Abingdon Abbey Buildings

Abbey Gardeners’ Financial Reports

The Obedientiars were officers who once worked in Abingdon Abbey. Their accounts were recorded in Latin in a book edited by REG Kirk and published in 1891. Kirk explains that the Obedientiars were the Abbey’s principal officers and were so called because they were under subjection to the rule. Several officers had separate gardens of their own within the Abbey walls, in addition to the large garden of the abbey. The Gardener, like others, would have a team of servants and workmen.

The following consists of the Gardener’s Accounts for three separate years between 1388 and 1451. There is a fourth Gardener’s Account, namely The Gardener’s and Pittancer’s Account, 1369-70, which has not yet (to our knowledge) been translated. The typeface and layout below is, as far as possible, in line with that of the Kirk Camden Society 1892 book, and are therefore best viewed on wide screens. Thanks to Eva Race, and Michael and Gillian Harrison.

 Three Accounts of the Obedientiars of

Abingdon Abbey

The Gardener’s Account



From a transcription edited by R E G Kirk and published by the Camden Society, 1892

Translated from the medieval Latin by Eva Race, 2011

A note extracted from the editor’s introduction:  “The Obedientiars were the Abbey’s principal officers and were so called because they were under subjection to the rule. The title was limited exclusively to such of the monks who held offices, and is never applied to lay servants of however great standing. Several officers had separate gardens of their own within the Abbey walls, in addition to the large garden of the abbey. The Gardener, like others, had a famulus (comprising “close attendants”) of his own, and employed other servants and workmen.

“The gardens included grape vines which were apparently cultivated in the Italian manner, but their culture was clearly neither extensive nor very profitable. Expenses included the gathering of fruit and nuts and in making cider.”

The accounts of nine other Obedientars are included in the Latin transcription. They comprise the Pittancer, the Lignar, the Infirmarer, the Treasurer, the Sacristan, the Chapel Warden, the Trinity Warden, the Bailiff and the Chamberlain.  Translation and transcription matters are shown as follows: * translation uncertain ** transcription uncertain ***translation not achieved


Receipt of rent. — He rendered the account of the rent of properties over the Stert, namely, from the tenement of Dionis (Dionysia) Mundy for the year 18d.  And 9s 6d from the tenement previously of Ade Skyrwyzth, and no more because he left it empty for three terms.  And 9s 6d for (the property) previously held by Roger Champion which William Fisser now has. And a halfpenny and a base coin (rose bush*) for the tenement of Thomas Chamberleyn at Brygge (by the bridge*) And 2s for the empty tenement previously of Alicie at Dene (now Dean Court). And 18d from the Treasury of the Abbey for the tenement previously of Johanne Parker.  And 18d for the tenement of Edmund Spersolte, which the  widow of Eustace Zonge/Yonge** now has. And 20s for three shops of the property previously held by Roger of Fenello.  And 2s for the property previously of Wilhelm Tatyn, which John Cornuyle now has.  And 12d for the (same) tenement which Thomas Chamberleyn now has.  And 13s 1d from the Almoner for his houses over the Stert. 

Total: 54s 7 ½d

Other receipts.– And 13s 4d from the Kitchener for purchases for the courts of the Chief Gardener, handed to him as rent. And 7s from the Clerk of  Works for his garden.  And 3s from the Precentor for his garden. And four bushels of wheat from the Sacristan for his garden, nothing in money because they are accepted in kind  as appears elsewhere. And one quarter of wheat from Wotton, nothing in money, for the aforesaid reason. And 6s 6d from the Lord Abbot for the release of his servant. And 7s 6d from the bailiff of Hornemere (now Hormer) for payment of the same. 

Total: 37s 4d.

Other receipts. —And 12s 8d for the sale of fish. And 4s for the sale of casks for ale. And 10s for firewood and 6s for barley and bundles of vine wood.  And 6s 6d for bundles of wood sold. And 2s 2d for hedges and roots.  And 11s 2d for fuel for the old houses.  And 12d for one ash tree. And 2s for planks. And 8s 8d for bread and ale. 

Total: 64s 2d.

Other receipts.–And 45s for hay sold. 13s 4d for wine.   And 20s ½ d de vuis***. And 2s for verjuice. 4d for vines*.  And 13s 4d for cider sold according to the estimate.  And 32s 6½ d for the sale of fruit, namely apples, pears and nuts. 

Total £6 6s 7d.

Other receipts. —And 6s 6d for casks sold. And 21d for the needs of our servant. And 6d for one shepherd for damage to property. 

Total: 8s 9d.

Other receipts. – And 66s 3d for the sale of 33 quarters and 1 bushel of barley, price per quarter 2s.  And 2s 12d for the sale of pulses.  And 14d for chaff.  And 12d for thatching straw.  And 20d for barley straw and no more, because of the rest of the expense of thatching houses. 

Total 71s 1d.

Total of all receipts: £18 2s 6 ½ d.

Expenses.–Debts owed from previous years £8 2s 1¼d. Summa patet.***

Other expenses.– For ‘Oh Stem of Jesse’ (Advent anthem) 6s 10d.  For spices and good ale granted to the Treasury of the Abbey 6s 8d. To the Treasury of the Abbey for customary services 48s 8d. For a room for spices 40s. To the Kitchener for a house over the Stert 3s 4d. For High Mass 2s 2d. For Christmas offerings 2s 3d. For masses for the  Abbot and Prior 3s 6d.  For deacons and novices 8d.  Among the servants 4s.  Dimidia decima*** (half a tithe) given to the Lord King 12d.  For (hospitality for) visitors 2s 2d. To our chaplain 2s.  Gifts for the chaplain and reader 2s.  Our offering 5s.  Our footwear 3s 6d.

Total £6.13s.9d.

Expenses.–Servants’ table 41s.  Their pay 27s 6d.  Their clothes 7s.  Given to them at times 2s 6d.  Salt 12d. Candles 15d.  Locks 10d.  A trellis (hurdle*) 4d.   Expenses incurred in sending customary payments for the ‘Stem of Jesse’  16d.  For our medicines 5s.

Total £4 7s.9d.

Other expenses.– Cleaning the great ditches 20s 10½d.  Spades and rakes 16d.   2 ladles 6d.   Repair to a ladder to make it as new * 8d.  To workers at times 12d.  For injuries to two pigs 20d.  Purchase of one plank 11d.  For fishing 3s 2d.  For repair to a net 6d.  Purchase of one net, namely flowe***, 12d.  Purchase of one ash tree for the estate 8d.

Total 32s 3 ½d.

Expenses.–Paid to the Kitchener as a tenth (tithe*) of Monkcroft 3s 4d.  Reaping and binding at Munkcroft 7s 11d.  Given to reapers 17½d.  A handcart 3s 10d.  To the workers for putting sheaves in the granary 20d.  For threshing barley and pulses 6s 2d.  For winnowing 22d.  For various pieces of boonwork (communal work for the landlord) at times 11s 8d.  Weeding 15d.  Cleaning paths 8d.  Buying 5 quarters and 3 bushels of barley 10s 9d, the price of a quarter being 2s.  Purchase of harness, namely a collar 2s.

Total 52s 6½ d.

Other expenses. — For repair and improvement of houses over the Stert, namely: for the carpenters’ table 18s 6d, their pay 17s 6d, carriage of timber 12d, laths and lath-nails 6s, hooks, screws and keys 12d.  Given to the tiler for securing laths 6d.  For one house, straw for thatching 5s 4d.  Carriage of straw 3d.   Given to carpenters 12d.

Total 51s 1d. 

Expenses. — For the vineyard 2s.   Cups 1½ d.  2 casks for storing cider 3s 4d.  Repair of vessels 8d.  Collection of vuarum*** 2s 4d.  The collection of nuts 5½d.  Collection of other fruits 3s 6d.  Cider-making 3s 5d.  Propping-up of vines 4s 6d.

Total 20s 4d.

Total of all expenses £26 19s 10d.  

Excess of expenses over receipts thus £8 17s 3½d.

Debtors in previous years

The Lord Abbot………………………….£9.0s.4d

The bailiff of Hornemere ………………………8d

The same…………………………………………..6s.8d

Adam Castel of Sutton………………………..2s.8d

Eustace Yonge/Zonge **………………….4s

                                             Richard at Wode ………………………………..11d

William brother of the smith at Colnham…….5s

                                              Johannes Donne, charcoal burner..…….18d

Robert Quarel…………………………………….5s.9d

Robert Liford, smith…………………………5s.10d

Richard Clerk……………………………………….22d

Peter Crendon for ale…………………………..2s.2d

                                             Willelmus Golafr’ for interest….…………..3s 4d

Alan Bayly for Roger Lee…………………..5s.10d

[Robert Frilford, monk…………………………..13s.]

                                             Johannes Brydecumbe, monk…………3s 2½ d

The infirmary……….…………………………4s 1 3/4d

Thomas Spilusbury…………………………………..20d

Thomas Chamberleyn……………………………6s 3d


Debtors in this year

                                           Johannes Schereman………………..……….3s 4d

                                          – surety for Robert Clark

Dyonys (Dionysia)  Mundy for rent…….……….9d




Total debts £12 13s 3/4d


The Abbey Treasury…………………..…….£4.4s.2½d

The same……………………………………………….28s.10d

Item from the current year….……………………29s.6d

To the Pittancer………………….……£13.14s  8½d

To the butler……………………………………………….8s

To Roger Henreth……….………………………………13s

[The Chamberlain for the current year………..3s.4d]

John of Eynusham………….……………3s. 2s(sic) 3/4d

Total of all creditors: £21 10s 4d

Those entries which are in square brackets above are struck out in the manuscript.

 [On the back of the roll:]

When the Gardener ceased to have responsibility for the Grange * in the 28th year of Peter of Hanney, Abbot.

Grain. —  He repaid the account for four bushels of grain received from the Sacristy. One quarter received from Wotton.

Total one quarter, four bushels.  Of which, for expenses of the houses, one quarter four bushels. Total as above. Clear of debt.                    

Barley.—And ,on the exit from Monkcroft*, 33 quarters one bushel level*  measure. And one quarter and one peck heaped measure. And five quarters, four bushels bought. 

Total: 39 quarters, five bushels, one peck. 

Of these being sold as below, 33 quarters, one bushel. Given to the merchant in heaped measure, one quarter, one peck. And for sowing the enclosed field five quarters, four bushels. Total as above.

Pulses.– And five bushels from the cessation of responsibility*.   In selling them there were four bushels and one bushel as a gift. Total: five bushels.  Nothing owing.


Namely: vine prop with a ladder. Two vine props. One bronze measuring pot, and one taken from Roger Lee as payment. Two brewing vessels and one tub. One three-legged stool and one hurdle *. One axe.  One saw and three augers. Two planks for tables and one tablecloth with a towel. One salt pot.  Two sacks.  Two sieves with one riddle*. Two malt sieves.  One rope.  Two harrows with iron teeth. One weaver’s shuttle. Two iron forks for the autumn harvest, and one seed basket.  One fishing-hook. One measure and one funnel*. One hammer and one trowel. One pair of tables with three leaves. One pewter platter. One distaff*. Two benches. Three buckets for fish. Two elm planks. Three cups. Three dishes. Two plates. Three saucers.  One ladle with one bowl for broth (porridge).Two large bowls. One cask holding eight gallons. Two trenchers. One tankard holding one and a half gallons. One scythe for the pasture (meadow?).  Two small sickles for the autumn harvest. Three mattocks with three rakes (forks, shovels*). Three ladders. One wooden funnel. One cask for wine. Three pairs of traces with fish-hooks* and pipes*. Three pairs of newly-bought horse collars. Two linch-pins for a cart. One bowl. One axle for a cart with metal repair patches and nails. One lopping hook for a mason. One chest for wine and cider-making. One net called a wade*** and one flowe***, with another net known as a chain-net*. One saddle for a cart.   One bronze dish. One dray. One mallet for splitting* (logs for) fuel. Three hammers for making cider, two baskets for catching fish  and pots. Twelve fish baskets. One dung pot. One iron spit.  Six planes.   Three axe-handles.  Two rakes for gathering moss. 



 The Gardener’s Account


 Translated from the medieval Latin by Arthur E Preston and transcribed by John McGowan from the copy in the Preston archive in the Berkshire Record Office



Receipts — From the foot of the account of the preceding year, as appears at the foot of the same 5s 8½d.

Receipt of rents – From the rent of Dionisia Munday 18d. From the tenement Skyrwyt 10s. From the tenement Champion 8s. From the tenement Chamberleyn a rose and ½d  From the new building on the Stert 50s. From the Treasurers of the Convent for tenement Parker on the Stert 18d. From the tenement of Edmund Spersholt 18d. From the tenement of John Cornevyle 2s. From the Almoner for his tenement on the Stert 13s. From the Rector of St Nicholas for a garden demised to him in the same way 8d.  From Thomas Carpenter above the Stert for one garden demised to him in the same way.  From Robert Fuller on the Stert for one garden let to him without indenture 4s. From the garden of Robert Spenser demised to him without indenture 12d. From William Panyour for a garden demised to him for half a year by indenture 6d.

Total 100s 5½d

Other receipts. – From the Kitchener for the perquisites of the Courts of the Lordship let to him at farm 13d. From the Clerk of the Works for his garden 7s. From the Precentor for his garden 3s.  From the Lord Abbot for the livery of our servant 6s 8d.  From the Bailiff of Hornemere 7s 6d. From one quarter, 4 bushels of corn sold, as appears elsewhere 6s.

Total 43s 6d

Other receipts from the garden. – From the fish there sold this year 21s 4d.   From herbage there sold this year 6s.  From pasture there sold this year 16s 8d . From bread and old beer there sold this year and not more on account of default of the buyers 20d.  From apples and pears there sold this year 2s 4d. From nuts there sold this year 2s 1d. Nothing from grape-making this year because they remain in the infirmary for making verjuice. From cider nothing this year. From one nut-tree sold in the garden this year 5s. From two elms and faggots and branches sold this year 6s 1d.   From old timber from the tenement Campion pulled down this year and put up again (V 6)* 13s 4d.

Total 74s 6d.

Received from Moncroft. –  Received from corn in Monkcroft sold this year gross £4.

Total £4

Sum total of receipts £15 4s 2d.

Expenses. – Of the 10/- for spices and good ale and 18/8 paid to the Treasurers of the Convent by custom, nothing this year, because it is allocated by a provision this year for rebuilding tenement Campion as appears below. (V6 & 32)*. Of the £1 for O Radix Jesse. nothing for the aforesaid reason. Paid to the Chamberlain 40s. Paid to the Kitchener for excusing our tenants  on the Stert on the day of View of Frankpledge 3s 4d. To the oblation against Christmas and the rest in other offices 6d. In things sent to the Abbot and Prior and the rest as above 12d. To the deacons and novices 12d.  To our “Socius” nothing because in other offices. In our cowls and shoeing 2s and it is assigned to the new work in the nave of the church, on the north part.  Between the “Socii” at times and the remainder as above 8d.  To our readers nothing for the above reason. Paid to Thomas Abendon, second scholar, for the corrody of John Otour and his wife for bread and beer this 13th year 40s. Paid to the Lord King, Henry IV, for half of the lender yielded to him 12d.  Paid to the contribution of the General Chapter for the ½d a pound, yielded this second year 1d. In writing and duplicating the roll 12d. In parchment bought for the same 2d.  

                                                           Sum £4. 21s. 1d

Expenses in the garden.- In the wage of Robert, our servant, per annum 10s. Paid to the same  his board, 1d a day 30s 4d. In a tunic for the same 6s 8d. For divers labourers hired for making fences and for cutting and carrying billets and branches 4s 10d.  In gathering nuts and apples this year 4d. In expenses incurred with the fishery this year 22d. In weals bought 12d. In one package of figs bought in London for the convent 6s. In figs bought in the town for the same for quadragesima and Advent because no fruit in the garden this year 4s.

Total 65s

Expenses about Monkcroft.- Paid to the “Custos” of Bayworth for the obits of Roger and Peter, Abbots, for Monkcroft 13s 4d. To the Kitchener, for tithes of the same croft 3s 4d. For ploughing and reploughing the same croft for sowing at Quadragesima  10s. In five quarters of barley bought for sowing the same 15s.  In repairs made to the plough and in payment to the harrower there this year 12d. In weeding the same croft this year 15d.

Total 44s

Charge of the new tenement Campion.- The wage of one carpenter for rebuilding the tenement Campion on the Stert with his own timber, and repairing other defects of the same, by agreement in gross 48s. In slabs of wood bought for the door and windows made in the same 7s 4d.  For 2000 slates bought for the same, besides those in stock 13s 4d. For quick lime bought for the same 7s. For  1000 laths bought for the same 6s 8d. In lath nails, board nails and other nails bought with hinge hooks, nails and hinge pins for the same 11s. In slate pins bought 20d. The wages of Thomas Mylton, tyler (sic), for roofing the said house and repairing other defects there, by agreement 18s. On workmen brought for plastering the walls of the said house, by agreement 8s. 6d. In carrying timber, earth and sand for the same 20d. In rewards for the workmen and labourers there at times 2s. In repairs of tenement Skyrwyt, adjoining 18d. For one lock and key for one cottage in the new building on the Stert 6d.  In expenses of carpenters and other labourers newly raising the timber 2s 4d..

Total £6 9s 6d (omitted by Preston)

Sum of all expenses £16 9s 6d (sic)

And so expenses over receipts 25s 1d (sic)

Creditors from the time of John Henreth

To John Boure borrowed for tenement Campion on the Stert 23s 9d

To John Henreth 20d

Sum 25s 5d

                                                           On the dorse of the roll

The Office of the Gardener

The account there in the 15th year of Richard Salford, Abbot

Wheat.- Four bushels of wheat received from the Sacrist. One quarter from the Reeve of Wotton by custom.

Sum: one quarter, four bushels

Which is added in as sold above and nothing remains

Barley.- The issues of five quarters of barley from Monkcroft, nothing there because sold under the heading of corn as appears within (V no 33)**


*Preston’s note


  The Gardener’s Account

 1450 – 1451

  Translated from the medieval Latin by A E Preston and transcribed by John McGowan from the copy in the Preston archive in the Berkshire Record Office


 Receipts – None; the cause appears at the foot of the account of the year immediately preceding.

                                                 Sum, nothing.

 Rent allowed – Rent of tenement, late of Dionysia Iremonger, per annum  18d.

Rent of tenement Skyrewitt with garden adjoining, once of John Portland, for the same 13s 4d.  Rent of tenement Champion with garden adjoining, for the same ……..

(xxii in pencil?)**    From John Uske for the tenement Chamburlayne, once Stanlake,

one red rose and one halfpenny.  13s 4d from the same John for the garden adjoining the same tenement, for the same. 4s from 4 gardens there, let to divers tenants there.  Rent of tenements, late of Thomas Mylton, hatter, so demised to Richard Evesham, with garden adjoining, 10s 6d.   Rent of 4 cottages there, with 4 gardens adjoining the same   Rent of 4 cottages there of 36s with 4 gardens adjoining the same.   From the garden lately demised to Geoffrey Boucher 12d for the same.   From a garden, lately Robert Morecok’s, 12d for the same.  From the Treasurer of the Convent for the tenement Parker on the Stert 18d.   From Thomas Bydell, late of John Elys, hosier, for  one garden demised to the same 12d.   From the Trinity Warden for a tenement, once of Edmund Sparsholt, 18d.  From one garden demised to the same 12d.   From Thomas Carpenter for  tenement, late of John Cornevile, on Stert, per annum 2s.   From the same and the Almoner for the farm of one garden adjoining the same tenement, so let to the same 6s 8d, whereof 2s on behalf of the Almoner.   From the farm of one garden next to the church of St Nicholas 4s.  From the Almoner for a tenement on Stert 13s 1d.   From the Rector of St Nicholas for  one chamber standing on the soil  of the Lord, so demised by indenture for a term of years etc 1d.

                                                 Sum, 113s ½d

 Other receipts – From the Kitchener for perquisites of the courts of the lordship there, by an ancient ordinance, per annum 14s 4d (?mistake for 13s 4d.  This alteration makes total correct.)*  From the Clerk of the Works for his garden there, per annum 7s.   From the Precentor for his garden there, per annum 3s.   From the Abbot’s Treasurer for the livery of our servant 6s 8d.  From the Bailiff of the Liberty of the Hundred of Hornemere 7s 6d.   From the Sacrist of the monastery for 4 bushels of corn by custom, so sold to him this year, 3s.   From one quarter of corn provided for the manor of Wotton, by custom this year, 6s.  

                                                 Sum, 46s 6d

 Farm of garden and croft – From the fishing water there, this year 10s 6½d.  From pasture in the garden, this year 13s 4d.   From Richard Evesham for one new garden made on the west of his  lodging, this year 6s 8d.  From the pasture under the trees, this year 4s.   From fruits growing in the garden sold this year 10s.   From the Prior for Monkecroft and  other crofts on the west, and for Grascroft on the north towards  le Berton, to be paid at 4 terms of the year etc 33s 4d.   From the bread and a servant’s livery sold this year 10s 4d.   From filberts sold this year 23d.   From faggots sold this year 9s.

                                                 Sum, £4 19s 1½d

                                    Sum total of the receipt – £12 18s 9d

 Customs with default of rents – The same computes the payment of the Treasurers of the Convent for customs of this year, as appears in the provisions 100s.   Default of rent of tenement of Thomas Willies vacant for one term of this year 2s 3d.   Default of rent of one garden adjoining tenement of John Clerke as mistakenly within the time of the account for half a year 6d.   In default of rent of one tenement called (vacant?)* late of Thomas Mylton, now of Richard Evysham 6d.

                                                 Sum, 103s 3d

 Expenses in the Convent with repairs of houses—Paid to the Chamberlain, per annum 40s.   Paid to the Kitchener for our tenants on the Stert  being excused at the view of Frankpledge 3s 4d.   In the oblations of the servants at Christmas by the hands of the Treasurers of the Convent 12d.   In our cowls and shoeing 10s.   In our oblation this year 4s.   In things sent to the Abbot and the Prior 3s 4d.   To the Oxford students for the feast of St Edmund 2s.  To the deacons and novices by the hands of the Treasurers of the Convent 12d.  Between the “socii” at times 16d.   Paid to the contribution of the General Chapter  viz ½d her mark for one year, this first year 2½d.   Paid to the Lord King for the half of a lender granted to the same by the clergy 12d.   To the Lord King for a certain subsidy granted to the same by Parliament 2s.   Paid to the clergy for writing and duplicating the roll of the account 12d. In paper and parchment bought this year 4d.   On our High Mass, twice this year 16s.  To the “socii” celebrating, and to the readers this year 6d.   Paid to the “custos”  of Bayworth for the obit of Roger and Peter, abbots, for Monkcroft 13s 4d.   Paid to the Kitchener for the tithes of the same croft 3s 4d.   In our medicine this year 8d.   In wages of servants of the Gardener and collectors of rents this year 10s.  In gathering fruit this year 6d.   The wage of a carpenter hired to make and repair the great gate next to the church of St Nicholas, with slabs of wood and nails bought for the same 22d.   In wages of stonecutters, tilers and other workmen brought to make and mend divers defects in divers places badly needing it within our lodging this year, with lime, laths, lath nails and other necessities bought for the same as is particularly set out by the paper of this account 4s 5d.   In wages of plasterers, carpenters and other workmen hired to make and plaster one longhouse behind 4 tenements on Stert, with rods, hazel-twigs, nails and other necessaries bought for the same as fully appears on the said paper 12s 2½d.   For planning grafts this year 19d.   For lopping trees and making fences in divers places as appears in the said paper 13d.   For weals bought for taking fish in the Convent ditch 4s 10d.   For one bucket bought for putting fish in 2d.   For making one trunk for keeping fish 3d.   In making 3 crates for keeping fish 8d.   For one rake bought 4d.   For fruit bought for the Convent this year 2s 8d.  Paid for mowing the pasture under the trees this year 10d.   For one goblet (pair of scales*) for gathering fruit this year 12d.   For one spade bought this year 4d.   For repairing one house within the tenement of Richard Evysham and in thatching the same with straw bought for the same 8d.   Paid John Warewicke, a new priest, by custom this year 8d.

                                                 Sum £7 8s 4 3/4d

                         Sum of all allowances and expenses £12 11s 7 3/4d

                                     And receipt over expenses 7s 1¼d    


* Preston’s words

** Probably McGowan’s note