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Glossary - Document 6

This document, dated 17 June 1554, forms part of the particulars for the sale of the manor of Bulmershe, near Reading in Berkshire.

(Catalogue reference: E 318/11/507)


Properties, right and duties appertaining (belonging) to another property.

'Arleighe' / Earley

Earley, a manor in the Domesday Book and now a small town adjacent to Reading in Berkshire.

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An officer of the Exchequer or another financial court; the official responsible for examining the accounts. The name derived from the fact that accounts were originally presented orally.


The manor of Bulmershe, Reading, Berkshire, belonged to Reading Abbey at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. After Reading Abbey was dissolved, Bulmershe was granted to William Grey (see below). It is now home to one of the campuses of the University of Reading.

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Court of Augmentations

The Court of Augmentations was one of a number of financial courts established during the reign of Henry VIII. It was founded in 1536 to administer monastic properties and revenues confiscated by the crown at the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The court had its own chancellor, treasurer, lawyers, receivers and auditors.

In 1547 the Court of Augmentations was amalgamated with the Court of General Surveyors, which had been established in 1542 to administer crown lands. In 1554, the roles of the Courts of Augmentations, General Surveyors, and First Fruits and Tenths were taken over by the Exchequer.

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Dissolution of the Monasteries

The disbanding and destruction of religious houses in England and Wales under Henry VIII. In 1536 the religious establishments with annual incomes of less than £200 per annum were dissolved. The attention of Henry and his chief minister Thomas Cromwell turned to the friaries in 1537, and thereafter to the rest of the religious houses. By 1540 they had all gone, the last to fall being Waltham Abbey in Essex. Their lands, properties and incomes went to the Crown. Some of the monastic buildings remained in religious use – Henry allowed some monasteries to be refounded as secular cathedrals served by dean and chapter instead of priors and monks, and in rare cases the church buildings, or parts of them, were bought by locals to act as the parish church. Generally however the properties and lands were simply sold off to wealthy lay people, with the Court of Augmentations set up to deal with the spoils.

Forest of 'Wyndesore' / Windsor

Windsor Forest. Although today the word 'forest' conjures up an image of trees, in law a forest was an area of land, usually belonging to the monarch, which was set apart for the hunting of wild animals and game. This land could be wooded in part, but would have also consisted of heathland and pasture.

Windsor Forest was created by William the Conqueror (1066-1087) as a deer park. It consisted of land stretching from the fence of the Great Park of Windsor Castle to the Loddon River, approximately 18 miles (c. 29 km). Within these bounds forest law prevailed. Killing a deer without permission invoked severe punishments. The keeper of Windsor Forest was the constable of Windsor Castle. The land was sold off by Parliament during the Civil War. By the time of Charles II, the remains of Windsor Forest consisted of nine separated areas of woodland.

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Grey, William

1495[?]-1551. William Grey, a citizen of London, purchased several parcels of land in Berkshire following the Dissolution of the Monasteries. He became Member of Parliament for Reading in 1547. He was also known as a writer of ballads, including 'The Fantasy of Idolatry', an attack on monastic shrines and pilgrimages, in support of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Henry VIII

Henry VIII was born at Greenwich on 28 June 1491. He was the second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. His elder brother Prince Arthur died in 1502, making Henry heir to the throne, to which he succeeded on 21 April 1509. Desperate for a male heir to secure the Tudor succession, Henry VIII had six wives. During the English Reformation Henry became head of the Church in England, repudiating papal supremacy, and closed down the monasteries. The monastic lands were sold off and the revenues went to the Crown. Henry died at Whitehall in London on 28 January 1547, and was buried in St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.

'Kinges majesties house of Redying' / Reading [Abbey]

Henry VIII made part of the monastic buildings of Reading Abbey into a royal residence. It was known as Abbey House, and still belonged to the Crown in the reign of Elizabeth I 1558-1603.

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A statement, or a detailed account or description.

Reading Abbey

Reading Abbey was founded by Henry I in June 1121, on the site of an earlier religious house. The abbey was Cluniac at its foundation but by the 13th century it was described as Benedictine. The abbey was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St John the Evangelist. It was richly endowed by Henry I (1100-1135) and given the possessions of the abolished abbeys of Leominster and Chelsea. Henry also presented Reading Abbey with its prized relic, the hand of St James the Apostle. Henry I was buried there in 1135. In 1164 the abbey was consecrated by Thomas a Becket, and it hosted the wedding of John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster in 1359.

At the time of Dissolution of the Monasteries the abbey's revenues were valued at £2116 3s 9 1/4 d. Its last abbot, Hugh Cook of Faringdon, was executed as a traitor outside the abbey gateway in 1539, and the abbey fell to the king. Part of the monastic buildings were retained as a royal residence for a while, but the church buildings were gradually stripped.

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The county town of Berkshire. A settlement has existed there from Saxon times. The town was given to the newly-founded Reading Abbey by Henry I (1100-1135). When the abbey was dissolved, Reading reverted to the Crown after over four centuries of monastic rule. Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's chief minister during the Reformation, was initially appointed steward of the borough.


A village in Berkshire, on the River Thames. Sonning was formerly the site of the palace of the bishops of Salisbury.

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Southwell, Sir Richard

1504-1564. Richard Southwell was made a receiver to the Court of Augmentations in April 1538. He had taken an active part in the dissolving of the monasteries since 1535. He was sheriff of Norfolk from 1534 to 1536, and it is also known that he received a pardon for his involvement in a murder in 1531, for which he was fined £1000. Southwell's brother Robert also held a position in the Court of Augmentations, and both brothers were friends of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's chief minister.

During the reign of Mary I, Southwell was one of the men who escorted Princess Elizabeth to court when she was under suspicion of involvement in Wyatt's Rebellion (see Glossary: Document 1).


A district of Reading in Berkshire. At the time of the Dissolution Whitley was a hamlet belonging to Reading Abbey. The manor and park of Whitley was granted to Protector Somerset (see Glossary: Document 1) in 1548.

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