Augustinian Priory of the Holy Trinity

From Historical Hastings
Augustinian Priory of the Holy Trinity

Founded as the Priory of the Holy Trinity of Hastings c.1191[1] for the black canons[2] in the time of Richard I, either by Sir Walter Bricet[2] or by Walter de Scotney. Cole seems to prefer the former, as he stated during a lecture to the Hastings & St. Leonards Philosophical Society during 1883[3], although L. F. Salzman in his "History of the English Towns - Hastings" (1921) seems to prefer the latter. The latter certainly gave the canons the churches of Crowhurst and Ticehurst.


Jonas [4]
Nicholas c1233 [5]
Alexander (name occurs 1280[6]-90[7])
John resigned 1300[8]
John Longe[9]
Philip before 1344[10]
William de Dene occurs 1352[11]
John Hassok resigned 1402[12]
Richard Weston elected 1402[13] resigned 1414[14]
Stephen Lewes occurs 1441[15]
John Smyth occurs 1478[16] died c1492[17]
Thomas Harmer occurs 1527[18]

Inundation and Relocation

It would appear that the site fairly regularly suffered from flooding. Around the reign of Edward II (25 April 1284 – 21 September 1327) a petition was issued by the Prior and Convent for permission to acquire some tenements in order the Priory could increase its income[19]:

”The Prior and convent of Holy Trinity, Hastings state that they have been ruined by flooding from the sea, so that their income from three churches in Hastings is greatly reduced, and they have also lost other rents, and ask that they might be able to approve £40 of land or rent annually for their sustenance.”

The site was abandoned circa 1413 owing to the encroachment of the sea (Cousins gives this date as being 1430[1]). There is however archaeological evidence that other than a small accumulation of silt, the priory ​building​s were left to decay naturally[20]. In spite of the abandonment of the priory, the church or chapel associated with it was still utilised for burials as late as 1533[21].

The priory was re-established at Warbleton in 1413, lands being granted to them by Sir John Pelham. The letters-patent made on the grant of lands from Sir John Pelham at Warbilton, are printed in the second volume of Dugdale's Monasticon Anglicanum, under the title “De translatione Sedis ejusdem Prioratus, ratione maris inundationis, usque Warbilton.” These letters-patent recite to this effect: Whereas the church of the Holy Trinity of Hastyng, and the dwelling of our beloved in Christ, the Prior and Convent of the aforesaid Church at Hastyng, have been inundated and laid waste by the sea, so that they could no longer dwell there, as the said Prior and Convent have given us to understand, for which reason our beloved and faithful knight Sir John Pelham, by our license hath given and granted to the same Prior and Convent certain lands and tenements in Warbilton, on which lands a new church and dwelling in honour of the Holy Trinity hath been begun as it is said.[22]The community remained there until its dissolution in the C16th.

1796 Finds

In 1796 a pond was drained and beneath the waters were found "enormous sluice gates and timbers of huge dimensions" believed by Cousins to be part of the Priory.[1]. Moss speculated that these were possibly flood defences erected by the monks of the Priory.[23]

19th Century

The owners of the site of the priory in C19 were listed as; Earl Cornwallis, who possessed three-fourths; and Edward Milward, esq., who had the remaining part[24].
The Priory Farm was established very close to the location of the main Priory ​building​s, the barn believed by Ross to be in the exact location[2], with what was described as a very small fragment of an old wall, adjoining a ​building​, on the site where it stood, being the only discernible trace now left of it.[23]There is record in the local paper of 1839 that part of the remains of the church were utilised in the ​building​ of a stable near to Carswell's Mills[25]

Current Situation

Of the original Priory, some walls remain under what used to be a supermarket now ESK (Cambridge Road) and the Priory Street carpark. Some corbels that were found buried thirty feet underground[26] during the construction of the cinema that pre-dated the supermarket are now at Hastings Museum.[27] The site was examined by J. Manwaring Baines in 1937 and discovered parts of a wall comprising fine-coursed masonry with semi-circular bases for shafts. There were also a number of stones showing two rows of dog-tooth moulding between three semi-circular shafts - apparently part of a doorway or window. One particularly interesting stone was carved with a rosette of leaves in a diamond pattern, similar to those found at Lewes Priory.[28]The wall was not oriented in a truly east-west direction, but closer to NNW and SSE and Baines suspected it formed part of the cloisters.[28]. A hatch was positioned in the floor during construction of the supermarket to maintain access to the remains.


References & Notes

  1. a b c Hastings of Bygone Days and the Present (Henry Cousins - 1911) pg.208 ISBN: 9789332862449 ESCC Library Google Books " Amazon
  2. a b c A Guide to Hastings & St Leonards (Thomas Ross 1835) pg.23 Google Books
  3. British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Observer 3 February 1883 Pg. 0002
  4. Cal. Robertsbridge Chart No. 3
  5. Assize R. 912 m.16
  6. Feet of F.Suss. file 30, No 9
  7. Cal.Robertsbridge Chart No 280
  8. Cant. Archiepis. Reg. Winchelsey, fol.137
  9. Year Bk. 18 Edw. III (Rolls Ser.)), 317
  10. Year Bk. 18 Edw. III (Rolls Ser.)), 317
  11. Assize R. 941,m.31; he had been Prior about three years
  12. Chich. Epis. Reg. Reade, fol.81
  13. Chich. Epis. Reg. Reade,fol.24
  14. Chich. Epis. Reg. Reade, fol.71
  15. Chich. Epis. Reg. Reade, Praty, fol.27
  16. ibid. Story fol.27
  17. Add. MSS. 33173 fol.10
  18. Chich. Epis. Reg. Sherborn, fol. 103
  19. National Archives
  20. Hastings EUS 2010
  21. "The History of the English Towns" (L. F. Salzman 1921)
  22. The History and Antiquities of the Town and Port of Hastings: Illustrated by a Series of Engravings (Moss 1824) pg.80 Google Books ESCC Library Order via Amazon
  23. a b The History and Antiquities of the Town and Port of Hastings: Illustrated by a Series of Engravings (Moss 1824) pg.79 Google Books ESCC Library Order via Amazon
  24. The History and Antiquities of the Town and Port of Hastings: Illustrated by a Series of Engravings (Moss 1824) pg.86 Google Books ESCC Library Order via Amazon
  25. Historic Hastings, J. Manwaring Baines pg. 111 ISBN: 0948869003 ISBN: 9780948869006 Amazon
  26. British Newspaper Archive Kent & Sussex Courier 30 April 1937 Pg. 0017
  27. Hastings & St Leonards Observer 10 April 1937 pg. 13
  28. a b Historic Hastings, J. Manwaring Baines pg. 112 ISBN: 0948869003 ISBN: 9780948869006 Amazon