Wilfrid – Landholdings

Reproduced from the North Isle Nave window in Chichester Cathedral

Landholdings of Wilfrid

The extensive landholdings that Wilfrid amassed over his long life were both a source of huge wealth and influence but also played a significant part in his downfall.

Michael Roper in ‘Wilfrid of Hexham’ (Ch3) catalogues the extensive landholdings into six distinct phases in Wilfrid’s life:

Phase 1 – Return from Lyons (659) until his confirmation as Bishop of York

10 hides of land at AEtstanforda and subsequently the monastery at Ripon 30 hides from his patron Alchfrith, son of king Oswiu and under-king of Deira

Land in Mercia, apparently including Litchfield, from king Wulfhere (666-669)

Phase 2 – Undisputed bishop of York with the whole of Northumbria as his diocese (669-678)

Repaired the uncompleted church at York (which Paulinus vacated when he fled back to Kent on the death of king Edwin)  and secured a land endowment  for it

From Ecgfrith and his brother AEfwine obtained a grant of extensive region in and beyond the Pennines

The estate at Hexham from queen AEthelthyrth on which he founded his second monastery

Many abbots of monasteries subordinated themselves and their houses’ lands

Phase 3 – First 5 year Exile

An attempt to settle in small monastery which was the gift of Berhtwald, member of the royal house of Mercia defeated by opponents

Moved to Wessex where he was given 71 hides of land at Wedmore and Clewer (Somerset) which he subsequently transferred to Glastonbury Abbey (H.P.R. Finberg, ‘The Early Charters of Wessex’ Leicester 1964, nos 362, 363, 366)

87 hides and royal vill at Selsey from king AEthelwalh of the South Saxons

The Selsey rights and territories were confirmed by king Caedwalla when he conquered Sussex who also added 70 hides at Pagham and  10 hides at Tangmere (HE IV, 13 CS64, CS 50) (on his return to Northumbria Wilfrid transferred Pagham and Tangmere to Archbishop Theodore and and Eappa became abbot of Selsey)

A quarter of the newly conquered Isle of Wight from Caedwalla (HE IV, 16) (on his return to Northumbria he left his nephew Bernwini in charge)

Phase 4 – Return to Northumbria

After reconciled with AEthelred of Mercia, Wilfrid’s Mercian possessions are restored

Briefly administered the bishoprics of Hexham and Lindisfarne during vacancies before being restored to the see of York and the monastery at Ripon

Phase 5 – Second exile from Northumbria

Deprived of his Northumbrian possessions and retired to his Mercian estates which appear to include Leicester where he was said to be the first bishop (HE IV, 23)

May have inspired the foundation of the Minster at Withington (H.P.R Finberg, Lucerna, London 1964, 21)

Obtained then, if not earlier, the monastery at Oundle (where he eventually died)

Visited Sussex and probably during this time Nothgitha transferred to him lands at Lidsey, Aldingbourne, Westergate and North Mundham which she had received from her brother Nothelm, king of the South Saxons, for the purpose of founding a monastery. (HE IV 14, CS 78, CS79)

Phase 6 – Return to Northumbria

Restoration by the Council at Nidd of the monasteries at Ripon and Hexham and appointment as bishop of Hexham

Retained his Mercian possessions bar Leicester

One of his final acts was to make provision for the future of his several monasteries and appointed his kinsman Tatberht and his protégé Acca as his successors of Ripon and Hexham respectively