Religious houses
Introduction

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Victoria County History

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William Page (editor)

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1907

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64

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'Religious houses: Introduction', A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2 (1907), pp. 64. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=40172 Date accessed: 02 September 2014.


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THE RELIGIOUS HOUSES OF OXFORDSHIRE

INTRODUCTION

The religious houses of Oxfordshire were not remarkable for wealth, antiquity or learning. None of them could compare in wealth with the neighbouring abbeys of Reading or Abingdon; nor in antiquity with the ancient monasteries of Worcestershire. None of the Oxfordshire houses had an income of £800 a year at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries; and none of them could claim an unbroken existence from Saxon times.

It is noticeable that the county contained no Cluniac nor Premonstratensian houses, and, if we omit the canons of St. George's in the castle of Oxford, no collegiate church, except All Saints', Oxford, which is treated elsewhere in its later aspect as Lincoln College.

Many of the Oxford colleges would naturally be described under the heading of 'religious houses.' Though not monastic, because their members were not bound by the vow of poverty, yet they were religious houses; and the vows of chastity and obedience were enforced there, just as in any collegiate church. But for convenience' sake all colleges, other than the monastic colleges, are reserved for future treatment.

The houses will be described in the following order: first the five Benedictine houses, two being for men and three for women; next, the three Cistercian houses; then the seven houses of the Austin rule, of which two abbeys and four priories were for men and one priory for women. Of the Gilbertine order we have Clattercote, originally a hospital for lepers. There were two alien priories, Cogges and Minster Lovell, founded about 1103 and 1203 respectively; and from 1073 to 1149 there existed the secular canons of St. George's, Oxford. There were also establishments of the Templars at Sandford, and of the Hospitallers at Clanfield.

There were five monastic colleges established in Oxford; Gloucester College founded in 1283; Durham College, in 1291; and Canterbury College, in 1362; all these were for Benedictines. St. Bernard's College for Cistercians was founded in 1437, and in 1435 St. Mary's College for Augustinian canons. There was also St. George's College under the canons of Oseney.

Of endowed hospitals we have seven, while there were unendowed hospitals numbering at least six, probably more.

The word 'priory' survives at certain spots in the county, where no independent houses existed. The so-called priory of Caversham can only have been a grange from Notley Abbey, and the priory at Great Milton a grange from Abingdon. Occasionally a person called 'prior de Kurtlinton' is mentioned; but he was, it seems, nothing more than the agent of the abbey of Aunay, who resided at Kirtlington to collect the tithes for the abbey.