Fryer Mayne is situated about 6km south-east of Dorchester on the outskirts of the village of Broadmayne. The remains of the preceptory (SY73718653), lying at 60m OD at the top of a gentle north-west facing slope, consist of a gateway and an adjoining section wall plotted on OS Maps as a 'Chapel'.  Both are listed at Grade II. Early editions of Ordnance Survey maps show that in the late 19th century two sections of moat also survived as earthworks, though landscaping in the 20th century appears to have virtually obliterated these. The adjacent manor house, also listed at Grade II, is a mainly 17th century and later structure but may occupy the site of the main preceptory building.

​FRYER MAYNE PRECEPTORY, DORSET (NHLE 1303960)

Fryer Mayne in the 19th century

FRYER MAYNE PRECEPTORY; documents

This map also records that  two lengths of earthwork, forming a right-angle,  survived to the south of the chapel site. Measuring approximately 55m on the west and 45m on the east, these earthworks were probably part of a moat and were a vestige of the courtyard or curia referred to in the 1338 Extent. Landscaping in the 20th century appears to have largely obliterated these traces.

FRYER MAYNE PRECEPTORY; archaeology

The only fragment of the Fryer Mayne preceptory surviving above ground is a length of walling with an arched opening and a niche, formerly the site of piscina. These are were listed at Grade II in 1986. The moulded jambs of the arch are dated to the 14th century, though the arch itself appears to have been reset in the 19th. At the time of listing the piscina lay to the left of the arch and also had moulded jambs and head. However, a photograph taken in 2002 from the opposite side of the wall, as part of the Images of England Project (105981), shows that by then the piscina had been removed leaving  a round headed niche. The position of the piscina suggests that this fragment of walling was part of the chapel. Although no chapel as such is mentioned in the 1338 Extent, expenditure included a stipend for a chaplain to say mass there and the deed quoted above shows that the chapel remained an identifiable entity in the mid 17th century. It is recorded as such on the 1889 25 inch OS Sheet.

The history of Fryer Mayne preceptory is summarised by Page (1908, 90-92) in volume 2 of the VCH for Dorset. The earliest reference to the Order being present is in the Hundred Rolls for 3 Edward I (1275) and this may be taken as a terminus ante quem for the establishment of the preceptory. 


FRYER MAYNE IN 1338


The account for the Bajulia de Mayne​ lists a court, or courtyard, 'badly built' (debiliter edificata)  and a house (domus) in ruins having been burnt by misfortune (infortunium). There was also a garden and a dovecot, valued at 10 and six shillings respectively. Other income was from agricultural lands, court dues, labour services and a watermill valued at 20 shillings.


The Reprise lists two brothers, both knights, one of whom was the preceptor, and a pensioner. Interestingly they are not listed as resident at Fryer Mayne but at one of its members, Waye, where there was a house and a garden. This is explained by the poor state of the preceptory buildings and the entry adds that the income was insufficient to provide for their repair. Apart from a squire and a chaplain to take mass in the chapel other members of the household are not identified individually. Other expenditures related to the kitchen, brewery and provender for the preceptor's horse and those of visitors, implying stabling.


During the 15th century the preceptory at Fryer Mayne became associated with the larger preceptories at Godsfield and Baddesley in Hampshire, being formally incorporated with the latter by 1471. By that time Fryer Mayne seems to have declined in status to that of a camera and its effective history came to an end in 1564 when the Order was finally dissolved after the accession of Elizabeth I.


However, several deeds in the Dorset County Record office record the survival of at  least the preceptory chapel into the 17th century. A deed of 1656 (D1/2524) records the 'Redemise, bargain and sale' of various lands and the 'chapel of Fryer Mayne, tithes and teneths of Wool parcel of late priory of St John of Jerusalem' while others refer to 'Mayne Hospital'.​​

REFERENCES

Larking, L B and Kemble, J M 1857 The Knights Hospitallers in England, Camden Society, 10-12

Page, W. 1908 ​'Houses of the Knights Hospitallers: The preceptory of Fryer Mayne'  A History of the county of Dorset, Volume 2, 90-92