MEDIEVAL DOCUMENT - Canterbury Cathedral, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts



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MEDIEVAL DOCUMENT - Canterbury Cathedral
Grant from the monks of Canterbury Cathedral to Godfrey Fyneux of Ickham, 10 June 6 Henry IV [1405], ca 120 x 295 mm. (4½ x 11 inches) on vellum. Seal tag. An important document, granting 1½ acres of lands in Ickham for 16 years from the following Michaelmas (29 September), rendering annually one quarter and four bushels of barley at All Saints and a hen at Christmas.
Ickham is five miles due east of Canterbury, just north of the A257 to Sandwich. It was an ancient property of the church of Canterbury, perhaps already by 821 when Archbishop Wulfred held land at a place called 'Iognes' which has been suggested as Ickham; certainly by the time of Archbishop Oda (941-958). When the Canterbury estates were split between the archbishop and the Benedictine community which constituted his cathedral chapter, Ickham was assigned to the monks' portion, and is so recorded in Domesday: F.R.H. Du Boulay, The Lordship of Canterbury: An Essay on Medieval Society (1966), 28 & n. 5, 43, 366; P. Collinson, N.L. Ramsay and M.J. Sparks (eds), A History of Canterbury Cathedral (Oxford 1995), 25.
The Canterbury monks' estate management was the subject of a pioneering work by R.A.L. Smith: Canterbury Cathedral Priory: A Study in Monastic Administration (Cambrdige 1943, reprinted 1969). He calls the manor of Ickham 'one of the richest corn-growing lands in East Kent' (p. 133) and gives many details of the local economy. He also identified Prior Thomas Chillenden (1391-1411) as a major figure in the administration, who promoted a radical new direction of which this documents offers corroborative evidence (pp. 190-130). During the 14th century the monks had retained most of their estates in demesne, i.e. farming them (in the modern sense) directly. Under Chillenden's direction the policy switched to one of leasing, often in small parcels such as this acre and a half. This was directly related to the need to raise cash (and produce) to support the massive works then in hand, for which Chillenden is particularly remembered ('the greatest builder of a prior that ever was in Christes Church'; quoted in Collinson et al., History, p. 97). Indeed the nave was completed in 1405, the year of this document. Chillenden also added to the manor house of Ickham itself, which was one of the regular residences of the priors of Canterbury: ibid., 91 & n. 105, 92.
Godfrey 'Fynegh' was undoubtedly Fyneux, belonging to a prominent Kent family, whose most famous member Sir John Fyneux, Chief Justice of King's Bench (d. 1525) was to be attorney and later Steward fo the Cathedral, and buried there with special honour: ibid., 96, 147, 510 n. 264. Smith Canterbury Cathedral Priory, 82, 85.
With an abbreviated translation.
[No: 22088]

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