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Brecon (Priory)

also known as: Brecon

Order: Benedictine

Brecon was founded as a cell of Battle Abbey (Sussex) by Bernard of Neufmarché / Newmarket / Newmarch. It was originally intended for a prior and five monks and acquired the status of conventual priory. It also served the community as their parish church - the laity occupied the nave and the monks the chancel.
In the later Middle Ages Brecon Priory was seemingly a popular pilgrim site. The Holy Rood of Brecon, mentioned in Welsh poetry, was in the nave but it was the monks who received the offerings.
The generosity of its patrons meant that Brecon had one of the largest churches in medieval Wales.
show details of standing remains

Dedicated to: St John the Evangelist Medieval Diocese: St David's
Affiliated to: Battle Abbey (mother-house)
Lordship at foundation: Brecon
Access: Open to public (Brecon Cathedral)
Owned by: Representative Body of the Church in Wales

Main events in the history of this site

c.1100Foundation - The foundation was evidently initiated by Roger, a monk of Battle, who was staying with Bernard of Newmarché and persuaded him to grant the church of St John the Evangelist to his Sussex abbey of St Martin.  [3 sources]
c.1125First community arrives - The founding community of monks from Battle Abbey probably arrived at Brecon at this time under Walter, who presided as the first prior of the dependency. [1 source]
1125x1148Confirmation - Bishop Bernard of St David’s (1115-48) wrote to Earl Roger of Hereford praising the state of monastic life at Brecon and stating that the priory's right to Llan-goers church had now been established. His letter states: [4 sources]
c.1150Benefaction - Walter the Constable granted the monks of Brecon Priory a hospice at Hay with his man serving there. [1 source]
c.1175Benefaction - Robert of Baskerville granted land to the priory when his son, James, entered he house as a monk. [2 sources]
pre 1175Benefaction - Henry of Hereford, the king’s constable, granted Brecon the churches of Hay and Llanigon and gave them the yearly sum of three shillings. [2 sources]
c.1200Benefaction - Mahel le Brec gave Brecon 12d of rent to maintain the lights in the church; Alice de Putangle gave the monks six acres of land to maintain the poor.  [2 sources]
c.1207Appropriation of churches - The churches of Talgarth, Llan-gors, Hay and Llanigon, granted to Brecon in the twelfth century, were formally appropriated to the priory.  [2 sources]
1216x1230Presentation - Peter fitz Herbert, lord of Blaenllynfi, secured the right for himself and his successors to present two clerks to the priory who would be received as monks of the house and say masses for the family’s souls.  [2 sources]
1260Resignation - Prior Reginald of Brecon resigned to take up the abbacy at Battle Abbey. [1 source]
1265Arrest of former prior - In November 1265 a warrant was issued for the arrest of Stephen de Oteringber (Wateringbury), former prior of Brecon and now vagabond. [1 source]
c.1275-1290Debt - By this time the priory had accumulted significant debt and owed small sums to a number of creditors.  [2 sources]
c.1275Wider community - Brecon maintained a Lady Chapel choir. [1 source]
1283Feud - The priory was attacked by Reginald fitz Peter when his two presentees were removed from the priory without his consent.  [2 sources]
1283Visitation - Archbishop Pecham conducted a visitation of Battle Abbey and whilst there made an enquiry about the state of monastic life at its dependency, Brecon Priory. [4 sources]
1291Wealth - According to the Taxatio Ecclesiastica of Nicholas IV the community’s spiritualities were assessed at £86 6s 8d and its temporalities at £36 3s 4d. [3 sources]
c.1300Patronage - At this time the patrons of Brecon were the de Braose, the Bohuns and the Buckinghams. [1 source]
1357Challenge to Battle's authority - Prior John Lose mounted an unsuccessful bid for independence from Battle's authority. [2 sources]
1377Numbers - At this time there were only six monks at Brecon.  [1 source]
1379Clerical poll tax 1379 - Payments required [1 source][1 archive]
1381Clerical poll tax 1381 - Receipt of payments [1 source][1 archive]
1435 Resignation - In July 1435 Prior William Waller resigned from office and was elevated to the abbacy at Battle. [1 source]
1503Resignation - William Westhall, who had been prior of Brecon from 1497, resigned from office to take up the abbacy at Battle.  [1 source]
1521Royal Patronage - At this time the priory was under royal patronage. [1 source]
1529Rights - The monks of Brecon had the right to adminster the priory during a vacancy. [1 source]
1534Royal authority - The prior and five monks of Brecon subscribed to the Act of Supremacy. [3 sources]
c.1535Wealth - According to the Valor Ecclesiasticus the priory’s gross income was assessed at £134 11s 4d with its spiritualities recorded as £76 5s 4d and its temporalities at £58 6s.  [3 sources][1 archive]
1536Dissolution - Brecon was dissolved under the 1536 Act of Suppression. [2 sources]
+ 25 minor events. Show minor events

People associated with this site

Agnes (Nest) (patron)

Bernard of Newmarché; Newmarket; Newmarch , landowner (founder)

Payn de Turbervill , Sir (patrons)

Peter fitz Herbert , lord of Blaenllynfi and Talgarth (benefactor)

Priors of Brecon

Roger fitz Miles , earl of Hereford (patron)

Stafford (patrons)

William de Braose (Briouze) , magnate (patron; burial)

de Bohun (Bohun) , lords of Brecon; earls of Hereford (patrons)

de Bohun, Henry , earl of Hereford (patron)

de Braose (Braose) (patrons and burials)

Bibliographical sources

34 Printed sources

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9 On-line sources

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Archival sources

Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, 'Book formerly belonging to Prior Robert of Brecon', (Document), (View website)

The National Archives, 'Exchequer, Clerical Subsidies - Brecon Priory 1381', (Document), (View website)

The National Archives, 'Exchequer, King's Remembrancer, Clerical Subsidies - Brecon Priory 1379', (Document),

British Library, 'Seal of Brecon appended', (Document), (View website)

Related articles on Monastic Wales

Remnants of Brecon Priory,
Who were the Benedictines?, Professor Janet Burton

Images of this site

Decorative panel

Effigy of an unknown cleric

Font


Interior of the priory church of St John the Evangelist, Brecon

Poll tax return for Brecon, 1379

Poll tax return for Brecon, 1381


Priory Church of St John the Evangelist, Brecon

Priory Church of St John the Evangelist, Brecon

Priory Church of St John the Evangelist, Brecon

Powys, OS Grid:SO04432900
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