Saint Augustine

The picture to the left depicts Saint Augustine of Hippo, who was an early Christian theologian in the late third and early fourth centuries. Most of the religeous houses in Leicestershire followed Augustinian rule. The painting is attributed to Gerard Seghers.

Religious Houses in Medieval Leicestershire

Religious houses (monasteries, priories, abbeys, etc.) had a prominent place in the history of the church and in economic and social life. The principal benefactor of each institution chose the religeous order when the community was established.


Benedictines follow the rule of Saint Benedict of Nursia. The only Benedictine house in Leicestershire was Langley Priory, which was established for women in 1154.


In the eleventh century, St Bernard of Clairvaux believed that Benedictine Monks (Black Monks) led insufficiently simple and austere lives. He founded a monastery at Citeau and soon invitations came for this order to establish other monasteries in the new style. Cistercians wore white habits and were called White Monks.

Garendon Abbey, founded in 1133, is a local example.

Augustinian Canons

These are ordained Canons who follow the rule of Augustine. Their houses were: Kirby Bellars Priory, founded in 1315, Launde Priory (1119), Leicester Abbey (1143), Owston Abbey (1166) and Ulverscroft Priory (1134)

Premonstratensian Canons

Premonstratensian were Augustinian Canons renowned for their simple austerity. All their houses were supervised from Premonstre in France

The Leicestershire example was Croxton Abbey, founded 1160.

Augustinian Canonesses

Grace Dieu Priory, founded 1239 by "the White Nuns of St. Augustine". No other examples of this order are known in this country.


Location Order Founded Dissolved Compliment Income 1535
Langley Priory Benedictines 1154 1536 Prioress and 6 nuns


Garendon Abbey Cistercians 1133 1536 Abbot and 15 monks


Kirby Bellars Priory Augustinian 1315 1536 10 Canons


Launde Priory Augustinian 1119 1538 13 Canons



Leicester Abbey Augustinian 1143 1538 20 Canons


Owston Abbey Augustinian 1166 1536 Abbot and 11 Canons


Ulverscroft Priory Augustinian 1134 1536 Prior 11 Canons


Grace Dieu Priory Augustinian 1239 1538 Prioress and 15 Nuns


Croxton Abbey Augustinian
1160 1538 Abbot and 18 Canons





Friars were ordained priests with the duty to carry out missionary work among the population. Some chose to live in communities and follow a contemplative life. Although they enjoyed popularity with lay people, many parish clergy regarded them as unnecessary interlopers.

Location Order Founded Dissolved










Hermit Friars of St Augustine




Friars of the Sack in England




Knights Templars/ Knights Hospitalers

The Templars adopted the Augustinian rule but their duties were to protect and help pilgrims. The knights were soldiers who fought infidels on crusades or guarded pilgrims and sacred sites. Their financial support came from landed estates in many parts of western Christendom.

Rothley was founded during 13th century to administer some of the Orderís properties in the county. The Pope dissolved the Order of Templars and their property was transferred to the Knights Hospitalers of St. John in Jerusalem. Its income in 1535 was £87.

Dalby was founded as a Hospitaler Preceptory in 1154 and by the Dissolution in 1540 it oversaw Rothley. Its income in 1535 was £91.

©Loughborough Archaeological and Historical Society