Victoria County History



William Page (editor)

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'Colleges: Chester-le-Street', A History of the County of Durham: Volume 2 (1907), pp. 128-129. URL: Date accessed: 27 November 2014.


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The church of Chester-le-Street has passed through four stages of existence. First the seat of the northern bishopric was established there; then the church became rectorial, and so continued till Bishop Bek, in 1286, terminated a lawsuit between two claimants of the rectory by turning them both out, and erecting the church into a collegiate establishment, consisting of a dean and seven prebendaries. To the dean, who was bound to repair the chancel of Chester church, and to provide ministers for the chapels of Tanfield and Lamesley, were assigned the altarage of the mother church and chapels, the fishery on the Wear, the rents and services of the tenants holding of the church within Chester and Waldridge, and the whole demesne land of Harraton. He was also to have the buildings attached to the chapelries, only allowing the prebendaries room to stack their grain. To each of the prebendaries was allotted a share of the tithes; and the remainder of the church property was to be divided amongst those of the prebendaries who kept their three months' residence.

The first three prebendaries, who seem to have been considered the wealthiest, were bound to maintain three vicars in orders (vicarios capellanos); and the remaining four to provide four vicars-deacons in due canonical habit. The service was to be performed according to the ritual of either York or Sarum. (fn. 1)

In April, 1415, a monition was directed to the canons of Chester for neglect of their duties. They had failed in the due performance of divine service, in the care of their church and its ornaments, &c. (fn. 2) Later in the same year, the repairs ordered not having been executed, and the chancel and guest house (hospice) being in a ruinous state, the bishop sequestrated the fruits of the prebends. (fn. 3) The canons, indeed, appear to have had but little sense of their duty, for three times after this during Langley's episcopate, in 1418, (fn. 4) 1431, (fn. 5) and 1434, (fn. 6) the bishop was obliged to remonstrate with them for neglect.

In the Taxation of Pope Nicholas (1291) the deanery and prebends were rated at £ 146 13s. 4d.; in 1534 they were valued at £77 12s. 8d.; (fn. 7) and in 1548 at £27 2s. 8½d. only. (fn. 8)

The possessions of the church become vested in the crown in 1547, by the Act for the Dissolution of Collegiate Churches and Chantries. A small pension only was reserved for a stipendiary curate. (fn. 9)

Deans of Chester-Le-Street

William de Marclan, occ. 1311 (fn. 10)

Robert de Kygheley, coll. May, 1316 (fn. 11)

Roger de Gilling, occ. 30 June, 1345 (fn. 12)

John de Sculthorp (fn. 13)

John de Kingston, coll. October, 1354, by exch. with John de Sculthorp (fn. 14)

Richard de Wellington, coll. 21 March, 1362-3, p.r. John de Kingston (Kymbsten) (fn. 15)

Hugh de Arlam, coll. 13 March, 1364-5, p.r. R. Wellington (fn. 16)

Thomas Cupper, coll. 7 May, 1378 (fn. 17)

Henry de Hedlam (Hedelham), occ. 26 April, 1382 (fn. 18)

John de Derby, occ. 4 June, 1390 (fn. 19)

Thomas de Hexham, occ. 1407 (fn. 20)

John Thoralby coll. 6 April, 1408 (fn. 21)

John Dalton, coll. 7 April, 1408, by exch. with Thoralby (fn. 22)

W. Bosum, coll. 16 April, 1408, p.r. J. Dalton (fn. 23)

Robert Ashburn, or Ashbury, coll. 1 May, 1408, by exch. with Bosum; (fn. 24) occ. 28 January, 1411-12 (fn. 25)

Nicholas Hulme, coll. 10 February, 1412-13, p.m. R. Ashburn (fn. 26)

John Akum, occ. October, 1417 (fn. 27)

Richard Diggle (Digyll), coll. October, 1417, by exch. with Akum (fn. 28)

John of Newton, occ. 1454 (fn. 29)

John Baldwin (Bawdwyn), coll. 1491 (fn. 30)

John Balswell, occ. 1501 (fn. 31)

Robert Chamber, occ. 13 June, 1505 (fn. 32)

Thomas Keye, occ. 14 May, 1532 (fn. 33)

Richard Layton, coll. 1 September, 1533, p.r. T. Keye (fn. 34)

William Wawin, or Warren, coll. 1544, p.m. Layton; (fn. 35) dean at the dissolution (fn. 36)


1 Found. Chart. printed Dugdale, Mon. Angl. (ed. 1846), vi, 1338.
2 Dur. Epis. Reg. Langley, fol. 70.
3 Ibid. fol. 72 d.
4 Ibid. fol. 270.
5 Ibid. fol. 181.
6 Ibid. fol. 211.
7 Surt. Hist. Dur. ii, 143.
8 Chant. Cert. Surt. Soc. Publ. vol. 22, App. vi, p. lxiv.
9 Surt. Hist. Dur. ii, 143.
10 Ibid.
11 Reg. Palat. Dun. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 806.
12 Surt. Hist. Dur. ii, 144.
13 Dur. Epis. Reg. Hatfield, fol. 86.
14 Ibid.
15 Ibid. fol. 131.
16 Ibid. fol. 137.
17 Ibid. fol. 137A d.
18 Pat. 5 Ric. II, pt. 2, m. 19.
19 Surt. ut supra.
20 Ibid.
21 Dur. Epis. Reg. Langley, fol. 14d.
22 Ibid.
23 Ibid. fol. 15.
24 Ibid.
25 Ibid. fol. 53.
26 Ibid. fol. 65 d.
27 Ibid. fol. 287 d.
28 Ibid.
29 Surt. Hist. Dur. ii, 144.
30 Ibid.
31 Ibid.
32 Ibid.
33 Ibid.
34 Ibid.
35 Ibid.
36 Chant. Cert. Surt. Soc. Publ. vol. 22, App. vi, p. lxiv.