THE RELIGIOUS HOUSES OF WARWICKSHIRE
The Benedictine order had three houses for monks in Warwickshire;
by far the most important was the cathedral priory of Coventry, founded in
1043; the abbey of Alcester and the priory of Alvecote were both small.
The nuns of this order had an ancient abbey at Polesworth, and three
priories, of which that at Nuneaton, subject to the famous abbey of
Fontevrault, was the most prominent.
The Cluniac branch of the Benedictines was unrepresented, but the
Cistercians had abbeys at Combe, Merevale, and Stoneleigh, and a nunnery at
Pinley. A Carthusian priory was founded in 1381 at Coventry.
The Austin canons were represented by five priories, at Kenilworth
(subsequently raised to the rank of an abbey), Arbury, Maxstoke, Studley,
and Warwick, the last-named having been originally founded for the shortlived order of the Holy Sepulchre.
A preceptory of Knights Templars was established at Balsall, and upon
the suppression of that order came to the Knights Hospitallers.
The various orders of friars were sparsely represented in this county;
the Dominicans settled at Warwick, Franciscans and Carmelites at Coventry,
and Austin Friars at Atherstone. In 1363 Nicholas Rivell, priest, obtained
papal licence to found a house of Austin Friars at Coventry, (fn. 1) but for some
reason, possibly local opposition, the project was abandoned. The Trinitarian Friars had a priory at Thelsford.
Hospitals were not so numerous as in many counties, only ten are
known; and of these four were in Coventry and two in Warwick. On the
other hand there were five collegiate churches, at Astley, Coventry, Knowle,
Stratford-on-Avon, and, most important, Warwick.
Of the four small alien houses in Warwickshire, Wootton Wawen was
the most important, while it is doubtful if the so-called priory of Warmington
was ever more than a grange of the abbey of Préaux, under the control of the
abbey's cell of Toft, in Norfolk.