Wednesday, 10 February 2010


Dissolution of Monasteries.

For a well-documented account of the character of Henry VIII consult “The Age of Plunder – the England of Henry VIII 1500-1547” by WG Hoskins. A Longman paperback. 1976. A corrective to the image of a monarch possessing genuine talent. WG Hoskins’ research reveals the falsity of ‘historians’ who were courtiers and not genuine countrymen.
“The reformation in Northern England”, by JS Fletcher. Allen and Unwin 1925 . Six lectures. Page 32 –
LEGH. “A fop and a dandy, dressing himself in the height of fashion and going about with a retinue of twelve liveried servants.” Overbearing, insolent. “Layton and Legh, either accompanied by Blitheman, or shortly afterwards joined by him, arrived in York, as the centre of the Northern Province, early in January, 1536.”
N.Prov. then = dioceses of York, Durham and Carlisle.
Suppression Paper. Yks Arch Soc (Clay, Editor) Vol 48. Record Series.

Excavation at Guisborough Abbey

“A Trip to Coatham, a watering place in the North extremity of Yorkshire”. W Hutton, FASS. London 1810. A naïve a/c. Preface: “I took up the pen, and with fear and trembling, at the advanced age of 56, a period in which most authors lay it down, I drove the quill thirty years, in which time I wrote and published fourteen books. 1st 1779”.

An example: “Whorleton Castle” 3½pp. one fact: parish contains 554 people. Nothing relevant to castle! Pages 139 and 140 on “Guisborough Abbey”. “While at Coatham, my friend Henry Clarke, Esq. informed that two coffins had been recently found (Aug 1808) in the garden of Robert Challoner, Esq., Lord of the Manor of Guisborough, about 50 yards from the ruins of the Abbey on the north-east side, and not more than 3 feet from the surface of the ground. There were very few bones in either of the coffins; one was smaller than the other. In a line with them was found a perfect skeleton, inclosed in a square coffin, formed of flag, but without a lid. *Many years ago a great deal of plate was found near the place where these coffins were dug up…”

Hutton refers on p.141 to the Monasticon also p.177 to Graves History of Cleveland re Ormesby. Three lines to Guisborough: “Eight thousand acres; the property of Mr Challonrer; which is better in he Squaire’s hands than in those of he Monks”. (p.173)
*No authority given.

Monastic Granges

(Borthwick Papers No 32 ‘Moorland and Valeland Farming 13 and 14 cent)
Sheep granges and cotes in Eskdale. Guisborough Priory 200 sacks of wool (200 fleeces to a sack – ie 4,000 sheep)
G B1900 see Nicholas Cockerill. p80. Manager @ Commondale.

“Monasticon Eboracense”

John Burton MD 1788. Preface – “physician and man-midwife”. Learning of neighbourhood when attending patients, sometimes staying several days.

Prior Notice
from The Guardian 27.6.1969

Ah, les Anglais! Gwynne Hart, the London public relations firm promoting the English edition of Le Monde sent circulars to monasteries throughout Britain including the priory of Augustinian Canons at Guisborough, in North Yorkshire. Some drew orders, some did not. One came back with a covering thesis from AR Jelly*, the Postmaster of Guisborough.
Their circulation list, he suggested, seemed a little out of date. Perhaps they were working from the Domesday Book. Just the sort of thing foreigners might get up to. This was the eight-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of the priory, but Henry VIII dissolved it and left it in ruins in 1540. The last Dean was ‘retired’ on a pension in 1540.
‘His present whereabouts is, to say the least, uncertain, if one accepts the charges made against him by Doctors Leyton and Leigh at their inquiries a short time before the dissolution. These charges included vice, sodomy, corruption, adultery, and a few more shortcomings. Hence the Prior may have left vertically up, or down, when quitting the mortal coil. It is doubtful if the issue you offer would be of value to him unless you could transcribe it on to asbestos paper.’
None the less, the letter added, the circular had received ‘the correct treatment and endorsement from my staff, and I hope these few lines will amplify the reason.’ Ah, les Anglais! Mais leurs chefs de postes sont formidables.
*Roy Jolly was his name.

Priory (VCH Vol III, p212)

Clear annual value in 1535 was £626/6/8d.
Prior and convent paid £8 a year for a student at the university, and among the reprises (yearly charges) were alms, including the portion of a canon given daily to 13 poor persons in bread, ale and meat, in honour of the BV, and for the souls of Robert de Brus the founder and Agnes his wife. Symbolism of 13: Xt and his disciples. Also 13 the number of monks who went to establish a daughter house anywhere.

Altars: 13c. S Nicholas, S Katherine, early 16c Jesus Christ Crucified. S Thomas, S Crux. “Mon. Eboracense” John Burton 1758 (or 3?)
Holy Cross, 14c. vide VCH Vol II.

Chapel of S Hilda 1302
As by the new hall of Guisborough priory…….Hugh…..of Hartlepool, for supporting a LIGHT in the DORMITORY gave an annual rfent of 3/- issuing out of houses in Hartlepool.

Robert de Lyum gave a road of 8 feet in breadth, and in length from his toft in BELMUNDEGATE, on the N side of his toft, to the ditch or fosse.

Two acres in Guiseburn field, extending from Langdal to Sandwat. “Mon. Ebor.”

1523: Will of Thomas Boynton of Rowsby (Roxby) in Hinderwell.
“Item to the Preiour of Gisburne 6/8d. Item an olde noble. to an olde monastery. Item to the Convent X ls.

1520: Will of George Evers of York, notary – X lb of wax maid in V serges (large candles) to burne about my bodie the day of my burial … To the Priors and Convents of Bridlington and Guysborne (and other houses) each Xs. (Surtees Soc. Vol 79, p110)

Chapel at Baraby: mentioned several times at the end of 12c or beginning of 13c;
maybe Holmeswath Chapel to the priest of which Dame Helen Gibson made a bequest (1451) of 3/4d. Holmes Bridge, S of Scugdale Close. Chapels often built where streams crossed. (VCH. NR. II)

1539-40: 2 water mills for corn. 1 windmill. 2 water mills still existed 1767. Only one in 1794. (VCH Vol II p358)

1502: Prior of Guisborough at Beaulieu; bursar paid 17/4d for his entertainment. (“Medieval Origins of Billingham”. L Still and Joan Southeran MA. Billingham UDC 1966.)

1205 Sinnington
“Early Yks Charters” (Farrer) I. 467-8-9:
“…when Ralph de Clere’s widow confirmed a grant of land, this time to the canons of Guisborough” – (previous grant 1180 by Roger de Clere to S Mary’s Abbey York). Refs. to a mill of Roger’s. He granted a right of way. His widow’s confirmation “whereon to erect buildings extending from the chapel to the water(course) and in breadth from the chapel south to the highway. Chapel of S Michael. Identified with site marked on OS maps to NE of village.
Full details RYEDALE HISTORIAN No. 2. April 1966.
-NOTE – Manuscript records – Guis. Sessions – Cty Rec. Office.

“Guis. Priory had most of its sheep granges and cotes in Eskdale, the great east-west valley of the moors.”
Whitby 4000 in 1356. 1366 down to 1307 thro’ mismanagement and disease.
Guis. 20 sacks, therefore 4000 sheep end of 13c.
(+200 fleeces to sack) Rievaulx 60 sacks – 12,000 sheep.
monasteries also collectors of wool.
“Guis. appears the least important of the larger monasteries; whether this impression comes from lack of detailed evidence is hard to say”.
Also more mining in Eskdale and salt-working in Teesmouth.
(“Moorland and Vale-land Farming in NE Yorkshire – the Monastic Contribution in the 13 and 14c.” Bryan Waites. Borthwick Papers No 32. S Anthony’s Press, York. 1967)

Priory Steeple. Ord p171. (Cottonian Ms):
“Over the doorway in the steeple are ceraine auncyent letters circular wyse written. Auncyent men sometimes broughte up in the monasterye told me that a Dutchman was maister-workman of the abbeye when it was built, and yt seemeth to me that the inscription is in Dutch.”

The above caused Ord to have a sketch made and included in his History of Cleveland. It is unlikely that the central tower had a spire and certainly not of the height depicted. Probably steeple and tower were synonymous as in the case of the inscription on Upleatham tower: “Crow builded steeple”.

Priory excavations 1867
(Ch 9 Gu 736 Clev. Cty Pub. Lib.)

Antiquarian discoveries at Guisborough Abbey.
The Building News, October 18, 1867.

During the past month, Captain Chaloner RN., the proprietor of the Guisborough estate, in Yorkshire, and of the remains of this beautiful abbey, has been employing a number of workmen in clearing away the accumulation of rubbish that covers the foundations and floors of these interesting remains, and the discoveries that have already been made in the choir of the church, which since the dissolution in 1540 had been entirely buried, are of great historical interest. Tesselated pavements, heraldic tiles, painted glass, monuments, sepulchral slabs, mouldings, coins and other relics, have been discovered about 3ft. beneath the present sward, which did not correspond with the original floor of the abbey church. Ay the time of the Reformation, Guisborough was one of the wealthiest, most magnificent, and extensive monastic institutions in the kingdom. Walter de Hemmingford, who was a canon of this monastery, and one of the choicest historians of the fourteenth century, tells us, that in 1289 this monastery, with all its books, plates and vestments, was destroyed by fire. A new church was erected shortly after by the princely grants and donations of the neighbouring nobility; and it is among the ruins that now remain that the excavations have just been made. At the Reformation, the work of destruction commenced, and the recent discoveries show traces of the fierce passion, religious rancour, and wanton destruction which then took place. Generally, little more than the timbers and lead of the roofs, the glass in the windows, and internal fittings, were removed; but at Guisborough it would appear that the tower and other buildings, with the exception of the east end, immediately after the expulsion of he monks, were thrown down, and falling with great force on the pavement, in many places crushed the monumental slabs and shrine work of the tombs. The wanton destruction that took place at this abbey may be accounted for, from the fact that Henry VIII, in 1541, granted a lease to Sir Thomas Leigh “of the buildings, with the site and precincts of the priory, as the King should henceforth command, to be them demolished and carried away.” Six years afterwards, King Edward VI granted the site to Sir Thomas Chaloner, ambassador to Charles V, and afterwards to King Ferdinand of Spain. For many years after the Reformation these monastic buildings were converted into a stone quarry, for the use of the adjacent town and country, and the second Sir Thomas Chaloner used some of the materials to build his mansion. The choir of this abbey was larger than any other monastic institution in Yorkshire, as appears by the plans in Sharp’s and Paley’s “Parallels”. The present excavations were commenced by cutting a trench across the church about 200ft from the east window, in a line with the outer wall, and a large doorway, with the remains of Early English pillars in Purbeck marble, were discovered.
The heraldic tiles discovered in this portion of the church were of great beauty. On some were the arms of England and France—the latter seme de lis; others had two chevrons. A lion rampant crowned the figure of a bell, appearing above and on each side of the shield; a fess between six cross crosslets or, or three cross crosslets on a chief; on a shield two bars embattled; on a shield two bars in chief, three roundlets—a lion rampant. On one fragment, which had apparently borne four shield of very exquisite design, can be traced a shield cheque, and on the other a bird. Numerous other tiles of beautiful design, some Early English, others of a later date, were discovered. About 170ft from the east window the workmen came upon what appeared to be portions of he central tower, just in the state in which it had fallen. Under the solid masonry which had been thrown down inn great masses, there were three large monumental slabs 6in. thick and 9ft 6in. long and 4ft 9in. broad; at a depth of 5ft from the surface the skeleton of a man was found in the remains of an oak coffin. This skeleton was measured by Dr Merrywether, of Guisborough, and was 6ft 8in. Two circular bronze buckles, like those displayed in the heraldry of the fourteenth century, were found. Apparently they had been used to fasten the materials in which the body had been swathed. On the centre slab was this inscription, in fine black letters, deeply cut, of about the middle of the fifteenth century:— “Sit. Pax Eterna Tecum Victore Superna.” Under this slab was a stone coffin much broken by the fall of the masonry from above. In this coffin was a bronze buckle similar to the one just described, but of a stouter material. In the same coffin, on the feet of the skeleton, were a pair of sandals, which may have belonged to a canon who had been buried in his vestments, of which there were also some remains. The third slab had had a brass plate, the studs of which alone remained. In the debris above were found portions of a shrine, carved in fine white Caen stone, the finials and tracery, much of which was painted in bright colours and in gold, and all of exquisite workmanship. In the spandrels of an arch forming part of this shrine was the figure of an angel drawing a man out of fire with a chain. Other remains of considerable interest have been found, consisting of coins, portions of the lead, silver, and iron fused together in the great fire of 1289; at which time, Hemmingford tells us, all the chalices, images, books, and plate were destroyed, and in a soluble state had made their way through the more ancient floor. Among other interesting antiquities that have been discovered are the remains of a figure in chain mail, part of a figure in plate armour of the early part of the fifteenth century, and, from the arms on the breast, appears to be one of the Latimer family; bosses from the roof, rich in gold and colour; large quantities of coloured glass, pottery, remains of alabaster tombs, &c.

Priory Granges
"Ryedale Historian" No 2. April 1966(?)
"Aspects of medieval Farming in the Vale of York & the Cleveland Plain" by Brian Waites.

Grange Total Value of value Total
land land moveables 1523 1539

Barnaby 347a same 8/7/6 8/6/8 12/12/8
N.Cote 395a same 6/6/3 7/16/8
Marton ng ng 22/5/0 5/0/0 4/19/0
Ormesby 12.5b 37.5b 30/18/9 15/6/8 16/8/4
Yearby ? 405+a 64/3/9 20/15/8
leatham ? 195+a - 9/15/4 8/10/11
Coatham ? 3b - 20.14.0 23/16/6
Redcar 14b 31b 28/3/9 20/13/10 22/2/4
Linthorpe ng ng 8/15/0 2/13.4 20/9/11
Thornaby 16b 31a 11/6/3 17/4/4 20/9/11
Arsum 12b 124a - 4/0/0 6/0/9

a=acres, b=bovates, ng=not given

Cleveland Granges: “With exception of Barnaby and North Cote (mainly pasture) all the land quoted appeared to be arable in 1539…” Stability of land ownership: canons cultivated 360 acres at Barnaby in c.1300; in 1539 grange was 347 acres which had turned to pasture. Cleve. granges main centres of canons’ arable farming. Plus land owned in vills. Rent Roll c.1300 no tenants mentioned at *. This rent roll says canons working 360 acres. “The Monastic Grange as a factor in the settlement of NE Yks.” YA Journal. Pt CLX. 1962). At Linthorpe 20½ bov. had tenants, 26 at Thornaby, 15 at Arsum and 9 at Marton. But canons had moveables at some of these places, so presumably land was being worked by them. Leasing of land had begun, speeded no doubt by disasters which overtook the Priory at the turn of the 13c. Period a watershed between wholesale leasing and personal cultivation.
“One of the most significant facts in history that the rise of the New Orders of Monasticism should follow so closely upon the devastation of Yorkshire.”

1 comment:

  1. I was delighted to see your mention above of Roy Jolly. What a terrific bloke - and that's a very Roy-ish comment!