Phillipps, Wilts. Inst.
  • 123. Cur. Reg. R. v, 44, 61, 159; Reg. Wilton, ed, Hoare, 16-17.
  • 124. Cal. Pat. 1334-8, 45.
  • 125. Hoare, Mod. Wilts. Branch and Dole Hundred, 118.
  • 126. Phillipps, Wilts. Inst. Index in W.A.M. xxviii, 210-35.
  • 127. Ibid.
  • 128. For an example see Cal. Pap. Reg. ii, 1305-42, 314.
  • 129. Reg. Simon de Gandavo (Cant. & York Soc.), ii, 757.
  • 130. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 189.
  • 131. Ibid.
  • 132. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 112.
  • 133. Sar. Reg. Beauchamp, i, f. 156.
  • 134. E 179/52/230.
  • 135. E 179/52/195.
  • 136. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 112.
  • 137. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 154, 184b, 185, 185b, 186, 192b, 193, 270.
  • 138. Cur. Reg. R. i, 210-11.
  • 139. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 111.
  • 140. V.C.H. Hants. v, 220.
  • 141. Ibid. 229.
  • 142. Rot. Litt. Claus. (Rec. Com.), ii, 17.
  • 143. Fines sive Pedes Finium (Rec. Com.), i, 263.
  • 144. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 185.
  • 145. Dugd. Mon. ii, 329.
  • 146. E 372/106/m. 21.
  • 147. E 179/242/47.
  • 148. Wilton House MSS. Charters.
  • 149. Survey of Lands of 1st Earl of Pembroke, ed. Straton, ii, App. A.
  • 150. C 1/516/35.
  • 151. L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv (2), p. 1853.
  • 152. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, no.
  • 153. Rot. Litt. Claus. i, 479b.
  • 154. Ibid. 529.
  • 155. Ibid. 590b.
  • 156. Cal. Close, 1231-4, 46, 47, 494. These lands were said to lie in Rainscombe and North Newnton.
  • 157. Ibid. 1242-7, 439.
  • 158. Feet of F. 1272-1327 (W.A.S. Rec. Brch.), 12.
  • 159. Cal. Close, 1323-7, 142.
  • 160. Wilton House MS. Rent Gatherer's Acct.
  • 161. SC 6/Hen. VIII/3985, m. 2.
  • 162. Rot. Litt. Claus. (Rec. Com.), ii, 107.
  • 163. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii (1), 249.
  • 164. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 799. For the privileges of the abbess within the hundred, see V.C.H. Wilts. v, chapter on Feudal Wilts.
  • 165. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 110.
  • 166. Survey of Lands of 1st Earl of Pembroke, ed. Straton, i, 2-3.
  • 167. Cal. Pat. 1345-8, 355.
  • 168. Cal. Close, 1327-30, 396, 534; E. Power, Medieval Engl. Nunneries, 198.
  • 169. Cal. Pat. 1413-16, 2.
  • 170. Sar. Reg. Erghum, f. 32d.
  • 171. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 112; A. Savine, Engl. Monasteries on Eve of Dissolution (Oxford Studies in Soc. and Leg. Hist.), i, 243.
  • 172. Cal. Pat. 1232-47, 155.
  • 173. Sar. Reg. Hallam, f. 66.
  • 174. Reg. Chichele (Cant. & York Soc.), iv, 96.
  • 175. Cal. Pat. 1266-72, 584.
  • 176. Ibid. 1338-40, 545.
  • 177. Ibid. 1340-3, 177.
  • 178. Ibid. 1358-61, 47; Cal. Close, 1374-7, 33.
  • 179. Cal. Pat. 1381-5, 334; 1396-9, 74; 1401-5, 399; 141316, 239; 1429-36, 244; 1441-6, 232.
  • 180. Cal. Close, 1307-13, 266.
  • 181. Ibid. 1346-9, 268.
  • 182. Sar. Reg. Erghum, f. 32d.
  • 183. Cant. Reg. Courtenay, f. 158b.
  • 184. Sar. Reg. Metford, ff. cxlvi-cxlvii.
  • 185. Reg. Chichele (Cant. & York Soc.), iii, 515-16.
  • 186. Sar. Reg. Chandler, f. 44.
  • 187. Sar. Reg. Aiscough, f. 1.
  • 188. Sar. Reg. Beauchamp, ff. 114-16.
  • 189. Sar. Reg. Langton, ff. 1-2.
  • 190. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xiv (1), p. 233.
  • 191. Cal. Pat. 1232-47, 181.
  • 192. Sar. Chart. & Doc. (Rolls Ser.), 327.
  • 193. For a fragment of a cellaress's account, see Wilton Corp. MS. 201.
  • 194. Sar. Reg. Erghum, f. 32d.
  • 195. Cal. Pat. 1467-77, 231.
  • 196. W.A.M. xlviii, 275, 277.
  • 197. Winchester Coll. MS. Wilton, III, no. 2.
  • 198. Som. Med. Wills (Som. Rec. Soc.), xix, 219.
  • 199. L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv (2), p. 1853.
  • 200. Ibid. p. 2153.
  • 201. Ibid. p. 1978.
  • 202. Wood, Letters of Royal and Illustrious Ladies, ii, 35-36.
  • 203. L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv (2), p. 1978.
  • 204. Ibid. vi, p. 125.
  • 205. Ibid.
  • 206. Ibid. p. 330.
  • 207. Ibid. p. 500.
  • 208. Ibid. p. 144.
  • 209. L. & P. Hen. VIII, vii, p. 235.
  • 210. C 1/902/34.
  • 211. L. & P. Hen. VIII, ix, p. 88.
  • 212. Ibid. p. 93.
  • 213. Savine, Engl. Monasteries on Eve of Dissolution, 104, 285. Shaftesbury with £1,324 14s. 7d. had the largest gross general income.
  • 214. Ibid. 163.
  • 215. Ibid. 127, 145.
  • 216. SC 6/Hen. VIII/3985, m. 2.
  • 217. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 111.
  • 218. Savine, Engl. Monasteries on Eve of Dissolution, 255.
  • 219. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 112.
  • 220. Ibid. 111.
  • 221. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xiv (1), p. 233.
  • 222. Ibid. p. 241.
  • 223. Ibid. xvi, p. 720.
  • 224. Ibid. xix (1), p. 38.
  • 225. Aubrey, Brief Lives, ed. A. Clarke, i, 316.
  • 226. Survey of Lands of 1st Earl of Pembroke, ed. Straton, i, 3.
  • 227. Ibid. xlv.
  • 228. Ibid. ii, plate facing p. 471.
  • 229. W.A.M. xlvi, 420.
  • 230. The psalter is now in the Libr. of the Royal Coll. of Physicians. It has been fully described by E. G. Millar in Bulletin de la Société Française de Reproductions des Manuscrits et Peintures, iv/1, and in W.A.M. 1, 248-56.
  • 231. S. Editha, ed. Horstmann, p. 4.
  • 232. Ibid. p. 14.
  • 233. Cart. Sax. ed. Birch, iii, p. 85.
  • 234. S. Editha, ed. Horstmann, p. 69. She is said to have become abbess soon after 968: W.A.M. xix, 343.
  • 235. S. Editha, ed. Horstmann, p. 96.
  • 236. Ibid. p. 51.
  • 237. Ibid. p. 104.
  • 238. Ibid.
  • 239. Wilton House MSS. Charters, no. 1.
  • 240. Ibid. Charters, no. 3.
  • 241. Ibid. Charters, no. 7B.
  • 242. Ibid. Charters, no. 7D.
  • 243. Cal. Feet of F. 1195-1272, ed. Fry, p. 10.
  • 244. Pat. R. 1216-25, 326.
  • 245. Ibid. 237. (Royal assent to election.)
  • 246. Ibid. 1225-32, 181.
  • 247. Ibid. (Royal assent to election.)
  • 248. Cal. Pat. 1232-47, 181.
  • 249. Ibid. 182. (Royal assent to election.)
  • 250. Cal. Pat. 1247-58, 149.
  • 251. Ibid. 150. (Royal assent to election.)
  • 252. Ibid. 1266-72, 602.
  • 253. Ibid. 612.
  • 254. Ibid. 1272-81, 1.
  • 255. Ibid. 1292-1301, 190.
  • 256. Ibid. 191. (Temporalities restored.)
  • 257. Ibid. 412.
  • 258. Ibid. 415. (Royal assent to election.)
  • 259. Cal. Pat. 1321-4, 36.
  • 260. Sar. Reg. Mortival, i, f. clxxxii.
  • 261. Cal. Pat. 1343-5, 331.
  • 262. Ibid. 343. (Royal assent to election.)
  • 263. Cal. Pat. 1345-8, 79.
  • 264. Ibid. 83. (Royal assent to election.)
  • 265. Cal. Pat. 1361-4, 97.
  • 266. Sar. Reg. Mortival, ii, f. 294.
  • 267. Cal. Pat. 1370-4, 457.
  • 268. Ibid. 458. (Royal assent to election.)
  • 269. Cal. Pat. 1391-6, 632.
  • 270. Ibid. 635. (Royal assent to election.)
  • 271. Cal. Pat. 1401-5, 263. Said to be successor of Felise Lavington.
  • 272. Ibid. 1416-22, 56.
  • 273. Ibid. (Royal assent to election.)
  • 274. Sar. Reg. Aiscough, ff. 1-4d.
  • 275. Ibid.
  • 276. Ibid. f. 18d.
  • 277. Cal. Pat. 1446-52, 153. (Royal assent to election.)
  • 278. Sar. Reg. Beauchamp, i, f. 156.
  • 279. Ibid. ff. 114d-16d.
  • 280. Cal. Pat. 1467-77, 231.
  • 281. Ibid. (Royal assent to election.)
  • 282. Sar. Reg. Langton, ff. 1-2.
  • 283. L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv (2), p. 1862.
  • 284. L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv (2), p. 2153. (Temporalities restored.)
  • 285. Ibid. vi, p. 125.
  • 286. Ibid. vii, p. 235. (Royal assent to election.)
  • 287. B.M., Harl. Chart. 45 A. 36; Wilton House MSS. Charters no. 25.
  • 288. B.M. Cat. of Seals, p. 808. The seal has been described and illustrated in Archaeologia, xviii, 40-54, Hoare, Mod. Wilts. Branch and Dole Hundred, 214, and W.A.M. xix, 342-62.
  • 289. W.A.S. Libr. Devizes and see W.A.M. xlvii, 327-9.
  • 290. Wilton House MSS. Charters, no. 1.
  • 291. W.A.M. xix, 347, and plate facing p. 342.
  • 292. Wilton House MSS. Charters, no. 25.
  • 293. W.A.M. xix, 355, and plate facing p. 342.
  • 294. Wilton House MSS. Charters, no. 79.
  • 295. W.A.M. xix, 359, and plate facing p. 342.
  • 296. B.M., Harl. Chart. 45 A. 37.
  • 297. W.A.M. xix, 360, and plate facing p. 342.