(go to HistoryfishHome)
 (back to Monastic Pages Home)
(go to Abbey Pages Home)
Leave a Comment
<<Back    Next>>

  Augustinian Canons                       

Canons differ from Monks in that Canons are clerics of the church, are usually ordained priests, and deal with the sacramental  aspect of the Church.  At first Canons and Canonesses lived together as clerics serving a church and congregation.  Over time, however, they developed their own communities and adopted the Rule of St. Augustine to govern them.  Augustinian Canons are also associated with Austin Hermits.  Below find information from Abbot Gasquet's book English Monastic Life. Gasquet published the book through The Antiquaries Book series in 1904.  It is now out of print and not generally available.  There may be a number of factual errors in the text, or points on which historians or theologians do not agree.    Gasquet's text>>

Augustine Canon
 Download  474 KB JPEG of this image.                                       

The Canons Regular

The clergy of every large church were in ancient times called canonici—canons—as being on the list of those who were devoted to the service of the Church.  In the eighth century, Chrodegand, bishop of Metz, formed the clergy of his cathedral into a body, living in common under a rule and bound to the public recitation of the Divine Office.  They were known still as canons, or those living under a rule of life like the monks, from the true meaning of κανών, a rule.  The common life was in time abandoned in spite of the provisions of several Councils, and then institutions other than Cathedral Chapters became organised upon lines similar to those laid down by Chrodegand, and they became known as Canons Regular.  They formed themselves generally on the so-called Rule of St. Augustine, and became known, in England at least, as Augustinian Canons, Premonstratensian Canons, and Gilbertine Canons.


 The early history of the Austin, or Black Canons, is involved in considerable obscurity, and it is only after the beginning of the twelfth century that these Regulars are to be found in Europe.  The Order was conventual, or monastic, rather than congregational or provincial, like the Friars : that is, the members were professed for a special house and belonged by virtue of their vows to it, and not to the general body of their brethren in the country.  In one point they were not so closely bound to their house as were the monks.  The Regular Canons were allowed in individual cases to serve the parishes that were impropriated to their houses ; the monks were always obliged to employ secular vicars in these cures.  The Augustinians were very popular in England ; most of their houses having been established in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.  The earliest foundation was that of Christ Church, or Holy Trinity, Aldgate, made by Queen Maud in A.D. 1108 ; and at the time of the dissolution there were about 170 houses of Augustinian Canons in England ; two of the abbeys, Waltham Cross and Cirencester, being governed by mitered abbots.  In Ireland they were even more popular and numerous, the number of the houses of canons being put at 223, together with 33 nunneries.  The Augustinian priors of Christ Church, and All Hallows, Dublin, and seen other priors of the Order, had seats in the Irish Parliament.  The habit of the Order was black, and hence they were frequently known as Black Canons.

English Monastic Life by F.A. Gasquet.  (pages 222-226)

Augustinian Houses in England (see Religious Houses index page):
(There are far too many Augustine Houses to list on this page, so I have
listed on abbeys, and houses of Canonesses and nuns.)

    Briston, Great St. Augustine’s Abbey 
    Bruton Abbey 
    Cirencester Abbey
    Creyk Abbey 
    Darly Abbey
    Dorchester Abbey 
    Haghmond Abbey 
    Hartland Abbey
    Kenilworth Abbey
    Keynsham Abbey
     Launde, or Landa Abbey
    Leicester, St. Mary de Pré Abbey
    Lesnes Abbey

    Lilleshall Abbey

    Medmenham Abbey

    Missenden Abbey

    Nutley Abbey

    Olveston Abbey

    Osney Abbey

    St. Osyth, or Chich Abbey

    Roucester Abbey


    Waltham, Holy Cross Abbey



    Female House (Canonesses)

Augustinian Links:

Canons Regular of St. Augustine.

The White Nuns of St. Augustine, 'House of Augustinian nuns: The priory of Grace Dieu', A History of the County of Leicestershire: Volume 2 (1954), pp. 27-8.  Through British History Online.

Canons and Canonesses Regular, an article from New Advent.

Article on The Rule of St. Augustine from New Advent.

e-Text of the Rule of Saint Augustine through the Order of Preachers, a Dominican Friar website.

Corrections, questions?
  email me

Historyfish pages, content, and design copyright (c) Richenda Fairhurst, 2008
All rights reserved. No commercial permissions are granted.

The Historyfish site, as a particular and so unique "expression," is copyright. However, some (most) source material is part of the public domain, and so free of copyright restrictions. Where those sections are not clearly marked, please contact me so I can assist in identifying and separating that material from the Historyfish site as a whole.

When using material from this site, please keep author, source, and copyright permissions with this article.

Historyfish  intends to generate discussion through shared information and does not claim to provide, in any way, formal, legal, or factual advice or information. These pages are opinion only.  Opinions shared on historyfish are  not necessarily the opinions of historyfish editors, staff, owners or administrators.  Always consult proper authorities with questions pertaining to copyrights, property rights, and intellectual property rights.

It is my intent to follow copyright law (however impossibly convoluted that may be). Please contact me should any material included here be copyright protected and posted in error. I will remove it from the site. Thank you.