A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1971.
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2. THE ABBEY OF EVESHAM
No monastery has a more picturesque foundation story than the Benedictine abbey of Evesham. The saintly bishop of Worcester who founded the abbey was the type of man round whom monastic chroniclers loved to weave a halo of miracle and legend. Much of the story of the foundation of Evesham is doubtless the invention of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, yet in the foundation charter of St. Egwin, which Prior Dominic in the chronicle of Evesham claimed to be a transcript 'pene verbum ex verbo' from the original, the bishop himself is made to introduce the legend concerning the iron fetters with which he had bound his feet, and the key of which he had thrown into the Avon, and found in Rome in the body of a fish. (fn. 1) On his return from Rome he obtained from Ethelred the place called Hethomme (Evesham), where he had cast the key into the Avon, and urged by a vision of the Virgin, who appeared on that spot first to his herdsman Eoves and then to himself, founded a monastery there. (fn. 2) According to William of Malmesbury there was already on the spot, among thorns and undergrowth, an ancient church, where Bishop Egwin frequently prayed even before the vision. (fn. 3)
The endowment of the new foundation began with Ethelred's grant of Evesham in 701, followed in 703 by a further grant of the fort of Chadbury, lands in Stratford, and the 'old monastery' of Fladbury. (fn. 4) The last of these Egwin exchanged with Ethelhard, sub-regulus of the Wicii, for land in Stratford which he had 'unjustly occupied.' (fn. 5) In 709 grants came from Kenred, king of Mercia, and Offa, king of Essex, of eighty-four manses round Evesham on the banks of the Avon, (fn. 6) and Egwin himself purchased twenty manses in Twiford from Osward the brother of Ethelred. (fn. 7) Also Ethelricus, son of King Osher, gave eight manses, and Walter the priest another eight, and altogether by 714 the endowment of the monastery was one hundred and twenty manses. (fn. 8) These were at Evesham, Bengeworth, Hampton, Lenchwick, Abbots Morton, Offenham, the two Littletons, Badsey, Worcester, Honey bourne, Bretforton, Ombersley, (fn. 9) Oldberrow, and Mathun (Worcester), Salford, Sandburne, Kinwarton, Willey, Mapleborough (Warwick), Willersey, Burton, Maugersbury, Aldestrop, Great Swell, Child's Wickham (Gloucester). (fn. 10) Letters from Pope Constantine in 709 and in 713 are supposed to have confirmed the privileges and endowment of the monastery, but these are clearly spurious. (fn. 11) In 710 another benefactor, Ceolred of Mercia, is said to have granted land at Ragley, Arrow, Exhall, Wigginshill, Atherstone, Dorsington, Broom, Milcote, Grafton, Hillborough, Bidford, and Binton, (fn. 12) but the charter is evidently spurious, as are the supposed grants of Ethelbald of Mercia in 716 and 717. (fn. 13)
From the death of St. Egwin, who had resigned his see and become abbot of his new foundation in 710, (fn. 14) the history of the monastery is almost a blank until the time of King Edgar. Endowments naturally became less frequent, and the charters purporting to be grants from Offa of Mercia (fn. 15) and Beorhtulf king of Mercia (fn. 16) are in themselves spurious even if they represent actual grants. But although the possessions of the abbey did not increase, the eighteen abbots who followed Egwin between the years 717 and 940 'kept the possessions entire as they had been at Egwin's death. (fn. 17) On the death of Egwin, the last of these, a prince of the Wiccii named Alchelm received a grant of the abbey from Edmund the son of Edward the Elder, and drove away the monks, installing secular canons in their stead. (fn. 18) After his death in 946, Wulfric and Oswulf bishop of Ramsbury were among those who encroached on the territories of the church, (fn. 19) and the pillage went on until the reign of Edgar. Then in 960, by the decree of the Council of that year, (fn. 20) and by the influence of St. Oswald, bishop of Worcester, the monks were restored, and Osward was appointed abbot by the king. (fn. 21)
In 976, after the death of Edgar, and probably of Osward also, the monks were again expelled by Alfhere, prince of Mercia, who installed a few secular canons, but kept most of the possessions of the monastery for his own use. (fn. 22) Falling sick, however, and despairing of his life, with a typical death-bed repentance he sent for a certain monk Freodgar, and restoring all the possessions, made him abbot. (fn. 23) But finding it impossible to oust the seculars, Freodgar, with the consent of King Ethelred, exchanged the abbey with Earl Godwin for Towcester. (fn. 24) However, shortly afterwards Ethelred granted the monastery to Bishop Ethelsig, who quickly fell under his displeasure and was deposed from his bishopric. (fn. 25) Thereupon the king gave the abbey to Bishop Athelstan, (fn. 26) and on his death to Adulf, bishop of Worcester. (fn. 27) Adulf, it is said, subjected the abbey to episcopal jurisdiction, (fn. 28) and appointed Alfric abbot of Evesham. On Alfric's death Alfgar became abbot, and during his rule Earl Godwin seized forty hides of the lands of the abbey in Evesham, Offenham, Ombersley, Burton, and Lenchwick. (fn. 29)
Henceforward until the thirteenth century the history of Evesham was one long struggle to preserve its possessions from all encroachments and to maintain its independence of all episcopal control. The encroachments of Earl Godwin heralded the one; Adulf's high assumption of episcopal control the other. Into the history comes the story of a strenuous and successful contest on the part of the monks against a profligate and cruel abbot, foisted upon them by royal command. But the point which most vitally affected the life and welfare of the monastery was the development of that worldly ambition which gradually blotted out every regard for truth if truth meant loss of material privileges and possessions.
Alfgar's successor, Brithmar, about 1012 redeemed the 40 hides of the abbey lands from Earl Godwin, (fn. 30) who next year, under his successor Ethelwig, once more took possession of the lands, (fn. 31) but was expelled by the next abbot, Alfward, a monk of Ramsey, (fn. 32) who about 1034 was made bishop of London, but still remained abbot of Evesham. (fn. 33) During his abbacy the first signs of the coming fight against episcopal control appeared. He first asserted the freedom of the abbey, and so far obtained it that he appointed Avitius prior of Evesham Dean of Christianity for the Vale of Evesham. (fn. 34) During his rule also King Cnut, his kinsman, endowed the abbey with Badby and Newnham (Northamptonshire) in 1018, (fn. 35) and in 1020 with 'five lands' in Gloucestershire, two in Winchcomb, and one in Northampton. (fn. 36) Earl Leofric also restored Hampton and Bengeworth (fn. 37) and other lands. (fn. 38) After thirty years' careful rule over the monastery Alfward, when dying, was refused admittance to the abbey by the monks, who threatened to depart if he came. (fn. 39) He was therefore carried to Ramsey, where he died and was buried in 1044. (fn. 40)
His successor Manny was chosen by King Edward the Confessor, who in 1055 granted Swell Minor and Grafton Major to the abbey, (fn. 41) and seems to have been the last royal benefactor. (fn. 42) In 1059 Abbot Manny resigned on account of paralysis, and was succeeded by Ethelwig in the spring of that year. (fn. 43) Aldred, archbishop of York, (fn. 44) consecrated him, and he became a favourite counsellor of Edward the Confessor, Harold, and William I. (fn. 45) He was one of the most careful and just of abbots, caring for the welfare of his monks, increasing their number from twelve to thirty-six, and leaving money to build a new church. (fn. 46) He also increased the possessions of the abbey by redeeming many lands from Edward the Confessor and 'many other good men.' (fn. 47) Some he obtained from the church of Worcester ' since the prelates of that church had held them unjustly.' (fn. 48) These were Acton and Bengeworth, Milcote, Weston, Evenlode, and Daylesford, and many houses in Worcester. But Stratford and Fladbury he did not recover. (fn. 48) Other lands which he gained or regained (fn. n49) were in Hampton, Upton, Witton, Sheriff's Lench, Atch Lench, Church Lench (Worcester), (fn. 50) Swell, Kineton, Stoke, Weston, Hidcote, Pebworth (Gloucester). A full account of the possessions of the abbey is given in the Domesday Survey, during the abbacy of Walter, monk of Cerisy in Bayeux, who succeeded Ethelwig on his death in 1077. (fn. 51) The Survey also bears out the Evesham record of the lands which Ethelwig had won and Odo of Bayeux and Urse d'Abitt seized from the church. Six hides belonging to Evesham at Acton were held in 1086 by Odo of Bayeux, while Urse d'Abitt held of the bishop 3 hides in Upton, ' of right belonging to the monastery,' half a hide in Witton, (fn. 52) and 4 hides in Hantune.' (fn. 53) Odo had also seized land in Sheriff's Lench, (fn. 54) Daylesford, and Evenlode, (fn. 55) and 1 hide at Bransford (fn. 56) held by Urse. In Warwick Odo himself held Arrow, King's Broom, and Bidford, and had seized also Temple Grafton, Burton, Exhall, Atherstone, Wigginshill, Milcote, Weston, and Salford, which he gave over to Urse D'Abitt, Osbern Fitz Richard, William Fitz Corbucion, and others. (fn. 57) In Oxon he seized Salford, Cornwell, Chiselton, Shipton, and Deanfield. (fn. 58) In Gloucester Hidcote, Pebworth, Dorsington, Weston, Stoke, and Kineton. (fn. 59) Thus Odo of Bayeux seized twenty-eight of the thirty-six villages which Ethelwig had won for Worcester. (fn. 60)
Of the spiritualities of the abbey it is difficult to form any clear estimate until the time of the taxation of Pope Nicholas, but undoubtedly from their earliest foundation all rights in the churches of the vale (fn. 61) belonged to the abbey, and were claimed as included in the gifts of Kenred and Offa confirmed by Pope Constantine. On this ground at a later period the abbey claimed the same rights over nine other churches on lands granted to them by Kenred and Offa, at Ombersley (Worcester), Coughton, Salford, Ilmington (Warwick), Burton, Bradwell, Upper Swell, Stone, and Weston (Gloucester). (fn. 62) It is impossible to say how early the abbey asserted its claim over these churches outside the vale, but the appointment of Avitius to be Dean of Christianity for the vale of Evesham (fn. 63) about 1040 signified that the abbey considered the churches of the vale under its own rule and in no way subject to the bishop or archdeacon of the diocese. It was not until the thirteenth century that this right was finally won by the abbey, which after 1248 had sole jurisdiction over the churches of the vale only.
Abbot Walter's great task was the carrying out of Ethelwig's design to build a new church. With the money that Ethelwig had left, augmented by that which he himself collected by sending monks round the country with the shrine of St. Egwin, (fn. 64) he built the crypts and the upper church as far as the nave, and began the building of the tower. (fn. 65) Although a considerable part of Ethelwig's acquisitions had been wrenched from Evesham, Abbot Walter was able to increase the number of the monks and also, the chronicler notes, the rigour of the order. (fn. 66) But he seems to have won the disapprobation of the monks by granting abbey lands and offices to his relatives, especially by instituting a secular dean and steward, taking the office of steward away from the prior and making it hereditary in his own family. (fn. 67) His successor, Robert de Jumiges, instituted on Walter's death, (fn. 68) continued his predecessor's policy of granting out the abbey lands to his relatives. A most interesting record has survived of the internal condition of the monastery under his rule. There were then sixty-seven monks, five nuns (this is the only known reference to nuns in connexion with Evesham), three 'pauperes ad mandatum,' and three clerks who enjoyed equal privileges with the monks. There were sixty-five servants in the monastery, five served in the church, two in the infirmary, two in the cellar, five in the kitchen; seven in the bakehouse, four in the brew-house, four did the mending for the monastery (sertores), two attended the bath, two were shoemakers, two were in the orchard, three in the garden, one attended the stranger's gate, four waited on the monks when they went abroad, four were fishermen, four waited in the abbot's chamber, three in the hall, and two were watchmen. (fn. 69) Of the sixty-seven monks, twelve were sent to Denmark by William Rufus, (fn. 70) and by permission of King Eric founded a subordinate cell at Odensey, the dependence of which on Evesham was ratified by a charter of Waldemar, king of Denmark, in 1174. (fn. 71) Maurice, a monk of Evesham, succeeded Abbot Robert, and ruled the monastery until his death. (fn. 72)
From this time to the end of the thirteenth century the efforts of the abbots seem to be solely directed to the augmentation of their material welfare and privileges. (fn. 73) Already they had settled down into the position of feudal lords, holding their lands by military tenure. As early as the charter of Henry I., granted between 1100 and 1108, the hundred of Blakenhurst was confirmed to the abbey for the service of four knights' fees and a half. (fn. 74) The holders of these fees (fn. 75) provided knights for the defence of the abbey, and it is recorded that Abbot Reginald 'removed the houses of the knights of Kinwarton and Coughton and others from the place where the garden of the monastery and the croft of St. Kenelm now are, with which the abbey was, as it were, besieged.' (fn. 76) Probably the monks felt capable of defending themselves, judging by the action of Abbot William de Andeville (1149-59), (fn. 77) who took and destroyed William de Beauchamp's castle of Bengeworth. (fn. 78) Besides possessing this military spirit, the abbots of this time made many improvements in the abbey itself. In addition to gifts to the church of Evesham, Abbot Reginald built the wall round the abbey, a refectory, a parlour, a guest chamber, and kitchen. Adam, monk of Cluny, who became abbot in 1160 on the death of Abbot Roger (1159-60), (fn. 79) continued the improvement of the abbey, (fn. 80) but 20 from land in Burton (Gloucestershire) which had formerly belonged to the monks he appropriated to himself. (fn. 81) Though possibly grasping and ambitious, Abbot Adam's failings pale before the open avarice and selfish greed of Abbot Roger Norreys. In him all the desire which other abbots had felt to enrich the abbey was centred in himself. (fn. 82) He wasted the abbey lands and revenue, (fn. 83) stinting the brethren in clothes and food, while he himself and certain of the brethren enjoyed every luxury. (fn. 84) In 1195 the monks headed by Thomas de Marleberge appealed againt him to Hubert, archbishop of Canterbury, then papal legate. (fn. 85) For a time he was able to redress their grievances, but after his office had expired the abbot began his oppressions afresh, treating the monks so ill that in 1198 they made a further appeal to the archbishop, who came to Evesham in 1201 to make an inquiry into the case. (fn. 86) But Abbot Roger corrupting certain of the monks by bribes and promises, deceived the archbishop and made his peace with him. (fn. 87) After that matters grew worse, until the scandal came to the ears of Bishop Mauger, who thereupon asserted his right to visit the abbey and redress the evil. (fn. 88) But the monks preferred even personal discomfort to submission to an authority which if once allowed would permanently take away that freedom won by a struggle which dated from 996, when Bishop Adulf first emphasized the question. Until Abbot Alfward (fn. 89) no open opposition seems to have been made by the monastery, but as the abbey increased in greatness and wealth, impatience of any outward check became more marked, and led to Abbot Reginald's pilgrimage to Rome in 1139 to plead the liberty of the church against Bishop Simon. (fn. 90) He partly succeeded in his claim and obtained also several privileges for his church from the pope. (fn. 91) Abbot Adam was the first to gain the right to use all the episcopal ornaments except the ring, and obtained many other privileges from Pope Alexander, all of which worked for the liberty of the church. (fn. 92) The monks were not likely to let slip these hardly won privileges even when the bishop interfered to take their part against an unjust and vicious abbot. When the bishop's letter came the abbot himself offered no resistance, thinking that he would come only as a guest. But Thomas de Marleberge seeing the real meaning of the words 'causa visitationis' (fn. 93) was foremost in opposition to the bishop and was chosen as See also a charter by Bishop Riculf (f. 22). The later history of this cell appears to be unknown. The two other cells of Evesham were at Penworth in Lancashire, founded about the end of the eleventh century; and at Alcester, called Our Lady of the Isle, near Evesham, founded about 1140 by Ralph Boteler, but, becoming impoverished, was annexed to Evesham in the fourteenth century. spokesmen to explain to him the grounds for their resistance to his visitation. (fn. 94) Mauger replied by suspending all except the abbot for contumacy and excommunicating them. (fn. 95) Thereupon Marleberge appealed to archbishop Hubert to inquire into the bishop's claim, (fn. 96) and the abbot, who had retired to Bradwell when the quarrel began, (fn. 97) at last made common cause with the monks against the bishop. (fn. 98) The archbishop's inquiry was indecisive, and the suit was referred to the papal delegates, the abbots of Malmesbury, Abingdon, and Eynsham. (fn. 99) As abbots they were likely to be partial judges, and Mauger appealed from them to Rome. (fn. 100) In the meantime the abbot had taken advantage of his reconciliation with his monks to continue his tyranny and farm out all their lands. (fn. 101) This involved the monks in a further quarrel with the king and the archbishop, since they illegally reaped some lands which the abbot had farmed out. Marleberge, who was sent to explain matters, was refused an interview with the king, but was able to satisfy the archbishop. The result was a visitation by the archbishop, as papal legate, but all he did was to refer the questions between the monks and the abbot to arbitrators, (fn. 102) who decided that the monks had been at fault in trying to recover lands alienated by their abbot. Marleberge and four others were banished from the house for a fortnight. (fn. 103) But Marleberge was needed in the fight against the bishop and was recalled to plead before the papal commissioners in August 1204. (fn. 104) In September of that year he hastened to Rome to plead his cause with Innocent III., before the commissioners could pass sentence. (fn. 105) But the pope, irritated by his importunity, ignored his appeal and he was forced to retire to Piacenza and then to Pavia. (fn. 106) Meanwhile the abbot had also started for Rome, and after a short imprisonment at Chalons arrived there in March, 1205. (fn. 107) Marleberge then returned to Rome, but as they were unable to smother their personal enmity (fn. 108) he retired to Bologna in April for about six months. (fn. 109) It seemed as though his cause was defeated, for in April the commissioners in England awarded the bishop temporary jurisdiction over the abbey although they allowed him none in the churches of the vale. (fn. 110) Submission to the bishop was enjoined on the monks, and the bishop himself tried to conciliate them. (fn. 111) But he took up an unwise line in enforcing his right too quickly and in excommunicating the abbot on his return from Rome. (fn. 112)
Meanwhile Marleberge had been training himself at Bologna in canon and civil law and was ready by October, 1205, when the abbot returned to England, to meet the bishop's advocates in the final suit at Rome. He answered the advocate, Robert Clipstone, by relying on the special priviledges granted to Evesham by Popes Constantine, Innocent II., Alexander III., Clement, and Celestine. (fn. 113) By these he maintained the abbot was made supreme under the pope, for as the bull of Pope Constantine had stated 'locussub monarchia proprii abbatis sit liber . . . salva per omni sedis apostolic potestas.' (fn. 114) Clipstone's defence was that these bulls were of doubtful authenticity. (fn. 115) This the pope denied, examining them himself and passing them round among the cardinals for examination. (fn. 116) Then Clipstone took up a different argument. He maintained that the bishop's right was one of prescription, that the abbey had always been subject to the diocesan, who had been admitted into the abbey church and had blessed the abbots, and they had acknowledged his jurisdiction. (fn. 117) Marleberge's argument against this was that the abbey was in its turn fortified by prescription. True, the bishops had blessed their abbots and the abbots had owned the bishop's jurisdiction, but this had been in face of the protests of the chapter of Evesham, while the abbots had only submitted 'salvis privilegiis suis.' Moreover the bishops had only been admitted into the abbey church after the monks had stated their privileges and claimed exemption also for the churches under their rule. (fn. 118) These limited rights were all the bishop could claim by prescription, and these merely by the sufferance of the monastery. With this sweeping defence Marleberge turned his adversary's weapons against himself, and the abbey was declared exempt in December 1205. Marleberge, worn out by hard work added to long fasting, fainted in court when he heard the verdict. (fn. 119)
However, only half of the dispute had been settled, as the jurisdiction over the churches of the vale had not been definitely assigned to the abbey. A commission was ordered to try the case in England (fn. 120) before the bishops of Ely and Rochester, and Benedict, canon of London. (fn. 121) The bishop claimed a prescriptive right to jurisdiction over the churches of the vale. Marleberge, who had returned to Evesham, (fn. 122) asserted that what right the bishop had gained had been the result of carelessness on the part of the chaplains and the deans of the vale. (fn. 123) The deans of the vale, being clerks and not monks, cared rather for the bishop's favour than for the rights of the abbey, and among other things handed over the annual contribution of the abbey towards Peter's Pence to the bishop, who thereby acquired the right to excommunicate the parishioners of the vale if they refused payment to himself. (fn. 124) A resolution was made that in future the deans should be members of the abbey removable at pleasure, not secular priests. Roger Fitz Maurice, canon of Hereford, was expelled from the deanship and Marleberge himself appointed, holding the office until he became abbot. (fn. 125) The monks were forbidden to admit any bishop or archdeacon of Worcester on any pretext. Neither were they to admit the prior of Worcester or the archdeacon of Gloucester if they came as officials of the bishop or archdeacon of Worcester. (fn. 126) It was not until 1207, after the council of Reading of October 1206, in which the exemption of the abbey was finally declared in England, (fn. 127) that the question of the jurisdiction of the vale was formally discussed before the English legates. (fn. 128) The bishop made various proposals for a settlement. He suggested that the Evesham claim to two thousand marks costs in the late suit should be renounced, for if the bishop were regarded as winner of the suit concerning the churches outside the vale 'neither could demand expenses from the other.' He himself would renounce all jurisdiction over the churches of the vale and would give the churches of Ombersley and Stowe to the abbey providing they surrendered all claim to jurisdiction in the nine churches outside the vale. All attempt at compromise was, however, frustrated by the Interdict of 1208. Bishop Mauger fled from England and the matter was undecided until the time of Bishop Cantilupe. A composition was made between him and the abbot and confirmed by Bishop Godfrey Giffard in 1269, by which the bishop was given jurisdiction in the church of Abbots Morton only, while even there the abbot might hold a chapel in his court. Also the bishop was to have pensions from Hillingdon (Middlesex), from the church of Weston, and from the church of Stanway. Otherwise all rights claimed in the churches within the vale seem to have been confirmed to the abbey. (fn. 129) From 1269 the quarrel between the abbot and the bishop was ended. In 1336 Pope Innocent pronounced that the abbey had been wholly exempt from episcopal jurisdiction from its earliest foundation 'only subject to the apostolic see in spirituals and to the crown in temporals.' But while 'in capite' it was thus exempt 'in membris' the abbot 'ought to accede to the diocesan,' and was not exempt from 'showing the bishop reverence, observance, and honour, with which the bishop should remain content.' The pope also expressed a hope that 'the more free the abbey was from secular service the more ardent it might be for the Divine service.' (fn. 130) Evidently the bishop remained content with 'honour and reverence,' but in the time of Abbot Zatton, Archbishop Courtney attempted to push the claims of the archbishop of York and to visit Evesham. (fn. 131) Abbot Zatton 'gloriose et viriliter et magnis expensis' repulsed him from the monastery (fn. 132) and Evesham was thenceforward left to enjoy her dearly won privileges.
To return, however, to the abbacy of Roger Norreys. The monks had once more shown a determination to bear with his tyranny rather than allow the bishop to interfere with their affairs. While the suit for exemption was in progress at Rome, Bishop Mauger, acting in virtue of the decision of the papal commissioners in 1205, drew up an adverse report of Abbot Norreys' conduct, and forwarded it to Rome. (fn. 133) Marleberge, who was then at Rome, fearing complications would follow if the abbot were deposed through the bishop, hushed the matter up, and left the abbot to renew his old tyranny. (fn. 134) But after the council of Reading, Thomas de Northwich and Marleberge were expelled by him in November, 1206. (fn. 135) Upon this thirty of the monks left the abbey with Marleberge 'on foot, with their loins girt, and with staves in their hands.' The abbot seeing them go as he sat in judgment in the chapel of St. Lawrence, called together an armed company and followed them. (fn. 136) The monks, however, stood their ground, and though unarmed were able to defeat the armed men of the abbot. (fn. 137) Marleberge and his company then pursued their way, hastening to get out of the land belonging to the abbey, so that if there were need they might obtain help 'from strangers who did not fear the abbot.' When they had come into the land of William de Beauchamp, the abbot, fearing they would succeed in gaining help against him, followed them and entreated them to return, promising to do whatever they wished in future. (fn. 138) Finally the monks agreed to return when the abbot promised to renounce the special indulgences he had received from the pope by which he had attempted to expel Marleberge and Thomas de Northwich. (fn. 139) For a few months there was peace, but on the death of Thomas de Northwich and the expulsion of Adam Sortes, (fn. 140) when Marleberge was left alone to head the opposition against him, Norreys once more began his persecution. (fn. 141) The monks, 'making a virtue of necessity,' bowed their necks to the yoke,' and seeing that there was no one who would see justice done to them, suffered 'as patiently as the weakness of human nature would permit.' (fn. 142) It was not until 1213, when Nicholas, bishop of Tusculum, came to England as papal legate to remove the interdict of 1208, that the monks saw any chance of opposition to the abbot. But at that time a further difficulty faced them. The Roman creditors who had been expelled from England by the king in 1208 (fn. 143) returned to claim their debts in 1213. (fn. 144) Marleberge was sent to meet them, and pleaded that the monks were not in fault, since they had not means to pay. The abbot had impoverished all their revenues, and since the interdict had been pronounced the king had held all monastic lands in his hands. An agreement was made with the creditors at Wallingford in October, 1213, by which the monastery was to give them fifty marks as a fine and to pay their expenses. (fn. 145) However, on Marleberge's return the abbot refused to pay a penny towards the fifty marks. (fn. 146) Marleberge in desperation applied to the archbishop and begged him to visit the abbey. (fn. 147) This involved a discussion concerning the extent of the archbishop's power over the abbey, and the point being very indefinite, Marleberge finally applied to the legate, (fn. 148) who, reproaching him for not before revealing the state of the abbey, promised to visit and redress grievances. (fn. 149) On Marleberge's return to Evesham the abbot met him at Bradwell, and there Marleberge told him he had seen the legate, but said nothing of his proposed visit to Evesham. (fn. 150) When his visit was announced the abbot, fearful of the result, questioned Marleberge carefully as to his share in bringing the legate to Evesham, and Marleberge tells how, as the abbot questioned him on the night journey from Bradwell to Evesham, he feared every moment that he would murder him. (fn. 151) When the legate arrived Marleberge by his command accused the abbot, and set forth a long list of the ills they had suffered at his hands. He had starved them of food and deprived them of clothing until the brethren were obliged to remain in the infirmary for want of frocks and cowls, and masses were neglected for want of breeches for the celebrants. (fn. 152) The necessary result was a general disregard for the statutes of the monastery, and the institution of a begging system among the monks, so that instead of giving alms they received them. Various other charges were brought against him of wasting the abbey revenues and property, of simony and manslaughter, of neglecting to wear monastic dress, and finally of gross immorality. (fn. 153) The abbot worked hard to defend himself, and charging his accusers with conspiracy, attempted to bring counter accusations against them. (fn. 154) However, he was deposed by the legate in 1213, (fn. 155) and early in the following year Randulf, prior of Worcester, on the legate's recommendation, (fn. 156) was made abbot of Evesham. (fn. 157)
Success in the suit at Rome led to a desire for further privileges, and the second year after his installation Abbot Randulf went in person to Rome and obtained fresh benefits for Evesham, among them a confirmation of his apportionment of the rents of the monastery. (fn. 158) The misrule of Abbot Norreys had taught the monks to take precautions, and clearly defined constitutions were drawn up by Abbot Randulf in 1214, (fn. 159) and confirmed in a general council at Rome in 1216. (fn. 160) Besides showing the determination of the monks to prevent a recurrence of the tyranny of Roger Norreys, these constitutions give an excellent picture of the organization of the monastery. They begin by reciting the right given to the abbot on his visit to Rome to assign and distribute the rents of the monastery. (fn. 161) The next section is devoted to a statement of the necessary conduct of the abbot. He must constantly reside within the monastery, leading a regular life among the brethren, managing the temporal concerns of the house to the best of his power, and so as might most conduce to the utility of the church, maintaining the number of the monks, and receiving or rejecting none without the consent of the convent. The election of the prior, sub-prior, and other officers (fn. 162) was to take place in the general council, with the consent of the whole convent, or 'of its better and wiser part,' confirmed by the casting vote of the abbot. The prior and sub-priors of the order were charged with the preservation of discipline among the brethren, especially to see that they ate only in the refectory, and did not go out of the convent without the leave of their superiors. (fn. 163) To the cellarer was assigned the whole care of the concerns of the abbey, excepting the rents assigned to particular offices, and the duty of administering necessaries for the use of the monks and the entertainment of secular guests and strangers. (fn. 164) To the prior were allotted all obventions or fees under the common seal; all tithes of Bengeworth, both great and small, to buy parchment for the writing of books; the manor house of Bengeworth, with its appurtenances, (fn. 165) and various other rents. To the office of fraterer belonged certain lands and rents in money and kind 'for the repair and furnishing of spoons, cups, drinking measures (just), towels, and other utensils, together with lamps and oil.' (fn. 166) There also belonged to him what was left of the ale after the first meal, and every day six measures from the cellar, out of which he owed pittance to the convent after collation on the Sabbath and once in every week at the time the hymns to St. Mary were sung, and at various other times. (fn. 167) To the precentor were assigned tithes and rents, with which he was to provide all parchments for briefs, charters, or leases, ink for the scribes, and colours for the illumination of books. (fn. 168) To the dean belonged 'a corrody for one servant,' and also the collection of Peter's Pence wherever the bishop did not collect them, from whence he was to pay annually to the pope the sum of 20s.' To him also belonged the visitation of the churches of the vale and the fees of all causes appertaining to the deanery, from whence he was to give a pittance to the convent on the Sunday on which the 'Misericordia Domini' was sung. (fn. 169) To the sacrist belonged six chapels of the vale, those of Norton, Lenchwick, Morton, and Offenham, with two in Evesham, All Saints and St. Lawrence, (fn. 170) and tithes and rents from abbey lands in Worcester, Hereford, and Gloucester. (fn. 171) Lands and rents also were portioned to the chamberlain, the infirmarer, and the almoner, whose special possessions included 'all the bakehouses of the Vale in which the tenants are accustomed to bake their bread, (fn. 172) and the tithe of all the bread given out within the gates of the abbey, whether baked there or bought. The almoner also had care of the monks' garden, so that he might have materials for broth (pulmentum) for the poor. (fn. 173) For the support of the fabric of the church and monastery were apportioned fifteen marks from the church of Ombersley, and if for any cause this should be left unpaid the abbot must himself supply finances for necessary repairs. This, with tithes from the land of William Burn in Offenham, and those of the smith of the same place, was all that was definitely set apart for the church. Further provision was made of sums from 'the preachings of the abbey (prdicationes abbati), the bequests of the faithful, or any other gifts for that purpose.' (fn. 174) To the cell provided for the accommodation of strangers belonged the small tithes of the three Littletons for the purchase of towels, cups, and basons for guests. (fn. 175) To the kitchen belonged the third fish pond beyond St. Egwin's well, and the old town and market-place of Evesham, from which the kitchener received 5s. 1d. every Saturday, and annually at the beginning of Lent four thousand salted fishes. Besides this, further rich provision was made, while from every carucate of land in the Vale of Evesham excepting Aldington, three hundred eggs were due every year, and from every manor 3d. to furnish dishes (discos) and twelve jars or pots (oll). Also the kitchener ought to have two store pigs (porcos ad plancheram), and as often as he bought fish at the market of Evesham for the whole convent he should have bread and a measure of ale for the refreshment of those who sold the fish. Further, for every kind of food that required sauce in which ale is used ale should be given him from the cellar, and cheese once in the day, for the purchase of which Abbot Randulf assigned the profit of the chapel of Bretforton. (fn. 176) The revenue of the kitchen in money would amount to far more than 1,000 at the present day, besides the various rents in kind. Perhaps the most interesting section in the constitution is that devoted to the duties of the cellarer. The curious details of the beans provided from Church Honeybourne to make broth throughout Lent, of the daily portions and the special occasions on which the brethren were allowed extra portions of bread and ale, of the loaf of monk's bread given to the washers as often as the table linen was washed, of the provision of bread and ale for the servants who watch with any dying brother, and so forth, call up a graphic picture of the inner life of the monastery.
A further picture is given of the literature and architecture of the abbey in the account of the works of Thomas de Marleberge. Evidently up to this time the abbey had paid no marked attention to literature, apart from the writing of charters. Doubtless the ordinary amount of manuscript writing had been done by the monks. Abbot Walter of Cerisy 'made many books,' (fn. 177) and Prior Dominic wrote the first part of the Chronicle of Evesham, but except the gift of books by Abbot Reginald, (fn. 178) and of a Bible by Abbot Adam, (fn. 179) there is no special mention of library or books until the time of Marleberge. He brought with him the works of Democritus, Cicero, Lucan, Juvenal, and other classical authors, as well as many sermons and notes on theology, with books of grammar and so forth. When prior he made a large breviary, 'the best then extant in the monastery,' and bound up 'Hamo on the Revelation' and the lives of the patrons of the Evesham church, 'with the acts both of good and bad men of that church,' in one volume. (fn. 180) He also bought 'the four Evangelists with glosses,' Isaiah and Ezekiel; and completed many books which a certain William de Lith had begun. He also compiled two books which seem to have been the groundwork for the Evesham Book, written later probably for Abbot John de Brokehampton between 1282 and 1316. (fn. 181) Of these books the one, 'de grossa litera librum de ordine officii abbatis a Purificatione Sanct Mariusque ad Pentecostem et de professione monachorum et lectiones de Pascha et Pentecosta,' evidently corresponded to the second section of the later book, which deals with the order of the special ceremonial of certain days from Candlemas to Easter. The second book which Marleberge compiled contained 'predictum officium' (possibly, if not probably, equivalent to 'officium abbatis (fn. 182) quod officium non prius erat ordinate scripture apud nos), and seemingly corresponded with the first section of the Evesham Book, giving general directions as to the abbot's part in the services and various forms of Benediction. (fn. 183) But perhaps the most valuable of Marleberge's works is that part of the chronicle written by him giving details of the abbacy of Roger Norreys, and of the suit at Rome, such as could only have been told by one who took so prominent a part in the events described. During the next abbacy, that of Richard le Gras (1236-42), Walter de Odington, monk of Evesham,' applying himself to literature, lest he should sink under the labour of the day, the watching at night, and continual observance of regular discipline, used at spare hours to divert himself with decent and commendable diversion of music, to render himself the more cheerful for other duties.' Literature evidently gave way to music, and his only production was a treatise, De Speculatione Music, (fn. 184) a work which is said to rank second only to that of Franco of Cologne. (fn. 185) Apart from this there is no mention of the library or of any gifts to it after the time of Marleberge.
Besides his literary work Marleberge enlarged and beautified the buildings of the abbey, and while he was devoting himself to work within the monastery, Abbot Randulf seems to have been chiefly occupied in improving the abbey lands, building mills and granges, making dovecotes and fishponds and clearings in the forests, and giving licences to his free tenants to make clearings where land seemed possible of cultivation. (fn. 186)
John de Brokehampton, who was abbot from 1282 to 1316, followed in the steps of both Marleberge and Abbot Randulf. Besides improving the abbey buildings (fn. 187) he built granges and made canals on the abbey lands, and improved many of the churches belonging to Evesham, building altars and chancels.
In many ways this work was typical of the stage now reached in the history of the monastery. After the final settlement of the quarrel with the bishop the abbey privileges were firmly established, and thus the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were a period of quiet enjoyment of all the privileges and wealth that an earlier age had gained. External events such as the coming of the Black Death might affect for some time the wealth and prosperity of the abbey, but their lands and privileges were ensured against attack, and no outward events could arouse them from this feeling of absolute security in their wealth. Thus, gradually, as in the majority of the monasteries, the way was paved for a dissolution as necessary for the welfare of the church as it was profitable to the king who, seemingly from very different motives, carried out the reform.
The external history of Evesham during this period was mostly the result of political events and difficulties. The baronial wars of Henry III., the Welsh and Scottish wars of Edward I. and II., and, finally, the Hundred Years' war, brought enhanced taxation which fell most heavily on the richest landowners, Evesham among them, and involved them in frequent struggles to maintain their rights. As early as 1229 Henry III. had begun his oppression of the church. Thus on the vacancy at Evesham on the death of Abbot Randulf the king seized the temporalities and retained them for three parts of a year, (fn. 188) while on the death of Thomas of Gloucester in 1255 he kept the temporalities so long that papal interference was necessary, and in 1256 came an exhortation from Rome to the king to assign the temporalities (regalia) to Henry of Worcester, abbot elect of Evesham. (fn. 189) Henry of Worcester died in 1263 during the critical period of the struggle between Henry and his barons. (fn. 190) Money was welcome to the king, and the temporalities were retained until the election of William de Whitchurch in 1266. (fn. 191) During the abbacy of John de Brokehampton in 1309 the king granted the abbey custody of the temporalities during the next voidance, 'saving to the king the knight's fees and the advowsons of the churches,' rendering for the same six hundred marks if the voidance lasted for one year, and a proportionate sum if for less than a year. (fn. 192) In 1318, 'in honour of the victory at Evesham when his father freed his grandfather Henry from his enemies,' and by a fine of 200, Edward II. granted the abbey the custody of the temporalities during every voidance, for a payment of 240 marks for every four months or less, and 200 marks and 'pro rata' for every four months or less afterwards. (fn. 193) The attitude of the abbots of Evesham towards taxation seems to have been generally constitutional. They were ready to grant loans asked as such, but among the first to oppose exorbitant demands made against their charters. Thus in 1294 the abbot pleaded discharge of a war subsidy of 420 marks levied on his four and a half knights' fees for the war in Gascony. (fn. 194) In 1311 Edward II. sent a request that the abbot of Evesham, among others, would give credence to the king's clerk whom the king sent 'to explain certain affairs touching him and his expedition into Scotland,' hoping that they would fulfil his request for money. (fn. 195) Various loans in the reigns of Edward II. and Edward III. were granted by the abbots, (fn. 196) and in many cases the king besought the abbot and convent to provide sustenance out of their house for certain of his yeomen also who had served the king in Scotland or France, with the saving clause that this should not hereafter 'prejudice the abbey as a precedent.' (fn. 197)
It is difficult to gain any clear idea of the internal history of the abbey in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, since through its exemption from episcopal jurisdiction no information can be drawn from the episcopal registers. Judging from a papal mandate of 1254 annulling the sentences of excommunication issued against the abbot and convent of Evesham by the archbishop of Canterbury and the bishop of Worcester in virtue of papal letters published by Pope Gregory for the reformation of the Benedictine order, reform was needed in the abbey but hindered by papal indulgence. (fn. 198) An indult granted to Thomas Ledbury, a monk of Evesham, in 1400, who as a reward for certain services to the abbot and convent had received a room and cell in the infirmary, gives a curious example of the privileges sought by a monk. Thomas Ledbury desired in addition to his due portion of food the further portion called 'a stagere' wont to be enjoyed by the senior monk of the monastery, and 'to receive honest friends in his said room and to eat and drink with them.' Licence was granted him to receive the extra portion provided it did not exceed 1 d. a day, and to eat and drink in his room 'with honest men and one of the monks,' and to repair for two hours with 'an honest companion to honest places for recreation.' (fn. 199) In 1403 this indult was revoked by petition of the abbot and convent 'as contrary to the rule of the order against private property among its members, as disturbing obedience in the monastery, and as a pernicious example.' (fn. 200) Frequent instances of attacks on the property of the abbot during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and frequent inroads resulting from the old enmity between the monks of Evesham and the earl of Warwick, must have been a great hindrance to order in the monastery and obedience among the monks, and must have tended to make them fighters rather than students. But order and learning had no greater enemy than the Black Death, creating as it did one of those epochs when death and the fear of death sweeps aside all rules and refinements. Impossible as it is to gauge accurately its effects on the monastery when so little evidence is forthcoming, (fn. 201) there is little likelihood that Evesham escaped its generally demoralizing and destructive influence. The depopulation of the monastery by the disease is shown by a comparison of the number of monks in 1086 and in 1418. In 1086 there were sixty-seven; (fn. 202) in 1418, according to the list of monks taking part in the election of Abbot Richard Bromsgrove, there were only thirty-one, (fn. 203) though the chronicle states that there were thirty-eight at that date. (fn. 204) But the high death-rate among the monks is most convincingly shown by an entry in the Harleian manuscripts making provision for a priest to celebrate mass 'for the souls of the brethren departed in this fearful pestilence.' It recites how so many of the monks of Evesham had been 'destroyed by the pestilence now raging that on account of their multitude' the customary allowance made to the poor for a year on the death of each monk ' could not conveniently be made,' and to remedy this 'a competent chaplain' was hereby provided to pray for their souls. (fn. 205) Moreover the building of the new charnel chapel in the cemetery of Evesham seems to indicate how great was the number of deaths at the time. (fn. 206) At the time of the Dissolution the number of the monks granted pensions was thirty-three. (fn. 207) It is clear therefore that after the Black Death the monks never reached their original number. As to the results of the Black Death on the material wealth of the abbey the chronicle may or may not be misleading. Other evidence shows that the plague was raging in Worcestershire in 1349, and for the next few years ' on divers manors of the bishopric of Worcester' the king's escheators 'could not obtain more than the small sum they allowed on account of the dearth of tenants and of customary tenants . . . who had all died in the deadly pestilence which raged in the lands of the bishopric.' (fn. 208) It is not likely that mortality from the plague was confined to the tenants of the bishop, and Evesham must have suffered; yet the chronicle says nothing of its losses, but recounts the acquisitions of manors and tenements by the various abbots, and sums up the state of the abbey in 1379 as 'full of all good things.' (fn. 209) The first mention of debts is on the death of Abbot Zatton in 1418, and these are attributed to various law suits. (fn. 210) Abbot Richard Hawkesbury also contracted a debt of 1,000 marks by entertaining nobles 'who came to the monastery in such numbers that the rents would not suffice.' (fn. 211) His successor was able to pay the debt, (fn. 212) and at the Dissolution the abbey was out of debt, except the sum of 800 to the king for part of the first fruits. (fn. 213)
While the abbey could not pass unscathed through a period of war and arbitrary taxation, which was intensified by the coming of the Black Death, there is another side to its history during this period. It was a time in which the abbey sealed its exemption from the bishop's influence by applying to the pope on such matters as the caps they were to wear in the choir 'in consideration of the cold site of their monastery,' (fn. 214) and by obtaining licences and dispensations from him which entirely cut them off from any connexion with the bishop. Before the end of the thirteenth century the abbot had obtained the right to give solemn benediction in the absence of the archbishop, bishop, or legate, in addition to former licence to wear mitre, ring, sandals, and other pontifical insignia. (fn. 215) He had also received licence to grant dispensations in regard to the observance of statutes added to their rule by papal or legatine authority. (fn. 216) In 1332 the abbey is termed 'a royal foundation directly subject to Rome, having jurisdiction exempt, with power to correct all persons, ecclesiastical and secular alike, dwelling within such jurisdiction, without any bishop being able to interfere. (fn. 217) In 1363 a papal indult granted that 'in consideration of the dangers and expenses of the journey to the apostolic see' no confirmation was necessary for an abbot elect of Evesham, but he might be blessed by any bishop of the monastery's choice 'in communion with that see.' (fn. 218) Needless to say the choice never fell on the bishop of Worcester. (fn. 219) But besides this settlement of ecclesiastical rights and privileges the same period was marked by an increase of of material privileges. Many royal grants of markets and fairs, free warren, frankpledge, quittance of suit at the hundred court, rights of assize, and other privileges, were made by Edward III. and Edward IV., and there are many instances of the jealous way in which the house guarded every right, especially in the town of Evesham. (fn. 220) Thus during the fifteenth century the state of outward prosperity was reached which is witnessed in 1535 by the Valor Ecclesiasticus giving the yearly revenue of the monastery as 1,183 12s. 9d. clear, (fn. 221) and by the long roll of its possessions, reaching the same value, entered on the Ministers' Accounts for 15407. (fn. 222)
Clement Litchfield, who was in reality the last abbot of Evesham, summed up in himself all the qualities of his predecessors. From the time of John de Brokehampton, without exception, the abbots had been chosen from officials or monks of Evesham; and although this might be a hindrance to any broadening of interests in the monastery, it ensured that the abbots were men who had the cause of the monastery at heart. Apart from their attendance at parliament none of the abbots from the time of Richard le Gras seem to have held any important political office, but to have devoted all their energies to work within the monastery. Of none was this more true than of Clement Litchfield. Thus in 1535 the royal inquisitors could not but describe the abbot as 'a man chaste in his living' who 'right well overlooked the reparations of his house.' Latimer, however, influenced doubtless by the old enmity between the bishop of Worcester and the abbot of Evesham, termed him a 'bloody abbot,' and in December, 1537, wrote to Cromwell concerning Evesham reminding him that though the abbey was exempt from his own jurisdiction it was subservient to Cromwell. 'I pray God amend them,' he wrote, 'or else I fear they be exempt from the flock of Christ. Very true monks, that is to say 'pseudoprophet,' and false Christian men, pervertors of scripture, sly, wily, disobedientaries to all good orders, ever starting up as they dare, to do hurt.' (fn. 223)
From 1535, (fn. 224) to 1538, the date of his resignation, Abbot Clement was troubled by the attempts of the king's agents to make him surrender. In 1536 he wrote to Cromwell complaining that two years ago a certain Mr. Wever, one of the king's servants, brought letters from the king for certain pastures called Plowdon (in Church Honeybourne), and although when Cromwell had 'received a little fee' from the house 'the king was well contented,' yet ever since Mr. Wever had borne the abbot 'great grudge' and had 'imagined many ways to have him deposed,' saying that he had authority to put him down and make whom he would abbot, and ceased not 'following his malice' towards him. (fn. 225) Moreover by 1536 the king had found at least one friend within the monastery, the cellarer of Evesham, Philip Hawford, who was in negotiation with Cromwell in that year and who wrote in May, 1536, telling Cromwell that he would 'gladly accomplish' all the promises he had made and be always ready for 'the call to preferment' promised him by Cromwell. (fn. 226) In 1536, Alcester and Penworth, the two cells of Evesham, were dissolved, and Charles Bradway and Richard Hawkesbury once more became monks of Evesham. (fn. 227) In October, 1537, Arthur Kelton wrote to Wriothesley, 'after my return from you I certified my kinsman, the cellarer of Evesham (Philip Hawford) . . . that you intended to move the cause with the counsel of Dr. Petre.' Hawford had since written to remind Kelton that the 'audit and receipt came shortly after All Hallows' day and the abbot received all he could get beforehand contrary to custom.' Therefore Kelton begged Wriothesley to abbreviate the time so that he might 'with some receipt be the more abler to content the king's first fruits.' (fn. 228) The result of this letter was that in March, 1538, Dr. Petre was sent with letters from Cromwell to the abbot, who was forced 'by the vile arts and low devices of Cromwell' to give in his resignation, since he would not surrender to the king. Petre wrote to Cromwell that the abbot was 'contented to make resignation immediately on sight of your lordship's letters, saving that he desired me very instantly that I would not open the same during the time of my being here, because it would be noted that he was compelled to resign for fear of deprivation. As to his pension he refers to your lordship, submitting himself to be orderly in all things as to your lordship shall be thought to be mete.' (fn. 229) 'We have taken the surrender of this priory,' he goes on to say, 'with as much quietness as might be desired and proper for the dispatch of all other things.' (fn. 230) Evidently the course to be taken had already been planned out. Philip Hawford was 'called to preferment' on the fourth of April, (fn. 231) and in the same month the temporalities were restored to him. (fn. 232) Evidently he had bribed Cromwell for his preferment, for in May, 1538, Dr. Petre wrote to Wriothesley that 'touching Mr. Cromwell's matter the abbot says it shall be paid to-morrow morning,' (fn. 233) and an entry of 400 marks from the abbot is found in Cromwell's account for that month. (fn. 234) In October, 1538, Latimer wrote to Cromwell thanking him on behalf of the abbot of Evesham for his kindnesses which 'few will better remember.' Of the abbot, Latimer spoke in friendly terms as a 'very civil and honest man' and one who 'puts his sole trust in Cromwell.' (fn. 235) In January, 1540, Hawford fulfilled his promises and surrendered the monastery to the king, receiving a pension of 240 a year as his reward, (fn. 236) and afterwards in lieu of the pension the deanery of Worcester. The abbey church was rased to the ground immediately on the surrender, and the usual reckless destruction and spoliation followed, though the tower of Abbot Litchfield was saved, as it is said, by the intervention of the men of Evesham, who, as Browne Willis suggests, (fn. 237) had contributed towards its erection. Even Philip Hawford had attempted to save the buildings of the convent, petitioning that the monastery should be turned into a college when surrendered. The first petition made in November, 1538, set forth the reasons why Evesham should be made into an educational establishment. It was 'situated in wholesome air in the town of Evesham, through which there is a great thoroughfare into Wales.' Also it was near Warwickshire 'where there is no monastery standing,' and was exempt from the bishop. The buildings of the house itself were in good repair and the house free from debt except 800 owing to the king, and noted for its hospitality, for as there were few inns in the town of Evesham 'all such noblemen as did repair and resort to the same town' could not have lodging 'without the said monastery.' (fn. 238) The same arguments were repeated in the second petition made in June, 1539, but again were of no avail.
With one last glimpse of a monk of the monastery living in the early seventeenth century, the history of Evesham ends. In 1603, Father Augustine Bradshaw reconciled to the Benedictine order 'one Lyttleton, who had formerly been a monk of Evesham, and was now best known by the nickname of 'parson-tinker.' Being reclaimed he went home and 'presently fell blind and so remained almost two years deprived of his benefice and had he not been bedridden had been imprisoned for his conscience and so died with great repentance being near 100 years old.' (fn. 239)
Abbots Of Evesham
|St. Egwin, 710717. (fn. 240)||Between the years 717 and 941. (fn. 241)|
|St. Credanus. (fn. 242)|
(The abbey again possessed by seculars 976c.989). (fn. 245)
(The abbey in possession of Bishop Ethelwig, Bishop Ethelstan, and Adulf bishop of Worcester respectively c. 989c.996). (fn. 246)
Brithmar, c. 9961014. (fn. 247)
Alfward, 10141044. (fn. 248)
Manny, 10441059. (fn. 249)
Ethelwig, 10591077. (fn. 250)
Walter de Cerisy, 10771104. (fn. 251)
Robert de Jumiges, 1104-1122. (fn. 252)
Maurice, 1122-1130. (fn. 253)
Reginald, 1130-1149. (fn. 254)
William de Andeville, 1149-1159. (fn. 255)
Roger, monk of St. Augustine's, Canterbury, 1159-1160. (fn. 256)
Adam, monk of Cluny, 1160-1191. (fn. 257)
Roger Norreys, 1191-1213. (fn. 258)
Randulf, prior of Worcester, 1214-1229. (fn. 259)
Thomas de Marleberge, prior of Worcester, 1229-1236. (fn. 260)
Richard le Gras, 1236-1242. (fn. 261)
Thomas of Gloucester, 1243-1255. (fn. 262)
Henry, prior of Evesham, 1255-1263. (fn. 263)
William de Whitchurch, 1266-1282. (fn. 264)
John de Brokehampton, 1282-1316. (fn. 265)
William de Cheriton, 1317-1344. (fn. 266)
William de Boys, 1345-1367. (fn. 267)
John de Ombersley, 1367-1379. (fn. 268)
Roger Zatton, 1379-1418. (fn. 269)
Richard Bromsgrove, 1418-1435. (fn. 270)
John Wykewan, 1435-c. 1460. (fn. 271)
Richard Pembroke, 1460-1467. (fn. 272)
Richard Hawkesbury, 1467-1477. (fn. 273)
William Upton, 1477-1483. (fn. 274)
John Norton, 1483-1491. (fn. 275)
Thomas Newbold, 1491-1514. (fn. 276)
Clement Litchfield, 1514-1539. (fn. 277)
Philip Hawford or Ballard, 1539-1540. (fn. 278)
On the obverse of the common seal of the monastery the swineherd Eoves is represented standing with his feet to the left and his face to the right between two oak trees, leaning on a staff and tending a sow suckling a pig. On a broad scroll with a lancet-shaped cusp in the upper part and curved at the sides, forming a kind of trefoiled outline, the inscription
EOVES: HER: WONEDE: ANT: W[AS: SWON:] [FOR]: PI: MEN: CLEPET: IS: EOVISHOM
Outside the scroll on either side is a tree. In the upper part a church with a tall spire or central tower, and each gable ornamented with a cross and having a cinquefoil over the roof-line on the right. Between two arches, one plain and one trefoiled on each side, Egwin, bishop of Worcester and founder, kneeling before the Virgin with crown and long cross, attended by a man wearing a cloak and a woman with a book. To him the word ECCE LOC QE ELEGI under the church are addressed. On the right under a tree the Virgin is seated with her feet on a platform, appearing in a vision to Eoves.
SIGILLUM : SANCTE : MARI[E : ET : SANTI : ECGWINI : CI : E]OVESHAMENSIS : MONASTER[II]
On the reverse of the seal is a complicated design divided into two portions or storeys by a series of pointed arches, trefoiled and the two larger arches crocketed with oak leaves. In the upper storey between two oak trees Bishop Egwin mitred is kneeling to the left and presenting a small model of a church with a tall central spire and two side towers or turrets, each topped with a cross, and that on the right with a flag, to the Virgin who is seated in a niche crowned with the Child on her left knee. In the lower storey the three royal patrons of the monastery, Kenred, Offa, and Ethelred, seated on a bench with crowns. The one on the left has a falcon on his wrist, the middle one holds a sceptre, the one on the right is turned in profile to the right. The three are presenting a charter inscribed
DAMUS : REGIE : LIBER : TATI :
On the right is Bishop Egwin mitred kneeling and receiving the charter, behind him a chaplain kneeling. (fn. 279) The inscription runs thus:
DICTI]S : ]ECGWI[NI : DANT : ]REGE[S : MUNERA TRINI : OMNIBUS : UNDE : PI]E : NITET : AULA : SACRATA : MARIE