Introduction: The Text compared to other city churches

Pages lxxiii-lxxvi

The Medieval Records of A London City Church St Mary At Hill, 1420-1559. Originally published by Trübner, London, 1905.

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It is perhaps necessary that the reader should be in a position to contrast, at any rate to some extent, the system prevailing at St. Mary's with that of other city churches.

An examination of other pre-Reformation city church records will show us that the story of the church of St. Mary at Hill as shown by our text is virtually representative of the churches of medieval London. At the Guildhall Library are deposited the preReformation records of three London city churches in addition to those forming the text of this volume, the churches being respectively those of St. Stephen Walbrook, St. Andrew Hubbard, and St. Mary Woolnoth.

The records of these three churches consist of the accounts of the churchwardens alone, and though they follow more or less closely the same plan as that adopted in St. Mary's accounts are very inferior in scope and arrangement.

We may now proceed to give a very brief analysis of these MSS., and attempt to point out such items as appear to be in any way noteworthy.

St. Stephen Walbrook.

MS. 593/1.

The accounts were kept and the office of warden held from the feast of the Annunciation in each year to the same feast in the year following, one warden only generally holding office.

This MS. shows us that the distinction between the parson and parish priest was not restricted to the church of St. Mary at Hill. The words are:—
"to speke with Master parson when the parische prest was in the cowntre"

(Section II, leaf 5).

At Section IV, leaf 9, back, we read of a gown and a livery hood being 'pledge to the chirche.'

The Prophets are mentioned (Section V, leaf 2, back), and the frame over the church door on Palm Sunday is referred to at leaf 51 of the accounts of St. Andrew Hubbard.

An "Irryn to put owt the torchys and a nodyr to pyke the torchys," is mentioned in Section V, leaf 3, back.

At Section VI, leaf 4, mention is made of 'Master dodmeres pewe & his wiffes pewe.'

At Section VII, plates to set candles in the church are mentioned at leaf 6.

Garlands of 'geloffers' are purchased for St. Stephen's Day (Section XIII, leaf 3, back).

St. Andrew Hubbard, Eastcheap.

MS. 1279/1.

These accounts were kept sometimes from the feast of the Annunciation, sometimes from Easter to Easter or days in April, sometimes from Michaelmas, the two wardens holding office for one, two, and sometimes three years successively. One warden, by name Ralph Clark, appears to have held the office for years.

On St. Andrew's Day, 1456–7, money was gathered 'at þe Churche dure,' 'margaret þe ffruterer standynge' there (leaf 5). The next year money was again similarly gathered, at this time some one 'sittyng at þe Churche dure' (leaf 9).

In 1475 (leaf 32) the following entry occurs, but whether Margaret Kene paid £2 to beg for herself, or whether her receipts on behalf of the church amounted to as much, can only be guessed, but from the roundness of the sum, the former seems the more probable:—'Item, resceyued of Margaret Kene for hir stondyng atte Chirch dore for a hole yere—ij l'i.' In 1489–90 (leaf 57) £2 3s. 8d. was 'Resceyved of almes in the strete.'

In 1459 a reference to the May Day dancing with the Hobby Horse appears:—'Item, To Mayers child for dawnsyng with þe hobye hors—ij d' (leaf 17, back).

In 1467–9 (leaf 22, back) 'Richemondes wyfes pewe' is mentioned; also eightpence was paid 'to a carpenter and to a dawber for makyng of a thing in the north side of the chirche for droppyng[s ?] of candell' (leaf 23).

On more than one occasion the wardens record the gift of very secular articles to the church: 'a harnes of Syluyr,' sold for twoshillings and twopence (leaf 14, back); 'an old gown that was geven to the chirche, by vs sold—ij s vj d' (leaf 28).

The wife of the 'Waferer' is mentioned on leaf 28.

On leaf 36 we have a reference to forms in the roodloft; and at leaf 101, back, 'pewys in the Rode lofte,' which point to a considerable number of seats there.

'The Chirchyng pewe' is mentioned at leaf 19, back.

An iron tray to receive the candle-droppings before a figure is mentioned on leaf 36.

And at leaf 80, back (1500–3), it is noted that eightpence was 'paid ffor a pewe makeyng in the loft for the maydyns.'

The 'boxe that the sacrament hangith in' is mentioned on leaf 40, and on the back of the same leaf reference is made to the payment of a man 'while we were Clerkles to bere a torche with the hosell,' this being a particularly interesting reference to the carrying of a light before the sacrament as it was borne to a sick parishioner.

At leaf 35 iij d is paid 'for Amendyng of the pewe for bugges.'

Coals in the upper vestry to dry the copes, evidently after an out-door procession in the rain, cost a penny in 1481–3 (leaf 43).

A curious item occurs on leaf 51, where the payment of twopence is recorded 'for loppyng of the tree in the chirche yarde for caterpillers.' This tree apparently produced a regular income to the church.

A 'canstyke for the orgyns, iiij d,' is entered on leaf 79, back.

At leaf 83 a halfpenny was paid for 'Syngyng bred.'

In 1523 fourpence was paid to a priest 'for playing on the organs the iijde day of octobre' (leaf 117, back). And in the same year (leaf 119) the following very curious entry was inserted:—
"It ys agreyd by ye consent of ye holl paryshe the vj daye of Septembar anno 1545:—

ffor all ded bodys that shall dye withyn the paryshe that shall be carryed too powlls, yat the cwrat shall have of ye same part yat ys [..?..] syon for hys paynns, for all ayg[g?]s [ages?] yat the sayd Corse shall be, iiij d, and the byrryar wyll have mase & dyrryge to agre withe the sayd cwratt. And the clarke, for a knyll of a howar long and for hys paynns to powlles, viij d; yf he saye anye dyryge or ryng anye peylles to paye hyme as they canne agre. And yt yys allsoo agreyd of the remorse of charyte for thes parteys above naymyd that they shall paye all swche costes as ys ordynaryly payd yn the paryshe and the rest to be payd owt of the churche boxe by ye handes of ye cherche wardenns; yat ys to saye, the ordynarye ys for everye berar of ye bodys ij d, and for everye berar of ye torchys ij d, and for every howslyng bodye for ye pytt & knylle xiiij d, and wnder age all ta paye x d, and thys to be fwllfylled: ytt ys so thowght meyt and determynyd by ye sayd paryshnars yat thys shall ynduar and contynue for ye spayse of wonn holl yere from the daye abovesayd; ther naymys that was consentyng as followythe.

The St. Mary Woolnoth accounts call for no particular remark.

The records of the church of St. Andrew, Holborn, to which my attention was kindly directed by Dr. Wickham-Legg and Mr. St. John Hope, are still kept at the church. Such, too, is the case with the records of the church of St. Margaret Patens.

The records of the church of St. Michael, Cornhill, have been printed, and edited by Mr. Overall, and fragments of the records of city churches will be found printed in Archœologia.