Walter Espec

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Walter Espec (died 1153) was a prominent military and judicial figure of the reign of Henry I of England.

His father was probably William Speche (William Espec), who joined William the Conqueror in the Norman conquest of England.[1] The senior Speche is believed to have become the feudal Baron of Old Wardon by 1086.[2]

In the years up to 1120, Espec controlled northern England, alongside Eustace Fitz John.[3] He was the builder of Helmsley Castle; he built also Wark Castle.[4] As an old man, when High Sheriff of Yorkshire, he fought against the Scots at the Battle of the Standard in 1138.[5] He was the founder of Kirkham Priory (Augustinians) and later Rievaulx Abbey (Cistercians).[6] Kirkham Priory was founded around 1130.[7] He then donated 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) to Rievaulx, where building started in 1132, and is largely credited for the arrival of the Cistercians in England.[8] By 1135 he also founded Warden Abbey[9] (Wardon) in Bedfordshire, a daughter house of Rievaulx. Walter Espec later became a Cistercian monk himself.[7]


  • Concise Dictionary of National Biography
  • Paul Dalton, " Espec, Walter (d. 1147x58) ", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • Janet E. Burton, The monastic order in Yorkshire, 1069–1215, Cambridge studies in medieval life and thought, Cambridge University Press, 1999, 352 pages. ISBN 0-521-55229-X.
  • A.Gransden, Historical Writing in England c. 550–c.1307, 1974.
  • Christopher Tyerman, " Walter Espec ", dans Who's Who in Early Medieval England, 1066–1272, Shepheard-Walwyn (editor), 1996, p. 113–114. (ISBN 0-85683-132-8).


  1. ^ H2G2
  2. ^ Sanders, I.J. (1960). English Baronies: A Study of Their Origin and Descent, 1086-1327. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 133–134.
  3. ^ Paul Dalton, Conquest, Anarchy and Lordship: Yorkshire, 1066–1154 (2002), p. 105.
  4. ^ Wark Castle
  5. ^ Frank Barlow, The Feudal Kingdom of England 1042–1216, (4th edition), p. 211.
  6. ^ People
  7. ^ a b Houses of Austin canons – Priory of Kirkham | British History Online
  8. ^ Rievaulx- A Virtual Tour
  9. ^ Bedfordshire County Council: Warden Abbey

External links[edit]