Biographical Register of the English Cathedral Priories of the Province of Canterbury, c. 1066-1540

By Joan Greatrex | Go to book overview

CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL PRIORY

INTRODUCTION

The history of a monastic community at Christ Church began with the arrival of Augustine in AD 597 leading a band of some forty monks; nine and a half centuries later at the dissolution fifty-six monks signed the deed of surrender.1 The long history of the intervening years is a record of contrasting chapters of vitality and quiescence, controversy and reconciliation, crisis and composure which reveal the universal human condition constantly leaving its imprint on monastic life and affairs.

The tenth-century monastic reformers of whom Dunstan, as abbot of Glastonbury and later as archbishop of Canterbury, was the leader, set out not only to reform monasteries but also to revive monastic chapters in cathedrals like Canterbury, Winchester, and Worcester;2 and Lanfranc's appointment to the archiepiscopal see by William the Conqueror was to ensure the permanent implementation of the norms of monastic observance based on the Benedictine Rule.3

A rough estimate suggests that during the five centuries covered by this register about seventeen hundred and fifty monks would have been professed members of the Christ Church community.4 More than three-quarters of this number are included in the entries below, which add up to a total of some fifteen hundred and fifteen names, the highest proportion of identified monks from any of the cathedral priories of the southern province. This is not surprising in view of the fact that Christ Church is blessed by the survival of a far greater abundance of original records than other cathedral monasteries excluding Durham. There are, for example, well over twenty priory registers, and most of the archiepiscopal registers remain in situ at Lambeth. In addition, there are obedientiary accounts for most of the major obediences, except for the precentor. The quantity and variety of original source material, including charters, correspondence, notarial instruments, inventories, lists, and miscellaneous deeds and papers, is as impressive as it is daunting; not surprisingly, calendars and descriptive lists of the cathedral archive are still in progress. The sheer abundance in itself presents a problem in that many records, regarded at the time or later as important, were duplicated for future reference; but the originals (where these can be identified) and

____________________
1
The surrender deed has not survived but twenty-eight monks received pensions and twenty-eight were appointed to offices in the new foundation, L and P, Henry VIII, xv, no 452.
2
During the three centuries between Augustine and Dunstan it is probable that Christ Church was a mixed community of clerks and monks, with some form of monastic observance and discipline such as that imposed by reforming archbishops like Wulfred (805-832) and Oda (941-958); see N. Brooks, "The AngloSaxon Cathedral Community, 597-1070", in Collinson, Canterbury Cathedral, 1-37.
3
See T. Symons, ed., Regularis Concordia (Nelson's Medieval Classics, London, 1953) for the document drawn up by Dunstan and his episcopal colleagues, and D. Knowles, ed., Decreta Lanfranci (Nelson's Medieval Classics, London, 1951) for the constitutions of Lanfranc.
4
The method employed for these calculations postulates a twenty-year average monastic lifespan for each individual monk, and takes into account the average number of monks based on the figures recorded only at irregular intervals and probably never completely reliable. Estimates where needed have been set low rather than high.

-50-

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Biographical Register of the English Cathedral Priories of the Province of Canterbury, c. 1066-1540
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents xi
  • Abbreviations of Words and Phrases xiii
  • General Bibliography of Works Cited with Abbreviations xv
  • Schema for the References in Each Section xx
  • General Introduction xxi
  • Bath Cathedral Priory 1
  • Canterbury Cathedral Priory 50
  • Coventry Cathedral Priory 336
  • Ely Cathedral Priory 377
  • Norwich Cathedral Priory 466
  • Rochester Cathedral Priory 577
  • Winchester Cathedral Priory 651
  • Worcester Cathedral Priory 754
  • Appendix - Archbishops, Bishops, and Priors in Chronological Order 902
  • Index of Names 911
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