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HER Number:MDV15171
Name:St. Andrew's Priory, Cowick, Exeter

Summary

St. Andrew's Priory was founded sometime before 1144 when monks were sent from Bec, Normandy. It was granted to Eton in 1451 and subsequently to Tavistock Abbey in 1464. It was dissolved in 1538. It is thought to have stood on the site of Cowick Barton. Burials have been found just to the north-east and there is also said to be the site of a chapel here. In addition fragments of medieval floor tile have been found in Cordery Road.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 909 911
Map Sheet:SX99SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishExeter
DistrictExeter
Ecclesiastical ParishST.THOMAS

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX99SW/1

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • PRIORY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD (Between))

Full description

Oliver, G., 1846, Monasticon Diocesis Exoniensis, 153-162 (Monograph). SDV57424.


Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

Cowick Barton marked with a cross indicating the site of the stone coffin found in 1887 to the north-east.


Worthy, C., 1892, The History of the Suburbs of Exeter, 145-153 (Monograph). SDV24928.


Clarke, K. M., 1904-1905, The Conventual Houses of Exeter and the Neighbourhood, 143-144 (Article in Serial). SDV24921.

A map of Exeter of 1570 shows the possible site, on the Exwick side of the river, of a surviving building of the priory. On Palm Sunday 1444 a fire broke out from which priory never recovered. Cowick Barton, a grange belonging to priory, still exists.


Reichel, O. J., 1912, Early Descents of the Manors in the Wonford Hundred, 324 (Article in Serial). SDV38843.


Boggis, R. J. E., 1922, A History of the Diocese of Exeter (Monograph). SDV22293.


Masterman, J. H. B., 1931, Address of the President: The Monasteries of Devon, 69-74 (Article in Serial). SDV136066.


Cresswell, B. F., 1934-1935, Cowick Barton, 242-243 (Article in Serial). SDV22292.

A foundation date at the end of the 11th century is given; William Fitz-Baldwin was Sheriff of Devon in 1090. The priory passed to the Courtenay family after his death in 1109.


Stephan, J., 1935, The Ancient Religious Houses of Devon. Adapted from the 'Historic Collections' and the 'Monasticon Dioec. Exoniensis' of George Oliver, D.D., 60-63 (Monograph). SDV343186.

The priory stood between the River Exe and the Okehampton Road in St. Thomas. The intervening space, about 2 acres is directly opposite the Bonhay, where may be seen the remains of its very ancient wall. Situated so close to the river it was liable to flood as shown by a writ of 1440 setting out such damage sustained and the danger of complete destruction unless urgent repairs and protective constructions were undertaken.
The original monastic community was originally a filiation from the abbey of Bec in Normandy. The first endowment bestowed on the new priory is said to have been from William, son of Baldwin of Exeter and included the manors of Cowick and Exwick. A list of the priors is given including William Dounebant, died 1447. He was accused of letting the priory property go to waste but in his defence Stephan points out the flood of 1440 and the fire on Palm Sunday 1442 both of which caused much damage, plus sequestrations of property during the wars with France. The last prior was William's successor, Robert de Rouen of Becdenne. He resigned with Henry VI assigned the revenues of the priory to Eton. Edward IV subsequently assigned it to Tavistock Abbey. Only a few monks remained at Cowick with a Superior rather than a Prior. Several of the Courtenay family were buried in the Priory Church in the 13th and 14th centuries. Stephan's account which is drawn principally from Oliver's Monasticon concludes by saying that few priories have so completely disappeared as St. Andrews.


Alexander, J. J., 1937, Tavistock in the 15th century, 276-277 (Article in Serial). SDV322349.


Morgan, M. M., 1940, The Abbey of Bec-Hellouin and its English Priories, 33-61, Pl. 8 (Article in Serial). SDV22281.

Foundation date uncertain. The priory was given to the Abbey of Bec-hellouin, in Normandy, by William, son of Baldwin, Sheriff of Exeter, and housed up to six monks. In 1244 the Proctor-General of England of the Abbey of Bec let out the manor of Christow and land in Harewood to the prior of Cowick. During the 14th century the priory was in conflict with the Bishops of Exeter over appointments of priors, and, along with all alien houses in England, with the crown during the long wars with France. Penal financial demands were made, but Cowick alone of its subject houses remained directly subject to Bec until 1466, when it was donated to Tavistock.


Youings, J., 1952, The City of Exeter and the Property of the Dissolved Monasteries, 124, 125, 133 (Article in Serial). SDV22284.

A church, domestic quarters and guest chambers were enclosed by extensive precincts. When the priory was given to Tavistock Abbey it came into hands of Russell family (later Dukes of Bedford) who allowed it to fall into decay by 1585. Cowick Barton was converted into rural retreat using stones from the dilapidated priory buildings.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1953, SX99SW30 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV22285.

Site visit 11th March 1953. No additional information.


Knowles, D. + Hadcock, R. N., 1971, Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, 53, 63 (Monograph). SDV323253.

St. Andrew's Priory, Cowick, Exeter. Priory of st. Andrew for Benedictine (black) monks founded sometime before 1144, when monks were sent from Bec. It ceased to be an alien priory in 1451 when it was granted to Eton. In 1464 it was granted to Tavistock, later becoming a cell. Dissolved 1538.


Midmer, R., 1979, English Medieval Monasteries, 139 (Monograph). SDV22282.

During the wars with France the priory was confiscated and granted to Eton College in 1451, but after 1464 it was given with its lands to Tavistock Abbey. The priory was frequently subjected to flooding and was badly damaged by fire in 1445. It was sited at the end of Flowerpot Lane.


Ralegh Radford, C. A., 1986, Cowick Priory, 383-384 (Article in Serial). SDV22297.

It is recorded Cowick Priory held the manors of Cowick and Exwick in 1285 and from then until the dissolution.


Yeo, G., 1986, Where was Cowick Priory?, 321-326 (Article in Serial). SDV22296.


Devon Religious Houses Survey, 1986-7, Devon Religious Houses Survey 1986/87. Preliminary Assessment Form. Cowick (Un-published). SDV358567.

Cowick Barton is thought to have been built by Lord Russell at the time of the dissolution and may be on the site of the priory buildings. Burials were discovered in the area to the north-east of Cowick Barton in 1887 and there is also said to be the site of a chapel in that area.


Devon Religious Houses Survey, 1986-7, Devon Religious Houses Survey. Cowick Priory (Archive - Survey). SDV358568.

Notes from various published sources, listing description for Cowick Barton and map.


Austin, J., 2008, Cordery Road, St Thomas, Exeter: Archaeological Watching Brief (Report - Watching Brief). SDV362883.

An archaeological Watching Brief was maintained in Cordery Road during the replacement of a gas main, in the area of the former medieval Cowick priory. The church for this priory is believed to have been situated to the south of house number 23 and west of the flats 45 - 103.

The pits exposed ground heavily disturbed by modern services. Three fragments of human bone (arm) were noted in the spoil from pit 25. Trench 3 exposed disarticulated human remains, 0.8m below the existing road surface within a levelling
deposit to the south west of the suggested chapel site. The remains consisted of 3 partial skulls and a fragment of long bone. Although no grave cut was observed the bone is likely to have been reburied within a grave or charnel
pit. The human bone was left in situ.

Although burials were encountered in the area in the 19th century, they were not precisely located. This watching brief provides the first modern record which establishes the position of the cemetery of Cowick Priory.


Allan, J. + Austin, J. + Collings, A. G., 2008, Observations on the Site of Cowick Priory, Exeter, 13-140 (Article in Serial). SDV344774.

The installation of a new gas main in Cordery Road provided an opportunity to re-examine the evidence for the site of Cowick Priory. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the site of the priory is thought to have been at Cowick Barton but in the mid 19th century Rev. Oliver proposed that it had stood at the opposite end of the parish by the Exe, a theory that was followed by subsequent writers. However, archaeological evidence points to the site clearly being at Cowick Barton. A group of burials found in 1887 to the north-east of the inn, for example, are thought to indicate the position of the priory chancel. Human bone was also observed during the replacement of the gas main, in trench 3 and pit 25. In addition, previously unreported finds of medieval floor-tile and human bone made during the construction of No. 21 Cordery Road in 1955 are also close to the finds of 1887 and 2008. The style of the fragments of floor tile found in 1955 appear typical of the principal type used in Exeter in the late 13th and early 14th centuries and included several decorated examples.


Henderson, C., Unknown, Cowick Priory (Personal Comment). SDV358566.

The site is mislocated at SX91309230 by the Ordnance Survey. This is in fact the site of Hayes Barton. The priory was located at Cowick Barton.


Awdas, J., Unknown, Untitled Source (Worksheet). SDV22295.

Extracts from Boggis given.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV136066Article in Serial: Masterman, J. H. B.. 1931. Address of the President: The Monasteries of Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 63. A5 Hardback. 69-74.
SDV22281Article in Serial: Morgan, M. M.. 1940. The Abbey of Bec-Hellouin and its English Priories. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. 5. Unknown. 33-61, Pl. 8.
SDV22282Monograph: Midmer, R.. 1979. English Medieval Monasteries. English Medieval Monasteries. Unknown. 139.
SDV22284Article in Serial: Youings, J.. 1952. The City of Exeter and the Property of the Dissolved Monasteries. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 84. Hardback Volume. 124, 125, 133.
SDV22285Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1953. SX99SW30. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV22292Article in Serial: Cresswell, B. F.. 1934-1935. Cowick Barton. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 18. Unknown. 242-243.
SDV22293Monograph: Boggis, R. J. E.. 1922. A History of the Diocese of Exeter. A History of the Diocese of Exeter. Unknown.
SDV22295Worksheet: Awdas, J.. Unknown. Worksheet.
SDV22296Article in Serial: Yeo, G.. 1986. Where was Cowick Priory?. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 35.9. Unknown. 321-326.
SDV22297Article in Serial: Ralegh Radford, C. A.. 1986. Cowick Priory. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 35.9. Unknown. 383-384.
SDV24921Article in Serial: Clarke, K. M.. 1904-1905. The Conventual Houses of Exeter and the Neighbourhood. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 3. Unknown. 143-144.
SDV24928Monograph: Worthy, C.. 1892. The History of the Suburbs of Exeter. 145-153.
SDV322349Article in Serial: Alexander, J. J.. 1937. Tavistock in the 15th century. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 69. Unknown. 276-277.
SDV323253Monograph: Knowles, D. + Hadcock, R. N.. 1971. Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales. Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales. Unknown + Digital (part). 53, 63.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV343186Monograph: Stephan, J.. 1935. The Ancient Religious Houses of Devon. Adapted from the 'Historic Collections' and the 'Monasticon Dioec. Exoniensis' of George Oliver, D.D.. The Ancient Religious Houses of Devon. Adapted from the 'Historic Collections' and the 'Monasticon Dioec. Exoniensis' of George Oliver, D.D.. Hardback Volume. 60-63.
SDV344774Article in Serial: Allan, J. + Austin, J. + Collings, A. G.. 2008. Observations on the Site of Cowick Priory, Exeter. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 66. Paperback Volume. 13-140.
SDV358566Personal Comment: Henderson, C.. Unknown. Cowick Priory. Unknown.
SDV358567Un-published: Devon Religious Houses Survey. 1986-7. Devon Religious Houses Survey 1986/87. Preliminary Assessment Form. Cowick. Devon Religious Houses Survey. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV358568Archive - Survey: Devon Religious Houses Survey. 1986-7. Devon Religious Houses Survey. Cowick Priory. Devon Religious Houses Survey. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV362883Report - Watching Brief: Austin, J.. 2008. Cordery Road, St Thomas, Exeter: Archaeological Watching Brief. Exeter Archaeology. EA 6653. Digital.
Linked documents:1
SDV38843Article in Serial: Reichel, O. J.. 1912. Early Descents of the Manors in the Wonford Hundred. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 44. A5 Hardback. 324.
SDV57424Monograph: Oliver, G.. 1846. Monasticon Diocesis Exoniensis. Monasticon Diocesis Exoniensis. Unknown. 153-162.

Associated Monuments

MDV18071Related to: Chapel Park, Cowick, Exeter (Monument)
MDV17806Related to: St. Michael's Chapel, Cowick, Exeter (Monument)
MDV3919Related to: Tavistock Abbey (Monument)
MDV17274Related to: The Cowick Barton, Exeter (Building)

Associated Finds

  • FDV7155 - HUMAN REMAINS (XII to Late Medieval - 1144 AD to 1539 AD?)

Associated Events

  • EDV4773 - Watching Brief in Cordery Road, Cowick, Exeter

Date Last Edited:Mar 6 2019 1:17PM