Hyde900 visits The National Archives

datePosted on 11:04, September 17th, 2014

archives-kew (Read-Only)Thanks to Steve Brine MP a group from Hyde900 was able to visit The National Archives (TNA) in Kew to examine key documents in the history of Hyde Abbey.

Hosted by Adrian Ailes, Principal Records Specialist at the TNA, the Chairman of Hyde900, Steve Marper, and Founder, Edward Fennell, along with five colleagues and Alison Lawrence from the University of Winchester, were able to look closely at some of the most important sources of information about Hyde in the sixteenth century.

The highlight of the display was the Valor Ecclesiasticus which was commissioned by Henry the Eighth so he would know how much wealth the Church had in England and Wales. This information was used to decide which monasteries should be closed and effectively sealed the fate of the abbey at Hyde because it revealed the considerable assets held within the monastic establishment (including those of the hospitality department!). The next step in the Hyde Abbey story was then represented by the ‘surrender document’ signed by the Abbot of Hyde, John Salcot, and the remaining monks when they departed leaving the abbey to be pillaged and pulled down by Thomas Wriothesley, a favoured henchman of the king.

Wriothelsey, who appears prominently in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, acquired most of the assets from the abbey church and he featured in one of the documents on display in relation to sale of land linked to Hyde. Other documents gave interesting insights into life in the area in the sixteenth century. These included, for example, the legal ‘bill’ concerning the case of Bukhill versus Bethell (who had bought land on the Hyde Abbey site after the dissolution of the monastery). The complaint was about the worrying of Bukhill’s sheep by Bethell’s dogs on fields which could, possibly, now constitute Riverpark. Sadly we do not know the outcome of the case. Also of interest was correspondence from the 1520s which highlighted resistance by Abbot Richard to attempts to remove him from office on grounds of ill-health.

Perhaps what most impressed the party from Hyde, however, were various seals linked to the abbey and its abbots. Some of these were in beautiful condition and illustrated the patrons of the abbey – such as St Valentine, St Barnabas and St Grimbald – as well as King Alfred himself.

“This was an exceptional opportunity to take advantage of the superb resources of the National Archive to delve into the history of Hyde,” said Steve Marper. “We hope that it might be possible at some point in the next year or two to bring some of these fascinating documents down to Winchester so that people here can see them at first hand.”


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