Monastic Wales.

Event detail for site: Llanthony Prima

1284: Visitation

Visitation of the priory was undertaken by Archbishop Pecham.

Pecham saw mismanagement as the real source of Llanthony’s problems and urged an improvement of the administration which would in turn benefit religious observance:

'Mary’s role must needs suffer constant interruptions unless the prudence of Martha … makes provision … for Mary’s sacred ease. For just as nature is the basis of grace so claustral tranquillity is best provided for by a careful administration of things temporal.
[Cowley, Monastic Order in South Wales, p. 104]

Pecham was concerned that at Llanthony, as elsewhere, there should be a central treasury and a regular system of auditing. He instructed the canons to appoint a layman as steward to oversee all the priory’s goods; one of the canons, known as the external cellarer, would assist him and the two would adminsiter the house jointly when the prior was away. But the cellarer's powers were restricted and he was forbidden to alienate the priory’s goods and received expenses by tally from either the treasurers or custodians of the manor. He was to take only one companion with him when travelling on business and strive to return to the house for meals.

Archbishop Pecham was equally concerned to constrain the prior and ruled that he should discuss all business with the canons except for matters of a more discrete nature which were to be considered with four senior members of the community. The prior could not simply act of his own accord. He needed the advice and consent of these men to appoint obdientiaries and servants and even to give gifts in his own name.

Pecham discussed at length how offenders should be punished and warned that imprisonment should be reserved for only the most serious of crimes such as violence, apostasy, conspiracy and theft. The prior was urged to be loved and respected so that his sheep would follow him with gladness. The meting out of punishment was delegated, to prevent autocracy and to create a feeling of harmony rather than division and antagonism. A senior canon called the ‘common penitentiary’ was empowered to punish minor faults such as breaches of silence, inappropriate laughter and tardiness. These lesser faults were to be punished with fasting on water, the forfeiture of one’s pittance or being relegated to last place (at table, in the chapter and in choir). If the offender continued to be insolent the next step was a beating in the chapter and humiliation - the offender was to eat his meals off the refectory floor and lie on the floor at the threshold of the chapter-house where the brethren would walk over him. If this failed to prompt reform the miscreant was locked in a room until he showed remorse and if need be confined and chained until the diocesan decided if he should be imprisoned or expelled. But Pecham was adamant that offenders should be confined in appropriate conditions and stressed that prisons should be as airy as security allowed.

Care of the sick
Pecham also addressed the care of the sick. The canons were to treat their sick brethren as they would like themselves to be cared for. Similarly, proper care was to be taken of the poor and a ‘pious and merciful’ canon was to be made almoner.

Archbishop Pecham reminded the prior that he should take his place with the brethren and not use hospitality as an excuse to dine apart or miss the Office unless the guest was of great importance and potential use to the community; similarly while no women were permitted to stay the night within the priory an exemption was made for noble ladies who could not be refused.

People associated with this event

John Pecham; Peckam; Peckham , Archbishop of Canterbury

Bibliographical sources

Printed sources

Registrum Epistolarum Fratris Johannis Peckham Archiepiscopi Cantuariensis, Rerum Britannicarum medii aevi scriptores; or, Chronicles and memorials of Great Britain and Ireland during the Middle Ages, 77, 3 vols (London, 1882-1885) vol. 3, pp. 800-805

Cowley, F. G., The Monastic Order in South Wales 1066-1349 (Cardiff, 1977) pp. 104-106

Douie, Decima Langworthy, Archbishop Pecham (Oxford, 1952)

Williams, David H., 'Llanthony Prima Priory', The Monmouthshire Antiquary, 25-26 (2009-2010) pp. 24-25

Other events in the history of this site

1108X1118Foundation - According to the foundation history of the house, Llanthony Prima had its origins in the late eleventh century when William de Lacy, a knight in the service of Hugh de Lacy (d. c. 1115), sought to live as a hermit in the Llanthony Valley, where a former chapel dedicated to St David stood.

Contemporaries commented on the beauty of the site:
'What more can I say?' he asked, 'The entire treasure of the king and his realm would not be sufficient to build such a cloister.' When he had held the minds of the king [Henry I] and his court in suspense for a long time by this assertion he finally explained the enigma by revealing that what he really meant was the circle of mountains which enclosed the monastery on all sides.
[Bishop Roger of Salisbury [d. 1139], cited by Gerald of Wales in his Journey through Wales, trans. Thorpe, p. 99.] [4 sources][1 archives]
1108x35Reputation - Bishop Roger of Salisbury (d. 1139) visited the site and was impressed with what he saw there. [1 sources]
1115Founds cell - A cell was founded at Weobley but was short-lived. [1 sources]
1135Dispersal - The community suffered from Welsh attacks and sought refuge first in Hereford with the former prior of Llanthony, Bishop Robert, and thereafter at Gloucester, where a cell was founded. A few stalwarts remained at the Welsh house throughout these troubled times. [3 sources][1 archives]
1136Founds cell - Miles, earl of Hereford, gave the refugee canons a site at Gloucester which was founded as a cell of Llanthony Priory; it was later known as Llanthony Secunda. [2 sources]
c.1140-70Decline - Religious life at Llanthony declined as most of the community remained at Gloucester and various books, relics and even the bell were taken from the mother house for use in its cell.  [2 sources]
1177x1210Recovery - Thanks to Hugh de Lacy II and his son, Walter, the community acquired significant interests in Ireland which greatly helped the priory's recovery. [5 sources]
1205Formal separation of the two Llanthonys - An agreement was drawn up to formalise the separation of Llanthony Prima and its cell in Gloucester. [4 sources][2 archives]
c.1212Concession - The community was granted the privilege of electing its own prior during a vacancy and was not obliged to consult with Walter de Lacy, lord of Ewyas. [2 sources][1 archives]
c.1214Charter - Walter de Lacy, patron of the priory and the great great nephew of the founder, granted an extensive charter to the community. [1 sources][1 archives]
1216x1220Charter - Charter granted to the community by Reginald de Braose, lord of Abergavenny and Brecon. [1 sources][1 archives]
1217Building work - Completion of the rebuilding of the church. [1 sources]
1242Praised - Archishop Albert of Armagh praised the priory where he had himself taken refuge. [1 sources]
1276Royal custody - The priory was in debt and duly taken into royal custody. [2 sources]
c.1277-1300Legal battles - In the late thirteenth century the priory faced a number of challenges from the Marcher lords and was involved in ongoing legal disputes. [3 sources]
1284Visitation - Visitation of the priory was undertaken by Archbishop Pecham. [4 sources]
1284Harbours outlaw - Peter de Marinis, an outlaw, took refuge in the priory. [1 sources]
c.1291Wealth - According to the Taxatio of c. 1291 Llanthony's total income was estimated at c. £160. [5 sources]
1301Monastic observance - Archbishop Winchelsey of Canterbury complained to the bishop of St David’s that a former prior of Llanthony was ‘wandering at large with the connivance of the bishop'. [3 sources]
1330Theft - John of Hereford, a canon of Llanthony, was charged with theft and incarcerated in the bishop of Hereford’s prison. [1 sources]
1348Royal custody - The priory was once again taken into royal custody. [2 sources]
1354Recalcitrant apostate - Thomas de Crudewell, a former canon of Llanthony who had absconded from the priory, wished to return to the religious life. [2 sources]
1373x1376Violence - Prior Nicholas de Trinbey (Trinley) was brutally attacked by several canons of the house who gouged out his eyes. [4 sources][1 archives]
1376Resignation of prior - On 8 February a mandate was issued to receive the resignation of Prior Nicholas Trilley (Trillek / de Trinleye). [3 sources]
1381Clerical poll tax - The sub-prior, RALPH, and six monks [WALTER CROK, JOHN MARA, JOHN ABERGEVENY, NICHOLAS CARYLUNM, ROBERT WYNTER, JOHN LOUNDON] each paid a tax of 6s.8d. [1 sources][1 archives]
1386Prior imprisoned - The prior of Llanthony was imprisoned for failing to deliver the payment of tithes and subsidies he was charged with collecting. [2 sources]
1402x1405Glyn Dŵr revolt - The priory suffered considerable damage as a consequence of the rebellion. The prior of Llanthony was initially suspected of supporting the rebel. [3 sources]
1481Change in status: the union of the two priories - Llanthony Prima, originally the mother house, now became a cell of its daughter, Llanthony Secunda (Glos). [5 sources]
1504Union finalised - The terms of Llanthony Secunda's takeover of Llanthony Prima were finalised. [1 sources]
1522Fiscal demands - Llanthony Prima was required to pay £20 towards financing the king's expenses in France. [1 sources]
1534Act of Supremacy - Prior John Ambrose acknowledged Royal Supremacy. [3 sources][1 archives]
c.1535Wealth - According to the Valor Ecclesiasticus the priory had an estimated net income of £112 0s 5d.  [4 sources][1 archives]
1538Dissolution - On 10 March David Kempe, alias Mathewe, surrendered Llanthony Prima; Llanthony Secunda was dissolved at the same time. [4 sources]