Bayham Abbey

See Bayham Abbey, S.E. Rigold, HMSO, London 1976, revised and reprinted Jonathan Coad, 1989

On the boundary between Kent and Sussex

Abbey of the Blessed Virgin Mary (KNOWLES)

The product of a union of 2 ailing houses, Otham and Brockley, both founded about 1182.  The canons of both had arrived at Bayham by 1208 (RIGOLD) and numbered at least 18 (KNOWLES)  *Adopted as a daughter of Premontre.  (RIGOLD)  *Colonised directly from Premontre (CLAPHAM)

Abbots mostly came from NW Kent and the lower Medway.  Jordan, ex-abbot of Otham, was the first abbot of the combined house.  He was succeeded by Reginald, in whose time the abbey gained great prestige;  he was commissary for the abbot of Premontre and travelled in France on the King’s business;  he was appointed a special, but ill-received, papal visitor of other exempt monasteries;  his friend St Richard of Chichester’s bed at Bayham was declared miraculous after his death.  It received William abbot of Dale who became only Englishman to head up the Order, in a contentious reign.

Involved in an early dispute over the parentage of Leiston between Durford and Welbeck.  Abbot adjudicated along with abbots of Croxton, Newhouse and Beauchief;  also in a confusion relating to Coverham (THOMPSON)

Late 12th century buildings.  It had square-ended aisleless presbytery with solid walls dividing the transeptal chapels originally, turning to open arches with screens between the chapels later.  3-aisle chapter house.  Refectory built over an undercroft  (CLAPHAM)

From 1260 there was a lapse in prestige:  speculation in tithes, embarrassing
corrodies (pensions granted for ready cash) and a prolonged dispute with a house of canons at Michelham.

Income in 1291:  over £72 (KNOWLES)

1315:  20 canons;  1472:  7 + abbot + 1 novice and others serving cures (KNOWLES)