A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
HOUSE OF CISTERCIAN MONKS
7. THE ABBEY OF STANLEY
In 1151 the Empress Maud and her chamberlain, Drogo, gave to the Cistercian monks of Quarr in the Isle of Wight 'a singular and romantic spring on the summit of a hill in Pewsham forest', to be the site of a 'chief abbey'. (fn. 1) This was at Loxwell, a name which survives in Loxwell Farm in Pewsham, a little to the west of the Chippenham-Devizes road. Between 1151 and 1154 Henry, Duke of Normandy, the future Henry II, confirmed Hugh de Plugenet's gift to 'St. Mary of Drownfont' of a hide of land in Lambourn (Berks.), and added gifts of his own in the forest. (fn. 2) As king he gave the important estate of Worth, including Wadley, Littleworth, Thrupp, and Wicklesham, a member of his manor of Faringdon (Berks.), part of the royal demesne which Stephen had granted to Thame Abbey (Oxon.), (fn. 3) as well as £5 a year in alms. (fn. 4) The name 'Drownfont' was derived from Drogo's fount or spring. The compilers of the 'Red Book of the Exchequer', a few years after the community was founded, referred to it as 'the monks of Drogo's fountain', or 'the grey monks of Worde'; a later clerk noted in the margin 'now Stanley in Wiltshire'. (fn. 5) Jocelin de Bohun, Bishop of Salisbury (1142-84) used the name Drogo's Fountain when he confirmed a number of gifts. (fn. 6) The sheriffs knew the brethren for at least 50 years as 'the monks of Chippenham in Locheswella'. This in spite of the fact that they only stayed at Loxwell for three years, moving their home a mile northward in 1154 to Stanley in Bremhill, on the south side of the wide Marden valley, just within Pewsham Forest. (fn. 7) But even the name of Stanley proved an unhappy one, for it was constantly confused with that of the abbey of Stoneleigh in Warwickshire throughout its history.
Richard I, an honorary brother of Cîteaux since 1185, (fn. 8) confirmed the abbey's holdings in detail on 13 November 1189. (fn. 9) He included the royal grants of Stanley, Midgehall in Lydiard Tregoze, 'Helanda by Lacock Bridge', Worth, Loxwell, 'Hedfeld on both sides of the stream', dead wood in Chippenham Forest for firing and for building, pasture and pannage in the forest beside the Avon, and 3d. daily from the farm of Chippenham. He added gifts or sales by Hugh de Plugenet and Patrick, Earl of Salisbury (1153-68), of property in 'Hedfeld' beside Chippenham Forest, in Upper Lambourn (Berks.), in Chapmanslade and Godswell in Dilton; by Henry Husee and his son Geoffrey in Stapleford and in the 'breach' of Southampton; by Hugh Husee, Henry's brother, in Merecombe in Blagdon (Som.); by Reynold de Paveley in 'Hulwerc'; by Hawise, Countess of Roumare, in Feltham in Pitminster, (Som.); by Thomas de Lanvalaie in Chapmanslade; by Walter Croc of his quarry of Hazelbury in Box; by William of Hogland of land in Penselwood (Som.); (fn. 10) by Roger Burel of a croft called 'Berlege'; by Simon and Peter of Cocklebury of land and half the mill at Peckingell; by Nigel of Stanley in 'Hedfeld'; by Richard FitzLuke of a close at the abbey's fulling mill; by William FitzRobert, Earl of Gloucester, of quittance of toll at Bristol; (fn. 11) by Richard FitzMartin of Blagdon church (Som.); by Roger of Calne and others of property in Calne. The half mill of Peckingell was the fulling mill in Langley Burrell, and 'Berlege' was near by. After a lawsuit in 1194 the monks purchased a tenement from Richard FitzLuke, on which the mill-pond seems to have overflowed; (fn. 12) and in 1234-6 they appear to have bought the lease of the other half and assigned it to Thomas Burel for 8s. and a 'stick' of eels (or 6d.) a year. (fn. 13)
The charter of 1189 went on to exempt the monks from geld and danegeld, scutage, the common summons, sheriffs' aids, castle guard, toll and portage and passage, waste and regard, and pleas of the forest, and all secular services and exactions. By another charter of 3 April 1191 Richard confirmed Ralph FitzStephen's grants of land at Wapley, Codrington, and Winterbourne (Glos.). (fn. 14) Celestine III, who had given the abbey protection and the whole range of Cistercian privileges, added the approval of the Holy See; (fn. 15) and from 1206 the king's yearly payment of £8 to FitzStephen in Wapley was transferred to the abbey. (fn. 16) In April 1194 the abbey bought from the king, for £26 13s. 4d., the fee farm at £3 10s. a year of pasture in Langdon and Wyke, in the barton of Maryborough. (fn. 17) On 10 September 1198 the king granted lands at Stanley and elsewhere. (fn. 18) John Wace, probably after 1189, gave land at Broad Hinton. (fn. 19) In 1200 the monks received a legacy of £20 from St. Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln; (fn. 20) and in the following year they bought from Michael Knoyle all his land at East Knoyle. Two years later they sold it to the Bishop of Winchester for £66 13s. 4d. (fn. 21)
Thomas of Calstone, abbot since 1205, bought a virgate of land in Rowde from Ralph Bluet at Wilton in 1212, and on the same day his prior, Robert, agreed at Gillingham with Roger de Cauz as to common of pasture at Kingsgrove, in Easton Piercy. (fn. 22) The records of the general chapter reveal many disputes about this time between Stanley and other religious houses, in particular with Beaulieu (Hants) de cursu aquae tamisiae. (fn. 23) The abbot was in trouble for returning monks sent to him, presumably by other Cistercian houses. (fn. 24) But the consolidation of the abbey's estates went slowly forward. In 1221 the abbot compounded for tithes at Faringdon and Westbury. (fn. 25) In 1227 Henry III confirmed the charter of 1198, excepting the right to take firewood in Chippenham Forest and the 3d. a day from Chippenham, with a grant of 'Alfletemore' or 'La More', the moor on the south side of the abbey gate, and nineteen gifts or purchases in Wiltshire and Berkshire. (fn. 26)
These recent acquisitions included lands in Lambourn (Berks.) and in Sutton Mandeville; a burgage and a messuage in Chippenham, and a rent in Derriads there; 4 messuages in Calne, (fn. 27) 2 virgates in Ugford in Burcombe, and the mill there; services from lands in Costow in Wroughton, granted by Walter (III) de Dunstanville; (fn. 28) 4 carucates in Wapley and Codrington (Glos.) from Gilbert of Finemere, and a virgate in Heywood from William and Geoffrey Burnel; (fn. 29) ½ carucate at Nethermore in Pewsham from Walter FitzWilliam; 7 virgates at Stanley from Godfrey of Stanley, at £1 6s. 8d. and a pair of milkingstools (or 1s.) a year; 3¾ acres of meadow in Avebury and a messuage in Wilton opposite the abbey gate at a pound of pepper or 6d. a year, and a virgate in Calstone in Calne at 3s. a year, from Walter of Calstone; 24 acres of land in Winterbourne (Glos.) from William 'the clerk' of Berwick, and a messuage and 5 acres in the same place from John of Berwick, for a pair of gloves, or 1d. a year; (fn. 30) and common of pasture in Blagdon at 6s. 8d. a year. (fn. 31)
In 1212 the abbey had 32 librates of land in Faringdon, 7 in Midgehall, and 11 hides in the manor of Lambourn. (fn. 32) Samson Bigot of Box gave the monks two quarries at Hazelbury, and Sir Henry Croc land for another quarry. In 1241 they exchanged quarries with Lacock Abbey. (fn. 33) In the same year they acquired land in Heywood from Hawise de Paveley and her son, Walter, and Sir Philip Bassett gave them the manor of Berwick Bassett. (fn. 34) In 1247 they had from Alexander of Studley and his son, Roger, 8 acres of meadow in Studley in Calne, at a pair of gilt spurs a year, in exchange for a meadow at 6s. 8d. a year; and from Henry Keynel, 50½ acres of land in Yatton Keynell and pasture for 8 oxen and 100 sheep on his demesne, at a yearly rent of one pair of white gloves. (fn. 35) In 1259 Henry Keynel's relict, for a life rent of 6s. 8d. and 10 quarters of good corn, gave her dower of one-third of a messuage and of 123 acres of land in Easton and Yatton Keynell; in 1262 his son Robert gave the advowson of Yatton Keynell and ½ virgate of land there. (fn. 36) Hugh Gargat gave an acre of land in Melksham about 1252, (fn. 37) and Stephen of Crome a burgage in Marlborough about 1266. (fn. 38) By his will, dated 1267, Robert de Careville, Treasurer of Salisbury, left £2 to the abbey. (fn. 39) Two years later Richard of Highway demised to it for twelve years all his land in Quidhampton in Wroughton. (fn. 40) An old difficulty seems to have been resolved about 1270 when Thame Abbey released to Stanley all its land in the manor of Wadley (Berks.); but the two houses were again on bad terms a few years later. (fn. 41)
On a fresh examination of titles in 1276 it was found that the abbot owed suit of the hundred court for many years in respect of Costow, and of Langdon and Wyke in the barton of Marlborough, and that by blocking the Pewe stream he had flooded the highway from Chippenham to Calne. (fn. 42) In 1280, after a long contest with the canons of St. Augustine's of Bristol, he had leave, which was probably not exercised, to build a chapel at Codrington for his manor house there. (fn. 43) In 1290 he had licence to enclose 'La More' as part of Chippenham Forest with a small ditch and a low hedge; (fn. 44) in 1292, for five years, to dig stone in the king's quarry in Pewsham Forest for building the abbey houses and a wall about them; (fn. 45) and in 1294 to dig, smelt, and remove iron ore for two years on the royal demesne in the forest. (fn. 46) In 1303 the king gave him 211 acres of waste in Pewsham Forest at a rent of £3 19s. 1d. with liberty to inclose and cultivate rather less than half. (fn. 47) The 'Taxation of Pope Nicholas' of 1291 showed that the abbey was reasonably endowed, but it is difficult to reconcile its figures with what is known about the abbey's revenues, (fn. 48) and the growth of the estates was drawing to an end. By 1310 the abbey acquired 8 acres at Tytherton in Chippenham from Roger Bubbe, 8s. 4d. in rent in Little Sherston (now Pinkney) from Peter of Salthorpe, (fn. 49) and a release by Nicholas of Nethermore of his rights as the abbey's tenant in Nethermore in Pewsham. (fn. 50) After this there seems to have been no further expansion; the period of prosperity was already over.
In 1242 Henry III asked the English Cistercians for a subsidy. (fn. 51) He was followed by the Holy See and the general chapter, who, both concerned to defend the liberties of the Order against the English bishops, asked for subsidies. (fn. 52) Thirty years later, in 1276, Stanley paid £21 6s. 8d. towards a Cistercian gratuity of £1,000 for the king. Their contribution was exceeded in the southern province only by those of Beaulieu and Wardon (Beds.). (fn. 53) Meanwhile the Crown's control had stiffened. In 1253 the abbot was ordered to keep his bounds and hedges in Selwood Forest in good order, and in January 1255 with other abbots he was ordered to hold his wool until Easter, to satisfy the claims of Flemish merchants. (fn. 54) Royal commissioners discovered in the same year that by his failure to appear at a hundred court he had withheld 2s. a year from the Crown for ten years. (fn. 55)
The Despensers in their days of prosperity were the neighbours but not the benefactors of the abbey. Sir Hugh the elder imparked Fasterne Wood in Wootton Bassett, extinguishing the monks' right of common; he also added 300 acres of their wood in Bradon Forest to his park; and, as heir of the Bassetts, he disseised them of Berwick Bassett Manor. (fn. 56) But the fall of the Despensers proved no less disastrous, for in June 1321 their enemies, the Earl of Hereford and the Mortimers, broke into the abbey, opened Sir Hugh's coffers, and took away £1,000 in money and the equivalent in goods. (fn. 57) In 1313 and 1315 the abbot had been called upon to contribute 100 marks to the expenses of war, and in 1322 he was ordered to send his men to Coventry to join the royal forces against the Earl of Lancaster. (fn. 58) The poverty and debts of the house between 1317 and 1325 are revealed by entries in the Chancery rolls, and in 1323 the king appointed Robert de Hungerford to assist the abbot in managing the temporalities. (fn. 59) Hungerford was succeeded in 1341 by John de la Roche, and Gilbert of Berwick was added in 1348, (fn. 60) but the financial difficulties of Stanley remained. New acknowledgements of debt were signed in 1351-5. Berwick Bassett had apparently been recovered after four appeals to Parliament, in or soon after 1337. (fn. 61) In 1363 the king granted to the abbey the advowsons of Rye (Suss.), Rowde, and Wootton Bassett churches, with leave to appropriate them, and his profits from the Rye fishing fleet. The appropriation was confirmed by Boniface IX in 1399. (fn. 62) In 1363 also the monks sold Wadley and Wicklesham, part of the Berkshire property which Henry II had given them. They described it as a sterile and unprofitable possession, but the sale was necessary to pay debts. The transaction was formally regularized by the general chapter in 1373. (fn. 63) Eventually Wadley reverted to the Crown, and in compensation the king released to Stanley in 1448 £3 19s. 1d. rent in Pewsham waste, and exempted it from corrodies and pensions. (fn. 64)
In 1371 the abbey received from the king, in order to endow prayers for the soul of Queen Philippa, a farm of 24s. a year payable by William Putman on property in Berwick Bassett and Burton in Clyffe Pypard, with the reversion, on Putman's death; (fn. 65) and in 1412-15 the monks were exempted, on the ground of poverty, from the payment of clerical tenths. (fn. 66) The last mention of the abbey's poverty was in 1455, when the abbot had licence to let Codrington and its ruined manor house for £11 a year. (fn. 67) The estates had probably diminished in value, and by this time long leasing of the abbey's lands had begun; 60-year terms were granted for property at Chippenham and elsewhere in 1486; (fn. 68) for a pasture field in Calne in 1516; and for property at Broad Hinton in 1533. (fn. 69)
The wool which Stanley exported was rated comparatively low. Forty sacks a year were sent to Italy about 1275. (fn. 70) Surviving accounts of granges from the reigns of Edward I, Henry V, and Henry VIII suggest that the abbey was mainly engaged in mixed farming for small profits. (fn. 71) The 'home grange' was the source of supplies in kind; it made many deliveries in 1414-15 'to the lord's household at Stanley by tally'. (fn. 72) The other granges in Wiltshire, Somerset, Gloucestershire, and Berkshire were managed at first by lay brothers, ultimately by farmers. Heywood grange was let in 1451 for 20 years on a repairing lease at £3 a year. (fn. 73) A house in the parish of St. Dunstan's-in-theWest, held in 1291, (fn. 74) was presumably given up when attendance in Parliament was no longer required of the abbot; another at Wilton, (fn. 75) useful for county and forest business, was also given up before the Dissolution, and others in Chippenham and Marlborough had offered similar advantages.
In 1528 the abbot, like a lay magnate, had a receiver-general, Nicholas Aleyn, who collected the revenues from all the abbey's lands and accounted for their expenditure. During the year he collected £174 5s. 10d. and paid over to the abbot £135 13s. 3d. These figures do not include deliveries in kind to the abbey, but if these still took place they must have been smaller than in earlier centuries for a great deal of the demesne was leased. The revenues which Aleyn collected amounted to rather less than the estimates of the house's annual value which were to be made a few years later. His outgoings included payments to the two royal corrodians, to Edward Darell and Henry Longe, knights, stewards of the abbey lands, to the under-steward, auditors, a councillor, a customary present of 13s. 4d. to the Sheriff of Wiltshire, a subscription to the chapter general of the Order, and an annuity of £10 to John Aguyllans. (fn. 76) The receiver-general mentioned no salary for himself, but he farmed the rectory of Rowde.
The Valor Ecc/esiasticus showed 30 separate estates in Wiltshire, three in Somerset, and one each in Gloucestershire, Berkshire, and Sussex, of a total annual value of £222 19s. 4d. gross, or £177 0s. 8d. net, £6 13s. 4d. being devoted to a chantry, £4 in alms to three poor women, £9 6s. 8d. to two corrodians, and £13 in fees to the chief steward, Sir Henry Longe, the understeward, auditor, receiver-general, and three bailiffs. (fn. 77) The county commissioners, less prejudiced than Cromwell's agents, inspected the abbey in the late summer of 1536 while it was closing down. (fn. 78) They praised the buildings, and they spoke well of the nine priests and the novice. They raised the estimate of net income to £204 3s. 6½d. with £32 9s. for the demesne and a mill. They valued the great woods and coppice (269 acres) at £160, and the movables and stock at £586 4s.; but the house owed £285 5s. 11d. against £12 13s. 4d. owing to it. The abbey's estates were quickly broken up, and the accounts of the king's collectors provide few figures for comparison with these valuations. (fn. 79)
The monks of Stanley were English from the earliest days. Some were of local families: John Chippenham, ordained sub-deacon in 1399, Robert Lockswell in 1438, (fn. 80) and Thomas Studley abbot in 1455. Some came from other parts of Wiltshire or from Gloucestershire or Somerset: Thomas Calne, the last abbot, Thomas Ramsbury in 1410, Richard Lydiard in 1481, (fn. 81) Thomas Gloster in 1409, John Lydney in 1423, and Thomas Bathe in 1432. (fn. 82) There seems to be no evidence of numbers before 1536, when nine priests and one novice left the confiscated house. The minimum number allowed by the Order was twelve in addition to the abbot. The 15th-century ordination lists for Salisbury and for Bath and Wells do not suggest a large membership. There is little or no evidence about the lives and education of the monks. There was a schoolmaster in residence in 1536. The abbey produced a chronicle of England down to the year 1270, with some evidence for domestic history in the mid-thirteenth century, and also an admirable cartulary, kept up to date for some centuries. (fn. 83) Of the obedientiaries, apart from the prior, the under-cellarer and the warden of the home grange are mentioned in a document of 1535, the cellarer in 1363, and the late sub-prior and 'chauntor' in 1538. (fn. 84) Lay brothers, generally a troublesome element in English Cistercian houses, (fn. 85) are hardly mentioned in the records of Stanley. Hired servants, of whom there were eighteen in 1536, probably replaced the lay brothers in the 14th century. At the Dissolution there were also eighteen 'hinds in divers granges'. Pensioned royal servants were sent to Stanley for maintenance in an almost unbroken succession. Corrodies seem to have begun about 1271, and the promise to stop them in 1448 (fn. 86) was not observed. Some led to suits in Chancery. The standard corrody in the 16th century included a payment of 7 marks a year. It was bought and sold. (fn. 87) In 1436, for reasons not disclosed, the abbot and convent granted £10 a year to John Aguyllans and his wife, for their lives, out of the manors of Berwick and Langdon. (fn. 88)
The abbot was elected by the conventual chapter, in theory from the family of Savigny, and with the 'counsel and desire' of the 'Father abbot of Quarr'. (fn. 89) He was blessed by the diocesan bishop, and professed obedience 'saving his order'. (fn. 90) He was summoned to the early parliaments until 1322; (fn. 91) in 1311-17 he was summoned five times to Westminster, York, or Lincoln, and the motives for attending by deputy are plain. (fn. 92) In 1322 he was summoned to attend a provincial council in Lincoln, and in 1324 he was specially commanded to appear at convocation at St. Paul's, but later discharged from attendance. (fn. 93) He was until the end of the 13th century a more or less regular attendant at the general chapter; in 1190 light punishments for non-attendance were imposed on the abbots of Quarr, Stanley, and Ford. (fn. 94)
On 25 October 1200 Abbot Nicholas entertained King John, and in May 1204 he and four lawful men of Marlborough were the king's view for feeding 100 poor. (fn. 95) In 1201 he, the Abbot of Malmesbury, and the Prior of Maiden Bradley were summoned to show cause why they had sued in the ecclesiastical courts for tithes of the king's chamberlain's holding, and it was not until 1205 that the last 50 marks of the fine imposed on Stanley were remitted. (fn. 96) Meanwhile he obtained a charter of confirmation in 1203-4. (fn. 97) This same Abbot Nicholas sent a colony to Ireland without leave of the general chapter at Cîteaux, and he was deposed in 1204, but allowed to become Abbot of Buckfast in the following year. (fn. 98) His prior, Thomas of Calstone, succeeded him at Stanley. Abbot Thomas built an aqueduct from Loxwell to Stanley, (fn. 99) lived through the interdict of 120814, attended the meeting of John and the Cistercian abbots at York in 1210, and apparently remained on good terms with that king, who lodged jewels with him, and collected them at Marlborough in July 1215. (fn. 100) In November 1216 Thomas, or his successor, delivered to Henry III money and gold and silver articles which Thomas of Sandford had deposited in the abbey on John's behalf. (fn. 101) Despite these apparently good relations the Stanley chronicler set John down as an oppressor of the Church and of the Order. (fn. 102)
Thomas of Calstone was succeeded after a short interval by Stephen of Lexington, abbot from 1224, or earlier, until 1229. A cadet of good official family, he had left Oxford for Quarr under the influence of Edmund Rich, and, when he became abbot, Rich, then Treasurer of Salisbury, stayed with him at Stanley for months at a time. (fn. 103) In 1228 he went to Ireland as visitor of the Cistercian houses there, and purged them thoroughly. (fn. 104) In May of the same year Gregory IX instructed him with the bishops of Bath and Coventry to inquire into the miracles worked by St. Osmund. (fn. 105) He became Abbot of Savigny (the mother house of Quarr) in 1229, and of Clairvaux in 1243. (fn. 106) He was the effective founder of St. Bernard's College in Paris, but in obtaining Innocent IV's licence he had by-passed the general chapter, who deposed him in 1255. (fn. 107)
Edward I gave stone in 1280 to build a chamber in the abbey for his own use, and he occupied it from 24 to 26 March and from 23 to 24 April 1282. (fn. 108) The Princess Mary, returning from Bristol to her duties as a nun of Amesbury, came for two nights in June 1304; (fn. 109) the Bishop of Salisbury on 15 March 1303 (fn. 110) and Edward II for one night in June 1308. (fn. 111) In 1293-4 the Abbot of Stanley was custodian of the temporalities of Amesbury Priory, taken into the king's hands on account of poverty. (fn. 112) He was asked in 1299, as a courtesy, to give bream and pike for stocking the royal fishponds at Marlborough Castle. (fn. 113) In 1312 the con vent established anniversaries of Edward I amongst others. (fn. 114) In the succeeding centuries little is heard of the abbey apart from the complaints of poverty already mentioned.
Stanley Abbey had no patron, although for a time the Bassetts commanded its loyal interest. The abbot of the mother house of Quarr was bound by the rules of the Order to visit at least once a year. In 1205 an Abbot of Quarr resigned his office at Stanley, in the presence of his own father, the Abbot of Savigny; and we have mention of one other visit in 1400. (fn. 115) The general chapter was the real ordinary under the Pope, but Stanley's relations with it were severed by the wars of Edward III and by the Great Schism.
Thomas Calne (or Morley), the last abbot, received John ap Rice in August 1535, and ap Rice sent to Cromwell a brief statement of the incontinence to which the abbot and six or seven of the monks had confessed. (fn. 116) The abbey was dissolved in February 1536. The abbot recovered £13 5s. 8d. for running expenses from Michaelmas 1535. (fn. 117) For himself he obtained a pension of £24 a year, and in 1537 the suffragan bishopric of Marlborough. (fn. 118) His monks went to other houses (especially Beaulieu), which they had to leave in turn a few years later. (fn. 119) In 1537 the Court of Augmentations made orders in favour of three creditors: for a debt of £15 6s. 8d., for a corrody of 7 marks granted in 1513 to a royal groom, and for a debt of £66 reduced to £50. (fn. 120) The abbot had borrowed £100 from the Vicar of Cannings, who claimed his debt in 1538 but was met with depositions that it had been repaid in full. (fn. 121)
The buildings at Stanley were begun about 1154. (fn. 122) In the next century Richard Poore, Bishop of Salisbury (1217-28), and Fulk Bassett, Bishop of London (1244-59), granted indulgences to help the abbey with its rebuilding, (fn. 123) and in 1222 the king granted stone for the church and wood for building as well as for the hearth. (fn. 124) The quarries which were received from Samson Bigot and Sir Henry Croc contributed, no doubt, to the same purpose. In 1247 the monks entered their new house; two bishops issued indulgences in their favour. In 1266 the king gave a tun of wine for the dedication of their new church, which was performed by Walter Wylye, Bishop of Salisbury, and in 1270 the new refectory was used. (fn. 125) In the following year Sir Philip Bassett, the abbey's influential supporter, died. The annalist who ceased to write in 1270 took care that his brief notes should include the main events in the history of the Bassetts. (fn. 126)
Sir Harold Brakspear's article (fn. 127) on the site and the buildings of the abbey is authoritative. It must suffice here to say that the precinct covered about 24 acres, enclosed by dykes and causeways, with a cross before the outer gate which marked the boundary of Chippenham or Pewsham Forest; (fn. 128) the demesne covered some 450 acres. (fn. 129) The church was about 180 ft. long; and in 1342 it had, apparently, a 'separation' for the old or infirm monks between the monk's choir and the lay brothers' choir. (fn. 130) The site of the abbey and the greater part of the demesne were bought by Sir Edward Baynton, who possibly used some of the material for his new house at Bromham. The abbot's house was spared for a time, and in 1555 the Privy Council ordered a search of it for coining irons. (fn. 131) Sir Edward Seymour, Viscount Beauchamp, obtained six of the Wiltshire manors in June 1536. (fn. 132) Part of the south transept of the church was probably destroyed by sinking pits and mining, in the course of which a workman was killed; in the end the destruction of buildings and foundations over the whole site was almost complete. (fn. 133)
Abbots of Stanley (fn. 134)
H., occurs 1198. (fn. 135)
Nicholas, occurs 1201. (fn. 136)
Thomas of Calstone, elected 1205, occurs to 1214. (fn. 137)
Ralph, occurs 1221-3. (fn. 138)
Stephen of Lexington, occurs 1224, retired 1229. (fn. 139)
Walter of Pucklechurch, occurs 1230. (fn. 140)
Peter, occurs 1236. (fn. 141)
Robert (9th abbot), occurs 1241, died 1248. (fn. 142)
William Chinnock, elected 1248, died 1268. (fn. 143)
William of Tinghurst, occurs 1271, 1286. (fn. 144)
Richard, occurs 1280. (fn. 145)
Nicholas, elected 1298, occurs 1301. (fn. 146)
John of Southbury, occurs from 1309 to 1327. (fn. 147)
Robert, occurs 1329. (fn. 148)
John de la Stone, occurs 1342. (fn. 149)
William, occurs 1351-7. (fn. 150)
John Serigge, occurs 1363. (fn. 151)
William, elected 1393. (fn. 152)
John, occurs 1397. (fn. 153)
William, occurs 1408-13. (fn. 154)
Thomas Tintern, occurs 1436-52. (fn. 155)
Thomas Studley, occurs 1455. (fn. 156)
John, occurs 1460, 1463. (fn. 157)
John Horton, occurs 1468-90. (fn. 158)
Thomas, occurs 1495-1518. (fn. 159)
Thomas Calne (or Morley) occurs 1521-36. (fn. 160)
A pointed oval seal (fn. 161) of Abbot Nicholas (the second of that name in the list), measuring 13/8 by ¾ in., shows a right hand and arm in a sleeve, issuing from the right and holding a pastoral staff. The legend runs:
+ SIGILLUM ABBATIS STANL.
Two impressions of another abbot's seal (fn. 162) survive, one on a document of 1280 and the other on an undated late-13th-century deed of the time of an Abbot Richard. It is a pointed oval about 15/8 by 1 in., and shows a mitred abbot holding a book in his left hand and a crosier in his right. There is a star on one side and a new moon on the other. The legend is:
+ SIGILL · ABBATIS DE · STANLEIA
A conventual seal (fn. 163) of 1342-74 is round and measures 15/8 in. in diameter. The Virgin holding the Child and St. John the Baptist holding a lamb stand under a double canopy with carved side panels, on a hatched ground. There is a waist-high plant between them. The legend is:
* S' COMUNE AGGIS ET 9VENTUS DE STANLEYA IN WILT'
A pointed oval seal (fn. 164) of Abbot William of Combe, used in 1354, measures 17/8 by 13/8 in., and shows a figure, perhaps the abbot, standing beneath a panelled canopy, with what may have been the letters w and c on either side. In the base is a shield of arms: crusily fitchy a bend ermine. These arms resemble those of the Howard family. The legend is:
S' FSIS WIL . . . E COMBE . . . GIS DE STA ...
There is also a cast of a signet used at the same period by Abbot William. (fn. 165)
Another pointed oval seal, (fn. 166) about 2½ by 1¾ in., which was used in 1363, may have been an abbot's or a conventual one. Beneath the panelled canopy are two women, one standing and offering a book to the other, who is veiled and seated: this may represent the Visitation. The background is covered with rosettes. In the base there is a praying figure with a crosier. The legend runs:
. . .S DE STANLEIE
The seal appended to the agreement with Farleigh Priory in 1314 is fragmentary. (fn. 167)
An impression in the British Museum (fn. 168) appears to have been made by a seal of Stanley Abbey but cannot be dated. It resembles the first seal described above, with a star and crescent moon like those on the second.