THE Prćmonstratensian Order of Canons Regular
derives its name from Prémontré in France, where it was founded in
1120 by St. Norbert, Bishop of Magdeburg. Its members were sometimes
called Norbertines, after their founder, or White Canons, from the
colour of their habit.
The order was first introduced into England in 1143 by the
foundation of the Abbey of SS. Mary and Martial at Newhouse,
Lincolnshire, and at the suppression of the monasteries in 1538 its
houses were thirty-six in number.
Of these, two were in Kent, viz., the Abbey of SS. Mary and
Thomas of Canterbury, at West Langdon, which was colonized from Leiston
in 1190; and that of St. Radegund at Bradsole, colonized directly from
the mother Abbey of Prémontré in 1191,—an
honour it shares with Bayham.
There is much confusion amongst historians as to the
founder of Bradsole. Weever says the Abbey was
founded by Hugh, first Abbot of St. Augustine's, who died 1124, but this
would be prior to the introduction of the Prćmonstratensian Order into
England. Philpott (p. 278) says the first Abbot was Hugh, who was before
a monk of the Priory of Christ Church, Canterbury, in the reign of
Stephen. According to Tanner, * the foundation was due to King Richard
I, or Geoffrey, Earl of Perche, and Maud his wife, or "some other
charitable and pious persons."
The early history of this Abbey is somewhat obscure.
Shortly after its foundation it appears to have fallen into great
distress, for the General of the Order proposed to unite the Abbeys of
Bradsole and Langdon. There seems
* Notitia Monastica.