The Carthusian Priory or Charterhouse of Beauvale in Nottinghamshire was founded in 1343 and surrendered to the Crown at the Dissolution in 1539. In 1370 it was granted the Manor of Etwall which with an annual  value of c 12 was one of its most significant endowments. In 1534 Beauvale received 12 13s 4d from Etwall and was valued in total at less than 200 at Dissolution. In 1539 the Manor of Etwall passed to the first John Port a few days before his death. The Charters here referred to are part of the Cartulary or collection of Charters or legal documents compiled by Nicholas de Wartre who was Prior in 1486. The Charters are important in understanding the history of Etwall in two respects. Firstly they clarify the process by which the Manor of Etwall was transferred to Beauvale in 1370 and secondly they show that land and tenements were made over by Beauvale to John Fitzherbert of Norbury in 1446 which were subsequently passed on to the first John Port  in 1495.


Manorial History of Etwall

Following the Conquest in 1066 the Manor of Etwall was granted by the King to his knight Henry de Ferrers  of  Tutbury. The de Ferrers family continued as overlords until their estates were confiscated in  the late thirteenth century and passed to the Duchy of Lancaster. Saswallo, possibly of Saxon origin, was named as holding Etwall under de Ferrers at Domesday. Thereafter the  manor passed through a succession of families as undertenants  often on the basis of marital relationship. In 1170 the manorial lord was Thomas de Cuckney of Cuckney in Nottinghamshire who granted the Church of St Helen in Etwall to Welbeck Abbey. De Cuckney’s father had been involved in this Abbey’s foundation. In  about 1200 de Cuckney’s grand-daughter Isabella was given in marriage to Richard Riboef of Stretton near Clay Cross and the lordship then descended through the Riboefs until c 1320 when a Richard Riboef granted the manor for life to his son-in-law Robert Ingram of Nottingham. A  provision for  reversion to the Riboefs on Ingram’s death was not acted upon so via the Ingrams the manor of Etwall passed to a son-in-law Robert de Bernhull. Meanwhile in 1332 the Riboef manor of Stretton  was gifted to a William de Northwell and in 1356 this William received the manor of Etwall from de Bernhull. Northwell in Nottinghamshire was a prebend of the Collegiate Minster of Southwell where William held office as prebendary i.e. a member of the Chapter in receipt of a stipend. From William both manors passed to his brother John de Northwell but, in 1370, Etwall was in the hands of trustees led by  a Sir William de Fynchenden who appears to have held manors in and around Huddersfield. Six of the Beauvale Charters of about  1370 are concerned with the process by which the Manor of Etwall was granted to Beauvale Priory. It is evident that John de Northwell was a party to this process although it remains unclear as how it was initiated. It may be speculated that Beauvale was recognised as in need of financial support and that de Northwell was content for the Priory to receive Etwall perhaps to the benefit of his soul.  It is also unclear as to how Sir William de Fynchenden, described as ‘beloved and faithful’ of the King in the Charter,  came to be appointed although in return for his involvement the Priory agreed to say prayers for his soul and that of his wife. The seventh charter is an indenture whereby Priory lands in Etwall were transferred to John Fitzherbert.


The Beauvale Charters

Charter 1 records the granting of a licence  by King Edward III to trustees to make over the manor of Etwall (Etewell) to the Priory of Beauvale.  Sir William de Fynchenden was confirmed as the principal trustee together with Richard de Ravenser, Archdeacon of Lincoln, Nicholas de Chaddesden, Richard de Chesterfield and Richard de Tissington. The transfer of Etwall to Beauvale took place on July 6th 1370.

Charter 2.  In which John of Northwell and associates confirmed the transfer of the Manor of Etwall to de Fynchenden.

Charter 3 deals with the process of transfer whereby John of Northwell and associates appointed two attorneys to effect the transfer (deliver seisen).

Charter 4 indicates that through de Fynchenden the transfer has taken place while Charter 5 names three attorneys who carried out the transfer.

Charter 6 John Riboef renounces any claims by himself and his family on the Manor of Etwall and recognises its transfer to the Priory.


Transfer of lands etc to Sir John Fitzherbert.

Charter 7 This Charter  relates to an indenture or deed whereby parcels of land and tenements in Etwall were transferred from Beauvale Priory to John Fitzherbert of Norbury and his heirs for ever.   It most likely dates from around 1446 this being the year to which Cameron (Place Names of Derbyshire vol iii 1959 p. 560) attributes the earliest record of the fields named in the indenture.

Interpretation of the locations of the various cottages, messuages, closes, crofts, lands and meadows referred to in the Charter is problematic. However it is clear  that John Fitzherbert received from the Prior all lands and tenements between a stream on the west side, which would be the Etwall Brook, and the common well, which would have been the  Etwall Town Well or trough on the east side. The latter is marked on Ordnance Survey 1:10,560 map of 1901 and was removed during the building of the John Port Schools in the 1950s. The land referred to in the Charter certainly incorporates the site and grounds of the former  Etwall Hall now the John Port Academy.  In this context the Charter also refers to ‘Fullwall’ or foul spring or stream which could well reflect the character of the meadows adjacent to the Etwall Brook where they would have received water draining from the vicinity of the well and down the line of the shallow valley now defined by the lower part of Willington Road in Etwall village.

John Port I was first associated with Etwall in 1495. He had become a friend of the Fitzherbert family  when studying at Lincoln’s Inn at the same time as a descendant of John Fitzherbert who was also named John. Subsequently  Port married John’s sister Elizabeth, who had been widowed on the death of her first husband Pole of Radbourne.  On their  marriage in 1495  John Port and Elizabeth received the Fitzherbert  lands in Etwall.  John Port had  a distinguished career in the law so had the means as well as the land on which to build the first Etwall Hall in the early sixteenth century. He acquired a number of manors in the middle Trent area to which Etwall was added in 1539. The cottages and gardens referred to in the indenture could well have been removed to clear the land between the Hilton road and the Etwall Brook in preparation for the construction of the Hall and the laying out of grounds. However the reference in the Charter to a ‘Hall Orchard’ hints at the possibility of a previous large house in this vicinity of which there is as yet no further evidence. If such existed it would most likely have predated the Beauvale interest in Etwall.


Accounts of the history of Beauvale Priory are  to be found:-

W.Page,  A History of the County of Nottingham VCH vol2 1910 pp 105-9.

M. Roberts, The Story of Beauvale Priory and the Martyrs.

British History on Line Website

The Etwall and Burnaston Local History Society is indebted to Marie Roberts for facilitating access to  transcriptions of the Charters relevant to Etwall made with the assistance of John Doyle. Copyright of the transcriptions lies with Marie Roberts. The original copies are held by the British Library.                                                            Roger Dalton  Nov 2012



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