Hinton's `Friary' was built by the banks of the Frome and would have consisted of a church, accommodation and a refectory. However it is thought that this was abandoned at Hinton before the Black Death - perhaps in the early 14th century. It had become harder to recruit Lay Brothers and those remaining would have been accommodated at the Priory. Most of the land was by then let rather than farmed by the Order itself. However the area of Friary Green has continued to be occupied through the years and is still part of Hinton Charterhouse - as are the houses on the south side of Pipehouse Lane, (the old road between Midford and Freshford) and some of those at Park Corner and down Rosemary Lane. These roads which lay outside the Carthusians' boundary walls for three hundred years, have done much to influence the shape of the village to-day. Over the centuries the Priory's fortunes suffered with climatic disasters and national happenings. In the early days they were well protected by charters from Kings and with gifts of land and money. Sadly there are practically no documents from the Priory itself as most were destroyed at the Dissolution in 1539. However there are records from Church sources that give some information. From early days there was constant friction between the Prior and the Rectors of both Hinton and Norton. Ela's charter gave the `advowson' of both parishes to the Order and this should have meant that the Carthusians as Rector of Hinton and Norton would have had a right to receive the tithes and to appoint vicars to both churches. For some reason this did not happen and caused much dispute. In1344 the Bishop eventually confirmed the Prior as the Rector of Hinton in a document which also described the wretched state of the Priory. The early years of the 14th century were a time of famine and pestilence all over Europe, largely due to three years of unseasonably heavy rain which devastated the crops and brought disease to the livestock. As the Priory's chief source of income had come from its water mills, the failed harvests, resulting in little or no corn to grind, had been devastating. The Prior also complained there were fewer monks and brothers - numbers had fallen below those needed to sustain the Priory. In return for the additional tithes, the Priory was ordered to build a new house for the Vicar - who replaced the Rector - and rebuild the chancel of the parish church. How much of this building work was completed is unknown for it was only three years later that the Black Death swept up from the south coast, severely hitting Bristol and then Bath and sweeping through the country side. It will probably never be known how badly our village suffered, but it is likely that a significant number of inhabitants died in this and subsequent recurring outbreaks. Significantly some years later the Carthusians were granted permission to pay higher than the statutory wages to enable them to try to replace the weavers and other labourers they had lost. The overall losses from the epidemic and the gradual waning of the feudal system had given labours power to bargain and to move around in a way they had never known before. Attitudes were also changing - the early years of the 15th century saw the end of gifts of land to the Priory and the continuing Wars of the Roses disrupted trade. By the middle of the 1400's the Priory was once again in financial trouble. Negotiations between the Charthusians' Mother House in Switzerland and Henry IV led to the monks receiving an annual grant from the `alnage' or duty on all the cloth sold in Wiltshire. This amounted to £33 p.a. and was paid to them for the rest of their stay in Hinton. Although they were never a rich order, by the early years of the 16th century they were planning necessary building work. One of their chief projects involved bringing a piped water supply to the Priory via an underground lead pipe. (Excavations in the Great Cloister in the 1950's uncovered traces of 14 cottage cells with small gardens and evidence that they had their own water supply). The building work had been embarked upon with a promised gift from the Duke of Buckingham who had a palace in Thornbury and had been a patron of the Priory for some years. However he had only paid half the amount promised when disaster befell. His confessor was the Carthusian monk, Father Hopkyns, reputed to have powers of prophecy. The Duke had a tenuous claim to the throne and Hopkyns was accused of suggesting that he would one day be King. They were betrayed to Henry VIII by the Duke's servants and the Duke was taken to the Tower and duly executed for treason in 1521, while deluded Nicholas Hopkyns, in great distress, died in prison. Shakespeare in Henry VIII Act I mention him as a `monk of Henton'. In 1527 the Priory finally gained the Rectorship of Norton St. Philip and was able to receive the Norton tithes as well. Once again they had pleaded shortage of funds - the Duke of Buckingham was no longer their wealthy patron and the building work had not been completed. They had more monks than before, new buildings were still necessary while others were in need of repair and the water supply still had to be laid down. They were also in constant conflict with the Rector of Norton - brotherly love seemed in short supply. The Bishop noted that the Rector and the Prior due to `incessant quarrels and litigious altercation ....have to the great scandal of both parties and the vexation and inconvenience of the Parishioners, grievously annoyed each other.' As a result the Rector of Norton was pensioned and replaced by a Vicar, while Hinton parish was reduced still further to a `chapel of ease' and became part of Norton - thus losing its status as a parish. In theory it seems the parishes were amalgamated, although it is clear that each did in fact keep its own identity with churchwardens who kept up all the church records and other village officials. Hinton was to remain in this situation for nearly 300 years. The Carthusians' long stay in Hinton came to an end with the Dissolution of the Monasteries. In March 1539 Prior Horde finally gave in to the demands of the King and he and the twenty three monks and brothers were driven out into the world with modest pensions. The Priory and all its property were valued at £248.19.2d. out of which total the Grange Farm accounted for over a fifth. From its earliest days the Order had owned sheep runs on the Mendips at Green Ore where they may have had a small Carthusian cell. It was the only property that was not let at the time of the Dissolution and there is a tradition that it was bought by Prior Horde's brother and the Prior lived there for a while after he left the Priory. It was said that the King's Commissioners could never find any scandal within the Carthusian Priories and over the years a number of Hinton monks were distinguished as religious authors and leading theologians. Some from Hinton became Priors elsewhere. Among these were Prior John Luscote who became first Prior of the London Charterhouse, and Dom Stephen - known as `Blessed Stephen' who, at the end of the 14th century, was the author of a much respected visionary work about Mary Magdalene. The monks had a good library and among their devotional books was an early one on gardening. Some of these books found a home in the old St.Paul's Cathedral only to meet their fate in the Fire of London in 1666.
PRIORY HISTORY