St. Cross

St. Cross Priory, a cell of the Benedictine abbey of Tiron near Chartres in France, was founded about 1120 (Doubleday and Page 1903, 225).

In 1350 the priory consisted of a hall, pantry and cutlery, the prior’s chamber, kitchen, bakery, larder, granary, a barn, stable and cartshed, a dairy and a wool house. A dovecote had also been previously recorded.

In 1377, the year that the town was attacked by the French, the priory is said to have been burnt leaving the hall, the chamber and the church in ruins, but an enquiry suggested that the house had been burnt by the custodian rather than by the French (Hockey 1982, 54).

In 1369 the income of the priory was sequestered by William de Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester because of the state of the church, which was described as being ‘beyond repair’.

In 1391 de Wykeham bought the whole house for his new foundation of Winchester College (Page 1912, 262) and a considerable sum was spent on repairs to the buildings (Doubleday and Page 1903, 225).

A house, called St Cross House in the mid-nineteenth century, was built on the site of the priory and it was said that the monuments of the church were buried in the cellar of the house.

In 1888 the house was demolished prior to the construction of the railway viaduct which crosses the site (Hockey 1982, 56) but a recent archaeological assessment has shown that it is probable that remains of the St Cross House survive, and that it had incorporated parts of the medieval building (Whitehead, 1996).