'The Right Ordering of Souls': The Parish of All Saints' Bristol on the Eve of the Reformation
 1783273097, 9781783273096

Table of contents :
Frontcover
Contents
List of illustrations
Acknowledgements
Abbreviations
Notes
Part I. For the increase of the divine service
1 ‘God is in none land so well served’:
Placing the late medieval English parish
Part II. All Saints’, Bristol, and its parishioners
2 ‘To be showed and declared’: Circumstances and sources
3 ‘According to the usage there’: Reading testamentary evidence
4 ‘Since his decease’: The widows’ might
5 ‘God amend them’: The parish wronged
Part III. Commemorating the dead
6 ‘In possession for the profit of the church’:
Securing commemoration in the parish
7 ‘For all future time’: The Halleways’ Chantry
Part IV. Leaders and administrators
8 ‘He procured, moved and stirred’: Clergy as mentors
9 ‘Well willed men’: Leaders, managers and parishioners
Part V. Ordering the parish
10 ‘Was but single and no thing of beauty’: Enhancing the parish church
11 ‘To the laud and the loving of Almighty God’:
Increasing divine service in All Saints’
Conclusion: ‘What else, I ask you, is a city than a great monastery?’
Appendices
Bibliography
Glossary
Index

Citation preview

The Right Ordering of ouls

S

The Parish of All Saints’ Bristol on the Eve of the Reformation

clive burgess

Studies in the History of Medieval Religion VOLUME XLVII

‘the right ordering of souls’

Studies in the History of Medieval Religion ISSN 0955–2480 Founding Editor Christopher Harper-­Bill Series Editor Frances Andrews

Previously published titles in the series are listed at the back of this volume

‘the right ordering of souls’ the parish of all saints’ bristol on the eve of the reformation

Clive Burgess

the boydell press

© Clive Burgess 2018 All Rights Reserved. Except as permitted under current legislation no part of this work may be photocopied, stored in a retrieval system, published, performed in public, adapted, broadcast, transmitted, recorded or reproduced in any form or by any means, without the prior permission of the copyright owner The right of Clive Burgess to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 First published 2018 The Boydell Press, Woodbridge ISBN 978–1–78327–309–6 The Boydell Press is an imprint of Boydell & Brewer Ltd PO Box 9, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 3DF, UK and of Boydell & Brewer Inc. 668 Mount Hope Ave, Rochester, NY 14620–2731, USA website: www.boydellandbrewer.com A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library The publisher has no responsibility for the continued existence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-­party internet websites referred to in this book, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate This publication is printed on acid-­free paper

In loving memory of my parents Kathleen and Frank Burgess

Contents

List of illustrations ix Acknowledgements xi Abbreviations xiv Notes xvi Part I. For the increase of the divine service 1 ‘God is in none land so well served’: Placing the late medieval English parish

5

Part II. All Saints’, Bristol, and its parishioners 2 3 4 5

‘To be showed and declared’: Circumstances and sources ‘According to the usage there’: Reading testamentary evidence ‘Since his decease’: The widows’ might ‘God amend them’: The parish wronged

59 83 119 163

Part III. Commemorating the dead 6 ‘In possession for the profit of the church’: Securing commemoration in the parish 7 ‘For all future time’: The Halleways’ Chantry

193 223

Part IV. Leaders and administrators 8 ‘He procured, moved and stirred’: Clergy as mentors 9 ‘Well willed men’: Leaders, managers and parishioners

261 282

Part V. Ordering the parish 10 ‘Was but single and no thing of beauty’: Enhancing the parish church 11 ‘To the laud and the loving of Almighty God’: Increasing divine service in All Saints’

331 383

viii

contents

Conclusion ‘What else, I ask you, is a city than a great monastery?’

413

Appendices 425 Bibliography 431 Glossary 446 Index 453

Illustrations

1 Late medieval Bristol, showing major ecclesiastical institutions

xviii

2 Central Bristol in the late middle ages

xix

3 Sketch plan of All Saints’ parish church

xx

4 The Eton College Consolidation Charter, 5 March 1446. Eton College Archives, ECR 39/57. Reproduced by permission of the Provost and Fellows of Eton College

33

5 The north aisle of All Saints’, Bristol – the Corn Street frontage

69

The author and publishers are grateful to all the institutions and individuals listed for permission to reproduce the materials in which they hold copyright. Every effort has been made to trace the copyright holders; apologies are offered for any omission, and the publishers will be pleased to add any necessary acknowledgement in subsequent editions.

Acknowledgements

L

ong ago, having started research on ‘Popular Religion in Late Medieval Bristol’, I spent a good deal of time in the Bristol Record Office (then located in the Council House) transcribing late medieval wills. During one of the afternoons spent in the search room, letting my attention wander, I began to leaf through some of the schedules on the shelves itemising other holdings in the Bristol archive and gradually came to realise how much documentation had survived for many of the town’s parishes. I subsequently looked through and then transcribed much of this material and, while citizens’ wills may have formed the mainstay of my early work – which metamorphosed into a thesis on ‘Chantries in fifteenth-century Bristol’ – the late medieval parish records naturally proved invaluable, supplementing testamentary impressions and greatly enhancing my understanding of contemporary practice. Although it soon became obvious that All Saints’ had preserved more than any other pre-Reformation parish in Bristol, it was not until the early 1990s, when I had started working on some of London’s late medieval parishes, that I really came to appreciate the exceptional coverage offered by this archive. I began to wonder whether a case study of All Saints’ might be feasible; this, much later, is now complete. It offers neither a narrative history of the parish nor does it attempt the social history of its inhabitants: good as the records may be, they cannot be made to reveal much on these topics. By contrast, what I have attempted to formulate is an understanding of parishioners’ religious motivation and behaviour at a time when, more generally, the nation’s devotional attainment was remarkable – the surviving physical evidence embodied in parish buildings and furnishings is unequivocal on this point – but which, ordinarily, finds little by way of archival detail or explanation. In these circumstances, the All Saints’ material sheds welcome light on at least some of the strategies that men and women adopted in the period immediately preceding the Reformation. During so protracted a project I have incurred many debts, and it is now both a duty and a pleasure to acknowledge these. I offer my heartfelt thanks to the many friends in Bristol and Cardiff on whose hospitality I depended during lengthy periods of work in the Bristol Record Office; it is a pleasure, too, to thank the archivists in the Record Office for their constant courtesy and efficiency. But I have also benefited from many other types of assistance. I must mention both the Leverhulme Trust and the Arts and

xii

acknowledgements

Humanities Research Council whose financial support proved invaluable. I am very grateful to Boydell for agreeing to publish this book, to Giles Darkes for creating such excellent maps, to Paul O’Mara for artistic direction – and must also thank Marjorie Park for her encouragement. It is with fondness, too, that I thank my pupils and particularly those in recent years who have found themselves on my Special Subject (studying the late medieval English Church) and been set to examine, and test, some of the ideas that formally emerge here. I would, however, particularly like to thank my own teachers who, in their different ways, helped and encouraged me – Keith Baker at school and, thereafter, Thomas Charles-Edwards, Brian Harrison, James HowardJohnston and, more generally, Corpus Christi College, Oxford, respectively for their generosity and its nurture. I count my blessings. Along with the thanks due to the late James Campbell for all that one could learn simply by listening to him and, similarly, to Jeremy Catto, I acknowledge a deep debt to Barbara Harvey, who supervised my doctoral thesis, and whose expertise and care, then and since, have been an inspiration. More recently, I have been assisted by colleagues, ex-pupils and friends who have read either chapters or, in some cases, the whole typescript, and whose comments have been invaluable, not least in saving me from many blunders – I would particularly mention (in alphabetical order) Susan Bennett, Justin Champion, Peter Fleming, Clare Grist, David Harry and Christian Steer, but offer special thanks to David Moncur, who has read it all at least twice. I am also very grateful for the support that I have received from colleagues in the History department at Royal Holloway in the University of London, my academic home now for almost thirty years. But as I finish this project, I am keenly aware of just how much I owe to Caroline Barron, not only for her unwavering support and kindness as a colleague and friend but also for her patience and expertise in acting, effectively, as editor; she has greatly improved this book. But, of course, none of the above bears any responsibility for shortcomings that remain. Finally, I should like to acknowledge those parishioners from so long ago. It has constantly been intriguing to work out more about them and their plans and, however poorly I have recaptured the world that they once created, I hope I have not misrepresented them or their intentions. Despite the fate that befell their designs, from my own experience I feel able to assure them that charity can still endure. Indeed, the long process of writing this book has left its author only too well aware of how often he has been borne up by others’ kindness. As a beneficiary, I am grateful to be able to take this opportunity both to remember, and to thank, all my many benefactors. The dedication, to my late parents, marks a debt of a different order. Clive Burgess March 2017

This book is produced with the generous assistance of a grant from the Richard III and Yorkist History Trust

Abbreviations

AHT Bristol

ASB 1–3

BRUO

BRUO 1540 Cal. Pat. Rolls CBSE

Councils & Synods II

EHD IV EHR GOB GRB, i–iv

JEH LRB, i–ii

M. D. Lobel and E. M. Carus-Wilson, ‘Bristol’, in The Atlas of Historic Towns II, ed. M. D. Lobel and W. H. Johns (1975) The Pre-Reformation Records of All Saints’, Bristol: Parts 1–3, ed. C. Burgess, Bristol Record Society’s Publications, 46, 53, 56 (1995, 2000, 2004) A. B. Emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to AD 1500 (3 vols., Oxford, 1957–9) A. B. Emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford AD 1501–1540 (Oxford, 1974) Calendar of Patent Rolls (Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London 1891– ) The Church Book of St Ewen’s, Bristol, 1454–1584, ed. B. R. Masters and E. Ralph, Publications of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, Records Section, 6 (1967) Councils and Synods with other Documents relating to the English Church II, AD 1205–1313, ed. F. M. Powicke and C. R. Cheney (2 vols., Oxford, 1964) English Historical Documents, 1372–1485, ed. A. R. Myers (London, 1969) English Historical Review Great Orphan Book and Book of Wills (deposited in the Bristol Record Office) The Great Red Book of Bristol, Text, parts i–iv, ed. E. W. Veale, Bristol Record’s Society Publications, 4, 8, 16, 18 (1933, 1937, 1950, 1953) Journal of Ecclesiastical History The Little Red Book of Bristol, i and ii, ed. Francis B. Bickley (2 vols., Bristol and London, 1900)

abbreviations Medieval Chantry

ODNB OED PCC PLME

TBGAS TNA TRHS Worcestre

xv

The Medieval Chantry in England, ed. J. M. Luxford and J. McNeill (Leeds, 2012) – also as the Journal of the British Archaeological Association, 164 (2011) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography The Oxford English Dictionary Prerogative Court of Canterbury Probate Registers (deposited in TNA) The Parish in Late Medieval England, ed. C. Burgess and E. Duffy, Harlaxton Medieval Studies, 14 (Donington, 2006) Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society The National Archives (formerly Public Record Office) Transactions of the Royal Historical Society William Worcestre: The Topography of Medieval Bristol, ed. F. Neale, Bristol Record Society Publications, 51 (2000)

Notes

The sequence of vicars in All Saints’ during the period covered by this study Thomas Marshall, died June 1434 Richard Parkhouse, died August 1436 William Rodberd, died June 1453 Maurice Hardwick, served from 1455 until 1473 William Howe, arrived 1473 John Thomas, served from 1479 until 1503 Richard Bromfeld, served from 1503 until 1513 John Flook served from 1517 until 1533; returned as Prior of the Kalendars in 1535; died 1540

Dates Before 1752, the official New Year in England began on 25 March – on Lady Day, the Feast of the Annunciation. Nevertheless, in the interests of ease and consistency, the dating in the following study uses 1 January as the start of the New Year.

Money The pound sterling constituted the basic monetary unit [the Latin for pound was librum, hence the abbreviation £], but this was subdivided in various ways. The most commonly encountered sub-units were shillings and pennies: there were 20 shillings to the pound [the Latin for shilling is solidus – hence the abbreviation s.] and there were 12 pennies to the shilling [the Latin for penny is denarius, hence abbreviation d.]. But other subdivisions are also commonly encountered, most notably the mark, which was the equivalent of two-thirds of a pound [that is 13s. 4d.]. This denomination then explains the prevalence of other commonly encountered sums of reckoning and planning, which represented fractions of the mark – 6s. 8d. was half a mark, 3s. 4d. a quarter of a mark, and 1s. 8d. one eighth of a mark. As will become apparent, contemporaries resorted to these sums, if anything, more frequently than the equivalent fractions of a pound – 10s., 5s. and 2s. 6d.

notes

xvii

Other occasionally encountered terms, include the guinea, that is the sum of £1 1s.; the crown, that is the sum of 5s.; the noble, which, while it would eventually be standardised to the value of one-third of a pound (i.e. 6s. 8d.), in the fifteenth century was worth two crowns, or 10s.; and the groat, worth 4d.

Weights and measures Avoirdupois: The system of weights was based on the pound [abbreviated: lb], which contained sixteen ounces [abbreviated: oz]; fourteen pounds made a stone, and one hundredweight contained 112 pounds. There were twenty hundredweights to the ton. Tun and pipe: Measures of capacity varied for different commodities, but those most commonly encountered in this work refer either to wine or woad. One tun was equal to two pipes or four hogsheads or eight barrels; so a pipe (sometimes also called a butt) was half a tun. One tun was equal to 210 imperial gallons (or 252 old wine gallons), and thus one pipe was equal to 105 imperial gallons (or 126 old wine gallons).

Ecclesiastical terminology In the following, I will generally refer to the parish as All Saints’. It should be noted, however, that contemporaries usually referred to their parish as All Hallows’; in quotations I let this usage stand. The phrase ‘the mother church’ refers to the cathedral church of the diocese. Having started to become an important centre only from the tenth century, well after England’s diocesan boundaries had been established (in the seventh and eighth centuries), medieval Bristol straddled two dioceses. The old town to the north of the River Avon was situated in the diocese of Worcester, whereas the parishes in the newer, southern suburb, on the other side of the River Avon, lay in the diocese of Bath and Wells. As a result, and unusually for a settlement of its size, Bristol lacked a cathedral; strictly, it remained a town. Situated at the heart of the old town, All Saints’ was in the diocese of Worcester and, for its parishioners, the cathedral church of St Mary in Worcester was the mother church.

1 Late medieval Bristol, showing major ecclesiastical institutions.

xviii

2 Central Bristol in the late middle ages.

xix

3 Sketch plan of All Saints’ parish church.

xx

Part I

For the increase of divine service

S

hifting opinion in recent decades has unsettled orthodoxies on the late medieval English Church, so much so that many now agree that Catholicism flourished in this country in the two centuries prior to the Reformation. Indeed, the premise underpinning the present study is that religion in the later fourteenth, fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries benefited from an institutional vitality and popular commitment rarely, if ever, equalled since. To take one indicator, in every locality of England many parish churches were either lavishly rebuilt or substantially enlarged in the two centuries that followed the Black Death, a period when a much reduced population remained stubbornly low.1 Moreover, many of the Church’s longest functioning and most prestigious regular corporations, namely its monasteries and hospitals, revived and prospered despite enduring calamitous manpower losses with the onset of plague.2 The same applies to England’s secular, or collegiate, corporations, which, if anything, began to enjoy a new lease of life from the later fourteenth century.3 Similarly, ‘voluntary’ religion, as expressed Appraisal of religious sentiment as expressed through church buildings is best achieved by fieldwork, with reference to whichever of Nikolaus Pevsner’s indispensable The Buildings of England volumes is relevant. Confirming that churches were not being enlarged to accommodate population growth, see, in summary on the demography of late medieval England, S. H. Rigby, ‘Social Structure and Economic Change in Late Medieval England’ and B. Campbell, ‘The Land’, in A Social History of England 1200– 1500, ed. R. Horrox and W. M. Ormrod (Cambridge, 2006), respectively pp. 1–30 and 179–237, at pp. 15–23 and pp. 185–6.  2 For a survey of the fortunes of the monastic order in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, see the essays by James Clark and Joan Greatrex in the introductory section of The Religious Orders in Pre-Reformation England, ed. J. G. Clark (Woodbridge, 2002); also M. Heale, Monasticism in Late Medieval England, c. 1300–1535 (Manchester, 2009), particularly its introduction (pp. 1–74).  3 As investigated in this chapter.  1

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either in parish fraternities or local chapelries, also inspired keen commitment.4 And, even though this study is mainly concerned with institutional development within the Church, a lively tradition of affective piety further enriched the spiritual experience of many among the faithful in the period in question.5 Such claims would once have been unexpected and, in some quarters, may still be contentious; but this merely testifies to obstacles that long impeded the satisfactory evaluation of the pre-Reformation English Church. The conceptual chasm between late medievalists and early modernists, when coupled with the relative scarcity of those studying the earlier period and also a residual denominational antagonism, meant that few paid much heed to religious practice as observed before the destruction unleashed in and after the 1530s. In general, historians of the Reformation displayed little inclination to explore conditions antecedent to ‘the main event’ and, indeed, an inadequate grasp of the Catholic establishment and its mores still hinders assessments either of immediate or of eventual change.6 Even the most influential across-the-divide survey, which manifestly places a premium on conditions before the Reformation statutes, has failed to resolve this problem – as if any one study could. Eamon Duffy’s The Stripping of the Altars elucidates the popular response to medieval Catholicism with verve and sensitivity, but refers only in passing to the institutional framework within which formal and informal religious behaviour normally found expression.7 Professor Duffy’s brief was to fathom ‘traditional religion’ and, where sentiment and ritual conduct were concerned, he succeeds admirably; but the absence of complementary institutional appraisal leaves his depiction of the late medieval Church somewhat resembling Hamlet in search of As an introduction to guilds, see, for instance, G. Rosser, ‘Communities of Parish and Guild in the late Middle Ages’, in Parish, Church and People. Local Studies in Lay Religion, 1350–1750, ed. S. Wright (London, 1988), pp. 29–55, and B. A. Hanawalt, ‘Keepers of the Lights: Late Medieval English Parish Gilds’, Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 14 (1984), pp. 21–37; on the proliferation of chapels, see N. Orme, ‘The Other Parish Churches: Chapels in Late Medieval England’, in PLME, pp. 78–94.  5 For an approachable introduction to the social and textual contexts within which affective piety flourished, see The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Mysticism, ed. S. Fanous and V. Gillespie (Cambridge, 2011).  6 With G. Bernard, The Late Medieval English Church: Vitality and Vulnerability before the Break with Rome (New Haven and London, 2012) now an obvious, and important, exception.  7 E. Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400–1580, 2nd edn (New Haven and London, 2005) which, barring a section on parish and confraternities (chapter 4), never dwells on the institutions of the Church. Duffy subsequently made restitution with his study of a local parish regime in the early–mid sixteenth century, The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village (New Haven and London, 2001).  4

for the increase of divine service

3

the Prince.8 Questions remain. What was the context in which traditional religion flourished? What constituted the institutional landscape for traditional Christians, and how did they forge an identity – ordinarily as parishioners – within this setting? And why did they respond with such enthusiasm? The following study reflects on these questions by analysing behaviour in a parish that, very unusually, preserves an ample pre-Reformation archive. But, if the greater part of this book considers local custom, its wider proposition is that parish developments make best sense within the context of the institutional Church as it evolved within a nexus both of spiritual and political circumstance – and this is where it starts. Appraisals of the post-Reformation Church dwell, almost axiomatically, on the interplay of religion and politics supposedly brought to the fore in the 1530s, and kept there by successive monarchs who, either as Supreme Head or Governor of the Church of England, enforced settlements in their own interests but, in so doing, set themselves at odds with constituencies among their subjects. Such themes, of course, also applied before the Reformation, although fundamental discrepancies led to different attitudes and procedures.9 Medieval English kings recognised the pope as Head of the Church, although in practice they paid little more than lip service to Rome’s claims of dominion, particularly when these impinged upon national interests. Jurisdictional clashes occurred and, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, these occasionally embroiled English kings; but medieval monarchs ordinarily found accommodation with the pontiff – increasingly so from the early fourteenth century, when any claims that the latter made to political authority were progressively eroded by the ‘Babylonish Captivity’ in Avignon and, subsequently, the travails of the Schism and Conciliar era. In practice, English kings had long depended upon and exploited the Church as an indispensable arm of government – for instance, nominating bishops and relying on them as civil servants, as well as counting on their assistance at court and in parliament. Indeed, many bishops not only played a prominent role in formulating and implementing national policy but also shouldered a responsibility for assisting in the supervision of local affairs, even as they discharged pastoral On institutions, see A. Hamilton Thompson, The English Clergy and their Organization in the Later Middle Ages (Oxford, 1947); although originating as the Ford Lectures for 1933, this work remains indispensable.  9 This theme has generated a considerable literature, much of it building on Walter Ullmann’s works (including The Growth of Papal Government in the Middle Ages, 3rd edn (London, 1965) and The Origins of the Great Schism (London, 1967)). See, for instance, F. Oakley, The Western Church in the Later Middle Ages (Ithaca, NY, 1979), chapter 1; S. Ozment, The Age of Reform, 1250–1550 (New Haven and London, 1980), chapters 4 and 5; B. Tierney, Religion, Law and the Growth of Constitutional Thought, 1150–1550 (Cambridge, 1982); and see P. Heath, Church and Realm, 1272–1461 (London, 1988) on the situation in England.  8

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duties.10 The interdependency of king and bishops constituted a cornerstone of the late medieval English polity, to the obvious benefit of both parties; good government naturally profited the people, too, who ordinarily remained loyal both to their monarchs and to the Church in this period – although, in such tumultuous times, this rule found its exceptions.11 Late medieval government’s partiality for exploiting the ecclesiastical establishment may provide a somewhat unexpected backdrop for the premise of vitality and commitment: secular and ecclesiastical authorities nevertheless collaborated to orchestrate popular religion and, in the two centuries preceding the Reformation, coaxed a sustained reaction from the laity. This introductory chapter, therefore, particularly concerns itself with the manner in which the challenges of the mid and later fourteenth century – of war and plague, and of continuing social upheaval – combined to shape the role of the Church in both national and local affairs. Indeed, the tribulations faced by government offer a distinctive perspective on the vigour characterising the pre-Reformation response. If post-Reformation settlements have habitually been understood as adjuncts to successive political regimes, the challenges of the later fourteenth century ushered in a more overtly conformist, national religion – an ecclesia Anglicana – perhaps most obviously developed by the Lancastrian regime, but upheld thereafter, wherein public worship assisted in unifying the nation.12

On the syncretism between Church and State in late medieval England, and the role played by bishops, see G. Harriss, Shaping the Nation, England 1360–1461 (Oxford, 2005), chapter 9, part 1; Bernard, The Late Medieval English Church, chapter 3 (especially pp. 52–7 on bishops’ service in ‘a monarchical church’); it is a theme, too, that regularly occupies Heath in Church and Realm. For related case studies, see J. Rosenthal, ‘Edward III’s Bishops as His Diplomats’, in The Plantagenet Empire, ed. P. Crooks, D. Green and M. Ormrod, Harlaxton Medieval Studies, 26 (2016), pp. 290–309, and (on John Buckingham, bishop of Lincoln), A. K. McHardy, The Age of War and Wycliffe. Lincoln Diocese and its Bishop in the Later Fourteenth Century (Lincoln, 2001). 11 Chapter 1 will argue that events such as the Peasants’ Revolt and the advent of lollardy, while evidently a challenge, could be made to re-affirm shared values. 12 Explored (in an influential essay) by J. Catto in ‘Religious Change under Henry V’, in Henry V. The Practice of Kingship, ed. G. Harriss (Oxford, 1985), pp. 97–115. 10

Chapter 1

‘God is in none land so well served’: Placing the late medieval English parish

I

n the century before the Reformation, many English parishes witnessed far-reaching change; this study offers a detailed exploration of one ongoing transformation, and focuses on a well-documented urban example to draw attention to its parishioners’ unstinting financial and managerial investment. But by way of introduction, and to provide a context for the enterprise unfolding throughout England, the question of motive demands attention: why was the laity inclined to be so generous? Attempts to understand quite what sustained such an extraordinary outlay, both in terms of means and of effort, lead us unerringly back towards ‘the establishment’ and, more precisely, the objectives both of the Church and of successive governments acting either separately or in collusion. We need first to consider some of the spiritual principles that underpinned Christian behaviour, investigating the manner in which these adapted during the period in question; we may then reflect on the reasons why the authorities saw fit to cultivate such a vigorous response in the localities, shaping public worship to address a variety of political and social needs.

The Right Ordering of Souls: Penitential developments and pastoral responses In any assessment of the spiritual imperatives that determined belief and behaviour during this period, the Fourth Lateran Council’s decree Omnis utriusque sexus, promulgated in 1215, provides a good starting point.1 Convened by Pope Innocent III, the Lateran Council saw more than one thousand prelates from every The text of Lateran IV is accessible in English Historical Documents III, 1189–1327, ed. H. Rothwell (London, 1975), document 136 (pp. 643–76); on the requirement to confess annually, and the obligation to receive the Eucharist at least at Easter, see ibid., pp. 654–5. On what follows, see J. Arnold, Belief and Unbelief in Medieval Europe (London, 2005), chapter 2 (particularly pp. 32–40).

 1

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part of Christendom gathering in Rome: it set down a template for Christianity that would, in essence, prevail until the Council of Trent. As Alexander Murray comments, its core thinking is revealed ‘in one short phrase in canon no. 27: Ars artium regimen animarum – the right ordering of souls is the art of arts’: the Council’s intention was ‘to bring the divine down to earth’ by re-directing the efforts of the Church so that it should function more effectively in assisting all the faithful.2 In defining aspects of the faith, the Council issued canons against heresy and superstition, and set standards concerning clerical selection, education and discipline. It also imposed obligations on the laity – notably, that ‘every Christian of either sex’ should make a confession at least once annually. But henceforward the laity was to receive instruction: a priest in each parish, supported by an adequate income, and able to support his flock by appropriate teaching. In the aftermath of the Council, diocesan synods endeavoured to enforce these measures in the regions, apparently doing this in England with both application and relative success (as compared, for instance, to Italy). In England, one of the best known decrees was the Ignorantia sacerdotum, issued in 1281 by Archbishop Pecham; this reveals how a reform-minded prelate – who, it should be noted, was a Franciscan – did indeed strive to bring clergy and laity up to the mark.3 While the Fourth Lateran ‘did not invent all these new demands and activities, but rather produced an authoritative statement that codified disparate currents from the previous century’, the Church was clearly now attempting to reach out to its wider community.4 In doing this, it prescribed both belief and behaviour, demanding proactive teaching from local clergy and also a personal response from the faithful. Looking backwards from 1215, we encounter a Church that had effectively entrusted the fate of the laity not so much to its own devices but rather to the min A. Murray, ‘The Later Middle Ages’, in Christianity: Two Thousand Years, ed. R. Harries and H. Mayr-Harting (Oxford, 2001), p. 116.  3 For the traditional overview, see M. Gibbs and J. Lang, Bishops and Reform, 1215–1272, with special reference to the Lateran Council of 1215 (Oxford, 1934); more recent scholarship has tended towards a rather more optimistic assessment, however, as with A. Reeves, Religious Education in Thirteenth-Century England: The Creed and Articles of Faith (Leiden, 2015) or R. W. Southern, Robert Grosseteste. The Growth of an English Mind in Medieval Europe (Oxford, 1986), chapter 10. On Pecham’s attempt to ‘bring Christian doctrine and practice right down to parish level in a practical way’, see B. Thompson, ‘The Academic and Active Vocations in the Medieval Church: Archbishop John Pecham’, in The Church and Learning, ed. C. M. Barron and J. Stratford, Harlaxton Medieval Studies, 11 (2002), pp. 1–25. For a survey of clerical education in England, which Pecham helped to improve, see Heath, Church and Realm, chapter 5; and on the treatises and manuals eventually produced to assist in instructing priests and, hence, the laity, see W. Pantin, The English Church in the Fourteenth Century (Cambridge, 1955), chapters 8 and 9.  4 Quotation from Arnold, Belief and Unbelief, p. 38.  2

placing the late medieval english parish

7

istrations of the religious orders and communities whose task had been to generate sufficient grace to counteract the work of the Devil in society. But, looking forwards, we see a new pastoral configuration, where most ‘Christians of either sex’ could be assumed to enjoy tolerably easy contact with a priest, and access to a chapel or to a church of some kind, encouraging involvement, currently for their protection and ultimately their salvation. To the obvious question, ‘Was there sufficient pastoral provision by this period?’, in England, at least, the answer is a qualified affirmative. The parish network was reasonably complete by c.1200, certainly in the southern, more populous half of the country.5 Doctrinal change, too – as will soon emerge – was, at least in part, intended to persuade the faithful to assist in their own pastoral improvement both by contributing towards the upkeep of neighbourhood churches and also towards supporting a clergy whose vocation and training was now vetted more effectively.6 To gain perspective on the Church as it functioned in the centuries after the Fourth Lateran, we need to consider the development and role of monastic and secular communities, before turning to reflect on the more broadly based penitential initiatives associated with the Fourth Lateran and its aftermath.

The Special Prayers of Christian People: The Work of Communities While we may regard monasteries and their cognate forms as marginal, judging the religious as having rejected the world, this assumption stands at odds with medieval opinion. By any measure, these communities constituted the building blocks of the Church as it had evolved in Western Europe, and this fact alone obliges us to consider their rationale. At its simplest, although Christ sometimes dwelt alone, praying in the wilderness, he spent the greater part of his ministry in the company of the disciples, often in towns or villages, essentially as the leader of a small community. Such behaviour gave rise to two co-existent models.7 Some followers sought a life of solitude and hardship in order to forge a closer R. Morris, Churches in the Landscape (London, 1989), chapters 3–7 provides a wide-ranging introduction to this theme.  6 On the efforts made to prepare the clergy so that they might instruct the laity, see, for instance, L. E. Boyle, ‘The Fourth Lateran Council and Manuals of Popular Theology’, in The Popular Literature of Medieval England, ed. T. J. Heffernan (Knoxville, 1985), pp. 395–423, and N. Tanner and S. Watson, ‘Least of the Laity: The Minimum Requirements for a Medieval Christian’, Journal of Medieval History, 32 (2006), pp. 395–423.  7 For accessible discussion of the themes raised in this paragraph, see M. Dunn, The Emergence of Monasticism: From the Desert Fathers to the Early Middle Ages (Oxford, 2000).  5

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communion with God. While few, hermits have existed within Christian society from its beginnings, wielding spiritual influence far in excess of their number. But, in addition to the eremitic ideal, the late antique period also witnessed the prodigious development of the communal model, as the more devout turned their backs on secular society in search of a life following Christian principles more explicitly. Gathering as disciples around a master (perhaps a frustrated would-be hermit, whose sanctity permitted no solitude as others clamoured to learn from him), ‘clusters’ evolved into settled and regulated groups.8 The coenobitic impulse paved the way for the foundation of many communities that spread particularly from Egypt, across the Mediterranean world and into the far West by the sixth and seventh centuries; such foundations could be directed to more predictable purposes than was possible with their eremitic brethren and, as a result, were encouraged by western Church leaders.9 In time, clusters adopted rules and evolved into well-regulated communities, establishing themselves as steadfast centres of spiritual influence – able, ultimately, to offer calculable advantages for society more generally. Most abbots, too, proved willing both to re-engage with society and contribute to the conversion of the pagani and, thereafter, to reinforce and spread the basic tenets of Christian belief and behaviour. Communities needed regulation to determine both the structures of authority and the principles of conduct, so they adopted rules that varied in austerity. Those that followed stricter codes might certainly qualify as monasteries; but many houses also evolved that demanded less exacting behaviour and these, ultimately, came to be known as colleges.

Regular communities Monasteries that followed a Rule – ordinarily Benedictine – obliging monks to take vows predicating a disciplined life devoted particularly to the seemly celebration of St Anthony of the Desert affords the most obvious example of a would-be hermit who attracted numerous followers – so much so that his near contemporary, St Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, remarked that ‘the desert was made a city by monks’. The true founder of orthodox coenobitism, however, was Pachomius, in whose ‘monasteries monks lived in a highly regulated fashion, eating and sleeping in common refectories and dormitories and meeting in church at more regular intervals than their eremitic counterparts’. See Dunn, Emergence of Monasticism, chapters 1 and 2 (quotations, respectively, at pp. 3 and 25).  9 As it spread, Pachomian monasticism proved itself amenable – particularly under the guidance of teachers, in the fourth century, such as Basil of Caesarea, an ascetic who had become a bishop, and in the West by the example and teaching of, another monk turned bishop, Martin of Tours – to abiding by the teachings of the Church authorities. Each of these teachers is discussed in Dunn, Emergence of Monasticism, respectively pp. 34–41 and pp. 62–4.  8

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the liturgy, proliferated in Europe in the century following the Viking settlement, possibly because their services were perceived as offering the best safeguard against any repetition of such an onslaught. Benedictine houses rose to prominence in England from the later tenth century, initially under King Edgar’s sponsorship, but reinforced their dominance in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest.10 In the calmer conditions of the twelfth century, other orders began to flourish: some, like the Cistercians, were reformed Benedictine, and others, like the Carthusians, blended eremitic emphases within communal practice; all laid greater emphasis on individual, contemplative experience. Simultaneously, usually in humbler circumstances, the Augustinian order began to thrive, playing Martha to the role of Mary as discharged by the grander establishments, and serving ordinary people – often, it should be noted, town-dwellers – in more practical ways. The period from the tenth until the thirteenth centuries witnessed massive spiritual and propertied investment by kings and landowners, and occasionally also merchants, resulting in the establishment of a multitude of regular communities in England, as in the rest of western Christendom. Moreover, during the period in question and often mirroring the spiritual developments afoot in the men’s orders, nunneries flourished in both number and variety, adding to the density and range of regular observance in any locality.11 Overall, the rate of foundation for enclosed monastic establishments began to slow from the thirteenth century; but there is little need to interpret this situation in overly ominous terms. Even if the Church was now directing more attention towards believers in the world, it must always be remembered that a multitude of regular communities survived through the later Middle Ages with remarkably few losses, and in these a variety of spiritual emphases continued to fulfil a wide range of purposes and needs.12 Many houses recruited reasonably well, despite the man For a survey of the developments outlined in this paragraph, see J. Burton, Monastic and Religious Orders in Britain, 1000–1300 (Cambridge, 1994); also R. W. Southern, Western Society and the Church in the Middle Ages (Harmondsworth, 1970), chapter 6 delineates the variety of monastic observance and the functions the different orders fulfilled – and is notably helpful on the contribution of Augustinian houses (pp. 240–50). 11 See, for instance, S. Thompson, Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries after the Norman Conquest (Oxford, 1991); and for a summary of developments, see Burton, Monastic and Religious Orders, chapter 5. 12 While Southern observes (Western Society, p. 300) that, by the fourteenth century the existing religious and mendicants ‘had met all the main spiritual, social and intellectual needs that could be met by organized religious bodies’, it is worth emphasising that they continued to function and to fulfil the purposes for which they had been intended, as outlined by Clark, ‘Religious Orders’, pp. 13–33, and Heale, Monasticism, pp. 1–74 (although Benjamin Thompson, ‘Monasteries, Society and Reform in Late Medieval England’, in Religious Orders, ed. Clark, pp. 165–95 contends that, as organisations, they 10

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power shortages that resulted from the Black Death, and still gathered endowments and bequests from the wellborn and wealthy – that is, from the classes that had always tended to support monastic houses. While the wider Church began to pursue a more ambitious mission, monasteries and nunneries continued to fulfil the function for which they had been founded, of redeeming society and, also, assisting their patrons.

Secular communities Although monasteries tend to dominate assessments of medieval communities, secular foundations had always existed too. If following more lenient tenets and remaining more obviously in the world, the priests (commonly called canons) who lived together in these foundations also emphasised daily worship – the opus dei – and, in the eighth century, St Chrodegang of Metz (d. 766) had formulated an influential code of conduct. In some respects, such houses had the longer continuous pedigree. In the age of Bede and just after, before the advent of the Vikings, most English communities had been secular: some of the larger and more prestigious, such as St Paul’s in London or, in the north, York Minster and its pro-cathedrals in the diocese at Beverly, Ripon and Southwell, flourish still; but there were also numerous smaller communities throughout the realm, many of which were called minsters. Where Bede, a monk, had criticised the laxity of these houses, the reformers of the tenth century – notably Sts Dunstan, Oswald and Æthelwold, all Bendictine monks – verged on the apoplectic.13 They condemned such communities as debauched, particularly reviling their canons’ lack of celibacy since, inevitably, canonries had come to be held by inheritance rather than vocation.14 Far from being an abomination, the accommodation that minsters enjoyed with secular society could be said to have served its purposes. In England, the duty of winning over the pagani largely fell to minster clergy and, for all that they strayed had by the sixteenth century ‘fulfilled their historic role … and written themselves out of the story’). 13 Bede censured those ‘innumerable places … allowed the name of monasteries by a most foolish manner of speaking but having nothing at all of a monastic way of life’, in his Letter to Egbert, Archbishop of York (written in 734), most conveniently in English Historical Documents I, ed. D. Whitelock, 2nd edn (London, 1979), document 170, p. 804. A typical tenth-century reformer’s reaction may be found in Ælfric’s ‘Life of St Æthelwold’ (ibid., document 235, p. 907), where the evil-living clerics inhabiting Winchester’s Old Minster are described as ‘possessed by pride, insolence and wanton behaviour … [who] repudiated wives whom they had married unlawfully, and took others, and were continually given over to gluttony and drunkenness’. 14 We are now fortunate in having J. Blair, The Church in Anglo-Saxon Society (Oxford, 2005), valuable inter alia in facilitating a better-balanced evaluation of the broader Church before the Conquest.

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beyond the cloister, their mission – amongst other things, helping to convert the Vikings – may be judged a resounding success. Such was the measure of their achievement, paradoxically, that they undermined themselves by stirring local lords to build chapels serving manors and smaller settlements. This development was part of the process, between the tenth and the twelfth centuries, fostering the development of neighbourhood churches that we would now recognise as parishes, ultimately ensuring that most laymen and women could indeed enjoy access to local pastoral care and instruction.15 In the grass-roots conversion of England, this development naturally possessed the utmost significance, although the development left the ancient minster church as conspicuously the largest in its vicinity. These establishments often maintained a plurality of clergy, and many preserved proprietary rights (like burial) over the surrounding dozen-or-more ‘newcomer’ parishes in the minster’s previous jurisdiction; in short, secular communities persisted in many neighbourhoods.16 The triumphs of the monastic houses between the tenth and the twelfth centuries may command a higher profile, yet the pastoral achievements of secular communities exercised a deep and long-lasting influence on humbler Christians. Moreover, once the impetus of monastic foundation had faltered, the later fourteenth century saw secular communities, some large (such as colleges) others smaller (like alms-houses), enjoying a new lease of life, with generous benefaction resulting in impressive foundations.17

Churches in villages or neighbourhoods With the fragmentation of minster jurisdictions from the tenth century, many rural parishes evolved as the result of investment by local lords who, initially, sought a chapel in close proximity to their manor house. With time, these adapted to serve both patron and villagers, and while the former may have retained the right to nominate the priest who would preside over the cure of souls, as parishioners became more aware of their own interests they undertook to support their pastor by paying tithe.18 In towns, on the other hand, groups of householders clustering perhaps round a crossroads or straddling a street joined forces to express their devotion to a saint or cult and, as a result, built chapels that metamorphosed into parish churches; and, while tithing was a system better adapted to rural On this process, see Blair, Church in Anglo-Saxon Society, chapters 7 and 8. A theme pursued in Hamilton Thompson, English Clergy, chapters 3 and 4. 17 A theme developed towards the conclusion of this chapter. 18 H. Mayr-Harting, Religion, Politics and Society in Britain, 1066–1272 (London, 2011), chapter 5 (and particularly pp. 98–101) offers a useful summary of the ‘from above’ and ‘from below’ approaches to parish foundation, resting in part on suggestions from Blair, Church in Anglo-Saxon Society, pp. 498–504, and S. Reynolds, Kingdoms and Communities in Western Europe, 900–1300 (Oxford, 1984), pp. 87–93. 15 16

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husbandry, it could be adapted as a levy on urban livelihoods. Moreover, certain areas housed many artisans or traders engaged in the same occupation: this led to some urban churches gaining a close association with a specific craft which, if not necessarily determining the dedication of the neighbourhood parish, often led to the foundation of a fraternity therein effectively serving this company.19 If at first delivering only basic rites, as they developed the financial capability of supporting a priest, rural and urban parishes provided a close-knit mesh of resource throughout England. Ideally, local pastors would have been able to celebrate the Mass regularly and in a seemly manner and, with time, also administered other sacramental services, including baptism and extreme unction, as well as providing the opportunity for penitential instruction and, when necessary, confession. In the longer term, just as priests became more adept at instilling the basic tenets of Christian behaviour by teaching and by sacramental services, so belonging to a parish involved parishioners not only in worship and shared rites but also deepened their identification with their own neighbourhood church. Having proven equal to financing the requisite clergy, parishioners began to be entrusted with broader managerial responsibilities.20 Rural parishioners must have been aware of the larger, better staffed churches surrounding them (including the minsters, where they might be obliged to bury their dead); similarly, urban congregations ordinarily lived in close proximity to both monastic and collegiate institutions. The laity and their priests never lacked for example as to the manner in which formalities should properly be conducted.

For themselves and for their friends: shaping the penitential regime While the Fourth Lateran decree Omnis utriusque sexus signals the attempt to develop pastoral competence within the Western Church, it was more directly concerned with new definitions applied to the sacrament of Penance.21 This dealt with the all-important process of dissolving the barrier between God and Tailors customarily displayed an allegiance to St John the Baptist: in Bristol, for instance, the church of St Ewen’s housed the tailors’ fraternity dedicated to this saint; in London, the tailors’ fraternity (dedicated to St John) was located in St Martin Outwich. Butchers often favoured St Luke, whose symbol was a bull; in the London parish of St Nicholas Shambles – an area, as its name suggests, long associated with the preparation of meat – the butchers’ fraternity was indeed dedicated to him. 20 Again, see Blair, Church in Anglo-Saxon Society, chapter 8 for the background to this complex process. 21 On developments in teaching on Penance before 1215, with particular reference to England, see Mayr-Harting, Religion, Politics and Society, pp. 240–43. 19

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Mankind that inevitably resulted from the latter’s propensity to sin. In the earlier Middle Ages, the penitential regime (usually known as Canonical Penance) had been so severe that it effectively excluded the middling and lower sort by demanding too much: penance for mortal sins was both long and arduous and had to be completed before death; moreover, for graver sins forgiveness was permissible only once. Before the thirteenth century, few, apart from the aristocracy, had much of a chance. Kings and nobles might endow monasteries. As founders, they calculated that the substitutive penance that their ‘creatures’, the monks, could accumulate would atone for the sins that they – the aristocracy – had incurred but which, immersed in the affairs of the world (and, bred and trained for activity on the battlefield, naturally incurring mortal sin), they could never realistically hope to expiate. This goes some way (on the more personal level) towards explaining the remarkable investment that the mighty devoted to monasteries in the tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries. Unable to match this outlay, or ever make sufficient reparation, ordinary folk had little hope: even St Anselm, in the early twelfth century, had been of the opinion that ‘few will be saved, and most of these will be monks’.22 He urged recourse to a monastery before it was too late, which, for most, was simply impractical. Such preconceptions led to a dilemma: what was the point of the Church even operating in the localities if its penitential demands excluded ordinary believers from the benefits it existed to procure? And how could the Church expect tithe from flocks able to count on so little in return? Tithe, however, represented ‘a major source of income … which gradually came to exceed its [that is, the Church’s] revenue from every other source’, meaning that it was not unreasonable for the Church to hope that, by cultivating this revenue, it could move more towards a long-desired freedom from undue aristocratic domination; as a result, promoting the goodwill of the multitude obviously became a priority.23 From the mid-twelfth century, the Church started to recast religious discipline, ‘in definitions of doctrine, in enforcement of social disciplines, in payments of tithes, in requirements of confessions and penance’.24 Principles were redefined, expectations relaxed and new procedures advocated. R. W. Southern, St Anselm and his Biographer (Cambridge, 1963), p. 101. Although occasionally bringing elements of the Church into spectacular conflict with secular lordship from the later eleventh century until the thirteenth century, the Investiture Contest essentially sought to secure ‘right order in the world’; where the Church was concerned, this meant preventing secular lords from exercising undue control over spiritual affairs. In achieving this, economic autonomy would have granted the Church the desired degree of self-government but this, in turn, depended upon fostering a more broadly based system of funding – such as tithe. 24 The quotations in this and the previous sentence are from R. W. Southern, ‘Between Heaven and Hell’ [his review of J. Le Goff, La Naissance du Purgatoire], The Times Literary Supplement, 4133 (18 June 1982), p. 652. 22 23

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Of prime importance in encouraging the faithful to participate more fully in the redemptive process, confession might now secure forgiveness, dealing with the culpa that resulted from sin, and obliging parish priests (who, with time, did indeed benefit from improved instruction in such matters) regularly to offer this to their flocks, imposing realistic, relatively light, penances.25 If less important but, nonetheless, of momentous practical consequence, the new teachings also modified the procedure satisfying the poena, the penalty attached to particular sins. Restitution might still be made in this life but could now be completed in the hereafter, in purgatory, a place with an established history in patristic thought but whose name and purpose hitherto had been only loosely defined.26 Official recognition and codification of new teaching on this matter proved slow, not in fact becoming de fide until the fifteenth century, but the thirteenth century saw the basic tenets in place.27 Fortunately, too, the mendicant orders or, more precisely, the Franciscan and Dominican orders, proved themselves the ideal agents for transmitting new precepts. If St Francis sought to return to Christ-like simplicity, St Dominic saw the potential of using such inspiration to reinforce Christian order, and also to counteract heresy, particularly in the ‘new world of the cities’ in early thirteenth-century Europe.28 Pope Innocent III first approved of St Francis’s rule in 1209–10, which was then recast and finally approved by Pope Honorius III in 1223; similarly, Innocent approved of St Dominic’s order in 1215, and Honorius confirmed it in 1216. These were religious orders ‘turned upside-down’ as they sought to address the evolving needs both of the Church and the faithful, as one reached out to include the other. Freed from the shackles of landed endowments, and with liturgical duties absorbing less of their time, friars were intended to make headway outside the cloister, teaching and ministering to ordinary men and women. They based themselves in towns not only to bolster the ministry in a naturally volatile environment but also because the citizenry’s surplus ready cash (which, realistically, found no equivalent in rural settlements) might substitute for an income from landed endowments. Depending as a result upon charity (hence T. N. Tentler, Sin and Confession of the Eve of the Reformation (Princeton, 1977), chapter 1 and passim. 26 Southern, ‘Between Heaven and Hell’, pp. 651–2. 27 The teaching of the western Church on purgatory was defined at the Council of Lyons in 1274 and, finally, at the Council of Florence in 1439 – at the latter to encourage rapprochement with the Orthodox Church in whose traditions ‘the third place’ had a more prominent role. 28 Quotation from C. H. Lawrence, The Friars. The Impact of the Early Mendicant Movement on Medieval Society, 2nd edn (London, 2013), p. 102 – a study invaluable for its analysis of the context giving rise to the friars, and of the contribution they were intended to make. 25

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their generic name, mendicants – that is, beggars), friars possessed a vested interest in spreading the new penitential teachings, which of course counselled charity and, more explicitly, from the start they also served as peripatetic confessors.29 Quickly establishing themselves in Europe’s fledgling universities, many friars were also highly educated, which enhanced both their skill as teachers and their role as defenders of orthodoxy. Both orders recruited prodigiously, spreading rapidly across Europe: the Dominicans arrived in England in 1221 and the Franciscans in 1224 and, if settling almost immediately in Oxford, both orders – and those that followed, notably the Augustinian and Carmelite friars – steadily established themselves either singly or severally in England’s larger urban centres. During the course of the thirteenth century, both reflecting and serving the reformist agenda, the advent of the friars meant that Church now had at its disposal a vigorous and adaptable pastoral ‘soldiery’, embedding new teaching and reinforcing orthodoxy. The censure of satirists such as Chaucer, when coupled with the difficulty of assessing organisations that fought shy of landed endowments (and hence generated little by way of evidence), has meant that posterity has tended to underestimate the friars’ contribution. But their long survival, supported by voluntary contributions, suggests a continuing relevance and sustained regard. Rather than conceiving them as necessarily in competition with the secular clergy, friars and the parish clergy in fact complemented each other, with the former particularly reinforcing pastoral endeavour, allowing the latter the liberty to pursue auxiliary goals.30 So the thirteenth century saw the strategic installation of highly trained, peripatetic teachers and confessors, well-equipped to serve as advocates of the new penitential protocols.31 While teaching that full satisfaction for the penalties associated with sin might now be made in purgatory, greatly easing the burden on any individual, they doubtless exhorted the faithful to make a start in the here-andnow. The mendicant orders helped to instil, and sustain, the spirit of participation that characterises the later medieval pious response, thereby markedly enriching parish life. New penitential emphases prevailed on the wealthy to be charitable, the more so since their beneficiaries – that is, the honest poor and, of course, the friars themselves, where, in both cases, poverty rendered their prayers especially efficacious It is to be remembered, however, that individual friars also ministered to broader territories – or limitationes – in the vicinity of the town in which they were based; see M. Robson, The Franciscans in the Middle Ages (Woodbridge, 2006), chapter 15. 30 See also Clark, ‘Religious Orders’, p. 28. 31 Southern, Western Society and the Church, pp. 272–99 for a brief survey of the friars’ mission and activities (particularly in the university milieu); see also Burton, Monastic and Religious Orders, chapter 6. 29

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– were obliged to intercede for benefactors.32 A culture of good works began to flourish, fostering alms to the needy, benefactions to clergy, donations to churches – including gifts for their fabric, for furnishings and for liturgical equipment – and, in addition, support even for communal amenities such as highways and bridges.33 In every case, benefactors expected prayers or services from their beneficiaries, often stipulating the form that such commendation should take. Indeed, an emphasis on charity reinforced the spirit of reciprocation that underpinned late medieval popular religious endeavour and, also, this seems to have worked.34 If benefactors seem confident that largesse would elicit reciprocal commendation, such assurance also underpinned a further manifestation embodying both spiritual and practical generosity. Whereas the mighty had established monasteries to augment liturgical celebration, benefiting themselves as well as society more generally, this impulse too found new expression in a scaled-down and more adaptable equivalent – the chantry – which, while focusing on the regular celebration of Masses, could be established either within monasteries or, more commonly, within parish churches.35 Wealthier individuals established chantries, ostensibly providing for a Mass celebrated daily by a retained priest at a specified altar, usually for a defined period but occasionally in perpetuity. Such Masses were to benefit founders and any nominees and, by extension, the spiritual interests of the local community;36 but the For a convenient summary of the efficacy of prayers as offered by the honest poor, see B. L. Manning, The People’s Faith in the Time of Wyclif, 2nd edn (Hassocks, 1975), chapter 10. 33 On the results of the doctrine of Purgatory (as opposed to its origins, on which many have concentrated), see Duffy, Stripping of the Altars, chapter 10; see also Burgess, ‘“A fond thing vainly invented”: An Essay on Purgatory and Pious Motive in Late Medieval England’, in Parish, Church and People: Local Studies in Lay Religion, 1350–1750, ed. S. Wright (London, 1988), pp. 56–84. 34 The testimony of contemporary wills is unequivocal: most testators proved consistently generous to the poor and needy, both at the time of the funeral and thereafter. 35 For a more detailed consideration of the issues at stake in the development of the chantry, see H. Colvin, ‘The Origin of Chantries’, Journal of Medieval History, 26 (2000), pp. 163–73; also D. Crouch, ‘The Origin of Chantries: Some further Anglo-Norman Evidence’, Journal of Medieval History, 27 (2001), pp. 159–80. See, too, J. McNeill, ‘A Pre-History of the Chantry’, in Medieval Chantry, pp. 1–38. 36 A theme developed, for instance, in Duffy, Stripping of the Altars, chapter 3, and in Manning, The People’s Faith, chapter 1 (see especially p. 16), but most memorably, perhaps, by K. L. Wood-Legh, Perpetual Chantries in Britain (Cambridge, 1965), pp. 306–7, quoting inter alia John Carpenter’s declaration (printed in W. Dugdale, A History of St Paul’s, ed. H. Ellis (London, 1818), p. 391) found in the deed re-endowing the decayed chantry over the charnel at St Paul’s: ‘It should be the fervent desire and solicitous care of the prudent and devout man to provide advantageously for the increase of divine service in perpetuity, especially through the continual celebration of the solemnities of masses in which for the well-being of the living and the repose of the dead to God the Father His only begotten Son is offered in the Host by the hands of the priest.’ 32

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presence of the priest for the duration – financed by the chantry endowment and available to assist with the parish liturgy – represented a generous gift to the local community. While founders sought spiritual commemoration, parishioners benefited from an improved liturgy; as beneficiaries they carefully remembered their benefactors’ generosity, assisted by mnemonics such as parish bede-rolls and tables of memory.37 Other services, too, ranging from trentals of Masses in the period after the funeral, to month minds and year’s minds (also known as anniversaries), became common-place: each entailed the repeated celebration of Masses, often in association with generous charitable provisions, to commemorate and benefit individuals, as well as profiting the neighbourhood.38 The penitential and pastoral reforms formally initiated in the thirteenth century exercised a profound influence on individual conduct and corporate attitude by multiplying Masses and promoting intercession – both from the saints and by one’s neighbours and successors – as well as improving the liturgy and commissioning abundant charitable provision. The commemorative and reciprocal impulse embedded itself deeply in the priorities of ordinary Christians, reinforcing a distinctive spiritual environment.

‘ The ship of the faithful’ Reforms and teaching in the wake of the Fourth Lateran extended collective – or coenobitic – conceptions to the broader swathe of the faithful who, with time, came to perceive of themselves as the corpus Christianorum or, metaphorically, as aboard the ‘ship of the faithful’, whose different ranks interacted to achieve specific ends. To conflate the two notions, the registers of the corpus Christianorum may be imagined as occupying the respective decks of the ship, with the Church Triumphant (the saints in heaven) on the quarter-deck, above the Church Suffering (the souls in purgatory) perhaps on the main deck, but with the Church Militant (the faithful on earth) occupying the lower decks. Christian life in the later Middle Ages was dominated by the endeavours of the Church Militant, both individually but ordinarily organised in groups, petitioning the assistance of those on the upper decks, so that they, too, should be lifted up. Foremost among the means at the disposal of the Church Militant were prayer, charity and good deeds, all of which the faithful employed. Their supplications obliged a response, be it from the ‘special dead’, the saints, close to God, or from the souls in purgatory, ‘the faithful departed’, themselves also closer both to him See below, chapter 6. A trental provided a sequence of thirty masses and, where a month mind provided for a specially elaborate liturgical celebration on the day marking one month after interment, a year’s mind marked the anniversary (which is what it was more commonly called) of the date of an individual’s death, providing for a liturgical ‘replay’ of the funeral service – as discussed in more detail below in chapter 6.

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and to heaven than were the living; both could be induced to intercede to benefit the souls of those still alive. But the most efficacious course, completing what the saints along with the souls in purgatory had started, was for the faithful to cultivate worship. Indeed, the prime obligation incumbent upon the Church Militant was to draw down the grace of God by worship offered up through the formalised rites of the liturgy, a process perfected in those larger corporations – both religious and secular – whose rationale was to provide regular and decorous worship. This found expression, on the one hand, through a constant round of daily prayer, the Divine Office and, on the other hand, focused ceremonially on the Mass, commemorating the sacrifice and celebrating the Presence of Christ within his Church. Throughout the year, too, the liturgy commemorated and restated the origins and purpose of the Church, rejoicing in the Incarnation, re-enacting the Passion, celebrating the Resurrection and acclaiming the subsequent gift of the Holy Spirit to build and sustain the Church.39 It also honoured the apostles, the Holy Family and the multitude of witnesses to and the martyrs for the Gospel message – some famous throughout Christendom, as well as others of local acclaim – as a complementary aspect of Church-formation. The liturgy offered praise to God for and, of course, through the Church, and in this process continuously evoked the intercession of the saints as well as remembering ‘all the faithful departed’. In sum, the seemly celebration of feasts and rituals had been refined in communities over the centuries: this involved the Church Militant in constant union with the Church Triumphant and also the Church Suffering and, as it progressively abraded the snares of the Evil One, also provided the safest means of drawing down the grace of God to benefit creation. In more practical terms, as the faithful counted on God’s grace in return for worship, it was only a short further step to commission petition and praise to secure God’s favour and determine a propitious course of events on earth. As a result, the political classes increasingly encouraged the prayers of all the faithful both living and dead so that these supplications, in addition to procuring spiritual benefits, might elicit God’s grace and ‘fill the sails’ that propelled the ship of state on a favourable course. Indeed, by the later Middle Ages, the ‘ship of the faithful’ had effectively merged with the ‘ship of state’, embedding liturgical investment as sound policy as government became more adept – or, in fact, more blatant – at harnessing the prayers of the national Church for the political advantage of the

Some the themes mentioned here are dealt with in greater detail in Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars, part I.

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realm.40 Princes and nobles, bishops, gentry and merchant princes continued to invest with great liberality in institutions that had evolved to secure God’s grace, both for their own benefit and that of the realm. In sum, these communities assembled, supported and deployed a liturgical soldiery: monks and nuns and canons and clerks spearheaded the militia Christi, organised with deliberate rigour to achieve a particular end.41 This was to increase worship so that, in return, the grace of God might be channelled to the benefit not only of founders and nominees but also, and usually explicitly, of the king and, more implicitly, of the realm of England. By the later Middle Ages, the host of regular and secular foundations, sedulously maintained and often enriched, and including monasteries, nunneries and friaries, colleges, hospitals and alms-houses, bears witness to the significance continuously attached to this objective.42 But, with time, an increasing number of parish churches also contributed to celebrating the liturgy, some with growing distinction. As the Church had stimulated, and benefited from, the laity’s willingness to participate, so it also regularised proper provision for its parish churches. Synodal decrees in the thirteenth century assigned important duties to local communities. Lords of the manor may initially have built most local churches, and as a result kept the advowson (that is, the right to appoint to the living), but parishioners – the ordinary people of the neighbourhood – were to contribute the wherewithal needed for spiritual services. Not only had they to support their priests by tithe but also to maintain the fabric both of the nave and tower and, in addition, provide the equipment necessary for the seemly celebration of the sacraments.43 Ultimately, maintenance and supply both relied on, and enhanced, the participatory and communal aspects of popular religion and, by the fourteenth century, many parishes were developing competent systems of self-government. As discussed below, such concepts had become notably entrenched by Henry V’s reign: reflecting on the victory at Agincourt and on his initiatives against lollards, sermons referred to Henry as ‘a new Joshua’ who, by his efforts on God’s behalf, saved ‘our ship’, the English nation; see S. Wenzel, Latin Sermon Collections from Later Medieval England (Cambridge, 2005), pp. 371–5, and cited in D. Aers and N. Smith, ‘English Reformations’, Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, 40:3 (2010), p. 429. 41 A point emphasised by Southern, Western Society, pp. 224–5. 42 The simple bulk of D. Knowles and R. N. Hadcock, ed., Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, 2nd ed. (London, 1971) substantiates this point. 43 On tithe, A. Little, ‘Personal Tithes’, EHR, 60 (1945), pp. 67–88 provides a useful starting point; more generally, see also R. N. Swanson, Church and Society in Late Medieval England (Oxford, 1989), pp. 209–15, and N. J. G. Pounds, A History of the English Parish (Cambridge, 2000), chapter 6. On the laity’s duties, see Councils and Synods II, pp. 128 and 367 (for instance, on responsibilities towards church fabric), and 1006, 1122–3 and 1385–8 (concerning equipment). 40

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Such demands helped to define the office of churchwarden, a duty ordinarily discharged by more prominent members among the local community who, acting on behalf of the generality, took it in turns to serve, ordinarily in pairs, for a year or two at a time.44 The churchwardens’ brief was to maintain fabric and equipment, keeping accounts of the relevant income and expenditure. Fellow parishioners audited these accounts, which were presented as required to diocesan officials on visitation as proof, given that they had been vouchsafed by the body of the parish, of the discharge of obligations. In practice, many parishes exceeded requirements and developed more sophisticated systems, both for getting and spending, depending upon the activities of additional officials; certain parishes seems to have depended upon agents entrusted with collecting revenues, and also on ‘masters’, who directed parish initiatives.45 Programmes for parish improvement in the fifteenth century were often ambitious – frequently far surpassing either fabric maintenance or the provision of only basic liturgical necessities – and the officials in charge of them (usually the ‘masters of the parish’) were neither canonically required nor constituted, meaning that records relating to them were not preserved for visitation. By comparison with the activities of churchwardens, we are ill-informed on other tiers of management. But where Eamon Duffy has drawn our attention to the complex procedures for raising and managing monies, and for maintaining social harmony, in a rural parish such as Morebath in east-central Devon,46 so Charles Drew, for instance, noted the intricacy of the arrangements – depending on many more officials than, simply, wardens – that by the sixteenth century sustained the wealthy parish of Hartland, a port in north-west Devon: Control of the parochial finances was in the hands of a body called the Four Men, appointed for four years by a larger body of twenty-four ‘Governors’. Each of the Four Men acted as Treasurer for one year of the four-year term. Were they then, in fact, the churchwardens of the parish? By no means; the parish had two churchwardens as well, and these had their churchwardens’ accounts, entirely distinct from the accounts of the Four Men. But these C. Drew, Early Parochial Organisation in England: The Origins of the Office of Churchwarden, St Anthony’s Hall Publications, 7 (1954) remains essential; and for an important investigation into parish procedures (with churchwardens well to the fore) see B. Kümin, The Shaping of a Community. The Rise and Reformation of the English Parish c. 1400–1560 (Aldershot, 1996). 45 ‘Masters’ are explored in chapter 9 below; but on the existence of extra parish agents, see The Church Records of St Andrew Hubbard, Eastcheap, c.1450–c.1570, ed. C. Burgess, London Record Society, 34 (1999), pp. xxiii–xxx. 46 Duffy, The Voices of Morebath, chapters 2, 3 and 4. 44

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churchwardens were quite subordinate officials, responsible only for receiving gifts and bequests to the church, and for paying for the communion elements, the washing of the church linen, and for minor repairs to the fabric.47

Such arrangements had not evolved overnight but, evidently, by the decades preceding the Reformation, parish government was often both more complex and more accomplished than churchwardens’ accounts disclose. More positively, when surveying the penitential and pastoral response in England in the centuries following Omnis utriusque sexus, many parishes had developed into proficient administrative entities: if the Church imposed duties on ordinary Christians, a good number responded with zeal. Alert to the benefits of a decorous liturgy, many among the local clergy and their flocks harboured ambitions to enhance their parish church and its observances – in other words, by stages (possibly many stages) they sought to emulate larger neighbouring institutions. Such an urge was neither unreasonable nor did it prove unachievable. Parishioners in very many localities proceeded to rebuild and refit their churches; they also invested to support more clergy and, progressively, provided more equipment.48 While, on the one hand, prestigious regular institutions buttressed the government and, by calling down the Grace of God, procured society’s benefit, on the other hand the secular communities of the Church by the later Middle Ages, in the diocese and increasingly at parish level, reinforced pastoral attainment and enhanced liturgical performance, adding significantly to the spiritual reserves of the realm.

‘Conferred by God on the righteous’: Politics and the Church during the Hundred Years War The fourteenth century witnessed a series of crises that threatened, either individually or severally, to overwhelm the English polity. In view of the government’s timeworn reliance on the Church for reinforcing discipline no less than procuring God’s grace, these challenges elicited responses at every level of the ecclesia Anglicana, not least in its parishes. Starting with the most politically significant ordeal, and from the fourth decade of the century, the Hundred Years War made demands upon England that profoundly affected the kingdom.49 Drew, Early Parochial Organisation, pp. 25–6. In England’s larger towns, a number of parish churches like St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol (strictly a subsidiary chapel of its neighbouring parish, St Thomas the Martyr), or St Peter Mancroft in Norwich, or – among many candidates in London – St Magnus the Martyr or St Dunstan in the East appear, by the fifteenth century, to have supported liturgy on a par with that in prominent monastic or collegiate churches. 49 The two relevant volumes in the Short Oxford History of the British Isles, The Twelfth 47 48

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Origins and repercussions By the Treaty of Paris, in 1259, Henry III finally saw fit formally to surrender the greater part of the French patrimony that his father, King John, had lost half a century earlier; what puzzles, however, is why, when doing this, he adopted a new obligation. Where Henry had previously held his one remaining French duchy, Gascony, as an allod, owing no obligations to any man, he agreed henceforward to hold it as a fief from the king of France. Thereafter, he and his heirs had to recognise the lordship of the French Crown and also avoid the contumacy that would result in confiscation. Not only had they to pay entry fines and perform humiliating acts of fealty but, as dukes of Gascony, also had to avoid hostilities with any of their liege lord’s allies. English kings never resolved the ensuing conflict between interests and duties, despite the fact that Henry’s son, Edward I, turned his ambitions to the British Isles. Having subdued the northern Welsh princes by the mid-1280s, Edward seized opportunities offered to him in the 1290s by a succession crisis in Scotland, over which realm he had suzerainty. His aggression, in the form of repeated campaigns, forged the Scots’ nation in opposition to England and, significantly, in allegiance with France – the so-called Auld Alliance. As a result, the king of England’s position as duke of Gascony became untenable.50 As Edward I had used feudal law to wrong-foot John de Balliol in Scotland, so kings of France did the same to the duke of Gascony – the more so after the failure of the Capetian line in 1328. The new king of France, the Valois Philip VI, assisted by the Scots, goaded the young Edward III into contumacy. The only way for the English to escape the bane of the Treaty of Paris was to force its annulment and, in 1337, Edward declared war both on France and Scotland. In 1340, moreover, he activated a strong claim to the throne of France through his mother, Isabella, daughter of the Capetian, Philip IV, the Fair. Driven to distraction by France and Scotland, Edward asserted his claim to the French throne and, to enforce this, embarked on a war embroiling AngloFrench relations for the remainder of his long reign. Successors – most notably and Thirteenth Centuries, ed. B. F. Harvey (Oxford, 2001) and The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, ed. R. Griffiths (Oxford, 2003), as well as providing invaluable background to the politics of the period in question, each contain excellent essays (with select bibliographies), by Henry Summerson in the first and Robin Frame in the second, on the political developments in Britain and France alluded to in the following paragraphs. Reference may be made to them, and their bibliographies, for fuller discussion of events and trends. 50 Edward also entered into alliance with Robert of Artois, who had a strong claim to the County of Artois, but had become a declared enemy of the French king; Edward’s declared support for him, which was directly contrary to his feudal obligations, embittered Anglo-French relations.

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Henry V – continued this struggle and, in the longer term, English monarchs maintained the claim for centuries to come.51 It is tempting to regard The Hundred Years War as a protracted family squabble, with different sets of cousins on the maritime and land borders of the French kingdom either asserting their claims over, or independence from, the elder Valois line. But, for England, this major national conflict wrought profound consequences. While previous centuries had seen Norman and Angevin kings deeply absorbed in French affairs, paradoxically, and despite the fact that kings of England were claiming to be true kings of France, this conflict encouraged the rehabilitation of a consciousness of being English. The war fostered polarities: if Scotland became a nation in opposition to England from the early fourteenth century so, in its turn, England began to redefine, and even regain, its own identity while engaged against the French. By the mid and later fifteenth century, for instance, English had re-emerged as a language not only of literature – evident from Chaucer’s works written in the late decades of the fourteenth century – but also of government.52 Some have dated this turning point, with unnerving precision, to August 1417, from which date Henry V expected government correspondence to be conducted in English, which naturally enhanced the status of the vernacular and also assisted in standardising usage as ‘chancery English’ rapidly became more broadly recognised.53 Moreover, in a conflict in which the English were aggressors, and waged almost entirely on French soil, only persistent effort and massive expenditure sustained the war. This had profound constitutional and fiscal implications. The constant On the Hundred Years War see, for instance, C. T. Allmand, The Hundred Years War: England and France at War, c.1300–c.1450 (Cambridge, 1988); Arms, Armies and Fortifications in the Hundred Years War, ed. A. Curry and M. Hughes (Woodbridge, 1999); A. Tuck, Crown and Nobility, 1272–1461, chapters 4, 5, 7 and 8; A. Grant, Independence and Nationhood: Scotland, 1306–1469 (London, 1984). Although, after Henry VIII’s reign, monarchs became less proactive in its pursuit, the claim to the Crown of France was only abandoned, on Napoleon’s insistence, in 1802 – recent French treatment of their monarchs having by then rendered the prize less coveted. 52 This development is considered (with useful reference to earlier scholarship on the topic) by M. Vale, Henry V: The Conscience of a King (New Haven and London, 2016), chapter 3 – which assigns particular importance to the undertaking (operative from the reign of Edward III, but strengthened by Henry V) that England and France would each be governed by its own laws, usages and customs. Vale observes that ‘In the attempt to join the kingdoms of England and France in dynastic union, the discrete sense of identity of their respective peoples was sharpened and enhanced’ (p. 125). 53 As noted by A. K. McHardy, ‘Some Reflections on Edward III’s Use of Propaganda’, in The Age of Edward III, ed. J. S. Bothwell (York, 2001), pp. 171–92, at pp. 188–9, referring to J. H. Fisher, M. Richardson and J. L. Fisher, An Anthology of Chancery English (Knoxville, TN, 1984), Introduction – a development also evaluated by Vale, Henry V, pp. 122 ff. 51

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need to levy taxation enabled the lower house within the Court of Parliament, the House of Commons, to consolidate its fiscal rights, obliging kings to redress their subjects’ grievances in order to gain supply. Ultimately, when unpersuaded of any such need, the Commons’ hostility to direct taxes meant that, for instance, by 1467, Edward IV was prepared to promise, ‘I purpose to live upon mine own, and not to charge my subjects except in great and urgent causes, concerning more the welfare of themselves, and also the defence of them and of this my realm.’54 Furthermore, in response to the Crown’s intrusive attempts to maximise levies on the export of wool – all the more attractive in the circumstances, as this was a prerogative right – the English, rather than shipping the raw product, began to weave wool into broadcloths to satisfy overseas demand.55 This boosted the economy, since England now produced and exported a semi-manufactured and, hence, more lucrative commodity; and the Commons also managed to prevent the Crown from extending (and inevitably abusing) its rights to levy duties on the developing cloth export. Such processes enhanced the maturity of Parliament as a court able, as necessary, to withstand the king; as a result, the government became increasingly impoverished, in the first instance by the expense of war but, in the longer term, as the upsurge in large-scale domestic weaving, and the export of cloth, enriched the kingdom and its people but, emphatically, not their kings.56 Notwithstanding the kudos accruing from feats of arms, the English Crown eventually lost the war. Subjects may have sacrificed a great deal but, in the process, they had learnt how to resist; kings had surrendered much but harvested little. On the edge of insolvency, the government remained reluctantly dependent upon an ossified taxation system; kings, as a result, abandoned any assertive foreign policy in the sixty or more years after the loss of Gascony in 1453 simply EHD IV, document 330; see also Myers’ discussion in ibid., pp. 379–81. English royal finances in this period are succinctly summarised by J. R. Lander, Crown and Nobility, 1450–1509 (London, 1976), pp. 39–49, and by W. M. Ormrod, ‘The Domestic Response to the Hundred Years War’, in Arms, Armies and Fortifications in the Hundred Years War, ed. Curry and Hughes, pp. 83–101, at pp. 87–94. For a more detailed exposition on the fiscal capabilities of the English Crown in the later fourteenth and fifteenth centuries (unfavourably compared with the trends both in France and Castile), see W. M. Ormrod, ‘The West European Monarchies in the Later Middle Ages’, in Economic Systems and State Finance, ed. R. Bonney (Oxford, 1995), pp. 123–60 (at pp. 136–55). 55 J. L. Bolton, The Medieval English Economy (London, 1980), pp. 290–97; the tax on wool stood at over 30 per cent by value, whereas the export tax on cloth was usually closer to 3 per cent. 56 J. R. Lander, The Limitations of English Monarchy in the Later Middle Ages (Toronto, 1989), p. 9 comments ‘The switch from the export of raw wool to the export of manufactured cloth, though beneficial to the English economy, was something of a fiscal disaster for the government.’ 54

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because fiscal support was not normally forthcoming.57 Subjects became adept at keeping the better part of their new found wealth, spending this as they, and not the government, saw fit. Some they undoubtedly devoted to improve their houses, diet and apparel, but, in a time of spiritual insecurities, they also sought the profit of their souls. In common with any extended national conflict, the Hundred Years War had a momentous impact upon the spiritual affairs of its protagonists and, in England, its results proved particularly far-reaching, both institutionally and personally. From the Crown’s point of view the religious consequences of the War were auspicious. Essentially, as a result of initial shortcomings in the English position – having been forced into contumacy by the French and adopting, as a result, a morally defensive stance – the government chose to occupy, and keep, the spiritual high-ground. Following suit, the nation redoubled its efforts to assert a compensatory righteousness. Not only did the king cultivate spiritual attributes but he and his peers also strengthened the realm by pious investment, founding new institutions whose monks and canons further assisted the war effort. Church and government moreover developed new cults, summoning powerful intercessors to assist the kingdom; and they contrived, too, to involve the laity in the war effort, spurring on the faithful in every locality to shoulder a responsibility in rousing and sustaining the favour of the Almighty. Successive kings with their bishops fostered a political theology that both interlocked with the priorities and practices that the Church had inculcated and also directed the devotions of the English people. As a result, spiritual endeavour was harnessed to support both the war effort and also the government’s interests. The drawn-out conflict inspired the English to prodigious national and local spiritual investment to draw down God’s favour for the especial benefit not just of themselves but the realm. Even if victory never ultimately transpired, once articulated this programme conferred invaluable political advantages: the continued righteousness of the people – with all that this implied for obedience, shared values and conformity – bolstered the administration long after active hostilities had concluded. This reinforced stability among the general populace in the middle and later fifteenth century even as the aristocracy proceeded to tear itself apart. Ibid., pp. 8–13, and notable for its exposition (at p. 13) of an extract from John Fortescue’s The Governance of England where, as a result of Fortescue’s ‘Obsessive, almost pathological horror of direct taxation’, he likened the king’s custody of the royal fisc to the interests of a founder of a perpetual chantry, where the endowment was never to be alienated if the service were to be continued. ‘Fortescue wrote that once the king had renewed his ‘lifelode’ it should be ‘amortised’ and never again alienated without the consent of parliament’ – citing John Fortescue, The Governance of England, ed. C. Plummer (Oxford, 1885), pp. 154–5.

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Spiritual repercussions and opportunities The war enhanced royal authority over the Church. Although both his father and grandfather had adopted the expedient, Edward III’s seizure of the alien priories – monastic outliers in England that profited their French (usually Norman) parent houses – proved far more protracted.58 Following 1337, seizure was relaxed only from 1360 until 1369, following the treaty of Brétigny. Fears about the loyalty of these establishments played directly to the king’s financial interests, with the exchequer gaining an income in the region of £5,000 per annum from their management, revenues now denied to the French. In the longer term, many of the affected houses simply sold their English lands and, by the fifteenth century, the Crown either secularised remaining endowments or used them to support new royal foundations.59 Admittedly some were reassigned for new religious purposes, but no one challenged successive kings’ rights to dispose of the endowments belonging to monastic houses that owed allegiance to the enemy, establishing an important precedent. Papal relations afforded similar opportunities. Since the French monarchy had gained hegemony over the papacy in the early fourteenth century when the curia relocated to Avignon, the English viewed papal rights with suspicion. Popes by this time could provide to a wide variety of benefices, although this ordinarily worked to others’ advantage, for instance enabling the king, or noblemen, such as the Black Prince, or even bishops, to promote their own candidates whom the pope would then be expected to appoint. Nevertheless, by the 1340s, claims began to circulate that the papacy was flooding English benefices with French candidates and that revenues therefore flowed to the curia and, thence, to the Valois. Edward III responded with caution, since procedures ordinarily worked to his benefit: nevertheless, in 1344, he allowed an ordinance suspending the introduction of papal bulls of provision, but would not countenance a statute until 1351.60 While rhetoric was never matched by practice, the Statute of Provisors offered kings a useful diplomatic lever to apply pressure on the papacy; more importantly, as a result of the statute, the king became identified as the theoretical source of ecclesiastical endowment in England. Reinforcing impressions resulting from the 1297 Mortmain statute,61 legislation on Heath, Church and Realm, pp. 112–13. Henry V depended upon the endowments that had once supported these houses to fund his foundations at Syon and Sheen, and likewise Henry VI when establishing Eton; see B. Thompson, ‘Prelates and the Alien Priories’, in The Prelate in England and Europe, 1300–1560, ed. M. Heale (York, 2014), pp. 50–75, and also idem., ‘Monasteries, Society and Reform’, pp. 180 and 191. 60 Heath, Church and Realm, pp. 125–32. 61 On Mortmain and its implications, S. Raban, Mortmain Legislation and the English Church, 1279–1500 (Cambridge, 1982). 58 59

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Provisors encouraged perceptions of royal lordship over the English Church, even though ‘Men’s minds more than men’s actions were altered by it.’62 The same was true of the Statute of Praemunire, passed in 1353, again after prolonged pressure from the Commons. Although, in point of fact, kings had long restricted appeals to Rome, in 1343, Edward approved a petition for the arrest of any who either appealed or sued in any court prejudicial to his prerogative, converting this into a statute a decade later. This, too, had an immediate use in applying pressure on the papacy but, in charged circumstances, signalled a progressively separatist outlook wherein the king exercised supremacy in certain significant areas. As the result of hostilities with France, the Statutes of Provisors and of Praemunire, together with the progressive take-over of the alien priories, testified to the development of a national Church where the king’s writ ran more powerfully. Henry V’s spiritual diplomacy, however, repays closer analysis, for he clearly cherished the interests of the Church universal. Discord within the French polity, as a result of Charles VI’s mental collapse and conflict between the Armagnac and Burgundian factions, undoubtedly assisted Henry’s victory at Agincourt; clearly emboldened by this mark of God’s approval – and capitalising on the prostration of the French, whose kings had done so much to cause, extend and exploit the presence of successive popes in Avignon – the English delegation at the Council of Constance (1414–18), acting in accordance with Henry’s wishes, exercised a strong positive pressure. In conjunction with the Holy Roman Emperor elect and, of course, in the absence of contrary pressure from France, the English delegation helped to resolve the Schism.63 Moreover, at Constance its bishops contrived to ensure that the English Church asserted itself as a ‘distinct, individual, powerful and above all ultra-orthodox player in the Universal Church’. Thomas Polton, for instance, who later served as bishop of Worcester under Archbishop Henry Chichele, saw fit to extol the ecclesia Anglicana at Constance in March 1417.64 He pointed out how, since the age of St Helena and Constantine the Great, this province had continually contributed to the power and influence of the Roman Church, and also emphasised how the ‘puissant English royal house had never strayed from the obedience of the Church of Rome [unlike France over Avignon], but until this day [had] always fought for it in exemplary Christian fashion.’ Notably, too, in public events at Constance Heath, Church and Realm, p. 132. Ibid., pp. 293–6; Vale, Henry V, pp. 130–35; Harriss, Shaping the Nation, pp. 319, 397, 431–2, 545, 554; and E. F. Jacob, Essays in the Conciliar Epoch, 3rd edn (Manchester, 1963), chapters 3 and 4. 64 The remainder of the paragraph is much indebted to V. Gillespie, ‘1412–1534: Culture and History’, in The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Mysticism, ed. S. Fanous and V. Gillespie (Cambridge, 2011), pp. 163–93 (at pp. 168–9). 62 63

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for which they bore responsibility, the English delegation deployed the Sarum Use – a liturgy developed and elaborated in the diocese of Salisbury – which had clearly become one of the most impressive rites in the Western Church. Gillespie notes, ‘So elaborate and high-profile were these liturgical and para-liturgical events that they were recorded in diaries and chronicles as among the greatest wonders of the gathering.’ Under the supervision of the king and of Archbishop Chichele and his episcopal bench, the ecclesia Anglicana exhibited an undeniable confidence, both at home and in international gatherings.65 Crown and government – very much including its bishops – remained both determinedly Catholic and fiercely orthodox: extolling the nation’s righteousness was clearly the chosen way to proceed in international conflict.

Forging a righteous nation: self-regard and intercessors How was such righteousness promoted? At the elite level, by substitution: for centuries kings of France had nurtured a ‘political theology’ exalting their dynasty as the foremost monarchy in Western Europe, and France as God’s favoured realm; other kings had emulated their sacral personae, and none more diligently than kings of England.66 By asserting his status as a Capetian and claiming the French throne, Edward III did more than start a war: he set aside mimicry and laid a direct and personal claim to the spiritual attributes by which the Capetian dynasty had reinforced its hold on the throne of France. Denying the legitimacy of the Valois led him and his successors to stake claims – ideologically no less than politically – over territory previously French. In the words of J. W. McKenna: Just as the French ‘religion of nationalism’ grew from a cult of monarchy, so the new English reputation for divine sanction sprung from wholly dynastic pretensions grounded on the tradition of exalting royalty but soon infused with the abundant elements of patriotism and xenophobia. A purloined On the impact in Constance of the English delegation’s liturgical celebrations, see for instance T. Rymer, Foedera, Conventiones et cujuscunque generis Acta Publica, 3rd edn (Hagae, 1740), iv, p. 193, when those attending are described (in a letter written by John Forester) as feeling as if they ‘were in Paradise’; see also Ulrich von Richental, Chronik des Constanzer Concils, 1414 bis 1415, ed. M. R. Buck (Hildesheim, 1962), p. 97, describing the English delegation celebrating the feast of St Thomas of Canterbury – ‘they sung vespers at the cathedral most laudably with great burning candles, with a beautiful retinue and with sweet English song on the organ.’ I am grateful to Dr Mark Whelan for alerting me to these examples. 66 Most obviously Henry III, who built Westminster Abbey to rival Rheims and St Denis, and who sought to procure the canonisation of Edward the Confessor as some compensation for the ‘English’ royal house in the face of Capetian sanctity. 65

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ideology of mystical kingship underlies the first great age of vernacular English political and literary patriotism and the new language of nascent English nationalism.67

Under the auspices of pursuing justice and peace, the war provided a potent stimulus to spiritual posturing, with churchmen often taking their place among the most bellicose of Edward’s advisors. Their sermons roused the nation. Thomas Bradwardine, who briefly served as archbishop of Canterbury before a premature death from plague in 1349, preached after the victories of Crécy and Neville’s Cross using these self-evident signs of God’s favour to emphasise the omnipotence of God and the impotence of Man. He concluded, noting St Paul’s teaching in the second epistle to the Corinthians, that victory in battle was conferred by God on the righteous.68 The opening address of the Chancellor, Adam Houghton, at the Parliament of 1377 reveals how far the English had taken doctrines of royal authority into preserves hitherto French. For, he asserted, if King Edward had resembled God’s vicar presiding over his people, then Richard was surely the long-awaited heir prefigured by Simeon in the Temple: England had become the new Israel. Or, as Houghton put it: ‘For I truly think that God would never have honoured this land in the same way as he did Israel through great victories over their enemies, if it were not that He had chosen it as His heritage.’69 England’s new political self-image is revealed: with the Prince substituting for Christ, his subjects had become the new Chosen People. Such symbolism endured: just as, in the 1370s and 1380s, the bishop of Rochester, Thomas Brinton, had admonished that, as a result of the people’s sins, ‘God … accustomed to being English will renounce us’, so, a century and more later, Yorkist and early Tudor bishops still identified England with Israel, and English kings, if not always with God, then with Moses or Aaron.70 In the fifteenth-century phase of the war, such objectives witnessed their apotheosis, almost literally, in the persona cultivated by Henry V. For his part, Henry understood Church and State effectively as body and soul; the one could not survive and prosper without the other. Henry maintained that he was no more than the instrument of God’s will and the vicar of God’s people: he acted as the channel for a divine plan for ‘thy people and thy land’. The text of the Gesta Henrici Quinti suggests that Henry conceived of his mission as God’s particular J. W. McKenna, ‘How God became an Englishman’, in Tudor Rule and Revolution, ed. D. J. Guth and J. W. McKenna (Cambridge, 1982), pp. 25–43, at p. 30, to which essay the next few paragraphs are deeply indebted. 68 In II Corinthians, 2. 14; J. Coleman, English Literature in History, 1350–1400: Medieval Readers and Writers (London, 1981), pp. 266–7; quoted by Heath, Church and Realm, p. 109. 69 McKenna, ‘How God became an Englishman’, p. 31 (citing Rot. Parl., II, 362). 70 Ibid., p. 32 and also note 27. 67

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work for which he, as king, deserved no credit. Victory represented God’s judgement in the dispute; and, after triumph, Henry was wont to emulate ‘God’s chosen people’, personally adding the Te deum laudamus in the chapel royal ‘to the praise and glory of God Who had so marvellously deigned to receive His England and her people as His very own’.71 This example helps to explain Henry VI’s propensities, having been counselled from boyhood to conspicuous devotion to God, ‘who has raised you over His people, that special tribe the English, and over all other Christian kings’.72 But where his father’s devotion underpinned conspicuous success, Henry VI’s evident failure usually leads to censure for a piety which, lacking fulfilment, seems simply obsessive. An advocate would, however, have argued that since devotion was the sine qua non for success; it merely demonstrated Henry VI’s innate claim to the French royal style of ‘Most Christian King’. England’s elite also enlisted new intercessors, with kings and bishops recruiting saints to intercede for the New Israel. From 1416, in the aftermath of Agincourt, and on the king’s command, the feast of St George, patron and protector of the English nation was to be celebrated as a ‘greater double’. Like Christmas, St George’s day was to be one on which work ceased so that the faithful might attend their parish churches.73 Later in that year, the feast of the translation of St John of Beverley, on 25 October, was especially commended to the realm, since this was the day on which the battle of Agincourt had been fought, when ‘St John had demonstrated his special patronage of the English people’.74 Similarly, the feasts of Sts David, Chad and Winifred were also commended in gratitude for assistance.75 But the English particularly associated themselves with another saint in obvious appropriation of a relationship once the province of the French. The progress that Henry’s ships made to Harfleur reveals quite who, in the first instance, answered the prayers of the faithful: Gesta Henrici Quinti: The Deeds of Henry V, ed. and transl. F. Taylor and J. S. Roskell (Oxford, 1975), p. 121, and see also pp. 151–5. 72 Four English Political Tracts of the Later Middle Ages, ed. J.-P. Genet, Camden Society, 4th series, xviii (London, 1977), p. 112; and cited in McKenna, ‘How God Became an Englishman’, p. 38. 73 Register of Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1414–1443, ed. E. F. Jacob (Oxford, 4 vols., 1938–47), iii, pp. 8–10. Witnessing a growing interest in the cult of St George, studies include S. Riches, St George: Hero, Martyr and Myth (Far Thrupp, 2000), D. A. L. Morgan, ‘The Banner-bearer of Christ and Our Lady’s Knight: How God became an Englishman revisited’, in St George’s Chapel, Windsor, in the Fourteenth Century, ed. N. Saul (Woodbridge, 2005), pp. 51–61, and J. Good, The Cult of St George in Medieval England (Woodbridge, 2009). 74 E. F. Jacob, Henry Chichele (London, 1967), p. 67. 75 Register of Bishop Philip Repingdon, 1405–1419, ed. M. Archer (Lincoln Record Society, 3 vols., 1963–82), iii, pp. 95. 71

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And on Friday, the Vigil of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, when a friendly wind began to blow into the face of the sails – doing so at God’s command as a result of the intercession of His Mother (Who, as is devoutly believed, had compassion on the people of Her dower of England, so long distressed by the waves, and also on their comrades in Harfleur suffering from lack of food and from hunger) – they rendered praise to God, shortly afterwards weighed anchor, and then proceeded in the direction of the mouth of the Seine.76

If Henry and his people substituted for Christ and Israel, then by the fifteenth century, as this passage vividly reveals, their special protectress – indeed, their spiritual mother – was none other than the Blessed Virgin Mary. To claim her protection was certainly of a piece with the other claims made by the English. By quartering the sacred lilies of France with England’s lions for his new royal arms, Edward III had not only symbolised his dynastic claims but also claimed for himself, in place of the French king, the particular favour and protection of the Blessed Virgin, whose flower was the lily. As the rightful French king, the Virgin’s favour and protection was justly his. For all its ambiguities, the Wilton Diptych is probably the best-known surviving expression of this ideology.77 If less famous, more revealing in many respects are the Consolidation Charters for Henry VI’s foundations of Eton College and King’s College Cambridge; illuminated in London by William Abel in 1447–8, the iconography on these two documents is virtually identical.78 Enthused and guided by his clerical advisors, Henry founded these colleges to mark the attainment of his majority in 1440–42, and they became ‘“the primer notable work” of his kingship and proclaimed the priorities of Henry’s court as domestic and Gesta Henrici Quinti, ed. Taylor and Roskell, p. 145. On the theme of England as the Virgin’s Dower, see D. Gordon, ‘The Wilton Diptych: An Introduction’, in The Regal Image of Richard II and the Wilton Diptych, ed. D. Gordon, L. Monas and C. Elam (London, 1997), pp. 19–26. 78 The illumination heading the King’s College Charter is reproduced in R. Marks and P. Williamson, ed., Gothic: Art for England, 1400–1547 (London, 2003), p. 162; on the same page, the King’s College seal matrix also deserves comment – with its central depiction of the Blessed Virgin as the Queen of Heaven, ascending amid clouds borne by six angels, three on either side, into the embrace of God the Father whose hands are outstretched to receive her; she is flanked by Henry VI, offering prayers, and St Nicholas, offering a blessing. To the left an angel holds the shield of England (lions quartered with lilies), and to the right another angel holds the shield of France (with three lilies), symbolising that Henry was king of both England and France. Beneath are the arms of the college. See also K. Selway, ‘The Role of Eton College and King’s College, Cambridge, in the Polity of the Lancastrian Monarchy’, unpublished Oxford DPhil thesis (1993), pp. 217 ff. 76 77

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religious rather than imperial and military’.79 Eton College was dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, and was to secure the special invocation of the Virgin in the grandest surroundings and most elaborate manner possible.80 The illustration heading the Eton Charter shows Mary, the Queen of Heaven, borne up by cherubim and seraphim; close to her right side, and under a virtual canopy formed both by his crown and the royal coat of arms, also supported by cherubim and seraphim, Henry kneels before her in prayer. Immediately behind him, the political nation is also depicted at prayer: identifiable Lords, both ecclesiastical and lay, kneel on the top rank; and below them the Commons are also shown kneeling and offering prayers to Mary. Henry is shown uttering the words Fiat ad laudem gloriam et cultum tuum [Let it be to your praise, glory and cult]. Eton, along with King’s College, was intended to celebrate the realm’s continuing devotion to Mary, its prime intercessor, so that it should benefit from her advocacy. In practical terms, both institutions were also to train boys and men as liturgists, scholars and administrators, organising a nation devoted to advancing her cult. Edward III had battened onto the cult of the Virgin in a declaration of dynastic superiority; where he led, his successors followed. And his great-great-grandson, Henry VI, ‘The most Christian King’, conceived it appropriate to foster his own, and his realm’s, relationship with the Virgin – particularly where Eton was concerned – in the form of a decidedly de luxe commendatory and intercessory institution. As with Edward III’s household and administrators, so Henry’s courtiers, and particularly his bishops, followed suit. In 1441, the king’s secretary, Thomas Bekynton – shortly to be translated to the see of Bath and Wells – journeyed to Rome via the port of Bordeaux to negotiate the papal bulls needed for the foundation of Henry’s new ‘College Roiall of Our Ladie of Eton beside Windesor’. With the sea uncharacteristically tranquil, and threatening to delay the journey, Bekynton promised an offering to the Blessed Virgin of Eton, and persuaded some of his companions to do likewise. They all then joined in singing an antiphon in her honour, after which, we are told, a favourable wind arose.81 An uncompromising pious agenda underpinned military and diplomatic ventures alike, its leaders setting great store by the sung liturgy. The trust of Henry VI and his subjects rested on the programme developed by his great-great-grandfather who had seized and recustomised the ‘political theology’ that had, hitherto, underpinned Capetian rule. Edward III’s venture engendered a culture that Harriss, Shaping the Nation, p. 609. Had the college chapel ever been completed as planned, it is worth emphasising how imposing a building it would have been (possessed of an extraordinarily long nave), and how well stocked with relics, rendering it a pilgrimage centre of the first importance – with, of course, a liturgy second to none. 81 Cited in T. Card, Eton Established: A History from 1440–1860 (London, 2001), p. 7. 79 80

4 The Eton College Consolidation Charter, 5 March 1446, reciting charters previously given to the College and also containing new grants. The image (painted somewhat later by the London limner, William Abel) shows the king in prayer, supported by the political nation (divided into the Lords spiritual and temporal, and the Commons) also in prayer, before an image of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The motto translates as ‘Let it be to your praise, glory and cult’.

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encouraged ecclesiastical foundation – to ‘increase divine service’ and benefit the nation – and succeeding generations of his family and peers, his bishops and the wealthy among his subjects, supported this campaign with the utmost generosity. They venerated the Blessed Virgin Mary as England’s special protectress, and dedicated, or rededicated, many churches and institutions explicitly in her honour.

Forging a righteous nation: propaganda and the people Righteousness had also to be fostered in the nation, by encouraging religious zeal and, more particularly, by articulating the prayers and practices demanded of both clergy and laity to promote success; the Hundred Years War therefore provoked a widespread but focused response.82 Commissioning prayers for the benefit of the king and royal family was nothing new: from the tenth century, the Regularis Concordia installed just such a programme of prayer into the liturgies of many prestigious Benedictine houses and, during the thirteenth century, the mendicant orders were often entrusted with organising special prayers in the national interest. From early in the course of the war, this changed. Rather than entrusting either the regular or mendicant orders, Edward expected his bishops – ‘those obliging, all-purpose workhorses of the realm, who had such a crucial role as the links between the Crown and the localities’83 – to implement a programme, entailing special services in all churches, including cathedrals along with all conventual, collegiate and parochial establishments, thereby involving cathedral deans as well as abbots, priors, rectors, vicars and parish priests. This was clearly to reach the widest possible audience, extending down to the ‘grass roots’, with bishops issuing mandates requiring a response: every church was to organise ‘special liturgical efforts in support of the Crown, [and] especially for success in foreign warfare’. In practice, the programme either supplicated for peace, meaning victory, or else petitioned for the safety of those leading or engaged on specific campaigns. The scheme employed a variety of means: prayers formed an invariable staple, and Masses, too, were frequently called for, along with sermons and processions, be they penitential or, when appropriate, offering praise. But, while calling on the clergy to lead proceedings and, of course, either to celebrate the sacrament or to preach, as far as was possible these observances were to involve the king’s subjects. Prayers might include the Pater Noster or the Ave, so that all might join in; the Masses were to be votives, substituted for the Mass of the day, usually on The following paragraphs are deeply indebted to Alison McHardy’s important essays, ‘Liturgy and Propaganda’, pp. 215–27, and ‘Some Reflections’. 83 McHardy, ‘Some Reflections’, p. 174. 82

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Wednesdays and Fridays, offering celebrants the scope to ‘combine patriotism and spirituality’ and affording the faithful the opportunity of joining in with the collects; preaching was to stir up the populace, unabashedly contrasting the wickedness of the enemy with the honour of the king and his cause; and processions, too, included the whole community. The government developed the means both to reveal itself as trusting more ‘to assistance from above than to earthly power, more to the prayers of the faithful than to bands of armed men’, and also consciously involved ‘the clergy and people, secular and religious, so that the lord of all dominion, placated by their prayers and merits, [would] pour out his blessing’. The principle that liturgical endeavour led to military success had been established early in the campaigns, meaning that mandates frequently followed urging the people to play their part soliciting divine favour.84 It is difficult to discover how assiduously successive mandates were either enforced or obeyed, although reiteration through both the fourteenth- and fifteenth-century phases of the war surely argues for their perceived efficacy. The Church afforded unparalleled access to a national network of propaganda and petition. From the fourteenth century, as a result of the war, the government routinely depended upon parish priests and their communities, no less than any other component part of the Church, in programmes of instruction and entreaty. Parishes had to ‘pull their weight’: given their number, any thought of leaving parishioners’ contribution unharnessed would have been folly. The orchestrated assistance of parishes in the campaign signals a recognition both by the government and the higher reaches of the Church itself – if, indeed, we can separate these spheres – of the contribution that parishes and parishioners could now make, capitalising on supplication and praise to further the national interest. The link between moral virtue and divine approbation meant that such prayer had to be offered by the righteous to be efficacious, so that divine favour would be manifested in military success. While the spiritual merits of the people could only be bolstered by their performance of the services outlined here, if the victories of the first phases of the war in both the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were not sustained (as in the 1370s or in the 1440s) then this called for redoubled efforts, investing in prayer and praise – so much so, that it became a commonplace in late medieval England to conceive of the campaigns in France as mounted on the

On the efficacy of these ‘programmes of petition’, McHardy contrasts the abject failure of the first Scottish campaign in 1327, for which no evidence survives for any special prayers being commissioned, and the campaign of 1333, when the bishops of England were asked to arrange special services, which resulted in military success; she notes ‘The link between liturgical endeavour and military victory was thus established and for nearly thirty years these services were largely beneficial,’ ibid., pp. 181–2.

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wings of prayer at home.85 If the revival of English national consciousness as the result of campaigns fought to assert the French credentials of the king emerges as one unintended result from war, so too the role that the humble men and women of England were persuaded to play to support the mighty in battles on the fields of France.86 Indeed, the supplication offered in every parish played an essential role underpinning the nobility’s feats of arms; and, as will become apparent, successive crises demanded further commitment. The English enjoyed a reputation for religious zeal … or, at least, the English, in recording these opinions, evidently conceived of themselves as worthy of God’s special grace. The author of the Gesta Henrici Quinti tells how, when the news reached England [on 21 August 1416] of the navy’s victory at Harfleur, Henry himself brought the news to the Emperor Sigismund, as they were both making their way through Canterbury on the way to Calais; both hastened ‘to the cathedral church, [and] with the hymn Te Deum laudamus and other offerings of propitiation gave glory and honour to God Who has visited and wrought the redemption of His people’. Later, when the emperor and his retainers resumed their journey back to Calais by way of Dover, as they left Canterbury, they ‘unobtrusively let fall along the streets and thoroughfares, to the glorification and honour of the English nation, numerous broadsides with these words written on them: ‘Farewell and rejoice in glorious triumph, O thou happy England. And, being angelic by nature and worshipping Jesus with glorious praise, rightly art thou said to be blessed.’87 The contemporary author of Dives and Pauper shared this opinion: ‘As men seyn, God is in non lond so well seruyd in holy chyrch, ne so mychil worschepyd in holy chyrche as he is in this lond, for so many fayre chirchys ne so good aray in chyrchis ne so fayr seruyce, as men seyn, is in non other lond as is in this lond.’88 While quite properly an end in itself and, of course, offering succour to the faithful, such devotion had in practice to serve a variety of purposes.

G. R. Owst, Literature and Pulpit in Medieval England, 2nd ed. (Oxford, 1961), pp. 74–6; Heath, Church and Realm, p. 108. 86 Mark Ormrod poured cold water on these efforts in his ‘The Domestic Response’, p. 97; for him, the propaganda that counted was more image-centred and elitist: pp. 98–101. Liturgical propaganda was nevertheless remarkable in that Church and government also sought to – and surely did – involve the ordinary people of the realm in the war effort, doing so at the ‘grassroots’, via their parishes. 87 Gesta Henrici Quinti, ed. Taylor and Roskell, pp. 151 and 157; Taylor and Roskell note that the lines on the broadsides may be found in other reports, too: p. 156 n. 2; the Latin text emphasises the linkage between Anglia and angelica. 88 Dives and Pauper, ed. P. H. Barnum, Early English Text Society 275 (Oxford, 1976), i, p. 188. This prose treatise is usually taken to have been written c. 1410, and so predates the Gesta by only a few years. 85

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‘For to infect and poison all this land’: disaster and reaction A series of calamities further influenced the spiritual politics of late medieval England. Each was destabilising and, cumulatively, could have proved devastating. In troubled times, however, the corpus Christianorum afforded access to the most effective means whereby the kingdom might measure up to misfortune and, with time, capitalise upon it. Petitioning for victory in war launched a spiritual campaign involving the faithful in the realm’s martial exertions; in addition, the adversities that battered England in the mid and later fourteenth century refined an agenda reaching into the fifteenth century. This agenda was cultivated not only to underpin the stability but also to further the advantage of the realm.

Pestilence and sedition The arrival of the Black Death in England, late in the summer of 1348, marked the onset of a cataclysm whose results must be factored in to any assessment of human activity in the later fourteenth century – and well beyond.89 Historians and epidemiologists continue to deliberate on the precise identity of the pathogen, but contemporaries were left in no doubt as to its virulence. In a little over a year, at least a third and probably nearer one half of the population perished and, if towns witnessed the worst mortality, the rural population was certainly not spared.90 Plague remained endemic for the next 350 years and, if later outbreaks were substantially less devastating – although some, such as the pneumonic plague of 1361–62, proved lethal for the young – pestilence continued to torment the living, regularly afflicting urban populations. Disease and famine had always rendered life uncertain but plague paid no respect to rank, only intensifying insecurity; and, if anything, population levels continued to fall in England during the remainder of the fourteenth century. If the dread induced by the first onslaught remains difficult to imagine, let alone evaluate, plague cast a pall over ensuing generations: For contemporary responses to the plague, see R. Horrox, The Black Death (Manchester, 1994); for experience in England, see also the essays in M. Ormrod and P. Lindley, ed., The Black Death in England (Stamford, 1996). 90 For a detailed analysis of the impact of the Black Death on a major town, see B. Sloane, The Black Death in London (Stroud, 2011), who suggests that the mortality in the City in 1348–49 could have been in excess of 50 per cent, and estimates that the population decline suffered by the City in the longer term was in the region of 40–45 per cent. It should also be noted that the virulence of the outbreak, both in the countryside and through the winter of 1348–49, remains puzzling: bubonic plague would ordinarily have needed both high densities of population and also summer warmth at English latitudes. 89

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none thereafter could be unaware of the uncertainty of life and the prospect of sudden death. While possibly turning some against religion, most seem more inclined to embrace the promises of protection – and, ultimately, of salvation – that the Church offered. Social dislocation inevitably accompanied so large a death toll, as mass mortality and long-delayed demographic recovery undermined the conditions that the ruling classes had exploited in previous centuries. From the twelfth century, land-hunger had rendered the peasantry progressively unable to resist disadvantageous conditions of tenure, to the point where they sacrificed basic freedoms in order to get and work sufficient land to eke a living. A buoyant demand for foodstuffs also meant that the seigneurial classes had been able to profit from selling produce at market. At a stroke, plague reversed the conditions underpinning the mode of production – usually referred to as desmesne farming – that had guaranteed advantages for landowners but servility for many peasants. The sharp fall in population obliged landowners to adapt over time, and constrained them to lease their lands and at relatively low rents. Those in the lowlier classes who were lucky enough to survive became wealthier: the shortage of labour enabled the peasantry to enjoy freer tenures; they worked larger holdings and kept a greater proportion of their produce; and a higher disposable income meant a higher standard of living. Wage earners, too, could command significantly higher rates of pay. While conditions increasingly favoured the lower orders by the fifteenth century, the seigneurial class in the later fourteenth century did not always willingly make concessions. In the decades following 1348–49, some property-owners (usually ecclesiastical landlords) were loath to abandon their advantages, and attempted to maintain by statute what demography had previously permitted.91 If some among the peasantry had begun to enjoy the improved conditions of post-plague husbandry, others – quite possibly close neighbours – might be denied the same rights: the very unpredictability of the so-called seigneurial reaction made it the more irksome. At the same time, as war with France resumed in the late 1360s after a decade of peace and, consequently, of restrained fiscal activity, taxation suddenly became more onerous. With Edward III in his dotage, and the defences of the realm breached with unsettling regularity, the king’s subjects were called on to make heavy financial sacrifices in support of increasingly futile campaigns. Such demands were all the harsher since new fiscal devices, such as On the seigneurial reaction, see generally J. L. Bolton, ‘The World Upside Down’, in The Black Death, ed. Ormrod and Lindley, pp. 45–9; and more specifically, M. Mate, ‘Labour and Labour Services on the Estates of Canterbury Cathedral Priory in the Fourteenth Century’, Southern History, 7 (1985), pp. 55–67.

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the poll tax, contrived to get at the real and growing wealth of communities and individuals.92 The combination of factors proved inflammatory: discontent about taxation ignited first, which gave vent to deeper frustrations concerning status and repression. Rebellion broke out in the late spring of 1381 particularly affecting the counties of Kent and Essex.93 The commons in these counties marched on London, to be welcomed by Londoners who had already started reprisals against hated members of the government by, for instance, burning the Savoy, John of Gaunt’s palace in the Strand. With the capital in chaos, the government lost control. Nevertheless, the ‘peasants’ were not all bent on insurrection, as they repeatedly affirmed, with various elements within the mob evidently holding differing objectives – meaning, overall, that the rebels lacked coherent command or constructive focus.94 After Wat Tyler’s murder, the rebels dispersed, apparently having achieved little; but the Revolt delivered a sharp jolt to the English governing classes. Landowners could now be in no doubt as to the likely results of attempting to sustain outmoded tenures by force of law, which hastened the relaxation of servile conditions.95 Subsequent administrations also remained wary of fiscal innovation, and for a very long time. In short, the uprising unnerved the establishment: sedition had been revealed as a real possibility and none could doubt its gravity. The means had to be cultivated to bind the nation together in shared convictions and obedience.

Heresy and usurpation The remarkable coincidence of Wyclif’s De Eucharistia being published only weeks before the rebels of Kent and Essex marched in June 1381 only added to anxieties, threatening to subvert core beliefs and practices.96 As an eminent Oxford E. B. Fryde’s discussion of taxation in the 1370s, in his introduction to Charles Oman’s The Great Revolt of 1381, new edn (Oxford, 1969), still proves useful. 93 For contemporary sources, see The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, ed. R. B. Dobson (London, 1970); and on the broader implications of the revolt see, for instance, the essays in The English Rising of 1381, ed. R. H. Hilton and T. H. Aston (Cambridge, 1984) and R. Hilton, Bond Men Made Free (London, 1973). 94 Comparison between the demands made at Smithfield and Mile End are usually taken to indicate that groupings among the ‘peasants’ differed as to their socio-economic background. 95 Insurrections in other parts of the country in the wake of the troubles in London, aimed particularly against landed institutions perceived as having abused rights and privileges – such as the abbeys of St Albans and Bury St Edmunds, and also Corpus Christi College, Cambridge – would not have gone unremarked. 96 From an extensive literature, mention should be made of K. B. McFarlane, Wycliffe and English Non-Conformity (London, 1952), A. Hudson, The Premature Reformation. Wycliffite Texts and Lollard History (Oxford, 1988); Wyclif and His Times, ed. A. Kenny (Oxford, 1986); and R. Rex, The Lollards (Basingstoke, 2002). 92

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theologian, and of the calibre to hope for a bishopric, John Wyclif had once served the government, assisting the Black Prince and John of Gaunt in disseminating propaganda against the French and the Papacy. But perhaps his asperity was judged as unbecoming for a pastor: passed over for ecclesiastical promotion, he returned to Oxford where enemies also blocked his advancement – and, possibly, such disappointments embittered him. A notably able philosopher, if unconventional by the lights of his age, he had refined a critique of the Church, calling particular attention to the disparities between appearance and reality, a censure only confirmed, in 1378, by the Papal Schism. But where once his claims for secular supremacy may have found tacit favour, in the febrile atmosphere of the spring of 1381 his new tract drew attention ‘to the supreme example of appearance without reality, the mark of hypocrisy and fraud: the doctrine of transubstantiation according to which the body of Christ was present in the Eucharist under the appearance of bread and wine’.97 Not content with criticising the clergy and the Church hierarchy, he had now attacked a central tenet of Catholic doctrine and, inevitably, challenged the cult of Corpus Christi. This shocked many contemporaries, on both counts. Although Wyclif made no discernible contribution to the revolt, simple coincidence meant that his name henceforward became indelibly associated with sedition.98 Expelled from Oxford, he returned to his living at Lutterworth, where he died in 1384. Wyclif nevertheless had friends. In addition to a number of disciples in Oxford, who preached and wrote and translated, a group of household knights proved both sufficiently radical and wealthy to sustain a covert operation to publish and disseminate Wyclif’s works and those of his disciples.99 The lollards, as the faction was known, created a literature, and appealed to those who, while cultivating an inward spiritual life of personal purity, found the ritualistic emphases of the popular Church unpalatable. If anything, lollardy developed into a quietist, critical force within the community, the more alarming for being unobtrusive.100 J. Catto, ‘Dissidents in an Age of Faith: Wyclif and the Lollards’, History Today, 37 (1987), p. 48. 98 A theme closely associated with the work of Margaret Aston, explored initially in her article, ‘Lollardy and Sedition, 1381–1431’ in Past and Present, 17 (1960), pp. 1–44, and to which she returned in many subsequent publications. 99 The so-called lollard knights, who included Sir William Neville (brother of an archbishop of York) and Sir John Montagu (a future earl of Salisbury), had supported radical preachers associated with Wyclif; but Sir Thomas Latimer has more particularly been singled out, since his house at Braybroke (between Northampton and Leicester) may well have used as a haven for the production and copying of lollard manuscripts and texts. 100 Bristol, in fact, provides a good example of the ‘inflation’ that so frequently occurs where assessments of lollardy are concerned: although often cited as having witnessed a pervasive lollard presence, on closer scrutiny little hard evidence emerges to substantiate 97

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Whether Wyclif himself would have recognised much in what eventually came to be associated with the term lollardy is arguable; but, in the context of the later fourteenth century, the advent of heresy – in Oxford, and possessed of friends with influence – only added to the insecurities already experienced by the ruling classes, no less than by ordinary Christians. The insidious nature of lollard criticism set the worm in the bud: henceforward, none could be sure of the integrity of belief in England, nor of the reliability of the Christian establishment. The century, moreover, culminated in a disastrous reign. Richard II inspired neither the confidence nor the affection of the political classes.101 Having suffered acute humiliation when his peers, led by the lords Appellant, purged his household and reined in his regime in the mid-1380s, Richard played a waiting game. He sued for peace with France, and sought reassurances of assistance from his Valois cousins. When strong enough, he took his revenge on the Appellants and, during the so-called tyranny from c.1397, attempted to frighten his subjects into loyalty. Not surprisingly the scheme misfired. Richard went to Ireland in the summer of 1399, at which point, his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke – an exiled Appellant, whose inheritance Richard had sequestrated when John of Gaunt (Bolingbroke’s father) had died earlier in the year – invaded to regain his patrimony. Supported by powerful allies, including the Percies, Henry encountered little opposition. With Richard out of the country, although scrambling to return and reassert his authority, Henry found the way open to usurp. But unlike the situation in the late 1320s, which saw Edward II’s deposition but the ultimate succession of his son, as Edward III, the Lancastrian usurpation destabilised the throne. Others had stronger claims and, after Richard’s overthrow, Henry would not be granted a harmonious reign. Serious rebellions, including those by erstwhile friends, like the Percies, and by Owain Glyndŵr and by the Earl of March, singly and combined, revealed all too clearly just how ‘uneasy lies the head that wears a crown’.102 After the turn of the century, the political classes had a further reason for disquiet, compounding a variety of insecurities at the very core of the political establishment, and intensifying feelings of vulnerability amongst subjects more generally.

this reputation – see C. Burgess, ‘A Hotbed of Heresy? Fifteenth-Century Bristol and Lollardy Reconsidered’, in The Fifteenth Century III: Authority and Subversion, ed. L. Clark (Woodbridge, 2003), pp. 43–62. 101 On the sense of disillusion that preceded Richard’s fall, see N. Saul, Richard II (New Haven and London, 1997), chapter 17. 102 For a brief summary of the vicissitudes of Henry IV’s reign, see Harriss, Shaping the Nation, pp. 491–501.

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‘God is in none land … so much worshipped in Holy Church’: cultivating the lay response In a realm beset with social and religious cankers, the political nation contrived to bring the country to the brink of civil war in the early years of the fifteenth century, and would do much the same in the middle and later decades of the century. The government made recourse to various tactics. Henry V again embarked on war, uniting the nation in outward-going endeavour. Protracted conflict against France had already tailored a devotional manifesto, which, as noted, Henry ostentatiously embraced, both personally and also outwardly – for instance, intensifying his own and also his realm’s commitment to patron saints, such as the Blessed Virgin and St George. His victories and, in the 1420s, the continuing successes of his brother, John duke of Bedford, exploited the plight of the French nation. Conquest was taken to signify God’s approval, validating Lancastrian rule – at least temporarily. Domestically, too, and with the menace, if anything, confirmed by the horrors unfolding in Bohemia in the 1420s, archbishops and bishops also capitalised on the perceived threat of lollardy.103 They urged their flocks to an emphatic avowal of orthodoxy, strengthening the shared values that underpinned right order. Indeed, the incidence of heresy offered an almost God-given pretext for the closer definition of dissidence and more blatant emphasis on its restraint: the threat of sacrilege – particularly in a time of national need – not only mobilised the clergy and Church courts but also rallied the faithful in every parish. Once heresy had effectively been equated with sedition, the Lancastrian dynasty embraced its potential for reaffirming control, in close collaboration, first, with Archbishop Arundel – facing down the religious threat by secular measures, authorised by statute. Thus the De Haeretico Comburendo statute of 1401 condemned obdurate heretics to punishment by death at the stake; further, in the aftermath of the abortive Oldcastle ‘rising’ of 1414, the Lollard Statute classified heresy as a felony, punishable at civil law, indelibly associating the offence with treason.104 Civil and ecclesiastical authorities, of course, collaborated, but, if the civil authorities seized the initiative to manipulate opinion, it was left to the bishops and their delegates to enforce the policy among the people. They worked to enforce conformity and simultaneously to inculcate a more demonstrative piety or, what might be termed, a more public religion. On the Hussite wars, see J. Klassen, ‘Hus, the Hussites and Bohemia’, in New Cambridge Medieval History, vii: c.1415–c.1500, ed. C. Allmand (Cambridge, 1998), pp. 367–91; N. Housley, Religious Warfare in Europe, 1400–1536 (Oxford, 2002), chapter 2. 104 Harriss, Shaping the Nation, pp. 395–402; Catto, ‘Religious Change’, passim; and P. Strohm, England’s Empty Throne (New Haven and London, 1998), chapters 2 and 3. 103

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If, in the early thirteenth century, the Church had sought, via the canons of the Fourth Lateran Council, to ‘bring the divine down to earth’ by attempting to encourage ‘the right ordering of souls’, in the distinctive circumstances of the early fifteenth century in England we see the government attempting to address and engage with the lower strata of society, and particularly the faithful in the parish, in order to do much the same. The English authorities, both secular and religious, responded to a set of political and social challenges by adopting and enforcing a strategy designed to buttress reverence, conformity and good order. This meant the more emphatic enforcement of orthodoxy and the more affective involvement of the faithful with the ceremonies and developing devotional practices of the Church. And if, by the fifteenth century, the apparatus of the state – as often enforced, quite normally, through the auspices of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, and also through developing institutional channels – worked to further the existing pastoral aims of the English Church, then this helps to explain the extraordinary flowering of devotional life and investment throughout the realm in the century and more preceding the Reformation. Quite simply, political urgency found productive expression in spiritual investment; and, as the pastoral and penitential melded with the political, the faithful responded with quite remarkable results.

In the diocese From 1416, archdeacons were obliged to make regular enquiries into the beliefs of the laity; and, from 1428, a questionnaire was introduced to guide examinations, intended to reveal any lollard tendencies in those subjected to interrogation. From about 1430, and during the following decades, the record of heresy trials in many episcopal registers might seem to indicate the spread and survival of lollard individuals and groups, although many have noted how the questionnaire tended to standardise often inchoate opinion, imposing an unwarranted uniformity of outlook on a variety of nonconformists. For the most part, contrary individuals and coteries seem simply to have rejected aspects of popular belief and practice – for instance, denying the efficacy of the saints, their images and shrines, or rejecting the sacramental powers of any priest whose status before God was questionable. But being branded a lollard activated an apparatus that singled out and silenced nonconformists, as much by neighbours in the first instance as by the more formal procedures of the Church courts thereafter. As Jeremy Catto notes, ‘Lollardy had, as it were, inoculated the English Church against the more severe consequences of religious freedom, and afforded it the means of maintaining a conformist public religion through and after the Reformation.’105 Catto, ‘Dissidents in an Age of Faith?’, p. 52.

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More constructively, perhaps, efforts were also redoubled to improve people’s devotional understanding by managing the threats of war and social and religious deviance to promote spiritual zeal. Henry Chichele, archbishop from 1414 until 1443, was particularly concerned to improve pastoral instruction, and many among his cadre devised programmes to enhance the quality of learning within their dioceses.106 By 1435, avowedly in response to the challenge of false doctrine, Bishop John Stafford of Bath and Wells had supervised the English translation of the Ignorantia Sacerdotum, the educational programme propounded by Archbishop Pecham in the late thirteenth century; Stafford did this to ensure its more effective promotion, particularly in his own diocese, which included Bristol’s southern suburbs. Every parish was to acquire a copy of this work, which inter alia emphasised the importance of amenable instruction on the fourteen articles of the Creed, the ten precepts of the commandments, the seven works of mercy, the seven deadly sins, the seven cardinal virtues, and the seven sacraments of the Church, ‘lest any should be ignorant of them’.107 More particularly, he admonished his clergy to strengthen the laity’s faith: ‘We ordain and command that every curate and priest having cure of souls of the people, four times in the year, that is to say once in every quarter of the year, the Sunday or the Holy Day, declare openly in English to the people without curious dissembling first the particulars of … belief.’ Proscribing the circulation of Scripture in the vernacular (in the wake of Wyclif’s translations) evidently need not mean abandoning the newly rediscovered mother tongue for effective instruction. Katherine French further highlights the achievements of his successor at Bath and Wells, Bishop Bekynton, and the pains he took to ensure that clergy had been properly educated. She notes: The overall increase in the number and quality of the licensees [that is, those preaching in and serving the diocese] is especially apparent in Bekynton’s register. Of the twenty-seven licences entered in his register between 1444 and 1464, eleven went to masters of theology and nine to bachelors of theology. The bishop took the opportunity to patronise the scholars who interested him, while also shaping the quality of instruction and preaching at the parish level.108 Richard Fleming provides perhaps the most memorable example of the manner in which education was used to reinforce conformity: having been consecrated by Chichele as bishop of Lincoln in 1420, Fleming founded Lincoln College, Oxford, in 1427, specifically to train men in the fight against doctrinal deviance in England. 107 J. A. F. Thomson, The Later Lollards, 1414–1520 (Oxford, 1965), p. 32; Register of John Stafford, Bishop of Bath and Wells, 1425–1443, ed. T. S. Holmes, Somerset Record Society, xxxi (1915), pp. 173–80; and discussed by K. L. French, The People of the Parish. Community Life in a Late Medieval English Diocese (Philadelphia, 2001), pp. 177–8. 108 French, People of the Parish, pp. 178–81, quotation at p. 179. 106

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If the secular authorities enforced uniformity through repression, pastors – who, in the cases just mentioned (as with very many other bishops), were intimately involved at the highest level with both the English state and its Church – strove to ameliorate clerical standards and, as a result, to enhance lay understanding, encouraging a better informed, and more committed, response from their flocks.109 There is much to suggest that this bore fruit.110 Relying on its bishops, government sponsored not only firmer diocesan and, hence, local control but also a more overtly public religion, ostentatiously devoted to cult, sacrament and liturgy – both to engage the public and also call down the Grace of God more abundantly. Adapting the tactics that had underpinned the spiritual campaign which mobilised the populace in support of the war effort, bishops played a formative role extolling the virtues of participation and display and also introducing new cults. Jeremy Catto observes: ‘more ceremonies, the introduction of new feasts and cults, more elaborate music and emphasis on public processions, such as the Corpus Christi day procession at Lincoln from Wykford to the cathedral in which Bishop Repingdon [bishop of Lincoln 1404–19] insisted that all local clergy should take part “for increase of devotion”.’111 Similarly, affective devotions newly introduced into England in the later fourteenth century – including the cults of the Five Wounds, the Crown of Thorns, and the Compassion of the Virgin – found their way into the service books of the fifteenth century.112 Catto notes that: The passage from personal devotion to public worship can be followed in the cult of the Holy Name. This was a development from private prayer first visible in the Rhineland, where Henry Suso propagated it. It soon had devotees in England … [and] by the early fifteenth century the Mass [of the Holy Name] had found its way into numerous missals … one ascribed to Hallum [bishop of Salibury] and dated 1411.113 Stafford was promoted to the see of Canterbury in 1443, where he remained until his death in 1452; he had previously also served as keeper of the Privy Seal, as Lord High Treasurer and, from 1432 to 1450, as Lord Chancellor. Bekynton, as we have seen, served as Secretary to the king prior to his promotion to Bath and Wells. 110 Discussed below in chapters 3 and 8. 111 Catto, ‘Religious Change’, p. 109; Repingdon’s initiatives always deserve attention given that, in his early career, he had been one of Wyclif’s disciples. 112 R. W. Pfaff, New Liturgical Feasts in Later Medieval England (Oxford, 1970), chapter 5. 113 Catto, ‘Religious Change’, pp. 109–10. For an appraisal of the cult of the Holy Name, and its spread in England in the later fifteenth century, see H. Blake, G. Egan, J. Hurst and E. New, ‘From Popular Devotion to Resistance and Revival in England: The Cult of the Holy Name of Jesus and the Reformation’, in The Archaeology of Reformation 1480–1580, ed. D. Gaimster and R. Gilchrist (Leeds, 2003), pp. 175–203. 109

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‘Increasing divine service’, both by corporate liturgical observances and by more personal affective devotion, encompassed the more inclusive and positive aspect of the bishops’ devotional strategy implemented from the early decades of the fifteenth century. National petition and praise was to be as efficacious as possible: reflecting the manifest justice of the English cause, it should ideally outshine equivalent activity in France. Investment in the solemnities of the Sarum Use, and replicating this as far as was possible in parish churches, took its place at the heart of public religion – although, realistically, it represented a longterm strategy. Many parishes nevertheless embarked on the investment needed to mount – albeit eventually – a scaled-down version of the liturgy as celebrated in larger foundations, and this naturally enhanced the setting and impact of worship both locally and nationally. It is, therefore, a matter of importance to consider how secular institutions developed in England in the two centuries following c.1350 when, if anything, the gravity of the challenge incumbent upon liturgical communities caused England’s regular houses to bend before the storm.

Within the secular Church While monastic communities in the past would have been expected to take the spiritual lead, many either belonged to orders in origin French or else were particularly bound to the papacy. War with France left the monastic orders ambivalently placed. Clearly this did not spell disaster for the monastic establishment in England. Edward III and Henry V each founded prestigious monastic establishments: Edward, the Cistercian house of St Mary Graces (or East Minster, intentionally matching West Minster) just outside London’s eastern walls, and also a Dominican nunnery in Dartford; Henry (ostensibly discharging a vow by his father, but clearly indulging his own preference), the Carthusian house of Sheen and Bridgettine nunnery of Syon, on either side of the Thames near his palace at Richmond.114 Neither of these most martial kings, nor any politician, ever contemplated forgoing the prayers from monasteries in pursuit of the national enterprise. But, at another level, a maturing chauvinism chafed against the internationalism of the monastic ideal. If war and diplomacy seemed to impede the utility of the religious, such reservations stimulated developments in other, compensatory, spheres – namely secular institutions, whose practices might be tailored to meet national needs. Contemporaries – such as Walsingham in the St Albans Chronicle (extract printed in EHD IV, doc. 469) – report that Henry also toyed with founding a Celestine house (i.e., reformed Benedictine) in the same vicinity; tradition has it that he abandoned this since the French members of the order proved unwilling to venture to England and also because he found himself unsure for whom they would have been praying. For further discussion of Henry’s ambitions concerning Syon and Sheen, and his attention to the details of their needs, see Vale, Henry V, pp.141–8.

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Although often overlooked, the resurgence of collegiate foundations stands as one of the more notable developments in English spiritual life in the two centuries before the Reformation.115 After the royal foundations of Syon and Sheen in 1415, England witnessed no major new monastic foundations before the Reformation; the impetus passed to collegiate foundation, and often on a grand scale. Henry VI’s foundation of the King’s College of Our Lady of Eton beside Windsor in 1440–41 was intentionally magnificent, but other classes also invested generously, reconfiguring extant institutions on an often lavish scale. In 1439, Ralph Lord Cromwell, Henry VI’s Lord Treasurer, reconstituted the parish church at Tattershall in Lincolnshire as the collegiate church of the Holy Trinity and St Mary the Virgin, with Sts Peter, John the Baptist and John the Evangelist. Bishop John Carpenter of Worcester (1444–76), refounded, enlarged and rededicated the college of the Holy Trinity at Westbury-on-Trym in 1447, possibly intending to match the monastic chapter at Worcester with this reinvigorated house of seculars near Bristol, following the diocesan model of Bath (with its regular house) and Wells (with its secular community). The gentry, too, were active in this programme with, for instance, Reginald Lord Cobham of Starborough, in 1431, turning his parish church of Sts Peter and Paul at Lingfield in Surrey into a collegiate institution. So, too, merchants with, to take one example, Richard Whittington and his executors (led by another John Carpenter, probably uncle to the bishop, and who served as London’s Common Clerk), reconstituting the former’s parish church, St Michael Paternoster Royal in London, as the college of the Holy Ghost and St Mary in the years following Whittington’s death in 1423.116 Given the crises that the English polity faced, and the corrective role assigned to religion, collegiate foundation formed an intrinsic part of a ‘spiritual overhaul’ that substantially augmented England’s liturgical, sacramental and intercessory capacity. All the prominent estates of the realm – nobles, churchmen, gentry and merchants – contributed, and every foundation not only incorporated a conspicuous outlay on the celebration of the Sarum Use by priests and clerks but, as was both natural and necessary, also provided for a proficient musical establishment. In earlier periods, secular communities had typically either been prebendal or portioners’ foundations. In the first of these, an income tied to a specific prebend (or endowment) supported each identified canon or, in the second, In an exception to the general rule, it should in fairness be noted that A. Hamilton Thompson certainly was prepared to allocate to collegiate institutions the attention that their importance merited. 116 Brief descriptions of, and references to, all the foundations mentioned in this paragraph may be found in the gazetteer of secular establishments in Knowles and Hadcock, ed., Medieval Religious Houses, pp. 411 ff. 115

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each was assigned a customary portion from the common fund or ‘pot’. In either case, canons enjoyed a certain freedom of movement but, if absent from the community, were obliged to maintain a vicar to discharge liturgical duties.117 As founders came to place a greater value on the seemly celebration of the liturgy, the expectation grew that canons should reside both to supervise and participate in corporate worship. As a result, by the later fourteenth century, so-called chantry colleges began to proliferate, as communities of resident canons specifically entrusted with the delivery of a high-grade liturgy. Something similar could, of course, have been achieved by founding a monastery; but the pliability of the secular form proved attractive. Not only might secular foundations be smaller, and hence cheaper, dovetailing with other interests or institutions, but founders could also be more prescriptive. In contrast to regular foundations, where most orders observed their own liturgical customs and traditions,118 from the thirteenth century the Sarum rite had established itself in England’s secular churches as the principal liturgical Use.119 By the later fourteenth century, this observance had clearly permeated most of England’s parish churches, instilling a degree of liturgical conformity.120 The exigencies of war, having obliged the government to take a closer interest in local practice, provided the context for the imposition of a common rite which, having been propagated in prestigious centres, might then spread into the localities. Whilst, of course, celebrated in Latin, the Sarum Use was an English rite, facil For closer appraisal, see Hamilton Thompson, English Clergy, chapter 3; and ibid., chapter 5 on chantry colleges. The freedom of movement that prebends afforded, which was intended to facilitate pastoral work in the locality, was all too easily open to abuse as kings and other magnates used prebends to reward administrators or lawyers. 118 Save for Augustinian houses, which ordinarily adopted the liturgical customs of the diocese wherein they were sited; on the practices of the religious, see J. Harper, The Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy from the Tenth to the Eighteenth Centuries (Oxford, 1991), pp. 28–9. 119 On the adoption of the Sarum Use, see N. Morgan, ‘The Introduction of the Sarum Calendar into the Dioceses of England in the Thirteenth Century’, in Thirteenth Century England VIII. Proceedings of the Durham Conference, 1999, ed. M. Prestwich, R. Britnell and R. Frame (Woodbridge, 2001), pp. 179–206; idem, ‘The Sarum Calendar in the Fourteenth Century’, in Saints and Cults in Medieval England, ed. S. Powell, Harlaxton Medieval Symposium, 27 (2017) pp. 5–23. 120 Clearly implied by a petition made by the parishioners of St Giles Cripplegate in London in 1375 or 1376 requesting that they should be allowed to buy books of the Sarum Use rather than of the Use of London, arguing that ‘the Sarum Use was the use of almost all the parishes of the province of Canterbury and they should be allowed to do likewise’, see J. Wickham Legg, ‘On a Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury’, Trans. St Paul’s Ecclesiological Society, 6 (1907), pp. 94–6. I am grateful to Prof. Nigel Morgan for alerting me to this example. 117

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itating its adaptation when expressing national devotional sentiment. As noted earlier, from 1416, on Henry V’s command, and with the intention of honouring England’s patron saint appropriately, the feast of St George was to be celebrated as ‘a greater double’, and the feast of the translation of St John of Beverley, on 25 October – the date of Agincourt – was also especially commended to the realm. Liturgical adaptability also found application on a smaller scale enabling founders of chantry colleges to accentuate small but telling observances, honouring preferred saints or inserting mortuary prayers which, to a degree, personalised their establishments.121 Moreover, secular communities offered scope for manoeuvre concerning the deployment of manpower: by the early-to-mid fifteenth century larger secular institutions had started to employ lay clerks further to enhance liturgical standards.122 In minor orders and, therefore, able to marry – and, as such, possessing no equivalent in the monastic sphere – lay clerks were effectively professional musicians, able to enhance the liturgy in the establishments that employed them.123 Where monasteries ordinarily required a degree of institutional separation, this did not apply to colleges. It proved feasible, and often desirable, to establish secular foundations cheek by jowl with palaces, or in castles, or beside manor houses, or even adjoining and incorporating parish churches in the midst of busy cities.124 The secular institutions’ long-established métier for service found full expression in such adaptability, complementing their liturgical potential. Many larger colleges provided institutionalised alms, housing paupers or the infirm and, as a result, benefiting from the continual prayers of the poor.125 Many, too, incorporated a school, training boys as liturgists; while satisfying the need for treble voices in the ‘home’ institution, in the fullness of time this would assist other less-advantaged This degree could be significant when surroundings, trappings and resulting ambience are taken into account in ‘staging’ the words of the liturgy – as Anna Eavis discloses when discussing William of Wykeham’s carefully planned provision for the equipment and décor of his colleges in her ‘The Commemorative Foundations of William of Wykeham’, in Medieval Chantry, pp. 169–95. 122 Roger Bowers, ‘The Music and Musical Establishment of St George’s Chapel in the Fifteenth Century’, in St George’s Chapel, Windsor, in the Late Middle Ages, ed. C. Richmond and E. Scarff (Windsor, 2001), pp. 171–214, at pp. 180–82, 193–5 &c. 123 M. Williamson, ‘The Will of John Boraston: Musicians within Collegiate and Parochial Communities’, in The Late Medieval English College and its Context, ed. C. Burgess and M. Heale (York, 2008), pp. 180–95 for discussion of the manner in which institutions adapted both to encourage and to benefit from the presence of lay clerks. 124 Respectively, St Stephen’s Westminster was situated within a palace, St George’s Windsor within a castle, and both Fotheringhay and Tattershall were sited adjacent to fortified residences; Whittington’s college absorbed his parish church – of St Michael Paternoster Royal – in the Vintry in London. 125 This was the case in both Fotheringhay and Tattershall, for instance. 121

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foundations with a supply of trained liturgists.126 In certain circumstances, the educational element prevailed, as with Bishop Wykeham’s foundations both in his diocesan seat and in the University of Oxford. Winchester College sustained a large school and New College a large fellowship of masters and scholars; by helping poor scholars, each fulfilled a charitable purpose in addition to their core liturgical role.127 As well as providing the realm inter alia with clerks, lawyers and administrators, each supplied the Church with priests, liturgists and theologians. Both establishments proved extraordinarily influential and, whereas most emphasise the significance of New College in establishing the model for subsequent societies in the Universities, such institutions also instilled the liturgical and intercessory ideal amongst the influential – as we have seen with Bishop Thomas Bekynton, for instance, an alumnus both of Winchester and of New College.128 Later in life, many beneficiaries imitated their benefactors, establishing their own institutions or reforming establishments over which they came to preside: these societies may have had a charitable or educational purpose, but invariably each also fulfilled a liturgical role to benefit both the founder and the realm.129

From college to parish Edward III led the way in promoting secular institutions with a double foundation in August 1348, just weeks before the advent of the Black Death.130 He founded the colleges of St Stephen in the palace of Westminster and St George in Windsor Famously the case at Eton. Again see Eavis, ‘The Commemorative Foundations’. 128 He is shown, with other eminent Wykhamists, uniting to commemorate the founder who had given them the ‘wher-with to scoleye’ in a well-known drawing – see T. F. Kirby, ‘On some Fifteenth-Century Drawings of Winchester’, Archaeologia, 53 (1892), pp. 229–32, as discussed in more detail by Hamilton Thompson, English Clergy, p. 156 n. 2. 129 Thomas Bekynton reformulated the statutes for the choir school at Wells, and also built his choristers a new schoolroom above the cathedral cloisters: see Dean Cosyn and Wells Cathedral Miscellanea, ed. A. Watkin, Somerset Record Society, 56 (1941), pp. 98–109, and N. Orme, Education in the West of England (Exeter, 1976), pp. 80–81; and William Waynflete, in addition to effectively refounding Eton and also founding Madgalen College, Oxford, also founded a school in his home town of Wainfleet in Lincolnshire and a ‘feeder school’ for Magdalen in Oxford, as discussed by V. Davis, William Waynflete, Bishop and Educationalist (Woodbridge, 1993) and in her entry on Waynflete in the ODNB. 130 There had been some earlier activity, such as Bishop Grandison’s collegiate establishment, founded in 1337, at Ottery St Mary in Devon, or the royal clerk, John Gifford’s foundation at Cotterstock in Northamptonshire in 1338–9, or the London merchant John Poultney’s foundation in 1332, where he reconfigured his parish church, thereafter known as St Lawrence Poultney. The royal initiative nevertheless signified a ‘sea change’, embedding this trend and thereafter influencing would-be founders, for which see Hamilton Thompson, English Clergy, chapter 5. 126 127

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castle. Both constituted an act of thanksgiving for his victory at Crécy and success at Calais a year or two earlier; each also upgraded an existing institution. But their inspiration lay in la Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, consecrated by Louis IX exactly a century earlier. By establishing two such foundations, each with a constitution that mirrored the prototype – with exactly the same distribution of clerical personnel – Edward, as the true Capetian, not only consciously surpassed his Valois cousins, but also boosted the liturgical capacity at the heart of the Plantagenet realm.131 Where St Stephen’s physically resembled la Sainte-Chapelle as a two-storey arrangement, with the upper and more glorious chapel reserved, ordinarily, for the royal family, Windsor differed. Having abandoned grandiose schemes for a Camelot in the castle, the foundation of St George’s College in the lower ward made provision for twenty-six Garter knights, constituting an elite chivalric order, served by the same numbers of canons and attended (at least in theory) by an equal number of poor knights, worshipping in a single-storey chapel, and particularly marking the special celebrations on St George’s day.132 The intention seems to have been that three ranks of thirteen (each rank recalling Christ and the twelve) should sit on either side of the chapel – with the three ranks consisting of garter knights, canons and poor knights – and with the sovereign and Prince of Wales each presiding over their respective ‘companies’. St George’s College chapel began to function as the ceremonial heart of the realm; and, while naturally exclusive, the ritual both involved and in turn inspired the nobility of the realm. Realistically, such an enterprise could never have been integrated within a monastery. St Stephen’s and St George’s took their place respectively within a palace and a castle, and each chapel functioned, in part, as a Marian shrine. The dedications were primarily to Almighty God and to the Blessed Virgin, with the third dedicatee, respectively, as St Stephen, and St George who was joined by St Edward the Confessor. St George’s, in particular, proved influential, with Garter Knights often being moved to invest in the spiritual war effort. Matching their more martial activities, they emulated the king’s devotional resolve, and many among Edward III’s brothers in arms, as well as those in succeeding generations, founded collegiate establishments. As the preference spread, different founders achieved a variety of emphases, although many also dedicated their foundations to the Blessed Virgin. In 1330, Henry, earl of Lancaster, had founded a hospital dedicated to the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Newarke, the outer ward of Bowers, ‘The Music and Musical Establishment of St George’s’, p. 175. The number of poor knights, however, never remotely approached the planned quota; see E. Roger, ‘St George’s College, Windsor Castle, in the Late Fifteenth and Early Sixteenth Centuries’, unpublished University of London PhD thesis (2015), chapter 4.

131 132

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Leicester Castle, for a warden, four chaplains and fifty poor or infirm. Its warden and chaplains were to be secular clerks leading a common life, wearing a habit with a white crescent and star, the warden being elected by the chaplains and presented by the patron to the bishop. In 1355, however, Henry’s son, Henry of Grosmont, duke of Lancaster, a founder Knight of the Garter, transformed this hospital into a collegiate institution. Following the model of Windsor, Henry constituted his college – to which the hospital, thereafter, was attached – with a dean and twelve canons, assisted by thirteen vicars and clerks.133 Resembling Edward III’s foundations, St Mary’s in the Newarke was, in fact, a portioners’ foundation. But, as suggested, subsequent foundations were ordinarily constituted as chantry colleges, headed by a master and possessed of common funds distributed among the corporation – with canons being expected to reside. The university colleges were prominent among these institutions. Bishop William Wykeham, the founder of New College in Oxford, had worked closely with Edward III, in the 1350s and 1360s, as clerk of works for the Windsor building programme and, as bishop of Winchester, served as Prelate of the Order of the Garter. It can be no accident that the elevation of the hall and chapel at New College, as well as that at Winchester College, were both modelled on the hall at Windsor. Edward’s sons responded similarly. In 1394, Thomas, duke of Gloucester, K.G., founded the college of the Holy Trinity at Pleshey in Essex, for a master eight chaplains, two clerks and two choristers.134 In 1401, Edmund Langley, duke of York, K.G., began to upgrade the existing collegiate foundation in his castle at Fotheringhay in Northamptonshire; in 1411, however, his son, Edward, duke of York, enlarged the project and moved it from the castle, transforming the nearby parish church by founding the college of the Blessed Mary and All Saints and, notably, both Henry IV and Henry V added to this endowment. Fotheringhay college provided for a master, twelve fellow chaplains, eight clerks (later nine) and thirteen choristers, who were to be educated in the college. With the church and college complete, work began on an alms-house with ten beds for the poor and infirm.135 Among the other Garter Knights who founded chantry colleges, we find Henry, Lord Percy, who refounded the parish church of All Saints, at Kirby Overblow in Yorkshire, in 1362, as a collegiate church for a provost and four chaplains.136 Moreover, in 1408, On this foundation, see A. Hamilton Thompson, History of the Hospital and New College of the Annunciation of St Mary in the Newarke, Leicester (Leicester, 1937); also idem, English Clergy, pp. 83–4. 134 Ibid., p. 150. 135 C. Burgess, ‘Fotheringhay Church: Conceiving a College and its Community’, in The Yorkist Age, ed. H. Kleineke and C. Steer, Harlaxton Medieval Studies, 23 (2013), pp. 347–66 (at p. 364). 136 Hamilton Thompson, English Clergy, p. 154. 133

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Ralph lord Neville, first earl of Westmorland, founded a college for a master, eight chaplains, four clerks and, as alms-folk, six esquires, six gentlemen, and six other poor persons, at St Mary the Virgin in Staindrop, County Durham.137

The response in the parishes Where the fragmentation of minster communities from late Anglo-Saxon times brought parishes into being as single-priest institutions in a Church otherwise served by corporations, by the fifteenth century the role that the secular Church was able to discharge was expanding – indeed, a number of existing churches experienced a marked institutional reconstitution.138 While undergoing no formal change of status, many more among England’s parishes were primed to become collegiate. The elite provided prototypes and set standards which, if often impossible to equal, were nevertheless inspirational. In the circumstances both of heightened personal insecurity in a plague-ridden world and of social anxiety in an age of political and theological challenge, the combined penitential and patriotic response proved transformative. It elicited remarkable generosity in many localities, prompting widespread and lavish rebuilding and refitting, and also extracting generous financial endowment. This financed a growing complement of clergy; and surplus priests and clerks trained in larger institutions were now on hand for employment wherever they were needed – providing the necessary manpower to disseminate the desired liturgical expertise. Such momentum remade many parishes – noticeably so, at first, in wealthier cities and market towns – and enabled them to join forces with existing communities in the secular Church. The nation’s spiritual and intercessory capacity was, as a result, enormously increased. England’s monastic endowment had been prodigious and, until the mid-1530s, could be counted on to continue its liturgical contribution; the institutions of the secular Church – such as colleges but also, increasingly, almshouses – multiplied fast in the later fourteenth and fifteenth century, adding significantly to the volume of high-grade liturgy.139 But the real area for growth lay at parish level where, manifestly, investment in buildings and in clergy and Knowles and Hadcock, ed., Medieval Religious Houses, p. 439–40. Carole Rawcliffe has, for instance, shown how, by the fifteenth century, the hospital of St Giles in Norwich could barely be distinguished from a secular college: C. Rawcliffe, The Hospitals of Medieval Norwich, Studies in East Anglian History, 2 (1995), pp. 91–134, at pp. 121–7. 139 M. K. McIntosh, Poor Relief in England, 1350–1600 (Cambridge, 2012), chapter 3; N. Orme and M. Webster, The English Hospital, 1070–1570 (New Haven and London, 1995), pp. 136–46; on those, often more transitory foundations (quite possibly lacking a liturgical function), see P. Cullum, ‘“For Pore People Harberles”: What was the Function of the Maisondieu?’, in Trade, Devotion and Governance. Papers in Later Medieval History, ed. D. J. Clayton, R. G. Davies and P. McNiven (Stroud, 1994), pp. 36–54. 137 138

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the liturgy combined to increase the divine service celebrated in England. Such development was not haphazard: institutional adaptation formed the mainstay in a wider programme of public worship intended not only to reinforce conformity but also to reap the grace of God and ensure national protection both by the Virgin and the whole company of heaven. In a time of strife which, even after the cessation of formal hostilities with France, witnessed mounting challenges to good order, this represented an astute national response. It clearly inspired the broader political nation – perhaps now not so much the king and nobility, but with the initiative passing (at least in the middle decades of the fifteenth century) to prominent members of shires and towns – to invest generously both of time and money in an effort to procure greater security as well as the surer salvation of its subjects. Such practice was still ongoing at the onset of change in the mid sixteenth-century, when its principles were first overhauled, then repudiated and, in the process, stripped of the accompanying propertied endowment – ensuring that the initiative collapsed. The previous two centuries, however, had witnessed spectacular progress: if the structural refurbishment of many of England’s parish churches was not remarkable enough, the simultaneous liturgical investment in manpower, books and equipment to ensure that the Sarum Use was observed as well as was possible in as many churches as possible became a national priority. What we lack, however, is a detailed understanding of the regimes functioning within many of England’s parishes – for physical survival, be it of parish buildings and a good variety of internal fixtures and fittings, is not ordinarily matched, substantiated or explained by any equivalent archival coverage. Indeed, the documentation once produced to sustain and manage this enterprise in parish after parish has almost entirely disappeared, rendering us ignorant concerning decision-making, purchases, expenditure, contracts and also of the personnel (both secular and clerical) either involved in special initiatives or responsible for day-to-day management. All too often the documentation that reflects contemporary devotional mores and that survives in any quantity – namely, wills – reveals disappointingly little about parish life. Ordinarily, wills elaborate on personal choices made, in the main, to serve at one critical moment in the life-cycle; attempting to chart communal trends from them is frustrating, for they allow only a very incomplete impression of contemporary achievement. Churchwardens’ accounts, too, while disclosing certain parish practices, have serious drawbacks; their survival in good series in different localities before the Reformation is rare and, even then, they reveal only a restricted (but unquantifiable) part of parish business. In short, considering the investment made at the time, our abilities to recapture an adequate picture of contemporary parish priorities and practice are extremely limited.

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This study seeks to address this challenge and, albeit in a limited manner, begin to remedy the deficiency in our understanding: it concentrates on one parish – All Saints’, Bristol – which possesses unusually full records for the latter part of the fifteenth century and sufficient for us to start to form clearer impressions of parishioners’ responses in a number of key areas. As well as divulging the scale of lay generosity, All Saints’ records reveal something about the role of the clergy, the managerial capacity of the leading laity, and also the interaction of the two. If the rebuilding campaigns on which this parish embarked were not particularly impressive, from the mid-fifteenth century it nevertheless sustained a quickening liturgical investment that resulted both in its refurbishment and in the maintenance of a healthy number of priests and clerks. By the early sixteenth century, All Saints’ was a parish transformed, and able to fulfil a liturgical role based in large part upon the commemorative impulse that it also encouraged and sustained. It closely resembled a college. The reform issuing from the Fourth Lateran prescribed both belief and behaviour, demanding systematic teaching from local clergy and, with time, a personal reordering on the part of the faithful. During the course of the fourteenth century, protracted campaigning in France encouraged the authorities in England to seek a proactive response from the faithful in every parish, petitioning for, and also celebrating, God’s support for the realm. In the fifteenth century, a sense of crisis worked to reinforce this remedy; and, paradoxically, the losses in France, and the domestic strife that ensued, extended its duration. But if churchmen in the thirteenth century had initiated an agenda as a means of evading an increasingly oppressive secular influence, ultimately the ubiquity of the Church, when coupled with its success in motivating the faithful, meant that any autonomy it had achieved could not, and would not, endure. Parishioners were also subjects and, by the fifteenth century, royal government was working closely with the Church to shape both belief and behaviour. And while some of the ‘great and the good’ responded by founding or refounding collegiate institutions, very many of the laity set about remaking their parish churches and enhancing the liturgy within them. Political and social factors conjoined with penitential and commemorative incentives to sustain an extraordinary level of devotional and managerial investment at the parish level. As loyal subjects and devout Christians, parishioners joined in promoting a public religion based, as far as possible, on the observance of England’s Sarum Use. In 1443, towards the end of his life and as he considered the statutes for his foundation in Oxford – All Souls College, established in 1438 – Archbishop Chichele ‘remember[ed] the splendid honour’ of Henry V’s reign, ‘when … both the secular and clerical militiae [‘knighthoods’ or ‘soldieries’] “competing with each other in pious emulation, made the kingdom of England, by its merit, for-

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midable to its enemies, and resplendent and glorious among nations abroad.”’140 With hindsight, ‘competing with each other in pious emulation’ can be taken as a useful paradigm for what would, in fact, occur in the country more generally: many parishioners in a wide variety of locations invested to replicate the institutional developments they witnessed around them. This may inevitably have been piecemeal but, when considered cumulatively, represents the most remarkable, if insufficiently remarked, development within the ecclesia Anglicana in the two centuries before the Reformation.

140

Vale, Henry V, p. 81 (and footnote 64 for Chichele’s text – from Statutes of the Colleges of Oxford, ed. E. A. Bond, 3 vols (Royal Commission, 1853), i, Statutes of All Souls College, separately paginated, p. 11). See also E. F. Jacob, ‘The Warden’s Text of the Foundation Statutes of All Souls College, Oxford’, Antiquaries Journal, 15 (1935), pp. 420–31.

Part II

All Saints’, Bristol, and its parishioners

A

t first sight, All Saints’ may seem an odd choice for in-depth study. Even in Bristol other parishes appear more promising: why All Saints’ when, for instance, its neighbour, St Nicholas, was both larger and richer, or St Mary Redcliffe, in the southern suburb of the town, clearly ran a far more ambitious regime? The answer lies, simply, in the survival of evidence. Most English parishes can muster little, if anything, by way of archival evidence to shed light on their history before the Reformation. And while parishes in Bristol emerge as reasonably well-off for late medieval materials as compared with those, say, in late medieval York or Norwich – neither of which, wills apart, has any substantial holding of material reflective of parish life – All Saints’ preserves more than any other. Although we may be hard pressed to explain quite why, this particular parish possesses a remarkably rich pre-Reformation archive. It repays close study for the straightforward reason that, unusually, it can furnish sufficient data for an in-depth enquiry. Parishes have never functioned in a vacuum: in the period in question, they occupied an increasingly prominent position among the array of institutions ministering to the political, as well as to the spiritual, interests of the realm, its rulers and their subjects. Local conditions naturally determined the manner in which parishioners might respond to incentives, not least insofar as economic trends governed the simple availability of means which, as a result, affected citizens’ ability to invest in their parishes. So the following provides, first, a brief outline of Bristol’s fortunes, after which the focus turns to the parish of All Saints’ and to an examination of its archive which, as suggested, provides the rationale for this study. To set the scene more fully, some of the parish’s more distinctive characteristics deserve attention; these raise questions concerning both its capabilities

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and its typicality – or not. Subsequent chapters in this section are concerned more with parishioners and, in the main, those active when the archive is at its most detailed towards the end of the fifteenth and in the early sixteenth centuries. They consider how belief found expression often in very generous behaviour.

Chapter 2

‘To be showed and declared’: Circumstances and sources

‘Almost the richest city’: Bristol and its environment in the late Middle Ages

A

s a provincial centre, Bristol was unorthodox: it had not developed on a Roman settlement, nor was it an ecclesiastical centre – its situation on the southern edge of the Worcester diocese meant that, with the growth of the suburbs of Temple and Redcliffe, the town also extended into the northern periphery of the diocese of Bath and Wells.1 Bristol had owed its origins, in the tenth century, to its suitability for trade with Ireland, then enriched by Viking endeavour; having gained a commercial rationale, strategic factors worked to its advantage. The original burh occupied a rocky mound, some twenty acres in extent, almost encircled by the waters of the Rivers Avon and Frome. Land access was only possible from the east, via an isthmus defended by a keep strengthened immediately after the Conquest. The quays sited at the confluence of these rivers, mainly to the west of the burh, were also notably secure, given that approach was possible only through the easily defensible channel of the Avon Gorge. But Bristol’s position a short distance from the confluence of the Avon and Severn afforded access not only to river systems serving the Marches and the English midlands but also the open sea and, thus, to south-western England, south Wales and Ireland, and also the Bay of Biscay. In addition, Bristol benefited from a hinterland rich in agricultural, mineral and, in time, manufactured product. As well as easily profiting from exchange by river and sea, the local road system – especially the old Roman road between Bath and the Severn that ran through the suburbs of the town – facilitated access to centres such as Gloucester, Cirencester, Oxford and, thence, London.

 1

This discussion of Bristol’s origins and early fortune is heavily indebted to E. M. CarusWilson’s short history of the medieval town in AHT Bristol; see also M. Horton, ‘Bristol and its International Position’, in ‘Almost the Richest City’: Bristol in the Middle Ages, ed. L. Keen, The British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions, 19 (1997), pp. 9–17.

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Bristol’s significance in the post-Conquest period was exploited by a series of magnates, most notably, in the twelfth century, Robert of Gloucester, the bastard son of Henry I and half-brother to the Empress Matilda. He strengthened Bristol castle, which became his principal residence and, in the civil war of the midtwelfth century, Robert championed his half-sister’s cause against King Stephen. With his castle defending the town, Bristol profited during the conflict by supplying Robert and Matilda’s forces; and, by this period, the defended area of the town had been divided into quarters by the thoroughfares of High Street, Wine (or Wynch) Street, Broad Street and Corn Street, each of which terminated in a defended gateway. The later construction of bridges both to the north and south of the town would improve communications with the town’s quays, with St John’s gate giving access to the bridge over the Frome and St Nicholas’s gate to Bristol Bridge over the Avon. But also by the twelfth century, as in any large settlement, a number of parishes had evolved: to the east of the burh, near the castle, was St Peter’s parish, with another three – Holy Trinity (later Christ Church), St Ewen’s and All Saints’ – at the town’s central crossroads; two more, St Mary-le-port (or St Mary in foro) and St Nicholas, served townspeople residing on the north bank of the Avon, up- and down-stream from the bridge. Another local luminary, Robert FitzHarding, a close ally of Robert of Gloucester, helped to develop settlement to the west and south of the town. He founded St Augustine’s Abbey (1140–48), stimulating growth in the western suburb (so far as marshy ground would allow), and his family also acquired the district across the Avon Bridge. Robert of Gloucester authorised the formal grant of its eastern sector to the Templars, thereafter known as Temple Fee; and to its west, Redcliffe Fee afforded good harbourage along the River Avon on Redciffe Back. By the 1150s, a church of St Mary had been sited on Redcliffe Hill, suggesting that population was expanding fast in this area which, in time, came to rival the old town. By the later twelfth century, factors continued to work in Bristol’s favour. In a process that could only have quickened once Matilda’s son, Henry of Anjou, had succeeded Stephen as king, Bristol, along with many other boroughs, profited from favourable trading conditions with the provinces on the western seaboard of France, which, together with England, now constituted the so-called Angevin Empire. Bristol flourished as a result particularly of commerce with Gascony, exporting grain and importing wine, a trade which enabled the Gascons to concentrate on viticulture, and meant that Bristol soon rivalled London in the bulk and value of its wine imports. The town also benefited from the conquest of Ireland in the later twelfth century: Henry II launched his campaigns from Bristol and, having captured Dublin, encouraged the townspeople of the former to occupy the latter, spurring colonists to set off from Bristol and its region, strengthening contacts across the Irish Sea. More generally, favourable trading conditions encouraged

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England’s stock economic activity, the production and export of wool, and the quality and quantity of fleeces from Wiltshire, the Cotswolds, Somerset and the Marches naturally assisted the West Country’s major port. After Henry II had, in 1155, granted it freedom from toll in trade throughout the realm, Bristol made steady progress towards self-government: by 1216 it had its own elected mayor and, from 1227, the farm of the town, due annually to the king as overlord, was leased to its burgesses. By the mid-thirteenth century, Bristolians had invested heavily to divert the course of the Frome and improve the capacity their quays, encouraging use by both ocean-going vessels and smaller craft. As well as rebuilding the Frome and Avon bridges in stone, they improved the existing town walls and constructed new defences to protect Temple and Redcliffe Fees. The town prospered as its merchants assumed greater control. In the fourteenth century, too, the town continued to flourish. The advent of the Hundred Years War and the king’s ill-advised manipulation of the wool export worked to promote the cloth-weaving industry in England, a great deal of which was situated in the West Country. Indeed, with a long-established expertise in weaving and easy access to high-quality wool, Bristol was bound to benefit from this development, exporting cloth principally to Ireland and to Gascony. By the later fourteenth century, even though the plague had taken its toll, the town still flourished. It supplied the conflict in France, and many of its merchants – such as Robert Cheddar, William Canynges I and Richard le Spicer – amassed spectacular fortunes. Some spent with extraordinary generosity on their parish churches, notably St Mary Redcliffe, rebuilt as a ‘great church’ and the equal of a cathedral.2 Bristol’s prestige in these years earned a status unrivalled by other provincial towns: in 1373, Edward III created it a county in its own right. Carved out of Somerset and Gloucestershire, the County of Bristol included all the suburbs, and extended down the Avon to the Bristol Channel. As the focal point of a wealthy region, Bristol had become, in effect, self-governing, with an elective sheriff and a council of forty, chosen by mayor and sheriff with the assent of the community – its merchants were now unquestionably in control. If the late fourteenth century saw Bristol at a zenith, challenges followed. While town and region still manufactured cloth, the fifteenth century saw exports increasingly channelled through London en route for the Low Countries and markets farther east. In the mid-fifteenth century, and to compensate, Bristolians tried to promote themselves in the Mediterranean trade, only to be thwarted by Italian interests. More seriously, after three centuries of interdependence between the province and town, the loss of Gascony in 1453 delivered a crippling blow to  2

See L. Monckton, ‘The Myth of William Canynges and the Late Medieval Rebuilding of St Mary Redcliffe’, in ‘Almost the Richest City’, pp. 57–67.

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Bristol’s interests, although contacts with south-western France were restored after the Peace of Pécquigny in 1475.3 By the end of the century, Bristol’s trade lay mainly with south-western France and the Iberian Peninsula, as well as (although to a lesser extent) with south Wales and Ireland, but it still served a wealthy hinterland and maintained a broadly based commercial, industrial and service economy. Most of its trade, too, was still carried in ships owned by English merchants, among whom Bristol’s entrepreneurs were conspicuous.4 If, along with virtually every other centre, Bristol lost out to London in terms of wealth and prominence, it nevertheless continued to enjoy a commanding position among England’s provincial towns: the resilience of its merchants, the breadth of its commercial and industrial interests and the wealth of the region, all sustained its essential buoyancy. To resolve the tangle of impressions concerning Bristol’s fortunes in the fifteenth century, the impact of the Black Death repays closer attention. Paradoxically, for all that the plague’s onset and recurrence in Bristol, as in any large town, marked a stark human tragedy, militating against demographic and physical expansion, it initiated certain positive effects. As James Berlich has pithily observed, ‘The population of Western Europe suddenly halved … [but] … plague killed people, not bullion, infrastructure, land or useful domestic animals. If the halving of people and the doubling of everything else does not have a potentially transformative effect, what does?’5 Not only did those men and women lucky enough to survive enjoy a higher standard of living, but this phenomenon also benefited urban economies. The increased disposable incomes that resulted either from larger landholdings or from higher wages – which, in fifteenth-century England, was assisted both by profits accruing from cloth manufacture and export and also by relatively light taxation, particularly after the 1440s – meant that men and women had more to spend on food and spices, clothes and shoes, gloves and saddles, and a variety of luxury items for personal comfort or adornment, precisely the commodities in which larger towns specialised.6 Despite high death rates, many towns prospered in the fifteenth century, For further consideration of the short- and longer-term impact of the loss of Gascony, see P. Fleming, ‘Bristol and the End of Empire: The Consequences of the Fall of Gascony’, in The Plantagenet Empire, ed. P. Crooks, D. Green and W. M. Ormrod, Harlaxton Medieval Studies, 26 (2016), pp. 371–83.  4 Indeed, William Canynges II reputedly made much of his fortune from ships – he owned at least ten, some of which were very large, and in which he employed almost 800 mariners – carrying goods for others.  5 J. Belich, ‘The Black Death and European Expansion’, in The Oxford Historian, 12 (2014/15), pp. 42–5 (at p. 43).  6 Many of the economic factors alluded to here were dealt with in greater detail in chapter 1.  3

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which, in Bristol’s case, helps to explain why it seemingly evaded serious decline. The wealth of the surrounding region was bound to work to Bristol’s benefit as its principal manufacturing, service and retail centre. This paradox should be pursued. While many Bristolians prospered, the insecurities associated with urban conditions, with disease prevalent and death often sudden, meant the wealthy had good reason to invest generously in the interests of their souls. As a result, they spent liberally, both on and in their parish, and benefiting the Church more generally; they had means enough, and – often, in the absence of any extended family – motivation enough to provide for their souls with flair. The spiritual standing of urban parishes was bound to thrive in this period, and Bristol, too, continued to support a widening range of religious institutions, with its merchants establishing a notable number of alms-houses.7 Such an observation encourages a more particular consideration of the role fulfilled by the friars in Bristol. Their arrival in the thirteenth century both coincided and assisted with the town’s expansion. The Dominicans settled to the north of the town close to the Castle mills, now Broad Mead, on a site granted to them by Maurice de Gaunt, Robert FitzHarding’s grandson, before his death c.1230.8 Shortly after this, the Franciscans built their convent to the north-west of the town, on Lewins Mead, as part of ongoing development there; and in 1267 the Carmelites, as the result of patronage from the Lord Edward, some five years before he became king, established themselves in Billeswick, on rising ground above St Augustine’s Back. Writing in the fifteenth century, William Worcestre reveals that, befitting such patronage, they occupied a building of distinction crowned by a 200-foot spire, making it one of the tallest structures in Bristol.9 To the south of the town, while the Friars of the Sack had established a house outside Temple Gate by 1266, the abolition of the minor mendicant orders in 1274 led to their eventual disappearance; but, in 1314, the Augustinian Friars settled on a substantial plot of land donated by Simon de Montacute to the east of Temple Gate in the suburb of Redcliffe. As one among only thirteen boroughs in later medieval England with foundations of all four mendicant orders, their maintenance testifies to Bristol’s continuing economic resilience. The friars, moreover, retained a prominence in Bristolians’ spiritual priorities until the eve of the Reformation. Although any reliable estimate of the number of friars present and working in the town at any one time may be elusive, their survival as beggars must suggest a conAs referred to in more detail in the following discussion. For reference to this and the following, the entries in the gazetteers in Knowles and Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses, pp. 215, 224, 234, 240 and 248 (the last, for the Friars of the Sack) prove an invaluable compendium. For the locations named in the following paragraph, reference should be made to the maps in AHT Bristol.  9 Worcestre, p. 191.  7  8

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tinuing relevance so far as contemporaries were concerned, and the continuous flow of Bristolians’ testamentary bequests stands as testimony to this.10 But what role did they play in the town’s spiritual economy? Given their training and effectiveness as preachers and teachers – and the size of their churches suggests that their sermons attracted large audiences – the maintenance of four houses of mendicants meant that late medieval Bristol benefited from a large resident pastoral contingent; and the indications are that the friars co-existed with, and productively complemented, the town’s secular clergy. Indeed, their ability to complement the pastoral support provided by parish clergy informs an important theme: if the following emphasises a progressive liturgical embellishment among parishes, then the friars’ presence assisted the prominence assigned to rite, rather than pastoral work. While certainly not relieving the parish clergy of their pastoral duties, it facilitated their focus on ‘the increase of divine service’. Moreover, the friars’ ethos of institutional destitution doubtless spurred them to inculcate the laity – in Bristol as elsewhere – with a sense of the importance both of charity and investment for penitential purposes. This inevitably helped parishes, too, whose ambitions, as a result of the laity’s generosity, could now stretch to supporting a well-equipped clergy capable of mounting an impressive liturgy. Far from being a peripheral or irritant factor in late medieval Bristol’s religious configuration, the friars played a fundamental role in determining the manner in which the town’s parishes developed: as arenas in which liturgical initiatives could, without harm, outshine pastoral duties. Friars could help in fulfilling the latter, and very effectively.

The evidence of the livelode of the church: The All Saints’ archive How is it that we can we advance a judgement with such confidence highlighting the liturgical attainment of fifteenth-century Bristol’s parishes? Unlike London, Bristol never suffered from a catastrophic fire and, despite losses in the Blitz of the Second World War, many of its medieval churches have survived. These structures speak of serious investment but, unlike Norwich and York – cities possessed of many impressive late medieval churches but almost nothing by way of matching and surviving archives – a relatively good variety of materials has survived for Bristol’s parishes, but none more so than All Saints’. So, what evidence is there? First, as is usual in many urban neighbourhoods, parishioners’ wills survive, which, in Bristol, are found for the most part either in the town’s own Great Orphan 10

On this, and the following paragraph, see C. Burgess, ‘Friars and the Parish in late medieval Bristol: Observations and Possibilities’, in The Friars in Medieval Britain, ed. N. Rogers, Harlaxton Medieval Studies, 19 (2010), pp. 73–96.

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Book or in the Registers of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.11 If the wills for All Saints’ parishioners are not, in fact, particularly plentiful, they nevertheless have certain strengths as a collection. In addition, we have copious parish materials: a good run of churchwardens’ accounts survives, starting c.1460,12 as well as a cache of property deeds revealing, among other things, the provenance of All Saints’ growing property holding and, also, the care taken by parish officials who administered this endowment.13 To have two categories of such material, reflecting parishioners’ efforts to govern themselves and to protect and promote the parish’s interests, may be rare enough; more remarkable still is the All Saints’ Church Book, preserving materials kept, essentially, to commemorate parish benefactors.14 As it was a matter of importance for any parish to document and celebrate ‘well willers’, compilations like the All Saints’ Church Book would once have been common; but, as a result of their close connection with imperatives resulting from teaching on Purgatory, many other similar books were no doubt destroyed as a matter of principle once this doctrine had been repudiated.15 When first assembled, probably at some point in the 1480s, the intention was that the Church Book should serve as a compendium, summarising both the parish’s accomplishments 11

12 13 14 15

The wills surviving for All Saints’ from c.1400 until c.1500 are printed in ASB 3, Wills (pp. 9–70). The mayor and corporation of Bristol ordered the compilation of the Great Orphan Book (lodged now in the Bristol Record Office – BRO: 04421(1)) to safeguard the rights of minors who had lost their father; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills (lodged in The National Archive (in the Prob 11 class)), reflected the interests of testators with possessions in more than one diocese – frequently the case in Bristol, as before the Reformation the town was split between the dioceses of Worcester to the north of the River Avon, and Bath and Wells to the south. In the main, those testators whose wishes have been preserved emerge as reasonably well off. ASB 2 prints these accounts, calling a halt at 1530. See ASB 3, Deeds (pp. 357–463). ASB 1 prints the All Saints’ Church Book. Some similar compilations may be found: for instance, the ‘Kalendar and Mortilegium’, or register of obits, surviving for the leper hospital of St Mary Magdalen at Gaywood, near King’s Lynn (Norfolk Record Office BL/R/8/1). Designed to facilitate the effective commemoration of benefactors by name and at regular intervals as part of the institutional liturgy, this book evidently had much in common with the All Saints’ Church Book – and I am grateful to Professor Carole Rawcliffe for bringing it to my attention. Moreover, for an easily accessible impression of some of the services that a great secular foundation, such as Exeter cathedral, provided in satisfaction of the basic commemorative urge felt by both clergy and townspeople, and conveying an idea, too, of how this adapted with time, see D. Lepine and N. Orme, ed., Death and Memory in Medieval Exeter, Devon and Cornwall Record Society, new series 47 (2003), part 3 (and, for instance, documents 24, 25, and 29–36). Parishes imitated and, to a degree, duplicated such services, personalising them for smaller neighbourhoods; the loss of the documentation underpinning such provision has, however, been grievous.

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and various current arrangements. A scribe made impressive inroads recording the former; but, for the latter, we have headings – promising the names of ‘conducts’ (that is, assistant chaplains and clerks) and the equipment entrusted to each, or names of debtors, or of those who held keys to the parish treasury16 – but, if compiled, the information was never entered.17 What is preserved is nevertheless invaluable. This includes a selection of parish ordinances from c.1480, and also a benefaction list at its most detailed when describing donations in the mid- and later fifteenth century.18 This schedule arranges information under headings, itemising clerical benefactors and their gifts in one section and those of lay counterparts in another. A later, sketchier, redaction of this list survives – attempted, apparently, in the early years of the sixteenth century – and no doubt prompted by the parish’s steady accumulation of gifts.19 The Church Book also records two inventories, one from the late fourteenth century and the other from c.1470 and, remarkably, two sets of entries celebrating churchwardens’ contributions from the early years of the fifteenth century until the period when the book was conceived.20 The first of these comprises a series of epitomes, highlighting the achievements of successive sets of wardens in the earlier and mid fifteenth century, ending in 1469–70; the second a series of abbreviated churchwardens’ accounts for the corresponding period, c.1410 to 1470, but with an added run (in a different hand, recording income and payments in more detail) extending coverage until 1481–82.21 Again, while material commemorating benefactors and benefactions is rare enough, such appraisals 16

17

18

19 20 21

This last omission is a particular loss, as it would not only have provided the names of those whom parishioners recognised as the chief among the parish elite (or ‘masters’) at any one time, but might also have indicated whether this office was assigned annually (perhaps as the result of an election of some kind) or occupied by an individual for a longer period when a particular parishioner had been singled out more by mutual consent as the most prominent lay member of the community. For further discussion on the ‘masters’ and leading ‘key-holder’, see below, chapter 9. The ‘Kalendar for the guiding of this book’, written on the first page of the All Saints’ Church Book lists headings, such as names of key-holders or conducts who had borrowed church goods; these headings are later found in the paginated manuscript on pp. 7, 37 and 53 (see ASB 1, pp. 3–4). One wonders whether such lists had been compiled and were, simply, never copied, or whether the creation of this Church Book was meant to act as a prompt that evidently never fulfilled its intention in this respect. ASB 1, pp. 4–30. While the list preserves some information for the first decade of the sixteenth century, thereafter it preserves virtually nothing; one wonders whether the parish compiled another such list, now lost, to ensure that those who made bequests in the early sixteenth century were properly commemorated. As discussed in the Introduction to ASB 1, pp. xv–xx, and passim. ASB 1, pp. 31–43. The epitomes and accounts are, respectively, to be found in ASB 1, pp. 45–9, and pp. 49–135.

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emerge as the more remarkable for equating managerial acumen with material generosity and, effectively, setting them side by side. More extraordinary still, a copious separate archive concerns the inauguration and long-term administration of the perpetual chantry that Thomas and Joan Halleway founded in the 1450s.22 Of major importance in its own right, this material places the churchwardens’ accounts in unaccustomed perspective since, for much of the later fifteenth century, the income supporting and expenditure incurred by one perpetual chantry rivalled the budget managed by the churchwardens on behalf of the parish. Again, the chance survival of materials once commonly compiled – and indicative of sustained managerial activity and expertise – but now usually lost, reminds us of the likelihood that parishes accomplished considerably more, under the auspices of wardens and others, than can now ordinarily be retrieved. Many English parishes may have more wills. Some certainly have more detailed churchwardens’ accounts. Few, if any, match the documentary range of the All Saints’ archive. With the probable exception of the Church Book, none of All Saints’ records is unique but, while we have no reason to believe that conditions and activities within the parish were so far out of the ordinary (particularly in a wealthy urban milieu), such a variety of resources is extraordinary. Paradoxically, familiarity with the archive discloses its limitations. Not only has much been lost (for example, few churchwardens have a will) but what does survive is often also only partial (the clergy, for example, remain obscure simply because the laity compiled much of the record and, naturally, it reflects their concerns). Nevertheless, no other late medieval parish archive in Bristol can match its scope, or provide equivalent opportunities for record-linkage; whether any medieval parish archive in England can furnish a comparable holding, let alone anything better, seems improbable. It means that, for one small place, we may begin to piece together and to probe the lay response to the spiritual stimuli at work in the century or more before the Reformation.

From Ancient Time Granted: Site and patronage All Saints’ is situated at Bristol’s heart, immediately to the south-west of the high cross that marked the intersection of High Street, Wine Street, Broad Street and Corn Street, the four main thoroughfares of the old town. A compact parish, it measured somewhat less than 100 metres east to west and about 75 metres north to south; with Corn Street serving as its northern boundary, it reached a few tenements beyond Cock Lane to the west, stopped just short of St Nicholas Street to the south, but ‘crossed’ the High Street to include the row of tenements 22

See ASB 3, Halleway Materials (pp. 71–356).

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immediately to the east of this thoroughfare.23 Although densely populated, its restricted area meant that All Saints’ numbered relatively few parishioners. In 1548, the commissioners supervising the dissolution of the chantries put All Saints’ houselling (that is, its communicant) population at 180 souls.24 If more populous than some of its neighbours – St Ewen’s, for instance, its northern neighbour, numbered only fifty-six communicants – the average for the houselling population of the town’s parishes stood at approximately 400 souls, although it needs to be noted that this figure reflects the fact that one or two parishes in the town, such as St Nicholas’s, adjoining All Saints’ to the south, and St Mary Redcliffe across the River Avon, numbered as many as 800 and 600 souls respectively. Its site meant that All Saints’ church was physically cramped. Tenements lay between its east end and the High Street and only the north aisle had a street frontage; access to the west door was from All Saints’ Lane, and two properties jutted into the building at first-floor level at its west end. To the north, the house of Kalendars encroached into the church, as did the vicar’s residence to the south.25 Hemmed in by tenements, and with a small cemetery on its southern side, All Saints’ hardly ranked as a prepossessing building; but its location at the heart of the town goes some way to explaining the wealth of many of its parishioners and, when taking the size of the parish into consideration, also their relative political prominence among Bristol’s citizenry.26 The patronage of All Saints’ lay with St Augustine’s Abbey, in practice exercised by the abbot. This Augustinian house, founded by Robert FitzHarding in the early 1140s and dedicated in 1148, remained the largest and most prestigious religious community in Bristol until the Dissolution, after which its buildings inter alia provided the church and chapter house for the newly established Bristol 23

24

25

26

For first-rate maps of ‘old’ Bristol (including one depicting parish boundaries), see AHT Bristol. For detailed tenement maps of the relevant area, and a meticulous tenement history, see R. H. Leech, The Topography of Medieval and Early Modern Bristol. Part 1, Bristol Records Society’s Publications, 48 (1997). Parish populations were of note in the late 1540s as concessions might conceivably be made, in large parishes, to ensure that the abolition of stipendiaries should not leave pastoral cover hopelessly under-staffed; Bristol’s Chantry Certificate is most conveniently available in ‘Chantry Certificates, Gloucestershire’, ed. J. Mclean, TBGAS, 8 (1883–84), pp. 229–308. Sited over the south aisle, the ‘vicarage’ had been paid for by Thomas Marshall, incumbent of All Saints’ until his death in 1434 (ASB 1, p. 8); its construction was contingent upon a major refurbishment of the south aisle in the late 1420s and 1430s, to which Marshall also contributed – discussed in more detail in chapter 10, below. J. Lee, ‘Political Communication in Early Tudor England: The Bristol Elite, the Urban Community and the Crown, c.1471–c.1553’, unpublished PhD thesis, University of the West of England (2006), chapter 4, emphasises the wealth of All Saints’ parishioners and their relative prominence in Bristol’s governance.

5 The north aisle of All Saints’, Bristol – the Corn Street frontage.

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cathedral.27 St Augustine’s had acquired patronage over All Saints’ at some point during Henry II’s reign (that is, between 1154 and 1189);28 but its abbots are rarely referred to in the All Saints’ records and there are few signs of any disputes either with the parish clergy or parishioners.29 The abbots nevertheless seem to have taken their duties seriously. In July 1493, for instance, John Hawley, rector of the parish church of St Mary le Port, Bristol, acting on behalf of Robert, bishop of Worcester, confirmed that, in return for tithes and various payments, the abbot of St Augustine’s bore the responsibility for maintaining the chancel of All Saints’. Moreover, in 1518, the abbot, at his own cost, repaired ‘the roof of the chancel and the gutters as well with tiles and soldering’.30 Mindful of their duties towards All Saints’, abbots of St Augustine’s, as occasional references in the following chapters reveal, intervened and adjudicated in parish affairs as and when necessary. Otherwise, they seem not to have interfered.

A brother of the Kalendars: The Kalendars’ Guild While its origins are uncertain, in the century and more that preceded the Reformation the Guild of Kalendars – originally restricted to the secular clergy but, by this period, long having admitted members of the laity – significantly influenced parish life.31 Kalendars’ fraternities certainly existed elsewhere, in both 27

28

29

30 31

The history of the fabric of St Augustine’s is lavishly treated in J. Cannon and B. Williamson, ed., The Medieval Art, Architecture and History of Bristol Cathedral. An enigma explored (Woodbridge, 2011), which volume also includes essays by James Clarke and Joseph Bettey, respectively, on the late medieval monastic community and on the conversion of St Augustine’s into a cathedral in the latter part of the reign of Henry VIII. Succinctly treated, and referenced, in N. Orme, ‘The Guild of Kalendars, Bristol’, in TBGAS, 95 (1978), pp. 32–52, at pp. 33–4, notes 7 and 8. The long-held rights vested in and enforced by monastic institutions such as St Augustine’s frequently provoked animosities, and these were only intensified in Bristol after 1373 when the town achieved the status of a county borough. This rendered the abbey’s exercise of its liberties – for instance, to hold markets or to offer sanctuary while exempt from the jurisdiction of the mayor and commonalty – as increasingly controversial. Both market-rights and the conduct of sanctuary contributed towards the now notorious fracas between the municipal authorities and the abbot’s servants and supporters on College Green (adjacent to the abbey) on 10 June 1496 – for which, see P. Fleming, ‘Sanctuary and Authority in Pre-Reformation Bristol’, in Historic Churches and Church Life in Bristol, ed. J. Bettey (Bristol, 2001), pp. 73–84. ASB 1, pp. 30–31. The evidence has been synthesised with impressive skill by Nicholas Orme in his ‘Guild of Kalendars’ referred to above in note 28; this essay remains essential reading on the topic and the following is deeply indebted to it. Attention is also drawn to his additional publication, The Kalendars: Bristol’s Oldest Guild and Earliest Public Library, Avon Local History and Archaeology, 23 (2016), which appeared too late for consideration here.

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Exeter and Winchester, for instance; so the guild was not unique.32 While Bristol, for whatever reason, accommodated relatively few religious fraternities of any particular prominence, the presence of such a well-established a guild in so small a parish as All Saints’ appears as a distinct idiosyncrasy. Its presence nevertheless helped to define the parish’s reputation and further its prestige. We depend upon two entries copied into the municipal compilation known as the Little Red Book of Bristol for information on the guild’s early history. Fears that the Kalendars’ rights and liberties were under attack prompted the bishop of Worcester, in 1318, to commission an inquisition by the rural dean of Bristol, one Robert Hasele.33 Although furnishing materials on the history of the guild, at best much of this evidence is uncorroborated and, at worst, fallacious – but it has, predictably, entered Bristol’s folklore. Any suggestion that the Kalendars provided a school for the Jews falls into the latter category; so, too, do tales that the Kalendars exercised ‘prefecture and mastership’ over a school in Bristol. While its chaplains may well have helped in the school that All Saints’ itself sponsored by the fifteenth century, that is all.34 The inquisition nevertheless reveals the guild as long established and that, during the reign of Henry II, and with the consent both of the king and earl Robert of Gloucester, Robert FitzHarding translated the guild from the parish of Holy Trinity (now Christ Church), whose patron was Tewkesbury Abbey, to All Saints’, whose patron was, as noted, the abbot of St Augustine’s, FitzHarding’s own foundation. This, too, seems plausible: later abbots of St Augustine’s certainly treated the Kalendars with a degree of indulgence, permitting the guild, for instance, to erect a dwelling actually within All Saints’ parish church without exacting fees or charges in return.35 The Little Red Book also records the results of a council conducted in Bristol under the auspices of the papal legate, Gualo, shortly after Robert Hasele’s inquisition. This not only confirmed the guild but also prompted a description of its

32

33 34 35

On the Exeter Kalendars, for instance, see N. Orme, ‘The Kalendar Brethren of the City of Exeter’, Devonshire Association Transactions, 109 (1977), pp. 153–69. The Exeter guild possessed certain rents of assize and tenements, but (unlike its counterpart in Bristol) did not employ permanent priests, employing either parish clergy in the parish church of St Mary Major, where its Masses were celebrated, or hireling clergy to celebrate as necessary. The guild had ceased to exist by the end of the fourteenth century and its property had passed to the vicars choral of the cathedral, who continued to celebrate the requisite Masses until the Reformation; we do, however, have a fourteenth-century list of the souls specifically to be prayed for – see Lepine and Orme, ed., Death and Memory in Medieval Exeter, document 28 (pp. 263–71). LRB, i, pp. 206–9. The little that is known about the parish school is considered below, in chapter 11. As discussed below, in chapter 9.

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customs and religious observances.36 The Kalendars depended upon three main functionaries: a prior or presiding officer, invariably a priest; a steward, administering funds; and a clerk, summoning brethren to meetings. Otherwise, its members were priests (incumbents and chaplains in Bristol’s churches) and, even by this time, also laymen and laywomen – although, evidently, priests played the dominant role. The guild existed to worship God and promote the spiritual and worldly well-being of its affiliates. The latter, whether clergy or lay, were obliged to say the Paternoster and the Ave thirteen times daily for the benefit of the guild’s brothers and sisters, both living and dead; those in priestly orders, moreover, were to pray for all such when they celebrated Mass. The guild’s principal observance consisted in the repetition of the offices of the dead, the Placebo and Dirige, on the last day of the month and then, on the morrow, ‘the first or principal day’, a solemn requiem Mass – the Mass of the kalends – that all were to attend.37 They were to assemble in All Saints’ before prime and, having heard the commendation,38 one of the priests was to celebrate the requiem Mass, mentioning either the names of those whose deaths were to be commemorated during that month or, perhaps, reading out a more general list of the departed; each of those present was to make an offering at the Mass. As well as providing an opportunity for corporate worship and also guaranteeing intercession, the guild fostered fellowship: so, on the one hand, monies collected were used to provide for those in sickness as well as ultimately ensuring that each would receive a worthy funeral and, on the other hand, the prior was duty-bound to attempt the reconciliation of any at variance with any other. By the fifteenth century, various laymen in Bristol and its region exhibited a marked devotion to the Kalendars’ guild, although a few only of the All Saints’ parishioners whose wills survive made much reference to the fraternity – nevertheless, Richard and Joan Stevyns in the early sixteenth century did prove generous and specifically sought services from the Kalendars’ priests.39 36 37

38 39

LRB, i, pp. 202–6. As specified in the Grant of Faculty in which Bishop Carpenter recited the donation that John and Edith Chawnceler made to the Kalendars in 1466, and itemised what they were to receive in return; see ASB 3, Deeds, CS B 6 (pp. 380–82). Vulgate: Psalm 118. As discussion in chapter 5 reveals, two of the more open-handed members of the Kalendars in the later fifteenth century – John and Edith Chawnceler, already referred to in note 37 – resided in Keynsham. Richard Stevyns, who, by contrast, was a parishioner of All Saints’, devised a house to the Kalendars, in 1506 or 1507, to the intent that both he and his wife should be ‘prayed for amongst the benefactors of the same’; his widow, Joan, who died in 1509, left instructions that one of the brethren of the Kalendars should ‘sing for my soul, for my last husband and all Christians in the said All Hallows church for one year’, receiving £6 for his salary – see ASB 3, Wills, 26, clause 12, and 27, clause 2 (pp. 45–8).

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By the later fourteenth century, the Kalendars had acquired revenues, some from indulgences but more from property endowments.40 Since the latter provided revenues in excess of £30 per annum and, given that the Kalendars resided within the parish church, occupying a dwelling above the west end of the north aisle – so that, in effect, their lodgings were ‘found’ – this income proved sufficient to support three priests and also reimburse the prior; in practice, however, the latter office was ordinarily held in plurality with a parish church in the vicinity.41 Reforms by John Carpenter, bishop of Worcester, in the mid-fifteenth century, in part designed to secure a more highly educated (and, therefore, better-paid) prior, reduced the number of chaplains to three, the prior and two others.42 But the guild’s rationale remained essentially liturgical. On the one hand, the obligation of saying the offices of Dirige and Placebo on the last day of the month, and celebrating a solemn Mass of requiem on the following day, the kalends – or, possibly, on the most suitable Sunday and Monday – for the souls of founders, brothers, sisters and all benefactors of the guild, meant that guild priests, in effect, observed a continual month mind for all members, dead and alive. On the other hand, they had obligations towards their host church: in addition to celebrating their daily masses at altars within the church – quite where is never specified, which probably means that no single altar was ever reserved for their special use – the priests were bound to join in with the daily canonical hours observed in the chancel, as was normal in parish churches, in two main stints in the early morning and at mid-afternoon.43 Overall, their presence in the church substantially added to the forces of the parish clergy, with the result that All Saints’ might marshal a disproportionate clerical presence and, it seems fair to assume, the Kalendars’ contribution would inevitably have improved liturgical standards. Moreover, the prior of the fraternity, also referred to in fifteenth-century documentation as ‘the Master of the Kalendars’, had a duty to preach both in the church and in the town. He also had charge of a library, restored and restocked by Bishop Carpenter in the

40

41

42

43

Discussed in more detail in Orme, ‘Guild of Kalendars’, pp. 36–7 (which, in Appendix 2, lists all the properties (from TNA, E 318/1845. ff. 12–13)). On this last point, see Orme, ‘Guild of Kalendars’, p. 42; Carpenter set the prior’s salary at £10 per annum. As Orme observes – in ‘Guild of Kalendars’, pp. 40–42 – the reform of the Kalendars may have been formally decreed in 1464, but Bishop Carpenter had been making plans for at least a decade. R. Bowers, ‘Liturgy and Music in the Role of the Chantry Priest’, in Medieval Chantry, pp. 130–56, at pp. 136–7, outlines how in parish churches the ‘six lesser Hours’ had ordinarily ceased to be public services by the fifteenth century, leaving the two principal Hours of Matins and Vespers conducted daily in the chancel, in the morning and afternoon respectively.

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1460s.44 Accessible daily during the week, the collection of books – housed in a room in the Kalendars’ dwelling place – was intended both to assist the clergy and, under the supervision of the prior, to satisfy the curiosity of the laity. As a result, and in addition to exercising liturgical influence in the parish, the presence of the Kalendars – with a prior who could be counted on, ordinarily, to be a man of intellectual and theological prominence – helped to secure All Saints’ a distinctive place in Bristol’s spiritual and educational life.45

To the good work of the same church: The alms-house and parish conduit Despite the many strengths of the All Saints’ archive, facets of parish life remain uncertain: two in particular deserve more detailed discussion. In each case, archival deficiencies obscure what could conceivably have marked a significant parish achievement. For the first, it is evident that an alms-house stood close by the parish church, occupying a tenement on the west side of All Saints’ Lane, opposite the parish cemetery.46 The origins of this institution are murky: all that can be said with any certainty is that, in 1267, Stephen le Gnohusal, rector of the church of Filton, had obliged whoever held the tenement on which the alms-house eventually stood, to pay 12d. annually, over and above all other charges (in an arrangement known as a ‘rent of assize’), to sustain a lamp burning before the altar of Holy Cross in All Saints’.47 By the later fifteenth century, an alms-house had been established on this plot, its name reflecting its proximity to the church; but when 44

45

46

47

On the Kalendars’ library, see Orme, ‘Guild of Kalendars’, pp. 42–3; for the broader context, see also James Willoughby, ‘Common Libraries in Fifteenth-Century England: An Episcopal Benefaction’, After Arundel: Religious Writing in Fifteenth-Century England, ed. V. Gillespie and K. Ghosh (Turnhout, 2011), pp. 209–22 – investigating inter alia the intriguing link between the John Carpenter who, as Common Clerk of London, helped to establish the Guildhall library in c. 1425, and his later namesake and relative the bishop of Worcester in the middle decades of the fifteenth century, who did so much to refurbish the Kalendars’ library. On this theme, further examining Bishop Carpenter’s generosity, see also W. Scase, ‘Prelates and the Provision of Books: Bishop John Carpenter’s Carnary Library’, in The Prelate in England and Europe, 1300–1560, ed. M. Heale (York, 2014), pp. 127–41. Orme, ‘Guild of Kalendars’, pp. 43–4 considers those who served as prior and, in the first fifty or more years after Carpenter’s reforms, these generally were men of a suitably high intellectual calibre. The liturgical contribution made by the Kalendars emerges more clearly from discussion below, in chapters 10 and 11. Leech, Topography, p. 2 and map 7, p. xxv, sites this as property B on the west side of All Saints’ Lane. ASB 3, Deeds, CSN 2 (p. 368). Stephen Gnowsale’s gift of this rent is also mentioned in the benefaction list, ASB 1, p. 6.

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it was founded, and by whom, are unknown. Although Bristol had witnessed foundations prior to this – in the late thirteenth century, for instance, Simon Burton had founded an alms-house, usually referred to as ‘the Langrewe’ (from its site in the Long Row) in St Thomas’s parish – most date from the fifteenth century, as was typical elsewhere.48 By the later fifteenth century, we begin to find references to the All Saints’ almshouse in surviving wills: testators such as John Gaywode from St Mary Redcliffe, in 1471, left 6d. ‘to the poor of the alms-house near All Saints’’, and William Hoton of St Werburgh’s parish, in 1474, left 20s. to be divided ‘among the poor in the alms-house next to All Saints’ church, Bristol, to pray for my soul’.49 One All Saints’ parishioner also specifically named it in her will: in 1509, Joan Stevyns, widow, left the sum of 3s. 4d. ‘to poor people in the alms-house of All Hallows’ parish’.50 Some of the residents of the alms-house, too, left bequests or made payments to the parish. The All Saints’ benefaction list reveals that, at her decease at some unspecified date (either in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century), Agnes Bartlett of the alms-house in All Hallows’ Lane, gave to the church a silver spoon ‘which is set about with stones under the figure of Jesus’. Moreover, in the parish accounts for 1465–66, Isabel of the alms-house – in what seems to be the earliest extant reference to the foundation – is said to have paid the sum of 4d. for her seat in the church.51 More tellingly, Alice Chestre, a prominent parishioner, when establishing an anniversary for her husband and herself in 1477, stipulated that ‘the poor in All Hallows’ Lane should annually receive 4d. in bread’ as part of her largesse.52 Some of the wardens’ accounts, when itemising this payment in the Chestres’ annual provision, made reference to 4d. being paid ‘to our almshouse in bread’.53 But when one of Alice’s kinsmen, Richard Hervy added to 48

49 50 51 52

53

Popular in the cities of the Low Countries by the end of the fourteenth century, almshouses were founded in some number in English towns from the beginning of the fifteenth century – see C. Burgess, ‘Making Mammon Serve God: Merchant Piety in Later Medieval England’, in The Medieval English Merchant, ed. C. M. Barron and A. F. Sutton, Harlaxton Medieval Studies, 24 (2014), pp. 183–207 at pp. 197–9. For a useful list of the ‘known’ alms-houses that functioned in late medieval Bristol, AHT Bristol, Appendix II. Given the often-meagre evidence that survives for these charities, however, others could well have been founded about which we are now ignorant. For Gaywood and Hoton, see respectively GOB, ff. 191v–193v and ibid., ff. 201v–202. ASB 3, Wills, 27 (pp. 46–8). Respectively ASB 1, p. 19 and ASB 2, p. 49. ASB 3, Deeds BS B 14 a/b (p. 416) – she also instructed the churchwardens to make annual provision for the prisoners of Newgate with bread worth 20d., and (like the poor in the All Saints’ alms-house) the poor lepers of Brightbowe (beyond the southern gates of Bristol) and the poor in Burton’s alms-house in Long Row, were annually to receive 4d. in bread. See, for instance, the accounts for 1525–26, ASB 2, p. 325.

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her provision in 1519, his reiteration, ‘to the needy in a certain alms-house in All Hallows’ Lane, 4d. of bread’, articulates the more typical impression – a lack of proprietorial interest on the part of parish or parishioners.54 Although references to this foundation became reasonably numerous in the later fifteenth century, most are vague, and its location – in the vicinity of All Saints’ – took priority over its dedication.55 Nothing in the All Saints’ archive confirms that the parish played any role in governing this institution, and its status remains obscure.56 No formal connection seems to have existed between the church and the alms-house: situated in the parish, the alms-house was probably not administered by it. More may be gleaned about the All Saints’ conduit, an enterprise that involved piping fresh water into the vicinity of the church and concerning which, from the early sixteenth century, the parish took a proactive role.57 Springs and wells within the built-up area of the town supplied plentiful water for the inhabitants and for ships moored at its quays. In St Peter’s parish, for instance, St Edith’s well fed the fountain that the Canynges estate had erected ‘as a tall building of freestone’ positioned at the west end of St Peter’s Street;58 or, similarly, the spring that brimmed up at the corner of All Saints’ Lane and St Nicholas Street constantly replenished the water conduit sited in ‘the freestone conduit house’ near the north end of Bristol Bridge.59 From the late twelfth century, however, benefactors – and, from the mid-thirteenth century, particularly Bristol’s friaries – piped water into the town from nearby springs. As a result, from the 1240s, a spring on the west side of Brandon Hill could be made to supply water to St Mark’s Hospital; another pipe, from the spring on the east side of the same hill, sustained the Carmelite friary and, by the fourteenth century, had been extended to feed St John’s conduit in the town wall – which functioned until relatively recently. The Grey Friars, similarly, piped water from a spring on Kingsdown to a conduit head in Corn Street close to All Saints’ church and, in 1376, the municipality 54 55

56

57

58 59

ASB 3, Deeds HS C 11 a/b (p. 397). Much the same could be said of ‘the Langrewe’ but, while this was occasionally called ‘Burton’s alms-house’ in honour of its founder, no such identity ever attaches to the charity in All Saints’ Lane. AHT Bristol, Appendix II mentions that the redevelopment of the site to build the Exchange in 1739 obliged its reconstruction on a site adjoining St John’s alms-house on St John’s Steep, and that it was removed again in 1813 to All Saints’ Street. The following rests heavily upon discussion in AHT Bristol, p. 9 and nn., and also map 8. For valuable contextual discussion of the technology involved in the undertaking to supply fresh water, albeit in a larger city, see D. Lewis, ‘“For the Poor to Drink and the Rich to Dress their Meat”: The First London Water Conduit’, Trans. London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, 55 (2004), pp. 39–68. Worcestre, p. 57. Worcestre, pp. 35–7, 79 and 105 – quotation from the latter.

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agreed to assist in its maintenance.60 Also in the later fourteenth century, the municipality constructed the Key pipe, bringing in water from the ‘Boiling Well’ at Ashley (to the east of the town), to feed the conduit house, ‘a very beautiful … building, round and tall, built of richly worked freestone’, sited on the Key near St Stephen’s church.61 This, like the conduit at the north end of Welsh Back adjacent to Bristol Bridge, supplied both its neighbourhood and also sea-going ships. The conduit associated with the Grey Friars concerns us here: this was the initiative prompting William Worcestre’s observation, in 1480, that ‘a fair water-conduit house is situated beneath the Kalendars’ hall’.62 Quite what was sited underneath the Kalendars’ hall – by which we should presumably understand a location at the western end of All Saints’ north aisle – may be open to some fine-tuning; more certain is that a sudden spate of references to the conduit in parishioners’ wills suggests that, by the end of the first decade of the sixteenth century, All Saints’ had assumed a role in its maintenance. Thomas Parnaunt in 1508, for instance, bequeathed 40s. ‘to the repair of the conduit of All Hallows’’ and, in 1510, Thomas Spicer the younger gave the sum of 20s. ‘to the repair of le condite in the said parish’.63 Moreover, the parish benefaction list itemised these donations, the first such to be recorded, suggesting both that the parish had assumed a responsibility for the conduit and that bequests eased this burden.64 Sadly, the surviving benefaction list ceased to be maintained after c.1510, but monetary gifts either ‘to the conduit’ or, more specifically, for ‘its repair’ became commonplace in parishioners’ wills, with Thomas Yonge, for example, in 1533 bequeathing 3s. 4d. ‘to the reparation of All Hallows’ conduit or pipe’.65 Although glancing references have to suffice, material in the parish archive locates the conduit and, in the process, allows us to add one or two details to Worcestre’s description. In the section of the benefaction list itemising ‘good doers that have given livelode’, and under the subheading ‘The Corner House in Corn Street’, John le Gate is said to have arranged a rent of assize that profited the parish: he ‘gave 4s. to the church of All Hallows’ of the Corner House next to the conduit to find five tapers before Our Lady Altar’.66 The earliest surviving account 60 61

62

63 64 65 66

GRB, i, pp. 114–17, concerning a maintenance agreement in 1376. Worcestre, p. 71 – which is only the most effusive description among many references in Worcestre’s Topography to the conduit house on the Key. Worcestre, p. 57. As discussion reveals, the conduit was located somewhat farther west than this reference implies – unless the Kalendars’ Hall was, in fact, in the property called the Corner House. ASB 3, Wills, 28 and 20 respectively (pp. 48–51 and 39). ASB 1, pp. 24 and 23 respectively. ASB 3, Wills, 36 (pp. 60–62). ASB 1, p. 5.

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in the Church Book, which dates from c.1408, reveals that in this year James Cockes paid this sum, of 4s. in rent of assize, meaning that le Gate’s donation had been made by the early fifteenth century, by which date the conduit head had probably already been located in the parish.67 More certainly, by the time that the benefaction list was copied into the existing Church Book¸ in the 1480s, the parish identified the conduit with the Corner House – and not with a site under the Kalendars’ House.68 This state of affairs persisted, as confirmed by references in the churchwardens’ accounts concerning payments received some decades later. Among the rent receipts for 1521, ‘the tenement that Thomas Ven holds’, which yielded the parish the rent of assize of 4s., was said to be ‘by All Hallows pipe’.69 Later in the decade, the three accounts from 1523–24 until 1525–26 render this as ‘the Cornell house next our conduit’.70 So, a steady association with the property yielding the parish a rent of assize of 4s. per annum, and which was itself on the corner of Corn Street and the High Street, places the conduit head on the Carfax – close to the High Cross and opposite the Tolsey – at the very centre of Bristol.71 If Worcestre is to be believed, water from this conduit head was presumably then piped the short distance into more formal premises, the conduit house, underneath the Kalendars’ House at the western end of the parish church.72 Neither the costs incurred in maintaining the conduit house nor, more significantly, the maintenance incurred from year to year in maintaining the pipe, fell within the remit of the churchwardens’ accounts – save for a few stray references, such as the 12d. spent on repairs in 1509–10, or expenditure of 3s. ‘for a key to the conduit head in 1515–16’.73 This last year, however, witnessed an unusual development: the accounts disclosed that the wardens’ surplus on the year’s activities stood at £3 19s. 10d., and a codicil notes that the body of the parish – that is, the

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69 70 71

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ASB 1, p. 49; and see above, note 60. A rent of 4s., sometimes identified as emanating ‘in Corn Street’, can certainly be found in the earlier fifteenth century – as in the account kept by Thomas Fyler and William Haytfeld in 1427: ASB 1, p. 58. ASB 2, p. 259. ASB 2, pp. 288, 300 and 318. The Corner House is property no. 48 on the High Street, west side – see Leech, Topography, p. 83, which corroborates the 4s. rent of assize (and see also map 7 on p. xxv). The Carfax and High Cross at the very centre of Bristol are famously depicted in the townscape of Bristol, drawn c.1480, in Robert Ricart’s ‘The Maire of Bristowe-ys Kalendar’ – as discussed, for instance by E. Ralph, ‘Bristol c.1480 by Robert Ricart’, in Local Maps and Plans of Medieval England, ed. P. Harvey and R. Skelton (Oxford, 1971), pp. 309–16. Detail in Jacob Millerd’s 1673 map of Bristol, which shows the Corn Street frontage of the church, seems to depict these premises – almost certainly rebuilt since the later fifteenth century – as surmounted by a pediment decorated by a royal coat of arms. ASB 2, pp. 202 and 232 respectively.

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p[a]reschsons – came to the decision to deliver this sum ‘unto Thomas Snygge and to Thomas Pacy, and they [were] to bestow it on the reparations on All Hallows’ conduit’.74 The loss of the following year’s accounts prevents us from placing Snygge and Pacy with certainty. They could plausibly have served as wardens but, given the normal absence of references to conduit repairs in the wardens’ accounts, these two eminent parishioners probably discharged a more executive role as they put a reasonable sum from the current account towards the (almost certainly greater) costs needed to repair the conduit, work which they presumably supervised.75 But, in the next surviving account, for the year 1518, it fell to the current wardens, Rawlyn Webbe and John Hewes, to complete this project. In all, they spent 2s. 5d., paying the sum of 6d. for ‘cleansing the gutter of the pipe’, and of 3d. to a plumber for ‘pitch cloth’. Two final items are, however, of particular interest: they spent the sum of 14d. ‘for mending the pipe with 3 lb of solder on the grey friars’, and also paid the plumber the sum of 6d. ‘for two faults in Broad Street’.76 This confirms that the water piped to the conduit situated to the southwest of Bristol’s high cross had indeed passed by the Franciscan convent, and that All Saints’ evidently shared at least some responsibility for its maintenance, which, given the inclines down to the River Frome and then up Broad Street to an altitude of fifty and more feet above sea level at the Cornell house, represented an onerous duty.77 The resulting water pressure that ‘the All Saints’ pipe’ had to withstand – or, more accurately, often failed to – explains the need for repairs. Despite a rich archive, uncertainties inevitably remain concerning various developments in All Saints’ prior to the Reformation. While the ‘parish pump’ – or, in this case, conduit house – doubtless provided a popular gathering-place both for parishioners and laity from nearby neighbourhoods,78 one is left wonder-

74 75

76 77

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ASB 2, p. 233. Thomas Snygge (following his father, John, before him) had served as warden in 1487– 88, 1496–97, 1504–05; while Pacy would serve again in 1523–24 (plausibly, in particular circumstances, see below, chapter 9), he had already served in 1505–06 and 1512–13. ‘The masters’ of the parish receive more attention below, also in chapter 9. ASB 2, p. 239. For a conduit to work, the altitude of its source had to exceed that of its spout, which in this case stood at just over fifty feet above sea level. The ground to the rear of the Grey Friars’ convent rises steeply, and rapidly exceeds an altitude of fifty feet. For a relief map, see AHT Bristol, map 6 and, for the course of the pipe, see AHT Bristol, map 8 (although this marks the conduit at the west end of the church). In London, several churches – for instance, St Olave Jewry and St Martin Outwich – had wells at their street-ends that were turned into pumps in the sixteenth century: see J. Schofield, ‘Saxon and Medieval Parish Churches in the City of London: A Review’, Trans. London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, 45 (1994), p. 75, who points out that these facilities became ‘places of public congregation’.

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ing whether the undertaking to supply water to inhabitants of central Bristol had any commercial ramifications. Given the number of wells and conduits in Bristol, worthwhile profits were surely unlikely.79 There is, however, almost nothing in the parish archive on outlay, running costs or on any revenues; nor is there any trace of the corporate decision-making underpinning such a self-assured scheme. Moreover, the resolution to involve the parish more proactively in managing the conduit is hidden from us; this had evidently been taken by 1510, just as new material in the Church Book is discontinued and, as a result, the All Saints’ record becomes less informative. Agents other than the churchwardens had presumably taken this step and would, thereafter, have supervised the facility.80 By the early sixteenth century the parish administration was discharging functions more readily associated with larger institutions, be they ecclesiastical or municipal, but, while we may have information enough for All Saints’ to appreciate many of the parish’s achievements, puzzles remain. All Saints’ clearly did assume some responsibility for the neighbourhood water-supply, but seems to have had no direct link with the local alms-house. Nevertheless, the conduit introduces a motif that will assume a sharper focus as this study progresses: namely, that parish and parishioners not only achieved more than we might have predicted but, at times, also managed a good deal more than we would ever ordinarily have guessed.

Unto the honour and worship of all mighty God: But how typical? The location of All Saints’ at the heart of civic life, coupled with a healthy complement of permanent clergy and an impressive capacity to plan and to provide for itself, suggests a significance distinctly at odds with the restricted area of the parish, the church building’s lack of consequence and a relatively low total of parishioners. All Saints’ promises to reveal a good deal about the processes that gave the emotional and spiritual resonances of late medieval Catholicism practical and creative expression, both within and beyond a parish. As the next chapter will illustrate, many of All Saints’ pre-Reformation parishioners had a 79

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Charges had been levied in the early fourteenth century, and again in the fifteenth century, on those who drew water in volume from the London conduit: see Lewis, ‘“The Poor to Drink”’, pp. 55 and 57 respectively. By the fifteenth century, however, several London merchants who had amassed large fortunes (such as William Estfield) devoted substantial sums to refurbishing the City’s conduit, underwriting the system as a ‘good work’: see ibid., pp. 59ff. An observation that can stand as a preface to similar conclusions, discussed in chapter 9, concerning the growing competence of parish government and the role, more particularly, discharged by parish ‘masters’.

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notably firm grasp on contemporary religious teaching, and not only displayed an appreciation of the services on offer from the differing registers and institutions of the Church but also turned such knowledge to their own, and their neighbours’, spiritual advantage. Aware of the demands of the prevailing penitential regime, they constructively harnessed commemoration both to fulfil the demands that they and their neighbours faced to be saved as expeditiously as possible and, at the same time, advance the interests of their parish. The extent of their generosity, both individually and collectively, may take us by surprise. But where, on the one hand, the schemes of a wealthy few plainly shaped the visual and spiritual environment of the parish church, on the other hand, parish government proved itself consistently resourceful in sustaining a broader, corporate commitment, and in managing its consequences. The role, too, of services such as chantries and anniversaries emerges with clarity: these are not to be regarded as simply securing an advantage for the wealthy but, on the contrary, served as amenities benefiting the whole community. The premium that this parish placed on the liturgy emerges clearly and, as a corollary, its achievement in raising standards of religious observance. By the 1520s, All Saints’ administered a ceremonial regime of marked sophistication: an ability to translate general understanding into constructive investment meant that it managed to ‘increase divine service’ both within its confines and also to the benefit of its wider environment. Such lessons assist in explaining the extraordinary parish building programmes whose results still enrich both town and countryside in England, and remind us, too, that, having made the investment to rebuild their church, parishioners would hardly have envisioned it as standing empty or quiet thereafter. Where most parishes now preserve little or, all too often, nothing, the relative abundance of personal, administrative and commemorative materials renders All Saints’ an extraordinary exemplar in attempts to evaluate conditions on the eve of the Reformation. But what is exceptional – All Saints’ achievements or our impressions of them? As the third largest town in late medieval England, Bristol was far from being a commonplace environment: most other English parishes could not have emulated all aspects of All Saints’ accomplishment.81 But none of the surviving materials for All Saints’ is per se odd. Wills, accounts, deeds and chantry accounts all survive for other parishes, either within or beyond Bristol. Admittedly, the All Saints’ Church Book, with its benefaction list and catalogues of churchwardens’ achievements

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A. Dyer, ‘Appendix: The Ranking Lists of English Medieval Towns’, in The Cambridge Urban History of Britain. Vol 1: 600–1540, ed. D. M. Palliser (Cambridge, 2000), pp. 747–70, and using Tables 5–7 (which evaluate tax data from the late fourteenth and the early sixteenth centuries) confirms that Bristol tailed London and Norwich but, for instance, exceeded York in wealth and population in the late Middle Ages.

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is more unusual, but essentially represents a glorified bede-roll – that is, a list of benefactors deserving prayers. These registers were common enough but particularly prone to destruction; while other parishes almost certainly had similar books, few survive. Although wealthy, All Saints’ was a small parish and, bar one or two idiosyncrasies – most particularly, resulting from the Kalendars’ presence – there seems little reason to believe that it differed radically from any other parish in Bristol in terms of what it provided. Some parishes were, indeed, far larger and without doubt supported more priests than All Saints’ and an even more elaborate liturgy.82 A centre such as Bristol also exercised considerable influence, guiding the fashions and practice in the towns and villages of its hinterland. An understanding of conditions within the town undoubtedly discloses a good deal as to the procedures to which many other communities, and individuals, aspired. While it can be argued that practice in town parishes exercised a wide influence, such usage probably also affords our best impression of how the developments shaping royal or noble foundations began to ‘percolate down’. Town parishes, in other words, provided the obvious bridge between elite practice and, in the longer term, general aspiration and provision in market town and more rural locations. So, while other parishes, of course, differed from All Saints’ in significant respects, understanding how one community managed to fulfil various objectives offers guidelines as to the adaptive ambition that underpinned local achievement elsewhere. The means employed by different parishes varied, but the ends – both of material embellishment and enhancing the liturgy – seem remarkably uniform.83

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In St Mary Redcliffe in the 1460s and 1470s, in addition to founding two perpetual chantries, William Canynges alone assigned £340 to replenish and refurbish the property endowment that would, as well as securing the future of the two ‘St Mary priests’ previously established in the church, also fund three clerks serving in his parish – in total securing the services of seven extra clergy in the parish – see GRB, iv, pp. 42–6. See also E. E. Williams, The Chantries of William Canynges in St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol (Bristol, 1950), pp. 67 and 266–8. This adds a salutary perspective to the clergy – a prior and two priests – that the Kalendars supported in All Saints’ after Bishop Carpenter’s reforms in the 1460s. K. L. French, ‘Rebuilding St Margaret’s: Parish Involvement and Community Action in Late Medieval Westminster’, Journal of Social History, 45:1 (2011), pp. 148–71 furnishes a valuable study of a very different parish, in terms, for instance, of its size (with a very much larger houselling population than All Saints’, Bristol), but which lacked much by the way of any endowments. As a result, St Margaret’s developed markedly different techniques to raise cash: but raise funds it did, spending some £2000 on the complete rebuilding of its church between 1487 and 1523. Ultimately, divergent examples serve to emphasise the common resource that the laity displayed in the decades before the Reformation as they sought to improve local standards of worship.

Chapter 3

‘According to the usage there’: Reading testamentary evidence

I

nvestigations of religious belief and behaviour in England in the century and more before the Reformation, and especially studies either of particular towns or rural locations, have tended to rely upon contemporary wills.1 Not only do large numbers of these documents survive but they also shed welcome light on personal circumstances and, more importantly, on individuals’ convictions and preferences. Wills provide an acceptable means for introducing some of the more important ‘players’ within All Saints’ and also establishing a basic understanding of aspects of their conduct. Nevertheless, much testamentary material has clearly been lost. Some forty wills survive for All Saints’ parishioners for the period 1400–1550, with notably sparse coverage for those dying in the first part of the period.2 While wills generally tend to reflect the wealthier ranks of parish society, even among so small a sample variety is evident. Some testators occupied themselves mainly with family interests, concentrating on inheritance strategies to the neglect of any detailed spiritual provision. Others, although evidently wealthy, left brief and uninformative wills, while a few, of apparently moderate estate, made much more detailed prescription. Moreover, while the great majority of testators depended heavily upon their parish, one or two did not. Of the latter, some had only recently ‘married into it’, like Joan Wilteshire, who exhibited a stronger allegiance to her former parish, St Mary le Port; and some evinced a closer allegiance

See, for instance, J. A. F. Thomson, ‘Piety and Charity in Late Medieval London’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 16 (1965), pp. 178–95; N. Tanner, The Church in Late Medieval Norwich, 1370–1532, Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, Studies and Texts, 66 (Toronto, 1984); J. Middleton-Stewart, Inward Purity and Outward Splendour: Death and Remembrance in the Deanery of Dunwich, Suffolk, 1370–1547 (Woodbridge, 2001).  2 Only about a dozen wills survive from before 1475, while nearer two dozen survive from the years between 1475 and the end of Henry VIII’s reign. I avoid precise numbers here since caution is necessary when counting the parish’s wills. Some survive in the parish archive (rather than being properly registered in either diocesan or municipal registers) with the result that their status is uncertain; other testators maintained strong allegiances with other parishes, so that one cannot insist on their being solely associated with All Saints’.  1

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to the fraternity of the Kalendars within All Saints’ or, simply, to another parish.3 Although we tend to use the term ‘will’ as a catch-all, these documents should strictly be classified as last wills and testaments, dealing respectively – but, ordinarily, in no necessary order – with the devise of real property and/or the bequest of money and movables, often for pious purposes.4 Occasionally, however, the suspicion creeps in that a particular will, without any statement to the effect, in fact deals with only part of the testator’s estate. The survival of a few realty wills – that is, dealing only with real property – raises the prospect that some extant wills possibly deal only with movables, tending to skew impressions about the testators concerned.5 Moreover, in any given case, individuals may well have made arrangements (for instance, devising patrimony to heirs) prior to decease. Further, they had almost certainly primed executors as to their pro anima requirements. Consequently, a brief will, or one dealing only with property arrangements, need not imply indifference to religion. In the same way, absence of reference to heirs need not indicate that the testator was childless. In both instances, preparations could have been well in hand or, indeed, already operative, rendering detailed prescription unnecessary.6 Clearly, the role of the nominated executor assumed crucial importance: in the event of the testator choosing a close family member – such as a widow or son – arrangements may very well have been made and agreements reached beforehand, in some instances rendering detail minimal. This For Richard and Joan Stevyns, who evinced strong allegiance to the Kalendars, see ASB 3, Wills, 26 and 27 (pp. 45–8); for Joan Wilteshire, ASB 3, Wills, 17; see below for David Philippe, who wished to be buried in St Nicholas’s church.  4 Strictly, wills devise real property and testaments bequeath movables. Ordinarily, however, the pious bequests of movables came towards the beginning of the late medieval documents and property devise later on, sometimes either preceded or followed by personal bequests to acquaintances – although exceptions may easily be found.  5 They possibly dealt with the testator’s ‘third’ – a convention explored in more detail in C. Burgess, ‘Late Medieval Wills and Pious Convention: Testatmentary Evidence Reconsidered’, in Profit, Piety and the Professions in Later Medieval England, ed. M. A. Hicks (Gloucester, 1990), pp. 14–33, at pp. 24–7. For a more detailed appraisal of the convention, see R. H. Helmholz, ‘Legitim in English Legal History’, University of Illinois Law Review, 3 (1984), pp. 659–74.  6 Common Law was, understandably, unequivocal where the rights of heirs were concerned; its force, particularly where the devise of patrimony was concerned, rendered painstaking testamentary provision redundant; or, more simply, were a testator to die with children who had attained their majority and already been provided for, again, testamentary prescription had been rendered obsolete. Nevertheless, in towns like London and Bristol the situation was rendered the more complex by the development and applicability, from the thirteenth century onwards, of burgage tenure, which permitted testators to devise property to whom- or what-so-ever they wished. This difficulty is discussed more fully in Burgess, ‘Late Medieval Wills and Pious Convention’, pp. 21–2 (which essay also investigates the concerns arising in the remainder of the present paragraph).  3

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renders statistical analyses and percentile interpretations futile since, even apart from the inadequacy of the numerical sample in the case of All Saints’, silence may never be conclusively taken as indicating that a testator had decided against, or never benefited from, any given procedure. Executors were invariably trusted to exercise their discretion: the evidence surviving for All Saints’ reveals that they did, and with consistently more flair than the testamentary evidence alone would lead us to expect. Despite such shortcomings, wills can flesh out basic impressions, as this chapter shows. The first part sheds light on the networks that existed within the wealthier elements of parish society. The second and third concentrate on the plans made by testators arranging services to accompany death and profit their souls: where the second part concentrates on funeral provision, the last investigates the broader spiritual strategies upon which parishioners depended. But both argue that, while testators often differed in their requests and provisions, the wealthier element of the parish not only shared common expectations but also acted with a distinct and impressive savoir faire.

‘These being present’: Circumstances and connections In the case of men and women below aristocratic or gentle rank, wills furnish personal details otherwise not easily obtained.7 Indeed, it is a serious loss when relatively eminent characters – for instance, men such as churchwardens – have no surviving will. Such parishioners remain comparatively anonymous, with their family situation hard to recreate and little or no purchase possible on them as individuals. Wills afford invaluable ‘colour’. To take one example, the All Saints’ wills convey aspects of living in a commercial environment: testators naturally left bequests redolent either of trade or calling. John Leynell, a draper who died in 1473, in addition to leaving considerable sums in money and silver to his close relatives, left robes and hoods to several of his acquaintances.8 Similarly, Richard Stevyns, a tailor who made his will in 1506, bequeathed gowns, some furred and others plain, to almost all his beneficiaries.9 Paul James, ‘hardwareman’, who died in 1506, was clearly in the middle of a speculative transaction when making

In discussion in this chapter, where I necessarily pinpoint specific bequests in various surviving wills, reference is given, if appropriate, to the will and clause number in the printed version of the documents found in ASB 3; in subsequent chapters, unless making a very particular point, clause references are omitted.  8 ASB 3, Wills, 15 (pp. 24–5).  9 Ibid., Wills, 26 (pp. 45–6).  7

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his will.10 He bequeathed legacies of £20 apiece to each of his daughters in the expectation ‘that my goods, or the more part of them, come home safe from Flanders beyond the sea, that I did adventure and send even at the making of this will’. Were this venture to fail, however, his daughters should expect only twenty nobles apiece – halving the sums set aside for them.11 Where the prospect of widows remarrying alarmed most testators (fearing that the new husband would neglect the interests of their step-children), Paul James differed. Should his wife fail to remarry, his daughters would receive no more than twenty nobles apiece even if his venture in Flanders succeeded. As a widow, Joan would clearly need to be supported, inevitably reducing her daughters’ expectations. Other testators made bequests suggestive of commercial activity. John Penke the younger, for instance, a merchant who made his will in 1493, obviously traded with Bordeaux and made bequests in each of the two main staples of the Gascon trade.12 To the parish and to its vicar he left four measures of woad apiece; to acquaintances he left tuns of wine; to his widow, Alice, he left eight pipes of woad as well as ten tuns of wine. His bequests to parents still alive, when taken with the absence of any explicit reference to children, reaffirm his soubriquet as ‘the younger’ and suggest that he died young. Indeed, he left his sister, Joan, and his brother, Thomas, three tuns of wine apiece, ‘the first of mine that shall come from Bordeaux’, possibly suggesting that this will was made early in his career.13 Bristol’s trading interests also emerge with clarity in the will of David Kyllingworth, merchant, said to be of ‘West Haverford in Wales’.14 A resident of Bristol, he nevertheless bequeathed to his godson, John Jooce, a ‘silver vessel called a bolpece made in Bordeaux’, and devised to his elder son, Richard, a tenement with appurtenances recently built in Haverford West. His will is suggestive of the connections that Bristol had with markets both to the west and much farther south. Perhaps he shipped manufactures from Bristol to west Wales, taking cargoes thence to south-west France, importing either Gascon wine or 10 11

12 13

14

Ibid., Wills, 25 (p. 45). It appears that, while the noble eventually standardised to the value of one-third of a pound, ie 6s. 8d., in the fifteenth century it was worth two crowns, or 10s. Contemporary monetary conventions are discussed above, pp. xvi–xvii. ASB 3, Wills, 21 (pp. 40–41). Although this could, quite plausibly, have referred to the first imports from a given vintage. Given the evident gap between the date that the testator in question made this will and the date of probate, it is conceivable that this testator died unexpectedly, possibly at sea; he had, however, been prudent enough to make a will in anticipation of a mishap. A number of Bristolians, merchants especially, did just this, and the occasional gaps evident between the date of composition and probate indicate the practice; it was far from being the case that wills were invariably deathbed documents. ASB 3, Wills, 11 (pp. 20–21).

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woad back to Bristol. John Snygge, too, was an immigrant from south Wales who had settled in All Saints’, drawing up his will in 1495.15 His bequests to ports along, or to towns near, the south Welsh coast – seven guineas to the church of St John’s in Cardiff, and smaller bequests to the parish churches of Cowbridge, Neath and Swansea – imply contacts, or possibly trade, with each. Nevertheless, the generosity of his bequest to Cardiff, and bequests to the friars and to the bridge there, may suggest origins in that town, although his family went on to prosper in Bristol, becoming prominent in the parish of All Saints’.16 Other wills reveal contacts with London. Richard Hatter, who died in 1457 and was buried in All Saints’, mentions a brother, William, who lived in London.17 Agnes Fyler, who died in 1467, refers to a son (actually her stepson), Thomas, a London mercer.18 William Leke, who died in 1516, had a son, John, apprenticed in London.19 Contacts with the capital, both commercially and personally, emerge strongly. But William Leke also had links with the Midlands. Resident in Bristol at death, he expressed his generosity both to All Saints’ and to the mother church at Worcester.20 Nevertheless he maintained close links with Lichfield, and referred to its parish church also as his parish, and commissioned services there for his family, suggesting that he may have been born in Lichfield. Where some wills confirm trading interests with Bordeaux and with south Wales, others remind us that contact with London remained a constant, for both commercial and family reasons, and yet other wills disclose Bristol’s trading interests with towns in the central counties of England. Leke, indeed, bequeathed half a mark [i.e. 6s. 8d.] to the church of Stow (Stow-on-the-Wold, presumably) and the same towards a new bell in the church there. Clearly, the Severn was not the only route that merchants used when trading with the Midlands; the Fosse Way also still served merchants and other dealers in wool and cloth.

15 16

17

18

19 20

Ibid., Wills, 22 (pp. 41–2). Other materials in the All Saints’ archive reveal that the family prospered. Confining attention, for the sake of simplicity, to the churchwardens’ accounts, the appendix in ASB 2, pp. 368–70, reveals that John Snygge had himself served as churchwarden in 1479–80, and that his son, Thomas, served as churchwarden on no fewer than three occasions (1485–86, 1486–97, 1504–05), and that his grandson (presumably), another John, went on to serve in 1514–15. ASB 3, Wills, 9 (pp. 18–19); Hatter, who emerges again later in this chapter, is also dealt with in some detail in chapter 7. Ibid., Wills, 7 (pp. 15–17); Thomas’s identity emerges more clearly in the discussion concerning the Fylers in the following chapter. Ibid., Wills, 33 (pp. 57–9). For ‘mother church’, in this and subsequent usage, see glossary.

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Networks Wills also reveal a good deal about the social and the spiritual dynamics of the community that produced them. Given the rates of immigration necessary to maintain an urban population in a time of endemic plague, it may seem reasonable to suppose that a group of parishioners in Bristol would have included many new arrivals having neither had the chance to put down roots nor to establish well defined social networks. While many of those whose wills survive were from families, in all probability, resident in the parish for a generation or more, networks nevertheless established themselves quickly in a small community. Parishioners evidently looked to close neighbours either for support or for certain services, and families came both to depend upon each other and, occasionally, to intermarry. It is also clear that the socially eminent within the parish played a pivotal role, in addition to any civic duties, in assisting and guarding the interests of their neighbours. Women’s wills comprise an unusually high proportion of the All Saints’ sample and reveal that many testators were married to each other.21 Five pairs of testators were husband and wife – Henry and Alice Chestre, Thomas and Maud Spicer alias Baker22 (both pairs being supplemented by a surviving son’s will, too), Clement and Joan Wilteshire, Richard and Joan Stevyns, Thomas and Joan Parnaunt – to which number Richard and Constance Hatter may be added, for, while not strictly parishioners, they nevertheless demonstrated a strong attachment to All Saints’.23 Such paired wills shed light on family mores that, while affecting everyone, are frequently obscure in single wills. It is striking how many of the men and women concerned had been married more than once, doubtless

21

22

23

As a rule of thumb, women’s wills ordinarily account for only some 10 per cent of most will samples that I have encountered. This is to give Thomas and Maud’s full surname – Spicer alias Baker. Contemporaries, however, tended to shorten this to Spicer and, for the sake of ease, hereinafter I propose to do likewise – although it may be noted that there is one instance, encountered shortly, where Maud, contrary to common usage, is referred to her (by then) late husband as Thomas Baker. ASB 3, Wills: Chestres,12 and 13 (pp. 21–3); Spicers, 18 and 19 (pp. 30–39); Wilteshires, 16 and 17 (pp. 25–30); Stevyns, 26 and 27 (pp. 45–8); Parnaunts, 28 and 29 (pp. 48–54); and Hatters, 9 and 10 (pp. 18–20). Thomas and Agnes Fyler, who died respectively in 1425 and 1467 (wills 6 and 7 (pp. 14–17)), are not included in this list since they were, as the following chapter discloses, more probably father and daughter-in-law than man and wife. It should, moreover, be noted that a number of these men had reached positions of some prominence in Bristol’s civic affairs in the mid and later fifteenth century; their attainment will be outlined more clearly as each is dealt with in more detail in the following discussion.

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as the result of the early demise of original partners. Alice Chestre mentions two sons, both named John, who seem to have had different fathers, just as Maud Spicer refers to two sons, John and William Hutton, the issue, evidently, of a previous marriage. Joan Wilteshire, who was frequently referred to as Joan Batyn, was not the mother of Clement Wilteshire’s children and, understandably, evinced a more abiding affiliation to the parish of St Mary le Port (where she had previously lived with John Batyn), leaving instructions for burial there. Just as Clement made careful provision for his first wife, Margery, Joan, too, remembered her two husbands each of whom was to benefit from services in both St Mary le Port and All Saints’.24 Since Thomas Parnaunt mentions grandchildren and yet his wife, Joan, outlived him by almost twenty-five years, she, too, was probably (at least) a second wife. Nevertheless, while Paul James evinced little concern at the prospect of his widow’s remarriage – were this to occur, his daughters might expect to receive rather larger legacies – more commonly testators worried that this would conflict with the interests of their heirs. Thomas Spicer, for instance, bequeathed his widow the residue of his estate, but only on the condition that she never remarried. In the event, she became a vowess, formally vowing to abjure remarriage and, while remaining in the world, to devote herself to a strict regime of prayer. She was thereafter commonly referred to as ‘Dame Maud’, and described in the All Saints’ Church Book as ‘afterwards lady by profession to the mantle and the ring’.25 Joan Parnaunt also describes herself in her will as ‘widow professed’, and one wonders whether Alice Chestre, too, could have been a vowess.26 The short-term dangers and long-term exhaustion consequent on repeated birth and child-rearing meant that wives had a tendency to die relatively young; when remarrying, men often chose a younger woman and, at their own decease, left a widow with some years still to live. As elsewhere, wealthy widows in All Saints’ were a force to be reckoned with.27 24 25

26

27

Discussed in more detail below, in chapter 6. ASB 1, p. 22. Concerning vowesses, we owe much to Mary Erler: for her seminal ‘English Vowed Women at the end of the Middle Ages’, Mediaeval Studies, 57 (1995), pp. 155–203; and eadem, Women, Reading, and Piety in Late Medieval England (Cambridge, 2002); also eadem, ‘Three Fifteenth-Century Vowesses’, in Medieval London Widows, 1300– 1500, ed. C. M. Barron and A. F. Sutton (London, 1994), pp. 165–83. No trace has ever been found of Alice having formally taken a vow of chastity, but her piety and generosity (as discussed in more detail in the following chapter) equalled that of many another known vowess. Argued most notably by C. M. Barron, ‘The “Golden Age” of Women’, in Medieval Women in Southern England, Reading Medieval Studies, 15 (1989), pp. 35–58 (at pp. 45–6); her findings for London largely hold true for Bristol, too. For a number of case studies, often emphasising the opportunities open to and taken by late medieval urban widows, see C. M. Barron and A. Sutton, ed., Medieval London Widows, 1300–1500 (London, 1994).

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Parishioners frequently made bequests to other identifiable co-parishioners, or relied on the parish clergy to act as overseers or witnesses. Distinct coteries emerge, such as that formed by Thomas and Joan Halleway and Richard and Constance Hatter, all of whom died in the decade following 1450.28 The eminence of the Halleway family in the town, let alone the parish, is emphasised by Thomas’s service as mayor in 1434–35, and also by his wife’s foundation of a perpetual chantry within All Saints’ intended to benefit them both. If the link between the two families may not be precisely identified, it was nevertheless strong: Richard Hatter, who served as mayor of Bristol in 1454–55, but was a parishioner of St Leonard’s, nevertheless chose to be buried next to Thomas and Joan Halleway in All Saints’, near the altar of the Holy Cross.29 Richard’s widow, Constance, however, retained her allegiance to St Leonard’s. But Richard was not her first husband: she nominated a son by her first marriage, John Hawkes, also a parishioner of St Leonard’s, as her executor.30 Henry and Alice Chestre, who died in 1471 and 1485 respectively, were survived by two sons each named John, one of whom was an Augustinian canon and prior of the monastery of Barlinch in Somerset, the other a merchant in Bristol.31 The latter, whose will also survives, outlived Alice by only three years, naming his widow, Anne, as his executrix.32 She remarried Humfrey Hervy, who had a daughter, Elizabeth, and also a son, Richard – although Elizabeth was almost certainly a daughter by an 28

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The will that survives for Thomas Halleway is dated 1449 (ASB 3, Wills, 8 (pp. 17–18)) but he is said, in ASB 1, p. 14, to have died in 1454; his wife, Joan, has no will surviving but is said to have died in 1455; Richard Hatter died in 1457, and his widow, Constance, in 1460. In John Latimer’s work, adding to and verifying the listings of civic attainment provided by Robert Ricart in the fifteenth century – see J. Latimer, ‘“The Maire of Bristowe is Kalendar.” Its list of civic officers collated with contemporary legal manuscripts’, TBGAS, 26 (1903), pp. 108–37 – Halleway served as a bailiff of Bristol in 1418–19, as sheriff in 1423–24 and was mayor in 1434–35; Hatter was a bailiff in 1442–43, sheriff in 1451–52 and mayor in 1454–55 (see ibid., pp. 130–32). As discussed in more detail below, in chapter 7, Hatter made a very generous subvention of 100 marks to swell the endowment of the Halleways’ chantry – celebrated, it may be noted, at the altar of Sts John the Baptist, John the Evangelist and Dunstan on the south side of the nave and near the Cross aisle, where the Halleways and Hatter requested burial. Featuring prominently in relation to an event of some moment in All Saints’ affairs in the 1470, Hawkes is mentioned with some frequency in subsequent discussions; he served as bailiff of Bristol in 1458–59, as sheriff in 1463–64, and as mayor for the first time in 1471–72 – see Latimer, ‘“The Maire of Bristowe”’, p. 132. ASB 3, Wills, 12 and 13 (pp. 21–3). It may be noted that Henry Chestre served as bailiff of Bristol in 1456–57, and as sheriff from 1470, in which year of service he died (see Latimer, ‘“The Maire of Bristowe”’, p. 132). Given the ‘trajectory’ of his career, it is entirely plausible that – had he lived – he might well have become mayor of Bristol in the mid-1470s. ASB 3, Wills, 14 (pp. 23–4).

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earlier marriage on Humfrey’s part.33 Nevertheless, Humfrey and Anne’s union helps to explain why the anniversaries celebrated in All Saints’ for the Chestres eventually came to benefit both the Chestres and Hervys after Humfrey Hervy’s death in 1516.34 Moreover, Elizabeth Hervy married John Hawkes, parishioner of St Leonard’s – as noted above – and was (it appears) his second wife, Hawkes’ first wife (also called Elizabeth) having predeceased him; Elizabeth née Hervy went on to outlive both him and also Hawkes’ main heir, John Hawkes junior, and she died c.1524.35 As a result of the residuary clauses in Hawkes senior’s will, however, All Saints’ stood to benefit, and a valuable share of his inheritance went to the parish.36 But there may have been more to Hawkes senior’s benevolence towards All Saints’ than connections either through his mother or his second wife, as will become plain.37 Nevertheless, such examples evoke the web of connections that linked eminent families both within the parish and with certain others among the town’s elite who lived elsewhere.38 Some links may, admittedly, seem tenuous. Clement Wilteshire died suddenly in late December 1492, only a month or two after he had begun his term as mayor of Bristol. With no opportunity to make a deathbed disposition, the document that turned out to be his last will had been made in 1488. At that date, he seems recently to have remarried, since he appointed his widow Joan Batyn (as he referred to her, using her previous married name) as his executrix, and also nominated one John Pernand as her co-executor, saying that the latter was his son-inlaw.39 Some ambiguity exists with this title: while ‘son-in-law’ could well refer to a 33

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The clearest reference to Anne Chestre’s later status is to be found in John Thomas’s will – ASB 3, Wills, 24 (pp. 43–4) – who devised two properties in Broad Street (which had formerly belonged to Henry Chestre) to Joan Hervy, ‘after the death of Humfrey Hervy and after the death of Anne, wife of the said Humfrey and formerly wife of John Chestre, my kinsman’. Humfrey Hervy’s will (made in March 1516) also survives – ASB 3, Wills, 32 (p. 57) – wherein he appointed his son, Richard, as one of his executors. ASB 2, pp. 246, 255, 264–5 &c. ASB 3, Deeds, HS B 8 (p. 392), dated May 1525, reveals that Richard Hervy and John Flook (vicar of All Saints’ from 1517) were, by that date, acting as ‘executors of the testament of Elizabeth Hervy, once wife of John Hawkes sometime merchant … and his executrix.’ Hawkes’ will is printed in ASB 3, Deeds, HS B 7 (pp. 391–2). As discussed in more detail below, in chapters 4 and 9. An obvious example would be the links (to judge from testamentary references) that existed between the Chestres and the Rowley family, whose various members (living in various parishes) appear to have attained a certain prominence in late fifteenth-century Bristol. ASB 3, Wills, 16 (pp. 25–8). When Clement Wilteshire died (on 27 December 1492), John Hawkes was elected in his stead, having taken his first turn as mayor almost twenty years earlier – see Latimer, ‘“The Maire of Bristowe”’, p. 132.

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married daughter’s husband, it might also mean a stepson – in this case, presumably, a son that Clement’s first wife had brought from an earlier marriage.40 This becomes tantalising, since the Parnaunts were one of the more eminent families in All Saints’ in the early sixteenth century, and one wonders whether Clement’s first wife had been of their kindred either by birth or marriage. Indeed, Thomas Parnaunt of All Saints’, who made his will some two decades later in 1508, refers to his brother, John, as parson of St Ewen’s Bristol, bequeathing him 20s. in cash, a violet gown in grayne and a mazer, and nominated him as overseer of his will.41 The upshot seems to be that connections existed between the Wilteshires and Parnaunts, two of the more eminent parish families. The Spicer family formed another notable grouping within the parish. Whereas the elder Thomas was a first-generation migrant from the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, his wife, Maud, hailed from a family longer established in Bristol’s society.42 She had been married before (and Thomas, it may be noted, made provision for the children of her first marriage, John and William Hutton), and her mother, Maud Woddington, had herself been a benefactress to All Saints’.43 Maud Spicer mentioned two brothers, one as ‘Master Doctor Wodyngton’, to whom she left amber beads with gawdys of gilt and also forgave him ‘all such debt as he owes unto me’, and the other as Thomas Wodyngton, again forgiving all debts he owed her ‘except 100 marks in money’ that he was to pay to her executors. The first of these seems, in fact, also to have been christened Thomas and, after an education at Winchester from 1469 and New College, Oxford, from 1474, having gained his doctorate in 1494, enjoyed a spectacular career as a canon lawyer. He served as Dean of Arches in 1513 and as a prebendary of St Paul’s from 1514, adding many other cathedral and diocesan appointments for different bishops – perhaps most pertinently serving as Vicar General for Giovanni de Gigliis, bishop of Worcester, as the latter served as Henry VII’s proctor in Rome – in addition to which Thomas also held a multitude of livings in plurality in many parts of England. He died in 1522.44 His eminence adds 40 41

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OED: sv son-in-law, 3. ASB 3, Wills, 28 (pp. 48–51). John had become parson of St Ewen’s in 1502 (CBSE, p. xxxiii). Thomas Parnaunt’s wife (and then long-time widow), Joan, who will be discussed in more detail in the following chapter, proved generous both to John and St Ewen’s. Thomas Spicer senior’s will, ASB 3, Wills, 18 (pp. 30–33), mentions his links with St Briavels in the Forest of Dean; Maud’s will may be found in ASB 3, Wills, 19 (pp. 33–9). Thomas served as bailiff of Bristol in 1482–83 and as sheriff in 1489–90 but, like Henry Chestre, it would appear that an early death denied him the chance to be mayor, to which office his career was evidently tending – see Latimer, ‘“The Maire of Bristowe”’, p. 133. ASB 1, p. 23. BRUO, p. 2083.

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undoubted lustre to our conceptions of Maud’s family. It may also be noted that, according to a codicil to Thomas Spicer’s will, one Thomas Wodyngton – presumably Maud’s other brother – was betrothed to Alice, one of Thomas and Maud’s daughters, and therefore his niece.45 By the time that Maud made her will, in 1504, this Alice had entered the abbey of Shaftesbury, although was not yet professed.46 Thomas Wodyngton had married someone else, and Maud mentions two of his children, John and Margaret.47

Parish leaders The most significant character who emerges from the Spicer coterie, however, is Thomas Pacy, who had been one of Thomas’s apprentices in 1492. By the time that Maud made her will, in 1504, Pacy had not only married another of the Spicers’ daughters, Joan, but Maud had also entrusted him as guardian of her son and main heir, another Thomas. This younger Thomas bequeathed Pacy £4 in his will in 1510, although by then, Pacy, helped no doubt by a dowry from Joan, was well on his way.48 He served repeatedly as churchwarden of All Saints’ in the second and third decades of the century, and from the 1520s as a ‘master’ of the parish.49 He also served as sheriff of Bristol in 1516–17 and as mayor both in 1531–32 and 1543–44.50 He appeared as a witness in several parishioners’ wills – for instance, 45

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Avunculate marriage, if permissible by canon law, was certainly not common, and probably only ever entered on for specific reasons; and in this instance, it is clear that it never ultimately occurred. But one wonders, given Alice’s eventual profession – probably intended for some time – whether this arrangement, which meant that Thomas could be entrusted with Alice’s inheritance (of 100 marks and 50 oz of silver, as agreed in the codicil), was a ruse enabling a close member of the family to invest and profit from money that would otherwise have lain dormant. It is telling in Maud’s will that she forgives and remits to her brother Thomas all the debts which he owes, except 100 marks in money ‘which I will that he pay unto my executors underwritten’; it is hard to avoid the significance of this particular sum. ASB 3, Wills, 19, clauses 18–20 (p. 35) mention various bequests of money, a bed, spoons, towels, devotional objects (such as ‘black beads with five wounds of gold’) which were to be delivered to Alice on the day of her profession, as well as 10 marks to pay for her dinner on the day of her profession, ‘which 10 marks were to be delivered unto the lady Abbess’. In view of the debts that Maud cancelled, one is left pondering whether his dowry or the settlement from or for Alice may have ultimately left Thomas in debt to the family. ASB 3, Wills, 20 (p. 39). For discussion of the role of ‘masters’ of the parish, referring in part to Pacy, see below, chapter 9, and also C. Burgess, ‘Pre-Reformation Churchwardens’ Accounts and Parish Government: Lessons from London and Bristol’, EHR, 117 (2002), pp. 306–32. Latimer, ‘“The Maire of Bristowe”’, pp. 135–6 – by the early sixteenth century the office of bailiff had been annulled. The Spicer household encouraged talent: Thomas Yonge, who also went on to achieve eminence within the parish, at least, is also mentioned in Maud’s will as one of their apprentices.

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acting for Thomas Parnaunt in 1508 – and when Joan Parnaunt made her will in 1532, she named Pacy as her sole executor, and mentioned one Christopher Pacy as her godson.51 Thomas Pacy survived until 1560, by which time the world, and associates, of his formative years had receded into the mists. Christopher Pacy, who outlived his father, was described in 1560 as a clerk.52 While Thomas Pacy began life as a protégé of one leading parish family, the Spicers, experience and eminence soon involved him with others, such as the Parnaunts and, perhaps, even with the Wilteshire coterie. The man most fully immersed in the social networks of the parish, strikingly, is the vicar, John Thomas, who served the cure from August 1479 until his death in the late summer of 1503.53 On the one hand, he was clearly on close terms with Humfrey and Anne Hervy: the former he appointed his executor, and the latter he describes as ‘wife of the said Humfrey and formerly wife of John Chestre, my kinsman’.54 On the other hand, John Thomas was also on close terms with the Spicers. He appointed that ‘reverend man, Master Thomas Wodyngton, doctor of decretals’, as overseer of his will. John Thomas also forgave a £6 debt to one John Wodyngton, merchant of Bristol – possibly Maud’s nephew – but he stipulated, ‘He may keep £3 and the remaining £3 is to go to Elizabeth Spicer, my god-daughter’, who was Thomas and Maud Spicers’ fourth daughter. In his will, he also mentioned ‘his boy’, John Flook, who, were he to become a priest, stood to receive a number of John Thomas’s liturgical and other books. In the same way, another parishioner, Joan Stevyns, made bequests to, and provided for, the schooling of ‘Hugh Smith, my lad’, and similarly made provision for ‘Margaret, my little maiden, sister to the said Hugh’; charitably keeping children, presumably orphans or foundlings, was not uncommon.55 John Thomas’s investment paid off. While 51 52 53

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ASB 3, Wills, 29 (pp. 51–4). ASB 3, Wills, 40 (pp. 65–7). ASB 3, Wills, 24 (pp. 43–4). Having served as chaplain of the second chantry for the Kalendars from 1470 until 1479 (Orme, ‘Guild of Kalendars’, pp. 47–8). A link reiterated in ASB 3, Deeds, HS C 11 a/b (pp. 396–8), concerning the Chestres’ anniversary endowment (which deed of feoffment was made in 1519), and which states that John Thomas late vicar of All Saints’ as ‘kinsman and heir of John Chestre, late merchant, son and heir of Henry Chestre, sometime draper.’ ASB 3, Wills, 27; in St Andrew Hubbard in London, to cite a similar instance, Maryon Garret, in 1538, left a legacy to ‘Peter, my poor child, whom I keep of charity’, The Church Records of St Andrew Hubbard, p. 268. For higher-profile examples, see Thomasine Percyvale, a mayor of London’s widow, who, when making her will in 1512, mentioned three boys and two girls ‘which I have brought up of almes’ – see M. Davies, ‘Dame Thomasyne Percyvale, ‘The Maid of Week’ (d. 1512)’, in Medieval London Widows, 1300–1500, ed. C. M. Barron and A. F. Sutton (London, 1994), p. 202; and also Alice Claver’s example in A. Sutton, ‘Alice Claver, Silkwoman (d. 1489)’, in Medieval London Widows, pp. 138–9.

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Richard Bromfeld was his immediate successor, John Flook assumed the incumbency of All Saints’ in 1517, thereafter featuring prominently in parishioners’ wills, for instance, as Joan Parnaunt’s overseer in the early 1530s.56 John Thomas’s role within the parish discloses how clergy might be related to some families and on close terms with others; in the absence of legitimate heirs, moreover, they might exercise an unexpectedly formative role over the education and upbringing of future parish clergy.

Shared allegiances and outlooks So far, discussion has focused on individuals from the parish’s ‘upper crust’; but their connections emerge, and the processes by which allegiances developed from one generation to another assume some shape. The discernible degrees of association and networking in some respects resembled those of an extended family. Influential individuals might be trusted to have the interests of others at heart as, of course, they themselves hoped to attract the concern of others as and when it became necessary. The spiritual and practical implications of Clement Wilteshire’s stipulation that his chantry priest should ‘sing for my soul and for all my good friends’ souls and all Christian souls within All Hallows’’ gains added resonance. In a society in which commemoration played a role of profound importance, the principle of shared interests and close allegiances helped to determine and sustain individuals’ arrangements and collective policies – indeed, in such an environment, ‘individual’ and ‘collective’ seem, ultimately, to merge. So much so, that when the parish moved to regain property alienated to John Hawkes in contentious circumstances, the individuals leading the initiative were Thomas Pacy and vicar John Flook, both closely connected to every influential coterie within the parish.57 Although it may have become a commonplace to assert the competence of parish government, this did not solely depend on well-polished institutional procedures; personal factors, too, kept certain imperatives prominently on the agenda, facilitating their implementation. Similarly, when examining the identities of those who played an influential role in parish affairs, one cannot fail to notice the degree of congruence between the parish and the civic elite; if benefiting from these parishioners’ expertise and influence in life, the parish also served as the last resting place for many among Bristol’s elite.

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BRUO 1540, pp. 207–8; Flook’s will, made in 1540, survives, ASB 3, Wills, 38 (p. 64). His career is considered in more detail below, in chapter 8. The reacquisition of this property is explored in more detail below, in chapter 9.

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‘The true residue of my goods’: Testamentary minimalism The parishioners who emerge from All Saints’ surviving wills were both wealthy and reasonably closely connected; although possessing the means to pursue idiosyncratic choices, it appears – prima facie – more likely that a shared outlook would have led them to commission similar services to benefit their souls. But, where some wills are detailed, others are brief: simply, some asked for much more than others. Did testators’ post obit requirements vary as widely as differences in their wills suggest? While ambitious schemes may have been beyond some testators’ means (particularly if heirs were still to be provided for), when establishing the outlook of the parish elite it is a principle of some importance to determine the degree of uniformity that existed among them. Planning for funeral services serves as a suitable case study. While Christian practice imposed a degree of conformity – interment in hallowed ground, for instance, obviously proving a strict requirement – scope existed for diversity. Indeed, in certain circumstances (not necessarily within Bristol), much has been inferred from provisions which might be starkly simple or even express contempt for mortal remains.58 Allowing for testamentary quirks, the provisions made by parishioners in All Saints’ for interment and its attendant services reveal a significant uniformity of practice among the elite.

Burial and memorials Occupied in trade, and frequently absent from Bristol, many testators, wisely, were not overly insistent as to the site of their burial. Thomas Fyler mercer, for instance, who died in 1425, asked to be buried ‘in All Saints’ church or wherever it pleases God’; similarly, Paul James, in 1506, chose to be buried ‘in All Saints’ church except I die far from whence’.59 Some might succumb to other parishes: in 1509, David Philippe, for reasons not disclosed, chose burial in the chapel of St John in the neighbouring parish of St Nicholas – although he also remembered All Saints’ and his vicar, Richard Bromfeld, in his will.60 Bonds of friendship 58

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Lack of interest in the details of burial or, more ostentatiously, a contempt one’s corpse has often – if far from exclusively – been taken as indicative of lollard sympathies, for instance by K. B. McFarlane, Lancastrian Kings and Lollard Knights (Oxford, 1972), part ii, chapter 6 (although Archbishop Arundel’s own expression of such contempt is salutary – see ibid., p. 219). Respectively ASB 3, Wills, 6 and 25 (pp. 14–15 and 45). ASB 3, Wills, 30 (pp. 54–5). St Nicholas’s church, built on the side of the steep slope down towards the River Avon, had an upper and lower church, the latter usually referred to as

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clearly moved others: Richard Hatter chose to be buried in All Saints’, close to the tomb of his associate, Thomas Halleway.61 Far from forgetting his parish, Hatter instructed his executors to establish a ten-year chantry in St Leonard’s; his widow, Constance, chose to be buried there. Like many other widows, she had married more than once and retained a particular allegiance to the parish where her first husband was interred – moreover, her son, John Hawkes, still lived there.62 The great majority of testators opted for burial and its accompanying services in the parish in which they had resided, and to which they belonged. There they could depend upon being remembered, both by clergy and surviving co-parishioners, even if their issue – as sometimes happened – had moved elsewhere. In these circumstances, and if necessary, friends could advise offspring, obliged to act as executors, about the testator’s likely preferences had he failed to specify the pious uses to which his estate residue should be devoted. The fundamental choice for most testators lay between burial within the church or in the cemetery. Such choice was not exactly free: burial within the church carried the higher fee.63 Generally, wealthier testators chose interment within the church, associating proximity to the sacred with spiritual benefit. Reflective of their wealth perhaps, few from the surviving sample of All Saints’ testators requested burial in the cemetery. Nevertheless, additional information exists for someone who, in fact, left instructions to be buried within the cemetery. Thomas

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the ‘crowde’, or crypt, which housed a popular fraternity dedicated to the Holy Cross. If St John’s chapel is hard to place in St Nicholas’s church, it seems to have been in the upper church, and E. G. C. Atchley suggests (in his ‘On the Medieval Parish Records of the Church of St Nicholas, Bristol’, Transactions of the St Paul’s Ecclesiological Society, 6 (1906–10), pp. 35–67) that it may have been one of the side altars flanking the rood screen door; in 1523, Joan Thorne bequeathed ‘a vestment of blake chamlet … with such as is belongyng for the sayd vestmentt’ that was to be occupied at the altar of St John the Evangelist in the church (ibid., p. 53). As mentioned earlier in this chapter. ASB 3, Wills, 10 (pp. 19–20). This rule was by no means invariable: Maud Spicer certainly chose to be buried by Thomas, who was her second husband, although it is not known where her previous husband, John Hutton, was interred. Occasionally the tables of the charges levied by parishes for burials in differing locations within the respective church have survived: see, for instance, that for St Andrew Hubbard Eastcheap in London, in The Church Records of St Andrew Hubbard, p. 100 [as section 93]; and for those charges levied in St Mary at Hill in London, see Medieval Record of a London City Church (St Mary at Hill) A.D. 1420–1559, ed. H. Littlehales, Early English Text Society, O.S., 128 (London, 1905), pp. 319–20. Unfortunately, nothing similar survives for All Saints’, Bristol. For a more general discussion on siting burials and the ‘hierarchy of space’, see V. Harding, The Dead and the Living in Parish and London, 1500–1670 (Cambridge, 2002), chapter 5; also N. Rogers, ‘“Hic iacet … ”: The Location of Monuments in Late Medieval Parish Churches’, in PLME, pp. 261–81.

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Botoner, chaplain, who died in 1418–19, was the uncle of William Worcestre, well known for his topographical descriptions, including that of his home town, Bristol, as it was c.1480.64 When describing the lane that ran between All Saints’ and the hall of the Cooks’ Guild, Worcestre wrote: The said narrow lane extends in length to a short road on the west side of the said church, at the end of the tall lodgings of the prior of the College called the Kalendars, where the said Thomas Botoner was, as I have understood, a fellow. And he died in the house of the priory lodgings, to the certain knowledge of his sister, Elizabeth, my mother, told to me, about the fifth or sixth year of my childhood, as I suppose; because although I was present with him on the day of his death, with my mother, for leave-taking on the last day of his life, I did not have understanding to notice his appearance. [This lane extended] past the cimiterium of that church and the south aisle of the said church next to the wall of the new aisle, built in the days of my youth by the south door of the aforesaid church. And next to which wall Thomas Botoner, priest, may have been buried, on the east side of the south door; but I believe the bones of the said Thomas were removed at the time of building the new aisle, and his tomb of freestone was likewise removed.65

Subsequently, Worcestre reveals that, ‘The College of Priests called The Kalendars [is] on the west-side of All Saints’ church; of which College my uncle, Thomas Botoner, was a brother. And he is buried on the south [side] of the new aisle of All Saints’ church.’66 So, although originally buried in the cemetery, Botoner was reinterred within the south aisle when this was rebuilt.67 Botoner’s will mentions little: a bed and 40s. to Isabell Wylkyns, a servant of Robert Beverly, was far and away his most extravagant bequest. Yet Botoner’s remains could still be identified years after interment, presumably as a result of his burial in a stone tomb or coffin, a Tumba de Frestone, substantial enough to be moved. In the absence of burial instructions and with no money set aside to pay for services, supplementary information, found in Worcestre’s Topography, obliges a reassessment: 64

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Even though William Worcestre, born in Bristol in 1415, is now best remembered for his diaries and closely observed topographical descriptions – indeed, some concerning Bristol have already been cited – he worked for much of his life as a secretary and land agent for Sir John Fastolf. Nevertheless, as a result of his uncle’s connection with All Saints’, Worcestre furnishes valuable detail concerning the parish. Worcestre, pp. 14–15. Worcestre, pp. 56–7. For Botoner’s will, see ASB 3, Wills, 5 (pp. 13–14). The reconstruction of the south aisle, realised in the main in the 1430s, is discussed in more detail below in chapter 10.

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Botoner’s status and, hence, the respect commanded in death, emerges as of more significance than his will implies.68

Omissions When considering testators who requested burial within the church, we should note first that, although none specifically mentioned provision of an incised slab or of a brass both marking their site of burial and asking for prayers, parishioners of some standing would almost certainly have expected such a memorial.69 While failing to mention any funerary monument, wealthier parishioners proved rather more specific concerning the site in the church where they wished to be interred, since this might possess both spiritual and personal significance. Henry Chestre, who died in 1471, requested burial ‘in the middle of the nave of the church of All Hallows’, Bristol, near my seat in front of the high cross’.70 His widow, Alice, in 1485, left instructions that she was to be buried ‘in the parish church of All Hallows’, Bristol, next to the burial place of my husband’. Their son, John, in 1488, required burial ‘in the parish church of All Hallows’, Bristol, next to the tombs of my parents’.71 Indicating the desirability of a sacred location – ‘near the high cross’ – the Chestres’ choices also reveal the potency of familial association. In the same way, and as already noted, in 1457, some four years after Thomas Halleway’s interment, Richard Hatter requested burial ‘near the tombs of Thomas Halleway and Joan his wife’; similarly, in 1467, Agnes Fyler also asked to be buried ‘in the aforesaid church of All Hallows’ in the chapel of the Holy Cross there, next to the burial place of Thomas Halleway’.72 The Halleways’ tomb provided a point of reference for others, although Thomas’s orig68

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More information concerning the family, and confirming Botoner’s wealth, emerges elsewhere in Worcestre – summarised below, in chapter 8. Although none survives in All Saints’, fine brasses do survive for a number of late fifteenth-century Bristolians, such as Thomas Rowley in St John the Baptist’s parish, and Philip Mede and John Jay, both in St Mary Redcliffe: see W. Lack, H. M. Stuchfield and P. Whittemore, ed., The Monumental Brasses of Gloucestershire (London, 2005): Rowley, pp. 68 and 71; Mede, pp. 72 and 73; Jay, pp. 72 and 76. While Rowley, Mede and Jay enjoyed the same civic and commercial status as many of the parishioners of All Saints’ on whom the current discussion focuses, none specifically asked for any such memorial: Rowley simply asked to be buried next to the tomb of Walter Frampton (TNA, PCC, Prob 11/6, f. 278); Mede asked to be buried in St Mary Redcliffe next to the altar of St Stephen the Martyr (GOB, f. 204); and Jay requested burial in the choir of St Mary Redcliffe (GOB, f.188v). Presumably meaning: in the nave, in front of the rood, which would have been positioned on the central part of the screen that divided the nave from the chancel, and which would have stood at a height above the nave – so, in the centre of the nave, at its eastward end. ASB 3, Wills, 12, 13 and 14 (pp. 21–4). ASB 3, Wills, 9 and 7 respectively (pp. 18–19 and 15–17).

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inal instruction mentioned only the altar, specifying ‘in the church of All Hallows’, Bristol, near the altar of the Holy Cross there’. In fact, their chantry priest celebrated his daily Mass at the altar of Sts John the Baptist, John the Evangelist and Dunstan, on the nave side of the Cross altar, but close to the place of Thomas and Joan Halleway’s interment.73 John Thomas, vicar of All Saints’, also requested burial in a place of both personal and, as it were, clerical significance: ‘in the choir of the said church of All Hallows’’, the area that he had been most closely associated with in life and where, possibly, his successors might most easily keep him in mind. In a small church, shortage of floor space was inevitable given the numbers expecting a memorial. His sudden death in late December 1492, when still in office as mayor of Bristol, left Clement Wilteshire no time to make a new will; as a result, what survives is a document typical of those wills made prudently in advance – abstaining from detail, it expresses the principles guiding what was to be done for him, his soul and his dependents. He was prepared for disappointment: ‘My body is to be buried in the church of All Hallows’, Bristol, in the chapel of St Mary there, if a convenient place can be found; if not then in any place agreeable to the discretion of my executors and to the parishioners of the said church.’74 Space was presumably at a premium in this, the chapel on the north side of the nave, which was at this time becoming associated with the parish’s Jesus guild.75 But he trusted that ‘parishioners’ – presumably here meaning the managerial elite among the laity, otherwise known as the ‘masters’ – and his executors would sort out any resulting dilemma.76 Most testators relied on their executors’ discretion. Facing death they would have reached agreements, possibly in consultation with the parish priest or, perhaps, the ‘masters’ of the parish; thereafter they trusted their executors to put such agreements into practice.

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ASB 3, Wills, 8 (pp. 17–18). ASB 1, p. 14 provides somewhat more detail: he is said to have been buried by the Cross altar under the great stone joined to the ‘Greese’ [?]. It is something of puzzle why Halleway did not simply site his burial in relation to the altar of Sts John the Baptist, John the Evangelist and Dunstan – although there is a chance that, with the extension of the south aisle in the 1420s and 1430s, that this altar was perhaps new (capitalising on the new availability of space in the church) and its site and dedication were still being settled when he made his arrangements. The Halleways’ chantry receives detailed attention in chapter 7. ASB 3, Wills, 16, clause 1 (p. 25). Where Clement Wilteshire died suddenly in late December 1492, his last will and testament had been made in June 1488. This probably explains the abstraction of the burial clause, but even so he had clearly made a decision – that his body was to be buried in the chapel of St Mary – which would, presumably, have been acceptable in principle to the churchwardens serving in 1488. As discussed in chapter 4. The ‘masters’ of the parish, and their role in parish management, are discussed in more detail in chapter 9.

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So what would someone like John Leynell have expected, who simply specified burial in All Saints’ at the discretion of his executors?77 A plausible answer emerges if we consider the example of the Spicers: Thomas asked that ‘my body … be buried in the parish church of All Hallows’ if I happen to die in Bristol’, while also making a donation of 40s. to the nave ‘to have my burial there’; his widow Maud, however, requested buried in the church ‘under the same stone where Thomas Baker [sic], late my husband, was buried’.78 She had clearly acquired a site (presumably within the nave), marking this with a stone quite possibly distinguished with a memorial brass. Other testators, too, like John Leynell – or John Penke, Joan Abyngdon, and Richard and Joan Stevyn, all of whom simply requested burial in All Saints’ – had perhaps already reserved places or, more probably, relied on executrices and executors who would have acted much as Maud had for Thomas and for herself.79 Testators evidently trusted executrices, in particular, to implement requirements with minimal instruction. Widows, on the other hand, tended to leave wills couched in rather more detail, particularly concerning their devotional provision. They had no alternative but to trust others less apprised of their plans than they had been of their husbands’, and clearly felt obliged to spell out their wishes more fully.80

Commissions Will often include suggestive details. In 1495, John Snygge, having left instructions that his body was to be buried in All Saints’ (where he now lived, although apparently originating from Cardiff), then disclosed that he had rather more in mind. ‘The four orders of friars [are to] be at my burying, my month’s mind and my year’s mind, and every order to have for their labour after the rate as it has been of a laudable custom used in time passed in Bristol aforesaid.’81 As something of an outsider, he may either have been uncertain of the cost of this sequence of observances or, more probably, sought to alert his executrix and widow – possibly unfamiliar with such tariffs in Bristol – to offer a fair price for these services, where better-established executrices would not have needed such an admonition.82 But 77

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ASB 3, Wills, 15, clause 1 (p. 24). It may be noted that ASB 2, p.75 for 1473–74, records the payment of 6s. 8d. for his pit. ASB 3, Wills, 18, clause 1, and 19, clause 1 (pp. 30 and 33 respectively). Penke: ASB 3, Wills, 21, clause 1 (p. 40); Abyngdon: ASB 3, Wills, 23, clause 1 (p. 42); Richard Stevyns: ASB 3, Wills, 26, clause 1 (p. 46); Joan Stevyns, ASB 3, Wills 27, clause 1 (p. 46). A point also emphasised by Caroline Barron in her introduction to Medieval London Widows, ed. Barron and Sutton, pp. xxxi–xxxiii. ASB 3, Wills, 22, clause 3 (p. 41). Although he had served as a churchwarden in the parish in 1479–80, and his son, Thomas, and grandson, another John, did likewise (see ASB 2, pp. 369–70).

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if Snygge only mentioned the services that he wanted from the friars because he feared his executrix may not have been aware of their cost, bearing this principle in mind we may return to the provisions that Maud Spicer secured for herself and, at his earlier funeral, those for her husband. For Thomas, apart from his donation of 40s. to the nave of All Saints’, ‘to have my burial there’, mentioned only that the friars were to attend his exequies, funeral and month mind, for which he allocated 20s. to each prior and convent of friars in Bristol.83 Maud expanded on this. As well as expecting the prior and convent of each order of friars to attend her burial and month’s mind, she instructed her executors to ensure that the celebration of Placebo and Dirige in the evening and the Requiem Mass on the morrow should be conducted ‘by note honourably’, and continued daily for the month immediately following her decease. Four tapers, moreover, were ‘to burn over my hearse night and day within the aforesaid church of All Saints’ during the month aforesaid’.84 Her executors were to ‘find’ all this from her estate. Is it likely that Maud – who is revealed as comparatively meticulous, but dependent on her two sons as her executors, one of whom was relatively young – as her husband’s sole executrix, would have provided nothing similar for him? While Maud’s wishes appear detailed, they could well have been what ‘laudable custom’ implied for an affluent testator.85 In this context, the wills of Thomas and Joan Parnaunt complement those of Thomas and Maud Spicer. Both families shared much in the way of wealth and status, and Joan Parnaunt, like Maud Spicer, took ‘the ring and mantle’, living as a vowess after her husband’s death. At his death in 1508, Thomas Parnaunt requested a chantry of one year’s duration, at the cost of £6, to be celebrated immediately after the date of ‘this my present testament’, which may have meant that his wish was that it should start even before his death. He also commissioned an anniversary in All Saints’, costing 5s. annually, celebrated in return for a tenement ‘set in the market place of Bristol’ that he devised to the parish and churchwardens for the remainder of ‘its state and term’ (that is, the remainder of its lease).86 The first of these guaranteed him services during the period when his estate was being settled; in the longer term, he almost certainly expected his widow to extend this service, for the benefit of them both while she was alive, continuing it also after her death.87 The second arrangement was a generous property devise to his parish 83 84 85

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ASB 3, Wills, 18, clauses 2 and 6 (p. 30). ASB 3, Wills, 19, clauses 5 and 12 (p. 34). A slight reservation here is that she was a vowess, and may therefore have been more fastidious spiritually – but, still, it is hard to imagine that she would have neglected her husband’s interests, particularly insofar as funerals expressed status as much as making spiritual preparation. ASB 3, Wills, 28, clauses 5 and 6 (p. 49). This was standard practice among the wealthy, as emerges in the following chapter.

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from which he sought specific commendation in return. Thomas Parnaunt, like Thomas Spicer, devoted the rest of his will to providing for children, relatives and apprentices. He mentioned nothing in the way of funerary services. In this respect he, too, differed from his widow and sole executrix, Joan. In the absence of close family, when she made her will in 1532 Joan Parnaunt appointed Thomas Pacy as her executor, who was not only a ‘master’ of the parish of All Saints’ but had also attained eminence in Bristol more generally, serving as sheriff in 1516 and, significantly, as mayor (for the first time) in 1531–32.88 He had, as noted, started his career closely associated with Thomas and Maud Spicer, even serving as one of the supervisors of Maud’s will. In her will, Joan Parnaunt specifically requested that a chantry be celebrated in All Saints’ for three years immediately after her death to the profit her soul and her husband’s soul, as well as all Christian souls. In addition, she devised a tenement in Broad Street to All Saints’ intended to provide for an anniversary at a cost of 10s. annually.89 In each case then, Joan either doubled or trebled what her husband had set aside for similar services, and devised property to the parish in perpetuity, ensuring that this would benefit her late husband and herself. Again, since she was obliged to rely on an executor other than a close family member, she set out her funeral requirements with relative precision. She first specified expenditure. Pacy was to ‘bestow upon my funeral expenses in the time of my burying, £12, at my month’s mind, £10, and at my year’s mind, £10’, from which sums the following requirements were presumably to be found.90 She left instructions that each of the four orders of friars ‘be present at my burial, month’s mind and year’s mind, and every order is to have at each such time 3s. 4d’. She specified, in addition, that ‘three trentals of Masses are to be said for my soul in the church of All Hallows’: that is to say, one trental on the day that it shall please God to call me out of this world, another at my month’s mind, and the third at my year’s mind’. The sum set aside for her funeral was also to procure ‘six poor, honest women [who] are to go by my hearse, every one of them having in their hands a taper of wax weighing ½ lb. And every of the same poor women is to have for their labours a petticoat, a kerchief, a buckram apron, 4d. in money, and their dinner.’ Further ‘twelve poor men at my funeral observance shall bear twelve torches and every of them to have for their labours a gown of new white frice, 2d. in money and their dinner’. 88

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As to immediate family, Joan mentions a brother John Kemmys, also a cousin and godson, Thomas Kemmys, and a nephew David Kemmys; she may well have felt a closer bond to Thomas Pacy, however, whose son, Christopher, she names as a godson. Overall, it is noteworthy that Pacy should have served either as executor or supervisor for both of the parish’s known vowesses. ASB 3, Wills, 29, clauses 3 and 9 (pp. 51–2). ASB 3, Wills, 29, clause 18 (p. 53), and the other specifications follow this.

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Having issued instructions, Joan Parnaunt costed them. For instance, the sum of £3 was to ‘be bestowed on cloth of white for gowns for the twelve poor men that shall bear torches, and for petticoats for six poor women that shall bear tapers at my funeral obsequies’ … ‘so that I will that the six women shall have their petticoats of fine white cotton’. The sums she set aside to pay for her post obit observances also funded almsgiving: she instructed ‘that there be distributed at the time of my burying among poor people in money £4, at my month’s mind in money, £4, and at my year’s mind in money, £4’. While generous, the sums set aside – £12 for the funeral, and £10 each for the month and year’s mind – were not beyond the means of the other testators who concern us here. Although wealthier parishioners probably did share a desire for ‘a good send-off’, not all were specific. Widows, however, usually gave details where their husbands had not done so. It is hard to believe that Joan Parnaunt would have made no attempt to match her husband’s services with what she clearly expected and, similarly, that Maud Spicer, who did spell out some of what she wanted at her funeral, along with Alice Chestre and Joan Wilteshire who mentioned much less, would not have managed something similar both for their husbands’ benefit and their own. All these widows could have funded provisions like those undertaken by Joan Parnaunt but, with close family members as their executors, details are in short supply. Thomas Halleway, in the will that he made in 1449, nevertheless provided some of the details of the observances he required at, and after, his death.91 He asked for ‘six chaplains attending my exequies on the day of my burial and also at my Dirige and Mass kept solemnly cum nota every day in the same church for the four weeks after my death, that is to say to each of them 6s. 8d.’ He added that ‘the parish clerk of the said church daily attending each solemn Dirige and Mass for the said duration, and doing all that properly falls to him in that place’ should also be paid 6s. 8d. for the four weeks, clearly hinting at what was provided on each day of the trental. The remaining provisions in his will included bequests of £1 each to the fraternity of the chapel of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Avon Bridge and the fraternity of St Katherine in the parish church of Holy Cross Temple.92 To the fraternity of St John the Baptist in Bristol he bequeathed 6s. 8d., and the same to each convent of friars in the 91

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ASB 3, Wills, 8 (pp. 17–18), which, note, seems not to have been formally registered but is now preserved, as a preliminary version, in the All Saints’ Deed collection; senility would presumably have prevented him from making a deathbed will – see below, chapter 7. It may also be noted that the specifications he made for bequests and observances at the time of his funeral take up the major part of this testament. The chapel of the Assumption on Bristol Bridge was closely associated with Bristol’s ruling elite.

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town.93 Thereafter he allocated £3 6s. 8d. to each of three sons, Thomas, John and William – all priests, apparently;94 and he also bequeathed £1 to his servant, John Shoppe. If the bequests to the mother church, and for tithes forgotten and to the fabric of the church are added, his testamentary expenditure comes to £20 6s. 8d., not so extravagant for a former mayor of Bristol. Halleway’s provisions procured specific services at death. He bequeathed the residue of his estate to his widow, Joan, and appointed her his sole executrix, exhorting her to dispose of his remaining estate for the good of his soul. This she did: in the absence of any testamentary reference, Joan established a perpetual chantry in All Saints’ for the benefit of them both.95 The Halleways’ case demonstrates that, were we to rely solely on wills, our impressions of parishioners’ spiritual provisions would be seriously deficient. As emerged in Botoner’s case, executors had considerable scope for discretion. Testators may appear to have been generous enough where their parish, and other elements of the Church, were concerned; but this is probably only part of the story. When additional information does survive, the picture is both more complex but, in other respects, also reasonably uniform: the wealthy wanted services and, if not always specifying them, they relied on their executors’ discretion.

Expectations Family concerns shaped testators’ expressed priorities. Neither Clement Wilteshire nor Thomas Spicer requested much by way of spiritual services in their wills: both had several children below the age of majority and, as a result, the bulk of their explicit provision centred on these dependants.96 As a result, while some wealthy testators seem to have satisfied themselves with little in the way of pious provision, allowing their children to take obvious precedence, they left it to others to make provision for them. In sum, the common reliance on executors, and on their discretion, restricts the scope and detail of some wills; but the detail employed in others – particularly those made by widows – reveals what kind of provisions the wealthy deemed suitable immediately 93

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Presumably, the fraternity of St John the Baptist to which he refers was the tailors’ fraternity situated in St Ewen’s parish. In his will, each son is titled ‘Sir’, which usually denotes a priest; and the situation is further explored by E. G. C. Atchley, ‘The Halleway Chauntry at the Parish Church of All Saints’, Bristol’, in TBGAS, 24 (1901), pp. 74–135, at p. 92. In 1453, William Coder, mayor of Bristol, appointed the eldest son, Thomas, as the first chaplain of the Halleways’ chantry; see ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 93–4. As discussed more fully below, in chapter 7; attention is also drawn to the relevant ordinances that helped to establish the Halleways’ chantry, and to the accounts reflective of its fortunes, printed in full in ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 71–356. ASB 3, Wills, 16 and 18 (respectively pp. 25–8 and 30–33).

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following death, and also in the critical period shortly thereafter. Similarly, only a few wills convey comprehensive instructions for long-term services and, certainly, in a mercantile community the true reckoning of estates was often delayed, either because cargoes were often still sea-borne or because assets had to be realised. Where testators specified a one-year chantry, executors often extended services appropriately once the true residue of the estate had been established.97 All this was, of course, implicit in the clause with which wills almost invariably concluded, entrusting the executor with the residue of the estate, on the understanding that he or she devote it to ‘pious uses’ to benefit the testator’s soul. This common exhortation must be taken seriously: executors frequently provided a great deal more than the testators’ written instructions suggest.98 Last wills and testaments effectively employed a short-hand: conventions obviated any need to spell out everything. Pre-arrangement, or trusting an executor’s discretion (particularly when either a surviving spouse or a son or daughter discharged this task), evidently produced perfectly acceptable provision often with a minimum of specific instruction. Known codes of practice and the presence of other parishioners, including the parish priest, meant that ‘discretion’ never lacked guidance. Wealthy and pious men like Thomas Spicer or Clement Wilteshire, having made provision for their heirs, designated their widow as executrix and exhibited, perhaps, some slight hint of anxiety. Thomas exhorted the Holy Spirit to illumine Maud’s conscience, while Clement relied on his son-in-law, John Pernand, whom he appointed as co-executor with Joan Batyn.99 Silence about pious provision in these wills simply shifted the burden of choice, or the obligation of fulfilling what had previously been agreed, onto executors; it need not indicate any lack of such provision.

‘God have mercy on their souls’: The conventions of commendation Preparing for the critical moment of death, most testators interwove a statement of belief, first, with an admission of their spiritual deficiencies but, second, guaranteed themselves commendation as the result of legacies to appropriate 97

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For the ways in which executors (albeit usually widows and sons) responded, see C, Burgess, ‘Chantries in the Parish, or “Through the Looking-Glass”’, in Medieval Chantry, pp. 100–129, at pp. 111–23. An observation further reinforced by the analysis of widows’ provisions in the following chapter. ASB 3, Wills, 18, clause 24 (p. 32) and 16, clause 27 (p. 27); as argued earlier in this chapter, John Pernand may very possibly have become vicar of the neighbouring parish.

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individuals and institutions. Although choices might vary, all testators acted with a fair degree of consistency: in the face of death, they co-ordinated assistance to knit themselves firmly into the different intercessory registers of the Church.100

Commendation and interment Testators invariably began with an appeal to the Church Triumphant, invoking the name of God and, once they had identified themselves, commending their soul to Him and to the care of the most powerful intercessors, the Blessed Virgin and the company of the saints. Testators contemplated whither they were bound with a certain confidence, although they also knew that they stood in need of both intercession and grace; the provisions in their wills would, of course, satisfy some of the deficit in this respect. Nevertheless, the phraseology of the preambles in the All Saints’ wills differs slightly, pinpointing the problem of how far scribal formulae filtered personal wishes in the formal process of recording the will.101 Agnes Fyler, for instance, in 1467, mentioned only God Almighty, omitting the Blessed Virgin and the saints.102 Mother and son, Alice and John Chestre, in 1485 and 1488 respectively, employed an identical and slightly more economic commendation than most.103 A group of testators from the early years of the sixteenth century, all of whose wills are preserved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury registers, including Paul James, Richard and Joan Stevyns, David Philippe and Humfrey Hervy, contain no reference to the Blessed Virgin and the saints.104 These, though, appear as idiosyncrasies, best explained by scribal practice or transmission; overall, the concerns of all the testators appear unimpeachably orthodox. Widows, however, emerge as somewhat more full-blooded 100

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Although, during the course of the Reformation, wills’ preambles change profoundly – seeing the drama of Catholic judgement replaced by the typically triumphal statements of a sure salvation either as a result of faith or of election – it should be noted that pre-Reformation wills, although marshalling many more intercessory agents, were essentially confident. Catholic testators did not countenance failure: assuming salvation, they expedited the process by deftly ensuring the requisite corporate effort. For a general discussion of the problems implicit in the use of will preambles, see Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars, chapter 15; also J. D. Alsop, ‘Religious Preambles in Early Modern English Wills as Formulae’, JEH, 40 (1989), pp. 19–27. For examples of scribal standardisation, see C. Burgess, ‘London Parishioners in Times of Change: St Andrew Hubbard, Eastcheap, c. 1450–1570’, JEH, 53 (2002), pp. 42–3 and notes. ASB 3, Wills, 7 (p. 15). ASB 3, Wills, 13 and 14 (pp. 22–4): they say ‘I give and bequeath my soul to Almighty God and to the Blessed Mary and to all the saints’ as opposed to, for instance, John Leynell’s more typical ‘I leave my soul to Almighty God, my saviour, and to His mother Blessed Mary Virgin and to all His saints’. Respectively ASB 3, Wills, 25 (p. 45), 26 and 27 (pp. 45–8), 30 (pp. 54–5) and 32 (p. 57) for the relevant preambles.

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in their devotional expression. Joan Abyndon, in 1499, commended her soul to ‘Almighty God, my creator and redeemer, and to his blessed mother, Our Lady Saint Mary’.105 The two early sixteenth-century vowesses, Maud Spicer and Joan Parnaunt, both described the Virgin in more than usual detail, respectively as ‘Our Lady Saint Mary, Virgin, Queen of Pity and Mother of Mercy’ and ‘Our Blessed Lady, His mother, most pure Virgin’.106 Most striking, overall, is the confidence with which testators associated themselves first and foremost with the Church Triumphant; and, hard on the heels of this, they laid claim to a variety of benefits by orchestrating schemes of intercessory activity. Testators’ prime concern was the disposal of their bodies and, almost invariably, they dealt with their corpse immediately after commending their soul to God and the saints. By contrast with some post-Reformation wills, where instructions for burial, if mentioned at all, may be dismissive and placed anywhere in the document, Catholic wills ordinarily treat commendation and disposition in unison. Having committed the soul to God, usually via intercessors, testators – as previously discussed – issued instructions for the interment of their remains in God’s special ground, that is, in consecrated soil, often in close proximity to a sacred fitting or feature. Indeed, these actions emerge as complementary parts of the same process entrusting both soul and body to God.107 Moreover, positioning their corpse close to an altar not only suggests that wealthier parishioners sought to benefit from a physical association with the holy but also meant that living parishioners would see the engraved stone or brass, prompting both memory and prayers in the process. So, while placing the soul in the ultimate care of the Church Triumphant, testators sought to ensure that corporeal remains might themselves reap extra grace by focusing the petitions of the Church Militant. Parishioners generally maintained a close association with their parish in death, marshalling services from fellow parishioners. Other options were on offer. A few (although none of the parishioners whose wills survive from All Saints’) chose to be associated with monasteries or with friaries.108 Moreover, as noted, one resident of All Saints’, David Philippe, a mercer who died in 1509, chose to be buried in the ASB 3, Wills 23 (p. 42). ASB 3, Wills 19 (p. 33) and 29 (p. 51). 107 In some mid and later sixteenth-century wills, a lack of concern for the corpse seemingly implies an indifference to the earthly life and, by contrast, emphasises the testator’s worthiness for the heavenly realm. Although at first sight appearing utterly different, pre- and post-Reformation testamentary strategies achieve much the same by diametrically opposite techniques; in both, testators contrive to imply that their soul is in God’s keeping. 108 Of the few Bristolians known to have chosen burial in a church other than their own parish, much the greater number of them, and mostly in the first half of the fifteenth century, chose interment in the house of Carmelite Friars – including Philip Wynter 105 106

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chapel of St John in the neighbouring parish church of St Nicholas. Quite what the attraction was in this case remains unclear – he may perhaps once have lived in that parish, or possibly had close associates there – but, nevertheless, he also specifically sought to interweave himself with, and benefit from, the ministrations provided in All Saints’.109 Testators invariably secured the prayers of the parish clergy in the first few clauses of the will, either by a payment to the incumbent, or to ‘the high altar’, for ‘tithes forgotten and offerings negligently withheld’.110 The simple gift of money or, occasionally, of a vessel such as a nutte (that is, a cup), or of vestments or a gown, was of itself sufficient to oblige the parish clergy to pray for the dead parishioner and now-benefactor. Such gifts evidently varied with the wealth of the parishioner;111 but, far from representing a serious effort to reckon tithe still owing, such phraseology may best be approached as a formality.112 While indicating a willingness to make redress, its real intention seems to have been to establish that, during life, the testator had contributed towards the parish clergy

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of St Thomas’s parish in 1407 (GOB, fos 107v–108), Thomas Gloucestre of St Nicholas’s parish in 1407 (and his daughter Margaret chose to be buried ‘next to the tomb of my late father’ there in 1420 (GOB, fos 106–106v and GOB, 140–140v)), and John Sutton of St James’s parish in 1415 (GOB, fos 126–127). Although a parishioner of St Werburgh’s, in 1411, Isabel, the widow of Nicholas Barstaple (who had built the alms-house of Holy Trinity next to Lafford’s Gate), requested burial in the chapel of Holy Trinity next to Lafford’s Gate, ‘before the image of the Holy Trinty in that place’. Her bequest of £3 to William Hawvylle, rector of St Werburgh’s, was to be paid only on condition that he did not hinder ‘the direct conveyance of my body to the aforesaid chapel’ (GOB, fos 114v–115). In the very early sixteenth century, in 1504, John Hawkes, of St Leonard’s parish and twice mayor of Bristol – and who, as intimated, had links with All Saints’, and would play a significant part in parish affairs – chose to be buried in the monastery of St Augustine’s ‘in the same grave in which his wife, Elizabeth was buried, on the south side of the choir’, ASB 3, Deeds, HS B 7 (p. 391). ASB 3, Wills, 30 (pp. 54–5); he donated 20s. to the parish church, and left the vicar, Richard Bromfeld, his ‘best violet gown in greyne, lined with black camlet. Quite why some testators nominated priests and others the high altar is not clear, unless a bequest to the high altar was intended to ensure a response in prayer by the body of the parish clergy rather than just the incumbent. R. B. Dinn, ‘Popular Religion in Late Medieval Bury St Edmunds’, unpublished PhD thesis, University of Manchester, 1990, pp. 63–6 has, for instance, argued for a close correlation between the sums set aside for tithes forgotten and personal subsidy assessments, but whether this was invariably the case must still be a matter for debate. For ‘nutte’ and its fuller meaning, see glossary. Wealthy testators often contented themselves with modest wills, undermining attempts to ‘read’ rank or status from the generosity of payments – particularly if subsidy assessments are unforthcoming. Among the All Saints’ parishioners, both Thomas Halleway and Henry Chestre were rich but each left simple wills, setting aside donations for forgotten tithes of a mark and half a mark, respectively. Such bequests offer some indication of wealth, but do not permit a ‘fine-tuned’ impression.

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and should therefore now benefit from reciprocal (and possibly commensurate) service. Testators made token payments to spur their parish priest into doing his duty at the time of the parishioner’s greatest need. Some were more explicit about the precise services they expected. In addition to commemorative prayer at the time of death and burial, they required longer-term, formal commemoration; to this end, some indeed specified the inscription of their name on the bede-roll. This ensured inclusion in the roll-call of parish benefactors regularly broadcast at Sunday High Mass and at other specified times, eliciting the prayers of clergy and parishioners alike.113 Clement Wilteshire’s wishes bear re-examination: he bequeathed to John Thomas 40s. ‘for tithes forgotten’ and, in addition, a gown of scarlet ‘formerly belonging to William Coder, to pray for my soul and for the soul of my wife, Margery, and the souls of our parents, brothers, sisters kin and friends, on every Sunday among the other dead of the parish of All Hallows’ according to the usage there’.114 In addition, many testators made similar, token payments to the ‘mother church’ – that is, the cathedral church at Worcester. This payment, smaller than that to the parish clergy (varying usually between a shilling and 3s. 4d.), marked the parishioner as a member of the wider pastoral corporation of the diocese, to which he or she had presumably also contributed during life. Such sums may have been small, but most took the trouble to include this payment, availing themselves of the merit accessible through their diocesan ‘mother’.115

Intercession Testators also obliged fellow parishioners to pray for them.116 This they accomplished by making bequests to ‘the body of the parish’ or, more specifically, to ‘the fabric’ or the ‘nave of the church’; the vicar, John Thomas, somewhat differently,

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On bede-rolls, see Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars, pp. 327–37 (and particularly pp. 334–5). See also below, chapter 6, for more detailed discussion. ASB 3, Wills, 16, clauses 4 and 5 (p. 26). Plausibly parishes such as All Saints’ kept two bede-rolls, one for use at High Mass on Sundays and one for the use at the annual General Mind. All Saints’ celebrated the latter on the first Sunday in Lent, as discussed in chapter 6. Donations to the ‘mother church’ emerge as much more common in Bristol wills than any equivalent payments to St Paul’s in London wills; perhaps the proximity of St Paul’s for Londoners meant that they would have been much more likely to have made offerings in everyday life, obviating any need to make an essentially compensatory payment in their wills. Of course, testators also mentioned other beneficiaries, sometimes isolating categories from the deserving poor (such as poor maidens, for instance, who needed help amassing a dowry), and sometimes they supported structural projects (such as the upkeep of roads and bridges). Most probably spent more on their parish, which is what this sub-section concentrates on.

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made a bequest to be spent ‘in repair of the tenements belonging to the church’.117 These payments usually exceeded those to the cathedral or to the parish clergy, and by some margin. Thomas Spicer, for instance, bequeathed John Thomas 20s. ‘in recompense for tithes and offerings forgotten by me or inadequately reckoned’, indicating that this should also guarantee his inclusion on the parish bede-roll every Sunday; but, as we have seen, he also left 40s. to the fabric of the nave, ‘for his burial there’.118 His widow, Maud, a decade or more later, bequeathed ‘a little standing cup of silver and a cover’ to the current vicar, Richard Bromfeld, ‘for tithes withheld or withdrawn’. But to the ‘body of All Saints’’ she donated a chalice, cruets, candlesticks, a pax, a censer and two sets of vestments.119 John Snygge, very specifically, bequeathed ‘to the parish of All Saints’ £5 in ready money towards the building of the steeple’, which sum was to ‘rest in the hands of his son until the said steeple was begun’.120 Good works like these merited prayer but, given that the responsibility both for maintaining church fabric and providing clergy with the requisite equipment was borne by parishioners, they also either reduced the sums that surviving neighbours would have to raise or permitted them to discharge the duties incumbent upon them more flamboyantly. Such donations merited reciprocal prayer from beneficiaries – that is, the continuing community of living co-parishioners. Just as payments to the clergy worked as a reminder, signalling testators’ past support, so too subventions to the ‘body of the parish’ solicited intercession by recalling the (possibly protracted) contributions that parishioners now deceased had made. In these circumstances, the regular recitation of the names of dead benefactors from the bede-roll would remind those still living of their duties. Payments to the clergy, to the diocese and to co-parishioners all obliged the Church Militant, in its different manifestations, to recommend the souls 117

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ASB 3, Wills, 24, clause 2 (p. 43). Just as synodal legislation in the thirteenth century had assigned the responsibility for nave and tower to the laity, so it assigned that for the chancel to the clergy (whose commitment to the church discussed below, in chapter 8). In these circumstances, it is striking that a clergyman chose to donate to the repair of the parish’s tenements – although in working for the general benefit, John Thomas plausibly obliged the body of parishioners to pray for him. ASB 3, Wills, 18, clauses 4 and 2 respectively (p. 30). ASB 3, Wills 19, clauses 3 and 4 respectively (p. 34). The equipment would seem to have been for her household priest who, after her death, became her chantry chaplain; he would have continued to use this for the duration of the chantry, after which it reverted to the parish – an arrangement discussed more fully in the following chapter. ASB 3, Wills 22, clause 9 (p. 41). An addendum in the benefaction list, ASB 1, p. 21, reveals Snygge’s son as dilatory in paying this sum, since the churchwardens only received it in 1525 (and then only in piecemeal fashion, see ASB 2, pp. 267, 280, 320). The problem, though, is what ‘building the steeple’ means; it is not clear that it was ever, in practice, ‘rebuilt’ – payment seems to have followed extensive repairs carried out in 1523–4 (ASB 2, pp. 294–5).

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of deceased parishioners to the Church Triumphant. Testators called in their debts, harnessing the prayers and intercession of the living, both clerical and lay. If the first few clauses of the will set this in motion, subsequent bequests and arrangements (usually, although not always, placed towards the beginning of the will) guaranteed similar, if more varied, services. Testators often obliged family members, such as widows or children, to orchestrate commemoration and therefore benefit the soul of either spouse or progenitor and benefactor.121 The widow, who had usually inherited the residue (and quite possibly the bulk) of a late husband’s estate and was bound by the exhortation to dispose of this for the testator’s eternal profit, might do much for the welfare of his soul – and her own, into the bargain. Joan Wilteshire, widowed twice, provided for the souls of both husbands when she died in 1505 or 1506.122 She chose burial in the parish of St Mary le Port, where she had lived with the first of them, John Batyn. But just as she remembered All Saints’, where Clement, her second husband, had lived, honouring the obligations implicit in his legacy, she solicitously provided services for both husbands in each of the parishes with which she had been associated through them. Her executors were to find from ‘her goods’ a twenty-year anniversary in St Mary le Port, for her soul and the souls of Clement and John; in addition, they were to use ‘her goods’ for a four-year anniversary in All Saints’, for her soul and those of Clement and John. Widows took obligations seriously.123 Moreover, ‘heirs of the body’ were normally required to devote at least some of their inheritance to benefit their parents’ souls. As heirs and beneficiaries, executors frequently had to ‘find’ services for parents’ benefit, such as sustaining the services of a chantry priest for a duration. Much later in life, testators still discharged obligations to parents: Clement Wilteshire took care, when listing those to be included on the parish bede-roll, to nominate parents and kin in addition to himself.124 In 1405, Robert Crosman, too, although a parishioner of Holy Trinity, chose burial beside the bodies of his parents in All Saints’ and, while not neglecting the former, sited most of his services in the latter, and named both his parents as beneficiaries of the services he established.125 In short, testators were often careful to remember ‘those to whom they were bound’ – that is, their benefactors.126

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In addition to discussion (as noted) in Burgess, ‘Chantries in the Parish’, in Medieval Chantry, also see chapter 6 below. ASB 3, Wills, 17 (pp. 28–30) – an example analysed in more depth below, in chapter 6. As emerges with greater clarity in the following chapter. ASB 3, Wills, 16, clause 3 (pp. 25–6). ASB 3, Wills, 3, clauses 5–11 (pp. 11–12). Themes pursued in more detail in Burgess, ‘Chantries in the Parish’, in Medieval Chantry, at pp. 113–15.

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The poor and the friars The poor constituted the remaining rank of living intercessory agents invariably and explicitly engaged by testators. Those who prospered in this world remained mindful of the admonitions of the Gospel, and they explicitly procured the prayers and intercession of the honest poor. For, just as Christ and his apostles had been beggars, so the honest poor were conceived as being close to Christ with the result that their prayers were regarded as especially efficacious.127 Among the wealthy, moreover, almsgiving directly addressed the spiritual quandary that accompanied worldly success by signifying penitence, the all-important preliminary for forgiveness. It is likely that the poor were among the main beneficiaries of the contemporary urge to be remembered: virtually every testator provided for them. And, just as other intercessory groups divided into clerical and lay, so, too, the needy poor might include both the destitute and infirm within the world, as well as Christ’s own beggars, the friars. Testators exhibited liberality to both. In addition to charity in life, which may well have been common and generous, many proposed that the residues of their estates – unspecified but plausibly considerable – should benefit the poor. John Leynell, in 1473, instructed his executors to devote ‘his true residue … for the safety of his soul in alms and works of charity’ according to their discretion. Some gave without specifying a return. Alice Chestre devised property to her son, John, who was to distribute the rents accruing to the needy poor in equal portions four times in every year.128 In 1493, John Penke gave 3s. 4d. to every alms-house in Bristol, of which there must have been in excess of a dozen by this period.129 Joan Wilteshire, more modestly, gave ‘to each house of the four houses of poor and impotent beggars in Bristol 6s. 8d. to be divided into equal portions’ and, in addition, gave ‘to poor lepers within the house of St Katherine in the suburbs of Bristol, 6s. 8d. to be divided equally among them’. She also bequeathed 20s. in bread to the needy poor prisoners of Newgate Gaol in Bristol, instructing her executors to decide which prisoners were most needy and, every week, to distribute 12d. to them in halfpenny loaves of white bread.130 Joan Stevyns, similarly, bequeathed 10s. to the 127

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Manning, The People’s Faith, chapter 10 provides a useful appraisal of the spiritual purpose of charity; but for comprehensive discussion of pre-Reformation almsgiving – by individuals, in parishes, or in institutions such as hospitals and alms-houses – and analysis of underlying motives, see McIntosh, Poor Relief in England, chapters 1–4. ASB 3, Wills, 13, clause 11 (p. 23). ASB 3, Wills, 21, clause 6 (p. 40). Somewhere in the region of twenty alms-houses survived the Reformation, and these are listed in AHT Bristol, Appendix II – a total to be taken as a minimum when estimating quite how many alms-houses had, in fact, been founded in the town. ASB 3, Wills, 17, clauses 10–12 (p. 29).

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prisoners of Newgate, with ‘6d. being paid weekly in bread’.131 Women often gave clothes. Agnes Fyler, for instance, left instructions that camisiis and smocks to the value of 24s. be distributed among poor men and women.132 Constance Hatter left instructions, immediately following her bequest of her best gowns, girdles and beads to her daughter-in-law, that ‘as to my other wears, gear and clothes [they are] to be given to poor women there as most need it’.133 But men, too, did likewise, as in the case of John Snygge, who bequeathed ‘to twelve poor men, to every of them a gown’.134 Testamentary charity was nevertheless most commonly directed to procure specified services, and particularly attendance at and participation in burial services. Maud Spicer bequeathed the sum of £3 to be distributed to the needy poor on the day of her funeral, and apportioned another £3 at her month’s mind.135 She may well have expected the recipients both to attend the church for the relevant services and also to pray for her soul in the month following interment. With such examples in mind, the frequency of such provision, some specific, others less so, but often allocating appreciable sums, reveals how the attendance of the poor at funerals was both conventional and symbolically charged. The poor, too, were ordinarily to attend and participate at month’s mind and at year’s mind (the latter often also being repeated for years thereafter, becoming an anniversary).136 The latter replicated the funeral service, and, ordinarily, as much money was devoted to the poor – that they should attend the service and pray for the deceased – as was spent on securing the liturgical observances that constituted an anniversary.137 Payment was generally in kind, specifically in loaves of bread. In the instructions that Joan Wilteshire left for her anniversaries, one in St Mary le Port and the other in All Saints’, where the first was concerned she simply specified that thirty-six of the most needy paupers should attend, ‘who were each to receive a half-penny loaf of white bread’.138 At the service in All Saints’, however, ‘during the week of the anniversary, twenty-four paupers – men, women and children – attending the anniversary, were daily to have a half-penny loaf each’, probably not white bread in this instance.139 131 132 133 134 135 136 137

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ASB 3, Wills, 27, clause 8 (p. 47). ASB 3, Wills, 7, clause 14 (p. 16) – taking camisiis to mean underwear, or shirts. ASB 3, Wills, 10, clause 7 (p. 20). ASB 3, Wills, 22, clause 11 (p. 41). ASB 3, Wills, 19, clause 7 (p. 34). See glossary, sv Services. Discussed at more length in C. Burgess, ‘A Service for the Dead: The Form and Function of the Anniversary in Late Medieval Bristol’, TBGAS, 105 (1987), pp. 183–211; and also below, in chapter 6. ASB 3, Wills, 17, clauses 6 and 13 (pp. 28–9). Having set aside 40s. for four anniversaries, presumably intending that 10s. be spent

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Many testators also set store on securing the intercession of the mendicants. As before, some specified no return. Thomas Halleway, for instance, simply gave the sum of 6s. 8d. to each convent of the four orders of mendicant friars in Bristol; similarly, Thomas Penke bequeathed £3 to the four orders of friars.140 But most testators specified reciprocal services, and expected friars to attend funeral services.141 So, for instance, Thomas Spicer bequeathed ‘to the prior and convent of each order of mendicant friars in Bristol 20s. to attend my exequies, funeral and month’s mind’.142 Richard Hatter set aside 20s. for the Franciscans to attend his Dirige and Requiem, praying especially for his soul; every other order was to attend in the same manner, praying especially for his soul, and receiving 13s. 4d. for their pains.143 Joan Parnaunt specifically requested the friars’ presence at her burial, her month mind and her year’s mind, paying each order 3s. 4d. for attending each service.144 Friars maintained a prominent position in Bristolians’ spiritual armoury, with their presence and intercession clearly valued in the services that followed death. The rituals of death ensured that each ‘tier’ of intercessors – clergy, co-parishioners, family members and the poor – should combine to intercede in the period of, and immediately following, decease and interment. On the eve of the funeral, the exequies, that is the offices of Placebo and Dirige, were said or sung in the presence of the corpse laid out on the bier, and, on the morrow, the Requiem Mass celebrated immediately preceding interment; these would obviously have involved both clergy and the family. In addition, poor men and women, often specially attired and bearing candles, attended the corpse; and the clerical poor were also present, praying and possibly assisting with the services. For wealthier testators, as noted, this liturgy was repeated at the month’s mind and also the year’s mind. The latter might also be repeated either for a specified number of years or in perpetuity, replicating funeral proceedings to mark

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annually, her payments to vicar, priests attending and to the parish clerk, would appear to have amounted to 4s. annually; this left 6s. for the poor – so she seems to have planned for a ‘six-day week’, if the sum of 1s. was spent on bread for the poor every day. One wonders whether the doles of bread were made on the six days following the Mass of Requiem. ASB 3, Wills, 8, clause 13 (p. 18) and 21, clause 5 (p. 40) respectively. See C. Burgess, ‘Friars and the Parish in Late Medieval Bristol: Observations and Possibilities’, in The Friars in Medieval Britain, ed. N. Rogers, Harlaxton Medieval Studies, 19 (2010), pp. 73–96: testators in the earlier part of the century had been content to pay for the friars to celebrate in their convents but, in the later fifteenth century, friars more commonly attended funerary services in parish churches. ASB 3, Wills, 18, clause 6 (p. 30). ASB 3, Wills, 9, clauses 8 and 9 (p. 18). ASB 3, Wills, 29, clause 19 (p. 53).

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the anniversary. The vicar led these services, assisted by five or six priests.145 The parish clerk (or, more probably, by the later fifteenth century, his deputy, the suffragan) rang the church bells, and the healthy payment that this task commanded suggests an extended duration of peals. The town crier, too, went abroad in the town, ringing a hand-bell, broadcasting the name and needs of the deceased and exhorting prayers. Having been summoned, the poor turned out in number to pray, sustained and rewarded by doles of bread. Liturgy and clerical prayers were thus mingled with the prayers of co-parishioners and those of the inhabitants of the wider town, who had been alerted by bell-ringing and explicit exhortation, all of which rested on the specially secured prayers of the town’s poor.

Securing grace The provisions employed by parishioners – and those outlined here were, in the main, triggered by death – proved simple in intent while complex in deployment. Parishioners expected to be saved but sought to expedite the progress of their soul through Purgatory by setting in motion tested procedures, entrusting themselves to the care of the Church Triumphant. They availed themselves of the grace of God by commissioning sacramental services, particularly the celebration of the Mass; they also unleashed the prayerful commendation and petitioning of the Church Militant by clergy, co-parishioners and the poor. Those preparing for death also remembered the dead and assiduously courted their assistance: thus they enjoined the Church Suffering, the souls that were presently in Purgatory – who, like the poor, seem to have been conceived as relatively close to Christ – to play a reciprocal part.146 Post obit services were almost always to be offered, in addition to the founder and any nominees, for ‘all the faithful departed’ – Agnes Fyler, Alice Chestre, Clement Wilteshire and Joan Wilteshire, all employed the phrase when

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Sometimes more priests might attend; for instance, ten priests (paid 4d. apiece) often attended the Halleway anniversary in the late 1480s and the 1490s – see ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 172–215. An idea Thomas More expressed powerfully, speaking (as it were) on behalf of the souls in Purgatory: ‘Our prayer must need be profitable, for we stand sure of his [God’s] grace. And our prayer is for you so fervent that you can nowhere find any such affection upon earth. And therefore since we lie so sore in pains and have in our great necessity so great need of your help and that you may so well do it whereby shall also rebound upon your self an inestimable profit: let never any slothful oblivion race us out of your remembrance, or malicious enemy of ours cause you to be careless of us … . Remember what kin you and we be together’ – from his ‘The Supplication of Souls’, in The Complete Works of St Thomas More, ed. F. Manley, G. Marc’Hadour &c, vol. 7 (New Haven and London, 1990), pp. 227–8.

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commissioning services.147 Testators commonly disposed of estate residues, too, to benefit themselves and ‘all the faithful departed’. Clergy were particularly explicit. John Thomas bequeathed a breviary to chaplain, William Wood, on condition that the recipient should pray for ‘my soul and the soul of Thomas Marshall who first ordained this book and for the souls of all the faithful departed’.148 Moreover, the All Saints’ Church Book which, as subsequent discussion will cover in more detail, was first commissioned by Maurice Hardwick and in part written by John Thomas, clearly spells out the duty of all parishioners to remember their predecessors and benefactors: ‘That they shall not be forgotten but had in remembrance and be prayed for that be now and all that be to come … That after this transitory life you may be had in the number of good doers rehearsed by name and in the special prayers of Christian people in time coming.’ Indeed, the parish celebrated a ‘general mind’, in effect, a special anniversary for ‘all good doers’ starting on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday.149 The parishioners took pains to remind themselves of their obligations to their predecessors and benefactors, so that they would themselves benefit in return from the prayers of the Church Suffering. Far from appearing intimidated by the complexities of Church teaching, parishioners embraced an array of intercessors, procuring assistance from both the living and the dead. The handful of fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century wills surviving for All Saints’ discloses a complex system of precept and belief that exercised a formidable hold over individuals but which men and women showed themselves adept at exploiting – presumably as a result of effective teaching and preaching, be it by parish clergy or, probably also, by mendicants. If less strident than testators a century or so later who were set on demonstrating either their faith or their predestined status,150 All Saints’ parishioners in the decades that preceded the Reformation appear confident of salvation when they commended their souls to God: they knew that they had made and could motivate ‘friends’, including family members, co-parishioners, clergy and the poor – and that these ‘friends’ included souls in Purgatory and, as the result of assiduous intercession often articulated through the parish, also the special dead, the saints. For most, the parish, and the services orchestrated through it, acted as the main facilitator in assisting salvation, which explains why contemporaries were so generous with 147

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ASB 3, Wills (Fyler), 7, clause 6 (p. 15); ASB 3 (Chestre) 13, clause 7 (p. 22); ASB 3 (Clement Wilteshire) 16, clauses 3 and 5 (pp. 25–6); ASB 3 (Joan Wilteshire) 17, clauses 6 and 13 (pp. 28–9). ASB 3, Wills, 24, clause 5 (pp. 43–4). ASB 1, p. 4. The General Mind in All Saints’ is discussed in more detail below, in chapter 6. Preambles given by testators such as John Gervys (1553) and James Dowle (1565) – ASB 3, Wills, 39 and 41 respectively (pp. 64–5 and 67–9) – stand in salutary contrast to what had gone before.

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money, time and effort when it came to working for their local church. They supported their parish and, in return, it sustained them. Rather than as testators, we should of course think of these men and women as parishioners whose deepest interests were intricately bound up with All Saints’: they proved themselves adept in advancing its interests, as it could then be counted on to advance theirs.

Chapter 4

‘Since his decease’: The widows’ might

T

his chapter explores the contributions that four widows made towards All Saints’ to show how much parishioners might achieve when their understanding of the Church’s penitential requirements found expression in the strong, shared urge to improve communal finances and amenities.1 Relatively few late medieval wills survive for women: in general, the proportion rarely exceeds 10 per cent in any surviving sample; by contrast, and simple good luck, women’s wills constitute over 20 per cent of the collection for All Saints’ before the Reformation. These widows not only have surviving wills but valuable additional material also exists, found both in the Church Book’s benefaction list and in the parish deed collection.2 All four women were wealthy and, as a result, their generosity may not be typical.3 Nevertheless, each of their examples – considered in turn – demonstrates how a widow serving as an executrix might prove far more adventurous than anything in either her own or her husband’s will, even if we are lucky enough to have both, might lead us to assume or predict. If we could factor in the devotional investment that widows undertook, possibly as a matter of routine, our evaluation of lay achievement before the Reformation would almost certainly need substantial ‘upward’ revision. Questions concerning women’s piety have occupied many scholars in recent years. A few of the more substantial contributions in recent years to this growing literature in this area would include: Erler, Women, Reading, and Piety; C. Peters, Patterns of Piety: Women, Gender and Religion in Late Medieval and Reformation England (Cambridge, 2003); and, among her many other publications, K. L. French, The Good Women of the Parish: Gender and Religion after the Black Death (Philadelphia, 2008). The focus on the scope and impact of widows’ generosity as developed in the following chapter should, I hope, add more to our understanding of the role women played within late medieval urban parishes.  2 As earlier noted, the All Saints’ Church Book is printed in ASB 1, with the benefaction list on pp. 4–30, and the deed collection in ASB 3, Deeds, pp. 367–463.  3 As the following unfolds, it should be remembered that two of the husbands, Henry Chestre and Thomas Spicer, as well as being wealthy, had each served as both bailiff and sheriff (respectively in Henry’s case in 1456–57 and 1470–71(holding office when he died), and in Thomas’s case in 1482–83 and 1489–90); each could well have gone on to serve as mayor had death not intervened. See Latimer, ‘“The Maire of Bristowe”’, pp. 132–3.  1

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Widows had been important benefactors before the fifteenth century. Alice Halye, who died in 1261, devised the parish her house, known as the Green Lattice, sited on the west side of the High Street slightly to the south of All Saints’ church.4 She had done this, as explained in her will, to the perpetual provision of a light in the church for the Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary before the high altar, that is to say towards wax to be made and repaired by the hands of the serving proctors [churchwardens] within the same parish, and in pure and perpetual alms, saving the service due to the lord of the fee, for my soul and the soul of William Halye, my man, and for the souls of all our ancestors and successors, in order that our souls shall specially be held in memory of the said church.5

The parish did remember her: she took her place prominently in the benefaction list – recited regularly in the church – as one of ‘the good doers that gave livelode [property yielding rent] … Item Alice Halye gave to the said church £5 6s. 8d. going out of the tenement called the Green Lattice in the High Street.’6 This rent far exceeded the annual income accruing from any other devise or of any rent of assize made before the later fifteenth century, most of which brought in only a few shillings.7 Alice seems not to have had the opportunity of using these revenues to fund a designated intercessory service, such as a perpetual chantry: she died some decades before this arrangement became common in Bristol.8 Instead, she The main part of this house stood somewhat less than twenty metres from the southern aisle of the church, and only one other property separated the rear of the tenement from the southern edge of the All Saints’ cemetery. See Leech, Topography, maps 4 and 7 (pp. xxii and xxv), and pp. 80–81 for a brief tenement history; see also ASB 3, Deeds, HS E (pp. 404–9) for the sequence of deeds that survive for the property from the thirteenth century until the late sixteenth, when, seemingly, All Saints’ parishioners reacquired the property (confiscated by the Crown in the mid sixteenth century). Notably, Drew makes mention of Alice’s devise as an early example of generosity reliant upon some semblance of parish management in his Early Parochial Organisation in England, p. 6.  5 ASB 3, Wills, 1 (pp. 9–10). It is not entirely clear that Alice was still a widow when she died: she certainly implies, since the light and alms were to benefit the soul of William ‘my man [viri mei]’, that he had predeceased her; but in her will she leaves a featherbed and other household good to Robert ‘my man [viro meo]’, who may have been a second husband who survived her – although the fact that she was evidently able to devise property serving interests other than Robert’s (who, if married to her, would strictly have been entitled to her possessions) casts some doubt on this assumption.  6 ASB 1, p. 5.  7 See glossary for rent of assize.  8 While K. L. Wood-Legh observes that perpetual chantries ‘seem nowhere to have been numerous before the thirteenth century’, see her Perpetual Chantries in Britain, p. 5,  4

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granted the rent from the house to All Saints’ in ‘pure alms’ and, even in the 1460s, some two hundred years after Alice’s gift, when the parish’s annual income as recorded in the churchwardens’ accounts ordinarily stood at between £10 or £12 per annum, the Green Lattice still produced at least a third – and often nearer a half – of this total. The pared-down, early sixteenth-century redaction of the benefaction list affirms her successors’ esteem: ‘Alice Hayly, special benefactrix, gave the house in the High Street, going then at £5 6s. 8d. the year.’9 Well aware of this ‘special benefactrix’, and of the commendation she still commanded, parish widows never lacked for an exemplar.

Agnes Fyler, d. 1467 Agnes differed from the other three widows examined here, doing little to change the appearance of the church interior by gifts of furnishings and equipment. She more resembled Alice Halye, devising property to the parish; but, not content simply to burn a light in honour of the Mass of the Virgin Mary, she expected a more explicit reciprocal service. The rent from her property went to support a perpetual anniversary. In this respect, however, she set a trend, for each of the other three widows acted similarly, setting aside an endowment specifically for an anniversary. But Agnes’s significance also lies in the stir that her plans caused, which generated surviving documentation. Not only can we tell that her vicar had assisted in her choice, but the record he subsequently compiled also helped to publicise the provenance and guarantee the purpose of her devise. The assiduity with which the parish defended her interests and, thereafter, the care with which it preserved the ‘livelode’ she had devised – assistance open to any other prospective founder – presumably encouraged the others to follow suit. Where Agnes Fyler is concerned, the parish archive clarifies the processes at work honing All Saints’ mnemonic and managerial proficiency; these, thereafter, sustained a remarkable response. Agnes’s will survives, made immediately preceding her death in November 1467, as does that of her father-in-law, Thomas Fyler senior, who died in 1425.10 in Bristol perpetual chantry foundation seems not to have been a realistic option (presumably as a result of concerns about security) until the 1330s – which decade, however, witnessed a flurry of perpetual foundation in the town: see C. Burgess, ‘Strategies for Eternity: Perpetual Chantry Foundation in Late Medieval Bristol’, in Religious Belief and Ecclesiastical Careers in Late Medieval England, ed. C. Harper-Bill (Woodbridge, 1991), pp. 1–32 (and especially p. 27). It should also be noted that the income from the Green Lattice may not by itself have been quite sufficient to support a perpetual chantry.  9 ASB 1, p. 25. 10 ASB 3, Wills, 6 and 7 (pp. 14–17). Although the surname is sometimes rendered Fylour, the more common spelling seems to have been Fyler, which is used here. In an earlier essay, and as the result of several coincidences in their respective wills, I proceeded on

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While a feoffment in the parish deed collection reveals that Agnes was, by 1440, ‘formerly the wife of John Knyght’,11 further documentation discloses that, during the 1440s and 1450s, Thomas senior’s eldest son, also called Thomas Fyler, had assumed a distinct prominence in All Saints’ affairs – regularly acting as a parish trustee, for instance.12 Two observations flow. First, that Agnes took this Thomas as a second husband, but he predeceased her; this in turn means that the ‘Thomas Fyler, of London mercer’, whom she appointed as her executor and who plays a prominent role in following was, in fact, his son and her stepson.13 Second, the feoffment issued in 1440 describing Agnes as formerly the wife of John Knyght also reveals that, before her remarriage, she had taken possession of the property in the High Street known as the Rose. This property, too, features prominently in the following but, crucially, while marriage would have enabled her new husband, Thomas Fyler, to extend rights over this property, the Rose never became part of the Fyler patrimony.14

Testamentary impressions Unusually, Agnes Fyler made no reference to any husband in her will; her parish priest, Master Maurice Hardwick, by contrast, featured prominently – she bequeathed him a chalice of silver and gilt for his own use, and the sum of 6s. 8d. for tithes and oblations forgotten. She relied on him, too, specifying that ‘six chaplains, named by Master Maurice … should attend my exequies for the duration of the month after my death, having 40s. equally divided among them’. If anything, she relied more heavily on ‘her son’, Thomas, the London mercer, naming him as her executor. In addition to the duty of disposing of any residue from her estate for the benefit of her soul, he also was to ‘find one fit secular chaplain to celebrate divine service for my soul and the souls of my parents and for all the faithful

11 12 13

14

the incorrect assumption that the elder Thomas had been married to Agnes – see C. Burgess, ‘“By Quick and by Dead”: Wills and Pious Provision in Late Medieval Bristol’, English Historical Review, 102 (1987), pp. 837–58 at pp. 843–4. ASB 3, Deeds, HS A 17 (p. 385). For instance, ASB 3, Deeds, CS B 5c and F 11 (pp. 380 and 451). Having moved to London, he flourished and, indeed, his wife, Beatrice Fyler, trading femme sole, achieved prominence as a silkwoman; see Sutton, ‘Alice Claver’, pp. 135–6 and nn, which reveals a good deal concerning the London branch of the Fyler family. Since the time of Bracton (writing in the first half of the thirteenth century) it had been accepted that, on marriage, the legal personality of a wife merged into that of her husband; but, in practice, a wife maintained vestigial rights over any property (or dower) that she had brought to the marriage, and regained control of this when widowed; for discussion of the implications of this in London and, thus, also Bristol (which, effectively, depended upon London’s customals), see Barron, ‘The “Golden Age”’, pp. 35–6 (and see p. 49, n. 1, for an invaluable summary of the literature on this topic).

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departed in All Saints’ for three whole years after my death, taking for that term £18’. But she devoted the greater part of her will to establishing an anniversary in All Saints’. She gave to the said Thomas ‘all that messuage with appurtenances in the High Street of Bristol, which I inhabit, situated between the messuage of the Green Lattice, inhabited by John Compton to the north, and land belonging to the abbot and convent of Tewkesbury, which I hold of the same there, to the south’.15 Thomas was to have this for life on condition that he hold Agnes’s anniversary in All Saints’, paying all the agents whose services had been required, and spending in total 12s. annually. On his decease, the messuage with appurtenances was to pass to ‘her daughter’, Joan, who was to ‘observe my anniversary well and faithfully in the manner aforesaid’. Whether Joan was Agnes’s own daughter, or Thomas the mercer’s sister – and, therefore, a stepdaughter – is not divulged; but, apart from bequeathing various garments to her, Agnes makes no other mention of Joan, who fades from the proceedings. Agnes’s intentions were, nevertheless, clear: ultimately, the Rose was to remain intact to the aforesaid Master Maurice Hardwick, vicar of the aforesaid church of All Saints’, and to John Compton and William Rowley, churchwardens of the said church, to be held by them and their assigns and successors in perpetuity … on the same condition of holding my anniversary every year in the manner prescribed’.

This arrangement is not without idiosyncrasies. The omission from Agnes’s will of any reference to the spouse who was to share the benefit from her anniversary seems odd; although, once the churchwardens had taken charge of the arrangement and were annually itemising its expenditure in their accounts, they invariably referred to it as Thomas and Agnes Fyler’s anniversary. But in advance of this, Agnes relied on her stepson, whom she also nominated as her executor, to promote her spiritual interests and, during his lifetime, allowed him to benefit from surplus income accruing from the messuage. But one detail is conspicuous: Agnes declared that ‘all the deeds and muniments pertaining to the messuage and appurtenances aforesaid are, immediately after my death, to remain in full to the aforesaid vicar and churchwardens, and to their assigns and successors, to be kept safely among other evidences and in the memory of the church’. Further, ‘one of these indentures’ – referring to her will – was to ‘remain in the possession of my 15

For the location of the tenement, lying immediately to the south of the Green Lattice on the west side of the High Street, see Leech, Topography, maps 4 and 7 (pp. xxii and xxv), and pp. 79–80 – he identifies two earlier properties, but notes that ‘from at least 1467 these two tenements were probably joined, tenanted and used as one property.’

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executor and the other of them to be kept by the parish church with the deeds and muniments pertaining to the messuage’. This precaution indicated a certain anxiety about the anniversary: Agnes took unusually deliberate steps to ensure that her stepson, Thomas, be formally bound to adhere to agreements and, more particularly, reaffirmed that All Saints’, which kept the specially prepared copy of her will, should ultimately profit from the endowment after his (and Joan’s) demise.16

The perspective from the parish The benefaction list in the All Saints’ Church Book sheds welcome light both on Agnes Fyler’s plans and on the influence that Maurice Hardwick exercised in shaping and defending these. Among his many other good works, Hardwick – who served as incumbent of the parish from 1455 until 1473 – helped to create the Church Book: he ‘laboured to compile and make this Book for to be a memorial and a remembrance for ever for curate and the churchwardens that shall be for the time … and for to put in names of the good doers and names of the wardens of the church and what good they did in their days that they must yearly be prayed for’.17 In addition, ‘He let make one coffer with lock and key to put in the evidence of the livelode of the church, where before they lay abroad likely to be embezzled and mischiefed.’ But immediately following – it is tempting to say, accompanying – these entries, we learn how Hardwick had sought to benefit Agnes Fyler’s soul while simultaneously promoting parish interests: ‘He procured, moved and stirred Agnes Fyler to give her said house in the which she dwelt in the High Street, on the south side of the Green Lattice.’ Ultimately, he was successful, but it is worth establishing quite what the parish stood to gain. The Rose adjoined the Green Lattice, Alice Halye’s gift to All Saints’, meaning that the two tenements formed a block of property just to the south of the church and fronting onto the High Street.18 Apart from any financial concern, this explains Hardwick’s interest: both he and the churchwardens would, of course, have relished the prospect of consolidating properties in the vicinity of the church, which, as well as increasing parish income, would have been relatively easy to administer. And the 16

17 18

This document is preserved in the parish deed collection – ASB 3, Deeds, HS A 22 (p. 386) – proved both before the commissary of the bishop of Worcester, Thomas Bevyr, in St Peter’s, Bristol, on 30 November, and also before Robert Jakys and John Hoper, the mayor and the sheriff of Bristol, on the Monday next after Epiphany, 7 Edward IV. This document is endorsed ‘A will of one Annis Fyllour for a house in the High Street called “the Roze”’. For this, and the following quotations, see ASB 1, p. 10. Leech, Topography, p. 80 (High Street West, no. 40); the Green Lattice and the Rose were located towards the southern end of properties known in the fourteenth century as Cooks’ Row, a name presumably reflecting the number of cook shops in this neighbourhood.

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Rose increased parish income considerably. Thomas Fyler the London mercer died in 1482, at which point the tenement was to revert to All Saints’, but a gap in the run of All Saints’ churchwardens’ accounts means that the first surviving reference both to income from the Rose (although not explicitly described as such) and expenditure on the anniversary dates from 1485.19 Whereas the former brought in £3 6s. 8d. per annum, outgoings had remained steady at 12s. per annum.20 Even after necessary maintenance, the property represented a lucrative asset, which the benefaction list – although noting that ‘Thomas Fyler and Agnes his wife gave a tenement in the High Street in which John [scored: Snygge] Hoper now dwells, to have a perpetual obit costing 12s.’ – fails explicitly to disclose.21 Thomas the London mercer’s reaction was, perhaps, all too predictable: ‘Where that Thomas, her son, would have broken her last will and alyenyd [alienated] the house to his own use, [and] promised the said Maurice great good to assist him, the said Maurice and William Rowley and John Compton, churchwardens, by plea withstood him, as appears in their account.’22 The idiosyncrasies in this anniversary’s formulation were presumably the result of the parish’s resolve to neutralise his attempts at misappropriation. Agnes may have owned the Rose before she married into the Fyler family but, as a result of that marriage – during which her husband would have exercised jurisdiction over her possessions – her stepson, Thomas, evidently thought it worth challenging her rights when, legally, this property should fully have reverted to her in widowhood. As Caroline Barron observes à propos the urban widow’s right to the share of a late husband’s real property (the right known as dower), ‘it was one thing for city custom to allocate dower to the widow and another for the widow to gain possession of her dower … The rights of the widow might be ignored by heirs and other interested parties. [And] in these circumstances, widows had to take firm action to uphold their rights.’23 Although a degree of uncertainty exists as to the order of 19

20

21

22 23

Fyler’s will – GL MS 9171/6, ff. 335–335v – discloses that Thomas died in 1482; see again Sutton, ‘Alice Claver’, pp. 135–6 and nn. While not described as the Rose, we know that John Snygge was the first tenant in the property and that he paid £3 6s. 8d. per annum. A discrete sub-section, with a heading such as ‘The Costs of Thomas Fyler and Agnes his wife at their year’s mind’ and briefly itemising the expenditure on the observance in that year, to the total of 12s., thereafter becomes an invariable feature in the surviving churchwardens’ accounts. ASB 1, p. 25; on p. 15 of the same this is given as ‘Thomas Fyler and Agnes gave to the said church one tenement that they dwell in. Item they found in the church a priest three years. Item they gave a roof to cover the south aisle.’ The first is given because rents recorded in the churchwardens’ accounts reveal that Snygge at the end of the fifteenth century and Hoper by the 1520s were paying the rent indicated, of £3 6s. 8d. ASB 1, p. 10. C. M. Barron, ‘Introduction: The Widow’s World’, in Medieval London Widows, ed. by Barron and Sutton, pp. xiii–xxxiv, at p. xxi.

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events, having been persuaded to devise the tenement to the parish in the longer term, Agnes was nevertheless content to entrust the Rose in the short term to her executor and stepson Thomas; apart from anything else, she expected him ‘to find’ – from the fruits of his inheritance more generally – the sum of £18 to sustain a chantry for her for three years. Nevertheless, concerned about enforcing her rights of dower, either she or Maurice Hardwick may well have thought it wise to insist that ‘all the deeds and muniments pertaining to the messuage and appurtenances … immediately after my death [should] remain in full to the aforesaid vicar and churchwardens and to their assigns and successors, to be kept safely among other evidences and in the memory of the church’.24 Or possibly, by the time of her final illness, Thomas had already made his intentions clear; refusing his blandishments, however, Maurice alerted Agnes and, plausibly, advised her to make more explicit provision in her will, assuring her that she could trust in the parish to enforce her wishes. Indeed, the resonances between her allusion, noted above, to the security to be derived ‘in the memory of the church’ and references in the Church Book to his purpose of making ‘this book for to be a memorial and a remembrance’ speak of a degree of collusion. In the event, Hardwick and the churchwardens, William Rowley and John Compton, ‘by plea withstood him’: they went to law in Agnes’s, and All Saints’ interests, ‘as appears in their account’. Rowley and Compton’s account for the year of Agnes’s death, 1467–68, survives both in the unbound version of the parish accounts and in abbreviated form in the Church Book; each version refers to the efforts they mounted.25 The two versions vary slightly. The unbound accounts itemise expenditure of 10s. for ‘proving and sealing Agnes Fyler’s testament’, and 11s. ‘for entering and sealing Agnes Fyler’s testament to the mayor, town clerk and sergeants’, whereas the Church Book prices the first at 11s. 8d. and the second at 9s. But the unbound accounts yield more detail on the different payments made to Harry Weston and [John] Mawnsell, their counsel in the action. The case evidently consumed the churchwardens’ time as well as parish funds. Rowley and Compton’s efforts and, no doubt, Hardwick’s resolution, both in supporting them and in withstanding Thomas Fyler’s bribe, were to be applauded. But even if the parish managed to defend Agnes’s long-term wishes – tellingly, having involved the mayor to defend the cause – Thomas was still permitted a life interest in the tenement. The quid pro quo, so far as All Saints’ was concerned, had to be the proper preservation of the documentation proving Agnes’s title and, as a result, the legitimacy of her intentions and of the parish’s eventual claim. Hardwick’s efforts both to safeguard the muniments upholding Agnes’s interests and also the rights of the parish bore 24 25

ASB 3, Wills, 7, clause 17 (p. 16). Respectively ASB 2, pp. 59–60; ASB 1, pp. 108–9.

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fruit: as well as the entries in the Church Book, the parish did indeed preserve the deeds that confirmed its title to Agnes’s benefaction.26 This run of deeds reveals, however, that in 1422 Thomas Stamford, who then owned the Rose, had leased it to Thomas Fyler senior, and it was on the latter’s death in 1425 that John Knyght, mercer and burgess, and Agnes his wife, had taken the lease. In 1440, moreover, when she was ‘lately wife of John Knyght’, Agnes continued to hold seisin and, indeed, Stamford quitclaimed her in the same property; but, notably, the Fylers had possessed an earlier, transient, interest in the Rose, perhaps explaining something of Thomas the London mercer’s later hopes. In the complicated circumstances of inheritance resulting from the ‘serial marriage’ so common in the period, care was needed to enforce parish interests, especially when these conflicted with the claims of the extended family. A proper record was naturally fundamental in upholding the parish’s rights. The court’s ruling obliged Fyler to lodge a complete set of deeds and also a copy of Agnes’s will with the parish; this, as noted, helps to explain the special care that Hardwick took to improve parish security concerning the safe-keeping of its muniments.27 Moreover, in the month following Agnes’s death, an indenture in the parish archive records that on 19 December 1467, between, on the one side, Thomas Fyler citizen and mercer of London and executor of the testament of Agnes Fyler, widow, late deceased, and, on the other, vicar Maurice Hardwick and the two churchwardens, Compton and Rowley, the said Thomas Fyler, on the day of making the presents at Bristol aforesaid, delivered unto the vicar and churchwardens a box with certain scripts, charters, evidences and muniments contained and enclosed in the same, to the number of twenty-six pieces, concerning a messuage with appurtenances set in the High Street … in which the said Agnes late dwelled. It is so covenanted and accorded between the said parties that the said box and scripts etc shall remain in the keeping of the said vicar and churchwardens and their successors for evermore to the advantage and use of the said parish church, securely to be kept in a sufficient chest locked with two locks, of which the said Thomas [Fyler] shall have a key during his natural life without any interruption of the said vicar and churchwardens.28

26 27

28

ASB 3, Deeds, High Street A (pp. 384–8). As in ASB 1, p. 10 – already noted – which describes Maurice’s labours both ‘to compile and make this book for to be a memorial and a remembrance for ever’, as well as his initiative in keeping the parish’s property records securely in a locked coffer. Respectively ASB 3, Deeds, HS A 22 and 23 (pp. 386–7).

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Where Agnes had granted Thomas a life interest in her property, one is left wondering how far this dispute strengthened All Saints’ – or, more probably, Hardwick’s – resolve to compile the benefaction list as part of a comprehensive and ongoing book of record. For, as well as securing the more obvious benefits for the souls of founders and benefactors, regular parish commemoration helped to reinforce the parish’s knowledge of the provenance of its endowments. The benefaction list starts with a section recording ‘the names of good doers that have given livelode and tenements to the church of All Hallows’ of Bristol’ itemising both the properties and the number of deeds – referred to as ‘evidences’ – and seals for each; this particular list concludes with an entry concerning Thomas and Agnes Fyler’s gift of a tenement in the High Street, adding ‘and they [are] yearly to have their obit kept by the vicar and proctors of the said church on 20 November after the tenor of their testament. God have mercy on their souls. Amen.’29 Hardwick also provided the coffer wherein ‘the evidence of the livelode of the church … [which] before … lay abroad likely to be embezzled and mischiefed’ could be kept under lock and key. This case enabled the parish to prove its mettle: by the late 1460s, All Saints’ could be trusted to uphold its parishioners’ interests, not just in the proper commemoration of benefactors but in resisting bribes, going to law to secure title and also in redoubling its efforts to keep property deeds secure. The parish enabled Agnes to assert her wishes and, by the 1480s, had securely taken possession of her endowment; it was also observing – and would continue to observe – an anniversary for her and her second husband and, further, had enrolled her name in the book of memory. Such resolution did not go unappreciated; indeed, when emulating Agnes’s property arrangements, the other widows actually exceeded her generosity.

Alice Chestre, d. 1485 Alice Chestre died in 1485; her husband, Henry Chestre, merchant, had predeceased her in February 1471 while he was serving as sheriff of Bristol.30 Although the current mayor, Thomas Kempson, served as one of his witnesses, along with members of an eminent local mercantile family, Thomas and William Rowley,

29 30

ASB 1, pp. 4–7. ASB 3, Wills, 12 and 13 (pp. 21–3); and ASB 3, Wills, 14 (pp. 23–4) for John Chestre’s will. On Henry’s office at death, see note 3 above. It is pleasing to note that Alice has, in recent years, acquired a certain prominence – with an entry in the ODNB and, for instance, a leading role in Eamon Duffy’s essay ‘Late Medieval Religion’ in Gothic: Art for England, ed. Marks and Williamson, pp. 56–7, the catalogue for the major exhibition of the same name held in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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Henry’s will is both simple and brief.31 His wish, as previously noted, to be buried ‘in the middle of the nave … near my seat in front of the high cross’, implies a certain status; but otherwise, his will hardly merits a second glance. Henry required his relict and executrix, Alice, to find a fit chaplain to celebrate in All Saints’ for his soul and the souls to whom he was bound, and, specifying no duration, this was to be ‘ordered according to [her] wishes and discretion’; having bequeathed her the residue of his estate, she was also to dispose of this ‘doing what seems best to her to please God and profit my soul’. Alice’s will, by comparison, employed more detail and revealed more about the family. She mentioned two surviving sons, both named John, and probably from different marriages. One was a merchant, whom she pointedly referred to as ‘John Chestre, son of Henry Chestre, my husband’, possibly implying that she was not his mother and that he was, instead, the issue of Henry’s first marriage – although elsewhere Alice also referred to him as her son and, clearly, he worked closely with her. The other she referred to as ‘Sir John Chestre, my son, canon, prior of Barlinch’.32 Henry, then, may have been married at least twice, with John, the Augustinian canon, being the offspring of the second marriage to Alice.33 Among her bequests of clothing and household items to female beneficiaries, Alice bequeathed her grand-daughter, Margaret, daughter of John the merchant, a towel of twilly; she also bequeathed ‘a silver and gilt girdle of ruby colour’ to Margaret Rowley, reaffirming the connection between the Chestres and the Rowleys. Alice’s will, much more than Henry’s, reveals wealth. To John the canon, she bequeathed a silver and gilt basin and ewer weighing 70 oz., and she forgave a debt of £100 ‘which he owes me by his written bond and his seal and his convent’s 31

32

33

Rather relying on an ‘insurance’ will, made well before decease, the likelihood is that Henry’s was a deathbed will – after all, probate was granted on 2 March 1471, a mere month after the date on which the will was given (3 February 1471). If his death was sudden and unexpected, then the will’s brevity is hardly surprising and, after all, he could rely on plans already agreed with Alice. The ‘Sir’ in this instance simply signifies that this John had entered the priesthood. On Barlinch, an Augustinian priory in Somerset, see Knowles and Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses, pp. 138 and 146. Mustering seven canons in 1456, and only three in 1492, including a prior who had resigned, the house may well have been troubled in the latter part of the fifteenth century; the presence, however, of nine canons in 1524, and eight at its suppression by July 1537, suggests a later revival. Untangling the precise relationships here proves hard: Alice certainly mentions two Johns as her sons – one a canon and one a merchant; but phrasing in Alice’s will gives rise to doubts (perhaps unfounded) that Henry had fathered both of them with her. All things considered, the reading which has Alice as mother of the canon, John, and stepmother to John the merchant seems the more plausible; but a close bond, nevertheless, existed between Alice and her stepson, John the merchant – and, as will be seen, contemporary record certainly refers to him as ‘her son’.

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seal’, in addition to another debt of £9 6s. 8d.34 Alice, moreover, held property in Bristol, some of which she devised to John the merchant. He was to receive two rents. One, worth one mark per annum, seems simply to have been intended for him. The other, the remainder of her state and term in a property that Henry had acquired in Winch Street, John (or his assign) was to have on condition that he distributed the rent accruing annually ‘to the needy poor’. Comfortable wealth disposed of without undue flamboyance emerges as a motif in her testamentary bequests. In addition to a bequest of 3s. 4d. to the mother church at Worcester, she left her parish priest, John Thomas, a silver and gilt cup for tithes forgotten, and a silver and gilt mazer for himself. She also required a chantry in All Saints’: a fit and virtuous priest was to celebrate Mass for her and her husband’s souls, and for her kin and all the faithful departed, continuously and immediately following her decease for five years ‘or for as long as it will be possible’, which could mean that she hoped for something in excess of this duration. Finally, in an arrangement perhaps more commonly – or simply more explicitly – used by widows in London than in Bristol, she bequeathed torches, sixteen in all, to a number of churches, altars and fraternities in Bristol, marking a symbolic attachment to places of significance to her.35 Two torches were to go to the high altar in All Saints’, and another two ‘to the altar of the blessed Mary of the same church for the Jesus service there’.36 Among other beneficiaries, she determined that two torches should each go to the parishes of St Ewen and St Werburgh, and also to the crypt of the church of St Nicholas; she set aside one torch for ‘the crypt of St John the Baptist of the same town’ and another to ‘the parish church of Ss Philip and James of the same town’. To John, merchant of Bristol, she devised the residue of her estate, appointed him her executor and ordered him to dispose of the former ‘for the safety of my soul as to him seems best’. While she intended that her late husband Henry should also benefit from the chantry commissioned in her will, there is little sense in that document of her having done very much for him; there is, after all, no way of knowing how much he had left her. She appears to have devoted most to the two Johns, canon and 34

35

36

One wonders, given the difference in magnitude of the two debts and the comparative lack of formality concerning the latter, whether the former was in fact a loan that Alice had made to the house of Barlinch, in which case her cancellation of the debt was a generous gesture towards a monastic house relatively rare among the wills of fifteenth-century Bristol merchants and their widows. The judgement on the relative frequency of donating lights to churches to mark a connection with each of them is based on nothing more than an impression; in my experience, the convention seems somewhat more common among London’s testators than those in Bristol. The significance of the Jesus service will emerge towards the end of this chapter.

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merchant, and her will typifies many among those surviving for late medieval Bristol’s mercantile classes in providing generously for offspring. But it is for this reason that Alice Chestre’s example is so important, for the benefaction list in the All Saints’ Church Book reveals that Alice, in fact, acted in a remarkably generous manner in the fifteen-year interval between Henry’s death and her own, profiting both their souls and, in the process, assisting the church and the parishioners of All Saints’ to a degree far exceeding anything expressed in her – let alone in Henry’s – will. Alice was one among a good number of wealthy widows in late fifteenth-century Bristol; but, while many widows may have carried on their husband’s business, Alice did so with conspicuous success. After Henry’s death, she had continued to trade, in cloth, wine, iron and other commodities, shipping goods in her own vessels to and from Ireland, Flanders, Spain and Portugal.37 She prospered and, when it came to pious benefaction, certainly did not rely solely on her inheritance from Henry. More to the point, in a town such as Bristol where, at any one time, a number of families could certainly have equalled and, indeed, exceeded the Chestres’ means, neither Alice’s wealth nor her resultant behaviour need be regarded as exceptional, although its implications for the churches of Bristol, and elsewhere, certainly are of significance. The information surviving for her may be exceptional but not her course of action.

Pre- and post-mortem provision Although Alice took the initiative, her accomplishments are ‘in the names’ of both Henry and herself, and to the benefit of both.38 They were to be remembered as having given a quantity of drapery: a towel of diaper to be kept in the church and used particularly at Mass at Eastertide; an altar cloth of diaper, and an accompanying towel, for use at the high altar at principal feasts, and the same for the rood altar and Our Lady’s altar, also for use at these feasts; a large cloth of twilly with streaks of blue to cover the best cope ‘when it is laid open’;39 also, and to the benefit of Our Lady’s altar, two stained cloths ‘for the over part and the nether, where in the over cloth is a picture of Our Lord rising out of the sepulchre’. Alice Chestre also gave the church a hearse cloth,

37

38

39

Alice’s business acumen is discussed more fully in the entry for her in the ODNB, and, more particularly, in P. Fleming, Women in Late Medieval Bristol, Bristol Historical Association Pamphlets, 103 (2001), p. 11 and passim. See ASB 1, pp. 15–17 for the most detailed redaction of the Chestres’ generosity; this material supports the following discussion. Twilly was a cloth woven with diagonal lines, or ridges, on its surface. This gift seems to refer to a robust cloth that could be draped over the best cope to cover and protect it in storage.

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Considering that there was no hearse cloth in the church of any reputation or value, saving only an hearse cloth that Thomas Halleway ordained for his own anniversary, for the love and honour that she had unto Almighty God and to all Christian souls, and for the ease and succour of all this parish unto who she owed her good will and love in her day as it appears in this church as it is afore expressed and rehearsed,40 she has given an hearse cloth of black worsted with letters of gold of H & C and A & C and a scripture in gold Orate pro animabus Henrici Chestre et Alicie uxoris eius.

In addition to vessels, including a great latten basin to wash relics in on Relic Sunday, the Chestres gave equipment: Also the said Alice, considering and understanding that the church had never had a cross for Sunday processions, except that they should occupy every Sunday the best cross, gave to the church to be prayed for a cross of silver gilded and enamelled with Mary and John enjoined to the same cross in one work, the whole weighing 60 oz. and costing her £20.41

But perhaps their most eye-catching contribution to All Saints’ was to embellish the church by fashioning and gilding a number of carved fixtures and by providing decorated cloths, covering the fixtures as required, seemingly adding to the array of intercessors from the Church Triumphant on view in the church. The Church Book describes these as follows: Also the said Alice, executrix to the said Harry, has let made in carved work a tabernacle with a Trinity in the middle over the image of Jesus, and also at her own cost had it gilded full worshipfully, with a cloth hanging before to be drawn at certain times when it shall please the vicar and parishioners.42 Also the said Alice has let gild at her own cost Our Lady altar [ad]joining the said image of Jesus, and let made a stained cloth to hang before with imagery of Our Lady, Saint Katherine and Saint Margaret. Also the said Alice, to the worship of Almighty God and his church, and to have both their souls prayed for specially amongst all other good doers, has let made to be carved at her 40 41

42

This, in fact, is one of the last items recorded in the list of the Chestres’ benefactions. A marginal addition in the manuscript confirms that this became the parish’s second best cross. For ‘tabernacle’, the OED gives ‘an ornate canopied structure, as a tomb or a shrine’, or ‘a canopied niche or recess in a wall or pillar, to contain an image’, or ‘a canopy of tabernacle-work over a throne’: clearly, we should imagine an ornately carved wooden surround, possibly on either side of but, more elaborately, surmounting the image of Jesus.

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own cost a new front to an altar in the south side of the church called the rood altar, with five principal images: one of Saint Anne, the second of Mary Magdalen, the third of Saint Giles, the fourth of Saint Erasmus, the fifth of Saint Anthony. And in addition a crucifix with Mary and John over a door by the altar, and also she had gilded all that front full worshipfully as it appears, with a cloth of the Passion of Our Lord before the altar to be drawn at certain times after the pleasure of the vicar and parishioners.

Having embellished the eastern end of both aisles in the church (that is, the Lady aisle on the north side and the Rood, or Cross, aisle to the south side), Alice was clearly determined to do likewise at the east end of the nave before she died: Moreover the said Alice, two years before her decease, being in good prosperity and health of body, considering the rood loft of this church was but single and no thing [of] beauty, according to the parish entente [agreement], she, taking to her counsel the worshipful of this parish with others having best understanding and [in]sights in carving, to the honour and worship of almighty God and his saints, and of her special devotion unto this church, has let to be made a new rood loft in carved work filled with 22 images, at her own proper cost; of the which images, three are principal – a Trinity in the middle, a Christopher in the north side, and a Michael in the south side; and besides this, each of the two pillars bearing up the loft has four houses [ie tabernacles] there set on in carved work, with an image in each house.

The descriptions of Alice Chestre’s donations on behalf of her husband and herself help to evoke the church interior. The focal points of nave, aisles and chapels would, of course, have been altars, heavily decorated with carved and gilded work and bristling with the images of saints – and the presence and significance of the larger images might be emphasised by placing them in ornately decorated niches. Appearances could be changed by drawing down, or pulling across, cloths decorated with yet more images, effectively creating a series of trompes d’oeuil which functioned as the intimate setting for sacramental practice in All Saints’ and also as an adaptable intercessory stimulus for any who worshipped there.43 In addition to a number of images of Jesus and the Trinity, female saints, and particularly the Virgin Mary, played a prominent role in the armoury of holy helpers whose presence was evoked and whose assistance assiduously sought. Demonstrating the importance attached to procuring interces43

The use of pulleys and lines to suspend and move images, and also to adapt vistas within the church, is discussed in more detail below, in chapter 10.

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sion, Alice took pains indelibly to associate both Henry and herself with the intercession of the saints, as well as ensuring that the living should also especially commemorate the two of them amongst the benefactors of the parish – as the exhortation on their hearse cloth, thereafter displayed at many a funeral and anniversary in the church, boldly declared. And Alice, acting on behalf of her husband and herself, intended that the donations should enhance the setting for an ever-more splendid liturgy from which the parish living and the parish dead might also derive benefit, and for which all should give thanks. The Chestres also sought to exalt aspects of the Church Triumphant in their parish church, and particularly emphasised the presence and attendance of the saints; this may well, in turn, have helped to stimulate an increasingly ambitious intercessory regime, triggering similar investment by others. The Chestres did yet more for All Saints’ liturgical and financial profit by establishing services within the church. One of these guaranteed the presence of an extra priest who, in addition to celebrating a daily Mass for his benefactors, assisted in the choir in the daily round of offices. They also devised property to support an anniversary but, in common with similar arrangements in this parish (for example, Agnes Fyler’s) and elsewhere, this would also have augmented the parish property portfolio as well as its income.44 As to the first of these, so far as the parish was concerned, chantry foundation was a valued benefaction: the parish benefited from an extra priest whose expense was defrayed by the sponsor. The Chestres’ chantry takes pride of place in the benefaction list’s treatment of their gifts quite simply because it became their single most generous act. In the fifteen years between Henry’s death and Alice’s, presumably starting once Alice had settled Henry’s affairs, the Chestres supported a priest – ‘to sing in this church for twelve years, to the laud and the loving of almighty God and augmenting of divine service, for every year 9 marks, sum £72’. In addition, ‘Besides the finding of a priest for twelve years above mentioned, the said Alice has found a priest to maintain God’s service for the space of five years.’ It is not entirely clear whether this chantry would simply have extended the twelve-year service; nor do we know whether it continued for longer than the suggested five years, although, appended at the end of the relevant clause in her will, the instruction that it should continue ‘for as long as it will be possible’, indicates that this probably was Alice’s wish. In all – and doubtless to her own specified profit, too – Alice managed to provide a chantry for most of the interval between Henry’s death and her own; and, where her own request for a chantry was concerned, she left the ultimate duration to her executor’s discretion, but five years represented the minimum acceptable. Overall, 44

The fuller and cumulative implications of this development are discussed in more detail below, in chapter 6.

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it seems safe to assume that Alice and Henry Chestre supported an extra priest within the church for the best part of twenty years. The Chestres also endowed an anniversary and, by setting aside a generous property devise, it was Alice’s intention to support an additional weekly mass in All Saints’. Nevertheless, according to the benefaction list, ‘the said Harry and Alice have given to this church a tenement in Broad Street’, so that ‘an obit be kept for them yearly for ever on Saint Valentine’s day, on which day the said Harry deceased in the year of Our Lord 1470, and the costs of this obit should approach the sum of 7s. 1d.’45 It is illuminating that the list assigns this endowment so clearly to the joint generosity of ‘Harry and Alice’; indeed, despite the absence of any detailed prescription in Henry’s will, or of any reference to the service in Alice’s will, it is perfectly plausible that both Henry and Alice could, and would, have agreed on the desirability of the anniversary which, resembling the arrangement on which Agnes Fyler had already embarked, involved a generous property benefaction. Henry seems first to have become associated with the tenement in Broad Street – elsewhere described as ‘a brewer place’ – in 1458 when it was the formal possession of another All Saints’ parishioner, the vintner Richard Haddon.46 Moreover, in 1471, just after Henry’s death – and when Haddon found himself short of funds – Robert Bolton and John Thomas chaplain (then serving as the chaplain of the second chantry of the Kalendars, but who would later become incumbent of All Saints’) granted the tenement to Alice Chestre, and in this year Richard Haddon also quitclaimed the same tenement to her. She thus secured her title and, as will also emerge, seems to have ensured that the property concerned should still work to the profit of the parish.47 Thereafter, Alice, assisted by John Chestre (the merchant), whom she described as ‘dear to me in Christ’ and who did much to assist in arranging her affairs, proceeded a few years later, in August 1477, to enfeoff thirteen men, many of whom were parishioners of All Saints’, with this property.48 A Declaration of Trust, issued in the same year, discloses that when nine of the thirteen had died those remaining were to enfeoff another thirteen ‘respectworthy and honest men of the town’. Nevertheless, while feoffees were to hold the property, its revenues were reserved 45 46

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ASB 1, p. 15 – the date as given here is ‘old style’ (taking the New Year to begin on 25 March). ASB 3, Deeds, BS B 9 (p. 414) referring to a Charter of feoffment by which Richard Haddon assigned certain responsibilities for the property – quite what was entailed is not entirely clear – to Henry Chestre. The implications of the Chestres’ initiative vis-à-vis this property, formerly one of Richard Haddon’s possessions and which he had set aside as part of his chantry endowment, emerges in sharper detail in the next chapter. John is described in ASB 1, p. 29, in the later redaction of the benefaction list as having been ‘very benevolent in exhorting his father and mother to their good deeds’.

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for the use of the guardians (a term probably referring to the ‘masters’ of the parish),49 the current churchwardens and their successors, and also ‘to present parishioners, forever’.50 This Declaration reveals how the Chestres, very much in the same manner as perpetual chantry founders, depended upon different agencies, specifically feoffees to ‘hold’, and guardians and wardens to manage, each of whom might act as a check on the other – with the profit of living parishioners, too, revealed as an intrinsic part of the plans.51 The churchwardens of All Saints’, and their successors forever, bound themselves to maintain an anniversary for Henry and Alice Chestre. On the vigil [that is, the eve], the vicar and six other worthy priests were to say and sing solemnly with music Placebo and Dirige with nine lessons. On the morrow they were to celebrate a Requiem Mass for the Chestres’ souls, for their family and descendants, and for all the faithful departed, and ‘especially for those for whom Alice and John were bound to pray’. Moreover, the wardens were only to have the profit from the tenement on condition that they also devoted a portion of this revenue to the maintenance of a weekly Jesus Mass – but, for reasons that will become apparent, it proves more convenient to investigate the implications of this aspect of the arrangement towards the conclusion of this chapter.52 If, however, the wardens were ever to prove ‘remiss, lukewarm or negligent’ in discharging any or all of these duties, the feoffees were then to hold the property for the benefit of the Kalendars, who would assume responsibility for observing the anniversary as prescribed.53 So, if ever the wardens failed the Chestres, both duty and surplus were to pass to another closely related institution within, but not strictly of, the parish. The churchwardens’ account for 1485–86, which referred to Alice Chestre’s grave, also itemised payments for the anniversary and one Thomas Coke is recorded in the same year as having paid a rent of £4 for the Broad Street tenement.54 Payments 49 50

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For the ‘Masters of the parish’ and their role in parish government, see below, chapter 9. For the Quitclaim, the Charter of feoffment and the Declaration of trust, see ASB 3, Deeds, BS B 11, 13 and 14 a/b (pp. 415–16). Alice, in this instance, depended upon ‘enfeoffment to use’, as opposed to mortmain, when alienating this property for pious purposes, evidently benefiting both herself and her parish – for reasons that will emerge in the following chapter. I investigate the commonly applied technique of establishing ‘checks and balances’ – where differing authorities within a town like Bristol would each be induced to check on the others’ assiduity in protecting the pious services that had been placed under their supervision – in Burgess, ‘Strategies for Eternity’, pp. 17–23. The prominence assigned to the Jesus Mass in this agreement is emphasised by the phrase le salve de Jhesu inserted in the margin at the relevant point of the deed. On the Kalendars, see above, chapter 2. Initially, this was entered under rents accruing from properties in the High Street, but, from 1494–95, accurately places the site of this rent as in Broad Street, ASB 2, p. 132. In

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for the anniversary were thereafter faithfully listed in subsequent accounts, proof, were it needed, that the parish had not forfeited its right to the much larger sums accruing from the endowment, and which were also carefully entered year after year.55 The churchwardens were not about to surrender such a profit to the Kalendars from any hint of negligence. Indeed, they, along with the other parish authorities, conscientiously extolled Alice’s achievement. Towards the end of the description of the works she had effected for All Saints’, we encounter the following encomium: ‘And on the day of O Sapientia, that is to say the 16th day of December in the year of our lord God 1485, the soul of this blessed woman departed out of this world, the which soul almighty God of his infinite grace take mercy, and reward her for her good deeds.’56

The spiritual and practical legacy Manifestly devout, Alice clearly occupied a position at the forefront of devotional life and practice within the parish in the later decades of the century. While her behaviour was certainly reminiscent of those widows who had foresworn remarriage, there is, as noted, no indication that she had taken the step of becoming a vowess. Nevertheless, she displayed a deep devotion not only to the Virgin but also to Jesus and, although this discussion presently focuses on the financial implications of her arrangement to provide for a weekly Jesus Mass in All Saints’, the spiritual implications of this initiative were considerable.57 The property devise intended to provide Henry and Alice with their obit, celebrated in perpetuity on St Valentine’s day, was also to support a weekly observance: In the worship of Jesus, to the foundation of a Mass of Jesus by note [i.e. with music] to be kept and continued every Friday in this church and likewise an anthem, the said Harry and Alice have given this church a tenement in Broad

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1486, the vicar and wardens leased the Broad Street property to Thomas Coke, brewer for seven years for an annual rent of 100s. at the usual quarter days; the reasons for the rent being recorded as £4 will be explained shortly. The service could well have started earlier, since, during her lifetime, Alice may well have chosen to pay for it from her own funds. O Sapientia was the first of the O-Antiphons (or Greater Antiphons) sung before and after Magnificat at Vespers on the days before Christmas Eve, starting, according to the Sarum Use, with O Sapientia on 16 December, followed by O Adonai on 17 December, and by O Radix Jesse on 18 December, and so on. Discussed in more detail at the conclusion of this chapter; at this juncture, it is simply worth noting that that devotion to the person of Jesus, to the Holy Name and to His Passion was gaining in popularity as well as assuming a liturgical shape in the fifteenth century: see Pfaff, New Liturgical Feasts, chapters 4 and 5i and ii; and, for a clearer sense of context, see Blake et al., ‘From Popular Devotion to Resistance and Revival’, pp. 175–203.

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Street where William Rowe, brewer, once dwelt in – to this intent, that they be prayed for every Friday at that Mass by name.58

Since Henry and Alice’s anniversary was to cost 7s. 1d. and the weekly Jesus service cost 32s. 6d., this meant that just less than £2 per annum was to be drawn from the property that the Chestres’ devised in Broad Street for commemorative purposes. The benefaction list notes, somewhat cryptically, that ‘so that this is done and certain rents of assize paid, this church shall have yearly of that house, 4 marks [53s. 4d.] as the rent goes now’.59 In practice, parish deeds disclose that in 1486 the tenement in Broad Street had been leased for £5 per annum to one Thomas Coke for a seven-year term, who, to judge from rental payments in the accounts, extended the lease until the early years of the sixteenth century. Payments of the rents of assize – itemised, for instance, in the churchwardens’ accounts for 1498–99, and in the years following – reveal that half a mark [6s. 8d.] had to be paid to the Master of St John’s and another mark [13s. 4d.] to the proctors of Holy Trinity (later Christ Church), in whose parish the tenement stood: ordinarily, the rents of assize (totalling £1) were deducted from this income immediately, explaining why the rent is entered at £4 per annum in most surviving accounts.60 For reasons not now clear, the entry in the benefaction list takes account of the combined costs of the services and also the larger rent of assize; in practice, however, and so far as the parish was concerned, in the later fifteenth century the annual surplus from the tenement stood at some £2 per annum.61 In sum, as well as securing services in which they would have been prominently commemorated, the Chestres’ generosity – as organised by Alice – provided the parish not only with a priest for some twenty years but also with the means to observe a weekly Jesus Mass in perpetuity, and also with an appreciable additional annual income. Alice’s activities, however, did not solely profit her parish for, as the benefaction list adds, Besides all this, for the common weal of this town and for the saving of merchants’ goods, both of the town and of strangers, the tenth year before her death she let made at her own costs and charges a crane upon the Back by the 58 59 60

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ASB 1, p. 15. Ibid., p. 15. The obligation incumbent upon the tenant of the property in Broad Street to pay a rent of assize of 13s. 4d. per annum to the churchwardens of Holy Trinity had been established by an arbitration during Richard Haddon’s tenancy in 1468 – see ASB 3, Deeds, BS B 10 (pp. 414–15). ASB 3, Deeds, BS B 15 (pp. 416–17); and see ASB 2, p. 151, for the churchwardens’ accounts itemising the rents of assize in 1498–99, and the same payments are itemised in subsequent years, although Coke himself had vacated the house by 1501–02 (ibid., p. 167).

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Marsh Gate, where was never none before that time; the which cost her £41 and odd money, and of the crane a fair rent comes and rests yearly unto the Common Chamber of this town.

Public works could be, and frequently were, provided as charity, and one wonders what other such works Alice may have carried out ‘for the common weal’.62 This contribution was not simply for the convenience of mariners or merchants; just as anniversary endowments increased parish revenues, so the crane brought the Common Chamber of Bristol a good income. At her death, as a result of works and arrangements in All Saints’ and in other parishes within the town, notably St Ewen’s,63 and as a result of donations ‘to the four orders [meaning, presumably, the friars]’, the compiler of the benefaction list asserts ‘we all that are now and they that are to come are bound to pray for her’.64 John Chestre (the merchant), died some three years after Alice, in 1488. A will survives for him that is even simpler than his father’s. He bequeathed his vicar, John Thomas, his best robe of violet and the sum of 20s. ‘for my tithes forgotten’; he also gave the mother church at Worcester the sum of 3s. 4d. Other than that, he bequeathed his widow, Anne, whom he also appointed his executrix, ‘the true residue of all my goods … who is to find the most appropriate use for it’. One wonders what Anne did; but the All Saints’ archive reveals slightly more about John’s piety. The benefaction list in the Church Book particularly exhorts prayers for John: ‘Also you shall pray for the soul of her son John Chestre that deceased on the vigil of Christmas Anno Domini 1488, the which in all this business of his mother above expressed was a special well willer, who moved and stirred her unto the same full wholesomely and by whose advice and counsel and comfort many of these good deeds were done and performed.’ Effectively, the parish commemorated John’s selflessness in renouncing any claim that he might have had on ‘family’ property, as this was a vital prerequisite for Alice’s achievements; 62

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Duffy, Stripping of the Altars, chapter 10 and particularly pp. 367–8 discusses the broader remit of ‘purgatorial’ provision. Although her will mentions torches given to various parishes, Alice displayed particular generosity to St Ewen’s in 1473–74, when she made a donation of £6 6s. 8d. – much the largest gift from any of the donors who contributed to the project – when this parish raised the sum of £17 3s. 10d. towards a suit of blue vestments costing £30 in total; see CBSE, pp. xxv and 93. One wonders whether she was similarly open-handed to any other parish, where a lack of surviving evidence presently disguises her bounty, but which is perhaps implicit in the final sentence concerning her generosity in the benefaction list – that ‘certain churches of this town’ … ‘are bound to pray for her’ (ASB 1, p. 17). Similarly, we may have no specific information about contributions that Alice made to the friars, but here, too, she may well have given generously – as implicit in this cryptic allusion (ASB 1, p. 17).

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indeed, in his funeral instructions, John requested burial ‘next to the tombs of my parents’, closely associating himself with them. Good works were not restricted to the donation of material items or property. Just as churchwardens might be remembered for the investment of time and energy, so John Chestre was to be remembered for a more general, but no less generous, contribution: ‘Not only in this, but in all other business concerning the weal of the church [he] was full ready unto his power at all time in both word and deed.’65 His example, when set against that of the younger Thomas Fyler’s behaviour, underscores the important advantages for potential benefactor and parish church alike, particularly where securing intercessory services was concerned, of ensuring the compliance of kin. Well-willed families, rather than individual founders, facilitated the successful realisation of pious programmes. The Chestres’ generosity to All Saints’ did not end with Alice’s death: the Church Book discloses that John Chestre ‘ordained a priest to sing in this church for two years’, although John neither requested nor provided for this service in his will. Its implementation, of course, was at the discretion of his widow, Anne.66

Maud Spicer, d. 1504 Maud Spicer, who died in 1504, spent her widowhood as a vowess. She nevertheless had much in common with Alice Chestre and, again, the significance of Maud’s activities may best be gauged by first examining her husband’s provision.67 Thomas Spicer was a grocer who enjoyed a somewhat higher profile than Henry Chestre both in parish and municipal life.68 He died in 1492 and instructed his executrix to find a salary of £6 per annum from his goods to secure the services of a fit and honest chaplain to celebrate in All Saints’ for six years.69 In addition, 65

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He had also served as warden for a two-year term from 1472 to 1474, but the reference in the benefaction list appears to imply more than this. Supporting a chantry for two years seems modest for a member of a family capable of so much. In fact, more may have been afoot, and responsibility for the chaplain may simply have been taken on by Maud Spicer, the widow whose plans are to be considered next. The wills of Thomas and Maud Spicer, and that of their son, Thomas, may be found in ASB 3, Wills, 18–20 (pp. 30–39). He was a churchwarden of All Saints’ in 1474–75 and possibly also in 1491–92; he also served as bailiff of Bristol in 1482–83, and sheriff in 1489–90; he also witnessed other parishioners’ wills, as with John Chestre’s will in 1488, ASB 3, Wills, 14 (p. 24). As will become apparent, adjectives such as ‘fit’ and ‘honest’ or, on occasion, ‘sad’ or ‘of good conversation’ were often employed by founders as indicating the sort of priests whom their executors were select to serve as chantry chaplains; all are variants on the basic requirement that the priest should be both suitable for, and reliable in, such

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she was to find 10s. per annum for ten years following his death to provide an obit in All Saints’, with exequies on the eve and Requiem Mass on the morrow, to mark the anniversary of his death. The scale of these services contrasts sharply with the provision he made for his children: a son, also called Thomas, and six daughters, Alice, Margaret, Joan, Elizabeth, Anne and Matilda, all of whom were under-age at his decease, and to whom he devoted much the greater part of his estate. Each child was to receive 100 marks and 50 oz. of silver, the young Thomas when he attained twenty-four years of age, the daughters when each attained sixteen years; or, in the words of the elder Thomas, summarising the legacy bound for his children, ‘In all I bequeath 700 marks and 350 oz. silver.’70 In addition, he left small sums of money to his kin, including his wife’s children by her first marriage, to his servants, to his apprentices, including Thomas Pacy – who, as we will see, became a man of some importance within and beyond the parish – and also to a chaplain by the name of David Whitecastell. As well as naming his wife, Maud, his children’s guardian – a responsibility she was to share with John Stevyns of Bristol, under the aegis of the mayor and aldermen of the town – he also bequeathed her the residue of his estate on condition that she did not remarry. He left Maud all his property within the town of Bristol and in the place of his origin, St Briavels in the Forest of Dean, and nominated her as executrix with the exhortation, ‘let the Holy Spirit illumine her conscience’. Thomas Spicer’s will, while more detailed than Henry Chestre’s, was, like his, less detailed than that of his widow. Maud Spicer left a long will, making many provisions disposing of a considerable estate; indeed, not only was her will much more extensive than Alice Chestre’s but her estate also appears more substantial. Despite having many more young dependants, the Spicers appear the wealthier family.71 Maud required her executors to find from her goods and chattels an honest priest to sing and pray for her soul, the souls of her two husbands and her

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employment. Presumably, such ‘benchmark’ descriptions also provided successors with the criteria by which they could dismiss a chaplain should it become necessary. The sum of 700 marks was equivalent to just less than £500 (more precisely, the sum of £466 13s. 4d.). It should also be noted that, being obliged to leave so considerable a sum of money to the guardianship both of his widow, Maud, and another nominee, ‘John Stevyn of Bristol, merchant’, Thomas Spicer was also careful specifically to invoke the surveillance of the mayor and aldermen of Bristol (ASB 3, Wills, 18, clause 8), whose interest was, in any case, implicit insofar as these officials ensured that such provisions were recorded in the Great Orphan Book. In addition, and to pre-empt any legal complications, Thomas required his widow, Maud, to ‘remain sole and unmarried for the rest of her life’ (ibid., clause 24), which she seems willingly to have complied with by becoming a vowess. It is plausible that, having many more dependants, the Spicers simply had to be more specific, revealing their circumstances more precisely.

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parents’ souls and all Christian souls for twelve years after her decease, paying the priest a salary of nine marks per annum [that is, £6]. But she added that if her chaplain – presumably she refers here to her household chaplain – Richard Spunell, were to serve the chantry, he should be paid an extra 6s. 8d. each year. Similarly, the payments and bequests at the very beginning of her will, if conventional in one sense, appear generous. It was her intention that her vicar should receive a little standing cup of silver for tithes forgotten, but to the body of All Saints’ (to the use of the congregation, presumably) she bequeathed a silver chalice, two cruets and candlesticks, a pax, a censer and two pairs of vestments, ‘now being in the same church to serve and honour God in the said church as long as it will endure’. This equipment had possibly been acquired in the first instance to serve the Spicers’ household chaplain but that it was already ‘in’ the church may suggest that her chaplain’s activities had not been confined to the household. Maud was wealthy, pious and well connected, to judge from her nomination of several unusual, decidedly spiritual, beneficiaries. To the lady anchoress at the Black Friars in Bristol she bequeathed the sum of 20s., to be distributed by her executors at the rate of 2d. per week. To the prior and convent of the two Charterhouses at Hinton and Witham in Somerset she bequeathed the sum of 20s. apiece. To the lady abbess of Shaftesbury she bequeathed coral beads said to be ‘of six sets with gawdys of silver overgilt’. Wealthy townsmen and women might number members of the religious orders among their acquaintances and beneficiaries, and may even have looked to religious houses for intercession and, perhaps, inspiration. Whereas Alice Chestre had close family links with the Augustinian house at Barlinch, Maud’s daughter Alice was in the process of becoming a nun at Shaftesbury. Her mother gave her silver vessels, spoons, a feather bed and other apparel ‘to her chamber pertaining or belonging according to her religion’, and also jewellery, including ‘black beads with the five wounds’ and drapery to ‘be delivered to the same Alice at the day of her profession there’. Maud also left the sum of ten marks to the lady Abbess in the first instance, ‘to pay for her [Alice’s] dinner on the day of her profession’. More conventionally, Maud made many bequests to her remaining children and also to other members of her kindred, like her brothers, sisters, sisters-in-law and nieces; she also made many bequests to her servants, and to her apprentices – implying that she had continued the family business after her husband’s death – as well as to other acquaintances. She entrusted Thomas Pacy, who had served his apprenticeship with her husband, and also married their daughter, Joan, with guardianship of her son and heir, Thomas the younger, ‘for to learn, inform and teach the same Thomas in the occupation of Grocers until his age of 16 years, within the said messuage in which I now dwell set in the High Street of the abovesaid town of Bristol’. At the conclusion of her will, Maud left the residue of her goods and chattels to John Hutton, a son by her first marriage, and

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to young Thomas Spicer, whom she also named as her executors, but under the supervision not only of men such as her nephew, the merchant, John Wodynton, but also George Monoux, mayor of Bristol in 1501–02 and later of London in 1514–15, John Vaghan, a later mayor of Bristol in 1507–08, and her former apprentice and present son-in-law, Thomas Pacy, another future mayor of Bristol.72 Immediately preceding the formal conclusion of the document, Maud made two devises concerning properties in Small Street. One of these properties she devised to John Hutton, whom she also charged with looking after the interests of George Shepherd, referred to by Maud as her son-in-law. It transpires that George had been married to Anne, one of Thomas and Maud’s daughters, but that both George and Anne had yet to reach the age of legal responsibility, set at twenty-one and sixteen respectively. John Hutton’s duty – as an older step-brother to Anne, interestingly – was to have ‘custody and wardenship’ of George and Anne and, more particularly, of the considerable inheritance that Thomas had bequeathed to his daughter (and that Maud had added to), until George reached maturity.73 Were George to die before this, however, the Spicer and Shepherd families had arranged that Anne should marry George’s younger brother, John Shepherd; and, were this to occur, John Hutton was similarly to act as guardian both for them and their inheritance.74 The other devise of property in Small Street was to be held in feoffment by men who, for the most part, were parishioners of All Saints’. Its rents were to provide for an obit within All Saints’ celebrated at the cost of 20s. annually and observed in perpetuity on the anniversary of Maud’s decease.

A succession of gifts The benefaction list dwells on the Spicers’ generosity in some detail.75 It records the date of Thomas’s death as 15 February 1492, and then itemises his benefactions, starting with the sum of £36 13s. 4d. to support a priest to sing in the church for six years, mentioning the payment of 40s., the ten-year obit, and also referring to a pax of silver and gilt, with a crucifix with Mary and John, said to weigh 5½ oz. and to be worth 27s. 6d. Maud had obviously discharged her responsibilities as executrix with care – even exceeding Thomas’s explicit instructions, as he 72 73

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Latimer, ‘“The Maire of Bristowe”’, pp. 134–5. This arrangement provides an insight into what would appear to be an arranged marriage and, further, into the formative dynamics of ‘urban dynasties’, where families who shared status and interests worked to intertwine their fortunes for future mutual benefit. If John Shepherd the younger were to die before reaching maturity, then John Hutton was entrusted with arranging Anne’s marriage; but if Anne were to die, then ‘her other brothers and sisters then overliving’ were to receive equal portions of her inheritance. ASB 1, pp. 19–21, and reiterated more succinctly in what is probably a later redaction in ibid., pp. 22–3.

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made no mention of a pax and crucifix in his will. Having exhorted God to have mercy on his soul, the benefaction list turned to Maud’s activities and delineates the sequence of events with clarity. ‘Moreover, since his decease my lady Maud Spicer, wife to the said Thomas, for the weal of their souls both, unto the worship of almighty God, Our Blessed Lady and All Hallows’ has given unto this church as follows.’ Some of the goods were mentioned in her will: the liturgical equipment with which the list begins was obviously the same as that given to ‘the body of the parish’. The chalice was said to weigh 24 oz., however, and was worth £6 13s.; at 11 oz. the cruets were worth 44s. and, at 80 oz., the candlesticks, some £10. One of the two suits of vestments was said to be of cloth of gold, ‘of red’, and worth £6 6s. 8d.; the other was ‘a light blue vestment of damask, with five wounds of the cross’, worth 48s. ½d. But Maud also had ‘a Mass book in prent work’ valued at 15s. The Church Book notes that ‘all this afore expressed was to be at my lady’s commandment during her life and after her decease to be delivered unto this church of All Hallows’ in Bristol for ever more. Almighty God preserve her long. Amen’, implying that this part of the list was written before Maud’s death in 1504. Thereafter, in the Church Book’s first redaction of her bequests to the parish, the text is written in various hands, possibly implying that the remainder was written up in stages following different donations. Some entries in the list simply confirm that her testamentary bequests materialised: for instance, it itemises ‘a priest to sing for her by the space of twelve years’ paid ‘every year 9 marks’. There were, however, other contributions possibly made to maintain Alice Chestre’s legacy: the sum of 6s. 8d. ‘to the gilding of the rood loft’ may have helped to maintain one of Alice’s more flamboyant installations in prime condition. Like the Chestres and others, she gave vessels to the church: ‘My said lady has given a principal censer of silver and part gilt, weighing 40 oz., at 4s. 10d. the ounce, sum the whole – £9 13s. 4d.’ Maud gave two latten candlesticks to stand on St Thomas’s altar in All Saints’ said to be worth 4s. 6d., and meant for ‘two tapers that my said lady has ordained at every Mass celebrated there to be lit, and that of good substance full worshipfully unto the honour of almighty God’. She also gave a lectern, ‘an eagle of latten for the gospel to be read upon weighing 2½ hundredweights’, which cost £8. Other donations were both more decorative and didactic, including ‘a table of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ to move and excite people to devotion’, worth 40s. She also paid 30s. ‘for the painting of two stories on two pillars of the lower part of the church, the one story over the font of the baptising or Our Lord Jesus Christ, and on that other pillar of the other part of the church a figure, otherwise an image of St Christopher’. Like other benefactors, particularly widows, she gave draperies and vestments of the highest quality:

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Beside all this that we have in possession for the profit of the church, the said lady has given hangings for the high altar, for the over part and the lower part, eleven yards of satin of Bruges with flowers and a crucifix of gold there set out on the same, with two frontals of black velvet with crowned ‘M’s of gold and ‘Jhc’, and the lower part of the frontal there fringed with silk of changeable colour, and two curtains of blue pattern with fringes of silk of divers colour, which in all came to the sum of £7 18s. 7½d.

But the best, or at least the most extravagant, was yet to come: Moreover in the vigil of the Assumption of Our Lady AD 1496, the foresaid Dame Maud Spicer in honour and worship of almighty God and Our Blessed Lady has given unto the church forever an honourable suit of vestments of white damask with flowers of gold and all the orfreys of the suit of cloth of gold, the which suit contains a chasuble, two tunicles with their apparels belonging, and two copes of the same with shells of silver enamelled with the arms of the Grocers, that cost unto her £27.

Maud Spicer’s bequests were undeniably bounteous; but, made in the interval between her husband’s death and her own, they find no mention in her will.76 As the true extent of the Spicers’ generosity begins to emerge, it is again apparent how individuals left an indelible mark both on the church interior and on the conduct of the liturgy, heightening and enriching the visual and sensory impact of celebrations within the parish as experienced by fellow parishioners. In common with other wealthy widows, Maud Spicer established a perpetual anniversary. Thomas had requested a ten-year anniversary which, according to the benefaction list, appears to have been celebrated as required. But Maud extended and expanded this commission. At the conclusion of her will, she describes how, on 3 January 1504 (that is, one or two days before giving the will), she had enfeoffed co-parishioners with a tenement in Small Street, in the parish of St Werburgh, to sustain a perpetual obit in All Saints’ marking the anniversary of her death, ‘spending annually by way of priests, friars, clerks and for lights, 20s.’ From 1507 to 1508 the churchwardens’ accounts disclose that the parish observed ‘the obit of Thomas Spicer and Dame Maud his wife’, faithfully maintaining this from then on; but expenditure on the service never approached 20s.

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Maud’s donations are priced, possibly suggesting that they were new when the Book was compiled, but certainly giving us a more accurate impression of her generosity than is possible for Alice Chestre, whose benefactions are not costed in the same way.

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per annum, nor did it ever include payments to the friars.77 Indeed, where the All Saints’ archive preserves deeds for so many other endowments and services, none survive for this particular endowment and service, and reference to property in Small Street is absent from the benefaction list. Maud’s plans seem to have been modified, possibly by her heir and executor, Thomas, alive until 1510 and who, indeed, served as senior warden in 1509–10. In this particular case, expenditure on the service, although varying slightly, ultimately matched Thomas senior’s stipulations more closely than Dame Maud’s plans; she, however, like the other parish widows under consideration, did manage to create a perpetual service, but quite what happened to her endowment remains unclear.78 The Spicers’ ante mortem pious provisions also repay consideration. Once again taking Thomas’s will as a starting point, he bequeathed the sum of 20s. to ‘David Whitecastell, chaplain … that he should pray for my soul’. This same chaplain witnessed Thomas’s will and, some six years later, in 1498, was named by Joan Abyndon, widow of the parish, in the witness list to her will, his name immediately following Dame Maud Spicer’s. This chaplain obviously enjoyed close connections with the Spicers, and his presence would certainly seem to explain Dame Maud’s eventual bequest of liturgical equipment to All Saints’, as mentioned earlier. The All Saints’ churchwardens’ accounts for the period towards the end of Maud’s life, for 1501–02 and 1503–04 – accounts that happen to be particularly detailed – record payments of 4d. ‘to my lady Spicer’s priest’ for the Corpus Christi day processions. In the first of those years, moreover, a John Dyar and one Thomas Furber were similarly paid 4d.; in the second, the same sum was paid to the clerk and to the suffragan, as well as to ‘Powlis priest [Paul’s priest]’ and to William Wood, who was the Halleways’ chantry priest at the time.79 In 1504–05 77

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In All Saints’, only the Halleways can be said with any certainty to have benefited from the presence of the friars at anniversary celebrations; that Maud Spicer planned for something similar is nevertheless suggestive of the manner in which she conceived of her own and her family’s status. A rent of 26s. 8d. collected from a tenement in Small Street appears in the parish accounts from 1509 to 1510, suggesting that Dame Maud’s devise had indeed profited the parish, and from that year’s accounts it is clear that the parish observed Thomas and Maud’s anniversary at a cost (eventually) of some 10s. per annum (ASB 2, pp. 198 and 200) – a substantially smaller outlay than Maud had envisaged – perhaps a more realistic reflection of what the tenement could actually yield, ensuring that the parish might derive a reasonable surplus. The puzzle is quite why the parish deeds yield nothing for the tenement in Small Street. It is particularly regrettable that, after the death of John Thomas, the materials in the benefaction list become both patchy and sporadic: as a result, the fate of Dame Maud’s last investment may not now be resolved. Respectively ASB 2, p. 170 (1501–02), and ASB 2, p. 175 (1503–04) – in the latter account, ‘poulys priest’ was also paid 2d. for bearing relics on relic Sunday, on whom a little more emerges below, in chapter 11.

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and 1505–06, moreover, a year or two after Maud’s death, the sum of 8d. was paid to ‘Richard and John, my lady’s priests’. Quite who these men were is unclear, but the upshot is that All Saints’ was home to a number of subsidiary clergy, enjoying roughly equal status, some of whom would appear to have been household priests sustained by leading parish families. John, one of ‘my lady’s priests’, may have been John Dyar, whom Dame Maud mentioned in her will. She forgave him ‘all such debts as he owes to me’, and left instructions that ‘his pledge now remaining in my keeping should now remain to be delivered unto him by my executors underwritten’.80 Bearing in mind the bequests made earlier by Thomas Spicer, he seems to have borne the expense of a household priest during his lifetime and, afterwards, Maud continued to support this priest as well as a chantry priest, both of whom would have been ‘her priests’ although playing possibly different roles in parish life. There was, however, nothing necessarily unique about the Spicers. In this context, the list of those who witnessed Alice Chestre’s will, which refers to ‘William Saie, our priest’, assumes a distinct resonance.81 Parishioners elsewhere, too, whose piety and generosity resembled that of the All Saints’ widows, similarly cherished the services of a priest within their household whilst, at the same time, supporting a chantry priest within their parish.82 In a town such as Bristol, the practice of supporting household chaplains was well established, explaining why a number of testators – often wealthy widows – bequeathed a variety of liturgical equipment to their parishes at death.

Joan Parnaunt, d. 1534 The last of the All Saints’ widows presently considered made her will in 1532, although it was not proven until 1534.83 Dame Joan prescribed funerary observances in more than usual detail which, as argued earlier, probably represented reasonably standard requirements for members of the wealthier classes.84 Her reliance on an executor who was not a close family member, Thomas Pacy – 80

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Maud, however, also bequeathed the sum of 3s. 4d. and a gown to one Joan, the wife of John Dier, which may at first cast doubt on John’s priestly status. But, given both the difference in the spelling of the surname and also the fact that dyeing would presumably have been a fairly common craft in Bristol, it seems safe to assume that John Dyar was indeed a chaplain. ASB 3, Wills, 13 clause 16 (p. 23). A theme emerging strongly in Burgess, ‘Chantries in the Parish’: wealthy widows, like Alice Warmystre or Joan Kempson, often referred to their household priests. ASB 3, Wills, 29 (pp. 51–4) – which document, it should be noted, has been preserved in the parish deed collection (ASB 3, Deeds, BS A 11 (p. 412), and also in Bristol Charters (BRO, 08153/1). Her post mortem provision received close attention in the previous chapter.

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although prominent in both parish and town affairs – obliged her to give fuller than usual descriptions of her wishes. A wealthy vowess, her possessions and provisions certainly repay scrutiny.

The emerging pattern Her plans resemble those of the three widows so far discussed, all of whom issued instructions for chantries and also established a perpetual anniversary in All Saints’. Since the Church Book lists benefactors and their benefactions only up until the end of the first decade of the sixteenth century, we are less well informed about Dame Joan’s activities than those of the other three – but some suggestions may be made. Where Dame Joan’s husband, Thomas, had asked for a one-year chantry ‘for my soul, for all my good friends’ souls and all Christian souls’, she requested that ‘a discreet priest sing for my soul and for my husbands’ souls immediately after my decease, and the same priest to be provided by the advice of John Flook now being vicar [of All Saints’]’. In the light of Alice and Maud’s generosity, one wonders what she, as Thomas’s executrix and the recipient of his unbequeathed goods and chattels, would have provided in the intervening years. Similarly, where Thomas Parnaunt in 1508 had entrusted the wardens of All Saints’, Thomas Davy and Thomas Spicer and their successors, with ‘all my state and term which I have now to come’ – that is, the remaining years of the lease – in his tenement in the market place of Bristol, so that they keep an obit for ‘me … and the souls above specified, paying at every such obit 5s. distributed after the discretion and ordinance of my curate’, Dame Joan gave property in Broad Street to establish an anniversary in All Saints’ ‘for my soul every year perpetually on the day of my decease’, to the yearly value of 10s.85 Material in the All Saints’ deeds collection reveals more about this endowment.86 Where she prescribed the anniversary in some detail in her will, bequeathing All Saints’ ‘a cup of silver whole gilt, weighing 18 oz., towards the maintenance and repair of the same tenement’, the deeds disclose that Dame Joan had made the necessary financial arrangements some seven years after the decease of her husband, Thomas, and more than fifteen years before her own – was it the expiry of Thomas’s lease on the market-place property, or its prospect, that prompted her? No matter, in 1515, having established title before the mayor to the designated property in Broad Street, Arthur Kemys sold her the tenement (in St Ewen’s parish) for the sum of £20. Dame Joan then enfeoffed eight of the more eminent 85

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Although in her will Joan proved generous to the poor of All Saints’, her anniversary provision also set aside the sum of 3s. 4d. that was annually to be given ‘to the prisoners of Newgate with other poor people, in bread’ (ASB 3, Deeds, BS A 8 (p. 411). ASB 3, Deeds, BS A 3–12 (pp. 409–12).

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of the parishioners of All Saints’ with the property, on the understanding that she might reside there for life but that, immediately after her death, in addition to ‘taking yearly all rents’, the churchwardens of All Saints’ were to ‘find and keep an obit in the church on the anniversary of her death or the next convenient day, for her soul and the souls of her husbands, Thomas Parnaunt, Thomas Codryngton and Morice Ludlowe, and of all Christians’. Dame Joan ordered that any residue be put into a coffer that she would provide and this was to be kept in the treasury of the church and locked by two keys, one of which was to be kept by the vicar and the other by the churchwardens. The accumulated surplus was to be spent on repairing and rebuilding the tenement whenever necessary, under the supervision of the vicar and churchwardens. Moreover, when six of the feoffees had died, the remaining two were to ‘make a lawful state of the tenement to eight other honest and well disposed parishioners’. Dame Joan exhorted them ‘to perform well, as they will answer for default to Almighty God at the dreadful day of the Last Judgement’.87 She envisaged a surplus on this arrangement which surely would have benefited the parish; and, in the light of previous examples, she may well have begun, or continued, this observance – perhaps marking the day of Thomas’s death, but for the benefit of all three husbands’ souls – before her own death. Dame Joan was, evidently, another serial widow. Thomas Parnaunt had been the last of three husbands, which, while suggesting something of the pressure exerted on wealthy widows to remarry, also explains the attraction that becoming a vowess held for such a woman.88 Arthur Kemys, from whom she had bought the property in Broad Street, seems to have been a relative: in her will, she mentioned inter alia a brother, John Kemmys, and also a cousin and godson, Thomas Kemmys. So the property intended for the anniversary endowment seems to have come from her family, rather than from any husband – reminiscent of Agnes Fyler’s anniversary foundation. Indeed, it may have been in anticipation of family objections that she chose Thomas Pacy, rather than any relative by blood or marriage, as her executor.89 Although Joan fails to evince any very close attachment to, or dependency upon, her step-family, we may note, by contrast, that her 87

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The stipulations concerning re-enfeoffment, and the exhortation, are to be found in ASB 3, Deeds, BS 9a/b (pp. 411–12); it transpires that we have evidence of Joan’s wishes in this respect being carried out in a Charter of Feoffment from June 1543, albeit with three surviving feoffees (Thomas Pacy, John Maunsell and John Snygge – all prominent parishioners) enfeoffing sixteen new men: ibid., Deeds, BS A 12a/b (p. 412), but leaving instruction that ‘when six feoffees are left, eight parishioners are to be enfeoffed as before’. The benefits attaching to widowhood, in London at least, are considered in Barron, ‘The “Golden Age”’; the underlying legal conditions would have been equally applicable in Bristol and, clearly, benefited a number of local widows. Joan’s testamentary plans, if anything, speak of a closer attachment to the Pacy family than to her stepson, Clement Parnaunt, and his family.

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parish allegiance extended beyond All Saints’. Some could have been the result of residual loyalties from earlier marriages, and one wonders, in the light of her gift of a ‘standing cup of silver gilt, and chased, weighing 16oz.’ to St Werburgh’s, whether she had once lived in this parish. But an association resulting from her final husband’s family links helps to explain further generosity. Where discussion in the previous chapter alluded to the possibility of Thomas Parnaunt having a brother, John, who served as parson of St Ewen’s from 1502 until 1515, an addendum to the St Ewen’s parish inventory reveals how generous Dame Joan Parnaunt had been in giving to this church, presumably when her brother-in-law was its incumbent.90 She is noted as having given St Ewen’s a double altar cloth of diaper, a pair of white vestments embroidered with flowers and having orphreys of red velvet, a broad and deep basin for the relics and a great matins book of parchment written in ‘a great hand’. It may be remembered that Alice Chestre, too, had been generous to St Ewen’s, so again Dame Joan acted in a manner consonant with other All Saints’ widows. Moreover, where Alice had given a relic basin to All Saints’, rather than replicate the gift, Joan gave a similar item to a different parish; and, if such gifts were theirs to give as the result of maintaining and equipping household chaplains and chapels, one begins to wonder how well resourced these arrangements had become. Like Alice, Dame Joan evidently possessed a variety of devotional items most of which she gave to All Saints’, but also included relatives and other religious communities as beneficiaries.

A vowess’s possessions Predictably, for a woman of means, Dame Joan bequeathed many household items, including a bed, cushions, silver vessels, the great chest in her chamber and items of clothing, such as her best gown mantle and hood, to her relations and household servants and also, notably, to the Pacy family, who emerge as intimates.91 The residue of all her goods she left to the poor ‘to be distributed among them at the discretion of Master Pacy … as shall seem best to him for the laud and praising of God and for the wealth of my soul’. Pacy was to receive £4 for executing her will; and she nominated as overseer her vicar, John Flook, who was to receive 40s. for his labours. She also possessed several items of a devotional nature, although referred to – somewhat quirkily – in and amongst her other chattels, which helps to convey a sense of these as household goods. For instance, to Frances Codryngton (evidently a relation from an earlier marriage, but how close a relation is not 90

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The link between St Ewens’ and the Parnaunts was briefly explored in the previous chapter. See CBSE, pp. xxxiii and 9. She mentions Christopher and Joan Pacy (presumably Thomas’s children) as her godson and godsyve.

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divulged) she gave ‘my signet of gold, my great brass pot, my image of Our Lady in timber, painted and gilt, a sanctus bell, a spice mortar of brass, and my pair of pleing tables’.92 Her gold ring with sapphire stone she gave to ‘the use and behoof [advantage] of the chapel of St Anne in the Wood’; her other gold ring, ‘being a hope which I do use and wear’, she left to the chapel of Our Lady of the Belhouse in Bristol.93 Moreover, to the fellowship of tailors and the brotherhood of St John in Bristol – both situated in St Ewen’s, again underscoring her links with this parish – she bequeathed ‘three latten candlesticks [and] two cloths painted with drops of gold, having on one of them a culver [a dove] signifying the Holy Ghost, with an image of the Trinity, and on the other an image of St Gregory’s Pity in alabaster’.94 To her brother, John Kemmys, she bequeathed ‘my covering of a bed with images’ – prompting curiosity, in the circumstances, whether these images (embroidered panels, presumably) would have been of a devotional nature. The remaining items she left to All Saints’, or to the use of the parish. Her best coverlet she bequeathed to Mary, now wife of Robert Mosett, ‘on condition that she lend it, or cause it to be lent, to the said church of All Hallows’ yearly at the feast of All Hallows’, or else it shall be lawful for the vicar and proctors for the time being to claim the said coverlet forever, to the use and behoof of the said church’. While possibly incorporating some symbol or image particularly appropriate to the feast of All Saints’, the coverlet may simply have been a particularly fine item that Joan deemed worthy to decorate the church, or perhaps an altar, at the patronal 92

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If this phrase is read as ‘playing tables’, one wonders whether they were intended for some kind of board game, such as draughts or chess. The chapel, and fraternity, of Our Lady of the Belhouse was situated at the west end of the north aisle in St Peter’s parish church in Bristol, see C. E. Boucher, ‘St Peter’s Church, Bristol, TBGAS, 32 (1909), pp. 260–300 (at pp. 276–80). One of the trustees for land held by the fraternity in the late sixteenth century was a certain Ambrose Codryngton, conceivably a relation of the Thomas Codryngton, Joan’s second husband. This perhaps suggests the link explaining why Joan had come to feel an allegiance to this chapel and fraternity – which seems, nevertheless, to have possessed a certain cachet in the town. The chapel of St Anne in the Wood presumably refers to the chapel at Brislington, referred to by William Worcestre (Worcestre, pp. 57–9) as ‘two miles away from the town’; this had a reputation as a place of pilgrimage (twice visited by Henry VII, for instance), wherein stood many candles and also votive boats (presumably because St Anne was the patron saint of sailors) – see R. H. Warren, ‘The Medieval Chapels of Bristol’, TBGAS, 30 (1907), pp. 181–211 (at pp. 207–9). On the broader context of such chapels, see Orme, ‘The Other Parish Churches’. The second image, evidently of an alabaster attached to an altar cloth, would seem to be a conflation of the image of Pity – i.e., an image of the tortured Christ – with the imagery of Christ as he emerged from the tomb and displayed his wounds, which was associated with Mass of Pope Gregory; see Duffy, Stripping of the Altars, pp. 103–9, who comments, ‘It was emphatically an image of forgiveness and grace, not of judgement.’

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festival.95 This was the case with her carpet, said to be ‘wrought with flowers and birds, to the intent that it shall lie continually there upon the high altar’. Moreover, ‘the sheet that shall lie upon me when I shall be brought to church [is] to be divided into two parts, one to be made into an altar cloth for the high altar, the other to make an altar cloth for the Jesus altar in the same church’. Whether this was already embroidered, or to be decorated later, is unclear; either was possible. The most striking bequest, involving an item presumably commissioned before her funeral, was ‘my pall of black velvet, with a cross of tawny velvet embroidered with eight pictures of angels of gold, and five shields with the five wounds of gold, [which was] to remain forever to the same church’.96 This she gave on condition: the parish was to have it to the intent that I and my above named friends shall be perpetually prayed for; and I will that every time my pall shall be lent forth, then the said vicar of the said church for the time being is to have 3d., and the poor people of the almshouse of the same parish are to have the other 4d. to pray for me.97

The vicar and, again, the poor of the parish had all the more reason to remember her. Generous in her charity, it is also noteworthy that, although admittedly a vowess, she should have amassed such a variety of devotional accoutrements and then proceeded to dispose them in so confident a manner, interweaving them into the interstices of the parish and its sacramental life. Was Dame Joan extraordinary for a woman of her class and position? Even despite the fact that the All Saints’ benefaction list does not extend to include her activities, Dame Joan clearly had much in common with two other widows, Alice Chestre and Maud Spicer, active a few decades earlier, whose generosity the benefaction list does record in detail. Generous and deeply pious, Dame Joan Parnaunt followed in a tradition; one can only speculate how much more would have been revealed – particularly concerning her ante mortem provision – had an entry in a benefaction list ever been preserved for her. But, finally, it is hard to resist drawing attention to the lease that Dame Joan, together with William Erith, took out on the Green Lattice, paying the parish an annual rent of £4 sterling; one widow’s generosity, and another’s obligations, continued to profit the parish.98 95

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Although we have hints on the care that the parish lavished on its patronal feast (emerging in chapters 10 and 11) little detail emerges. It is, for instance, referred to only obliquely in the surviving churchwardens’ accounts, possibly because the clergy and the parish ‘masters’ took a more prominent part in its organisation than the churchwardens. On the cult of the Five Wounds – ‘one of the most important and far-reaching in late medieval England’ – see Duffy, Stripping of the Altars, pp. 238–48. For discussion on the alms-house in All Saints’ parish, see above, chapter 2. ASB 3, Deeds, NA 56 (p. 407).

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Reward her for her good deeds: Widows as devotional exemplars A study of four widows has revealed connections between parishioners and collaborations, too, not just among kin but also between prominent parish families. Henry Chestre requested that ‘one fit chaplain should celebrate and pray especially for my soul and for the souls to whom I am bound’; this was to be in All Saints’ and ‘ordered according to the wishes and discretion of Alice my wife’, whom he appointed his executrix.99 In the event, Alice provided a twelve-year service – covering much of the interval between his death and her own – which she then prolonged for at least another five years after her own death in 1485. Maud Spicer did much the same for Thomas Spicer and herself. The second redaction of her activities in the Church Book neatly makes the point. The description of her chantry provision heads the list of her good works, revealing: ‘First, she caused a priest to sing by her life in this church by the space of five years to the honour of God and augmenting of divine service, in addition to the six years aforesaid for her husband Thomas Spicer.’ Maud, who died in 1504, had effectively maintained a priest in All Saints’ for the entire interval since Thomas’s death in 1492. But, more than this: ‘Also the said good lady caused a priest to sing in this church after her departing by the space of twelve years. Every year to have for this salary £6.’ The Spicer family sustained a chantry priest – apparently in addition to any household chaplain – for no fewer than twenty-three years, much of this during Maud’s lifetime, adding considerably to the liturgical capacity of the parish. But the efforts of both the Chestres and Spicers make best sense in conjunction: motivated by similar interests, Alice and Maud both wished to sustain and extend the presence of stipendiary priests serving with the church. It may be that the twoyear service that John Chestre is said to have supported, furnished by his widow, Anne, bridged the interval between the termination of Alice’s service c.1490 and the inauguration of the Spicers’ c.1492. Although apparently willing to bear the burden of sustaining a stipendiary within the parish for John, his widow Anne remarried with some rapidity, which, as a result, may have caused difficulties when making provision to benefit her previous husband and his family.100 One nevertheless wonders whether the Spicers assumed responsibility for supporting this stipendiary when, after Thomas’s death, it became appropriate. Similarly, when Maud’s support came to an end c.1516, might Joan Parnaunt have continued 99 100

ASB 3, Wills, 12 (p. 21). Subsequent discussion will show, however, that the Chestres’ interests were certainly not neglected in the longer term.

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to support the same priest? She had, after all, in the previous year set aside tenements in Broad Street effectively for the use of the church, which may indicate some reorganisation of her affairs so that she could take her turn in what had become a pious responsibility borne, in practice, by wealthy parish widows. While this suggestion is obviously speculative, there can be no doubt that we tend to conceive of chantry foundation in an overly restricted manner, framing the endeavour in terms only of founders.101 Parishioners, by contrast, conceived of these arrangements in a more expansive manner and, as entries in the benefaction list confirm, esteemed them first and foremost as parish amenities, supporting designated extra priests, who, since they embellished the liturgy at no cost to the generality, were not to be lightly abandoned. Wealthy dynasties, who worked for the welfare of the parish and invested both time and effort managing its affairs, often also shouldered the burden of providing for extra stipendiaries – or arranged bridging services, with heirs ‘finding’ priests both for their benefactors and the common good. But in All Saints’, clearly, the relatively generous level of staffing resulting from the presence of the Kalendars’ priests never in the least inhibited the enterprise to support more clergy: wealthy parishioners, and particularly widows, proved willing and able to sustain extra chaplains, both during life and after death.

Jesus Mercy; L ady Help Alice Chestre and Maud Spicer’s generosity exercised a further, more profound effect on devotional developments within All Saints’, Bristol. In brief, Alice established a Jesus Mass celebrated on Fridays in the north aisle – hitherto known as the Lady aisle – and Dame Maud Spicer elaborated on this when providing for the regular celebration of a Jesus anthem. Although the evidence is poor, enough survives to indicate that a Jesus guild evolved in All Saints’ in the last decades of the fifteenth century, associated with the north aisle. These developments prompted a change in name: by the early sixteenth century, the north aisle was no longer referred to as the Lady aisle but as the Jesus aisle. At first sight, a flourishing cult of Jesus appears to have supplanted the previous dedication to the Blessed Virgin, heralding developments writ much larger as the result of Reformation.102 Deliberation, however, suggests subtler processes at work. First, in understanding quite what motivated these widows and their co-parishioners, it is worth pondering Christine Peters’ comments on trends in 101 102

A theme pursued in my essay ‘Chantries in the Parish’. A position advanced by R. Lutton, Lollardy and Orthodox Religion in Pre-Reformation England (Woodbridge, 2006), pp. 72–8, 198–9, where he posits (at p. 76), in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, the ‘intensification of Christocentric devotion and the concomitant erosion of popular perceptions of the intercessory power of the saints … . By the 1530s Christocentric piety and, in particular, the cult of the Holy Name

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Christocentric devotion in the later fifteenth century.103 Taking a cue from the commonly encountered petition ‘Jesus mercy; Lady help,’ she observes how, by the late fifteenth century, the faithful had come to conceive of the complementary roles of the suffering Son and His grieving Mother.104 She writes, The increasingly Christocentric focus of late medieval piety, with its emphasis on the suffering Christ of the Crucifixion, promoted a re-evaluation of the role of Mary: she became primarily a witness intimately involved with the sufferings of Christ, and well placed to communicate her anguish to the human race. It was this understanding, rather than the claim of biological maternity, which underpinned her ability to intercede on behalf of those devoted to her.105

Concentrating on the suffering of Christ served, sequentially, to emphasise the efficacy of Mary’s intercession: the recognition of one underlined the need to supplicate for the other. There was no question of Mary’s intercession no longer being needed; if anything, it became more indispensable given the intensity of Christ’s suffering for mankind and of the inadequacy, therefore, of a believer’s response. While honouring the Son more specifically, leading parishioners evidently retained a continuing and deep dedication to the Blessed Virgin as mediatrix. With time, the liturgical customs of All Saints’ articulated these devotions more fully, and the resulting syncretism helped to promote the status of this parish church.

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contained much common ground for Catholic and Protestant evangelicals and, for some, “a bridge to Reformation in terms of religious understanding”.’ The following section should be read in conjunction with Christine Peter’s valuable discussion on the Virgin Mary and Christocentric devotion in her Patterns of Piety, chapter 3. Apart from anything else, this theme goes a good way to explaining the cumulative significance of the decorations and artefacts that both Alice Chestre and Maud Spicer provided in and for All Saints’. The early sixteenth-century scribes who penned the unbound copies of the churchwardens’ accounts, and also the Halleway chantry accounts often headed their accounts, or sometimes each separate page, with Jhu (in the parish accounts for 1507–08, 1509–10, 1514–1515, 1515–16, 1520 and 1523–24, respectively, ASB 2, pp. 191–7, 197, 222, 228, 250–59 and 288) and in the Halleway chantry accounts for 1515–16 and 1519–20 (ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 254 and 267). Sometimes they penned the more complete Jhu Maria (in the parish accounts for 1522, 1523 (ASB 2, pp. 267 and 280) and in the Halleway chantry accounts, 1520–21 and 1521–22 (ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 271 and 275). In 1521, the scribe employed a fuller (and for the parish) particularly appropriate heading in the parish accounts Jesus Maria. Omnis Sancti orate pro nobis (ASB 2, p. 259). Peters, Patterns of Piety, p. 74.

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Both Alice Chestre and Maud Spicer displayed unmistakeable devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary – the latter, very noticeably, employing a full-blown commendatory clause at the head of her will, bequeathing her soul ‘to Almighty God and to Our Lady Saint Mary, Virgin, Queen of Pity and Mother of Mercy, and to all the holy company of heaven’. Alice Chestre, if more reticent in expression, proved sedulous in commission. She paid for the Lady altar in All Saints’ to be gilded and donated a cloth stained with an image of Our Lady, in addition to images of Sts Katherine and Margaret; moreover, she had commissioned a carved tabernacle for the north side of this altar on which were three stories of Our Lady, one of Our Lady of Pity, another of the Salutation, and the third of the Assumption. But the characteristic emerging from her generosity is that she often chose to articulate a devotion to the Blessed Virgin in conjunction with a dedication to Jesus. Just as the crucifixes that Alice donated would, plausibly, have depicted Mary at the foot of the cross, so she gave a cloth for Our Lady’s altar with ‘a picture of Our Lord rising out of the sepulchre’. Moreover, where she erected a tabernacle in carved work ‘with a Trinity in the middle over the image of Jesus’, she also ‘let gild at her own cost [the] Our Lady altar adjoining the said image of Jesus’. As a result, both a statue of Jesus and the altar of Our Lady with its adjacent tabernacle with scenes from the life of the Virgin stood side by side at the east end of the Lady aisle – which ensemble effectively functioned as a three-part entity, for it fittingly stood under the gaze of a Trinity. A number of Alice’s other donations expressed devotion to Jesus and His Passion. Just as she had given an Our Lady of Pity, presumably depicting Mary grieving over the body of her Son, so she ensured that the church should have a splendid new rood loft and a newly carved front to the rood altar, both of which naturally focused attention on the Passion. She also gave ‘a cloth of the Passion of Our Lord’ to be hung before the rood altar and ‘to be drawn at certain times after the pleasure of the vicar and parishioners’. Finally, as noted, in conjunction with and supported by the same endowment that provided for her own and her husband’s anniversaries, Alice gave the tenement in Broad Street in 1477, ‘in the worship of Jesus, [and] to the foundation of a Mass of Jesus by note, to be kept and continued every Friday in this church and likewise an anthem … that they [that is, Henry and Alice] be prayed for every Friday at that Mass by name’.106 We are not told whether she embarked on this ‘foundation’, to celebrate the Mass of Jesus on Fridays, after consultation with the parish authorities, although surely such an addition to the parish’s liturgical repertoire could only have been contemplated after appropriate soundings and agreement.107 106 107

Respectively ASB 3, Deeds, BS B 14 a/b (p. 416), and ASB 1, p. 15. By contrast, we are told that her installation of a new rood loft had only been initiated after consultation with the parish authorities, and also with carpenters – the real experts in working in wood.

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Equally, while we are not expressly told at which side altar this Mass was celebrated, it emerges that the Jesus Mass was celebrated at the Lady altar, which stood adjacent to the image of Jesus. For not only had Alice assiduously embellished this area of the church with new carved and gilded work but, by her will, she had supplied the altar of the Blessed Mary in All Saints’ with two torches ‘for the Jesus service there’.108 Alice’s generosity nevertheless makes best sense in the round for, while the Jesus Mass was to be celebrated in All Saints’ ‘by note’ on Fridays at the Lady altar near the image of Jesus, tell-tale indicators in the churchwardens’ accounts reveal that these observances complemented devotions in the Blessed Virgin’s honour. Soon after the reconstruction of the north aisle, the expenditure (in 1449) of 23s. 4d. on ‘the basin of tapers before Our Lady’ indicates that the image of the Blessed Virgin on or near the altar was being adorned more elaborately;109 and, in 1481–82, the parish paid the sum of 23d. for ‘hanging up the cloth before the tabernacle of Our Lady which Mistress Chestre let made at the Jhc altar’.110 Moreover, as is evident from the ordinances agreed by the Halleways for their chantry priest in 1453, he ‘was to be in the choir of the church at all times convenient’, mentioning matins, lauds, Mass, evensong and compline and, presumably also daily, he was to observe ‘the anthem of Our Lady by note, or other wise as priests there be, and as the rule of the choir within the church shall require’.111 All Saints’ also acquired a salve bell to mark the performance of this daily anthem after compline and, tellingly, its rope regularly needed to be replaced in the 1470s.112 The churchwardens made improvements in 1480–81, paying the sum of 20d. ‘to the carver for making a case in timber work for the rope of the salve bell by Our Lady of Pity’.113 The bell would have summoned townsfolk each evening to the Lady aisle to hear the Salve anthem sung before the image of the Blessed Virgin, as was becoming customary in parish churches able to provide both a dedicated site and a sufficient number of trained singers.114 Such an observance, which, as Frank Harrison clearly showed, 108 109 110

111

112

113 114

ASB 3, Wills, 13, clause 6 (p. 22). ASB 2, p. 37. ASB 2, p. 105 – confirming Alice Chestre’s provision of a carved wooden surround framing the image. The Composicio or Ordinances of the Halleways’ chantry, in ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 94–8, at p. 94. In 1472–73 the wardens spent 5d. for one new rope to the salve bell, which had to be replaced in the year at the cost of 4d., and again at a cost of 6d. in 1478–79, references occurring both the unbound and ‘tidied’ versions of the churchwardens’ accounts. To take the slightly fuller references in the unbound accounts, see ASB 2, pp. 68, 72 and 93. ASB 2, p. 102. See also M. Williamson, ‘The Role of Religious Guilds in the Cultivation of Ritual Polyphony in England: The Case of Louth, 1450–1550’, in Music and Musicians in Renaissance Cities and Towns, ed. F. Kisby (Cambridge, 2001), pp. 82–93, at pp. 86–7.

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spread steadily from the bigger institutions to better-equipped parishes by the later fifteenth century, may be accounted something of a litmus test for any church’s liturgical competence. But we should not neglect the spiritual implications of this development, for, when founding Jesus College in Rotherham – as an act of piety benefiting the town of his origins – Bishop Rotherham expressed the hope that his support for a music master and six choristers, who were daily to sing a Mass and Jesus antiphon, with an antiphon of the Virgin on Saturdays, would cause the parishioners of the church and also the ‘people from the hills’ to ‘love Christ’s religion the better, and the more often visit, pay honour and cleave in affection to His church’.115 All Saints’ also celebrated a daily Lady Mass at the high altar, if Alice Halye’s request, dating from 1261, for a light to burn there in its honour is any guide as to the precise location for this celebration. The Lady Mass could differ according to the day of the week, and was subject, too, to seasonal variation, and in All Saints’ – to judge from a cluster of references in the churchwardens’ accounts in the late 1470s and early 1480s that record payments ‘for a dinner to the priests for Our Lady Mass in Lent’– the parish mounted a more elaborate observance in the penitential season, meriting extra reward.116 It seems certain, too, in a regime wherein Marian devotion was deeply embedded, that Saturday would have witnessed the celebration of the Commemorative Office of the Virgin, which ‘began with Vespers on Friday evening and normally ended with None on Saturday … it encompassed not only the Office but also the Mass: the Mass of the Virgin Mary was celebrated as the Mass of the day’.117 As John Harper comments: ‘If Sunday was the Lord’s day, the day of resurrection, then Saturday was our Lady’s day.’118 Towards the end of the week, then, and in preparation for the High Mass on Sunday, Alice Chestre’s provision for a Jesus Mass on Friday paved the way for the Office and Mass in honour of the Virgin on Saturday. But these observances would presumably have been sited at discrete altars, with the Jesus Mass in the north aisle and the Lady Mass (as the Mass of the day on Saturday) at the high altar – perhaps helping to explain why the north aisle could eventually be renamed. In instigating the weekly Jesus Mass, Alice sought not to displace but to complement the observances honouring the Blessed Virgin. But while her provision is obviously related to the emergence of the Jesus guild in All Saints’ c.1480, whether she helped to

115

116 117 118

These are themes to which I return below, in chapter 11. F. Ll. Harrison, Music in Medieval Britain (London, 1958), pp. 86–7, citing Educational Charters and Documents, 598–1909, ed. A. F. Leach (London, 1911), pp. 425 and 432; see also EHD IV, document 555. ASB 2, pp. 97, 105, 108. Harper, The Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy, pp. 134–5. Ibid., p. 134.

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articulate this guild, or whether an existing fraternity stimulated her interests, is not entirely clear – although a scrap of evidence survives to suggest that it may well have been the latter.119

The ‘Jesus anthem at night’ What Alice Chestre promoted, Maud Spicer enhanced. The preamble of Maud’s will permits no doubt as to her commitment to the Blessed Virgin; she took trouble to ensure not only that her gift of sumptuous vestments was delivered to the church on the vigil of the feast of the Assumption, but she also avowedly made this ‘in honour and worship of almighty God and Our Blessed Lady’. And she, too, promoted a deeper devotion to Jesus. She gave two frontals of black velvet for the high altar, embroidered both with crowned ‘M’s of gold and the Jhc monogram, as well as other vestments of ‘light blue [and] of damask with five wounds in the cross’. She commissioned two stories painted onto pillars in the lower part of the church (presumably to the west end of the nave and clearly near the font), ‘the one story over the font of the baptising of Our Lord Jesus Christ’, and the other depicting St Christopher, presumably including an image of the infant Jesus borne on the saint’s shoulders. She also gave a table (that is, a tableau or plaque) ‘of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ to move and excite people unto devotion’, which may suggest something of developing practice within the parish. For, in addition to fixing on the attributes and person of Jesus, an interest in the Transfiguration closely combined with a devotion to the Holy Name whose particular liturgical expression was the Jesus Mass – with the Feast of the Transfiguration being celebrated on 6 August and the Feast of the Holy Name on 7 August.120 By such means, the forward-looking devotion of one widow complemented that of an earlier parish pace-setter. More than this, Maud embellished Alice’s weekly provision. The Church Book reveals that: ‘She provided three tapers of wax before the image of Jesus, there to burn at the Jesus Mass on Fridays and the anthem at night and at other times convenient, so to be continued as long as her executors shall continue this present life.’121 Alice 119

120 121

The existence of the guild (discussed at more length below, at the conclusion of chapter 9) emerges in a series of sketchy entries at the end of the Church Book, see ASB 1, pp. 136–7, which reveal that its accounts were submitted ‘before the vicar and the parishioners’ and which refer to a memorandum ‘ordained by the vicar and parishioners’. The morsel of evidence suggesting that the guild may have predated Alice Chestre’s foundation is considered in the same discussion. Pfaff, New Liturgical Feasts, p. 77. ASB 1, p. 21; which may be compared to the specification in her will, where she requested that her executors find from her goods ‘three tapers of wax, whereof weighing a pound, to be set up and to burn before the blessed image of Jesus within the said parish church of All Hallows’ during the lives of my executors’, ASB 3, Wills, 19, clause 11 (p. 34).

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had specified ‘a Jesus Mass by note and likewise an anthem’, but reference here to ‘the anthem at night’ suggests that singers performed the Jesus antiphon on the Friday evening, provisions which suggest how, by the early sixteenth century, All Saints’ was supporting a liturgy imitative of practice common in bigger churches during the fifteenth century. Richard Pfaff, drawing examples mainly from cathedral and collegiate churches, and commenting on the popularity of the Jesus Mass in England, notes that ‘There were Jesus altars with all the equipment pertaining to them, Jesus guilds which attracted numerous members, and in some cases elaborate ceremonies raising the celebration of the Jesus Mass far above the level of an ordinary votive.’ At Durham, for instance, in the earlier fifteenth century, not only was there a Jesus altar where the Jesus Mass was sung on Fridays throughout the whole year but also, by the latter part of the century, a special ceremony took place at the altar on Fridays: ‘At night, after the evensong was done in the choir, there was an anthem sung in the body of the church before the foresaid Jesus altar called the Jesus anthem.’122 In All Saints’, Bristol, in the 1440s, Richard Haddon with assistance from the Prior of the Kalendars, John Gyllard, had rebuilt the north aisle: they generously ‘let made at their own free will the chapel of Our Lady in the north side of the church’.123 Nevertheless, by the early sixteenth century, as the result both of the Jesus Mass and the association of the Jesus guild, the Lady chapel was more usually referred to as the Jesus aisle; indeed, the last redaction of the benefaction list mentions that Haddon and Gyllard ‘caused to be made the aisle of Jesus’.124 Similarly, by the early sixteenth century, the altar in this aisle was referred to as ‘the Jesus altar’.125 But, while Alice Chestre and Maud Spicer had, between them, strengthened the commitment to Jesus in this parish, this would in turn have deepened devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Moreover, developments such as these, with the Jesus Mass and antiphon celebrated and sung on Fridays as a precursor to devotions to the Blessed Virgin on Saturdays – in addition to daily Salve antiphons 122

123 124 125

Pfaff, New Liturgical Feasts, pp. 77–8 and notes. For a study of Jesus guilds more generally (and one in particular) and the liturgy with which they were associated (and of which they were capable), see D. Mateer and E. New, ‘“In Nomine Jesu”: Robert Fayrfax and the Guild of the Holy Name in St Paul’s Cathedral’, Music and Letters, 81 (2000), pp. 507–19. ASB 1, p. 9 – generosity considered in more detail in the following chapter. ASB 1, p. 26. For references in the later redactions of the benefaction list, see ASB 1, p. 28. Moreover, a few references in the churchwardens’ accounts, such as payment of 23d. ‘for hanging up the cloth before the tabernacle of Our Lady which Mistress Chestre let made at Jhc altar’ in 1481–2 (ASB 2, p. 105), and others in the tidied accounts for the 1470s, but which were written up presumably in the 1480s (as at ASB 1, pp. 122 and 134), suggest that this usage may have been current by the 1480s.

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– marked All Saints’ as an increasingly capable liturgical establishment, emulating practice in bigger establishments in an increasing number of respects.126 Alice and Maud, and others, too, sought to enhance their parish’s liturgical status and capabilities; and it is striking how the synergy of their devotion, both to the Blessed Virgin and to Jesus, assisted in promoting – in at least one telling respect – the parish’s ongoing institutional transfiguration.127

Spiritual leadership by material means In the fifty or more years before the Reformation, widows in All Saints’ played a crucial role both in the material and in the spiritual development of the parish, fulfilling a trend heralded long before by Alice Halye. Apart from the four widows chosen here, others could have been discussed – like Katherine Leynell, who displayed similar generosity or, of course, Joan Halleway, who arranged the perpetual chantry that would benefit her own and her husband’s souls as well as the broader parish community. But the four widows shared certain characteristics. All were wealthy, possessing in widowhood the means to leave a mark on their parish; all established services, namely an anniversary and a chantry. Each anniversary represented a lucrative property asset, as the descriptions in the benefaction list concerning Maurice Hardwick’s role in Fyler’s provision makes abundantly plain. Cumulatively such generosity represented a considerable addition to the parish property portfolio and helps to explain the steady increase in parish income in the later fifteenth and early sixteenth century disclosed in the churchwardens’ accounts.128 Moreover, in the light of the widows’ achievements, we may begin to understand how chantry services have all too often been misconstrued: often celebrated for considerably longer periods than wills suggest, there is good reason to believe that chantries functioned essentially as a valued communal asset. Although testamentary evidence tends to emphasise their individual provenance, in practice different families may well have orchestrated stipendiaries’ services, sustaining them for as long as possible for the benefit of the parish. In a regime that set a premium on liturgical competence, the ideal of sustaining auxiliary 126

127 128

See Harrison’s helpful comments on the investment in and spread of the Mass and the antiphon of Jesus (in the wake of the Mass and antiphons of Our Lady) in smaller institutions, such as parishes, in his Music in Medieval Britain, pp. 197–200; these comments make best sense when read in conjunction with his descriptions of practice in the realm’s bigger institutions, too – see ibid., pp. 156ff. Not only had the obligation to celebrate votive antiphons stimulated musical investment and innovation, but smaller institutions – as intended – did their best to imitate liturgical observance in larger foundations, ‘to foster the devotion of the laity’ – which he explores further in ibid., pp. 218–19. A theme explored in more detail below, in chapters 10 and 11. Discussed below, chapters 6 and 9.

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priests, if necessary, by collaborative endeavour, had much to commend it – and widows responded generously.129 The largesse of the women in question and the manner in which, cumulatively and collaboratively, they assumed and maintained a devotional leadership within the parish, albeit advised by parish clergy, is perhaps unexpected. It is salutary to learn how a few individuals acting for the collective benefit, while also seeking to derive prayers from as many as possible, profoundly shaped the community’s financial, liturgical and devotional practices. The All Saints’ archive helps to lift a blindfold. What is revealed is startling, demanding a reappraisal of our assumptions of the scale of pre-Reformation pious practice and investment. While ordinarily deprived of the opportunity of being parish administrators, widows were not content to play second fiddle: some evidently possessed the material and devotional wherewithal to fulfil both an inspirational and a pace-setting role in the decades before the Reformation. Since widows often had more freedom to act – perhaps being less encumbered with the duty to provide for heirs than their late husband – they indulged their spiritual tastes with flamboyance. In conscious collaboration with, or emulation of, other prominent widows, alive or dead, they set much of the tone for parish devotion in All Saints’ in the decades just before and after the turn of the sixteenth century. Individually and collectively, too, they provided a good proportion of the means that enriched the pious environment.

129

Cf. Roger Bowers’ opinions on chantry priests in his ‘Liturgy and Music’, pp. 130–56, to which I return in chapter 10, below.

Chapter 5

‘God amend them’: The parish wronged

A

s with widows, offspring who served as executors often acted generously.1 One such was Richard Haddon who, in the middle decades of the fifteenth century, provided for the souls of his parents, John and Christine Haddon, with remarkable liberality.2 None of the Haddons has a surviving will, so the benefaction list in the All Saints’ Church Book and various parish deeds furnish most of what we know concerning this family – a perspective which, in this case, sheds welcome light on a productive collaboration between parishioners and clergy. But this story has a sting in its tail: where the desire for commemoration ordinarily exercised a constructive influence, in more difficult circumstances, parishioners – both clerical and lay – might put pressure on individuals, or even punish them, by ensuring that intercession be restricted or even withdrawn.

And so without the Grace of God: Calculating obscurity We focus upon two generations of the Haddon family. The first generation, John Haddon, vintner, and his wife Christine, had died by the time that the story starts to unfold in the early 1440s. Our protagonist is their son, Richard, also a vintner, who remained active in All Saints’ until the early 1470s. When working for his parents’ benefit, he regularly acted with his co-executor, John Gyllard, who

The following is concerned with a son; in theory a daughter could have acted similarly, although such an eventuality would have been unusual. Had a daughter survived as her parents’ sole heir, the chances are that she would have been married, with her inheritance having passed to her husband; how the latter honoured his ‘in laws’ would presumably have been determined by the conditions of the marriage settlement. Agnes Fyler’s example, however, serves to alert us to the difficulties even facing a widow who wished to devise real property without reference to her most recent husband’s family.  2 Richard Haddon served as bailiff of Bristol in 1442–43, see Latimer, ‘“The Maire of Bristowe”’, pp. 131–2. As for John Haddon, a note written on one of the fly-leaves of the Little Red Book suggests that he exercised a position of some responsibility within All Saints’ in the early 1420s, printed in LRB, i, 2.  1

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served as Prior of the Kalendars’ Guild until his death in 1451.3 Gyllard’s contribution demonstrates how serving the Kalendars’ interests worked to the parish’s advantage, for Richard Haddon and John Gyllard collaborated closely not only for the benefit of John and Christine Haddon but also to profit All Saints’ as well as the Kalendars.

The testimony of the benefaction list As noted above, All Saints’ benefaction list survives in two redactions, one compiled c.1480 and the other very early in the sixteenth century; each arranges material under headings, for instance treating clerical donors separately from lay benefactors.4 John Gyllard surfaces in the first redaction itemising the clergy’s contribution. On his own account, he clearly sought the profit of his host parish. He embellished liturgical celebration within the church by donating both a paxbread of silver, said to weigh 9¼ oz., and a pair of processionals; he also improved parish fittings by commissioning what are referred to as ‘the four seats in the Cross aisle’ at a cost of £3.5 He did much more, however, in association with Richard Haddon. ‘The said John and Richard Haddon’, we are told, ‘let made [that is, commissioned] one tabernacle of gold and silver of Saint Saviour at the high altar [at the cost of] £20’.6 But this was just the beginning: also The said John and Richard let made at their own free will the chapel of Our Lady in the north aisle of the church and worshipfully glazed it with one story of Te deum laudamus for the souls of John Haddon, vintner, and Christine his wife; and where the said John and Christine ordained but 20 marks for the repair of the said chapel, the said John and Richard, for the laud and worship of God, built anew out of the ground that cost £227.7

For brief introductory comments on the Guild of Kalendars, see above, chapter 2; John Gyllard had been collated as prior in September 1440 and died (still in office) in June 1451, see Orme, ‘Guild of Kalendars’, p. 46.  4 Discussed more fully in chapter 2.  5 ASB 1, p. 9. It was not unusual for Kalendars’ priests – as will be seen with John Flook, for instance – to have served previously as parish clergy, so their loyalty to the parish should come as no surprise. Orme notes (from TNA, E 179/58/10) that Gyllard had been serving as a chaplain in All Saints’ in 1419; he, too, had long been associated with the parish.  6 The use of the term St Saviour presumably signifies that this image was a Salvator Mundi – that is, a Christ with his right hand raised in blessing and, in his left hand, holding an orb (usually) surmounted by a cross, symbolising earth.  7 For what a Te Deum Laudamus window entailed, see the more general discussion of the church glazing scheme below, in chapter 10.  3

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Noteworthy as the decision to instal a commemorative window may be, this pales beside the disparity of the sum ordained by John and Christine for the repair of the chapel and the outlay that John Gyllard and Richard Haddon subsequently devoted to its rebuilding. In the absence of detail on who paid what, it seems safe to assume that Richard Haddon gave most. While he would have inherited assets from his parents, this decision was evidently his own, possibly prompted by John Gyllard – as with the next initiative. ‘Item the said John and Richard lent unto William Rodberd [parish incumbent from c.1436 until his death in June 1453] and the parish of All Hallows for rebuilding a house of the said church called the Green Lattice, £100 in money.’ Their subsequent initiative more obviously benefited the Kalendars. ‘Item the said John and Richard let make one house for the Kalendars over the said chapel of Our Lady for an easement unto the prior and his brethren, and they [that is, the prior and his brethren] are to repair the gutter next the street side.’ To appreciate what Haddon and Gyllard accomplished for the Kalendars, we need establish what is known about the priests’ previous accommodation. A fourteenth-century property deed, when used in conjunction with architectural survivals in the church, situates the Kalendars’ house: in July 1333, the canons of St Augustine’s Abbey (evidently acting collectively as patrons of All Saints’) with the agreement of the parishioners of All Saints’, permitted the guild to build a house in the northwest corner of All Saints’, ‘against the aforesaid church and superimposed on its walls’.8 A staircase up from the side of the church abutting Corn Street afforded access to the upper storeys, and these comprised a house that projected into the area over the north aisle. As well as revealing that the Kalendars raised their house ‘upon the wall of the aisle or north part of the church’, this deed also discloses that the dwelling measured ‘thirty feet in length from the church porch, that is to say from the doors and the pillar attached to the same, and [was] twenty-three feet in width from the traverse of the aforesaid pillars towards Corn Street’. Given that the north aisle had hitherto been divided from the nave by a series of round piers matching those of the two Romanesque bays still remaining at the westend of the church, these evidently supported the upper storeys which stretched eastwards into the church probably as far as the present westernmost (and higher, more slender) fifteenth-century pier. So, to refurbish the north aisle of All Saints’, Richard Haddon – in conjunction with John Gyllard – had also to rebuild the Kalendars’ house over it, and the parishioners consented to this by a deed issued in November 1443.9 Again, the following is heavily indebted to Orme, ‘Guild of Kalendars’, pp. 37–8; the relevant deeds are ASB 3, Deeds, CS B3 [July 1333] and CS B5 a, b and c [November 1443] (pp. 378–80).  9 ASB 3, Deeds, CS B 5c (pp. 379–80).  8

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John Carpenter, bishop of Worcester from 1444 until his death in 1476, remodelled the guild in the 1460s and redefined its responsibilities.10 If, as is likely, these plans had taken time to mature, the reconstruction of the Kalendars’ premises should probably take some of the credit for the eventual programme.11 Although, in 1466 – in a scheme described presently – other donors would give an additional 100 marks (£66 13s. 4d.) for the Kalendars’ dwelling, perhaps completing the rebuilding programme, Gyllard and Haddon’s initiative had reconfigured the accommodation.12 Having heightened the north aisle and glazed it, they extended the Kalendars’ premises over the whole length of the aisle, from the bell tower in the east to the main body of the existing house to the west, which probably contracted slightly to rest on the remaining Romanesque piers at the west end of the church. Indeed, Carpenter’s reforms reduced the number of priests, not including the prior, from three to two; nevertheless, he also made provision for a library, sited in the new room over the aisle.13 The scheme to elevate the aisle and replace most of the round piers by the more elegant arcade still gracing the church, obliged the use of timber for the new wing of the Kalendars’ house in order to avoid excessive weight, with its floor giving the aisle underneath a flat ceiling. A final entry on John Gyllard’s benefaction yields further information on his and Haddon’s intentions for the Lady aisle: Item the said John and Richard, where John Haddon and Christine had ordained by testament for one priest to sing in the church but twelve years, they amortised 20 marks of livelode [ie. they set up an endowment in mortmain worth £13 13s. 4d. per annum] for one priest to sing in perpetuity at Our Lady’s altar [sited at the east end of the rebuilt north aisle] in the said church as it appears by four copies of the same mortifications.14 10 11 12 13

14

Discussed above, in chapter 2. See also Orme, ‘Guild of Kalendars’, pp. 40–43. I refer to John and Edith Chawncelor’s donation, made in 1466. Carpenter was determined that the prior of the Kalendars should henceforth be a bachelor of theology, or at least a master of arts who had studied theology. In Orme’s words, rather than ‘an ordinary chantry priest’, Carpenter wanted ‘a well educated evangelist’. This could only be ensured by setting aside more for the prior’s salary, hence the proportionate reduction in the number of additional ‘chantry’ priests. In the precise circumstances pertaining in All Saints’, however, both the Haddons’ and the Halleways’ chantries could be counted on to supplement the number of priests serving in the parish. The term ‘mortifications’ presumably refers to the documentary materials concerning the chantry’s foundation and, more specifically, materials generated as the founder complied with mortmain procedures – and which would thus prove its corporate legitimacy.

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Evidently John Gyllard and Richard Haddon had acted with extraordinary generosity, and exercised a considerable financial, physical and liturgical influence on All Saints’. But, on the assumption that Richard Haddon would have contributed most to these initiatives, it seems strange that the benefaction list fails to differentiate the respective generosity of each donor; even allowing for the fact that this information is found in a section devoted to clerical benefactors, Richard Haddon’s involvement receives slight attention. Curiously, the section in the first redaction devoted to lay contributions fails to rectify this. When itemising the Haddon family’s bequests, it deals with their input very much from the point of view of John Haddon, Richard’s father.15 John is said to have ‘let make’ the story of the doom in the Cross aisle, paying £8 for the same.16 But this is all he did; the remaining material in this section simply recaps on the activities of his son and John Gyllard as previously described in the clerical benefactions section: ‘Item the said John gave to the building of Our Lady chapel £13 6s. 8d., but the executors of the said John built the said chapel anew, and the costs drew unto the sum of £227.’ This, and the following, fail even to name John’s executors: ‘Item the executors of the said John let make the second part of the tabernacle of the high altar’, which presumably refers to the commission of ‘the tabernacle of gold and silver of Saint Saviour at the high altar’ that cost £20. The final entry, which concerns the Haddons’ chantry, dwells on the equipment the executors (still not named) had provided for the use of the celebrant: Item the said executors amortised and founded one priest in perpetuity for the said John and Christine his wife, and endowed the said chantry with one mass book, worth £18, and with four pairs of vestments. And John Gyllard, prior of the Kalendars, gave by testament to the said chantry one chalice, precium [to the value] of £7 6s. 8d. God have mercy on their souls.

John Haddon, in fact, contributed little towards three out of four of these commissions, paying directly only for the least expensive of them. That he is named as benefactor, to the notable exclusion of his son, is downright odd, accentuating Richard’s neglect. A third version of these activities exists in the second redaction of the benefaction list compiled in the early sixteenth century, in the section on clerical benefaction: again, this specifically commemorates John Gyllard’s 15 16

ASB 1, p. 13. Presumably this refers to decorating one wall (or perhaps more) with a depiction of the Last Judgement in the Cross aisle of the church; this aisle was rebuilt and redecorated in the 1430s.

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generosity.17 Where the benefaction list is concerned, the parish progressively compressed information on deeds long past; this process, however, sometimes affords new insights. We are told, first, how he gave the paxbread of silver weighing 9¼ oz. and ‘a fair processional’, and that he ‘let make four seats in the Rood aisle’ (‘rood’ now having been substituted for ‘cross’) at a cost of £3. The list continues, ‘Item this same John and Richard Haddon let make a tabernacle of gold and silver of St Saviour that stands at high feasts upon the high altar, precium £20’, an entry shedding welcome light on liturgical practice in All Saints’. The list then continues with a concise description of Gyllard and Haddon’s benefaction, reflecting, among other things, the changing dedication of the north aisle: ‘Item they caused to be made the aisle of Jesus with the library above with the goods of John Haddon and Christine his wife, which aisle with the glazing cost them eleven score and seven pounds’ – evidently, by the early sixteenth century, parishioners referred to the north aisle as the Jesus aisle. But the phrasing employed emerges as tendentious since, by seeming to emphasise that John and Christine’s money had built the aisle, it further diminishes Richard Haddon’s contribution.18 This is the more perplexing given that Richard’s parents had, in fact, set aside only twenty marks for this initiative; and the following item, scored in the manuscript, seems almost wilfully obscure: ‘Also as some say, they amortised 20 marks worth of livelode to find a priest for ever more videnda est illa materi [it is necessary to look at the materials].’ The entry on John Gyllard’s benefactions concludes with a description of what he and John Haddon had, however, provided for this chantry: ‘Item the said John Haddon gave a mass book to his said chantry, price £18, with four pairs of vestments, and the said John Gyllard gave to the chantry a chalice, precium £7 6s. 8d.’ Insofar as this redaction specifically refers to him only once, as sharing the commission of the tabernacle of St Saviour, Richard’s role in these proceedings has effectively been expunged. Why does he merit no entry of his own in any redaction of the benefaction list? And why, in the final version, did the compiler distort earlier activity so blatantly, almost eliminating Richard’s contribution?

Richard Haddon’s three initiatives Despite glitches in the evidence, a reasonable impression emerges of what All Saints’ received in the name of the Haddon family. Their donation of liturgical equipment, as well as the commissions of painting and glazing, may be noteworthy, but three major initiatives command attention – highlighting what the laity 17 18

ASB 1, p. 26. The last section of the previous chapter explored the change in the name of the north aisle, from the Lady aisle to the Jesus aisle.

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might contemplate, and how the clergy encouraged them. Nevertheless, while the benefaction list yields information in this matter in close association with the name of John Gyllard, common sense suggests that, as the result of Richard’s decisions, the Haddons’ money would have underpinned each of them. The first was the loan of £100 to rebuild the Green Lattice, the property in the High Street that Alice Halye had devised the parish in the 1260s and which long remained its most lucrative asset.19 Insofar as it closely affected the Kalendars’ interests, the second initiative would certainly have been accomplished in conjunction with John Gyllard: it involved reconstructing the north aisle of All Saints’, above which stood the Kalendars’ house. Refashioning the aisle meant rebuilding this house and, as noted, adding the premises that became a library in the 1460s. In his third major benefaction, Richard Haddon, again in conjunction with his co-executor, John Gyllard, founded a perpetual chantry in All Saints’ for the repose of his parents’ souls, celebrated at an altar in the refurbished north aisle. They arranged an annual income of at least £13 13s. 4d. to cover both the celebrant’s stipend and the costs inevitably incurred in maintaining the endowment. It is worth looking in more detail at each of these initiatives. The counterpart of a grant of rent, preserved in the All Saints’ deed collection and dated 24 December 1442, describes the Green Lattice and, at that date, its recent renovation.20 William Rodberd, vicar of All Saints’, recorded how the Green Lattice, a messuage situated in the High Street, had been ‘constructed anew and rebuilt at the great cost and expense of Thomas Halleway, of John Gyllard, Prior of the Kalendars, and of Richard Haddon, executors of the will of Christine Haddon, for a sum of money exceeding £100, in which, up to now, they have been only in small part repaid’.21 The vicar of All Saints’ had been seised of this property ‘time out of mind’ and Rodberd granted its yearly rent of £4 6s. 8d. to the said Thomas, John and Richard, ‘with the assent of Thomas, Bishop of Worcester, and of Walter, Abbot of St Augustine’s’, to be paid by the vicar of All Saints’ and his successors for twenty-three years from the current date. Clearly, the loan to rebuild the Green 19

20

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Alice Halye’s devise and its implications are briefly discussed towards the beginning of chapter 4. ASB 3, Deeds, HS E 11 (p. 406). The Green Lattice was described at this time as situated between the messuage of Agnes Knyght (later Fyler) on one the one side and the messuage of the chaplains of Walter Frampton’s chantry on the other, occupied by one Thomas Chestre cook. It was presently the dwelling of William Warde mercer, but is said lately to have been ruinous and in decay. Christine Haddon, specifically named here, apparently outlived John Haddon and had been his executrix. In addition to her son, she had clearly seen fit to include John Gyllard prominently in her plans, along with an eminent parishioner (Halleway) who had served as mayor of Bristol (in 1434–35). One can only speculate whether initiatives, such as the repair of the Green Lattice, would have originated with her.

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Lattice – advanced from Christine Haddon’s estate – was to be repaid by diverting rent from the property to her executors. Reimbursing Christine Haddon’s estate would, in practice, repay the money to Richard Haddon, presumably her main legatee. Later leases, both from 1444, reveal that while William Warde, a mercer, leased a large part of the messuage for an annual rent of £3 13s. 4d., Richard Haddon, with ‘the agreement of Roger Abyndon and Richard Andrews churchwardens and of all parishioners’, leased the cellar beneath the Green Lattice, for an annual rent of 26s. 8d., to ‘the vicar and his successors for the use of the church’.22 Surviving churchwardens’ accounts give no hint as to the expenditure of so large a sum as £100 on the Green Lattice; the best that emerges is in the accounts kept for 1444–45, which reveal that churchwardens, Abyndon and Andrews, spent £3 15s. 8½d. on the house: on stone and for paving, on wooden boards and for work by a carpenter, for sundry locks and keys, on plastering, and even for making a lattice in the parlour – minor touches at the tail-end of the reconstruction.23 The accounts, however, do record sundry legal costs, such as paying John Jose, man of law, 13s. 4d. ‘for William Warde’s house’, as well as itemising the payment of 12d. for writing six deeds, and 3s. 4d. ‘for writing the deeds between John Gyllard and Richard Haddon, the executors of Christine Haddon, and the parish of All Hallows’’.24 In the years following 1465, when the twenty-three-year lease between Rodberd and Haddon had expired, the strategy looks to have been successful: in the accounts for 1467–68, for instance, John Compton paid a slightly increased rent of £5 6s. 8d. for the property.25 But, in the interim, to avoid vacancies and a financial shortfall for the parish, on occasions Richard Haddon himself seems to have leased the Green Lattice – as in 1456–57, when churchwardens’ receipts reveal that Haddon had paid the rent of £5 for the Green Lattice, after which, under expenditure, he received the sum of £4 6s. 8d.26 He effectively cancelled the debt in certain years by covering what the parish owed him. Even though the loan was apparently repaid, Haddon emerges as generous in his dealings concerning the Green Lattice, the result of which saw the parish’s most lucrative endowment restored and able to command an enhanced rent.27 22 23 24

25 26 27

ASB 3, Deeds, HS E 12 and E 13 (pp. 406–7). ASB 1, p. 81. ASB 1, pp. 80–81. It may also be noted that a deed from 1452, the year after Gyllard’s death, repeats the terms of the grant of 1442, but names only Halleway and Haddon as executors – ASB 3, Deeds, HS E 14 (p. 407). ASB 1, p. 109. ASB 1, pp. 96–7. One wonders whether he had leased the cellar because Warde did not want it; nevertheless, since the Green Lattice was a tavern and Haddon a vintner, it may have made good business sense for him to use part of the premises.

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Richard Haddon’s second main benefaction underwrote the construction of the north, or Lady, aisle of the parish church ‘anew out of the ground’ and, consequently, the refurbishment of the Kalendars’ house. Accomplished in conjunction with John Gyllard, this project seems to have been completed before the latter’s death in 1451. Like the restoration of the Green Lattice, this initiative made no impact on the churchwardens’ accounts – because, simply, someone else paid. Nevertheless, Haddon seems to have borne responsibility for one of the more significant alterations to the fabric of All Saints’ accomplished during the fifteenth century: the rebuilding represented a major improvement, heightening, decorating and modernising the one aspect of the parish church, other than the tower, visible from a major thoroughfare – in this case, from Corn Street.28 A benefaction of the first importance, it saved others from having to foot further bills. John and Christine’s attested willingness to contribute to work on the north aisle suggests that this project was to have followed on from the rebuilding of the Cross aisle, accomplished mainly in the 1430s and funded collaboratively from various gifts and rates; but Gyllard and Richard Haddon seized the initiative and shouldered the burden.29 The most notable beneficiaries of this enterprise, however, were John and Christine themselves. Having set aside some twenty marks – that is, £13 13s. 4d. – for the repair of the aisle, their son, and a co-executor, devoted in excess of £200 to complete reconstruction.30 The new building, moreover, celebrated John and Christine’s memory: Richard and John ‘worshipfully glazed the aisle with one story of Te Deum laudamus for the souls of John Haddon, vintner, and Christine, his wife’. Their names, or representations of their persons, or quite possibly both, would almost certainly have been included in the glass, keeping their presence and intercessory needs well to the fore in the parish’s collective consciousness.31 The Kalendars’ priests, too, who lived in the house over the aisle, had every reason to be grateful, along with the fraternity’s clerical and lay brothers and 28

29

30

31

See plate 1 for All Saints’ frontage on Corn Street, showing the exterior of the north aisle as it presently appears. The process involved in rebuilding the south, or Cross, aisle is considered in more detail below, in chapter 10. The significant omission of Halleway, the third co-executor, in any of the descriptions of the rebuilding programme may well be the best indication that the enterprise was funded from Richard Haddon’s ‘pocket’, on his own and Gyllard’s initiative. Such representation – of small images of donors (and/or of exhortations for prayers for them), usually at the foot of larger devotional images commissioned in stained glass – is frequently found in surviving windows: see Richard Marks, Stained Glass in England during the Middle Ages (London, 1993), pp. 3–27; for a more recent case study by the same author, concerning Dame Anne Danvers’ memorials in Dauntsey church, Wiltshire, see his ‘A Widow, Two Wills, Two Windows and Two Tombs’, in Lict(t) raume, ed. K. Georgi, B. von Orelli-Messerli et al. (Petersberg, 2016), pp. 145–51.

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sisters. The new accommodation represented a major benefaction; the fraternity would, without doubt, have commemorated Richard Haddon and John Gyllard. Something of the ‘advantageous suffrages’ offered both to the Haddons and to Gyllard in return for their generosity emerges from a grant of faculty, issued in October 1466 by Bishop Carpenter. This concerns a donation that John and Edith Chawnceler of Keynsham made to the Kalendars’ fraternity in All Saints’, with the intention that the ‘divine service and the devotion of [the] people [should] be amplified and increased’.32 Chawnceler bequeathed 100 marks [£66 13s. 4d.] ‘counted in money, from the goods brought to him by God, to repair and rebuild the ruinous house of the Kalendars’. He delivered the money to Master John Herlow, prior of the house, in return for services agreed in perpetuity and guaranteed by the bishop of Worcester. In the future, the prior of the Kalendars was to make, or cause to be made, four solemn sermons annually, two in the town of Keynsham at Advent and at Quadragesima, and the other two delivered according to Herlow’s wishes. After the latter’s death, however, one of these was to take place at the convent church of St Augustine’s, or at the nearby cross, with the second at the church of St Mary Redcliffe, at the prior’s own costs.33 In these sermons, he was, among other things, to exhort the people to pray for the good estate of John and Edith during their lives, and for their souls after death. Similarly, the prior and brothers were to name John and Edith in the Masses that they celebrated, recommending them especially after their death at the memento in the canon of each Mass. Moreover, one of the brothers was to include in his daily Mass for one year, at an hour determined by the prior, and after the collects and observances obliged by the Ordinances of the Kalendars, a special collect for the good estate of John and Edith. Before the beginning of his Mass the same chaplain was to move the people to pray, saying the Pater noster and Ave for the founders and benefactors of the Kalendars and especially for John and Edith; after the exhortation, the chaplain was to say the De profundis for founders, and was also to pray continually for them during the Mass. Moreover, after the deaths of John and Edith, the prior was also to ensure the annual celebration of solemn exequies with music in All Saints’ for their souls, essentially confirming that an anniversary be celebrated for them. By the consent of the prior and brothers, having received the gift of 100 marks, all were also bound by the sacrament ‘that all things should be done and observed’; and Bishop Carpenter demanded ‘lest this order be subverted in whole or in part under the pretext of higher dispensation’, and with the consent of all 32

33

ASB 3, Deeds, CS B6 (pp. 380–82). Keynsham lies some four miles to the east of Bristol, on the Bath road. The first located on the western edge of the town of Bristol (to the north of the River Avon), and the second on its southern edge – presumably to ensure different audiences.

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and by oath, that no future prior or brother ‘shall ever presume any dispensation … against our order, under pain of punishment’. The seals on this grant were affixed by Bishop Carpenter, by John Herlow, Prior of the Kalendars, and also by William Canynges, mayor, by consent of the Common Council, which reminds us of the interest that the mayor and municipality had in the Kalendars’ guild and the various benefits it facilitated. Although the Kalendars’ house was said to be ‘ruinous’ less than twenty-five years after Haddon and Gyllard’s renovation, which either implies that it had not been completely finished in the 1440s or that it needed further refurbishment,34 the Haddons would surely have secured similar reciprocal services from the guild. The suffrages promised to the Chawncelers suggest what would have been involved: at the very least, prominent inclusion as beneficiaries in the Masses celebrated by and for the fraternity, as well as more particularised commemoration, such as an anniversary. Richard Haddon and John Gyllard made a third major benefaction, founding a perpetual chantry within All Saints’.35 On 26 November 1441, Thomas Halleway, John Whitside (a notary) and Richard Haddon, said to be executors of John and Christine Haddon, received licence to found a chantry, called ‘the chantry of John Haddon’.36 A chaplain was to celebrate divine service daily at the altar in the chapel of St Mary the Virgin in All Saints’, Bristol, for John and Christine Haddons’ souls, the souls of their kin and of those to whom they were bound ‘for ever’. The vicar of All Saints’ or the prior and brethren of the Kalendars was to hold the chantry’s advowson and administer the endowment; the latter consisted of three messuages and a garden in Bristol, held of the king in free burgage tenure, and a rent of 20s. annually issuing from a messuage in Tucker [Towker] Street, but the chaplain was to acquire additional lands and rents to the annual value of six marks. A further licence granted in the following March suggests that the property in Tucker Street was indeed being extended, adding an extra 13s. 4d. annually to the rent from the endowment. The executors paid the fines contingent upon alienating the properties in mortmain, and also provided the necessary equipment to enable the chaplain to 34

35

36

Although nothing is explicitly revealed, one wonders whether the Chawncelers’ gift would have paid for the physical refurbishment contingent upon the installation of the library. Summaries of the licences, one issued in Nov. 1441 and the other in March 1442, are printed in Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1441–46, pp. 50 and 53. In contrast to Christine’s executors, the three men mentioned here may possibly have been John’s executors. The insistence on a name being associated with the chantry, as in ‘the chantry of John Haddon’, marks this out as a benefice chantry; see Burgess, ‘Strategies for Eternity’, pp. 1–32 (at pp. 12–13). Benefice chantries remained the prevalent type of perpetual chantry foundation, certainly from the later fourteenth century until the mid or later decades of the fifteenth century; in simple terms, their ‘name’ reinforced their corporate integrity in law.

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celebrate Mass with decorum. ‘[They] endowed the said chantry with one Mass book worth £18, and with four pairs of vestments. And John Gyllard, prior of the Kalendars, gave by testament to the said chantry one chalice, p’c – £7 6s. 8d.’ This last confirms that the chantry, established in the early 1440s, was functioning satisfactorily by the beginning of the next decade when Gyllard died. Setting aside the Green Lattice (concerning which, Richard should ultimately have recovered his outlay), the Haddons’ initiatives were mainly concerned with the transformation of All Saints’ north aisle. But far exceeding his parents’ intentions, and in contrast to the communal endeavour that had renovated the south, or Cross, aisle, Richard rebuilt, redecorated and reglazed the north aisle, known (in his lifetime) as Our Lady’s aisle.37 As we have seen, this also led to the reconstruction of the Kalendars’ house over the aisle, in which the bishop of Worcester sited a library. Bishop Carpenter only gave legal form to his plans both for the reformed fraternity and library in ordinances issued in April 1464.38 These reveal a library newly fitted at his own expense, suggesting that the necessary alterations to the Kalendars’ house had already been made.39 Carpenter intended that the library should open every weekday for two hours in the morning and a further two hours in the afternoon, with the prior in attendance to explain points of difficulty; new books, moreover, were to be chained, implying public access.40 In the aisle below, among other rituals observed there, a daily commemoration celebrated the family that had provided for this transformation. Richard far surpassed John and Christine’s request ‘for one priest to sing in the said church but twelve years’; indeed, whereas Alice Chestre and Maud Spicer would later extend the duration of their husbands’ chantries, Richard Haddon undertook to provide for his parents’ souls in perpetuity.41 Haddon and Gyllard ‘amortised 20 marks of livelode [that is, property rents annually amounting to £13 13s. 4d.] for one priest to sing in perpetuity at Our Lady’s altar in the said church’. John and Christine would almost certainly have been buried before this altar.42 Moreover, the Kalendars living 37

38

39

40 41 42

It should be noted that the 1441 licence (summarised in the Cal. Pat Rolls, 1441–46, p. 50) mentions that the chapel of St Mary the Virgin at All Saints’ was ‘rebuilt at the costs of John and Christine Haddon’; the fuller range of information would suggest a different initiative, but Richard may of course have used assets inherited from them. Bishop Carpenter enrolled the Ordinances for the Kalendars in his Register – see Hereford and Worcester Record Office, Register of John Carpenter, vol 1, ff. 197–8. Orme, ‘Guild of Kalendars’, p. 42 (and note 62). In his will, dated 30 July 1455, William Oakbourne, who was the dean of the collegiate church of Westbury, also reformed by Bishop Carpenter, bequeathed a book ‘to the new library to be built in Bristol’ – cited in Orme, ‘Guild of Kalendars’, p. 41 (and note 55). Although inventories were clearly meant to have been compiled, none has survived. Alice and Maud’s plans in this respect were discussed at more length in the previous chapter. One wonders whether John Gyllard would have been buried there, too.

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above the aisle would regularly have prayed for the Haddons, and also kept their anniversary. As a result, both storeys of the building – as it were – guaranteed permanent intercession for the Haddons.43 Given that Richard Haddon had spent in excess of £200 on the north aisle, as well as setting aside property sufficient to sustain an extra priest in the church, such generosity marked him out as a special patron and should have commanded a conspicuous intercessory return. So why does the benefaction list so obviously neglect his contribution?

Richard Haddon’s contribution to the parish Until c.1470, Richard played a prominent role in parish life. His inclusion among those who shouldered responsibility for rebuilding two of the parish’s properties in Corn Street after they had burnt down at Whitsuntide in 1464 suggests a position among the parish elite, usually referred to as the ‘masters’.44 In 1468–69, moreover, he had served as senior churchwarden and undertook a number of initiatives revealing, paradoxically, a keen interest in creating fuller records to ensure the proper commemoration of benefactors and their benefactions. This last activity merits a brief investigation. The Church Book contains two inventories, one listing the goods that had been in the churchwardens’ custody in 1395, and the second recording what was in their care, to be precise, on 1 March 1469, when Richard Haddon, as senior warden, brought a plan to safeguard the parish’s interests to fruition. The preamble to the second inventory points up his concerns: Richard Haddon and John Schoppe, churchwardens of the parish of Allhallows’ of Bristol, before Maurice Hardwick and the parishioners, received divers goods and money without any inventory, indenture or any other writing, which in time to come would have been greatly to the prejudice, hurt and hindering of the said church. Wherefore, the said wardens, for the great worship and love of God and to profit the said church, let make this said inventory to be a memorial and remembrance to all people that come after us [as to] what goods we found in the said church and what goods they shall receive that come after us, and so yearly to make deliverance before the vicar and parishioners that the goods of the said church be neither wasted, lost nor destroyed. God have mercy on their souls.45

43

44

45

In the absence of surviving wills, the caveat has to be entered that these are simply reasonable assumptions. On the aftermath of the fire of 1464, see ASB 2, pp. 23–4, and for a more detailed discussion of the parish’s response (including fuller appraisal of the masters’ role), see chapter 9. ASB 1, p. 34.

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But Haddon and Schoppe did more. Following the inventories, the Church Book lists a series of epitomes, briefly describing the achievements of successive sets of churchwardens, whether installing new fixtures and fittings in the church or recording the surplus revenue (ordinarily) resulting from their stewardship. Commemorating the often humdrum but nonetheless vital work by churchwardens, the last and longest of these redactions records what Haddon and Schoppe themselves had achieved: In their days [they] had great repairs made on vestments and let made a frontal of black velvet embroidered for the high altar, and let make three ampuls of silver for the oilfat. And for one evidence to be had for ever let ordained this book, for every man’s account to be written in as for one evidence of old time of rents that have been gathered and paid time out of mind, and also in the said year they have made an inventory of all the goods of the church where none before might be found.46

So, in addition to the inventories (apparently causing one to be copied, and compiling the other), Haddon and Schoppe should also take the credit both for the retrieval of the abbreviated churchwardens’ accounts now bound into the Church Book (from the early years of the fifteenth century until the year preceding their wardenship), and probably also for the epitomes of churchwardens’ achievements that both précis and complement the accounts.47 But in the first redaction of ‘clerical contributions’ towards the beginning of the benefaction list, Maurice Hardwick, parish priest from 1455 until 1473, is celebrated inter alia for his initiative in compiling both the list itself and the subsequent sections commemorating the churchwardens’ achievements: He [Maurice] laboured to compile and make this book for to be a memorial and a remembrance for ever for the curates and the churchwardens that shall be for the time, that every man to put yearly his account for evidence for the 46

47

Ibid., p. 49. Admittedly, they did have the 1395 inventory, but even cursory comparison reveals how very much more the parish had accumulated in the intervening seventy-five years, which not only effectively rendered the earlier list obsolete but also underlined how remiss the parish had been in failing to record acquisitions and successive churchwardens’ achievements in gathering and keeping such resources. If the accounts from c.1410 until 1467–68 are clearly only summaries, those which follow in the Church Book, starting for 1472–73 and continuing until 1481–82, are more much more detailed and certainly more reminiscent of the audited, unbound accounts that All Saints’ has preserved in good number (transcripts of those up until 1530 have been printed in ASB 2).

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livelode of the church, and for to put in names of the good doers and the names of the wardens of the church and what good they did in their days that they must yearly be prayed for. [A marginal note adds:] And John Thomas helped too and wrote this book up.48

This last priest, whom we have encountered before, had served as a chaplain of the second chantry of the Kalendars’ guild from 1470 until 1479, in which year he was instituted as vicar of All Saints’, holding the cure until his death in 1503. Given that much of the All Saints’ Book is indeed in a uniform and distinctive hand, which may well be his, John Thomas seems to have copied up the bulk of the text as we now have it at some point in the later 1480s.49 Although it is possible to deduce the significance of Richard Haddon’s role in accruing material, John more emphatically acclaims Maurice for guiding the compilation of the Church Book; in the light of the other commendations just cited, however, the efforts to retrieve churchwardens’ contributions so that they might properly be commemorated – which yielded a substantial body of material – may well have been undertaken by both Haddon and Hardwick with the former, if anything, taking the lead. At the end of the 1460s, Haddon was fully and creatively engaged with parish life, and concerned, possibly in conjunction with Maurice Hardwick, to hone the collective memory of the parish for commemorative and intercessory purposes. In the light of this, his later history, or the lack of it, emerges as the more poignant. Why, when Richard Haddon had clearly done so much, does John Thomas – if, indeed, he wrote up the list of benefactors – shy away from explicitly commemorating him? Why, too, does it seem certain that Richard would never have been buried alongside his parents in the north aisle? Why, moreover, is the final redaction of the benefaction list (added after John Thomas’s time) so economical with the truth, reassigning the provision of the equipment serving the chantry chaplain from Richard to his father, John?

And this house sometime was mortised to the chantry: Lessons from memory The answer to these questions is linked with the fate of the Haddons’ chantry. Although established in the 1440s, and functioning until the early 1470s, it foundered in acrimonious circumstances. The first signs of discord surface in

48 49

ASB 1, p. 10. Fuller discussion of John Thomas’s likely role as the scribe of the All Saints’ Church Book may be found in the introduction to ibid., pp. xviii–xx and xxxix–xl. The descriptions of Thomas Spicer’s benefactions, and those of Clement Wilteshire, both of whom died in 1492, are in inferior hands – suggesting that John’s input may have ceased by c.1490.

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the churchwardens’ accounts kept by John Chestre and Clement Wilteshire for 1473–74 where, at the tail of the account, a section itemises the costs of a plea between Richard Haddon and the church.50 The parish spent a considerable sum – £2 5s. 8d., no less – on this plea. This included payments of 10s. to John Bagote ‘for the search of the mortifications at London’ (surely indicating that the chantry lay at the centre of this dispute), of 6s. 8d. for ‘a man to ride out with John Chestre to speak with Sutton who was Abbot of St Augustine’s’, and 10s. to hire ‘Roger Kemes to be of counsel with us’.51 In addition, against the entry in the first redaction of the benefaction list noting that, when founding the perpetual chantry for the souls of John and Christine, John Gyllard and Richard Haddon had amortised twenty marks of livelode to support ‘one priest to sing in perpetuity at Our Lady altar as appears by four copies of the same mortifications’, stands the blunt marginal note: ‘And has since been embezzled’.52 Whoever penned this entry – John Thomas, possibly, in the later 1480s – added further remarks that remain cryptic: ‘And as for the mortifications, my lord John Carpenter Bishop of Worcester delivered them in one coffer locked and sealed to Thomas Sutton, Abbot of St Augustine’s, and he delivered them to Richard Haddon and the said Richard delivered them to John Hawkes, and so without the grace of God the chantry in destroyed. God amend them.’ What happened? Why should the bishop of Worcester (acquainted with Richard Haddon as a result of shared interests in the Kalendars’ house and guild) deliver the ‘mortifications’ first to All Saints’ patron, the abbot of St Augustine’s, who then passed them to Haddon?53

Richard Haddon in adversity Richard Haddon had become mired in debt by the early 1470s. A taste for extravagance evident in the 1440s in his generosity both to his parents’ memory and also to his parish, would not – in the longer term – have been facilitated by the economic difficulties visited on Bristol, and on its vintners in particular, as a result

50 51

52 53

Ibid., pp. 115–16. As noted in the previous chapter, Dame Joan Parnaunt’s maiden name was Kemmys; she refers, for instance, to her brother as John Kemmys. One wonders whether she had any family connection with the Roger Kemes who served as a lawyer for All Saints’ in the 1470s. ASB 1, p. 9. It has not so far been possible to locate any entry in John Carpenter’s Register (looking in the section of the second volume of the register covering the three or four years preceding Carpenter’s death in 1476) that sheds more light on Haddon’s problems and the agreed process of resolution, which evidently involved Hawkes’ purchase of most of the endowment.

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of the loss of Bordeaux in 1453.54 A plea surviving from the Court of Common Pleas, for Hilary term 1461, sheds telling light on Richard Haddon. John Alderley, attorney, sued him for damages, having been retained by Haddon as his attorney for four years at the retainer of 13s. 4d. per annum – a level signalling either a taste for litigation on Haddon’s part or the realisation that he particularly needed legal protection; significantly, Alderley sued because Haddon had not paid the retainer in full.55 Other cases followed. In Hilary 1465, for instance, William Nottyngham of Gloucestershire sued Richard Haddon of Bristol, vintner, for debt to the tune of £13 13s. 4d., but Richard had not come to court and so an order was issued for his arrest.56 Similarly, at Michaelmas 1470, Reginald Pole and John Felde, administrators of the goods and chattels formerly of William Beaufitz, late clerk of the cellar of the king’s household, sued Richard Haddon of Bristol, merchant, in a plea for the return of a debt of £7 18s. 10d.; but, again, Haddon had not appeared and an order was issued for his arrest.57 Such misdemeanours may not in themselves have spelt ruin for Haddon, but he looks to have been in difficulties; more ominously, however, he was falling foul of powerful men – a lawyer in Gloucestershire, Nottyngham served at the time in question on the king’s Council, and William Beaufitz, too, had served in the king’s household. Alienating the influential in this manner boded ill. By the mid-1470s, a Chancery petition discloses that Haddon was in serious trouble closer to home.58 The petition is undated but, since it was submitted to the bishop of Lincoln as chancellor, this suggests that it was during Bishop Thomas Rotherham’s tenure of this office, commencing in 1474 (and which extended, with an interval, until 1485, by which time Rotherham had been promoted to the archbishopric of York).59 The suppliant, one John Bateyn, a grocer of Bristol,

54

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56 57 58 59

E. M. Carus-Wilson, Medieval Merchant Venturers, 2nd edn (London, 1967), pp. 28–49 discusses the effects of the loss of Gascony on the Bristol wine trade, which, in the short term at least, were serious; if matters improved slightly in the 1460s, recovery had to wait until the aftermath of the Treaty of Picquigny in 1475, just too late to bolster Richard Haddon’s affairs and safeguard his family’s chantry in All Saints’. Reinforcing this, and with a broader assessment of resulting strategies, see Fleming, ‘Bristol and the End of Empire’, pp. 371–83. The Plea Roll for the Hilary term 1461(TNA, CP40/800 rot 177). I am very grateful to Dr Hannes Kleineke for this reference, and for those that follow, and for the comment here on the level of retainer and its implications. TNA, CP40/814 rot 357d. TNA, CP40/837 rot 95d. TNA, C1/64/608. A position which, as given in the ODNB, Rotherham kept (albeit with a short interval in 1483) until 1485, by which time he had been promoted to the archbishopric of York (in which see he remained until his death in 1500).

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reveals that Richard Haddon, vintner of Bristol, ‘was endebted … by a sealed bill written in his own hand in the sum of £36 11s. 10d.’ and alleges that the said Richard purposed to defraud him. Bateyn contended that not only had Haddon made a deed of gift to one William Fermer but that he also purposed to go to the Charterhouse of Witham (in Somerset, some twenty miles south-east of Bristol, towards the border with Wiltshire) ‘which is a franchised place’ – revealing that Haddon intended to enter a monastic precinct as place of sanctuary to escape his creditors and avoid imprisonment for debt.60 Nevertheless, ‘the suppliant had knowledge of his purpose and came to the house of the said Richard and would have had him arrested for the said sum’; but, ‘the said Richard being in danger to diverse persons more in the said town … was loth to be put in trouble, and let of his purpose and agreed at that time that the suppliant should have as much stuff as came to the sum of 20 marks, which the suppliant received of him in part payment of the bill’. Bateyn continues that, although ‘Richard went to the said franchised place’, he had not made the deed of gift to William Fermer and, had William received this, ‘it would have been made to the use of the said Richard to defraud the suppliant and others to whom he was indebted’. As a result, William had started proceedings against the suppliant before the mayor and sheriffs of Bristol, hence John Bateyn’s appeal to Chancery. By the mid-1470s, Richard Haddon’s financial affairs had collapsed; as his creditors bickered amongst themselves, he, to avoid imprisonment for debt, sought sanctuary in a monastic precinct – pointedly at some distance from the town.61 Indeed, Richard’s problems may well have permeated All Saints’ itself, since a John Bateyn (or Batyn or Baten) repeatedly served as churchwarden in the parish, although starting to do so in 1485–86, ten years or so after this imbroglio with Haddon.62 If this identification is correct, Haddon had reached a sorry state, owing money to neighbours and provoking them sufficiently to seek recourse in law.63 Moreover, his flight to Witham to escape prison reaffirms how deeply in 60

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On monastic precincts as sanctuaries, for debtors and others, see J. H. Baker, ‘The English Law of Sanctuary’, Ecclesiastical Law Journal, 2 (1990), pp. 8–13; I. Thornley, ‘Sanctuaries in Medieval London’, Journal of the British Archaeological Association, 38 (1932–33), pp. 293–315; and, more recently, S. McSheffrey, ‘Sanctuary and the Legal Topography of Pre-Reformation London’, Law and History Review, 27 (2009), pp. 483–514. Evidently he chose against St Augustine’s in Bristol; for discussion of sanctuary in the town of Bristol, and in St Augustine’s Abbey in particular, see also Fleming, ‘Sanctuary and Authority’, pp. 73–84 – which, indirectly, reveals why Bristolians may have held this precinct in low esteem. A John Batyn, or Baten, served as churchwarden in All Saints’ in 1485–86, 1494–95, 1510–11 and 1511–12 – see the list of All Saints’ churchwardens, in ASB 2, pp. 368–70. It should also be recalled that Clement Wilteshire, a parishioner of All Saints’ who died

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debt he had become, by this time probably despairing of recovering solvency. In this situation, the status of the endowment that he had earlier set aside to support his parents’ chantry, but which he, during life, still presumably administered, posed a legal and moral dilemma. It represented a considerable asset, over which his creditors – including some influential men – evidently had a strong claim. The properties concerned had been conveyed into mortmain; so were they still Haddon’s, or did they belong to the Church? All Saints’, the church with the most immediate interest, could not countenance sequestration and the consequent loss of a perpetual chantry without a legal fight, on which it duly embarked. But Haddon’s adversaries proved too powerful, and the resolution involved a member of Bristol’s elite, John Hawkes.64 Hawkes was a parishioner of St Leonard’s who, nevertheless, had family associations with All Saints’. His mother, Constance, had taken Richard Hatter as her second husband, and the latter evinced close connections with Thomas and Joan Halleway, choosing burial next to them in All Saints’ and advancing a generous subvention to their perpetual chantry, although he too was, in fact, a parishioner of St Leonard’s.65 Hawkes referred to himself in his will – made in January 1504 – as ‘merchant’, and had served as bailiff of Bristol in 1458–59, as sheriff in 1463–64 and as mayor of the town in 1471–72, and would later fill the mayoral vacancy created by Clement Wilteshire’s sudden death in December 1492.66 He also sat as MP in 1478, and repeatedly served as both Constable and Mayor of the Staple of Bristol in the last decades of the century. Hawkes could, conceivably, have been one of Haddon’s creditors, and it is possible that he sued for reimbursement, successfully targeting the chantry endowment. But Hawkes’ links with All Saints’,

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in 1492 whilst serving as mayor of Bristol, was latterly married to one Joan Batyn, widow of John Batyn of St Mary de Foro (and beside whom she chose to be buried when she died in 1506). This John Batyn, himself a man of some importance, may be a more convincing candidate as ‘suppliant’. Were this the case, it should still be noted that Clement Wilteshire had been one of the churchwardens in All Saints’ who fought the court case attempting to prevent Haddon’s termination of the chantry; neither Wilteshire, nor his new wife, would have felt any fondness for Richard Haddon. The bishop of Worcester, too, was involved to the extent that he delivered the chantry’s ‘mortifications’ (presumably its mortmain licence, and possibly the deeds of title to the properties comprising its endowment) to the abbot of St Augustine’s, who then delivered these to Haddon, who gave them to Hawkes; in that Haddon had established a benefice chantry, the bishop’s agreement was necessary to terminate the priest’s incumbency, see Wood-Legh, Perpetual Chantries, pp. 11–15. In so far as he, the founder – Richard Haddon – was still alive, one is left wondering whether the endowment had yet passed to the chantry chaplain, or the parish guardians. Hatter’s contribution, too, to the Halleways’ chantry endowment is discussed below, in chapter 7. Latimer, ‘“The Maire of Bristowe”’, p. 132.

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and also his status – as a recent and future mayor, an officer entrusted with the duty of protecting the town’s perpetual chantries, which was clearly taken seriously – makes so simplistic an explanation implausible.67 More probable, given Haddon’s status as an inveterate debtor and the resultant impossibility of All Saints’ retaining his assets with so many influential creditors in pursuit of restitution, is that Church and municipality over-ruled All Saints’ and urged Hawkes to purchase the endowment. He might keep the properties, but the money raised could go some way towards satisfying Haddon’s creditors. As to timing, given that All Saints’ went to law in 1473–74, but lost the right to keep Haddon’s assets, and that Bishop Rotherham became Chancellor in 1474, the indications suggest that Haddon’s affairs had collapsed by 1474, and that Hawkes was empowered to acquire the chantry lands soon after – evidently before Bishop Carpenter’s death in 1476. But, while Haddon attempted to evade prison, his indebtedness – and the loss this visited upon the parish, despite everything else that he had done to benefit the community – incurred All Saints’ lasting vexation. He forfeited his place in the parish benefaction list. Indeed, had he not undertaken many of his good works in association with others, such as prior John Gyllard, or his fellow churchwarden John Schoppe – who, of course, still deserved commemoration – the parish would more thoroughly have expunged Haddon from its collective memory. Hawkes, too, had aggravated All Saints’ by (as it asserted) embezzling the chantry endowment. But while the compiler of the Church Book, when referring to Haddon and Hawkes, exhorted ‘God amend them’, the parish could mete out a more pointed punishment to the former by consigning him to intercessory oblivion. The pointed denial of parishioners’ commemoration and prayers meant that, although Haddon may have avoided prison in Bristol, his travails in Purgatory would be prolonged.68

The sanction of silence It may simply be coincidence, for Haddon’s finances had clearly been stretched to breaking point by the early 1470s, but his fall from grace with All Saints’ followed swiftly on from the death of Maurice Hardwick in 1472–73. In conjunction, we may note how very little is known about Hardwick’s successor, William Howe, vicar of All Saints’ until John Thomas replaced him in August 1479 – in part because Howe seems to have done precious little for the parish. Apart from a 67

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The copious materials concerning each of Bristol’s perpetual chantries that the municipality had entered into the Little Red Book only emphasises the protective role that the town, and its officers, adopted and discharged to protect these arrangements. ASB 1, p. 15. In practice, it could be argued that just enough was left in the record to make his exclusion, at least for those with some knowledge either of him or the eventual denouement, all the more pointed.

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passing reference in John Leynell’s will, made in March 1473–74, and the role he discharged as vicar, in 1478, acting with the churchwardens and with the consent of the parishioners, in leasing out a property in Lewins Mead that was part of the Halleway’s chantry endowment, the sole reference in the benefaction list is as follows: ‘William Howe, vicar of the said church in the second year of his coming in, that is to say anno domini 1474, gave a corporas case of cloth of gold. God have mercy on his soul.’69 By comparison with either his predecessor, Hardwick, or his successor, Thomas, it is hard to see how this summary of his contribution during a six- or seven-year tenure of office does anything other than damn him with faint praise; indeed, one might speculate on the significance that attaches to his apparent inactivity after 1474, the year when Haddon’s relationship with the parish soured. Several Kalendars’ priests did much more for All Saints’ and, as a result, were remembered with considerably more warmth than William Howe.70 If Haddon’s role was consciously underplayed in the All Saints’ archive – which seems clear – then one is left wondering whether Howe really did do very little, or whether his memory, too, was being downgraded. In such circumstances, it is hard to avoid the implications of the silence that surrounds him in the archive: was the parish less than happy with the role that he played in this affair? Did he fail to do enough to protect the chantry and, as a result, was made to share some of the blame for its loss? Does his obscurity also mark a settling of scores? The possibilities are tantalising. Although, by contrast, his successor, John Thomas, a priest with long experience of service in All Saints’ and well connected with the parish’s leading families, made sterling efforts to pick up where Maurice Hardwick left off, one is left wondering the extent to which the parish used commemoration – or its absence – as a sanction to punish those perceived as having failed to protect or advance its interests.

Memorial and remembrance More positively, the parish’s long-term strategy was retrieval, and All Saints’ recovered the Haddons’ endowment from the Hakwes as a result both of good fortune (from the parish’s point of view) and the operation of parish loyalties. Although John Hawkes was a parishioner of St Leonard’s, at his death in 1503–04 he chose burial in St Augustine’s Abbey in Bristol, ‘in the same grave in which his first wife, Elizabeth, was buried in the south side of the choir’.71 His second wife, another Elizabeth, survived him. In addition to making provision for her, Hawkes 69 70 71

Respectively, ASB 3, pp. 24–5; ibid., Deeds, NA 57 (p. 442); and ASB 1, p. 11. As discussed below, in chapter 8. His will is preserved in the ASB 3, Deeds, HS B7 (pp. 391–2) – a document that the parish clearly wanted to have on hand.

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mentioned two children in his will: a daughter, Anne, a professed nun in the convent of Amesbury in Wiltshire;72 also a son, John, whom Hawkes entrusted to Elizabeth, until ‘he reaches the age of twenty-four’. But the latter predeceased Elizabeth (who was probably his step-mother) and, when she died in 1524–25, she disposed of the property that would once have constituted John the younger’s inheritance, but did so according to her late husband’s instructions. Elizabeth Hawkes herself, it must be remembered, had close links with All Saints’ parish. She was Humfrey Hervy’s daughter, and Hervy, a parishioner of All Saints’, had joined the ranks of the Chestre coterie by dint of marriage to Anne, widow of John Chestre merchant.73 In the 1525 deed of bargain and sale surviving in the All Saints’ archive, which concerns the disposal of those properties once constituting Haddon’s endowment, Elizabeth’s executors – Richard Hervy (her bother or halfbrother) and the current incumbent of All Saints’, John Flook – refer to her as ‘Elizabeth Hervy, once wife of John Hawkes sometime merchant … and his executrix’.74 As is plain from her choice of executors, Elizabeth had maintained a close connection with All Saints’ and would, without doubt, have been predisposed to consider All Saints’ interests. For his part, too, John Hawkes senior was prepared to remember All Saints’, probably as a result of the connection both through his step-father (Richard Hatter) and his father-in-law (Humfrey Hervy), but possibly, too, as the result of compunction for the manner in which he had gained property once assigned to support a chantry.75 All Saints’, however, left nothing to chance and, not long before Hawkes’ death, can be found lobbying his vicar at St Leonard’s: in 1501–02, the All Saints’ churchwardens paid 4d. ‘for a pottle [sic] of wine to the vicar of St Leonard to move Master Hawke’.76 This proved a groat well spent. In his will, John Hawkes left instructions that, in the event of John the younger failing to inherit, the relevant properties were to be sold at Elizabeth’s death ‘for the best price they 72

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It is also worth noting that this family, from the top rank of Bristol’s society, while in no sense neglecting their parish and its church, emerges as much involved with monastic institutions – more so even than All Saints’ own Thomas and Maud Spicer. As explored in more detail above, in chapter 3. It is to be remembered that the Chestre’s anniversary was eventually celebrated to benefit both the Chestres and the Hervys. ASB 3, Deeds, HS B 8 (pp. 392–3); see also GRB, iv, pp. 1–3. John Flook was the protégé of John Thomas, vicar of All Saints’, who also had connections with the Chestre clan – discussed above, chapter 3. Hawkes was probably well aware of the parish’s exhortation ‘God amend him’. Had his son survived, then he – John junior – would have inherited the property his father had bought; but in the event of the latter’s early death (which came to pass), Hawkes senior seems to have been conscious of a residuary responsibility to All Saints’, which, by the terms of his will, received a quarter of the property. ASB 2, p. 168.

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can command’. He apportioned half the proceeds to St Augustine’s Abbey, with the other half divided equally between the vicar and churchwardens of All Saints’ and St Leonard’s, ‘to the use of those churches’. The 1525 deed of bargain and sale, along with a memorandum in the churchwardens’ unbound accounts, both reveal that All Saints’ adopted a proactive strategy when afforded the opportunity: the parish purchased the remainder of the inheritance, paying, appropriately, three-quarters of the purchase price – in effect buying out the interests of St Augustine’s and St Leonard’s.77 Richard Hervy and John Flook, as executors of Elizabeth Hervy, sold ‘all the same properties and rents’ – those lands of the sign of the Murrian’s Head in the High Street, with four shops and gardens in the Pithay and Gropelane, and a yearly rent of 20s. issuing out of a house in Tucker Street – ‘for the best possible price, £90 sterling’ to All Saints’ or, more precisely, to the eminent men of All Saints’, evidently acting as feoffees, bound to hold the property in the parish’s best interests.78 Several factors explain All Saints’ purchase. The parish was clearly determined to capitalise on the factors – be they family oriented, or resulting from a sense of compunction – that had induced Hawkes to bear the parish in mind. But where All Saints’ was concerned, the provenance of the property, as part of the Haddons’ chantry endowment, provided reason enough; this was rendered feasible, however, both as a result of the healthy income that All Saints’ enjoyed by the mid-1520s, and also because prominent members of the parish community were prepared to lend money.79 Neither St Augustine’s nor St Leonard’s raised any objection. Although All Saints’ had waited fifty years and had to raise a payment of £67 10s. (that is, three-quarters of £90), it regained the property. In a context where, for various reasons, memory might be obliterated, the tenacity of All Saints’ corporate remembrance, and its resolution to correct a perceived wrong, is remarkable. No less striking is the determination, despite bewildering intermarriage, with which families in All Saints’ obviously upheld parish interests across generations. More subtly, it emerges that memory might also be deployed with a certain sense of calculation: for where Richard Haddon fell foul of All Saints’, other families, notably the Chestres, used the opportunity to further their own interests by coming to the assistance of the parish.

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The parishioners’ response to this opportunity is considered in more detail below, in chapter 9. The identity and role of the men who constituted such groups of feoffees is considered in more detail below, in chapter 9. The decision to purchase the property, and its implications for All Saints’, receives more attention in chapter 9.

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Lessons After Richard Haddon’s fall from grace, Alice Chestre sustained aspects of what he had previously provided.80 The ramifications of this initiative endured into the sixteenth century, as the Hervy clan and John Flook, all of whom had links with the Chestres, collaborated with other parishioners to ensure the recovery of the alienated endowment. But, earlier, the benefaction list indicates that property in Broad Street set aside to support Henry and Alice Chestre’s anniversaries, and eventually supporting the Jesus Mass celebrated every Friday in All Saints’, had been part of the Haddons’ chantry endowment.81 When describing the property that Alice procured for these services, the list mentions that ‘this church shall have yearly of that house 4 marks as the rent goes now’; it continues, And this house sometime was mortised to the chantry of this church which Richard Haddon alienated and sold for £60 delivering the remaining livelode with the mortifications to John Hawkes, and so wrongfully he kept it, as is more plainly rehearsed above. Almighty God send him grace to make amends to this church ere he depart out of this world.82

Where the Almighty tarried, the Chestres stepped in. The All Saints’ Deed collection reveals how, in 1448, John Gyllard and Richard Haddon had held the tenement, comprising a messuage with cellar, solar and garden in Broad Street, by feoffment from William Besyle of Wiltshire and Agnes his wife.83 In 1458, however, Richard Haddon enfeoffed this tenement to Henry Chestre, fellow burgess; and 80

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At one level, Alice Chestre’s determination to sustain at least some of the benefits once deriving from the Haddons’ endowment is reminiscent of the loyalty that parish families displayed when it came to maintaining the extra priests sustained by chantry provisions – as noted in the previous chapter, when Thomas and Maud Spicer assumed responsibility for the priest previously maintained by Alice Chestre and her son John when the latter’s widow, Anne, remarried. Alice Chestre’s patronage of the weekly Jesus Mass is treated in some detail in the preceding chapter. ASB 1, p. 15. The sum of £60 hardly seems an adequate price to pay for properties yielding rents sufficient to support a perpetual chantry – although the parcel of lands would not have included the Broad Street property in question and, presumably, an emergency sale would have been unlikely to realise an adequate valuation. ASB 3, Deeds, BS B3 and BS B4 (pp. 413–14). The tenement was situated ‘between Oxenfordes Inn and the tenement of John Cheddar on the one side and the shops and cellars of John Twyneho and the messauge of the Abbey of St Augustine on the other, extending from the said highway and the said shops in front to Towrelane behind tenement by feoffment.’ See also Leech, Topography, pp. 46–7 – who identifies the property as Nos 54–55, Broad street, East side (and ibid., map 4, p. xxii).

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on 26 March 1471, Robert Bolton and John Thomas chaplain granted the same tenement to Alice Chestre, following which, on 18 April, Richard Haddon quitclaimed the same to Alice Chestre ‘lately relict of Henry Chestre, late draper’.84 Although no precise reason is given for his decision to quitclaim the property to Alice, hindsight suggests this development reveals something concerning the parlous state of Richard’s finances by the early 1470s. One wonders whether, in advance of Hawkes stepping in to liquidate the remaining assets that Haddon had previously consigned to support of his perpetual chantry, Alice Chestre bought one of the component tenements, advancing the cash to Richard Haddon but otherwise maintaining the integrity of the endowment – so that its rents might still support the chantry priest. While the rest of the endowment chantry was lost in 1474 or 1475, Alice kept possession of this tenement; she evidently decided to follow Agnes Fyler’s example, devising the property to the parish in return for an anniversary and an additional significant service. In 1477, Alice with John Chestre merchant enfeoffed thirteen men with this property; some of these were eminent in town affairs, such as William Spencer and John Esterfeld, and others prominent parishioners in All Saints’, such as John Snygge, Clement Wilteshire and Thomas Spicer – and, although William Howe was not among the feoffees, it was witnessed inter alia by John Hawkes. Alice set up her husband’s anniversary by a declaration of trust issued on the same date, 14 August 1477.85 The churchwardens of All Saints’ might enjoy all outgoings and profits from the tenement so long as they took responsibility for its upkeep, an arrangement that, in time, also sufficed for her anniversary and the Jesus Mass. As noted, the introduction of the Jesus Mass – with the associated Jesus guild in All Saints’ – helped with the name-change, from Our Lady’s aisle to the Jesus aisle. As a result, at least in part, of Alice’s initiative, the rebuilt aisle, once indelibly linked to Richard Haddon, received a new name. The family which succeeded the Haddons as the parish’s principal benefactors either assisted, or perhaps even connived, in recasting aspects of Richard Haddon’s particular achievement, which, while ultimately to the parish’s profit, also worked to the Chestres’ commemorative advantage. Just as widows might be far more generous than specific instruction suggests, so too were sons. Richard Haddon had clearly hoped to provide his parents with considerably more than they had requested. He may, of course, have used their money when spending over £200 in excess of the sum they had set aside to contribute towards the north aisle, substantially reducing his own inheritance 84

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ASB 3, Deeds, BS B9 (1458) and BS B 11 and 12 (1471) (pp. 414–15). One wonders whether Haddon had been in debt to Alice Chestre, and whether she took the property in lieu of repayment with a view, in the first instance, of keeping the chantry functioning. Respectively ASB 3, Deeds, BS B 13 and BS B 14 a/b (pp. 415–16).

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in the process; but he was prepared to countenance this to benefit his parish, and to benefit his parents’ souls and his own soul. In the event, such generosity proved profligate and, while the church and the Kalendars benefited from improved facilities, where his own soul’s benefit was concerned he secured the very reverse of what he had hoped for. The principle, again, is clear: like the parish widows, Haddon set aside much more than required. If anything, this tends to reaffirm earlier speculation – that the difference between what testators specifically required and what family executors delivered was, in fact, a commonplace in pre-Reformation pious practice, at least in wealthy towns and among affluent parishioners. This leads to a point of importance. The relative plenty of contemporary wills, by comparison with the paucity of every other source, has entrenched a misleading outlook: wills specified the minimum; other sources – which are not prescriptive but descriptive – reveal what, by contrast, has every appearance of habitual generosity. Haddon took this to an extreme, and with unintended consequences; but, in principle, open-handedness emerges as standard. Time and again, provision – both in the lifetime of surviving spouses or by heirs and executors, such as Richard Haddon – was, in fact, far more ample than testamentary instructions lead us to assume.86 The clergy, too, played an important part in securing and advancing parish fortunes. In the Haddon case, a priest, John Gyllard, although not strictly a member of the parish clergy, sought to benefit his host institution, the parish of All Saints’. This challenges the argument that the existence of subsidiary organisations within the parish necessarily caused friction as a result of clashing loyalties, a situation setting up a ‘multi-polar religious life … far more susceptible to competition – for loyalty or commitment or time or resource … open[ing] the way towards disharmony and discord’.87 No doubt such circumstances sometimes did lead to altercations, but the Haddon provision demonstrates that the potential existed, too, for fruitful collaboration, providing evidence of fraternity priests working hard for, and acting with considerable generosity to, their host parish.88 Finally, while the most arresting lesson from the Haddon case may be the severity of the parish’s reaction – prepared to reshape memory to punish a transgressor – this underscores the nature of the importance attached to chantries. After all, one might have thought that terminating the chantry would do enough to damage Haddon’s long-term spiritual interests. But the intemperance of All Saints’ reac-

86 87

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As argued in Burgess, ‘Chantries in the Parish’. A. Pettegree, ‘A. G. Dickens and his critics: a new narrative of the English Reformation’, in Reformulating the Reformation – A. G. Dickens: His Work and Influence, ed. R. Ambler and G. Burgess (Historical Research, 77 (2004)), pp. 39–58, at p. 49. Developed further below, in chapter 8.

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tion indicates that parishioners viewed such a foundation as a common amenity.89 Moreover, the sanctions that All Saints’ applied, and to which parishioners presumably acceded, suggests that the parish considered itself as having the greater interest in preserving a chantry; the founder’s circumstances were subsidiary to the greater good. More was at stake than soul Masses for founder and kin. The maintenance of the priest and, hence, ‘the increase of divine service’, was crucial; the parish took responsibility for this. The loss of a chantry represented a calamity, to be averted by the threat of – or, in this case, punished by – obliterating the commemoration that, ordinarily, a chantry would have served to increase.

89

Although the comment will recur, it should nevertheless be noted that this judgement runs contrary to the strictures of Kathleen Wood-Legh, who, ultimately, exhibited scant sympathy for perpetual chantries – see her Perpetual Chantries, p. 312.

Part III

Commemorating the dead

W

ealthy men and women ordinarily depended upon the parish to satisfy an appetite for commemoration sharpened by penitential teaching.1 As benefactors, they ensured their status as beneficiaries; as parishioners, too, they clearly considered that the generations succeeding them in their home community could, and should, best be entrusted to deliver the necessary intercessory return. While fostering an urge to be remembered, the penitential response also prompted the generosity that, cumulatively, enabled local churches to remake themselves. As a result, parishioners now had access to affordable and well-regulated intercession: having presumably learnt from the liturgical and commemorative regimes observed in grander institutions, like monasteries and colleges, parishioners aimed for the nearest equivalent that they could shape in their parish church – scaling down as needs be but, where possible, also adapting to satisfy particular needs and aspirations. In All Saints’, parishioners’ commitment emerges with unusual clarity, both in terms of their material generosity and also in their dedication of time and energy; their response transformed the corporate competence of the parish in the century before the Reformation. This development depended upon three factors. The first entailed bequests to the parish, either of money and items used in worship or by founding services that supported a priest, each of which, in addition to embellishing the liturgy, also guaranteed prayer and commemoration. The second involved the devise of property to yield rent, either to provide for formal commemoration or to augment the parish’s income, and usually, in practice, doing both. This section – ‘Commemorating the Dead’ – concentrates on these two aspects and

 1

As outlined in chapter 1, the doctrine of Purgatory played a fundamental role in shaping contemporaries’ penitential responses, particulary stimulating the desire for intercession, by surviving contemporaries and suceeding generations

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particularly the themes of donation, commemorative services and devise. The third concerned service to the community, either as a churchwarden or as one of the ‘masters’ who thereby derived commendation for investing both time and effort to manage the lay initiative within the parish. While the co-ordination and implementation of strategy was, without question, vital for the well-being of the parish community, as a response it differed qualitatively from donation and endowment and, as a result, will form the main theme in Part IV of this book.

Chapter 6

‘In possession for the profit of the church’: Securing commemoration in the parish Synodal legislation from the thirteenth century had imposed on the laity – in practice, on parishioners – the obligation both of maintaining the fabric of the nave and tower and of ensuring that the incumbent possessed sufficient equipment for the seemly celebration of the parish liturgy.1 As a result, gifts of money or goods intended either to maintain the church fabric or to equip the parish would alleviate the burdens that present and future generations of parishioners ordinarily had to bear. Similarly, property devise, providing rents either to underwrite stipendiaries or to increase parish income, profited present and future generations who benefited from more lavish services without the obligation to pay for them. The All Saints’ archive suggests that whereas the donation of money or goods remained relatively steady in the century or more before the Reformation, the devise of property quickened, with significant results.2 Each practice will be investigated in turn.

‘Longing to be prayed for’: Communal commemoration within the parish The bequests of money and goods made by parishioners loom large in the All Saints’ archive, and entries in the All Saints’ Church Book benefaction list occasionally mention something of donors’ motivation. Among those who gave sums of money, William Palmer, a goldsmith of London, who gave 40s., Robert Derkyn a London mercer, who gave 20s., and Martin Symondson, a hardwareman ‘of this parish’, who also gave 20s., all specifically did so ‘to be prayed for’.3 Thomas Abyndon, parishioner and inn-holder, ‘at his decease gave unto this church in money 40s.’, and did so ‘as a good doer’.4 Others gave items, usually with a See Councils and Synods II, i, pp. 128, 367, ii, 1006, 1122–3; and also Drew, Early Parochial Organisation, pp. 8–9.  2 Impressions are, however, likely to be incomplete – particularly where the bequest of movables and money are concerned.  3 ASB 1, p. 15.  4 Ibid., pp. 21–2.  1

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liturgical purpose in mind. Richard Ake ‘gave to the use of the vicar for the time being one antiphonal, price £10, in order to be prayed for among the benefactors of the church. God have mercy on his soul.’5 Other donations exhorted prayer, sometimes blatantly. Alice Chestre, as we have seen, gave ‘a hearse cloth of black worsted with letters of gold of H & C & A & C and a scripture in gold, Orate pro animabus Henrici Chestre et Alicie uxoris eius’. She reportedly made this benefaction ‘for the love and honour that she had unto Almighty God and to all Christian souls, and for the ease and succour of all this parish unto whom she owed her good will and love in her day’ – presumably intending that the cloth be draped over the hearse at her own funeral and then repeatedly at the anniversaries observed thereafter for her husband and herself, as well as being available for other parishioners’ post obit observances.6 Contemporaries understood the generosity she arranged as serving a two-fold purpose: ‘to the worship of almighty God and his church, and to have both their souls prayed for specially amongst all other good doers’. In what amounts to an editorial note, possibly made by scribe and later vicar John Thomas, we find the memorandum, ‘We all that are now and they that are to come are bound to pray for her.’7 She achieved her aim: clergy and parishioners evidently knew of their obligation to remember both Alice and her husband. The benefaction list, moreover, commemorated numerous other donors, even though their benefactions seldom prompted such explicit explanatory and exhortatory statements.

Weekly commemoration While many counted on informal responses – clearly, Alice Chestre hoped that any who saw her hearse cloth might react spontaneously to the exhortation embroidered onto the cloth – All Saints’, like every other parish, offered formalised procedures.8 The parish had a bede roll, a list of ‘good doers’’ names, to be read out every Sunday. Perhaps the clearest example of this, as noted previously, is found in Clement Wilteshire’s will, written in 1488: he bequeathed to his vicar, ‘John Thomas, a gown of scarlet, which had formerly belonged to William Coder, to pray for my soul and the soul of my [late] wife, Margery, and the souls of our Ibid., p.13. Ibid., p.17.  7 Ibid., p. 17.  8 Relatively comprehensive as it may be, the surviving All Saints’ archive almost certainly fails to itemise every instance whereby parishioners had names engraved on vessels, or images inserted into windows, or exhortations sewn into vestments; such prompts were nevertheless commonly commissioned to elicit spontaneous prayer and commendation, in addition to those more considered responses – such as inclusion in the bede roll – about which we have better information.  5  6

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parents, brothers, sisters, kin and friends, on every Sunday among the other dead of the parish of All Hallows’ according to the usage there.’9 Thomas Spicer, while depending on much the same provision when he made his will in 1492, perhaps wanted something more. He bequeathed John Thomas 20s. ‘in recompense to him for tithes and offerings forgotten by me or inadequately reckoned, and with the intention that every Sunday he may specially exhort the parishioners there to pray for my soul’.10 Quite what the special exhortation comprised, or how long it would have continued, is not clear; but, plainly, parishioners formally remembered benefactors during High Mass. Weekly commemoration had long been practised. Explicit reference in the will made by Robert Crosman, in 1405, suggests something of its longevity; moreover, given that Crosman had strong attachments to both All Saints’ and to the parish of Holy Trinity (he had apparently grown up in the former but lived in the latter), he sought assistance from both parishes. To the vicar of All Hallows’, for instance, he left ‘40d. if he put the above names [the names of his wife and those of both his and her parents] on the table of memory and rehearse them every Sunday’.11 Where most testators fail to mention this service, presumably expecting executors to commission the procedure as a matter of course, dual allegiance seems to have necessitated more detailed instruction; Crosman’s request reveals the existence of a table of memory – presumably a plaque or board on which names were permanently displayed, facilitating a formal recitation once a week.12 Whether ‘tables of memory’ and the bede roll were one and the same, or whether each supplemented the other – one, in practice, displaying names, and the other designed to be read out – is ultimately imponderable, but the repeated combination of aural and visual stimuli would surely have helped to lodge benefactors, and their needs, in both the collective and individual consciousness of parish and parishioners.13  9

10 11 12

13

ASB 3, Wills, 16 (pp. 25–8). Clement Wilteshire died suddenly while serving as mayor of Bristol in late December 1492; his surviving will, which for the most part concentrates on the methodical disposition of his property among his children, and with reversions fully itemised, shows all the signs of being made well in advance of his decease. Clement’s concern to discharge his duties towards William Coder, whom he had served as an executor and who was clearly a close associate, is nevertheless striking. ASB 3, Wills, 18 (pp. 30–33). Ibid., Wills, 3 (pp. 11–12). On the use of ‘boards of memory’ in late medieval parish churches, see R. Marks, ‘Picturing Word and Text in the Late Medieval Parish’, in Image, Text and Church, 1380–1600: Essays for Margaret Aston, ed. L. Clark, M. Jurkowski and C. Richmond, Papers in Medieval Studies, 20 (Toronto, 2009), pp. 162–202 (and especially pp. 164–72). The churchwardens’ accounts for 1478–79 and 1479–80 contain tantalising references to payments for hanging up, and taking down and folding up, the bedes in the church, and paying for nails to hang up the bedes at All Hallows’ tide, ASB 2, pp. 93 and 97, which

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Indeed, it looks likely that the benefaction list in the All Saints’ Church Book was meant to be read aloud – in excerpts, if not in its entirety – on certain occasions. It exists in two main redactions, and comparison reveals ‘shrinkage’ in the material devoted to benefactors whose activities were receding into the ever more distant past, and a concentration on more recent additions. The conscious endeavour for brevity, or manageability, would seem to suggest that the most recent redaction was to be recited; or perhaps that a table of names was rehearsed on Sundays, while the list preserved (in its different forms) in the Church Book formed the ‘files’ for an annual recitation – for such a celebration of benefactors did take place in the church, and was evidently an occasion of some significance. Material in the Bristol archives suggests that each parish observed a General Mind, so called, on its own distinct day; but the celebration in All Saints’ may be reconstructed with some clarity.14

The General Mind The prologue to the benefaction list in the Church Book affords an admirably clear explanation of why benefactors’ names had been collected and what the annual recitation of them was meant to trigger. Immediately preceding the benefaction list, on a fresh folio towards the beginning of the Church Book, the following is set down as a heading: The names of good doers and well willers by whom livelode, tenements and all other goods have been given unto the church of All Hallows in Bristol, unto the honour and worship of Almighty God and [the] increasing of divine service, to be showed and declared unto the parishioners on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday and at High Mass and yearly to be continued as follows.15

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may refer to some kind of ‘prayer table’ being more prominently displayed in the church at a time of significance. Seemingly, this practice ordinarily went unaccounted for. In the parish of St John the Baptist, for instance, the ‘general obit’ was to take place ‘[with] the Dirige on the Tuesday in Whitsun week and the Mass on the Wednesday next following’ (The Church Book of St John the Baptist (BRO: P/St.JB/D), fo 10v); in St Nicholas’s parish, the decision of a vestry meeting had determined that the anniversary for omnium benefactorum should be celebrated with ‘the Placebo and Dirige on the vigil of St Martin’ and with ‘the Mass of Requiem on St Martin’s day next following’ (i.e., 11 November), Atchley, ‘Parish Records of the Church of St Nicholas, Bristol’, at p. 45; in St Ewen’s parish, much more impressionistically (relying, of course, on CBSE), references in the accounts of annual expenditure (where payments tend to be ordered chronologically) suggest that the General Mind occurred after the feast of Corpus Christi but before Christmas. This and the quotations immediately following are from ASB 1, p. 4.

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Having thus singled out the recitation of names on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday as special and as more elaborate than was usual on other Sundays, the prologue then treats the recital of benefactors’ names as a long-established practice; as well as classifying the range of deeds that counted as benefactions, it confirms that donors had always been conscious of the desirability of having their names rehearsed: Where it has been of a laudable custom of long continuance used, that on this day, that is to say the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, the names of good doers and well willers by whom livelode – tenements, buildings, jewels, books chalices, vestments and with other divers ornaments and goods, as follows – has been given unto the church unto the honour and worship of Almighty God and increasing of divine service, to be rehearsed and shown yearly unto you by name, both man and woman, and what benefits they did for themselves and for their friends and for others by their lifetimes, and what they left for them to be done after their days.

Expounding the reasons for such activity, the tone becomes decidedly exhortatory, urging others to do likewise: That they shall not be forgotten but had in remembrance and be prayed for of all this parish that be now and all of them that be to come, and also for an example to you all that be now living that you may likewise to do for yourself and for your friends while they be in this world, that after the transitory life you may be had in the number of good doers rehearsed by name and in the special prayers of Christian people in time coming that by the infinite mercy of Almighty God, by the intercession of out blessed lady and of all the blessed saints of heaven, in whose honour and worship this church is dedicated, you may come to the everlasting bliss and joy that our blessed lord has redeemed you unto. Amen.

Contemporary belief as to the efficacy and point of intercession stands revealed: ‘rehearsal by name and in the special prayers of all Christian people in time coming’ worked as an effective means of prompting God’s mercy, as well as intercession by the Blessed Virgin and by all the saints, which would combine to hasten redemption. As well as emphasising the importance of benefaction and formal commemoration, it explains the generosity of contemporaries, particularly those burdened by worldly success and its inevitable ‘wages’. The community of the faithful gathered in the parish took it upon itself to assist those of its members who, exemplifying the paradoxes of the gospel, identified themselves as at one and the same time gen-

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erous and needy. The wealthy, along with those of more moderate means, valued the promise of dependable intercession throughout the year, and regular, sincere prayers by those personally in the debt of benefactors. Good deeds guaranteed particular services, including specific prayers and Masses from the parish in the long term, which thus promised appreciable spiritual profits. Services, such as anniversaries or chantries, could, of course, be arranged in perpetuity but, as a corporation of the living, the parish also undertook permanently to remember good deeds. As a result, in addition to the Masses provided by their service, parishioners who founded chantries or perpetual anniversaries were also numbered among benefactors for providing priests or rents to embellish the parish and its liturgy. But, while the local consequence of benefaction is not to be underestimated, the prologue makes it abundantly clear that such activity possessed a wider application, being ‘unto the honour and worship of Almighty God and [the] increasing of divine service’. In adding to each of these, a benefactor implicitly contributed to the general good of the Christian community whether in the locality (be it parish or town) or, indeed, the realm; this, too, was to be commemorated and encouraged. Whereas the full list of benefactors was to be read aloud to the congregation of All Saints’, with extra ceremony on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, then – repeating an instruction also found in the parish Constitutions, but which specifies that the General Mind was to be kept on the Thursday and Friday after Ash Wednesday – ‘the anniversary of these good doers [is] to be held and kept in this church yearly, that is to say on the Thursday shall be their Dirige and on Friday next their Mass’.16 While the scheduling of this observance at the start of Lent is in some senses particularly appropriate, in other respects it is a puzzling choice. While the General Mind, or the Obit of All Good Doers, was very much an anniversary, with exequies, Mass, bell-ringing and (ultimately) doles of bread to the poor,17 as an annual wake for benefactors it also had its convivial side. Parishioners gathered to eat and drink, consuming cake, ale and wines in some quantity. Indeed, it was much the most extravagant parish ‘party’ of the year, but it apparently took place on the two days following Ash Wednesday – resembling Mardi Gras after the beginning of Lent.18 The costs of the ceremony increased 16 17

18

Ibid., p. 3. It is not stated explicitly that the poor received loaves until the account for 1515–16, when ‘half a dozen bread for poor people – 6d’ is recorded – ASB 2, p. 231 – a much less significant dole than that ordinarily provided by anniversaries. Perhaps the imperative at the General Mind was to ensure the presence of parishioners (to implant the names and deeds of benefactors in their memories); this was best secured by plenteous cake. Surviving accounts indicate that All Saints’ churchwardens had borne the responsibility for observing the General Mind since the early fifteenth century; there is no reason why they should not have done so for some time even before that.

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with time: expenses fluctuated at about 3s. or 4s. annually in the first half of the fifteenth century, but rose sharply thereafter to around 10s. annually in the 1460s and, again, to 12s. or 14s. in the 1470s. Given that we only have itemised expenses from the 1460s but that, from this period on, the costs of the clerical component remained reasonably static – with the parish priest and about half-a-dozen priestly assistants accounting for 2s., or just over, and the parish clerk’s bell ringing and presence costing just over a shilling (enough to ensure peals lasting some hours) – one wonders whether the early and mid fifteenth-century costings included the convivial provision. It is possible that the churchwardens took explicit responsibility for this (or, at least, entered it into their accounts) only after the middle decade of the fifteenth century, explaining why costs rose suddenly, formalising hitherto informal practice.19 The increasing costs of the observance, or at least its more festive aspect, caused concern. The Constitutions with which the All Saints’ Church Book begin, which apparently date from the 1480s, record the resolution that ‘from henceforward the costs of the General Mind for the good doers [should] exceed not the sum of 13s. 4d. and, if it do, the residue that comes over shall be at the charge of the older proctor in office and not at the charge of the church’.20 This was also noted in the accounts, in the hand of an auditor in 1503–04, when costs were in excess of 17s. Again, in 1519, a marginal addition records: ‘Memorandum that it is agreed that the two proctors shall not exceed 14s. upon this obit’, although the costs on the observance in that year stood at 16s. 3d., and would rise to just over £1 in 1522.21 While aware of the earlier ruling on the subject, the parish authorities proved unable – or possibly unwilling – to enforce it; the case for conviviality in the parish, on so significant an occasion, proved stronger than any desire for parsimony. Conversely, given the considerable increases in parish income witnessed in the later fifteenth and earlier sixteenth century, the proportionate rise in expenditure on the Mind may have seemed well within the parish’s capability.22 19

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Early references to the General Mind in the abbreviated accounts recorded in the Church Book ordinarily provide only one-line descriptions, so we cannot now be sure quite what the mentioned sum procured. ASB 1, p. 3. The St John’ Church Book, f. 10v (BRO: P/St.JB/ChW/2), contains an ordinance, dated to 1472, limiting the cost of the General Mind in that parish to 6s. 8d. Respectively ASB 2, pp. 176–7 and 247 – the increase almost certainly reflecting an incremental extravagance rather than any proportionate expansion in parish numbers. The costs of the General Mind in All Saints’ may be compared with those in the neighbouring parish of St Ewen’s, summarised in CBSE, p. xxiv – apparently the highest cost incurred by the General Mind in that parish was 7s. 3d. in 1488–89 and 1500–01, suggesting the relative scarcity of funds in St Ewen’s, a much smaller parish even than All Saints’. The increases in the parish’s income are discussed in more detail later in this chapter.

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A fair quantity of drink was consumed annually at the event: in the mid-1520s, two gallons of claret wine, the same quantity of a sweet white wine called osey (or sometimes other wines, such as ‘romney’ or ‘roscolom’), and ‘for single ale and double ale, two dozen’.23 But they spent more on cake. The churchwardens usually purchased three bushels of wheat and, as well as paying for this to be ground, spent a shilling at least on baking the cake. To judge from the sugar, ‘balme’ (that is, oil) and white wine that were regular ingredients, along with cloves or mace, the cake was to be sweet and spicy. The cake was also to be yellow, for, year after year, its most expensive single ingredient was saffron.24 Moreover, in 1487–88, which seems a particularly convivial year or, more probably, a year in which the purchases and provisions were itemised in unusual detail, the wardens spent the sum of 2d. on ‘a quart of claret wine to the mayor’.25 It is not clear whether the mayor attended every year; if he did, he ordinarily took his refreshments undifferentiated from other parishioners.26 Relying on and simultaneously evoking the intercessory community of both the living and the dead within the parish, the General Mind stood as a prominent celebration in the parishioners’ year. Moreover, while every benefactor might count on its benefits, some achieved a closer association. John Jenkyns alias Steyner, an inn-holder, who had served as a churchwarden of the parish, together with Thomas Parnaunt, in 1480–81, associated himself closely with the celebration by a bequest. We are told, first, that Jenkyns paid 33s. 4d. for the gilding of a shrine ‘in the which to bear the blessed sacrament in and holy relics on certain

23 24

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26

If not quite clear, the ‘two dozen’ seemingly refers to measures of ale. In St Ewen’s parish, too, they annually baked cake for the General Mind that noticeably included saffron among its ingredients – see, for instance, CBSE, pp. 106, 109, 111, 113 &c. John Estrefeld (of St Peter’s parish) served as mayor in 1487–88, but it is noteworthy that John Chestre (Henry and Alice Chestre’s son) served as one of the town’s sheriffs and bailiffs, and in the following year John Penke served as mayor and Clement Wilteshire as one of the sheriffs and bailiffs – Chestre and Wilteshire were both parishioners of All Saints’, and Penke’s son – John the Penke the younger – was, too; whether the elder John was also a parishioner is uncertain, but possible (ASB 3, Wills, 14, 16 and 21 (pp. 23–4, 25–8 and 40–41 respectively)). All Saints’ parishioners occupied a position of some prominence among Bristol’s governing elite in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century – see Latimer, ‘“The Maire of Bristowe”’, p. 133. Ricart’s itinerary for the mayor of Bristol (presumably with entourage) in the autumn months discloses that the mayor did regularly visit the town’s parish churches: see Robert Ricart, The Maire of Bristowe is Kalendar, ed. L. Toulmin Smith, Camden Society, new series 5 (1872), pp. 68–90. Although Ricart fails to include any reference to the mayor attending anniversary celebrations, information in the Halleways’ accounts suggests that such visits had become a regular fixture in the mayor’s annual duties – as described below.

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days of the year in procession’.27 The subsequent entry sheds light on another, more pertinent bequest. It was apparently inserted by John Thomas, acting here as scribe, but who obviously involved himself intimately with his parishioners’ choices.28 He writes that John Jenkyns and his wife Agnes, ‘being sore sick and in peril of death’ had made their wills and, ‘longing to be prayed for, ordained with our assent to this church by testament a standing nutte with a cover well gilt, with a black shell, weighing 37oz, to be given after their days; the which testament, according to their wills, was written by the vicar of this church, John Thomas then being ghostly father to them both’.29 Jenkyns survived his wife but ‘when it again pleased almighty God to visit him with sickness, he desired the said vicar to read the said testament before him and his brother Thomas, being his executor, and Master John Davidson notary, and was well content that the said nut after his days should remain to this church for ever’. But Jenkyns later changed his mind, ‘after such persons that gave him counsel according to his desire’. Rather than simply donating the cup to be a parish possession, for fear that it could have been sold, Jenkyns imposed conditions. The ‘foresaid John Jenkyns moved the said vicar, as his trust was in him, that he should so order in this book, the Register of good doers, that this nut should never be alienated nor sold, but was to remain in the treasure coffer, to the behoof and pleasure of the parishioners in the day of the General Mind of good doers’ – or, as baldly expressed in a later redaction, ‘Item a nut with cover, gilt with a black shell, to be occupied at the obit or mind of the good doers.’30 Friends counselled Jenkyns, ‘longing to be prayed for’, to reserve the cup for use at the General Mind: this was clearly conceived as particularly beneficial although, in this case, the vessel may have had a convivial rather than a liturgical use. Given the donor’s occupation, this was all the more appropriate.

‘A suitable chaplain to celebrate divine service every day’: Chantries and their furnishings Where the urge to enhance the parish by donating money or equipment had evidently become deeply embedded in the century or more before the Reformation, the proliferation of services such as chantries and anniversaries – far from being primarily personal commemorative arrangements – also made a contribution to the neighbourhood community, and of greater significance than is ordinarily

27 28

29 30

ASB 1, p. 22 for this and the material immediately following. The nature of John Thomas’s interaction with his parishioners is considered in some detail in chapter 8. For a nut (or nutte), see glossary. ASB 1, p. 30.

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assumed. To consider chantries first, these are normally understood as arrangements founded by individuals, or sometimes by groups (such as a fraternity), supporting a priest whose duty it was to celebrate Mass daily for the benefit of whoever had established his stipend, and of any other nominated souls. Those founded by individuals could be of two kinds, intended either to function for a limited duration or in perpetuity; the following treats mainly with the former, and reserves discussion of the latter to the next chapter in order to capitalise on the exceptional archive generated by the perpetual service that Thomas and Joan Halleway established in All Saints’. But both kinds of arrangement procured grace to expedite the progress of beneficiaries’ souls through Purgatory, and all chantries served as donations designed to work for the benefit of their host institution – in the following, taken to be a parish – as well as the broader Christian community.31

‘Finding’ a chantry In the case of chantries of limited duration, rather than depending upon an endowment, funds had either been set aside or were, more commonly, ‘found’ by a beneficiary, usually either the founder’s widow or offspring whose inheritances had been granted on the condition that spouse or parent should benefit from specified services.32 Widows often extended the stipulated duration, sometimes substantially;33 thereafter heirs, too, might continue the service and, while glimpses of the latter practice may be rare, it was probably a reasonably common procedure, particularly when heirs were well established.34 Moreover, while surviving evidence reveals most about chantries as extended post obit provisions, men and women before death might also sustain priests, expecting 31

32

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Chantries could, of course, be founded in monasteries, cathedrals and in collegiate churches, and in any or all of these would have been regarded as contributing to the benefit of the ‘host’. In addition to examples in Wood-Legh, Perpetual Chantries, see – for case studies – Cathy Oakes, ‘In Pursuit of Heaven: The Two Chantry Chapels of Bishop Edmund Audley at Hereford and Salisbury Cathedrals’, in Medieval Chantry, pp. 196–220; John Goodall, ‘The Jesus Chapel or Islip’s Chantry at Westminster Abbey’, in Medieval Chantry, pp. 260–76; and Cindy Wood, ‘The Cage Chantries of Christchurch Priory’, in Memory and Commemoration in Medieval England, ed. C. M. Barron and C. Burgess, Harlaxton Medieval Studies, 20 (2010), pp. 234–50. For a more detailed treatment of this and of other themes in the following, see Burgess ‘Chantries in the Parish’. As discussed in some detail above, in chapter 4. Such an obligation would, as a general principle, have presumably been less pressing when heirs themselves had young children or were in receipt only of a small inheritance. Nevertheless, while Richard Haddon eventually reneged on his commemorative provision for his parents, his initial impulse was generous to the point of profligacy; notwithstanding the unfortunate denouement, he maintained a stipendiary served in All Saints’ for the best part of thirty years.

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family or friends to continue the provision thereafter.35 Post obit institutions naturally required written instructions, whereas pre obit arrangements needed no such prescription, hence our relative ignorance. Although few, perpetual chantries ordinarily seem to have been inaugurated before death; given what was at stake, founders were wise to ensure, as far as possible, that arrangements should be completed and viable before death.36 Similarly, those seeking a chantry of limited duration could very well have inaugurated proceedings before death; it is only when founders were obliged to hand over responsibilities to their executors that their plans may be traced. Not only is it likely that more chantries of limited duration were commissioned than we can now number for certain but also that many would have lasted longer than we can now gauge. Two factors should be borne in mind: first, the requested duration served as a minimum that executors or successors might exceed, and would probably have been expected to exceed; and, second, we have partial information only and for relatively few parishioners. Many individuals lived and thrived about whom we now know nothing and, while we may be better informed about the wealthier sort who were more likely to commission services, numerous others now lost to us doubtless founded chantries.37

Augmenting divine service Chantry priests participated closely in the parish liturgy, a contribution that both founders and ‘hosts’, the parish authorities, valued dearly, whatever the duration of the service. For, as well as celebrating their daily Mass, chantry priests were obliged to assist with divine service: in other words, as well as helping with the daily round of canonical hours in the choir, or playing their part in processions or other rites in and around the church, they were, as required, to act as deacon or

35

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37

As discussed in chapter 4, the Spicers, for instance, kept household priests, one of whom may eventually have served as their chantry priest. As explained, it is likely that many wealthy families started to make pro anima provision in advance of death and that this may well have included keeping a priest. It is chastening to realise that, for all their expense and the ingenuity lavished upon them, perpetual chantries would frequently prove elusive were we reliant only on testamentary evidence: most were established pre obit (as in the case of the Halleways’ chantry, discussed in the following chapter), with the result that testamentary reference was redundant. The example of St Andrew Hubbard, London, proves salutary: it emerges for this parish, from wills proved in the Commissary court (which has no equivalent in Bristol’s probate records, insofar as the Great Orphan Book and the Prerogative Court of Canterbury registers seem mainly to record the wills of the wealthier sort), that poorer testators might commission short services, some of which had odd durations – like six months, or a year and a half ; see Burgess, ‘London Parishioners in Times of Change’, p. 49.

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sub-deacon at parish Masses.38 Testators in All Saints’ who founded chantries left commissions so perfunctory as to suggest an obligation sufficiently well established that prescriptive detail was unnecessary. Moreover, those testators who do specify that their celebrant should attend and contribute to divine service, express themselves so casually, while providing the standard stipend, that there can be no doubt that this duty was entirely normal. So, for instance, in 1473 John Leynell instructed his executors to ‘find in the church [of All Saints’] one suitable chaplain to celebrate divine service every day for ten years for my soul and the souls of my parents and all the faithful departed’ at a cost of £60.39 The Chestres requested in their wills, in 1470 and 1485, that a chaplain be found, in Henry’s case, ‘to celebrate for my soul and the souls to whom I am bound’ or, in Alice’s case, to ‘celebrate Mass for my soul, and my husband’s soul, and the souls of my parents, brothers, sisters, kin, friends and all the faithful departed’.40 When comparing such instructions with the treatment accorded to the same chantries in the All Saints’ benefaction list, the parish’s evaluation stands as considerably more positive. While both the Leynells and Chestres had acted with noteworthy generosity to the parish, their chantry takes precedence over all other contributions – and deservedly in respect of the carefully noted sums necessary to sustain them. So, for ‘John Leynell and Katherine his wife’ we find: ‘In primis they have ordained at their own proper costs to find a priest to sing in this church to the worship of almighty God and augmenting of divine service, every year 9 marks, sum – £59 6s. 8d. [sic].’41 Similarly, for the Chestres: ‘In primis they have ordained at their proper costs to find a priest to sing in this church for 12 years to the laud and loving of Almighty God and augmenting of divine service, for every year 9 marks, sum – £72.’42 For the parish, chantries represented major liturgical contributions, swelling the ranks of those who conducted parish worship and increasing the number of priests chanting and singing

38

39

40 41 42

Chantry priests were canonically required to assist at matins, Mass and the other hours by singing invitatories, hymns, anthems, responds, grails and the like, and by reading lessons, epistles, gospels and also singing psalms; see W. Lyndwood, Provinciale (Oxford, 1679), Lib. I, tit.14, and also as more fully explained by Bowers, ‘Liturgy and Music’, at pp. 135–41. For a brief exploration of requirements in other parishes in fifteenth-century Bristol, where parishioners were sometimes more explicit while still providing the standard stipend, see my ‘“For increase of Divine Service”: Chantries in the Parish in Late Medieval Bristol’, JEH, 36 (1985), pp. 46–65 (at pp. 52–3). ASB 3, Wills, 15 (pp. 24–5); sadly, John’s widow, Katherine, seems not to have left a surviving will. Ibid., Wills, 12 and 13 (pp. 21–3). Respectively ASB 1, pp. 17 and 18. Ibid., p. 15.

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in the choir.43 The community’s reciprocal gratitude, which guaranteed donors’ inclusion in the bede roll and at the General Mind, for instance, and ensured their continual, formal commemoration as a generous benefactors, emerges as a major consideration. From the community’s perspective, any of the more personal benefits that derived from the priest’s Masses have to be reckoned as in addition to the considerable benefits necessarily deriving from a chantry priest’s presence and service.44

Equipping the chantry priest In the longer term, these foundations yielded yet more: priests may only have been engaged temporarily, but the equipment with which they had been provided passed to the parish for good on the completion of the chantry service. So, for instance, where the Leynells were concerned, we are informed first that Katherine, of her own devotion by her days and at her own proper cost, found a priest to sing in this church in addition to the ten years before rehearsed that she was bound unto, that is to say two years. [And] besides all this she left money at her decease to find a priest to sing in this church for the space of three years, for every year 9 marks.

As well as extending the service by five years – so that it lasted, in all, for fifteen years – she had ensured that her celebrant was well supplied with equipment, including a Mass book worth ten marks, a double gilt chalice weighing 25 oz. and worth £7 13s. 4d., cruets of silver, a fine corporas cloth, ‘a great pair of latten candlesticks, called standards for the choir’, and vestments of blue velvet with flowers of gold originally priced at £5. All of this passed to the parish.45 The Church Book, moreover, indicates that, just as she extended the chantry, so Katherine also upgraded the celebrant’s apparel: the entry referring to the vestment of blue velvet is scored through and a marginal addition notes that ‘she has according to the same ordained a suit’. The list sheds more light on this bequest: 43

44

45

It should in fairness be noted that the means of expression in John Penke the younger’s will, ‘I ordain and bequeath to a secular priest singing at divines in the said church of All Hallows’, by the space of two years, £12’ (ASB 3, Wills, 21 (pp. 40–41)), is if anything more detailed than the rendition (albeit in the second, and more economical, redaction) of the benefaction list, ‘Besides this, he has ordained a priest to be found to sing in this church two years,’ ASB 1, p. 18. Indeed, the implications of the Haddon debacle plausibly suggest that the particular benefit founders expected from personalised Masses should not necessarily be assumed as of more significance than the profits accruing to the parish from the more general services of a fully equipped priest; the latter clearly prompted sedulous commemoration from the parish more generally. ASB 1, pp. 17–18.

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Moreover, where our [that is, the parish’s] second suit of vestments were of baudkin and no thing of fineness unto the best suit, the said Katherine, considering this, ordained and has given to the honour of Almighty God and of All Hallows, unto this church a finer suit of blue velvet with flowers, otherwise branches, of gold with orphreys of red velvet and eagles of gold, that is to say a chasuble, two tunicles with their albs and amices and their apparels and two copes according to the same, and it cost £25.

Another of All Saints’ generous benefactresses, she took the duty of equipping her and her husband’s celebrant as a chance to enrich the parish church ‘for the honour of God and of All Hallows’, fulfilling a broader duty within the specific benefaction. The clearest example of such generosity concerns the Spicers. In the closing years of Maud Spicer’s life, before she died early in 1504, the Church Book discloses that their priest had been equipped with a 24 oz. chalice worth £6 13s., two cruets of silver, candlesticks of silver together weighing 80 oz. and worth £10, a Mass book in ‘prent work’ and two vestments, one of light blue damask ‘with five wounds in the cross, with its apparel’, said to be worth just less than 50s., and another of ‘cloth of gold … of red, with all its apparel’, said to be worth £6 6s. 8d. The Book adds, ‘That all this afore expressed be at my lady’s commandment during her life and, after her decease, to be delivered unto this church of All Hallows’ in Bristol for evermore. Almighty God preserve her long. Amen.’46 Maud, too, gave the parish another suit of vestments but, rather than upgrading an existing donation, provided an entirely new suit: In the honour and worship of God and Our Blessed Lady, [she] has given to the church forever an honourable suit of vestments of white damask with flowers of gold and all the orfreys of the suit of cloth of gold, the which suit contains a chasuble, two tunicles with their apparels belonging, and two copes of the same with shells of silver enamelled with the arms of the Grocers, that cost unto her £27.47

The Grocers’ arms were evidently intended to draw attention to the family’s craft as spicers. While parishes gained a good deal of equipment from simple donation, chantry commissions also did much, both in the short and the longer term, to embellish services. The provision of often ostentatiously equipped stipendiaries augmented the priestly presence within and about the church and ensured an 46 47

Ibid., pp. 20–21. Ibid.

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enhanced celebration of the liturgy, improving both the visual and aural aspects of the parish’s rites and observances.48 Once any stipendiary had fulfilled his term, the equipment might be passed on to clothe and serve others. Such benefactions brought other benefits. First, and simply, such improvements cost ordinary parishioners nothing. Second, ‘the body of the parish’ may indeed have benefited financially from hiring out equipment, or at least from being relieved of the obligation to hire equipment from other sources. The ‘standards’ – that is, the candlesticks of latten – which Katherine Leynell bequeathed All Saints’ elicited the comment in the benefaction list that ‘where before we had but two, now we have four, and also where we were wont to borrow in time of necessity and now, blessed be God and them [that is, the Leynells], we have no need as for such stuff’. Moreover, founders such as Katherine Leynell and Maud Spicer chose to forgo a more extended chantry for the sake of investing money in opulent equipment that, both in the short and long term, enhanced observances and, ultimately, remained in parish possession. Underwriting a priest necessarily implied a range of benefits for the parish community – again explaining why such investment invariably took prime position among a donor’s works in the benefaction list in the All Saints’ Church Book.

‘Annually and with solemnity’: anniversary services in All Saints’ If the parish commended chantry founders as benefactors, anniversary founders, too, made a significant contribution to parish life. Like chantries, anniversaries varied in duration, with some meant to last for a limited term and others in perpetuity; but their obvious economy, when compared to the cost of supporting a daily Mass, naturally meant that many were celebrated for longer periods than most chantries, with a reasonable proportion of them intended to endure in perpetuity. Sometimes referred to in contemporary materials as an obit or a year’s mind, an anniversary functioned, essentially, as an annual repetition of the funeral liturgy. It comprised exequies on the eve, the Mass of Requiem on the morrow, which day usually marked the anniversary of the founder’s death, and all the observances that would ordinarily have accompanied the interment of a corpse – protracted bell-ringing, the town-crier broadcasting the occasion about the town and imploring prayers, doles being given to the poor, and laying out the parish hearse draped with a pall and with candles at either end, just as if the body was as yet unburied.49 Such an arrangement prompted intense intercession on a 48 49

Cf. Bowers, ‘Liturgy and Music’, pp. 135–41; considered, too, below, in chapter 11. The ceremonial and spiritual implications of anniversary foundation are considered in more detail in Burgess, ‘A Service for the Dead’, pp. 183–211.

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significant day and served to intrude the beneficiary into the parish’s liturgical year. For some this sufficed. If an anniversary were all a parishioner could afford (and, to emphasise the point, it would cost substantially less than a chantry), then he or she might rest assured that his or her soul would be ostentatiously commemorated. Not only would the Requiem Mass be celebrated with solemnity, but the service also elicited a barrage of prayer on a significant day from the clergy, the parish faithful, paupers and also townspeople more generally who heard the bells and the exhortations of the ‘bell man’ as he perambulated the town.50 Moreover, when describing Maud Spicer’s generosity, the All Saints’ benefaction list notes: ‘Item the said devout lady has provided for a yearly obit to be kept in this church for the wealth of her soul and all Christian souls.’51 An anniversary, no less than any other suffrage, elicited spiritual benefit for the community, as a result of celebrating the Mass, of distributing doles and of calling forth prayer – for the individual and all the faithful departed – emphasising and exercising the bonds of charity that strengthened the Church. But some anniversaries signified more. In the later fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, All Saints’ benefited from a succession of property devises made by leading parish families; each of them thereby instituted a rent profiting the parish and, in return, each sought an anniversary expressly celebrated by the parish in their commemoration. In these instances, the anniversary absorbed only part of the rent accruing; the remainder – and invariably the greater part of it – went to swell parish income. Were the parish to renege on the anniversary, however, it would forfeit the property: as long as the parish wanted to keep the property and its rents, observing the anniversary was obligatory.52 Those who devised property, and hence income, in this fashion naturally secured themselves a prominent place in the parish’s continuous intercessory regime: inclusion on the parish bede roll would ensure regular, perhaps even weekly, honour and memorial. But, in return for a reasonably substantial benefaction, benefactors evidently also valued a more visible return – a day of conspicuous intercession from a broad spectrum of par50

51

52

In effect, the bellman provided an aural equivalent of the Chestres’ hearse cloth – broadcasting a name or names to the parish and wider community prompting prayers for their benefit. ASB 1, p. 23 – an entry in the second redaction of the list, whose concision in this case proves revealing. Those founding perpetual anniversaries usually named an alternative agency who might assume both the property and any profits accruing, along with the responsibility for observing the annual service, should the first choice prove untrustworthy. In these circumstances, the founder could count upon self-interest (given that an income was at stake) that would galvanise the alternative nominee to vigilance and, in practice, and for fear of financial loss, bolster the fidelity with which the original beneficiary observed the founder’s wishes.

securing commemoration in the parish 209 ticipants, both from the parish and from other neighbourhoods and which guaranteed that he or she and their respective spouse would not be forgotten. While they cost less than chantries, anniversaries should not summarily be dismissed as somehow second-rate commemorative arrangements: contemporaries clearly esteemed their spiritual efficacy and carefully exploited their versatility.

Anniversaries of a limited term To concentrate first on anniversaries of a limited term, while the number of wills that survives for All Saints’ parishioners is not plentiful, it seems nevertheless significant that few made provision for an anniversary of a specified duration by setting aside a lump sum. Ironically, the one example to be found in the sample was intended to fund a service in a parish other than All Saints’. Joan Wilteshire, Clement Wilteshire’s second wife and widow, marked her association both with All Saints’ and St Mary le Port (where she had lived with her first husband and where she wished to be buried) by founding an anniversary in each.53 The specified durations suggest the degree of her attachment. To St Mary le Port she left the sum of £6 3s. 4d., on condition that the churchwardens there provide her with an anniversary for twenty years ‘with a Placebo and Dirige on the eve and a Mass of Requiem on the morrow with neupmate decantandi for my soul and the souls of Clement Wilteshire and John Batyn my late husbands, and of all the faithful departed’.54 Every year 6s. 8d. was to be spent on six chaplains, the clerk and the town crier, and on thirty-six paupers who were to be given a ha’penny loaf. To procure a service in All Saints’, she instructed her executors to find 40s. for the next four years, spending 10s. annually on her anniversary in the parish. This was the more common procedure to procure anniversary foundation: executors were ‘to find’ the requisite means from testators’ estates. But Joan’s specifications here, too, emerge as slightly unusual. The payments she prescribed to the clergy were standard: she allotted the vicar of All Saints’ a shilling for his participation and for providing the lights to burn at the service; she gave the six chaplains attending 2s. to be split among themselves; and she set aside a shilling for the parish clerk for bell-ringing. In All Saints’, however, Joan seemingly dispensed with the services of the town crier and increased the doles that the poor were to receive: during the week of the anniversary, ‘twenty-four paupers, men women and children, attending the anniversary were daily to have a ha’penny loaf each’.55 53 54 55

ASB 3, Wills, 17 (pp. 28–30). Neupmate decantandi could be rendered as ‘singing in descanting tones’. Having devoted 4s. to clerical services, 6s. would have remained from the annual outlay of 10s.; the daily provision of twenty-four ha’penny loaves to the poor (costing, therefore, 1s. per day) meant that this scheme seems to have envisioned the six days following on from the day of the Requiem Mass as making the ‘week’.

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With more being assigned over a longer than normal period to the poor (who, ordinarily, received their dole on the day of the exequies only), the intercession that she hoped to elicit would presumably have been that much more sustained. Although she commissioned an anniversary of longer duration in St Mary le Port, Joan Wilteshire carefully ensured a more intense return from the service in All Saints’. Her second husband, Clement Wilteshire, had been not only a prominent parishioner but also mayor of Bristol: she determined a fitting benefit for his soul, and her own, in Clement’s parish, tailoring her service in All Saints’ accordingly. His children would surely have done more in the longer term.56 Her commission proves an instructive example of how individuals might set their own stamp on the well-established elements of a service and – by emphasis, rearrangement or substitution – accentuate particular aspects to suit perceived needs. Joan Wilteshire’s requirements emerge as idiosyncratic; a more typical example of the formulation ordinarily adopted by testators may be found in John Leynell’s will, made in 1474.57 Having instructed his executors, in point of fact his widow and son-in-law, to find a suitable chaplain to celebrate divine service every day for ten years, he paired this provision with an anniversary. He charged his executors ‘annually and with solemnity to hold his anniversary in the said church of All Hallows’ for ten years, and [they were] to distribute annually on the aforesaid anniversary 13s. 4d. according to their discretion’. He seems confident that his executors had been so well primed, and were, in any case, implementing a service sufficiently well established, that precise regulation was unnecessary. Other related procedures could also be assumed: as already noted, Katherine Leynell extended her husband’s chantry by two years before her own death, and for another three after her decease; although the All Saints’ benefaction list fails to specify whether the prolongation of service would also have included their anniversary, this seems likely.58 Other wealthy widows did just this, almost as a matter of course. As they extended their husbands’ chantries, so they extended anniversaries – and all in the absence of precise instruction, although, naturally, the resulting services were celebrated for the benefit of the souls of both husband and wife. Thus, where Thomas Spicer requested that his widow and executrix, Maud, should ‘hold every year for ten years after my death’ an anniversary, spending the sum of 10s. on it each year, she, as noted, among many other acts of generosity (which included extending Thomas’s chantry provision), devised property which would yield 20s. per annum

56

57 58

He mentions four sons and two daughters in his will: he bequeathed them money and silver and also devised property; they would have been well aware of their reciprocal responsibilities – as discussed at more length in Burgess, ‘Chantries in the Parish’. ASB 3, Wills, 15 (pp. 24–5). ASB 1, p. 18.

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to maintain the anniversary in perpetuity.59 Moreover, where Thomas Parnaunt set aside property in the Market Place so that the wardens of All Saints’ should annually find the sum of 5s. to provide him with an anniversary in perpetuity, his widow, Joan, devised property in Broad Street ‘to the said church of All Hallows for ever’ with the instructions that the feoffees, holding the property for the parish, were to find twice that sum (the implication clearly being that this would have been only a proportion of the overall rent) to provide her and her husbands (of whom there had been three) with an anniversary.60 Other widows, too, like Joan Halleway and Alice Chestre, inaugurated elaborate perpetual anniversaries in the absence of any precise instruction in their respective husbands’ wills.61 Essentially these widows sought to augment All Saints’ income, but a reasonably ostentatious anniversary, celebrated by the parish, or, at least, managed by the churchwardens, for the widow’s soul and that of her husband, emerges as the accepted perpetual liturgical and commemorative quid pro quo.62

Alternatives These arrangements differed from previous practice concerning the deployment of property for general parish benefit and personal commemoration. In 1405, for instance, Robert Crosman had ordered the sale of specified property, with the instructions, among other things, that his widow, ‘Agnes, should for the rest of her life each year at the feast of Ss Simon and Jude have four Masses celebrated in All Hallows’ and should distribute alms to the poor for the good [of specified souls] and all the faithful departed.’63 William Newbery, however, adopted a different strategy.64 The benefaction list in the Church Book records that, in addition 59

60

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62

63 64

For Thomas’s will, see ASB 3, Wills, 18 (pp. 30–33); for references to Maud’s devise, see ASB 1, p. 23 and also her will, ASB 3, Wills, 19 (at clause 55, pp. 37–8). ASB 3, Wills, 28 and 29 (pp. 48–54) at clause 6 in Thomas’s will and 9 in Joan’s; see also ibid., Deeds, BS A 3–12 (pp. 409–12) for Joan’s devise – as discussed in chapter 4. Joan Halleway’s initiative is considered in detail in the next chapter; for Alice Chestre’s provision of an anniversary, see ASB 1, p. 15 and ASB 3, Deeds, BS B 9 (p. 414) – discussed above, in chapter 4. The obits that the parish observed become a noticeable feature in the churchwardens’ parish accounts by the end of first decade of the sixteenth century (see, for instance, ASB 2, pp. 205–6 for 1510–11, or pp. 211–12 for 1511–12, or pp. 217–18 for 1512–13); each differed as to relative payments and personnel, reflecting a founder’s particular wishes. ASB 3, Wills, 3 (pp. 11–12). I return to this example shortly. In the apparent absence of a surviving will, it seems reasonable to place the date of Newbery’s death and the foundation of his arrangement either in the late fourteenth or in the early fifteenth century; although once frequently used, very few rents of assize were being inaugurated in the mid fifteenth century – presumably because, by then, more reliable procedures had become available. The first trace of Newbery’s obit is found in the tidied accounts (in the All Saints’ Church Book) for 1427–28 but, given the

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to a gift of £1, he arranged that All Saints’ should benefit from a rent of assize issuing from a house in Baldwin Street. This meant that while Newbery intended the Tailors’ guild to be the main beneficiaries of the income from this property, the ‘rent of assize’ obliged this guild to set aside some of the proceeds, making an annual payment of 12s. to All Saints’ to benefit Newbery’s soul.65 In their turn, the wardens of All Saints’ were obliged to devote a portion of this revenue to an anniversary on 10 May specifically for Newbery; in practice, the anniversary accounted for 6s. annually, while the remainder benefited the parish.66 Shortcomings, however, attached to the differing arrangements made by both Crosman and Newbery. In Crosman’s case, having sold property and assigned the sum to a widow who was to discharge a particular obligation for as long as she should outlive her husband, the benefit accruing to the parish was of an uncertain, but obviously limited, duration. As to Newbery’s provision, while it bears closer resemblance to later arrangements, and while Newbery merited inclusion on the parish bede roll because his largesse produced an income for the parish, the arrangement depended upon the willingness of the Tailors both to collect the rent and then pay the requisite sum to the parish.67 While the All Saints’ churchwardens’ accounts reveal that the parish assiduously discharged its responsibility concerning Newbery’s wishes, by the end of the first decade of the sixteenth century the Master of the Tailors had begun to renege on his duty to pay over the specified sum.68 In a codicil to the accounts for 1509–10, we find a

65

66

67

68

sparseness of the accounts at this date, earlier silence is by no means a reliable indication that the arrangement was not in existence. Overall, Newbury’s arrangement should not be written off: it seemingly functioned for not much less than a century. ASB 1, pp. 4–5. The unbound churchwardens’ accounts certainly confirm that (in the phraseology employed, for instance, in 1475–76) that the parish received 12s. ‘from the master of the Tailors [in ] rent assize for the place that John Albyrton dwells in in Baldwin Street’, ASB 2, p. 79. In the main run of tidied accounts found in the Church Book, the first reference to Newbery’s Mind occurs in 1427–28, when the wardens record an expenditure of 6s. 1d. on the observance, a sum regularly repeated in these accounts thereafter; in the short run of more detailed accounts recorded in the Book, which commence in 1472–73, however, the sum spent drops to 6s. – see ASB 1, pp. 58 and 112. Similarly, in the early unbound account that survives for 1446, the wardens recorded expenditure on the Mind as 6s. 1d., and in the main run of these accounts, which starts in 1463–64, Newbery’s Mind (with some exceptions) cost 6s. Newbery was certainly cited in different redactions of the benefaction list: see ASB 1, pp. 4, 14, 24. Other rents of assize similarly experienced problems – so that, if one looks, for instance, at the Allowances [i.e. ‘unpaid’ section] in the unbound account for 1475–76, the sum of 2s. is lacking from ‘the place in Marsh Street which sometime Nicholas Stok held, which John Shipward the elder withholds from us wrongfully’, an income which earlier

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Memorandum that in the day of this account, we of the parish received of Thomas Apprice, Master of the Tailors, 3s. 4d. for the arrears of a quit rent for three years past, 12s. by the year, of a house in Baldwin Street, the residue we forgive to the Tailors for as much as for the said three years the said house was vacant … and the said Thomas promised to pay at Michaelmas next 3s. and so forth according to the rent, viz 12s. yearly.69

Payments resumed for a while but in 1519 the churchwardens noted, before itemising the other anniversary arrangements, ‘Memorandum that the obit of William Newbery lacks here’; and in the next year, while making brief note of what should have been provided for Newbery, ‘Memorandum this is the third year that we be unpaid of the Tailors.’70 Thereafter, while the wardens noted the benefit Newbery should have received, they also added that they ‘lacked payment’ and that the anniversary was vacat nunc.71 The arrangement foundered, with neither parish nor wardens able to put much pressure on the Tailors, particularly since they seem to have been unable to let the house in Baldwin Street. In such a case, lacking any responsibility for the endowment, the parish could do little.72 Rather than relying on the goodwill of a third party, it is hardly surprising that parishioners began to choose a different arrangement: they instituted rents that would remain under the direct control of the parish authorities, who would also bear the responsibility for discharging the anniversary. It was a device which, in effect, interwove parish self-interest with reliability for the donor, to the long-term benefit of both.

Endowment anniversaries and their implications The churchwardens ordinarily included both income and expenditure for endowment anniversaries in the parish accounts.73 As a result, these services feature prominently, even though there were many other liturgically more sig-

69 70 71 72

73

references confirm was a rent of assize, and the churchwardens also asked allowance for 2d. ‘of a rent assize for the place in St Peter’s parish that that John Steynore dwelt in, the which Canynges wrongfully withholds’ – ASB 2, p. 80. Ibid., p. 203. Ibid., pp. 246 and 254–5. Ibid., p. 246 for 1521, and in the years following. Short of fighting a court case – an expensive option which was far from certain to return a ruling in the parish’s favour – little could be done. Moreover, at about the time that Newbery’s Mind foundered, All Saints’ was itself experiencing serious problems in letting the tenements that constituted the Halleways’ endowment; the parish was well aware of the problems associated with maintaining endowments. Ordinarily, but not invariably: the Halleways’ anniversary finds no mention in the run of parish accounts, being dealt with in the separately kept Halleway chantry accounts.

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nificant celebrations during the year, such as Easter, Corpus Christi or the patronal day, about which we know frustratingly little.74 Nevertheless, as benefactors – usually widows – fashioned these foundations and devised properties, the churchwardens’ income increased, as did the surpluses on their account. While the obligation both to discharge the annual services and to maintain the endowments absorbed a proportion of the relevant incomes, the bulk of the revenues accruing went to swell parish coffers. The urge to be remembered was entirely natural and, to contemporaries, of undoubted significance; but benefactors also hoped, singly and cumulatively, that by increasing parish income All Saints’ would flourish, offering more and better services. It is at least likely that this development represented a conscious programme – possibly inaugurated by the clergy and, plausibly, in reaction to the obvious fallibility of rents of assize – to which those who were able contributed in order, at the very least, to augment parish income. Agnes Fyler, in the 1460s, was among the first to set up a perpetual anniversary by devising property – specifically, in her case, the property known as the Rose in the High Street – but, because of a dispute with her stepson, Thomas, we are reasonably well informed as to the procedure.75 Maurice Hardwick, vicar of All Saints’, had procured, moved and stirred Agnes Fyler to give her said house in which she dwelt in High Street, on the south side of the Green Lattice. And where that Thomas her son would have broken her last will and alyenyed the said house to his own use, [and] promised the said Sir Maurice great good to assist him, the said Maurice and William Rowley and John Compton, churchwardens, by plea withstood him as appears in their said account.76

By the compromise that resulted, spelled out in Agnes’s will made in 1467, Thomas Fyler kept the tenement for the remainder of his life, after which his sister, Joan, might inherit, on condition that both would maintain Agnes’s anniversary. When both had died, the property would go to the parish and, so long as it kept the anniversary, All Saints’ could profit from any surplus revenues. The parish had acquired the Rose, and assumed responsibility for the anniversary, by 1485–86;

74

75 76

Not only did payments for the various anniversaries feature with increasing prominence in the churchwardens’ parish accounts by the early sixteenth century, but the concomitant and growing property portfolio obliged the wardens to devote more effort – and accounting space – to property repairs. Discussed in chapter 4. ASB 1, p. 10.

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thereafter it kept both.77 While the transaction had not been as smooth as the parish might have wished, matters were resolved satisfactorily. The parish authorities – clergy and churchwardens together – fought for the financial profit of the parish and upheld the spiritual interests of its parishioners, facing down an heir’s opposition in this case. Prospective benefactors were left in no doubt as to the parish’s tenacity: property devised to the parish could be securely held, encouraging others in their generosity.78 The next to move – in the interval during which Agnes Fyler’s ultimate intention had yet to be realised, but also during which the parish lost the Haddons’ endowment – were the Chestres, Alice and John (the merchant). The latter posed no threat; indeed, pointedly in comparison with Thomas Fyler, and perhaps even Richard Haddon, we are told that ‘he was a special well willer who [where Alice’s many benefactions were concerned] stirred her unto the same full wholesomely and by whose advice and counsel and comfort many of these good deeds were done and performed’.79 Alice and John’s activities are manifest from material in the All Saints’ deed collection: in 1477, well in advance of her death, Alice and John enfeoffed thirteen men, many of whom were parishioners of All Saints’, with property in Broad Street – once part of the Haddons’ endowment – with the intention that the All Saints’ churchwardens and their successors were ‘to well and faithfully keep yearly, from now on for ever, an obit or anniversary [for] Henry and Alice Chestre’.80 The property came into the parish’s direct management after Alice’s death in the mid-1480s. All Saints’ therefore profited from two significant property acquisitions at approximately the same time; parish revenues rose appreciably. Agnes Fyler’s devise (rented first to William Frith and then to Sacare the draper) seems to have brought in a rent of £3 10s. per annum, and Alice Chestre’s place in Broad Street, described as ‘a brewer place’ (rented first to Thomas Coke 77

78

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Leech, Topography, p. 80, High Street west, properties 39–40. The transfer of property and the parish’s assumption of responsibility for the anniversary may have been accomplished a year or two earlier than 1485–86, but a gap in the series of accounts in the early 1480s means that it is impossible to date the process precisely. During the period (roughly) when the parish was in contention with Agnes’s stepson over the devise of ‘The Rose’, the Haddons’ chantry was forfeit, which blow nevertheless occurred when Richard Haddon still had control of the chantry endowment. Evidently, while family members could well have their own agenda, the parish might identify more closely with founders’ spiritual priorities, and fought tenaciously for their preservation – demonstrating competence in this area. ASB 1, p. 17. ASB 3, Deeds, BS B13 and 14a/b (pp. 415–16) ; Leech, Topography, pp. 46–7, Broad Street East side, property 54–5. The extent to which the Chestres’ plans in devising this property, once owned by Richard Haddon, were consciously meant to compensate for the loss of the Haddons’ endowment has been discussed above, in chapter 5.

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or Koke, brewer) brought in £4 per annum.81 Where parish income from rents of assize and rents recorded in the churchwardens’ accounts had long been static at about £8 per annum, a change in accounting occurred in the mid-1480s, with rents of assize and property income being recorded separately. Whereas the former continued static at about £1 5s. (at least nominally – in practice many of the rents were vacant), property income rose.82 From the later 1480s it stood at approximately £13 10s. per annum. Towards the end of the first decade of the sixteenth century, the acquisition of the Spicer and Thomas Parnaunt’s endowments, respectively in Small Street and in the market towards the east end of Wynchstreet, the first worth 26s. 8d. and the second 30s., annual income rose to some £17 10s. In a codicil to the account for 1515–16 we are told, ‘Also in this year, Master Humfrey Hervy’s executors gave us the house in the High Street that John Repe grocer now holds, yearly rent [the sum of ] 40s.’ Humfrey Hervy had married John Chestre’s widow, Anne, and the property now added to the parish’s portfolio had strong associations with the Chestre family.83 It supported what, effectively, became a second anniversary for their coterie. By the 1520s, when adjustments had been made and the services had ‘settled’, each of the anniversaries celebrated for the Chestres and Hervys cost 7s. 11d., implying that the parish made a profit in excess of 30s. per annum on Humfrey Hervy’s devise.84 By about 1520, annual parish income from rents stood at approximately £20 per annum. The obligation to provide for anniversaries, and to maintain the relevant endowments, meant that expenditure rose too.85 Nevertheless, much of the increase in parish income resulted from the practice among prominent parish families – well accustomed to taking a leading role in parish management – of making a generous property devise in return for a comparatively cheap perpetual anniversary. A steady increase in parish revenues and an accumulating surplus meant that, by the 1520s, All Saints’ had a certain room for manoeuvre.86 This meant 81

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Regrettably, it often proves difficult to identify properties as they come into the parish’s ‘orbit’ as they are usually mentioned in terms of the tenant rather than specifically either by property name or site. The steady rise in rental income as recorded in the All Saints’ churchwardens’ accounts, which largely resulted from property devise ostensibly in return for an anniversary, is dealt with in more detail in ASB 2, Introduction, pp. 14–18. Indeed, we know that Alice had commissioned and built the property concerned in 1472, having come to an agreement with ‘Stephen Morgan of Bristol, carpenter,’ and it was to comprise ‘a shop, with a hall above the same with an oriel window, a chamber above the hall with an oriel and another chamber above that; see ASB 3, Deeds, HS, C 9 (p. 396). It is to be noted, however, that the Chestres’ other devise, ordinarily referred to as the ‘great house in Broad Street’ stood vacant for much of the early sixteenth century. Summarised again in ASB 2, Introduction, pp. 18–20. Although, as discussed in the following chapter, the parish seems to have abided by the deci-

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that the parish could consider purchasing certain properties when the opportunity arose. In the mid-1520s, the death of Elizabeth Hawkes, whose son had predeceased her, led to the sale of her son’s intended inheritance. The proceeds were to be split between St Augustine’s Abbey, where Elizabeth’s husband, John Hawkes senior, had wished to be buried, his parish church, St Leonard’s, and also All Saints’ (which parish Elizabeth had connections with through her second husband, and so, too, Hawkes himself, through his step-father, Richard Hatter). The abbey was to receive half of the proceeds and the two parishes a quarter each.87 The property was valued at £90, but All Saints’ nursed ambitions since, as previously noted, the property had once formed the major part of the endowment supporting the Haddons’ chantry.88 Aided and abetted by its managerial elite, All Saints’ found itself in a position to raise the necessary £67 10s. and ‘buy out’ St Augustine’s and St Leonard’s interests, adding the endowment to its own portfolio. This further augmented parish income, which stood at approximately £30 per annum at the end of the 1520s. Success bred success: a series of property devises meant that, by the mid-1520s, All Saints’ might contemplate purchases to enlarge its property portfolio.

The services required The anniversary in reciprocation for the devise of property had to be carefully observed. Shortcomings in this respect would lead to the endowment being assigned to another ‘host’. To take one instance, in their Declaration of Trust, drawn up in 1477, Alice and John Chestre explicitly stipulated that slack performance would result in forfeiture. If the wardens are remiss, lukewarm or negligent in holding the obit, the feoffees are to hold to the use of the Prior and brothers of the Kalendars on the same condition, and the Kalendars shall have the profits. If the Kalendars hold the obit other than prescribed, the feoffees are to hold to the use of the Mayor

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sion not to underwrite evidently necessary repairs on various of the properties constituting the Halleways’ endowment. While it may have meant more work for the parish authorities, some of the liturgical services supported by the Halleways’ endowment were suspended and any money saved was redirected into repairs – as described in the following chapter. Not so surprisingly, given its interests in the reversion of his property should Hawke’s heirs die without issue, All Saints’ had a copy of John Hawkes’ will, ASB 3, Deeds, HS B 7 (pp. 391–2). Elizabeth Hawkes (who was John’ second wife – and both were named Elizabeth) was the daughter of Richard Hervy and his wife Anne; Anne’s first husband had been John Chestre. See above, chapter 5, for a more detailed analysis of the underlying situation and the parish’s determination to regain this property; the process of managing this acquisition is also dealt with in more detail below, in chapter 9.

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and Commonalty, who may dispose of the tenement at will to the common use and profit of the Chamber.89

The Kalendars proved a canny choice as substitutes since they were in a position closely to observe proceedings within All Saints’ and, by implication, the mayor and commonalty of Bristol would have served as arbiters should negligence ever be claimed. Moreover, the Chestres’ instructions for their service are unusually detailed: The wardens on the vigil of St Valentine [were to] cause the vicar or his deputy, and six other worthy priests, to say and sing solemnly and with music Placebo and Dirige with nine lessons; on the morrow they are bound to celebrate Requiem Mass for the aforesaid souls, for their family and descendants, for all faithful departed, and especially those for whom Alice and John are bound to pray.90

Thereafter, their wishes were reasonably standard: ‘the churchwardens [were] to offer 1d. for the said souls at Mass and after the service [were] to pay the vicar or his deputy and the six priests 4d. each’, as well the sum of 8d. to the vicar ‘for candles at the service’. The parish clerk was to be paid 12d. ‘for ringing the bells’, and the ‘common beadle or crier ‘ the sum of 4d. for broadcasting the obit about the town. Their charitable provision was, however, out of the ordinary. Rather than indiscriminately giving ha’penny loaves to the poor of the parish or town, they were more explicit: ‘The churchwardens [were] to distribute to the prisoners at Newgate 20d. in bread on the vigil of the obit’, and to ‘the poor in All Saints’ lane, 4d. in bread, [with] the same to poor lepers in Brightbowe, and to the poor in Long Row’.91 Further, while ‘the wardens [were to] have and enjoy all outgoings and profits from the tenement’ they were, in addition, ‘to [ensure] the upkeep of the Mass there [which, a later insertion specifies, was to be le salve de Jhesu], to be kept in the church on Fridays’.92 When Humfrey Hervy established the second of the anniversaries to profit the Chestre coterie, it was to be celebrated on 4 and 5 March and effectively replicated the first. But the second charter of feoffment, 89 90 91

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ASB 3, Deeds, BS B 14 a/b (p. 416). Ibid. The All Saints’ alms-house is discussed in chapter 2.There were two leper houses sited in Brightbow (in the suburb of Bedminster, on the far side of the River Avon (appropriately), to the south of the town), one dedicated to St Catherine at Brightbow bridge, and the other dedicated to St Mary Magdalene – see AHT Bristol, Appendix 2, entries 14 and 15. The Long Row refers to Burton’s Almshouse in Long Row (in St Thomas’s parish), running between St Thomas’s Street and Temple Street: see AHT Bristol, Appendix 2, entry 2. As discussed in chapter 4.

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made by Richard Hervy, Humfrey’s heir, in 1519, omitted any mention of default to the Kalendars.93 Perhaps this was judged unnecessary: All Saints’ administration had hitherto shown no sign of losing its grip and, with the additional profit derived from the new devise, was unlikely to do so. This deed, however, reveals more as to the service. While payments to officials and the instructions directing doles to the poor stayed the same, it prescribes liturgical requirements with more clarity. The wardens of All Saints’ of the time being shall hold yearly for ever, in that church, an obit or anniversary on the Vigil of St Valentine with Placebo and Dirige with nine lessons, with the psalm Miserere and other psalms usually following, to the end of the psalm Benedictus, and with other prayers likewise customary in neupmate.94 And on the morrow, on the day and feast of St Valentine, [the wardens shall hold] a Requiem Mass with music and singing, for the souls of Henry Chestre and Alice his wife, and of John Chestre and Anne sometime his wife, afterwards wife of Humfrey Hervy, of Humfrey and Agnes his first wife, of John Thomas, Richard Hervy and John Collys, when they shall have migrated from this light, of their kin, friends and benefactors, and of all the faithful departed.95

With time, successive generations of the family added themselves to the list of beneficiaries, suggesting both that the services at the core of an anniversary mattered and that their commemorative ‘return’ was held in high esteem. Moreover, the inclusion of ‘friends, benefactors and all the faithful departed’ in the reciprocal equation serves to remind us of the broader benefits generated as a result of integrating the proceedings within the wider intercessory economy. The increasing space devoted to anniversaries in the churchwardens’ accounts is one of the more noticeable ways in which the All Saints’ accounts for, shall we say, the 1460s, differ from those of the 1520s. In the account for 1463–64, there is a one-line entry: ‘Item paid for holding William Newbery’s mind – 6s.’; by contrast, the account for 1520 devotes two folio sides to the carefully itemised celebration of these services.96 Given both the intrinsic spiritual significance of the services and that failure to observe founders’ wishes exactly would precipitate the loss of valuable endowments, the churchwardens regularly recorded these activities in detail in the accounts in the years that followed the acquisition of the relevant 93 94 95

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ASB 3, Deeds, HS C 11 a/b (pp. 396–8). That is, in descanting tones. Included among the beneficiaries of these services is John Thomas, incumbent of the parish from 1479 to 1503, whose connections with the Chestre ‘clan’ was discussed above, in chapter 3. ASB 2, pp. 40 and 254–6 respectively.

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endowment. It was important to note the correct performance of these ceremonies, and the detailed itemisation of their discharge – in audited accounts – served as proof that the parish had not forfeited the right to the endowments on which, to an increasing extent, the parish budget rested. All Saints’ would have celebrated many other services equally, if not more, splendidly. But while churchwardens may not have been obliged to oversee the liturgy on feast days, they carried the burden for discharging anniversaries as part of their responsibilities towards the parish’s property portfolio, hence the prominence of these observances in their accounts. Just as close attention had to be paid to property repairs, equal attention had to be paid to observing an anniversary: neglect would either lead to decay or to the outright loss of rents. By the early sixteenth century, anniversary arrangements had assumed a secure place in the financial ‘underbelly’ of parish religion.97

Making a mark in the parish Leading parish families appear to have embarked on a composite enterprise, ostensibly prompted by the parish incumbent – in the first instance, Maurice Hardwick, who, as a quid pro quo, facilitated the composition of an improved book of memory.98 While none was sufficiently wealthy by themselves to set enough aside to generate the income of £7 or £8 per annum to pay for a priest, each family could spare property to yield, usually, between £2 or £3 per annum. Each would be remembered separately but, cumulatively, three such benefactors – if later generations of parishioners decided to pool the incomes accruing and devote them to such a purpose – might support an extra full-time priest in the parish in perpetuity.99 Once sufficient benefactors had followed suit, this transformed the status and competence of the parish, reaching fruition in the 1520s with All Saints’ reacquisition of the Haddons’ endowment standing as an affirmation of this procedure and the benefits accruing to the parish community. On the realistic assumption that the parish authorities could administer the extra properties efficiently, members of the parish elite embraced a shared commemorative and liturgical initiative, with markedly beneficial effects. By the end of the fifteenth century, a parish – as will emerge – well-accustomed to levying a general parish rate to support clerks had, seemingly, also developed an understanding among its leading families (at least those without pressing duties towards young 97

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This phrase is considered in more detail in the following chapter, when reflecting on the ceaseless work needed to sustain ambitious intercessory arrangements. As argued above, in chapter 4. Or, if the improvement of parish fixtures and fittings did not seem a more pressing priority, funds could have been used to ‘buy in’ good singers for specific seasons (such as Lent) and/or feast-days, or could, perhaps, have been used to subsidise the employment of a well-qualified professional musician to All Saints’ to serve as parish clerk.

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heirs) of the desirability of an optional ‘death duty’ to support extra priests and personnel or to underwrite other endeavours as necessary.100 An anniversary, when coupled with more continuous commemoration in the parish bede roll, evidently delivered sufficient spiritual recompense. There is, however, another way of interpreting so significant a development in All Saints’ fortunes.101 In the absence of further perpetual chantry foundation in the parish following the loss of Haddon’s endowment, other parishes furnish numerous examples indicative of the changing procedures adopted to secure post mortem services. With both Edward IV and Henry VII levying heavy fines on founders who adhered to statutory mortmain practices, this had the predictable effect of fostering alternative tactics in the later decades of the fifteenth century. In Bristol, certainly, would-be perpetual chantry founders made increasing resort to enfeoffment to use. Rather than alienating property into the ‘dead hand’, they entrusted their endowments to living feoffees whose numbers could be replenished in each generation and, hence, could hold in perpetuity.102 In All Saints’, the practice of alienating property to the ‘living hand’ was further adapted. By the 1480s, richer families had been persuaded – presumably as the result of confidence in its managerial and commemorative competence – of the utility of entrusting the parish with endowments each sufficient to produce, say, £2 or £3 per annum. They enfeoffed living members of the elite with properties (thereby evading any recourse to mortmain), and assigned to parish managers the responsibility of administering them to benefit benefactors and community alike. In addition to the obligatory anniversary, donors might be assured of being remembered as ‘good doers’, not least because the parish benefited from a growing disposable income that inter alia could be devoted to improving amenities in All Saints’, and particularly its liturgy. Unable to set aside sufficient to sustain a priest in perpetuity, various leading families were nevertheless prepared to trust the parish as guardian of their interests, both in maintaining an endowment and reliably procuring a spiritual return. Whilst the following chapter demonstrates beyond doubt that the parish devoted inordinate care to the proper maintenance of a perpetual chantry to benefit from a variety of services and advantages, the tide was perhaps beginning to turn by the end of the fifteenth century. Perhaps the parish had sufficient full-time liturgists to meet basic liturgical needs. Clearly, in All Saints’ the commemorative 100 101

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The parish rate is discussed in more detail below, chapter 9. It is also worth noting that similar developments may be perceived in some of London’s parishes in the later fifteenth century; see Burgess, ‘London, the Church and the Kingdom’, in London and the Kingdom. Essays in Honour of Caroline M. Barron, ed. M. Davies and A. Prescott, Harlaxton Medieval Studies, 16 (Donington, 2008), pp. 112–16. I discuss this development more fully in Burgess, ‘Strategies for Eternity’, at pp. 10–15.

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impulse could be satisfied by a more flexible arrangement towards which a greater number might contribute, and whose returns were similarly more adaptable: if a fraternity can be characterised as corporate chantry (ordinarily serving the less well-to-do), then an accumulation of endowment anniversaries might also have functioned as a composite chantry, funded by the comfortably off and offering the parish a return that might vary from year to year. Rather than collaboration to support a chaplain, revenues could be deployed where and when most needed and, if devoted to the liturgy, could be spent either on improving equipment or on employing professionals as necessary to swell forces at certain seasons or particular feasts. Future generations could decide. Overall, this development represented a real tribute to parish competence for, apart from the anniversary that each arranged – and which functioned in addition to a chantry of substantial duration for most of the benefactors – ‘founders’ also trusted All Saints’ to serve their own spiritual interests, without detailed prescription, as well as the practical and pious needs of the broader community.

Chapter 7

‘For all future time’: The Halleways’ chantry

A perpetual chantry represented an ambitious form of devise clearly benefiting the parish, with property set aside yielding rent sufficient both to pay a celebrant’s stipend and maintain the endowment, sustaining the income in perpetuity and, ideally, providing a little extra for the host institution. Such chantries were never numerous: few individuals had the requisite property; fewer still held this without prior obligations to family or heirs. Even though perpetual chantries functioned as parish enterprises, ordinarily we now have only snippets of information generated and preserved by government and reflective of their inception and demise. Foundation frequently produced a licence to alienate in mortmain entered on the Patent Rolls;1 the dissolution, in the first year of Edward VI’s reign, produced the Chantry Certificates, recording a few details for each institution, whose endowments the government proceeded to absorb.2 But the All Saints’ archive discloses just how much documentation a parish could compile when managing such an arrangement: Thomas and Joan Halleway’s chantry, inaugurated in All Saints’ in the 1440s, generated copious materials.3 In addition to a variety of foundation documents, we have in particular a good series of accounts, from 1463–64 and continuing with only a few gaps until 1540, and these provide a plethora of detail concerning the day-to-day management of the chantry and its endowment. Although surely once compiled for all perpetual chantries, such accounts survive only rarely, but – it must be emphasised – seem usually to have been kept Not all chantries depended upon alienation in mortmain, particularly by the later fifteenth century – earlier, it is true, most had; see Burgess, ‘Strategies for Eternity’, pp. 1–32, and particularly the table on pp. 27–9.  2 Although differing from area to area in the depth of their coverage, the Chantry Certificates [TNA E301], as well as providing some indication of what perpetual services functioned in any parish, also note sundry other endowments (not necessarily all) that produced income for anniversaries, lights, annuities for the poor, the value of ornaments and current celebrants’ names. Those for Bristol are printed in ‘Chantry Certificates, Gloucestershire’, ed. J. MacLean, pp. 229–308.  3 This archive has been published in full in ASB 3, Halleway materials (pp. 89–356). Reference may also be made to an earlier much abridged compilation, with a still-useful commentary, by Atchley, ‘The Halleway Chauntry’.  1

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separately from the churchwardens’ parish accounts.4 The Halleways’ chantry accounts reveal how much care a parish might lavish on such a foundation, for it was clearly of the utmost importance to All Saints’ that it should flourish.

To keep a chaplain continually: the foundation of the Halleways’ chantry While no will survives for Joan Halleway, Thomas has a will of sorts preserved, not in a properly recognised record of probate but in the All Saints’ deeds collection.5 It was made on 10 October 1449, which, given that the All Saints’ benefaction list reveals that Thomas died on 13 December 1454, may initially seem strange.6 A long interval between giving a will and its probate needs no comment, however. Bristol’s mercantile community habitually made ‘fail-safe’ wills well in advance of death.7 If granted the opportunity, testators would revise or embellish plans on their deathbed but, in case of sudden death, or death overseas, it was prudent to have a document guiding the disposition of the estate in a broadly acceptable fashion. What requires more explanation is the date on which Thomas Halleway’s will was endorsed, for we know that probate was granted before John Elys, Commissary to the bishop of Worcester, in the parish church of St Leonard’s, Bristol, on 9 March 1454. This preceded Halleway’s decease. The episcopal licence to found the perpetual chantry, given in late April 1452, provides a reason. Joan was empowered to act because ‘Thomas Halleway … had been lying sick in his bed for three years and more on account of excessive old age [nimia senectute].’8 Therefore, in the name of her aforementioned husband, who is still her own, [she] made it known in person and in that place testified in the name of her said husband and in her own name, that he [and] she wished for the salvation of their souls and those of their benefactors, to erect, found and establish a certain chantry Bristol is comparatively well off for perpetual chantry records: in addition to the Halleways’ Chantry accounts for All Saints’, records also survive for William Canynges’s chantries in St Mary Redcliffe (calendared in Williams, The Chantries of William Canynges) and a short series of accounts, from 1468 until 1477, survives also for John Spicer’s chantry in St James’, Bristol (BRO, P/St.J/Ca/1). It is important to note that these accounts, too, appear to have been kept separately from the other, more general, parish accounts.  5 Although originally occurring in the All Saints’ Deeds (see ASB 3, Deeds, NA 45 (p. 458)), it is printed in ASB 3, Wills, 8 (pp. 17–18).  6 ASB 1, p. 14.  7 Clement Wilteshire’s will, as mentioned earlier, had evidently been made well in advance of his death (ASB 3, Wills, 16 (pp. 25–8).  8 The phrase nimia senectute might also denote a state of premature senility.  4

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in the aforesaid parish church of All Saints’, and to keep a chaplain continually therein to celebrate Mass for all future time and also to construct a house to be the dwelling of the self-same chaplain at their [that is, the Halleways’] cost and expense.9

Thomas’s incapacity meant that Joan worked first as his attorney, and then as his executrix. Paradoxically, even though Thomas’s will was validated before his death, the surviving document was much concerned, like so many contemporary wills, with the ceremonies accompanying and immediately following interment.10 Similarly, the phrasing of the preamble, ‘I, Thomas Halleway, burgess of the town of Bristol, in sound memory and whole mind, given my testament in the following fashion’, while utterly conventional, gains a certain resonance: such attributes were almost certainly not his to command by the early 1450s, and nimia senectute precluded a deathbed will. Before appointing her his sole executrix, Thomas bequeathed Joan the ‘true residue of all my goods unbequeathed’, after payment of his debts and funeral expenses, and instructed her ‘to dispose of this for my soul as seems best to her’. Joan evidently acted in a far more lavish manner than would otherwise have been predicted: she knew her duty, as well as her own interests, and acted with the full support of the parish. But preparations were underway even before Thomas’s incapacitation – explaining why he had no need to mention it in his will – and there are indications that Joan and her husband had employed a liturgist of some eminence within the parish well in advance of death.11 Their most lavish pro anima provision, a perpetual chantry benefiting both their souls, had been inaugurated and was functioning by the time of their deaths – Thomas in December 1454, as noted, and Joan on 1 March 1456.12 To judge from ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 90–93 (at p. 91); see also ASB 3, Deeds, CS A 21 and 22 (pp. 375–6). Printed also in Atchley, ‘The Halleway Chauntry’, pp. 100–105, at p. 102. 10 As explored in the second section of chapter 3, above. 11 Joan Halleway paid for William Wytteney’s burial in 1449 (ASB 2, p. 38). Wytteney’s most conspicuous long-term gift to the parish (ASB 1, p. 14) was the ‘Dance of Pauls’, a painted scroll of the Dance of Death that was hung up in the church both at St James’s tide and at the feast of All Saints’ and All Souls’; this item and Wytteney’s identity are discussed in more detail below, in chapters 10 and 11. 12 ASB 1, p. 14. Such forethought was common where perpetual chantries were concerned: William Canynges, for instance, established both of his perpetual chantries in St Mary Redcliffe well before his decease; as a result of this, his will, too, while much more detailed than Thomas Halleway’s, makes no direct reference to either of these arrangements (apart from providing vestments to his named ‘chaplains’); nor, indeed, does Canynges mention the almshouse that he had founded (reputedly in1442) on Redcliffe hill, apart from specifying ‘to my poor almsmen dwelling on Redclyfhull, to each of them living at the time of my death, 20s.’ – GOB, ff 199v–201.  9

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the chantry rentals, the earliest of which is dated 1446–47, Thomas and, latterly, Joan had managed the rents and, presumably, the repair and maintenance of designated property, for a decade before her decease. Tenements had for some time been set aside and administered to support the priest and his services; moreover, the various legal steps necessary to ensure the legal continuation of the chantry after the Halleways’ death were taken steadily rather than speedily.13 In the light of other widows’ actions, Joan’s initiative in setting up the chantry well ahead of its formal ratification appears not in the least unusual. Once again, the duration of stipendiaries’ services and, thus, of their contribution should be reckoned as more extended than first seems likely.14

Providing for the service In addition to mentioning that Thomas and Joan ‘founded one chantry in the said church in perpetuity’, the All Saints’ benefaction list confirms the Episcopal licence in revealing that they provided for their priest’s accommodation: they ‘gave forever for one chamber that the said [chantry] priest dwelled in, the which they built in the churchyard at their own cost’, providing the parish with a rent of 6s. 8d. annually.15 They envisaged their priest as a parish ‘fixture’; but the list also itemises many additional benefactions not mentioned in Thomas’s will. The Halleways provided ‘one worshipful jewel with two angels called a monstrance to bear the precious sacrament with divers relics enclosed in the same’, which in all weighed 57¼ oz. They also gave ‘a Mass book to the high altar’, ‘ordained one bell to be rung daily to [summon parishioners to] Mass’ and contributed the sum of 8s. ‘to find the lamp before the precious sacrament in the choir’.16 So their largesse not only added an extra daily Mass to the repertoire of services observed in All Saints’, with Thomas and Joan obtained a Mortmain licence in May 1449, and an Episcopal licence in 1452; the Rent rolls (ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 100–119), although sporadic, begin in 1446 – implying that properties had been set aside by that date, a decade at least before Joan died. 14 As emerged clearly, too (in chapter 4 above), when discussing the plans and provisions made both by Alice Chestre and Maud Spicer. 15 This, and the other benefactions that they made, are listed in ASB 1, p. 14, and included in the Appendices to this volume as Appendix I; moreover, both the churchwardens’ and the chantry accounts reveal that parish regularly received a rent for the chaplains ‘house’ thereafter, implying that the priest did indeed ‘live in’. 16 This latter presumably refers to an undertaking to keep the sanctuary light burning, the annual payment for which (often in excess of 8s.) may regularly be found in the payments sustained by the chantry endowment. As will become apparent, the Halleways intended that their daily Mass should serve as the parish’s Morrow Mass – i.e. the early morning Mass, that parishioners might attend on their way to work – the gift of a ‘bell to be rung daily’ was a particularly appropriate donation on their part. 13

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an extra participant swelling the ranks of those observing the daily office – both in perpetuity – but their accompanying gifts also facilitated parish ceremonial. They urged others to attend Masses and offer prayers, and provided for the reservation of the sacrament in a more splendid housing than previously available, in front of which they now ensured a light would continuously burn. Bristol, unlike Coventry or York, may not have had a Corpus Christi guild of any particular prominence, but the procession around the town to mark this feast was clearly an occasion of consequence.17 Thomas and Joan Halleway’s dedication to the Eucharist is redolent more of personal zeal, with their bequests ensuring that the celebration and reservation of the sacrament would also enrich others’ devotional lives. The Halleways’ generosity led to further liberality, for – as noted earlier – Richard Hatter, who died just over a year after Joan, in September 1457, materially assisted the Halleways in their plans for the chantry.18 Although serving as mayor of Bristol in 1454–55, some twenty years after Thomas Halleway, he seems to have been a close associate, for, even though a parishioner of St Leonard’s, he sought burial ‘near the tombs of Thomas Halleway and Joan his wife’ in All Saints’.19 In addition to bequeathing the sum of £3 6s. 8d. to the fabric of All Saints’ church (admittedly only half the sum he bequeathed to the fabric of St Leonard’s), he also bequeathed £66 13s. 4d. ‘towards the repair and building of the tenements and the ornaments of the chantry of Thomas Halleway aforesaid’. Whether this money was simply put into the chantry coffer to bolster the chantry’s cash reserve, or whether it was spent, for instance, on purchasing equipment for the chantry priest – some of which was sumptuous – is never divulged. It is telling, however, that the inventory of the chantry’s goods was not compiled until 1457, coincidentally the year of Hatter’s death. If the parish used his subvention in this manner, the questions are ‘how much of it?’ and ‘how much remained in reserve?’ –important considerations when reflecting on the chantry’s resilience, as will emerge. On the celebration in Bristol, see P. G. Cobb, ‘Corpus Christi Processions in Bristol’, in Historic Churches and Church Life in Bristol: Essays in Honour of Elizabeth Ralph, 1911–2000, ed. J. Bettey (Bristol, 2001), pp. 85–97. Practice in All Saints’ is discussed in more detail below, in chapter 11. 18 ASB 3, Wills, 9 (pp. 18–19). The association between Hatter and the Halleways has already been mentioned (in chapter 3, above), and the chantry’s Composicio certainly includes Hatter as among those benefiting from the chantry’s priests Masses and prayers – see ASB 3, Halleway materials, p. 95. It may, however, be noted that Richard’s wife, Constance, who died in 1460 (ASB 3, Wills, 10 (pp. 19–20)) chose burial in St Leonard’s; given that she named John Hawke (also a parishioner of St Leonard’s as her son), Richard was clearly not her first husband, and she presumably wished to be interred with her first husband in their ‘home’ parish – specifying ‘in the crowde [ie the crypt] of the church of St Leonard’. 19 Hatter had served as bailiff of the town in 1442–43, as sheriff in 1451–52, and mayor in 1454–55 – see Latimer, ‘“The Maire of Bristowe”’, at pp. 131–2. 17

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Providing for the celebrant In common with other founders in the early and mid fifteenth century, all of whom wanted to render their arrangements as durable as possible, the Halleways entrusted their priest with the chantry endowment as his benefice on condition that he provided the prescribed services.20 In effect, they constituted their chantry as a corporation, with its own name (in this case, ‘Halleways’ Chantry’, according to the royal licence), and served by a priest who might acquire and hold property for the chantry and keep designated equipment, too. We know from inventories that the Halleways equipped their priest for ‘high days and holy days’ as well as for ‘everyday’.21 They gave a chalice and patten ‘all overgilt’ as well as another chalice and patten not gilded; similarly, their priest was to have two cruets of silver and also two of tin. They also supplied him with ‘a pax of silver with a Trinity’, and a pax with ‘a vernicle covered with glass for everyday’. He had only two candlesticks, of latten and ‘with lions on the foot’ but, in addition, had two tapers and two torches ‘to serve the altar’ of Sts John the Baptist, John the Evangelist and Dunstan at which he celebrated. He was also provided with vestments: one pair was ‘of baudkin, green silk and black’, and the other ‘baudkin vestments [were] of green silk and red powdered with white and blue flowers’.22 The altar cloths for his use when celebrating included two stained, or painted, cloths ‘one [over front] of the Passion above and another beneath [a nether front] with the three kings of Cologne’, and a second nether-front was stained with St John the Baptist, and the ridells (the curtains hanging at the north and south ends of the altar) were similarly stained, ‘one in one side of the Passion’.23 In addition to two smaller stained cloths ‘for As made clear in the Royal Licence for the Halleways’ chantry, ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 89–90. Benefice chantries, and the advantages (and disadvantages) associated with this particular arrangement (as opposed to service chantries), are examined in more detail in Wood-Legh, Perpetual Chantries, chapter 2; and the other examples founded in Bristol are considered in Burgess, ‘Strategies for Eternity’, at pp. 8–13. 21 The two inventories, one of ‘The goods that belong to the Halleways’ Chantry’ and the other ‘The goods of the chantry which the priest has to use for every day and are in his warde’ are printed in ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 98–9, and may also be found in Atchley, ‘The Halleway Chauntry’, pp. 106–9. 22 It is to be remembered that a ‘pair’ of vestments comprised a chasuble, stole, fanon, alb, amice, girdle and apparels, giving ample scope for different elements to be in different and either contrasting or complementing fabrics and colours. 23 While entirely suitable as decoration for an altar cloth, an emphasis on the Passion assumes fuller significance in conjunction with the Halleways’ clear devotion to the Eucharist, noted earlier. The cult of the ‘three kings of Cologne’ (the city where the supposed remains of the kings, or magi as described in Matthew’s gospel, had been interred by Frederick Barbarossa in 1162) had clearly become popular among English 20

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everyday’, the priest had all the requisite drapery: an under cloth ‘of hair’ and the second, third and uppermost cloths supplied in accordance with the quality specified in canon law and in duplicate.24 The Halleways also provided a hearse cloth ‘stained with letters of gold and with a stained cross of the crucifying of Our Lord, powdered in white damask work’, presumably displayed prominently – draped over the hearse – at their anniversary.25 When, thirty years later, Alice Chestre gave All Saints’ the hearse cloth adorned with her and her husbands’ initials, in her judgement ‘there was no hearse cloth in the church of any reputation in value, saving only an hearse cloth that Thomas Halleway ordained for his own anniversary’.26 While the Halleways’ hearse cloth was still at large within the church of All Saints’ in the 1480s, neither this, nor any of the other items among the Halleways’ chantry goods, can be identified in the churchwardens’ inventory compiled in 1469–70.27 Other donors were explicitly associated with their vestments or utensils, but there is no reference to the Halleways – who gave more than most. Strictly, their equipment belonged to the chantry, not the parish. Much that they had given was in daily use, and more was in use on special occasions, adding con-



24



25



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27

merchants by the fifteenth century, many of whom visited the Rhineland – and would themselves have been accustomed to travelling from afar. Although the kings’ significance resides in the fact that they were the first gentiles to recognise the Christ, any image would have emphasised the Christ child with the Virgin receiving the obeisance of the kings. One of the proffered gifts – of myrrh – portends the crucifixion of the Saviour. We are told in which order they would have been placed: over the hair cloth would have been a canvas cloth, on the canvas one of crest-cloth (a cheap linen), and uppermost a brabant-cloth – that is, a fine quality linen. At times other than the Mass, the altar and its cloths were covered with ‘a canvas to the said altar to hele hym with all’. For further information on altar linen, see E. G. C. Atchley, ‘On Certain Variations on the Rule Concerning the Materials of the Altar Linen’, Transactions of the St Paul’s Ecclesiological Society, iv (1896–1900), part iii, pp. 147ff. The Halleways’ anniversary was a service of some moment within the parish’s annual observances, as will emerge. ASB 1, p. 17. Precise dates remain elusive, but the Halleways had presumably donated equipment to their chantry in the late 1440s or early 1450s (and Hatter’s bequest may have enabled acquisitions in the mid-1450s), whereas Alice evidently made her gifts after her husband’s death in 1471 and before her own in 1485. Haddon and Schoppe’s inventory does, however, mention ‘a stained cloth of white with one image of St John the Baptist for the said [ie Sts John the Baptist, John the Evangelist and Dunstan’s] altar, and ‘two stained curtains of the Passion at St John’s altar’, which may correspond with some of the altar cloths that had been provided – although such images were hardly exceptional, in the circumstances, rendering any firm judgement as to their provenance is difficult. More notably, nothing is mentioned in connection with an image of the Three Kings of Cologne.

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siderably to the variety and opulence of the liturgical ‘show’.28 But, while chantry foundation provided the parish with equipment, a perpetual chantry’s movable possessions – which would certainly have added to corporate display – remained beyond the remit of parish inventories. Again, the Halleways’ contribution could so easily have remained obscure had it not been for the survival of its archive. Perpetual chantries command scant reference in surviving parish documentation. Their importance, both to founders and to the parishes in which they were placed, meant – paradoxically – that they merited special treatment, and their records were kept separately. The ravages of time, compounded with later hostility to Purgatory, have all too often led to the destruction of their archives.29 The Halleways’ foundation epitomises the elusive nature of perpetual chantries. It merits no reference in Thomas Halleways’ will. Strictly, its equipment was not parish property and so was omitted from church inventories. The churchwardens’ general account seldom refers to the chantry simply because these agents generated separate accounts for this project. Overall, the Halleways’ arrangements have left hardly any mark in more mainstream survivals, helping to explain why similar ventures elsewhere so often remain obscure. But, against all odds, the preservation both of foundation documents and of its annual accounts, in some number, means that we can chart the fortunes of the Halleways’ chantry in fair detail.

The livelode as it is ordained: managing the Halleways’ endowment The inventory of its goods, compiled in 1457, assigns priority to the measures meant to defend the chantry’s security. Heading this list is a description of the deeds to the property the Halleways had designated to support their service, closely accompanied by reference to the chests and security measures intended to keep both muniments and plate safe. William Boxe and John Schoppe, churchwardens in 1457–58, who compiled this inventory and also took charge of transferring the responsibility for the chantry after Joan Halleway’s death, expressed it thus: W. St John Hope and E. G. C. Atchley, English Liturgical Colours (London, 1918), pp. 160–61, concluded that that parishes ordinarily used their best vestments (without regard for the appropriate seasonal colour) on the year’s most important feast days. 29 Churchwardens’ parish accounts were compiled and kept, in part, so that they could be presented to the bishop or his deputy on visitation; whether or not this was the case with chantry accounts is not clear – although bishops would surely have taken as much interest as anyone in the desire to sustain these enterprises. Nevertheless, in Bristol – given that most of these institutions had been founded by their fore-runners – mayors took the duty of supervising perpetual chantries seriously, supervision effectively serving to bolster mayoral identity and interests. Mayoral visitation encouraged the compiling and keeping of adequate accounts. 28

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In primis, that we received and brought into the church of All Hallows a new tyee [the chest in which the plate was to be kept] with two locks and a little tyee within the same, joining thereto with three locks, wherein lies all the evidence of the livelode as it is ordained, that is for to say the deeds of the Shambles in Worshipful Street, and the deeds of the Thorowe House called Foysters lane that goes out of Corn Street into St Nicholas Street, and also the deeds of the great Beerhouse in Lewins Mead before the Greyfriars’ gate, and also the deeds of the other new house lately built in the same street before the well under the Greyfriars’ wall. Also the deeds of the garden in the market with a looge30 newly walled all about, also the King’s licence with the adcondampnum [the writ Ad quod damnum] and other evidence belonging to the mortyfycaciounn [mortmain].31

When noting the chantry’s possessions, the guardians of the parish and its interests assigned prime importance to the properties that funded the arrangement and to the deeds and official certificates safeguarding title to them. Given that these properties produced revenues that first and foremost benefited the chantry, none is included in the list itemising the parish livelode that heads the All Saints’ benefaction list in the Church Book; in telling contrast, however, the deeds listed in the 1457 inventory do correspond to those still extant in the parish’s deed collection.32

Defining the endowment The endowment comprised several blocks of property, but the chantry’s surviving rentals and accounts tend to refer to these under three headings. Taking them in their usual order, the properties in the Shambles in Worship (or Worshipful) Street, on the north bank of the Avon upstream from Bristol Bridge, comprised some half-a-dozen tenancies, including a ‘swine hulke’ or pig sty, befitting an area

The OED gives looge as an archaic form of ‘lodge’, implying that the garden would have had some kind of hut or shed on the property. 31 ASB 3, Halleway materials, p. 98. 32 Documentation preserved in the parish’s deed collection reveals much on the process by which the Halleways accumulated the property eventually set aside for the endowment: ASB 3, Deeds, CS A (pp. 371–7) relates to the Throwe House (property acquired by 1421); WSS (pp. 423–9) relates to property in the Shambles (later Worshipful Street – coming to Thomas and Joan after Margery Hastyng’s death in 1414), and LM A and LM B (435–45) relates to the Lewins Mead properties (similarly seeming to come to the Halleways after Margery Hastyng’s death). The deeds reveal that the properties both in the Shambles and in Lewins Mead had long been in the possession of the extended family. 30

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associated with slaughtering animals.33 Next were three properties sited in Lewins Mead, on the north bank of the River Frome, near Bristol’s Franciscan friary; one of these, referred to as ‘the great brew house’, was noticeably more lucrative than the other two. Given that at least one of the other properties here was also associated with brewing, and also that the parish included appropriate equipment with the lease, explains why the parish took pains to install or renew vats, and also to sink and reline the well which presumably provided the fresh water priming the process.34 The third block of property, containing upward of half-a-dozen tenancies, was called (in a variety of spellings) the Throwe or Through House. This was situated to the east side and southern end of the lane which ran between Corn Street and St Nicholas Street. The accounts and rentals refer to this lane by a variety of names – as Foster, Fisher, Seman or Simon’s Lane, and later as Cock Lane. There were, however, two smaller properties included in the Through House situated opposite, on the west side of the lane, which may imply that the passageway had been bridged by the tenement at that point, possibly explaining its name.35 It may also be noted, but not satisfactorily explained, that although the 1457 inventory mentions a garden in the market, implying a site beyond the gate at the end of Castle Street, in the extra-mural parish of St Philip and St James and near Old Market Street, this property neither produced a rent nor needed a tenant until c.1466–67. As to income, the properties in the Shambles yielded rents of approximately £5 per annum, those in Lewins Mead some £8 per annum, and the Through House an income in the region of £3 per annum, with the garden near the market eventually being rented for 7s. 4d. In the later decades of the fifteenth century the total annual income from the endowment stood at approximately £16 10s. when all the tenements were rented, although this would decline noticeably in the early years of the sixteenth century.36 Regrettably, precision is impossible as to the number of tenancies as a result of the parish’s tendency to let the composite tenements in different combinations to different tenants at different times. Equally, Roger Leech is unable to identify the tenements in this particular area with any precision because, as he notes, ‘Worshipful Street was removed for the construction of Bridge Street in the 1760s. The absence of any plan showing the tenements or property boundaries has so far made it impossible to provide a coherent overview of property holding on both sides of the street’, Leech, Topography, p. 200. 34 Heavy expenditure was, for instance, lavished on the Great Beer House in Lewins Mead in 1475–76 (ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 156–8), and more particularly in 1530–31 (ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 320–27) when, for instance, the wardens paid the sum of £5 19s. to one William Smith ‘for making the well and the walling, for 7 fathoms at 17s. the fathom’ (ASB 3, Halleway materials, p. 326). 35 A brief tenement history is given in Leech, Topography, pp. 51–2, treating first with the tenements known as ‘the Strenghouse’ (nos Wii and Wiii) to the west of the lane, and then those on the east (nos O, Pii and Q), mapped on map 7 on p. xxv of the same volume. 36 Whether rents fell simply because the properties constituting the endowment became 33

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The parish assumes responsibility After Joan Halleway’s death, despite the fact that theoretically the endowment constituted the chantry priest’s benefice and was under his control, All Saints’ effectively took charge of an appreciable portfolio concentrated in three areas: the Shambles abutting the Avon; Lewins Mead abutting the Frome; and, in the town centre, the Through House, just beyond the eastern boundary of the parish.37 When added to the properties already in its portfolio, such as the Green Lattice and the houses adjacent to the church in Corn Street, this endowment more than doubled the parish’s possessions. To maintain its rentable value, such an endowment had to be assiduously maintained, not only for the proper sustenance of the priest and his service but also to provide income for the repairs in turn guaranteeing that the properties continued to command buoyant rents. But, while confirming diligent management, the accounts reveal that, eventually, problems multiplied and forced some difficult decisions – as will become apparent. Perpetual chantries expressed a long-term tension. While they undoubtedly conferred on the parish the prestige both of property and an enhanced liturgy, they also dictated continuous surveillance and hard work by parish agents as both managers and landlords. In addition to supervising and assisting the priest – for instance, procuring the wax and oil to burn at or near the designated altar – the agents had constantly to oversee the properties that constituted the endowment. Rents had to be collected and tenants found. While some tenants stayed put, in general the ‘turn over’ seems steady, which meant that vacancies had to be advertised, whether by word of mouth or by posting or broadcasting the information. If not at first obvious, such an obligation was fundamental and, possibly, one of the more time-consuming aspects of the parish’s reciprocal responsibilities to the chantry. Underpinning and offsetting any prestige, then, the parish authorities were obliged to make a prodigious investment of time, work and supervision to ensure that the perpetual chantry could defy the forces of inertia, gravity and decay. Churchwardens ordinarily took responsibility for the day-to-day strategies increasingly dilapidated or resulted more from general difficulties afflicting Bristol’s economy and property market is at present imponderable – although was probably the former. This trend receives fuller treatment later in this chapter, but for a more detailed discussion of the declining fortunes of one of the key properties in the Halleways’ portfolio, the beer house in Lewins Mead, in the first years of the sixteenth century, see ASB 3, Halleway materials, Introduction, pp. 71–89. 37 Bristol can furnish other examples where the realities of perpetual chantry management, as undertaken by parish authorities, overcame the theoretical independence enjoyed by a ‘benefice chantry’ and its priest: see Burgess, ‘Strategies for Eternity’, at pp. 15–21.

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underpinning ‘perpetuity’.38 These duties, involving the collection and expenditure of revenues, obliged wardens to keep accounts audited both by others in authority within the parish and also municipal officers, particularly the mayor. The Halleways’ chantry accounts bear witness to the prodigious investment of time and attention that perpetual chantry administration demanded. Indeed, in the later fifteenth century, the chantry’s budget was either on a par with, or at times even exceeded, the monies ostensibly at the churchwardens’ disposal in the parish accounts, and there is little to choose between the chantry and parish accounts in either length or detail. Had the chantry accounts perished – as, elsewhere, so many did – one would never have assumed that successive churchwardens devoted quite so much energy to sustaining just one foundation.39 But these accounts offer unequivocal testimony to the importance assigned to the Halleways’ arrangements for upwards of ninety years.

Charged to the chantry book for this year: the financial administration of the Halleways’ chantry The chantry accounts reveal the year-by-year discharge of the many observances necessary to fulfil the Halleways’ wishes.40 So, for instance, in addition to the duties of paying the priest and providing a rent of half a mark annually for his accommodation, the wardens ensured that the founders benefited from an elaborate anniversary, celebrated on 12 and 13 December, the Mass of Requiem on the second day marking Thomas’s death.41 In addition, they supplied the candles Whether churchwardens invariably shouldered the responsibilities for supervising perpetual chantries sited in parish churches is not, as yet, totally certain; but it is also to be borne in mind that other parish officers, of a status superior to that of wardens (such as the ‘masters’ – discussed in more detail in chapter 9), possibly played a more important role in formulating policy for the chantry, although the churchwardens bore the responsibility for putting this into effect. 39 It proves revealing to consult the index compiled for the churchwardens’ parish accounts, for all the references to the Halleways’ chantry (ASB 2, p. 374); considering the detail of the parish accounts, and also the effort consistently devoted to ensuring the chantry’s welfare, references are few. In the fifteenth century, most references simply relate to the rent that the parish received for the chantry house; by contrast, in the sixteenth century, references can also be found to the use of parish funds in underwriting chantry repairs, as will shortly be discussed. What also emerges, however, is that successive chantry priests were named in parish accounts, which suggests that celebrants played a reasonably noticeable role in parish affairs; management may have been segregated, but not so the contribution of the priest. 40 Full transcriptions of all the accounts surviving for the Halleways’ chantry (between 1463–64 and 1540) have been printed in ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 119–355. 41 ASB 1, p. 14 reveals that he died on 13 December AD 1454 – that is, on the feast of St Lucy; 38

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that burnt at the chantry altar, and at least some of the candles and the additional oil to keep lights and a lamp burning before the high altar. Having given a lamp to the church ‘to burn before the precious sacrament in the choir’, the Halleways apparently intended that it should be kept alight by revenues accruing from their endowment. So, in the account for 1475–76, for instance, where the wardens allowed 3s. 10d. for ‘the costs of the chantry wax which burns about the sepulchre and at the chantry altar’, they also itemised a payment of 4s. 3d. ‘for 4¼ gallons of lamp oil burning in the choir before the sacrament’.42 In 1481–82, similarly, the wardens spent 6s. on the lamp oil ‘that burns in the choir before the sacrament’, an additional 2s. 6d. on two tapers ‘that burn before the sepulchre’, and spent almost a shilling both at Easter and at All Hallowstide to change ‘the two tapers at the altar’.43 This continual and ceremonially significant duty formed an integral aspect of the Halleways’ plans, which, as even a cursory glance at the accounts confirms, the wardens discharged faithfully. Chantry Masses, moreover, had to be celebrated with due decorum requiring certain standards of appearance of the Halleways’ chantry priest. Damaged or worn equipment was, where necessary, mended and repaired.44 Vestments and equipment, likewise, were regularly washed or cleaned, and vessels scoured or polished.45 In short, the accounts testify to the constant, close attention with which the wardens fulfilled the Halleways’ wishes so that the parish would continue to benefit from the sustained, decorous services of their priest – even, on occasion, going to law to defend the chantry’s interests.46 the anniversary receives more detailed attention below. ASB 3, Halleway materials, p. 155. 43 ASB 3, Halleway materials, p. 167. 44 If not especially numerous – and conspicuous rather by their absence after c.1510 – references to mending certainly occur in the earlier accounts, as, for instance, in 1472–73, when the wardens record that 6d. paid to mend the ‘altar cloth of stained work that hangs before the chantry altar’, or in 1495–96 with 2d. paid for mending two candlesticks and 4d. for dressing the chasuble, or 1500–01 with 8s. 4½d. paid to mend the Lenten vestments (respectively ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 142, 197 and 216). 45 As mentioned, for instance, in 1464–65, when the wardens paid Alison Monke 2½d. for washing an alb and two altar cloths ‘against Easter’, or in 1475–76 with Alison again being paid, this time 3d. for washing one alb and one amice and two altar cloths, or in 1480–81 when the wardens not only paid 4d. for washing William’s altar cloths and vestments ‘against Easter’ but also 1d. for mending the irons that the curtains of his altar hang on, and 6d. for changing a pair of cruets to the said altar; in 1476–77 the wardens paid the sum of 2d. for scouring the chantry candlesticks ‘against Easter’ (respectively ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 126, 155, 167 and 160). 46 For instance, in 1466–67; in 1473–74, against William Canynges, no less; and in 1511–12, when the wardens fought a suit against ‘Ralph Sankey for despoiling of our garden’ (respectively ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 130, 147, and 245–6). 42

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A conscientious landlord While the payments necessary to sustain the priest and ceremonial provisions took up most of the chantry’s revenues, accounting for an expenditure approaching £10 annually from an income of some £15, such transactions occupied a small proportion of the accounts.47 More detail and most effort were devoted to maintaining the property endowment. The success of the enterprise rested essentially on property revenues: collecting these and managing the endowment represented the wardens’ prime tasks concerning the chantry, as failure here would have spiked its ‘pious uses’. As a result, the discharge of property responsibilities dominates the accounts.48 The chantry accounts invariably record income and then, in a longer and more detailed section, list expenditure, itemised in successive sub-sections relating to the different properties – identified as much by the name of the tenant as by location. Repairs loom large. Year after year saw purchases of wood, wagon-loads of planks or hundreds of laths, and the acquisition of stones and tiles by the vat, or of nails and tile pins by the thousand. Added to which, the accounts provide a detailed record of the days and weeks of work done by various masons, tilers, plasterers and carpenters, and by their assistants or boys. Exhaustive as to building maintenance, at first sight the accounts could pass muster as a database for the activities of the late medieval urban building merchant and handyman. As such, they expose the underbelly of urban religion in relentless detail: however elaborate the rites of current services, these depended not only upon the defence of the endowment (at law, when necessary) but also upon painstaking property management. Much of the public and personal ceremonial comprising the ostentatious show of late medieval religion floated on the deeper and more extensive keels of dues and rents and of carefully managed endowments.

The chantry priest’s stipend apart, the itemised payments for the anniversary regularly represented the most extensive component of ceremonial costs, and these are given in fair detail – certainly on a par with anniversary payments for other parish benefactors set out in the churchwardens’ accounts. Nevertheless, the attendance of mayor and civic officers rendered this observance more ambitious. 48 The impression from the accounts is oriented towards ‘management and endowment’, which was very much the churchwardens’ perspective. But the wardens’ work in respect of maintaining the all-important properties comprising the endowment, if unspectacular and humdrum, deserved to be commemorated in the preserved chantry accounts simply because, while both essential and arduous, it was otherwise and all too easily taken for granted; see the more general discussion of this principle in Burgess, ‘PreReformation Churchwardens’ Accounts’, at p. 326. 47

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Diminishing returns The successive sets of churchwardens who lavished attention on the chantry were able and ambitious men, keen to prove their abilities as successful managers, and they were assisted by other parish agents of proven ability.49 For the first fifty or so years of the chantry’s existence, rents remained buoyant and, despite a few gaps in the series of accounts, the wardens delivered a steady surplus – on average a sum in the region of £2 – on most years’ activities.50 The accumulated surpluses from property rents surely provided the endowment with something of a cushion.51 It needed this, for, with the start of the new century, while the wardens maintained their diligence, their efforts failed to prevent a slide in the chantry’s fortunes. For the first twenty years of the century, recorded surpluses amounted to, roughly, £11 10s., whereas debits came to £30 10s.; from 1520 until 1540, surpluses amounted to just £4 10s., whereas debits amounted to £71 10s.52 The chantry was heading into deficit by the 1530s. Where the parish acquired new endowments from benefactors and, as a result, boosted its revenues, no-one chose to donate property or cash to swell the chantry’s holdings and income. Its endowment remained static.53 Its financial viability waned as rents dwindled and vacancies grew more numerous and longer.54 Repairs proved insufficient to combat decay. Parish management is considered in more detail below, in chapter 9. The first ‘Rest in debt to the church’ recorded at the conclusion of an account is found in the surviving accounts for 1497–98: rents were recorded as £14 5s. 10d., but expenditure for the year stood at £19 18s. 2d., a debt of £5 12s. 5d. (ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 204–10). This particular accounting year saw heavy expenditure on property in the Shambles. It is, of course, impossible to ascertain whether debits had occurred in any of those years for which we have no surviving account. 51 In all probability, surpluses added to the sum in the chantry coffer initially remaining from Richard Hatter’s donation of £66 13s. 4d., not all of which would (presumably) have been spent on suitably equipping the chantry. 52 In the single year of 1530–31, when the wardens supervised particularly extensive repairs on the chantry properties, expenditure exceeded income by in excess of £30, which perhaps tends to inflate the overall impression of the debt accruing – although, evidently, parish managers had decided that such a concerted outlay was in the chantry’s best interests. 53 Wood-Legh, Perpetual Chantries, chapter 5 discusses remedies adopted to rescue perpetual chantries that fell on hard times, including, pertinently, ‘a second founder … with new gifts bringing the endowments up to the required level’ (at pp. 105ff), and also the amalgamation of impoverished endowments, as undertaken by Bishop Braybrooke at St Paul’s in 1391(at pp. 112–13 and 194–5). 54 To take some snap-shots, in 1500–01 chantry income stood at £9 17s. 6d. and costs at £12 5s. 4d., a debit to the wardens of £2 7s. 10d.; in 1510–11 income stood at £14 11s. 9d. and costs at £12 15s. 9½d., a credit of £1 16s.; in 1520–21 income stood at £11 12s. 4d. and costs at £10 7s. 11d., a credit of £1 4s. 5d. (although said to have been £3 12s. 5d.), and in 1529–30 (before the major works that ensued in the next year) income stood at £7 14s. and costs 49 50

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The gravity of the problem becomes clear when considering the poor return on renovation, a lesson emerging clearly where tenant and tenement can be identified over a reasonable duration, as for William Shepard’s tenement in the Shambles. In 1515–16, the wardens invested some 75s. refurbishing this tenement, as a result of which they raised its rent from 9s. to 13s. 4d. per annum.55 On this basis, and to simplify, an outlay of 75s. had been necessary to increase an annual income by somewhat less than 5s. per annum; paying the new rent, it would have taken more than fifteen years to recoup the investment. But, while a new tenant – William Shepard – had been found, after some six years new repairs again became necessary: by 1521, the tenement required an outlay of a further 9s., as well as another 8s. ½d. in 1522–23, and 13s. 8½d. in 1523–24.56 Moreover, in 1526–27, general repairs to the tune of 18s. 8d. had to be carried out on the properties in the Shambles, with Shepard’s gutters receiving specific attention.57 During this period, William Shepard himself seems to have flourished, so much so that during 1527–28 he swapped tenancies, taking on a new tenement, also in the Shambles, at the higher rent of 16s. 8d. per annum, as well as a stable for an annual rent of 6s. 8d.58 His previous property now lacked a tenant and, for the time being, provided no rent.59 In 1528–29, further small-scale repairs were carried out in the Shambles ‘on the house that William Shepard [had] held’ and, in the following year, one Nicholas Richards occupied the tenement. He too stayed for some years, paying 13s. 4d. per annum; but this tenement, along with other rents in the Shambles, once more ‘soaked up’ resources in extensive renovations carried out in 1529–30,60 and the same tenement also received sundry smaller-scale repairs in the years following.61 Management was undoubtedly assiduous but evidently unable ‘to break even’, with revenues constantly depleted by further expenses for necessary repairs. The chantry’s costs, including the priest’s stipend (at £6 6s. 8d.) and his rent (at 6s. 8d.), and with the variable, but appreciable expense, of providing lights and staging an elaborate anniversary, involved an outlay in the region of £10 per annum; rental returns, by contrast, were dwindling, with expenditure on investment failing to secure any adequate return and, even more ominously, vacancies



55

58 59 60 61 56 57

at £10 9s. 10½d. Although variable, income in the first decades of the sixteenth century was clearly diminishing. ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 254–60 – the repairs on his house (pp. 257–8) involved copious quantities of wood and tiles and, as a result, the services of carpenters and tilers. ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 278, 282–3, 287 respectively. ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 301–2. ASB 3, Halleway materials, p. 303. ASB 3, Halleway materials, p. 308. ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 313–14. ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 319, 331–3, which itemises heavy expenditure on (undifferentiated) properties in the Shambles.

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becoming longer and more numerous. So, following 1525, when the Great Beer House, or Brew House, in Lewins Mead began to stand vacant, which meant the loss of a rent worth at least £3 per annum, drastic remedies became necessary.62

The cost of renovation The strategy on which the parish relied was to invest all the more heavily in renovating the properties constituting the endowment so that, rather than becoming dilapidated or standing empty, these could be let at more remunerative rents and unburdened by expenses for further repairs for some years at least. The parish usually found the cash necessary for extraordinary outlay by cutting the costs. Savings could, for instance, be made by trimming back on the anniversary – as in 1503–04, for instance, when the friars were conspicuous by their absence – but this saved only a meagre sum.63 Elsewhere, in extremis, chantry priests might be charged with increasing their income so that any surplus could be devoted to the endowment; not so at All Saints’.64 The parish chose to economise and had little alternative but to curtail the priest’s daily services, investing the money saved.65 It made recourse to such action in 1507–08, for instance, when the chantry priest, William Wood, disappeared early in the accounting year, with a much reduced service being maintained for the remainder of this year – the sum of 17s. 6d. was paid ‘to Sir John for morrowmass saying for three quarters and a half … 5s. for every quarter’.66 Parish management put the money saved towards extensive repairs on various properties, such as John Clarke’s house in the Throwe House and Michael Bull’s former property in Lewins Mead. The management employed this strategy again, for a longer period, at the end of the 1520s, when the chantry’s prospects had seriously deteriorated. Thrift went some way towards financing a programme of investment. Such policy culminated in 1530–31, when the managers devoted a sum in excess of £30 to improvements, much of which went on the Brew House in Lewins Mead, a property that clearly had to be let for the chantry to From 1527–28 the king’s assigns, or fyners, had the house (ASB 3, Halleway materials, p. 303) and, while a reduced rent was promised (ASB 3, Halleway materials, p. 310), it is by no means clear that this was ever fully paid. 63 Although parallels may be found where chantry guardians reduced expenditure on lavish anniversary observances to bolster revenues: see Wood-Legh, Perpetual Chantries, p. 102. 64 Ibid., pp. 96–105 – although the concern in the cases cited was more frequently that the priest’s stipend had become inadequate for his proper support. 65 While this may, at first sight, appear to have contravened the very purpose of the chantry, subsequent discussion in this chapter will reveal how the parish in fact sought to moderate the effects of such a seemingly stringent course of action. 66 ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 235–6; this strategy will be explored in more detail later in this chapter. 62

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maintain viability.67 But to evaluate such tactics more clearly, we need to establish quite what the Halleways expected both from their priest and from the guardians whom they had also involved, which sheds particularly welcome light on the role played by civic officials.

The good maintenance thereof: the Halleways’ regulations for their chantry The chantry’s Compositio, its Ordinances, ratified in 1453, clearly reveals that the Halleways required a priest who was ‘a good and honest and well-willed man’, and thought ‘good, habile [i.e. skilled] and convenient’ by the vicar and churchwardens, but his appointment was to be under the ‘oversight and effectual examination’ of the current mayor of Bristol. The mayor was to give ‘the said chantry to the said priest by writing under seal of his office’, obliging the priest to take an oath ‘upon a book [not specified] duly and effectually to keep his said divine service after the form of this composition’. He was to swear this oath annually ‘upon the feast of St Michael the Archangel before the said mayor and his successors’, whom they exhorted ‘to be true and very patrons of the said chantry’.68 If the chantry possessed a municipal profile, with the mayor (no less) closely involved with supervising and protecting the priest, its essential role was parochial. The vicar and wardens were to vet the priest and, once in office, he was to be: Expectant and attendant in the said chantry, and was to be in the choir of the church at all times convenient, that is to say matins, lauds, Mass, evensong, compline and the anthem of Our Lady by note, or other wise as priests there be, and as the rule of the choir within the church shall require, and not to be absent nor negligent in doing nor ministering divine service as well to be done The repairs on the Brew House in Lewins Mead were clearly extensive, running to almost a dozen sides in the account book for 1530–31: ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 320–27. 68 Given that the Halleways had founded a benefice chantry, it was a matter of importance to ensure that the priest be bound to uphold the best interests of his patrons and of their arrangements. Mayors of Bristol – a number of whom had, of course, founded perpetual chantries in the town’s parishes – assiduously upheld the interests of the town’s perpetual chantries, annually taking oaths from the priests who served them, Halleways’ priest specifically included: see Robert Ricart, The Maire of Bristowe is Kalendar, at p. 76. Ricart also describes how the mayor audited Canynges’ two chantries on the feast of All Souls (ibid., p. 79). Ricart, together with the Composicios enrolled in the Little Red Book of Bristol, brook no doubt that perpetual chantries and their maintenance were regarded respectively as a civic amenity; and that their proper maintenance was a civic responsibility. Such maintenance had been adopted avowedly to correct earlier shortcomings – see Wood-Legh, Perpetual Chantries, pp. 15–16, citing LRB, ii, pp. 62–3. 67

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at the said altar as in the said choir … [but] if any priest of the said chantry be or do the contrary … [he was] to be amoved and utterly put from the said chantry by the mayor for the time being and another good priest set in.

Among the priest’s duties, he was to pray and celebrate for the good estate of the king and queen and, of course, for Thomas and Joan Halleway, as well as for Richard Hatter, and for members of the Halleways’ extended family (including Margery Hastyngs, from whom Thomas and Joan had inherited much of the endowment), as well as ‘all good doers and helpers of the said chantry, and all Christian souls’. While this was entirely conventional, the latter clause implicitly included the All Saints’ wardens and others of the parish elite among the beneficiaries, and also the mayor, in addition to all the faithful both living and departed. The Ordinances specified more: In especial the said priest and his successors for evermore once in the week shall say a Mass of Our Lady at one day and a Mass of Requiem at another day such as the said priest can dispose him to, specially recommending in his prayers the noble estates of the souls aforesaid and all Christian souls; and over [and above] that, the said priest and his successors for evermore daily shall sing his Mass at the said altar [sic] at the hour of six smetyn [struck] at Saint Nicholas in summertime and at the hour of seven at Saint Nicholas in wintertime, to the intent that the said priest and his successors may be ready to help all other divine service to be done in the said church as the rule of the choir shall require.69

While the founders and their nominees obviously expected to benefit from the priest’s ministrations, and were careful to stipulate that, during the week he should vary the Masses that he celebrated, he also had to pray for other parishioners and, in addition, participate in all the canonical hours in the choir of Adjacent to All Saints’ to the south, St Nicholas’s parish ran down to Bristol Bridge, with its parish church sited at the northern end of this structure; its church tower lay only 100 metres or so from All Saints’ church. The details in this clause are important for what they disclose as to the transformative effect of the clock maintained in central Bristol by the fifteenth century, facilitating the observance of equal hours (replacing temporal hours) by townspeople of all degrees. The implication is that this had assisted Bristol’s inhabitants, both ecclesiastical and lay, in organising their lives and expectations according to corporate time. The Halleways’ intended that their Mass should coincide with the time at which the workforce would be readying themselves for their day’s labour, satisfying those who might choose to attend Mass before beginning the more secular business of the day. See C. Humphreys, ‘Time and Urban Culture in Late Medieval England’, in Time in the Medieval World, ed. C. Humphreys and W. M. Ormrod (York, 2001), pp. 105–18.

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the church. But the Halleways’ clear intention was that their priest’s daily Mass should double as the parish’s Morrow Mass – the early morning mass – so that, during the remainder of the day, he could assist with other parish rites. In addition to celebrating a Mass for them, the Halleways expected him to swell the number of liturgists enriching parish ritual, some of which was sung. He was to profit the whole parish community.

The parishioners’ responsibilities While the Ordinances obliged the priest to reside in the purpose-built house in the churchyard, his salary was fixed at £6 6s. 8d. from which he had to provide the ‘singing bread and wine at his own cost and dispence’.70 Forbidden to meddle with the chantry’s endowment, nor was the priest ever to alienate the ‘vestments, jewels, ornaments and other goods belonging to the chantry’; indeed, the vicar and ‘the parishons of the said parish, the worthiest of them’ were charged to take an inventory of the same every quarter.71 Moreover, the vicar and parishons were to oversee the collection of rents, assisted by the mayor, who might distrain defaulters – which, as we shall see, he did.72 The ‘worthiest men of the parish’ were charged with overseeing the repairs that the wardens made to the endowment ‘to keep all from ruinoste’ – which, apart from making an important disclosure as to the parish management structure, is a process emphatically proven by the testimony of the chantry accounts. The vicar and the worthiest men were, moreover, to oversee the wardens as they organised the Halleways’ anniversary, held on the Tuesday before the feast of St Lucy, and which the mayor and sheriff and On setting aside the ‘measure of land to build on for the dwelling of its chaplain within the churchyard’, see ASB 3, Deeds, CS A 21 and 22 (pp. 375–6). 71 While priests holding a benefice chantry theoretically possessed a legal autonomy that protected the interests of the chantry against predators, in practice such self-sufficiency was severely constrained. It was clearly both the founders’ intention and also a reflection of tradition that the parish priest and parish worthies should be in effective control of the endowment and were certainly charged with managing the chantry; as discussed in the previous section, the long-term demands of the endowment demanded nothing less, since the priest would surely not have been able both to find tenants and also effect necessary repairs. 72 To take one or two work-a-day examples, in 1476–77 John Davy, a brewer, who rented the smaller tenement in Lewins Mead for 40s. per annum, seems to have left the tenement abruptly after Christmas without paying the first quarter’s rent, following which the wardens paid the sum of 2d. to ‘one sergeant for bringing in John Davy, before the mayor for his house rent’, apparently hoping to recoup losses; ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 159–63. This same year also saw the wardens taking the trouble of ‘proving the duty’ where a number of their tenants were concerned – presumably insisting that they fulfil the duties with which they were charged as tenants. Recourse to the mayor is discussed more fully in ASB 3, Halleway materials, Introduction, p. 81. 70

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their entourage were to attend.73 On this occasion, in the mayor’s presence, and also the presence of the vicar and the worthiest men of the parish, the wardens were to give the accounts of the endowment under oath. Each warden was to be paid 6s. 8d. annually for his pains, presumably for the oversight of the service, carrying out all repairs and compiling the accounts; and the accounts’ survival, along with the revealed presence of the mayor and the parish clergy, suggests that the intended interplay of supervision worked. Any surplus on the year’s dealings was to be put in a coffer and ‘locked under four assigned keys’, to the intent that ‘it shall be surely kept for the welfare of the said chantry and the good maintenance thereof and all things thereto belonging’. The choice of key holders is telling: ‘I will the said mayor and his successors have one, the vicar of the said church another, the worthiest man of the parish the third, and the said proctors [churchwardens] and their successors the fourth.’ Cross-surveillance was built into the conduct of chantry affairs, including the management of the endowment, assigning the mayor of Bristol a special role: ‘I heartily will and desire that the said mayor and his successors to have correction [of negligence or malice] and [to be] true and very patrons of the said chantry.’

The mayor and the anniversary As suggested, the accounts confirm that, year after year, mayors, accompanied by sheriff and bailiffs and municipal officers, attended the Halleways’ anniversary on the Tuesday before St Lucy’s day, as requested. We are not explicitly told that the mayor audited the chantry accounts on this occasion, although it seems a fair assumption; but the accounts unerringly suggest that the Halleways’ anniversary occupied a prominent position among the more significant gatherings, and liturgies, taking place in All Saints’ year after year.74 Oddly, while the early accounts contain no reference to doles of bread for the poor, from the mid-1480s half a mark (6s. 8d.) was spent on bread, a sum that rose in the short term but settled ultimately at an expenditure of 5s. annually in the sixteenth century which, while generous, was not excessive.75 Similarly, the vicar and varying numbers of priests, As noted above, Thomas died on St Lucy’s day (13 December) 1454. Occasionally, unusual expenditures are recorded in the anniversary’s costs: in 1474–75 and 1475–76, for instance, ‘the waste of 2 torches which burnt about the hearse’ and in 1476–77 ‘the hire of 2 torches which burnt about the hearse at the Dirige’; in 1491–92, 7s. 7d. was paid for 26 lb of wax to make two torches, and 2s. was paid for two tapers for the priest’s altar (respectively ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 150–55, 161 and 188). While certainly revealing, these presumably signify flukes in the accounting process rather than any radical change in practice in those particular years. 75 As a rule of thumb, the costs of the penny or ha’penny loaves distributed to the poor ordinarily constituted the most expensive component in an anniversary’s observances, signifying the importance attached to attracting as large a number of poor men and 73 74

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as well as the clerk and suffragan, were paid the same for the core observances as in any other anniversary: a priest’s attendance at and participation in the Requiem Mass, for instance, was secured for 4d. Associated observances were, however, generally lavish. The vicar was paid 3s. 4d. annually, a sufficiently generous remuneration to enable him to make provision for accompanying lights. The clerk was regularly paid 2s. for bell ringing, enough to secure lengthy peals to accompany both the exequies on the eve and the Requiem Mass on the morrow. Moreover, from 1491 the four orders of friars attended the service, with the Franciscans receiving slightly higher payments than the other orders. The economies of the early sixteenth century dispensed with the mendicants’ presence, although, in the longer term, the Grey friars’ attendance became normal.76 From the beginnings, too, not only the mayor but also the town clerk, the mayor’s sword bearer and the mayor’s sergeants invariably attended. Payment was generous: the mayor received 6s. 8d., the sheriff 3s. 4d., each bailiff 1s. 8d., the town clerk 1s. and the mayor’s sergeants and the sword-bearer the sum of 4d. each.77 An expenditure of approximately £1 – getting on for a half of the entire outlay – speaks of the significance attached to ensuring the presence of the civic officials. Further, the requirement that sergeants and the sword-bearer should accompany their master implies that an official procession of some kind preceded and completed the event, with the mayor coming to the parish very much in his official capacity, and the presence of the town clerk tends to confirm that the event also served as an audit. An additional payment after 1519 for the mayor’s priest, along with the parish priests participating in the ceremony, reinforced the symbolic overlap of parish and civic spheres. While the chantry endowment had its travails, neither the anniversary service nor the presence of the civic officials was ever omitted; indeed, as the endowment experienced difficulties in the third and fourth decades of the sixteenth century, the anniversary role call was at its most extensive. The way in which this service blossomed in the later decades of the fifteenth century says much for the importance attached to anniversaries; indeed, when core aspects of the chantry service, including the daily Mass, proved negotiable, not so the women as possible, both from within and outside the founder’s parish, whose subsequent prayers would benefit his or her soul; where the Halleways were concerned, the importance attached to securing the presence of civic officials seemingly recalibrated priorities. 76 It is undeniably poignant that, following the dissolution of the order in Bristol in 1538, in the very last extant chantry account, for 1539–40, the wardens paid 2d. for a poor priest to attend the anniversary (ASB 3, Halleway materials, p. 351), presumably as some kind of compensation. 77 After the municipal reorganisation of 1499, when another sheriff was substituted for the two bailiffs, expenditure remained the same: where the two bailiffs had received 1s. 8d. each, the sum of 3s. 4d. was paid to the extra sheriff.

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anniversary. It formed a fundamental aspect both of the Halleways’ conception and also the parish’s interpretation of the chantry ordinances. The Halleways involved the mayor and civic officials, most noticably by requiring their regular attendance at the anniversary, to ensure that the chantry as a whole should remain in sound condition. The officials’ subsequent involvement simply goes to emphasise the municipal hierarchy’s interest in, and affinity with, perpetual chantries. Such a provision was not unique: municipal officials maintained surveillance over many of Bristol’s other perpetual chantries, certainly those founded up until the mid fifteenth century.78 For in Bristol, and elsewhere, just as founders of perpetual chantries – Thomas Halleway among them – had usually held high municipal office, so mayors could be relied upon to supervise the interests of their predecessors and class. In addition, the maintenance of these institutions represented a civic duty, enhancing the divine service celebrated in the town. This not only increased the grace generated within its churches but also promoted a deserved reputation for piety, representing an integral part of any mayor’s responsibilities towards ‘his’ town.

To keep all from ruinoste: preserving the Halleways’ chantry The survival of a good series of accounts rebuts any assumption that a perpetual chantry, apparently serving a few named parishioners, would somehow have operated independently of the parish regime. The Halleways’ account reveals the close integration of the intercessory arrangement with both the local and broader communities that nurtured it. All Saints’ church not only housed the chantry service along with the priest, but the parish community, who were exhorted to pray for the Halleways, also sustained the arrangement in the long term. The accounts reveal a more practical integration, too. All Saints’ parishioners frequently leased chantry tenements, albeit the lesser properties, even though all lay outside the parish boundaries; and parishioners often supplied the requisites for the ceremonial provisions and materials for the building programmes. Henry, With the exception of Canynges’ chantries in St Mary Redcliffe, which, like the Halleways’ chantry and many of those founded in the later fourteenth and earlier fifteenth century, were benefice chantries (whose founders, too, had properly followed the mortmain procedures), the perpetual chantries established in the later fifteenth century were mostly service chantries, which depended on ‘enfeoffment to use’ and on the close supervision of their host parishes and the officials in each. While mayors would surely have worked in their best interests, such chantries seem not to have been so closely dovetailed in to civic surveillance as benefice chantries – developments discussed in more detail in Burgess, ‘Strategies for Eternity’.

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Alice and John Chestre, for example, all, at different times, rented a hall and store house in the Throwe House in the later decades of the fifteenth century, as did the Prior of the Kalendars in the first decade of the sixteenth.79 Thomas Parnaunt, moreover, regularly sold the oil that the chantry endowment needed to keep the sepulchre light burning, supplying no less than eight gallons in 1491. In the following year he sold timber, including 285 feet of elm planking, and nails for repairs, and again replenished the lamp oil.80 Moreover, in 1524–25, the wardens ‘bought of master vicar’ wood that had been ‘put in the storehouse’.81 Overall, the members of the parish elite, including the clergy, devoted remarkable efforts to administering the chantry. For senior wardens, for instance, management might mean priming its activities with their own funds: in 1523–24, Master Pacy underwrote the chantry’s debts to the tune of £4 2s. 11d. until the day of account, when he was reimbursed ‘of the church’s money’.82 The ties binding chantry, parish and parishioners together were as various as they were strong: the chantry foundation functioned as an organic part of the parish. Liturgical benefits explain why parish generosity was in no sense disinterested: the Halleways’ service is not to be conceived solely in terms of a daily Mass celebrated exclusively for long-dead parishioners.83 In addition to the chantry priest’s services in the choir, the foundation kept the sepulchre light, defrayed the costs of an elaborate anniversary that emerges as one of All Saints’ ceremonial highlights and, quite clearly, also provided the parish’s Morrow Mass, often attended by labourers and men of business. Paradoxically, the status of chantry Mass as the parish Morrow Mass emerges most clearly as a result of the economies periodically forced on the endowment, when revenues had to be rechannelled to underwrite the investment necessary for the proper upkeep of its component properties.84 Among other familiar names (such as Clement Wilteshire and Thomas Parnaunt), the Chestres’ names may easily be found in the chantry rentals, specifically for 1461–6 and in the years following – see ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 103–18; the Prior of the Kalendars, too, in 1502–03, ASB 3, Hallway material, p. 222. 80 ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 188 and 191 respectively. 81 ASB 3, Halleway materials, p. 294. 82 ASB 3, Halleway materials, p. 289. 83 Cf. Wood-Legh, Perpetual Chantries, pp. 312–13, for stinging criticism of chantries on the basis that their mechanistic repetitions and the implicit conception of needing to please a God of infinite severity, who would dock credit were services incompletely performed, rendered them ‘hardly reconcilable with the message of the of the Gospel’; and Bowers, ‘Liturgy and Music’, who tends to limit the chantry priests’ role to serving mainly the long-deceased. 84 The Halleways’ instructions for their priest are examined more closely in the following section. 79

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The priorities for the parish Revealing data emerges when the service was rescheduled in 1507–08. As noted, the celebrant, William Wood, served only for the first half-quarter of that year and, thereafter, the parish paid a much reduced allowance of 17s. 6d. ‘to Sir John for Morrow Mass saying for three quarters and a half [at] 5s. every quarter’.85 The same John took up residence in the chantry priest’s house in the churchyard but, for the time being, the accounts referred to him with some care, assigning 1s. 8d. ‘for cleaning a gutter in the chamber that the Morrow Mass priest is in, Sir John’.86 The chantry may have been under reconstruction but the parish did not summarily suspend the early morning Mass. But what it paid to secure this service, a mere 5s. per quarter, is eye-opening: the Mass was not, apparently, negotiable; but, if the priest’s presence and performance in the choir, observing the hours and helping with other aspects of the liturgy, was negotiable, such services seem ordinarily to have been valued far more highly than the routine celebration of the early morning Mass. Something similar emerges from the economies that preceded the major refurbishment of the early 1530s, although these too bring perplexities. In the years 1527–28 and 1528–29 the parish paid the chantry priest, John Coke, half his stipend – that is, 53s. 4d. – in each year, signalling that cuts were being made. An appendix to the accounts for 1527–28, however, rather confusingly states that ‘Moreover the church has paid to two priests to supply the Morrow Mass for half a year – £3 16d.’87 Whether this means that the two priests each supplied the Masses for six months apiece, fulfilling the duty over the complete year, is not entirely certain. Given the need for economy, however, this reading may be correct, but supplying the Morrow Mass for 15s. per quarter was much less draconian than the earlier arrangement – so much so that it is difficult to see how the parish made much of a saving during these years. What again emerges is that the parish would countenance the separation of the functions ordinarily performed by a chantry priest. John Coke, moreover, was retained, albeit at a much reduced rate, in order to maintain the duties in the choir. If puzzling, what emerges is the impression that the chantry priest’s Mass – the rite with which chantries are ordinarily indelibly associated – might, in fact, be esteemed (and sometimes even priced) as being rather less important than his contribution throughout the day to the parish’s liturgy. While the parish never suspended the daily Mass, at which the Halleways ASB 3, Halleway materials, p. 236. ASB 3, Halleway materials, p. 238. 87 It is not entirely clear why, in 1527–28, the parish decided to pay the chantry priest, John Coke, half his stipend, 53s. 4d. (which the parish would do again in the year following) and then recruit the two auxiliaries, paying them £3 16d. from chantry funds and effectively cancelling out the savings from halving John Coke’s stipend. See ibid., pp. 304–6. 85 86

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would have been named, their priest’s contribution at the offices and in the choir may have been held in somewhat higher esteem. Surveying the long-term finances of the chantry, however, given both a steady accumulation of credit in the chantry coffer through the latter part of the fifteenth century and the possible ‘cushion’ remaining from Hatter’s bequest of £66 when the service was inaugurated (and meant to underwrite future investment), an accrued surplus could well have exceeded subsidies even by the fourth decade of the sixteenth century. But we cannot be sure how much of Hatter’s bequest was ever lodged in the coffer; nor do the accounts provide anything like a running total disclosing the surplus, or not. Even if the foundation were still in credit by the early sixteenth century, its underlying difficulties had become obvious; and, no doubt, the problems encountered by perpetual chantries elsewhere would have been commonly acknowledged among parish managers, and the remedy – of suspending services to invest in renovation – seems to have been standard.88 In these circumstances, despite the kudos deriving from an extra liturgist, it is telling that the parish did not conceive of itself as an unquestioningly ‘easy touch’. The parish’s priority was that the endowment should remain as attractive as possible to prospective tenants – hence the resolve not to let it deteriorate unduly, and its readiness to lavish care on the maintenance and repair of the constituent properties. The insight afforded by the accounts in this respect is particularly welcome, offsetting an emphasis more conventionally assigned to the celebration of Masses when assessing chantries. Furthermore, Richard Hatter had no obvious successors: parishioners in later decades either chose against replenishing, or were not encouraged to replenish, the Halleways’ endowment.89 Indeed, from c.1480, the parish promoted an alternative pro anima arrangement: if parishioners possessed property that could be devised for pious uses (and usually involving less property than the Halleways had at their disposal) they accepted a perpetual anniversary in return for their property – producing a situation where the parish enjoyed considerably more financial flexibility. But, overall, where the Halleways’ arrangements were concerned, All Saints’ valued them sufficiently to underwrite The same course of action – suspending the priest but maintaining the anniversary – was adopted to put John Spicer’s chantry in St James’s back into surplus between 1471 and 1474, discussed in more detail in Burgess, ‘Strategies for Eternity’, at p. 22. 89 Additional investment by a later ‘well-willer’ (who would subsequently be recognised as a co-founder) was, however, sometimes envisaged in Bristol: in his will, made in 1478/9, Thomas Rowley asked to be buried in his parish church, St John’s, next to Walter Frampton’s tomb, and he also bequeathed the sum of £100 to the said Walter Frampton’s chantry (founded in 1375) – discussed at more length in Burgess, ‘Strategies for Eternity’, at pp. 7 and 21. 88

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them, which possibly meant advancing cash in 1530, for instance; but there can be no doubt at all that All Saints’ invested hard work over a protracted period, with managers constantly planning for and overseeing repairs as they sought to set the endowment back on a sound footing. Short-term suspensions of the services may have been deemed a necessary evil; in the long term, however, the parish would not let the chantry sink.

Differences of opinion While the accounts testify to the gravity that churchwardens and parish authorities attached to the efficient management of the chantry, mayors, similarly, took their obligations seriously. In addition to regular attendance at the anniversary, and the subtler signs that wardens could and did refer problem tenants to the mayor,90 on occasion, the mayor’s conception of proper procedure differed. Given that each was expected to work with the other, it comes as no surprise that parish and mayor might clash on occasion. The point at issue depends, again, on the question of whether the surplus the chantry had once accumulated had been exhausted by the time that the endowment encountered serious financial difficulties in the 1520s, when expenditure clearly was exceeding income and obliged radical measures. Richard Abynton, mayor in 1525–26, seems to have taken exception to the expedient – of halving the chantry’s priest’s salary – adopted by the parish authorities to restore the endowment’s fortunes.91 He appears to have judged this course of action as unwarranted, arguing for a more moderate course of action. He used the powers vested in his office to override the wardens’ proposals, and policy, with unhappy results – although our information derives solely from the wardens’ accounts. In their opinion, in 1525–26, the said master Abynton by his said extorte power received the rent for the first half year and, then, for that uniuste vexacion, immediately [and] without any warning, the said Edward [Willis] avoided the tenement and so the church has lost the whole year[’s] rent both of the same tenement and also of the stable that the said Edward did hold, for the same master Abynton had by the said sinister means the half year’s rents for the stable as he had for the tenement against law and conscience.

Discussed more fully in ASB 3, Halleway materials, Introduction, p. 81. The account in question is printed in ASB 3, Halleway Materials, pp. 295–8, and the complaint as to Master Abynton’s extorte powers is found in the following year’s accounts [for 1526–27] in ASB 3, Halleway Materials, pp. 299–300.

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It is not clear what Mayor Abynton hoped to achieve by his intervention, but the chantry lost rental income to the tune of 23s. 4d. Similarly, concerning the tenement that Joan Butler held for half a year, the said Master Abynton then being mayor compelled her to pay him and, because she would not at his first commandment deliver him the money, he commanded her to Newgate and so was she as a person under the jailor’s ward going from the Tolsey beyond the which towards prison save that the said Master Abynton was entreated by one of his sheriffs, and so he sent her back again and discharged her from the jailor and compelled her to pay him the said half year’s rent [of] 10s.

Abynton emerges as a mischief-maker, perhaps misappropriating chantry income and certainly alienating tenants. In the payments recorded in the same account, however, the wardens were obliged to note that they had paid the chantry priest, John Coke, 50s. for his wages ‘besides that he received of master Abynton’, suggesting that the disputed rental income did eventually go to the priest, countermanding the wardens’ decision concerning the priest’s stipend. It looks as if the mayor disapproved of the wardens’ reform proposals and used his powers either to remedy the situation or force the issue. The wardens objected: their accounts record the payment of one mark ‘to our learned counsel at London to examine the composition of Thomas Halleway’s chantry which does determine that master Abynton has done great wrong to the church in the office of his mayorship of the which we may have remedy against him when so ever we do prosecute our matter before the king and his counsel.’92 Whatever the precise causes of this difficulty, the chantry guardians evidently took their responsibilities seriously – so much so, that problems might arise as much from over-zealous protection as from neglect.

Reasons for resilience All Saints’ willingness to invest both time and effort and, by c.1530, possibly also parish funds, is explained by the varied contribution that the Halleways’ foundation made. The chantry could not be abandoned without serious loss of prestige and property and, of equal importance, without undermining services deemed essential both in the parish and broader civic community. The costs of providing such services, which – if at all – would otherwise have to be defrayed by fund-raising schemes borne by parishioners, would in the long term have outweighed the expense and effort that the parish accepted to restore the chantry’s endowment. Individual founders such as the Halleways made a considerable financial invest ASB 3, Halleway Materials, p. 301.

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ment to secure personalised services, but their gift of an extra priest who added to the number of parish Masses celebrated regularly, as well as embellishing observances in the choir, benefited the whole parish community. This, more than any particularised merit, secured the profile that perpetual chantries enjoyed, and is the lesson emerging from the parish managers’ sustained hard work to maintain the viability of the arrangement. This is the lesson, too – albeit in mirror image – issuing from the loss of the Haddons’ chantry and the parish’s frustration when unable to prevent the forfeiture of its endowment.93 Maintaining any perpetual chantry’s integrity was a compelling priority for the parish: no foundation would ever willingly be sacrificed while its properties might be made to yield even a half-reasonable return.

See above, chapter 5; the point being, however, that for as long as he lived, Haddon (rather than the parish) took the major role in managing his parents’ chantry, not having yet finally entrusted its endowment to the parish.

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he chapters in this section have, respectively, outlined commemorative practice within All Saints’ and explored the archive that survives for the Halleways’ chantry. Some of the themes arising should now be considered, to make some observations concerning practice both within All Saints’ and also Bristol itself.

‘And what good they did in their days’: Implications of commemoration in All Saints’ By 1470, the endowment income that the churchwardens of All Saints’ relied upon had long been steady at some £8 per annum.1 This derived from property, much the most lucrative of which was the Green Lattice devised by Alice Halye in the late thirteenth century and, to a lesser degree, from rents of assize, of which William Newbery’s, standing at 12s. per annum, was the most generous. But the prognosis for parish finances would not have been encouraging. Rents of assize had become increasingly unreliable and, even if they had all been operational, at some 25s. per annum their yield was hardly princely. Moreover, while the parish had long maintained the Green Lattice, it had become dilapidated by the early 1440s, explaining why Richard Haddon underwrote extensive repairs in order to restore it.2 Such a commission, however, was redolent of a spirit of enterprise which, in the decades preceding the mid-century, began to transform the parish.

Policy-making by the elite The first signs of this spirit found expression in the campaign to rebuild the south, or Cross, aisle, coming to fruition in the 1430s; this was financed in part by funds raised from parishioners, but was apparently primed by gifts from the wealthy, This was normally increased, in any year, by offerings (that is, by donations) and by charges levied, for instance, for burials and for seats. Extra income was almost certainly regularly raised that is not itemised in the churchwardens’ accounts as they have come down to us. In illustration of the shortcomings of the wardens’ parish accounts, it should be borne in mind that the Halleways’ endowment certainly increased the ‘cash flow’ into the parish coffers bur, in this case, was reserved for a specified purpose and accounted for separately. 2 As discussed in chapter 5. 1

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the Halleways prominent among them.3 Following shortly after, in the 1440s, Richard Haddon rebuilt the north, or Lady, aisle. The families leading these initiatives were themselves closely connected, for not only did Richard Haddon have links with Thomas and Joan Halleway and their associates, with both Thomas and Richard having served with John Gyllard as executors in the disposition of Christine Haddon’s estate, but Richard Haddon and Richard Hatter also served as bailiffs of Bristol in 1443.4 Where Richard Haddon sited a perpetual chantry for his parents’ souls in the newly rebuilt Lady aisle, the Halleways inaugurated their perpetual chantry at the altar dedicated to Sts John the Baptist, John the Evangelist and Dunstan on the south side of the church. Given the interconnections between the Haddon and Halleway coteries at the apex of parish and, indeed, civic society, such symmetry hardly appears coincidental: by the 1440s, something approaching a co-ordinated plan was afoot to increase divine service in All Saints’. By the 1450s, the Haddons’ and the Halleways’ plans had come to fruition, providing two extra full-time priests to assist the incumbent; but this initiative was plausibly part of a wider enterprise – within both the parish and the town. Where All Saints’ was concerned, the newly appointed bishop of Worcester, John Carpenter, was clearly set on breathing new life into the Kalendars’ Guild. Coincidently, the complement of priests that the Kalendars thereafter supported (a prior and two priests) matched the permanent priests (an incumbent and two chantry priests) now serving in the parish.5 One wonders whether Carpenter had, from the start, worked in conjunction with the parish elite, both in evolving plans for the Kalendars and also in encouraging parishioners’ largesse to enhance their church and its liturgy. While both the parish elite and the bishop would surely have been keen to promote All Saints’ spiritual distinction – standing, as it did, at the geographical and administrative centre of the town – parishioners may well have cherished the opportunity to correct the disparity between the parish’s own ‘forces’ and those of its (theoretically) dependant fraternity. Moreover, Carpenter’s decision to house the Kalendars’ library in a room resting on Haddon’s north aisle surely, again, suggests a strategy. Just as Bishop Carpenter would have consulted with Prior Gyllard over plans to reconstitute the Kalendars, we know for certain that Gyllard worked closely with Richard Haddon – and his parents before him – to reconstitute the north aisle. And just as Haddon and Carpenter must have The Halleways had given £20 to the building of the Cross aisle – ASB 1, p. 14 – which, as we have seen, also prompted the parish to move Thomas Botoner’s tomb. The rebuilding is discussed in chapter 10. 4 Latimer, ‘“The Maire of Bristowe”’, at pp. 130–31. Christine Haddon’s executors are listed in ASB 3, Deeds HS E 11 (p. 406). 5 John Carpenter was bishop of Worcester from 1444 until 1476; his reform of the Kalendars has already been discussed in chapters 2 and 5 above. 3

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consulted when envisaging the full use to which the north aisle would be put, so Joan Halleway, when acting for her husband ‘who [had] lain ill in his bed for three years and more’, dealt with Carpenter when obtaining the licence to found their chantry in 1452. The bishop took an interest in encouraging the Halleways’ project, too.6 Reconstructing the aisles, founding two perpetual chantries and also reconstituting a fraternity (which supported improved library facilities, a highly trained instructor and preacher, and also the two Kalendars’ priests), when taken together marked a development of considerable significance within the parish. This rested upon the commemorative impulse, but also upon a constructive collaboration between parish worthies and their pastor.

Gathering momentum In that twin perpetual chantry foundation had played an integral part in the ongoing transformation of All Saints’, the intemperance of parish’s reaction to losing one of the endowments – and, therefore, a priest – in the early 1470s becomes more explicable. As suggested, All Saints’ treatment of Haddon derived, in no small part, from frustration at its inability to prevent the emasculation of an ambitious intercessory and liturgical formulation, with the consequent damage to parish dignity.7 By contrast, the parish authorities continued to manage the Halleways’ chantry with noteworthy success. Moreover, when a fire at Whitsun in 1464 destroyed the parish properties that adjoined the chancel, managers displayed an impressive acumen in clearing debris, raising funds and directing the reconstruction.8 Parish management, again, proved resolute in upholding Agnes Fyler’s plans against her stepson’s opposition, taking the case to court to reaffirm her wishes.9 In addition to directing this initiative, the incumbent, Maurice Hardwick, used this as an opportunity to hone All Saints’ commemorative apparatus. By ensuring the more explicit commendation of benefactors, both as donors and managers, he stirred parishioners to deeper generosity and – significantly for parish government – to a greater commitment for the benefit of all. Mnemonic efficacy underpinned managerial tenacity and, as noted, leading parish families responded with noteworthy largesse and commitment. All Saints’ had attained a critical momentum by the beginning of the last quarter of the fifteenth century. It managed a growing property portfolio with ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 90–93. Even if the strategy of selling the Haddons’ endowment to Hawkes had municipal support – thereby releasing funds to compensate Richard Haddon’s creditors – Hawkes himself had links with the parish, and had served as mayor (usually a protector of perpetual chantries within the town) as recently as 1472; this was akin to rubbing salt in the wound. 8 Discussed below in chapter 9. 9 As discussed in chapter 4. 6 7

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evident success, and challenges to parish interests, either by natural disasters or human fallibility, had served only to prove its mettle. It witnessed no further perpetual chantry foundation; the circumstances – wealth in the absence of heirs – permitting so ambitious an undertaking occurred only rarely. But, as noted, members of the parish elite were disposed to devise smaller (although still significant) endowments, the greater part of whose rents went to swell parish revenues and which, by the 1520s, had transformed the parish regime. All Saints’ enjoyed revenues sufficient to support a more extensive liturgical establishment than would ever have been possible even forty years before and, specifically, when the opportunity arose, the parish authorities purchased most of the ‘lost’ Haddons’ endowment. This reacquisition plausibly marked a further transition: in future the parish may not have needed to depend so heavily on donation and devise but possessed the financial wherewithal to operate ‘in the market’ on its own behalf. An account generated in the immediate aftermath of the reacquisition only confirms how briskly agents (other than the wardens) set about refurbishing the relevant properties so that these might the more easily – and profitably – be absorbed into the parish’s property portfolio.10 Intertwining with commemorative expertise, managerial competence enabled the parish to achieve a greater continuity by maintaining a core clerical workforce of proven proficiency, as well as still welcoming a number of new and untried stipendiaries serving chantries of temporary duration.11 The incumbent, the ‘masters’ and the churchwardens of All Saints’ combined to direct affairs with a confidence which, despite setbacks, had developed steadily since the middle decades of the fifteenth century, and with far-reaching consequences for the parish’s liturgical self-assurance and flair.

The broader context How did All Saints’ fit into the ecclesiastical landscape of late medieval Bristol? While there had been a steady stream of perpetual chantry foundation in Bristol in the later fourteenth and early fifteenth century, a dearth ensued in the second, third and fourth decades.12 Given that the alienation of properties into the ‘dead hand’ of the church diminished the Crown’s ‘feudal’ rights and reserves, the

The extra account, for 1525, in the year after acquiring Hawke’s legacy (earlier Haddon’s endowment), and compiled by Thomas Pacy and John Hewes – wherein these two took in rents from the properties and supervised any necessary repairs – are printed in ASB 2, pp. 312–17; this is discussed in more detail in the chapter 8. 11 A theme investigated in chapter 11. 12 Discussed and charted in Burgess, ‘Strategies for Eternity’, at pp. 28 and 30–32. 10

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moratorium was perhaps a justified course of royal policy in a time of war.13 But the Crown was willing to make exceptions: in 1417, it issued a pardon to the master and fraternity of the chapel of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the bridge of the water of the Avon in the suburb and town of Bristol of all trespasses, offences, misprisions, contempts and impeachments committed by them before 8 December 2 Henry V (1414) contrary to the form of the statute of liveries, so that this be not to the prejudice of any other person [and concerning in part] all donations, alienations, purchases by them of land held in chief, donations, alienations and purchases in mortmain without licence.14

The exact circumstances prompting this pardon remain uncertain. But where, on the one hand, the chapel and fraternity of the Assumption on Bristol Bridge housed Bristol’s municipal elite at prayer, on the other hand, whatever these men had done, prominent among their alleged offences was a failure to obtain licences to alienate in mortmain when founding perpetual suffrages based on property rents. Royal government seems to have ‘fired a shot across the bows’ of Bristol’s most influential citizens – those wealthy enough to consider perpetual chantry foundation. Custom certainly changed: for the next almost thirty years, while still devoting considerable sums to benefit their souls, members of this caste satisfied themselves with chantries of long duration together with a rich amalgam of pious activity and charitable provision; but they abjured from ambitious arrangements in perpetuity.15 Henry VI’s majority, from 1440, witnessed a policy reversal, and the foundations initiated by Haddon and the Halleways in All Saints’ in the 1440s roughly coincided with similar undertakings by, for instance, Thomas Balle in Holy Trinity in 1446, and John Burton in St Thomas the Martyr by 1454.16 Indeed, the decade or two following 1440 witnessed a spate of perpetual chantry foundation in Bristol, with rates This was Edward I’s avowed reason for embarking on ‘mortmain’ legislation in the 1290s, and was reiterated by Richard II’s government in 1392 – see Raban, Mortmain Legislation and the English Church, chapters 1 and 4 (particularly at pp. 127–9 for the 1391 enactment); see also H. M. Chew, ‘Mortmain in Medieval London’, English Historical Review, 60 (1945), pp. 1–15. 14 CPR, 1416–22, pp. 27–8. 15 I investigate this turn of events more thoroughly in C. Burgess, ‘A Repertory for Reinforcement: Configuring Civic Catholicism in Fifteenth-Century Bristol’, in The Fifteenth Century IV: Of Mice and Men: Image, Belief and Regulation in Late Medieval England, ed. L. Clark (Woodbridge, 2005), pp. 85–108, at pp. 99–102. 16 Thomas Balle: CPR, 1441–6, pp. 459–60 and CPR, 1452–61, pp. 232–3 – the Master of St Mark’s Hospital took over the supervision of Balle’s chantry in 1455, paying £8 per annum to maintain his priest and service, until the dissolution of the Hospital in 1539, after which the Mayor and Corporation assumed this duty – see Burgess, ‘Strategies for Eternity’, at p. 7. John Burton: GOB, ff. 178–9v and CPR, 1452–61, p. 342. 13

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of establishment matching levels discernible a century or more earlier. Indeed, St James’s, Bristol, to the north of the town, a parish with a small Benedictine convent at its heart, also witnessed twin foundations, by William Pownam and John Spicer in the mid 1450s.17 To the south of the town, in St Mary Redcliffe in 1466–67, as already noted, William Canynges founded two perpetual chantries, as well as establishing, or re-establishing, in return for a gift of £340, no fewer than five additional clergy in the church. Two of the latter were to be priests, ‘called of old, Saint Mary’s priests’, one celebrating for the good estate of the living and the other for the souls of the faithful departed ‘as they had done of old’; two were to be clerks who each served as a ‘holy water clerk’ [aquebaiulatus] in the church, and a third clerk was also to be clad in the same livery as the other two clerks, but he was to be called ‘the clerk of William Canynges’. All were to be present in the church at matins, Mass and vespers, and all the canonical hours, with all four of his priests, of course, ‘celebrating every day for ever by note competently and in the accustomed way’.18 Parishes already benefiting from a communal or conventual presence – like St James with its Benedictine convent, All Saints’ with the Kalendars, or even St Mary Redcliffe with its plethora of priests – all witnessed twin perpetual chantry foundation, to say nothing of other long-term provision; where priests in the parish were concerned, ‘too much of a good thing’ had become de rigueur.19 Changing policy in Bristol apparently coincided with the arrival of former royal servants, close to Henry VI and intimately associated with his spiritual agenda – including, for instance, the foundation of Eton College – as the bishops who shared jurisdiction in the town. Bishop Thomas Bekynton was appointed to the see of Bath and Wells in 1442, and Bishop John Carpenter to the see of Worcester in 1443.20 It William Pownham: GRB, iii, pp. 103–7. John Spicer, PCC Prob 11/ 4, f. 48v – and for further light on his plans, see Burgess, ‘Chantries in the Parish’, at pp. 121–2. 18 This elaborates a point made in chapter 2. For the references: on his two chantry chaplains in St Mary Redcliffe, one founded in 1466 (Peter Lawles, celebrating at St Katherine’s altar) and the other in 1467 (Thomas Hawkysokke, celebrating at St George’s altar), respectively CPR, 1461–67, p. 519 and CPR, 1467–77, p. 62; the process of foundation is detailed in Williams, The Chantries of William Canynges, pp. 63–72; the deed relating to the St Mary priests and clerks is enrolled in GRB, iv, pp. 42–6, and see also Williams, The Chantries of William Canynges, pp. 67 and 266. 19 It comes as no surprise, giving the levels of staffing in the church, to learn that contemporaries also spoke of St Mary Redcliffe as a college: see Knowles and Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses, p. 457. 20 As encountered in chapter 1, Thomas Beknynton – a Wykhamist, who had served as Henry VI’s secretary – is closely associated with the foundation of Eton: see John Watts, Henry VI and the Politics of Kingship (Cambridge, 1996), pp. 167–71; Carpenter, from a somewhat different background, had nevertheless previously served as Master of the Hospital of St Anthony of Vienne in London, effectively a singing school by the fifteenth century. Both bishops had been consecrated in Eton chapel, while it was still under construction. 17

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is at least plausible that, reversing previous restraints predicated on the war effort, they encouraged Bristol’s elite to fund extra liturgists supported by property rents, clearly eliciting a whole-hearted response. Their plan was to benefit the realm by devotional enterprise to underpin military exploits. From the 1440s, Bristol’s parishes set about recruiting numerous extra priests, and it is also plausible that parishes began to improve the financial underpinning supporting their clerks – that is, clergy in minor orders – whose contribution further enhanced liturgical standards within the town’s parishes and, cumulatively, of course, within Bristol itself.21 If the enterprise initiated in the mid fifteenth century in Bristol was part of a conscious policy encouraged by Bishop Carpenter and, to the south of the River Avon, by Bishop Bekynton, this strategy undoubtedly possessed a municipal dimension. In All Saints’, the parishioners who underwrote such a policy were all prominent citizens involved in municipal affairs. That Bristol’s mayor and civic officials played so prominent a role in attending Halleways’ anniversary, vetting the affairs of the endowment and the ensuring the fidelity of successive celebrants, as they did with all the other perpetual chantries in Bristol, gains an added resonance.22 Such commitment may help to explain why Richard Hatter, not even a parishioner of All Saints’, added to the endowment of the Halleways’ chantry. His choice of burial location suggests close association with the Halleways but, equally, as a former mayor of Bristol he sought to benefit parish and town by support for an extra liturgist. Lacking sufficient means to establish his own perpetual chantry, he contributed to a strategy initiated by a former mayor of the town. This also adds perspective to the generosity later exhibited by widows, all of whose husbands would have been involved in municipal affairs. If, like Hatter, unable to set aside enough for a perpetual chantry, each permanently added to the parish’s endowment, with significant financial and liturgical implications for the benefit of All Saints’ and, ultimately, also the town. Liturgical development, encouraged by the bishops, was a policy possessed of a civic dimension. The deepening reservoir of grace profited and protected the town, binding its inhabitants more firmly to public religion; it ensured, too, that Bristol’s wealth should secure a proportionate and impressive pious investment, providing a model for other townships, and also for evolving parishes.23

Clerks are discussed below in chapters 10 and 11. As confirmed by the care with which the municipality recorded chantry statutes in The Little Red Book of Bristol, and, by implication, emphasising the mayor’s obligation towards these foundations. 23 Argued at more length in Burgess, ‘A Repertory for Reinforcement’. 21 22

Part IV

Leaders and administrators

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ealthy men and women made a point of investing property, money and equipment to develop All Saints’ resources, benefiting their own souls along with all the others in its care, both living and dead. Generosity by some obliged others to devote steadfast effort in overseeing the parish’s increasingly complex interests, which included the management and maintenance of a growing property portfolio; but parishioners would never have entrusted so much to contemporaries and successors had they not had confidence in All Saints’ administrative competence. While developments may be hard to chart, managerial practices had emerged by the second half of the fifteenth century (and probably well before that) equal to the demands made of the parish. Such a capacity not only helped to shape parishioners’ expectations in the decades preceding the Reformation but must also have helped to reinforce the behavioural procedures that have emerged in previous discussion. It is clearly time to investigate how All Saints’ organised itself both to manage and to advance shared interests.1 The first chapter in this section considers the role played by the parish clergy and explores their generosity. Well aware of their pastoral and liturgical responsibilities to their flocks, priests, like everyone else, hoped for salvation. Since this was a goal best achieved by collaboration with others in the parish community, the clergy’s interests integrated closely with those of the churchwardens and the parish élite. One of the themes that then emerges clearly in the chapter following  1

While systems of management appear broadly similar between parishes, as a result both of synodal legislation and of diocesan supervision that demanded common responses – and, doubtless, also of conscious emulation between neighbouring parishes managed by officials collaborating closely in other spheres of life – there was still room for idiosyncrasies in any given parish. But differences in managerial record-keeping, as well as local scribal customs, possibly meant that regimes whose routines in fact resembled each other might appear to have been at odds.

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(chapter 9) is the degree of co-operation visible between clergy and different registers of the laity, as each worked closely with the others to direct parish affairs in the decades preceding the Reformation.2

 2

By concentrating on the parish accounts, Duffy, The Voices of Morebath, shows quite how pivotal a role that the parish incumbent, Christopher Trichay, played through a long and tumultuous period, directing affairs in one remote parish in Devonshire. Urban parishes may have commanded higher budgets, but whether their regimes were more complicated, depending upon more agents to administer affairs, is arguable. More needs to be done to decide whether we are best served by thinking in terms either of differences or of similarities between urban and rural parishes.

Chapter 8

‘He procured, moved and stirred’: Clergy as mentors Although the notion has been discredited that clergy and laity must inevitably have been at loggerheads before the Reformation, we nevertheless still have a tendency to treat priests as axiomatically set apart.1 In some obvious respects this was true; but, if anything, the evidence surviving for All Saints’ tends to accentuate how constructively the clergy worked with parishioners to secure the shared benefit of the community.2 We have already explored the collaboration between Richard Haddon and John Gyllard, prior of the Kalendars, and also considered how Maurice Hardwick first lobbied for and then defended Agnes Fyler’s endowment. It has emerged, moreover, that parishioners in All Saints’ possessed a degree of spiritual understanding that speaks well of the instruction received from their clergy, either formally from the pulpit and at confession, or informally by example in and around the parish.3 While synodal legislation determined certain Peter Marshall, in the first pages of his article ‘Anticlericalism Revested? Expressions of Discontent in early Tudor England’, in PLME, pp. 365–80, offers a valuable survey, first, of the protagonists responsible for exploiting ‘anti-clericalism’ as a means to explain and justify sixteenth-century change, and then of the process which has seen this concept being discarded. If the Reformation is not to be understood as a movement ‘from below’, satisfying a popular hunger for improvement, then anticlericalism inevitably loses its rationale as an explanatory factor. Marshall, in the later part of the essay, nevertheless explores how a priest’s status and associated powers inevitably acted as ‘a double-edged weapon’, fostering both the need for and use of a rhetoric of anti-clericalism in everyday life and discourse. This is not to imply, however, that relations between clergy and parishioners never went badly awry: in various localities at certain times the laity quarrelled with clergy, most obviously when reckoning tithe, a process fraught with difficulties; see, for instance, S. Brigden, ‘Tithe controversy in Reformation London’, JEH, 32 (1981), 285–301.  2 It is, however, salutary that close work on the parish accounts of St Andrew Hubbard, in Eastcheap, London, which parish certainly did suffer from an acrimonious tithe dispute in the early sixteenth century, discloses that such a clash generated very few ripples in surviving parish records – see The Church Records of St Andrew Hubbard, ed. Burgess, pp. xxi. Archival ‘tranquillity’ may not be taken as a failsafe indicator of good relations.  3 See above, chapter 3; and, as also suggested (in chapter 2), the friars probably also influenced the laity in a town like Bristol. The friars’ continuous presence in the town until 1538, despite minimal landed endowment, must indicate that Bristolians valued  1

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responses – for instance, by defining the laity’s responsibilities as churchwardens – the role that parish priests played and the instruction they no doubt offered influenced both individual and communal conduct. The clergy not only exercised leadership by example but also carefully assimilated their efforts with those they exhorted from their parishioners. Although their words may now be lost, the All Saints’ archive permits us to retrieve aspects of their behaviour, revealing how they dovetailed their efforts with those elicited from their flock. Parishioners, as we will see, clearly respected their clergy, and specifically sought their personal assistance. If their estate set clergy apart, this by no means led to disengagement; the following elaborates on the nature of their involvement.

The vicars and priests that have been good doers: Clergy as role models Appraising the part played by the clergy in parish affairs is normally difficult because much of the evidence on which we rely was produced by and for the laity; it treats the clergy, at best, in a glancing manner. For all their detail, churchwardens’ accounts, for instance, served specific purposes: to enable parishioners to keep close track of the ‘parish stock’ – be it money or equipment – entrusted to the wardens, and to prove the discharge of duties incumbent on the laity. The clergy’s activity lay mainly beyond their remit.4 But, once again, the All Saints’ archive furnishes materials offsetting this shortcoming. The All Saints’ Church Book preserves much of the most revealing information which, while intended for the general benefit, was in the main assembled at the behest of clergy. The benefaction list, in particular, compensates for shortcomings in churchwardens’ accounts by revealing the material, and also something of the spiritual, contribution made by incumbents and stipendiaries alike. Consideration of the clergy’s benefactions in conjunction with the handful of wills that survives for the All Saints’ clergy yields many worthwhile insights; so a start should be made by analysing the clergy’s wills, subsequently integrating these findings with those derived from the Church Book.

Clerical wills Much the earliest example concerns William Selk, vicar of All Saints’, who made a will at Ascensiontide in 1270. This document is, in fact, more a list of what he bequeathed to the church than any balanced testamentary provision benefiting relthe mendicants’ contribution sufficiently to support them consistently – even if accurate assessment of their influence remains elusive.  4 The remit and function of churchwardens’ accounts is considered in more detail towards the beginning of the following chapter.

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atives or associates.5 Nevertheless, as well as testifying to clerical generosity, his wishes reveal that the urban clergy could be relatively wealthy and that they might amass a considerable stock of liturgical equipment. Selk explicitly left this to his parish; later clergy seem more inclined to leave such materials to their fellows, and perhaps made arrangements before decease, depriving us of an accurate impression of the equipment they either possessed or transmitted.6 Books figured prominently among the goods that Selk gave ‘to God, the blessed Mary and to the church of All Saints’ in pure and perpetual alms’. These included a missal of the Sarum Use, as well as two graduals both containing a processional and ordinal, one of which was well bound and said to contain a troper for the whole year as well as a troper of the blessed Virgin.7 Other volumes included a manual and good psalter, a volume called the Constitutiones and a penitential; and to the parish deacon, Selk bequeathed his processional. His legacy also included equipment: as well as a wooden eagle (probably a lectern), he gave two candlesticks, two processional crosses, a wooden cup for the Eucharist, a candelabrum worked in iron for opus mortuorum – used at the offices of the dead, presumably – a thurible, a variety of vestments and a chest in which to keep some of these. Added to these was a brass candelabrum said to have belonged to Thomas Becket, as well as a relic of bone from Becket’s skull. His will, finally, records that he left ‘all the stones prepared for the chancel arch’, which may imply that even if, strictly, the abbot of St Augustine’s bore the responsibility for maintaining the chancel, Selk had taken it upon himself to improve the stonework decorating the entry into the sacral area of the church. The benefaction list also discloses that he devised the parish a rent of assize, of 2s. per annum. This derived from property in Skadpull Street, known as Marsh Street by the fifteenth century, ‘in which’ we are told, ‘late dwelled Nycoll Stoke, mariner, and out of mind has been paid, save for the second year of Edward IV. And thereto belongs seven evidences under divers seals. God have mercy on his soul.’8 William Selk’s contribution was Preserved in ‘Bristol charters, wills and inventories’ (BRO 08153/1) (otherwise known as the Fox collection) in a reproduction said be an autotype; now printed in ASB 3, Wills 2 (pp. 10–11); also paraphrased in ASB 1, pp. 7–8, which also refers to his ‘many other good deeds as showed by his testament’.  6 There are indications of this practice that are discussed more fully below, but it may be flagged up that John Thomas, for instance, intercepted the otherwise implicit descent of liturgical equipment to other clergy in order to ensure that ‘his boy’ should benefit from particular materials in his priestly training.  7 See glossary.  8 ASB 1, pp. 5–6 (and repeated in ASB 1, p. 8). It may be noted that John Shipward the elder had withdrawn this rent by 1473–74 (ASB 2, pp. 72) and that, although the benefaction list notes that since the ‘19th day of January 1484, John Shipward the younger, to have his father’s and his mother’s soul and his soul to be prayed for amongst all other good doers, has delivered us to our old possession of 2s rent assize again’, the churchwardens’  5

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generous, varied and abiding; if the same may not be said for all his successors, mainly because we know so little about them, his example at least prepares the way for a similar verdict on various fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century clergy. An early fifteenth-century will survives for a priest other than an incumbent, Thomas Botoner, who died in 1419.9 This man, whom we have encountered before, was William Worcestre’s maternal uncle and, according to Worcestre, a brother, or a fellow, of ‘the college of priests called the Kalendars’ who ‘died in the house of the priory lodgings’.10 His will is brief but, in conjunction with Worcestre’s writings, instructive. Worcestre, for instance, reveals that his uncle, Thomas, had a ‘house near the Guildhall in Broad Street, on the south side of the said Guildhall, and also of his inheritance from Thomas Botoner, father of him and of my mother, in the town of Buckingham, in West Street’.11 Botoner made no reference to property in his will, presumably because patrimony might descend to other family members without detailed specification.12 Worcestre also writes that one Adam Botoner of Coventry was the brother of Thomas Botoner, my grandfather [father of Thomas Botoner of the Kalendars and of Worcestre’s mother] … and the said Adam had issue, Agnes Botoner of Lawford’s Gate, Bristol; and he died at Coventry at the time of the great plague about the year of Christ 1386, and sent his aforesaid daughter to Bristol to the care of Thomas Botoner, his brother, to be looked after; and a certain John Randolf of Lawford’s Gate, carrier, brought the said Agnes, then aged four years, from Coventry to Bristol.13

Not only was Thomas Botoner of the Kalendars a man of property, he also had family in Bristol, and elsewhere, who had themselves prospered; but he mentioned no kin in his will, simply leaving ‘all … unbequeathed’ goods to John Blake, prior of the house of Kalendars, whom he also appointed his executor. Apart from All Saints’ (to whose vicar he bequeathed a shilling), his only stated allegiance was to the priory of St James in Bristol, a Benedictine house that shared its nave with a parish church of the same dedication. Botoner bequeathed the prior of St James 6s. 8d., and to each chaplain there he left 4d. accounts repeatedly note that the 2s. rent was not in fact paid through the remainder of the 1480s and into the mid-1490s.  9 ASB 3, Wills 5 (pp. 13–14). 10 Worcestre, pp. 15–17; and for earlier discussion of Botoner, see chapter 3. 11 If Botoner possessed a house in Broad Street, one wonders whether he – and all the Kalendars – necessarily lodged in their assigned house over the north aisle; but this is a question that eludes a definite answer. 12 Worcestre, pp. 65–7, does indeed suggest that it went to one William Botoner. 13 Worcestre. pp. 255–9.

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‘John Thomas helped, too’ A more immediately revealing will survives for the man apparently responsible for writing down much of the information in the first redaction of the All Saints’ Church Book, John Thomas, vicar of the parish from 1479 until his death in 1503.14 Given that the benefaction list records that his predecessor but one, Maurice Hardwick, vicar until 1473, had ‘laboured to compile and make this book’, with a marginal note revealing that ‘John Thomas helped, too, and wrote this book up’, one might wonder quite how John managed to be so helpful.15 But John had served as one of the Kalendars’ chaplains from 1470 until his promotion nine years later.16 While in a position to help Maurice, he had also enjoyed a long association with All Saints’. Evidently clergy in All Saints’ often enjoyed a relatively long association with the parish, imbuing them all the more thoroughly with parish mores and interests. And, just as Selk and Botoner had been reasonably wealthy, so, too, John Thomas: in addition to serving as vicar of All Saints’, he refers to himself in the preamble of his will as rector of the parish church of St Peter in Bristol (the will gives its full dedication as Sts Peter and Paul and St Andrew); moreover, Thomas Spicer’s will, made in 1492, refers to John as the dean of Bristol.17 He was clearly a priest who enjoyed both prominence and substance, and references to his goblet of silver and vessel of silver, or his ‘best standing cup of silver and gilt, called a nutte’ and ‘silver gilt vessel with a cover called a bell cup’, at first sight simply seem to confirm a certain affluence. It emerges, however, that some at least of these possessions had come to him as bequests from wealthier parishioners.18 Fuller than the testaments either of Selk or Botoner, John Thomas’s will sheds useful light on the role that the vicar might play in a parish such as All Saints’. John, it may be recalled, stood at the hub of the parish’s social networks.19 He was, on the one hand, associated with the Spicer clan: he cancelled a debt that John Wodyngton – who was Maud Spicer’s nephew – owed him, on the understanding that half the sum, £3 in point of fact, should ‘go to Elizabeth Spicer, my god-daughter’. He also nominated Thomas Wodyngton, 14 15 16 17 18

19

ASB 3, Wills 24 (pp. 43–4). ASB 1, p. 10. Orme, ‘The Guild of Kalendars’, p. 47 (and note 13). ASB 3, Wills 18 (pp. 30–33 – clause 27). As subsequent discussion discloses, some of these items appear to have been bequeathed to him by parishioners both in gratitude and in return for his prayers; while some of the donors were either related to him, or certainly on friendly terms, these bequests may appreciably have added to his estate. As discussed in chapter 3.

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John’s brother and a doctor of decretals, as the overseer of his will.20 On the other hand, he was related – quite how is unclear – to the Chestre clan. He refers to John Chestre (the merchant) as his kinsman, and maintained an interest in two tenements, situated in Broad Street, Bristol (an interest apparently shared with Humfrey Hervy, the Chestres’ heir by dint of his marriage to Anne, John Chestre’s widow), that he bequeathed in his will to Joan Hervy, daughter of Humfrey and Anne. The named beneficiaries of the anniversaries celebrated for the Chestre clan included John Thomas.21 Society in a parish like All Saints’ emerges as close-knit, with clergy (be they parish priests, stipendiary chaplains or clerks) and laity interacting as family, as friends and as neighbours. The arrangements that John made reflect well on him. Not only did he leave his servant, Margaret Hook, 20s. and two silver vessels, ‘for good service to me’, but she was also to receive weekly alms of 2d. ‘from my executors for seven years, should she live that long’. He made several references to ‘John Flogh, my boy’, leaving him a portatile (that is, a breviary) and other books, should he become a priest, and, without conditions, also the sum of 26s. 8d.22 John Thomas seemingly took John Flook into his care as an orphan, and the latter eventually did become a priest and, indeed, incumbent of All Saints’. Had this not happened, the portatile would have ‘remain[ed] to those priests of honest conversation who are at that time celebrating or serving within the said parish church of All Hallows and who [as a result] are obliged to pray for my soul and the soul of Thomas Marshall who first ordained this book and for the souls of all the faithful departed’. Marshall had, in the 1430s, reserved the book for the use of future incumbents each in their turn and, some seventy years later, John Thomas was well aware of this. Such a ‘descent’, from Marshall, via other incumbents, to John Thomas and thence to Flook, speaks of what, in practice, resembled a priestly dynasty within the parish. Possessed of a sense of clerical order and of the concomitant privileges and responsibilities, incumbents remained mindful both of predecessors, and their wishes and needs, and equally those of successors, too. This, nevertheless, did not set clergy decisively apart. Much like any layman, John Thomas was keen to benefit from the intercession of other priests but, in addition, sought commemoration from the laity. 20 21 22

For Thomas Wodyngton, a canon lawyer of some eminence, see above, chapter 3. ASB 3, Deeds, HS C 11, a/b (pp. 396–8). As previously noted (in chapter 3), just as Thomas Botoner’s father had taken in his niece, Agnes, when her father died, so other parishioners in All Saints’, such as Joan Stevyns, who died in 1509 (ASB 3, Wills 27, pp. 46–8), also took in children (in this case, Hugh Smith and his sister, Margaret) who, whether they were kin or not, seem to have been orphans.

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The preamble to John Thomas’s will merits little comment: he commended his soul to God, the Blessed Virgin and all the saints and, by a (perhaps slightly higher than average) donation of 3s. 4d. to the mother church at Worcester, identified himself with the prayers and intercession emanating from the cathedral. By bequeathing 40s. to the church of All Saints’, however, ‘to be spent in and on the repair of the tenements belonging to the church’, he deftly wove himself into the web of parishioners’ obligations: what he donated eased the burden on successor parishioners charged with keeping the parish’s properties in good repair – and, by the early sixteenth century, the parish was fast amassing a property portfolio generating income for the benefit of all. Ultimately, by specifying burial in the choir of All Saints’, he identified himself most closely with the commemoration of the priestly order, physically ensuring his proximity to many previous incumbents and priests, and a closeness, too, to all who would celebrate at the high altar – an attachment reinforced, as noted, by passing on certain books. He expressed a particular bond with William Wood, leaving him the portatile before it went to Flook, as well as his best robe with a hood and his best surplice. As William was serving at the time as the Halleways’ priest, this bequest counsels against the commonplace – which Kathleen Wood-Legh did much to discredit – that relations between parish clergy and stipendiaries were ordinarily strained.23 One wonders whether William Wood, too, had been in the parish for rather longer than his tenure of the Halleways’ chantry, which might better explain the bond that had clearly grown between the two men. Finally, in the context of Botoner’s bequests, described above, John’s evident connection with St James’s assumes significance: he bequeathed John Cardiff OSB, prior of St James’s in the suburb of Bristol, ‘an image of the salutation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in alabaster, presently in my hall’.24 The nature of the link between the Benedictine community at St James’s and All Saints’ is elusive: did parish clergy maintain close association with monks, 23

24

William had become the Halleways’ priest in the mid-1490s – see ASB 3, Halleways’ materials, p. 197 (for 1495–96); and he is named again in 1499–1500, in 1500–01 and thereafter, ASB 3, Halleways’ materials, pp. 212 and 216. For Wood-Legh’s opinions on the accommodation that incumbents and chaplains often achieved, see her Perpetual Chantries in Britain, pp. 271–8; the material from All Saints’ is valuable in revealing a more personal dimension to the relationships – which might, indeed, amount to long-established friendship – between the various classes of priests. ‘Judging from surviving examples, the Annunciation [or Salutation] was one of the most popular of all the carvings in medieval alabaster’: for discussion, and examples, of this image, see Francis Cheetham, English Medieval Alabasters, with a Catalogue of the Collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum, 2nd edn (Woodbridge, 2005), pp. 162–74 [quotation at beginning of this note on p. 162]. For a contemporary, albeit Flemish, glimpse of how an alabaster might be displayed in a domestic setting, see the reproduction of Robert Campin’s portrayal of St Barbara (a picture now in the Prado)

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possibly as confessors or spiritual directors? But, while the alabaster of the salutation yields a rare but welcome impression of the devotional materials that clergy might keep in their houses, its bequest prompts more speculation. It is intriguing to find the spiritual leader of a parish in close association with a local monk, and apparently sharing a particular devotion to the Virgin. This suggests something of John’s spirituality and of closer links between religious and seculars than ordinarily apparent. Like the parishioners whom he instructed, John Thomas wove himself into the agencies of the Church both in heaven and on earth. While having less at his disposal than some parish widows, he was both devout and generous; his practical charity also assisted a future incumbent of All Saints’. Parishioners’ wills also confirm John Thomas as a reliable pastor attendant to the needs of his flock. He was, quite properly, frequently mentioned as the recipient of tithes forgotten and as a witness. In 1485, Alice Chestre, bequeathed ‘to John Thomas, my curate and vicar of the parish church of All Hallows’ church, for my tithes forgotten and to pray for my soul, one standing dish with a cover in silver and gilt called a bell cup’; possibly marking the fact that he was kin, she immediately followed this with, ‘I bequeath to the aforesaid John Thomas, vicar aforesaid, a standing mazer in silver and gilt.’25 At the conclusion of her will, along with others like ‘John Estrefeld, Richard Sherman merchant of Bristol, William Saie our priest, Richard Stevyns and many others’, John was named as a witness of the proceedings. John Chestre, who died in 1488, also mentioned and involved his kinsman in his plans.26 He bequeathed to John Thomas, for tithes forgotten, ‘my best robe of violet trimmed with ffoynys and 20 shillings sterling’;27 moreover, having appointed his widow, Anne, as his executrix, he added, ‘John Esterfeld merchant and John Thomas I appoint as supervisors.’ Thomas Spicer, who was also one of John Chestre’s witnesses, similarly addressed himself fairly personally to his curate in his will made some four years later. He, too, bequeathed to ‘John Thomas, vicar of All Hallows’, in recompense to him for tithes and offerings forgotten by me or inadequately reckoned’, but did so ‘with the intention that he may specially exhort the parishioners there to pray for my soul, 20 shillings’.28 He also specifically named John in his plans for a ten-year anniversary costing 10s. annually, ‘of which 12d. was to go to the aforesaid John Thomas for celebrating the Requiem Mass’. It should also be noted that ‘John Thomas, dean of Bristol

25 26 27

28

reading in a room, on whose mantelpiece, ‘standing on a small pedestal built into the chimney-breast, is a small alabaster’ (in this case of the Trinity), in ibid., p. 30. ASB 3, Wills, 13 (pp. 22–3). ASB 3, Wills, 14 (pp. 23–4). OED s.v. foin, gives this as the fur of the beech-marten, implying that ‘foins’ were fur trimmings for garments. ASB 3, Wills, 18 (pp. 30–33).

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and vicar of All Hallows’’, along with several other priests and parish luminaries, served as a witnesses to Thomas Spicer’s last will and testament, presumably implying his presence at this testator’s deathbed.29 Recompense for tithes forgotten varied widely. John Penke set aside four measures of woad for ‘his curate, vicar of the said church’ in 1493.30 John Snygge, in 1495, bequeathed to his ‘ghostly father my best violet gown, furred, that he may pray for my soul’, and his will also notes that John Thomas witnessed ‘this my present testament’.31 Clement Wilteshire, who made his will in 1488, but who died unexpectedly in 1492 while serving as mayor of Bristol, bequeathed John the sum of 40s. for tithes forgotten.32 He also entrusted him with the sum of £18 so that he might ‘select a fit priest of good and honest condition and conversation to celebrate for three years for my soul and the soul of my wife Margery, and for the souls of our parents, brothers, sisters, kin and friends and for all the faithful departed’. And, as noted previously, he bequeathed the same John ‘a gown of scarlet, formerly belonging to William Coder, to pray for my soul and for the soul of my wife Margery’, and all the others just mentioned, ‘on every Sunday among the other dead of the parish of All Hallows according to the usage there’.33 John also took his place among those witnessing Wilteshire’s will. John Thomas involved himself with his parishioners, discharging the duties expected of him. He witnessed wills, for instance, either when testators were on their deathbeds or, as more commonly may have been the case, when they drafted a document in anticipation.34 He also advised on, and was entrusted with, selecting stipendiaries and, as a matter of course, parishioners depended upon him as their main celebrant at either funerals or anniversaries. Presiding at High Mass in the parish, he involved himself closely with parishioners’

29

30

31 32 33

34

His will survives both in the PCC registers and in the GOB; but in that the PCC will was given on 14 February 1493 and proved at Lambeth on 27 February 1493, it seems reasonable to assume that Baker’s was a deathbed will. ASB 3, Wills, 21 (pp. 40–41). Given that Penke’s will was not proven until 1497, this seems not to have been a deathbed document but was made prudently ‘in anticipation’; in these circumstances, it is understandable that he did not name his vicar. In the event, when Penke died, his curate and vicar was John Thomas. ASB 3, Wills, 22 (pp. 41–2). ASB 3, Wills, 16 (pp. 25–8). William Coder, burgess and merchant of Bristol, who was buried in St Nicholas’s parish but evincing a close allegiance to St Leonard’s, died in 1473 (GOB, fos, 197v–198v); although leaving a detailed will, he made no specific bequest to Wilteshire. Given that propertied parishioners evidently did make wills, prudently preparing for the worst, doing so at regular intervals as their circumstances changed, an incumbent like John probably found that his presence was more frequently required at such occasions than at deathbed revisions.

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preparations for death, celebrating at and regularly after interment; moreover, as a named recipient of (seemingly generous) tithes forgotten, he was obliged to pray for and to remember his charges for long periods. His parishioners trusted him to do this and, to judge from the evidence, do it properly. It is notable that a number of parishioners gave him coloured gowns, two at least of which were of violet – and David Philippe, in 1509, bequeathed John Thomas’s successor, Richard Bromfeld, ‘my best violet gown in greyne lined afore with black camlet’ for his tithes forgotten.35 Quite what significance was vested in coloured, and more particularly violet, gowns is uncertain. Would the incumbent have worn the specific gown when at prayer for the donor? Or would he have kept it for personal use? – in which case, as with standing cups, he amassed an abundance of them. Or would he have passed, or sold, them on? Practices of significance to contemporaries all too easily escape us. Nevertheless, John Thomas was committed to his parish and parishioners, and they to him. In addition to canonical duties, he assiduously sustained the regime of commemoration for his charges and their friends and all the faithful departed, be it weekly with the bede roll, or at other intervals with month minds and anniversaries, and for long periods. He set the pace for the devotional and ritual life in the parish for a good twenty years and, as a matter of course, interwove regular worship with commemoration, enhancing both by ensuring that each added to the other.36 If Maurice Hardwick, John’s predecessor but one – perhaps in response to spiritual imperatives encouraged in the first instance by Bishops Bekynton and Carpenter – established initiatives in All Saints’ that, in time, served to increase both its financial reserves and liturgical capabilities, John proved more than competent both in sustaining and in reinforcing parishioners’ commitment.

Priests of the Kalendars Two remaining clerical wills also deserve attention. Thomas Mireyfeld, a priest of the Kalendars, died in 1539. Apart from strikingly precise burial requirements, ‘within the church of All Hallows … before the rood altar nigh unto the little pew on the south side of the altar’, a specificity that ordinarily implies wealth, his will

35

36

ASB 3, Wills, 30 (pp. 54–5). Greyne (sv grain, 10 b and c) may refer to the garment having been dyed in the fibre, and therefore colour-fast; camlet was ‘a light stuff’, reputedly once made using camel hair, but by this period made of long wool (such as the wool of the angora goat) sometimes mixed in the loom with cotton or linen yarn. Reinforcing the judgment made earlier, in chapter 6; this impression needs to be set against the almost complete lack of any recorded impact made by William Howe – as discussed in chapter 5 – who nevertheless served as vicar of the parish for much of the 1470s, after Hardwick and before Thomas.

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is by comparison short, mentioning little of value.37 Very unusually, an inventory also survives of Mireyfeld’s chattels, which, being reckoned as worth a total £3 12s. 2d., confirms the impression of both a meagre estate and simple life. Perhaps the only noteworthy aspect of the will is that he bequeathed two books: these were to remain in, and for the use of, the parish and clergy serving there. His parchment breviary was to ‘be fastened with a chain before [the] Jesus altar’ in All Saints’, and his processional was to ‘remain continually to our second chantry of the Kalendars’.38 The Halleway chantry accounts certainly reveal his presence in All Saints’ over a considerable period. A fleeting reference in c.1480 – ‘for wine in John Snygge’s house when we spake for Thomas Mireyfeld’ – is followed in the mid 1490s by entries revealing that he rented a small property constituting part of the chantry endowment in the mid 1490s.39 In 1530, moreover, payments made to him suggest that, during a period witnessing heavy investment to refurbish the chantry endowment and when, for the sake of economy, the services of a full time celebrant had been suspended, Mireyfield celebrated briefly for the Halleways in return for a nominal retainer.40 Entries in the Episcopal registers moreover reveal that he had served as chaplain for the Kalendars’ second chantry from 1493 until 1501, and again from 1510 until sometime in the 1530s, possibly even the year of his death.41 As well as explaining his gift of a processional to the second chantry of the Kalendars, he had clearly assisted with the parish’s liturgy over a long period. Given that his own stipend derived from endowments held for the Kalendars, when the parish needed to divert income from other bespoke properties to maximise the funds ploughed into their refurbishment he proved a natural choice to deputise for a suspended stipendiary, maintaining the complement of obligatory services for parish benefactors. The churchwardens’ accounts for 1497–98, more37

38

39

40 41

ASB 3, Wills, 37 (pp. 62–3). Although burial in the chancel might have been more normal for a member of the clergy, the site that he mentions would nevertheless seem to have been reasonably high status and ordinarily the preserve of a wealthier lay member of the parish; perhaps clergy had assured access to higher status sites for burial. It is to be noted, too, that Mireyfeld’s (reasonably distinctive) name occurs in various spellings in the parish archive; in the following, I adopt the spelling employed in his will. The inventory lists ‘two old written Mass books’, worth 2s., and two old portewyse [breviaries] – whether the legacies to the church were to be taken from these is unclear; one or two of the other legacies mentioned in the will, however, certainly are included and priced in the inventory. ASB 3, Halleway materials, pp. 164, 193 and 196. Both Myryfeld and the Prior of the Kalendars rented rooms in the Through House, a property that constituted part of the Halleways’ endowment and situated a street or two away from the church; whether they lived in these rooms, having moved out of the Kalendars’ house, or used them for other purposes, is unclear. ASB 3, Halleway materials, p. 318. Orme, ‘The Guild of Kalendars, Bristol’, p. 47 and notes 18 and 21.

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over, record a payment of 6s. 8d. to Thomas Mireyfeld ‘for making 4 quires of the story of Jhc and for setting in’, suggesting his expertise both as a scribe and, possibly, as a bookbinder.42 That one of the Kalendars’ priests might perform this kind of service, in addition to deputising for a parish chantry priest when required, suggests the sort of advantages the parish derived from the Kalendars’ presence. Even in death, Mireyfeld sought to benefit both his fraternity and the parish – indeed, one begins to wonder whether he had copied and bound the liturgical books that he gave, and quite how much else he had written out for the parish. That the breviary was to be chained certainly implies that it would have been for common use, either by priests or even by fellow parishioners.43 Mireyfeld named his superior, Master John Flook, ‘master of our house of Kalendars’, his executor. Flook’s will also survives, made only a month or two after Mireyfeld’s.44 In a concise document, drawn up in 1540, he refers to himself simply as ‘clerk’, and makes no specific reference to the Kalendars. While he appointed a priest, John Geffreys, as overseer of his will, and while both named witnesses were also priests (among ‘others’ unnamed), his executor was a brewer, Robert Worely of Bristol. Two items merit comment. First, he asked for burial within the chancel of the parish church of All Saints’, possibly suggesting a higher status within All Saints’ than simply that of ‘clerk’, which, as we know, was justified. Second, and significantly, in the context of John Thomas’s earlier generosity, Flook bequeathed to ‘William Sheparde, my scholar, £4 in money, or in money worth, towards his learning’. In point of fact, this will’s simplicity masks a distinguished career. Flook had indeed been vicar of All Saints’, from 1517 until 1533. That he, like his earlier patron, advanced the career of a (presumably) talented youngster suggests that incumbents – perhaps more than occasionally – might single out and invest in future priests, or at least capable young men, well disposed towards their parish. For Flook had graduated from Oxford: having entered the University under the sponsorship of the diocese of Llandaff, he received his BA in 1508 when he was also ordained subdeacon under the auspices of the diocese of Worcester, being incorporated as MA in 1511.45 While he evidently spent most of his time in Bristol, he was a pluralist, admitted as vicar of Weare in Somerset in 1526 (until 1528) and as vicar of Portbury in Somerset from 1529 until his death, to mention only two of his other appointments. Further, just before leaving All Saints’, he had been admitted as vicar of Bedminster in September 1533, ‘with the

42 43

44 45

ASB 2, p. 148. Indeed, the inventory of his goods mentions ‘certain small English quires’, which may well have been of his making. ASB 3, Wills, 38 (p. 64). This, and what follows, is based on information in BRUO.

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‘chapels’ of St Mary Redcliffe and St Thomas’s attached’;46 but, in 1534, he became subdean and vicar of Westbury on Trym, which he vacated by April 1535, having become prior of the Kalendars in the previous month. As with Botoner, a priest of the Kalendars whose will masked a man of undoubted substance, Flook’s career, too, sits in sharp contrast to the brevity of his will. An educated and influential man, Flook’s abiding commitment rested with the parish that had nurtured him, but his calibre reveals much as to the quality of spiritual leadership on which All Saints’ might routinely rely. His later career is particularly revealing. The apparent ease with which he moved between All Saints’, St Mary Redcliffe, the College of Westbury on Trym and then back to All Saints’ as prior of the Kalendars says a good deal for his intellectual ability and pastoral cachet – as well as for the calibre of All Saints’ itself – and a good deal, too, for the status of the Kalendars, whose prior, if not necessarily a well-qualified theologian (as Bishop Carpenter had stipulated), was in this instance certainly a qualified graduate with long experience of teaching and preaching. As well as reinforcing a growing impression of productive interaction between parish and Kalendars, one wonders how much the latter served to house the parish clergy of All Saints’ in their dotage. They nevertheless constituted a corps manifestly committed to, and certainly capable of, sustaining a high-grade liturgy within a parish to which most were evidently devoted. Flook’s rapid preferment, however, speaks not only of his capabilities but also of the tumult of the times.47 In the furore that followed Hugh Latimer’s radical sermons in Bristol in March 1533, members of the town’s clergy attempted to prevent the Mayor and Corporation from engaging him again at Easter by appealing to the Chancellor of the Worcester diocese to prohibit unlicensed preaching. Indeed, this group went so far as to invite eminent visiting clerics, such as William Hubberdine and the prestigious theologian, Edward Powell, prebendary of Bedminster and Redcliffe in Salisbury cathedral, to preach against Latimer. Strife ensued, with the Corporation petitioning Thomas Cromwell for support. Flook, it emerges, played a prominent role co-ordinating the local clergy’s opposition to Latimer and, indeed, his translation in the autumn of 1533 from All Saints’ to Bedminster, and thence to St Mary Redcliffe, was effected under the patronage of Edward Powell. It appears that conservative elements among the clergy sought to ensure that Bristol’s most prestigious parish, St Mary Redcliffe, should remain

46

47

Now one of the closer suburbs in southern Bristol, just farther out from the town than Redcliffe, the parish of Bedminster – originally serving a settlement a short distance from the town of Bristol – must have predated St Mary Redcliffe. The following depends heavily on M. Skeeters, Community and Clergy: Bristol and the Reformation c.1530–c.1570 (Oxford, 1993), chapter 3.

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in safe hands, John Flook’s. Powell’s subsequent removal from his prebend at Salisbury explains why Flook moved, in late 1534, to Westbury; although his subsequent return to All Saints’, in March 1535, as prior of the Kalendars, suggests a degree of rapprochement with the Mayor and Corporation. But when George Wishart, the Scottish radical, preached in Bristol in 1539, many of his barbs were precise and personal, calling, among others, ‘the brawling master of the calendars and the prating vicar of All Hallows [then Thomas Yereth]’ to repent. In the disputations of the 1530s, Flook played a prominent role as a conservative, helping to direct the responses of a good proportion of Bristol’s clergy; and All Saints’ emerges as an institution that radicals singled out for censure. Richard Bromfeld, who succeeded John Thomas in 1503, may plausibly be identified with the Richard Bromfeld who had proceeded to an MA at Cambridge in 1485–86, after which he possibly worked in London.48 In 1503, Richard Bromfeld MA was admitted as vicar of All Saints’, Bristol, which he vacated in May 1513 to become Master of the Hospital of St John in Bristol in July, where he remained until at least 1537. Although not the first graduate-incumbent, Flook thus had a precedent for moving to prominent positions in Bristol’s bigger liturgical institutions. The two men had much in common and would, undoubtedly, have known each other. For his part, Bromfeld obviously maintained a close contact with the parish and its government even after he had, strictly, left it, being nominated as a parish feoffee in 1516, and acting as a co-witness (along with John Collys, the common clerk of the town) on behalf of All Saints’ in an important property transaction in 1525.49 Indeed, the churchwardens’ accounts for 1518, some five years after his departure, note the receipt of 20s. ‘of Master [superscript: Richard Bromfeld] vicar’s gift unto the church’.50 While, on the one hand, incumbents worked closely with their parishioners, profiting the parish regime, on the other hand they had simultaneous and close contact with larger institutions. As the scope for interaction between great and small institutions assumes clearer focus, the distinction between them – at least insofar as personnel and practice are concerned – progressively dissolves. Similarly, distinctions between ‘involuntary’ parish and ‘voluntary’ fraternity practice, as well as assumed distinctions 48

49

50

A. B. Emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Cambridge (Cambridge, 1963); Chancery petitions, TNA, C1/194/45, reveal a case between one Richard Bromfeld and the town clerk over a lease in parish of St Sepulchre, London. ASB 3, Deeds, F 12 (p. 451) nominates him as feoffee; and he can be seen acting as such in various leases, for example ASB 3, Deeds, NA 54 (p. 417) in 1518, and NA 56 (p. 407) in 1520. Moreover ASB 3, Deeds, HS B 8 (pp. 392–3) reveals him as a witness, in 1525, to the parish’s reacquisition of much of the endowment once ear-marked for the parish by Richard Haddon – this reacquisition is discussed in more detail in the following chapter. ASB 2, p. 234.

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between their personnel, are revealed as in need of reassessment. In All Saints’, the constant interaction with and contribution from a fraternity assisted a small parish’s endeavours to foster an increasingly ambitious liturgy. Stipendiaries and incumbents alike might end their careers as Kalendars or, indeed, might start their association with All Saints’ as a priest of the Kalendars: many of its priests maintained a notably long association with this one parish. The fraternity of the Kalendars, itself occasionally referred to as a college, made a considerable contribution in helping to instil and then sustain the collegial environment progressively developing within All Saints’.51

He was a well willed man: Clerical generosity The benefaction list in the Church Book organises material in three sections. The first records those who had devised real property, or ‘livelode’; thereafter we have ‘the names of vicars and priests that have been good doers unto the said church’; and, finally, the names of the laity and their benefactions. Given that the most detailed material in this list applies to the period preceding John Thomas’s death in 1503 – material, in large part, that John himself may have written down – little survives concerning his own gifts to the church. But, true to form, he had been generous. An addition to the first redaction in the benefaction list reveals that ‘John Thomas, vicar of this church, from his own goods caused the roof of the choir to be sealed.’52 Moreover, an addendum to the inventory of jewels, in the compilation initiated by Richard Haddon and John Schoppe, discloses that the parish possessed two copper and gilt cross staves. One of these was for the best cross, and the other, for the second cross, ‘was the gift of John Thomas, vicar of the said parish’.53 If his first ‘gift’ confirms that incumbents shared a deep-seated interest in improving church fabric, the second reaffirms the common concern, high in all priests’ priorities, to ensure that the parish liturgy should be celebrated in as decorous a manner as possible.54 While it is worth simply noting that, much later, John Thomas still followed in William Selk’s footsteps, adding to equipment and improving the fabric of the chancel, the benefaction list confirms such generosity as common among all ranks of the clergy in the parish in the middle and later decades of the fifteenth century. In addition to any professional interest in 51 52 53 54

Knowles and Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses, p. 413. ASB 1, p. 12, and repeated more briefly on p. 27. Ibid., p. 42. The second cross is not otherwise mentioned in the inventory, which might suggest a tendency only to list items donated by the laity. Nevertheless, the inventory itemises what must have been the best cross, ‘of gold and silver [and] weighing 220 ozs’, allowing considerable scope for the second cross to have been both valuable and heavy.

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maintaining the church and its equipment, they evidently also sought a personal benefit from the intercessory return guaranteed from a parish community which, by teaching and example, they themselves had encouraged and sustained.

The contribution of auxiliary priests Among the stipendiaries and clergy in minor orders, the benefaction list particularly notes Thomas Haxby, a brother of the Kalendars who died in 1484, and who left 20s. ‘unto this church to be remembered among its good doers’ and 6s. 8d. ‘to the high altar to be set in things necessary to be had’.55 It also adds this encomium: And besides, he was a well willed man in all his days and profitable unto this church, especially when he was common servant in this parish, that is to say parish clerk, and that 28 years together. No clerk in this town [was] like unto him in cleanliness and attending in those days; and he was a profitable unto the Kalendars as for his time there being, and full worshipfully left to that place at his departing to be prayed for. God have mercy on his soul. Amen.

During long service as parish clerk, Haxby had presumably not taken full orders, but had done so by 1475; for the last ten years of his life, he served as chaplain of the third chantry of the Kalendars and, like other priests who had served both parish and fraternity, made bequests to each.56 Earlier in the century, Harry Colas, also a chaplain of the third chantry of the Kalendars (from c.1419 until 1423), gave the parish ‘a processional with seven psalms in the end’;57 and Master John Herlow, ‘sometime prior of the Kalendars [from 1458 until 1480] and parson of St Stephen’s, Bristol [who died 6 December 1486] let made a book to the organs for matins and evensong for all the year. And to the lighting and garnishing of the high altar he gave seventy-five flowers of gold that cost him 53s. 4d.’58 Thomas Furber, another brother and fellow of the Kalendars and chaplain of the third chantry from 1484 until 1503, ‘gave to the gilding of the rood loft £5, and also caused a priest to sing in this church one year’.59 Thomas Gyllard, prior of the 55

56 57 58

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Ibid., pp. 11–12; ‘things necessary to be had’ may have referred to equipment, but could possibly also have included to the purchase of the elements used in the celebration of the Eucharist. See also Orme, ‘The Guild of Kalendars’, p. 48 and note 6. Ibid., p. 48. ASB 1, p. 9, and Orme, ‘The Guild of Kalendars’, p, 48, note 3. ASB 1, p. 12; Orme ‘The Guild of Kalendars’, p. 46, note 13. Quite what is implied by the ‘seventy-five flowers of gold’ is not clear, although a suggestion is made below, in chapter 10, note 31. ASB 1, p. 12; Orme, ‘The Guild of Kalendars’, p. 48, note 7 – Carpenter’s Register reveals that he had been serving as a priest in All Saints’ in 1475.

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Kalendars, who died in 1451, had been particularly generous. As well as donating a silver paxbrede, a pair of processionals and spending £3 on making four seats in the Cross aisle, he had assisted – as we have seen – in Richard Haddon’s spectacular generosity, and continued to be celebrated as Haddon’s inspiration even after the latter’s fall from grace. William Warens, moreover, who had served as the Halleways’ chantry priest, and who died in 1482, gave ‘to the said church to the laud of Almighty God and the increase of divine service, four books of pricksong. [And] the said William also gave to the said church a breviary to be chained in the church to the ease of all manner [of] priests to say their service when they have not their own books with them, and also paid for the chaining.’60 The list adds that ‘the said book is chained to a pillar in the south side of the church within the enterclose before the rood altar’. The Halleways’ Mass was celebrated at the altar of St Dunstan, near to the Cross (or rood) altar: Warens clearly associated himself with the south side of the church, seeking to enrich liturgical standards in that area.

Embellishing the liturgy The benefaction list reveals fraternity and stipendiary chaplains as generous with equipment and also liturgical books, particularly when they had a long-standing attachment to All Saints’. The same applied to incumbents. Richard Parkhouse, who died in 1436, gave a pair of ‘light green vestments of cloth of gold’, worth £3. William Rodberd, who died in 1453, appears wealthier and acted more lavishly. He gave £20 towards a suit of vestments (on which, more below) and, in addition to helping with the ceiling of the church, gave silver cruets, and a coverlet of red to lie before the high altar. He also ‘found one priest in the church for ten years’ – that is, he established a ten-year chantry.61 While incumbents invariably bequeathed some, at least, of the liturgical equipment they had accrued – lightening the burden on subsequent generations of laity – the benefaction list confirms wealthier priests as notably generous. Such was the case with Thomas Marshall, who had died in 1434, although remembered by John Thomas late in the century for the gift of a breviary obviously still in use. Marshall had, in fact, contributed a variety of books: a great Mass book, said to be worth 13 marks 6s. 8d. [£9], as well as an antiphoner, a psalter and a processional.62 He, too, bestowed vestments: one pair of ‘sad green’ vestments with orfreys ‘of gold of red’, and another pair of blue ‘with garters’. But he gave much more: the sum of £10 to the treasury of the church; the same sum to be distributed among the poor of the parish; and, at his own cost, he improved 60 61 62

ASB 1, p. 11. Ibid., pp. 8–9. Ibid., p. 8. The parish inventories seem not to include any reference to this breviary, possibly because it was not in the stock of ‘parish’ possessions but kept by the clergy.

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illumination within the church, enriching its imagery in the process. This last involved providing for ‘one gable window for ease of light to be had in the choir in the south side over the presbytery’, and for two windows in the cross aisle to be glazed, ‘the one window of the seven works of mercy, and the other window of the seven sacraments’ – a rare insight into the decoration and practical instruction that a priest might fund.63 Establishing a ten-year chantry, too, he augmented the number of clerical personnel and, as well as benefiting his own soul, enriched the parish liturgy for a protracted period. Of particular note, ‘as a perpetual alm for all his successors’, he built ‘a vicarage as for an habitation’, in return for which ‘his obit [was] to be kept, yearly by the vicar that shall be for the time’. While not divulged, the cost of this initiative, apparently involving work at the west end of All Saints’ south aisle at first-floor level, must have been appreciable. Not only did this represent a gain for future incumbents, whose expenses (relieved from having to rent elsewhere) would, presumably, have been reduced, but it also ensured that the parish priest lived, quite literally, ‘over the shop’. With the Kalendars living above the north aisle of All Saints’, the vicar above the south aisle and, from the 1450s, the Halleways’ chantry priest in a small dwelling in the churchyard, some five or six priests ‘lived in’ before the Reformation.64 Not only are the parallels with collegiate living evident, but this simple factor also meant that the clergy had a vested interest in the building and would have been easily available both for liturgical duties and any managerial role. Such proximity may also have encouraged the clergy to the generosity so evidently attested in the benefaction list. In addition to his many other contributions, Maurice Hardwick, vicar from 1455 until 1472, embellished the parish liturgy.65 As well as providing a pair of vestments ‘of red dymysay’, he donated clasps of silver for the best vestment and proved liberal with draperies – in addition to ‘two fine corporas [cloths] with one green case of needle work, he gave one pair of altar cloths ‘of red with one crucifix’ another pair ‘of white … with the Coronation of Our Lady’. Having given an image of St Ursula to ‘excite people to devotion’, he also presented a pair of altar cloths for St Ursula. He particularly sought to heighten the visual impact of devotional fixtures and fittings: he ‘gilded the crucifix with the sun’, and gilded the image of All Hallows in gold (presumably, gold-leaf).66 He gave ‘a cloth of 63 64

65 66

For brief discussion of this glazing scheme, see chapter 10. Although there are hints in Mireyfeld and Flook’s wills that some priests may, by the sixteenth century, have decamped to rooms in the Through House, property in the care of the parish (and part of the Halleways’ endowment), a short distance from the church. Ibid., pp. 9–11. For guidance on what an image of All Saints would look like – typically, a seated God the Father, bearing a multitude of figures (representing the company of saints) in the fold of his tunic that he holds in front of his chest, which figures, in some instances,

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red velvet embroidered with ten flowers of gold, with scriptures in the foot of the flowers hymnus omnibus sanctis, with two letters of gold in the said cloth, M & H’, his initials; this cloth ‘he gave to the intent that at every principal feast it be hung behind All Hallows’ head’.67 On the same day as he made this donation, said to be the fourth day of April 1471, he also gave a frontal of cloth of gold ‘to hang over All Hallows head at every principal feast’. Moreover, he ‘gave to the said church four stained cloths of red and yellow with wreaths, and the arms of the passion in the middle of the wreaths, and a scripture in the middle of the arms Dulcis est illo amor meus’, which cloths were almost 14 yards long in total and a yard and a quarter deep, and were to be hung around the choir at principal feasts.68 He is also said ‘to let set out the tabernacle at the high altar at the principal feasts unto the more laud and worship of Almighty God’. Having added to the visual impact of the church on feast days and, particularly, the patronal day, Maurice Hardwick also contributed to the sung and spoken liturgy. Not only did he help towards purchasing a pair of organs but, in 1471, also commissioned on his own cost, three quires of velum in the new antiphonal which lies before the vicar. At his cost he paid for all the chapters and collects for the year both for the temporale and the sanctorum and the common to be written in the said three quires in order, and at the end of the three quires is written the benisons [that is, benedictions] for the year. And the said quires are set at the end of the book, in the which there was never chapter, collect, nor benisons written before.

A note reveals that John Chestre gave the velum, providing a striking example of how clergy and leading parishioners might collaborate to enrich the parish that each depended upon.69 Maurice Hardwick specifically sought to intensify reverence during worship and, while there is no doubt that he encouraged parishioners like Agnes Fyler to be generous, his example may also have roused the likes of Henry and Alice

67

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were positioned over an image of the crucified Christ – see Richard Marks, Image and Devotion in Late Medieval England (Stroud, 2004), at pp. 71 and 179; see also Marks’s comments on gifts of images by the clergy (one of his examples being Hardwick’s gift of the image of St Ursula), ibid., p. 120. So, presumably, the red velvet cloth was to be displayed behind the image of All Saints’, just mentioned; and the gold cloth that Hardwick also gave (about to be mentioned) was effectively used as a canopy on important feast days. The Latin translates as ‘My love for him is sweet’. Bristol at this time – in the 1470s and 1480s – seemingly witnessed a swell of activity (in various spheres) to log information, also including, notably, the efforts of Ricart and Worcestre.

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Chestre – with Alice responding, in the main, after Maurice’s death. The benefaction list certainly suggests that Hardwick led the parish’s initiative to extend its role in taking on and managing ‘livelode’ in the later decades of the century and, of course, by increasing parish income in this manner, worship could be further embellished. In encouraging these developments, some of his contributions were appropriately down-to-earth, as with the institution of sensible procedures to safeguard parish records: given the care that the Halleways had taken to safeguard their muniments, the parish obviously could not expect benefactors to devise property unless it, too, took similar precautions. Maurice Hardwick did a good deal to bolster the confidence of would-be benefactors: to safeguard the parish muniments, he provided a strongbox that could only be opened when several parish worthies were present (because each had a keys for a different lock); he also intervened directly to influence parishioners, ‘procuring, moving and stirring’ Agnes Fyler to devise to the church her house (known as the Rose) in the High Street.70 The list’s description of his efforts to secure this property, coming hard on the heels of his overhaul of parish record keeping, makes no mention of Agnes’s anniversary. It dwells rather on her step-son’s opposition to the plan, to emphasise that neither Maurice nor the current churchwardens were to be diverted by Thomas Fyler’s blandishments. Although the parish had to wait until the said Thomas’s death to take possession, Hardwick’s resolution, assisted by the churchwardens during a court case, clearly secured the property, with the implication being that it was thereafter in safe hands. This evidently paved the way for further property acquisition. Adding significantly to income, and also its liturgical standards, property management inevitably also honed and proved the administrative competence of the parish. But the lesson is that, having ‘stirred’ a parishioner, the incumbent might then work closely with lay managers to embed the parish’s interests. Such practice made obvious sense and worked well.

Rousing the parish During the episcopates of Beckynton and Carpenter, Maurice Hardwick, capitalising on their initiatives, promoted a programme whereby providing for intercession explicitly advanced the parish’s liturgical competence. He roused parishioners to generosity with the promise of effective commemoration and, in collaboration with John Thomas, also created the Church Book, which tangibly assisted commemoration.71 Quite how much either individuals or the parish collectively, as both donors and administrators, would have done for the benefit of All Saints’ in the absence of a well-honed response must remain a matter for 70 71

As discussed in chapter 4. Outlined in chapter 6, and discussed in more detail in the following chapter.

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speculation. As it was, the guarantee of regular and effective intercession sustained a trend whereby generosity progressively enhanced liturgical competence. This all-important process had a devotional core, primed and presided over by its clergy – with stipendiaries, as we have seen, also making a significant contribution. Under such stewardship, All Saints’ steadily developed into an institution able to deliver its parishioners as safe a path to salvation as any other establishment. Collaboration between clergy and laity underpinned and improved parish amenities, with – as a small-scale, but telling, example – John Chestre providing the velum for Hardwick’s new quires in the antiphonal. The survival of an unusually good archive has preserved a fund of examples, and these disclose willingness by both clergy and laity to work with each other for the greater good. This is turn offers a positive model, helping to explain how late medieval parishes often achieved so much. The laity naturally played a prominent role in managing day-to-day administration but, while instruction within the parish might properly flow from incumbents and priests, leadership was essentially shared. Moreover, as the All Saints’ archive reveals, the interests of each were well matched. Both clergy and laity valued commemoration, the clergy markedly so in the absence of heirs. Since each depended upon the same services, the surest way of securing the best interests of the parish was through cooperation.

Chapter 9

‘Well willed men’: Leaders, managers and parishioners

C

lergy and laity shared an obvious interest in the efficient conduct of dayto-day parish business and, as previous chapters have demonstrated, they pursued longer-term strategies with a marked attention to detail and an impressive degree of success. True to form, the materials surviving for All Saints’ shed a good deal of light on the conduct of parish affairs, on the parish’s ability both to summon and sustain the regular involvement of a high proportion of its own parishioners and, at the same time, also secure close supervision from men prominent both within the neighbourhood and the municipal community. Much of what we have concerns the activities and interests of churchwardens, rendering a consideration of the contribution that these officials made to All Saints’ a convenient point of departure.1

For the love of god and to profit the said church: The stewards of All Saints’ As managers acting on behalf of the body of parishioners, bearing responsibility for obligations imposed upon local communities by synodal legislation in the thirteenth century, churchwardens – also called proctors, and sometimes stewards – worked to a brief.2 As well as maintaining the fabric of the nave and In that the role of churchwardens, their place in the hierarchy of parish government and the interpretation of the accounts that they submitted (and which have survived in reasonable numbers in England for the century preceding the Reformation) are topics that have been treated at some length elsewhere, the following concentrates only on selected themes. For background, however, Drew, Early Parochial Organisation in England remains essential; and for more recent detailed analysis of churchwardens’ accounts, and their implications, see Kümin, The Shaping of a Community, and French, The People of the Parish. See also Burgess, ‘Pre-Reformation Churchwardens’ Accounts’, which in part drew on material from the All Saints’ archive; and more detailed discussion of the surviving accounts, printed in ASB 1 and ASB 2, may also be found in the introductions to each of these volumes – especially ASB 2.  2 Councils and Synods II, i, 128, 367; ii, 24–5, 1006, 1122–3 &c. see also Drew, Early Parochial Organisation, p. 8.  1

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tower, they also procured and kept the liturgical equipment necessary for the seemly celebration of the sacraments. In All Saints’, as in many other parishes, churchwardens worked in pairs, ordinarily serving a two-year term. An individual would start as junior warden, assisting a senior warden who already had a year’s experience; in the following year the former assumed seniority, taking on a new junior. By the later fifteenth century, each year saw a new set of churchwardens and, accordingly, the churchwardens’ accounts for All Saints’ record activities a year at a time.3 Surviving accounts deal with revenues first, most of which the wardens accumulated from rents, but with collections at Easter, as well as gifts and legacies, charges for pews and for burials, and other sundries together adding worthwhile sums to the total. Following the section on income, churchwardens devoted more space, and presumably attention, to expenditure. They usually give pride of place to liturgical obligations, testifying to various observances and services maintained within the church – such as watching the sepulchre at Easter, observing the General Mind as well as individuals’ anniversaries, paying for singers at certain feasts, or for making and hanging up banners, and so on.4 In addition, they recorded regular payments for wax and oil for lighting the church, for cleaning and mending utensils and vestments and for buying requisite equipment when necessary. And, year after year, successive sets of wardens entered payments for cleaning in the church and the repair of its fabric, such as mending church furniture and replacing worn hinges and locks; occasionally they assisted in more major campaigns of renovation, such as retiling the church roof or rebuilding the steeple.5 In the later decades of the fifteenth century, All Saints’ expanding property portfolio added to its wardens’ duties.6 Parishioners’ generosity increased the parish’s potential income, but returns could only be sustained were newly acquired endowments kept in good repair and, so, easily and profitably leased. To judge from the bulk and detail of the surviving accounts, churchwardens in All Saints’ were obliged to spend progressively more time and effort maintaining

Discussed in more detail in the introduction to ASB 2, particularly pp. 14–15. These activities are discussed either in chapter 6 (anniversaries and the General Mind) or in chapters 10 and 11.  5 For instance, where the latter was concerned, 1520 saw major renovations on the roof – see ASB 2, pp. 256–7; as to the church tower, wardens Richard Andrew and Roger Abyndon are said to have ‘done great reparations on the steeple’ in the epitome (ASB 1, p. 47), which may be traced in the tidied accounts for 1445–46, in ibid., p. 83. Or, later, in 1505–06, wardens John Dee and Thomas Pacy spent almost 45s. on ‘repairs on the church and tower’, ASB 2, pp. 186–7, and in 1523–24, Thomas Pacy (again) and John Gerves spent in excess of 55s. on the tower, ASB 2, pp. 294–5.  6 A recurrent theme in earlier discussion – see chapters 4–7.  3  4

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its endowment, an increasing proportion of which was sited outside the parish.7 These duties were unrelenting and, evidently, increasingly onerous, so it is hardly surprising that churchwardens – ordinarily successful men of business – could not be expected to bear this responsibility for too long. Such service, however, constituted a good work, and a fair proportion of the material collected in the All Saints’ Church Book, including the epitomes of wardens’ achievements and the tidied versions of their accounts, celebrated the achievement and perpetuated the memory of successive sets of wardens in the early and mid fifteenth century. While the preponderance of such material within the Book testifies to the importance of the wardens’ role, it was also included both to mark past achievement and encourage future commitment. Indeed, it is striking how men like Richard Andrew and Roger Abyndon, for instance, ‘three-year wardens’, who seem never to have given any items to the parish, earned prominence in the Church Book simply by dint of service – a contribution to parish welfare which, while less tangible than some forms of patronage, was nonetheless practical, and celebrated as such.8

Unwarranted expectations Wardens in All Saints’, and elsewhere of course, kept records of income, from rents, donations and collections, and of necessary expenditure, for the purposes of the annual audit.9 Accounts also had to be preserved for longer periods so that they Quite simply, the wardens’ accounts by the 1520s are ordinarily at least twice the length – at some ten or more folio sides – of those kept even twenty or thirty years before; by the later decade the parish was evidently more ambitious liturgically, but much of the detail resulted from more extensive property repair.  8 ASB 1, pp. 47 and 77–83. Although Richard Andrew and Roger Abyndon served together for three years consecutively from 1443 to 1446, and again in 1448–49, no comparable examples of extended service may be found subsequently; the steady acquisition of new endowments in the decades just before and also after the turn of the century meant that the job became markedly more onerous.  9 Accounts needed to be compiled and kept so that diocesan officials on visitation might monitor the correct discharge of obligations. While the Statutes of Winchester, 1224, cap. 13 obliged parishes to compile inventories, Councils and Synods II, i, 128, the Statutes of Exeter II, 1287, cap. 12, ibid., ii, 1008, obliged parish representatives, ultimately the churchwardens, ‘quolibet anno compotum fidelem reddant, et redigatur in scriptis, quam scripturam precipimus loci archidiacono cum visitat presentari. Nec ipsum instaurum in alios usus quam ecclesie ullatenus convertatur.’ Later visitation evidence clearly reveals that failure to keep accounts was treated as a serious shortcoming: see Kentish Visitations of Archbishop William Warham and his Deputies, 1511–1512, ed. K. L. Wood-Legh, Kent Records, 24 (1984), 2c, 20c, 40c, 59d, 77d, 121a &c. For broader discussion on audits see Duffy, The Voices of Morebath, pp. 17–24 and (exploring the idiosyncrasies of the Morebath accounts, which were clearly compiled to facilitate their being read out loud) 32–46 and 47–51, a point also explored and emphasised by French, People of the Parish, chapter 2 (especially at pp. 49–52).  7

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could be produced at episcopal or archidiaconal visitation, when the discharge of duties had to be confirmed – which, in addition to revealing why accounts were carefully kept in the first place, also suggests why a few have also survived in the longer term.10 But, where some regimes produced accounts confirming that churchwardens did what was required and (apparently) not much more, other survivals reveal that churchwardens often did considerably more.11 Practice evidently differed from parish to parish as to the proportion of the wardens’ activities actually entered in the records as they have come down to us and, generally, we have no way of knowing quite what proportion of the parish budget is represented in any set of accounts.12 Problems arise when appraising accounts since they are all that we ordinarily possess (if we are lucky) that ‘depicts’ parish government: it is, as a result, all too easily accepted that churchwardens were the only significant parish officials, from which it follows that the records kept in their name represent a reasonably full impression of parish activity. Material in the All Saints’ archive challenges such assumptions. Clearly, agencies other than churchwardens played important roles, and the surviving parish accounts may not be relied upon to yield a trustworthy impression of the activities encompassed within the parish and of the all the various developments All Saints’ witnessed. The Halleways’ chantry accounts survive from c.1450 until 1540 and, for much of the later fifteenth century, dealt with a budget on a par with, or even exceeding, that in the churchwardens’ parish accounts. Perpetual chantries were not uncommon, and each would probably have produced caches of material resembling that surviving for the Halleways’ foundation.13 But such evidence survives only very rarely, meaning that it is all too easy to overlook the considerable impact that perpetual intercessory arrangements had upon ‘host’ parishes and their managers. In All Saints’, no doubt reflecting practice in many other parishes, churchwardens administered the chantry and compiled its accounts, but rigorously separated this business from other accounting. As a result, a prominent 10

11

12

13

On the conduct of visitation see, for instance, R. M. Haines, The Administration of the Diocese of Worcester in the First Half of the Fourteenth Century (London, 1965), chapter 4 (especially pp. 148–64). Or, more worryingly (from the point of view of a historian who might, understandably, assume a basic consistency of practice) the brief implicit in any one set of accounts – that is, the range and detail of their coverage – can shift from one decade to the next, as was clearly the case in the London parish of St Andrew Hubbard, Eastcheap, see Burgess, The Church Records of St Andrew Hubbard, pp. xxiii–xxvii, discussing the fuller accounts surviving for c.1515–23. A position expressed at more length in Burgess, ‘Pre-Reformation Churchwardens’ Accounts’. This is certainly the implication of the Spicers’ chantry accounts that survive for St James’s parish in Bristol, BRO P/St.J/Ca/1.

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aspect of parish life was consciously excluded from the remit of the ordinary accounts.14 Indeed, the extraordinary survival of the Halleways’ chantry accounts tends to underscore just how limited a proportion of parish business surviving churchwardens’ accounts actually incorporate. It is not just that churchwardens’ accounts under-represent responsibilities undertaken and discharged by other agencies within the parish, they fail even to do justice to the part – or parts – played by the wardens themselves. In the 1420s, for instance, All Saints’ launched an ambitious building campaign to rebuild the south aisle, lasting for a decade at least.15 This programme was in part paid for by donations, and the benefaction list, for instance, mentions that the Halleways gave £20 ‘to the building of the Cross Aisle,’ although the subventions mustered by the parish apparently fell short of covering the total expenditure on this venture.16 But the surviving accounts provide no sign either of the parish having accumulated enough from donations to pay the balance, or any record of such payment; indeed, brief as the accounts tend to be in this period, they fail to register what was clearly a major initiative on the part of the parish. At the very least, the possibility arises that the parish had recourse to other methods of fund-raising that never find full disclosure in the surviving record. Ultimately it becomes clear that the parish developed the strategy of levying funds by collections from parishioners, ‘rating’ individuals so that the sums they paid reflected the value of the house in which they dwelt. Well established – and, indeed, being fine-tuned – by the later decades of the fifteenth century, it had probably been in use several decades prior to this.17 Were this true, a number of projects and practices become more easily explicable. For instance, by 1437–38, the All Saints’ accounts make reference to a suffragan – which, if later phraseology in the parish accounts is anything to go by, referred to an under-clerk, implying that the community supported two auxiliaries, the clerk and his assistant – but while the parish retained such a helper, his financial support generated only minimal reference in

14

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17

In the detailed epitomes of the accounts that survive for St Mary at Hill in London, which do deal with the several perpetual chantries functioning within the parish, the churchwardens did little more than set totals of income against expenditure, revealing the profit (if any) accruing for any particular chantry; the detailed accounting which, presumably, would have been undertaken for each of these arrangements – more on the lines of that surviving for the Halleways’ chantry in All Saints’ – seems not to have survived. Encountered in chapter 3, since the rebuilding meant relocating Thomas Botoner’s tomb – Botoner being William Worcestre’s uncle. ASB 1, p. 14; the methods by which this enterprise was funded will be explored in the following chapter. As revealed in the parish ordinance ‘on the clerk’s finding’, recorded in the 1480s – ibid., p. 2 –discussed in more detail later in this chapter.

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the surviving accounts.18 Even in the first half of the fifteenth century, the parish evidently raised and spent healthy sums that the churchwardens’ accounts fail to mention. So, despite the relatively copious survival of materials, we cannot be sure when All Saints’ started to assess and to levy rates on parishioners’ residences, or quite how much this charge yielded.19 Nonetheless, wealthier parishioners were clearly inclined to make extra financial contributions as and when they were needed, as with the Halleways’ gift of £20 towards the building campaign for the south aisle. Given the extent of the All Saints’ archive, it seems odd that the parish preserves no list of benefactors contributing monies to achieve a particular project – such as, for instance, the list in the St Ewen’s Church Book naming the donors (and itemising what each had given) who enabled the parish to purchase a fine suit of blue vestments for £30.20 The All Saints’ archive, too, includes only scant reference to those more spontaneous gatherings, prompted by church ales, for instance, or by Hocktide revelry.21 It is perfectly possible – indeed, likely – that the parish relied in practice on a combination of all these routines: its ability to embark on an ambitious building campaign certainly suggests that it possessed a certain fiscal resourcefulness even by the early decades of the fifteenth century. But, for whatever reason, the churchwardens’ accounts maintain a silence where such sources of income are concerned. Indeed, in striking contrast to accounting at St Ewen’s, when All Saints’ paid £100 for a particularly splendid suit of vestments in the 1450s, quite how it managed to do this is well-nigh impossible to piece together.22 It begins to emerge that, while the parish preserved detail on individuals’ bequests because

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Ibid., p. 70 – itemising the payment of 2d. to the suffragan for keeping the Easter sepulchre. This seems to be the first specific reference to a cleric in minor orders; the early accounts recorded in the Church Book are generally so concise that extraneous references to clergy, and to any other agencies, have ordinarily been omitted, although there would presumably have been auxiliaries in the parish well before this date. For a revealing comparison, see Records of the Churchwardens of Mildenhall. Collections (1446–1454) and Accounts (1503–1553), ed. by Judith Middleton-Stewart, Suffolk Records Society, 54 (2011), pp. lx–lxv, 2–39. CBSE, p. 93 (referred to above, in chapter, 4); the donations in this instance raised just over £17, the remainder either being drawn from parish funds or paid off in subsequent years. Such practice is paralleled in many another parish archive – e.g. from St Nicholas Shambles’ accounts in London. The All Saints’ archive makes passing reference to a church ale, as will be mentioned shortly; no mention is made of hocking – for fuller discussion of which, see K. L. French, ‘“To Free Them From Binding”: Women in the Late Medieval English Parish’, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 27 (1997), pp. 387–412 – but the question remains of whether silence in the record necessarily implies an absence of activity. The acquisition of the best suit is discussed in more detail the following chapter.

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these had to be commemorated,23 communal acquisitions, be they built or bought, but which were in substantial part funded by annual levies and informal pre obit gifts, prove far harder to trace. If a list ever existed itemising who gave what to acquire the All Saints’ suit of vestments, it has been lost; or, as is also quite likely, its acquisition was prompted and supervised by agents other than the wardens. In brief, just as other parishioners evidently supervised collections and endeavours many of which may not now be retrieved, so the churchwardens themselves also presided over more procedures and bore responsibility for greater sums of money than the surviving accounts disclose. Notwithstanding the strengths of the All Saints’ archive, more was clearly afoot in, and achieved by, this parish and its parishioners than we are ever explicitly told – a conclusion that could apply equally well to any parish in the country.

Collaborative procedures Familiarity with any set of churchwardens’ accounts reveals an unending succession of events, obligations and projects, as well as attempts to resolve unforeseen crises. Even if we may not be privy to all that they shouldered, it is nevertheless obvious that churchwardens in All Saints’ carried a considerable and continuous responsibility; quite how they discharged their duties and, moreover, how contemporaries regarded the wardens’ efforts are questions of importance. The most important lesson to emerge is that wardens often worked closely with successive incumbents. To take a familiar example, when Thomas Fyler sought to subvert his stepmother’s plans for an anniversary, vicar and wardens together went to law.24 Similarly, when property had to be leased, parish deeds disclose how churchwardens acted as the parish’s agents, ordinarily working in close conjunction with the vicar. Wardens stood as the named lessors acting on behalf of the parish in any given year, but incumbents ordinarily involved themselves closely with the process of leasing and, where necessary, also defending and advancing the parish’s interests. A striking example of the joint role that incumbents and wardens played emerged in relation to Richard Haddon’s generosity towards the Green Lattice c.1440.25 In that ‘the vicar and his predecessors [had] been seised since time out of mind of the messuage … in right of vicarage as a parcel of its glebe’, even though its rent clearly went to the benefit of the parish, Haddon made the loan of £100 in the first instance to vicar Rodberd. While the latter assumed

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Indeed, the benefaction list does mention that the vicar, William Rodberd, and the Halleways gave £20 apiece respectively to ‘one suit of vestments’ and to ‘the best suit’ – ASB 1, pp. 8 and 14. See chapter 4. See chapter 5.

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responsibility for repayment, he did this with the ‘assent of the churchwardens and parishioners’.26 Rather more generally, when anniversaries – with Requiem Masses, bell-ringing, doles to the poor and so on – had to be organised in reciprocation for a property devise, vicars undoubtedly assumed a prominent role in coordinating celebrations, but churchwardens arranged the required payments and, quite properly, recorded these in their accounts. In practice, however, the collaboration of each agency was essential to ensure the regular observance of the service, without which the endowment might be forfeit. Similarly, just as wardens mention payments for St George’s day or Corpus Christi processions, clergy must again have played a significant part in co-ordinating the parish’s participation in these events, in which they themselves would have been ceremonially involved.27 Conspicuous by its absence in the All Saints’ accounts, however, is adequate reference to, or payment for, observances on All Saints’ day. Indeed, the only regular entry in the churchwardens’ accounts is payment for hanging the ‘Dance of Paul’s’ both at St James’s tide and at All Hallowstide.28 Whether this meant that the patronal feast was entirely organised by the clergy, or whether the parish kept a separate account that detailed both lay and clerical activity and expenditure, must be a matter for speculation. Silence in the surviving record cannot be taken to mean that the parish ignored this occasion; more probably the celebration fell outside the wardens’ specific brief, being mainly organised by clergy.29 Incumbents also presided at the annual audit, although only the tidied version in the All Saints’ Church Book regularly specifies that accounts had been presented by churchwardens before the ‘then vicar’ – and occasionally, as in 1430–31, the current mayor, sheriff and bailiffs.30 The unbound accounts omit any such reference, although, from c.1510–11, more can be gleaned about the audit, and who attended it, from postscripts thereafter regularly appended to the accounts. In that 26 27

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ASB 3, Deeds, HS E 11, 12 and 13 (pp. 406–7). Payments (usually of 2d.) for carrying the cross on St George’s day are regularly to be found in the accounts copied into the All Saints’ Church Book in the 1430s and 1440s (see, for instance, ASB 1, pp. 65, 73, 77, 84, 85, 90), and in 1468–69 the unbound accounts record the payment of 1d. ‘on St George’s day … to children for bearing up the best copes at the procession through the town’ (ASB 2, p. 62); the Corpus Christi day procession was an event taking place within the town to which all its parishes, All Saints very much included, seem to have contributed with sustained regularity and some enthusiasm – as discussed below in chapter 11. The ‘Dance of Pauls’ was a hanging – depicting a Dance of Death – given to the parish by William Wytteney in c.1449, which, to judge from payments, was regularly hung in All Saints’ at the required seasons; discussed more fully in chapter 11. The information that does survive is discussed in chapter 11. ASB 1, p. 62. The later, fuller accounts included in the Church Book, which start in c.1472–73 and more closely resemble the unbound accounts, omit reference to the vicar.

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particular year, at the conclusion of the accounts, and on the day of the audit, which fell on 8 May 1511, a memorandum reveals the decision concerning the day on which a tenant was to deliver his rent ‘by the agreement of Master vicar, Master Batten and John Waxmaker proctors, with all the whole parish … and to continue so long as it shall please the parish to the church advantage [sic]’.31 The vicar presided and parishioners attended, sitting in audit on the churchwardens, and thereafter all parties transacted other business as necessary. In subsequent accounts, while lacking specific reference to the vicar – although he could, presumably, have been subsumed into the body of the parish – the wardens handed over surplus monies to parishioners. In 1514–15, for instance, while the postscript includes additional references to the parishioners’ decisions to make allowances to certain tenants and to their paying the clerk for the Lady Mass, they passed on the final surplus from the previous year to Richard Wale, the next year’s senior warden, recording too that one Rawlyn Webbe had also ‘promised to be proctor the next year’.32 Clearly, having gathered for the audit, parish personnel used the event as an opportunity to transact urgent business, appointing officials and coming to necessary agreements. In All Saints’ during the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, the wardens appear to have discharged their duties with diligence.33 But as men of application and integrity, who, with time, bore an increasingly onerous task as success bred success, it would nevertheless be a mistake to imagine them as sole agents. While accounts naturally highlight the wardens’ role, much of their achievement resulted from a constructive collaboration with incumbents and auxiliary clergy, as well as with other parishioners. Acutely aware of the value and importance of cooperation, either side – the laity and their managers, and the clergy alike – had every reason to regard their collaborators as indispensable allies and associates; discord was most to be feared.34 As the fruits of collaboration, the parish acquired endowments and discharged concomitant duties – such as the anniversary celebrations that the tenure of certain properties obliged – apparently without hitch; evidently running a regime that could indeed be relied upon to 31 32 33 34

ASB 2, p. 209. Ibid., p. 228. An observation further confirmed in the subsequent chapter. This may well explain why one of the ordinances in the parish constitutions (others of which will be discussed in more detail shortly), under the heading ‘The Clerk’s Charge’, rules that the clerk was ‘to bear no tales between the vicar and his brethren, nor between him and his parishioners, nor between neighbour and neighbour, whereby any occasion of strife or debate should grow in time to come’, ASB 1, p. 2. Insofar as clerks received their board from a variety of assigned (and presumably relatively wealthy) parishioners, they were particularly well positioned to indulge in and pass on gossip. The ordinance suggests that malice on the clerk’s (or clerks’) part might prove particularly destructive, hence the warnings issued against it, so that, as far as possible, it should be suppressed.

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remember benefactors properly, All Saints’ accrued more property and a greater income.35 As its liturgy became increasingly sophisticated, further adding to the attractions of All Saints’ as a commemorative repository, this further increased the burden on wardens and clergy alike. But for both, assiduity and accomplishment in discharging their duties resulted in the ability to mount a more impressive regime – which, for those benefiting from it, was its own reward.

The rewards of duty When weighing up the regard in which wardens were held, it pays to go beyond the balance-sheet mentality that inevitably results from studying surviving accounts and to consider the epitomes of the wardens’ deeds preserved in the All Saints’ Church Book.36 These unusual survivals had apparently been distilled by the two wardens, Richard Haddon and John Schoppe, who served in 1468–69, a few years before the former fell from grace with the parish. This material reveals Haddon in ‘full flight’, anxious to develop the parish’s archive, paradoxically intending to improve All Saints’ commemorative function – acting very much as the lay equivalent of Maurice Hardwick and, presumably, in association with him. To start with, he and Schoppe compiled an inventory of the parish’s goods, made on the first day of March 1469, before Maurice Hardwick, vicar of the church, and the parishioners, having ‘received divers goods and money without any inventory, indenture or any other writing, which in time to come could have been greatly to the prejudice, hurt and hindering of the church’. Doing this for the great worship and love of God and to the profit of the said church, [so we] let make this said inventory to be a memorial and a remembrance to all people that come after us [as to] what goods we found in the church and what goods they shall receive that come after us, and so yearly to make deliverance before the vicar and the parishioners, that the goods of the church be neither wasted, lost nor destroyed.37 35

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Comparison should be drawn between the revenues drawn from the endowments made in the later fifteenth century with those derived from the earlier preference of setting-up rents of assize, where a third party (who had been entrusted with the property) was obliged to pass on a set (usually small) sum annually from the profits accruing from an endowment. This practice had fallen from use by the later fifteenth century, and a number of the arrangements dependent upon it were causing problems – as discussed in more detail above (focusing on William Newbery’s provision), in chapter 6. ASB 1, pp. 45–9. These start with the heading, ‘These are the names of the churchwardens of All Hallows’ in Bristol of which we find rentals and accounts’, and it seems that, before copying out a condensed version of churchwardens’ accounts, Haddon and Schoppe sought to ‘calendar’ the main achievements of successive sets of wardens – to draw attention to them. Ibid., p. 34.

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Acting in much the same vein – but in this case to prevent any omission from the collective memory – Haddon and Schoppe conceived of the epitomes explicitly in conjunction with the tidied accounts, which they caused to be written down, covering the period from the early fifteenth century until the period immediately preceding their time in office. Their own epitome, which is the last that survives, reveals something of this process: ‘And, for one evidence to be had for ever, [they] let ordained this book for every man’s account to be written in as for one evidence of old time of rents that have been gathered and paid time out of mind.’38 Material in these summaries often tallies closely with that in the preserved accounts, with occasional comments pinpointing significant entries in an epitome matching marginalia entered against the same payments in the corresponding accounts – as with the rent (which later became a matter for dispute) gathered for the gutter under the beerhouse during Halleway and Tempyll’s term of office.39 Intended to draw attention to the main achievements of successive sets of wardens, these epitomes disclose what contemporaries – if prompted by wardens themselves – thought noteworthy, and judged to be useful, too. Parishioners certainly seemed to approve of legal activity. Epitomes successively singled out the long-running campaigns against John Suthfolke to secure John Pers’s house in Wine Street, and against Sir Roger Acton for the house in which Thomas Fyler had dwelt in Corn Street.40 Clearly the parish knew that such dedication – working to keep properties despite adversity – for all that it was expensive, primed the acquisition of further properties and thus augmented income. They also appreciated efforts to maintain the parish’s properties, commending Roger Abyndon and Robert Core, who served in 1450–51, for making ‘great repairs both in the church and in the tenements’.41 Such investment also maximised income, keeping rents high and attracting new tenants. Similarly striking are the comments of approval awarded to wardens who, at the end of their 38 39

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41

Ibid., p. 49. The epitome of Halleway and Tempyll’s achievements in 1421–22, is to be found in ibid., p. 45–6, and their account in ibid., p. 56: the first has the marginal comment ‘Look the gutter under the beerhouse’, closely matching the marginal comment of ‘The gutter under the beerhouse’ in the accounts. Both were meant to assist later parish administrators, whose attention might need to be drawn to particular entries dealing with possibly contentious items. John Whytsyde and Roger Abyndon defended the plea again John Suthfolke for the house in Wine Street in 1437–38 (ibid., pp. 46 and 69–72 (with the expenses listed on pp. 70–71)); Thomas Halleway and John Gosselynge ‘took assize against Roger Acton knight for the house that Thomas Fyler dwelt in in Corn Street before the mayor’s counter’ in 1438–39, which was continued in the following year by wardens William Raynes and John Taylor (ibid., pp. 46–7 and 72–5 (with the costs itemised on p. 74)). Ibid., p. 47.

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term of office, were able to leave a surplus in the parish coffer. By contrast, Richard Brewer and John Coke, osteler, who served in 1414–15, still owed the church a sum in excess of £5 – although their accounts fail to disclose how they had incurred this debt.42 One or two others, like William Ward and William Baten, serving in 1430– 31, who had made substantial improvements within the church – having installed the rood loft, they had it painted, and provided twelve bowls of latten for lights – were not mentioned as having lodged any spare cash.43 Most wardens nevertheless managed to return a surplus, sometimes of a few shillings and, occasionally, four or five pounds. This went into the ‘treasury coffer’ to be drawn upon at times of crisis – as, for instance, in 1463–64, when the parish receipts included the sum of 29s. 9d. ‘of [the] treasury coffer’, which went towards the costs of rebuilding church property destroyed by fire.44 Recourse was probably also made to this fund to help the parish, when necessary, to procure expensive equipment.45 The care taken to note such acquisitions, be they of vessels and vestments and books, or of fixtures and fittings, or of windows and bells, suggests that they were both desired and appreciated by the parishioners.46 While almost every pair of wardens made some such improvement, one or two deserve fuller comment. Thomas Halleway and John Gosselyng, in 1438–39, in addition to commissioning a new ordinal and beginning the action against Sir Roger Acton, ‘changed the bells from three to four’. Other than the purchase of a new baldric, however, the cost of the bells is not entered in the accounts.47 Similarly, William (Jenkins) ‘peyntour’ and Robert Walshe cook are said to have bought the best suit of vestments for £100, so substantial a sum that it might at first appear to be a scribal error.48 This, too, receives no direct confirmation in the form of any sum paid out in the accounts, although in that year, 1454–55, Thomas Fyler received a payment of 13s. 4d. for his costs ‘to ride to London for the new suit’, and a year or two later, in 1456–57, the wardens, William Box and John Schoppe, paid John Leynell in excess of £14,

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44 45 46

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48

Ibid., p. 45 – their account (ibid., p. 55) indicates receipts of £8 3s. 8d. and expenditure of only £2 6s. 3½d., suggesting that they had simply pocketed the difference. Ibid., p. 46; although their accounts indicate a surplus of some 13s. – ibid., pp. 62–4. The various additions to the rood loft are itemised in more detail below, in chapter 11. A parish crisis to be considered shortly. ASB 1, p. 102. The epitome affords many such instances – to take two, John Baker and John William, in 1409–10, ‘let made the cross in the churchyard and brought in the new legendary of the sanctorum’, and in the following year William Spycer and John Talbot ‘let paint the high altar with two angels’, ibid., p. 45. This is to compare the comment in the epitome, ibid., pp. 46–7, with the accounts for them in ibid., pp. 72–5. For their epitome, see ibid., pp. 47–8, and ibid., pp. 95–6 for their accounts.

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in various sums, ‘to the new suit’.49 The parish certainly did procure a best suit of vestments, but the truth emerges only by piecing together references, such as vicar William Rodberd’s gift (mentioned in the benefaction list) of £20 ‘to one suit’, or noting from the accounts from 1457–58 (after the parish had taken possession of the suit) that Boxe and Schoppe raised the appreciable sum of £11 19s. 4d. by ‘selling ale to the best suit’.50 Although seldom encountered in the All Saints’ churchwardens’ accounts, ale-selling looks to have been a lucrative source of revenue.51 This tends to confirm the suspicion that what we know most about from the accounts in fact fails to tally with the more important aspects of parish life: we may occasionally piece together certain developments because of references elsewhere in the archive, but many important events and achievements undoubtedly bypassed the churchwardens’ accounts – so, even in All Saints’, possessed as it is of an unusually detailed archive, much that was of moment escapes us. As for the esteem that churchwardens commanded, they were doubtless regarded as essential and their day-to-day efforts appreciated; but they were managers, not executives. Reminiscent of chaplains as compared to incumbents, churchwardens were not themselves of prime importance within the parish but, plausibly, assumed more consequence when working in conjunction with others. Perhaps this is why it was appropriate to commemorate the routine work that they discharged because, of itself, it was necessary rather than distinguished. Moreover, it is likely that many of the payments that the wardens record – such as the sum of 29s. 3d. for the vestments of black with stars of gold, or of 21s. 6d. for the cross in the churchyard, or of 31s. 2d. for a new legendary, all of which seem suspiciously low – were, in fact, only part payments.52 Even at the beginning of the fifteenth century, more substantial sums could well have come either from the treasury coffer or from other funds, and the greater part of these payments, and many others, had probably been authorised by agents other than the wardens. 49 50

51

52

Ibid., pp. 98–9. Rodberd’s gift is noted in the benefaction list, ibid., p. 8; for the reference to ale selling, see ibid., p. 98, which concludes a list of receipts including Agnes Fyler’s gift of 6s. 8d. ‘to the new suit’. It should be remembered that All Saints’ had a beer house in its churchyard (references listed in ASB 2 index, s.v. All Saints’ churchyard, beer house (in ibid., p. 374)) which, although the wardens’ accounts seldom mention ale-selling, suggests that the practice possessed a certain prominence both financially and also in promoting conviviality. On church-ales more generally, see Judith Bennett, ‘Conviviality and Charity in Medieval and early Modern England’, Past and Present, 134 (1992), pp. 19–41. John Derby and William Backe procured these vestments apparently the first decade of the fifteenth century (their account, the earliest in the list, is undated), ASB 1, p. 50, and the cross in the churchyard and the new legendary were acquired in the wardenship of John Baker and John William,1409–10, ibid., p. 52.

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These examples suggest that the latter may simply have been using current income to ‘top up’ such expenditure as and when necessary. Such a suspicion ordinarily defies proof but, when we learn that wardens John Derby and William Backe, in the very earliest account copied into the Church Book, paid £3 5s. 4d. ‘for the overweight of two silver censers’, this surely suggests that the substantive cost of the censers had indeed been covered from other sources.53 The decision to acquire the censers seems to have been taken by other agents, too.

Perspectives on leadership For all the problems in appraising the wardens’ role, the epitomes of their contributions reveal the importance attached not only to safeguarding or adding to parish income but also to progressive liturgical elaboration. A parish that could proceed to purchase a suit of vestments that cost £100 had left basic standards of provision and maintenance far behind, although we are certainly not privy to all the stages of decision-making and methods of fund-raising that the parish had developed and successfully deployed. Wardens still played a vital managerial role, particularly where church house-keeping and endowment maintenance were concerned; the example of the Halleways’ chantry reinforces quite how significant their contribution might be to the maintenance – and where possible, the enhancement – of the parish’s commemorative arrangements. But the survival of their accounts all too easily skews a balanced understanding of the broader inputs made by others in the parish. So ambitious and successful an enterprise – as parish government had become in All Saints’ by the mid and later fifteenth century – depended, at one level, upon spiritual and commemorative imperatives embedded and synchronised in the main by the clergy. More practically, All Saints’ only achieved such ambitious levels of provision by carefully co-ordinated programmes of activity that depended upon the participation of all the various strands of the parish community – including the wardens, naturally – but in continual interaction with each other.

Ordained, agreed and assented by the whole parish: Policy-making within All Saints’ While churchwardens produced copious records, the volume of these should not deceive; incumbents, too, although we ordinarily know much less about them, clearly also made a significant contribution to parish well-being and development. But, on occasion, churchwardens’ accounts themselves refer to another grouping within the neighbourhood community, ‘the Masters’, or ‘the Worshipful’ or ‘[men] of the Council’, who exercised a role of significance. Moreover, the 53

Ibid., p. 50.

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material generated at parish audits, although not plentiful for All Saints’, similarly suggests that, collectively, the body of the parish – the parischens – bore certain responsibilities. Clearly, an adequate understanding of parish administration needs a clearer command of the respective roles and inter-relationships of these different agents and agencies. The All Saints’ Ordinances, which preface the Church Book, provide valuable guidance, although the few that survive are either those ratified in the 1480s, when the Book was compiled, or those which were deemed of particular relevance at that time.

Lessons from the Ordinances To start with the conduct of parish finance, the ‘Constitutions and Ordinances of old time ordained to be kept for the wealth of the church under divers pains as follows’ first includes the following: In primis, in the year of our lord 1488, in the time of John Thomas being vicar, Richard Stevyns and Thomas Parnaunt proctors, it is ordained, agreed and assented by the whole parish that everyman from henceforward that come not to the accounts of the church after three knellings of the great bell, the knowledging of the day [having been] had and assigned by the vicar the Sunday before, whosoever he be having no reasonable excuse, if he be of the council to pay to the church 1 lb wax, and every other man not of the council, so failing, to pay ½ lb wax, and this ordinance ever to be continued.54

Clearly audits had already been conducted for a considerable period, so that this declaration represents an exercise in fine-tuning. It transpires, first, that the whole parish – seemingly all householders – was obliged to attend, to hear and presumably to comment upon the parish audit; whether wives accompanied husbands is a matter for conjecture, but, in the absence of good evidence, it was surely likely that widows carrying on the family business would have been present. At the audit, then, a substantial proportion of parishioners met to pass judgement on parish affairs, determining the probity of the wardens’ declared financial record, as well as seeking to satisfy themselves as to the underlying financial condition of their parish. The phrasing of the ordinance is significant. First, the decision had been ‘ordained, 54

Ibid., pp. 2–3. Cf. the details for the audit at St Stephen’s, Bristol, as printed in F. F. Fox, ‘Regulations of the Vestry of St Stephen, 1524’, Proceedings of the Clifton Antiquarian Club, 1 (1884–88), pp. 199–203; this stipulates that the audit there was to start promptly at 8.00 am on the chosen day, and which fined any warden failing to attend the sum of 40s., and any absent parishioner the sum of 40d. The senior warden, moreover, was instructed to rehearse the account to the parishioners, so that they should ‘receive, hear and see’ – the last epithet in particular implying that parish business should aim to be ‘transparent’.

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agreed and assented by the whole parish’, which presumably is what a term such as ‘the parischens’ should be taken to mean. Second, such decisions were binding. Third, a distinction emerges between those of ‘the council’ – who clearly exercised a regular and prominent role in parish government, and who were evidently wellheeled – and those neither so prominent nor so rich, whose fine for failure to attend was, accordingly, halved. While a substantial proportion – the ‘most part’ – of the parishioners took certain significant decisions, a wealthier coterie within the parish were ‘of the council’, implying that they played a more significant role in guiding the wider range of parish affairs.55 It should also be noted that the vicar ordinarily set the procedure into motion, ‘knowledging’ his parishioners of the day assigned for the audit, and that he subsequently presided over the annual audit.56 Closely involving himself with an important procedure in the parish’s yearly business round (mirroring his centrality in the parish’s liturgical round), an incumbent brought his authority to bear in the hope of presiding over a satisfactory conclusion to any given financial year – if nothing else, to prevent unfinished or tricky business from unduly encumbering new sets of wardens. Although any audit was primarily concerned with the laity’s discharge of basic responsibilities, ‘master vicar’ exercised a supervisory role – and probably did much more.57 The next ordinance to be considered regulated ‘the clerk’s finding’. It reads: It is ordained and assigned by the agreement of the parishioners that seven of them [are] to find the clerk’s board one whole year and seven another year, and so yearly to be found by the assignment of the proctors; and every man of the parish to pay to his [ie the clerk’s] wages quarterly as they shall be set and stended [ie assessed] by such three as shall be chosen by the parish, that is to say one of the worshipful and two of the mean of the said parish; and he that shall disobey from henceforward to pay and content the clerk for the time being after the stenting and setting of such three men so chosen, when by the proctors or the clerk it is asked of them, then it shall be lawful for the proctors to content the clerk of the church money as much as can not be levied unto 55

56 57

A comparison may, for instance, be drawn with the London parish of St Mary at Hill, in Billingsgate ward, whose archive permits a reasonably clear understanding of the contribution that its elite – individuals referred to in the record as, for instance ‘the goodman Howtyng’ and ‘the goodman Colyns’ – made to parish governance, and particularly to initiatives to improve the church building; see C. Burgess, ‘Shaping the Parish: St Mary at Hill, London, in the fifteenth century’, in The Cloister and the World: Essays in Medieval History in Honour of Barbara Harvey, ed. J. Blair and B. Golding (Oxford, 1996), pp. 246–86 (at pp. 261–9). As discussed earlier in this chapter, based on references from the tidied accounts. As was undoubtedly the case with Sir Christopher Trychay at Morebath, as referred to earlier.

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the feast of Easter. And then they so disobeying and withholding against this ordinance be compelled to abstain from their housel until such debts before expressed have been paid and to the church restored.58

In All Saints’, a rate was to support the parish clerk, or clerks. While churchwardens might be trusted to choose which householders were to provide the parish clerk with his board (that is, provide him with his food for one day a week – whether or not at their own table is not specified), setting the parish rate proved a trickier task. Parishioners deemed it wise to entrust the appraisal of how much each householder should pay to find the clerk’s – perhaps, clerks’ – wages to a carefully constituted panel of assessors. They sought to avoid the ill-feeling that such a decision might so easily provoke, given that it depended upon the accurate evaluation of neighbours’ financial worth. The assessors were thus to include ‘one of the worshipful and two of the mean’, again indicating that such groups within the parish were sufficiently well-established to be deployed to solve foreseeable problems. Clearly, members of the parish elite, or ‘worshipful’, enjoyed a certain social prominence, deriving from both financial success and previous experience; everyone else could, as a result, simply be classed as ‘of the mean’. Nevertheless, had assessments been set only by the well-to-do, the meaner sort would be more likely to complain since the former – removed from common hardship – would all too easily assume that the latter should pay more than they could. A reliance only on elite assessors would certainly have led to complaint and refusal to pay; so the parish cleverly side-stepped the problem. Two of the three assessors were to be of the meaner sort, meaning that those who were relatively disadvantaged would be more realistically dealt with, and hence less able or likely to complain. On the face of it, parish relations would probably have been enhanced by a relatively bold decision, bringing the meaner sort numerically to the fore on such a panel in an effort to keep financial assessment fair – or at least more acceptable. Whether the wealthier would, as a result, have paid somewhat more may not now be determined. But one probable outcome was a reduction in complaints from the poorer sort and, consequently, more reliable payment overall once rates had been set. This paved the way for the following: while the churchwardens would make up any shortfall in the clerk’s wages from parish funds, those responsible for the deficit because of non-payment ‘should be compelled to abstain from their housel’ – they would not be permitted to receive the sacrament – until their debt had been settled. In short, failure to pay meant exclusion from the sacramental body of the parish; again, any such decision, effectively conferring the status as outcast, could surely only have been decided upon and enforced with the tacit approval and cooperation of the incumbent. 58

ASB 1, p. 2.

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Determining parish policy The participatory ethos was not restricted to auditing the accounts and assessing parishioners; it extended to more pro-active decision-making. A further ordinance reads: Item it is ordained, agreed and assented by the said parishioners and forever to be continued that whosoever he be that is chosen proctor by the most voice of the parishioners if he refuse he that is so chosen shall pay unto this said church of All Hallows’ to be put into the treasury coffer in money without pardon or release of the whole or of part, 6s 8d; and at every time after that year [that] he shall be chosen again, likewise afore rehearsed to fall into the said pain as oft as he shall refuse it, unless his excuse by the parish may be found the more reasonable.59

Experience must have taught the parish community that not all of those chosen to serve as churchwarden would wish to comply. Known as an onerous responsibility, repeated stints would have held little attraction for some; in this case, the fine was not too punitive, especially for wealthier parishioners. If the reason offered for refusal was acceptable, the parish – again presumably meaning the whole assemblage having come to a decision in the matter – might waive the penalty. Clearly, the role of wardenship was not reserved for those among ‘the worshipful’; on the contrary, common sense suggests that this service may well have represented one of the rites of passage granting such status. Moreover, proctors were chosen ‘by the most voice of the parishioners’. Some kind of vote was obviously envisaged to determine who should shoulder this task; it may well have been that whoever received the loudest shout would be chosen. To this extent, when determining a serious matter, parish procedure might be ‘democratic’ in a fashion by no means matched by other cognate, craft or municipal organisations.60 The All Saints’ deed collection sheds further light on such responsibilities, particularly as borne by the ‘meaner’ householders of the parish. We return to Richard Haddon and John Gyllard, prior of the Kalendars, who, in the early 1440s and as part of an ambitious programme of good works benefiting All Saints’, together 59 60

Ibid., p. 3. Caroline Barron emphasises the contrariness of the urban parish for displaying an inclusivity that contrasts with developments towards greater exclusivity in other facets of local government, in her essay ‘London, 1300–1540’, in The Cambridge Urban History of Britain. Volume I: 600–1540, ed. D. M. Palliser (Cambridge, 2000), pp. 395–440, at p. 405. On the relative inclusivity of the systems underpinning the rural parish, too, see Duffy, The Voices of Morebath, chapter 3.

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rebuilt the Kalendars’ House.61 Given that this structure abutted and, indeed, sat over the north aisle of the church, its completion directly impinged on the interests of the parishioners, affecting the obligations of all those with any responsibilities for the church fabric. Parishioners certainly needed a say in the matter, and meetings in mid November 1443 afforded them this opportunity. The agreement that emerged from the second of these meetings will be considered first, as it better reveals the issues at stake. A licence from the abbot of St Augustine’s, dated 16 November, outlines both the proposal and the outcome of the deliberations. Since the present prior of the Kalendars and Richard Haddon, executors of the will of John Haddon and Christine his wife, now both deceased, being minded to pray for the souls of John and Christine and of the prior and brothers in future and for ever, they intend to pull down the same house [ie the Kalendars’], to rebuild it and put in some glass windows to increase the light in the church, in the wall in which the house has stood from ancient times, so that the church may obtain great beauty and adornment to the honour of God. The present prior and brothers, and the parishioners and other faithful, are bound and should be ready to make services and prayers daily more abundantly and faithfully. Therefore … we the abbot and convent, by unanimous consent of ourselves and of the parishioners, grant by this tripartite indenture our licence and desire to the present prior and brothers, in so far as it lies with us, to build anew a house to their use and to obtain and possess it when built, without paying anything to us or to our successors, over the chapel of the blessed Mary on the north part of the church, extending from the bell-tower in the east to the house of the prior and brothers on the west, in the place of the house anciently built in the wall, which by assent of us, the prior and brothers and the parishioners, is ordered to be pulled down and removed. The prior and brethren shall repair and maintain the [new] house above the chapel, with a gutter on the north side of Old Corn Street, well and sufficiently as often as necessary, at their own expense, for ever. The parishioners and their successors shall repair certain walls, and a gutter between the body of the church and the chapel, without exaction, petition or claim from the prior and brothers to be made in the future. The prior and bothers are not to be molested, hindered or disturbed in any way by us or our successors or anyone else. They are to have to house when it is built and peacefully enjoy and possess it for ever … in contemplation of charity, and for the souls of John and Christine Haddon and of all the faithful departed. 61

Discussed more fully above, in chapter 5.

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The Kalendars to keep one copy, sealed by Abbot and Bishop, and by the proctors of All Saints’; deanery and mayoralty seals were added as the proctors’ was not well known; the churchwardens and parishioners to keep another copy, sealed with common seal of the Kalendars.62

The meeting proved emollient, with either side guided by the desire to foster a project so clearly to the profit of each; but concerns had been aired in more forthright manner two days earlier, on 14 November, as the following discloses. In the name of God, Amen. In the year of Our Lord 1443, 14 November … in the Chapter House of the Friars Minor of Bristol, diocese of Worcester. There came in person together I, the notary underwritten with … the worthy men Roger Abyndon and Richard Andrew stewards [yconomi] of the goods of All Saints’, Richard Haddon, William Warde, William Chestre, David Sockette, Peter Chapleyn, Thomas Chestre, John Chambreleyn, Thomas Dene, Richard Warde, Henry Veyne, John Tayllor ostler, Richard Wyndell, William Basshe, Thomas Fyler, Robert Core, William Gleyne merchant, Philip John, William Gleyne barber, William Colyns, Robert Doly, Robert Walsshe, David Phelyp, Henry Harewode, Bernard Delamare, Richard Walsshe, John Croppe, Robert Traveys, stainer, Richard Knyght, Gerard Pirdanson, John Garlonde, parishioners. They recited that the cause of their coming there was to treat of the building and fabric of a house now, as is hoped, to be newly-built and raised. They explained that after several altercations between the churchwardens and parishioners on the one side and the prior of the house of Kalendars and his brothers on the other, administration had been moved and taken on the pretext of the repair, construction and upkeep of the house. A paper schedule was drawn up, on the motion of the prior and brothers, making clear the matter; it was exhibited to the parishioners; it was read by the notary with suitable deliberation and slowness, in English, and heard and fully understood by them. The parishioners, knowing that the house was well begun and when, by God’s grace, it was finished and confirmed, that it would redound in future to the great adornment and use of the church, gave, granted and irrevocably confirmed, in so far as they could, to the prior and brothers, their licence to build the house anew [as specified in the previous extract]. When this had been recited and declared, both the churchwardens and parishioners and the prior and brothers of the Kalendars consenting to 62

For this and the next extract, see respectively ASB 3, Deeds, CS B 5 a and b, and CS B 5 c (pp. 378–80).

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the agreement and amicably concerting with blessings, asked the notary to make a public instrument for perpetual remembrance of the business. This was done as is written, on the same date and in the same place, in the presence of circumspect and discreet men, Masters John Fitzwaryn M.A., rector of Holy Trinity, and Richard Pevessey, Bachelor of Law, vicar of St Leonard’s, specially called and asked to witness to the premises. I, Richard Morgan clerk of Bristol, by imperial authority notary public of the diocese of Worcester, certify to reading, exhibiting and publishing the paper schedule to the parties, and the licence and grant to the prior and brothers.

This is instructive: parishioners, while ordinarily happy enough to trust representatives like churchwardens, would, when circumstances demanded, assemble to hammer out agreements. In this instance they gathered on neutral territory, in the Chapter House of the Franciscans in Bristol, rather than in the parish. More generally, when decisions are said to have been made by ‘parishioners’, it proves difficult to decide whether a real gathering had taken place or, more simply, whether a few who were trusted to make resolutions on behalf of their brethren had met and deliberated. The latter often appears the more reasonable supposition. But here, we have their names: given that the houselling population of All Saints’ was probably somewhat fewer than 180 souls at this time, the thirty or so mentioned, in addition to the current wardens and to Richard Haddon himself, must have represented a reasonable proportion, perhaps more than a half, of parish householders.63 So, in addition to gathering for the parish audit and for the election of the next year’s wardens, parishioners obviously convened as necessary to debate problems and settle on solutions; they did not habitually leave everything to representatives. That the meeting did indeed witness a real debate is suggested by the detail that the schedule, when drawn up, was read aloud by the notary before the parishioners ‘with suitable deliberation and slowness, and in English’, so that ‘it was heard and fully understood by them’. Care was taken to ensure that parishioners of all degrees were properly informed before they made any binding decisions, which only confirms that the conduct of parish affairs rested, when necessary and as appropriate, on broadly based decisions and procedures. It was not only the literate who had a voice; the will of the parishioners mattered and might, from time to time, be both expressly consulted and formulated to determine and validate a course of action.

63

As estimate obviously depending upon the average size of a parish household, which is ultimately an imponderable.

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The advice and consent of the substance of the parishioners Another ordinance stipulated that ‘it is agreed and assented that henceforward no proctor set [ie lease] out any house for years, not abate any rent of any house, without the advice and consent of the substance of the parishioners, under the pain of £20’.64 Whether or not a gathering like that deliberating on the refurbishment of the Kalendars’ house could be taken to have represented the substance of the parish, it is at the very least likely that leasing properties afforded one of the more frequent instances for broadly based parish consultation and collaboration – presumably becoming more frequent as the parish acquired more property by the later fifteenth century (when this redaction of the Ordinances was apparently recorded), obliging it to enter into leases more frequently and with a greater number of tenants. Scrutiny of the parish deed collection moreover confirms that, where the vicar and churchwardens apparently bore named responsibility for leasing parish property, and while they represented the parish’s legal interests, they did so with the assent of parishioners. A fairly broad swathe of parishioners acted either in consultation concerning the agreed conditions of a lease, or in simply witnessing the transaction. In terms of guaranteeing the parish’s continued financial viability, the occasion of a lease represented a significant juncture; it is telling that a good number of parishioners chose, as a rule, to be involved – although one wonders again whether the incumbent, in practice, would have alerted the required collaborators. Thus, when the Green Lattice in the High Street, the parish’s most lucrative, and oldest acquisition (devised to the parish by Alice Halye in the late thirteenth century), was leased in February 1365, the counterpart of the lease reveals something of the proceedings.65 The transaction took place, essentially, between, for the parish, William Lench, vicar of All Saints’, and Michael Chapman and Geoffrey Patristowe, churchwardens and, as the lessees, William Burgeys, burgess, and Alice his wife. The latter agreed to hold the tenement and its appurtenances in the High Street, for their lives, paying an annual rent of 60s. in silver to the churchwardens or their successors at the usual quarter days. The vicar and churchwardens are said to have proceeded ‘with the assent of Anketill Shipton, John Wilkins, Thomas Denebaud, Edward Pountset, James Stapleton, John Baillif, James Irlond, John Godfrai, Hugh Leygane, John Proutyng, John Hynebest, John Howel, David Seys, John Ostiler, John Standich, John Cornwall, Thomas Hardy, Thomas Wynkeleye, William Gaugor, Thomas London, John Webbe, Robert Fagan, and John Ocleye’ – that is, well over twenty named parishioners – ‘and of all fellow parishioners’. 64 65

ASB 1, p. 3. ASB 3, Deeds, HS E 4 (p. 403).

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That they acted ‘with the assent of all fellow parishioners’, as finally mentioned, may have been a formality; but so many individuals’ names suggests either the presence of those parishioners at the event being recorded or, at the very least, that careful soundings had been taken beforehand. An effort had apparently been made to consult, and to inform, a reasonable proportion of the parish; although whether these were, on average, of the better sort – which, on the face of it, seems reasonable – we may not now easily tell.

If he be of the council: leadership within the parish Since the wardens’ remit concerned maintenance rather than initiatives, the record they compiled seldom refers to the activities of other agents whose tasks transcended house-keeping and, instead, consisted in overseeing schemes to improve or embellish facilities. But the parish Ordinances certainly indicate the existence of such an elite, referred to as ‘the worshipful’ or ‘the council’, marked out in part by their wealth and who were clearly thought capable of shouldering special responsibilities for the parish; as necessary, representatives from this clique undertook specific duties at particular times – although many from this group also acted as trustees for the growing collection of properties comprising the parish endowment. If masters compiled accounts bearing some comparison with those set down by the churchwardens, very few survive; no consistent effort seems to have been made to preserve them – in that they did not deal with basic necessities (far from it), they did not need to be kept for scrutiny by bishops or their agents.66 Whereas the wardens’ tasks were, to a degree, predictable, many of them being repeated year after year, the masters shouldered responsibilities for, and saw through, specific enterprises – such as collecting for and overseeing building projects, or procuring more opulent liturgical equipment – as and when the need arose. In short, masters had attained a different status, with their wealth or experience (or both) qualifying them to act as executives. When it came to keeping safe ‘the evidence of the livelode of the parish’, at some point in the 1460s, Maurice Hardwick provided a coffer, ‘set under four keys, the vicar to have one key, and the two proctors two keys, and the most worshipful man of the parish the fourth key’.67 Similarly, in 1453, when Joan Halleway 66

67

An account kept by two ‘masters’ – Thomas Pacy and John Hewes, in 1525 – that does survive (among the unbound churchwardens’ accounts) will be mentioned, along with the context of its compilation, in discussion below. ASB 1, p. 10. This provision occurs almost immediately before the description of Hardwick’s efforts to stir Agnes Fyler to generosity and was almost certainly undertaken to still any anxieties she may have had about the trustworthiness of parish procedures.

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set down the composicio determining the procedures necessary to maintain the chantry that she had established for her husband and herself, she specified that any profits emanating from the liflood [the livelode] assigned to the chantry were to be kept in a coffer that she had provided and locked ‘under four assigned keys, of which I will that the mayor and his successors have one, the vicar of the said church another, the worthiest man of the parish the third, and the said proctors and their successors the fourth’.68 Evidently, as was well established by the middle of the fifteenth century, one particular parishioner seems to have been recognised as the ‘worthiest man’ of the parish, and expected to play a part, albeit in collaboration with other agents, to ensure, at the very least, both that parish documentation and funds could be safely kept.69 Insofar as these responsibilities would have continued to devolve on a single designated key-holder, the parish would probably have continued to recognise one particular ‘worthiest man’ who may conceivably have borne other duties. In practice, however, the parischens clearly recognised a number of worthies within the parish community, and they depended upon members of this group either to bear fiscal responsibility or to take initiatives in response to needs or opportunities, or even, occasionally, crises. Ordinarily, when we see them in operation, they worked in pairs or small groups.

The Masters’ duties From the early sixteenth century (when accounts, as noted earlier, became more detailed, revealing more about common procedures), the masters – usually in the plural, in these cases – evidently either had access to parish funds granted for particular purposes or were, as necessary, expected to hand on precise sums of money (to be taken into account at the next audit) to enable new wardens to be able to conduct necessary day-to-day business. As a result, in 1507–08, wardens Parnaunt and Barber recorded the receipt of £4 2s. ‘of the masters of the parish to bestow in repairs’.70 Similarly, in 1519–20, wardens Mawncell and Barbur recorded the receipt of the sum of £5 3s. ‘of the masters of the parish at the last days of the account’ – and, true enough, this sum had been entrusted to Mawncell as senior warden from the larger sum (in excess of £9) that had been delivered to the 68 69

70

ASB 3, Halleway materials, p. 97. Attention is drawn to the sketchy list, ASB 1, p. 138 (which amounts to little more than rough notes entered towards the end of the All Saints’ Church Book), which nevertheless makes passing reference to the keys and a number of the different key-holders whose presence was clearly necessary when money was either deposited in, or taken from, the coffers containing either parish money or the chantry money. The names recorded – including John Snygge, John Chestre, Thomas Baker and Clement Wilteshire – are those of the parish elite during the 1480s. ASB 2, p. 192.

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parisshons and was said to be ‘resting clear to the church’ at the conclusion of the previous account.71 References to the masters confirm not only that certain local luminaries had achieved a generally recognised status but that these men exercised a degree of control over the parish coffer. The 1519–20 account, recording the payment of 8d. ‘for wine at the Boar’s Head when the Masters took possession’ – what they were being entrusted with will be revealed later in this chapter – alludes to responsibilities that exceeded simply holding the keys to the parish coffer.72 Chance survivals shed welcome light on the role that the masters played. After piecing together scraps of information, an earlier chapter investigated how parish masters by the first decade of the sixteenth century had assumed responsibility for maintaining the parish conduit; but explicit references to the decisions taken or to the personnel involved in apparently so ambitious an undertaking are skimpy at best.73 Perhaps the clearest is to be found at the conclusion of the accounts kept by Richard Wale and Thomas Yonge for 1515–16: having noted that the surplus on that year amounted to £3 19s. 10d., a codicil reveals that the ‘which money the parreschsons delivered unto Thomas Snygge and to Thomas Pacy’, and they also assigned Snygge and Pacy another 6s. 10d. in the process – making £4 6s. 8d. – adding that ‘they [were] to bestow it on the reparations of the All Hallows’ conduit’.74 As noted in earlier discussion, in the following year, the current wardens spent an additional 2s. 5d. to complete the ‘reparations of the conduit’, but evidently two parish ‘masters’, Snygge and Pacy, had supervised more major, although unspecified, works on the parish water supply in the interim. With this example in mind, a further impression of the role discharged by masters emerges from material included on the last folio of the accounts for 1496–97, in which year Thomas Snygge and Paul James had served as wardens. Under the heading ‘For the costs of the pews of the church’, Master Dene and Sir John Baten and Thomas Parnaunt are said to have delivered the sum of £6 13s. 4d. ‘for the name of all the parish for the pew money’, after which is appended a list of the costs incurred in making new pews, including payment of 12s. 9½d. ‘for boards as it appears in parcels’, 22s. 11d. ‘for timber as it appears’, and of £3 13s. 4d. ‘for the carvers’ hand work’.75 In sum, this work came to £6 16s. 1d., presumably leaving the wardens to find just less than 3s. – in what may have been considered as ‘part payment’ – to settle the bill. Again, material appended after the conclusion 71 72 73 74 75

Respectively ibid., p. 252 and p. 250. Ibid., p. 253. As discussed in chapter 2. ASB 2, p. 233. Ibid., p. 144; the phraseology here (such as ‘as it appears in parcels’, and ‘as it appears’), suggests that other, more ad hoc accounts were indeed made, and kept for scrutiny, if only in the short term.

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of the wardens’ account, seemingly because the work had slightly exceeded its budget and obliged the next set of wardens to find the difference, reveals more on the range of tasks that the masters supervised: in this instance, the installation of new, carved pews. Exceeding the wardens’ house-keeping brief, this initiative embellished the church interior and was, indeed, funded from ‘the pew money’. Collected from parishioners to accomplish a specific project, this fund seem to have been held by officers other than wardens, and the likelihood must be that the named agents – presumably acting as, or on behalf of, the masters – arranged and supervised the workmen who made the new pews.76 Later, in 1520–21, and in much the same vein, wardens Robert Hanworth and Harry Hychyns recorded the receipt of 50s. ‘of Master vicar and of Master Pacy of that they gathered towards the new organs’.77 In short, the parish masters not only possessed the wherewithal to collect and hold money on behalf of the parishioners but also took responsibility for relatively ambitious initiatives – some, as with the conduit, for the social benefit of the community, others, as with the carved pews and the new organs, to improve the church furniture and the equipment needed to promote the liturgy. So, while the Ordinances outline the processes of deliberation and consultation that underpinned the binding decisions that guided parish practice, fleeting references in the churchwardens’ accounts shed a little more light on a rank of officials who worked in various ways to advance community interests, and who clearly also managed more ambitious projects on behalf of the parish.

A crisis and its aftermath It took an emergency to elicit a distinct response which, in turn, generated some telling entries in the accounts disclosing something of the role that differing parish agencies played. The masters, most of whom had previously served as wardens (and some having achieved prominence, too, in municipal affairs), took command and executed a coherent strategy to restore parish interests; the wardens, by contrast, played a subordinate role. In 1464,‘on Whitsun Monday at night’, fire damaged the two parish properties in Corn Street ‘next to the chancel’; or, as referred to in the churchwardens’ epitomes in the Church Book, when ‘two houses next the steeple were burned by one drunken pointmaker’.78 Details concerning the aftermath of the fire emerge in the unbound churchwardens’ accounts: ‘On Tuesday in the morning we paid [the sum of 8d.] to 4 men for ridding the timber that lay abroad in the street and for taking up our lead that lay among the rubble.’ By contrast, coverage of the event and its consequences in the tidied accounts in the 76 77 78

Ibid., p. 147. Ibid., p. 261. Respectively, ibid., p. 46, and ASB 1, p. 48.

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Church Book is thin, surprisingly so in a compilation meant to commemorate the wardens’ achievements – one might more readily have assumed that the current wardens, Clement Wilteshire and Howell ap Rysse, would have enjoyed their finest hour. It emerges, however, that other men managed the financial and practical efforts to hasten reconstruction. Three pairs of parishioners, Richard Haddon and William Rowley, William Boxe and Hugh Sadlare, and Thomas Golde and Thomas Taylore, together raised the appreciable sum of £4 5s. 4d.79 Reference to this sum as transcribed in the Church Book (which names none of the fund-raisers) is brusque: ‘Item for ale selling – £4 5s. 4d.’80 Although Thomas Taylore may not be securely identified, three of the others had already served as churchwardens, and William Rowley and Richard Haddon, who would respectively serve in 1466–67 and in 1468–69, were already prominent members of the parish, and town, community.81 Moreover, in that the account for 1464–65 specifically notes the presence of both William Boxe and the vicar ‘when the sum of 29s. 9d. was received out of the church coffer’, it seems likely that Boxe was currently the parish’s ‘worthiest man’.82 The parish coffer was secured by three locks, and presence of the worthiest man – Boxe, seemingly – as well as the vicar and the churchwardens was necessary if each of the locks was to be opened and parish funds accessed, a crucial concern in this particular year when the wardens’ income would have to be supplemented to cope with the heavy expenditure necessary for rebuilding and repair. For the same reason, this account also mentions that Wilteshire and ap Rysse also received 20s. taken from Thomas Halleway’s chantry ‘in part payment of the sum of money which the said chantry owes unto the parish church of All Hallows, the which church book that is called the ledger makes mention of the said sum [of 20s.] the which you must now abate’.83 Moreover, in an entry omitted altogether from the 79 80

81

82 83

ASB 2, p. 44. ASB 1, p. 103. The unbound accounts make no allusion to this telling detail: church ales are only referred to in the tidied accounts, and then only twice. Informal, but nonetheless lucrative, fundraising may well not have been in the wardens’ remit – or, more accurately, not in their sole remit. William Boxe had served in 1457–58, and would serve again in 1465; Hugh Sadlare served in 1462 and 1463; Thomas Gold had served in 1463. If ‘Taylore’ simply denoted a trade, it may have camouflaged another prominent parishioner like Thomas John, a tailor and warden with Thomas Gold in 1463. The Rowleys were a prominent Bristol family; Haddon was a wealthy parishioner of All Saints’ who, before he fell from grace with the parish in the early 1470s, was active in parish affairs. ASB 2, p. 44. Ibid., and also recorded much more tersely in ASB 1, p. 103. The Halleway chantry account for 1464–65 mentions the payment of 20s. ‘to the church of All Hallows in part payment of the sum of money that the said chantry owes to the said church’ (ASB 3,

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tidied accounts, the unbound accounts mention that ‘on Friday the 8th day of June, Richard Haddon and Thomas Carpenter and Nicholas Baker and others more went to Pensforde to choose 20 oaks’.84 Baker had served as warden some six or seven years earlier and Haddon, as previously discussed, played a prominent role in rebuilding All Saints’ Lady Chapel in the north aisle.85 Carpenter’s expertise, to judge from his name, was germane to the matter in hand. While well-established men – the parish masters in action, presumably – organised emergency fund-raising and expenditure, they overshadowed the wardens who simply seem to have amassed a surplus in the current account (with those sums raised by ale-selling, added to those taken from the parish and the chantry coffers) in order to cover the extraordinary outgoings that soon became necessary. The churchwardens’ accounts, indeed, reveal an outlay of £8 14s. 2d. ‘for the two places of yours in Corn Street next to the chancel’ in the remainder of the accounting year immediately following the fire.86 While in fairness it needs to be noted that the wardens, too, rode with Thomas Carpenter to Pensford at Midsummer ‘to mark out the timber’ selected by the others earlier in the month, in addition to payments for clearing the debris, for demolishing remaining walls and chimneys, and also for retiling the damaged roof of the chancel – that is, largely for preparatory labour and repairs to the church – a good proportion of this spending was subsumed in the sum of £4 to ‘Ball carpenter and Steven carpenter, in part payment of £6, for building your place’. Naturally, the wardens secured the services of those best able to make good the damage. Similarly, in the year following the disaster, in 1465–66, the parish again secured the services of William Boxe as senior churchwarden; in a challenging time, ensuring that sound decisions were speedily taken, the parish’s worthiest man assumed a distinctly ‘hands on’ role taking charge of the rebuilding. He spent some £5 11s. 4½d. ‘on payments and repairs done in your two places’. This included the 40s. for ‘Steven Carpenter and William Ball the which they were behind paying for their bargain’,

84

85 86

Halleway materials, p. 126). It should be noted, however, that the much larger sum of £4 4s. 5½d. was taken from the chantry coffer in the following year – ASB 2, p. 49 – which was said to be money that the chantry owed to the church, and which was clearly devoted to the necessary rebuilding, itemised ibid., pp. 51–2. Pensford lies some five miles south-southeast of Bristol. Strikingly, the Halleways chantry accounts, in the entry immediately following the deduction of 20s. from the chantry’s coffer to boost the parish’s income for 1464–65, itemises the much larger payment of £4 10s. to Thomas Carpenter ‘in part payment of his sum’ (ASB 3, Halleway materials, p. 126). Some of the payments to craftsmen for the expenses incurred in rebuilding the house were apparently taken directly from the chantry’s coffer. As discussed in chapter 5. This total is the sum of two pages of expenditure in the 1463–64 accounts (of £4 18s. 3½d. and £3 15s. 10½d. – ASB 2, pp. 46–8).

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and many other payments for sundries, such as planks and boards, and making stairs and partitions, payments to masons, for freestone for the chimneys, for paving stones, for ‘iron gear’, and finally paying 20s. ‘to John Plasterer, for plastering both places’.87 By contrast, the tidied accounts in the All Saints’ Church Book refer to this work perfunctorily at best, failing either to summate or even enter the expenditure incurred in the first year – surely confirming that parishioners other than Wilteshire and ap Rysse took the initiative.88 So, in an emergency, with wardens discharging their customary duties, an elite took the lead in overseeing major works that evidently exceeded maintenance. Indeed, this élite – the masters at work – probably engineered the strategy that the worthiest parishioner, William Boxe, should serve as senior warden in the year following, ensuring that the parish administration could both cope with stressful demands and presumably also improve the liaison among those managing the necessary rebuilding campaign. While the eminence of some who shouldered responsibility resulted from wealth, most had already served as churchwardens. As well being an end in itself (for the commendation due from subsequent generations of parishioners), success in this latter office helped to procure preferment to a position among longer-term parish governors, as well as to other offices.89

Retrieving the Haddons’ endowment The most striking example of an initiative (as opposed to an emergency response) accomplished, but probably also conceived, by the masters of the parish occurred in 1524–25, when All Saints’ reacquired property formerly set aside for the church by Richard Haddon to support his parents’ chantry. It had been the latter’s intention that properties inter alia in the High Street and Pithay should remain to the use and profit of All Saints’ in perpetuity, but in the early 1470s the endowment was ‘embezzled by John Hawkys’, to the lasting chagrin of the parish. All Saints’, however, never entirely wrote off the loss. Even in 1501–02, it paid the sum of 4d. ‘for a pottle of wine to the vicar of St Leonard to move Master Hawke’; he was to die in 1503/04.90 As well as confirming the tenacity of the parish, such resolve 87

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Ibid., pp. 51–2 – although expenditure in the second year is also revealingly summated in ASB 1, p. 105 (and which starts with the payment of £3 4s. 4d. ‘for carpenters’). Ibid., p. 104. Wealth and some social eminence were also useful prerequisites but, even with such an entrée into this tier of parish society, a parishioner was nevertheless obliged to serve as warden; successful discharge of this responsibility and continued eminence confirmed one’s status as a master, permitting an individual to play the leading role of a Boxe or a Baker, as cited. All Saints’ seems not in the least unusual among other urban parishes in this regard. ASB 2, p. 168; such means may have proved worthwhile, as Hawkes obviously did remember All Saints’ interest in the property.

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galvanised its efforts when a chance presented itself to redress the wrong.91 Some fifty years after the loss of the property, the death of Hawkes’ son, also called John, without issue, and the fact that Hawkes senior had various family connections with All Saints’ through his second wife, Elizabeth, together activated default arrangements intended, in part, to benefit the parish at Elizabeth’s death.92 The property in contention could now be sold for the best possible price and the proceeds split between St Augustine’s Abbey (where John Hawkes senior was buried) and the parishes of St Leonard and All Saints’, with the monastery taking half and the remainder divided equally between the two parishes.93 In the event the property was valued at £90, and All Saints’ took the decision – precisely how is not divulged – to buy out the other two legatees, paying St Augustine’s £45 and St Leonard’s £22 10s., a total of £67 10s. Pledging plate as collateral in the first instance, All Saints’ undertook to pay the balance by instalments to each.94 Accordingly, on 31 May 1524, ‘in the presence of the vicar and of the whole parishioners’, all such plate as was in pledge to the church from Thomas Pacy and Jerome Grene was delivered to the vicar and to Thomas Pacy and David Lawrens, who, also raising additional sums, ‘promised to discharge the said church and parishioners against the Abbot and Convent of St Augustine’s of £45 and against the vicar and parishioners of St Leonard’s of £22 10s. for the sales of Master Hawkes’ lands’. The men emerging to take the lead in this initiative were members of the parish elite, all of whom had already served as wardens. Thomas Pacy had been junior warden in both 1512–13 and 1522–23 and senior warden in 1523–24; Jerome Grene had been junior warden in 1521–22 and senior warden in 1522–23.95 Only David Lawrens had yet to serve as warden, which office he would however occupy in the two years immediately following 1525; his pending responsibility for the repayments meant that it was

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The long-term tactics also suggest that the material concerning the devise, and its subsequent loss, as recorded in the benefaction list, was common knowledge among parishioners. The inter-relationship among these families is more fully discussed above in chapter 5. All Saints’ Deeds, HS B7 (pp. 391–2) – John Hawkes’ will, given in 1503, the conditions of which are summarised in GRB iv, pp. 1–3. The memorandum outlining the parish’s commitment, and various parishioners’ undertakings, and which informs the next paragraphs, may be found in the Appendices as Appendix II. Pacy had, as senior warden, recorded ‘Also I received in plate that laid in pledge to the church, £20’ and stood surety for the same sum in the following year; he had perhaps exchanged plate for cash while planning the parish initiative to take place in the following year. Grene may well previously have done the same for £25 worth of plate. Whatever the case, it is clear that the parish accrued plate rapidly: the codicil for 1523–24 mentions more plate, with Thomas Snygge’s bequest, plate in pledge to the church, actually being ‘delivered’ to warden Gervys ‘to furnish money necessary to the church’s use’, bringing in £13 6s. 8d. Plate was clearly a recognised substitute for cash.

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wise to include him in these arrangements.96 Pacy and Grene lent plate, respectively worth £20 and £25, to launch the venture.97 The vicar, Pacy and Lawrens ‘promised to discharge the church’. Also, and significantly, Pacy and another of the elite, John Hewes, who had been junior and then senior warden between 1517 and 1519, undertook to administer and repair the property during the first year of All Saints’ possession, to maximise its rental value. This involved collecting the rent – effectively ensuring that, in future, tenants in the properties concerned could be under no illusions as to the identity of their new landlord – and making extensive repairs on the property in the Pithay. This account, compiled by Pacy and Hewes, survives, providing proof that masters both acted for, and kept financial records on behalf of, the parish; had this account not survived, we would have been unaware of the extra work that ‘masters’ in fact undertook for the parish in this respect.98 The document of bargain and sale, dated 24 May 1525, which testifies to All Saints’ acquisition of the property, reveals that Richard Hervy and John Flook had been appointed as executors of the testament of Elizabeth Hervy, once wife of ‘sometime merchant’ John Hawkes, and his executrix, and were acting on her behalf.99 Having recited Hawkes’ instructions, they state that John Hawkes the younger had been without issue when he predeceased Elizabeth. In these circumstances, and fulfilling the stipulations in John the elder’s will and also in the will of Elizabeth, Richard Hervy and John Flook proceeded to sell the properties and rents for the best price possible, which, as noted, had been reckoned at £90 sterling. Under the aegis of the current mayor of Bristol, John Wilkyns, who attached the seal of the mayoralty to the document in attestation of the probity

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A parish such as All Saints’ may very well have scheduled those who were to take their turn serving as wardens at least a year or so in advance of appointment, a policy that had much to recommend it in allowing for preparation and in ensuring continuity – which, when significant opportunities needed to be seized upon, as in the present case, would clearly have been a principle with much to recommend it. In the parish church of St Mary at Hill in London, in c.1500, ‘goodman’ Colyns similarly advanced his own money, adding to the sum already collected, in order to accomplish a parish initiative – in this case, the extension of the south aisle of the parish church; see Burgess, ‘Shaping the Parish’, pp. 266–8. These accounts are printed in full in ASB 2, pp. 312–17, and may, with profit, be compared to the book of accounts for St Ewen’s, Bristol, where repairs to the Church House, undertaken in 1493, were completed under the aegis of two parishioners, one of whom had repeatedly served as warden and the other of whom was about to serve for the first time, but neither of whom were ‘currently’ warden; see CBSE, pp. xxvii and 11–24. ASB 3, Deeds, HS B8 (pp. 392–3) whose substance is replicated in GRB iv, pp. 1–2; each lists the men who would hold the property for All Saints’, all of whom were clearly members of the parish elite.

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of this transaction, the parish bid was accepted.100 As a result, seisin passed to Thomas Pacy, David Lawrence, Thomas Yong, John Maunsell, John Hewes, John Hooper, William Eirworth, Roger Philpot, Thomas Polsam, Pawlynn Webbe, Robert Byrkyn, Robert Hanworth and Symon Hancok – many of whom can be identified as members of the lay elite of the parish. Master Richard Bromfeld clerk, and the previous vicar of All Saints’, and John Collys, presently common clerk of the town of Bristol, witnessed the proceedings. John Flook, one of Elizabeth Hervy’s executors, had grown up in All Saints’, as John Thomas’s ‘boy’ and, having studied at Oxford, returned to serve as incumbent from 1517. Connected through John Thomas to the Hervy (and, thence, the Chestre) coterie – one of whom was his co-executor – he was, in any case, closely associated with All Saints’ and its interests: dealing with him in these transactions must have smoothed the process. It is likely that his presence, and guiding hand, would have eased the parish’s purchase of the property. The current churchwardens, however, were conspicuous by their absence from these proceedings, although the junior warden for the year, Thomas Yong, was at least named as one among the dozen or so feoffees who were thereafter to assume effective ownership of the property for All Saints’. Senior warden John Gervys was not involved even to this extent. Although this may possibly have been the result of his current tenancy of the single most substantial property in the purchase, it seems more likely that it would have been appropriate for him to keep a distance from the collective purchase.101 The senior warden’s role as the parish’s legal representative seemingly precluded undue involvement in such a venture. Where, more generally, the wardens’ responsibilities were concerned more with maintenance than active acquisition, so far as the senior warden was concerned a certain distance was advisable: this would enable him to act, in effect, as the parish overseer and, also, as a guarantor of the propriety of what was being done. In the event, Gervys’s only contribution was to authorise the requisite ‘top up’ payment. The parish, having gathered in debts and benefited from loans from the elite, was still short by £2 3s. 9d., and Gervys advanced this sum from his account: ‘Item paid to Master 100

101

The inclusion of this deed in the Great Red Book (as indicated in the previous note) attests to the mayor’s knowledge and implicit approval of the recorded agreement and dealings; and, implicitly, of the municipality’s willingness to defend the settlement against any possible future challenge – which would tend to discourage any who might consider contesting All Saints’ acquisition. The account kept by Pacy and Hewes itemises a rent of £3 paid by ‘John Gerves for his house in the High Street’ – ASB 2, p. 312; the same receipts also reveal that Gervys, in addition, paid a 5s. rent for a garden in the Pithay. The endorsement on the Deed of Bargain and Sale ASB 3, Deeds, HS B 8 (p. 393), reveals that Hawkes’ ‘lands’ in the High Street included property known as the Murrian’s (or Blackamoor’s) Head.

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Pase [Pacy] to make up the full payment of the lands that we bought of Master Hervy’s executors – 43s. 9d.’102 So agents other than the wardens brought this long-anticipated initiative to fruition; although, naturally, once the property had been absorbed into the parish’s endowment, income was substantially increased and any debt could be more quickly settled. All Saints’ retrieval of the greater part of Haddon’s endowment reveals not only the confidence and relative wealth of the parish by the mid 1520s but also that managerial structures functioned as proficiently when acquiring properties as they did, under different managers, in maintaining them.103 The masters took the initiative and, among them, Thomas Pacy undeniably assumed a leading role; in the early 1520s, he appears to have been the parish’s worthiest man. This initiative was, however, endorsed by the vicar and parishioners and, subsequently, vicar and masters collaborated to bring the project to completion – with input, too, from the mayor; the senior warden’s most obvious contribution was in authorising the supplementary payment from parish funds.104 Lest too sober an impression emerges of the senior warden’s contribution, other payments recorded in the churchwardens’ accounts cast a different light on the procedure deemed necessary as the elite of the parish and the town came together to sanction the transaction.105 For it was surely more than coincidence that the accounts for 1524–25 record that Gervys had been party to paying the sum of 16d. ‘for a gallon of muscadel to my lord of St Austin’s and his company at John Hoper’s’. The parish clearly judged it worthwhile to persuade their patron, the abbot, to support them in this endeavour by entertaining him and members of his entourage in the house of one of the parish masters. Moreover, the next two entries record, first, that the town clerk, John Collys, received the appreciable sum of 13s. 4d. to make another writing concerning the search [‘the seychment’] of master Hawke’s lands and, second, that a further 6d. was paid to Master Mayor 102

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ASB 2, p. 303; it should also be noted that the memorandum recording the process whereby All Saints’ acquired the property – ibid., p. 311 – notes towards its conclusion that ‘More[over], the said vicar, Thomas and Lawrens must recover of John Gervys proctor – 43s. 9d., the which money was paid on the 25th day of June anno 1524 by the hands of Thomas Younge.’ The latter was senior proctor in that year. Parish income was, indeed, buoyant by the 1520s. The growing bulk of the All Saints’ churchwardens’ accounts indicate that senior wardens were individually shouldering more responsibility by the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century. Indeed, marking the extra burden that an acquisition such as that just discussion placed on him, it is noted at the end of the 1524–25 account (ASB 2, p. 311) that vicar and parishioners had agreed that an extra 6s. 8d. be paid to the senior warden. This was for ‘gathering the church and chantry rents, for making the book of accounts and for reward money to the tenants at the payment of their rents.’ The following payments are to be found in ASB 2, pp. 303–4, for 1524–25.

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‘for the seals’, attached presumably to the new documentation that Collys had produced. On this occasion, said to be at Master Hoper’s, the parish spent another 8d. ‘for drinking’ – and, insofar as all these are consecutive entries in the accounts, one wonders whether the abbot, town clerk and mayor all attended the same event as the parish reconfirmed its title to former properties. But the formalities did not stop there: the accounts subsequently reveal that the parish paid just less than 2s. ‘to Master vicar and Master Collys when they rode to Master Harvey’s with the copies of the writings of Master Hauk’s land, for wine and other pleasure’; more cryptically, that the parish, too, provided the sum of 53s. 4d. for the fine that Master vicar ‘paid to John Gervys for Mistress Harvey’; and, in the next entry, that the parish paid one Fraunces the sum of 8d. ‘for binding all the books of accounts’. We may never be certain whether this payment had particular bearing on the documentation generated by the reacquisition of Haddon’s endowment, but we should note that Elizabeth Hawkys had, at once stage, been a Hervy. Nevertheless, the conviviality that accompanied other steps in a complex process is plain, suggesting something of the parish’s pleasure in regaining lost possessions.

As they will answer for default to Almighty God: the parish elite as trustees Other registers of feoffees exist in the All Saints’ deeds collection resembling the list, cited above, of those entrusted jointly with formal possession of the reacquired property in the High Street and the Pithay in May 1525. Those individuals considered sufficiently trustworthy to hold the parish’s endowment would, in all likelihood, correspond closely with those deemed ‘worshipful’ or ‘of the council’. Such men would typically have been wealthy, holding property of their own and, as successful men of affairs, able to defend the parish’s interest – and, more significantly, be above suspicion of, or the need for, embezzlement. As noted, groups of parish feoffees, with a well-established set of personnel at their core, are likely to correlate closely with those who were called on as masters. Distinction, coupled with an ability to defend the parish’s interest, was what mattered; if the masters constituted a somewhat nebulous grouping they could, as a result, act more flexibly. The penitential teachings of the Church, urging the wealthy to redeem worldly success by charity – which might mean devoting time and effort as much as giving money – served as a strong incentive persuading the few to work consistently in the interests of the many. Like members of the clergy, masters had a vested interest in parish efficiency and probity. The definition of an élite, who might be trusted to take care of special needs, was a natural development for any small community. But there may have been other reasons for the emergence of such a group at All Saints’. It was noted earlier that,

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when leasing property to tenants even in the later fourteenth century, the vicar and wardens acted with the assent of a good proportion of the parishioners. This represented the tradition of a notably broad-based participation in the government of a parish such as All Saints’. Other aspects, like the audit of the parish accounts and the promotion of various candidates to serve as churchwardens, certainly continued. Nevertheless, as the parish began to acquire more property (a trend that gathered pace after the acquisition of the Halleways’ endowment in c.1450), the feasibility of gathering a large number of parishioners together to witness and approve of every new tenancy may be doubted. The proliferation of properties may well have undermined aspects of broadly based parish surveillance, and encouraged the elite to shoulder more responsibilities, such as holding the different properties for the parish as co-trustees, thereby obliging any would-be predator to deal with a cohort of experienced guardians duty-bound to maintain any particular tenement. So, it made good sense to devolve practical duties to managers of proven ability and influence. A series of documents survives in the parish deeds starting in the mid fifteenth century (and, in fact, rather earlier than this) designating groups of trustees who served the parish interests who, inter alia, were able to hold and protect property on behalf of All Saints’ and, when necessary, entrust new members with the same status, keeping the total at a dozen or so. In all likelihood, such groupings provided the pool of men from which ‘masters’ would be summoned to formulate plans, raise cash, keep funds or supervise projects.

Replenished in each generation The earliest such charter of feoffment, dated 17 December 1456, clearly replenishes the complement of a diminished number of feoffees, assigning to the new representatives all the parish’s lands, tenements, rents, reversions and services, both in the town, the suburb and in the precinct of Bristol.106 The existing feoffee – that is, William Reynes, William Chestre and Thomas Fyler –  recruited as new feoffees Maurice Hardwick, perpetual vicar of All Saints’, William Isgar, John Leynell, Richard Warde, John Reynes, William Boxe, John Shop, Hugh Forster, Nicholas Baker, William Rowley, Peter Grenfeld, Thomas Warde, Philip Davy and Thomas Goolde. The witnesses of this transaction included Richard Hatter, Henry Chestre, Thomas Assche, William Rokys, John Horsley, Thomas Dene and Robert Core. Among the new feoffees may be noted a number of those agents especially active in the wake of the fire at Whitsun 1464: namely, William Boxe, Nicholas Baker, William Rowley and Thomas Golde. But Richard Hatter’s presence among the witnesses – as parishioner of St Leonard’s, but mayor of Bristol in 1454–55, and now 106

ASB 3, Deeds, F11 (p. 451).This, and the subsequent lists of feoffees, are also given in Appendix III.

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reflective of his concerns less than a year before his own death – is significant.107 He had a particular interest in the success of the Halleways’ chantry, to whose endowment he would soon add an appreciable sum; Joan Halleways’ death in the previous year, 1455, meant that the constituent properties of the chantry endowment, in Lewins Mean, the Shambles and the Throwe House, although theoretically in the chantry chaplain’s care, were in practice now under the management of All Saints’. Hatter would naturally have been keen to assure himself of the probity of this re-enfeoffment, and might also want to reassure himself, too, of the calibre of the new guardians. Thereafter, re-enfeoffments naturally became necessary in every generation (roughly every thirty-five years or so), when the number of living feoffees fell to three or four. In this event, the survivors would recruit another ten or so to set the optimal number at just over the dozen. While no specific certification survives for the later decades of the fifteenth century, the document surviving for 14 April 1516 discloses the names of those entrusted in the previous enfeoffment.108 Towards the end of the document, Peter Grenfeld, who had been one of those enfeoffed in 1456, is said to have demised the ten or so names immediately preceding his own as parish feoffees – that is John Thomas, clerk, perpetual vicar of All Saints’, Thomas Baker [Spicer] grocer, John Jankyn stainer, John Penke the younger, Thomas Parnaunt, Richard Stevyns, Paul James, John Bateryn, Richard Wilteshire and William Bulle, all of whom were dead by 1516.109 But four others still survived from this previous re-enfeoffment, Thomas Snygge, Thomas Davy barber, Richard Sutton and William Cornowe. They now recruited Richard Bromfeld, clerk, master of the Hospital of St John the Baptist, Thomas Pacy, John Snygge, Richard Wale, Jerome Grene, Thomas Yong, John Mauncell, John Gervys, Thomas Polsam, John Hewes, Henry Hykkyns and George Baderam. Among the new feoffees, we find many of the names of those who were to take an active part in the acquisition of the lost Haddon properties in 1524–25, along with John Gervys. The importance of the new enfeoffment is confirmed by the presence of Roger Dawes, the mayor of Bristol and his two sheriffs, Richard Abyndon and William Vaghan, among the witnesses, along with other local worthies. On 29 April 1559 the few that survived from the enfeoffment of 1516 restored the number of feoffees to a dozen or so.110 As a result, Pacy the elder, alderman (who would die in 1560 or 1561), Mauncell grocer, John Snygge merchant 107

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The enfeoffment date, in December 1456, was less than a year before Hatter’s death, in September 1457. ASB 3, Deeds, F 12 (p. 451). Given that John Thomas became vicar of All Saints’ in 1479, and Thomas Spicer was dead by 1492, this re-enfeoffment would probably have taken place at some point in the 1480s. ASB 3, Deeds, F 13 (pp. 451–2).

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and Polsam grocer, are said to have enfeoffed the following with all the lands in the city which they themselves ‘lately’ had – namely, William Yonge the elder, grocer, Roger Philpott grocer, John Pikes the elder, merchant, William Pyll grocer, William Emons the elder, grocer, Thomas Colston’, grocer, Michael Colston, Ralph Pylkynton, John Lacy mercer, David Jones barber, Thomas Phillpott, Nicholas Philpott, John Jervys merchant (and son of John Gervys, who had died in 1553), Robert Yong merchant, William Yong the younger, Anthony Pyle, William Emons the younger, William Pylkyngton, William Lacy and William Courties. In this new intake, the Colston (originally Colstone) family emerged as a force in parish life – which would only be confirmed with time.111 Again, the current mayor and sheriffs of Bristol, Robert Adams, and John Pruett and John Browne, act as witnesses, although the name of the current incumbent is conspicuous by its absence. By the mid and later fifteenth century, a coterie of well-established parish men served (acting in smaller permutations when particular needs arose) in a managerial capacity for All Saints’, in addition to, and supportive of, successive sets of churchwardens. Whilst an overlap of personnel might clearly occur, with feoffees also occasionally and simultaneously serving as wardens, men who had earned the parish’s trust apparently acquired ‘master’ status for life; they thus offered the parish a valuable measure of administrative continuity and expertise – particularly as guardians for the parish’s swelling property portfolio – in contrast to the regularly changing sets of wardens. Notably, incumbents were invariably included as feoffees, even including Richard Bromfeld in 1516 after he had left to become Master of the Hospital of St John the Baptist, although in anticipation of Flook’s installation at All Saints’ in 1517. Collaboration between clergy and laity is also confirmed by the ex officio status and activity of the serving incumbent as a parish Master – indeed, in the event of a temporary vacancy the previous incumbent would be included. But, with the absence of the incumbent’s name in the list from 1559, one wonders whether the Reformation put paid to this convention.112

Interacting agencies In the century and more before the Reformation, All Saints’ depended, as necessary, upon adroit management from both clergy and skilled laity, accustomed to 111

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The family continued to flourish, and it is worth noting that the west end of the All Saints’ south aisle is presently dominated by the lavish monument (designed by James Gibbs, with a notable reclining figure carved by J. M. Rysbrack) to Edward Colston, wealthy merchant and philanthropist, who died in 1721 – but whose activity in the slave trade has, more recently, led to censure. Although based only on a cursory survey of the later sixteenth and early seventeenth deeds in ASB 3, the absence of participants with any clerical designations offers a striking contrast to the situation in the earlier decades of the sixteenth century.

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collaborating, and who could, when appropriate, summon, and depend upon, the productive input of a far larger proportion of parishioners. The various elements cooperated with well-practised ease, with ‘management’ consciously and consistently acting on behalf, and in the name, of the broader parish. Many examples illustrate this point. In December 1421, for instance, the proctors, Thomas Halleway and William Temple, acting apparently with the unanimous assent of all the parishioners, and also with the vicar, Thomas Marshall, in attendance together with a handful of the parish elite (including John Haddon, John Piers, Thomas Fyler, John Forges et alii), confirmed the parish’s part of an agreement concerning the upkeep of a gutter, with the other parties to the agreement, the four chaplains of Eborard le Frensch’s chantry.113 A century or so later, in November 1525, when John Hoper, on behalf of himself, his wife Elizabeth and his son, another John, leased the tenement known as the Rose, devised to the parish by Agnes Fyler, procedures had been streamlined, but, in effect, the same agencies were all involved.114 Master John Flook, vicar of All Saints’, in association with David Lawraunce and Thomas Yong, proctors, and acting explicitly ‘with the assent and consent of all the masters and parishioners’, leased the property to the Hopers, dwelling there ‘up rising and down lying’ as parishioners of All Saints’. The mayor and sheriffs witnessed the lease. Six years earlier, in December 1519, when John Repe grocer, Letitia his wife, and John their son, in consideration of a competent sum, leased another of the parish’s tenements in the High Street, the vicar and an assemblage of named parishioners – to wit, ‘John Flook, Master in Arts, vicar of All Saints’, Thomas Pacy, John Mauncelle, John Snygge, Jerome Grene, Thomas Yonge, George Baderam, John Gervys, Paulinus Webbe, John Hewes, Henry Hygons, Thomas Bolton, Robert Hanworth, Andrew Ellesworth, William Erithe, Thomas Kere, Roger Fylpott and John Taillour’ – took the initiative exercised by the vicar and wardens in the previous example.115 But this group included the vicar, and both wardens for 1519 – John Hewes and John Mauncelle – as well as almost all those (with the apparent exception of Richard Wale, who had presumably died in the interim) of those enfeoffed with the parish properties some three years earlier, as well as some others who, we can assume, were parishioners.116 What this list does then is itemise the names summarised in the 1525 lease as ‘masters and parishioners’, although vicar Flook had taken pride of place instead of Richard Bromfeld. In 1519, this property, which had, in November 1518, been devised to the church by Humfrey Hervy to augment the endowment supporting 113 114 115 116

ASB 3, Deeds, NA 39 (p. 369). Ibid., Deeds, NA 58 (p. 387). Ibid., Deeds, NA 55 (p. 398). Equating Thomas Polsam (in 1516) with Thomas Bolton (in 1519).

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the Chestres’ anniversary, was being leased for the first time. In such circumstances, it may have been thought appropriate to name the parish feoffees as well as some parishioners. But, the ease with which feoffees and masters might be substituted one for the other in different documents is telling. Once more, the procedure was witnessed by the mayor and sheriffs. It was quite probably the celebration accompanying the acquisition of this property that prompted the expenditure of 8d., recorded in the wardens’ accounts for 1519–20, ‘for wine at the Boars Head when the Masters took possession’.117

Master vicar and other worthies Incumbents (and other clergy, too) were deeply involved in parish affairs: spiritual leadership, and the priorities that pertained in the century and more before the Reformation, seamlessly led vicars to play a prominent managerial role within the parish. And this role obliged clergy and lay managers to collaborate: vicar with wardens, vicar as feoffee and, perhaps most tellingly, as ‘master vicar’, intrinsically involved in the decisions and activities that both directed parish affairs and embellished the building and liturgy – as in the fund-raising campaign, referred to earlier, and mentioned in passing in the accounts for 1520–21, when wardens Hanworth and Hychyns recorded the receipt of 50s. ‘of Master vicar and of Master Pacy of that they gathered towards the new organs’.118 The Reformation seemingly altered this state of affairs, although further study will reveal quite how profoundly. Certain parishioners, too, assumed a prominent position within the administrative structures of the parish, some clearly serving as ‘worthiest man’, at certain times. Thomas Pacy occupied this position in the 1520s, leading the initiative to regain the Haddon endowment and always being placed first (among the laity, and second only to Master vicar) in any list of feoffees. One wonders whether Thomas Halleway had gained such a position in the 1430s, which may explain comments made about him in the benefaction list. Indeed, material in the benefaction list concerning Thomas and Joan Halleway’s generosity proves richly suggestive about parish government in All Saints’.119 For their generosity, and the responses it evidently prompted, highlight the nature of late medieval parish government and the accomplishments of which it was clearly capable. Parishes proved themselves particularly adroit in involving the broad swathe of their parishioners in order to capitalise upon the generous contributions of the wealthy few. In this 117 118 119

ASB 2, p. 253. Ibid., p. 261. ASB 1, p. 14 – see above, chapter 7 and, in the Appendices, Appendix I for the relevant text.

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respect, by founding a perpetual chantry the Halleways helped to usher in changes that, perhaps more than anything else, redefined the task of the churchwardens in this parish – thereafter, they had to become property managers as much as parish officials. Moreover, the donations that Thomas Halleway made, of £20 apiece to parish campaigns to rebuild the south aisle and, later, to acquire a splendid suit of vestments, contributed to programmes orchestrated by agents other than wardens – presumably by the parish masters. Nevertheless, where others took it upon themselves to raise the remainder needed, both for the rebuilding and the vestments, both Halleway and, indeed, vicar Rodberd – both as parish masters – had helped to prime the process of acquisition. But one is left pondering the significance of the cryptic comment concerning Halleway in the benefaction list: ‘Item moreover most well willed to all good works of the church to oversee the repairs of the church, four times a year going in his coat. Mayor and after he was mayor.’ Was the coat a mark of civic distinction, maintained after he had served as mayor, but which he wore – effectively as a livery, emphasising his position as pre-eminent parish master – when surveying the church four times every year? Would Pacy, too, have had such a coat, and did he also embark on regular inspections? It is nothing more than conjecture, but such inspections, headed by the eminent parish master and in the company of vicar and wardens, and others among the masters, may well have instigated the successive campaigns of repair that various wardens supervised and itemised in their accounts, and may even have led to the numerous decisions to buy new equipment. What is more certain, however, is that Pacy, like Halleway, served as mayor of Bristol – in point of fact, Pacy was to be twice mayor, and had been a long-serving alderman of the town by the time of his death in 1560/61. Such men would have found it hard to separate loyalties: they were as much town governors as they were, in this case, parishioners and governors of All Saints’, and must inevitably have interwoven the interests and obligations incumbent upon parish leadership with those of civic government. The presence of such men as active participants in parish government – for a long duration, in the case of Pacy – inevitably added to the lustre of the parish, as a result of their administrative prowess no less than their generosity. It is, moreover, striking how the authorities of Bristol interested themselves in the minutiae of parish affairs. The role of the abbot and convent of St Augustine’s as patron of the parish, or Bishop Carpenter’s role as pastor and, more particularly, as restorer of the Kalendars, explains the interest that these luminaries occasionally took in parish affairs. But, equally, in 1525, the mayor and sheriffs witnessed the lease of the tenement in the High Street by vicar and wardens, with the consent of all the masters and parishioners, to John Hoper and his wife. They did the same concerning the agreement, in 1519, between vicar

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and feoffees and John Repe and his wife and son. It is noteworthy that such men, who would have been part of their own parish elites, should confirm and protect the interests of other parishes. Just as the greater community was composed of, and benefited from, the participation and the input of neighbourhoods, so the welfare of the whole depended on encouraging and safeguarding particular contributions. Municipal leaders, who were inevitably local guardians, too, were keen to benefit, as citizens no less than parishioners, from the cumulative grace generated by Bristol’s parishes; this, too, added considerable lustre to the town. Equally, we need to locate the clergy at the heart of the contribution made by parishes and parishioners; they, no less than their secular brothers, were citizens of Bristol; and, men like John Flook certainly acted, when a challenge had been thrown down, for what they perceived to be the safety of the Church and the continued benefit of the town.

Coda

Safe to the use of Jhc: Speculating on the Jesus Guild

A

lthough we may shed light on many aspects of parish procedure, much remains obscure. It is hard, for instance, to delineate the exact role of the masters, and harder still to compile a full roster of their achievements. To take a now-familiar example, while the masters were evidently deeply involved in the construction and management of the parish conduit in the early sixteenth century, their exact role eludes us. This only confirms a previous observation: that the most abundant parish records – the churchwardens’ accounts – reflect the lowlier routines of administration; paradoxically, we often know much less about major decisions and achievements. With this lesson in mind, we ought finally to consider materials suggesting that, in the later fifteenth century, parish leaders invested in a brotherhood further enriching the parish liturgy and invigorating parish procedures – and whose existence may, indeed, help to explain how parish managers sustained the resolve to achieve so much. Earlier discussion has already mulled over Alice Chestre’s decision, with help from her son, John, in 1477, to devise a tenement in Broad Street to the parish feoffees, so that ‘all outgoings and profits from the tenement’ – some four marks per annum – could support both a perpetual anniversary in the church and also a Mass (said, in an insert, to be ‘le salve de Jhesu’) celebrated on Fridays in the Lady aisle of All Saints’.1 The benefaction list notes that she did this ‘in the worship of Jesus, to the foundation of a Mass of Jesus by note to be kept and continued every Friday in this church and likewise an anthem, that [Harry and Alice] be prayed for every Friday at that Mass by name’.2 But the earliest, and albeit one of only a few references to a Jesus Guild in the parish, occurred in the unbound churchwardens’ accounts for 1467–68, noting that the wardens had paid the sum of 6d. ‘for mending the window in Jhc is yelde’, which, while undeniably cryptic, suggests that the guild was already extant and associated with a discrete part of the church – although quite which is not divulged.3 One

1 2 3

ASB 3, Deeds, BS B 14a/b (p. 416). ASB 1, p. 15. ASB 2, p. 60. It is possible that the south aisle is the strongest contender, in that it was in any case dedicated to the Holy Cross, and the north aisle at this period – if mentioned at all – simply seems to have been the ‘Lady aisle’.

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might speculate that such a guild would have provided itself with a light and would probably have marked the Feast of the Holy Name as its patronal day. Nevertheless, Alice Chestre’s decision to inaugurate a weekly Jesus Mass celebrated at the altar in the north aisle seems to have prompted developments. It seems safe to assume that the guild would have located itself in the north aisle, and this brought about a name change: the Lady aisle became known as the Jesus aisle – a development that may even have been intentional as the parish elite kicked over the traces of Haddon’s memory. Having lost the latter’s chantry, no parishioner had the funds to replace it with an equivalent service; but the Jesus Mass offered compensation, assigning a new spiritual identity to the north aisle. Overseeing this Mass, however, remained outside the wardens’ remit: none made any detailed reference to it in their accounts, with the result that we remain ill-informed. What does survive, however, are scraps of information written towards the end of the All Saints’ Church book, for the most part from the early 1480s, roughly corresponding with the foundation of the Mass celebrated every Friday. These jottings, under the heading of ‘Reckoning of Jhc’, shed slightly more light on what was afoot in the Jesus aisle by the 1480s, and snippets in some later churchwardens’ accounts supplement these impressions.4 The jottings disclose the names of some who served as ‘proctors of Jhc’. These, evidently, were members of the parish elite. We encounter, for instance (taking names from the earlier jottings) John Snygge (churchwarden 1479–80) and John Cockes, both of whom – in a scored heading, referring to 7 June 1480 – were said to have handed on funds to Hugh Foster (warden 1474–75) and Thomas Spicer (warden 1491–92), who in turn handed funds on to John Chestre (warden 1472–73) and Thomas Phyllypes (warden 1475–76), and so on. As indicated, all had served as churchwardens, or would soon do so (save John Cockes, who cannot be placed). Other names – most of whom we have previously encountered – include John Jenkins, Thomas Parnaunt, Thomas Snygge, Clement Wilteshire and Thomas Abyndon. Virtually all had been wardens; some served as parish feoffees; a few also attained municipal offices. The jottings also provide some semblance of a current account, with monies accruing every year. The sums are not large: Hugh Forster and Thomas Baker had received 25s. 4d., to which they added 13s. 1d. on 25 June 1481. The money was assigned ‘for to maintain the service of Jesus’ and, from the early 1480s, the vicar and the parishioners – implying that the ‘service of Jesus’ remained under the auspices of the parish – ordained that that ‘the money that is now [gathered], and shall be hereafter … put in the treasure coffer in a purse … safe to the use of Jhc’. By 1491, the sum of £5 12s. 4d. ‘rested clear in the purse of Jesus’. Starting in 1510, however, the churchwardens’ accounts enter receipts from the proctors of Jesus. The sums, while still not large, increased in value. In 1510–11, 4

ASB 1, pp. 136–7.

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the sum of 11s. ‘of the proctors of Jesus … was put into the purse of Jesus’ at the conclusion of these accounts.5 In the following year, this rose to 21s. 2d., and to 38s. 2d. by 1515–16.6 In 1519, the churchwardens received the sum of 38s. 11d. ‘of Gerram Grene and Harry Hyggons for Jesus brotherhood for this present year’, confirming that the devotion had indeed crystallised into a parish fraternity which, by the early 1520s, was regularly gathering sums in excess of £2 per annum. Both Grene and Hyggons, it should be noted, served as parish feoffees from 1516.7 Whether the fraternity had any specific rationale, beyond celebrating the Jesus Mass and possessing a particular devotion to the cult of the Holy Name – which may well have extended to an annual celebration of the feast of the Holy Name on 6 August and the Transfiguration on the day following – is never divulged. Nor is it obvious that the monies collected did anything other than accumulate in the purse of Jesus, adding to the parish reserves. One indication, at least, of the brotherhood’s rationale – although apparently not accounting for the specified collections, which remained unspent – comes from chance reference in the accounts for 1500–01, revealing payment of the sum of 20s. ‘to the singers of [the] Jesus Mass for half a year’.8 Evidently the Friday service, as inaugurated by the Chestres, provided a focus for the brotherhood as its weekly service became grander. This reinforces comments made earlier à propos of Maud Spicer’s generosity in providing three tapers burning both ‘at the Jesus Mass on Fridays and the anthem at night and at other time convenient’; as well as confirming the liturgical significance of this rite, something at least emerges of the manner in which a new devotion crystallised into a fraternity, in the support of which managers collected and kept funds – presumably from dues paid by the brethren – over and above those spent on sustaining its sung liturgy. The evolution of the brotherhood of Jesus, which seems to have been enhanced by the weekly Jesus celebration, not only helped to rename the north aisle but may also have played a role in further, more significant developments. For, as noted, in the wake of Agnes Fyler’s generosity in devising property in the High Street to the parish, others followed.9 By the 1520s, All Saints’ had five or six such endowments and, while donors – including the Chestres – invariably sought an elaborate annual celebration to commemorate their largesse, their cumulative generosity substantially increased parish income. This rose from about £10 per annum from rents and collections in the 1460s, to approximately £20 per annum in 1510, and to

5 6 7 8 9

Respectively ASB 2, pp. 205 and 209. Respectively, ibid., pp. 211 and 229. Ibid., p. 243; ASB 3, Deeds, F 12 (p. 451). ASB 2, p. 164. As discussed in chapter 6.

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£30 in 1520 – although vacant tenancies meant that collected income was nearer £25. With revenues mainly deriving from a steadily increasing property portfolio, the churchwardens’ remit changed: they were obliged to focus (relatively) less on the parish church and more on endowments scattered round Bristol, and on the property maintenance now necessary to sustain parish rents. But astute management and a growing cash reserve played a significant role in providing the parish both with the self-assurance and much of the wherewithal to proceed, in 1524–25, with the purchase of the greater part of the Haddon endowment at a cost of some £67. That the parish could now contemplate and accomplish such an acquisition without apparent strain – for, we may note, in the same year, the parish bought two new antiphonals for £11 – is remarkable. The reacquisition further boosted recorded parish income (to some £35 per annum by the late 1520s), further enhancing its liturgical capabilities and All Saints’ standing as a propertied corporation within Bristol. While we can clearly see how the churchwardens’ brief expanded, it is a step too far to credit them with the recovery of the Haddons’ endowment. This was clearly the work of the masters; and the more one surveys the developments in All Saints’, the more likely it looks that the masters directed the wardens’ activities – for instance, deciding which houses should be repaired in any one year. What emerges most clearly is that the wardens busied themselves with minutiae, which were onerous enough. The parish masters, by contrast, took responsibility for management. True, the wardens carried a much increased burden by the early sixteenth century; but the masters were, by now, overseeing and implementing strategies of some sophistication, and often with resounding success. If we are right in associating the Jesus brotherhood with the parish elite – the former was certainly managed by those who had already served as wardens, and who were wealthy – and, also, if this brotherhood took shape and strength, ultimately, from the debacle of the parish’s loss of the Haddons’ endowment, it had become a force to be reckoned with by the 1520s. Aligning the parish elite with a potent liturgical observance, itself redolent of practice in larger establishments,10 enabled the Jesus brotherhood to play a significant role galvanising the parish elite into a markedly successful executive committee – providing a spiritual rationale that promoted the successful conduct of the parish’s interests. Its existence could well explain how the elite managed to work so cohesively, maintaining a tenacious collective memory so that – among other achievements – the lost endowment could eventually be recovered. More prosaically, the funds that had accumulated in the ‘Jesus purse’ may also have played a part in assisting the parish to purchase the lost endowment. Noticeably, the monies annually donated to the purse, running 10

As shown towards the conclusion of chapter 4.

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in the region of £2 per annum before the purchase, fell thereafter: the devotion naturally retained significance but part of its rationale had possibly been satisfied. Although much of the preceding may be speculative, by the mid-1520s the parish had without doubt developed into a notably competent financial enterprise. Generous individual endowments, assiduously maintained by ‘the body of the parish’ and managed in the main by its incumbent and masters in co-operation with the wardens, substantially increased collective income. The elite could well have been invigorated by the spiritual stimulus it derived from membership of a brotherhood, which, while helping to define and encourage its members, also assisted in reinforcing a collective managerial ethos within the parish. Such tenacity played a key role in supporting a considerably more ambitious liturgical establishment than would ever have seemed likely in what, after all, was a small parish – as will now be explored in the final section.

Part V

Ordering the parish

T

he desire to embellish their neighbourhood church and to develop its amenities weighed heavy with late medieval parishioners and, among those with means, many responded lavishly. Moreover, parish leaders – usually either identical to, or closely associated with, those who proved so generous – primed and orchestrated schemes involving fellow parishioners in pursuit of collective improvements. A broader swathe participated in these initiatives but, as well as contributing a good proportion of the funds, the elite bestowed invaluable managerial expertise; their commitment, in particular, helped to ensure the success of communal ventures. Fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century parish building campaigns disclose ambitious investment in many English localities, resulting, as noted, in a rich part of our late medieval heritage. Ordinarily we can say little either about the individual largesse or the co-operative endeavours that so enhanced many parish churches, meaning that these buildings stand in silent indictment of our ignorance. By contrast, the All Saints’ archive reveals a good deal about the transformation wrought by parishioners as they refurbished their church, added to staff, and invested in divine service. A clearer understanding of what clergy and laity together accomplished, albeit in a small parish, sheds valuable light on developments elsewhere in the town and also beyond Bristol. Although primarily concerned with parishioners’ attainments, both in reconfiguring their church and cultivating its liturgy, this section also highlights a number of related themes – and so, for instance, where previous discussion emphasised individual generosity, the role played by co-operative endeavour will now be brought to the fore. Moreover, while the next chapter outlines the improvements that parishioners and the clergy made to the church fabric and its fittings, the one following (chapter 11) explores the rites accommodated within the refurbished building. Liturgy needed a setting: by elaborating on each, these two chapters attempt to integrate this fundamental – but, at this distance in

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time, all too often obscure – aspect of parish life. Previous sections investigated the manner in which parishioners contributed to the various avenues open to them – either by making benefactions in life and by their wills, or arranging commemorative strategies, or working, whether as clergy, masters or churchwardens, for the greater profit of the community; this section attempts to piece together the developing liturgical corporation that resulted from their activities. Many of the examples in the next chapter have already been encountered but, to avoid excessive cross-referencing, are briefly described again. This will, I hope, convey a clearer sense of the ambition that came to characterise liturgical standards in this parish in the decades preceding the Reformation.

Chapter 10

‘Was but single and no thing of beauty’: Enhancing the parish church Its location at the centre of the town meant that All Saints’ church was – and remains – cramped: hemmed in by other buildings, only the tower and north aisle are visible from a major thoroughfare.1 The body of the church measures no great length, possessing a nave of only five bays; given that the church has two aisles, its interior (disregarding the chancel momentarily) is not so far from being as broad as it is long.2 As a result, the church housed four side-altars arranged ‘across’ the church at the east end of its aisles and nave, all in addition to its high altar in the chancel. By the mid fifteenth century, the side-altars were dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the north (or Lady) aisle and to the Holy Rood in the south aisle (the latter being commonly referred to as the Rood altar in the Cross aisle); those on either side of the chancel arch and in front