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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 94  1978  page 97

Excavations on the Site of Leeds Priory. Part 2 The Claustral Buildings
 and Other Remains
By P. J. Tester continued



Direct documentary evidence of the successive phases of building at Leeds Priory revealed in the recent excavations has not so far been found, but it seems worth while to draw attention to certain records which may have a bearing on the subject.
   In 1320, Walter (Reynolds), Archbishop of Canterbury, appropriated the church of Chart Sutton to the Priory because at his recent visitation the canons were faithfully observing the religious life but the buildings were in need of repair and the church was in ruins. The King’s confirmation followed in the same year.20
   ‘In ruins’ need not be taken too literally: it was an expression often used in the Middle Ages in ‘a similar context; but it does indicate a considerable degree of dilapidation, and is certainly not the language which would be used if the nave were then being rebuilt. It is suggested that the rebuilding, for which abundant archaeological evidence has now been found, was taken in hand in or soon after 1320.

   In 1487, Dr. James Goldwell (of the Great Chart family), Bishop of Norwich, founded a chantry of one priest at the altar of the B.V.M. in the south part of the nave of the priory church, and made other benefactions so great that the convent ‘acknowledged him in some measure as the founder of their house.’21  This in itself does not tell us very much, but it does suggest that with their increased resources the canons may have been encouraged to embark upon the building of the great new presbytery which could not be dated precisely from the archaeological evidence.
   In 1536, Arthur St. Leger, who had been Prior of Leeds since 1528,22  resigned on a pension of £16.23.23   His successor, Thomas Day, writing to Cromwell on 8th April, 1537, says that £951 19s. 8¾d. is owing to the King, and £447 18s. 44½d. to the late Prior’s brothers, brother-in-law, and others. ‘Please stop his pension until his debts are cleared,’says the harrassed Prior. ‘I cannot come to London for fear of being arrested for debt.’24
   20 Pat. 13 Ed. 2. m. 12.
    21 Hasted (8vo.), v. 493.
    22 Calendar of Letters and Papers, Hen. VIII, (L.P.), iv, 4557.
23 Arch. Cant., ii (1859), 57.
24 L.P., xii, Pt. 1, 867.

Page 97 

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