ROBIN HOOD’S GRAVE
Picture: Rear view of the Gate House at Kirklees where Robin Hood is said to have been bled to death by the Prioress. (Courtesy of Steven Hill)
This small Cistercian priory of Kirklees was founded in 1155AD during the reign of Henry II by Reiner le Fleming, lord of the manor of Wath-upon-Dearne. Apart from some scandal regarding the three nuns, Alice Raggid, Elizabeth Hopton, and Joan Heton between the years 1306 to 1315 life will have been fairly uneventful until the Black Death, when among those who died of the plague were Robert Hood of Wakefield, his next-door neighbour and attorney Thomas Alayn, also William of Goldesborough and others. They were buried in the cemetery of the priory where the Prioress layed "a very fayre stone" with all their names engraved.
Joan Kyppes surrendered the priory into the hands of the King in 1539. At that date it had eight inmates and the whole property amounted to £29 18s. 9d.
In 1542 John Leyland who was antiquary [historian] to Henry VIII and who travelled widely in England and Wales keeping records of all kinds of antiquities went to Kirklees where he recorded the grave as 'monasterum monialum ubi Ro:Hood nobilis ille exlex sepultus.' Which roughly translated means, "Resting under this monument lies buried Robin Hood that nobleman who was beyond the law."
the 31 May 1544 the priory was sold by the crown to John Tasburgh and
Nicholas Savile for the sum of £987 15s 7d.
Then in 1562 Richard Grafton visited Kirklees and wrote:- "But in an olde and auncient Pamphlet I finde this written of the sayd Robert Hood. This man (sayth he) discended of a nobel parentage: or rather beyng of a base stocke and linage, was for his manhoode and chivalry advaunced to the noble dignité of an Erle. Excellyng principally in Archery, or shootyng, his manly courage agreeyng therunto: But afterwardes he so prodigally exceeded in charges and expences, that he fell into great debt, by reason wherof, so many actions and sutes were commenced against him, wherunto he aunswered not, that by order of lawe he was outlawed, and then for a lewde shift, as his last refuge, gathered together a companye of Roysters and Cutters, and practised robberyes and spoylyng of the kynges subjects, and occupied and frequentede the Forestes or wilde Countries. The which beyng certefyed to the King, and he beyng greatly offended therewith, caused his proclamation to be made that whosoever would bryng him quicke or dead, the king would geve him a great summe of money, as by the recordes in the Exchequer is to be seene: But of this promise, no man enjoyed any benefite. For the sayd Robert Hood, beyng afterwardes troubled with sicknesse, came to a certein Nonry in Yorkshire called Bircklies, where desirying to be let blood, he was betrayed and bled to deth. After whose death the Prioresse of the same place caused him to be buried by the high way side, where he had used to rob and spoyle those that passed that way. And upon his grave the sayde Prioresse did lay a very fayre stone, wherin the names of Robert Hood, William of Goldesborough and others were graven. And the cause why she buryed him there was for that the common passengers and travailers knowyng and seeyng him there buryed, might more safely and without feare take their jorneys that way, which they durst not do in the life of the sayd outlawes. And at eyther end of the sayde Tombe was erected a crosse of stone, which is to be seene there at this present (1569, pp. 84-85)."