Thomas Ragon was the eighth Abbot of Vale Royal Abbey, Cheshire. His term of office lasted from 1351 to 1369. His abbacy was predominantly occupied with recommencing the building works at Vale Royal—which had been in abeyance for a decade—and the assertion of his abbey's rights over a satellite church in Llanbadarn Fawr, Ceredigion, which was also claimed by the Abbot of Gloucester.
Vale Royal Abbey had been founded on its present site by King Edward I in 1277.Although intended to be the biggest and grandest Cistercian church in Christian Europe, building work was very much delayed (Edward had vowed to found the house in 1263, but recurring political crises, his own crusade, and the Second Barons' War prevented any work whatsoever taking place at least 1270). Work progressed until the 1280s when the abbey's construction was once again delayed by national events; this time, Edward's invasion of Wales. The King took not only the money that had been set aside for Vale Royal but also conscripted the masons and other labourers to build his Welsh fortifications. By the 1330s the monks had managed to complete the east end of the church.
Thomas Ragonwas elected abbot of Vale Royal in 1351, two years after the death of his predecessor, Robert de Cheyneston.
In 1353, Edward the Black Prince wished to "continue and complete the work begun by his great-grandfather." For this purpose, Thomas was granted a tenth of Cheshire's 5,000 mark fine (which the county had previously agreed to pay in exchange for delaying the eyre), and he also provided another 500 markswhen he visited Vale Royal in 1358. Thus, the Abbot was able to continue the building works on the Abbey as his predecessors had done; these works were expected to take six years. However, the following year, in October 1359, during a massive storm, much of the nave (including the new lead roof put in place by only the last abbot) was blown down and destroyed. The destruction was comprehensive, ranging "from the wall at the west end to the bell-tower before the gates of the choir," whilst the timber scaffolding collapsed "'like trees uprooted by the wind."
Repairs slowly took place over the next thirteen years, and it was undoubtedly Abbot Thomas who was responsible for the "unique chevet of seven radiating chapels" that were installed, although the overall stature of the remodelled church was smaller than before.Abbot Thomas had personally contracted with the Master Masons completing the work: they would build the church while he would organise the construction of twelve chapels—and pay for them. However, Thomas does not appear to have adhered to the terms of the contract, as only three years later, the Prince of Wales had to order him to do so.
Thomas performed royal service when required (for example, in 1364 he took the fealty of John de la Pole)and also held a number of offices outside his abbacy. He was keeper of Aberystwyth Castle's gate, farmer of that town's subsidy, and rector of Llanbadarn Fawr, Powys, from early 1361. Under Thomas, the Abbey also received the advowsons of Lampeter and Llanbadarn Fawr church from a close advisor to Edward, the Black Prince. In 1360 these had been granted by King Edward III to the Prince of wales, who in turn granted them to members of his household—Peter Lacy, Richard Wolveston, John Delves and William Spridlington —who in turn "appropriated" them to Abbot Thomas. This was with the Prince's blessing, as it was intended to be a royal donation towards restoring the church after its earlier partial destruction. Llanbadarn Fawr was a wealthy church, whose rector was no mere rector; the wealth of his church almost gave him abbatial status. Henceforth, Abbot Thomas and his successors were declared to be "henceforth the true abbot of the church." The abbey's own chronicle, The Vale Royal Ledger Book, states that "the abbot himself being present, all the men aforesaid and the other tenants did their fealty in full court and acknowledged the said abbot to be rector of Llabadarn Fawr and their lord." Abbot Thomas visited the church in 1361.
The advowson of Llanbadarn Fawr church was to occupy much of Abbot Thomas' energies, as it became the locus of a dispute between Vale Royal and Gloucester Abbey, which later objected to the gift, as Llanbadarn Fawr had previously been a cell of Gloucester's.The church was wealthy enough to make it worth quarrelling over: it controlled no less than ten chapels, and brought in an annual income of at least £120 per annum. Even though Vale Royal had received permission from the Bishop, the King and the Pope, Gloucester Abbey still objected, and the case was to drag on many years after Thomas' death 9not being resolved until 1399). The case was to cause ill-feeling within Vale Royal Abbey itself, as well as into North Wales. Even into the fifteenth century, Abbots of Vale Royal were unable to travel to Llanbadarn Fawr without fear of assault on occasions.
Abbot Thomas died in the summer of 1369, probably from pestilence,and in 1383 he was mentioned as being a "former" abbot around the time of the Black Prince. He was succeeded by Stephen, who, however, is not recorded in contemporary records as holding the office until 1374, so there may well have been another lengthy interregnum.
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Brut y Tywysogion is one of the most important primary sources for Welsh history. It is an annalistic chronicle that serves as a continuation of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae. Brut y Tywysogion has survived as several Welsh translations of an original Latin version, which has not itself survived. The most important versions are the one in Robert Vaughan's Peniarth MS. 20 and the slightly less complete one in the Red Book of Hergest. The version entitled Brenhinoedd y Saeson combines material from the Welsh annals with material from an English source.
Buildwas Abbey was a Cistercian monastery located on the banks of the River Severn, at Buildwas, Shropshire, England - today about two miles (3 km) west of Ironbridge. Founded by the local bishop in 1135, it was sparsely endowed at the outset but enjoyed several periods of growth and increasing wealth: notably under Abbot Ranulf in the second half of the 12th century and again from the mid-13th century, when large numbers of acquisitions were made from the local landed gentry. Abbots were regularly used as agents by Plantagenet in their attempts to subdue Ireland and Wales and the abbey acquired a daughter house in each country. It was a centre of learning, with a substantial library, and was noted for its discipline until the economic and demographic crises of the 14th century brought about decline and difficulties, exacerbated by conflict and political instability in the Welsh Marches. The abbey was suppressed in 1536 as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII. Substantial remains of the abbey church and monk's quarters remain and are in the care of English Heritage.
Halesowen Abbey was a Premonstratensian abbey in Halesowen, England of which only ruins remain. Founded by Peter des Roches with a grant of land from King John, the abbey's official year of inauguration was 1218. It acquired two daughter abbeys and a dependent priory. It also acquired a considerable range of estates, mostly concentrated within the region, and a number of churches, which it appropriated after being granted the advowsons. The abbey's manorial court records have survived in large part, portraying a discontented community, driven to many acts of resistance and at one point to challenge the abbey's very existence. The abbey played no great part in the affairs of its order, although it was represented at all levels. At least one abbot attracted serious criticism from within the order, which attempted to remove him. Its canons observed the Rule of St Augustine to a varying degree, with some serious lapses, at least in the late 15th century, when the order's visitor uncovered widespread sexual exploitation of local women. The abbey was moderately prosperous and survived the suppression of the lesser monasteries. It was dissolved in 1538.
Vale Royal Abbey is a former medieval abbey and later country house in Whitegate England. The precise location and boundaries of the abbey are difficult to determine in today's landscape. The original building was founded c. 1270 by the Lord Edward, later Edward I for Cistercian monks. Edward had supposedly taken a vow during a rough sea crossing in the 1260s. Civil wars and political upheaval delayed the build until 1272, the year he inherited the throne. The original site at Darnhall was unsatisfactory, so was moved a few miles north to the Delamere Forest. Edward intended the structure to be on a grand scale—had it been completed it would have been the largest Cistercian monastery in the country—but his ambitions were frustrated by recurring financial difficulties.
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The Cistercian Abbey of Rewley was an Abbey in Oxford, England. It was founded in the 13th century by Edmund, 2nd Earl of Cornwall. Edmund's father, Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall, founder of Hailes Abbey, had intended to establish a college or chantry of three secular priests to pray for his soul, but his son Edmund substituted 'six Cistercian monks, having more confidence in them.' If this was the original plan, it was soon enlarged. In 1280 he offered the general chapter of the Cistercian order to found a college (studium) for Cistercians at Oxford, and the chapter accepted the offer, and decreed that the college should have the same privileges as the college of St. Bernard at Paris, and that it should be under the Abbot of Thame, as the other was under the Abbot of Clairvaux. The following year the chapter decreed 'out of due respect to the Earl of Cornwall' that the Abbot of Thame should be empowered to appoint an Abbot of his own choice for the house of study at Oxford, and that there should be a daily memory of the late Earl of Cornwall at Mass at the college (studium) of Oxford, according as the Abbot of the place shall ordain.
Darnhall Abbey was a late-thirteenth century Cistercian abbey at Darnhall, Cheshire, founded by Lord Edward sometime in the years around 1270. This was in thanks, so tells the Abbey's chronicler, for God saving him and his fleet from a storm at sea. It was dedicated to St Mary. It only existed for a short time before it moved to the better-known Vale Royal Abbey. The site chosen for the Abbey at Darnhall was discovered to be unfit for its purpose. Money was short, as Edward did not provide enough for the original foundation, but the Abbey was allowed to trade wool to augment its finances. The Abbey relocated a few miles north, and what remained of Darnhall Abbey became the monastic grange of the new foundation. There was probably only ever one Abbot of Darnhall before the Abbey relocated in 1275.
In the early fourteenth century, villagers from Darnhall and Over, Cheshire, were in a major dispute with their feudal lord, the Abbot of Vale Royal Abbey, over their bond condition. The Cistercian abbey had been founded by Edward I in 1274 as a result of a vow made after a rough channel crossing. The abbey was unpopular with the locals from the start, as it was granted, as part of its endowment, exclusive forest- and other feudal rights which the local villages had come to see as their own. Moreover, the rigorous enforcement of these rights by successive abbots was felt to be excessively harsh. The villagers resented being treated as serfs and made repeated attempts to reject the abbey's feudal overlordship.
Stephen, was a late fourteenth-century abbot of Vale Royal Abbey in Cheshire. He is believed to have been born c. 1346, and in office from 27 January 1373 to possibly 1400, although the precise date of his departure is unknown. One of the earliest mentions of him as Abbot is 1373, when he received the homage of Robert Grosvenor for the manor of Lostock. He witnessed a charter between the prior of the Augustinian hermits in Warrington and the convent there in 1379. A few years later, Abbot Stephen provided evidence for the Royal Commission that was enquiring into the case of Scrope v Grosvenor, which sat for three years, concluding its business in 1389.
John Chaumpeneys was the last Abbot of Darnhall Abbey and first Abbot of Vale Royal Abbey, Cheshire, from around 1275 to circ 1289.
Walter of Hereford was a twelfth- and thirteenth-century Abbot of Vale Royal Abbey in Cheshire. He was Abbot from around 1294 to approximately 1307. His abbacy occurred at a time of tribulation for the abbey, mostly due to poor relations with the local populace. Walter is in portrayed in his Abbey's later chronicler in superlatives. He is described as "greatly venerable in life and always and everywhere devoted to God and the Blessed Virgin Mary" and as
A man of most beautiful appearance, as regards externals...and in good works also he fought a good fight for Christ, for he used a hair shirt to conquer the flesh, and by this discipline subdued it to the spirit. He rarely or never ate meat.
John of Hoo was an early fourteenth-century Abbot of Vale Royal Abbey, Cheshire. His abbacy was from around 1308–09 to 1314–15.
Richard of Evesham was Abbot of Vale Royal from 1316 to 1342.
Peter was the fifth Abbot of Vale Royal Abbey, Cheshire, in the first half of the fourteenth century. He is generally held to be the author of the abbey's own chronicle, which was published in 1914 as the Ledger of Vale Royal Abbey. Owing to a failure to finish the abbey's building works—which had commenced in 1277 and had been intermittently on-going ever since—the abbey was unsightly, and the monks' quarters probably near derelict. Abbot Peter oversaw the transplantation of the house onto new grounds. Much of his career, however, was focussed on defending his abbey's feudal lordship over its tenants. The dispute between the abbey and its tenantry had existed since the abbey's foundation; the abbot desired to enforce his feudal rights, the serfs to reject them, as they claimed to be by then freemen. This did not merely involve Abbot Peter defending the privileges of his house in the courts. Although there was much litigation, with the Abbot having to defend himself to the Justice of Chester and even the King on occasion, by 1337 his discontented villagers even followed him from Cheshire to Rutland—very much the other side of the country—which, following a confrontation between the Abbot and his tenants, resulted in the death of a monastic servant and the capture and imprisonment of the Abbot himself. But the King intervened, and the Abbot and his party were soon freed.
Robert de Cheyneston was Abbot of Vale Royal Abbey, Cheshire between 1340 and 1349. De Cheyneston had already been a monk at the Abbey before his election as Abbot.
John was Abbot of Vale Royal Abbey, Cheshire, between 1405 and 1411, and although his abbacy seems to have been largely free of the local disorder that had plagued those of his predecessors, the Abbey appears to have been taken in to King Henry IV's hands on at least two occasions.
Vale Royal Abbey is a medieval abbey, and later a country house, located in Whitegate, between Northwich and Winsford in Cheshire, England. During its 278-year period of operation, it had at least 21 abbots.