LOW CHIBBURN PRECEPTORY, documents


DATING

The entry for Chibburn in the Buildings of England, Northumberland  volume states that the preceptory was first mentioned in 1313, a view repeated in the NHLE entry and originating in the tables published by Knowles and Hadcock (1953, 241). However, Hodgson (1896, 268 note 6) has drawn attention to a grant of land on Holy Island dating from c.1275 that was witnessed by John de Crauinne, described as the preceptor of Chibburn and Alan and Robert, said to be clerks of the same place. This makes 1275 a TAQ ​for the foundation of the preceptory. An even earlier date is possibly indicated by an entry in the Great Pipe Roll for 1228 which refers to the proceeds of a ship wreck (quadam navi fracta​) at Chilburnemue though this may be referring to the manor before the foundation of the preceptory. A final clue mentioned by Hodgson (ibid 267-8) is the absence of the preceptor and brethren of Chibburn from a list of gentlemen of the district attesting the outcome of a legal dispute. He does not give a precise date but the issue was said to date from the time of Henry II and if we follow Hodgson, we may take c.1189 as a TPQ for the foundation of the preceptory. Like the rest of the monastic establishment in England, the Hospitallers Order was suppressed by Henry VIII and Chibburn Preceptory passed into secular hands, the manor of Chibburn being granted to Sir John Widdrington in 1553.

CHIBBURN PRECEPTORY IN 1338

Like the other entries in the extent that for the Bajulia de Chibourn is divided into two parts, a statement of value, or potential value, and a statement of expenses, the Reprise.

​The only building mentioned is the manor house or manerium but this is described as ruinous. Sources of revenue included agricultural lands and assize rents, but in the case of the latter the entry states that these can scarcely be raised on account of the Scottish war.


  • The Scottish army under Archibald Douglas had been defeated at the Battle of Halidon Hill outside Berwick in 1333 but the Scots nevertheless continued a war of attrition across the Border. In 1337 Edward III of England became embroiled in war with France, leaving the northern counties of England even more vulnerable to Scottish incursions. This accounts for the ruinous state of the manor house and the fact that the preceptory could only make a meagre contribution to the Priory's treasury.


According to the Reprise the members of the Order at Chibburn were two sergeants-at-arms, one serving as the preceptor, and a chaplain brother. In addition there was a secular chaplain, a chamberlain, a groom, a 'villein', a washer-woman, a pensioner, a steward dealing with the business of the Order and a clerk to collect voluntary contributions in the area, an important part of the Order's income but one that was proving difficult to raise given the state of the Border.

With the ruinous state of the manor house all of these personnel may not have been resident in 1338, but the expenses for the groom implies a stable. Other expenses listed included those of the kitchen and for brewing, implying a brew-house. No expenses are listed for the repair of the buildings and there are no expenses for the chapel other than the stipend for the chaplain.