The Priory and Richard of Wallingford
Holy Trinity Priory
While there is no sign of Holy Trinity Priory on the Bullcroft today, it was a major institution that produced celebrated thinkers of medieval times. Built around 1097, it was dismantled by Cardinal Wolsey so that he could build what became Christchurch College in Oxford in 1525. Holy Trinity Priory was a “cell” of St Albans Abbey, which meant that several monks from Wallingford went on to become abbots of St Albans.
Richard of Wallingford
Richard of Wallingford, son of a blacksmith, was taken in at Holy Trinity when he was orphaned as a child. He rose to become Prior of Wallingford and later Abbot of St Alban’s, despite suffering from leprosy. A celebrated mathematician, he built a famous astronomical clock at St Albans, the most sophisticated in the world at that time. He designed and constructed an equatorium, a device that could calculate lunar, solar and planetary longitudes and could predict eclipses.
John of Wallingford
John of Wallingford wrote historical chronicles covering the period 449 to 1036. He noted that "the Danes, thanks to their habit of combing their hair every day, of bathing every Saturday and regularly changing their clothes, were able to undermine the virtue of married women and even seduce the daughters of nobles to be their mistresses." He also wrote the first predictions of high tide on the Thames.
William of Wallingford
William was a controversial abbot, spending a great deal of money on the fabric of St Albans, including an elaborate screen. Some suggest he embezzled money and was responsible for a moral decline, and even allowed orgies to take place at the Abbey, but others believe that these were false charges.