The Medieval Records of A London City Church St Mary At Hill, 1420-1559. Originally published by Trübner, London, 1905.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
CHAPTER VI. CHANGES IN THE CHURCH AT THE REFORMATION.
The story of the alterations in St. Mary's church consequent on the Reformation is set down very clearly in our text. In the brief reign of Edward very great changes are recorded by the churchwardens. Under Mary a return to the old system takes place, more or less fully, and with the accession of Elizabeth comes the complete downfall and collapse of the old order.
In this little chapter no attempt has been made to deal with the general aspects of the Reformation, the plan adopted having been simply to collect and place before the reader the principal entries of the churchwardens' expenses in carrying out the decrees of authority.
1547–53. Destruction and Alterations.—The first items in our text which disclose the progress of the Reformation are found under the year 1547–8, where at pp. 386, 387, we see certain sums of money set down as having been paid for the removal of various substantial fittings.
In the year 1548–9 we meet with the greatest change in these Records, when, the Chantries having fallen to the king, the entries of their income and expenditure disappear wholly from the annual accounts.
In this year, too, we have the important record of the purchase of two copies of the first edition of the new Book of Common Prayer. The churchwardens also sell the gilt of three 'ymages' and two painted cloths, one of which was purchased by the only churchwarden apparently then in office.
The next year's accounts, 1549–50, record the sale of two of the old service books and a chalice, a pax, a silver bell and twelve ounces of silver, this scrap silver 'beyng claspes of bokes and the busshops myter,' pp. 389 and 58–9.
In this year, too, the 'Table' that 'stode vpon the Alter' was sold (the 'Table of the Trynete,' p. 33), and 'laborers' were employed for 'vj dayes for takyng downe the Alters,' p. 391, three shillings and fourpence being received for one of the slabs for use as a grave-stone, p. 390.
In 1551-2 the 'Inventory of our Churche gooddes' was written
(see p. 50), and an entry of the purchase of 'bred and wyne' is
recorded. An entry also occurs of sixpence being paid—
"vnto a goulde smith for to take the sylluer ffrom a gospell boke & to waye it," p. 393.
1553–8. Reconstruction of the Old System.—In 1553 the accounts furnish very curiously the conflicting particulars of expenses connected with both the new and the old forms of service; the reason being that this year covered both the end of the reign of Edward VI and the commencement of that of Queen Mary.
Respecting the former we have the entry telling of the sale of
four pieces of hair cloth from the old altars. Also another entry
recording the payment to carpenter Wynne (by whom for so many
years the carpentry work had been carried out) for the making of 'a
benche yat went Rownd abowt ye comvnyon boorde.' Sixpence too
"for the sowynge together of the best alter clothes for to laye on the Commvnyon boorde," p. 396.
The amounts for these two items have perished with part of the leaf, but clearly the 'alter stone' (presumably the slab of the high altar) had been built into the wall of a kitchen possibly as a temporary expedient for its security.
On the same page is also an entry recording the purchase of two loads of 'lyme to make the altars,' and at p. 407 the record of the 'borrowynge' of a cross, two candlesticks and a censer, all of which were of silver.
The communion table is made, and the great Rood with its
figures of Mary and John, the 'sepulcure,' and the altars, are all
taken down. An entry recording that five men were called in with
'v doble rafters' to 'helpe tack downe the great auterston,' tells
also of one rafter being broken. The fact helps us, in a measure, to
picture the scene in the old church. The demolition appears to have
been very complete, so much so that money was expended for—
"lyme & sande, and for whiting wher ye awltrs wer," p. 412.
The student will find in our text additional details bearing on the history of the period; and the Inquiries of the Commissioners respecting the valuables of the church, etc., printed at p. 56, will also be found worthy of attention.