The nuns at Amesbury Abbey were accused of irregular living, and expelled. In 1177 they were succeeded by Henry II’s favoured and more rigorous order from Fontevrault in France.
This new, fashionable and well-endowed priory attracted, over the years, grants of land or churches in more than 20 parishes, and extensive building operations. It lasted until the dissolution of the monasteries began in the 1530s.
Initially Amesbury’s Priory prospered. Extensions, and improvements to the fabric were made in the early 13th century: royal patronage continued. In 1285 Mary (Edward I’s daughter) and Eleanor of Provence (Edward’s mother) entered the community.
On Ascension Day, 1327, 36 nuns were consecrated, including the noble Isobel of Lancaster.
The accumulated lands eventually formed the manor of Amesbury Priors to the west of the town. This early prosperity gradually waned.
Tensions between Amesbury and its mother house during times of war, and between the prior and prioress, took their toll. After 1400 there is no mention of the male religious other than a chaplain to conduct religious services. It is likely that, in effect, the priory reverted to a Benedictine house in the 15th century.
What Did The Priory Own?
The In 1541 the Wiltshire lands of the priory consisted of:
The Town and Priory Were Interdependent
The charter is a confirmation by Edward II of the grant of Amesbury Priory of a weekly market on Saturday to be held in the manor of Amesbury and an annual three day fair to be held on the day before the vigil of St Melor’s day (29th, 30th September, 01st October).
Walter Reynolds, Archbishop of Canterbury
John Sandall, Bishop of Winchester and Chancellor
Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford and Essex
John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey
Hugh le Despenser the younger
Walter de Norwich, Treasurer
William Montague, Steward of the Royal Household
11th April 1317, Edward II
Given at Andover by privy seal.
There is a transcript in a 17th century hand at the bottom of the document. In it, the date and place of sealing are incorrect. The prioress at the time the original charter was signed could have been Isabel de Geneville.