THE RELIGIOUS HOUSES OF SURREY
In the following pages a brief account is given of each of the suppressed religious houses of the county. Considering its area, the
number of these establishments was unusually small, but several of
them were of considerable importance. The Premonstratensian or
White Canons had no house in the county, nor was there a single convent of nuns of any order. The reference given by Tanner to Black
nuns at Horsley and to White nuns at Oxenford (under Waverley) are
not supported by any further evidence; if they ever existed, their life
was of brief duration. The meanly conceived attempt of Edward II.
to substitute Dominican sisters for Dominican friars at Guildford, though
strongly urged, was a failure.
The Benedictines held the mitred abbey of Chertsey of old foundation. The oldest but by no means the wealthiest of the English Cistercian abbeys was at Waverley.
At Bermondsey was one of the most noteworthy houses of the
Cluniac order which became an abbey towards the close of its life.
The story of its administration, rendered so difficult through the long
wars with France, is as disastrous as was usually the case with the
Cluniac houses in England. It was saved from destruction at the beginning of the fifteenth century by obtaining a charter of denization.
In addition to Bermondsey there was but one other alien priory in the
county, namely the small one at Tooting dependent upon the great
Norman abbey of Bec.
The Austin canons had one of their most wealthy establishments at
Merton; and there was another of much celebrity at Southwark.
They had also smaller houses at Reigate, Tandridge, and Newark near
The little welcome extended to the friars in Surrey is somewhat
remarkable; it is especially strange that there was not a single house of
any one of the mendicant orders in connection with the considerable
population of Southwark. The Dominicans had a large house at Guildford under special royal patronage. The story of the treatment by
Henry VIII. of the Observant friars of Richmond founded by Henry
VII. is one of peculiar sadness. Tanner's statements as to Carmelites
at Sheen and Crouched friars at Guildford are not correct.
As to hospitals, which occasionally, like the hospital of Sandon
united to St. Thomas' Southwark, are difficult to distinguish from
small priories of Austin canons, the Surrey examples are varied and
fairly numerous. The most important, with a chequered history, is that
of St. Thomas the Martyr, Southwark; there was also at Southwark a
hospital for lepers of early foundation. There was a medical hospital
at Newington of which but little can be learnt.
The county affords four instances of foundations of the collegiate
type. The one at Lambeth, sought to be founded in the twelfth century
by Archbishop Baldwin, and subsequently by his successor, Archbishop
Hubert Walter, can scarcely be said to have been established, for it
was almost immediately extinguished by the jealousy of the Canterbury
monks. The twelfth century foundation at Maldon, by Walter de
Merton, was speedily transferred to Merton College, Oxford. The
instance at Kingston was more of the nature of a small collegiate chapel
associated with a hospital. Lingfield, however, is an instance of a
genuine collegiate establishment, which, like others throughout England,
was not only intended to supply worship of special dignity and to serve
as a chantry on a large scale, but also included an eleemosynary
foundation, supporting thirteen poor men who resided in the college
with the chaplains and clerks.
The accounts of the remains of these religious houses are reserved
for the topographical portion of the history; where they will be described under their respective parishes.