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Olde England Northampton

Religious Houses of Northampton

The strange and terrible suppression of the Templars occurred during the episcopate of the saintly Bishop Dalderby, who was nominated by the pope as one of the commissioners to try the accused in England. The bishop avoided acting with the other commissioners, but held a private inquiry, so far as his own diocese was concerned, in the Lincoln chapter-house, and subsequently declined to take any further part in the proceedings. From letters in his register, it is concluded that he believed in their innocence. When, however, the Provincial Synod of Canterbury passed sentence against the Templars in 1311, the bishop of Lincoln had to carry out the archbishop's sentence in consigning the knights to the various monasteries as prisoners to fulfil their penance. Seventeen of the order were sent to as many monasteries of the diocese. The monks of St. Andrew, Northampton, were ordered to receive William de Pocklington, but the monastery refused to receive him and sent a letter to that effect to the bishop. The bishop repeated his order in sterner tones, but the priory again refused obedience. Bishop Dalderby then took the grave step of writing to the rural dean of Northampton, bidding him to cause to be published in every church of the deanery the excommunication of the prior, sub-prior, precentor, cellarer, and sacristan of St. Andrew's. This apparently secured the desired result, for there is no further reference to the matter in the bishop's register. (fn. 3) There is no other incident in the jurisdiction of this great diocese during the fourteenth century that shows in such a marked way the strength of the episcopal power, for the priory of St. Andrew dominated the town of Northampton, and almost every church in the deanery was in their gift.  Those great evangelizers of the towns, the friars, who, theoretically at least, rejected endowments and lived on the alms of the faithful, naturally found their way with speed to Northampton, as one of the chief towns of the kingdom. The Franciscans established themselves in 1224, the very year of their first arrival in the kingdom, at Northampton, where they eventually had one of the largest and most handsome churches of any pertaining to the mendicant orders in England. They were closely followed by the Dominicans, whose friary at Northampton was subsequently chosen as the place for holding provincial chapters. Somewhat later in the century, the Carmelites and Austin Friars started houses in the same town, so that Northampton shared the distinction with eleven other boroughs of having settlements of all the four great orders of mendicant brethren.