The History of Tewkesbury

By James Bennett

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2015

CHAPTER VIII.

FOUNDATION AND HISTORY OF THE MONASTERY

WE are enabled, with some degree of accuracy, to fix the date of the foundation of the monastery of Tewkesbury, and also to record the names of a long and splendid succession of patrons and benefactors; but we cannot give so correct an account of its history, as we probably might have done, had the commissioners of Henry the eighth been as careful to preserve the books and records of the abbey, as they were diligent in registering every species of property belonging to it, which could be converted to their royal master's use.

The history of this monastery is given in Latin, at considerable length, by Dugdale,[114] from an ancient Chronicle, formerly belonging to the abbey, and now preserved among the Cottonian manuscripts in the British Museum.[115] A translation of this important record first appeared in the valuable county history of Sir Robert Atkyns.[116]

The earliest monastery at Tewkesbury was erected by Oddo and Doddo, sons of a Saxon nobleman, and two of the most powerful subjects in the kingdom of Mercia, while that flourishing division of England was successively governed by Ethelred, Kenred and Ethelbald. They built it upon their own estate, on a spot where, it is said, one Theocus, a hermit, had his residence; and hence, according to the Chronicle, the name of Tewkesbury is derived.

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It is generally supposed to have been founded in the year 715, though Stow gives it an earlier and Speed a later date. It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and the noble and pious founders endowed it with the manor of Stanway, and other possessions,[117] for the support of the monks, who at that period were not more than four or five in number, with a prior as their superior. These were of the order of Benedictines,[118] which was certainly the most opulent, learned and respectable of all the monkish orders.

The noble founders of the Tewkesbury monastery died about the year 725: Duke Doddo was buried in the abbey at Pershore; and the bones of his elder brother, Oddo, were subsequently removed thither, he having been a liberal benefactor to that flourishing abbey.

These noblemen died without issue, and from the time of their death we have no information respecting the monastery of Tewkesbury until 799: Hugh, a Mercian nobleman, was then the patron, and procured Brictric,[119] king of the West Saxons, who had married the daughter of the Mercian king Offa, to be buried in the chapel of St. Faith; and he himself, in 812, was also buried in the north side of the body of the church.

 HISTORY OF TEWKESBURY.99

Another long chasm here occurs in its history; it appears however to have been several times plundered, and twice consumed by fire, in the civil wars which disturbed Britain during the Heptarchy.

The next patron, of whom we have any account, is Haylward Snow: he, in addition to his great possessions at Tewkesbury, had a large estate at Cranbourn, Dorset, where, about 980, whilst Dunstan was archbishop, he founded a monastery, and subjected the priory at Tewkesbury to the new establishment, in which subordinate condition it remained for upwards of one hundred and twenty years.

Earl Algar, son of Haylward, was a liberal benefactor to the monastery of Tewkesbury.

When Domesday survey was made, the patronage of the monastery was vested in the crown. The church had, however, its separate endowment, consisting of twenty-four hides and a half, which was valued in the time of Edward the Confessor at the annual sum of twenty-four pounds ten shillings; but from causes unexplained, it had fallen, in the time of William the Conqueror, to a revenue of twenty pounds.

The following is a translation of that part of Domesday-Book which records the church lands:

"In Stanway [Stanwege) there are seven hides belonging to the church. There are two ploughs in the demesne; and eight villanes and two bordars with eight ploughs. There is a monastery; and five bondmen and bondwomen; and one salt pit at Droitwich (Wicham); and eight acres of meadow. A wood, three quarenters long, and one broad. In King Edward's time it was worth eight pounds; now seven pounds.

"In Tadington {Tatintone) four hides. There are two ploughs there; and eleven villanes and one radchenistre with two ploughs, and three bordars and nine bondmen. It was worth six pounds; now one hundred shillings.

"In Lemington (Limentone) three hides. There are two ploughs there; and eight villanes with four ploughs, and six bondmen, and one bordar. It was worth sixty shillings; now forty shillings.

100HISTORY OF TEWKESBURY. 

"In Great Washbourn (Waseborne) three hides. There are two ploughs there; and six villanes with three ploughs, and one bordar, and nine bondmen with a bondwoman. It was and is worth sixty shillings.

"In Fiddington {Fitentone) two hides. There is one villane, and two coliberts with two ploughs. It is and was worth ten shillings. One of these hides was quit land.

"In Aston-upon-Carron (Ætone) one hide of quit land, and there is one plough. It is worth ten shillings.

"In Stanley-Pontlarch {Stanlege) four hides and a half. There is one plough there; and four villanes with two ploughs, and three bordars and five bondmen. This land was quit. It was worth four pounds; now forty shillings.

"The whole land belonging to the church was, in King Edward's time, taxed for twenty hides".

As the patronage of the religious establishment at Tewkesbury was from this period generally vested in the proprietors of the great lordship or manor, we shall in this place only enumerate such of the patrons as were its benefactors - having given an account of the lords in a preceding chapter.

William Rufus having granted the patronage of the monasteries of Tewkesbury and Cranbourn, with Brictric's other possessions, to Robert Fitz-Hamon; he, early in the reign of King Henry the first, through the entreaties of his wife Sybil, and Girald the abbot of Cranbourn, rebuilt on an[d] enlarged scale the monastery of Tewkesbury, and most munificently endowed it.[120] The situation being found preferable to Cranbourn, on account of the greater fertility of its neighbourhood, the advantage of a fine navigable river near it, and the superior accommodation which the new buildings afforded to the monks, abbot Girald and the members of his establishment, in the year 1102, removed to Tewkesbury, leaving only a prior and two monks at Cranbourn.

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At this time, the monastery of Tewkesbury was raised to the dignity of an abbey, and the priory at Cranbourn became subject to it.[121]

In the year 1101, Henry de Newmarch confirmed to the abbey of Tewkesbury the manor of Amney Crucis, or Holy Rood, which Winebald de Balun had partly given and partly sold to the monks.[122]

Robert Earl of Gloucester, about the year 1140, founded a priory of large extent at Bristol, dedicated it to the honour of God, the blessed Mary, and St. James the Apostle, and subjected it to the abbey of Tewkesbury.

Besides the priory of St. James at Bristol; and the church of St. Peter's, which had previously been given by Robert Fitz-Hamon; the monastery of Tewkesbury had also the patronage of Christ Church, and the church of St. Michael, in that city. The abbot presented Richard Cumblain to the rectory of the latter in 1193.

Between 1153 and 1183, Nicholas ap Gurgant, by charter, confirmed to the church of St. Mary at Tewkesbury, the parish church of St. Mary at Cardiff, with the chapel of the castle; and likewise a great number of other churches and chapels, tithes, lands, &c. in Wales.[123]

William Earl of Gloucester, son of Robert, confirmed not only all the charters, liberties and donations, which his father had granted to the abbey, but also those of all his ancestors, and added some new endowments.[124]

In 1177, according to the Cotton MS. or in 1178, according to the Annals of Winton, Tewkesbury monastery and church were destroyed by fire; but the circumstance of John Earl of Cornwall, afterwards King John, and a large retinue, having been sumptuously entertained by the abbot about the same time, seems to render this relation somewhat doubtful. It is

102HISTORY OF TEWKESBURY. 

probable that some portion of the monastery might have been burnt down.

In the time of Abbot Fromund, between 1162 and 1189, Gilbert Foliot, bishop of London, confirmed the grant of the church of All Saints, London, to the abbey of Tewkesbury.

King John was not only a considerable benefactor to the town, but granted two charters to the abbey, which confirmed those of his ancestors. His charter of protection was given after he ascended the throne.[125]

About 1190, the cause between Alan abbot of Tewkesbury and Herebert the chaplain, concerning the vicarage of Cranbourn, was decided by a commission from Pope Celestine to William bishop of Hereford, &c. Herebert claimed the vicarage, and a chapel in the earl's court, which he alleged that he held of the earl and not of the abbot; but after two years contest, he confessed himself in error and asked pardon; on which the abbot, at the request of his judges, permitted him to hold the vicarage for life.[126]

A charter of King Edward the first, granted in the twenty-eighth year of his reign, ratified and confirmed many of the charters of preceding monarchs.[127]

Gilbert de Clare, first Earl of Gloucester and Hertford, in 1230, gave the Mythe Wood[128] to the abbey, and was otherwise a very considerable benefactor to it.

Gilbert de Clare the second deprived the monks of all the possessions bestowed upon them by his grandfather; but the whole were restored by his son, Gilbert de Clare the third.

The following passages occur in the Cotton Register, under 1231, the year in which Abbot Peter died, respecting the church of Landblethian, in the diocese of Landaff: - "Tertia oct. Nat. beatae Virginis Mariae convenerunt apud Strugoil, dominus episcobus Land. Thomas decanus Hereford. P. abbas

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Theok. Mauricius archid. Land. Magister R. rector ecclesiae de Tornebyr, et plures alii ut disponerent de ecclesia de Landbleth quam R. Mailok tenuit de nobis, quae nobis concessa est in usus proprios retinere per curiam Romanam et confirm, episcoporum Land". "Circa festum sancti Michaelis misimus Eustachium Walensem monachum nostrum ad accipiendam saysinam ecclesiae de Landblethian, quam R. Mailok de nobis tenuit, qui ad eandem veniens clave asportata ad montes vicinos, saysinam quam potuit accepit. s. ostium ecclesiae, et pro statu suo et nostro appellavit ne quis veniret contra privilegia nostra, et confimationes episcoporum Land, de ilia et aliis ecclesiis impetratas. Ipsi tandem dictum monachum inventum in strata regia coeperunt et in montes vi adduxerunt, et ibidem eum per triduum sicut captivum tenuerunt. Quo audito dominus Helyas episcopus Land, tam omnes qui eum manus violentas injecerunt, quam deteriores dictae ecclesiae et complices excommunicavit et excommunicatos in capitulo fecit denuntiari, et tales eos conquerendo domino justiciario H. de Burgo per literas suas ostendit".[129]

In 1234, the principal gate of the monastery, with two of the stables, were destroyed by fire.[130]

In 1237, the chapel of St. Nicholas, in the church of Tewkesbury, was rebuilt by Hervey de Sipton, then prior;[131] and in 1239, the church itself, together with the high altar, were dedicated to the Virgin Maiy,[132] by Walter de Cantelupe, Bishop of Worcester.

In 1314, 8 Edw. II. the abbey had license to impropriate the church of Thornbury.

In 1333, Adam de Orlton, Bishop of Worcester, by command of Pope Benedict the twelfth, confirmed the impropriation of Fairford to the abbey of Tewkesbury.[133]

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About 1340, Hugh le Despenser the third appropriated the church of Lantrissant to the monks of this abbey; out of which, upon the day of his anniversary, they had twenty marks, and thirty more for a pittance.[134]

In 1365, Thomas Caninges, parson of Tarent Monkton, applied for licence to give a messuage and two virgates in Twyning to Tewkesbury abbey.

In 1373, the abbey of Tewkesbury obtained a messuage, virgate, and ten acres of meadow, at Forthampton, held of the prior of Great Malvern by twenty shillings per annum, from Sir Peter de Woodmancote, knight, Nich. de Washebourne and Walter de Herferton Capellanes.

Edward le Despenser the second bequeathed to the abbot and convent of Tewkesbury, one whole suit of his best vestments, also two gilt chalices, and one gilt hanap; likewise an ewer, wherein to put the body of Christ on Corpus Christi day, which was presented to him by the King of France.[135]

In 7 Rich. II. 1383, Tewkesbury abbey obtained a moiety of the manor of Walton Cardiff from William de Chesterton, John Appurley, H. Best, and Peter de Woodmancote.[136]

In 13 Rich. II. 1389, the abbot of Tewkesbury (Chesterton) held at his death the manors of Tarent Monkton, Cranbourn, Chetel, Upwimbourn and Boveridge, parcel of the foundation of his church, of the manor of Cranbourn; also twenty-six shillings and eight-pence rent in le Gore juxta Sherston; and several messuages and lands in that vill, and forty acres of land in Tarent Lowestone.[137]

Sir Guy O'Brien appropriated certain rents in Bristol to the office of sacrist in Tewkesbury monastery; and to the priest who should say the first mass for the said Guy, every day, at the altar of St. Margaret, in Tewkesbury church, with these prayers, "God of his mercy", &c. for his surviving kindred; and, "Incline, O Lord", &c. for his dead relatives; the mass of the Trinity on Sunday; the mass of the Holy Ghost on

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Monday; the mass of St. Thomas on Tuesday; the mass of the Holy Rest on Wednesday; the mass of Ascension on Thursday; the mass of the Holy Cross on Friday; the mass of St. Mary on Saturday - to the priest who should so officiate for a week, twenty-one pence; and to him who should celebrate, mass on his anniversary, or on the anniversary of his wife Elizabeth, if the abbot, five shillings, if the prior, three shillings and four-pence; to him who should read the gospel, to the reader of the epistle, to him who should hold the paten, and to the precentor and his two assistants, eight-pence each; to the prior, twelve-pence; and to every monk, four-pence.[138]

On the 14th of March, 1415, in the second year of the reign of King Henry the fifth, and in the twenty-fourth year of the abbotship of Thomas Parker, the king granted to the abbot and convent of Tewkesbury a pardon, though it does not appear what they had done to need it.[139]

King Henry the sixth, in 1422, gave the patronage of the priory of Deerhurst[140] to the abbey of Tewkesbury; but much

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litigation subsequently took place between the abbey and Eton college respecting it.

Isabel, daughter of Thomas le Despenser, Earl of Gloucester, who erected a chapel in Tewkesbury church to the memory of her first husband, Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Worcester, gave lands of the value of three hundred marks a year to the church, for the support of six additional monks; she also procured the church of Tarrant, in the diocese of Salisbury, and the church of Penmark, in the diocese of Landaff, to be appropriated to the abbey, and confirmed all the privileges granted to it by her ancestors. At her death, she bequeathed by will to the church, of which she had for so long a period been the munificent patroness, all the ornaments of her head and body, which she wore in her life time, of gold, silver, and precious stones; also her wedding gown, and all her clothes of gold and clothes of silk without furs, except one of russet velvet, which she bestowed upon St. Winifred. The

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value of her ornaments of jewels and apparel was estimated at three hundred marks. She ordered four masses to be said, in the new chapel which she had founded, for the good of her soul, and the souls of her ancestors and successors; and bequeathed to each of the priests who should officiate in it two shillings weekly.

In 1442, Henry Beauchamp, Duke of Warwick, gave the patronage of the church and priory of St. Mary Magdalen, at Goldcliff, Monmouthshire, to the abbey of Tewkesbury. Three years after, in 1445, the Cambro-Britons compelled the prior and monks of Tewkesbury to quit Goldcliff; but in the following year they again returned. The king afterwards, in 1459, granted the priory of Goldcliff to the college of Eton; but in 1461, it was returned to Tewkesbury. In the seventh year of the same reign, it was again given to Eton, and by that college retained till the dissolution of the monasteries. In the valuation, 26 Hen. VIII. it was rated at £.144. 18s. 1d.

The same nobleman gave the church of Sherston to this abbey; he also confirmed all the privileges granted to the church of Tewkesbury by his ancestors; and bequeathed the whole of the ornaments which he wore about his person to make vestments for the monks.

Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury and Warwick, confirmed to the abbey the appropriation of the church of Sherston, and also all the charters which the Duke of Warwick had granted, including that which conferred the right of fishing in the Severn and Avon, and in the Taffe at Cardiff.

In the reign of Henry the sixth, John Nanfan, esq. of Birtsmorton, was a considerable benefactor to the monastery: among other gifts, he bestowed forty marks annually to maintain two masses for ever, ordered his body to be buried in the church, appointed the abbot with others his executors, and made Cicely Duchess of Warwick overseer of his will.

In 1469, the abbey of Tewkesbury obtained a grant of the priory of Deerhurst, with its possessions, including the manors of Coin St. Denis, Preston-upon-Stour, Welford, Compton Little, Uckington and Staverton, the Haw and Wolstone; as

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well as of the patronage of the churches of Corse, Wolstone and Welford; and the impropriation of the parishes of Elmstone, Tirley, the Leigh, and St. Andrews at Droitwich.[141]

In 1472, John Carpenter, bishop of Worcester, appropriated the church of Little Compton, in the deanery of Stow, to the abbot and convent of Tewkesbury, to augment the number and increase the salaries of the priests and clerks officiating in the chapel of the blessed Virgin Mary in that monastery; reserving to himself and his successors yearly six shillings and eight-pence; to the prior and convent three shillings and four-pence; and to the archdeacon of Gloucester three shillings and four-pence.[142]

John Russell, bishop of Lincoln, appropriated the rectory of Great Marlow to the abbey.[143]

In 1500, Silvester Gigles, bishop of Worcester, appropriated Eastleach St. Andrew, in the deanery of Fairford, to the abbot and convent of Tewkesbury.[144]

In Dugdale's Monasticon, edited by Messrs. Caley, Ellis and Bandinel, are numerous charters, grants, presentations, confirmations, agreements, protections, &c. relative to the monastery of Tewkesbury, many of which were obtained from the Abbey Chronicle,[145] which is deposited in the British Museum.

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The abbey of Tewkesbury, having for successive generations felt the fostering care of so many royal and noble patrons, became at length, in riches and importance, little inferior to the most splendid of those numerous religious establishments which, in an age of darkness and superstition,[146] were raised in honour of the Supreme Being.

That the monastery of Tewkesbury was of considerable celebrity, as early as the twelfth century, may be inferred from the circumstance of a copy of the charters, called Magna Charta and Charta de Foresta, granted by King John at Runnimede, being deposited therein. Sir Matthew Hale, in his History of the Common Law, says that seven pair of these charters were sent to some of the greater monasteries; and that he had seen the one at Tewkesbury, under the seal of that king, which differed in a trifling degree from the Great

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Charter and the Charter of the Forest, which were afterwards granted by King Henry the third.

It has been observed, that monasteries were more frequently built and endowed from motives of ambition, than from a zeal for religion; but the noble founders of the convent at Tewkesbury appear to have been influenced by unaffected piety alone, as every action of their lives, we are told, evinced the truest devotional spirit. And although the wealthy were taught to believe that, by donations to the church, they might redeem the penances they had incurred, and in consequence many valuable offerings and rich bequests were sometimes made, as a supposed atonement for the most flagitious crimes; yet it cannot possibly be doubted, that many of the benefactions to Tewkesbury monastery, and to other similar institutions, were bestowed from the purest Christian motives.

As Tewkesbury monastery was situated in the direct line of road from the northern to the southern parts of the kingdom, there were continual demands upon its revenues for the relief of poor travellers; and at one period, the funds of the abbey were so much reduced by its hospitality to strangers, that the brotherhood complained to their diocesan, the bishop of Worcester, of their inability any longer to afford eleemosynary assistance to the same extent as formerly. In consequence of this representation, the bishop appropriated to the abbey the revenues of the church of St. Philip and Jacob, in Bristol, in order to enable the monks to exercise their usual liberality to the poor.[147]

The abbot of Tewkesbury has by some authors been ranked among the mitred abbots, while others deny that he had any prescriptive right to a seat in parliament. Tanner[148] says, that this privilege was far from being desired by the greater abbots, who looked upon it as a burthen, and endeavoured by every means to be excused from it; and hence perhaps it has happened that the abbot of Tewkesbury was not oftener summoned to parliament. The first time his name appears

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among the parliamentary abbots is in the forty-ninth year of Henry the third;[149] it occurs twice during the reigns of Edward the first and second; and in the summonses extant of Edward the third and Richard the second it generally appears. Selden,[150] speaking of the list of abbots in the rolls of parliament, says, "the omission of them in such rolls as have them not, proceeded from the vacancy of their houses, or some such like occasion, or sometimes from the clerk's fault that entered not all them that were summoned; whence it is no necessary argument to say, that such a one was not summoned because his name is not remembered in the summons". Henry Beoly, in the last year of his abbacy, signed the famous declaration of the House of Lords to the pope, in favour of the dissolution of the marriage between Henry the eighth and Catharine of Arragon; and Wakeman, the last abbot, appears to have been invariably summoned: it is therefore highly probable, that the abbots of Tewkesbury, from the reign of Henry the third, were entitled to the privilege, which they did not always exercise.

Spelman says, that the abbots of some monasteries were subject to the authority of the bishops, and that others were independent. The bishop of Worcester exercised the power of visiting Tewkesbury monastery, and holding ordinations therein; but his presence appears sometimes to have been so displeasing to the abbot and monks, that it may be presumed that his right to visitation was questionable.

Excepting the church, there are few vestiges of the once magnificent abbey of Tewkesbury now remaining; and such as are left, afford but a faint idea of the former splendour and extent of its buildings.[151]

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The gate-house has withstood the ravages of time, though it has not only been long neglected, but also exposed to the despoiling hands of tasteless individuals. We are perfectly satisfied, however, that the present owner will preserve it from further dilapidation, and we indeed anticipate that the decayed portions will be restored, and the excrescences with

[Image: Gatehouse]

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which it has been deformed will shortly be swept away. The building is square, is embattled on the top, and adorned with grotesque flying figures; the arch is a fine specimen of the Saxon style; and it is altogether an object of considerable interest. Willis, in his View of Mitred Abbeys, says "the gate-house, which is a very noble one, and is called the prison-house, is above forty feet in height". Mr. Lysons observes, that "it seems to have been built about the beginning of the fifteenth century, and from the similarity of some of its ornaments to those of the founder's chapel, erected by Abbot Parker, was probably built in his time".

Between the gateway and the church is an ancient residence, called "the abbey-house". This was apparently erected with old materials, soon after the demolition of the abbey, as there are several remnants of ancient masonry visible in the northern wall, which seem to have been placed there without any regard to order, and with no other design than that of preserving them. The south front has lately been modernised, and the interior has also undergone those alterations which modern ideas of comfort could not fail to suggest.

Part of the abbey barn also remains, but it has lost much of its original character.

Until within a few years, a large quadrangular tower, of considerable height, stood in the church-yard, on the spot where the national school has since been erected, and which had been used for upwards of two centuries as the common gaol of the borough. This edifice is supposed to have been the campanile or bell-tower; for at the time of the construction of our early churches, bells were not placed in the central tower, as at present, but in an edifice frequently built at some distance from the church. There were several large rents or fissures on the west side of the building, which were probably caused by the too powerful vibration of the bells, and this might have occasioned their being removed into the central tower at an earlier period than they otherwise would. To each of the four corners was affixed a winged female figure, carved in stone; these were supposed to represent evil spirits, in the

114HISTORY OF TEWKESBURY. 

act of flying away from the "harmony of the steeple", to which, according to the laws of demonology, they were supposed to have a great aversion.[152]

Leland, in his Itinerary, notices the following "Maner Places longging to the Abbate of Theokesbyri:

"Stanway was almost re-edified and augmentid by Abbate Cheltenham, tempore Henrici VII.

"Fordehampton, a faire place apon Severne, in dextra ripa, a mile beneth Theokesbyri, and agayn the parke of Theokesbyri standing on laeva ripa.

"The maner place in Theokesbyri Park, with the parke, was lette by Henry the VII. to thabbot of Theokesbyri yn fee ferme, with the holme wher the castle was".

Leland also relates, that he saw the undermentioned books in the library of the monastery:

"Herebertus de Bosham, de Vita S. Thomae Cant. cujus erat familiaris.
"Odonis de Siritono Sermones.
"Sermones Ysaac abbatis de Stella.
"Alfraganus de Scientia Astro rum.
"Gislebertus Abbas super Cantica Cantic".

The cells to Tewkesbury were Cranbourn, in Dorsetshire; St. James, in Bristol; Goldcliff, in Monmouthshire; and Deerhurst, in Gloucestershire.

Notes
[114] Monasticon Anglicanum, (Caley, Ellis and Bandinel's edition), v.2, p.59, &c.
[115] Cleop. c.III.
[116] Ancient and Present State of Gloucestershire, 1712.
[117] Leland says, that "Oddo and Doddo gave to Tewkesbury, Stanway cum membris, viz. Tadington, Prescote and Dideote". This fine estate continued part of the possessions of the monastery of Tewkesbury from that period until its dissolution, when it was granted by the crown to William Tracy, esq. of Todington, ancestor of the late Lord Tracy, to whom the present proprietor, Lady Elcho, (who succeeded to the Stanway estate on the death of her sister, the Right Hon. Henrietta Charlotte Tracy, Viscountess Hereford, in 1817), traces pedigree in the following manner: she was daughter to Anthony Keck Tracy, esq. who was fourth son of John Tracy, esq. only son of Ferdinando, younger son of John third Lord Tracy, who was the fifth in lineal descent from Richard, second son of William the grantee.
[118] For some account of the order of St. Benedict, see Appendix, No.7.
[119] Brictric was the immediate predecessor of Egbert, and his death (which was occasioned by poison, prepared by Eadburga, his queen, for one of his favourites) is stated in the Cotton MS. to have taken place in 799; hut in the Saxon Chronicle it is said to have been subsequent to an eclipse of the moon in the following year.
[120] "It cannot", says William of Malmesbury, "be easily reported, how highly Robert Fitz-Hamon exalted this monastery, wherein the beauty of the buildings ravished the eyes, and the charity of the monks allured the hearts of such folk as used to come thither".
[121] For the Charter of Ordination made on this occasion, and which was entered in the Abbey Register, see Appendix, No.8.
[122] Fosbroke's Gloucestershire.
[123] Dugdale's Monasticon.
[124] MS. Cotton. Brit. Mus. Cleop.
[125] Dugdale's Monasticon.
[126] Hutchinson's Dorsetshire, III. G23.
[127] For this Charter, see Appendix, No.9.
[128] The abbey obtained a license to inclose the Mythe Wood, in the 47th Edw. III.- Atkyns.
[129] Cott. Reg. fol. 22 b,23.
[130] Cotton MS.
[131] Ibid.
[132] The following passage occurs in the Cotton Register:- "A.D. M.CC.XXXIX. Dedicata est ecclesia Theok. cum majori altare in honore gloriosae Virginis Mariae xiiij. kal. Julii". - Fol.36.
[133] Lib. Alb. Episc. Wigorn.
[134] Dugdale's Baronage.
[135] Ibid.
[136] Fosbroke's Gloucestershire.
[137] Hutchinson's Dorsetshire,
[138] Dugdale's Baronage.
[139] It has been conjectured that it was for some transaction in favour of the oppressed House of York, which was offensive to the Lancastrian dynasty, then in power. It seems however more probable, that the motive of the disorders for which this pardon was granted, related to the suppression of the alien priories, by a bill which passed in the second year of Henry's reign; and which bill, say Hall and Speed, "made the fat abbotts to sweate, the proud priors to frowne, the poor friars to curse and the silly nunnes to weepe, and all her merchants to feare that Babell would downe: and indeed here it beganne to fall, when by the authoritie of parliament one hundred and ten priories aliant were suppressed, and their possessions given to the king and his heirs for ever". - For this Pardon, see Appendix No.10.
[140] At Deerhurst, which is situated about two miles below Tewkesbury, on the banks of the Severn, there was a monastery in the time of Bede. Oddo, one of the founders of Tewkesbury monastery, was a monk there, and both he and his brother Doddo were great benefactors to Deerhurst, and their brother Almaric was interred there. The Danes destroyed the monastery, but King Edward the Confessor rebuilt it, and endowed it with the advowsons of Deerhurst, Wolstone, Preston and Compton, and made it an alien priory subject to the abbey of St. Denis in France, which William the Conqueror confirmed in 1069. It possessed eight lordships, and was accounted worth three hundred marks a year, when it was sold by the abbot and convent of St. Denis to Richard Earl of Cornwall in 1250. Tanner says, "it was made denizon in the French wars of Henry the sixth, but this denization was afterwards annulled, and that king granted it to Eton College, ann. reg. 26. Edward the fourth gave it successively to Foderinghay and Eton Colleges, and to Tewkesbury abbey; and at the dissolution it was made private property". Deerhurst was once, according to Leland, a town of considerable extent, and in his time there were two fairs held there annually; the names of some of the old streets were retained long after the buildings were effaced, and foundations of houses have at various times been discovered, which tends to confirm the statement of its having been once much more extensive than it is at present. Some of the buildings which belonged to the priory still exist, and adjoin the east end of the church, but are now converted into a farm house. The church retains some traces of Norman architecture, particularly a lofty circular arch at the east end, now walled up; but the greater part of the present structure was built in 1470, by William Whitchurch, abbot of Hayles: there was formerly a spire upon the tower, which was blown down in 1666. The church of Deerhurst exercises a peculiar jurisdiction over the parishes of Corse, Forthampton, Hasfield, Leigh, Staverton, Bodington and Tirley: these claim archidiaconal visitation at their mother church, and had no right of sepulture in their own cemeteries until it was confirmed by the prior. The priory farm is now the property of the Earl of Coventry, who takes from this place the title of Viscount Deerhurst.
[141] "On the 29th of April, 1469, John Carpenter, bishop of Worcester, united and annexed the priory of Deerhurst to the monastery of Tewkesbury, reserving to himself and his suceessors a yearly pension of twenty shillings; to the prior and convent twenty shillings; and to the archdeacon of Gloucester six shillings and eight-pence. The abbot of Tewkesbury to find and maintain there one monk in priest's orders, to be called prior or warden, four other monks, and one secular priest daily to perform divine service in that priory". - Carp. Annal. Wigorn.
[142] Carp. Annal. Wigorn.
[143] Mag. Brit. I. 599.
[144] Annal. Wigorn.
[145] This Chronicle, to which reference has often been made, is written in octavo, and contains sixty leaves; it is in three different hands, the last of which is about the age of 1263, and the first hand is not much older. It breaks off abruptly in the year 1252, and some leaves are wanting; and another chronicle is tacked to it, beginning 1246, which also relates to Tewkesbury. It might he termed an Ecclesiastical History of England: treating of bishops, and abbots, and miracles; but it is most minute in noticing events connected with Tewkesbury abbey.
[146] "Monastic institutions were in the first ages merely superstitious; they became eminently useful, and they ended in being eminently corrupt and wicked". When monachism had been somewhat purged of its original grossness, and before superfluous wealth had corrupted the inhabitants of the cloister, "the monastery was a home for the studious, a refuge for the weak, and an asylum for the unhappy. Queens when divorced or widowed, and princesses for whom there was no establishment, could retire there with dignity and with comfort. Kings who in possession of worldly power had learned the late lesson that all is vanity, or who were stricken with compunction for their crimes, retired to the convent to pass the remainder of their days, the one in peace, the other in penitence. Even ambition was rendered less inhuman by these institutions: the searing irons were disused, and the usurper or the successful rival contented himself with compelling his victim to receive the tonsure and take those vows by which he became dead to the world. Here were to be found statesmen who were capable of directing the affairs of princes, and missionaries to go among the fierce heathens by whom the Roman empire was subverted, ready to act their part well as martyrs if they failed, or as politicians if their efforts were successful. Here, and here only, were the schools of education:- the discipline indeed was severe and even cruel, and the instruction was barbarous; still this education, such as it was, saved the world from total ignorance. The light of knowledge was kept burning, not like the fabled lamps of the sepulchre to be extinguished when daylight and free air were admitted, - it was carefully trimmed and preserved for happier generations: and were the present age divested of all that it owes to the patient and humble labour of the Benedictines, we should be poor indeed". - Quarterly Review, No. 43.
[147] Annal. Wigorn.
[148] Notitia Monastica.
[149] Dugdale, Summ. to Pari.
[150] Titles of Honour.
[151] The principal buildings of an abbey were, the church, which consisted of a nave or great western aisle, choir, transept, and usually a large chapel beyond the choir dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, with smaller chapels or chantries adjoining the side aisles of the choir, and sometimes of the nave. Attached to one side of the nave, commonly the southern, was the great cloister, which had two entrances to the church at the eastern and western ends of the aisle of the nave, for the greater solemnity of the processions. Over the western side of the cloister was, in general, the dormitory of the monks, a long room divided into separate cells, each containing a bed, with a mat, blanket and rug, also a desk and stool, and occupied by a monk: this apartment had a door which immediately opened into the church, for the conveniency of the midnight offices. - Attached to the side of the cloister, opposite to the church, was the refectory, where the monks dined; in the centre of the upper end, raised on steps, was a large crucifix: on the right hand, at a table, sat the abbot when he dined there, and in his absence the prior, with his guests, and on the left the sub-prior: the monks sat at tables, ranged on each side of the hall, according to their offices and seniority. Near the refectory, under which were the cellars, was the locutorium or parlour, an apartment answering to the common room in a college, where, in the intervals of prayer and study, the monks sat and conversed: this was the only room in which a constant fire was allowed in winter. Beyond this, was the kitchen and its offices; and adjoining to it, the buttery, lavatory, &c. On the eastern side of the cloister was, in the centre, the chapter-house, where the business of the abbey was transacted: on one side was a place, with stone benches around it, where perhaps the tenants waited; on the other, a room in which the records were deposited; and near to it the library and scriptorium, where the monks employed themselves in copying books. On this side also, close up to the transept of the church, was the treasury, where the costly plate and church ornaments were kept. Beyond the greater cloister was frequently, in large abbies, a smaller cloister, perhaps for the lay brothers; and more eastward was the lodging of the abbot, consisting of a complete house, with hall, chapel, &c. The other principal officers of the convent had also separate houses, viz. the cellarer or house-steward, the sacrist, almoner, &c. In this part were usually the hostery and gueston-hall, rooms for the entertainment of strangers; also the apartments of the novices. Westward of the cloister was an outward court, round which were the monks' infirmary, and the almonry. An embattled gate-house led to this court, which was the principal entrance to the abbey. The whole was surrounded with a high wall, generally fortified with battlements and towers. The precinct which it included was, besides the above-mentioned buildings, occupied by gardens, stables, a mill, barns, granary, &c. Some of the great abbies occupied an immense tract of land; that at Glastonbury is said to have covered sixty acres.
[152] The dislike of spirits to bells is thus mentioned in the Golden Legend, by Wynken de Worde: - "It is said, the evil spirytes, that ben in the regon of thayre, doubte inoche when they here the belles rongen; and this is the cause why the belles ben rongen whan it thondreth, and whan grete tempests and outrages of wether happen; to the ende, that the fiends and wyched spirytes shold be abashed and flee, and cease of the morynge of tempeste".

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in October 2015.

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