THE SUPPRESSION OF THE MONASTERIES. DISPOSAL OF ST. EDMUND'S COLLEGE.
On the dissolution of Monasteries by Henry VIII. (Act of 31 Hen. VIII.) the College, valued at £102 5s. 10d. gross and £94 5s. 0d. clear, came into the hands of the Crown. On the death of the Provost, John Gough, the King's Minister, Thomas Cromwell, as Vicar General, granted the office to William St. Barbe, a gentleman of the King's Privy Chamber, and in the person of his procurator, John Coryet, constituted him Rector of St. Edmund's Church and College. St. Barbe then received a dispensation from the King permitting him to hold the parochial and Collegiate Church, and the office of Provost, by the collation of John, Bishop of Salisbury, provided that divine service and the cure of souls were not neglected.
The College was then resigned to the King, and by virtue of a writ of Commission directed to Robert Griffith, Mayor of Salisbury, William Webb, Thomas Chafyn and Henry Goldston, they, on June 16th, 1546, took formal possession of the College and the property thereunto belonging, for the use of the Crown, etc. On October 28th following, the King, in consideration of the good and faithful service of William St. Barbe, Esquire, and the payment of £400, regranted " to the said William St. Barbe, the late College of St. Edmund and its grounds, buildings, dovecote," etc., the pasture or herbage of the cemetery and the Chapel of St. Katherine in the same burying ground to hold as part of his Manor of Ludgershall. This grant included a number of tenements within the City, one called " The Hermitage," in Church Street, three houses near the Poultry Cross, and twenty-seven gardens in various parts. Prom the grant were excepted the parish Churches of St. Edmund and St. Martin, but it included the advowsons of St. Edmund, St. Martin and several churches outside Salisbury. The Chapel of St. Katherine later came into the possession of St. Edmund's parish and was converted into a Vestry. In after years a room was built above the vestry and used as a school until 1860, when the present parochial schools were erected.*
In many old deeds relating to ancient property in the City, including those of the Shoemakers' Hall, they are described as part of St. Barbe's lands. In 1549 the whole estate, with the advowsons of St. Edmund's and St. Martin's, was transferred by William and Thomas St. Barbe to John Beckingham, a merchant of Salisbury, who was holder of a lease in possession granted by the last provost. For some years disputes arose between the owners of the College and the Vestry of St. Edmund's respecting the ownership of the trees and herbage in the Churchyard. The 1551 Churchwarden's book, has the following entry " Item, delyvered to Mr. Hopper, our atorny, in the lawe, XXs agenste John Beckynghame, for takeyng down ye tres in ye Chyrchyerd by ye sayd Beckynghame." A later entry shows that the action of the Churchwardens failed. In 1562 John Lowe was presented with the living of St. Edmund's, John Beckenham, Patron. In 1575 Henry Beckingham (son of John Beckenham) sold the College house, and the property connected with it, to Giles Estcourt...... '
* N.B. - Reflecting the spirit of the time following the Reformation there are several improbable stories respecting St. Edmund's College to be found in works by authors of the sixteenth century, of which the following is an example: " Henry VIII. and the English Monasteries " Vol. II. 446. By Cardinal Gasquet. Gasquet, after saying in the text that " the way a great deal of the Monastic property was got rid of by the King is notorious," says: Fuller described how, " not only cooks, but the meanest turn-broach in the King's kitchen did lick his ringers," and he gives on good authority instances of Henry's prodigality with the Abbey lands (p. 446). In a footnote Gasquet adds: A story is told by a writer of about the year 1557 (B.Mus., Arund. M.S., 151, f. 387). In this version, a cook who pleased the King with a well-cooked, sucking pig had as his reward " the College of St. Edmund, Salisbury, with certain Rectories," and thus, says the old writer, was given to a layman to whom it could not belong, " the cure of Souls."
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