Brinkburn was one of a good number of priories established in the 12th century as part of a remarkable movement within the English church. One of the most significant was Merton, south of London, where many prominent men were educated or part of the community. Brinkburn was set up less than 20 years later in 1135 by a group of priors and canons from Pentney Priory in Norfolk - itself not founded until 1130 - with the new priory at Brinkburn sponsored by a local landowner, William Bertram of Mitford
Of course, all the religious communities were abolished as part of Henry VIII's reforms, on the basis that they had accumulated wealth for themselves rather than promoting the Christian faith. While there was an element of truth in this for some of the larger communities that had amassed great riches, it also ignored the quiet good work done in many communities around the country. However, the king wanted the riches, and to eliminate the influence of the Pope, when the king appointed himself head of the Church of England.
In recent years, a tradition has been established of remembering the arrival of the community at Merton Priory on Ascension Day in 1117 AD, where their first service was Nones, the afternoon office of the medieval church, and this has spread across the country to the sites of other Augustinian priories, generally around the third Sunday after Easter, which falls this year on Sunday 25th April. For more information about Merton Priory and the Augustinian tradition in Britain, including preparation of a service for Nones each year, contact Sheila Fairbank, to whom we are indebted for the information she has provided on St Augustine and the Augustinians. A copy of the Merton Nones service for 2021 can be downloaded here
The Nones service has been said at Brinkburn several times over the past ten years. In 2020 and 2021 it has not been possible because the priory has been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and this has also been the case at may other Augustinian sites. However, it has not stopped some of us from saying the Merton Priory Nones privately in our own homes or elsewhere. We are hopeful that it will be possible to celebrate Nones again publicly at Brinkburn in 2022