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16th Century

It is believed that by the beginning of this century, the church had been repaired by the prior and life apparently had returned to normal.

For nearly hundred years no records of Pill are found till in the visitation of the Deanery of Cemaes, July 1504, from the Canterbury Registers, Warham, held in the Church of Newport, the Prior of Pill, as Rector, was reported to have restored the ruined chancel of Pill and that it was in good order.Chancel Arch

This was also described in the same register when the Deanery of Roos visited on the 10th September 1504, held in the chapter house of Pill Priory (believed to be presently the upstairs of the cottage). Dom David Luce occurs as prior of Pill in February 1496, 1498, 1501, 1502, 1503, 1504 said that he had five monks all obedient to him, that the monastery was not in debt and that he had sufficient means to keep it up. He also said that they held services in the accustomed manner and at due hours, this according to the rule of St. Benedict and that as far as he knows all the brethen were honest and chaste. It is believed that the community was very small and it was recorded as five monks in 1504 and four in 1536.

Pill Priory, like daughter houses of all orders, had its own revenue (£67 15s 3d gross in the early 16th century), but also possessed its own lands and churches (over time, it is believed that the house acquired some 1300 acres of land). Hoever, it is believed that Pill was poor compared with other monastic houses, issued its own charters and granted its own leases. The fiscal bond was limited to the payment of a small annual pension to St Dogmaels which stood at £9 6s 8d at the dissolution. The foundation grant of Pill lists the possessions assigned to the priory by Adam de Roche, which included the churches of Steynton, Roch, Little Newcastle and New Moat, together with various lands in the region, a mill and fisheries.

Some thirty years later and this in 1534, the prior of Pill, William Watt (who was apparently the prior at the dissolution is named as prior in 28 December 1531, he also occurs as prior in 1535 ) and his monks (Dom William -Hire shortly after Abbot of St. Dogmeals. All the brethren being examined after Dom David Luce gave similar testimony), accepted the Act of Supremacy in 1534 ( they agreed to call the Pope by no other name than Bishop of Rome and to pray for him only as such and to reject his laws, decrees and canons unless according to divine law, scripture and the laws of England. Henry VIIIThey agreed also to preach according to the scriptures, not distorting their meaning and also in the commendatory prayers, after the king as head of the Church, his Queen Anne and their offspring, to commend the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, together with the rest of the clergy) which acknowledged King Henry VIII (picture right) as head of the Anglican Church and no attempt was made to resist the suppression of the Priory along with its mother house. The suppressed houses fell to the crown. The Valor Ecclesiasticus, in which the values of such houses were assessed, recorded that Pill Priory was worth £52 annually. The figure can be compared to that of St Dogmaels, with an annual value of £87, and the much poorer Caldey Priory which contributed £2 3s 4d annually to the mother house, its annual income being £5 10s 11d plus tithes of £11s 11d. Maurice Johne apparently held office in May 1537, he was described as recently Prior of Pill and given dispensation to hold a benefice with change of habit.

Pill Priory was dissolved (together with St Dogmaels and Caldey) in the suppression of the monastic houses with less than £200 and fell to the crown.

It has been claimed that during the post-dissolution the dissolved priory of Pill was acquired firstly by Sir Thomas Jones of Haroldston, but there is no evidence to support the suggestion. It is known, however, to have been obtained by their aspiring local landowners Roger Barlow of Slebech and his brother Thomas in 1546. The Hospitaller Commandery at Slebech had been suppressed in the 1540-41 phase of the Dissolution, and in 1546 Roger and Thomas Barlow, adventurers from an Essex family, purchased from the crown, for £705 6s 3d, the Commandery of Slebech together with other holdings including Pill Priory and the Haverfordwest Priory and friary. Roger eventually acquired sole ownership of the properties. He was succeeded by his son John, in whose Inquisition post mortem, held in 1613, Pill Priory is described as ‘the site of the priory of Pill, lately dissolved, and certain acres of land thereto belonging.

Picton castle

It is believed that the Phillips's of Picton Castle (picture left), Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire whom had vast estates and were the most powerful family in Pembrokeshire throughout the 17th and 18th century acquired the land and the priory in the 16th century.

The ‘Pill Priory’ cottage , lies immediately south-east of the south transept and has a vaulted ground floor which almost certainly represents one of the monastic conventual buildings, probably the sacristy/day-room vestibule. Its upper floor (believed to be then the ''chapter' house), in its present form, may be 16th century and may have been rebuilt at that time.

However, the nature of the conversions is more suggestive of a rather low-status farm rather than a gentry-house, established by Barlow’s tenants (representatives of the Perrot family), the church, meanwhile, was abandoned.
John Perrot

Apparently, Sir John Perrot (picture right) son of Henry VIII (John Perrot was probably born at Haroldston, the home of the Perrot family since the 12th century. His mother had been, briefly, mistress of Henry VIII, and his paternity has been ascribed to the King whom he resembled in physique and colouring) exchanged in1590 the lands of the Priory and Hubberston for others he preferred at Haroldson. The monasterys were a stable element in the church and society and the heads of these played a useful roll in the collection of taxation from the clergy.

With the dissolution of the monastery's these properties were valuable acquisitions for the wealthy to acquire. The Priory was leased to one John Wogan in 1538. When the lease expired the estate was passed to Hugh Profett. Roch and Little Newcastle were leased to Edward Lloyd, Steynton passed to Stephen Barlow.

In 1544-6 Pill Priory and its environs were described as 'The house', 'site' and 'precinct' of the priory, also 'all manner of houses' etc., 'five small orchards', 'one lillie grove of wood' and a 'meadow in Pill', together with the water grist mill in Pill, with mill, dam and water. It is typical of rural monastic houses in that any standing evidence for the former precinct boundary has been lost, and its original extent is unknown.

 

 

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