The Cartulary of St Augustine’s Abbey, Bristol

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Gloucestershire Record Series Vol 10

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Description

Canon David Walker’s edition of the Cartulary of St Augustine’s Abbey, Bristol, makes generally available for the first time the contents of an historically important manuscript from the muniments at Berkeley Castle. St Augustine’s was a house of Augustinian canons whose church was to become, after the dissolution of the monasteries, Bristol cathedral. The manuscript, compiled in the late 13th century, is a handsome collection of 221 folios in which are collected the title deeds to the abbey’s estates.

The abbey was founded in 1148, after some years of preparatory work, by Robert fitz Harding, a wealthy citizen of Bristol, and ancestor of the Berkeley family. He and others endowed the abbey with extensive possessions in Bristol, Gloucestershire and Somerset, and elsewhere. The cartulary was compiled as a register of the charters which were the evidence of the canons’ rights to their privileges and property. In it, the charters of successive kings of England confirming the estates and privileges of the abbey are followed by those of the earls of Gloucester and other counties. The charters documenting the canons’ acquisition of manors, churches, and other property are arranged place by place, including Bristol and, in Gloucestershire, Arlingham, Ashleworth, Berkeley, South Cerney, Cromhall, Filton, Horfield, and Wotton under Edge.

The charters offer a depth of topographical and genealogical detail that is often surprising. Illuminating the social and economic conditions of England in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries both in the countryside and in one of our mayor cities. They record the activities of aristocrats, ecclesiastical dignitaries, parish clergy, minor landowners, merchants, urban craftsman, farmers, and peasants, offering glimpses of their living conditions and of their houses, churches, farm buildings, fields and woods, and showing their attempts, for example, to provide for their widows and children, to regulate the communing of animals, and to bring waste land into cultivation.

This edition provides each charter in Latin, preceded by a full English summary and giving references to other versions of the charters, where they have survived. The introduction discusses the abbey’s foundation and its administration and describes the manuscript, its compilation, and history of its ownership. There is a comprehensive index.

Cover picture: the Chapter House, from John Britton, The History and Antiquities of the Abbey, and Cathedral Church of Bristol (1830)

Additional information

Weight1216 g
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