Houses of Benedictine monks
Priory of Felixstowe

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Victoria County History

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William Page (editor)

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1975

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80-81

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'Houses of Benedictine monks: Priory of Felixstowe', A History of the County of Suffolk: Volume 2 (1975), pp. 80-81. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=37887 Date accessed: 23 August 2014.


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8. PRIORY OF FELIXSTOWE

Roger Bigod, in the reign of William Rufus, gave the church of St. Felix at Walton to the monastery of St. Andrew, Rochester. Some monks from that priory soon established a cell at Walton, (fn. 1) to which the founder gave the manor of Felixstowe, and the churches of Walton and Felixstowe. (fn. 2)

There was a grant, c. 1170-80, to the monks of St. Felix by Robert de Burneville, of his man Eluric Pepin with his children, which was confirmed by William de Burneville. (fn. 3)

The taxation of 1291 shows that this priory had then an income of £6 12s. 1½d. from lands and rents in eight different parishes. (fn. 4)

In 1291 there was a commission from Thomas the prior and the chapter of Rochester to John, warden of the cell of St. Felix, Walton, and others, as to the election of a bishop of Rochester. (fn. 5)

A roll of 1499, when William Waterford was warden of the cell of St. Felix, gives a full account of the year's receipts and outlay. The rents and court fees amounted to £10 16s. 10½d., and tithe portions from three parishes to 12s. The sale of corn brought in £13 12s. 2d., and the farming of pasture and mills and certain other details brought the total receipts to £33 9s. 10½d. Among the smaller payments of the outgoings are 20d. to the friars of Ipswich towards building their church, 2d. for cleaning the churchyard, and 6d. for oil for the church lamp. The chief payments were for repairs to the conventual and farm buildings and mills, and for wages of the servants. Among the gifts and rewards were 8d. at Christmas to a harpplayer, three bushels of wheat and three of barley to the three orders of friars at Ipswich, one bushel of each to the friars of Orford, and half a bushel of wheat to the anchorite of Orford. There were also various donations of corn to the lights, &c., of the churches of Walton and Felixstowe. The last entry under this head is the gift to Thrum's wife of a bushel of both wheat and barley, inasmuch as her house was burnt, and her husband and two children burnt by the fire. (fn. 6)

This priory was suppressed in 1538 towards the founding of Cardinal's College, Ipswich, under the bull of Clement VII. (fn. 7) On 29 August, 1528, Thomas duke of Norfolk wrote to Wolsey, asking if 'the house of Fylstowe' of his foundation is really going to be suppressed for the college, and if in that case it would be left in fee farm for him and his heirs. (fn. 8)

Eventually on 9 September in the 'priory of Felixstowe alias Fylstowe', before Stephen Gardiner, LL.D., archdeacon of Worcester, and Rowland Lee, canon of Lichfield, sitting as judges, there was presented a commission of Cardinal Wolsey, the effect of which Gardiner declared to the prior and two other monks, by which with the authority of the pope, and the consent of the founder's kin, he proceeded to the suppression of the monastery, applied the goods both movable and immovable to the college at Ipswich, and ordered the prior and his monks to enter other monasteries of the same order. The prior and monks being asked what monastery they would choose, they begged time for consideration, which was allowed them till the arrival of the legate at London. Thomas Cromwell was one of the witnesses. (fn. 9)

The formal grant of the site of Felixstowe priory, with its appurtenances, was made to Wolsey on 30 December, 1528. On the following day the cardinal's agent entered into the barn of corn at Felixstowe, and met with no resistance. (fn. 10) On 6 January, 1528-9, the Duke of Norfolk made a formal grant of Felixstowe to the cardinal. An unsigned memorandum sent to Cromwell about that date of ' certain utensils that I saw at Filstou,' mentions in the hall, old hangings of little value, stained, of the life of Job. The contents were very poor according to this summary; for instance, in the cellar, ' nothing'; in the chamber over the parlour, a small bedstead, and a ' noghty lok'; 'all the locks about the house been nought.' (fn. 11)

William Capon, the dean of Wolsey's Ipswich College, writing to the cardinal on 12 April, 1529, mentions a visit from the Duke of Norfolk, who was at first very rough with him as he had been informed that the house at Felixstowe was spoiled, and lead and stone conveyed away; but he was able to assure him that this was not the case.

On the speedy ending of Ipswich College, owing to the fall of Wolsey, the crown granted this priory and its appurtenances to the Duke of Norfolk.

Wardens or Priors of Felixstowe

Robert de Suthflete, prior of Rochester, 1352 (fn. 12)

John Hertley, prior of Rochester, 1361 (fn. 13)

Richard Pecham, 1496 (fn. 14)

William Waterford, occurs 1499

Footnotes

1 Leland, Itin. viii, 66; Tanner, Notitia, Suff. xlv.
2 Taylor, Ind. Mon. 83.
3 Bodl. Chart. Suff. 239, 240, Chart. 241-3. In this collection there are also some small grants to the church of St. Felix.
4 Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 124, 125, 128.
5 Bodl. Chart. Suff. 1304.
6 Set forth at length in Dugdale, Mon. iii, 563-5.
7 Rymer, Foedera, xiv, 240.
8 L. and P. Hen. VIII, iv, pt. ii, 4673.
9 Ibid. 4755.
10 L. and P. Hen. VIII, iv, 5075, 5077.
11 Ibid. 5144, 5145.
12 Angl. Sacr. i,. 394.
13 Ibid.
14 Cole MS. xxvii, 691 b.