The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 4

Allen, Thomas


Priory of St. Mary Overy.


Stow informs us, from a tradition delivered to him by Linsted, the last prior, and who surrendered the house to king Henry VIII. that there was, long before the conquest, a house of sisters, founded by a maiden lady named Mary, and endowed by her with the profits of a ferry across the Thames; that afterwards it was converted by a noble lady of the name of Swithen into a college of priests, who, in place of the ferry, built the bridge over the Thames, of timber, and kept it in repair. Mr. Bray, the historian of the county, very justly remarks, that

it is inconsistent to suppose that the priests would build a bridge, if they were able to do so, by which the profits of their ferry would be destroyed, and they would lose the means of maintaining it, when built. Swithen has been, in all other instances, considered as the name of a man.

Bishop Tanner observes, that this account of the foundation of the religious house here is not confirmed by any other authority in print or manuscript that had occurred to him, and must depend on the story told to that good old antiquary, Stow; that, according to Matthew of , canons regular (then newly come into England) were placed here, and by bishop Giffard, according to the Hist. Maj. Winton; but the bishop observes, that this last account is inconsistent with what had been said pages before, that bishop Giffard was then in exile (which in truth he then was, and had been for some years, for refusing, after the king had appointed him to the see of Winchester, vacant in by the death of bishop Walkelyn, to receive consecration from the archbishop of York, after the archbishop of Canterbury had refused to perform that office, and he continued in exile till ).

And whether,

says bishop Tanner,

this bishop was at any other time founder, there

is reason to doubt; no deed to that effect having yet appeared, no hint to that purport in his own charter of confirmation of the church of Stoke Pogis to this priory, nor in the annals of Waverly abbey, that kind of chronicle not being usually silent in regard to acts so much to the honour of their founder.

There seems, however, to be no doubt, that in this foundation was renewed for canons regular, by William Pont d'Arch and William Dauncey, Norman knights, and that this bishop, when he obtained quiet possession of his see in , assisted them, and built the nave of their church; on which account, perhaps, some have called him the founder. In the is a grant, or more properly a confirmation to this priory, by king Stephen, of the stone house, in Dowgate, which had been the residence of William Pont d'Arch.

In consequence of the fire which happened in the of king John, mentioned before, the prior and convent built a place in which they celebrated divine service, till their own was rebuilt; and this they called the hospital of St. Thomas.

The priory was rebuilt not many years after by the munificence of Peter de Rupibus, bishop of Winchester (so made in ), who also erected a spacious chapel, and dedicated it to , which afterwards became the parish church of that name, and was afterwards made the south aisle of the priory church. In , Walter, archbishop of York, granted days indulgence to all who should contribute to the erection of this church.

The priory was again burnt or damaged by fire in the reign of Richard II. and was rebuilt or repaired in that or the succeeding reign.

It is probable that cardinal Beaufort (son of John of Ghent, duke of Lancaster, son of Edward III.) contributed to the repair of this church, as the arms of the Beauforts are carved in stone on a pillar in the south transept; and what remains of sculpture on each side of them appears to be designed for the strings of a cardinal's hat, which perhaps was placed over them. The arms are, quarterly France and England, a bordure compone and az. In , the of Henry VI. James the , king of Scotland, was married here to Joan, eldest daughter of John Beaufort, earl of Somerset, and brother to the cardinal, by whom the match was made, to support his family by an alliance with that kingdom. This was on the release of James from the prison where he had remained eighteen years, having been taken by Henry IV. as he was going to the court of France. The marriage feast was kept at the bishop of Winchester's palace, on the .

On the , of Henry VIII. , this house was surrendered by Bartholomew Linsted, alias Fowle, prior, who had a pension of a year granted to him. It was valued,


according to Speed, at or nett, according to Dugdale, Among the temporalities belonging to this priory were the following :--

Henry I. granted to them the church of St. Margaret in ; Alexander Fitzgerald (temp. Henry I. or II.) gave them all his land of Waleton, &c.

King Stephen the tithe of his farm of ,.

In the reign of Henry II. Cicely, countess of Hereford, bestowed on this priory all her lands in Ketebrook, and . a year in Preston.

William de Ros gave the of Plumsted, in Kent, with acres of land in the marshes, &c.

In the reign of Henry I. William de Montfichet, and Roese, his wife, gave them the tithe of his home at Cupefeld, and acres of land in the same manor.

They had acres of land in Chelsham, acres in Charleton, acres in Kidebroke, and divers messuages in . They had lands in North Tadworth and Betham parva, common of pasture in Ewel, Banstead, North and South Tadworth, lands in Ocstead; a tenement in Camerwell, Neweuton, and (all in Surrey); lands, tenements, and woods in Stoke Pogis, Bucks; and the appropriation of Westilbury, Addington, Oxted, Mitcham, Clapham, and Camerwell.

Their spiritualities were as follows:

The advowsons of the churches of Mitcham, Plumbeton, Benestede, Wudemarsesthorne, Berghes, St. Margaret , Crechesfeld (Reigate), Beschesward, Leigh, St. Giles, Stoke Pogis, Bucks; Ketebrook (now an appendage to Charlton, Kent), Totinges, Edinton, Newithgate (Newdigate), Hokering, Norfolk; St. Benet Sherehog, , St. Mildred , St. Mildred, Poultry, and Trinity the less, in London.

After the dissolution on the , the of Henry VIII. , the priory was granted to sir Anthony Brown, knt. (who was grantee of numerous religious houses in this and other counties,) by the description of

Totum situm septum circuitum ambitum et precinctum nuper monasterii sive prioratus beate Maria Overey, in com. Surr:

and all messuages, wharfs, shops, &c. within the close of the same monastery, in the parish of St. Saviour, lately so created (as before mentioned) late in the tenure of Henry Delynger, and others, and the brew-house and houses in .

Sir Anthony Brown was master of the horse to king Henry VIII. and king Edward VI. and died May , leaving Anthony his son and heir, who was created viscount Montague, and died seised hereof , leaving Anthony his grandson his heir, aged . The latter died , and was succeeded by his son Francis.



Either the sir Anthony, or his son, built a house here, and from him the site of the priory got and has retained the name of . This house, which has just been taken down, was the residence of the viscount's widow in and . In the former year is an entry in the parish books, that a new door should be made in the church wall, entering into my lord Montacute's house, in place of the old door stopped up.

In the Gentleman's Magazine for , is some description of what remained of this house, with a small print of it. It stood near the west end of the church. and was of the form of half a Roman H. The entrance was by a small flight of stone steps, with an ornament in the shape of an esculleys shell over the door; the rooms were lofty, and of a good size, and the fire places were large. Some years ago there were remains of rich mouldings, now destroyed.

The writer in the above work calls this mansion Monteagle-house, and says it was the residence of the lord of that name, who here received the anonymous letter which led to the discovery of the gunpowder plot. This is certainly a mistake, arising from some resemblance in the names of Montague and Monteagle. The letter was given to lord Monteagle's footman in, the street, but in what street is not said, and his lordship's residence is not named. There is a tradition, that in consequence of this discovery, this close enjoyed certain privileges; it is mentioned in the act of queen Anne for administering justice in privileged places, but the privileges here, if any, must have been derived from its having been a religious house.

The remains of the priory are not extensive; on the west side of Montague-close is a crypt running north and south, about feet long, by feet wide, in aisles, with octangular columns, the roof groined. Over it is a spacious room, perhaps the dormitory; at the north end of which are the apparent remains of a large window, which has been stopped up: and on each side of the room are seen marks of doorways and small windows. The northern end shews the original open timber-worked roof, with strong beams resting on stone brackets. On the east side are narrow-painted windows, and on the west larger. The exterior has several corbels, with remnants of groins springing from them, and there is part of a doorway. Messrs. Concannon and Morgan, who published in , says,

that part of the east and north sides of the cloister, was then standing, as was also part of the refectory at the north east end of the cloister, both then in the possession of Mr. John Peacock, who had lately taken down the north door leading to the refectory and cloister, to make it more commodious for his business, by which means part of the refectors had been destroyed. The crypt is at this time used partly as stone cellars,

partly as stables. The whole is covered with buildings, warehouses, &c.

At the south entrance to Montague-close is another remnant of the priory, it consists of a pointed arch in tolerable preservation.

In church-yard, is a


[] Vol. iii. p. 559.

[] Notitia Monastica art. Southwark.

[] Vol. ii 86, a.

[] Vide ante, p. 436.

[] Harl. MSS. 587l. p. 184.

[] Query? Little Bookham.

[] November, 1828.

[] P. 777.

[] Archaelogia, xii. p. 200.

[] 8vo. 1795, p. 185.

This object is in collection Subject Temporal Permanent URL
Component ID:
To Cite:
TARC Citation Guide    EndNote
Detailed Rights
View all images in this book
 Title Page
CHAPTER I: Site, local divisions, and government of the City of Westminster; history of the Abbey; Coronation Ceremonies; and lists of the Abbots and Deans
CHAPTER II: Westminster Abbey, and Description of the Tombs and Monuments
CHAPTER III: History and Topography of St. Margaret's Parish
CHAPTER IV: History and Topography of St. John's Parish, Westminster
CHAPTER V: History and Topography of the parish of St. Martin's in the Fields, Westminster
CHAPTER VI: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. James, Westminster
CHAPTER VII: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Anne, Westminster
CHAPTER VIII: History and Topography of the parish of St. Paul, Covent Garden
CHAPTER IX: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Mary-le-strand
CHAPTER X: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. Clement Danes
CHAPTER XI: History and Topography of the parish of st. George, Hanover Square
CHAPTER XII: History and Topography of the Precinct of the Savoy
CHAPTER XIII: History and Topography of the Inns of Court
CHAPTER XIV: History and Topography of the Precincts of the Charter-house and Ely Place, and the Liberty of the Rolls
 CHAPTER XV: Historical Notices of the Borough of Southwark
CHAPTER XVI: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Olave, Southwark
CHAPTER XVII: History and Topography of the parish of St. John, Southwark
CHAPTER XVIII: History and Topography of the parish of St. Thomas, Southwark
CHAPTER XIX: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. George's, Southwark
CHAPTER XX: History and Topography of St. Saviour's Parish
CHAPTER XXI: History and Topography of the parist of Christ-church in the County of Surrey
 CHAPTER XXII: A List of the Principal Books, &c that have been published in Illustration of the Antiquities, History, Topography, and other subjects treated of in this Work
 Addenda et Corrigienda