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1241 Rectors

1241 rectors 1This is  extract from “Somerset & Dorset Notes
& Queries” which was a historical research magazine published 1895. It clarifies a rather confusing statement that appears in several histories of Chewton Mendip which is concerned with who was the rector of Chewton Mendip before 1241. This page also lists the vicars appointed after this date up to the 100 years war period.
1241 r3ctors 2The Church lands in Chewton Mendip had been assigned to the Abbot of Jumieges at the time of the Norman conquest which meant they had the right to collect the tithes and appoint a vicar or curate. The link between France, Chewton Mendip and Wells cathedral predates the Norman conquest.
Giso of Lorraine was appointed  the Bishop of Wells by Edward the Confessor and was still bishop,with the support of the deacons, at the time of the Norman Conquest. Chewton Mendip was held personally by Edwards’s wife, Queen Edith at the time of the conquest and she had awarded Giso with at least some of Chewton Mendip in 1062. .
The allocation of land to Jumieges abbey was a financial issue, the bishop of Wells was responsible for the spiritual control of the locals but he may have been awarded a farm in Chewton Mendip at this time. The 1241 extract is about a pragmatic transaction between the bishop of Wells and the abbot of Jumieges that confirmed the latter’s ultimate financial rights but allowed the bishop to appoint and supervise the vicar of Chewton Mendip.
The financial and spiritual roles were confused throughout the history of Chewton Mendip up to the modern era. Other records show that the Bishop of Bath & Wells held the advowson for Chewton Mendip at times and had a farm and rights to take some of the crops of the village.
The Calendar of the manuscripts of the Dean and Chapter of Wells vol 1 contains a full account of the 1241 transaction. It provides some explanation about what was in the great and little tithes of Chewton Mendip. It also suggest that there was  a residence for vicar and accommodation for chaplains, possibly at what was later Chewton Priory. The full account confirms that there was an obligation to provide
The first recorded incumbent of Chewton Mendip is record in 1235 when Roger (Cannon Wellen) on the list of Incumbents of Wells Cathedral was the vicar and the abbot of Jumieges was his patron.  He was probably, Roger, a cannon of Wells. There undated record  that refers  to “Sir Roger the chaplain parson of Chiuton of his manse at Wells, granted him for life by his said father“.
 Another record, possibly referring to the first example is a charter for Roger parson of Chyuton & canon of Wells re houses of his in Wells to be held by a canon of Wells  dated 13th January 1235-6. There are several other references to Roger, parson of  Chewton who was living in Wells and was ‘of the school’. Another record mentions that his house was  ‘late of Peter Cantus’.
All of these records suggest that a reasonable wealthy, well-educated man called Roger, was a cannon of Wells cathedral living in Wells whilst he was the parish priest at Chewton Mendip. He may have commuted to Chewton Mendip but he may have taken the easier option of employing a curate to take the services. The curate may have been one of the chaplians living at the Chewton Priory site or more likely somebody who doubled as tenant of Parsonage farm and parish priest.
 The agreement refers to “the house previously occupied by the chaplains and two acres of meadow east towards Aldreds Combe”. This vague description could apply to several places but it also fits with the early maps which shows Aldridge Lane running gram Sages Lane to Lower Street on the west of the village.
The calendar of the manuscripts has a record that states that  Simon Buzun (Bozon),  the prior of Bath was the former patron of Chewton Mendip when an agreement was made with Jumiege in 1281. Other records show that Robert Burnell was the Bishop of Bath & Wells at the time.
 Both the list of incumbents and the church guide are based on the research by the same person and both sources share an anomaly clarified by the article reproduced here.
 The list of incumbents show that Simon de S Petro super Dinam was appointed as the vicar in 1241 but no patron is listed. The church guide states that the abbot of Jumieges was appointed rector in 1241 but is not clear who was the rector before-hand. The article explains that Simon was the abbot of Jumieges so one of many curates probably continued taking the services. The list of incumbents next records a vicar in 1314 without explaining what happened in the previous 100 years.
The next incumbent listed is John de Petrestre  in 1314 but no other information has been discovered about him apart from he resigned rather than died in office.
 The next person listed is John de Bristol. No date is given for his appointment but he is described as a a former rector of Sutton Camel. His patron is listed as Robert de Gurdeney and Edward III. Another record states that Robert de Gurdeney had come to an ‘agreement’ with the abbot of Jumieges in 1237 regarding the advowson of Ston Easton which implies that  Robert de Gurdeney had also acquired the right to appoint the vicar of Chewton Mendip as well.
 The background behind these changes is that the 100 years war was starting up. This lead to the ‘suppression of the alien monasteries’. Jumieges Abbey was now in enemy territory so their territory was taken from them. This may explain why John de Petreste resigned and John de Bristol was put into his place. Hayling Island Priory appears to have taken control of the land owned by Jumieges in the 1340’s but lost control in c1414 when Sheen Priory was founded.
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