The Dissolution of the Monasteries
Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy in 1534 and the Supremacy Acts in 1536 and 1539. Henry then annexed the assets of the monasteries, priories, friaries and convents of England, Wales and Ireland during the period 1536 to 1541.
At the time of the dissolution, Swine priory housed a prioress and 18 nuns. The net annual income was £82 3s. 9d. The nuns were dispersed and the priory church granted to the parishioners of Swine. In 1541 the site of the priory, together with its lands and tithes, were given by Henry to Sir Richard Gresham, a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Mercers and Lord Mayor of London. There were granges at Benningholme, Bewholme, Drypool, Fairholme, Langthorpe and Oubrough.
In 1538, Henry’s Vicar General, Thomas Cromwell ordered that each parish priest must keep a book of all baptisms, marriages and burials in his parish. The book was to be updated weekly, in the presence of the church wardens, and kept in a secure chest with two keys, one for the priest and one for the wardens. There would be a fine of 3s. 4d. for failure to comply. Despite this, the order went largely ignored since parishes feared that it would result in a new tax. Cromwell repeated the order in 1547 with the stipulation that fines would be used for the relief of the poor. NOTE: The Swine parish registers held at Beverley date from 1706.
EDWARD VI (1547 – 1553)
Foundation of Burton Constable
Around 1500, a brick built manor house was erected at Burton, a sizeable village, protected by a pele tower constructed in the twelfth century. The village was cleared, and its inhabitants removed, to make way for what, over time, became Burton Constable house and park. The pele tower was incorporated into the foundations of the north tower (known as Stephen’s Tower).
“BLOODY” MARY (1553-1558)
Restoration of Catholicism
The only child of Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, Mary was crowned in 1553. She restored Roman Catholicism with dissenters (the Marian Martyrs) condemned to being burned at the stake. Her brutal persecution of protestants earned her the title of “Bloody Mary”. Monastic property confiscated by Henry VIII were restored to the church but remained in the hands of the occupiers. Mary married Prince Philip II of Spain in 1554 and died in 1558.
Former Swine Priory Assets
Having reverted to the crown by exchange, the former assets of Swine priory were granted to Sir John Constable in 1553. Sir John was elected as MP for Hedon in 1553, 1558 and 1562/3.
ELIZABETH I (1558- 1603)
Born in 1553, Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn. During her reign she was known as “The Virgin Queen” or “Gloriana”.
In 1598 records were to be kept in “great decent books” of parchment and copies (the Bishops’ Transcripts) were to be sent to the diocesan centre each month.
Redevelopment of Burton Constable
In the 1560's, Sir John Constable demolished most of the original manor house, only the north wing and Stephen’s Tower remaining. He added the central block and the south wing, incorporating a second tower. Ancillary buildings included a stable block and turreted gatehouse.