Saturday, January 19, 2013

The "Manor" of Chicksand Priory

The Chicksand Priory at Dunstable was founded around 1150 during that high energy period when there was a rush to establish monastic settlements by the second and thrid generation families of the Norman conquerors. Chicksand was the project of Roais, wife of Payn de Beauchamp, Baron of Bedford and former wife of Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex. Thus there was plenty of money behind Chicksand and it was well endowed from the first, unlike Bradwell Priory, founded at about the same time, which started and continued with meagre resources. It is reckoned that Chicksand may have supported as many as 100 monks and nuns in the early years of the 13th century.

Its connection with Wolverton was that at some time in the 12th or 13th century it acquired some land in Wolverton, which it subsequently referred to as its manor of Wolverton. There are no records in the Wolverton documents aout its purchase or subsequent sale, nor do we know how much land it acquired  or its precise location. There are some deeds from the late 13th century which make reference to parcels of land next to the land of the Prior of Chekesande or abutting the land of the Prior of Chekesong and both of these are de le Est, meaning in the east of the manor. One might guess that this was in the region of Stonebridge House Farm, but we would not get any more precise than that. It could equally be in the Bancroft area.

The Priory of Chicksands overreached itself. They acquired too much property and too many debts and in 1325 they had to forfeit the Wolverton land to a "merchant of Genoa" as part payment of their debts - which were huge. It is not known what the merchant of Genoa did withthe land. He must have sold it quickly because had he kept it for some time it might well have acquired a name associated with him. It is likely that it was sold back to the de Wolvertons. Later 14th century documents were still referring to it as the land of thePrior of Chekesond.

Further information about Chicksand Priory can be found here.

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