Croxton Abbey history: part 9

Index & introduction

This Croxton church pew probably came from the abbey and may depict its ablest abbot - Thomas Pegge.

Could this be the abbot who survived the Black Death and restored the abbey's fortunes? (Click to enlarge.)

The abbey in the 14th century

The 14th century produced changes of fortune for the Criels and the abbey. The Criels failed to pay rent to Sawtry abbey and in 1318 Sir Nicholas de Criol (III) was forced to hand over the manor of Croxton along with the advowson of the abbey to Sir Stephen de Segrave.

In 1326 the abbey church, the cloister and other parts of the abbey, were burnt down as a result of an accident by a plumber and one canon died in the fire. This meant that money was needed for re-building.

In 1336 Sir John do Segrave (son and heir of Stephen) came to the rescue when he leased the manor of North Croxton to the abbey on the Monday after the feast of St. Thomas (now 21st December). A few days later Sir John de Criel released the manor and the advowson of the abbey to Sir John de Segrave,who later quit-claimed and granted the manor to the abbey which retained it until the dissolution in 1538.

Because of this, the coat of arms of the Segraves (Sable, lion rampant, crowned Or) was carved on one of the bench ends of the monks’ choir, now in Croxton church. Thanks to the Segrave family the abbey was enabled to use the manor to improve its revenues in order to pay off some of its debts.

In 1339 Sir John de Segrave married a Margaret Brotherton who, in her own right, was Countess of Norfolk.

In 1348 the abbey still owed £2,000. And in the same year the Black Death struck, killing all the canons, leaving only the abbot and prior. That abbot was Thomas Pegge of Loughborough who remained abbot for 46 years.

In 1359, John de Segrave died and the advowson of Croxton Abbey passed to Elizabeth, his daughter, then married to John, Lord Mowbray (5th Lord Mowbray), later Duke of Norfolk.

John’s coat of arms (Gules, a lion rampant, Argent) was carved on one of the bench ends in the parish church. It was there at the end of the 18th century, but later disappeared. The Mowbrays retained the advowson of the abbey until 1477.

In 1363 Abbot Thomas sought and was given a papal dispensation to ordain 12 canons of 21 years of age. In the same year, Sir Andrew Lutterell of Irnham gave the rents of Saltby and Bescaby manors, and followed this up by giving them the manors in 1367. His effigy in armour used to be on the wall of the staircase in the Guildhall library at Grantham.

The Close Rolls tell us that ‘the King – granted licence to the said Andrew to give the said manors – to the abbot towards finding two chaplains to celebrate divine service daily in the abbey church’. Sir Andrew died in 1790 but the chaplaincies continued until the Dissolution in 1538.

All in all, Thomas Pegge must be rated as one of the ablest and most devoted of the abbots. He survived the Black Death, increased the revenues so paying off the debts, and revived the monastic community. Is he the abbot depicted by the carved bust of a monk, with a stole diagonally crossed, on the bench end in the north aisle in front of the pulpit in the parish church (see top of page)?

Next page: The 15th century

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