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

By Joan Greatrex | Go to book overview

ROCHESTER CATHEDRAL PRIORY

INTRODUCTION

It is difficult to preset an balanced historical survey of Rochester Cathedral priory over the whole four and a half centuries of its existence. The problemlies with the capriciousness of the survival of the sources on which all study must inevitably be based; these implicitly, if not overtly, give a misleading impression because the scales are tipped in favour of the early years. No doubt the fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Rochester monks tended to look back on the past achievements of their manostic predecessors in the community with some degree of nostalgia, but they saw themselves as their heirs and descendants in a direct line of continuity.

Although the cathedral, dedicated to St Andrew, and the diocese of Rochester had their origins in the early seventh century, the monastic chapter did not arrive until the appointment of archbishop Lanfranc's close friend, Gundulf, asbishop in 1077. The canons were replaced in 1083 by twenty-two monks, many of whom were probably, like Gundulf himself, former monks of Caen; at the time of his death in 1108 this small band had increased in numbers to over sixty.1 For several reasons the diocese and its cathedral were unique among their medieval counterparts in England and Wales. The diocese itself, one of two in the single county of Kent, was diminutive in size, and its bishop stood in a peculiar relationship with the archbishop of Canterbury that probably derived from pre-conqeust times: on the one hand the former was directly subservient to the latter rather than, like other bishops,to the crown; at the same time that former functioned by the latter's deputy on the frequent occasions when the archbishop was requied to conduct affairs outside Canterbury diocese.2 Provision for the support of the bishop and the growing monastic community at Rochester was made by gifts of land from many benefactors, royal, ecclesiastical,and lay, in a series of grants and charters, and royal and archiepiscopal confirmations of charters, many of which are recorded in the Textus Roffensis. However, it is essential for the historian to distinguish the genuine grants from those which were later attempts to supply documents believed to have been among the Rochester muniments but, inthe moment of need, found to be missing.3 Some of these early donations accompanied the administsion of a relative to the monastery, as in the case of Aethelnothand of Geroldus and Peter, q.v. In Gundulf's lifetime there was no real problem over the division of the newly augmented cathedral estates between the episcopal and monastic households, but later, especially when secular clerks rather than monks occupied the see, this became a controversial issue.4

____________________
1
The second prior, Ralph [I], q.v., for example, had come originally from Caen, and other monks may have been former members of the Bec community were Gundulf had begun his monastic life. References to numbers are in Knowles and Hadcock, MRH, 74 and Text. Roff., ii, fo 172; Thomson, Gundulf, 40.
2
Churchill, Cant. Admin., i, 279-285, discusses both of these anomalies with supporting evidence from the Reg. Temp[oralium].
3
Brett, "Forgery at Rochester", 401-406 and passim.
4
See Dr Brett's chapter in Yates, Rochester Cathedral, forthcoming.

-577-

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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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