SAXON TIMES: Archbishops of Canterbury have always been important religious and political figures, but in earlier times they were also wealthy and powerful landowners. The Saxon archbishops owned many properties in addition to Canterbury, and by the Norman Conquest had become responsible, with their community of monks, for almost 90 manors. Many of these were of considerable size, with houses grand enough to accomodate them and their households; for as well as bringing in revenue, they were used by archbishops as bases while attending to business in their archdiocese.
One of the largest was Croydon, though it is not known exactly when the archbishops first acquired it, or from whom. King Coenwulf of Mercia and his council met there in the year 809, Croydon then being described as a monastorium, suggesting that the then archbishop, Wulfred, had some substantial buildings around a major church (or minster) staffed by priests. A document drawn up by Archbishop Aethelred and an Ealdoram Aelfred is further proof of the archbishops' interest in Croydon in the 9th century. This deed granted Aelfred use of the archbishops' manor of Croydon during his lifetime in return for a bequest to Canterbury of his own estate in Chartham. This deed is not dated, but Aethelred was archbishop between 870 and 888.
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