History of the Church in Peterborough by 1686 Symon Gunton

Symon Gunton, a Canon of Peterborough Cathedral wrote, in 1686, a History of the Church in Peterborough. This was published again in facsimile in 1990 with an Introduction, and edited, by Canon Jack Higham of Peterborough Cathedral. His history contains a number of references to Castor etc, extracts of which are below. (Please note that I have kept to the original spellings and punctuations. Comments etc in italics are mine, not part of the original.WB)



Page 2.  “Penda…King of the Mercians, at that time reigned, who has five Children, Peada, Wulfere, and Ethelred, being his Sons, Kyneburgh and Kyneswitha, his daughters.”


Kyneburgha and Kyneswitha

Page 4. “And now the building of the Monastery of Medeshamsted begun by King Peada, went on a-main through the zealous endeavours of King Wulfhere; his Brother Ethelred, and his Sisters Kyneburgha and Kyneswitha assisting him therein,…”


Robin Hood and Little John -Stones

Page 5. “ Nor did the Abbot of Peterborough from these Pitts (Barnack stone pits) furnish only that, but other Abbies also, as that of S Edminds-Bury: In memory whereof, there are two long stones yet standing upon a balk in Castor-field, near unto Gunwade Ferry…2


During the Time of Abbot Elsinus - Translation of Kyneburgha and Kyneswitha

Page 14. “About this time Leofricus, who was Secretary of Burgh, translated the bodies of  S.Kyneburgh and Kyneswitha from their Church of Castre, and the body of S Tibba from Rihale, to Peterborough. Others place this translation in the time of King Henry the first, and that they had a yearly memorial celebrated there.”


Castor Church Dedication

Page 22. “John of Salibury…began to build (P’boro) Church anew Anno 1118, but lived not to finish it…and died Anno 1125, being 25, or 26 King Henry I. A year before this was the Church of Castr’ dedicated, as may be seen by an Inscription continuing over the Chancel Door.

                                    ‘XV KL MAII DEDICATIO HU-

                                    JUS ECCLESIAE MCXXIIII’”

(Comment – note this was in early 17 century – so the letters XXIIII were certainly added before that.)


Castor Manor Hall

Page 29. “Alexander de Holdernesse, Abbot… A great builder,…and built the Hall at his Mannor of Oundle, that also at Castre…2



Page 35 . “Robertus de Sutton, so called from the place of his birth, being a little Village in the Parish of Castre.”


Castor Manor

Page 36. “Earl Warren, had of Abbot Robert for his Mannors of Castor, etc…42 l.”


Castor Manor Rents - . (in time of Abbot Godfrey)

Page 42 rents “received for Rent yearly at.

            £            s            d         

Castor 18            10            6”


Belsize (in time of Willhelmus Ramsey c1480s)

Page 55. “This William found opposition from some of his Tenants, they of the Mannor of Bellasise making insurrection to the number of one hundred, from thence and the adjacent parts, throwing in Hedges, and Ditches, returning with Bagpipe, and great jollity for what they had done. The Abbot complained hereof, but what was the issue, the Informer tells not.”



Kyneburgha Chapel in Abbey (at 1541 Valuation)

Page 62. “In South Ile”  “in S Kyneburgha Chapel, one altar with a front of painted cloth, with one Table well Gilt.”



Abbey Lands at Upton and Marholm

Page 66. “Here I must acknowledge myself at a stand, as not able to give a perfect account of all Mannors, Lands, and Tenements belonging to the Monastery of Peterborough at the time of the Dissolution; for it had Lands, or Tenements in…Upton…Marholm…etc. Which, how or when they were alienated from this Monastery, whether by the King, or by the Monastery itself before, I cannot say; But of such lands as the Abby was at this tiem in full tenure and possession of, King Henry made a tripartite kind of division, assuming a third to himself, confirming another third upon the Bishop, and the rest upon the Dean and Chapter.”


Advowson of Castor

Page 67. “King Henry having taken these Lands from the Church of Peterborough, made provision for the Bishoprick…he advowsons of Castre ..etc.”


Bishop Howland and Castor

Page 81. “Richard Howland, …Bishop 1584… supervised funeral arrangements of Mary Queen of Scots (and much more about the death and funeral including the Fitzwilliam involvement)…Howland having been Bishop here the space of 15 years, died at Castor, and was buried in his own Cathedral…”


Castor Parsonage c 1630s

Page 83 “Augustine Lindsell… in his time the Parsonage of Castor was annexed to the Bishoprick to be held in Commendam, which was effected by W Laud Archbishop of Canterbury, as he recorded in his Dairy.”


Bishop Towers and Treason (at time of Civil War)

Page 84. “…twelve bishops were charged with High-Treason and committed to the Tower…Of those twelve Bishops, John Towers Bishop of Peterburgh was one…he died January 10 1648.”


Dean & Chapter Rents at Castor & Sutton (30 July 1541)

Page 87.” lands and rents assigned to this Foundation (Dean & Chapter)…the revenues for the Dean & Chapter, with such offices and places as were subordinate were these.


            In Northampton-shire.

                                    £            s            d

Mannor of Castre  51            10            07            q.

Mannor of Sutton   17            00         4          q.”


Castor Pensions

Page 88. “Portions and Pensions from several churches.

            Caster              05            00            00”


Castor Rector as Prebend

Page 91. “Succession of Prebendaries

              In the third Prebend

              Warner Marshall MA Parson of Castor”


Extracts from Old Charters

Page 118. “King Wolfere’s Charter”

            “….Ego, ita faventibus fratribus meis Arthelredo acMeruvala cum beatissimus sororibus meis Kyneburgh, & Kynesuida,quarum prior regina mutavit imperium in Christi anciallatum praesidens Monasterio Kyneburgensi quod suo nominee decorator, …etc”

Page 121. “Ego Kyneburga soror Regis amplector”


Marholm & Upton

Page 131 “King Ethelred…privileges granted…”

            “Feodum Affelini de Watervile, Thorp, Marham, Upton cum eorum appendiciis…”




Castor and Ailsworth

Page 137 “Privileges by King Edgar…”

            “…eidem Monasterio adfectas quae hic exparte titulantur…Castre, Eylisworth,…”



Nassaburgh ( & relevant to Belsize )

Page 154.  “King John his Charter concerning the Deforestation of Nassaburgh” (dated 12 April 1214)

(Comment: this is the year that a permission to assart was granted for Belsize)


Manors of Castor and Sutton

page 172 “Charles R to the Dean and Prebendaries of Cathedral Church of Peterborough”

            “namely by the renewing of the Lease of the Mannors of Castor and Sutton which are the inheritance of that Cathedral and are reputed to be clearly worth five hundred and three score pounds per annum, or thereabouts, over and above the Rents which are now reserved upon them…”



“FROM A SUPPLEMENT TO THE FOREGOING HISTORY PAGES” by Symon Patrick, Dean of Peterborough p225FF


Of Kyneburgha’s Marriage

Page 228.  “There was a great Friendship  between Peada Son of Penda, and Alhfrid Son of Oswin king of Northumberland (Brother to the great King and Martyr Oswald) in so much that they made an interchangeable Marriage: Alhfrid taking Kynesburg a Sister to Peada, and Peada taking Alfeda (as he calls her) Sister to Alhfrid unto Wife. Whereupon Peada by the perswasions of his faithful Brother-inLaw, and of his own pious Sister, was made a Christian, and baptized in Northumberland by that famous Bishop Finanus.”

(Note – this is all while Penda was still alive)


Building of Abbey

Page 229 “…his Brother Wolferus…..but pursued it with great zeal till he had finished it, by the help of saxulfus, and the assistance of his Brother Ethelred and his two holy Sisters Kyneburga and Kyneswitha…”


Richard the Priest of Castor and Castor Church gifted to the Abbey(in time of Abbot Martinus de Vecti)

(Comment: Simon Patrick’s source for this important court case, describing how the advowson of Castor Church came into the hands of the Abbots of Peterborough is : Swaph CCLXXII and fol 100 as noted in the margin of his text. This text also gives us the names of some of the Parish Priests at Castor before Virgilius, known as the first Rector in 1228, eg Richard and his successor Robert in 1133)


Page  277-278. “This was in the beginning of his (Abbot Martinus) Government: when Richard Priest of Castre, having a mind to change his life and take upon him the habit of a Monk, prevailed with this abbot, by his own and others intreaties, to receive him into the Monastery of Burch. Accordingly he came on a day appointed 1133 (which was the first year of Martin) into the chapterhouse and there before the abbot and all the monks made it his humble Petition, that they would receive all he had, viz. the Church of Castre, which he then held: with all belonging to it, both in Lands and Tithes, and in other things, which he gave to God and to St .Peter for ever. Whereupon the Abbot granted what he desired, on condition, that he should come into Court, coram Baronibus suis, and there confirm what he had done in the Chapter-house, which he performed accordingly. For the aforesaid Richard Priest, came into the Abbots Chamber, and there, before the Abbot of Thorney, and Will. De Alberic, and Richard Basset, and many other Barons of the Abbey, and divers other persons, who came with Richard and William, restored his Church of Castre to the Church of St. Peter de Burch, de quo prius exierat.

Which his Brother Galfridus hearing, contradicted it; affirming that Church (Castor) was de feodo suo, et servitum, scuti de alio feodo suo in se habuisse. Whereupon the Abbot impleaded him about this and about other forfeitures: and he fearing the penalties, if judgement went against him, came and made the same surrender his Brother had done: and disclaimed all interest in this Church (Castor) , which he had pretended to be his Fee, and has Hugo’s words are, clamavit solutam et quietam de se et haeredibus suis in perpetuum: ac in manum Abbatis per quondam virgam redditit et dimisit. His heirs also, Turoldus and Robertus did the same in open Court, which was very fukk: and the aforesaid Galfridus begged the Abbots pardon, which he obtained. The Abbot also, before the above named persons, fred him from the service dimidis Militis; and pardoned him seven Marks of Silver de relevamine suo. All of which was done on the day that the Abbot Martin received the Homages of his Tenents: which shows it was in the entrance of his Government….”


Page 278-279. “The Church of Castre after this was supplied by a Chaplain, whose name was Robert: as I find in a Grant made of this Church (but it doth not appear in what year) by the Abbot and the Convent to the Archdeacon of Northampton in Eleemosynam (Almonry), with all its appurtenances in Tithes and Lands, either Wood or Pasture, Meadow or Arable; for which he was to pay every year one Mark of Silver, for the service at the Altar: and he either dyed, or took upon him a religious habit, it was to return to the right of the Monastery freely and quietly, salva Episcoplai dignitate. They granted him also plenarium societatum in capitulo: So that they would give him the habit of a Monk, if he would live among them; or if he dyed in another place and in another habit, obsequies should be made for him, as for one of their monks. Whereupon Robert, Chaplain of Castre, proclaimed with a loud voice in the Chapter-house, the Church of Castre to be free and quiet from all claim that he had hitherto had unto it, and delivered the Charter which he had received, to the Archdeacon.”


Gift of Castor Income – in the time of Abbot Andreas

Page 289. “…he gave…forty shillings from Castre.”


Celebration and Candles for Festivals including that of Kyneburgha – in the time of Abbot Acharius

Page 290-291. “…four Stone of Wax : which he appointed to be employed for Wax-Candles, on the Feasts of the Saints of this Church.  …in the year 1202… how the four Stone of Wax  should be yearly spent is as follows. That it should be delivered to the Keeper of the Altar of St Mary: who was to take care that in each of the  3. Festivals of st peter one Wax Candle of five pound weight should burn continually before the great Altar, from the beginning of the first Vespers, till after the completorium of the Festival. In like manner in the four Festivals of St. Mary, and in those of St. Oswald, St. Kyneberge, St. Kyneswithe, and St. Tibbe.”


Benefaction re Kyneburgha’s Shrine – in the time of Abbot Robertus de Lyndesey

Page 294-295. “…divers others, no less memorable…and gave two Marks of Gold, and his own Silver Cup, ad feretrum (bier) Sancto Kyneburga.”


Belsize – in the time of Abbot Robertus de Lyndesey

Page 297. “…the Abbot Robert therefore gave other Revenues, not only for the recreation, as the word is, of those 72 Monks; but for the increment of eight Monks more: whereby the whole Number was made LXXX. And particularly Belasise, as Mr.G. (Symon Gunton) observes, to find those 8. with Bread and Beer. Which Corn and Malt was afterwards changed into money in Abbot Walters time, because the Celerarius of the Abbot and his Servants, would receive none but the very best; which was the occasion of great quarrels.”


Ailsworth – in the time of Abbot Acharius

Page 298. “…Hugo de Longo Campo, Son of Henry de Longo de Campo, out of respect to God and the Salvation of his Soul, granted all his land in Eyliswurhe; viz. quadraginta sex solidates terrae inliberam puram ac perpetuum Eleemosynam, (Almonry) cum debita ac solita solemnitate, with all due and usual solemnity. Which Charter of his was afterwards confirmed by Hubert Archbishop of Canterbury.” 


Reginald of Castor – in the time of Abbot Alexander de Holderness 1226AD

Page 299. “…And so it is in the Kalendar Nov. 17. (it should be 19.)..Depositio Alexandri Abbatis et Anniversarium Reginaldi de Castre et Matilda Uxoris ejus.”


Belsize – in the time of Abbot Alexander de Holderness

Page 300. “…Wherein, out of his paternal acre to provide well for those eight Monks, which Roberto his predecessor had added to their wonted number, and at the Petition of the Convent, he granted and confirmed to the Celerary, all the new assarts belonging to the Monastery in Nassa Burgi fc Belasis with all its appurtenances…”


Bovaria at Castor – in the time of Abbot Walter de St Edmundo

Page 302. “…he renewed the Grange at Thorp, and made a new Bovaria at Castre…” (cattle-shed or maybe even a cattle market).


Advowson of Castor – in the time of Abbot Walter de St Edmundo

Page 304. “…journey to Rome…The third time he was called by a special Mandate, to answer the contempt with which he was charged, of granting the Church of Castre according to the Kings commandment, contrary to the Provision of the Pope.” (c1244)


Belsize – in the time of Abbot William de Hotot c1248

Page 308. “…In the same year he granted out of his mere liberality to the Celerary of the Church….and all the Tenement called Belasise, with the appurtenances, for eight pound Sterling, in which he and his Predecessor stood bound at the four quarter of the year, for the elebration of the principal Feasts: and for the forty Shillings which Walter his predecessor gave; for celebrating the Feast of the Dedication of the Church. …”


Castor Wood – in the time of Abbot Johannes de Caleto c1250

Page 309. “…We therefore have given and assigned to the Celerarius of the Convent for ever that land which de Biffleto near Castor Wood, we have caused to be turned into Pasture and Ploughed.”


Castor Court – in the time of Robertus de Sutton

Page 313. “…In which year, on the 11. of kal. Of March I find an agreement made between the Abbot of Burgh and the Abbot of Sawtry, concerning Secta Curie de Castre. …”


Belsize and Sutton Taxes – in the time of Abbot Willihelmus de Wodeford c1296

Page 316. “…Then follows the value of several Mannors, and the Tenths to be paid out of them, after this manner.

            Belasis cum Appendiciis taxat. ad.            4 l.            &            6 d.            Decima

            Mannerium de Sutton taxatur ad                     6 l.            2 s.                   Decima”


Abbot of Suleby and Castor Court – in the time of Godefridus de Croyland

Page 317. “…Convent of Sulebi, granted on their part, that they would pay to the Abbot…at the Feast of Easter, in heir Mannor of Castre: and that they would facere sectam ad curiam from three Weeks to Three Weeks at Castre &c….”


Feast of Translation of St Kyneburgha – in the time of Richardus Ashton c1448

Page 324. “ pains he took in the regulation of Divine Service in this Monastery…before these Books is prefixed the Ecclesiastical Kalendar (which I have had occasion frequently to name) at the side of which, are set down those Festivals, or Anniversaries which were peculiar to this Church and their neighbours; as follows.




7.             Translatio Sanctorum Kynesburgh et Kyneswith.”