The history of All Hallows Church: Medieval worship, chantries and chapels

Pages 20-34

Survey of London: Volume 12, the Parish of All Hallows Barking, Part I: the Church of All Hallows. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1929.

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11.—Medieval Worship in All Hallows

Let us return to the church itself and try to catch a glimpse of the numerous services, matins, mass and evensong, the canonical hours and the frequent processions, in which the chantry chaplains and mass-priests took their part with the vicar and his deputy the parish priest.

The statutes of the Royal Chapel ordained that the chantry chaplains should on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays say the service for the dead, Lauds and Commendations according to the use of Sarum. This use superseded the old use of St. Paul's, London, in the cathedral church in 1414, and quickly made its way in the diocese. An inventory of All Hallows in 1452 apparently shows that this church was then adopting the new Sarum Use, for (in addition to new graduals and antiphoners) the church owned two old antiphonaries "of olde Salesbury use," and also two graduals "olde not Salesbery." Whence it may be inferred that the new books were of new Sarum Use, while some of the old ones were of old Sarum Use, and some not of Sarum Use at all but presumably of London Use.

There is little in the medieval inventories (fn. 1) of All Hallows' church goods to show how the vestments or hangings were used. In medieval times there was no hard and fast rule for colours in parish churches. The best and newest vestments and those with much gold or embroidery were used for great festivals, and faded ones for ordinary Sundays or weekdays with little regard for colour. Red was commonly used for martyrs, white for Our Lady and virgins, black for the dead. What was practically universal in England was the "Lenten array," viz. the covering of all pictures and images with white cloths marked with crosses, the instruments of the passion, and the like, and this was extended to the altar frontals and vestments which were also of similar white material. Usually red was substituted for the frontals and vestments in Passiontide and on Good Friday, the other white veils remaining. This was evidently the practice in All Hallows. St. Stephen's altar had frontal and curtains of white "steyned with the passion for lenten," and the high altar had in 1452 a vestment of white fustian "for lenten" and a ferial vestment of white russet rayed "for lenten," while in 1512 St. Anne's altar had a curtain of white "for the upper part" for Lent. The Lenten altar cloth in St. Nicholas' chapel had red crosses. There is record of a single vestment of red for Good Friday in 1452. The green bawdkin altar cloth with "All Hallowe" thereon which the church owned in 1506 may have been used for the patronal festival.

The hangings at the several altars were of red, white, green and "blue." (fn. 2) In 1452 there were for the high altar a "front and counterfront" of red satin (fn. 3) with frontal of red cloth of gold and curtains of red "tartaryn" given by John Pontrell; front, counterfront and frontal (fn. 4) of white "tartaryn" powdered with "blue" garters with white curtains, which were given by John Croke; a frontal of green silk which went with front and counterfront of red cloth of gold; and a front and counterfront of blue . . . "stained" or painted with stars with two curtains "steyned with angels"; and there were also old frontals, including one of green, yellow and red. The Lady altar had a counterfront and curtains of green and white with a frontal of blue silk; the Trinity altar had cloths and curtains of white "steyned with briddes (or byrdes eyne) of gold"; St. Stephen's altar had cloths and curtains of white silk with garters, and others of white and green; and for the small altars in general there were frontals of several colours, blue stained with gold roses, green and red with gold flowers, white cloth of gold, another stained with the Apostles' heads, another stained with buckles of gold. There were curtains of green stained with angels and white roses, and others with a W crowned and a merchant's mark. These curtains in all cases probably hung close to each end of the altar on iron rods at right angles to the wall behind. In addition the choir was screened off by two other curtains being long "ridels" of blue.

By 1506 there had been added for the high altar the green cloths "for above and beneath" with All Hallows embroidered on the upper cloth, and also, for the altar of St. Nicholas black hangings, viz. a cloth of black worsted with a crucifix and the figures of Mary and John and with two curtains of black sarsenet. The Trinity altar then had a cloth depicting St. Katherine and St. Margaret with a silk frontal powdered with branches and curtains of "stained" linen. By 1512, the high altar also had a special cloth "of the trynyte," perhaps identical with the front of red cloth of gold embroidered with the Trinity previously given by Dame Margery Welton, and for St. Nicholas' altar there was a "cloyth steynyd with sent grygorys petty (fn. 5) with ij courtens of scheker sylke on[e] haelffe brent." St. Anne's altar then also had hangings of white sarsenet with garters, a cloth of white and green baudkin, and a cloth and frontal of "blue" baudkin with the curtain of white for the upper part for Lent.

Thus the church was full of colour, which was brought out by the steady gleam of the oil-lamp burning before the rood, and by the softer light of candles, shining at high mass through the smoke of incense which arose from the one censer of gilded copper, or from that other which had been beaten out of Dame Margery Haydok's silver girdle. The actual altar lights would not exceed two, set in the Galleymen's (fn. 6) silver candlesticks, or in the two standard candlesticks of latten standing before the high altar, or in the "middle candlesticks" for weddings. Other lights were set in the curtain rods, or in standards or hung from the roof. Six lesser latten candlesticks were used for more general purposes, and along the rood-loft thirty-one candles burned in thirty-one bowls of latten. At "morrow mass" there burned on the left or north side of the altar a single candle in a special candle stick "with a nose," probably having a socket instead of the more usual spike to hold the candle. Many of the torches, which were stored in a long coffer before the Lady altar, were bequeathed by parishioners to burn at the Elevation after they had been used for the donors' funeral rites. Geoffrey Hughes, citizen and merchant-tailor of London and governor of the Tower under Henry VIII, ordained (fn. 7) that twelve new torches should burn about his body at placebo and dirige and mass and be borne by twelve poor honest men when he was buried before the rood in the body of the church, where his predecessor John Churche already lay. Four great new tapers, "of the biggest that may be gotten" were to be held about the hearse by four poor men. On the hearse itself were to stand two "braunches of virgin wax" which (fn. 8) were to be set afterwards upon the high altar at divine service there to burn before the Blessed Sacrament. Such lights gleamed on the best cross of wood plated with enamelled silver, weighing in all, with its figures of Mary and John, 62 ounces, or upon the Galleymen's gift, a wooden cross plated with silver and standing upon a copper foot. Both crosses, being of wood, probably came from Italy, the Galleymen's home.


A small silver pyx weighing six ounces hung under a canopy above the high altar. It was the gift of Dame Margery Welton, (fn. 9) who died in 1437, and also presented to the church the "resurrection" described below, a silver chrismatory for the holy oils and a good new missal. Besides Dame Margery Welton's pyx, the church owned a great standing pyx, or "coupe for the sacrement" weighing about 17 ounces. This was a covered cup with a cross and the figures of Mary and John, and was possibly that silver cup with a cover that Margery Haydok bequeathed in 1447. (fn. 10) It was doubtless at the high altar that use was made of the new missal with clasps of silver and gilt which was given by the vicar Sir Nicholas Brymmesgrove, and of the great silver gilt chalice, weighing 51½ ounces, and known as the "Knollis" chalice, which probably came from Sir Robert Knollys, an eminent general under the Black Prince and the preserver of Richard II from Wat Tyler's followers. He lived in Seething Lane and certainly gave to the church a suit of vestments of red cloth of gold. At the battle of Poitiers when he aided in the capture of the King of France and many of his nobles the following song (fn. 11) was sung of him:
O Robert Knollis
per te sit Francia mollis,
Ense tuo tollis
predas dans
Vulnera collis

There were nine chalices in all in 1452, eight of them marked with letters from A to H upon the patens; and the same number existed in 1512. Next to the Knollis chalice, the most remarkable were the two which were the gifts of the Galleymen, the chalice and paten weighing about 14 ounces "with the head of Jhesus thereupon," the seventeen-ounce parcel gilt chalice and paten given by Thomas Attemille and bearing "the arms of the whytte cross and a bar of gold going over," and a small chalice and paten of parcel gilt with a lamb thereon.

In addition to the covered cup, Margery Haydok gave a silver "halywaterstok" with a sprinkler (isopo), but in 1452 the church was still using holywaterstoups and sprinklers of latten. During the next sixty years, whilst the parishioners were doing much to enlarge and adorn their church, many additions were also made to its plate. The inventory of 1512 shows the addition of a silver-gilt monstrance, weighing nearly twelve pounds troy, for use in the Corpus Christi procession, and on Palm Sunday and Easter Day. Two silver paxes (for the kiss of peace) had also then been acquired, one with a crown and the other enamelled in blue. Two large silver basons, parcel gilt, one with a red cross (doubtless enamelled), and the other with red roses in the midst, and weighing together just under five pounds troy, were then in use, probably to decorate the altar when the plate was displayed, as was done on high days and is still done in one or two city churches and in Westminster Abbey and some other conservative foundations. A silver sanctus bell was also acquired by 1512, and the old pewter cruets for holding the wine and water for the Eucharist had been replaced by two silver cruets having a small cross upon them. Dame Margery Welton's hanging pyx had disappeared by 1512; perhaps it had been superseded by the "Round baylle [sic] of sylver and gylte for ye sacrament" which weighed 21 ounces.

The 15th century saw the provision of various additional services chiefly in connection with gilds and chantry foundations, and "pricksong," i.e. the more modern type of music began to develop. The inventory of church goods at All Hallows in 1452 includes, besides graduals, processionals and antiphoners, "one boke with ympnes noted" which by 1512 had been duplicated. It is interesting in passing to notice that the written church books of 1452 had by 1512 been supplemented with printed manuals and processionals. The enterprising vicar, Thomas Virby, when he died left to the church two surplices sleeved for the use of the choir. The Fraternity of Our Lady was anxious that its chaplains should be able both to chant and to sing when they took part in divine service within the church. (fn. 12) In 1486 Thomas Betson, stockfishmonger and merchant of the Staple of Calais, left 13s. 4d. yearly to pay for his obit, 6d. to every priest, 6d. to every clerk, 2d. to each child that sings every holyday in the same church, 20d. to the clerks for ringing the bells and 16d. to priests and clerks to "drink together where they list." (fn. 13) Betson's executor, Sir Robert Tate, left 20s. in 1500 to maintain "Our lady masse and Anteyn by note" in the Lady Chapel in the churchyard, and 6d. a week to a poor man to attend in the chapel and help the priest sing; he was also a patron of secular music and bequeathed £10 to the "mynstralls called the waytes of London in consideration of their grete labors and poure lyving." (fn. 14) Richard Fauconer, master-gunner to Henry VIII, desired in 1520, that the honest priest who was to sing for his soul, and that of his son Robert, should be a "queerman." (fn. 15)

In July 1519 there were already in the church a pair of organs with bellows "in the loft a bowff" and another pair of organs in the Lady Chapel when the Vicar, churchwardens and "Masters" of the parish called in Anthony Duddyngton citizen and organmaker to make them a new "instrument, that is to say, a pair of organs for the church" at a total cost of £50. The specification (fn. 16) for this work is of particular interest because of its early date. Duddyngton was to make:

"a pair of organs . . . of Dowble Cefaut viz., 27 playne kayes and the principall to contain the length of 5 foot so folowing with Bassys called Diapason to the same containing of length of 10 ft. or more. And to be Dowble pryncypalles thorowe out the seid Instrument so that the pyppes wtinforth shall be as fyne metall and stuff as the vtter partes that ys to say of pure Tyn with as fewe stoppes as may be convenient."

He was also to convey the bellows in the loft into the choir with a pipe to the "song bourde," and should the vicar and people not be content with the instrument when made, they were to allow him 40s. for his trouble in moving the bellows and he was to restore what was good (fn. 17) of the old instrument. When the new organs were duly installed, the churchwardens kept back part of the payment until they had been tested for a year, and Duddington agreed to keep them, and the organs in the Lady Chapel, in order so long as he should live for a yearly fee of 6s. 8d.

Church music at this date seems to have been superseding the church drama. All Hallows still owned its properties for the Corpus Christi festival, but (as elsewhere), the pageant was falling out of use, and the churchwardens were concerned to find storage for the properties and to keep them in repair. They therefore let out to one John Scott (fn. 18) all their "pagantes . . . lonyng to [their] processys on corpus cristi day." Scott undertook to return them as they were at the end of 10 years, and to pay 10s. a year, abating the arrears of rent for the "standing." There was much to be done then to make them presentable; "it is not unknowe" (Scott says) "yt yei wyll cost me or yei be able to be occupyed xls and more." At another time (perhaps after the repairs had been completed) Scott hired (fn. 19) the "parcelles" for the Corpus Christi pageant at 13s. 4d. for little over a year, agreeing, however, to let the churchwardens have them on Corpus Christi day, or its Octave, or at any other season, and to restore them unbroken. The neighbouring Priory of Holy Trinity borrowed the properties of All Hallows for their Easter Resurrection pageant in 1515. The Cellarer of the Priory provided other "harness" for the "Resurrection," paid various waits and minstrels and gave 6s. 8d. to the keepers of Barkyng procession for the hire of their pageant against Easter. (fn. 20) The borrowed properties may have included a "Resurrection," the gift of Dame Margery Welton (fn. 21), which was doubtless a figure of Our Lord with a transparent jewel in the breast to show the host inside it, and is described among the church goods in 1452 as "a resurreccion of silver and ouergilt with a birell for the sacrament weying of troye weight iiij lb. vj unces," and in 1512 as "a Resurrection with a tombe a croysse and a scryne all syluer and gyllte" and weighing 53½ oz., the beryl then being separate and returned as weighing 3 oz. It was quite distinct from the great monstrance of silver and gilt and weighing 140½ oz. which the church acquired between 1452 and 1512.

The "resurrection" was used for the solemn ceremonies of Passion Week, when the host, consecrated on Maundy Thursday was set in the figure to show through the beryl, and veiled in one of the church's four "kerchiefs of pleasaunce" was "buried" in the tomb, or sepulchre, to the north of the high altar, until it was brought forth on Easter Day. All Hallows hung its sepulchre with "blue velewet embrouded with sterres of gold of cipres," and set above it a kind of false sky or "celour steyned (i.e. painted) with the Trinitee." On Easter Day the parishioners all flocked to partake of the Sacrament which was administered to them across the "longe towell for houselyng on Esterday containing xiij elles large" (1452), so that no crumb should fall to the ground. At Easter also the church showed its joy by removing the veils, which since the beginning of Lent had hidden all its altars and images, the "veill of white lynnen cloth" (for the high altar) and seventeen "peces grete and smale for the auters and to hele the ymages in lenten tyme," the "cloth steyned with the passion," which covered the rood, and the "longe cloth steyned hangyng before the rode lofte." In December took place another drama, more riotous, when the Boy Bishop wore one of the "mitres for seynt Nicholas bisshop," choosing either the one with roses or the one with stars, and with his assistants donned the "two litell copes of grene for children" (1452) or the cope of white bawdekin for St. Nicholas powdered with garters with a gown and hood of red (1506), or the "four rockets for children" (1512). So through a series of pictures the church taught the illiterate people, who learned off by heart what they might of the complex forms of worship, as did the four poor men who stood weekly on Saturdays in the Lady Chapel in the churchyard to earn an honest penny by saying for the soul of Robert Ingo the psalm De profundis or, if they could not manage so much, Our Lady's psalter. (fn. 22)

12.—Chapels and Chantries


Londoners have always made much of a funeral, and many of the medieval parishioners of All Hallows have left no record of themselves except directions for their burial and for prayer for their souls. Alderman John Croke, citizen and skinner, who lies below the altar tomb in the northeast chapel of the church, gave his houses in London, Middlesex and Calais to his wife, and afterwards to the church, on condition they should maintain a chantry chaplain at the altar of St. Nicholas for himself, his parents and friends, and should maintain an obit to be sung (per notam) yearly by the vicar, chaplains and clerks on the anniversary of his death, with placebo and dirige on the eve and requiem mass on the morrow, and with the tolling of bells and all observances meet for such an obit such as are kept in the city of London (1477) (fn. 23). A special fee was given for burial in the chancel, thus Sir William Hawkes, probably a chaplain, who was buried in the chancel, gave to "Maister Vicar for Mortuary after the custom of this noble city my best gown, and for the place of my sepulture my best surplice." (fn. 24) A general bede-roll for the dead was read weekly at mass on Sundays. John Pakyn, citizen and shipwright, gave 20s. to the church repairs in 1483 to be prayed for in this bede-roll among other persons. (fn. 25) Simon, or "Symkyn" Hugh, citizen and clothworker, in 1410 left a whole new vestment of black and green for perpetual prayer for his soul, while the vestment should last, "so that the vicar or parish chaplain should commend my soul for prayer every Sunday among others by name." (fn. 26) This suit headed the list of vestments in 1452, and appears in the inventory of 1506 as "two old copys of blake wythe brawnchys of grene sylke wythe prest deken and subdeken," so that Symkyn's gift ensured a century of remembrance in his parish church. About 1521 the celebration of Morrow Mass, said very early in the morning, had been begun in this church, and John Kervyle, mercer, then left is. a year for twenty years for "its good continuance if it be kept as it is now begun." (fn. 27) But many parishioners made more definite provision for masses and prayers for their souls after death, and this custom increased among them in the 15th century with the growing insistence upon the doctrine of purgatory, ceasing only towards the end of Henry VIII's reign, as the authority of the State enforced the doctrines of the Reformation. With some poor souls, the fear of purgatory evidently approached to panic. Simon Hugh, in addition to the other pious provisions in his will, gave instructions shortly before his death in 1410 for a chaplain to celebrate in All Hallows church and in the Lady Chapel near (i.e. in the churchyard) for seven years, celebrating in the first year a trental (thirty masses) of St. Gregory, and also exhorted his executors to have three thousand masses celebrated for his soul with all haste after his death. Blanche Medford, who wished to be buried nigh the altar of St. Anne, beside John Bolle, one of her three husbands, asked in 1493 that one hundred masses "should be done for her soul as soon as may be." (fn. 28) Roger Hewett, tailor, not longe before his death in 1534, ordained that there should be sung for his soul immediately after his death five masses of the Wounds of Our Lord, five masses in honour of the Passion, and five masses in honour of the name of Jesu, and that there should be said three masses in honour of our Blessed Lady "to thentent that she may praye and bee meane (i.e. mediator) to her swete sonne Jesu for my soule, for my father and mother soules," also seven masses of the Assumption of Our Lady, and three in honour of the sorrows that she suffered at the Passion. (fn. 29)


The earliest record we have of such provisions is the will of Cecily le Mulvard who in 1286 desired a trental (i.e. thirty masses) in "Berkingchurch" for the good of her soul. (fn. 30) A century later there were several chaplains in the church, for Richard Amuresden, himself one of them, left 20d. in 1385 to every chaplain celebrating continually there. (fn. 31) William de Tonge, a citizen of London, who in 1389 left 10 marks to purchase a legend (fn. 32) for the use of the parishioners, ordered that three of the best chaplains should celebrate in All Hallows church for five years after his death for his soul and the souls of his parents, stipulating that they should be present at all the canonical hours, viz. matins, mass and evensong, at a yearly salary of ten marks (£6 13s. 4d.). (fn. 33) There are many 15th-century bequests for a priest "of good and honest conversation," or a "virtuous priest and a good quireman" to celebrate for a year or two in the church for the testators' souls. The chaplain's salary usually came out of the estate, sometimes from property earmarked for the purpose. John Rolff, shipwright, gave instructions in 1432 that his wharf in "Petit Wales" should be sold to provide a chaplain in All Hallows for two years, (fn. 34) and Richard Colyn, a linen draper, buried in 1452 before the rood in the chapel of St. Stephen's, having had difficulty in recovering a debt of £21 from a Dartmouth merchant, desired his executors, if they could get it in, to use it for a chaplain who should celebrate for a year before the image of the Virgin Mary in the church. (fn. 35) Joan Mortilman, whose husband's account for repairs to the old parish houses and the church remained unpaid in 1505, upon his death forgave the church her portion of the debt, and also agreed "to do and say for the best to" her son-in-law to forgive the other portion, so that the "parische and the paryssons maye the better have the sowll of my seyd husband in ther remembranz." (fn. 36)

Members of the City Companies would strive by gifts to the Company to make sure of many prayers at their funerals or the yearly obit afterwards. For instance, Nicholas Jenyn, a wealthy skinner who had his dwelling "place" in the parish, and houses and a "key" in Petit Wales, bequeathed to the Skinners' Company a house called the Ram's Head in Eastcheap in 1531, on condition they kept a yearly obit for him in All Hallows church, spending thereon 40s., which included payments to the Company's officers and 4d. each for those of the company who attended, besides five shillings' worth of bread and ale for the wardens, priests and clerk. (fn. 37)

Devotional guilds for the common maintenance of a chaplain to celebrate for the well-being of the living members and for the souls of the dead probably existed in the church in number greater than that recorded. None of these, however, was of so great an importance as the Fraternity of Our Lady, which governed the royal chantry chapel in the churchyard. We have record only of one other brotherhood, namely that of St. Anne. The church owned "two quaieres of the story of seint Anne" in 1452. The chapel of St. Anne was next that of St. Stephen, before the rood. In the latter half of the 15th century it became a burial place for the Colyn family. Richard, Colyn, linen-draper, desired in 1451 to be buried in the chapel of St. Stephen (fn. 38), but his widow Rose and son John both prayed to be buried "next" him, in the chapel of St. Anne (fn. 39). In November 1471 William Thomson, mariner, wished to be buried before the image of St. Anne, bequeathing to the church repairs his "best white harneys" and to him that should "go for me in pilgrimage to St. Romyon" 20s. (fn. 40) Thomson's wife died in childbed a month after her husband and was buried beside him, leaving to the church repairs her "best coverlet of arras work" and to the new-born child her best gown of blue furred grey and her husband's two whistles (fn. 41). Margaret Henham, widow, in April 1505 when she was about to attempt the "casuall and jeopardous" passage overseas to Calais, where her husband lay buried, desired if she died in London to be buried before this altar of St. Anne (fn. 42); John Pownson, a Breton mariner, bequeathed 8d. to St. Anne in Barking church where his wife and child already lay in 1515 (fn. 43). The earliest known reference to a guild of St. Anne dates, however, from 1520 when Richard Fauconer gave 3s. 4d. to the brotherhood of St. Anne (fn. 44); while in 1527 Bartholomew Worrall, a parishioner and greytawyer, bequeathed 20s. to "the brotherhood of St. Anne kept in the said church [of All Hallows] to pray for me." (fn. 45) Three altar cloths were set apart for St. Anne's altar in 1512, and to these John Fyssher in 1517 added a pair of sheets, (fn. 46) probably to cut up, or for use as dust-sheets.

The "Galymen," or Italian merchants who lived in Mincing Lane and brought their wares ashore at "Galley Key" in Petit Wales, just south of All Hallows, clubbed together to make gifts to the church; but no record has been found of any guild among them to maintain a priest there. Their gifts as recorded in the inventory of 1452 were two silver candlesticks, weighing 1 lb. 2¾ oz.; a [wooden] cross plated with silver (fn. 47) with a copper foot weighing with the "tree" (or wood) 4 lb. 8 oz. troy, two chalices, and a new banner of white "tartaryn" with an image (or picture) of Our Lady.

There was great building activity during the latter part of the 15th century. (fn. 48) It was then that the chancel arcades were rebuilt, the chancel arch removed and a new clerestory built in the nave as a continuation of the new one in the chancel. The chancel aisles were also extended to their present length on a line with the east wall. It is possible also that the whole of the aisles were widened at this date.

Such evidences as remain show that the rood screen and loft, to which large bequests were then being made, were exceptionally important features of the church. The rood seems to have extended across both aisles, as is indicated by the wider spacing of the eastern arches of the nave arcade and the irregular position of the windows. This rood was reconstructed during the latter half of the 15th century. Before it in 1377 had stood the chapel of St. Stephen, for Joan, the widow of Thomas Snetesham, then desired to be buried beside her husband in the chapel of St. Stephen before the cross. (fn. 49) Others who were buried in St. Stephen's chapel were William Tilling, chaplain, who left a black worsted vestment to the chapel in 1430, Richard Colyn in 1451, and John Lovell in 1470 (fn. 50). The position of the chapel is further indicated by the will of Sir John Vale "chaplain of the chantry" in All Hallows church who wished to be buried before the high altar under the stone of Sir William Tylling, formerly chaplain of the said chantry. The only perpetual chantry then existing within the church was that of Thomas Pilkes, founded in 1348, and it seems possible that his chantry chapel was at the altar dedicated to St. Stephen. There are references to the altar of St. Stephen in the inventory of 1452, but not later. The chapel must have been a little to one side, just before the rood; next it came the chapel of St. Anne, for John Colyn in 1462, and Rose Colyn in 1465, desired to be buried in the chapel of St. Anne next to the Richard Colyn, who had been buried in St. Stephen's chapel in 1451 (fn. 51).

The third chapel of which the position can be inferred was that of St. Nicholas. John Croke, whose tomb still exists on the north side of the north chancel aisle, endowed a chantry at the altar of St. Nicholas in 1477. (fn. 52) It may therefore be concluded that St. Nicholas' altar was in the north aisle. A parish where watermen, mariners and shipwrights abounded was almost certain to do honour to the patron saint of sailors. We have seen how the parishioners prepared for the festivities of the Boy Bishop, and it is certain that as early as 1310 there was an altar of St. Nicholas in the church, as Peter Blakeney then desired to be buried near it and bequeathed 13s. 4d. for the pavement before it. (fn. 53) The altar was possibly removed eastwards when this aisle was extended, or a smaller chapel of St. Nicholas may have already stood to the north of the chancel. (fn. 54) Robert White, a brewer, was buried in the chapel of St. Nicholas in 1495, and Thomas Stodard, a woodmonger, in 1496; and there are references to the altar in the inventory of 1512.

Two other altars have not as yet been located. The one dedicated to the Holy Trinity is mentioned both in the inventory of 1452 and in that of 1512. The other had a double dedication to Our Lady and St. Thomas (so in the inventory of 1512), but was usually styled the altar of Our Lady. That it was quite distinct from the free Lady Chapel within the churchyard is shown by the inventories of 1452 and 1512, and by the will of Richard Colyn desiring that a chaplain should celebrate before the image of the Virgin in the church.

Only two perpetual chantry chapels existed in the church when Edward VI suppressed all chantries in 1548. The one was that established by Thomas Pilkes, citizen of London, who was buried in the churchyard near to the Lady Chapel. By his will, (fn. 55) dated 1349, he gave all his lands, rents and tenements within the parish to his mother for her life, then to his wife for her life, and after that to maintain a chaplain in All Hallows church. The rector and four of the most honest and able parishioners were to see that the chaplain conducted himself well and honestly in divine service and in keeping the houses in repair. He was to be present constantly at mass, matins, vespers, and all canonical hours and every night or day was to say placebo and dirige with commendation for the souls of the founder, his mother and wife, and his wife's daughter Ellen. The presentation to the chantry was in the Bishop of London, but the chaplains found it necessary from time to time to get royal confirmation, as when Robert Hykedy, the chaplain who had been duly presented, secured from Richard II in 1387 confirmation of his estate "in consideration of the pious purpose of [the founder] and the long usage and custom of the City of London." (fn. 56) There is no indication as to the particular altar in the church at which Pilkes' chaplain celebrated; but for the reasons set out above, it seems very likely that it was in the chapel of St. Stephen.

The second chantry was founded in 1477 (fn. 57) by a wealthy skinner, Alderman John Croke, who lived in Mark Lane. His widow Margaret, so long as she lived, was to find a chaplain to celebrate for him at the altar of St. Nicholas. After her death, his Mark Lane house with other tenements went to the Vicar and Wardens of All Hallows, who were bound to use the profits for keeping his anniversary, and for the maintenance of a perpetual chaplain at the altar of St. Nicholas.

The Blakeney family had tried in vain to establish a perpetual chantry at that altar. Adam Blakeney in 1295 charged land and a wharf in the parish to maintain a chaplain. Peter Blakeney, a citizen of London who lived on the east side of Mark Lane, left for the maintenance of a chantry priest at the altar of St. Nicholas a tenement called Blakelofte on the west of Mark Lane, and another on the east of the lane, in St. Olave's parish just north of his own home; but his executors omitted to obtain a licence from the King for thus making an alienation in mortmain, and eventually Edward III seized the two tenements in Mark Lane and gave them to the Abbey of St. Mary Graces near the Tower, which was of his own foundation. Meantime John of Cambridge (Grauntebregg), apparently a connection of Blakeney's, about 1329 charged his own dwelling house in Mark Lane to maintain a chantry in All Hallows for the good of the souls of Peter Blakeney, and Blakeney's wife Cecily, Alice his own dead wife, his son John and others. His executors and their heirs were to call in three or four of the best and lawful men of the parish to help them appoint a chaplain; but the house was so much out of repair when John of Cambridge died, that the executors, with the alderman of the ward and several parishioners, were fain to let it at once to one Godwin Turke, fishmonger, who, following the example of John of Cambridge, agreed to maintain the chaplain, either from the profits of the house in Mark Lane or—should it be destroyed by fire or go to ruin—from his own tenement in Spurier (now Water) Lane. In 1350 Godwin Turke's widow, Parnel, gave the tenement in Mark Lane, which by then included a brewery, to the rector and parishioners; but even these arrangements failed to secure permanency for the chantry, and in 1392 Bishop Braybroke agreed that the endowments of Adam Blakeney and John of Cambridge should be united for the maintenance of a chaplain to celebrate for ever for the souls of the founders, of all the faithful deceased, and all persons buried in All Hallows church. Still the chantry did not flourish, and no priest was celebrating for this foundation, when the Croke and Pilkes chantries were suppressed in 1548. (fn. 58)

The chantry priests were generally bound to take part in the usual services of the church, and these chaplains, permanent or temporary, must have augmented the choir throughout the Middle Ages. The Vicar was not always in residence, as Virby was; and he was often aided, or represented, by a parish priest or chaplain, such as "Sir (fn. 59) Stephen" the "parish chaplain" remembered in a shipwright's will in 1385, or "Nicholas" (probably Brymesgrove) the parish priest who received 12d. from William Godyng in 1400. Geoffrey Burgyn, citizen and vestmentmaker, had probably had business dealings with the "vicary," the parish priest, the chantry priest and the two clerks, to all of whom he made bequests for prayers in 1463, carefully grading his gifts according to the recipient's status, 12d. to the vicar, 6d. each to the two priests and 4d. to the clerks. The parish priest had disappeared by 1547, when it was returned that the vicar provided none.

Priest or vicar often bequeathed to the church his own books or vestments. Thus Sir Thomas Virby left, besides surplices, a manual with a collectar (i.e. a book of collects), and Sir Nicholas Brymmesgrove, who was vicar from 1403 onwards, gave the best missal with clasps of silver and gilt. The chantry chaplain, Sir William Tilling, bequeathed to All Hallows in 1430 his own red vestment of cloth of gold, which appears in the inventory of 1452 as a "single vestment of old cloth of gold red." The church then had many such single vestments and four complete "suits" of vestments for priest, deacon and subdeacon, such as the red cloth of gold suit given by Sir Robert Knolles, which included a chasuble, two tunicles, three albs, three amices, with the stoles and fanons (i.e. maniples) and a cope. By 1512, the church had nine different suits as well as single vestments. There was great variety of colour and texture in these medieval vestments. They ranged from the plain black worsted given by Sir William Tilling, chantry-priest, through the tawny damask with coneys and hounds on its orfreys, to purple bawdkin (a rich brocade) ornamented with roses and blue cranes. There was a red and green vestment adorned with lions of gold, another of blue velvet with white roses, and a third of white damask with branches (fn. 60) of gold. For Good Friday there was a single vestment of red. The donors besprinkled their gifts with initials: so we have in 1512 two copes of white damask with "Jes and Kays" (elsewhere "Js and Cayes") of gold and orfreys of red cloth of gold. In 1506 blue silk bustian was "powdered" with "Esses and beasts" (perhaps for St. Stephen), white bustian with garters, white bawdkin with birds, and red bawdkin with crowns and beasts, while an old red cope (possibly William Tilling's) was powdered with beasts of gold.

The two clerks figure in many a parishioner's will as the master clerk and under clerk, or upper, and under clerk. It is curious to note that the clerk's wages at the time of the Elizabethan settlement, and possibly earlier, consisted of the pewrents, a variable total made up of small sums ranging from 2d. to 8s.; and this method of payment remained in force as late as 1670, when (owing to arrears) the Vestry made a new book of rates for the "clerk's wages or pewmoney" and meantime paid Mr. Richardson, then parish clerk, £10 on account. The clerks had the custody of the goods and ornaments belonging to the church, undertaking "sykerly and saffely to kepe [them] w[ith]in the same chyrche to the usse and proffet there of" during the term of their service, and to pay reasonably for anything that might be "aliened" or lost through their fault. To this end, in 1512, they each found good sureties in two good citizens of London. The sexton's main duty during the Middle Ages was the care of the many candles and lights in the church. One account of his in the early 16th century answers for numerous small payments including 16d. for Mr. Croke's obit, 5d. for five tapers on "alhalon day," two links weighing 6 lbs. on 11 December, and two tapers, half a pound, "on cheldermas," two tapers of half a pound at Easter with a roll of wax of another half-pound, possibly for the Paschal light. This light was apparently supplemented in All Hallows church by the ostrich feathers peculiar to London, for the inventory of 1452 includes twelve "pensels of Ostritch feders."


  • 1. Where no other reference is given, the following account is based upon the three inventories in the church safe, which are printed as appendices at pp. 70, et seq.
  • 2. Some authorities take this as the equivalent of purple.
  • 3. The "counterfront" was probably a dorsal of much the same size as the altar frontal here called the "front." F. E.
  • 4. The "frontal" seems to be used for the frontlet, the narrow band of silk along the edge of the altar which hides the hooks for hanging the frontal and is often wrongly called the superfrontal nowadays. F. E.
  • 5. St. Gregory's pity, i.e. the "image of pity," viz. Our Lord rising from the tomb and displaying the sacred wounds as in His passion, appearing to St. Gregory as he was saying Mass. (See Henry Bradshaw Soc., XXII. Ordinale Sarum sive Directorium Sacerdotum, ed. Cooke and Wordsworth, London, 1902, ii, 646 seq.). F. E.
  • 6. See below, p. 30.
  • 7. P.C.C., 4 Hogen.
  • 8. Or, more probably, the candles from which. F. E.
  • 9. Inventory, 1452. She seems to have given it in her lifetime, as it is not mentioned in her will. (Comm. Lond., 482 More.) It may be that pyx which Virby's servant, William Walton, was charged with stealing. (Mayor's Journ. iii. 46, 47.)
  • 10. P.C.C., 116 Prowet.
  • 11. Register of Bermondsey (Harl. M.S. 231), f. 57.
  • 12. . . . in diebus dominicis et festiuis . . . ad diuini cultus augmentum eosdem capellanos in dicta ecclesia parochiali de Berking church . . . horis saltem canonicis maioreque misse per notam inibi decantand' et celebrand' cum cetteris psallentibus et psalmonizantibus volumus. (Excheq. T. R., Misc. Bk. 110.)
  • 13. P.C.C., 24 Logge.
  • 14. App. VI.
  • 15. P.C.C., 14 Maynwaryng.
  • 16. Church Deed, No. 1.
  • 17. "the rest of the Truest."
  • 18. Church Deed, No. 6. (1).
  • 19. Church Deed, No. 6. (2).
  • 20. L. & P., Hen. VIII, ii (1) 115.
  • 21. It was given in her lifetime, for in her will her pious bequests relate only to a chaplain to sing for her soul and those of her three husbands and to the provision of 18 torches to burn about her body at burial (Comm. Lond., 482 More).
  • 22. P.C.C., 15 Moone.
  • 23. App. V.
  • 24. P.C.C., 16 Fetiplace.
  • 25. Comm. Lond., 342 Wilde.
  • 26. Ibid., 174 Broun.
  • 27. P.C.C., 3 Ayloffe.
  • 28. P.C.C., 8 Vox.
  • 29. Comm. Lond., 235 Tunstall.
  • 30. Sharpe, Cal. of Husting Wills, i, 177.
  • 31. Comm. Lond., 129 Courtney.
  • 32. Probably a book containing the lessons, rather than a copy of the Legenda aurta. F. E.
  • 33. P.C.C., 2 Rous.
  • 34. Comm. Lond., 349 Morc.
  • 35. Ibid., 56 Sharp.
  • 36. Church Deed, 34.
  • 37. P.C.C., 22 Thower.
  • 38. Comm. Lond., 56 Sharp.
  • 39. Ibid., 331, 370 Sharp; cf. below, p. 31.
  • 40. Ibid., 93 Wilde.
  • 41. Ibid.
  • 42. P.C.C., 6 Adeane.
  • 43. Comm. Lond., 106 Bennet.
  • 44. P.C.C., 14 Maynwaring.
  • 45. Comm. Lond., 149 Tunstall.
  • 46. Ibid., 42 Bennet.
  • 47. This may well have been brought from their own country, Italy, where the wooden cross plated with silver was a common type. F. E.
  • 48. See the wills of Simon Hugh, 1410, £40 to rebuild the church roof (Comm. Lond., 174 Broun); Nicholas Bene, 1400, works of the church 40d. (Comm. Lond., 468 Courtney); John Rolff, 1432, 10 marks to the church fabric (Comm. Lond., 349 More); John Cok, 1440, 20s. to fabric of church and £5 to the fabric of "le yle" of the same church if begun within 2 years (Comm. Lond., 44 Prowet); Richard Colyn, 1451, 5 marks to church works (Comm. Lond., 56 Sharp); Sibyl Salveyn, 1453, 6s. 8d. for church works (Comm. Lond., III Sharp); Aleyn Johnson, 1457, 20s. for church works (Comm. Lond., 222 Sharp); John Dobbes, clerk, 1457, 3s. 4d. for new work of the church (Comm. Lond., 217 Sharp); John Baker, 1456, to the fabric of the body of the church £40 to be expended where most necessary (P.C.C., 10 Godyn); Lawrence Coke, 1466, 20d. to the church work (Comm. Lond., 393 Sharp); Thomas à Wode, 13s. 4d. to church works, 1468 (Comm. Lond., 36 Wilde); John Croke, 1477, £40 to works and building of the church, £40 to the rood (P.C.C., 33 Wattys); Elizabeth Johnson, 1481, 20s. to church works (Comm. Lond., 369 Wilde); Thomas Breton, 1483, reparation of roodloft 40 marks (P.C.C., 24 Logge); Thomas Gilbert, 1484, to church works as most necessary (P.C.C., 21 Logge); John Evyngar, 1496, painting and setting up of rood, 26s. 8d. (P.C.C., 2 Home); Thomas Stodard, 1496, church works, 40s. (Comm. Lond., 119 Harvy); and one of the church deeds (No. 34) dated 1505, whereby Joan Mortylman forgives the church a debt due to her late husband for reparations done to the church.
  • 49. Comm. Lond., 50 Courtney.
  • 50. Ibid., 243 More, 62 Wilde.
  • 51. Ibid., 56 Sharp; cf. above, p. 29.
  • 52. See pp. 27, 32.
  • 53. See below, p. 32.
  • 54. See Architectural Description, p. 54.
  • 55. Husting R., 78, No. 251.
  • 56. Cal. Patent Rolls, 1385–89, p. 360.
  • 57. See App. V; cf. pp. 27, 31 above.
  • 58. For the wills in question see Husting R., 24 (100), 40 (26), 57 (149).
  • 59. "Sir," here, is a courtesy title.
  • 60. "Branches" in this connection were probably narrow orphreys forming a [Psi] on the chasuble. F.E.