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LEWISHAM PRIORY

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The origins of the Benedictine alien cell at Lewisham are obscure. King Alfred the Great's niece, Elstrudis, married the Count of Flanders and, holding the manor of Lewisham and its appurtenances, (Woolwich and Greenwich) granted the manor to the Benedictine Priory of Ghent. This grant was confirmed by King Edgar in 964, later retracted, and restored by Edward the Confessor. A church is documented in Lewisham in 1239, but the earliest reference to a prior is in 1275. In 1295, the priory was considered a danger to the realm because of the number of foreigners there, and its proximity to the Thames. This may indicate that the priory although located within the manor of Lewisham, was nearer the Thames in one of its appurtenances, ie Woolwich or Greenwich, rather than Lewisham itself. In common with the other alien houses, it was dissolved and 1414 and the priory was granted to Sheen Priory. Knowles and Hadcock suggest that the foundation dates to Edward's regrant of 1044, but the Victoria Count History does not indicate that a cell was extant at the time.

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