A History of the County of York: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1974.
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44. THE PRIORY OF MOUNT GRACE
The Carthusian Priory of Mount Grace, in the parish of East Harlsey, was founded about the year 1398 by Thomas Holand, Duke of Surrey. (fn. 1) The royal licence having been granted to him by Richard II, Thomas Holand commanded the monks to pray for the king and queen and several members of the royal family, as well as for himself and his heirs, and for John Ingelby and Eleanor his wife, and many others. With the assent of the prior of the Grande Chartreuse he nominated the first prior and dedicated the priory to the honour of the Blessed Virgin and St. Nicholas; but the latter part of the dedication was soon forgotten, and the priory was known as the House of the Assumption of the most Blessed Virgin in Mount Grace. Richard II was a generous benefactor of the priory; in March 1399 he granted the monks there a charter of liberties and franchises in general terms, including the right to mine lead, and in May of the same year, at the request of the Duke of Surrey, he bestowed upon them the alien priories of Hinckley in Leicestershire, Carisbrooke in the Isle of Wight, and Wareham in Dorset, and lands belonging to the alien priory of Saint Mary of Lire, at Evreux, in Normandy, to hold as long as the war between England and France should continue. In spite of the fact that the Duke of Surrey was slain fighting against Henry IV, Mount Grace still enjoyed royal favour; Wareham Priory was lost soon after Henry's accession, and as £1,000 had been paid for it, and its annual value was £245, the king granted the monks £100 a year from the Exchequer till they should receive lands of that value, and a tun of the better red wine of Gascony to be received at Hull every Martinmas. Henry V confirmed the gift of Hinckley in 1412 for the endowment and support of five monks, chaplains of the house, to pray for the good estate of himself and Thomas Beaufort, Earl of Dorset, and in 1421 he gave the monks four alien priories, Long Bennington, Minting and Hagh (Hough-on-the-Hill) in Lincolnshire, and Field Dalling in Norfolk, and the yearly grant of £100 was then redeemed.
The advowson of the priory passed to Edmund Holand, brother of Thomas Duke of Surrey, and his wife Lucy Countess of Kent was seised of it on her death in 1421. In 1438, on the death of Sir William Ingelby, the patronage valued at 20s. a year was in his possession, but it is not known how the advowson passed to the Ingelby family. The Prior and convent of Mount Grace petitioned Parliament in 1439 for a confirmation of their title, stating that after the founders' death they dared not continue building on account of the number of claimants to the estate; the required confirmation was made by Henry VI in the following year.
In 1456 Sir James Strangways of Harlsey Castle and Elizabeth his wife obtained licence to grant the advowson of the church of Beighton, in Derbyshire, to Mount Grace, and in 1462 the king granted in frankalmoign the manor of Atherstone, in Warwickshire, part of the alien priory of Great Ogbourne, in Wiltshire, for the relief of the poor estate and expenses of persons gathering there weekly. Another royal gift in 1471 was that of the manor in Yorkshire of the alien priory of Begare in frankalmoign; in return three masses were to be said daily for the king and for the souls of his family. In 1508 the Prior of Mount Grace accepted from the Prior of Guisborough a lease for a term of. fifty years of the chapel of East Harlsey and manor of Bordelby at a yearly rent of £8; if the rent were in arrear the canons of Guisborough might distrain and re-enter upon the land. The lessees promised to keep a chaplain to celebrate divine service, and if they repaired the quire this should not operate to the prejudice of the lessors. (fn. 2) In the will of Sir Thomas Strangways, 1522, mention is made of a Lady Chapel at Mount Grace, and directions are given for the priest who sang masses there; it may have been built shortly before this date.
In 1534 some of the monks tried to avoid taking the oath of royal supremacy, but they were imprisoned and the prior finally surrendered the monastery. Mount Grace was valued at £382 5s. 11½d. gross and £323 2s. 10½d. net. Of this sum £104 6s. 8d. was derived from spiritualities in Lincolnshire, £164 from lands in various counties, and the remainder from property in Yorkshire. Expenditure on rents and salaries amounted to £59 3s. 1d. (fn. 3) In December 1539 pensions amounting to £195 were allotted to the brethren, the prior was given £60 with the house and chapel called the Mount, eight of the priests received £7 each, arid eighteen others smaller payments.
Priors of Mount Grace
Robert Tredwye or Tredewy, 1398 (fn. 4)
Edmund, occurs 1399 (fn. 5)
Robert Layton, occurs 1421 (fn. 9)
Thomas, occurs 1428 (fn. 10)
Thomas, occurs 1497 (fn. 20)
William (?) Fletcher, occurs 1532-3 (fn. 25)
The seal of the house (fn. 28) used in 1520 is a vesica, 25/8 in. by 15/8 in., with a design of the assumption of our Lady and the prior seated under an arch in the base. An H above his right shoulder perhaps refers to Prior Henry Eccleston. The legend is:—
SIGILL' . . . ONIS: BEĒ: MARIE: IN MONTE GgE
Prior John Wilson's seal, (fn. 29) a vesica, 7/8 in. by 5/8 in., shows him seated, wearing his mitre, and blessing. The legend is:—
S' PRIORIS DOMUS MONTIS GRACIE