Event: Disputing/dispute-settling, Restoration of land/propertyVarious.dispute over Sandwich S1467

Scholarly Info
Description Account of the restoration of Sandwich to Christ Church, Canterbury, by King Harold 5, and of a dispute between Christ Church and St Augustine's, Canterbury, concerning Sandwich.
Year 1037 x 1040
Primary Source Info


Here it is made known in this document that King Harold 5 had Sandwich taken from Christ Church for his own use, and kept it himself for about a year, and at any rate for two whole herring-seasons, entirely against the will of God and of all the saints who rest within Christ Church, with grievous consequences for himself thereafter. At the time of these happenings Ælfstan 66 was abbot of St Augustine's, and by means of his crafty devices and his gold and silver he acquired for himself quite secretly from Steorra 1, who was the king's steward [rædesmann] at the time, the receipt of the third penny of the toll at Sandwich. Then Archbishop Eadsige 12, when he know this, and all the community at Christ Church decided among themselves to send Ælfgar 44, a monk of Christ Church, to King Harold 5. The king at the time was lying in Oxford very ill and despairing of his life, and Lyfing 15, Bishop of Devonshire, and the monk Tancradus 1 were with him. Then the messenger from Christ Church came to the bishop, who forthwith went to the king, accompanied by the monk Ælfgar 44 and Osweard 9 of Harrietsham and Tancradus 1, and they said to the king that he had greatly sinned against Christ in taking anything from Christ Church which his predecessors had assigned to it. Then they spoke to the king about the seizure of Sandwich for his own use. The king lay and grew black as they spoke, and swore thereafter by God Almighty and by all the saints that it was neither by direction nor deed of his that Sandwich had been taken from Christ Church. Then it was plainly evident that it had been planned by other men and not by King Harold 5, and as a matter of fact Abbot Ælfstan 66 had supported the men who had advised taking it from Christ Church. Then King Harold 5 sent the monk Ælfgar 44 back to Archbishop Eadsige 12 and to all the monks of Christ church, and greeted them all in God's name and his own, and gave orders that they should hold Sandwich for Christ Church as fully and completely as they had ever done in any king's day, with rent, water[dues], shore[dues], fine and everything, as fully as any king had ever held it before him. When Abbot Ælfstan 66 learned of this, he came to Archbishop Eadsige 12 and asked for his support in approaching the community about the third penny. Then they both approached all the brothers, and asked the community that Abbot Ælfstan 66 might be entitled to the third penny of the toll and give the community 10 pounds, but all of them together without exception refused to grant him any such thing, even though Archbishop Eadsige 12 supported him rather than the community. And when he could make nothing of this, he asked for permission to make a wharf opposite 'Mildred's field' as a protection against the tide, but the whole community absolutely and unanimously refused his request, and the archbishop left it entirely to them to decide. Then Abbot Ælfstan 66 came on the scene with a great company and had a trench dug at Ebbsfleet, with the intention of providing a channel for ships such as they had at Sandwich, but it was an utter failure, for he who labours against the will of Christ labours in vain. Then the abbot let the matter drop, and the community took possession of what was theirs in the site of God and of St Mary and of all the saints who rest within Christ Church and at St Augustine's. this is all true, believe it who will. Abbot Ælfstan 66 never in any other way tried to obtain the third penny from Sandwich.

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