Ancient Monuments

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College known as Glasney College, Penryn

A Scheduled Monument in Penryn, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.1664 / 50°9'58"N

Longitude: -5.1021 / 5°6'7"W

OS Eastings: 178560.203885

OS Northings: 34198.36513

OS Grid: SW785341

Mapcode National: GBR ZC.GLXT

Mapcode Global: FRA 086L.251

Entry Name: College known as Glasney College, Penryn

Scheduled Date: 18 July 1980

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007260

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 1083

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Penryn

Built-Up Area: Penryn

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Gluvias

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument, which falls into two areas of protection, includes a college situated to the south west of Jubilee Wharf in Penryn. The secular college was founded in 1265 by Bishop Bronescombe of Exeter following vivid dreams whilst he was ill in Canterbury where he saw Thomas Beckett who foretold he would recover and should establish a college to the glory of God and in the name of 'St Thomas the Martyr' at Penryn. As a result the college was endowed for thirteen canons and thirteen vicars. The total area was around four and one quarter acres surrounded by a defensive wall. From documentary sources, this enclave is known to have included a lay church on the north side of the college, a courtyard, canons houses, a refectory and chapter house amongst other structures. It was under construction by 1365 and repairs including some re-vaulting were undertaken in 1404, but the nave of the church was not finished for a further 15 years and the canons could not afford the upkeep of the buildings. By 1542 it was in a state of neglect despite 100 marks having been given for re-building by Sir Thomas Killegrew in 1500. The college was dissolved in 1545. Some of the fortified walling survives as standing masonry, and that which lies to the south is said by Wingfield to be the college precinct wall. To the north the church is believed to have been cut into the hill slope. Contemporary documents record structural problems caused as a result of wet ground conditions in this area, however, this is likely to have preserved organic material connected with the college. Standing masonry, which contains a 13th century Caen stone ashlar springer for an arch, is thought to be the south east angle of the church by Wingfield, but Sowell suggested it was probably the north east church wall. Other standing remains include part of a stone vault and other masonry fragments. Other structures, including a well, are preserved as buried features.
The extant buildings which are in use are excluded from the scheduling.
The college is Listed Grade II (365746).

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-427685

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The term college is used to describe a variety of different types of establishment whose communities of secular clergy shared a degree of common life less strictly controlled than that within a monastic order. Although some may date to as early as the tenth century, the majority of English colleges were founded in the 14th or 15th centuries. Most were subsequently closed down under the Chantries Act of 1547. Colleges of the prebendal or portional type were set up as secular chapters, both as an alternative to the structure of contemporary monastic houses and to provide positions for clerics whose services the monastic establishment wished to reward. Some barons followed suit by setting up colleges within their castles, while others were founded by the Crown for the canons who served royal free chapels. Foundations of this type were generally staffed by prebends or portioners (priests taking their income from the tithes, or other income deriving from a village or manor). After 1300, chantry colleges became more common. These were establishments of priests, financed from a common fund, whose prime concern was to offer masses for the souls of the patron and the patron's family. They may also have housed bedesmen (deserving poor and elderly) and provided an educational facility which in some cases eventually came to dominate their other activities. From historical sources it is known that approximately 300 separate colleges existed during the early medieval and medieval period; of these, 167 were in existence in 1509, made up of 71 prebendal or portional colleges, 64 chantry colleges and 32 whose function was primarily academic. In view of the importance of colleges in contributing to our understanding of ecclesiastical history, and given the rarity of known surviving examples, all identified colleges including the college known as Glasney College, Penryn which retain surviving archaeological remains are considered to be nationally important.

Source: Historic England

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