Nicholas Litlyngton

Nicholas Litlyngton was Abbot of Westminster from 1362-1386 and was buried in the chapel of St Blaise in Westminster Abbey. This chapel was the southern section of what is now Poets' Corner. The only remains of it are two 13th century wall paintings of St Christopher and Christ with St Thomas which were re-discovered in the 1930s.

In 1873 a stone was put in just in front of Shakespeare's monument which reads:

Near this spot in the ancient chapel of St Blaize are interred Nicholas Littlington Abbot of Westminster 1386 [and it gives two other names of persons buried in the area on the same stone]

His name is normally spelled Litlyngton.

He appears to have entered the monastery in 1333 and was a son of Hugh and Joan for whom he founded an anniversary at Great Malvern Priory. His coat of arms was a version of that of the family of Despenser but the rumours of his being a son of Edward III or his twin brother have been dismissed. He did have a licence to act as attorney for Edward le Despenser and in the monastery he held various offices including treasurer, refectorer and prior. Succeeding Simon Langham as abbot he used part of Langham's generous bequest, and much of his own money, to rebuild the west and south cloisters, the east side of Dean's Yard (comprising the cellarer's buildings) and the boundary wall of the monastery (part of which still exists in College Street and opposite the Houses of Parliament). He enlarged the refectory and continued with the building of the nave from 1376.

His great Missal, which was given by him for use at the High Altar, still exists in the Abbey Library. One volume can now be seen in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries. He died at his manor of Neyte, not far from the Abbey, on 29th November 1386.

An inventory of his goods at his death is Westminster Abbey Muniment 5446.

Further reading

"The monks of Westminster" by E.H. Pearce 1916

"Missale ad usum Ecclesie Westmonasteriensis" edited by J.W. Legg, 3 volumes 1871 about the Missal the abbot gave.

"Royal ceremonial in the Missal of Abbot Nicholas Litlyngton" by J. Wackett in Burlington Magazine Jan. 2019, vol.161

"The great Missal of Abbot Nicholas Litlyngton 1383-84" by Douglas East, M.Phil thesis 1998 and D.Phil thesis 2007 (available for consultation in the Abbey Library)

"The Litlyngton Missal, its patron, iconography and messages" by Jayne Wackett, thesis 2014 (available to consult in the Abbey Library)

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


29th November 1386


Abbot; priest/minister


South Transept; Poets' Corner

Memorial Type

Grave; stone

Nicholas Litlyngton
Nicholas Litlyngton, Owen Tudor and William Benson memorial stone

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Nicholas Litlyngton
Litlyngton Missal

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster