Monetary alms were also forthcoming. These were usually small amounts, but King Edward I upon his own arrival at Clare on 30th November 1296 gave twenty-nine shillings for the maintenance of three friars.
A daughter of King Edward I also assisted Clare Priory. She was Joan of Acre (April 1272 – 23 April 1307), a Princess of England. She was the daughter of King Edward I of England and Eleanor of Castile.
She is most notable for her marriage to Ralph de Monthermer and the claim that miracles have allegedly taken place at her grave. She is also notable for the multiple references of her in literature. Joan of Acre (or Joanna, as she is sometimes called, or Joan Plantagenet) was born in the spring of 1272 in Acre, Palestine (now in Israel), while her parents, Edward I and Eleanor of Castile, were on crusade.
At the time of Joan's birth, her grandfather, Henry III, was still alive and thus her father was not yet king of England. Her parents departed from Acre shortly after her birth, traveling to Sicily and Spain before leaving Joan with Eleanor's mother, Joan, Countess of Ponthieu, in France.
Bequests were another source of income. For example, Elizabeth de Burgh I, who was a granddaughter of King Edward and a daughter of Joan of Acre, bequeathed ten English pounds sterling to the Priory. During her lifetime, the same Elizabeth had built the Austin Friars at Clare a dormitory, chapter house and refectory.
It has been estimated that between 30% and 40% of all wills written in England during the late Middle Ages left a sum of money to at least one of the Orders of friars, usually with a request for Masses to be celebrated in memory of the deceased. The two larger and older mendicant orders, the Franciscans and the Dominicans, were more frequently the beneficiaries than the Austin Friars.
On 10th November 1262 a royal writ was issued for the capture by the king's officers of various vagabond Austin Friars of Clare who were wandering the countryside. No cause of the problem was recorded; it may have been a disruption following the death of Earl Richard de Clare four months earlier, some reaction to efforts to impliment changes required by the Grand Union of 1256, or for a number of less dramatic unrelated causes.
The Priory must have been habitable and with a chapel by 1265, when the first English Provincial Chapter of the Order took place there.
Donations towards the buildings were encouraged by the granting of a series of episcopal indulgences between 1279 and 1324. Permission to consecrate a cemetery on Priory lands was granted on 20th February 1278 by the Bishop of Norwich, and a ceremony took place on 24th April 1279.
Clare Priory became known nationally when Joan of Acre, daughter of King Edward I, was buried there in 1307. To her funeral had come her brother, the future King Edward II, who thus knew the friars there.
The best-known mistress of Clare Castle was Joan's daughter, Elizabeth de Burgh (already mentioned in the seconad paragraph on this page), who amassed considerable wealth by several marriages.
Elizabeth de Burgh also assigned the Austin Friars two chaplaincy positions in Clare Castle. She arranged that two Austin Friars should go daily to sing Mass in Clare Castle; in return the friars were granted ten quarters of wheat and ten quarters of malt from the mill next to the friary, to be paid yearly by the reeve.
A separate house for the Augustinian prior (the leader of the community) was built in the 14th century and remodelled in the fifteenth century. It still stands in good condition. (See photo above, and links on the pages following.)
The friars’ ministry of visitation of households and the quest for alms extended over a wide geographical area. By agreement with other priories of Austin Friars, each Priory had its own designated area of visitation so that the visiting districts of no two priories of Austin Friars overlapped.
The agreed visitation district of each Priory was called its limits, and hence its visiting friars were known as limitors. At a household, the friar prayed with the family, heard Confessions, blessed the crops and livestock, and accepted donations – akin to the practice of various friars in well into the second half of the twentieth century and popularly called the Quest, with the animals included.
Clare Priory must have been habitable and had a chapel by 1265, when the first English Provincial Chapter of the Order took place there.
Donations towards the buildings were encouraged by the granting of a series of episcopal indulgences between 1279 and 1324.
Clare Priory became nationally known when Joan of Acre, daughter of King Edward I, was buried there in 1307.
(Continued on the next page.)
Photos (at right)
Buildings and grounds at Clare Priory, Suffolk, England.