Colne Priory at Earls Colne, Essex was a Benedictine priory, initially a dependent cell of Abingdon Abbey, Berkshire (modern Oxfordshire). It was founded by Aubrey de Vere I and his wife Beatrice in or before 1111. Their eldest son Geoffrey had died at Abingdon about seven or eight years earlier and was buried there. On his deathbed, Geoffrey had bequeathed to Abingdon the church and lands at Kensington, Middlesex, and his parents and brothers had confirmed that grant, as had King Henry I. Aubrey and Beatrice became very attached to Abingdon, but as they lived primarily in Essex, the aging couple found it difficult to journey there. They founded Colne Priory, the only cell of Abingdon, in order to have monks of that house close to them and as a family mausoleum. About 1112 Aubrey I retired to the priory, joined by his youngest son, William de Vere, both of whom died there shortly thereafter.
Colne Priory became the principal burial place of the earls of Oxford, with all but a few buried there to 1703. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Priory was granted to John de Vere (1482-1540), 15th Earl of Oxford, by King Henry VIII on 22 July 1536. The surviving tombs at Colne, some with effigies, were removed in the 1930s to St Stephen's Chapel near Bures, Suffolk, where they are currently. A late 12th-century cartulary exists.
The relations between Abingdon and its priory were occasionally rocky, and in the 13th century Colne Priory became an independent priory.
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“Blessing turned to blasphemies,
Holy deeds to despites.
Sin is where our Lady sat,
Heaven turned is to hell,
Sathan sits where our Lord did sway,
Walsingham, Oh farewell!”
—Unknown. A Lament for the Priory of Walsingham (l. 3944)