A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.
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33. THE COLLEGIATE CHURCH OF WINDSOR
There was an old free or royal chapel of some importance within the castle of Windsor, dedicated to St. Edward the Confessor, wherein Henry I established a college of eight secular priests. (fn. 1) It is supposed that these priests had no regular endowments and were not prebendaries, but were merely stipendiaries of the king.
In the year 1313 Edward II granted to the thirteen chaplains celebrating daily for the king's soul and the souls of his ancestors and heirs in the chapel in his park of Windsor, and to the four clerks serving those chaplains, £156 13s. 4d. a year, namely to each chaplain £10, and to each clerk 10 marks a year for their sustenance, to be paid out of the Buckinghamshire manors of Langley Marsh and Cippenham, until such time as the king should make an assignment to those chaplains and clerks of benefices to the like value. (fn. 2)
Soon after his accession, Edward III removed these chaplains and clerks out of the park into the castle. On 3 March, 1331, the king granted to John de Melton, Andrew de Bodekesham, Peter de Wyde, and Edmund de London, his chaplains, lately celebrating in the chapel in Windsor Park by appointment of the late king, and now staying in Windsor Castle, to be attendant with his other chaplains on the divine offices of his soul, &c., a yearly allowance of ten marks each for their sustenance. (fn. 3)
An interesting matter relative to these thirteen royal chaplains and four clerks of the park in the time of Edward II occurs in letters patent of 1346, wherein it is recited that Edward II had granted to all those ecclesiastics privileges of meals at the table of the royal hall (or their liveries of meat and drink) whenever the king or queen should be at Windsor; but now that the king had removed the chantry to the castle Edward III granted to the eight chaplains and their two clerks that every time that the king or queen or his heirs stayed at the castle they and their successors were to be admitted to the table in hall or have their liveries; and further, that they were to receive all oblations offered in the castle chapel in like manner as they used to receive them in the park chapel. (fn. 4)
On 6 August, 1348, the king signed a charter of foundation, whereby he established and definitely endowed a chapel within the castle, wherein (as he recites) he had himself been baptized, and which had been begun by his progenitors in honour of Edward the Confessor. It was to be rebuilt on a more magnificent scale, to be served by a much enlarged establishment, and to be dedicated in honour of the omnipotent God, the glorious Virgin His Mother, St. George the Martyr, and St. Edward the Confessor. In the first instance the king bestowed on this royal chapel—soon afterwards known only by the dedication to St. George—the advowsons and appropriations of the churches of Wyrardisbury, Buckinghamshire; South Tawton, Devon; and Uttoxeter, Staffordshire. To the eight existing chaplains he added fifteen other canons, a warden and twenty-four poor or infirm knights. (fn. 5)
Between 1348 and 1350 the king largely increased the endowments of his first charter, adding thereto the appropriated churches of Datchet, Eure, Rhiston, Whaddon, Caxton, Simonsburn, and Saltash, with the manors of Eure and Caswell, &c. (fn. 6)
In 1350 Pope Clement VI, after confirming the statutes of this royal college, granted to the warden and his successors that whilst residing there they might enjoy the fruits of other benefices. He also granted exemption from ordinary jurisdiction to the whole college; but for this privilege they were to pay a mark annually to the papal camera on St. George's Day. (fn. 7)
In 1351 there was some alteration and extension of the arrangements of the college, according to the direction of the bishop of Winchester, acting as papal commissary. The establishment, as then ordered, was to consist of a warden, twelve canons, thirteen priest-vicars, four clerks, six choristers, and twenty-six poor or alms knights.
A miscellaneous register of affairs of the college at the Public Record Office thus opens:— (fn. 8)
Item for the amplification of his hevenly merytes and noble memory, of his knyghtley fame, devised or desyned and establishede in his chappell and Colledge of Seynte George off Wyndesore, A custos or Deane, and xij secular preestes chanones, xiij preestes vicares, vj queresters, and xxvi pore contemplatyne knyghtes under one corporation, And as one joynte bodye, ffor whose perpetuall sustentation he fowndede full blessedly and approved certayne landes, lordeshipps, benefices and possessions To the yerely value of a Mli or more, as hereafter shalbe Rehersed by the particular parcells of the same.
At the head of the details of the property the composition of the establishment of the college is repeated. It is in the same words as the previous statement, save that 'iij Clerkes' are inserted between the vicars and the choristers.
The list begins with the particulars of the first foundation, i.e. of the whole reign of Edward III. It included the three manors of Eure, Caswell, and Castle Donington, the quit rent of 100 marks of the town of Northampton, 'one last of Rede heryng' of the town of Yarmouth, eighteen rectories, and thirty pensions or portions from other churches.
The sum total of the annual value of the original foundation and of all subsequent gifts, 'the blessede disposycions of other dyvers kyngs and prynces' &c. is put down as £2,193 13s. 4d. for the year 1516.
The yearly charges were: the dean £100; twelve canons £243; fifteen vicars £100; one gospeller £8; one epistoler and organist 53s. 4d.; thirteen clerks £130; thirteen choristers £52; two 'sacristorys' £8; two bell-ringers £6 13s. 4d.; two chantry priests for the duchess of Exeter £16; one verger £10; four chantry priests for the king £42 13s. 4d.; for bread, wine, wax and oil £20; for 'there officer outwarde and innewarde £20'; for the clerk of accounts £10; for 'there Rydyng officers and for other that goythe upon Errandes necessarye yerely' £28; and to 'theire learned Councelles for their ffees' £20.
An indulgence, or a relaxation of injoined penance, for two years and eighty days was granted by Innocent VI in 1354, to penitents visiting on the principal feasts, and on those of St. George, the Exaltation of the Cross, and St. Stephen and St. Edward; the royal chapel in Windsor Castle, in which there is a cross of great length of the wood of the true cross brought by St. Helen. (fn. 9)
Notwithstanding the papal exemption from jurisdiction, Richard II in 1378 directed Adam, bishop of St. Asaph, chancellor of the kingdom, to hold a visitation of the college, lest there should be anything unseemly (indecens vel inhonestum) requiring correction. The visitation was held in the chapter-house on 17 September, when every member of the establishment was examined. (fn. 10)
The following were the reformanda:— (a) The dean, Walter Almaly, was no longer to appropriate the fines of the poor knights for absence from office, but they were to be divided among the knights; (b) the dean was to divide all donations of lords and magnates among the knights as well as the canons; (c) two knights guilty of incontinence were reprimanded; if they or others were in the future guilty of such offences, they were to be corrected by the dean, if repeated to be gravely corrected, and for a third occurrence expelled; (d) one of these two knights was given to insolence, attended chapel but rarely, and when he did come immediately went to sleep; his case was referred to the king and council; (e) one of the canons was jocular with the laity and frequently absent from mass and hours; the dean was to deal severely with all such cases without delay; (f) the church of Uttoxeter, appropriated to the college, was farmed by one Thomas Tapley, who lived in the rectory house, with wife and children and servants, contrary to the canons; the king was desired to find a remedy; (g) one of the canons of the college did not celebrate as he ought, but was a huntsman and a hawker; he was therefore to be admonished by the dean to take his due share of masses, and to give up his illicit life, and if he proved incorrigible to be removed from his office by the chancellor, without any hope of restoration; (h) the dean was too remiss, simple and negligent in the correction of the vicars, so that they did not show the reverence they ought to the canons; (i) the charters and other muniments of the college were to be placed without delay in a chest with two or three locks in the treasury of the chapel, the dean to keep one key and the king to appoint the custodian of the others; (j) the dean to pay the vicars' salaries regularly; (k) a vicar's stall money during vacancy not to be retained by the dean, but to be given to those other vicars who take his place; (l) the order of celebration by the canons to be better observed; (m) a vicar charged with incontinence was left to the correction of the dean; (n) the swans and cygnets lately given to the college by Oliver de Bordeaux were to be divided between the dean, canons, and knights; (o) the gift of the late William Edendon, bishop of Winchester, of £200 to the college that he might become an associate (confrater) could not be traced, so the dean, into whose hands it was paid, was to be obliged to produce an account of it; (p) the dean was strictly injoined, under pain, to keep the cloister in a decent condition worthy of a royal chapel, and to have it at once cleansed of nettles and noxious weeds.
The college seems to have been peculiarly unfortunate in its second warden or dean, as appears from this visitation. Further difficulties arose in July, 1384, when nine of the canons lodged a complaint against their warden, who was usurping the chancellor's power of visitation, expecting them to appear before him; both parties were summoned to appear before the chancellor's commissary at Westminster. (fn. 11)
A grant for life was made by Richard II in 1387 to John Cray, a king's esquire, of the office of usher of the king's chapel at Windsor, to carry a rod before the king in processions on festivals when the king is there, with 12d. a day wages and lodgings in the castle. (fn. 12)
In 1399 Henry IV confirmed letters patent of 17 Richard II granting all the chapel offerings to the warden and canons, and ordering that certain lasts of herrings should be divided between the warden and canons resident. (fn. 13) An addition was made to the endowment in 1422, when the spiritualities of the suppressed alien priory of Ogbourne were granted to the college by John, duke of Bedford. (fn. 14)
In 1494 Pope Alexander consented to the suppression of the small priory of Luffield, Northamptonshire, in favour of Windsor College. (fn. 15)
Thomas Butler, warden of the chapel, was permitted by Pope Boniface IX, at the king's request, to farm, without obtaining licence of the ordinary, the fruits of his wardenship, and to be absent therefrom, providing it be served by a fit vicar. (fn. 16)
Letters patent of 1429 recite that when the wardenship with a prebend became vacant through the death of Thomas Butler, Henry IV, disregarding the terms of the foundation, granted the prebend and wardenship to his clerk Richard Kingston, by name of the deanery. Richard was admitted and had possession all his life; but on his death, Henry V, not being aware of the foundation, when with his army before Rouen, granted letters patent of wardenship and prebend, by name of deanery, to John Arundell, who was duly admitted as dean in 1417. The said John had become troubled lest he might be disturbed, as the foundation charter specifies warden and not dean, therefore Henry VI confirmed him in possession as dean. (fn. 17)
From this date the head of the college was always called dean; but, as we have seen, John Arundell was unnecessarily troubled and misled the king, for the second warden (custos) was repeatedly and officially styled dean by the chancellor.
On 6 December, 1479, letters patent were granted by Edward IV in confirmation of a parliamentary grant in 8 Henry VI for the incorporation of the warden or dean and the canons as one corporate body, with perpetual succession and a common seal. The same letter authorized the grant to them by the duke of Suffolk of the manor of Leighton Buzzard, and licence to acquire in mortmain lands, rents, or advowsons to the value of £500 without any fines or fees. (fn. 18)
Edward IV, who was the great rebuilder of Windsor Castle, finding the foundations of the noble collegiate chapel of Edward III in an unsafe condition, began its reconstruction on a more magnificent scale in 1474. The fabric itself was completed in five years, but it was not until 1481 that the stalls and tabernacle work in the choir were set up.
On the appointment of Bishop Beauchamp to
the Windsor deanery he obtained papal sanction
for the translation of the remains of John Shorne
from North Marston to a shrine in the new
chapel of St. George. The church of North
Marston, Buckinghamshire, had before this been
appropriated to the chapter. Of this church John
Shorne, who died about 1290, was the pious
rector. Miracles were reported of him in his
lifetime, which were afterwards continued in
connexion with his remains, and with a well
that he had blessed. The most popular of his
achievements, actually represented on church
glass, painting, and carvings, was the conjuring of
the devil into a boot. Round his holy well, so
late as the eighteenth century, these words were
Sir John Schorne,
Conjured the Devil into a Boot.
The visits and offerings to his shrine at Windsor were so numerous that they were actually said to have averaged £500 a year at the time of the Reformation. (fn. 19)
Edward IV died in 1483. By his will, dated 1475, he desired to be buried 'in the church of the Collage of Saint George within owre Castell of Wyndesour, by us begoune of newe to bee buylded.' He was to be buried in a vault with a chapel or closet over it with space for an altar, and tomb with his figure of silver and gilt; or at least of copper and gilt. The will further provided for a chantry of two priests, and for a company of thirteen poor bedesmen to live within the college. (fn. 20)
Edward IV was duly buried in St. George's chapel in 1483, and in the following year the body of Henry VI was removed from Chertsey abbey and here re-interred. Edward the Fourth's queen, Elizabeth Wydville, was buried by her husband in 1492, according to the terms of her will,
I bequeathe my body to be buried with the bodie of my Lord at Windesoure, according to the will of my saide Lorde and myne, without pompes entreing or costlie expensis doune thereaboughts. (fn. 21)
The original intention of Henry VII was to be buried at St. George's, Windsor; he drew up elaborate plans for a stately chapel and special almshouse for bedesmen. For this project he procured no fewer than four papal bulls of indulgence between 1494 and 1499. (fn. 22)
This royal collegiate chapel was marvellously equipped with rich ornaments, jewels, vestments, books, and relics, many of which were no doubt transferred from the earlier chapel of Henry III, otherwise we could scarcely expect so varied and wealthy a display in the days of Walter Almaly, the second dean, 1380-1403. A full inventory compiled in the reign of Richard II (with a few additions), names, among a large number of service books, an ordinal which had belonged to Edward III, another ordinal bound by William Mugge, the first dean of the college, a new text of the Gospel, bound in silver on each side, and a book of legends and of masses of Our Lady, the gift of John Grandison, bishop of Exeter (1327-70). In addition to the service books, there were thirty-four books on different subjects (diversarum scientiarum) chained in the church; among them was a Bible and a concordance, and two books of French romance, one of which was the Liber de Rose.
The list of vestments is an amazingly rich one, beginning with a set of ruby velvet, woven with figures powdered with jewels, and comprising a chasuble, two tunicles, three albs, three amices, a good cope, and two other copes without jewels, an altar frontal, and riddels or side curtains. There were seventeen other complete suits of varying colours and texture, as well as many single chasubles, &c. Some of the sets were appropriated for particular uses, as for use at the Lady Mass, at a private altar behind the high altar, for the two altars in the nave, and for the altar on the rood-loft.
In addition to the copes belonging to the sets of vestments, there were twenty special copes; one of red velvet embroidered in gold, the gift of Henry, duke of Lancaster; another of black velvet with ragged staffs of silver, the gift of the earl of Warwick; and two of deep red cloth of gold, with dragons and lions fighting, the gift of the duke of Gloucester. There were also two large sets of red copes, one of eighteen, and the other of twenty-two, evidently intended for the processional use of the whole staff of ecclesiastics on special occasions.
There is a wonderful catalogue of the jewels and relics infra tabulam summi altaris. The list opens with the richly jewelled noble cross, vocat. Greth. (fn. 23) The second is the still more richly ornamented cross, formed from the true cross, set in gold and blazing with sapphires and enamel, which must have been the gift of Edward I.
This display included silver gilt images, and jewelled tabernacles, reliquaries borne by angels, cups, vessels, crystal phials, &c., and there was another shorter list of jewels and reliquaries standing super summam altare. The actual relics were very numerous, and included bones of St. Bartholomew, St. Thomas the Apostle, St. George, St. Thomas of Canterbury, St. Thomas of Hereford, St. David, St. William of York, a girdle given by St. John to the Blessed Virgin, and part of the jaw-bone of St. Mark containing fourteen teeth.
The inventory of plate, all elaborate of its kind, included five jewelled morses; a golden chalice and seven of silver gilt; two paxes; nine candlesticks; four censers and two ships; a cross and four processional crosses; four beautiful pyxes; six super-altars, one being of jasper encircled with silver gilt; two mitres and a pastoral staff; as well as paxes, cruets, staves, &c. The swords of King Edward, the earl of Suffolk, Lord Thomas Banaster, King Richard, the earl of Derby, the duke of Lancaster, and the earl of Salisbury are enumerated, as well as six helmets and six mantles.
In addition to all this, there is a long supplementary list of jewels and relics in the treasury. Among them were a silver gilt cup which had belonged to St. Thomas of Hereford; a pyx of beryl, enamelled with the arms of St. Edward and St. Edmund; a pyx of red jasper with foot and cover of silver gilt, containing a bone of St. Louis; three jewelled crowns for the images of Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, and St. Edward; and a banner for Rogationtide bearing a dragon and a lion. (fn. 24)
There is another inventory, 8 Henry VIII, at the Public Record Office, which, whilst still very extensive, shows certain losses since the list, temp. Richard II, was compiled. (fn. 25)
The abstract of the Valor of 1535—the full return for Berkshire is missing—gives the clear annual value of the college as £1,396 17s. 1¼d., but in 1547, when the College and Chantry Commissioners of Henry VIII made their reports, the full annual value was declared as £1,530 10s. 6¼d., out of which £138 1s. 8¾d. went to the king for tithe. The stipend and commons of the dean were valued at £66 13s. 4d. a year; of thirteen prebendaries, £26 each; of eight petty canons, collectively, £106 13s. 4d.; of eight vicars, £80; of thirteen clerks, £130; of thirteen choristers, £52; whilst a certain priest received 40s. for 'ordinary sermonds.' Bread, wine, wax, and oil cost £36; £120 was spent on obits and lights, £8 4s. 7d. for masses and suffrages, and £6 19s. 8d. in perpetual (obligatory) alms. Out of the balance of upwards of £650, eight chantry priests received £78 6s. 8d. for their salaries, whilst £237 5s. was spent in the 'cotydyan dystrybucion' to the thirteen priest-vicars. (fn. 26)
The chantries enumerated in this return, within the collegiate chapel of St. George, were those of Edward IV (two priests); the duchess of Exeter, sister to Edward IV (two priests); William Lord Hastings; Canon Thomas Passche; Verger John Plumer; and John Oxenbridge. (fn. 27)
Although this college was specially exempted from suppression, it was visited by the commissioners of Edward VI of 1548. The names and ages and incomes of the clerical staff are set down; the two chantry priests of Edward IV were 'continuall preachers according to the foundation.' (fn. 28)
In consequence of numerous extensive peculations with respect to the goods and property of the royal chapel of Saint George, in 1552 a commission was appointed, consisting of the marquis of Northampton, Sir Philip Hobey, Sir Maurice Berkeley, and two esquires, to hold a visitation of the college. They were instructed to inquire, inter alia, as to the vestments and jewels, going through the old inventories, and including 'the palles of herses, namely of King Henry the vii and King Edward iiiith beside the palle of Henry theyght, whether thei kepe length and breadth, the organes and pipes, the plates of copper upon the graves, the spoile of the Chappell plucked donne in the College, King Edwardes cappe of maintenance, the sworde and girdle of perle and stone, the Duke of Suffolkes sword.' (fn. 29)
The Commissioners had an inventory prepared in July, 1552, showing that there were then three chalices with patens, six great candlesticks, two little candlesticks, two great basins, two censers, a monstrance, a cross, and two pairs of cruets, all of silver gilt; as well as a square agate stone furnished with silver (a pax), and seven rector's staves tipped with silver.
There were twenty-six copes; seven chasubles, each with two tunicles; various altar frontals, including one 'of needle work conteining the lief and martirdom of St. George'; numerous hangings and cushions; three hearse cloths; 'a palle or canopie to bear over the Kinge,' and 'the coate Armour and banner of King Henry theight.'
In addition to these goods, which were in the two vestries, there were the following 'Jewelles in the Erarie' (treasury): a pyx of gold, two paxes of gold, a tablet of gold with the image of the Trinity, a tablet of gold set with diamonds, cruets of 'bryraals,' and 'St. George's head with a helmet.' (fn. 30)
Valuable as these ornaments were, it was but a sorry remainder of the magnificent and glorious array that the college possessed a few years earlier. At the same time that this inventory was drawn up, the dean and chapter put in a long document giving as their reason for selling certain plate and jewels, that excessive charges had been enforced upon them. Their estimate was that these charges amounted to the sum of £1,965 3s. 1½d. The details included the cost of building parts of the castle wall, and the conveying of water in lead pipes, the furnishing of ten demi-lances when the late king went to Boulogne, and 'the taking doune the Alters, leveling and paving the ground and for peinting of the East end where the high alter was.' (fn. 31)
A threefold excuse was made by the dean and chapter for making partition of certain copes and ornaments, leaving the best (as they said) still in the college—'We thought it lafull for us to do, both bicause the goodes are owres, and also bicause the use of such thinges were abolished by the Kinge's Majestie godlie proceadinges, and finallie because the thinges did dailie decay for lack of occupying' . . . 'Concerning the Sapphires and a Balist that were in certain capsis of golde, their were divided by common assent of them that were ther present, everie man having one.'
Certificates were obtained from various goldsmiths, showing that they had paid the great sum of £1,489 8s. to the dean and chapter for various parcels of plate and jewels sold at different times during the reign of Edward VI.
On 8 August Sir Philip Hoby and one other commissioner examined the dean and each of the canons both singly and collectively. They were able to plead that the chapel of St. George had been expressly exempted from the late statute as to church goods. The various separate confessions and statements of the members of the chapter are somewhat paltry and sordid, and for the most part endeavour to show that each got but little, but that his fellows profited more. Their explanations and excuses availed them not, and they were ordered to surrender to the king all their remaining treasures whether held individually or collectively. These were dispatched to the jewel house in the Tower, where they were weighed on 25 October; the gold and precious stones weighing 685¾ oz. On 9 November the silver and silver gilt was ordered to be 'put to coyne with convenient spede'; the gold plate to be preserved for further consideration. (fn. 32)
Notwithstanding the vast changes in the wealth and beauty of this great collegiate church by the Reformation, Queen Elizabeth was by no means content that the fame of its music should cease. On 8 March, 1560, a royal proclamation was issued prohibiting the removing of singing men and boys from St. George's and expressing the opinion that it should 'not be of less reputation in our days, but rather augmented and increased. (fn. 33)
The Virgin Queen had ever a difficulty in recognizing the marriage of her clergy, and on 20 September, 1561, sent a commandment unto the college of Windsor, that the priests belonging thereunto that had wives should put them out of the College; and for time to come to lie no more within that place. (fn. 34)
Deans of Windsor (fn. 35)
William Dudley, 1473 (fn. 36)
Richard Beauchamp, 1478 (fn. 37)
John Morgan, 1484 (fn. 38)
Chris. Bainbridge, 1505 (fn. 39)
Nicholas West, 1510 (fn. 40)
John Voysey alias Harman, 1515 (fn. 41)
John Clerk, 1519 (fn. 42)
Richard Sampson, 1523 (fn. 43)
Owen Oglethorpe, 1553 (fn. 44)
Hugh Weston, 1556 (fn. 45)
John Baxall, 1557 (fn. 46)
William Day, 1572 (fn. 47)
Robert Bennett, 1595 (fn. 48)
Giles Thompson, 1602 (fn. 49)
Marcus Antonius de Dominic, 1618 (fn. 50)
Henry Beaumont, 1622 (fn. 51)
Matthew Wren, 1628 (fn. 52)
Edward Hyde, 1658 (fn. 53)
Bruno Ryves, 1660 (fn. 54)
Francis Turner, 1683 (fn. 55)
Thomas Manningham, 1708 (fn. 56)
John Robinson, 1709 (fn. 57)
John Harley, 1778 (fn. 58)
John Douglas, 1788 (fn. 59)
Charles Manners Sutton, 1794 (fn. 60)
Edward Legge, 1805 (fn. 61)
Randall Thomas Davidson, 1884 (fn. 62)