The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 1. Originally published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1921.
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From the Royal Charter (1133)
The charter of King Henry I here referred to (fn. 1) is addressed to W(illiam de Corbuil) Archbishop of Canterbury and to G(ilbert the Universal) Bishop of London; it is dated 1133, the thirty-third of the king's reign. As the king's reign commenced on August 5th, 1100, his thirty-third year ended with August 4th, 1133, and the year 1133 began with March 25th; as the dates of the archbishop and bishop and of the witnesses are not contradictory, the date of the charter must be between March 25th and August 4th of the year 1133.
The charter occurs in two forms, (fn. 2) both being dated the same and having the same witnesses. The first form occurs in L. i of the Cartae Antiquae in the Record Office and in the Hospital Cartulary: it is printed in Dugdale's Monasticon. Sir Norman Moore has printed a translation in his History of the Hospital and also in pamphlet form published in 1891. This second form, or charter No. 2, differs in some respects from charter No. 1; notably in that it refers only to the priory, and does not, like No. 1, include any grant to the poor of the hospital.
Charter No. 1 begins with the grant, for which it recites no motive, whereas No. 2 shows that the king's motive is 'for the love of God and for ransom for my sins, and for the salvation of the souls of my father and mother and my kindred'. Each charter ends by giving the motive of the grant, but Charter No. 2 has a more special clause mentioning 'the souls of my father and my mother and of William the king my brother'. (fn. 3)
The grants of privileges in charter No. 2 are fuller and more elaborate. As no translation seems to have been published hitherto, one by Mr. William Barnard is given at the end of this chapter, with the meaning of most of the Saxon terms.
Some consider that the granting of this charter indicates the time of the completion of the building of Rahere's church, but the fact of the convent having met and having had time to revolt shows that Rahere's portion of the church must have been completed and consecrated some time before the charter was granted.
Rahere's intention of further establishing his church and hospital by grants from the pope, which would have entailed a second journey to Rome, was frustrated, but was carried out under his immediate successor, as will be seen by what follows. (fn. 4)
'Also the same venerable man had purposed to lay a complaint of his misfortune before the apostolic chair and, God's grace helping him, to bring back therefrom writings which should profit himself and those that should come after him. But various hindrances arising on this side and on that, and at length the moment of death threatening him, he was not able to fulfil what he wished, and so deserved praise only for his good intention. But after his decease, three men of the same society (whose memory be blessed) went to the heads of the see of Rome, each to one, and by the three grants which they brought back from the three pontiffs, namely the saints Anastasius, Adrian and Alexander, they rendered this church glorious with this triple dowry and defended it against hostile attacks, as it were with an impenetrable shield.'
Anastasius IV here referred to was pope from 1153 to 1154; Adrian IV, whose real name was Nicholas Brakespeare (the only Englishman who has occupied the chair of St. Peter), was pope 1154 to 1159; but of the grants of these two popes there is no trace, either at the Vatican or in the hospital cartulary (as mentioned in the chapter on the records) (fn. 5) or in Jaffa's register, but both would no doubt have been transcribed into the lost cartulary of the priory.
A writing of Alexander III, who was one of these popes from the year 1159 to 1179, is still in possession of the governors (fn. 6) and is transcribed in the cartulary of the hospital. It is simply dated 'Anagni—13 August'. The pope resided there from 1159 until 1162, when he fled to France, and it may have been written in one of those years or between the years 1173 and 1177, when he was again at Anagni before going to Venice and Rome. By it the pope takes the hospital under his protection, but grants no privileges to the priory.
'Behold the prophecy of the most blessed King and Confessor Edward, so long time before foretold of this place, is now at length seen to be in great part fulfilled. For behold this church holy and beloved of God shines forth with manifold glory, endowed and guarded by heavenly promise, exalted with exceeding many grants from most famous men and for a crown of praise and glory dowered with many relics of saints and beautified with very numerous signs of heavenly virtues.'
These relics were apparently at times carried about, for a case of healing by their virtue is recorded (fn. 7) from the oratory of St. Nicholas, Yarmouth (probably Little Yarmouth, one of the possessions of St. Bartholomew's). The most important relic seems to have been one of the true Cross, (fn. 8) the possession of which may account for the church of St. Bartholomew's Hospital being dedicated in honour of the Holy Cross.
We are told more of the death of Rahere in the second book, (fn. 9) where the writer says:
'So then, after 22 years and six months of his priorate, on the twentieth day of September, the seventh month, he who founded this house to the praise and honour of the Name of Christ left his habitation of clay and entered the home everlasting that in his Father's house he might be crowned in his mercy and compassion.
'And as eternal salvation cannot come from works without charity, without which other good things profit nothing, and as charity cannot be had without the other good things by which a man is made good, we rightly have this hope concerning him, who lacked nothing of the things that belong to grace, which we especially seek in those who are departing this life, such as the communion of the faith of Christ and the partaking of His Sacraments, and especially the visible penitence of a contrite heart. For in these surroundings we believe he died; and concerning him we trust and hope for the help, beyond our deserts, of our powerful patron, to whom he left a little flock of 13 canons (fn. 10) as it were a handful of sheep, with a few lands and very slender rents, yet with plentiful oblations of the altar and the support of the neighbouring populous city.'
We are told also that: (fn. 11)
'There was a new festival of offerings and gifts in money, in household goods, in corn also and moveables, besides a great multitude of men that were sick, withered, blind, dumb and deaf who continually grew well in this place, a pleasant feast. For this reason, the day of his nativity in heaven, being known, was celebrated with great dancing.'
We are not told in the above record the year when Rahere died, or from what date the twenty-two years and six months is reckoned, but, assuming it to be from the date of the founding in March 1123, the date of Rahere's death would be September 1145. But the writer further on in the same chapter tells us:
'When the space of a year had rolled by there followed in the priorate of the new plantation, through Robert, Bishop of London, (fn. 12) one of the canons of St. Osyth, in the year of our Lord 1144, in the seventh indiction, in the reign of Stephen, son of Stephen, Earl of Blois, who promoted Theobald Bec to be Archbishop of Canterbury.' (fn. 13)
As the year 1144 in the Latin is written in full Millesimo centesimo quadragesimo quarto, and the year 1144 really was the seventh indiction, and as Thomas the prior witnessed, in the year 1145, a deed of grant by the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's to the Monastery of Merkgate (on its foundation in that year), (fn. 14) we consider the date 1144 to be correct and that the XXII annos et menses sex is an error for XX annos et menses sex, which would bring the date of Rahere's death to the date above given, the 20th September, 1143: otherwise, with the year's interregnum, it would bring the date of Thomas's appointment to 1146, a year after he had witnessed a deed as prior.
The character of Rahere after his conversion, as told to his biographer by those who had seen and taken part in his work, is given in the opening chapter (fn. 15) of the Book of the Foundation, and may be translated as follows:
'Rahere of pious memory founded this church in honour of the most blessed Bartholomew the Apostle. . . . Having but slightly applied himself to the knowledge of liberal arts, but, that which is more eminent than all knowledge, being endowed with purity of conscience, he strove towards God with devotion, towards his brethren with humility and towards his foes with a certain good will. And the proved sincerity of his mind, the conspicuous honour and probity of his conduct, his remarkable assiduity in divine service and his prudent care in administering temporal business, were worthy of praise. In feasts he was sober, a remarkable follower of hospitality, timely recognizing, patiently aiding and effectively dealing with the tribulations of the wretched and the necessities of the poor. Not elated in prosperity, patient in adversity, and if any misfortune occurred to him, he sat beneath the shadow of his patron whom he venerated, and whom he embraced with all his soul, and by whose help he was safe in all dangers. Thus providing with all humility and the greatest diligence all things necessary for the flock subject to him, he daily increased in favour with God and man, adding for his place reverence, for his friends gladness, for the malicious pain, for those who came after him glory.'
In a later chapter we have a description of his preaching (fn. 16) :
'Comforted in marvellous wise by the Holy Spirit, and imbued with knowledge of the truth, he spoke the Word of God faithfully through God's churches, and consistently exhorted a multitude, both of clerks and laymen, to pursue those things that are of charity and almsgiving. Wherever he proclaimed his sermon it was in such manner that now, by invoking gladness, he compelled all to applaud him, and at another time, by his unrestrained sadness, compelled almost all to sighs and tears. He himself, however, persevering with unchanged countenance and mind, brought forth sound doctrine and that faithful sermon which is according to God. In his teaching he was irreproachable, teaching those things which the Holy Spirit—by the apostles and apostolic expounders—had handed down to its church to be held universally. Furthermore, his life accorded with his tongue, his deed with his sermon; and so in the sacrifice of God he twisted back "the bill of the turtle dove to its own wings" lest preaching to others he himself should be found a castaway.'
This description of Rahere, taken with that already given of his life before his conversion, gives us the character of the man. In his younger days a time-server and frivolous courtier, making friendships apparently with the sole view of his own ulterior advantage, endowed with a quick wit and alertness which never left him, he underwent a very marked spiritual conversion from which he never went back.
The strength of his character from that time began to assert itself. His tenacity of purpose, combined with obedience to the Higher Power, was shown in the great work of his life. He had resolved to make a hospital for the sick poor of London, but he was commanded in a dream to found a church. This command he obeyed loyally and carried out with great ability, energy and initiative, showing, as we have seen, the wisdom of the serpent with the harmlessness of the dove. Having made friends with the mammon of unrighteousness, he made use of their friendships for the single-minded purpose of glorifying God. But in carrying out the command to build the church, he never forgot the vow that he made as he lay prostrate with fever at Rome; a vow which a weaker character would not have considered binding under the circumstances in which it was made. He had probably always had a soft place in his heart for the sick poor of London, but the intoxication of getting familiarly into the society of those above him in the social scale prevented his acknowledging that it was so until after his conversion.
The Charter of King Henry I, 1133 (fn. 17)
In the name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, Henry, King of the English to W(illiam) Archbishop of Canterbury, and to G(ilbert) Bishop of London and to all Bishops and Abbots and Earls and Barons and Sheriffs and to all his faithful French and English subjects and to his Citizens of London sends greeting:
Know ye that for the love of God, and for ransom from my sins, and for the salvation of the souls of my father and mother and my kindred, I most steadfastly affirm and grant and ordain, and by my royal power I confirm that the church of Saint Bartholomew London, which is the demesne chapel that Rahere my faithful clerk has founded for the use of Regular Canons; and my canons therein serving God shall be free from every subjection and earthly service and power so that as any church in the whole of England is amply free this church also shall be free as my demesne chapel and all lands to the same church belonging which the prior or canons of that place now hold or which they shall reasonably be able to acquire whether by purchase or by gift.
And all their goods and their men shall be quit throughout my whole land as regards all things which they buy and sell in markets and fairs and in all passing of roads or bridges, from toll, from temy toll and travelling toll, from pontage and pavage, from wharfage, lastage and stallage, from providing straw and from pannage and from every custom on land and in sea ports, from shire courts and hundred courts, from suits of shires, from paying scot and from wapentake courts, from paying monies for forfeitures and robberies, from taxes and danegelds, from paying scutage and hidage, from woodland tax and assizes, from wastes and forest imposts, from all forest pleas, from pursuing murderers, from working on castles, walls, moats, bridges, and causeways, from pounds or impounding any goods, from making fishponds, from cart tax or packhorse tax, or for conveying any goods by land or by water, from giving aid to sheriffs and their servants, from ward and wardpenny, from haverpenny and from hundred-penny, from guildpenny, from hengwite and ferdwite, from bloodwite and fietwite, from leergwite, from mudbriche and miskenning, from scewinge and fridsocken and weregeltheof, from wardenwite and childwite, from utlepe and forfang and witfange, from horseservice and drillings, from taxes for going to war, or in the repairing of bridges or forts, or in the taking of thieves, from keeping watches and from every secular service, and from servile exaction and labour; from all secular pleas and plaints and customs and molestations, and from all other earthly services.
And they shall have soc and sac and thol and theam and infangtheof and outfangtheof and flemenfred and the cognisance of hamesucken and gridbriche and of breach of the peace, and fighting done within the house, and breaking into house or court, and of the shedding of blood and all assaults and obstructions, and of all forfeitures made within their own jurisdiction, on the highway and off, in the city and without, in the feast and not at the feast, and of all laws and customs in wood, and in plain, in meadows and pastures, in waters and mills, in roads and in paths, in pools and fishponds, in marshes and fisheries, in granges and plantations, in all the lands and places which belong to the said church or ever hereafter shall belong.
And of all forfeitures of their own men or of others which shall happen in their lands and fees, all the pleas and fines shall belong to my said canons in like manner as they would have been mine if I were holding the same lands and fees in my own hands.
Now this church with all things belonging to it, know ye that I have taken into my own hand, protection and defence against all men, as being my demesne chapel; and that I will it to be free from every earthly authority and service, like my crown. (fn. 18) I grant also to be released to the lands which have been given to the same church, or which any person shall hereafter reasonably give, all customs and demands of royal and episcopal officers; and all things which unto the same place belong shall be entirely free, their cells, churches, burying-grounds, lands, pastures, woods, warrens, waters, fisheries, with due rents and services, from offerings, lights, tithes, tax, morthilds, laws, customs, debatings of causes and of customs, corrections whether ecclesiastical or secular, so that none shall presume by any molestation to make reduction or diminishing of these.
And to conclude the whole matter, let none of the kings to come after me, either by force or by prescription, demand provisions out of their possessions, but they shall have for ever every kind of franchise. I forbid, moreover, by my royal authority that any man or officer of mine or any other in all my land be troublesome to the aforesaid church of St. Bartholomew in any matters that belong thereto; or intrude upon its goods or possessions without the consent of the prior and canons. I confirm, moreover, all the privileges and gifts, and the charters which the church now has or which it shall obtain from kings, from popes or from any of the faithful. And whatsoever can be remembered or proved by writings, or by the witness of good men, to have been duly granted to the same church or acquired by it, no man may presume to diminish or nullify by any molestation, false charge, judgment or strong hand.
I grant also my assured peace to persons coming to the fair which is wont at the feast of St. Bartholomew to be held in that place, and to persons thence returning. And I ordain that none of the royal or bishop's officers shall implead them, or without the consent of the prior and canons, in that space of three days, to wit on the eve of the feast, on the day itself, and on the following day, shall exact dues from those coming thither either without the city or within, in the passing over ways or bridges; but all things which flow from the right to fairs shall belong to the said church and the canons.
After the death of the prior of that place let another who is worthy be elected out of the same community, but no person from elsewhere unless one cannot be found there worthy to occupy so great an office. But if that shall happen, which God forbid, let them have uncontrolled power to elect from some other well-known and kindred place a fit person as prior. Of the clerks or lay-brothers of that place let none presume to usurp the lordship, or interfere with their lands, men or chattels except by the will of the whole convent.
The possessions also which have been given, or shall be given to the same church, let it be lawful to no person alien to the said church to give to outsiders, or to sell or to reduce to ordinary tenure without the consent of the chapter. But under the guardianship of kings let the place be defended and protected, together with all things that belong thereto. And let the prior himself, being servant to the king alone, abundantly foster the flock committed to him with spiritual and temporal provision. But if any shall in any wise presume contrary to this my royal privilege, or shall attach the prior or the canons, the clerks or the laymen of the place, he and all of his and all that he has shall be amenable to our royal right.
Now I have granted all these things to the said church of St. Bartholomew, and to Rahere my faithful clerk, and to his successors for ever, for the love of God and the salvation of me and my heirs and for the souls of my father and my mother and of William the King my brother and of all my ancestors. I adjure therefore all my heirs and successors in the name of the Holy Trinity that they maintain and defend this church with all things belonging to it with their royal power, and grant and confirm the franchises granted to it.
|Henry Bishop of Winchester||Henry of Blois, younger brother of King Stephen.|
|Roger Bishop of Salisbury||Called Roger the Great, chancellor to the king. He gave St. Sepulchre's to Rahere.|
|Bernard Bishop of St. David's||The queen's chancellor and chaplain.|
|Geoffrey the Chancellor||The king's chancellor.|
|Stephen Earl of Mortaigne||Two years later King Stephen.|
|William de Albini the Breton||Justiciary, ob. 1156.|
|Alberic de Vere||Aubrey the son of Albericus, founder of the family of de Vere, Earls of Oxford. He was Great Chamberlain to the king; ob. 1141.|
|Richard de Basset||Justiciary of all England under Henry I; ob. circa 1144.|
|Milo of Gloucester||Miles, Earl of Hereford; ob. 1143.|
|Peganus [or Pain] Fitz John||Judge; ob. 1137.|
|Robert de Curcy||Founded a convent of Benedictine nuns (fn. 19) at Canyngton, Somerset.|
|Hugh Bigod||First Earl of Norfolk; ob. 1176 or 1177.|
Now I have ordered this my Charter to be made and confirmed and to be certified by my Seal of my Royal majesty at Westminster in the year of the Incarnation of our Lord the 1133rd and of my Reign the 33rd.
They are worth considering for the numerous instances they give of faith healing at that time, and for the scraps of information they yield concerning the priory church and its services, and other matters outside the priory altogether. There is no contradiction to known facts in any of these narrations, thus confirming the opinion that the Book of the Foundation is a genuine contemporary record of the twelfth century. The writer introduces the subject thus: (fn. 20)
'When then in the beginning there was built in the aforesaid place an oratory (orratorium) of the blessed apostle, many and innumerable tokens of miracles were performed, but, on account of their abundance, they were neglected and were handed down to memory by scarcely any one. Wherefore of those we can give only a few, but of those which have been performed in these latter days and have been known to us by sight rather than by hearing, we will faithfully describe as they occur to our memory.'
He then relates eighteen miracles, which he tells us in the introduction to Book II are 'examples of miracles which were done in the days of Raher': they are not given in so much detail as those in the second book. Of these eighteen, nine (fn. 21) are instances of faith-healing in the church, and one (fn. 22) in the hospital. One (fn. 23) relates a miraculous light that shone on the church for an hour after sunset. Another (fn. 24) tells of the recovery by Rahere of his lost antiphonar, and another (fn. 25) of the cure by him of a swollen tongue by prayer and the use of the relic of our Lord's Cross. (These two are the only cases in which Rahere's name is mentioned.) Two (fn. 26) are in connexion with Alfune's collections in the neighbourhood for the poor. One (fn. 27) is a case of sailors being saved from the rocks by the intervention of St. Bartholomew, another (fn. 28) the extinction of a fire by the same; and another (fn. 29) of a notable man of Norwich who, having been without sleep for seven years, was cured by the relics of the church which had been brought to the oratory of St. Nicholas at Yarmouth (as already mentioned). (fn. 30)
Of the twenty-eight miracles recorded in Book II, ten (fn. 31) are instances of faith-healing in the church, and four (fn. 32) in the hospital. One (fn. 33) is the vision by an aged canon of the Blessed Virgin in the Lady Chapel; four (fn. 34) are in connexion with shipwrecked sailors. One (fn. 35) records the release of a man unlawfully imprisoned near the priory; another (fn. 36) relates how a young woman was freed from the effects of the temptation of the devil. Three (fn. 37) relate the saving of cows from death; one (fn. 38) the recovery on conditions of ill-gotten gains that had been stolen; one (fn. 39) the saving of a house from fire; another (fn. 40) the recovery of a strayed horse; and another (fn. 41) the release of a man bound in a cart. The whole of these miracles are attributed to the intervention or to the virtue of St. Bartholomew.
It is noteworthy that four only of the recorded cases of healing took place at the hospital, but this is probably due to the fact that the records were made by a canon of the priory and not by a brother of the hospital. The fact, however, that healing was carried on at the church may have been one of the many causes of the dissensions between the two foundations after Rahere's death, for these healings no doubt meant increased oblations to the altar.
The healings here recorded are for the most part of men or women crippled in their limbs, or deaf, dumb, or blind. They are of interest at the present time when we hear so much about the gift of spiritual healing being still amongst us, united then as now, and in the time of our Lord, by the faith of the patient.
'In the year 1148 from the incarnation of our Lord and 12 (fn. 42) from the death of Henry the first, king of the English, when the sun's golden orbit had brought back to us the much-desired joys of festal celebration with a new festival of the blessed apostle, new miracles occurred. Sick men oppressed with divers diseases lay prostrate in the church, while the lamps glowed redly on all sides, beseeching the divine clemency and praying for the presence of the blessed Bartholomew. Nor assuredly was the mercy of God far from them, who is always present at the prayer of those that devoutly ask him.
'For one man rejoices with a cry of jubilation that he had received remedy of his aching head, another restoration of his walking powers. Here a man rejoices free from ringing in the ears, there one from ulceration of the limbs; here one who has lost soreness of his eyes and received clearness of sight; many rejoice that they were soothed from the distress of fevers, and thundered praises to the honour and glory of the apostle.'
Continuing, the writer gives the following account (fn. 43) of faith-healing which must serve as an example for the rest, seeing they are all given at length in the appendix. (fn. 44) (Some of the actions in this and other cases recorded by our author resemble those described of people suffering from Tarantism in the Middle Ages. (fn. 45) )
'While on every side there was given by all the people applause for such things, far off, in the left end of the church, there was heard by certain persons weeping and wailing, where lay a girl deaf and dumb and deprived of the sight of both eyes, and crippled with legs bent backward; whose weeping parents lay clinging to the pavement and ceased not from prayer until the clergy should finish all things which were rightly expedient at so great a festival. So it pleased the divine goodness to condescend to their petition and that His creature should not longer be vexed by the power of evil, but should be perfectly and fully delivered from every bond of sickness. When therefore the canons were chanting the second vespers, the maiden began to be tortured more grievously and to be vexed more hardly than she was wont, foaming at the mouth, smiting her breast, dashing her head upon the ground; but when they came to the hymn of Mary, the most Blessed Mother of God, at the incensing of the altars, the aforesaid girl began to cry with a shrill voice and to stretch her limbs with a supreme effort. And soon thankfully leaping forth, and wiping her eyes, now new and clear, with the linen cloth with which she was clad, with firm step and repaired hearing and with the pleasure of sight restored, she ran to the table of the holy altar, stretching out both hands to the stars. So she, who a little time before had been deaf and dumb, now joyfully called aloud in praise of God and assured her parents, as they wept copiously for joy, that she was free of all her sickness.'
In addition to the interest of the healing in this case, we get the information that the altar, before which this poor girl lay, was in the left end of the church (that is the east end of the north side), the exact position of Rahere's north-side chapel: the Norman entrance remains, but the chapel is destroyed and is now occupied by the robing room of the clergy. It was the oratory of the blessed apostle referred to above in connexion with the commencement of the miracles. That it was the chapel used for such cases we learn from the case of the cripple Osborne, (fn. 46) who we are specially told came 'before the altar of the most blessed apostle' to be healed. That this was the position of the St. Bartholomew Chapel we have corroborative evidence in the wills which are quoted when describing the chapel further on. (fn. 47) It is needless to say that the maimed, the halt, and the blind could not have been allowed to lie before the high altar, which was in the conventual quire reserved for the prior and canons. At that time the nave was not built, and the parish chapel was, we believe, in the north transept with the people's altar in an eastern apse, in the centre of the east wall, as was usual in monastic churches of the twelfth century. Access would probably have been direct from Smithfield, up Cloth Fair, and through a door on the west side of the transept, as at Tewkesbury to-day. The multitude of impotent folk described above was therefore probably congregated in the north transept. Particular cases like that of the maimed would have been allowed access to St. Bartholomew's Chapel by way of the north ambulatory, which to people in the north transept would then be correctly described as far off in the left end of the church, but not so far off but that the weeping and wailing could be heard.
It will be observed that from the account of this miracle we also incidentally learn that the vespers on the day of the festival were called second vespers, showing that it was then customary to have festal evensong on the eve of the feast, as now; also that the practice of incensing the altar at the Magnificat was in vogue then, as now in our own churches where a full ritual is followed.
Two (fn. 48) other cases are referred to in the miracles where the cures took place at the time of compline, showing that the sick were allowed to remain until evening; in fact, a certain knight (fn. 49) named Ralph who went out of his mind, and was very violent, was taken by force to the church and passed two nights there, at the end of which time he was cured.
The miracle of the Antiphonar, which has already been referred to, must be quoted here because it specially relates to the founder: (fn. 50)
'A certain man had removed secretly from the church a book which we call an antiphonar which—and because there was not at that time a large number of books in the place—was necessary to those that should sing in the church. When, therefore, it was anxiously sought and not found at all, what had happened concerning the book was told to Rahere the prior, who with quiet mind bore such a loss calmly enough. At night, however, when in his accustomed manner he had given himself to sleep in his chamber, lo the glorious apostle of God, Bartholomew, appeared and addressing the prior said, "Tell me, Rahere, what is that for the loss of which ye thus complain when I am nigh". And he replied, "My Lord, the clerks had that in which to the honour of God and of thee they were wont to sing in the holy temple of thy glory, and now whether it is hidden somewhere, or by chance removed by some thief, they know not". "At early morning," (fn. 51) quoth he, "bid thy horse be saddled and hastily enter the city, and when thou comest to the Jews' Street (fn. 52) spare thy spurs, loose thy reins, and leave thy horse to my guidance; then into whatsoever house thy horse shall of his own accord set his foot, in the same house, taught by me know well without any doubt is held the book of which thou has spoken and, doubting nothing, shrewdly and firmly enquire." And saying no more than this, in a moment he dis appeared. But Rahere, when it was light, leaping from his couch, carefully followed the commands which had been given him and, speaking peacefully with the enemies of peace, found the book which he sought, took it, and carried it home.'
We may have a laugh at this tale, but have none of us learnt on waking where to find something which the night before could nowhere be found? How often, too, has not the same church been robbed during the last thirty years! The narrative is of interest to this history, for we learn that antiphonars, or books which contained whatever was said or sung in the quire, were in use at the priory, although there were but few. We not only learn that when Rahere went abroad for even the short three-quarters of a mile, as it is to Old Jewry, he rode a horse and with spurs; but also we see Rahere's character once more as we knew it as the courtier. Rahere knew how to manage men. As at court 'he employed a complaisance that should please and thus obtained with greater ease anything that it pleased him to ask', so here among the Jews, who were the cause of so much disturbance in those times, he obtained what he wanted by 'speaking peaceably with the enemies of peace'.
At the commencement of the account of the appearance of the Blessed Virgin, (fn. 53) the writer tells us: 'At the east end of the same church is an oratory, and in it an altar hallowed to the honour of the most blessed and perpetual Virgin Mary.' This is the only record we have of there being a Lady Chapel at this time, though we should have assumed that to be so from the fact of there being north and south side chapels, as at Norwich cathedral. It is also fairly clear that this Lady Chapel was built by Rahere, for the saying, in this account of the vision, that 'the canons of this church, my loved ones, used formerly in this place hallowed to my name to pay me the service of a mass', evidently indicates some time considerably antecedent to the vision.
In the account of a sailor delivered from shipwreck (fn. 54) the chapterhouse is referred to, which confirms the early date of that building.
In the account of the poor man unlawfully bound with chains and imprisoned (fn. 55) it is said—'On one sabbath when, as their custom was, the canons of St. Bartholomew's Church were singing Te Deum Laudamus before dawn, matins being finished, a peal of bells was rung, and the poor man who was confined in bonds, hearing the joyful sound of the bells and hymns—for the house in which he was tortured was adjoining the church—began with devout mind and lamentable voice to call upon St. Bartholomew'. Here we have it confirmed that the practice of singing the Te Deum after Matins on certain days was observed at the priory, also that the priory thus early possessed a peal of bells.
From other miracles we learn of thank-offerings being brought by shipwrecked sailors (fn. 56) to the church; also that some of those who were cured would stay on for a time and work for the convent; one of these helped in the kitchen, (fn. 57) another did carpentering for the canons. (fn. 58)
To affairs outside the priory there are a few references; thus we see (fn. 59) how traders made profits by taking large quantities of goods to Wales to sell to the army when Henry II attacked that principality in the year 1157. We also learn that about the year 1156 (fn. 60) a cattle plague killed nearly all the beasts in Enfield; also that the town of Hastings (fn. 61) was nearly destroyed by fire and that the castle of Munfychet in the city (fn. 62) was then standing.
The middle English translation of all these 'Miracles' will be found in the Appendix. (fn. 63)
Rahere was buried in the church that he founded; probably on the north side of the sanctuary, where his body now rests beneath his effigy in a canopied tomb erected when the east end of the church was remodelled about the year 1405 (pl. III). It is the usual position for the tomb of a founder or of a great benefactor of a church; thereby it could have the honour of being used as an Easter sepulchre whereon the Blessed Sacrament was placed from Holy Thursday till Easter Eve. When there was an effigy on the tomb, as here, a wooden sepulchre was placed before it to be used in the same way.
Whilst the work of the first restoration was in progress in June 1866 the tomb was surreptitiously opened at the back and the remains of Rahere with sandals on the feet were exposed to view in a wooden coffin. A portion of a sandal, and a small piece of the coffin, were abstracted and hidden. Twenty-four years later, in November 1890, by the aid of a freemason, (fn. 64) to whose craft sacrilege is particularly abhorrent, these relics were traced to a house then occupying a portion of the site of the north transept. It being deemed undesirable by the rector and churchwardens again to open the tomb, these relics were placed in a glass case in the cloister.
It is customary for priors of the Augustinian order to be buried with their sandals on their feet, which fact, with other evidence, leaves no room to doubt that we really have here the remains of our founder Rahere.
The effigy is contemporary with the early fifteenth-century monument and cannot therefore be relied on as a likeness of the founder (pl. IV). The figure is recumbent on his tomb, with hands together as in prayer. The head, tonsured, rests on a tasselled cushion; the body is clothed in the habit of the Augustinian order. The outer garment is the Cappa Nigra, or canon's cope. The hood is rolled back beneath the head and neck. The upper part of the cope is fastened in front at the throat, but there is no sign of a clasp or morse. It is open from the throat to the feet. Under the cope is the almuce, or amess, a small portion only of the upper part which covers the breast is seen on either side of the hands: from it two stole-like strips of fur, three inches wide, descend to below the knees from the breast and have rounded ends. Beneath the almuce is the super pellicium or surplice (now painted black), which is carried down to the feet as far as the lower end of the cope, and hangs in folds over the arms. Beneath the surplice is the pellicium or cassock, the tight sleeves of which, fastened with two buttons on the arms, alone are visible. On the feet are woollen shoes. In another effigy of an Austin canon, Prior Rowland Leschman at Hexham (ob. circ. 1490), (fn. 65) and in the brasses of John Stodeley, of St. Frideswide's, Oxford (at Over Winchendon, Bucks), and of James Courthorpe, of Christ Church, Oxford, (fn. 66) the cassock appears below the surplice and above the feet. In the memorial brass of Abbot Bewforest at Dorchester (1513) the almuce and the rest of the habit are very clearly shown. On the Harrington tomb at Cartmel there are fourteen little canons in various attitudes carved in stone, but they are very different from those under consideration and the date is uncertain. There are two puppet canons kneeling on either side of Rahere's figure, about the knees—the one on the further side being a little in advance of the other to enable it to be more easily seen. (fn. 67) They are enveloped in their copes, the hoods of which are drawn over their heads and foreheads. From the back of the head falls an appendage 3¾ in. long and 1¾ in. wide which forms part of the hood. They are reading from open books in their hands the 3rd verse of the 51st chapter of Isaiah and from the 1st verse of the 35th chapter (as already stated). (fn. 68) The texts are the same on both books and are from the Latin Vulgate. (fn. 69)
'Consolabitur ergo Dominus Sion et consolabitur omnes ruinas eius et ponet desertium eius quasi delitias, et solitudinem eius quasi hortum domini. Gaudium et laetitia invenietur in ea, gratiarum actio et vox laudis.'
'Laetabitur deserta et invia, et exultabit solitudo, et florebit quasi lilium.' (fn. 70)
The writing is on parchment or paper attached to the stone book, but is now much defaced. There are three somewhat similar puppet figures in a sitting posture on William of Wykeham's tomb at Winchester (1404) and kneeling puppets on Chichele's tomb at Canterbury (1440). At the feet of Rahere is the figure of a winged angel crowned, draped in a black gown, holding a shield with the arms of the priory (see below) in relief and rising from a cloud. The puppets and Rahere's effigy are carved from one block of Reigate stone, but the angel is detached. The epitaph is inscribed on the verge of the slab 'Hic iacet Raherus Primus Canonicus et Primus Prior huius Ecclesiae' (Here lies Rahere the first canon and first prior of this church). Its simplicity probably saved it from the iconoclasts of 1642.
We have the authority of both the late Sir William St. John Hope and Mr. E. S. Prior for saying that the effigies and the angel are the work of about the years 1400 to 1405. (fn. 71) The costume of Rahere, the cut of the hair, the carving of the features and the drapery, the hooded kneeling figures, the angel, the tassels of the cushion, and the lettering of the books, Mr. Prior says are all characteristic of that time. Moreover, the two stole-like appendages to the almuce only came into fashion early in the fifteenth century. The colour on the effigies and on the shields is in a fairly good state of preservation, but its date cannot be fixed accurately. Stow, writing in 1598, did not describe the tomb; neither did he in 1603; but his successor Strype in his extension in the year 1720 says both the monument and the effigies 'are lately in a reparation of the church refreshed and beautified'. In 1751 a receipted bill in the church says the monument was painted at an expenditure of 30s. In 1815 and in 1867 the monument was restored, but repainting the figures or shields is not specified. In 1893, however, a man between seventy and eighty years of age came into the church to see the figure and said he had painted it many years before. (fn. 72) This would indicate about the date of the restoration of the monument in 1867.
The tomb occupies the three western bays of a gothic arcade which originally consisted of six bays (pl. VI a, p. 78). It formed the north side of the presbytery when the apse was converted, about the year 1405, into a square east end. There was a priests' door in the two eastern bays (fn. 73) of the arcade, which was removed when the apse was restored again in 1867. The third bay is a blank panel. The three western bays which contain Rahere's tomb consist in the upper half of three arched canopies which are richly crocketed and terminate in foliated finials in the cornice. Between these are pinnacles which also run up into the cornice, where they terminate in a small figure. They are shown in Carter's drawing in Vetusta Monumenta, in 1784, as running up two-thirds of the way only to the cornice and terminating above and below in a small ball and spike. (fn. 74) The crockets and pinnacles were restored in terra-cotta by Hardwick in 1815. (fn. 75) (fn. 76)
In 1867 these crockets were removed, also the whitewash and the iron railing in front of the tomb. (fn. 77) The pinnacles at the same time were once more restored and run up to the cornice as they are now; also the small canons' heads (pl. V b, p. 74) (of which there are thirteen, the number at the time of the founding), for Withers wrote, after one of his visits, 'most of the bases, mouldings, pinnacles etc. have been fixed in their position. One of the latter, with the small heads, was being carved. The terra-cotta crockets had been taken off.' And twelve days later he wrote; 'the whole of the pinnacles have been carried up to the required height and the terra-cotta crockets replaced'. (fn. 78) Between the canopies and pinnacles is a mural arcade arranged in two tiers; above the cornice is a rich cresting with reversed trefoils. The vault of the canopy above the effigy has ribs which spring from shafts on the inner wall, which is pierced with three square-headed traceried openings. In front of the tomb and below the effigy is a stone slab, 7 ft. 3 in. long and 2 ft. high, arranged in four panels; above this slab and immediately beneath the stone on which the figure of Rahere is carved is a ledger stone of Purbeck marble. Below the tomb is a plinth of 8½ in., and a base of 2 ft. 3¼ in. above the church floor level (1 ft. 9¾ in. above the sanctuary floor level). Before the floor level was lowered in 1864 this base was only 5 in. deep.
It was so described by Hatton (fn. 79) in 1708 and so shown by William Archer (fn. 80) in 1851, but the sword of St. Paul for London City is shown in the quarter by Pingo (fn. 81) towards the end of the eighteenth century, also in Vetusta Monumenta (fn. 82) 1781, and by F. Nash in 1804, and John Coney in 1818. (fn. 83)
The second shield is clearly for the priory; it is so assigned in the time of Henry VII in the College of Arms (fn. 84) and denotes the royal grant of the site of the priory. The third shield denotes the subjection of the monastery to the king, from whom permission to elect had to be obtained. The fourth shield, were it intended for that of Roger Walden, should be a bend azure, in the sinister chief a martlet or (fn. 85); were it intended for John Eyton, alias Repyngdon (the prior who died in 1404), it would probably have been gules, a bend cotised between two martlets or.
A certain Sir Stephen Slaney, Lord Mayor of London in 1595, had for arms (fn. 86) gules, a bend between three martlets or and in his will (fn. 87) he left, among similar benefactions, one of £5 13s. 4d. for St. Bartholomew's Hospital. It is conceivable that he reblazoned the coats, making the first coat the City of London and the last his own; and as the third martlet might have been half covered with the bend it may have been painted out in a subsequent restoration. The priory arms also occur on the shield held by the angel at Rahere's feet. We have no knowledge that they occur elsewhere, neither is there any record of the time they were granted, which was probably when the tomb was built, about the year 1405. (fn. 88)
The leopards of England with the crowns on the priory shield indicate a royal foundation, and the monastery, though stated by King John in his charter of 1203 to have been founded by Rahere, is often described in other charters as having been founded by the king. This was general in the case of the great monasteries, especially where, as here, the king granted the site. (fn. 89)
The hospital arms now in use are quite different from those of the priory, being party per pale argent and sable a chevron countercharged. They occur first on a seal attached to an agreement between John Wakering the master of the hospital and the prioress of St. Helen's Bishopsgate in 1423, (fn. 90) and later in the cartulary written by John Cok in 1456. Sir Norman Moore says they would seem to be the shield of John Wakering, which from the use of the seal of his signet ring for more than forty years came to be regarded as the hospital arms. (fn. 91) They do not occur anywhere in connexion with the priory, but the shield appears in a fifteenth-century book of Venetian Arms in the Heralds' College under the name of the ancient Venetian family of Renier. (fn. 92)
The monument has much in common with that of King Edward III in Westminster Abbey, who died in 1377; and it is almost identical with that in St. Edmund's Chapel, Westminster, of the friend of Richard II, Sir Bernard Brocas, who died in 1395.