Colleges: St Peter & St Paul, Heytesbury

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

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'Colleges: St Peter & St Paul, Heytesbury', in A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 3, ed. R B Pugh, Elizabeth Crittall( London, 1956), British History Online [accessed 13 July 2024].

'Colleges: St Peter & St Paul, Heytesbury', in A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 3. Edited by R B Pugh, Elizabeth Crittall( London, 1956), British History Online, accessed July 13, 2024,

"Colleges: St Peter & St Paul, Heytesbury". A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 3. Ed. R B Pugh, Elizabeth Crittall(London, 1956), , British History Online. Web. 13 July 2024.

In this section


The church of Heytesbury, which in 1086 was held by Alward the priest, (fn. 1) was given to Salisbury Cathedral by Henry I about 1115, together with the church of Godalming (Surr.) and lands lying beside the two churches, to form a prebend. (fn. 2) The value of the prebend was quickly augmented by a number of other gifts. Elyas Giffard gave the church of Hill Deverill to that of St. Peter of Heytesbury in the time of Bishop Roger (1107-39), and the Empress Maud gave the land and 'maram' at Wilton, which Peter the clerk or priest of St. Martin held of her there by the gift of Henry I. (fn. 3) In another charter the empress named two prebendaries of Heytesbury, Sylvester and Reynold, and gave them 28 acres, with pasture for 100 sheep, both in the hills and in the cultivated lands, pasture for 10 oxen, 2 cows, and 2 horses, and a house, together with full rights of common, the whole to be held free of all lay services. This gift was made to enable them to serve the chapel of Tytherington. (fn. 4) The charter implied that Sylvester and Reynold were prebendaries, not of Salisbury, but of Heytesbury, and that the church of St. Peter there was already collegiate, the head of the college being that canon of Salisbury who held the Heytesbury prebend. This was confirmed shortly afterwards, when in response to a petition from Roger, Archdeacon of Wiltshire, who then held the prebend, the Chapter of Salisbury granted to the two clerks, described as Sylvester the priest and Reynold the clerk serving at Heytesbury, the tithes of Horningsham and Tytherington. If the total value failed to amount to £4 in any one year the archdeacon was to make it up. Successors to the two clerks were to be appointed by the archdeacon and his successors as prebendaries, or failing them by the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury. (fn. 5)

Half a virgate, 1 acre of land, and a house, together with pasture for oxen, cows, horses, and sheep, rights of common, pannage for 16 pigs, and various tithes, were given to the two, or four, canons by Humphrey de Bohun and Margaret his wife on the petition of Robert de Vernon and the men of Horningsham, in order that they might also serve the chapel of Horningsham, founded by Robert de Vernon. (fn. 6) Lands in Swallowcliffe were given to the church there, which was also dedicated to St. Peter, by various benefactors, Canutus, Ranulph, and Theobald the son of Ranulph. The gifts were confirmed by Robert Giffard and much later by Alice, Abbess of Wilton, and some of them were witnessed by Sylvester, Reynold, and Master John, canons of Heytesbury. Finally Gerard Giffard gave all his rights in the church of Swallowcliffe to their church of St. Peter, in order to maintain a chantry priest. (fn. 7)

However, the real foundation of the collegiate church must be dated from a charter of Jocelin, Bishop of Salisbury, granted between 1150 and 1160 in response to a petition from the Archdeacon Roger. (fn. 8) This charter established four canons in the church of St. Peter at Heytesbury, as a prebend of Salisbury. They were granted the tithes of Tytherington and Horningsham, with the canon's tithes of Heytesbury, all offerings except those of gold and ornaments and those on the Feast of the Invention of the Holy Cross, the church of Hill Deverill, 'maram' in Wilton with the possessions of Peter the clerk there, and the church of Swallowcliffe given by Gerard Giffard, except for the episcopal rights there. Roger, the Archdeacon and Canon of Salisbury, was to provide sites for the canons to build their little houses (mansiunculas). He and his successors were to appoint the canons, who were to promise obedience to Salisbury and to Heytesbury. They were to reside at Heytesbury and celebrate there for the souls of members of Salisbury Cathedral Chapter and for benefactors of Heytesbury. In a further charter Jocelin conceded to the canons the offerings on the day of the Invention of the Holy Cross, hitherto withheld, and on the day of the dedication of the church, except those of gold and silver. (fn. 9)

The possessions of Salisbury Cathedral, including the churches of Heytesbury and Godalming, were confirmed by Henry II. Henry also issued a specific confirmation of his grandfather's gift of Heytesbury, and confirmed all the customs and liberties of the churches of Heytesbury and Godalming, then held by Roger the Archdeacon, in lands and in men, in woods, pastures, and streams, with all privileges held in the time of Henry I. (fn. 10) This charter of Henry II was the last important grant secured by Roger the Archdeacon, and it was left to his successor, Reynold the Archdeacon and Canon of Salisbury, to complete the foundation by securing papal confirmation of Bishop Jocelin's constitution in a bull of Alexander III. (fn. 11) At about the same time, that is shortly before 1170, Archbishop Thomas Becket and Bishop Nigel of Ely granted indulgences to visitors and benefactors of the church. (fn. 12) Further gifts were made by Walter Quer de liun of 12d. on the feast of St. John the Baptist to the fraternity of Heytesbury church, by William de Chinok of 1 lb. of peppers or 8d. on St. Matthew's Day to the church of St. Peter and St. Paul and the four canons of Heytesbury, and by Radulf de Rupe of land in Salisbury for the soul of King John and for his own soul, to the same. (fn. 13) These gifts indicate that by the early 13th century St. Paul had been added to St. Peter in the dedication of the church. The witnesses to the last charter included Philip de Winesham, Canon of Heytesbury, and three other canons, Master John, Elyas, and Master Bartholomew.

The early heads or deans of the church of Heytesbury were archdeacons or other canons of Salisbury, but from about 1220 the prebend of Heytesbury came to be annexed to the deanery of Salisbury, and from then until the collegiate church was abolished by the Cathedrals Act of 1840 (fn. 14) the Dean of Salisbury was also Dean of Heytesbury. It is clear, therefore, that at no time can the head of the collegiate church have resided at Heytesbury except for short periods. Thus the development of a collegiate life was handicapped almost from the beginning; and if, as the early charters suggest, the canons were at first resident, they did not long remain so. Four prebends were created for the canons, with the names of four of the five dependent churches and chapels, the neighbouring Hill Deverill, Horningsham, and Tytherington, and the more distant church of Swallowcliffe. A fifth chapel, that of Knook, was and still is dependent on Heytesbury, but did not give its name to a prebend.

William de Wanda, then precentor, became Dean of Salisbury in 1220, and after that date all the known prebendaries of Heytesbury were also deans of Salisbury. (fn. 15) On becoming dean, de Wanda immediately began a visitation of the churches of his prebend. His findings confirmed that Heytesbury was a collegiate church dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul with four canons, holding the dependent churches and chapels as prebends. There were two priest prebendaries, Elyas de Watelegh and Hugh de Middleton, one having a vicar and the other not, and two deacon prebendaries, Hugh de Templo and Master Bartholomew, one with one vicar and the other with two. There was also a deacon for the dependent chapel of Knook. The books, ornaments, and muniments of the church were listed, the last comprising the 23 charters, which now survive only as copies in the Register of St. Osmund, and which contain all that is now known about the foundation of the church. (fn. 16) Shortly afterwards John de Wanda, presumably a relation of the dean, became a canon of Heytesbury, and in 1222 William secured a grant from the Chapter of Salisbury, which freed the church of Swallowcliffe, amongst others, from the jurisdiction of the archdeacon. (fn. 17)

In 1281 Bishop Robert Wickhampton ratified the estate of the Dean of Salisbury as prebendary of Heytesbury, thus making permanent an association which had apparently been in existence since 1220, (fn. 18) and in 1294 this prebend was valued at £22. The two canonries of Swallowcliffe and Hill Deverill in Heytesbury were valued at £6 13s. 4d. each, and the other two, Horningsham and Tytherington, at £5 each. (fn. 19) Three years later only two canons of Heytesbury, Thomas de Litlinton, who was to hold his canonry for another 50 years, (fn. 20) and Master John de Bukyngham, were named with Dean Simon de Micham in a list of clergy. (fn. 21) In 1317 William Mount had licence to alienate a messuage, 1 virgate, and 30s. rent in Heytesbury to maintain a chantry chaplain to celebrate in the church there, (fn. 22) and from this date until at least 1315 there was a chantry, valued at £4 per annum, the advowson of which belonged to the lord of the manor. (fn. 23) In 1415 Sir Walter Hungerford secured a licence to transfer this chantry from the church to the private chapel in his own manor house, and to augment its resources. (fn. 24) A chantry chaplain was admitted by Dean Simon Sydenham in 1421. (fn. 25)

Meanwhile, from 1297 to 1379 the deans of Salisbury were non-resident foreigners, (fn. 26) and foreign clerks did not disdain to accept prebends in Heytesbury church. John de Pynibus held the prebend of Hill Deverill from 1324 to 1342, with other English preferments, and was succeeded by John Radulphi. (fn. 27) Other prebends were held by John de Tarenta and Bartholomew Patricii, (fn. 28) but Swallowcliffe prebend, on the other hand, remained in the possession of clerks with distinctively English names. (fn. 29) Several canons were papally provided, including some king's clerks, (fn. 30) and in 1351, when the temporalities of the alien dean were in the king's hands, a royal appointment to a canonry was made. (fn. 31) At this period several canons were appointed to await the next occurring vacancies, (fn. 32) and in the late 14th and 15th centuries the church became almost a preserve of royal clerks, the prebends being held by such officials as Master Michael Northburgh, Canon of Salisbury and afterwards Bishop of London, (fn. 33) John Chittern, afterwards Archdeacon of Salisbury and Wiltshire, (fn. 34) John Wakering, Keeper of the Privy Seal, Master of the Rolls, and Bishop of Norwich, (fn. 35) and John Frank, another Master of the Rolls. (fn. 36)

John Chandler, Dean of Salisbury (1404-18), visited Heytesbury and its dependent churches with the other churches of his peculiar in 1408. At Heytesbury he found five chaplains, of whom two were chantry chaplains and one was responsible for the dependent chapel of Knook. The rector was the Dean of Salisbury, and there were three prebends, Tytherington and Horningsham having been combined, but since the combined prebend was henceforth divided into two parts there was no effective change. At Horningsham John Chittern was the prebendary, and there were two chaplains. At Swallowcliffe the prebendary was John Wakering, there should have been a vicar but the office was vacant, and there was one chantry chaplain. (fn. 37) In 1412 and 1428 the values assigned to the prebends were those of 1294, (fn. 38) but by the time of the Valor Ecclesiasticus the values appear to have risen slightly: Heytesbury was then valued at £40, Tytherington at £19 9s. 11d., Horningsham at £13 7s. 5d., Hill Deverill at £10 4s. 1½d., and Swallowcliffe at £8 13s. (fn. 39)

The collegiate church was destined to survive, at least in name, for 300 years after the Reformation. The church of Heytesbury was served by a vicar appointed by the Dean of Salisbury, and the churches of Hill Deverill and Horningsham by perpetual curates appointed by the respective prebendaries. Tytherington had no curate and divine service was only celebrated there four times a year by the prebendary or his representative. At Swallowcliffe the prebendary leased the glebe for a period of three lives, and the lessor was supposed to find a priest to serve the church. In 1829 the residence provided for the clergyman was said to be in ruins. (fn. 40) The four prebendaries continued to be regularly appointed by the deans, and since no duties, apart from those just mentioned, were required of them, the prebends provided welcome additions to the stipends of various parish priests. Most of the canons were undistinguished, occupying country rectories or vicarages, not necessarily or usually in Salisbury Diocese. Some, however, were also canons of Salisbury, and one at least was a bishop. This was William Bradbridge, prebendary of Horningsham from 1568 to 1576 and Bishop of Exeter from 1571 to 1578. (fn. 41)

In 1835 the Commission on Ecclesiastical Revenues reported on the collegiate church. Hill Deverill prebend was then held by the Vicar of Tuxford (Notts.), Swallowcliffe by the Vicar of Hurstbourne Priors (Hants), Horningsham by the rector of a Glamorganshire parish, and Tytherington by a priest who was only required to conduct four services a year there. The prebendaries of Hill Deverill and Horningsham had no duties attached to their prebends, but at Swallowcliffe the prebendary, who had no house there, was bound to provide for the services of the church. (fn. 42) As a result of this inquiry and of the report of the Ecclesiastical Duties Commission (fn. 43) the four prebends were abolished by the Cathedrals Act of 1840, (fn. 44) after the death of the existing canons. The property of the prebends was accordingly taken over by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners: Tytherington in 1849, being valued at £80 per annum, Swallowcliffe in 1853, valued at £980, Horningsham in 1855, and Hill Deverill, valued at £780, in 1863. (fn. 45) The patronage of the church of Heytesbury was transferred from the Dean of Salisbury to the bishop, who still held it in 1954. (fn. 46)

Deans of the Collegiate Church of Heytesbury

Roger, occurs c. 1150-60. (fn. 47)

Reynold FitzJocelin, occurs c. 1165-70. (fn. 48)

Savaric, occurs c. 1180. (fn. 49)

Philip de Winesham, occurs temp. John. (fn. 50)

Thomas de Disci, occurs c. 1215. (fn. 51)

William de Wanda, occurs 1218. (fn. 52)

From this date the only known prebendaries or deans of Heytesbury were the deans of Salisbury, and from 1284, if not before, until 1840 all deans of Salisbury were also deans and prebendaries of Heytesbury. (fn. 53)

No seal of the church, independent of those of the deans of Salisbury, is known. (fn. 54)


  • 1. V.C.H. Wilts. ii, p. 119.
  • 2. Sar. Chart. & Doc. (Rolls Ser.), 3; Reg. St. Osmund (Rolls Ser.), i, 200.
  • 3. Reg. St. Osmund (Rolls Ser.), i. 345–6, 349–52.
  • 4. Ibid. 340.
  • 5. Ibid. 343–4.
  • 6. Ibid. 340–2. The charter mentions both 2 and 4 canons.
  • 7. Ibid. 342, 346–8, 351.
  • 8. Ibid. 337.
  • 9. Reg. St. Osmund (Rolls Ser.), i, 339–40.
  • 10. Ibid. 203, 207, 238.
  • 11. Ibid. 352.
  • 12. Ibid. 343–5.
  • 13. Ibid. 344–7.
  • 14. Cathedrals Act, 3 & 4 Vic. c. 113, s. 21.
  • 15. Fasti Eccl. Sar. ed. Jones, 390–1.
  • 16. Reg. St. Osmund (Rolls Ser.), i, 292-5.
  • 17. Ibid. i, 289, 338-9.
  • 18. Sar. Chart. & Doc. (Rolls Ser.), 358.
  • 19. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 182, 194.
  • 20. Cal. Pap. Pet. 1342-1419, 107.
  • 21. Cal. Pat. 1292-1301, 280.
  • 22. Ibid. 1313–17, 610.
  • 23. Cal. Close, 1339–41, 281; Cal. Inq. p.m. viii, p. 138.
  • 24. Cal. Pap. Lett. 1404–15, 490–1.
  • 25. Sar. Dioc. Regy., Reg. Dean Sydenham (in Reg. Dean Chandler), f. 55v.
  • 26. See above, p. 208.
  • 27. Cal. Pat. 1324–7, 34; Cal. Pap. Lett. 1305–42, 557.
  • 28. Cal. Pat. 1324–7, 159; Cal. Pap. Lett. 1342–62, 415.
  • 29. Cal. Pap. Pet. 1342–1419, 107; Cal. Pat. 1350–4, 104.
  • 30. Cal. Pap. Lett. 1305–42, 557; 1342–62, 415; Cal. Pap. Pet. 1342–1419, 1, 107.
  • 31. Cal. Pat. 1350–4, 104.
  • 32. Ibid. 1381–5, 29, 391.
  • 33. Ibid. 1350–4, 104; Fasti Eccl. Sar. ed. Jones, 398, 406.
  • 34. Cal. Pat. 1381–5, 29; 1399–1401, 5; Fasti Eccl. Sar. ed. Jones, 160, 172.
  • 35. Cal. Pat. 1413–16, 182; Cal. Pap. Lett. 1404–15, 506; Reg. Chichele, ed. Jacob (Cant. & York Soc.), ii, 681.
  • 36. Cal. Pat. 1413–16, 363; Reg. Chichele (Cant. & York Soc.), ii, 654.
  • 37. Sar. Dioc. Regy., Reg. Dean Chandler, ff. 117–20; Hoare, Mod. Wilts. Heytesbury Hund. 149.
  • 38. Sar. Dioc. Regy., Reg. Dean Chandler, f. 146b; Feud. Aids, v. 295, 298.
  • 39. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 72, 101, 108.
  • 40. Hoare, Mod. Wilts. Dunworth Hund. 70.
  • 41. Ibid. Heytesbury Hund. 273, 275, 276. Hoare lists all the known canons. Some details of their biographies may be found in Venn, Alumni Cantab. and Foster, Alumni Oxon.
  • 42. Eccles. Rev. and Patronage Rep. H.C. (54), p. 81 (1835), xxii.
  • 43. Eccles. Duties and Rev. Rep. H.C. (387), p. 14 (1836), xxxvi.
  • 44. Cathedrals Act, 3 & 4 Vic. c. 113, s. 21.
  • 45. London Gaz. 1849, p. 3583; 1853, p. 3548; 1862, p. 4369; 1863, p. 3021.
  • 46. Crockford, 1953–4.
  • 47. Fasti Eccl. Sar. ed. Jones, 391; Reg. St. Osmund (Rolls Ser.), 337–40.
  • 48. Ibid. 352; Fasti Eccl. Sar. ed. Jones, 157–8.
  • 49. Ibid. 391 n.
  • 50. Reg. St. Osmund (Rolls Ser.), 345.
  • 51. Fasti Eccl. Sar. ed. Jones, 391.
  • 52. Ibid.
  • 53. Ibid. For list see above, pp. 207–9.
  • 54. Cf. the use of Will. de Wanda's seal, Reg. St. Osmund (Rolls Ser.), 294.