You are in [Places] [Chantries] [Chantry of the Holy Trinity]

See the section under Chantries for more about chantries in general.

Many chantries were set up during the 13th to 15th centuries. In Hungerford there were two chantries:

- The Chantry of the Holy Trinity (1325-1548), and

- The Chantry of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1457-1548).

The following text is based on "The Chantry of the Holy Trinity" in "Aspects of the Early History of Hungerford", by Norman Hidden, 2009:

The Founding of the Chantry:

The Chantry of the Holy Trinity was set up by Sir Robert de Hungerford in the 14th century. He had acquired vast estates in Berkshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, and Somerset, and in his later years he showed a zealous fervour for the foundation of one chantry after another. His foundations included chantries at Calne, Easton, Heytesbury, all in Wiltshire, another at Hungerford and finally the chantry which bears his name in the great cathedral of Salisbury.

Sir Robert had connections, particularly through land ownership, with each of these places. The chantry at Hungerford was sited within the parish church, but Sir Robert's estate (later known as Hopgrass) lay just within the Wiltshire border on the northern or Wiltshire bank of the the river Kennet. The church, then as now, stood on the river's opposite or Berkshire bank, clearly in view to Sir Robert and his manorial tenants.

Sir Robert's intention was that the chantry priest should celebrate divine service 'daily before sunrise' in honour of the Holy Trinity and should pray for the souls of himself and Geva his wife, those of his ancestors and of all the faithful departed.

Thus, the chantry of the Holy Trinity was essentially a private chantry, whose services were at a secluded hour, whose explicit function was to honour the Holy Trinity, but implicitly to glorify the Hungerford family name (he had no children) and to maintain their obits for ever.

At the time of its foundation, there was another long-established chantry in the church - dedicated to St Mary. It dated from pre-1279 and was available for anyone who paid a small obit "for the celebration of the mass in the chapel of St Mary and for one wax light before the altar of St Anne in Hungerford church". This chantry was later, in 1457 re-founded as The Chantry of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Sir Robert had a clear intention of setting up a private chantry to glorify the Hungerford family name (he had no children).

Where was the Chantry?

The chantry was situated on the south side of the nave of the parish church. It contained a monument of its founder, resting on an altar tomb within an elegant arched canopy; and above it was an inscription in Norman French, which promised that those who prayed for Sir Robert while he lived and for his soul after death shall be granted (on the word of fourteen bishops) 550 days of pardon. No mention of any of his manors in the inscription, it will be noted, and no wifely replica alongside him in the tomb. The guarantee by the fourteen named bishops and the inducement of 550 days' pardon to pray for the knight, alive or dead, foreshadows the hard sell and cunningly devised warranties of more material benefits which are familiar to a later age. This practical approach in Norman French was itself contained within an outer circle which returns to the piety of the Latin creed which states a belief in resurrection, in the unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and, of course, in Judgement 'by works'. It was by his 'works', in particular the foundation of chantries that Sir Robert particularly hoped to be saved.

Walter Money [in his 'Historical Sketch of Hungerford'] gives a detailed account of the chantry as it once stood on the south side of the church and then describes how the marble tablet now lies on the floor of the chapel on the north side of the church, along with the badly mutilated effigy of Sir Robert.

The elegant canopy has disappeared. Money's description makes the best of what remains from such vandalism. 'This most interesting sculptured figure, which is unfortunately much maimed, particularly in the lower extremities, represents the departed knight as cross-legged, at his feet a lion, the hands conjoined in prayer on his breast, on his left arm a middle-sized shield, a sword and surcoat, with the head resting on pillows. Although so much broken, yet one may perceive it to have been of most excellent workmanship. This crossed-legged attitude, it may be observed, does not necessarily denote the crusader; and possibly in this case, as in many others, may indicate the founder and great benefactor of churches or chapels, or as an expressive token that the person commemorated, having lived a true son of the church, died professing the Christian faith.

For Sir Robert to fund his endowment it was necessary for him to bypass the law of mortmain. 

What is "mortmain"? As far back as Edward I the Crown had realised that where land was granted by individual lay owners to ecclesiastical corporate bodies it remained free of manorial services, or payments in lieu of services due to the Crown. To prevent this loss of income, the Crown had promoted legislation involving penalties for causing land to come under mortmain (literally the 'dead hand', which held tight for ever what it had thus acquired). The king was prepared however to waive the general law in a specific instance and for a fee or fine, grant a licence (i.e. permission) to an applicant to alienate (that is, to transfer) property into mortmain. In 1325 Robert de Hungerford obtained a licence for alienation in mortmain of 2 messuages, 3 acres of land, 5 acres of meadow and 70 shillings of rents in Hungerford, Sandon and Charlton for his new chantry of the Holy Trinity.

In 1331 he applied to increase the chantry's original endowment and a licence was granted to him in respect of an additional endowment of one messuage, a mill, 9 acres of arable land, 6 acres of meadow, 10 shillings in rents, plus the price of 5 quarters of wheat from lands or properties in Hungerford, Balston, Sandon and Charlton. This income was to be used for the maintenance of John de Pewelle as minister of the chantry. The licence for this cost him a fine of £5 to the king.

A third licence granted in 1336 permitted him the right to alienate a further 4 houses, 10 acres of arable land, 4 acres of meadow and 10 shillings of rent in Hungerford, Sandon and Charlton.

It seems clear from a later inquisition that the Holy Trinity chantry did not in fact acquire all, even many of the lands etc to which the second and third licences applied. Certainly the value of the original benefaction was generously adequate for the support of a single full-time chaplain.

John de Pewelle was a trusted household clerk, possibly with a legal training, who was appointed also to be chaplain of the de Hungerford-founded hospital at Calne.

In 1337 de Pewelle died and Sir Robert presented to the ecclesiastic authority his nomination as replacement to the Holy Trinity chaplaincy, Henry de Bradenham. Although nothing is known of de Bradenham's antecedents, the likelihood is that, like de Pewelle, he was in Sir Robert Hungerford's employ.

The vicar of Hungerford was sent a mandate requiring him to report on both the priest and the chantry and on whether the right of presentation did indeed belong to Sir Robert de Hungerford as had been alleged. He was asked for details of the previous presentation, the age of the priest, his manner of life and conversation, the value of the foundation, whether a curate was employed or not, and what the chaplain's duties were. Within a matter of days the vicar had replied, stating that the vacancy arose from the death of Sir John de Pewelle, the previous chaplain, which had occurred on the eve of All Hallows. He confirmed that Sir Robert was patron of the chantry and as such had previously presented de Pewelle. Sir Henry de Bradenham, he reported, was aged 40, a man of good life and honest conversation, who held the rank of ordained priest. The chantry's foundation consisted of 2 messuages, 3 acres of land, one piece of meadow, 66 shillings and 8d. annual rents, with certain other unspecified appurtenances in Hungerford, Sandon and Charlton, which all together were worth according to common estimate 100 shillings p.a.

Photo Gallery:


- Stone effigy in St Lawrence Church traditionally ascribed to Sir Robert de Hungerford, died 1352


- Stone effigy in St Lawrence Church traditionally ascribed to Sir Robert de Hungerford, died 1352.


The Indulgence Tablet from the Chantry Chapel (now in St Lawrence Church) - see main article for transcription.

- Stone effigy in St Lawrence Church traditionally ascribed to Sir Robert de Hungerford, died 1352

- The Indulgence Tablet from the Chantry Chapel (now in St Lawrence Church) -see Transcription below

Transcription from the Latin Indulgence Tablet

Whosoever shall pray for Sir Robert de Hungerford during his lifetime, and for his soul after his death, shall have 550 days of pardon, granted by 14 bishops while he was alive. Wherefore in the name of charity [say] a Pater[noster] (Lord's Prayer) and Ave (Hail Mary).

Through the power of God the Father, through the wisdom of the Son, through the mercy of the Holy Spirit, possessing a  blessed life.

I believe
that I shall be raised from the earth
that in my flesh I shall see God my saviour
that God the father, Son and Holy Spirit are one God,
that this same God shall judge everyone according to his works.

Chaplains of the Chantry of Holy Trinity:

1331-1337 John de Pewelle
1337-1399 Henry de Bradenham
1399-1411 William Brown   

Notes by the Rev Tagg (c1960) include:

The Episcopal Registers at Sarum list the following priests of the Chantry of the Holy Trinity:

1395 - John Morgan, presented by the Bishop on the death of John Miles.
1411 - Richard Hamme, presented by the Bishop on the resignation of William Brown.
1422 - William Turner, presented by the Bishop vice Ralph Shipton.
1423 - Laurence Streche, presented by the Bishop vice William Turner.
1424 - Thomas Knight, presented by the Bishop on the resignation of Laurence Streche.
1479 - John Hayter, presented by the Bishop on the death of John Harrison.
1544 - Thomas Langele, presented by the Bishop on the death of John Sharp.

The chaplain's duties were to celebrate mass daily in the church for the well-being of Sir Robert and his wife Geva during their lifetime and for their souls after death and for the souls of all the faithful departed. The chaplain was required to be present in the parish church at morning and evening service to assist the vicar, along with other chaplains, once on Sundays and feast days and twice at requiems for the dead. He should maintain a curate to celebrate mass daily before sunrise at the altar of Holy Trinity in St. Lawrence's church, the Lord's day and feast days excepted. The chantry had been ordained by the Bishop and there was nothing prejudicial in the appointment 'if the said ordination of the chantry is observed in all respects'.

The Dissolution of the Chantry:

The religious upheavals in the reign of Henry VIII not only led to the final dissolution of the monasteries (between 1536 and 1541) but also affected the chantries, the dissolution of which followed in the reign of Henry's successor, Edward VI.

The Act for their dissolution was passed at the end of 1547 and commissioners were appointed by the Crown to survey their possessions.

Early in 1548 the commissioners had completed their survey of the two Hungerford chantries of the Holy Trinity and the Blessed Virgin Mary and issued a certificate of their findings.

The commissioners stated the objects of the Holy Trinity foundation, 'as reported to them' (thus making it clear that they had not seen the foundation deed itself). They do not state that the reported object of the foundation, viz. celebration of divine service, was still being observed (as by comparison, they report it was being observed in the neighbouring chantry of the Blessed Virgin Mary), nor do they report the existence of a chantry priest to perform this duty. Ornaments, plate, jewels, goods and chattels belonging to the chantry are said to appear in another, presumably separate, inventory and were not appraised.

The value of the lands and tenements belonging to the chantry (in addition to 5 quarters of wheat) was £10. 3. 0. After deduction of what is described as the king's 'tenth', viz. 16 shillings, there remained £9. 7. 0. 'which was employed as well towards the fynding' [i.e. maintainence] 'of the chantry priest there as also towards the repairing of the houses to the said chantry belonging'.

Upon the return of the Commissioners' certificate, the next step for the Crown was to consider petitions from prospective purchasers or lessees. These often were middlemen, and the first to get in a bid for the Holy Trinity chantry was Roger Chaloner, an official of the Duchy of Lancaster, resident in London, and himself a commissioner to enquire into chantries in Hertfordshire and Essex. The customary procedure on receipt of a petition from a prospective purchaser was for the Pipe Office to draft a 'particular' or detailed account of the properties, which were then rated at a purchase price equivalent to so many years' rental. Following this, a draft lease was prepared for the approval of the Lord Chancellor. In the case of the Holy Trinity chantry this was a 21 year lease granted by the Duchy of Lancaster to Roger Chaloner , to commence at Easter 1548.

Over the next decades, there were many disputes and surveys regarding the chantry lands. Clearly all was not plain sailing for the purchasers of the former chantry lands. In another suit in 1569 Henry Edes, who was Curteys' predecessor as farmer of the Holy Trinity Chantry rents, claimed that the defendants had pulled down a house in Charnham Street, part of the possessions of the former chantry, and carried away its timber and thatch. They had also taken possession of a meadow which went with the house. The defendants claimed that the building in question was part of the Bell Inn and with the meadow adjacent belonged to the Chock family who had held it in fee simple as far back as the reign of Edward IV, paying what they described as an annual quit rent of four shillings to the Holy Trinity chantry for this property.

When the dissolution of the chantry took place in 1548 Thomas Langsloo (appointed Chantry Chaplain in 1545) had received a generous pension of £6.13.4. What happened to him thereafter we do not know; he may have left the district to which he had come only a few years earlier as a stranger. If so, who would remain locally to recall reliably the exact extent of the former chantry's possessions? It may be for this reason that successive town surveys in 1552, 1573 and 1591 seem gradually to decrease the number of properties which had once belonged to the Holy Trinity chantry and generally to attribute them to the former chantry of the Blessed Virgin Mary instead. When one agent acquired leases from both of the former chantry lands the tendency to confusion became pronounced.

Another cause of difficulty in comparing survey details is a tendency to subdivide individual holdings. When the larger blocs became broken up by sub-letting, the problem of identifying these parts becomes in several cases insuperable. Yet another difficulty is posed by the decay of buildings, and some tenements may have been omitted from surveys or rentals because they had become uninhabitable and no rent could be expected from them, unless they were rebuilt. Having become the property of the Crown after the dissolution of the chantry, their restoration depended upon the Crown's willingness to undertake this, whereas previously the responsibility had been the chantry's and repairs were paid for out of the foundation rents.

A report prepared for the Duchy of Lancaster, fifty years after the dissolution of the chantries, shows that nearly all the properties of both the chantries in Hungerford needed extensive repair or rebuilding, to the joint extent of 100 tons of timber. Doubtless this was thought to be exaggerated, as the Crown sanctioned the use of only 40 tons.

The history of the lands which had once provided the income for the chantry continued long after the chantry itself had disappeared. Sold off in blocs to speculative landlords they passed from owner to owner, tenant to tenant. In the course of this disposal by sale the lands of the Holy Trinity and of the Blessed Virgin Mary became cast together or dispersed indiscriminately, so that it is difficult to follow their history under privatisation or to pursue some of the later references to what became known simply and indistinguishably as 'the chantry lands.'

See also:

- Sir Robert de Hungerford

- The Hungerford Effigy

- Indulgence Tablet from Chantry of Holy Trinity

- The Chantry of the Blessed Virgin Mary

- Chantry of the Burgesses, by Norman Hidden

- Chantry of the Holy Trinity (from "Aspects of the Early History of Hungerford", by Norman Hidden, published by HHA 2009).

- St Lawrence Church