24. HOUSE OF DOMINICAN FRIARS, WINCHELSEA (fn. 1)
Although when the new town of Winchelsea
was founded it had been stipulated that no other
religious house than that of the Grey Friars
should be erected within it, Edward II in 1318
granted a vacant plot of 12 acres on the southern
edge of the cliff at Winchelsea, not far from the
New Gate, for the erection of a house of Black
Friars. (fn. 2) The site thus granted, however, was
so far removed from the business quarters of the
town that but few persons came to worship in
the church, and the alms bestowed were small.
Accordingly in 1339 licence was given for
William Batan of South Iham to grant the friars
6 acres of land 'near the town' whereon to
build their house and oratory. (fn. 3) It is not certain that they availed themselves of the permission to move, but if they did it would seem
that the new site was down by the harbour, and
even less satisfactory than the first, for in 1342
they obtained from the pope a faculty to move
to another part of the town, as their convent was
in danger of being swept away by the sea. (fn. 4) For
the next fifteen years the history of these friars
is unknown, but in 1358 the king granted them
an acre of land in the centre of the town near
the church of St. Giles and allowed them to
take over five messuages adjoining this land, (fn. 5)
and here they found a permanent abiding-place.
In 1372 the king released them from payment
of the rent of 5s. 8¾d. due for the said five
messuages, (fn. 6) and these concessions were confirmed
by Henry VI in 1429. (fn. 7)
Of the history of this house, which was under
the patronage of the Blessed Virgin, (fn. 8) very little
is known. In 1398 Henry Sucton was appointed for a term of three years as ' lector' or
teacher of philosophy and theology, and had
permission to make a pilgrimage to Rome. (fn. 9)
The prior a few years later appears to have been
a partisan of Richard II, as in 1402 Henry IV
issued orders to arrest him and the rector of
Horsmonden, in Kent, for high treason. (fn. 10) The
result of his trial is not known, and beyond
numerous legacies, and the occurrence of Hugh
Stonard as prior in 1439, (fn. 11) no further reference
is found to this Dominican friary of Winchelsea
until its dissolution in July, 1538, when the
bishop of Dover reported that the house was
ruinous, its furniture had fetched £10, there
was a close let for 20s., and the rest of the
property would not bring in 10s. a year. (fn. 12)
Suss. Arch. Coll. xxviii, 91–6.
||Pat. 11 Edw. II, pt. ii, m. 29.
||Pat. 13 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 22.
Cal. Papal Pet. 2.
||Pat. 32 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 23.
||Pat. 46 Edw. III, m. 11.
||Pat. 8 Hen. VI, pt. i, m. 19.
Obit. R. (Surtees Soc.), 28.
Suss. Arch. Coll. xxviii, 93.
||Pat. 3 Hen. IV, pt. ii, m. 18 d.
||a De Banco R. Hil. 9 Hen. IV, m. 150.
L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiii (1), 1456.