Religious Guild: Ludlow, Palmers' Guild

Pages 134-140

A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1973.

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It was said in 1388 that this guild had been founded in 1284 by a group of Ludlow burgesses, who assigned rent-charges on their property to endow three guild chaplains, severally to pray daily for the living, for the dead, and in honour of the Cross. (fn. 1) All brethren and sisters of the guild were to attend the funerals of guild members on pain of a fine. Nocturnal wakes were permitted but no women other than kin were to attend and participants were forbidden to wear 'hideous masks', to jest about the deceased, or indulge in unseemly sports. In intention at least the guild was also to be a mutual benefit society. Relief was to be given, according to the merit and quality of the person concerned and only on the first three occasions, to members reduced to poverty by theft, fire, shipwreck, or other mishap. In addition to assistance during temporary sickness, particular care was to be given to lepers and the blind, and to mutilated or incurable brethren. Should a guildsman be wrongfully imprisoned anywhere in England the guild officers were to secure his release, either from his own or from guild resources, and a dowry was to be provided for sisters of the guild on their marriage or entry into religion. Authority was vested in a warden (or rector) and two stewards, who were to be appointed annually by a small committee of guildsmen. The guild was incorporated in 1329. (fn. 2)

The guild had existed for some years before the promulgation of the statutes of 1284. The tradition, current in Leland's time, (fn. 3) that it had been founded in the time of Edward the Confessor arose from the identification of the Ludlow palmers with the three palmers who, according to legend, had brought back a ring from St. John the Evangelist to this king. (fn. 4) The legend is depicted in glass, said to date from the mid 15th century, in St. John's chapel in Ludlow church (fn. 5) and Leland presumably saw it repeated on the reredos of this chapel's altar, carved in 1525. (fn. 6) The statutes indicate no special devotion to St. John the Evangelist. According to them the guild was dedicated to the Virgin (fn. 7) but the dedication to the Virgin and St. John jointly, first recorded in 1329, (fn. 8) became the common form soon after and suggests that both legend and legendary founder had been adopted early in the 14th century.

More reliable evidence for the origins of the guild is provided by its muniments of title, the earliest of which is an undated register (fn. 9) briefly listing donors of rent-charges on properties in Ludlow. The first part of the register, which is arranged topographically and records some 113 grants, appears to have been drawn up in the 1270s. (fn. 10) A further 41 grants of rentcharges were later added to the register as they were made. The comparatively large number of grants recorded in the original part of this register need not necessarily imply that the guild had been in existence for many years before its compilation. Of the 113 original grants 91 were of rent-charges of 6d. a year or less and the total income thus secured was little more than adequate to support its chaplains, at least two of whom were employed at the time the register was compiled. (fn. 11) It is more likely that most of these early grants were the result of a sudden outburst of enthusiasm in the middle years of the 13th century. The initiator may have been Geoffrey Andrew (fl. 1255-75), who is the first known warden of the guild and whose name heads the list of grants in the undated register. (fn. 12)

Although annual election of officers had been stipulated in 1284 (fn. 13) wardens of the guild seem always to have held office for life and the two stewards for periods of four or five years. The latter were presumably at first responsible for all aspects of guild finances but, as guild property increased, one of the guild chaplains was employed as rent collector. By 1344 the rent collector, though still subordinate to the stewards, was accounting separately. (fn. 14) By the early 15th century the functions of the stewards and the rent collector had been fully differentiated: the stewards collected entry fines from members and repaired guild property while the rent collector applied the rents to pay the guild chaplains. (fn. 15) Routine business was handled by a clerk, the earliest known being Walter of Heyton, writer and witness of a dozen grants to the guild, 1293-1308. (fn. 16) A guildhall in Mill Street had been acquired before 1283 (fn. 17) and was the meeting-place for the guild's annual feast at Pentecost. (fn. 18) There is no evidence for any other general assemblies of the brethren, the guild's affairs being conducted by a council, The latter can presumably be identified with the 'five or seven' brethren who, according to the statutes, were to appoint the guild officers, (fn. 19) though from the 14th century onwards it appears normally to have consisted of twelve persons. (fn. 20) These were prominent Ludlow burgesses, drawn from the same class as the members of the Twelve and Twenty Five (the governing body of Ludlow borough). About half of the persons appearing in lists of the Twelve and Twenty Five, 1308 and 1317-19, (fn. 21) figure as officers, donors, or frequent witnesses in grants to the guild at this period. The bailiffs of the borough witnessed many of the earliest surviving grants to the guild, while borough and guild both made use of the same guildhall. By the later 15th century the guild had, by means of admissions in confraternity, established links with all parts of Wales and southern England, but the close connexion between guild and borough was maintained throughout the guild's history. In 1470 for instance, eight of the twelve members of the guild council had been members of the Twelve and Twenty Five, (fn. 22) while nearly all the known wardens and stewards after 1400 served at some stage as bailiffs of the town. (fn. 23)

Although the statutes of 1284 referred to only three chaplains, (fn. 24) a guild rental of the same year makes it clear that four chaplains were being maintained. (fn. 25) Payments to five chaplains are recorded in 1344 (fn. 26) and a will of 1349 speaks of 'the seven priests of the palmers', (fn. 27) but there were only four of them in 1364 (fn. 28) and 1377, (fn. 29) though their salaries had by then been raised. The function of the guild chaplains in the 14th century, and more particularly their relationship to other chantry priests in the parish church, is somewhat obscure. An early grant to the guild states that its chaplains served before the High Cross (fn. 30) and this was the function of at least one of the three chaplains in 1284. (fn. 31) The original dedication of the guild to the Virgin, which occurs in the formula normally employed in grants to the guild of the later 13th century, (fn. 32) suggests that another chaplain had always served in the Lady Chapel. If this was so he served alongside a chantry priest maintained by the borough. (fn. 33) William of Tugford, the chantry priest of Our Lady, c. 1362-93, was not maintained by the guild, though frequently a witness or feoffee in guild transactions. (fn. 34) A similar dual service may have been maintained in the chantry of St. Andrew. This had been founded in 1275 by Geoffrey Andrew's nephew William, who vested the patronage in the commonalty of Ludlow borough (fn. 35) but, since the guild could be described in 1377 as 'the guild of Palmers of St. Andrew' (fn. 36) it seems likely that one of its chaplains was also concerned with this service. The guild's rent collector collected the revenues of both these chantries in the 15th century, (fn. 37) when they were presumably being served solely by guild chaplains, but their endowments were still being listed separately from other revenues of the guild in 1439. (fn. 38)

Small annual rent-charges, which were the guild's sole type of endowment in its early years, still made up the bulk of its income of some £10 a year in 1284, when this was derived from about 160 rentcharges and the rents of not more than 20 town properties owned by the guild. (fn. 39) Although they continued to be made until 1349, grants of rentcharges rapidly went out of fashion after 1300 and it seems clear that the guild was, in the 14th century, deliberately accumulating extensive house property in Ludlow. Much of this was given to the guild in return for spiritual benefits but, since a consideration is specified in a number of the grants, it can be assumed that in these cases at least the property acquired represented the investment of surplus income. Licences to acquire property in mortmain were obtained in 1291, (fn. 40) 1329, (fn. 41) 1344, (fn. 42) 1357, (fn. 43) and 1392, (fn. 44) but the provisions of the Statute of Mortmain were evaded by the regular employment of feoffees to uses, the licences were used to cover properties acquired many years before, and a proportion of the guild's estate was not recorded in the licences at all. By 1351 the guild possessed 38 tenements and 14 shops, in addition to 112 rent-charges and a fulling mill in Linney. (fn. 45) The net income from rents was £24 in 1345 (fn. 46) and about £31 in 1365, when a little over £2 a year was received from properties outside the town. (fn. 47)

As the practice of granting rent-charges fell into disuse the grant of rights of confraternity in return for a fixed sum, paid in full or by instalments, became the normal method of admission to the guild. The only surviving 14th-century list of brethren admitted by this means, 1377-8, (fn. 48) shows that income from this source was already nearly as large as that derived from guild property. A total of 63 persons was admitted for fines ranging from 2s. to 20s. a head and the gross receipts of £27 10s. 8d. exceeded the amount collected in rents that year. Most of these new members seem to have come from Ludlow but the list includes two persons from elsewhere in Shropshire and one from Bristol, the latter foreshadowing a special relationship between the guild and Bristol which is apparent in lists of guild members of the later 15th century.

New features, which first appeared in the 1390s, were to transform the character of the guild during the last 150 years of its existence. One of these was the endowment of chantries or annual obits for the benefit of individual members which, besides adding significantly to the guild's property, increased the number of its chaplains and so involved it more closely in the service of the parish church. Other new developments were the extension of membership far beyond the confines of the town and the cultivation of nobility and gentry with interests in the region.

In 1397 a group of feoffees in a guild transaction, (fn. 49) all of them presumably members of the guild council at this time, included Sir Hugh Cheney, knight of the shire between 1378 and 1400, (fn. 50) and John Burley (probably John Burley of Broncroft, knight of the shire 1399-1411). (fn. 51) There is little other evidence for direct participation in the running of the guild on the part of the local nobility and gentry, but this class figures prominently enough in lists of guild members in the 15th and early 16th centuries. A register of the time of Henry IV includes members of the Burley and Malehurst families, Fulk Pembridge of Tong, Sir Roger Acton, and Sir Hugh Mortimer. (fn. 52) As might be expected, the earls of March, lords of the manor of Ludlow, maintained close links with the guild. An inventory of guild goods, 1389, (fn. 53) includes a set of vestments bequeathed by the Earl of March and in 1438 his descendant Richard, Duke of York, was admitted a member with his wife for the high entry fine of £16 13s. 4d. (fn. 54) During the 1420s it was customary to distribute caps bearing the livery of the guild to local notables, as well as to officers of the guild, at the annual feast. Edmund, Earl of March, Lord Talbot, and William Burley were among the recipients in 1424. (fn. 55)

The custom of endowing daily masses or annual obits by individual members for their own benefit, rather than that of the brethren in general, is first met with in 1393, when Hugh Ace, Vicar of St. Katherine's, Hereford (but member of a Ludlow family), provided for an annual obit for himself and his kin. (fn. 56) The growth of the practice can presumably be related to the building of the college in the churchyard as a residence for the guild chaplains. (fn. 57) Over 30 endowments of this nature are recorded between 1393 and 1537, nearly all of them by inhabitants of Ludlow. They included daily masses endowed by John Hawkins (1405), (fn. 58) Richard Sibbeton (1408), (fn. 59) Thomas Paas (1427), (fn. 60) William Mershton (1443), (fn. 61) and John Parys (1449). (fn. 62) The resulting increase in the number of chaplains may be the reason for the enlargement of the college in the 1440s. (fn. 63) The guild's establishment was said to be 8 chaplains in 1436 (fn. 64) and, although only 6 were paid in 1463, (fn. 65) between 8 and 10 chaplains were normally employed, 14721533, at a cost of some £50 a year. (fn. 66) The only new daily masses endowed after 1450 were those founded by John Hosier (1486) (fn. 67) and Thomas Cooke (1516), (fn. 68) but in each case the founder stipulated that his chantry priest was not to be regarded as a priest of the guild, although the priests were provided with free quarters in the college and their salaries were paid by the guild officers. (fn. 69)

Apart from this proliferation of chantries the guild's contribution to the service and adornment of the parish church at this period must have been considerable. In 1446-7 the guild purchased 100 wainscot boards at Bristol for the choir stalls, which are still in the church, and may also have paid the wages of the craftsmen who made them. (fn. 70) The churchwardens' accounts suggest that the guild was always ready to assist these officers in ways which might escape record, as in 1469 when it contributed towards the carriage of stone from a quarry at Hughley. (fn. 71) The guild's most notable contribution, however, seems to have been in the field of church music. This developed in the Lady Chapel, where the chantry priest originally maintained by the borough was by the 15th century a guild chaplain. It is probably more than coincidence that the payment of an additional stipend to this chaplain for supervising the choir is first recorded in 1486, (fn. 72) the year in which John Hosier provided stipends for the six best-voiced children commonly singing at the mass of Our Lady. (fn. 73) By 1492, when there were two guild chaplains (or 'singing men') in the Lady Chapel, the guild's porter was paid for serving in the choir and Thomas Sherman received 40s. as organist. (fn. 74) In the following year the guild undertook to provide and maintain lights in the Lady Chapel to Our Lady and St. Anne. (fn. 75) John Vauwe, who began his career as a chorister, was engaged in 1503 as a third guild chaplain in the Lady Chapel (fn. 76) and was still employed in 1533, though no longer as a 'singing man'. (fn. 77) Three such chaplains appear to have been employed until the 1530s (fn. 78) and in 1546 there was establishment for four 'singing men' although only two were then serving. (fn. 79)

Surviving guild records do not suggest that the provisions in the statutes of 1284 regarding financial assistance to members in distress were carefully observed. In 1347 nine members received alms totalling 13s 11d., and 2s. 3½d. was spent at the funerals of ten others. (fn. 80) Alms of 6s. 8d. were given to a member in 1364. (fn. 81) Three or four such cases occur annually in the 1420s and in 1427 a total of 13s. was also distributed to divers poor brethren at Easter and All Saints. (fn. 82) Annual expenditure on alms was said to amount to a mere 8s. 2d. in 1546. (fn. 83)

The number of grants of property to the guild fell off after the later 14th century but later acquisitions tended to be individually more substantial, since most of them formed the endowment of chaplains or obits. By 1439 the guild owned 167 rent-charges, 96 tenements, 30 shops, and 18 other properties in Ludlow, and out of a gross rental of £85 only 19s. 8d. came from property outside the town. (fn. 84) Net receipts from rents varied from £58 to £80 a year between 1462 and 1504 (fn. 85) but had evidently increased substantially before the dissolution of the guild, since gross rents of £122 (£102 net) were recorded in 1546 (fn. 86) and of £140 c. 1550. (fn. 87) By the latter date the guild's Ludlow possessions included 152 tenements, 14 shops, 75 miscellaneous properties, and only 63 rent-charges, while the gross income from property outside Ludlow had risen to £20 a year. (fn. 88) Most of the country properties lay in south Shropshire and north Herefordshire, notably at Ashford Carbonell, Cleobury North, Hopton Wafers, Richard's Castle, and Stanton Lacy, but included outliers at Marlborough (Wilts.) (fn. 89) and Eastham (Worcs.). Some part of the property outside Ludlow was acquired as the endowment of obits but much was purchased, notably in the years 1517-26. (fn. 90) An observation made in 1546 that expenditure on repairs to the guild's town property greatly exceeded the surplus income set aside for the purpose is borne out by the stewards' accounts; (fn. 91) the country purchases were presumably designed to provide a more profitable investment.

By the end of the 15th century, however, income from the admission fines of members in confraternity equalled if it did not exceed that from rents. The admission of members and the collection of entry fines was the main duty of the stewards, who, by this period, might spend over half the year in their journeys throughout Wales and southern England. In 1446-7 one steward was away from Ludlow for 51 days and the other for 89. (fn. 92) In 1505-6 the periods were 163 days and 127 days (fn. 93) and in 1533-4, their busiest recorded year, the stewards were on their travels for 210 and 165 days respectively. (fn. 94) They were entitled to travelling expenses (for themselves and a companion) of 14d. a day. There is no sign that the office was unpopular, for several stewards served for more than one term, and one may assume that they combined guild duties with private business. Surviving itineraries suggest that recruiting grounds were clearly divided between the two stewards. In 1446-7 Richard Ryall spent two of his three journeys (each of three weeks) in the clothing districts of the west, each time visiting Bristol, and a mere nine days on a circuit which included Much Wenlock, Stafford, and Wolverhampton. His colleague Richard Knighton made six journeys, three through Shropshire, Cheshire, and northern Wales, two to London, and one in central Shropshire. (fn. 95) By 1505 it was customary for one of the stewards to confine himself to the west, while the other covered Shropshire, Wales, and the west Midlands. (fn. 96) Fines and instalments were collected at local centres, normally market towns, and in the more important towns the guild employed local representatives known as 'solesters'. (fn. 97)

No pattern can be traced in the amounts levied as entry fines in 1377, (fn. 98) but by the early 15th century a fixed scale was in use. (fn. 99) Single persons paid 6s. 8d. and married couples 13s. 4d., half this rate being charged on members already dead. Only a very small number of members paid their fine in full on their admission. The remainder paid instalments of a few pence a year, often for as long as 20 years. Payment of entry fines or instalments in kind was not uncommon; Bristol merchants are found paying in wine, and west Midland craftsmen with iron goods, while members living near Ludlow sometimes provided corn in lieu. Officials of the guild also had to dispose of quantities of articles left as pledge for the payment of fines of deceased members. (fn. 100) A small annual payment was commonly levied from members in guilds of this type (fn. 101) but none was required by the Palmers' Guild.

Transactions of this nature required a relatively sophisticated system of record-keeping. While on their journeys the stewards made out lists giving the names of new brethren and of those paying instalments, with the amounts received from each. These, endorsed with a claim for expenses, were handed to the guild clerk, who was responsible for preparing all other records of confraternity. The clerk then made out 'receipt' accounts, which were arranged topographically and distinguished new from old members, and entered the names of that year's new members in a 'riding book'. The 'riding books', which are also arranged topographically, provide the most complete record of confraternity membership, since they were subsequently used to record the instalments paid by particular members. When a member's fine had been fully paid a marginal note 'sol.' 'reg.' was set against his name in the 'receipt' account and 'riding book' and he was entered in the register (a parchment roll) of the year in which payment was completed. The guild records include a few original steward's lists (fn. 102) and 'receipt' accounts, 1472-1539, (fn. 103) 'riding books' for c. 1460, 1497-1508, and 1515-16, and registers, 1399-1413, 1485-9, and 1505-9. A simpler method of recording confraternity payments, whereby the names of those paying by instalment were entered in a parchment debitorium, was in use until the earlier 15th century. (fn. 104)

Since so high a proportion of income from confraternity came in by instalments, the amount received from this source in any one year provides only a rough guide to changes in guild membership. Totals of £25-30 a year are recorded in the 1420s, (fn. 105) of £56 in 1440, (fn. 106) and of £82 in 1447, (fn. 107) but of only £40 in 1473. (fn. 108) During the earlier 16th century total receipts were rarely less than £100 a year and reached £156 in 1515. (fn. 109) The stewards could still collect £130 in 1533-4 (fn. 110) but by 1540 only £43 was paid in the course of their journeys and nearly half of this was repaid to them in travelling expenses. (fn. 111) Surviving records suggest that confraternity membership reached a peak in the first two decades of the 16th century. The number of members who paid their entry fines in full and were therefore entered in the registers rose from 568 in the four-year period 1485-9 to 1,176 in the years 1505-9. In the first period about a third and in the second less than a tenth of those admitted were already dead. These figures, however, represent perhaps a quarter of all those who contracted for membership, the remainder having neglected to pay or defaulted after a few instalments. In 1505-6, for example, out of 2,020 persons recorded in the 'riding book', only 405 subsequently paid their fine in full, while 1,214 paid only a part before dying, moving elsewhere, or losing interest, and 382 paid nothing.

Since the records do not always indicate the occupations of members any attempt to classify them according to social status must be tentative. Of members (or family groups) with stated occupations appearing in the registers of 1485-9 and 1505-9 about half were merchants, tradesmen, or craftsmen, a little more than a quarter were clergy, and about an eighth were nobility or gentry. Among minor changes in the composition of fully paid membership between these two dates is an increase in the number of regular clergy (mainly monks) from 4 in 1485-9 to 63 in 1505-9. (fn. 112) Both in the 'riding books' and in the registers the number of persons of stated occupation who were engaged in the textile trades far exceeds any other group, but this may be no more than a reflection of the general balance of occupations. The occupations of London members are nearly always given, and here at least give a firm indication of the class to which the guild appealed. London members admitted in 1505-6 included 18 persons engaged in textile trades (10 of them mercers), 4 other substantial tradesmen, a gentleman, 2 members of the Inns of Court, and a fellow of a Cambridge college.

The geographical distribution of members followed a pattern to be expected from the itineraries of the stewards. During the 15th century about half of them lived in Shropshire or in those parts of Herefordshire and Worcestershire adjacent to Ludlow, but the proportion of such local members had dropped to a quarter by 1505-6. The next largest group lived in the south-west Midlands and West Country but the proportion of Welsh and northern Midland members tended to rise during the later 15th century. Thirty-four members of Edward IV's household were admitted, c. 1461, (fn. 113) but the number of London members was normally small. Very few members lived in districts outside the stewards' normal circuits but once at least a steward enrolled members while visiting Walsingham. (fn. 114) Like some other guilds (fn. 115) the Palmers appear to have obtained a papal indulgence conferring special privileges on their members. Such would seem to have been the object of a journey to Rome undertaken by the warden in 1514. (fn. 116)

Although the guild was investigated by the Chantry Commissioners in 1546 (fn. 117) it continued in being for a further five years. During protracted negotiations with the Privy Council and the Court of Augmentations the guild's spokesmen alleged that, in virtue of a confirmation of its charter obtained from Henry VIII, the guild was exempt from the operation of the Chantries Acts and that only £22 9s. of its revenues was being expended on superstitious uses. (fn. 118) From the outset, however, the object of these negotiations was to secure not the survival of the guild but the transfer of its endowments to Ludlow corporation. Agreement over the terms of transfer had been reached by May 1551 (fn. 119) and in the following month the guild was formally surrendered to the Crown. (fn. 120) In 1552 the college and all other possessions of the guild were granted to the corporation at an annual rent of £8 13s. 4d. The support formerly given by the guild to Hosier's almshouses (fn. 121) and the grammar school (fn. 122) was to be maintained, and out of the revenues the borough was also required to provide an usher at the grammar school, a public preacher, and an assistant to the Rector of Ludlow. (fn. 123)

The college stood on the west side of College Street, facing the churchyard. It was built in 1393-4 (fn. 124) and extensions, which were in progress in 1446-7, (fn. 125) included a great chamber and other service buildings. For a few years after it had passed to the corporation in 1552 the college appears to have been used as a poor-house (fn. 126) but by 1571 it had been leased to a Mr. Poughnell, (fn. 127) and it remained a private residence (fn. 128) until it became Ludlow Cottage Hospital in 1874. (fn. 129)

The main features of the plan can be reconstructed from the surviving remains. (fn. 130) The building originally included an eastern range, parallel to the street, but this was rebuilt in 1715. (fn. 131) The only surviving feature likely to be earlier than 1715 is a disused stone chimney-stack on the south gable. A moulded coping on the inner face of the stack marks the earlier roof-line. This suggests that the southern end of this range originally contained the kitchen, the northern end being presumably an open hall.

Behind the eastern range is a courtyard about 50 ft. square. This is bounded to the south by a stone wall containing three pairs of windows and two square-headed fireplaces in corresponding positions at ground and first-floor levels. The west wall, which for 20 feet is of the same height and thickness as the south wall, contains a blocked doorway some 11 feet from its junction with the south wall, flanked by two small windows, and a large window in a similar position at first-floor level. These features, all of which are of late medieval date, indicate that to the south of the courtyard was a two-story building some 50 feet long and 20 feet wide. Since it contained four heated rooms it may have been the private quarters of the guild chaplains. The internal plan was probably the common one of shared heated chambers, each serving two studies or cells. Such a plan could have accommodated up to eight chaplains and this corresponds closely with the guild's known establishment towards the end of its history.

The north wall and the remaining part of the west wall of the courtyard are lower and narrower than the south wall and contain no medieval features. There were, however, buildings on this part of the college site in the 19th century (fn. 132) which may have incorporated or replaced medieval stone or timberframed structures.

Some part of the additions made to the college in the 1440s may be incorporated in the old rectory (a nurses' home in 1969). The older part of this house comprises a two-bay stone range adjoining the north gable of the Cottage Hospital and a cross-wing to the north with a timber-framed and jettied upper story; both contain 15th-century features. (fn. 133)

Wardens Of The Ludlow Palmers' Guild

Geoffrey Andrew, occurs before 1284. (fn. 134)

Henry Pygin, occurs 1284-1310. (fn. 135)

Richard of Corve, occurs 1334-49. (fn. 136)

Richard of Orleton, occurs from 1359, died c. 1361. (fn. 137)

John Hawkins, occurs 1364-71. (fn. 138)

William of Orleton, occurs 1373-90. (fn. 139)

William Hereford, occurs 1392. (fn. 140)

William Broke, occurs 1393-4. (fn. 141)

Philip Hugene, occurs 1397. (fn. 142)

William Parys, occurs 1401-4. (fn. 143)

John Leinthall, occurs 1405-8. (fn. 144)

William Parys, occurs 1424-40. (fn. 145)

John Parys, occurs from 1443, died c. 1449. (fn. 146)

John Griffith, occurs 1451-63. (fn. 147)

John Dodmore, occurs 1467-70. (fn. 148)

Richard Sherman, occurs 1470-94. (fn. 149)

Walter Morton, occurs 1496-1508. (fn. 150)

Richard Downe, occurs 1508-34. (fn. 151)

Walter Rogers, occurs 1535-46. (fn. 152)

William Langford, occurs 1546-51. (fn. 153)

There are impressions of the oval common seal, 1357 and 1499-1517; (fn. 154) its matrix was presumably struck soon after 1329, when the guild was given licence to have such a seal. (fn. 155) It measures 2 × 13/8 in. and shows two standing figures, flanked by pillars, beneath cusped and traceried canopies. On the left is the Virgin and Child and on the right St. John the Evangelist, holding a palm leaf over his left shoulder and a ring and open scroll in his right hand. The scroll has an illegible inscription. Below are two shields, that to the left bearing the arms of England and the other the arms of the Mortimers, lords of Ludlow manor. A kneeling figure, presumably representing a palmer, is set between the two shields. Legend, black letter:


At least three smaller seals were employed by the guild during the later 14th and early 15th centuries. Their legends appear to make no reference to the guild but the earliest specimen, an impression of which is found on a deed of 1342, is there described as the common seal. (fn. 156) This is a round seal of 7/8 in. diameter. The device, which is surrounded by cusping, shows the standing figure of the Virgin facing a kneeling figure, who holds a three-branched plant and probably represents a palmer. Legend illegible. The second seal, known from impressions of 1381 and 1383, (fn. 157) is oval and measures 11/8 × 7/8 in. It has a device similar to that of 1342 but the Virgin is holding the Child and the two figures are set in a plain canopied niche. Legend, lombardic:

An impression of the third variant form of the common seal is attached to a deed of 1417. (fn. 158) It is oval, 1 × ¾ in., and has the same device as the preceding but the figures are surrounded by cusping. Legend illegible.


  • 1. Except where otherwise stated this paragraph is based on T.S.A.S. 4th ser. i. 151-5.
  • 2. Cal. Pat. 1327-30, 459.
  • 3. Leland, Itin. ed. Toulmin Smith, ii. 76.
  • 4. A version of the legend is printed in T.S.A.S. [1st ser.] i. 336-9.
  • 5. E. W. Ganderton and J. Lafond, Ludlow Stained and Painted Glass (1961), 51.
  • 6. T.S.A.S. 3rd ser. iii, pp. i-ii; S.R.O. 356, box 347B, contract, 1525.
  • 7. T.S.A.S. 4th ser. i. 151.
  • 8. Cal. Pat. 1327-30, 459.
  • 9. T.S.A.S. [1st ser.] i. 340-51. The original is in Lloyd's Bank, Ludlow.
  • 10. An annual income of some £2 was derived from these grants. In 1284 the Guild was said to have acquired rentcharges totalling 43s. 6d. before the Statute of Mortmain (1279): T.S.A.S. 4th ser. i. 155. Sixteen of the 'original' donors were living in the 1250s; a further 16 were still alive in the 1270s. One of the grants is also represented by an original deed (S.R.O. 356/MT/735) which is unlikely to have been written much later than 1250.
  • 11. T.S.A.S. [1st ser.] i. 346.
  • 12. Ibid.; Eyton, v. 286; S.R.O. 356/MT/735, 1131, and (for undated references) passim.
  • 13. T.S.A.S. 4th ser. i. 154-5.
  • 14. S.R.O. 356, box 322, stewards' acct. 1344-5.
  • 15. Ibid. box 321, stewards' acct. 1423-8; box 325, rent collectors' acct. 1472-1518.
  • 16. Ibid. MT/148, 163, 274, 311, 329, 467, 498, 542, 755, 774.
  • 17. Ibid. MT/328.
  • 18. For particulars of guild feasts see ibid. stewards' acct. 1344-1534 passim.
  • 19. T.S.A.S. 4th ser. i. 154.
  • 20. S.R.O. 356/MT/249, 392, 1357; ibid. box 520, will of Geoffrey Baugh, 1500.
  • 21. Ibid. box 419, boro. acct. 1308-9, 1317-19.
  • 22. Ibid. MT/1116; ibid. box 420, boro. acct. 1466-7.
  • 23. Cf. lists of bailiffs in T.S.A.S. 3rd ser. vii. 158-9, and T. Wright, Hist. Ludlow (1852), 486-92.
  • 24. T.S.A.S. 4th ser. i. 152.
  • 25. S.R.O. 356, box 322, rental, 1284.
  • 26. Ibid. stewards' acct. 1344-5.
  • 27. Ibid. box 520, will of Henry le Woolere, 1349.
  • 28. Ibid. box 325, rent collectors' acct. 1364-5.
  • 29. Ibid. box 321, stewards' acct. 1377-8.
  • 30. Ibid. MT/15.
  • 31. T.S.A.S. 4th ser. i. 152.
  • 32. S.R.O. 356/MT passim.
  • 33. The borough was paying his salary in 1300 and 1320: ibid. box 419, boro. acct. 1299-1300, 1319-20.
  • 34. Ibid. MT/384, 387, 390, 524, 580; ibid. box 325, rent collectors' acct. 1364-5; ibid. box 520, will of Hugh Ace, 1393.
  • 35. Ibid. MT/1132-3.
  • 36. Ibid. box 520, will of William de la Vilde, 1377.
  • 37. Ibid. box 325, rent collectors' acct. 1472-1518.
  • 38. Ibid. box 322, rental, 1439.
  • 39. Ibid. rental 1284; cf. S.R.O. 1996/16/1. Except where otherwise stated the following paragraph is based on S.R.O. 356/MT/passim.
  • 40. C 143/15/32.
  • 41. Cal. Pat. 1327-30, 460.
  • 42. Ibid. 1343-5, 309; C 143/268/14.
  • 43. Cal. Pat. 1354-8, 528; C 143/326/16.
  • 44. Cal. Pat. 1391-6, 115; C 143/412/5.
  • 45. S.R O. 356, box 322, rental, 1351.
  • 46. Ibid. stewards' acct. 1344-5.
  • 47. Ibid. box 325, rent collectors' acct. 1364-5.
  • 48. S.R.O. 356, box 321. A list of 24 persons from whom entry fines were due in 1347 is in S.R.O. 1996/16/3.
  • 49. Ibid. MT/1167.
  • 50. T.S.A.S. 4th ser. x. 185-6. A goblet given by him figures in a list of guild plate of 1501: ibid. 3rd ser. iv. 380; S.R.O. 356, box 315.
  • 51. T.S.A.S. 4th ser. xi. 4-5.
  • 52. S.R.O. 356, box 319.
  • 53. T.S.A.S. 4th ser. i. 162.
  • 54. S.R.O. 356, box 321, stewards' acct. 1437-8.
  • 55. Ibid. stewards' acct. 1423-8.
  • 56. Ibid. box 520, will of Hugh Ace.
  • 57. See p. 139.
  • 58. S.R.O. 356/MT/848.
  • 59. Ibid. box 347B, obit agreement, 1408.
  • 60. Ibid. MT/857.
  • 61. Ibid. MT/863, 1380; ibid. box 520, will of William Mershton, 1436.
  • 62. Ibid. box 520, will of John Parys, 1449.
  • 63. See p. 139.
  • 64. S.R.O. 356, box 520, will of William Mershton, 1436.
  • 65. Ibid. box 322, rent collectors' acct. 1462-3.
  • 66. Ibid. box 325, rent collectors' acct. 1472-1518; box 456, rent collectors' acct. 1531; box 316, rent collectors' acct. 1532-3. There were still ten priests c. 1540: Leland, Itin. ed. Toulmin Smith, ii. 76.
  • 67. S.R.O. 356, box 315, foundation deed of Hosier's almshouses, 1486.
  • 68. Ibid. MT/1362.
  • 69. A weekly Jesus Mass, founded by Geoffrey Baugh, c. 1500, was served by one of the existing guild chaplains: ibid. box 520, will of Geoffrey Baugh, 1500.
  • 70. Ibid. box 321, stewards' acct. 1446-7; cf. J. Winny, 'Two Medieval Puzzles Solved?', Country Life, 3 Jan. 1957.
  • 71. T.S.A.S. 2nd ser. i. 235.
  • 72. S.R.O. 356, box 325, rent collectors' acct. 1486-7.
  • 73. The choristers were required to sing before his tomb and that of Piers Beaupie: ibid. box 315, foundation deed of Hosier's almshouses, 1486.
  • 74. Ibid. box 325, rent collectors' acct. 1492-3. Sherman, who was briefly replaced by John Perche, 1493-4, continued as organist until at least 1503: ibid. rent collectors' acct. 1493-1503. Maurice Phillips was organist in 1551: E 318/31/1766.
  • 75. S.R.O. 356/MT/1117.
  • 76. Ibid. box 325, rent collectors' acct. 1501-4.
  • 77. Ibid. box 316, rent collectors' acct. 1532-3.
  • 78. Ibid.; ibid. box 456, acct. of decayed rents, 1531.
  • 79. T.S.A.S. 3rd ser. x. 327.
  • 80. S.R.O. 1996/16/3.
  • 81. Ibid. 356, box 325, rent collectors' acct. 1364-5.
  • 82. Ibid. box 321, stewards' acct. 1423-8.
  • 83. T.S.A.S. 3rd. ser. x. 327.
  • 84. S.R.O. 356, box 322, rental, 1439.
  • 85. Ibid. rent collectors' acct. 1462-1504.
  • 86. T.S.A.S. 3rd ser. x. 327.
  • 87. S.R.O. 356, box 322, rental, c. 1550; cf. E 318/31/1766.
  • 88. Ibid.
  • 89. For the Marlborough estate see E. G. H. Kempson, 'A Shropshire Gild at work in Wiltshire', Wilts. Arch. Mag. lvii. 50-55.
  • 90. Based on S.R.O. 356/MT/passim.
  • 91. T.S.A.S. 3rd ser. x. 328. In Ludlow corporation's particulars for a grant of the guild estate, 1551, separate valuations were given for 'much ruined burgages' (£11 4s. 8d.) and 'burgages totally in decay and down' (51s. 8½d.). Many houses were said to be ruinous and uninhabited, despite an average annual expenditure of £24 on repairs between 1521 and 1545: E 318/31/1766.
  • 92. S.R.O. 356, box 321, stewards' acct. 1446-7.
  • 93. Ibid. box 324, stewards' acct. 1505-6.
  • 94. Ibid. box 321, stewards' acct. 1533-4.
  • 95. Ibid. 1446-7.
  • 96. Ibid. box 324, stewards' acct. 1505-6.
  • 97. Ibid. box 321, stewards' acct. 1533-4.
  • 98. Ibid. 1377-8.
  • 99. Except where otherwise stated the following five paragraphs are based on ibid. box 319, registers, temp. Hen. V, 1485-9, 1505-9; ibid. boxes 268, 317-20, 323, 'riding books', 1497-1516.
  • 100. Ibid. box 319, clerk's memorandum bk. 1512-29.
  • 101. H. F. Westlake, The Parish Gilds of Medieval England (1919), 42, 53, 66, 84, 97.
  • 102. S.R.O. 356, boxes 319, 456, 534.
  • 103. Ibid. boxes 316, 319, 326, 456.
  • 104. Ibid. box 319, debitoria, 1423-33.
  • 105. Ibid. box 321, stewards' acct. 1423-8.
  • 106. Ibid. 1439-40.
  • 107. Ibid. 1446-7.
  • 108. Ibid. box 319, clerk's 'receipt' acct. 1472-3.
  • 109. Ibid. box 324, stewards' acct. 1505-6; ibid. box 326, clerk's 'receipt' acct. 1511-21.
  • 110. Ibid. box 321, stewards' acct. 1533-4.
  • 111. Ibid. warden's acct. 1540-1.
  • 112. Lengthy lists of monks for a number of houses in southern England are provided in the 'riding books', 1497-1516.
  • 113. S.R.O. 356, box 319, 'riding book', c. 1461.
  • 114. Ibid. box 456, stewards' list, n.d.
  • 115. Westlake, Parish Gilds, 74-76.
  • 116. S.R.O. 356, box 319, clerk's memorandum bk. 151229. For earlier papal grants see Cal. Papal Regs. v. 309, 316.
  • 117. T.S.A.S. 3rd ser. x. 327-8.
  • 118. Correspondence, now in S.R.O. 356, box 291, printed in Wright, Hist. Ludlow, 366-76; cf. E 318/31/1766; T.S.A.S. 3rd ser. iv. 369-70.
  • 119. Wright, Hist. Ludlow, 370-1.
  • 120. E 322/12/141.
  • 121. See p. 108.
  • 122. See p. 147.
  • 123. Cal. Pat. 1550-3, 345-6; E 318/31/1766.
  • 124. Site acquired by the Guild in 1393: S.R.O. 356/MT/ 656, 845. In course of erection by March 1394, when a lease refers to it as 'the new College': ibid. MT/657.
  • 125. Ibid. box 321, stewards' acct. 1446-7.
  • 126. Ibid. box 400, boro. acct. 1563-4.
  • 127. Ibid. 1571-2. Possibly William Poughnell, who died in 1583: S.P.R. Heref. xiii. 242.
  • 128. Leases, 1583-1825, in S.R.O. 356/2/5, ff. 305, 348v.; 2/7, pp. 69-70, 118, 405; boxes 374, 381, 390; box 397, reg. of leases, f. 6.
  • 129. Kelly's Dir. Salop. (1885).
  • 130. Thanks are due to Mr. J. W. Tonkin of Wigmore (Herefs.), on whose survey the following description is largely based.
  • 131. 'The College now Mr. Meyrick's rebuilt 1715': memo. by R. Perks, 1728, endorsed on Palmers' Guild deed of 1515 penes Lloyd's Bank, Ludlow.
  • 132. S.R.O. 2097/1 (map of Ludlow, 1861). The building on the west side of the courtyard is shown in a drawing of 1878: T.S.A.S. [1st ser.] i, facing p. 333. It included a projecting central bay with 'rusticated quoins' and heavy moulded pediment and was probably part of Meyrick's rebuilding of 1715.
  • 133. Butt purlins clasped at the central truss in the former and a ceiling beam of 15th-century type in the ground floor of the latter. Other features are noted in O. Baker, Ludlow (1888), 59.
  • 134. S.R.O. 356/MT/passim.
  • 135. T.S.A.S. 4th ser. i. 151; S.R.O. 356/MT/755.
  • 136. S.R.O. 356/MT/68, 678, 1143.
  • 137. Ibid. 690; ibid. box 520, will of Richard of Orleton, 1361.
  • 138. Ibid. box 325, rent collectors' acct. 1364-5; ibid. MT/521.
  • 139. Ibid. MT/487, 552, 1397.
  • 140. Ibid. 841.
  • 141. Ibid. 657, 717.
  • 142. Ibid. 294.
  • 143. Ibid. 847, 965.
  • 144. Ibid. 848; ibid. box 347B, obit agreement, 1408.
  • 145. Ibid. box 321, stewards' acct. 1424-5, 1439-40.
  • 146. Ibid. MT/864; ibid. box 520, will of John Parys, 1449.
  • 147. Ibid. MT/866-7; ibid. box 322, rent collectors' acct. 1462-3.
  • 148. Ibid. MT/997, 1325, 1372.
  • 149. Ibid. 706, 715.
  • 150. Ibid. 672; ibid. box 319, register, 1507-9.
  • 151. Ibid. box 319, register, 1507-9; ibid. box 321, stewards' acct. 1533-4.
  • 152. Ibid. MT/677, 1432.
  • 153. Ibid. 1044; E 322/12/141.
  • 154. S.R.O. 356/MT/450, 1020, 1362, 1386.
  • 155. Cal. Pat. 1327-30, 459.
  • 156. S.R.O. 356/MT/359.
  • 157. Ibid. 321, 528.
  • 158. Ibid. 530.