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Title: Curious Church Customs - And Cognate Subjects
Author: Various
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  Curious Church Customs
  And Cognate Subjects.







It affords me pleasure to be the means of giving to the reading public
another volume dealing with the byways and highways of church history.

The authors who have been good enough to favour me with contributions are
recognised authorities on the subjects they have written about, and I hope
their efforts will not fail to find favour with the press and the public.


  _Christmas Eve, 1894_.



  SPORTS IN CHURCHES, by the Rev. J. Charles Cox, LL.D., F.S.A           1

  HOLY DAY CUSTOMS, by the Rev. Geo. S. Tyack, B.A.                     21

  CHURCH BELLS: WHEN AND WHY THEY WERE RUNG, by Florence Peacock        33

  INSCRIPTIONS ON BELLS, by William Andrews, F.R.H.S.                   49

  LAWS OF THE BELFRY, by William Andrews, F.R.H.S.                      64

  RINGERS' JUGS, by Isaac J. Reeve                                      74

  B.D., F.S.A.                                                          78

  MARRIAGE CUSTOMS, by England Howlett, F.S.A.                          99

  BURIAL CUSTOMS, by England Howlett, F.S.A.                           126

  CONCERNING THE CHURCHYARD, by John Nicholson                         147

  ALTARS IN CHURCHES, by the Rev. Geo. S. Tyack, B.A.                  161

  THE ROOD LOFT AND ITS USES, by John T. Page                          167

  ARMOUR IN CHURCHES, by the Rev. J. Charles Cox, LL.D., F.S.A.        174

  BEATING THE BOUNDS, by John T. Page                                  182

  THE STORY OF THE CROSIER, by the Rev. Geo. S. Tyack, B.A.            191

  BISHOPS IN BATTLE, by Edward Lamplough                               198

  THE CLOISTER AND ITS STORY, by S. W. Kershaw, F.S.A.                 232

  SHORTHAND IN CHURCH, by William E. A. Axon, F.R.S.L.                 246

  B.D., F.S.A.                                                         261


Sports in Churches.


In mediæval and feudal days, as is well-known, our parish churches, in
addition to their primary purpose of providing places for public worship
and religious instruction, commonly served for various secular objects.
They were used for manorial courts and other legal purposes of an entirely
civil character, as well as for the meeting of spiritual and
ecclesiastical tribunals; they served, particularly in troublous times,
for the storage of wool and for the safe-custody of treasure chests; and
they occasionally gave shelter, as at fair times and during the parish
wakes, to hucksters' stalls, and to booths for the sale of victuals.
Public opinion of those days saw nothing specially reprehensible in such
uses of the churches, provided they were confined to the naves, and did
not interfere with divine service, more particularly on the Sunday and

This being the case, it is not surprising to find that churches were, from
time to time, used for what may fairly be termed "sports," or amusements.

The custom, once so prevalent in the great churches, of appointing a
Boy-Bishop, or Nicholas-Bishop, which is so abhorrent to modern ideas of
reverence, and which gradually developed in extravagance, had a
praiseworthy commencement. It originated in the idea of rewarding, after a
religious fashion, the most deserving choir-boy or scholar of the
church-school. The selected lad was appointed bishop of the boys on St.
Nicholas' Day (the patron saint of boys) during the solemn singing of the
Magnificat, and was vested in special pontificals of a small size. He held
the office from December 6th (St. Nicholas' Day) to December 28th (Holy
Innocents). "The custom," says Precentor Walcott, "prevailed in the great
schools of Winchester and Eton, and was perpetuated by Dean Colet in his
foundation of St. Paul's, no doubt as a stimulus to Christian ambition in
the boy, just as the mitre and staff are painted as the reward of learning
on the scrolls of Winchester, or in honour of the Holy Child Jesus."

The following is the statute of Dean Colet, A.D. 1518, on this
subject:--"All these children shall, every Childermas Daye, come to
Paule's Churche, and hear the Childe Bishop's sermone; and after be at the
hyghe masse, and each of them offer a 1d. to the Childe Bishop, and with
them maistors and surveyors of the scole."

The ceremonies attached to this boyish parody of a most solemn office
varied considerably, but it is known to have existed in all the cathedral
churches of France and Spain, as well as in many parts of Germany and
Switzerland. In England, every cathedral, which possesses post-reformation
records, yields abundant evidence of the Child-Bishop customs. We found
interesting mention of it in several places when setting in order the
chaotic mass of capitular muniments at Lichfield. An inventory of 1345
names four small choir copes for the use of boys on the feast of Holy
Innocents. The next century names a mitre, cope, sandals, gloves, and
staff for the Nicholas Bishop. An invariable part of the proceedings seems
to have been a sermon from the Boy Bishop, delivered from the usual
pulpit. He was doubtless well drilled in the discourse by the chancellor,
or by his substitute, the choir school master. Indeed, several of the
sermons that were learnt by rote by the Boy Bishop are still extant. At
Salisbury, the whole details are set forth in the printed procession of
the cathedral church. In the order of the procession, on the eve of
Innocents' Day, the dean and canons residentiary walked first, and were
followed by the chaplains; the boy-bishop, with his boy-prebendaries,
closing the procession as the position of the greatest dignity. The
boy-bishop and his attendants took the highest places in choir, the canons
carrying the incense, tapers, etc. At the conclusion of compline the boy
gave the benediction, and until the close of the procession on the
following evening none of the clergy of any condition were allowed to
ascend to the upper part of the sanctuary, which was reserved for the
choir boys and their prelate.

In most churches the boys performed all the ceremonies, and said all the
offices save mass during this period; in some they were even permitted to
make a travesty of mass. On the Continent, a variety of indecent levities
were by degrees admitted, such as the boy being dressed in a bishop's
robes reversed, and old shoes being burnt instead of incense; and when
they had raised sufficient scandal in the church itself, they then paraded
the streets, or sought to make levies in the market-place. To the credit
of the church, it should be remarked that these excesses were on several
occasions interdicted by pre-reformation councils, though apparently with
but partial success. The Council of Basle, which sat in 1431, issued the
following stringent canon:--"This sacred synod, detesting that foul abuse
frequent in certain churches, in which, on certain festivals of the year,
certain persons with a mitre, staff, and pontifical robes, bless men after
the manner of bishops, others being clothed like kings and dukes, which is
called the Feast of Fools, of Innocents, or of Children in certain
countries; others practising vizarded and theatrical sports; others making
trains and dances of men and women, move men to spectacles and
cachin-nations; hath appointed and commanded as well ordinaries as deans
and rectors of churches, under pain of suspension of all their
ecclesiastical revenues for three months space, if they suffered these and
such like plays and pastimes to be any more exercised in the church, which
ought to be the house of prayer, nor yet in the churchyard, and that they
neglect not to punish the offender by ecclesiastical censures and other
remedies of law."

Boy-bishoping was by no means confined in England to the cathedral and
large collegiate churches, but it was so generally prevalent and popular
that it appears to have prevailed wherever there was a choir school,
attached to any church, whether in town or country. The churchwardens'
accounts of St. Mary Hill, London, 1485-6, contain the two following
entries:--"Item, six copes for children of dyvers sortes. Item, a myter
for a bishop at Seint Nycholas tyde, garnyshed with sylver and anelyd, and
perles and counterfete stones." The same accounts make mention of the
purchase of properties for a like purpose in 1549-50 during Queen Mary's
reign. We have met references to a like children's pageant in
comparatively out-of-the-way places of Yorkshire, Derbyshire, and West

So far as England was concerned, the show of the boy-bishop, which the
Church had failed to suppress or to keep within decent limits was
summarily put an end to (save for a slight revival in the days of Mary
Tudor) by a vigorous proclamation of Henry VIII. This proclamation,
issued on July 22nd, 1542, thus concludes:--"Whereas heretofore dyvers and
many superstitious and chyldish observancies have been used, and yet to
this day are observed and kept in many and sundry partes of this realme,
as upon Saint Nicholas, the Holie Innocents, and such like, the children
be strangelie decked and apparayled to counterfeit priests, bishops and
women, and to be ledde with songs and dances from house to house, blessing
the people, and gathering of money; and boys do singe masse and preach in
the pulpitt, with such unfittinge and inconvenient usages, rather to the
derysyion than anie true glorie of God, or honour of His Sayntes. The
Kynge's Majestie wylleth and commandeth that henceforth all such
superstitious observancies be left and duly extinguished throughout all
this realm and dominions."

The writings of the early reformers, as well as allusions in secular
literature of the sixteenth century, help to prove how well-known, nay
almost universal, was this boyish sporting and strange burlesquing of
things sacred throughout England. In "The Catechism of the Offices of all
Degrees," issued by Thomas Beacon, Chaplain to Archbishop Cranmer, in the
time of Edward VI., occurs the following passage:--

    "_Father._--What if he preach not, neither can preach?

    _Son._--Then is he a Nicholas bishop and an idol, and indeed no better
    than a painted bishop on a wall: yea, he is, as the prophet saith, 'A
    dumb dog, not able to bark;' he is also, as our Saviour Christ saith
    'Unsavoury salt, worth for nothing but to be cast out, and to be
    trodden under foot of men.' Wo be to those rulers that set such idols
    and white daubed walls over the flock of Christ, whom he hath
    purchased with His precious blood! Horrible and great is their

At the first blush, any connection with dancing and church attendance or
worship may seem profane and impossible; but further reflection at all
events qualifies any too hasty generalisation. Emotions of joy and sorrow
universally express themselves among mankind in movements and gestures of
the body. Efforts were therefore made in early days, particularly among
the more demonstrative people of the east and south, to reduce to measure,
and to strengthen by unison, pleasureable emotions of joy. The dance is
spoken of throughout the Old Testament as symbolical of rejoicing, and the
rejoicing in their feasts is emphatically and repeatedly enjoined upon the
Israelites. So, too, with both Romans and Egyptians, the dance, in
certain circumstances, was associated with religious ceremonies, and was
intended to express the thankful worship of the body. The dances led by
Miriam, by Jephthah's daughter, by Judith, and doubtless too by Deborah,
soon occur to the mind. David also himself led the dance on the return of
the Ark of God from its long exile; whilst from the mention in association
of "damsels," "timbrels," and "dances" as elements of religious worship in
Psalms cxvii, cxlix, and cl, it may be concluded that David incorporated
these joyous movements in the formal rites of the established Tabernacle
service. In later Judaism the dance certainly survived in the religious
festivities of the feast of Tabernacles. It may therefore have come to
pass that early Christians, realising the joyous feature of their special
creed, expressing its constant belief in the "resurrection of the body,"
may have desired in all honesty and innocency to occasionally associate
the dance with festal service. The results were, however, unfortunate;
pagan practices of a like character were, as a rule, of a licentious
nature, and it became necessary to try and suppress all such forms of
expression of joy or thanksgiving. St. Augustine mentions with abhorrence
that dancers invaded the resting place of St. Cyprian at night and sang
songs there, a custom that died out on the institution of vigils. Pope
Eugenius II. (824-7) prohibited dancing in churches, thereby showing how
usual the custom became. In 858 the Bishop of Orleans condemned the
dancing of women in the presbytery on festivals. The Council of Avignon,
which sat in 1209, prohibited the theatrical dances in churches which were
sometimes the accompaniment of the vigils of Saints' days. The Councils of
Bourges in 1286, and of Bayeux in 1300, condemned all dances which took
place in church or churchyards.

In the later mediæval period Morris-dancing was associated with churches,
and the wardens not infrequently had in their possession certain
properties that were necessary for its due performance. The Morris-dancing
was occasionally actually performed within the churches, that is in the
nave or at the west end; the mummers not going forth on their Whitsuntide
round until the first dance had been given within the sacred fabric. Nor
is it difficult for the antiquary to trace the connection between the
Morris-dancing and the active expression of Christianity. When the Fifth
Crusade succeeded in effecting the capture of Constantinople, the Latins
in their joy celebrated the event by solemn dances in the great church of
St. Sophia. The usual, nay almost invariable, subject of the mumming-play,
as apart from the miracle-play, was one drawn from the crusading legend.
St. George rescuing a Christian maid from her Turkish masters was the
usual stock piece, whilst the joy of victory was invariably celebrated in
the Morris (that is the Moorish) dance.

The earliest of the Kingston-upon-Thames churchwarden accounts, which
cover the last years of Henry VII. and the reign of Henry VIII., have
various references to these dances. In the inventory of church property
for 1537-8 are enumerated:--"A fryers cote of russet and a kyrtele welted
with red cloth, a mowrens (Moor's) cote of buckram, and four morres
daunsars cotes of white fustian spangelid, and too gryne satin cotes, and
disarddes cote of cotton, and six payre of garters with belles."

In the recently published and highly-interesting churchwardens' accounts
of St. Mary's, Reading, are the following entries for the year 1556-7:--

  "I'tm payed for the morrys daunsers and the
      mynstrelles mete and drinke at Whitsuntide    iii.s.iiij.d
  I'tm payed to them the Sondy after Mayday                 xx.d
  Pd to the painter for paynting of their Cottes     ii.s.viij.d
  Pd for a peir of showes for the morris daunsers         iiij.s
  Pd for iiij dozen belles for the morrys daunsers          ij.s
  Pd for sowing of the morrys Cottes                       vij.d

The churchwardens' accounts of St. Helen's, Abingdon, for the second year
of Queen Elizabeth (1559) show that "two dozen of morres belles were
bought by the parish for a shilling."

An injunction of Henry VIII. laid down the principle, now so generally
accepted, that "all soberness, quietness, and godliness ought there (in
the churches) to be used," and enjoined that "no Christian person should
abuse the same by eating, drinking, buying, selling, playing, dancing, or
with other profane or worldly matters." But this injunction was often
treated as a dead letter up to the close of the century in which it was
issued. In Stubb's "Anatomie of Abuses," first printed in 1585, we read:--

    "The wild heades of the parish, flocking together, chuse them a grawnd
    captain of mischief, whom they innoble with the title of my Lord of
    Misrule. Then marche these heathen companie towards the church and
    churchyard, their pipers pypyng, drummers thonderyng, their stumpes
    dauncyng, their belles jyngling, their handkerchefes swyngyng about
    their heads like madmen, their hobbie-horses and other monsters
    skyrmishyng amongst the throng; and in this sorte they go to the
    church (though the minister be at praier or preachyng) dauncing and
    swyngyng their handkerchiefs over their heads in the churche, like
    devilles incarnate, with such a confused noise that no man can heare
    his owne voyce. Then the foolish people, they looke, they stare, they
    laugh, they fleere, and mywnt upon the formes and pewes to see these
    goodly pageants solemnized in this sort. Then, after this, about the
    church they go againe and againe, and so fourthe into the churchyard,
    where they have commonly their summerhalls, their bowers, arbours and
    banquetyng houses set up, wherein they feast, banquet and dance all
    that day, and peradventure, all that night too, and thus these
    terrestrial furies spend the sabbath daie."

In the days of the antiquary, Sir John Aubrey, who died in 1697, there was
Christmas dancing in various Yorkshire churches, accompanied with songs of

The mounted reindeer antlers, as well as the dresses and other properties
of the remarkable horn dancers of Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire, are still
kept in the parish church, where we recently had an opportunity of
examining them when investigating the history of this highly interesting
survival. The dance still continues year by year, and there seems no doubt
that the tradition is true which assigned to the performers a preliminary
dance through the churches before they started on their rounds through the
parish and neighbourhood, collecting money for church purposes. There are
those living who can recollect the accompanying music being played in the
church porch, whilst the dancers executed their steps in the adjacent
parts of the churchyard.

A singular and attractive relic of the custom of dancing in churches is
still practiced three times a year in the great cathedral of Seville,
namely on the feasts of the Immaculate Conception, and of Corpus Christi,
and on the last three days of the Carnival. Ten choristers, dressed in the
costume of pages of the time of Philip III., with plumed hats, dance a
stately but most graceful measure, for about half-an-hour, within the iron
screens in front of the high altar. They are dressed in blue and white for
the Blessed Virgin, and in red and white for Corpus Christi. The boys
accompany the minuet-like movements with the clinking of castanets. During
the measure, a hymn, arranged for three voices with orchestral
accompaniment, is sung in honour of the Blessed Sacrament. The refrain to
the verses is as follows:--

  "Tu nombre Divino,
  Jesus, invocamos,
  Y Dios Te adoramos
  Por nos encarnado,
  Yen hostia abreviado
  De celico pan!"

The canons of the Church of England, as well as the visitation articles of
several of our bishops soon after the Reformation, afford plain proof of
the not infrequent continuance of sports and feastings within the

The 48th of Bishop Hooper's visitation articles runs as follows:--

    "Item, that the churchwardens do not permit any buying, selling,
    gaming, outrageous noises, tumult, or any other idle occupying of
    youth, in the church, church porch, or churchyard, during the time of
    common prayer, sermon, or reading of the homily."

Still more explicit is the 61st article of the provincial visitation of
Archbishop Grindal:--

    "Whether the ministers and churchwardens have suffered any lords of
    misrule, or summer lords or ladies, or any disguised persons, or
    others, in Christmas or at May-games, or any morris-dancers, or at any
    other times to come, unreverently into the church or churchyard, and
    there to dance, or play any unseemly parts, with scoffs, jests, wanton
    gestures, or ribald talk, namely in the time of Common Prayer; and
    what they be that commit such disorder, or accompany or maintain

The 88th Canon of the Church of England (1603), under the heading,
"Churches not to be profaned," says:--

    "The churchwardens or questmen, and their assistants, shall suffer no
    plays, feasts, banquets, suppers, church-ales, drinkings, temporal
    courts or leets, lay-juries, musters, or any other profane usage to be
    kept in the church, chapels or churchyard."

With regard to plays in churches, it has to be recollected that the
mediæval Miracle Play, particularly in England, had its origin in an
elaboration of the liturgy at special seasons, in order to bring home
Christian truths more closely to the understanding of an unlettered
people. The primitive Passion play consisted in the solemn removal of the
Crucifix on Good Friday, the laying it away beneath the altar or in a
specially constructed "sepulchre," the setting of a watch to guard it and
the raising it again with joyous anthem on the Resurrection morn of
Easter. After the third lesson, before the _Te Deum_ at mattins on Easter
Day (according to the English use), the clergy walked in procession to the
high altar, where two singingmen took the parts SS. Peter and John, whilst
three altos, in albes, represented the three Maries, to each of whom
certain words were assigned. The same colloquy was repeated at Mass as
part of the sequence. So, too, with Nativity plays, they had their origin
in the parts assigned to the choir boys and singing men, as representing
angels, shepherds, wise-men, etc. A manger was always erected in one part
of the church, and as the play developed a throne for Herod was placed in
another position, whilst a distant corner was supposed to represent Egypt.

As the Miracle Plays grew in importance and popularity, their
representation in churches became increasingly impossible, if any regard
was to be had to scenic effects. Hence the actors ceased to be the clergy
and choir, their place being taken by members of trade-gilds, or by
wandering players. Occasionally, however, these playing troops were
allowed to use the churches, of which, if space permitted, a variety of
instances, many of our own culling, could be given. Nay, the authorities,
both in pre-reformation and post-reformation times were occasionally lax
enough to suffer secular country dramas and rude representations of
historic scenes to be given by the players in the naves of the parish

In the churchwarden's accounts of St. Michael's, Bath, under the year
1482, are several entries pertaining to the miracle players, who doubtless
performed in the church, and who certainly partook of their refreshment in
the same place. The players received a preliminary refresher on their
arrival, which is thus expressed in the original:--

  _Propotatione le players in recordacione ludorum
      diversis vicibus_                               _iij.d._

They seem to have been paid chiefly in kind, as the accounts are charged

    Two bushels of corn, two dozen pots of beer, and cheese, to the value
    of 1.s. 1.d. for the play. The wardens also paid for this play 20.d.
    for skins, which would be used for disguisements, and 3.s. for
    staining diverse properties that were provided for the occasion.

Another entry relative to the same visit, has, we think, been
misinterpreted by Rev. Prebendary Pearson, when he edited these accounts
in 1878. The entry reads:--

  _Et Johi Fowler pro cariando le tymbe a cimiterio
      dicto tempore ludi_                             _v.d._

Mr. Pearson thought this meant a tomb (_tymba_), but it is far more likely
that it was a bulky platform of timber, placed in the churchyard when not
in use, and only brought into the church when it was required to serve as
a stage.

With regard to feasting in churches, one of the canons put forth in 1571
specially enjoined the churchwardens to disallow the holding of feasts,
drinking parties, banquets, and public entertainments within the walls of
churches. The Church-ales, Clark-ales, and Bid-ales, about which so much
has been written, were originally held within the fabric, and a variety of
other drinking and eating customs in the same place were at one time
prevalent, lingering on for some time after the Reformation in certain
places, and even lasting almost to our own days in occasional retired

Funeral banquets, for the entertainment of mourners, were not infrequently
held in the church when the ceremony was over, or even on the next Sunday.

In Strype's edition of _Stowe's London_ it is recorded that:--

    "Margaret Atkinson, widow, by her will, October 18th, 1544, orders
    that the next Sunday after her burial there be provided two dozens of
    bread, a kilderkin of ale, two gammons of bacon, three shoulders of
    mutton, and two couples of rabbits, desiring all the parish, as well
    as rich as poor, to take part thereof, and a table be set in the midst
    of the church, with everything necessary therto."

We have seen wills pertaining to Porlock and Cutcombe, Somersetshire, to
Scropton, Derbyshire, and to Easingwold, Yorkshire, all of the latter part
of the sixteenth century, which expressly provide for the refreshment of
the mourners within the church.

Occasionally, too, parochial charities provided that the bequest in kind
should be consumed in the church. This was the case with regard to a small
seventeenth century charity, by the terms of which a certain quantity of
bread and beer were to be distributed in the parish church of
Barton-le-Street, Yorkshire, on Holy Thursday to the children of the
parish, to be by them consumed within the church, close to the tomb of the
testator. This custom prevailed until about 1820, when it was abandoned in
favour of the churchyard. The reformed custom prevailed for some twenty
years, when it in turn gave way to a distribution of the fund in money to
the aged poor.

Sad and quaint instances of the occasional evil uses of churches in recent
times, even during the present century, could be gleaned, such as
cock-fighting, card-playing, etc.; but the record would be of no profit,
for they would not be examples of any once established custom, but mere
freaks of wanton impiety.

Holy Day Customs.


It is not surprising that a multitude of quaint customs has sprung up
around the holy days of the church. For these were the holidays of the
people in "Merrie England" of the bygone times; the seasons when gossips
met to talk, and young folk to play, and all the country-side was gathered
first in the church, and then on the village green, or round their
neighbours' hospitable hearths. By sermon or by eloquent device of ritual,
the parish priest endeavoured to imprint upon the simple minds of his
flock the great truth which the holy day commemorated; and they, on their
part, as free for the day from responsibility as from labour, showed their
joy in a hundred different jests and homely sports. Within the church and
without, therefore, was there ample scope for curious customs to grow up,
some of which, even though the origin and meaning have been lost, live on
among us to the present day.

The word _feast_, in the sense of a banquet, is now so familiar to us,
that we are in danger of altogether forgetting that originally it
contained no allusion to eating and drinking. But so universal is the idea
that on all days of rejoicing a meal of special dainties should form part
of the celebration, that long before we English had wrought the word into
its present form, the Roman poets had begun to use its Latin original in
the sense of a festal banquet. Certainly no high day is complete and
national with us unless it include a dinner amongst its pleasures. We
find, therefore, in surveying the holy day customs of yore, signs of much
merry-making of this kind, and particularly of the dedication of special
viands to certain occasions.

From time immemorial, for instance, Christmas cheer was incomplete without
its mince-pies and plum-pudding; the former emblematic, so some say, by
their shape, of the manger-bed of the Infant Redeemer, and the latter by
its rich ingredients of the offerings of the three kings. The pancakes of
Shrove Tuesday are equally universal, and form so conspicuous a part of
the day's solemnities that the day is often known as "pancake-day," and
the bell which formerly summoned the faithful to the shriving was
similarly named the "pancake-bell." In many parts of the country, as for
example at Crowle, in North Lincolnshire, the bell is still rung under
that name.

Mid-Lent, or Mothering Sunday, has its peculiar fare in simnel cakes. Few
days in the year have received so many titles as this one. It is Mothering
Sunday from the ancient practice of priests and people going, on that day,
in pilgrimage to the mother-church of the district, from which arose also
a traditional habit of children visiting their parents on the same
occasion. At this family re-union simnels were the proper fare. But the
day is also Bragget Sunday, from the draughts of bragget, or mulled ale,
with which, in some parts, notably in Lancashire, the cakes were washed
down. Again it is Fag-pie Sunday, from another refection sacred to it in
the same county, namely a pie of figs and spices. Refreshment Sunday, and
the Sunday of the Five Loaves, have reference to the Eucharistic Gospel
for the day.

The following Sunday, Passion Sunday, has its special dish in _carlings_,
or peas fried in butter; and on Palm Sunday figs were again thought
appropriate. A strange custom, existing till comparatively recent times at
Sellack, in Hertfordshire, was the distribution to those present at church
on Palm Sunday of buns and cider by the churchwardens, with the words,
"Peace and good neighbourhood."

Even the great fast of the year has its peculiar food in the hot cross
buns of Good Friday. These are probably a survival of the heathen practice
of offering consecrated cakes to the gods. They were originally unleavened
cakes, made, it is said, from the dough out of which the hosts for the
altar were baked, a fact which suggests a connection with the Pascal
regulations of the Jews. The stamp of the cross probably marks the effort
of the church to give a Christian significance to a practice that was
found to be practically ineradicable.

Easter, the "Queen of Festivals," has no fare so unmistakably assigned to
it as some other holy days. Hare-pie is the correct thing in some places,
and at Hallaton, in Leicestershire, there is an endowment for providing
hare-pie, bread, and ale, for distribution at this season. At Twickenham
two large cakes were formerly divided among the young folk of the parish
at Easter; a harmless practice which the Puritans suppressed in 1645,
with the result that often attends the efforts of busy-bodies, matters
were altered for the worse; for, thenceforward, penny loaves were
purchased with the money, and flung from the Church Tower to be scrambled
for. At Biddenden, in Kent, a large number of cakes and loaves are given
away on this day, on the former of which is impressed the image of two
females, joined together at hip and shoulder. These are the "Biddenden
Maids," Eliza and Mary Chulkhurst, who are said to have been born in the
village, in the year 1100, thus strangely joined, and in whose memory the
rent of a plot of land, called the "Bread and Cheese Land," is thus

Other viands traditionally connected with certain holy days are the great
spiced-cakes on Twelfth Night, and Valentine Buns given to children in
Leicestershire, on S. Valentine's Day. A special "brand" of toffee is made
at Bozeat, in Northamptonshire, for S. Andrew's Day; and roast goose has
long been considered essential to the due observance of Michaelmas.

Reference was made above to the survival of heathen customs among us, in a
dress more or less Christian; and there can be no doubt that such is the
fittest description of very many holy day practices. Some usage was found
in vogue, in itself harmless enough, but allied by long association with
the superstitions of paganism. In some cases the mere conservatism of
popular feeling kept these alive, after all meaning had died out of them;
but in many instances the church took them up, and gave to the dry bones
of the heathen custom a soul of Christian meaning. Conspicious among such
are the use of mistletoe, and the burning of the Yule-log, as adjuncts to
the gaiety and brightness of the Feast of the Nativity. Mistletoe was the
most sacred of plants in the days of the Druids; and it is certainly one
of the most extraordinary examples of the tenacity of life displayed by
popular customs, that a tradition of special privilege should still cling
to the mistletoe in spite, not only of the passage of so many centuries,
but even of the exterminating wars waged against the Druids by the Romans,
and against the Britons generally by the English. It was these same
English forefathers of ours who taught us to burn the Yule-log in
sacrifice to Thor the Thunderer.

Again, there can be little question that the "well-dressing," or
decoration of springs of water with moss and flowers, so common in
Derbyshire, had its origin in the worship of the nymphs or goddesses of
stream and river; yet now in almost every case it has become part of the
celebration of some Christian festival. At Tissington, which claims to
have the only real survival of the custom, it takes place on Ascension
Day; at Derby, and Wirksworth, at Whitsuntide; at Barton on the Thursday
nearest to S. John the Baptist's Day. A pagan rite still existing without
Christian "baptism," is found in the bon-fires that yearly crown the
Cornish hill-tops on the night of Midsummer Day.

Some sports and games were in the past traditionally associated with
certain church festivals, for reasons which in most cases are not very
clear. In Derbyshire, particularly in the county-town, and in Ashbourne,
Shrove Tuesday was marked by the playing in the streets of a rough and
unorganised game of football, in which a large part of the populace took
part. School children were very generally supposed to have the privilege
of demanding a holiday on that day, or even of enforcing one by locking
the master out of the school-house. At Haxey, in North Lincolnshire, the
"Haxey Hood," is always thrown on the Feast of the Epiphany. This curious
sport consists in the struggle for a roll of coarse sacking, about three
inches in diameter, and two feet long, known locally as the "hood," and is
the occasion of much wild excitement. This is said to have no connection
with the holy day, except that it is a commemoration of some local contest
that chanced originally to happen on that day. A similar reason is given
for the fact that the town of Stamford formerly celebrated S. Brice's Day
with the brutal sport of bull-running.

Other curious customs, such as the cracking of a gad-whip in Caistor
Church, on Palm Sunday, by which a local land tenure was maintained, and
which survived until 1846, were evidently associated, each with its
special day, by a merely arbitrary arrangement, having no allusion
whatever to the festival. To the same class belongs, perhaps, the ceremony
of washing the tomb of Molly Grime, at Glentham, in Lincolnshire, by seven
old spinsters, every Good Friday. This was regularly done until 1832, a
neighbouring property being charged with the payment of one shilling each
to the washers, but since that date, the tomb has been abandoned to a
condition more typical of its occupant's name. Another strange usage, the
meaning of which it is hard to conjecture, was the pinning of bits of
coloured rag to the back of the women on their way to church, on Palm
Sunday, a sport once found full of amusement by the lads of Leigh, in

Another class of holy day usages consists of endeavours to reproduce, in
some more or less realistic manner, the fact commemorated by the festival,
with a result that to us seems grotesque at times, if not profane.

Amongst the more obvious of these, we must reckon the singing of carols at
Christmas, a memorial of the angelic hymn heard by the shepherds at
Bethlehem; and the doll laid in a decorated box, rudely representing the
Holy Child in His manger-bed, which children frequently carry from door to
door at that season. The miners of Llwynymaen, when asking for Christmas
gifts, used at one time, it is said, to carry boards to which lighted
candles were fixed, in allusion no doubt originally to the coming of the
"Light of the World."

The cruel custom of stoning a wren to death on S. Stephen's Day, once
generally prevalent, is well-known, and was an obvious endeavour after
commemorative realism. At Padstow, in Cornwall, the same scene was
enacted less objectionally on the Eve of the Conversion of S. Paul, by the
stoning of a pitcher, whence that day was locally known as "Paul's Pitcher

The royal offering of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, at the Chapel Royal,
S. James's, on the Feast of the Epiphany, was once a ceremony of real
dignity, but is now rather a paltry business, interesting chiefly as one
of the most curious of survivals. The royal charities on Maunday Thursday,
are really a portion of an otherwise lapsed custom, which recalled the
action of our Lord on the day before His Crucifixion. Down to the reign of
James II. the king attended by some of the great officers of his court,
washed the feet of a number of poor people on this day, and then
distributed money, food, and clothing among them. The lads of Kendal have
a different way of keeping the day; in parties of a dozen or so, they
drag, or used to drag, tin cans through the streets, beating them with
sticks, until they were quite demolished. Can this, one wonders, be in any
way related to that Good Friday custom of Spanish sailors, the beating and
hanging in effigy of Judas the Traitor?

An old Dorset poet, Barnes, says, referring to a well-known Easter custom:

  "Last Easter I put on my blue
  Frock coat, the vust time, vier new;
  Wi' yaller buttons aal o' brass,
  That glittered in the zun like glass,
  Bekaze 'twer Easter Zunday."

No good luck can attend you, so the belief was, unless you wear at least
one new thing on Easter Day. The fancy probably arose from an idea of the
"newness of life" of which the festival speaks to us. Easter eggs again
were obviously used at first as supplying a fitting emblem of the
Resurrection. As a rule they are simply treated as pretty ornaments, but
at Liège, in Belgium, boys have a kind of game with them, similar to an
English lad's use of chestnuts, knocking two together; the boy whose egg
remains unbroken the longest being proclaimed the conqueror.

The subject of holy day practices is an immense one, especially when one
wanders into all the bye-paths of local peculiarities. All of them, no
doubt, had their meaning in times past, and therefore their use; if some,
having now become unintelligible or even foolish forms, drop year by year
into disuse, we can scarcely, from mere love of the olden days, regret
them. But all the more tenaciously should we cling to those old customs,
which have still a living soul in them, still a lesson to teach. Our
forefathers, with their ready wit in finding means for impressing truth on
the mind through the medium of the eye, showed a deeper knowledge of human
nature than some of their sons, who boast so freely of the superior wisdom
of the nineteenth century.

Church Bells: When and Why they were Rung.


Bells filled a much more important place in the lives of our ancestors
than they do in ours. From the time that Britain became Christian until
the Reformation, there was scarcely an event in public or private history
into which they did not enter--they were rung to celebrate the birth of an
heir to the rich and noble, they were heard at his daughter's marriage,
and the marriages of his dependants; they sounded alike for high and low,
rich and poor, when the soul was passing away; and again some hours after
death had taken place; as well as at the funeral. On these occasions, and
upon many others, it was the universal custom to ring them, but there were
also what may be termed local events in honour of which they were chimed;
these differed in various parts of the country; in many cases adjoining
parishes followed totally different rules in this respect. Some of these
customs are so quaint that they are worth recording, not only as memorials
of a past that we can but dimly enter into, but as throwing considerable
light upon the manners and doings of our forefathers.

As far as we are aware no complete collection of these old usages relating
to the ringing of Church Bells has ever been made, though there is much
valuable information to be found upon the subject in the various books
upon bells which have been published during the last twenty-five years. It
is said that year by year fewer bells are heard to ring upon the
twenty-ninth of May, but "Oak-apple Day," as it is still called in many
parts of England, is yet celebrated by the bells of Swineshead, amongst
other places; and also by sprays of oak leaves being worn, though in the
northern and eastern counties, if the season be a late one, it is somewhat
difficult to obtain them. Some six or seven years ago many of the engines
of trains running upon the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway
were decked with branches of oak on that day; and it is no uncommon thing
to see the plough boy adorn the heads of his horses with sprays of oak
leaves in memory of King Charles's escape. There is an entry in the
churchwardens' accounts belonging to the church of St. Mary at
Stamford:--"1709 Pd. Richard Hambleton for ale for the Ringers on ye 29
May ... 00 06 00." We find three years later the ringers at the church of
All Saints in the same town received five shillings for ringing the bells
upon the twenty-ninth of May. At Waddington it has been the custom from
sometime which is now forgotten to ring one or two strokes on the tenor
bell to publish the fact that an apprentice belonging to the parish is
"out of his time." The fifth of November was a day of general bell-ringing
all over the country, and we believe they are still sounded in many parts
of England to call to mind the escape of King, Lords, and Commons from the
Gunpowder Plot; Guy Fawkes is to be seen burning through the length and
breadth of the land, and crackers and bonfires are usual. There is a
curious inscription upon the second bell at Owmby, commemorating the
events of 1605; it is dated 1687, and bears upon it:--


The churchwardens' accounts of S. John the Baptist at Stamford contain the
following entry:--"1608 Item paid for Rynging the vth of November vi{d}."

In some places the bells are rung to summon people to attend the vestry
meeting which is held on the Monday after Easter Sunday, to elect the
churchwardens for the following term of office, to pass the church
accounts for the year, and to transact various other business; this is
done amongst other places at Bottesford and Epworth (the latter celebrated
as being the birth-place of John Wesley, the former for possessing the
most perfect specimen of an Early English church to be found in the
northern part of Lincolnshire).

On Shrove Tuesday it was the general custom in pre-Reformation times to
call the people to church, that they might confess their sins before Lent;
this was done by one of the bells being rung, or more likely tolled, but
in later times the real reason for which its sound was heard has been
forgotten by the people, and where the custom has been kept up it has now
got to be called "The Pancake Bell," because it is usual to have pancakes
upon this day, the last of feasting, before the fast of Lent begins, and
Shrove Tuesday is often known by the name of "Pancake Tuesday." This bell
is rung in a great many places, though the present writer never happened
to hear it: noon is the usual time for it to be heard, and at Navenby it
used to be rung by the eldest apprentice in the place, but this part of
the custom is now obsolete. Our forefathers believed that the ringing of
church bells had the effect of allaying storms; this is illustrated by an
entry in the Spalding churchwardens' accounts:--"1519 It'm pd. for ryngng
when the Tempest was, iijd."

In some parts of the country the bells were rung on the fifth of August to
celebrate the escape of James I. from the Gowrie Plot; there are charges
for ringing on this day to be found in the churchwardens' accounts of
Kirton-in-Lindsey at various times during the seventeenth century. In the
same parish there was also the custom of ringing what is in some parts of
the country known as the "Market Bell," but here it was, and we believe is
still, called the "Winter Ringing," because it was only done during the
months of November, December, and January, from seven until eight o'clock,
on Tuesday and Thursday evenings--on the former night to guide people home
who had attended the Gainsborough market, and upon the latter to aid
those who had been to Brigg market to find their way back again. This was
a useful precaution when the country was unenclosed, as the sound of the
bells told people when they were going in the right direction; the same
was done in the neighbouring parish of Scotton on the Tuesday night. The
custom is still kept up at Kirton-in-Lindsey during November and December,
but we believe the bells are not heard upon these two evenings after
Christmas, the modern idea being that the ringers are practising for that
great festival of the Church.

Bells very often had names bestowed upon them; there is one in St. Mark's
Church, Lincoln, always spoken of as "Old Kate," and "Great Tom" of Oxford
has a world-wide reputation. Many old bells have unfortunately been sold,
in some cases to obtain money with which to repair the churches; in others
we fear the money merely went into the pocket of the holder of the living,
or those of the churchwardens; it was for the former reason that two bells
at Cadney were parted with during the last century. A writer in the
_Gentleman's Magazine_, in 1849 (p. 158), states that there is reason to
believe that, since the death of Edward VI., not less than four hundred
bells have, from one cause or another, been lost in Lincolnshire alone.

In some parishes the bells are rung at the close of the morning service
upon Sunday, and at Harpswell it was, until very lately, the custom to
ring a bell at noon if by any chance there should be no morning service.
It is popularly said, but on what authority we know not, that this bell
was meant to warn those who were preparing dinner that the time for that
important meal had nearly arrived. The custom of ringing a bell at the
conclusion of the morning service still obtains at Kirkleatham.
Inscriptions upon bells are very common, sometimes they are in English,
but on the older bells it is more usual to find them in Latin. There is a
bell at Alkborough which is believed to be of the early part of the
fourteenth century, with the following inscription upon it:--

  "Jesu For Yi Moder Sake Save All
  Ye Sauls That Me Gart Make

At Semperingham, on an early sixteenth bell, there is to be found a very
useful piece of advice:--

  "Be Not Ouer Busie;"

and a bell at Benniworth merely puts on record the year in which it was
made:--"Anno Domini 1577;" is by no means an uncommon thing to find only a
date upon bells. Many of them have the names of the churchwardens for the
time being, or the name of the giver of the bell or bells; at Burgh we

  "William Pavlin chimed so well
  He payd for casting of this bell. 1589."

Most likely he was one of the ringers, but whether he gave the bell, or
only paid for its recasting, we do not know. In certain parishes the bells
are tolled before midnight on the thirty-first of December for the dying
year; then comes a few minutes pause, and a joyous peal heralds the advent
of the new year. This is done, amongst other places, at Kirton-in-Lindsey;
the writer heard 1893 tolled out and 1894 ushered in with a peal on those
beautiful bells; and we know that it was the custom there in 1632, for we
find under that date in the churchwardens' accounts:--"Item to the ringers
of new yeare day morninge xijd." The church of this parish is dedicated to
S. Andrew, and in 1658, there is an entry as follows:--"It' to the ringers
on St. Andrewes day 0 1 0." The patron saint of Scotland seems in some
parts of England to be held in high esteem; in Lincolnshire alone there
are no less than sixty-eight churches dedicated to him. There is a curious
tradition about the most widely known bell in Lincolnshire; it is to the
effect that, when at the recasting of "Great Tom of Lincoln" in the
Minster Yard, sometime during the January of 1610-11, that certain of the
pious citizens determined to do all that lay in their power to make the
tone of the bell as pure as possible, and therefore threw into the molten
mass of metal much treasure in the form of silver tankards, spoons, and
sundry other objects formed of that precious metal. That there is not the
slightest truth in the story was clearly proved when the bell was once
more recast in 1834, for upon a piece of the metal of which it was
composed being assayed, it was found to contain a very small proportion of
silver. It is strange that this belief in the power of silver to add
sweetness to the tone of bells should be such a general one; we find it
existing in almost all the countries of Europe, in spite of the fact that
the experiment of mixing an undue proportion of this metal has always been
found to impair their sound. The writer was once informed that the reason
the bells of S. Martin's-in-the-Fields, London, are so wonderfully sweet
and clear in tone is owing to the fact that Nell Gwynn, who gave them to
the church, insisted upon having a quantity of silver thrown into the
metal when it was fusing. Poor pretty, sinning Nell, she was religious
after a manner, and she has lain in S. Martin's Church upwards of two
hundred years, whilst the bells she gave have sounded, and still sound,
above her grave. She left a bequest to the ringers, the interest of which
was to be devoted to purchasing a leg of mutton for them to sup upon every
Monday evening.

Sacring bells were, it is believed, to be found in all churches before the
Reformation; they were rung to inform the congregation that the Elevation
of the Host was about to take place. There is some difficulty in
distinguishing between this bell and the Sanctus Bell, they seem in many
cases to be the same, and in others separate. A small sacring bell was
discovered in Bottesford Church (Lincolnshire) during its restoration in
1870. When the plaster was removed from the west end of the southern aisle
it was seen that one of the stones in the wall was merely loosely placed
in position, not built firmly in like the rest of the masonry; it was
removed, and behind it, in a hole evidently made on purpose to receive
it, was the bell. This bell is now in the possession of the Society of
Antiquaries, and a full description of it is given in _Proceedings of the
Society of Antiquaries_, 2nd series, vol. 5, p. 24.

There was formerly a small bell at Hemswell, named the Agnus Bell; it may
perhaps have been so called by reason of its being rung at the Elevation,
which was immediately followed by the singing of the _Agnus Dei_. The
following alludes to it:--"Itm ... an agnus bell gone owtt of the fore
sayd churche, no man knoweth how, ano dome a thowssand five hundreth three
schore and fowre."[2]

In many churches, bells and other articles were returned in 1566 as lost
or missing, and no reasonable explanation of the apparently gross
carelessness given. There can be but little doubt that they were secretly
taken away in order that they might escape destruction; in some cases it
may be that they were hidden like the bell at Bottesford, but it is
probable that more often they were taken to the houses of the people who
saved them; and that in after years they were lost or destroyed. Under
Glenthworth, there is an entry, which seems to point to the fact that the
bell was thus disposed of "A hand bell--gone, we cannot tell how, the same
year," (1566).[3]

It seems to have been by no means uncommon to turn these small hand bells
into mortars; we find this was done at Hemswell in 1566: "ij. hande
belles, sold to Robertt Aestroppe one of the sayd churchwardens to make a
mortar off."[4]

Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne on November 17th, 1558, S. Hugh's Day,
and there are many entries to be found in churchwardens' accounts for
ringing the bells upon that day after this date. At Kirton-in-Lindsey
there is the following statement in 1581:--"Item for mending the belles
aganst Sant Hew day viij{d};" and then again in 1597:--"Item vpon Sante
Hue daye viij." No doubt the first entry means that either the wooden
framework, or else the cords of the bells needed some slight repairs; it
could not have been the bells themselves. There is another entry in the
Kirton-in-Lindsey accounts that is interesting, though of a somewhat later
date. In 1630 we find:--"Item bestowed of the ringers in ayle for Joye of
the younge Prince xij." This was for ringing the bells upon the birth of
Charles II.

In reading of these loyal payments one is reminded of the inscription upon
the first bell at Witham-on-the-Hill, which evinces a very different


The Harvest Bell was rung in various parts of the country; at
Barrow-on-Humber it was heard very early in the morning at daybreak in the
eighteenth century, and then again late in the evening during the weeks of
harvest. In some parishes it used to be the custom to ring a bell at eight
o'clock in the morning as a signal that people might then begin to glean.
In the Louth churchwardens' accounts, in 1556, is the following:--"To
william east for knylling the bell in harvest forgathering of the pescodes
iiij{d}." The _Daily Telegraph_, of 1st September, 1893, says:--"The
'harvest bell' is rung at the Parish Church, Driffield, at five a.m. and
eight p.m. every day during harvest, the custom is a very old one."

Advent was celebrated in some places by the ringing of the bells, usually,
but not invariably, in the evening; the reason for this being that the
ringers were at work during the day, and therefore it could only be done
when the hours of labour were ended. On S. Thomas's Day the bells were
often rung; and it was a very widely spread, though not a universal,
custom to ring them very early on the morn of Christmas Day. In the
Kirton-in-Lindsey churchwardens' account we see what the ringers obtained
for so doing in 1630:--"It' given to the Ringers at Christenmaise day at
morne xij{d}." The bells are, or were until lately, rung at five o'clock
on Christmas morning at South Kelsey. In various parts of England they
were rung in a great variety of ways during Lent and upon Good Friday; on
Easter Sunday, too, there has always been great divergence as to the
custom of bell-ringing. The Banns Peal is still to be heard in some
places; this is a peal rung after the publication of banns of marriage, it
is usually chimed after morning service on the first Sunday that the banns
are "put up," but this is by no means the universal practice, in some
parishes it is rung on the first and third Sundays, in others on the third
alone, and it varies yet again at Elsham and Searby, where it is given
upon all three Sundays. Peals at Baptism are much rarer, but still there
are parishes where it has been from time unknown usual to ring them. The
curfew is yet to be heard in many places, though the hour varies, it being
often rung at nine, and in some instances at seven o'clock, instead of at

In pre-Reformation times the Passing Bell, instead of being rung as it now
is after death, was then really and truly a "passing-bell," for it was
heard when a person was supposed to be at the point of death, in order
that those in whose ears it sounded might of their charity pray for a soul
so soon to be beyond human help. After the spirit had returned unto Him
who gave it, the Soul Bell was rung, that the living might pray for the
dead; this soul-bell, besides being rung a few hours after death, was
sounded again at stated intervals, at the month's end, the three months'
end, and so on. Surtees, the northern antiquary, alludes to this custom in
the ballad of _Sir John le Spring_:--

  "Pray for the soul of Sir John le Spring,
    When the black monks sing and the chantry bells ring.
  Pray for the sprite of the murdered knight,
    Pray for the rest of Sir John le Spring.

       *       *       *       *       *

  And aye the mass-priest sings his song,
    And patters many a prayer,
  And the chantry bell tolls loud and long,
    And aye the lamp burns there."

There are numerous ways of indicating the age and sex of the departed by
the manner in which the passing-bell is tolled; we have been informed that
in Lincolnshire alone there are between seventy and eighty different
methods by which this is done.

Some few bells have upon them inscriptions showing they were meant to be
rung as passing-bells. The third bell at Brant Broughton has on it:--

  "Beg ye of God your soul to save
  Before we call you to the grave."

It is possible that some of the customs here spoken of as now existing may
recently have fallen into oblivion, but the term "existing" must only be
taken to mean that it was in use at the place named when the note
concerning it was made.

Inscriptions on Bells.


High up in the dusty belfry, whose grey shadows rarely see the face of
man, the bells swing to and fro with unwearying zeal. But in addition to
the lessons which pour from their eloquent mouths, should we scale the
tall ladders of the bell tower and invade the regions of the owl and the
bat, we shall find other teaching--that graven on the sides of the bells
themselves--the inscriptions. Let us therefore glance over the wide field
of interesting information thus presented to us. Allusions to the pitch of
the bell are often the subject. A bell of Churchill, Somerset, has the

  Although my waiste is small
  I will be heard amainst you all,
          Sing on my jolly sisters.

While Berrow, Somerset, is more brief:--

  My treble voice
  Makes hearts rejoice.

Bruton has a recast bell saying--

  Once I'd a note that none could beare,
  But Bilbie made me sweet and clear.

And similarly Compton Martin--

  My sound is good that once was bad,
  Lett's sing my sisters and be glad.

Badgworth, Gloucester, has a similar inscription--

  Badgworth ringers they were mad
  Because Rigbe made me bad,
  But Abel Rudhall you may see
  Hath made me better than Rigbe.

At Blakesley, Northamptonshire, the tenor bears--

  I ring to sermon with a lusty bome,
  That all may come and none may stay at home.

More pronounced is the self-congratulation of a bell of East Dean--

  Me melior vere,
  Non est Campana sub aere,

and one of Hurstpierpoint, which says--

  If you have a judicious ear
  You'll own my voice is sweet and clear.

Rye Church, in Sussex, alludes in its bells to the marriage chimes induced
by the liberality of the bridegroom--

  In wedlock bands, all ye who join
    With hands your hearts unite.
  So shall our tuneful tongues combine
    To bless the nuptial rite.

At other times it is the shape that is celebrated. At Combe, Somerset, a
bell says--

  My sound is good, my shape is neat,
  'Twas Bayley made me so compleat.

Or the size, as at Bexhill, Sussex--

  Although I am both light and small,
  I will be heard above you all.

S. Mary's, at Devizes, has another version--

  I am the first, altho' but small,
  I will be heard above you all.

Again, names of donors are often inscribed upon bells, and these are
handed down to us from very early dates; or sometimes the fact of
subscription is mentioned in general terms of gratitude. So Bagborough,
Somerset, says--

  Bouth owld and young did agree full well
  To pay for casting of this bell,
  Because a true tale it should tell.

And Bath Abbey has a very terse bell couplet,

  All you of Bath that heare mee sound
  Thank Lady Hopton's hundred pound.

A Devon bell has--

  Squire Arundel the great my whole expense did raise,
  Nor shall our tongues abate to celebrate his praise.

These hints, or downright references on bells to the pecuniary means of
their erection, may be supplemented by the inscription at Buxted, which
promises as follows--

  At proper times my voice I'll raise
  And sound to my subscribers' praise.

But in the last two centuries such expressions of gratitude for
subscriptions to casting or re-casting are common enough. So in a similar
strain speaks the bell of Alderton,

  I'm given here to make a peal
  And sound the praise of Mary Neale.

At Binstead, too, a bell says

  Dr. Nicholas gave five pound
  To help cast this peal tuneable and sound.

Bells at first bore strictly religious inscriptions; afterwards that rule
became more relaxed, and irrelevant matters often find expression. After
1600 the claims of religion to be alone regarded on bells may be said to
be almost entirely passed over. Marlborough's victories are commemorated
on the bells of S. Helen's, Worcester, and those of Ottery and S. Martin,
Exeter, have medals on which are represented grotesque pieces levelled at
the churchmen in the most approved style of mediæval satire. Sometimes,
nay, most often, the poetical attempts in the inscriptions are, to say
the least, somewhat wanting in an indefinite something that goes to make
true poetry. Yet the simple appeals of some of them do not fall
unregarded. So when rich men give bells we find such an inscription as

  Of your charite prai for the soulles of John Slutter, John
    Hunt, and Willem Slutter.

An instance has been given of historical events being inscribed upon
bells. A further one is that of the bell of Ashover, Derbyshire, which
upon re-casting was inscribed--

  This old bell rung the downfall of Buonaparte and broke, April, 1814.

At Tadcaster it is recorded on the fifth bell--

  It is remarkable that these bells were moulded in the great frost,
  1783. C. and R. Dalton, Fownders, York.

An extremely curious inscription appears on a bell at Pucknowle,
Dorsetshire, dated 1629. It reads without stop or space--


"Lather" is an old English term meaning "to make a noise." A bell at
Lichfield, which was destroyed in 1652, bore the following:--

  I am ye bell of Jesus, and Edward is our King,
  Sir Thomas Heywood first caused me to ring.

Many inscriptions on bells are, or contain, allusions to the vigilance of
monastic times. Such is one at Ashill, Somerset, which simply says--

  I call to wake you all.

As pithy an inscription appears on the bell of S. Ives, which is rung
early in the morning. It is--

  Arise, and go about your business.

A Coventry bell, dated 1675, says--

  I ring at six to let men know
  When too and fro their worke to goe.

Patriotic expressions are common; among such is Brusford,

  Come let us ring
  For Church and King.

And Hurstpierpoint,

  Ye people all who hear us ring
  Be faithful to your God and King.

Sometimes a whole set of bells bore inscriptions which may be read
continuously. An instance is at S. Mary's, Ticehurst, where the bells

  1. I am she that leads the van,
     Then follow me now if you can.

  2. Then I speak next, I can you tell,
     So give me rope and ring me well.

  3. Now I am third, as I suppose,
     Mark well now time and fourth close.

  4. As I am fourth, I will explain
     If you'll keep time you'll credit gain.

  5. Now I am fifth, as I suppose,
     Then ring me well and tenor close.

  6. This is to show for ages yet to come
     That by subscription we were cast and hung
       And Edward Lulham is his name
       That was the actor of the same.

Northfield bells, Worcestershire, give an account of the contest in the
vestry-room which led to the completion of the peal--

  1. Though once but five we now are six.

  2. And 'gainst our casting some did strive.

  3. But when a day of meeting there was fixed.

  4. Appeared nine 'gainst twenty-six.

  5. It was Wm. Kettle that did contrive
     To make us six that were but five.

Another bell bears the date and churchwardens' names. At Coventry on a
peal of bells, cast in 1774, are the following inscriptions--

  1. Though I am but light and small
     I will be heard above you all.

  2. If you have a judicious ear
     You will own my voice both sweet and clear.

  3. Such wondrous power to music given,
     It elevates the soul to heaven.

  4. Whilst thus we join in cheerful sound,
     May love and loyalty abound.

  5. To honour both God and King
     Our voices shall in concert ring.

  6. Music is medicine to the mind.

  7. Ye ringers all that prize
       Your health and happiness,
     Be sober, merry, wise,
       And you'll the same possess.

  8. Ye people all who hear me ring
     Be faithful to your God and King.

  9. In wedlock's bands all ye who join
       With hands your hearts unite:
     So shall our tuneful tongues combine
       To laud the nuptial rite.

  10. I am and have been called the common bell
      To ring when fire breaks out to tell.

On the bells of S. Peter's, Nottingham, the appended lines appear:--

            Our voices shall with joyful sound
            Make hills and valleys echo round.

            We celebrate th' auspicious morn
            On which the Son of God was born.

            Our voices shall in concert ring
            To honour God and King.

  The bride and groom we greet in holy wedlock join'd,
  Our sounds are emblems of hearts in love combined.

            I toll the funeral knell,
              I hail the festal day.--
            The fleeting hour I tell,
              I summon all to pray.

The longest continuous bell inscriptions we have noted are from Bakewell,
Derbyshire, and on a peal of eight bells. They run thus:--

  1. When I begin Our merry Din,
       This Band I lead from Discord Free;
     And for the Fame of human Name,
       May ev'ry Leader copy Me.

  2. Mankind like Us, too oft are found
     Possess'd of Nought but empty Sound.

  3. When of departed Hours We toll the Knell,
     Instruction take & spend the future well.

  4. When Men in Hymen's Bands unite,
     Our Merry Peals produce Delight;
     But when Death goes his dreary Rounds,
     We send forth sad and solemn Sounds.

  5. Thro' Grandsires and Tripples with Pleasure men range,
     Till Death calls the Bob & brings on the Last Change.

  6. When Vict'ry crowns the Public Weal
     With Glee We give the merry Peal.

  7. Would Men Like Us join & agree
     They'd live in tunefull Harmony.

  8. Possess'd of deep sonorous Tone
     This Belfry King sits on his Throne;
     And, when the merry Bells go round,
     Adds to & mellows ev'ry Sound;
     So in a just & well pois'd State,
     Where all Degrees possess due Weight,
     One greater Pow'r, One greater Tone
     Is ceded to improve their own.

During a recent visit to Bakewell church we copied an epitaph blending in
a remarkable degree business, loyalty and religion:--

    To the Memory of
    Matthew Strutt.

    Of this town, farmer, long famed in these parts for veterinary skill.
    A good neighbour, and a staunch friend to Church and King. Being
    churchwarden at the time the present peal of bells were hung. Through
    zeal of the House of God, and unremitting attention to the airy
    business of the belfry he caught a cold, which terminated his
    existence May 25, 1798, in the 68 year of his age.

A beautiful Latin inscription has one--a Rutland bell--

    Non clamor sed amor cantat in aure dei, _i.e._, It is not noise, but
    love that sings in the ear of God.

And it is in the same county that we find the modern use of the death-bell

  I sound not for the souls of the dead but the ears of the living.

Cheltenham, too, bears out the spirit of this inscription in the

  I to prayer the living do combine
  The dead shall hear a greater sound than mine.

The offices of the various bells form a large proportion of their legends,
particularly those uses which are the most common. Thus the death bell at
Axbridge, Somerset, states,

  For homesoever this bell doth toll
  The Lord have mercy on that sole!

Many Somersetshire bells have the following and similar inscriptions:--

  I to the church the living call,
  And to the grave I summon all.

Brent, Somerset, has a bell with--

  When I doth toll pray mind your souls
    And in God put your trust,
  As may be well with you at last
    When you come to doust.

And Backwell, in the same county--

  I sound to bid the sick repent,
  In hopes of life when breath is spent.

A bell at Stratton, Cornwall, is shorter--

  I call the quick to church and dead to grave.

A bell in Ghent describes the purposes for which it was used: it is not an
uncommon form in the Netherlands. Translated it reads:--

  My name is Roelant;
  When I toll it is for a fire,
  When I swing then there is storm in Flanders.

Religious sentiments and quotations are found in thousands on bells old
and new. Such are--

  Te deum Laudamus.

On the bell at Peterborough Cathedral

  Venite Exultemus Domino.

In Westminster Abbey

  Christie audi nos.

Sometimes a letter of the inscription is found inverted; rarely a whole
word. Such, however, is the case at Clapham, in Bedfordshire, where the
line runs--

  God save the = hcruhC

The prayers for the dead mark the religious changes of the country, and
not less the invocations to the saints, which form one branch of bell
lore. Elstead has a bell inscribed--

  Sancta Paule, ora pro nobis.

Washington, in Sussex, one bearing--

  O Sancte Stephane.

And Balcombe, in the same county, one--

  Vox Augustini Sonat in aure Dei.

The uses to which bells were dedicated may be further exampled from their
inscriptions. S. Michael, Coventry, has a bell bearing--

  I am, and have been called the common bell
  To ring when fire breaks out to tell.

And at Sherborne, in Dorsetshire, dated 1652, a bell piously says--

  Lord, quench this furious flame,
  Arise, run, help put out the same.

We may here appropriately conclude with some lines inscribed upon the
tower of Batley Church, Yorkshire, in memory of a former set of bells:

    "The Requiem of the late three bells of Batley Church, two of which
    were introduced into the tower in the 17th century, and the third or
    last in the 18th century, and were taken down in the 19th century, at
    the close of the year of our Lord 1851, bearing the following
    respective dates and inscriptions, viz., upon the middle bell: Tho.
    Deighton G. O. 1658; largest bell, 1684 Gloria in Altissimis Deo. Ric.
    Mann, Churchwarden; last and least bell, Dalton of York fecit 1791. To
    Father, Son, and Holy Ghost Eternal glory raise.

    "Author of the following lines, Mr. Luke Blakeley, of Upper Batley;
    third of that name in the family, and nephew of Mr. Luke Blakeley of
    the same place, who died Jan. 17th, in the year of our Lord 1836, and
    was interred in Batley Churchyard.

      "One hundred years, yea almost two,
        We've hung in that turret grey,
      And many changes we have seen
        As time has fled away.

      We seen the bride and bridegroom gay,
        We've chimed their joy to tell;
      Alas! before the day has clos'd
        We've toll'd the funeral knell.

      We've merrily rung for victories gain'd
        O'er Britain's enemies;
      Then mourned for the brave who bled
        To gain those victories.

      We've highly lauded pomp and power,
        Then call'd on men to pray,
      A requiem rung with the weeping and sad,
        Then revell'd with the gay.

      We've seen the scourge of civil war
        Approach where we have stood.
      We've seen oppression's cruel hand
        Reeking with kindred blood.

      Our solemn tolling for the dead
        Falls on the mourner's ear,
      Then the bereav'd and aching heart
        Feels desolate and drear.

      Dirges we've rung for Kings and Queens
        As they to the tomb went down,
      Then joyfully welcom'd the heir
        Who came to wear the crown.

      We saw the star of Brunswick rise
        And beam upon our strand,
      We see its full refulgent ray
        Illumine this happy land.

      Victoria the sceptre sways,
        And bright her virtues shine,
      Long may she live, long may she reign
        Best of her royal line.

      We joyfully hail'd her natal day,
        We hail'd her to the throne,
      We blithely hail'd her nuptial hour,
        For her we ne'er shall moan.

      We're taken from that turret grey
        Where we for long have hung,
      Like worn out lumber thrown away,
        Forever mute, each tongue.

      And now our changes all are rung
        Here ends our dying song;
      Our last our final peal is done:
        Farewell! Farewell! Ding Dong."[6]

Laws of the Belfry.


The ringing chambers of many old churches contain curious rules in poetry
and prose for regulating the conduct of the ringer and the visitor. Some
of the orders are extremely quaint, and all appear framed as a ready means
of obtaining money in fines to be spent in beer. In bygone times there
appears to have been a close connection between the belfry and the cellar.
One of the best examples which has come under our notice is from
Hathersage, Derbyshire, and dates back to about 1660:--

  You gentlemen that here wish to ring,
  See that these laws you keep in every thing;
  Or else be sure you must without delay,
  The penalty thereof to the ringers pay.

  First, when you do into the bell-house come,
  Look if the ringers have convenient room;
  For if you do be an hindrance unto them,
  Fourpence you forfeit unto these gentlemen.

  Next if you do here intend to ring,
  With hat or spur, do not touch a string;
  For if you do, your forfeit is for that,
  Just fourpence down to pay, or lose your hat.

  If you a bell turn over, without delay,
  Fourpence unto the ringers you must pay;
  Or if you strike, misscall, or do abuse,
  You must pay fourpence for the ringers' use.

  For every oath here sworn, ere you go hence,
  Unto the poor then you must pay twelvepence;
  And if that you desire to be enrolled
  A ringer here, these words keep and hold!

  But whoso doth these orders disobey,
  Unto the stocks we will take him straightway,
  There to remain until he be willing
  To pay his forfeit and the clerk a shilling.

A similar set of rules were adopted at Chapel-en-le-Frith, in the same

The following quaint lines are from St. Peter's, Shaftesbury:--

  What musick is there that compar'd may be
  To well-tuned bells' enchanting melody?
  Breaking with their sweet sounds the willing air,
  They in the list'ning ear the soul ensnare,
  When bells ring round and in their order be,
  They do denote how neighbours should agree;
  But if they clam the harsh sound spoils the sport,
  And 'tis like women keeping Dover Court.
  Of all the music that is played or sung
  There's none like bells, if they are well rung.
  Then ring your bell--well if you can,
  Silence is best for ev'ry man;
  In your ringing make no demur,
  Pull off your hat, your belt, and spur;
  And if your bell you overset
  The ringer's fee you must expect!
  Fourpence you are to pay for that.
  But that if you do swear or curse,
  Twelvepence is due, pooll out your purse,
  Our laws are old, they are not new,
  Both clerk and ringers claim their due.

We have from Tong, Salop, the following curious dated example:--

  If that to ring you do come here,
  You must ring well with hand and ear;
  Keep stroke of time and go not out,
  Or else you forfeit, out of doubt.
  Our law is so constructed here,
  For ev'ry fault a jugg of beer.
  If that you ring with spur or hat,
  A jugg of beer must pay for that.
  If that you take a rope in hand,
  These forfeits you may not withstand.
  Or, if that you a bell o'erthrow,
  It will cost sixpence ere you goe.
  If in this place you swear or curse,
  Sixpence you pay--out with your purse.
  Come! pay the clerk, it is his fee,
  For one that swears shall not go free.
  These laws are old, and are not new,
  Therefore the clerk must have his due.
                                  GEORGE HARRISON, 1694.

From the belfry of Dunster, Somersetshire, are the following lines:--

  You that in ringing take delight,
    Be pleased to draw near;
  These articles you must observe
    If you mean to ring here.

  And first, if any overturn
    A bell, as that he may,
  He forthwith for that only fault
    In beer shall sixpence pay.

  If anyone shall curse or swear
    When come within the door,
  He then shall forfeit for that fault
    As mentioned before.

  If anyone shall wear his hat
    When he is ringing here
  He straightway then shall sixpence pay
    In cyder or in beer.

  If anyone these articles
    Refuseth to obey,
  Let him have nine strokes of the rope,
    And so depart away.

The foregoing bears the date of 1787. We have a shorter set of orders from

  You ringers all, observe these orders well!
  He pays his sixpence that o'erturns a bell;
  And he that rings with either spur or hat,
  Must pay his sixpence certainly for that;
  And he that rings and does disturb ye peal,
  Must pay his sixpence or a gun of ale.
  These laws elsewhere, in ev'ry church are used,
  That bell and ringers may not be abused.

It is stated in Halliwell's "Dictionary of Archaisms and Provincialisms"
_gun_ is a North country word for a large flagon of ale.

From All Saints' Church, Hastings, we have the following lines:--

  I. H. S.


  This is a belfry that is free
  For all those that civil be;
  And if you please to chime or ring
  It is a very pleasant thing.


  There is no musick play'd or sung,
  Like unto bells when they're well rung;
  Then ring your bells well, if you can,
  Silence is the best for every man.


  But if you ring in spur or hat,
  Sixpence you pay, be sure of that;
  And if a bell you overthrow,
  Pray pay a groat before you go.--1756.

Similar verses to the foregoing we have seen in several places. From the
parish church at Grantham we have the following example, dating back to
about the middle of the last century:--

  He that in Ringing takes delight,
    And to this place draws near,
  These Articles set in his sight
    Must keep if he Rings here.

  The first he must observe with care
    Who comes within the door,
  Must if he chance to curse or swear,
    Pay Sixpence to the poor.

  And whosoe'er a noise does make,
    Or idle story tells,
  Must Sixpence to the Ringers take
    For melting of the Bells.

  If any like to smoke or drink,
    They must not do so here,
  Good reason why--just let them think
    This is God's House of Prayer.

  Young men that come to see and try,
    And do not Ringing use,
  Must Six Pence give the company,
    And that shall them excuse.

  So that his hat on's head does keep,
    Within this sacred place,
  Must pay his Six Pence ere he sleep;
    Or turn out with disgrace.

  If any one with spurs to's heels
    Ring here at any time,
  He must, for breaking articles,
    Pay Six Pence for his crime.

  If any overthrow a Bell,
    As that by chance he may,
  Because he minds not Ringing well,
    He must his Six Pence pay.

  Or if a noble minded man
    Come here to Ring a bell,
  A Shilling is the Sexton's fee,
    Who keeps the church so well.

  At any should our Parson sneer,
    Or Wardens' rules deride,
  It is a rule of old most clear
    That such sha'nt here abide.

  The Sabbath-day we wish to keep,
    And come to church to pray;
  The man who breaks this ancient rule
    Shall never share our pay.

  And when the bells are down and ceased,
    It should be said or sung,
  May God preserve the Church and King,
    And guide us safely home.

In September, 1875, we visited Holy Trinity Church, Hull, to ascertain if
any Ringers' Regulations were to be found in the church. We learned, on
enquiry, a number of quaint orders were hung up in the ringing chamber
some years ago, but a mischievous boy mutilated them with a knife, so that
they were taken down. The person in charge, however, kindly submitted for
our inspection the disfigured orders, and after considerable trouble, we
were able to make a transcript which, we think, will prove interesting:--


    Agreed upon by the sexton and ringers of the Holy Trinity Church,
    Kingston-upon-Hull, approved of and allowed by the Rev. William Mason,
    vicar, Mr. George Maddison, and Mr. Thomas Bell, churchwardens, of
    the same church, the first day of May, Anno Domini 1730, and confirmed
    by the Rev. John Healey Bromby, vicar, Thomas Mitchell, and Charles
    Anthy. Forrester, churchwardens, the first day of May, 1838.

    It is ordered, that every person who shall ring any bell with hat or
    spurs on, shall forfeit and pay sixpence for the use of the ringers.

    It is ordered, that every person who shall pull any bell from off her
    stay and cannot set her again, shall forfeit and pay for use
    aforesaid, one shilling.

    It is ordered, that every person who shall throw any bell over, shall
    forfeit and pay for the use aforesaid, sixpence, and over and above
    this in case anything be broken by such overthrow, such person shall
    also pay the charge of repairing the same again.

    It is ordered, that every person so soon as he has set his bell shall
    immediately hank up the strop or rope, or in default thereof shall
    forfeit and pay for use aforesaid, sixpence.

    It is ordered, that if any person shall untruss himself upon the lead
    in any part, or cut and mark the same with a knife or any other thing,
    such offender shall forfeit and pay for the use aforesaid, sixpence.

    It is ordered, that any person who shall have read any of these orders
    with his hat upon his head shall forfeit and pay for the said use,

Next appears the names of the vicar, churchwardens, ringers, who held
office in 1730, and a similar list is given for 1838, when the above
orders were reprinted at the expense of Mr. W. Green, a sidesman.

The following "Articles and Orders to be Observed by Ringers" at Stow, in
the county of Lincoln, were written by William Swift, school-master, and
used to hang in the ringing chamber of the church:--

  All you who hath a mind to Learn to Ring             s. d.
  Must to the sexton Admission Money bring.            2  6
  These Articles observed strict must be,
  Or your expelled this society.
  Two Nights a Week, Sirs, you must meet, or pay
  This Forfeiture to us without delay,                 0  2
  Or when the Sexton for you tolls a bell
  You must appear, or else this Forfeit tell.          0  2
  And when you come upon this Belfry
  If that you noise or talk, this forfeit pay,         0  1
  When you Round peals can Ring, you must pay down
  To be a change man, Sirs, Just half-a-crown,         2  6
  On the first change that you have Learned to Ring,
  One shilling more must pay, Sirs, that's the thing,  1  0
  And every Ringer must spend more or Less,
  As he thinks meet, to wish you good Success,         0  2
  If you would learn to prick a peal in score,
  Unto these College youths you must pay more.         1  0
  When you know Bob, Hunt, Single Dodge compleat
  You'll not deny our College youths a treat,          2  6
  On our Feast-Day, the Twenty-ninth of May,
  Each member must, Sirs, just one shilling pay,       1  0
  When our accompts are passed, Sirs, for Truth,
  And you are stiled a College youth,
  New Stewards then are chose, and by and by
  If that you do the Stewardship deny,
  Your fine must pay--as in the margin see,            1  6
  Then from your Stewardship one year are free.
  These Rules peruse well before you enter,
  It's a hard task on which you venture.
  When once a member you are freely made,
  These Articles must justly be obey'd.
  So now, my Lads, admission money bring,              2   6
  And we will Learn you presently to ring.

  MASTER.                   NOTARY.

  March 1st, 1770.

The following on a card was also placed in the belfry of Stow Church:--

  We ring the quick to church, the dead to grave,
  Good is our use, such usage let us have.
  Who swears or curses, or in chol'ric mood
  Quarrels or strikes, although he draws no blood,
  Who wears his hat, or overturns a bell,
  Or by unskilful handling mars a peal,
  Let him pay sixpence for each single crime,
  'Twill make him cautious 'gainst another time.
  So, when the bells are ceased, then let us sing
  God bless our Holy Church--God save the Queen.

The foregoing are a few examples of the many curious ringers' regulations
which found a place in belfrys in bygone times. Mr. J. Potter Briscoe, in
his "Curiosities of the Belfry" (London, 1883), gives a complete
collection of these old-time rules in prose and poetry.

Ringers' Jugs.


The old time belfry laws were the means of many persons being fined, and
the money so obtained was spent in ale. Ringers' Jugs were by no means
uncommon, and some were curious examples of the potters' art.

There is a curious jug or pitcher belonging to the ringers of Hadleigh. It
is a "vas ansatum" having two ears, is circular in shape, swelling out in
the middle, and being more contracted at the ends. It is brown earthenware
glazed. It holds sixteen quarts, and bears this inscription, very rudely
indented, apparently with a chisel when the clay was soft, the first word
M E, or perhaps M. E. I., is in italics, the rest in Roman capitals:--

    Me, Thomas Windle, Isaac Bunn, John Mann, Adam Sage, George Bond,
    Thomas Goldsborough, Robert Smith, Henry West. (No doubt the names of
    the eight ringers.)

Below the names,--

  If you love me doe not lend me,
  Euse me often and keep me clenly,
  Fill me full or not at all,
  If it be strong, and not with small.

Below all, in the front, is the word Hadly, underneath one handle is the
date, 17 F. G. 15, and under the other, 17 R. O. 15, the letters probably
the initials of the potters. The jug is in the possession of Mr. Pettitt,
of the Eight Bells Inn, who holds it for the ringers, of whom he is the
leader. It is still occasionally used on the occasion of any profitable
wedding, and filled every Christmas by mine host, when the ringers
assemble for a frolic, with strong beer, which goes by the name of old
King William, and strangers going in are expected to pay sixpence to
assist in keeping it full, according to its own request.

The ringers' pot--a brown glazed jug with handle, holding about two
gallons--having the following inscription in rude letters--

  Here you may see what
  I request of Hanst (honest) Gentlemen
  My Baly (belly) filed of the Bast I com
  But now and then, 1716,

was formerly carried from house to house by the bell-ringers of Ixworth,
in Suffolk, to receive whatever beer the liberal parishioners might be
disposed to bestow. It has been disused about thirty years. It was
probably made at the celebrated pottery in the neighbouring parish of

A similar kind of jug, both in shape and size, to that of Hadleigh,
belongs to the ringers of Clare. On one side is a crown in faint relief,
under that a bell in large proportion, and on it impressed in italics:--

  Sonant canore.

Beneath the clapper is this,--

  Clare Ringers,

Near the base there is an aperture for a tap to draw off the beer, there
being no spout or lip.

At Hinderclay, in Suffolk, is a ringers' pitcher, still preserved in the
church tower, of form and size similar to the Hadleigh jug: it is thus

    By Samuel Moss this pitcher was given to the noble society of ringers,
    at Hinderclay, viz., Tho. Sturgeon, Ed. Lock, John Haws, Ric. Ruddock,
    and Relf Chapman, to which society he once belonged, and left in the
    year 1702.

          From London I was sent
          As plainly doth appear,
          It was to this intent--
          To be filled with strong beer.
      Pray remember the pitcher when empty.

A similar pitcher is in the adjoining church tower of Garboldisham,

At the Mackworth Arms, at Swansea, a similar kind of jug may be seen in a
niche on the staircase, but the colour is light yellow, and the
workmanship of a superior order, it has but one handle, and the following
inscription in two lines:--

  Come fill me well with liquor sweet, and that is good when friends do
  When I am full then drink about, I ne'er will fail till all is out.

Underneath were representations of flowers, birds, and fishes.

There is in the Norfolk and Norwich Museum a large jug, which was
presented in July, 1831, by the Rev. G. R. Leathes, of Shrophan. It is of
brown earth, glazed, dated 1676, and inscribed:--

  John Wayman,
  Come Brother, shall we join?
  Give me your twopence--here is mine.

This most likely belonged to a company of Shrophan ringers. It has but one
handle, and is rather curiously ornamented.

    NOTE.--This article was written about twenty-five years ago.--EDITOR.

Customs and Superstitions of Baptism.


The present paper is, of course, in no sense a discussion of the
_doctrine_ of Christian Baptism. The names by which this Sacrament has
been called, however, express, to some degree, the views which have been
taken of it in the Christian Church, and these names must be briefly
recounted. One of the earliest titles was _Indulgentia_, "remission of
sin." This is a title as old as the third century, and the idea has found
expression in the Nicene Creed. _Palingenesia_, "new birth," is an
expression equally old. It will be remembered that one of the earliest
symbolical names of our Lord Jesus Christ was _Ichthus_, "Fish;" it is
found on the walls of the Roman Catacombs. Now this is really an acrostic,
the letters which made it up are the initial letters of the sentence,
"Jesus Christ, Son of God, our Saviour," and Tertullian, the first writer
of the Latin Church, says, "We are fishes, born in water, conformable to
the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ichthus." Justin Martyr (middle of the
second century) speaks of the baptismal water as "the water of life," and
Cassiodorus (fifth century) calls it _fons divinus_, "the divine
fountain," whence comes our name "Font." S. Chrysostom and other Greek
fathers use the name "Illumination," (_Photismos_,) and S. Augustine calls
it _Salus_, "Salvation," as he calls the Lord's Supper "Life." Another
word was _Sphragis_, "Seal," because it was the seal of a covenant made
between God and man. This title is as old as the second century. The same
idea is conveyed in Augustine's expression, _Character Dominicus_, "the
Divine, _i.e._, stamp mark."

Baptism was rejected by some of the early heretics, chiefly by the
Gnostics, who asserted that all religion lay in knowledge, and under
pretence of exalting spiritual worship, would admit of no external or
corporeal symbols whatsoever, and also by the Manichæans, who, holding
that all matter is in itself evil, consistently rejected the religious use
of water. Some early heretics also objected to the use of water only,
asserting that this was no better than the baptism of John, whereas our
Lord was to baptize also with fire, and they seem, while baptizing with
water, to have also touched the ears with fire. Others, by some chemical
art, created an appearance of fire on the surface of the water. (Bingham,
iii. 414.)

But to come down to later times, there are curious records which tell how
the matter used in the Baptismal rite was not always water as it is with
us. A letter of Pope Gregory to Archbishop Sigurd of Norway (A.D. 1241)
says "Forasmuch as we learnt from you, that it is sometimes the custom, on
account of the want of water, for infants in your country to be baptized
in ale, we hereby decree that as according to the Gospel Doctrine, it is
necessary that they be born of water and of the Holy Spirit, they ought
not to be accounted as baptized who are baptized in ale." And there are
Bulls and decrees of Councils to the same effect. In _Notes and Queries_
(ii. 5, 524) is a quotation from an unpublished diary of the sixteenth
century, telling how "at Prestone, Aug. 30, 1574, one Griffith ap Bedo Du,
which dwelt at Pilleth, at the christening of his son would not have the
same to be christened as the manner is, in water, but upon a proud stomach
caused the water to be voided out of the font, and filled it with wine,
and so caused his son to be therein christened." And the diarist goes on
to say that all the country round noted from that time that "he and his
continued to grow to decay in substance and credit until his race was

Controversies concerning Infant Baptism, as well as concerning Immersion
as distinguished from affusion, or pouring water upon the baptized, would
be out of place here. The latter practice, rendered necessary in our
northern climate, has led to the use of the font. Nevertheless, baptism by
immersion is not unknown in the Church of England. Under the Church of S.
Lawrence, Reading, there is a baptistery under the pews, and in 1866,
these pews were temporarily removed and a family of Quakers were baptized
in it. At Trinity Church, Marylebone and at Scarborough, there are records
within the last few years of adults baptized by immersion. In the parish
church of Cranbrook, in the Weald of Kent, is a curious bath for
immersion, of which the following is the history. John Johnson, who was
Vicar there at the end of the seventeenth century, found on entering upon
the incumbency that there were many of his parishioners who were
unbaptized, and who, though they were desirous of attending his ministry,
were in favour of being baptized by immersion. The Anabaptists were strong
in that district during the Commonwealth. He therefore resolved to meet
their views. There was a flight of steps leading up, on the inside, into
the Parvise or room over the southern porch. At the top of these steps, on
the landing so to speak, he constructed a deep bath, reaching down in fact
to the floor of the church, so that the minister could take the person to
be baptized up the steps and there immerse him. This charitable concession
to the convictions of his people is still to be seen. I believe, however,
that there are only two records of it having been used since its erection.
Similar baptisteries are to be seen at Ebbw Vale, Aberdare, and elsewhere.

The Canons of the Church order that the font shall be of stone. In some
churches may still be seen a small vessel of plaster or earthenware, in
which a little water is put for baptism, so as to save filling the font.
But it is illegal, and is now rarely seen. Bishop Wilberforce, wherever he
found them on Visitations, ordered their removal. In the case of private
baptisms, some clergy keep a basin which they carry with them, similarly
to a pocket Communion set, and use it for no other purpose. And this
certainly seems the more reverent method. Others however use any basin
which may be handy, and then send it back to its ordinary use with a view
to prevent any feeling of superstition. It seems from the following
passage in Pepys's diary, that the clergy were in the habit of performing
public as well as private baptisms in private houses:--

"Lord's Day. My wife and I to Mr. Martin's where I find the company almost
all come to the christening of Mrs. Martin's child, a girl. After sitting
long, till the church was done, the parson comes and then we to christen
the child.... After the christening comes in the wine and sweetmeats,

A statute dating from the time of Henry III. runs as follows:--"If really
from necessity the child shall be baptized at home, the water on account
of the sanctity of baptism shall either be poured into the fire, or
carried away to the church to be poured into the Baptistery and _the
vessel shall be burnt at the same time, or shall be deputed to the use of
the Church_."

One of the most confessedly difficult passages in the New Testament is S.
Paul's question, "What shall they do who are baptized for the dead? If the
dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?" (1 Cor.
XV. 29). Bingham discusses this text at some length. Two main lines of
interpretation have been followed by the various commentators. The one is,
that there was a custom among some of the early heretics, that when anyone
died without baptism, another was baptized in his stead. S. Chrysostom
says that this was practised among the Marcionites with a great deal of
ridiculous ceremony, which he thus describes:--"After any catechumen was
dead, they hid a living man under the bed of the deceased, then, coming to
the dead man, they spake to him and asked him whether he would receive
baptism? And he making no answer, the other answered for him, and said,
'He would be baptized in his stead.' And so they baptized the living for
the dead, as if they were acting a comedy upon the stage; so great was the
power of Satan in the minds of these vain men. Afterward, when anyone
challenged them upon this practice, they had the confidence to plead the
apostle's authority for it." Bingham proceeds to reject this
interpretation on two grounds; 1st, that it was superstitious and
delusive, "Any Jew or Gentile might easily be made a Christian by having
another, after his death, baptized for him." This objection, however, is
not conclusive, it does not follow that S. Paul approved of the practice,
no doubt he would account it a superstition. But he is employing the
_argumentum ad hominem_. "What do these people mean by their practice if
they do not believe in a resurrection?" The second objection is more
cogent, viz.: that the interpretation in question was not accepted by any
early Christian writer.

The other line of interpretation which Bingham adopts, shall be given in
his own words. "But S. Chrysostom gives a much more rational account of
the apostle's argument, for he supposes him to refer to the Catholic
custom, of making every catechumen at his own baptism, with his own mouth
declare his belief of the resurrection of the dead by repeating the creed
of which that was a part, and so being baptized into that faith, or hope
of the resurrection of the dead. And, therefore, he puts them in mind of
this saying, 'If there be no resurrection of the dead, why art thou then
baptized for the dead, that is, the body? For, therefore, thou art
baptized for the dead, believing the resurrection of the dead, that the
body may not remain dead, but revive again.' So that 'baptizing for the
dead,' is an elliptical expression for being baptized into the faith or
belief of the resurrection of the dead. And so I think Tertullian is to
be understood when he says in opposition to the error of the Marcionites,
"That to be 'baptized for the dead' is to be 'baptized for the body,'
which is declared to be dead by baptism;--that is, we are baptized into
the belief of the resurrection of the body, both whose death and
resurrection are represented in baptism." And the interpretation of
Epiphanius comes pretty near these, when he says, "It refers to those who
were baptised upon the approach of death, in the hopes of the resurrection
from the dead; for they shewed thereby that the dead should rise again,
and that therefore they had need of the remission of sins, which is
obtained in baptism." The same sense is given by Theodoret, and
Theophylact, and Balsamon, and Zonaras, and Matthew Blastaras among the
Greeks; and it is embraced by Bishop Patrick, and Dr. Hammond, as the most
natural and genuine exposition of this difficult passage of the apostle."

The use of Sponsors in the administration of baptism dates from the
earliest times. Their duties varied according as the baptized person were
an infant or an adult. For the most part at first, parents were sponsors
for their own children, and it was the exception when they were not. "The
extraordinary cases," says Bingham, "in which [the baptized] were
presented by others were commonly such cases where the parent could not,
or would not, do that kind office for them; as when slaves were presented
to baptism by their masters; or children when parents were dead, brought
by the charity of any who would show mercy on them; or children exposed by
their parents, which were sometimes taken up by the holy virgins of the
church" (iii. 552.) Sponsors for children were called on, 1st, to answer
in their name to all the interrogatories of baptism; 2nd, to be guardian
of their spiritual life for the future. In the case of adults their duty
was to admonish and instruct them both before and after baptism. Very
commonly sponsors for adults were deacons or deaconesses. Only one sponsor
originally was required, in the case of adults, a man for a man and a
woman for a woman. For children there was no restriction as to the sex of
the sponsor.

Sponsors were called "spiritual parents," and out of this relationship
grew the practice in the Roman Catholic Church, which forbade sponsors, or
godparents, from marrying within the forbidden degrees of spiritual
relation. The first notice of this occurs in the laws of Justinian, which
forbid a man to marry a woman, whether she be slave or free, to whom he
has stood godfather, "because nothing induces a more parental affection,
or juster prohibition of marriage, than this tie, by which their souls are
in a divine manner, united together." This was afterwards extended to
prohibition between a godfather and the mother of the child, and the
prohibition took final shape in the decrees of Trent, which further forbid
marriages between the sponsors themselves, nor may the baptizer marry the
baptized. A host of troubles and difficulties are on record in the pages
of history, arising out of these prohibitions.

It is uncertain when proxies were first allowed. The first English record
appears to be the case of Jane, the daughter of Thomas Godfrey, of Grub
Street, who was baptized at S. Giles', Cripplegate, in 1615. Mr. Godfrey
kept a diary, in which he writes, "My gossips were Mrs. Jane Hallsye, wife
of Mr. John Hallsye, one of the Citty Captains, and my sister Howlt, and
Sir Multon Lombard, who sent Mr. Michael Lee for his deputy. My brother
Thomas Isles afterwards bestowed a christening sermon on us."

In mediæval times a child on being baptized was arrayed by the priest in a
white robe, which had been anointed with sacred oil, and was called a
Chrismale. This robe was called the Chrisom, and if the child died within
a month, it was shrouded in this robe, and was called a Chrisom-child.
Parochial registers very frequently have the expression applied to
children who are buried, and it will be remembered by readers of
Shakespeare. Sometimes the cloth was called the Christening Palm. Later,
say a hundred years ago, though the arraying by the minister was not in
use, a newly baptized child was arrayed in a palm or pall to be brought
down to see company.

In Perthshire, it is said, a child who was about to be privately baptized
was placed in a clean basket covered over with a cloth, in which was
placed a portion of bread and cheese. The basket was then hung on the iron
crook over the fire, and turned round three times. It was to counteract
the malignant spells of witches and evil spirits. Here is an inventory of
christening garments of the seventeenth century (_Notes and Queries_):--

1. A lined, white figured satin cap.

2. A lined, white satin cap, embroidered with sprays in gold coloured

3. A white satin palm, embroidered to match. Size 44 in. by 34 in.

4. A pair of deep cuffs, white satin, similarly embroidered, trimmed with
lace, evidently intended to be worn by the bearer of the infant.

5. A pair of linen gloves or mittens for the baby, trimmed with narrow
lace, the back of the fingers lined with coloured figured silk.

6. A palm, 54 in. by 48 in., of rich still yellow silk lined with white

According to Sarum use, yellow was the altar colour for confessors'
festivals. This yellow pall may have been considered specially suitable at
the child's being first openly pledged to confess the faith of Christ
crucified. Another name for the christening palm is the christening sheet
or "cude cloth." This is a superstition that if it is not burned within a
year of the child's birth it will never be able to keep a secret.

The gift of "Apostle Spoons" by sponsors is said, by Stow, to have
originated in the days of Queen Elizabeth. Shakespeare, on being godfather
to one of Ben Jonson's children, gave him "a dozen of Latten spoons." In
the days of James I. it was the fashion for sponsors to give shirts with
little bands or cuffs wrought with silk or blue thread, but this did not
last, they went back to spoons or cups.

Brand quotes from "The Comforts of Wooing":--"The godmother hearing when
the child was to be _coated_, brings it a gilt coral, a silver spoon and
porringer, and a brave new tankard of the same metal." According to
Shipman the custom of making presents at baptisms declined in the time of
the Commonwealth.

Pepys, however, observed the custom:--"Nov. 24th. At my goldsmith's,
bought a basin for my wife, to give the parson's child, to which the other
day she was godmother. It cost me £10 14s. besides graving, which I do
with the cypher's name, Daniel Mills."

Christening tongs were also a favourite present, which were of the same
size as an ordinary pair of sugar tongs, but were in the form of a stork
standing upright upon the claws which partly form the handle. When opened
for the purpose of grasping the sugar, the body, which is hollow,
discloses the image of a baby in swaddling clothes.

This no doubt originated in the old Teutonic fiction that newly-born babes
were brought by storks.

Here are a few Scottish notes of gifts _from_ the child to its parents.
They are all from various columns of _Notes and Queries_:--

In 1871, a gentleman was met in one of the principal streets of Edinburgh
by a very respectably dressed female, with a nurse carrying a child. They
stopped him, and the former presented him with a paper bag containing a
biscuit, a bit of cheese, and a bit of gingerbread. On his expressing
surprise, she said, "Oh! sir, it is the christening bit."

In country places in Scotland, it was a custom, now nearly exploded, for
the mother on the way to baptism to take a supply of bread and cheese, a
"whang" or slice of which she gave to the first person she met on the
country road after leaving church, and it was accounted a high insult to
refuse it. Probably the provision was part of the "blythe" meat presented
to the friends in the house, who had assembled after the birth to offer
congratulations. Such offerings may perhaps be traced to the period when
the old Romans inhabited the Caledonian regions.

In 1855, at Candleriggs, a silver coin was given in return for the
eatables. The appearance of copper was, if possible, to be avoided.

In Fifeshire, before starting for the kirk, the "christening-piece,"
consisting of shortbread, cheese, and oatcake, was made up into a white
paper parcel tied with ribbon; this the mother held in her right hand as
she left the house, and presented to the first person met by her, whether
stranger or friend, gentle or simple. The "christening-piece" was always
gladly accepted, and in return kind wishes were expressed for the future
happiness of the child.

It is noticeable that at the other end of Great Britain we have the same

At Looe, in Cornwall, the gift was generally a small cake made for the
purpose, and called the "christening crib," crib being a provincialism for
a bit of bread. At Polperro, three miles from Looe, a gift termed the
"kimbly" was also made to the person who brought the first news of a birth
to those interested in the new arrival.

This custom was still practised in Devonshire in 1883.

Where children are brought in batches to be baptized, as is often the case
in large towns, it is curious to note that superstitions exist about the
precedence of sexes, though in different places the ideas are contrary.
Thus in the North of England there are places where the parents are very
anxious that the girls should be taken first, on the ground that otherwise
the boys will be beardless. In Surrey and Worcestershire the same desire
is expressed; in the West of Scotland the males have precedence. The old
ideas can hardly be classed under superstitions. In those churches, where
now-a-days ancient rules are revived, Holy Communion is always
administered to men before women, and Confirmation to boys. Maskell, in
his _Monumenta Ritualia_, Eccl., Angl., 1-23, quotes the following rubric
from Bishop Leofric's missal:--"Et accipiat presbyter eos a parentibus
eorum, et baptizantur primi masculi deinde feminae, sub trina mersione,
Sanctam Trinitatem semel invocando."

Cases are on record where a cottager's tenth child was christened with a
sprig of myrtle in its cap to mark it as the tithe child; it is said that
a Rector of Compton recognized such a tithe child, and sent him to school.

One of the silliest and most mischievous pieces of legislation was the Act
23, George III., c. 67. It enacted that after the 1st of October, 1783,
stamp duty of 3d. should be paid to His Majesty on the entry of every
marriage, birth, or christening, in the register of every parish,
precinct, or place in Great Britain, under penalty of £5 for each entry.
And that the churchwardens should provide a book for each entry, and the
parson, vicar, curate, and other person receiving the duty was to be
allowed 2s. in the £ for his trouble. By 25 George III., c. 75, the tax
was extended to dissenters. People were furious, and the poor parson, who
was supposed to be charging for his own benefit, got the hardest words.
The Act was repealed by 34 George III., c. 11, the tax ceasing October
1st, 1794.

In conclusion, we will put together a few odds and ends of folk lore. In
Ayrshire, in the end of the last century, when a child was taken to a
distance to be baptized, a quantity of salt was placed round it before
leaving the house, to ward off evil.

In Worcestershire, it is considered that if an engaged couple stand as
god-parents to the same child, it is a sure sign that their engagement
will never end in marriage. This is clearly a relic of what we have
already noticed, the mediæval church law by which those persons who stood
in any spiritual relationship to one another were thereby debarred from
contracting marriage.

In Dalston, Carlisle, there is a belief that if the baptism of a child
takes place after it has been "shortened," the baby will not only be noisy
and disagreeable in church during the administration of the sacrament, but
will remain bad-tempered and ill-natured for ever afterwards.

The belief still prevails in many rural districts that children dying
unbaptized wander in woods and solitudes lamenting their hard fate. In
Sweden parents will, therefore, carry a child miles away in the depth of
winter to the minister to have it baptized before it is half-a-day old.
There are, however, methods by which it is supposed even if baptism be
deferred, that the devil's power over the child can be neutralized. One is
to wrap it in red cloth and lay it in its cradle, with a psalm book and a
pair of scissors placed crosswise upon its breast.

"In presenting a child to the minister, its head must be on the right arm
of the male parent." (West of Scotland).

Brand quotes from a book on Scotland, published in 1793, the statement
that the inhabitants of Kirkwall and S. Ola would consider it as an
unhappy omen were they by any means disappointed in getting their
children baptized on the very day which they had previously fixed in
their minds for that purpose.

The same compiler has this:--In the North, when the child was taken to
church to be christened, a little boy was engaged to meet the infant on
leaving the house, because it was deemed an unlucky omen to encounter a
female first.

It is supposed to be lucky for children to cry at baptisms, as if they are
quiet and good then it shows they are too good to live. The idea arose
from the custom of exorcism. When the devil was going out of a possessed
person it cried and rent him sore; therefore the tears and struggles of
the infant would be convincing proof that the evil one had departed. In
Ireland, the nurses pinch the baby rather than let it be silent or

In Scotland (to quote Brand once more), on their return from church, they
take the newly baptized child and vibrate it three or four times gently
over a flame, saying thrice, "Let the flame consume thee now or never."
This is possibly derived from a feast called Amphidromia, held at Athens,
by private families on the fifth day after the birth of the child, when it
was the custom of the gossips to run round the fire with the infant in
their arms, and then, having delivered it to the nurse, they were
entertained with feasting and dancing.

Another Scotch fancy is that it is unlucky to tell the names of infants
before baptism.

In one of Dekker's plays (1630) occurs the following:--I am the most
wretched fellow, sure some _left-handed priest christened me_, I am so

In Greece, while the father is alive, none of his sons are baptized with
his name; thus a father and son never have the same Christian name at the
same time. But on the death of the father it is customary for one of his
sons to adopt his name. The eldest son always bears the name of his
paternal grandfather (a common custom in Scotland), even though the latter
be alive. On the other hand, for the obvious reason of identification, an
illegitimate son always takes the baptismal name of his father. It is
probable that this practice arises from a belief that the father would die
on giving to his son precisely his own name, and that the Greek church
does not allow the variation of a second Christian name.

Marriage Customs.


In all ages, and in all countries, a halo of interest attaches to the
marriage ceremony, and formerly, when superstition was so rife in the
country, it naturally followed that all sorts of curious customs arose in
connection with marriage--customs which, at the time of their
inauguration, were full of meaning and real interest, but many of which in
process of time, and owing to an altered state of society, have fallen
either into oblivion, or become so changed as to be hardly recognisable.

Marriage, in one form or other, is the oldest institution of society, and
the source of its most ancient laws. The primitive ceremonies of marriage
are of immense number, and many of them have left distinct survivals in
modern customs. As regards Christian Europe, in 1085 Hildebrand declared
Marriage to be a sacrament of the Church; and, at the Reformation, Calvin
declared it to be an institution of God. The School of Grotius, on the
other hand, describes it as a contract of partnership.

The Anglo-Saxon marriage ritual was for the parties, with their
attendants, to come to the porch of the Church: here they were met by the
priest; first he blessed the ring and gave it to the bridegroom, who
placed it on the middle finger of the bride's left hand. After this the
priest recited a form of blessing over the parties; then he led them into
the Chancel where they remained while mass was celebrated, towards the
close of which they received the solemn nuptial benediction, and
afterwards the Pax, and the holy communion.

Before the Council of Trent a valid marriage in the eyes of the church
might be effected by a simple declaration of the parties to be man and
wife; no witnesses were necessary under these circumstances, and the
presence of a priest might also be dispensed with. It will at once be seen
that a practice such as this was open to very great and grave abuse where
the interested parties were only too often the only witnesses of the
declaration. After the Council of Trent, and in all countries where the
discipline of Trent is received and promulgated, the presence of the
parish priest is absolutely necessary to constitute a valid marriage in
the eyes of the Roman Church by mere declaration of the parties to be man
and wife, and under no circumstances can marriages such as these be
recognized by the law.

It was customary in many places for the priest to entwine the ends of his
stole round the joined hands of the bride and bridegroom, at the words
"Those whom God hath joined together," in token of the indissoluble union
thereby effected. Most probably this practice led to the familiar
expression "Tying the knot." Neither the Roman nor the Sarum Missals
contain any direction for this ritual, which would appear to be a pure
innovation on the part of the priests.

In ancient Rome the Patrons or Patricians only might marry with each
other. If a Patrician married a client or vassal, their children were not
allowed to take Patrician rank; because these clients or vassals had not
connubium, or right of marriage with their Patrons. Under Cæsar's rule a
married woman was allowed the use of more ornaments, and more costly
carriages, than the laws of Rome permitted to women generally. A married
man who had three children born at Rome, or four born in Italy, or five in
the provinces, enjoyed freedom from certain duties and charges: this no
doubt was done to encourage the marriage tie, which at that time had
become exceedingly lax.

The drinking of wine in the Church at weddings is enjoined by the Hereford
Missal. The Sarum Missal directs that sops immersed in wine, as well as
the liquor itself, and the cup containing it, should be blessed by the
priest. The beverage was drunk not only by the bride and bridegroom, but
by the rest of the company. A distinct survival of this custom, although
in a debased form, lingered beyond the middle of the present century, at
Whitburn, in Durham, where the custom of giving what they called
_Hot-Pots_ was kept up; that is, on the conclusion of the marriage service
the bride and bridegroom were served in the porch with steaming compounds
of brandy, ale, sugar, eggs, spices, etc., the bridesmaids also partook of
this, and the remainder was distributed amongst the guests. The custom of
nuptial drinking appears also to have prevailed in the Greek Church: and
the Jews have a custom at the present day, when a couple are married, to
break the glass in which the bride and bridegroom have drunk, to remind
them of mortality.

The use of torches at weddings is very ancient. At Rome the practice was
that two children should lead the bride, and a third carry before her a
torch of white thorn. The Greeks used also a nuptial torch, which was
carried by the bride's mother. Lamps and flambeaux are used at Japanese
weddings, and torches are still used at Turkish marriages.

Knives formerly formed part of the accoutrements of a bride. This is
easily accounted for by the fact that anciently it formed part of the
dress for women to wear a knife sheathed and suspended from their girdles.
A bride says to her jealous husband, in Dekker's _Match me in London_,

  "See at my girdle hang my wedding knives!
  With those despatch me."

The use of bridesmaids at weddings is of remote antiquity. Amongst the
Anglo-Saxons the bride was led to the Church by a matron, who was called
the bride's woman, and followed by a company of young girls who were
called bridesmaids. It was at one time the custom for the bridesmaids to
lead the bridegroom to Church, and for the bridegroom's men to conduct the
bride. This is clearly alluded to in the _Collier's Wedding_:

  "Two lusty lads, well drest and strong,
  Step'd out to lead the bride along:
  And two young maids of equal size,
  As soon the bridegroom's hands surprise."

The bridegroom's men were anciently called Bride Knights, which was an
appropriate name at the period when they actually fulfilled that office.

Bride cake is of ancient origin: it is a relic of the Roman period, when
the marriage ceremony consisted principally of the contracting parties
partaking of a cake made of flour, salt, and water, in the presence of the
Pontifex Maximus, or High Priest, and ten witnesses. The form of the cake
has varied in different ages. Ben Jonson refers to it in the _Tale of a
Tub_, iii., 8:

  "The maids and her half-valentine have ply'd her,
  With courtise of the Bride cake and the bowl,
  As she is laid awhile."

As feasting was connected with nearly all religious ceremonies, and as
each feast speedily appropriated its particular article of food, the bride
cake became inseparably associated with the bridal feast. Anciently, small
cakes were made for weddings, and distributed amongst the guests; the
ingredients of these doubtless changed from age to age, but there is
little doubt the cake was always a sweet one which, in the early days,
would be sweetened with honey with spices in it, and, after their
introduction, currants. In the seventeenth century it was usual for the
bride and bridegroom to kiss over the cake, and many are the superstitions
connected with it.

It was formerly the custom for the brides to go to church with their hair
hanging loose behind. Anne Boleyn's was thus dishevelled when she went to
the altar with Henry VIII. Webster refers to this practice in _The White

  "And let them dangle loose as a bride's hair."

Nuptial garlands or wreaths are of great antiquity; they were equally used
by both the Jews and the Heathens. The Roman custom was for the bride to
have a chaplet of flowers or herbs upon her head, whilst among the
Anglo-Saxons, after the benediction in the church, both the bride and
bridegroom were crowned with flowers. In the Eastern church the chaplets
used at marriages were first blessed by the priest. Wreaths made of ears
of corn were frequently worn by brides in the time of Henry VIII., and
myrtle was also much used for this purpose. In many churches it was usual
to keep a crown of metal for the use of brides, and for which they would
pay a fee. In the churchwardens' accounts of St. Margaret's, Westminster,
for the year 1540, is the following entry:--"Paid to Alice Lewis, a
goldsmith's wife, of London, for a serclett to marry Maydens in, the 26th
day of September, £3 10s. 0d."

Marriage by proxy was probably practised by the heathen Romans, and even
so late as the middle ages was not at all uncommon, although then it had
become confined principally to the aristocracy, and later on few instances
are to be met with, except in the case of Royalty. Henry VIII. married
Anne of Cleves by proxy. So also James II., when Duke of York, in 1673,
was married by proxy to Mary of Modena. The church always looked with
great disfavour on this form of marriage, and for this reason the parties
were generally re-married on the arrival of the bride in her husband's
country, or at the home of the bridegroom.

Amongst the ancient Northern nations a knot appears to have been
considered as the symbol of love, faith, and friendship, pointing out, as
it were, the indissoluble tie of affection and duty; hence it is that
knots or bows of ribbon came to be used as wedding favours, a particular
form of which came to be known as the _True Lovers' Knot_. The peasantry
of France wore the bridal favour on the arm, whereas in England it was
formerly worn in the hat, and consisted of ribbons of various colours; in
later years white ribbon alone was used. Curiously enough Rosemary was not
only carried at funerals, but was also worn at weddings, and appears to
have been considered as an insignia of a wedding guest: on these occasions
the sprigs of Rosemary were frequently gilded, or dipped in scented water.
Bay leaves were also used for a similar purpose, but not so generally as
the Rosemary.

Wedding rings were used both by the Greeks and Romans, but then only at
the ceremony of betrothal, and not that of marriage. The Anglo-Saxon
bridegroom at the betrothal gave a _Wed_, or pledge, and a ring was placed
on the maiden's right hand, where it remained until marriage, and was then
transferred to the left. During the reigns of George I. and George II.,
the wedding ring was often worn on the thumb. The placing of the ring on
the book is a remnant of the ancient custom of blessing the ring by
sprinkling Holy Water in the form of a cross, and this is still done in
the Roman Church. One of the earliest forms of rings was the Gemel, or
double ring, and this was used as a pledge before marriage: they were
generally made in three parts, and broken in the presence of a witness,
who retained the third part. In Germany, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, it
was a common custom for the engaged couple each to give to the other a
plain gold ring, much resembling a wedding ring. In the last century,
wedding rings were frequently inscribed with poesys. Dr. John Thomas, who
was Bishop of Lincoln in 1753, married four times. The motto or poesy on
the wedding ring at his fourth marriage was:--

  "If I survive
  I'll make them five."[7]

King Henry VIII. gave Anne of Cleves a ring with the poesy:--

  "God send me well to keep."

It was a general custom in the middle age for the bridegroom to place the
ring first on the thumb of the bride, then on her second finger, and then
on her third, at the name of each person of the Trinity, "leaving it" as
the rubric directs, on her fourth finger at the word _Amen_; thus
signifying by action, not less than by word, that he was undertaking the
duties of the married state, "in the name of the Father, of the Son, and
of the Holy Ghost." The reason assigned for the fourth finger being
appointed as the final resting place of the wedding ring, is because on
that finger there is generally believed to be a certain vein which
proceeds to the heart. The left hand most probably was appointed because
the virgins espoused to the church wore the ring of their celestial
nuptials on the right hand.

The nuptial kiss was a solemn ceremony which was duly directed both by the
Sarum and York Uses. At the "Sanctus," in the bridal mass, both the bride
and the bridegroom knelt near the altar; if neither of them had been
married before, a pall, or as it used to be called, the "care-cloth," was
held over them at its four corners by as many clerics. After the "Pater
Noster," and just before the "Pax," the priest turning himself towards the
married couple gave them the nuptial blessing. The care-cloth was then
removed, and the bridegroom arose from his knees and received the kiss of
peace from the priest; he then turned to his bride and kissed her upon
the cheek. In the York Use the care-cloth was held by only two clerics.
Although the solemn ceremonial of the nuptial kiss has long since ceased
to be a regular portion of the marriage service, still, in many rural
districts, it is customary for the bridegroom to kiss the bride while they
are before the altar, and in sight of the congregation assembled. At
Halse, a village in Somersetshire, it is still a recognised custom amongst
the labouring classes for the bridegroom, after he has placed the ring on
the bride's finger, to take her in his arms and kiss her fervently, and it
is a somewhat remarkable feature that instead of this causing any
amusement amongst the spectators, it is treated as a solemnity, and would
certainly appear to be a distinct survival of the nuptial kiss. A similar
custom still prevails at Bishops Lydeard, in Somersetshire.

There is a rule in Hindoo law which forbids a younger sister to be married
before the elder; nor is a younger brother allowed to be married before
the elder. There would seem to be a curious resemblance between these
rules and the rules of the Old Testament days, when Laban refused to let
his younger daughter marry before Leah. We get another instance of a
restraint on marriage, in 1367, when the memorable Parliament of Kilkenny
was held, which passed the Statute of Kilkenny. By this statue it was
declared high treason for any person of English origin to marry into an
Irish family.

Poor maidens who might otherwise lose their chance of matrimony for want
of a dowry were sometimes provided for by funeral doles. "I will," says
Richard Trowler, A.D. 1477, "that X_l._ be disposed of at my burying among
poor people, and that X_l._ be given to the marriage of poor maidens not
having father or mother." Johanne Beauchamp, Lady of Bergavenny, devised
"to the marriage of poer maydens dwellyng withyn my lordship, C_l_, and to
the makying and emending of febull brugges and foul weyes, C_l_." There
certainly seems to be a curious analogy between this custom and the laws
of ancient Greece, by which the State provided a dowry for those maidens
who, through poverty or plainness, would otherwise have remained

With regard to the seasons for celebrating marriage, the Church was
formerly very strict. The parish register for St. Mary's, Beverley,
contains the following entry under date November 25, 1641:--

  "When Advent comes do thou refraine,
  Till Hillary set ye free again,
  Next Septuagessima saith thee nay,
  But when Low Sunday comes thou may,
  Yet at Rogation thou must tarrie,
  Till Trinitie shall bid thee marry."

The above appears to have been a popular verse to inscribe in registers,
for, with slight variations, it is to be met with in several parishes.
_Philomath's Almanac_, for the year 1674, contains similar rules in


    Marriage comes in on the 13th of January, and at Septuagessima Sunday
    it is out again until Low Sunday, at which time it comes in again, and
    goes not out till Rogation Sunday. Then it is forbidden until Trinity
    Sunday, from whence it is unforbidden till Advent Sunday, but then it
    goes out, and comes not in again till the 13th of January next

With regard to the publication of Banns of Marriage, it appears to have
been the custom in the primitive ages that the Church should be forewarned
of marriages. The earliest existing canonical enactment on the subject in
the English church, is that in the eleventh canon of the Synod of
Westminster, in the year 1200, which enacts that "no marriage shall be
contracted without banns thrice published in the church, unless by the
special authority of the Bishop." Anciently, before the publication of
banns, it was the custom for the curate to affiance the two persons to be
married in the name of the Trinity; and at this period the banns were
sometimes published at Vespers as well as at Mass.

Forbidding the banns of marriage is now a very rare occurrence; formerly,
it was not so, and it was customary to interdict a marriage sometimes for
the sole purpose of making a comparative stranger prove his bona-fides.
The parish register of Frampton, near Boston, Lincolnshire, contains the
following entry on January, 1, 1653:--"The marriage of Edward Morton and
Jane Goodwin was objected to by John Ayne, Thomas Appleby, and William
Eldred: because in the first place, the said Edward Morton was a stranger,
and they did not know where he had lived until a short time before, or
whether he was married or single; therefore they desired the marriage
might be deferred until he brought a certificate of these things. And
secondly because they have been informed and do believe that he is a very
poor man, and therefore they wish him to get some sufficient man to be
bound with him to secure the town from any charge of him or his."

An interesting custom is still kept up at Laceby, a village in North
Lincolnshire, where the bells ring a merry peal at the close of the
service in which the third publication of banns has taken place. A similar
custom prevailed at North Kelsey, in Lincolnshire, the practice there
being to ring the peal of bells on the Monday evening after the last
publication of banns, but in this latter case the custom appears to have
fallen into disuse many years ago. Bells frequently bear inscriptions
relating to the marriage peals; the fifth bell at Coton-in-the-Elms,
Derbyshire, dated 1786, has inscribed on it:--

  "The bride and groom we greet
    In holy wedlock joined,
  Our sounds are emblems sweet
    Of hearts in love combined."

In the early part of the century it appears to have been a common practice
in most parts of the country for the clerk, after the publication of the
banns of marriage, to rise and say, "God speed them well;" and in some
places it was usual for the congregation to respond "Amen." At Hope, in
Derbyshire, this was done not only on the publication of banns, but also
at the solemnization of the marriage, immediately after the abjuration--"I
require and charge you both." The practice has fallen into the same
oblivion which has overtaken the old parish clerk--at one period so
self-important an individual in the church, and now, except in remote
villages, so insignificant an official. The custom appears to have
lingered for some time at Croxton Kerrial, near Melton Mowbray, and at
Birkby, a village near Northallerton.

The following extract from the parish registers for Chalgrave,
Bedfordshire, for the year 1655, furnishes an instance of the manner in
which weddings were frequently conducted during the Commonwealth, in
pursuance of Cromwell's Act of Parliament, August 24, 1653, and by which
the presence of a priest was entirely dispensed with:--"Henry Fisher and
Sarah Newson, of Chalgrave, published three severall Lords dayes in one
p{sh} meeting house called the church ended xxiij{rd} of Sept{b} and no
exception made against it, and the said Henry Fisher and Sarah Newson was
married the xxix{th} Sept{b}, as by certificate doth appear by Francis
Austeres Esq, and in psents of Will: Martin and Abraham Newson." In the
parish registers of Launceston, Cornwall, is the following
entry:--"Hereaf{r} follow marriages by laymen, according to the prophanes,
and giddynes of the times without precedent or example in any Christian
Kingdom or Commonwealth, from the birth of Christ unto this very year

"1655, The 28{th} daye of October were married by John Hicks, Gent. and
Maior of this Town, John Heddon and Mary Harvey. Their banns being
published in the Markett Place att Launceston three severall Markett
dayes, viz., the 11{th}, the 18{th}, and the 25{th} of this instant
October, without contradiction."

The following extract from the register of St. Mary's Church, Bermondsey,
1604, instances a curious custom of re-uniting husband and wife who had
been long separated:--

    "The form of a solemn vowe made betwixt a man and his wife, having
    been long absent, through which occasion the woman beinge married to
    another man, took her again as followeth:--

    _The Man's speach._ Elizabeth, my beloved wife, I am right sorie that
    I have so long absented myself from thee, whereby thou shouddest be
    occasioned to take another man to be thy husband. Therefore I do now
    vowe and promise in the sight of God, and this companie, to take thee
    again as mine owne, and will not only forgive thee, but also dwell
    with thee, and do all other duties unto thee, as I promised at our

    _The Woman's speache._ Raphe, my beloved husband, I am right sorie
    that I have in thy absence taken another man to be my husband: but
    here, before God, and this companie, I renounce and forsake him, and
    do promise to keep mysellfe only unto thee during life, and to perform
    all duties which I first promised unto thee in our marriage.

    The first day of August, 1604, Raphe Goodchild of the parish of
    Barkinge, in Thames Street, and Elizabeth his wife, were agreed to
    live together, and thereupon gave their hands one to another, makinge
    either of them a solemn vowe so to do in the presence of us:

    WILLIAM STEVE, Parson,

In Germany a sect of the Moravians called _Herrnhuters_ have a most
curious method of selecting their life partners: the men and women of a
marriageable age are collected in a house which has a suite of three
rooms, each opening into the other, the young men in one end room and the
young women in the other; then the doors from these two rooms are thrown
open into the middle room, which is perfectly darkened. After this
follows a sort of general scramble, or "catch who can," and whichever girl
the man catches becomes his wife. This method of selecting a wife seems
somewhat risky, but it is possible that even in a darkened room a couple
with a prior attachment might manage to tumble into each other's arms, and
so, while adhering in the letter to the custom of their sect, bring about
the union dictated by their hearts.

The throwing of an old shoe after a newly-married couple on their
departure is general all over the country, but in Kent the custom is
accompanied by a little more detail than is usually observed in other
parts of the country. The principal bridesmaid throws the shoe, the other
bridesmaids run after it, the belief being that the one who gets it will
be the first to be married. She then throws the shoe amongst the
gentlemen, and it is supposed that the one who is hit will also be married
before the others.

The custom of showering rice over the bride and bridegroom is a universal
one, although in some parts wheat is substituted, this was formerly
general in Nottinghamshire and Sussex. The practice appears to find a
parallel in Poland, when, after the nuptial benediction has been given by
the priest, the father receives the newly-married couple at the door of
their house, and strews some barley corns over their heads. These corns
are carefully gathered up and sown. If they grow it is considered an omen
that the married pair will enjoy a life of happiness. Grain of any sort is
symbolical of plenty, and no doubt at different periods and in different
countries that grain has been selected which could be procured the most
easily. An old Spanish ballad of the sixteenth century, _The Cids
Wedding_, refers to the custom, except that ears of wheat appear to have
been used instead of threshed wheat:--

  "All down the street the ears of wheat are round
      Ximena flying."

Wedding Biddings were usual down to the end of the last century: these
were entertainments given previously to the wedding, and the guests were
each expected to bring a present. An account of these presents was
preserved, and it was expected that the giver should receive a gift of
equal value on their own marriage. In Cumberland, at these entertainments,
a bowl or plate was fixed in some convenient part of the house where each
of the company contributed in money in proportion to his ability or
inclination. In some districts the bidding was publicly done by a herald
with a crook or wand adorned with ribbons, who gave a general invitation
according to a prescribed form.

Gretna Green was the invariable resort of runaway couples, owing to the
flaw in the Old Scottish law which required nothing more than an
acknowledgment before witnesses in order to constitute a valid marriage.
The Marriage Act of 1856 has, however, rendered such unions impossible,
for by its provisions, which are common to both countries, it is necessary
that one of the parties shall have resided for at least twenty-one days in
the parish where the marriage takes place. The old romantic interest once
attached to Gretna Green is now fast becoming a thing of the past.

The following extract from the register of St. Martin's Parish, Leicester,
is interesting as showing how, in the time of Queen Elizabeth, a marriage
was celebrated in a case where a bridegroom was deaf and dumb.

    "Decimo quinto Februarii. 18. Eliz.: reginæ.

    Thomas Filsby and Ursula Russet were married; and because the said
    Thomas is naturally deaf and dumb, could not for his part observe the
    order of the form of marriage, after the approbation had of Thomas,
    the Bishop of Lincoln, John Chippendale, LL.D., and Commissary, and
    Mr. Richard Davis, of Leicester, and others of his brethren, with the
    rest of the parish, the said Thomas for expressing of his mind instead
    of words, of his own accord used these signs: First he embraced her
    with his arms, took her by the hand, and put a ring on her finger, and
    laid his hand upon his heart and held up his hands towards heaven; and
    to show his countenance to dwell with her till his life's end, he did,
    by closing his eyes with his hands, and digging the earth with his
    feet, and pulling as though he would ring a bell, with other signs

An interesting feature in the marriage announcements a century ago, was
the detail given respecting the fortune of the bride. Matters which now we
regard as more or less private were then openly advertised to the world.
_Williamson's Liverpool Advertiser_ for 1759, contains the following
notice: "Liverpool, May 25. On Tuesday last was married at Hale, Dr.
Zachariah Leafe, of Prescot, to Miss Martha Clough, of Halewood, an
agreeable young lady of 18 years of age, with a very genteel fortune."
_The Leeds Intelligencer_, for July 3, 1764, announces:--"On Thursday last
was married Mr. John Wormald, of this town, merchant, to Miss Rebecca
Thompson, daughter of the late ---- Thompson, Esqr., of Staincliffe Hall,
near Batley, an agreeable young lady with a fortune of upwards of £4,000."
These are no uncommon instances, and almost any newspaper of the period
would furnish similar examples.

It was a common custom, down to about 1850, for butchers' boys, in their
blue coats, and sometimes also with a large white favour, to attend in the
front of houses where weddings had that day taken place, and play on their
cleavers with knuckle bones; the "Butchers' Serenade" it was called.
Hogarth, in his delineation of the marriage of the industrious apprentice
to his master's daughter, introduces a set of butchers coming forward with
marrow bones and cleavers.

A bridegroom was often called upon to pay toll. It was a Somersetshire
custom for the village children, on the occasion of a wedding, to fasten
the churchyard gates with a wreath of evergreens and flowers; a floral
bond which always required a "Silver Key" to unlose. A writer to _Notes
and Queries_, in January, 1858, states that on the occasion of his
marriage, some years previously, when passing through the village
adjoining that in which the marriage had taken place, his carriage was
stopped by the villagers, holding a band of twisted evergreens and
flowers, who good naturedly refused to let the carriage pass until toll
had been paid.

At Burnley, in Lancashire, an old custom prevailed by which all persons
married at St. Peter's Church, in that town, paid a fine to the boys at
the Grammar School; the money thus obtained being applied, according to
the records, for the maintenance of the school library. This custom
appears to have been kept up down to the year 1870, about which time
Burnley Grammar School was rebuilt, and, on its re-opening, the practice
of paying fines to the boys was discontinued.

It is a common saying in Lancashire that a bride should wear at her

  "Something old and something new,
  Something borrowed, something blue."

This saying, and the practice of it, is common in other parts of England;
the writer knows a lady who, when married at Bedford, five years ago,
carried out the couplet to the letter; on this same bride being brought by
her husband to his home in Lincolnshire, at the end of the honeymoon, the
custom of lifting the bride over the threshold was observed; the bride and
bridegroom got out of the carriage a few yards from the house, and he
carried her up the steps, and into the hall. This was formerly a common
practice in the North of England, and in Scotland, and is the remains of
an old Roman custom which has survived the onslaught of time and change.

It was an old custom to strew the path from the house of the bride to the
church with sawdust or sand, and so recently as the year 1876 a "sawdust
wedding" took place from a house in Sunderland. The custom would
originate, no doubt, in a desire to secure a clean path for the bride to
walk upon, and this was often ornamented with devices, which would be
easily done with either material.

"Keeping the doorstep warm" was a custom practised most commonly in the
North of England. As soon as the bride and bridegroom had gone away, and
the old shoe had been thrown, a servant, or sometimes the guests, would
pour a kettle of boiling water over the front doorstep, as an auspice that
there would soon be another wedding from the same house--keeping the
threshold warm for another bride they called it.

In these prosaic nineteenth century days, there is not much attention paid
to the selection of the day of the week for the marriage ceremony. Our
ancestors had many proverbs and couplets, all more or less pointing to
certain and the same day, to avoid or select for the event.

  Monday for wealth,
  Tuesday for health,
  Wednesday best day of all,
  Thursday for losses,
  Friday for crosses,
  Saturday no luck at all.

The practice of inserting wedding announcements in newspapers is almost
universal, and the addition of "no cards" appears as often as not. Our
neighbours on the other side of the Atlantic have, however, quite outdone
us by the following addition to a wedding announcement in the _Quebec
Morning Chronicle_, of November 7th, 1868:--"No cards. No Cake. No Wine."

Burial Customs.


The burial of the dead furnishes many instances of curious customs, some
of which, with modifications, survive to our own day, while a large number
have become entirely obsolete, or meaningless. In the middle ages
especially, it naturally followed that a great deal of superstition should
be attached to death and burial, and superstition often originated a
custom which survived long after any importance was attached to the

The Egyptians made futile attempts to preserve the body by embalming--this
practice originated no doubt in the opinion which it was said they held,
that so long as a body remained uncorrupted, so long the soul continued in
it. The Greeks usually, but not universally, burnt their dead, and
interred their ashes in urns. The actual origin of cremation is lost in
obscurity, most probably the primary idea was the purification of the body
by fire. It is supposed the early practice of the Romans was to bury, but
their later practice was to burn, and cremation was held by them in
honour, the bodies of suicides and young children not being allowed to be

In ancient times burial was always without the walls of the cities and
towns; indeed before the time of Christianity it was not lawful to bury
the dead within the cities, but they used to be carried out into the
fields, and there deposited. About the end of the sixth century, St.
Augustine obtained of King Ethelbert a Temple of Idols (used by the King
before his conversion), and made a burying place of it; and Saint Cuthbert
afterwards obtained (A.D. 752) leave from the Pope to have yards made to
the churches, suitable for the burial of the dead.

In the ordinary funerals of Christian Anglo-Saxons, the corpse was simply
wrapped in linen, and carried to the grave by two persons, one holding the
head, and the other the feet; the priest then censed the body, and whilst
it was being deposited in the grave, offered up prayers and benedictions.
At the obsequies of persons of distinction, hymns were sung by the
attendant priests, who accompanied the body in procession. At this period
the body of a deceased person was always watched by the relatives and
friends from the moment of death to the time of burial; the "wake" of the
present day being the survival of this custom.

It was a common practice, when the body was embalmed, to take out the
heart and bowels, and inter them in a different church to that in which
the body was buried; testators sometimes made a request in their wills for
this to be done. The custom appears to have prevailed from the twelfth to
the eighteenth century. The heart of Richard the First was buried at
Rouen, his bowels at Chaluz, and his body at Fontevand. In 1838, the
King's heart was discovered under the pavement of the sanctuary in Rouen
Cathedral, enclosed in a leaden case, with the inscription:--

    Richard Coeur de Lion.
  Duc de Normandie. Roi D'Angleterre.

Coeval with the introduction of church bells has been the appropriation of
one of them to the service of the dying; originally this bell was tolled
when one was yielding up life in order that all who heard it might offer
up prayer for the departing spirit, and after death another bell was rung,
called the "soul bell." The "Passing Bell," as it is now most
inappropriately called, is not rung until some hours after death, and
corresponds more nearly to the original "soul bell." In some districts it
is always rung exactly twenty-four hours after death, the tenor bell being
used for an adult, and the treble for a child; the big bell is generally
reserved for funerals. In rural districts after the "passing bell" has
tolled, the sex of the deceased is indicated most generally by tolling
twice for a woman and thrice for a man, to this is often added the age by
giving one toll for each year.

In the middle ages it was customary at the funeral of any great person to
have his horse led, and armour borne, before his corpse, the horse being
afterwards claimed as a mortuary due to the church at which the burial
took place; the armour was either reserved for the next of kin of the
deceased, or else was hung up in the church. No doubt much of the armour
suspended over tombs is mere "undertaker's trappings," although often
considered genuine and of antiquity.

Over the tombs of bishops, the Episcopal mitre and pastoral staff was
sometimes suspended, as in the case of those in Winchester Cathedral
hanging over the tomb of Bishop Morley, who died in 1696; and of those in
Bromsgrove Church, Worcestershire, suspended over the Monument of Dr.
Hall, Bishop of Bristol, who died in 1710.

The hearse, so often mentioned in wills and funeral directions, was not a
carriage for the conveyance of the body like that in use at the present
day, but was a four square framework of timber, from each corner of which
rose a rafter slanting, and all four rafters met at the top; this was
covered with black cloth, and at the funerals of persons of distinction
was set up for a time in the choir, for the reception of the body during
the service; it was surrounded with rails, and fringed and ornamented
according to the rank of the deceased. Until the Reformation, hearses were
garnished with numerous lights as well as with pencils and escocheons, but
with the change of faith the lights were discontinued. These hearses were
introduced about the fourteenth century, and they continued to be used
until the civil wars of the seventeenth century.

In Shropshire there is a custom of "ringing the dead home," viz.: chiming
all the bells, instead of ringing only one, while the funeral is on its
way to the church. When the procession nears the churchyard gate the
chiming is stopped and a minute bell is tolled. The sexton's fees at Much
Wenlock, as laid down in 1789, include "a chime if required before the
funeral, 0 1 0." At Hatherleigh, a small town in Devonshire, it was the
prevalent custom to ring a lively peal on the church bells after a
funeral, as elsewhere after a wedding.

Even in the present day, in some remote rural districts, and especially in
Hampshire, the practice still prevails of leaving open the outer door of
the house, through which the corpse has been carried, until the mourners
return from church, and in some places the custom extends also to the
windows; this arises from a superstition that if the doors or windows be
shut there will certainly be another death in the house within a year. In
some districts there is a belief that if, when the moment of death
approaches, all the doors and windows of the house are opened, the spirit
will leave the body more easily.

It was an ancient practice to put an hour glass into the coffin before
burial, as an emblem of the sand of life being run out. Some antiquaries
are of opinion that little hour glasses were anciently given at funerals,
like rosemary, and by the friends of the deceased either put into the
coffin or thrown into the grave.

The custom which still prevails of sewing up a corpse in flannel,
originated, doubtless, in the Act of Parliament, 18 and 19, Charles II.,
which was passed for the encouragement of the woollen trade, and required
all bodies to be buried in woollen shrouds; two amending statutes were
passed, 1678 and 1680, requiring at the funeral an affidavit to be
delivered to the priest stating that the requirements of the law had been
carried out; otherwise penalties were incurred. These acts were repealed
by 54 George III., although long before that time the penalties for
noncompliance with the law had ceased to be enforced. During the operation
of the acts for burying in woollen, the law was sometimes evaded by
covering the corpse with hay, or flowers, notification of which is
sometimes met with in the parish registers.

Burial in armour was not at all uncommon in the middle ages, and was
considered a most honourable form of burial. Sir Walter Scott, in "The Lay
of the last Minstrel," thus refers, to it:

  "Seem'd all on fire that Chapel proud,
  Where Roslin's Chiefs uncoffin'd lie,
  Each Baron for a sable shroud
  Sheathed in his iron panoply."

Clement Spelman, of Narburgh, Recorder of Nottingham, who died in 1679, is
immured upright, enclosed in a pillar in Narburgh Church, so that the
inscription is directly against his face: this must surely be a solitary
instance of burial in a pillar, although there are many other instances of
burial in an upright position. Thomas Cooke, who was a Governor of the
Bank of England, from 1737 to 1739, and who had formerly been a merchant
residing in Constantinople, died at Stoke Newington, 12th August, 1752,
and by his directions his body was carried to Morden College, Blackheath,
of which he was a trustee, it was taken out of the coffin, and buried in a
winding sheet upright in the ground, according to the Eastern custom.[8]
Ben Jonson was buried at Westminster in an upright position: possibly this
may have been on account of the large fee demanded for a full-sized grave.
It was for a long time supposed that the story was invented to account for
the smallness of the gravestone, but on the grave being opened some years
since, the dramatist's remains were discovered in the attitude indicated
by tradition. The following quotation from Hearne's "Collection of
Antiquarian Discourses," Vol. I., p. 212, shows that the upright position
of burial was anciently adopted in the case of captains in the army:

    "For them above the grounde buryed, I have by tradition heard, that
    when anye notable Captayne dyed in battle or campe, the souldyers used
    to take his bodye and to sette him on his feet uprighte, and put his
    launce or pike into his hand, and then his fellowe souldyers did
    travell and everye man bringe so much earthe, and laye about him as
    should cover him, and mount up to cover the top of his pike."

At Messina there is a church attached to one of the monasteries--St.
Jacomo--in which several monks are buried in a sitting posture, and may be
seen through a grating in a vault below the church.

From the earliest ages to within about one hundred years ago, it appears
to have been customary to bury either with or without a coffin. The
following is an extract from a Terrier of lands, fees, etc., belonging to
Caistor Vicarage, Lincolnshire, dated 1717: "For every grave in the
churchyard and without coffin, four pence, if with coffin, one shilling."
Amongst the Vestry Minutes of St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, dated 5th March,
1564: "Item, that none shall be buryd within the Church, unless the dead
corpse be coffined in wood." The late John Bernard Palmer, first Abbot of
the Cistercians in England since the Reformation, was buried in the
Chapter House, at Loughborough, without a coffin. In the days when burial
without a coffin was general, the body was shrouded, tied at the head and
feet, and carried to the grave in a closed bier, which was generally
provided by the parish for this purpose.

A singular custom was wont to prevail at Gainsborough, of distributing
penny loaves on the occasion of a funeral, to whosoever might demand them.
Prior to the Reformation it was a common practice for our ancestors to
direct in their wills that doles of bread and other alms should be given
to the poor at their funerals; by this they performed a double
act--relieving the corporal wants of the poor, and securing their prayers
for the repose of their own souls. In some parts of Yorkshire, and
elsewhere, it is still customary to send to friends immediately after
death a paper bag of biscuits, and a card with the name, etc., of the
deceased; this would not appear to be connected with a dole to purchase
prayers, and may possibly find an origin in, and be the last remains of,
the ancient ceremonial of the pagan burial feasts. At Amersden, in
Oxfordshire, it was the custom at the burial of every corpse for a cake
and flagon of ale to be given to the minister in the church porch
immediately after the funeral.

The curious and repulsive practice of sin eating is now obsolete. Aubrey,
in "Remains of Gentilisme and Judaisme," thus refers to it:--

    "In the County of Hereford was an old custome at funeralls to have
    poor people who were to take upon them the sinnes of the party
    deceased. The manner was that when the corps was brought out of the
    house and layd on the Biere, a Loafe of Bread was brought out, and
    delivered to the Sinne eater over the corps, so also a Mazer-bowle of
    Maple full of beer, w{ch} he was to drinke up, and six pence in money,
    in consideration whereof he took upon him all the sinnes of the
    Defunct, and freed him (or her) from walking after they were dead."

The origin of this strange custom was most likely connected in some way
with the ceremony of the Scape Goat under the old Law. (Leviticus, cap.
xvi., v. 21).

Tradition authorises the expectation that our Lord will appear in the
east; therefore all the faithful dead are buried with their feet towards
the east to meet Him. Hence in Wales the east wind is called "The wind of
the dead men's feet." The eastern portion of a churchyard is always
looked on as the most honoured--next the south--then the west, and last of
all the north, from the belief that in this order the dead will rise. A
curious instance of this belief is furnished by an epitaph on a tombstone,
dated 1807, on the north side of Epworth Churchyard, Lincolnshire, the
last two lines of which run as follow:--

  "And that I might longer undisturbed abide
  I choosed to be laid on this Northern side."

Felons, and notorious bad characters, were frequently buried on the north
side of the church.

In Suffolk most of the churches have both a north and south door, and,
where old customs are observed, the body is brought in at the south door,
put down at the west end of the aisle, and carried out by the north door.
In Lincolnshire the north is generally reserved entirely for funerals, the
south and west doors being reserved for christenings and weddings.

The burning of lights and torches at funerals has always been a mark of
honour to the dead, and to have a great number was a special mark of
honour to the deceased. Testators frequently made provision in their wills
for the burning of torches, both as to the number to be used, and their
price; these torches were generally provided by the churchwardens, and
consequently they were an article of profit to the church. Churchwardens'
accounts furnish numerous instances of the charge to the friends of the
deceased according to the consumption of wax.

The following extract from the will of John Woodford, of Barsby, in the
parish of Ashby Folville, Leicestershire, dated 13th February, 1543,
instances the custom of making minute testamentary arrangements for

    "And my bodie to be burryed within the parishe Churche of our Ladie in
    Ashbie-folwell Aforesaid as neare to the grave or Tombe of my cozin
    John Woodforde as maye be convenyentlie thought, or els in the crosse
    oyle before the pulpitt. Also I bequeath to our Mother Church of
    Lyncolne iiij{d.} Also to the Highe Altar xij{d.} Also I will that
    there be provided of Waxe xiij Tapers of the price of ij{d.} a peece.
    Also I will that fyve poor men of the same parishe be chosen to beare
    fyve Torches about my hearse Att my burryall. And they doing shall
    have for their labour ij{d.} peece. Also I bequeath to the same Church
    those fyve Torches And they to be burned att principall Feasts and
    other Feasts as shall be convenyent. Also I will that every priest
    that cometh to my Burriall to have iiij{d.} and their dynner. And if
    there be no dynner, Then every priest for to have viij{d.} a peece.
    And the same priests of their charritie for to say dirge and Masse
    Att my burriall or els Att home within their parish for my soule and
    for all my good Frends soules and for all xyen soules. Also I will
    that they shall ring att my Burriall and to have for their labour
    ij{d.} a peece."

The Arvel Dinner appears to be an ancient custom. This was properly a
solemn festival on the day of interment, and when the corpse was exposed
to view. The relations and friends were invited to attend so that, having
inspected the body, they might avouch that the death was a natural one,
and thus exculpate the heir and all others entitled to the deceased's
possessions from accusations of having used violence.

In Scotland the custom still prevails of taking down the window blinds at
the death, and hanging white sheets across the windows. The custom also
prevails in the north of England, and in many families a special sheet
reserved for the death chamber is kept for the purpose, and often used
from generation to generation.

In many parts of Scotland, too, it is still customary for the nearest
relatives of the deceased to lower the body into the grave, and wait by
the side until the grave is filled up.

In country districts in Wales a custom still exists of setting up a chest
in the middle of the chancel at the time of a funeral, and before leaving
the church the mourners all file round and put their offerings in; this is
really intended for the clergyman's fee, but if the people are poor he
often returns part of it (to a widow, for instance).

There is at least one instance that it was customary for the parish to
provide an umbrella for the use of the clergyman on public occasions, more
especially at funerals. The parish accounts at St. John's, Chester,
contain the following entries:--

  1729 Paid Mr. George Marsh for an
       Umbrell for the parish use                      00 10 6{0.}

  1786 Paid for an Umbrell for Mr.
       Richardson to read the Burial service under      1  6 0{0.}

It was a general belief that if a corpse was carried over fields on the
way to burial, it established a public right of way for ever, hence it
became customary, when, for convenience, or in some cases out of
necessity, a corpse was taken across fields, or over any private ground,
for the undertaker to stick a number of pins in each gate as the
procession went through. The pins were accepted by the owner of the land
as a payment for the privilege of the corpse being carried through, and
acted as an acknowledgment that the right of way was granted only for the
particular occasion.

There is an ancient custom amongst the Russians to give the deceased two
written documents placed in his coffin, containing (1) The confession of
his sins: (2) The absolution given by the priest.

One of the ancient customs connected with Swedish funerals was to place a
small looking-glass in the coffin of an unmarried female, so that when the
last trump sounds she might be able to arrange her tresses. It was the
practice for Scandinavian maidens to wear their hair flowing loosely,
while the matrons wore it bound about the head, and generally covered with
some form of cap, hence the unmarried woman was imagined as wakening at
the judgment day with more untidy locks than her wedded sisters, and more
in need of a glass.

It was customary, in carrying a corpse to burial, to rest the bier at any
cross which might be in the way, whilst prayer was offered up; and,
indeed, it was very general to erect a cross at any spot where the bier of
a celebrated person had been rested on its way to interment.

In the fifteenth century a most revolting custom originated of
representing on tombs a skeleton, or worse still, a corpse in a state of
corruption; this was followed by the more becoming custom of representing
the effigies of corpses enveloped in shrouds tied at the head and feet.

At Skipton it was an invariable practice to bury at midnight a woman who
had died at the birth of her first child; the coffin was carried under a
white sheet, the corners of which were held by four women. A custom
prevailed in Lancashire when a mother died within a month of the birth of
her child, of taking the baby to the funeral, and holding it over the
grave as though to look in.

Towards the end of the fourteenth century arose the practice of carrying a
waxen effigy of the deceased either on or before the coffin in the funeral
procession. The earliest instance of this practice is in the case of King
Henry V., whose effigy formed the first of those figures which are still
preserved in Westminster Abbey. This custom was only observed in the case
of royalty, and persons of high position; the expense of a waxen
representation of the deceased would prevent poor people from following
it. The wax effigy of Oliver Cromwell lay in state while the body itself
was being embalmed, so that most probably the actual corpse was never
exposed to public view. The practice appears to have been discontinued
shortly after the Restoration.

A custom prevailed and continued even down to recent years of making
funeral garlands on the death of young unmarried women of unblemished
character. These garlands were made sometimes of metal, and sometimes of
natural flowers or evergreens, and commonly having a white glove in the
centre, on which was inscribed the name, or initials, and age of the
deceased. This garland was laid on or carried before the coffin during its
passage to the grave, and afterwards frequently hung up in the church,
generally being suspended from the roof. It was usual in the primitive
church to place crowns of flowers on the heads of deceased virgins.

There was an order in the Church of England up to the year 1552, that if a
child died within a month of baptism he should be buried in his chrisom in
lieu of a shroud. The chrisom was a white baptismal robe with which, in
mediæval times, a child, when christened, was enveloped. A sixteenth
century brass in Chesham Bois Church, in Buckinghamshire, represents
Benedict Lee, chrisom child, in his chrisom cloth. The inscription
underneath the figure stands thus:--

  Of Rog{r} Lee gentilma, here lyeth the son Benedict Lee
  Crysom who{s} soule ihu pdo.

Formerly it was a general custom to erect crosses at the junction of four
cross roads, on a place _self-consecrated_ according to the piety of the
age; suicides, and notorious bad characters, were frequently buried near
to these, not with the notion of indignity, but in a spirit of charity,
that, being excluded from holy rites, they, by being buried at cross
roads, might be in places next in sanctity to ground actually consecrated.

The practice of placing a pewter plate containing a little salt on a
corpse may possibly have originated in salt being considered an emblem of
eternity. In Scotland the custom has generally been to place both salt and
earth separate, and unmixed--the earth being an emblem of the corruptible
body, and the salt an emblem of the immortal spirit. Salt has also been
used to preserve a corpse. The body of Henry I., who died in Normandy, was
cut and gashed, sprinkled with salt, wrapped in a bull's hide, and brought
to Reading Abbey to be buried.

Testators frequently bequeathed palls by their wills for the general use
of the parish; the following is an extract from the will of William
Parkyns of Brympton, Berkshire, who died in 1558:--"Item, I will that mine
executours buye one new pall, price 13s. 4d., the which I give unto the
parish churche at Brympton to be laide uppon any personne, or personnes,
that shall die within the said parishe and be brought to the churche."

In several rural districts in England, especially in the north, when a
funeral takes place, a basin full of sprigs of box is placed at the door
of the house where the corpse lies, and each person who attends the
funeral takes a sprig of box as he enters the house, carries it in the
funeral procession, and finally throws it into the grave of the deceased.

At Exford, near Minehead, it was formerly the custom for burials always to
take place on a Sunday when possible, the burial service being dovetailed
into the usual afternoon service. The corpse being brought into the
church, was placed in front of the reading desk, and remained there during
the service: the funeral psalms were read instead of the psalms for the
day, and the funeral lesson instead of the second lesson. The burial
service was concluded after the sermon, and the entire congregation would
generally remain to the end. The custom appears to have fallen into disuse
about thirty years ago.

Funeral cake or biscuit appears to be general in all parts. In Whitby, a
round, flat, and rather sweet, sort of cake biscuit is baked expressly for
use at funerals, and made to order by more than one baker in the town; it
is white, slightly sprinkled with sugar, and of a fine even texture
within. In Lincolnshire sponge finger biscuits are used. In Cumberland a
custom prevailed of giving to each person who attended the funeral a small
piece of rich cake, carefully wrapped up in white paper and sealed. This
used to be carried round immediately before the "lifting of the corpse."
Each visitor selected one of the sealed packets and carried it home

Funeral Bidders are most probably derived from the Romans, who used to
send a public crier about inviting people to the solemnization of a
funeral. In the northern countries each village had its regular "Bidder,"
who when "bidding" to the funeral generally knocked on the door with a
key. In towns the crier frequently did the "bidding," having first called
the attention of the people by his bell.

Concerning the Churchyard.


In the life of St. Willebald[9] we are told "that it was an ancient custom
of the Saxon nation on the estates of some of their nobles and great men,
to erect, not a church, but the sign of the Holy Cross, dedicated to God,
beautifully and honourably adorned, and exalted on high for the common use
of daily prayer." It is the exception rather than the rule, for Domesday
Book to mention a church in connection with a village, and it is possible
that our Kirkbys, and place names having Kirk as a prefix, acquired that
addition when the church was built in the churchyard ready for it--a
churchyard already consecrated and hallowed by years of divine service and
sacred memories.

What better place than this, in the whole township, could be found for the
hearing of disputes and the settling of cases; here, where the bishop sat
with the sheriff, where the clerics were lawyers, where oaths could be
taken on everything that was holy, and round which all a man's sacred
associations clustered. The churchyard was a court of justice; but in
later times, the ecclesiastical authorities discouraged the holding of
secular pleas in churches and churchyards. In 1287 a synod held at Exeter,
said "Let not secular pleas be held in churchyards," but as late as 1472,
a presentment from the parish of "Helemsay et Staunforthbrig" (Helmsley
and Stamfordbrig) shews "that all the parishioners there hold pleas and
other temporal meetings in the church and churchyard."[10]

The great church festivals were much abused by traders. At these great
gatherings, dealers in all kinds of goods appeared on the scene, spread
their wares on the tombstones, and could with difficulty be kept out of
the sacred edifice itself. Their noisy shoutings, the assemblage of
pleasure seekers, and the tumult attending such gatherings interfered
seriously with the Divine service proceeding inside the church. A
presentment, in 1416, from St. Michael-le-Belfry, in the city of York,
states "the parishioners say that a common market of vendibles is held in
the churchyard on Sundays and holidays, and divers things, and goods, and
rushes, are exposed there for sale, and horses stand over the bodies of
the dead there buried, and defile the graves, to the great dishonour and
manifest hindrance of divine worship, on account of the clamour of those
who stand about." (_Ibid._, p. 248.) While so late as 1519, the
churchwardens of Riccall, in Yorkshire, complain that "pedlars come on
festival days into the porch of the church and there sell their
merchandise." (_Ibid._, p. 271.)

Annual fairs were sometimes held in churchyards, especially where there
was some saintly shrine or relic, which attracted crowds for the period of
some anniversary. Perhaps Thomas-a-Beckett's shrine at Canterbury was the
most celebrated, but the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham almost surpassed
it. The common people held the idea that the Milky Way pointed towards
Walsingham, and they called it Walsingham Way accordingly; while
Glastonbury was called a second Rome for the number and sacredness of its
relics. When the pilgrims had paid their devotion to the relics, they
needed to eat and drink, and they were not averse to spend the rest of the
day in amusement. Accordingly, minstrels, players, jugglers, and the
like, supplied that demand, and the pilgrimage became a fair.

On Sundays and holidays, the churchyard became a public playground. In
pre-Reformation days, a holiday was a holy-day, when man went not forth to
his labour. Then there were no eight hours day, no Early Closing
Associations, but work, work, work, from early morn till late night, the
only cessation of toil being on Sundays and Saints' days, hence termed a
holy-day. On that day, people went to matins and mass in the morning, and
spent the rest of the day in amusements, not always elevating or refined.
The Synod of Exeter, already quoted, says, "We strictly enjoin on parish
priests that they publicly proclaim in their churches, that no one presume
to carry on combats, dances, or other improper sports in the churchyards,
especially on the eves of the feasts of saints; or stage plays or farces,
by which the honour of the churches is defiled and sacred ordinances
despised." Again, at Salton, Yorkshire, in 1472, "it is ordered, by the
consent of the parishioners, that no one use improper and prohibited
sports within the churchyard, as, for example, wrestling, football, and
handball, under penalty of twopence forfeit."[11] The ordinance seems to
have been disregarded, or to have had only a temporary effect, for in
1519, a second complaint is made (_Ibid._, p. 270), when the
ecclesiastical authorities commanded, "Let them desist on pain of

In days when men went about armed with sword and dagger, it was sure to
happen that a hasty quarrel would lead to stroke of sword or stab of
dagger, without heed to the sacred character of the place, or to the fact
that the assault constituted sacrilege, and desecrated "God's Acre" by

Whitsuntide used to have a special feast of its own, known as Whitsun Ales
or Church Ales, an institution by which money was obtained for repairing
the church, helping the poor, and various charitable purposes. The
churchwardens brewed the ale, and on the appointed day half the
country-side assembled to join in the festivities;--music and song,
baiting of bulls, bears, and badgers, bowls and ball, dice and
card-playing, dancing and merry-making. The Church Ales were very popular
in the North of England, where it was the practice to hold them in tents
and booths erected in the churchyards. In 1651, in Somerset, seventy-two
clergymen of the county certified that during these Church Ales, which
generally fell on a Sunday, "the service of God was more solemnly
performed, and the service better attended, than on other days."

As an instance of what could be accomplished at one of these Church Ales,
we may mention that "in 1532, the little village of Chaddesden spent 34s.
10d. on an 'Aell' for the benefit of the great tower of All Saints',
Derby, which was then being built, and earned by it £25 8s. 6d.,--near
£400 of our money." (Lichfield, Diocesan Hist., S.P.C.K.)

Doles are often distributed in the churchyard. William Robinson, at one
time Sheriff of Hull, when he died in 1708, left money to purchase a dozen
loaves of bread, costing a shilling each, to be given to twelve poor
widows at his grave every Christmas Day. Leonard Dare, in 1611, directed
that on Christmas Day, Lady Day, and Michaelmas Day, the churchwardens
were "to buy, bring and lay on his tombstone, threescore penny loaves of
good wholesome bread," which were to be distributed to the poor of the
parish. A quaint custom is still enacted annually in London on Good
Friday. The vicar of St. Bartholomew's the Great, Smithfield, drops
twenty-one sixpences in a row on a certain lady's grave. The money is
picked up by the same number of widows kneeling, who have previously
attended service at the church, where a sermon is preached.[12]

A quaint old custom, once not infrequently practised, was that of
scrambling bread and cheese and other edibles in the churchyard. A story
is told of two poor sisters walking to London to claim an estate. Arriving
at Paddington, weary, hungry, and footsore, their miserable condition
aroused sympathy, and the good folk of Paddington gave them relief. In
course of time, their claim was established, and as a token of gratitude
they left a bequest of bread and cheese, to be thrown from the top of the
church of St. Mary's, Paddington, among the people assembled in the
churchyard below. This custom was continued into this present century, for
in 1821, it is noticed in the newspapers as an annual practice to throw
bread and cheese from the belfry of the church at eight o'clock on the
Sunday before Christmas Day. At Barford, Oxfordshire, is a piece of land,
known as White-bread Close, the rent of which was formerly spent in
buying bread to be scrambled for at the church door. A correspondent of
the _Gentleman's Magazine_ for 1824, says that the "distribution
occasioned such scenes of indecent riot and outrage, even fighting in the
church itself, that a late curate very properly effected the suppression
of a practice productive of this gross abuse." Mr. Tuke, of Wath, near
Rotherham, who died in 1810, left a bequest whereby forty dozen penny
loaves were to be thrown from the church leads at twelve o'clock on
Christmas Day for ever. This is the latest instance of a scrambling custom
with which we are acquainted.[13]

Bells were frequently cast in churchyards, and from the editor of this
volume we have received some interesting notes on this subject. "In the
days of the early bell founders," says Mr. William Andrews, "the country
roads were little better than miry lanes, full of ruts and holes, and
where the moisture of the winter was often not evaporated during the
summer. For this reason bells were mostly cast in the immediate vicinity
of the churches, or monastic establishments, they were intended to grace.
The monks, too, were not unwilling to retain the usage as an opportunity
for a religious service; they stood round the casting pit, and, as the
metal was poured into the mould, would chant psalms and offer prayers.
Southey, in 'The Doctor,' says:--'The brethren stood round the furnace,
ranged in processional order, sang the 150th Psalm, and then, after
certain prayers, blessed the molten metal, and called upon the Lord to
infuse into it His grace, and overshadow it with His power, for the honour
of the saint to whom the bell was to be dedicated, and whose name it was
to bear.'

"Sometimes the bells were cast in the interior of the building, as at St.
Albans, where, in the beginning of the 14th century, the great bell called
the 'Amphibalus,' being broken, was cast in the hall of the sacristy. In
some places, Kirkby Malzeard, and Haddenham, for instance, the bells were
cast in the church itself. But most frequently the churchyard was chosen
for the purpose. At Scalford, during excavations made some time ago, there
were found traces of a former furnace, and also a mass of bell metal,
which had evidently been melted on the spot; about 1876, the churchyard of
Empingham yielded a similar instance. The bells of Meaux Abbey were cast
within the precincts. Coming down to more recent times we find the
bell-founders obviating risks of transit by the same means. The 'Great
Tom' of Lincoln, in 1610, and the great bell of Canterbury, in 1762, were
cast in the yards of their respective cathedrals. It was customary also
for bell craftsmen to settle awhile in a particular locality, and thence
extend their business from that centre to the churches around. This was
done in 1734 by Daniel Hedderly, of Bawtry, at Winterton, in Lincolnshire,
and by Henry Bagley, who advertised in 1732, that he would 'cast any ring
or rings of bells in the town they belong.' Latterly, however, the
improved roads and means of transit have enabled bells to be cast in their
proper foundries, and then conveyed to their posts of office."

Sundials were most commonly placed on the south wall of the church, but
many a churchyard is graced by these obsolete time-keepers. At Kilham,
East Yorkshire, opposite the door of the south porch of the church, a
stone coffin has been sunk, head foremost, about half its length in the
ground, and on the foot of this coffin a sundial was placed in 1769, and
is still in a good state of preservation.

Wimborne Minster, Dorset, boasts a dial which must not be missed. It is
dated 1732, and is to be found under the yew tree in the Minster yard,
though its original position was on the gable of the north transept. It is
of stone, 6 ft. in height; its south face is 4 ft. in width, and its east
and west faces 3 ft. respectively, each of which bears a gnomon--a
somewhat unusual feature.

A few miles from Canterbury, in Chilham churchyard, stands a beautiful
sundial, the graceful stone pedstal of which was designed by the famous
Inigo Jones.

Sundials have become well nigh useless owing to improved methods of
keeping time, but one loves to see these relics which link us to a past
which, with all its disadvantages, has many pleasant bye-paths for the men
of to-day.

The stocks were sometimes placed in the churchyard, though more frequently
near the village cross or in the market place. In 1578, tenpence was paid
"for a hinging locke to the stockes in the Mynster Yearde,"[14] and again
in 1693 "for rebuilding the gallows in the Horse faire, and the stocks in
the Minster yard, £5 5s. 10d." The stocks at Beverley Minster were
movable, and placed in the yard when required for use.

A strange scene was enacted in St. Paul's churchyard, in May, 1531.
According to Fox, the well known writer on martyrs, Bishop Stokesley
"caused all the New Testament of Tyndal's translation, and many other
books which he had bought, to be openly burnt in St. Paul's churchyard."

A curious act of penance was performed in Hull, in 1534, by the vicar of
North Cave. He had made a study of the work of the Reformers, who had
settled in Antwerp, and sent their books over to England. In a sermon
preached in the Holy Trinity Church, Hull, he advocated their teaching,
and for this he was tried for heresy and convicted. He recanted, and as an
act of penance, one Sunday, he walked round the church barefooted, with
only his shirt on, and carrying a large faggot in his hand to represent
the punishment he deserved.

Crosses have always been deemed a fitting emblem and suitable ornament for
churchyards. Many ancient, interesting, and valuable crosses are yet to be
found, notably at Ilkley, Crowle, Bakewell, and Eyam, the latter of which
lay in pieces in a corner of the churchyard, until restored by John
Howard, the philanthropist.

One result of church restoration by vicars, strangers to the place and
people, and but newly installed, is the formation of a rubbish heap, in
some neglected or unseen corner of the churchyard. Here are thrown,
carelessly, cruelly, wantonly, costly stones of marble, alabaster, or
granite, removed from the interior of the church, because there is no
representative to plead for their safety. Boys clamber over the wall, make
houses of the slabs, and for one brief hour, "dwell in marble halls," then
go home and carry off the smaller pieces to ornament a rockery. It has
been my good fortune, on more than one occasion, to rescue a monumental
slab from destruction, and place it in the hands of the present
representative of the family mentioned thereon.

Let us go through this little wicket gate which gives entrance to this
village churchyard. As the gate clicks behind us, we find ourselves close
to a handsome modern cross, raised on four circular steps. Here let us sit
awhile and find rest for body and soul. The grass is closely cut between
the graves, the little grassy mounds themselves have been made into tiny
flower gardens. All around is evidence of care and pride in work; it is
somebody's hobby as well as his living. Round the larger family graves,
tasteful iron railings are fixed, and creeping plants and climbing roses
rob the erection of its rigidity. At the beginning of the eighth century,
a wise Northumbrian monarch was laid to rest in this "garden of sleep,"
and for twelve centuries the long roll of those joining the majority has
been added to here in this quiet place, until the very dust on which we
walk is sacred. Like Moses in the desert we are on holy ground--it is
"God's Acre."

Altars in Churches.


The altar, although it is the most important and most conspicuous article
of church furniture, is not one that provides much material for gossip of
the quaint and curious kind. And this is natural: a decent reverence
having protected the Christian "Holy of Holies" from the vagaries that
have sometimes invented grotesque customs in connection with other parts
of the church. This feeling of sanctity arises most obviously from the
fact that on the altar the sacred mystery of the Eucharist is offered; but
in early times it was intensified by the knowledge that beneath that altar
rested the remains of some saint or martyr. In the first ages it was so
far customary thus to commemorate the church's departed heroes, that
_confessio_, or _martyrion_ (that is, the grave of a confessor or martyr),
became recognized names for the altar.

In later times the custom was reversed; the altar was no longer reared
over the bones of the saint, but the body of anyone whom the church
specially wished to honour was buried beneath the altar; and even now,
when interments within churches are forbidden, the same natural feeling
often finds expression in the burial of a parish priest immediately
without the east wall, as near as possible to the altar that he served.

Probably it was the thought of security guaranteed by the sacredness of
the altar which suggested to the monks of Canterbury the making of a
grated vault beneath the high altar of the cathedral, in which to store
their treasures. Here, before the Reformation, was kept a collection of
gold and silver vessels, so large and costly, that in the opinion of
Erasmus, Midas and Croesus would seem but beggars in presence of it.
This altar was itself lavishly adorned, and all its glory had not
disappeared in the days of Archbishop Laud, one of whose offences was the
adorning of it with "a most idolatrous costly glory cloth."

For richness of material no altar that the world has seen could well excel
the one erected in the Cathedral of S. Sophia by the Emperor Justinian. It
was "a most inimitable work, for it was artificially composed of all sorts
of materials that either the earth or the sea could afford, gold, silver,
and all kinds of stones, wood, metals, and other things; which being
melted and mixed together, a most curious table was framed out of this
universal mass." The result, one cannot but think, with all its splendour,
must have been somewhat barbaric. Other altars we read of in the early
ages made of gold, or of pure silver, and others, like that presented to a
church by Pulcheria according to Sozomen, adorned with gold and precious

There seems never to have been any very definite rule in force as to the
material of which an altar should be made. It is true that the Council of
Epaone (A.D. 517) decreed that "no altar should be consecrated except it
were of stone;" but in practice, metal and wooden altars still continued
to be used, both in the east and the west.

The custom of having a tabernacle permanently on the altar for the
reservation of the Blessed Sacrament did not become usual until the
twelfth century, but as early as the middle of the ninth century, Leo IV.
mentions a pyx suspended for the same purpose above it. In fact we find
traces as far back as the sixth of the use of pyxes in the form of doves
made of gold or silver; and in England this custom continued until the
Reformation. The pyx at Durham Cathedral, which hung from a hook still to
be seen in the roof, was in the form of a pelican "in her piety," that is,
feeding her young with her heart's blood; a figure which has been copied
in the lectern now in use.

As the usual ornaments of the altar and its ministers became more numerous
and more costly, it was inevitable that the question of responsibility for
their provision should arise. Such a dispute came for settlement before
Walter de Gray, Archbishop of York (1216-1256) in 1253, and he drew up a
catalogue of such necessary things as the parishioners were to provide.

It will perhaps surprise some people to know that the custom of placing
vases of flowers on the altar, so far from being a modern innovation, is
one of the most ancient ways of adorning it. S. Augustine speaks of a
young man taking a flower from an altar in an oratory dedicated to S.
Stephen; and elsewhere we read of flowers, skilfully interwoven, as a
decoration of the altar.

Anciently altars had no covering, except the linen clothes placed on the
top, but as early as the sixth century Gregory of Tours speaks of a silk
pall as a covering for one. It was in the eighth century, however, and by
the influence of Pope Leo III., that altar-cloths came generally into use.
The name for this in the Roman Missal is _Pallium_, or pall, and that name
is still preserved in our English Coronation Service, where the gift of a
pall is prescribed as part of the oblation to be made by the Sovereign. In
accordance with this direction, and the custom of her ancestors, Queen
Victoria, at her coronation, made an offering of a pall of cloth-of-gold,
which was presented at the altar steps.

In marked contrast to the reverence shown to the altar in almost all ages
and places, is a custom that for some couple of centuries existed at S.
Ives in Huntingdonshire. A certain Dr. Robert Wilde, dying there in 1678,
left a sum of £50, the interest of which was to be annually expended in
the purchase of Bibles, each of which was not to exceed 7s. 6d. in price.
The following extraordinary method of distributing these volumes was also
enjoined. Six boys and six girls of the parish having been selected, were
to stand at the altar and cast thereon with three dice, those making the
highest aggregate number of points to have the Bibles. The occasion was to
be further improved by the preaching of an appropriate sermon by the
Vicar, for which he was to receive the sum of 10s. A piece of ground, now
known as "Bible Orchard," was bought with the legacy, and the distribution
has duly taken place ever since in accordance with the donor's wishes,
except that in recent years a small table has been placed at the chancel
step for the dice throwings, and the desecration of the altar avoided.

So strange a custom, however good the founder's intention, could scarcely
begin, much less take root, and live among us now; when we see on every
hand efforts to treat God's altar-throne with the reverence, and to adorn
it with such dignity, as becomes it. And we may surely see in the revived
life and widened usefulness of the English Church of to-day, a fulfilment
of the Divine promise, "Them that honour Me, I will honour."

The Rood Loft and its Uses.


The word _rood_ or _rod_ is of Saxon origin, and signifies a cross, or
crucifix. It was universally adopted in Roman Catholic times to denote the
cross on which Christ suffered death, and thus instead of the Holy Cross
we invariably read of the Holy Rood.

The annals of legendary lore record that on the 3rd of May, A.D. 328, the
true cross was found by St. Helena, buried deep in the ground at
Jerusalem. Cosroes, King of Persia, on plundering the city, carried the
precious relic away with him, but it was recovered again by Heraclius,
Emperor of the Eastern Empire, who, in the year 629, made a pilgrimage to
Jerusalem, and restored it to the Holy Sepulchre.

Ever since then the 14th of September has been celebrated as the Festival
of the Holy Rood, or Holy Cross. Crosses had been set up in churches as
far back as the year A.D. 431, and henceforward until the time of the
Reformation they continued to be an important article of church

From the earliest times it had been customary to separate that part of the
Church at the east end where the altar stood, from the body of the nave,
where the common people assembled for worship. For this reason we find the
arches between the chancel and the nave in Anglo-Saxon and Norman Churches
very narrow, so that a curtain could easily be stretched across the
opening. Later on this curtain was displaced by a screen of open woodwork,
and in some cases stone was used instead of wood. This screen was
generally carried up to the capitals of the columns which supported the
chancel arch, and was surmounted by a substantial cross-beam. Upon the
beam was constructed a loft or gallery, in the centre of which stood the
rood, or crucifix. Access was generally gained to the rood loft by a newel
staircase cut either in the north or south wall of the chancel, and
occasionally the staircase existed on both sides. In some churches the
rood loft extended across the side aisles as well, and this necessitated
the erection of a specially constructed turret at the east end of one of
the aisles.

The rood itself was always set in the centre of the loft, in such a
position that it could be well seen by the assembled worshippers. Not only
was the body of the Saviour represented as hanging upon the cross, but it
was flanked on each side by attendant images of the Virgin Mary and St.
John. These all faced the west, in accordance with a tradition that Christ
was crucified with His face in that direction. It must not, however, be
taken for granted that a rood loft existed in every church. Sometimes the
rood was simply fixed on the cross-beam immediately over the screen, the
gallery in this case being dispensed with.

It is a moot point as to when the rood was first set up in the English
Church, but as there are scarcely any remains of screen-work of earlier
date than the fourteenth century, it could not have been long before that
time. There are, it is true, a few solitary specimens of thirteenth
century work, but most of that which still exists is of fifteenth century
date. Looking at examples of this period we generally find the rood loft
projected a little forward over the screen, the angle thus formed being
filled with groined work, springing from the protruding supports of the
screen beneath. The upper part of the screen was filled with open work
carving, which sometimes partook of the character of an elaborate
symbolical design. The lower part was nearly always plain, but in
conjunction with the upper surface was often elaborately painted and

When the Reformation came, the roods were all swept away by order, but the
rood lofts in some cases became utilised as galleries for the singers. In
the churchwardens' account books, belonging to the parish of Stratton,
Cornwall, under date 1549, occurs an entry of a sum of money "payd for
takyng downe y{e} Rode and y{e} pagents y{n} y{e} rode lofte." It does not
appear that any of the roods escaped destruction, but representations of
the rood, and its attendant images of St. John and the Virgin Mary, were
sometimes carved in stone and inserted in the walls of churches, and of
these a few still remain. It is therefore possible to obtain from these
stone carvings a very good idea of how the rood looked when it was set up
in the rood loft. Mr. Bloxam mentions examples at Romsey, Hants;
Sherborne, Dorset; Burford, Oxon, and Evesham, Worcester; and the writer
may add that a fine specimen is to be seen over the south doorway of
Stepney Church, Middlesex.

It it presumed that an altar sometimes stood in the loft in front of the
rood. The fact that at Maxey Church, Northamptonshire, a piscina is to be
found in the south wall of the clerestory would seem to enforce such a
theory. On special occasions lights and other decorations occupied a place
in the loft near the rood. It has also been stated that the Gospel and
Epistle, and various other parts of the service, were read from the rood

Very good examples of a late Perpendicular rood screen and loft exist at
Bugbrook Church, Northamptonshire. The screen consists of three
compartments, of which the central one is the widest. It is ten feet seven
inches high, and at the base of the loft, measures nineteen feet three
inches across. The lower part of the central compartment, which went to
form the doors, is missing. The upper part is arched, and down the centre
of the arch runs a mullion. This description of the upper portion
corresponds with the two side compartments, where, however, the mullions
are continued down to the ground. The lower parts on each side are filled
with plain panels, which have apparently been inserted in later times. A
series of elaborate vaulting springs from the main supports of the
structure, and upholds to the rood loft, which projects over the top of
the screen. The vaulting is covered with fan tracery, the spaces between
the ribs being filled in with a rich design. The loft is between three and
four feet in width, and the cross beam on which it rests is seven inches
wide. Admission to the loft is gained from the south side, through a
narrow arched opening in the wall. The steps originally descended into the
south aisle, but there are only five of them now remaining.

The counties of Devon and Somerset probably contain some of the finest
examples of rood screens and rood lofts. On one at least of these the rood
has lately been replaced, for in a recent number of _Notes and
Queries_,[15] Mr. Harry Hems, of Exeter, writes as follows:--"The only
rood screen I recollect for the moment having the three figures upon it,
is at St. Andrew's, Kenn. I placed them there some seven or eight years

There seems now to be a general inclination towards a revival of the rood
screen. Even in our most recently built churches, a temporary screen,
festooned with flowers or other decorations, may often be seen erected on
the occasion of harvest festivals, and such-like celebrations. Whether or
no the setting up of the rood in the rood loft will ever again become
customary in the English Church, is a question time alone can solve.

Armour in Churches.


The memorial brasses, the incised slabs, and especially the effigies of
knights and men-at-arms, which abound in our churches, tell us far more of
the successive stages and development of English arms and armour, both of
an offensive and defensive character, than all the manuscript inventories
or actual collections of weapons that are yet extant. And not only do our
churches thus yield the most valuable and trustworthy evidence as to the
armour of our forefathers, by its faithful pourtrayal on the memorials of
the departed, but they also afford a sanctuary in numerous cases for
actual armour.

It was for many centuries a custom of Christendom--apparently more
particularly in England than elsewhere--to suspend over the tomb the
principal arms of the departed warrior, which had previously been carried
in the funeral procession. Hearne, the well-known antiquary of last
century, says that the custom originated with Canute placing his crown
upon the head of the crucifix at Winchester, when he found that the waves
refused to obey him; but it is somewhat difficult to follow the reasoning
which makes this a precedent for the hanging up of the dead man's armour.

The custom is twice noted by Shakespeare. In "Hamlet," Laertes says:--

  "His means of death, his obscure burial--
  No trophy, sword, nor hatchment o'er his bones,
  No noble rite, nor formal ostentation."

Iden, in "Henry VI.," remarks:--

  "Is't Cade that I have slain, that monstrous traitor,
  Sword, I will hallow thee for this thy deed,
  And hang thee o'er my tomb, when I am dead."

The armour in our churches may be divided into two classes; firstly, that
which had actually been worn by the person commemorated, and secondly,
that which was specially constructed for funeral purposes.

The most deeply interesting and the oldest of genuine armour still
preserved within English churches, is that which pertained to the Black
Prince, and which hangs above his well-known tomb in the cathedral church
of Canterbury. In June, 1894, this armour was exhibited at Burlington
House, in the rooms of the Society of Antiquaries, when we had special
opportunities of examining it. The great tilting helm of iron weighs seven
pounds. The leathern cap inside it is almost worn away. The gilded
long-tailed lion which forms the crest is of leather. The great shield of
France and England quarterly is also of embossed leather. The gauntlets
are of latten, and still retain the inner leather gloves. The
sword-scabbard and buckle are of the same material; the sword itself is
unfortunately missing, and is said to have been appropriated by Oliver
Cromwell when visiting Canterbury.

The surcoat, which laced up the back, is of velvet, and well padded. It is
not a little remarkable that the arms of neither shield nor surcoat bear
any label or mark of cadency, but are simply royal arms. Mr. St. John Hope
ingeniously conjectures that this singular omission can only be accounted
for on the supposition that the relics were really those of Edward III.,
and not of his son, the Black Prince, and that they were hung up over the
son's tomb by the king's order as a mark of his deep affection.

At the same exhibition the actual shield of Henry V., from Westminster
Abbey, was also shown.

Sir David Owen, by his will, dated February 20th, 1529, desires that "my
body be buried in the priory of Esseborne, after the degree of a banneret,
that is with helmet and sword, my war armour, my banner, my standard, and
my pendant."

Sir Godfrey Foljambe, of Walton, by his will, in 1532, left his "carcase
to be buried in the chappell of St. George besides my lady wife in
Chesterfield ... my sword, helmet, with the crest upon the head, and my
coat-of-arms to be hanged over my tomb, and there to remain for ever."

Several of our parish churches still retain arms or armour or other
accoutrements that had actually been worn by the person commemorated.
Among them, to our own knowledge, may be mentioned Bonsall, Derbyshire;
Brington, Northamptonshire; Addington, Surrey; Sheriff Hutton, Yorkshire;
Broadwater, Sussex; St. Michael Carhayes, Cornwall; St. Mary Redcliffe,
Bristol; Brabourne, Kent; and Longbridge Deverill, Wilts.

Occasionally, however, and particularly in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries, the armour carried in the funeral procession, and subsequently
suspended over the tomb, was merely supplied by the undertaker or heraldic
official, and was of a cheap and imitative character, not intended to
last. Sir William Dugdale states (in 1667) the actual price of such sham
armour. A knight's helmet, gilt with silver and gold, was £1; the crest,
carved and coloured, 13s.; the sword, with velvet scabbard, 10s.;
gauntlets, 10s.; and gilt spurs, 5s. Light helmets and breastplates of
this funeral-trophy description, from which all gilt and beauty has long
since disappeared, are still to be found in some of our churches, and
occasionally may be seen among discarded lumber in parvises, as at Raunds,

There is, however, a yet more important aspect of armour in churches to be
considered. Every parish in England, from the time of Edward I. downwards,
was bound to keep ready for use a certain amount of armour, and a man or
men, according to the population of the township, properly trained to the
use of this armour. This armour had to be viewed twice a year by the
constables, and a report as to its condition made to the justices. Not
infrequently, when a suitable "church-house" was wanting, the "townes
armour" of our English villages, and even of country towns, was kept in
the church itself, particularly in the parvise or room over the porch.

When the parish armour was carefully viewed throughout England at the time
of the expected Spanish invasion in the reign of Elizabeth, returns show
that much of it was in safe quarters within the consecrated walls of our
churches. We have met with various instances of inventories or mention of
"townes armour" in old constable accounts. One of the fullest of these is
in the parish books of Repton, Derbyshire. In 1590 is this entry:--

    "A Note of the armoure of Repton receaved into the handes of Rycharde
    Weatte, berjinge Constable.

    Imprimis ij corsletts w{th} all that belongeth unto them.

    It. ij platt' cotts (coats of plate armour).

    It. ij swordes and iij daigers and ij gyrgells.

    It. ij calevers w{th} flaxes and tuch boxe.

    It. ij pyckes and ij halberds.

    It. for the Tr'band Souldiar a cote and bowe and a shiffe of arrowes
    and a quiver."

In 1616, the inventory is as follows:--

    "Receaved by Christopher Ward Constable from John Couttrell the Townes

    2 Corsletts with 2 pickes.

    2 Culivers.

    One flask and tuch boxe.

    V headpeeces; towe of them ould ones.

    2 howlboardes.

    One payre of Banddelrowes.

    2 oulde girdles.

    3 new girdles; towe of them with ye sowldiers.

    3 payre of hanggers in the sowldiers keepinge.

    3 swordes with towe daggers.

    Allsoe the swordes in sowldiers keepinge.

    Allsoe 2 platte coottes y{t} Clocksmith not delivered."

This armour was kept in the parish church at Repton; up to the year 1840
some of it still remained in the parvise or room over the south porch.

In the first year of Elizabeth, it is recorded that there was in the
parish church of Darley, Derbyshire, "within ye steepul both harnes and
weapons in redynes for one billman and for one archer."

In Cussans' county history of Hertfordshire, it is recorded that some
"twenty years ago," the south porch of Baldock church was enlarged by
removing the floor of the parvise. This chamber, which had remained closed
for many years, was found to be nearly filled with armour, helmets, pikes,
and other weapons. It was assumed by Cussans that this was a collection
of armour, heaped together from tombs over which they had been suspended,
but there can be no doubt it was merely the old store of town's armour.

Beating the Bounds.


In those early days, when deities were called into existence at the sweet
will of every potentate, we note the fact that somewhere between the years
715-672 B.C., King Numa Pompilius introduced to the Roman citizens, the
worship of the god Terminus. He originated a plan, by which the fields of
the citizens were separated from each other by means of boundary stones,
which stones were dedicated, and made sacred to the god Terminus. The
Terminalia, as the festival of Terminus was called, was celebrated
annually on the 23rd of February. On this day the people turned out in
force, and visiting the different boundary stones, decked them with
flowers, and performed sacrificial rites amid great rejoicings.

From the seventh century B.C., to the end of the nineteenth century of the
Christian era is a long stride, but it is pretty generally considered that
in this annual Terminalia of the ancient Romans, we have the germ of the
custom known as "Beating the Bounds," which in many parishes throughout
England is still carried out annually.[16]

The early Christians readily adapted some of the best heathen customs to
their own requirements, and thus we soon find them making a perambulation
round their fields, accompanied by their bishops and clergy. They repeated
litanies, and implored God to avert plague and pestilence, and to enable
them in due season to reap the fruits of the earth. "The Litanies or
Rogations then used gave the name of Rogation Week to this time. They
occur as early as the 550th year of the Christian era, when they were
first observed by Mamertius, Bishop of Vienna, on account of the frequent
earthquakes that happened, and the incursions of wild beasts, which laid
in ruins and depopulated the city."[17]

Some idea of the importance which eventually came to be attached to this
Rogation time, may be gathered from an old sermon, still extant, in which
the preacher, after animadverting upon a growing misuse of the festival by
certain people, tells them that for this cause "it is merveyle God
destroye us not in one daye,"--and then proceeds as follows:--"In these
Rogation Days, it is to be asked of God, and prayed for, that God of his
goodness wyll defende and save the corne in the felde, and that he wyll
vouchsave to pourge the ayer. For this cause be certaine Gospels red in
the wide felde amonges the corne and grasse, that by the vertue and
operation of God's word, the power of the wicked spirites, which kepe in
the air and infecte the same (whence come pestilences and the other kyndes
of diseases and syknesses) may be layde downe, and the aier made pure and
cleane, to th' intent the corne may remaine unharmed, and not infected of
the sayd hurteful spirites, but serve us for our use and bodely

In order that we may now get a better idea of what these processions were
like, we cannot do better than turn to Shaw's _History of
Staffordshire_.[18] We there learn that "Among the local customs which
have prevailed (at Wolverhampton), may be noticed that which was popularly
called 'Processioning.' Many of the older inhabitants can well remember
when the sacrist, resident prebendaries, and members of the choir,
assembled at Morning Prayers on Monday and Tuesday in Rogation Week, with
the charity children, bearing long poles clothed with all kinds of flowers
then in season, and which were afterwards carried through the streets of
the town with much solemnity, the clergy, singing men and boys, dressed in
their sacred vestments, closing the procession, and chanting in a grave
and appropriate melody, the Canticle, Benedicite Omnia Opera, etc.... It
was discontinued about 1765."

In the seventeenth century mention is often made of the Rogation week
processions in the Articles of Enquiry in the different Archdeaconries. As
an example we may cite the following from the Archdeaconry of Middlesex,
under date 1662. "Doth your minister or curate, in Rogation Dayes, go in
Perambulation about your Parish, saying and using the Psalms and Suffrages
by Law appointed, as _viz._, Psalm 103 and 104, the Letany and Suffrages,
together with the Homily, set out for that end and purpose? Doth he
admonish people to give thanks to God, if they see any likely hopes of
plenty, and to call upon him for mercy, if there be any fear of scarcity:
and do you, the Churchwardens, assist him in it?"

The judicious Hooker "would by no means omit the customary time of
Procession, persuading all, both rich and poor, if they desired the
preservation of love and their parish rights and liberties, to accompany
him in his Perambulation: and most did so: in which Perambulation he would
usually express more pleasant discourse than at other times, and would
then always drop some loving and facetious observations, to be remembered
against the next year, especially by the boys and young people."[19]

As might have been expected, some very curious entries appear in the
churchwardens' books of different parishes relative to expenses incurred
on the occasion of the annual procession. From the parish books of St.
Margaret, Westminster, the following have been culled:--

    "1555. Item, paid for spiced bread on the Ascension-Even, and on the
    Ascension Day, 1s."

    "1556. Item, paid for bread, wine, ale, and beer, upon the
    Ascension-Even and Day, against my Lord Abbott and his Covent cam in
    Procession, and for strewing herbs the samme day, 7s. 1d."

    "1559. Item, for bread, ale, and beer, on Tewisday in the Rogacion
    Weeke, for the parishioners that went in Procession, 1s."

    "1560. Item, for bread and drink for the parishioners that went the
    Circuit the Tuesday in the Rogation Week, 3s. 4d."

    "Item, for bread and drink the Wednesday in the Rogation Week, for Mr.
    Archdeacon and the Quire of the Minster, 3s. 4d."

    "1585. Item, paid for going the Perambulacion, for fish, butter,
    cream, milk, conger, bread and drink, and other necessaries, 4s.

    "1597. Item, for the charges of diet at Kensington for the
    Perambulation of the Parish, being a yeare of great scarcity and
    deerness, £6 8s. 8d."

    "1605. Item, paid for bread, drink, cheese, fish, cream, and other
    necessaries, when the worshipfull and others of the parish went the
    Perambulation to Kensington, £15."

By way of accessories, the customs of "whipping" and "bumping" gradually
came to form part of the perambulation ceremony. In order that the
boundaries of the parishes might be indelibly impressed on the minds of
the younger portion of the community, it was deemed advisable to bump some
promising boy painfully against the boundary stones; or better still, to
publicly whip him while he strove to impress on his memory the exact
position of the same land-marks.

As a set off against this public humiliation, the boys had a present of
money given to them, and accordingly there appears an entry in the
Chelsea parish books, in 1670, as follows:--

  "Given to the boys that were whipt, 4s."[20]

The process of "bumping" has been carried on until quite recently, for on
June 8th, 1881, the _Guardian_ reported a case in which three men who were
engaged in "Beating the Bounds" were fined £5 each for forcibly "bumping"
the senior curate of Hanwell. They met the curate and "asked him to go and
be 'bumped.' Upon his declining, two of the defendants took hold of his
arms and dragged him to the stone, one of the party taking him by the leg
and lifting him bodily from the ground. On reaching the stone, they
'bumped' him against a man."

It would take too long to mention all the numerous observances which still
linger on in various places in connection with this ancient and
interesting custom. In most parishes where it is still kept up, the
ceremony is performed annually on Ascension Day. A friend of the writer
thus describes the way in which it is carried out in one of the outlying
districts of London:--

"We assembled, by invitation, at the Vestry Hall, about 10 o'clock a.m. I
should think there were thirty or forty gentlemen present, including the
rector, churchwardens, and various officers of the parish, and about the
same number of schoolboys. The gentlemen wore rosettes, and carried rods,
and the boys were provided with long willow wands decked with blue
ribbons. The parish beadle, carrying the mace, marched in front. When we
came to any of the boundary stones of the parish, they were duly examined
to see if they were in their proper position, and then the boys gave three
cheers, and beat them with their wands. We marched through private houses
and warehouses, over walls, ditches, canals, etc., and were taken down the
river in a barge, until at last we came to our starting-point again about
4-30 in the afternoon. The churchwardens then presented each of the boys
with a new shilling and dismissed them."

In these days of ordnance maps, there may be very little practical utility
in "Beating the Bounds," but as Wordsworth says:--

        "Many precious relics
  And customs of our rural ancestry
  Are gone or stealing from us."

Time is ever busy blotting out the land-marks which our ancestors reared
with so much patience for our behoof. It is well, therefore, if
occasionally, with reverential spirit, we try to set in order the
fragments of those that still remain. In so doing, we may perchance cull
some useful lesson, and ere they pass away for ever, haply profit by the
experiences which they record.

The Story of the Crosier.


The staff of authority, which we have in so many forms, as sceptre,
crosier, mace, wand, or otherwise, has its origin in each case in one of
two ideas. Sometimes it is an instrument of correction; thus the
churchwarden's staff, the wand or rod of a royal usher, and of a beadle,
and probably also the mace of a mayor, were all, like the fasces of a
Roman governor, intended to correct the unruly, or to forcibly clear a
way, when necessary, for the progress of the dignitary before whom they
were borne. In other cases this symbol of authority, as it has now become,
was originally nothing more or less than the trusty staff on which the
aged ruler leaned, as on a modern walking stick. All language points to
the fact that age was at first considered an essential condition of
dignity and authority, for almost all terms of respect imply the seniority
of the person addressed. Sir, sieur or monsieur, signor, senor, are of
course but varied forms of the word _senior_; and we have more particular
instances in the terms sire, senator, and alderman, in matters of state,
with patriarch, father (applied to a bishop or a priest) and pope, abbot,
priest, presbyter, or elder, in the Church. Thus it came to pass that in
the earliest times the aged ruler was usually seen supporting his weight
of years by the help of his staff; and the step from this familiar sight
to the idea that the staff symbolized his rule, was simple and natural.
The sceptre, therefore, which was the needful support of Homer's old
councillors, has become the emblem of royal power; and the crutch-stick of
the aged bishop is transfigured into the crosier.

This being the case, it is obviously impossible to fix the exact date at
which the crosier, or any other of these staves of office, came to be
recognized simply as such, the progress from the first idea being in all
cases a gradual development. We find the episcopal staff, however,
mentioned in connection with S. Cæsarius of Arles, who was bishop of that
See from A.D. 501 to 542, and it is also referred to by Gregory, Bishop of
Tours, in the same century, and again in the proceedings of the Fourth
Council of Toledo a little later.

In primitive times it was made of wood, usually of elder, or, as some
say, of cypress, and in the form of a T; and the name expressive of that
shape seems to have lingered long, at least in England. Pilkington, Bishop
of Durham, from 1561 to 1577, speaks once and again of the "cruche and
mitre." But as the symbolical idea grew and the wealth of the church
increased, the staff naturally became handsomer in design and materials,
as being expressive of the episcopal dignity. Jewels and the precious
metals were employed in its adornment, and comparatively soon it assumed
the crook shape, now its universal form, significant of the office of the
Bishop as the Chief Shepherd of his diocese. In the Eastern Church the
curved staff is said to be reserved for the Patriarchs.

The pastoral idea of the clerical, and especially of the episcopal office,
probably arose from our Lord's assumption of the title of "the Good
Shepherd," and was further emphasized by His charge to S. Peter, "Feed My
sheep, feed My lambs." In allusion to this, the figure of the Saviour
presenting that Apostle with a crooked staff is familiar in Art, and the
thought finds expression in several writers of the English Church. Jewell,
Bishop of Salisbury (1560-1571) writes, "Their crosier's staff signifies
diligence in attending the flock of Christ," and William Tyndale speaks of
"that Shepherd's crook, the bishop's crose." More authoritative is the
allusion in the Ordinal, where, at the consecration of a bishop, the
rubric runs, "Then shall the Archbishop put into his hand the pastoral
staff, saying, Be to the flock of Christ a shepherd, not a wolf, feed
them, devour them not." The words still stand in our prayer-books,
although the accompanying significant act has not been enjoined since the
first book of Edward VI., of 1549.

Most of the early examples of the use of the crosier in England are found
in the carvings of bishops' tombs. We have, for instance, in their
Cathedral the effigies of Bartholomew of Exeter, Bishop of that diocese
from 1161 to 1184, bearing a staff, the butt of which pierces a dragon at
his feet; and of Simon of Apulia, who followed in the same See in 1214 to
1224, with the same insignia. Other figures might be mentioned at York,
Salisbury, Worcester, Wells, and indeed in most of our Cathedrals, the
form of the crosier varying little in the several cases, except in
richness of design. The curious and more than questionable custom of
making, in a kind of sport, a Boy Bishop, is commemorated at Salisbury by
the tomb of one such, whose effigy bears the crosier along with the other
marks of his sham dignity.

The finest specimen of an ancient staff still preserved among us, is that
of William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester (1367-1405), bequeathed by
that great prelate himself to New College, Oxford.

After the Reformation, in the general decline of ceremonial and symbolism,
the pastoral staff and the mitre fell alike into disuse in England,
surviving only as senseless decorations, or heraldic additions to the
tombs or arms of bishops, who had never used either the one or the other,
had perhaps never even seen them. At the present time the use of the
crosier has once more become almost universal in the English dioceses, and
the added dignity of the mitre promises soon to be scarcely less
frequently found.

But besides the bishops, the abbots of the most important monastic
foundations formerly bore and wore crosier and mitre in token of their
authority, the mark of difference being that while the bishop had his
crosier carried with the crook turned outwards as a sign of his rule over
the whole diocese, the abbot carried his, usually one of simpler design,
crook inwards, to signify the purely domestic or internal character of
his government.

The English mitred abbots sat and voted in the House of Lords until the
dissolution of their communities under Henry VIII. They were the heads of
the following abbeys, namely, S. Albans, Glastonbury, Westminster, Bury S.
Edmund's, Bardney, Shrewsbury, Crowland, Abington, Evesham, Gloucester,
Ramsey, York (S. Mary's), Tewkesbury, Reading, Battle, Winchcourt,
Hide-by-Winchester, Cirencester, Waltham, Thorney, Canterbury (S.
Augustine's), Selby, Peterborough, Colchester (S. John's), and Tavistock,
twenty-five in all, of which the last was considerably the latest addition
to the list.

One of the earliest examples of the abbatial staff in England is on the
tomb of Abbot Vitalis (died 1082) in the cloister of Westminster Abbey,
and another early instance of its use is supplied by the effigy of Abbot
Andrew (1193-1200) in Peterborough Cathedral. Parker, the last Abbot of
Gloucester, lies buried in the Cathedral there, and Philip Ballard de
Hanford, the last Abbot of Evesham, in Worcester Cathedral, each with his

Before leaving this subject an effort should be made to remove a
misconception. A common modern fallacy is that there is a distinction
between the crosier and the pastoral staff, the latter name being assigned
to the crook of a bishop, and the former to the processional cross borne
before an Archbishop. The late Dean Hook, if he was not the originator of
the idea in an article in his "Church Dictionary," at any rate did much to
propagate it thereby, and it is now frequently found in books of
reference. But the use of the words in the past is all against it. It is
true that crosier comes from the Latin _crux_, a cross, but from the same
root too, come crook and crutch; so that nothing can be proved from the
derivation. It would seem that the original form of the word was _crose_,
as it is given in a quotation used above, whence the chaplain who bore it
was a crosier. From this it became the crosier's staff, the crosier-staff,
and finally the crosier; all having reference to the crook of Episcopal

Bishops in Battle.


After William, Duke of Normandy, came in with great toil and rout of war,
on Senlac's evil day, it was not difficult to apply the poet's lines to
many a proud prelate of the Anglo-Norman epoch:--

  "Princely was his hand in largess, heavy was his arm to smite,
  And his will was leaded iron, like the mace he bore in fight."

Not that English Bishops had not found it necessary to take the field in
pre-conquest times, when the old Danish wars convulsed the island, and the
inhabitants suffered severely from the unbridled passion and cruelty of a
barbarous and heathen soldiery.

Many a grand old Anglo-Saxon prelate found himself called upon as a
Christian and a patriot to take his station in the van of the king's army,
to bar the path of the invader, and fence with sword and spear the ancient
churches and the fruitful plains of his beloved island.

The old English chroniclers have preserved for us the names of a few of
those warrior bishops. Ealstan, Bishop of Sherborne, may be specially
referred to. A.D. 823, he assisted Prince Ethelwulf during an expedition
into Kent, and in 845 he was one of the commanders in the great victory
over the Danes at the mouth of the Parret. He died, full of years and
honours, in that unhappy and troublous 867, having held the Bishopric of
Sherborne fifty years. His successor, Bishop Heahmund, was not so
fortunate; he fought under Ethelred and Alfred during the sanguinary and
disastrous campaign of 871, and was slain at Marden, when victory remained
with the Danes. When Edmund Ironsides encountered Canute at Assingdon, and
was betrayed by that infamous traitor Edric Streon, among those who
swelled the huge death-mounds was Ednoth, Bishop of Dorchester, and Abbot
Wulsy, but Hoveden asserts that "they had come for the purpose of invoking
the Lord on behalf of the soldiers."

Another Bishop of Sherborne was slain on the eve of Brunnanburgh, A.D.
937. When the two armies were within striking distance, and prepared for
what was certain to prove a sanguinary and stubborn conflict, Anlaf,
disguised as a harper, entered the lines of Athelstan's army, and, by the
merit of his performance, was admitted into the royal presence, and
received several pieces of gold in reguerdon of his skill. Too proud to
carry away his minstrel's fee, he secreted it beneath the turf, before
passing out of the camp. During the performance he had been narrowly
scrutinised by one of Athelstan's soldiers, who had formerly served the
Northumbrian Prince, and was suspicious that the talented minstrel was no
other than the warlike Anlaf. After witnessing Anlaf's disposal of his
fee, his suspicion was confirmed, and he hurried to Athelstan to warn him
of the danger that might result from Anlaf's visit. His having once sworn
fealty to the Northumbrian Prince was alleged as a sufficient reason for
not betraying him into the king's hands, and Athelstan readily accepted
the explanation. Nevertheless, he removed his tent to a distant and less
exposed position; and when, some time afterward, the Bishop of Sherborne
arrived, with his contingent of warriors, he pitched his tent on the
recently vacated ground. That night, when the watch-fires burnt low, and,
save the weary sentinels, the royal army was buried in slumber, Anlaf
burst in with sword and spear, and a sudden storm of midnight battle
convulsed the whole camp. After a fierce struggle the enemy was driven
out, but when day dawned the Bishop of Sherborne was found, cold and
still, in the midst of the slain.

Such was the nature of the military service of the church during the
pre-conquest period, and similar service was not infrequently rendered
after the Normans came in, when sudden storms of invasion swept across the
Scottish borders, to burst on the dark and bloody battle-ground of

With the memorable battle of Northallerton, or the Standard, A.D. 1138,
the church was in a very special degree connected, and indeed the
priesthood had suffered severely from the barbarous Scotch. Thus Wendover,
"they slew priests upon the altars, cut off the heads of the crucifixes,
and placed them on the decapitated corpses, putting in their places the
bloody heads of their victims; wherever they went, it was one scene of
cruelty and terror; women shrieking, old men lamenting, and every living
being in despair." The evil grew so intolerable that the aged Thurston,
Archbishop of York, incited the northern barons to unite against the
enemy, exerting himself with almost superhuman energy to organise the
movement, appealing to the religious feelings of the people by processions
of the clergy, by sermons and exhortations, and when the army arrayed
itself for battle, its serried ranks surrounded the famous standard,
"consisting of the mast of a ship securely lashed to a four-wheeled car or
wain. On the summit of this mast was placed a large crucifix, having in
its centre a silver box containing the consecrated host, and below it
waved the banners of the three patron saints:--Peter of York, Wilfred of
Ripon, and John of Beverley." Thurston, incapacitated from being present
by the infirmities of age, had delegated Ralph Nowel, the titulary Bishop
of Orkney, to act for him, and he it was, according to the old writers,
who exhorted the army to make a brave defence when the Scots bore down
upon them, and the dreadful conflict commenced. The battle resulted in a
glorious victory for the Anglo-Norman men-at-arms and the peasant archers
of Northumbria, but the name of Archbishop Thurston is always primarily
and honourably associated with this memorable event.

Under somewhat similar circumstances, A.D. 1319, William de Melton,
Archbishop of York, seconded by the Mayor, Nicholas Fleming, hastily
raised a tumultuary army of 10,000 men, burghers and peasants, necessarily
undisciplined and ill-armed, and utterly unfitted to dispute the field
with a powerful and veteran army, marching under Bruce's most experienced
and fortunate captains, Randolph and Douglas. The armies struck at Myton
Meadows, near the confluence of the Swale and Ure, on September the 13th.
With everything in their favour the Scots resorted to ambuscade, and,
sweeping down upon the startled enemy, in an instant covered the field
with dead and wounded men, driving before them a wild rout of fugitives.
Sir Nicholas Fleming, then in the seventh year of his mayoralty, was
slain; it was with the utmost difficulty that the Archbishop effected his
escape, for the Scots spared none, and night alone covered the remnant of
the army from the exterminating sword. Nearly 4,000 of the Englishmen were
destroyed, including 300 priests, attired in full canonicals, from which
tragic circumstance the rude Scots jestingly referred to the battle as the
"Chapter of Mitton."

The bearer of the Archbishop's cross secreted it on the field, and it fell
into the hands of a peasant, who, for some days, concealed it in his hut,
no doubt tempted by its value, but conscience operated so powerfully that
the good fellow was constrained to restore it to the Archbishop.

A dour revenge the English Bishops took upon their Scottish adversaries in
1346, when King Edward was encamped before Calais, and luckless David
Bruce came over the border with 50,000 men at his back, in the month of
October. Queen Philippa bestirred herself with heroic energy on this
occasion, and marched with the army to the north. It was largely swollen
by the vassals of the church. The Bishop of Durham commanded in the first
division; William de la Zouche, Archbishop of York, and the Bishop of
Carlisle, led the second division; the Bishop of Lincoln the third; and
the Archbishop of Canterbury the fourth. Edward Baliol and the principal
nobles of Northumbria shared the command with the prelates.

During the furious struggle that ensued the monks of Durham assembled on
the rising ground known as the Maiden's Bower, and knelt in prayer around
the banner-cloth of St. Cuthbert, or occupied themselves in manufacturing
a fair wooden cross, as a memorial of the event.

The battle terminated in a signal triumph to the English army, despite
the distinguished valour of the Scottish host, and the closing scene was
one of peculiar interest. Almost alone amid the wreck of the field, David
Bruce disdained to surrender, although "he had two spears hanging in his
body, his leg almost incurably wounded, and his sword beaten out of his
hand," and John Copeland, a sturdy Northumbrian squire, was bent upon his
capture, and ultimately succeeded in carrying him off in triumph to his
castle of Ogle, but not until the fiery Scot had dashed out two of his
teeth by a buffet of his gauntleted fist.

Most unsaintly, perhaps, of all the English bishops who loved the music of
twanging bow-strings and clashing steel, was "Weymundus or Reymundus,"
first Bishop of Sodar and Man. When a monk of Furness Abbey he was famous
as an illuminator and transcriber of MSS.; but accompanying several of the
brethren on a mission to the Isle of Man, the rude Manxmen were so deeply
impressed by his eloquence, dignity, and commanding stature, that they
procured his elevation to the Bishopric.

Wymund the Saxon, as the Bishop is generally called, was incited by an
unworthy ambition to claim the crown of Scotland, then worn by David I.
Assuming the name of Malcolm Macbeth, he gave out that he was the son of
Angus, Earl of Moray, recently slain at the battle of Strickathrow, and
who was the heir of Macbeth's son and successor, Leelach. Obtaining a
number of large boats, he repeatedly attacked the neighbouring islands,
finding numerous intrepid and desperate adventurers ready to follow him
for love of adventure and plunder. He soon made his name widely known and
feared, and Somerled, Lord of the Isles, was induced to bestow upon him
the hand of his daughter, who bore him a son, Donald Macbeth. Knights and
men-at-arms were despatched to foil his invasions of the mainland, but by
availing himself of forest and mountain fastnesses, he avoided his more
powerful enemies, escaping by his boats when hard pressed. Many of the
bishops paid him black-mail, but one tough old prelate, a man after his
own heart, met him in open field, axe in hand, and smote him to the earth,
and defeated and scattered his following. Wymund escaped, however, and
soon took the field again.

Ultimately David pacified the claimant by a grant of lands, and Wymund
returned to the Isle of Man, or, according to William of Newbridge, to
the Abbey of Furness, where his severities so enraged the monks that they
fell on him, bound him, and destroyed his sight and virility. He was then
handed over to King David, who shut him up in Roxburgh Castle, but, after
some years, transferred him to Byland Abbey, where his stories of
adventure by land and sea long delighted the good fathers.

Somerled, endeavouring to maintain the claim of Wymund's son, was slain in
battle near Renfrew, by the Lord High Steward and the Earl of Angus. The
wicked and vexatious claims of Wymund were terminated in 1164 by the
capture and imprisonment of his son.

The necessities of the times justified many of the prelates in assuming
arms, and Wymund must be regarded as an exceptional character, neither
true priest nor bishop. Nevertheless several of the English bishops appear
to have been quite willing to make arms a profession, while others, as
Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, combined the ecclesiastical and baronial offices,
employing both in the furtherance of their personal ambition. When the
Conqueror arrested his ambitious half-brother, it will be remembered that
he arrested him not as the churchman, but as the Earl of Kent.

Odo was a principal figure, with Geoffrey, Bishop of Coutance, at Senlac,
when the Norman Duke conquered Harold's crown; and he was held in
well-deserved reprobation for the sanguinary revenge that he exacted for
the slaying of Walcher, Bishop of Durham, and his following of a hundred
French and Flemish men-at-arms, at Gateshead, on the 14th of May, 1080.

The death of the Conqueror let Odo loose upon society again, and he
returned to England, where he was well received by Rufus, and his
forfeited estates restored. His unprincipled ambition, and his rage
against Archbishop Lanfranc, induced him to organise a conspiracy against
the king, in which he was supported by Bishop Gosfrith, William, Bishop of
Durham, and a number of the Anglo-Norman nobles. Raising a Saxon army,
Rufus reduced Tunbridge and Pevensey Castles, in the latter of which he
secured the arch-traitor. Nevertheless Odo was permitted to proceed to
Rochester Castle, for the purpose of opening negotiations. The bravest of
the revolted nobles occupied the fortress, and Odo remained with them, a
willing captive, but the ruse deceived no one. After a tedious siege the
castle was compelled to surrender, and Odo issued forth, amid sounding
trumpets, and the menaces of the English soldiery, to depart over sea,
with the bitter curses of the islanders ringing in his ears. The Bishop of
Durham was also reduced to extremities, and, with many of the revolted
Normans, sent after Odo, as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records.

Men of Odo's stamp were not wanting among the bishops, when Stephen seized
the crown, barely seventy years after the Battle of Hastings, when the
direct male line of the Conqueror failed. During the period of almost
unparalleled suffering that followed, bishops were seen in the hostile
camps, leading the mercenary soldiery, and even gambling for their share
of the spoils collected by those ruthless marauders. They were armed in
complete mail, bore truncheon and lance, and bestrode heavy war-steeds,
like warlike knights and captains of the mercenaries.

Henry, Bishop of Winchester, acted a prominent part in the war between
Stephen and Matilda, changing sides as policy and ambition dictated, and
when, after the revolt of the Londoners, he again espoused his brother's
cause, he had to retire from Winchester, leaving Matilda in the
possession of the castle, while her troops closely invested the episcopal
palace. He speedily re-entered Winchester with a considerable force at his
back, and Matilda's soldiery rushed in confusion to the churches, which
they essayed to defend. The Bishop was not to be denied, and to avoid the
long and dubious strife, and heavy loss of life that would attend the
storming of the holy edifices, he set fire to them, and afterwards gave
his undivided attention to the castle, which he reduced to extremities,
after a leaguer of six weeks, but the ex-empress effected her escape.

With reference to the military proclivities of our bishops, it is due to
them to point out that as councillors and ambassadors they were naturally
in great request at court, where their superior education and training
enabled them to serve the state and crown to advantage. The nation was
continually at war, kings and courtiers were warriors, hence the bishops
were accustomed to both court and camp, and vied with the proudest baron
in the splendour of their apparel, and the number of their attendant
knights and men-at-arms.

The following brief extract from Hallam, relating to feudal tenures in
Anglo-Saxon England, throws some little light on the military service of
some of the bishops in pre-conquest times, although, no doubt, many
churchmen considered it a holy war that they waged against the heathen
Danes in defence of their country and religion:--

    "All the freehold lands of England, except _some_ of those belonging
    to the Church, were subject to three great public burdens: military
    service in the king's expeditions, or at least in defensive war; the
    repair of bridges, and that of royal fortresses. These obligations,
    and especially the first, have been sometimes thought to denote a
    feudal tenure. There is, however, a confusion into which we may fall
    by not sufficiently discriminating the rights of a king as chief lord
    of his vassals, and as sovereign of his subjects. In every country,
    the supreme power is entitled to use the arm of each citizen in the
    public defence. The usage of all Nations agrees with common reason in
    establishing this great principle. There is nothing therefore
    peculiarly feudal in this military service of landholders; it was due
    from the allodial proprietors upon the continent, it was derived from
    their German ancestors, it had been fixed, probably, by the
    legislatures of the Heptarchy upon the first settlement in Britain."

We can easily imagine the Anglo-Saxon kings calling upon the bishops for
assistance against the Danes.

The Conquest was followed by the imposition of the feudal system, binding
the church to perform military service to the crown. This, at first
regarded as a hardship, agreed well with the warlike spirit of the times,
and although the bishops appointed their feudal advocates to fight their
battles, protect their interests, and lead their vassals to the field, yet
they sometimes took the field in person, and rode amid the lances of the
men-at-arms. The military advocates held their lands of the church, and,
in court and field, their service was honourable. Indeed the title of
advocates of the church was bestowed upon Pepin and Charlemagne.

Thus the regulations of the feudal period encouraged the military
disposition of the prelates, who, when the invaders burst in, readily
raised the cry to arms. It will be remembered that when Hotspur and
Douglas carried on their great trial at arms on Otterburne field, by the
cloud-drifted light of the moon, the Bishop of Durham was marching with
10,000 men to ensure the defeat of the invaders. However, he arrived too
late; the battle was over, Douglas slain, and the two Percies prisoners,
and the Scots strongly posted to resist attack. A second battle must have
been sanguinary, and the result doubtful, therefore the bishop decided
not to take upon himself the responsibility of fighting, but withdrew his
warriors, leaving the Scots to return unmolested to their own country.

Chief among the amateur soldiers of the church in King Edward the First's
days, was the proud and magnificent Bishop of Durham, Anthony de Beck,
Patriarch of Jerusalem, and Lord of the Isle of Man. At Falkirk he drew an
unrighteous sword against Wallace and the Scottish patriots. Previous to
the battle he celebrated a soldier's mass on the field, clothed in
knightly mail as he was, the long kite-shaped shield slung over his
shoulder, the sword girt at his thigh. The ceremony over, he was ready to
charge Wallace's schiltrons and archers, but the first column preceded
him, led by the Earl Marshal, and Lincoln, and Hereford. He saw man and
horse impaled on the huge Scottish spears, and the charging files rolled
back in blood, while the Scottish arrows drifted into their ranks. He
appreciated the valour of the enemy, and proposed to await the arrival of
the numerous archers, who would speedily, and with little loss to
themselves, shoot down the Scottish schiltrons. The men-at-arms were,
however, eager to close, and Rudulf Basset scornfully advised the Lord
Bishop to stick to his mass, while he led the charge. Thus rebuked, the
bishop gave the word, leading, sword-in-hand, and furiously assailed the
Scottish left, to be hurled back, again and again. The treacherous retreat
of the Scottish cavalry left the schiltrons exposed to certain
destruction, and the English archers shot them down without mercy.

When Edward III. lay before Calais, he paid Thomas Hatfield, Bishop of
Durham, 6s. 8d. per day, and his following in proportion, viz.:--three
bannerets at 4s., 48 knights at 2s., 164 esquires at 12d., 81 archers on
horseback at 6d. each per day.

Perhaps the most notable of the fighting bishops was Henry Spencer, of
Norwich. When the whole of England lay in panic terror at the mercy of the
revolted villeins, when drawbridges were raised, gates closed, and knights
and nobles hid themselves behind stone walls, Henry Spencer bade trumpets
sound, and sallied forth with his men-at-arms, attacking the marching
peasants wherever he met them. Emboldened by his example, a few gentlemen
associated themselves with him, and he extended his operations to
Cambridge and Huntingdon, which were soon pacified. When John Littester,
the dyer, leader of the Norfolk villeins, despatched deputies to the king,
the alert bishop intercepted them, and incontinently struck off their
heads. A body of the villeins had entrenched themselves at North Walsham.
Spencer marched against and stormed their position, being the first to
enter, sword-in-hand. A furious and protracted conflict followed, ending
in the defeat of the peasants, who were pursued and cut to pieces with
unsparing severity. Those spared of the sword and lance Spencer strung up
to the nearest tree, first receiving their hurried confession, then
granting them absolution. He dispersed the revolted peasantry of Suffolk,
and set a marked example to the nobility.

During these events, that man of many enemies, John of Gaunt, had retired
into Scotland. So obnoxious was he to the peasantry, that when his wife,
Constance of Castille, sought refuge in his Castle of Pontefract, the
cowardly retainers refused to admit her, and she had to proceed through a
wild country, by torchlight, for night had closed in, to her lord's Castle
of Knaresborough, where she found a safe haven until Lancaster's return.

The ambitious prelate soon found a wider field for his arms.

When, in consequence of a division among the cardinals, two rival popes
were elected, Urban VI. and Clement VII., Europe divided on the question,
and France and England were naturally in opposition, the former power
giving its adhesion to Clement, the latter to Urban, for England feebly
strove to retain some portion of the conquests of Edward III. and the
Black Prince. Clement, defeated, found refuge at Avignon, and, obedient to
his protector, preached a crusade against Richard II. and the English.
Urban excommunicated Clement as an anti-pope, and commissioned Bishop
Spencer to conduct a crusade against him. The bishop found numerous
enthusiastic supporters, and parliament met to consider whether they
should ally themselves with the Flemings, or co-operate with Lancaster,
from Spain, against the national enemy. The former scheme was adopted, but
the French overran Flanders, and beleagured Ghent, the only town that held
out against them. Immediate and energetic action was demanded, and the
council resolved to support the bishop, who proposed to drive the French
out of Flanders, and then carry the war into their own country. For this
purpose certain subsidies were be paid to him.

The bishop, however, altered his mind, and proposed, in return for the
fifteenth granted by the laity, to serve one year with 2,500 men-at-arms
and 2,500 mounted archers. His offer being accepted, William de Beaucham
was appointed his lieutenant, and in the month of May, 1383, he carried a
body of troops, and numerous volunteers, to Calais, where he awaited the
arrival of his lieutenant with the remainder of the forces. These were
delayed, it was alleged by the design of John of Gaunt, and the bishop had
no alternative but to employ his headstrong and impatient crusaders.
Gravelines was assaulted, and carried.

Dunkirk immediately surrendered, but the Count of Flanders, engaged in the
interests of France, marched against the crusaders. Sir Hugh de Calverley
had reinforced the bishop, and a battle ensued, resulting in the defeat of
the enemy, and the surrender of Cassel, Dixmuyde, Bourburg, Newport, and

The King of France hastily took the field with 100,000 men, for the
position appeared alarming. Norwich had also received succours, forwarded
by that gallant merchant, Sir John Philpot, but the new crusaders were
rogues and miscreants of the darkest stain, and were influenced by the
prospect of unbounded licence and plunder. In his vexation, Spencer
requested Philpot to suspend his supply of naked ruffians, but he had to
put a bold face on, and match his 90,000 soldiers, crusaders, and thieves,
against the army of France. There was, however, a difference of opinion,
amounting to a mutiny in the army, and the mortified bishop found himself
constrained to besiege Ypres. Several furious assaults were delivered, but
the steady courage of the veteran garrison, posted behind strong defences,
foiled the fury of the ill-conducted attacks, and the depression of defeat
rested upon the army, which avenged itself by casting off all restraint,
and spreading over the country for the purpose of plunder, while the
pilgrims deserted in large numbers. The French army approached, and the
bishop beat a hasty retreat to Dunkirk, leaving his materials of war
behind. Bourburg was occupied by Sir Hugh de Calverley and Sir Thomas
Trivet, and the King of France closed them in, threatening to put every
man to the sword if the place was not immediately surrendered. The threat
was vain, and twice the French fell on, to be bloodily repulsed, when King
Charles tendered the garrison quarter, and they marched out and proceeded
to Calais. From Bourburg the King carried his army to Gravelines, where he
found every prospect of a tough struggle, and wisely concluded to treat
rather than fight. The bishop took time to consider the terms proposed,
and sent messages to King Richard for succours; but before troops could be
collected and embarked, the truce expired, and, agreeable to his
undertaking, the bishop dismantled Gravelines, marched the remains of his
forces to Calais, and embarked for England.

In Parliament he met with a warm reception for having failed to carry out
his engagements, and although his defence entitled him to an honourable
acquittal, he was found in default for not having served out his full
time, and for the insubordination of his troops. He was mulcted in a
severe pecuniary penalty, and the temporalities of his Bishopric were
seized. Several of the knights, whose insubordination had tended to
produce the miscarriage of the expedition, as Thomas Trivet, Henry
Ferners, William Ellingham, and William Harrendon, were fined and

So ended the bishop's campaign, in which, however, he manifested the
spirit and capacity of a good captain, but success was, with such a
soldiery and so powerful an enemy, absolutely impossible.

Pope Martin V. was one of the most determined opponents of the Hussites,
and spared no pains in inciting Europe to move in a crusade against those
stubborn heretics, whose extermination was most ardently desired.

A.D. 1426, a crusading army was utterly defeated, with a loss of not less
than 15,000 men, before the walls of Aussig. The crusaders mustered not
less than 70,000 trained soldiers, supported by 180 pieces of artillery,
with 3,000 wagons for transport of stores. Quarter was neither given nor
accepted, and the defeated and demoralised army was closely pursued. This
memorable battle was fought on the forenoon of Sunday, the 16th of June.

  "Then fourteen counts and lords of might
  Did from their coursers all alight,
  Their sword-points deep in earth did place
  And to the Czechians sued for grace.
  For prayers and cries they cared not aught,
  Silver and gold they set at naught,
  E'en as themselves had made reply,
  So every man they did to die."

It was the inhumanity, or bigotry, of the Germans that settled the
question of quarter, raised by the Hussites before the battle, and
afterwards maintained with unsparing severity.

The Germans having failed, the Pope turned to the English, then winning
bloody laurels in France. Henry de Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, John of
Gaunt's son, and Henry IV.'s brother, was selected for the enterprise. On
receiving the Pope's bull, he prepared to raise soldiers and money for the
crusade. The preaching of the crusade in England met with little or no
response. Ready as the islanders were to exchange the rude courtesies of
warfare with their Scottish neighbours, to cross the Channel to destroy
the armies and ravage the vineyards and cornfields of France, and,
earlier, to take the crusaders' cross and embark for Palestine, it may be
questioned if they had ever a genuine disposition for fighting the battles
of the popes. Indeed the friction was rough and frequent between Rome and

In the city of Mechlin, Beaufort published the papal bull. It was
instantly and enthusiastically responded to. A somewhat mixed army was
assembled. The figures of the historians, 90,000 foot and 90,000 horse,
are not easily acceptable, but doubtless the army was a considerable one.

Numerous nobles and knights, including three electors of the empire,
marched with and assisted Beaufort, and strengthened the army with their
retainers. Perhaps the army lacked cohesion; no doubt its bravest soldiers
admitted the terrible might and energy of the foe. Probably those who were
not accustomed to arms--townsfolk, artisans, shepherds, and
peasants--would be easily influenced by doubt and fear when they found
themselves opposed to an enemy whose reputation for valour and severity
was so terrible.

Winchester had been created a cardinal, and the Pope's legate-a-latere,
but he was fated to attain no honour by arms.

Again invaded by a cruel and presumptuous enemy, both Catholics and
Hussites united to defend Bohemia.

In the June of 1427, the crusaders crossed the borders, and encamped
before Meiss. Although greatly inferior in numbers, the Bohemians advanced
and offered battle. The martial appearance of these iron veterans, the
knowledge of their dreadful reputation, curiously effected the crusaders.
Instead of pushing on to cross the river and open the attack, they stood
at gaze. Awed and daunted by the ominous spectacle before them, their
ranks shook with a sudden panic, weapons clashed wildly, standards went
down. Horse and foot were inextricably mixed as the first of the
panic-stricken wretches broke and fled. A dreadful scene followed. Almost
in a moment the huge army was transformed into a confused rout of
fugitives. As quickly were the waters of the Meiss darkened by the iron
ranks of the Hussites as they pressed forward, to fall upon the
panic-stricken crusaders with axe and iron-flail, sword and spear, while
bullets and arrows were poured incessantly into the flying masses, and the
fugitives fell as thick and fast as sere leaves in an autumnal gale.

The crusading army had committed many outrages during the course of its
triumphant march, and as the guilty and licentious wretches, losing all
order and cohesion, rushed madly before the flashing steel of the
pursuers, the peasantry rose against them on every side, pitiless
avengers, whose wrath could be alone satiated by blood. The whole of
Bohemia was enriched by the enormous spoil of the vanquished.

The Pope, in condoling with Beaufort, spoke hopefully of the success of a
new crusade, but the Englishman was satisfied with the extent, if not the
character, of his experience.

Richard Scrope had a brief and most unfortunate experience of military
operations. His appearance in arms was purely the result of the
complications that followed the deposition of Richard II. and the
enthronement of Bolingbroke. Lord Scrope, High Chancellor of England, had
devotedly served Edward III. and his grandson, Richard of Bordeaux, and
after that dark tragedy at Pontefract, that secured, for the time being,
the throne of Lancaster, he endowed a chantry in his castle of Bolton,
where daily service was performed for the repose of the dead king's soul.
The old man was spared, but the king's hand fell heavily upon his sons.
First to fall was the Earl of Wiltshire, who was captured in Bristol
Castle, and dragged to the block with indecent haste, and on no sufficient
cause, by Bolingbroke's command. This alone might have pre-disposed the
Archbishop to ally himself with the King's enemies, when many of the
nobles repented that they had set up the son of John of Gaunt in the place
of the son of the heroic Black Prince. The avenging of his brother's blood
could scarcely fail to influence the Archbishop, but no doubt he was
wrought upon by the King's enemies, and felt called upon, if not to avenge
the slaying of the King, at least to endeavour to correct his government,
and arrest the shedding of blood which so deeply stained the early years
of Henry's reign.

The princely power of the Archbishops in Northumbria, and the personal
esteem in which Scrope was held, made his appearance in arms peculiarly
dangerous to the King. Lord Mowbray associated himself with Scrope, and no
sooner was the standard of revolt uplifted than the hardy Yorkshiremen
flocked to support their Archbishop. Scrope published a terrible and
undeniable indictment against the blood-stained Henry. He was accused of
treason, usurpation, regicide, the withholding of the crown from the Earl
of March, the lineal heir, with other charges not to be refuted.

Ralph, Earl of Westmoreland, and Prince John, were despatched against
Scrope and Mowbray, but they found the northern army so formidable that
they dared not strike. On approaching the Archbishop they found him ready
to enter into negotiations for the correcting of the King's government,
and the Earl of Westmoreland, with a treachery that was infamous at a
time when treachery and perjury were common, pretended to grant all
Scrope's demands, and, as a ratification of the terms of pacification,
proposed the disbanding of the two armies. This was unsuspiciously acceded
to, and the northern army was immediately disbanded, although the royal
army maintained its formation. Danger of rescue past, the Earl of
Westmoreland, with infamous treachery, arrested Scrope, Mowbray, and
several of their captains. "The King was then at Pontefract, and when the
Archbishop and the other captives were brought thither to him, they were
ordered to be carried from thence to York, where they were condemned to
death by the judges, Fulford and Gascoign. Judgment was no sooner passed,
but the Archbishop was set upon a lean deformed horse, with his face
backward; and that Bishop, whose grave age commanded every man's respect,
having been always accompanied with holiness of life, incomparable
learning, and a lovely person, was now loaded with all sorts of disgrace
and reproaches, and so conducted to the place of execution, where his head
was cut off, June 8th, 1405, by an unskilful executioner, who scarcely
effected it at five strokes. He was buried on the eastern part of the new
works, where certain miracles were said to have been done by the merits of
this martyr, and the King to be smitten with an incurable leprosy. It is
certain he was the first archbishop that was condemned to death by a legal
trial. The Pope excommunicated the authors of this archbishop's death, but
was easily intreated to absolve them a little time after." To augment the
bitterness of death, Scrope was removed to his palace of Bishopthorpe for
execution, and his head was piked and exposed on the walls of York.

Mowbray, Sir Robert Plumpton, Sir John Lamplugh, and other unfortunates,
also suffered decollation.

During the great rebellion that cost Charles Stuart his crown and head,
another Archbishop of York took up arms, to figure obscurely during a
struggle in which he certainly was not called upon to assume the soldier's
painful and difficult part. A changeful and troublous history is that of
John Williams. In 1621 he was elevated to the Bishopric of Lincoln, and
Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, but his fortunes waned as Laud rose to
power; he lost the Seals, and at the coronation of Charles I. it was his
duty, as Dean of Westminster, to read divine service, but Laud took his
place. He was further affronted by being forbidden to sit in the House,
and Laud brought him into the Star Chamber for having written the "Holy
Table." He was suspended, fined £10,000, and imprisoned in the Tower
during the King's pleasure. He obtained his release November 16th, 1640.

Not unnaturally his suffering made him an object of interest to the
Puritan party, but he was loyal to Charles, and by preaching before him in
condemnation of the discipline of Geneva he won the royal favour, and he
was raised to the Archbishopric of York. The evil times had closed in, and
for leading the bishops in their protest against the House of Lords, he
was committed to the Tower, where he remained some time. Then came the

When Captain Hotham and Sir Thomas Fairfax were earning their spurs by the
most daring exploits against the Royalists of Yorkshire, Hotham received
some cause for offence from the Archbishop, and irefully vowed to cut off
his head.

A friendly warning of the threat reached the Archbishop late on the 3rd of
October, and, appreciating the spirit of the young dare-devil, the prelate
left Cawood Castle in hot haste. Not long after, Hotham and his fiery
riders spurred up in hot haste, and finding their intended victim had
escaped, they solaced themselves by sacking the castle.

Joining the king at Oxford, Williams received the royal commission and
instructions, and proceeded to fortify his castle at Aberconway, but,
apparently from some unworthy suspicion of his loyalty, the king appointed
another commandant to the castle, and Williams, in deep disgust, retired
to his house at Penryn, placed it in a state of defence, and gave in his
adhesion to parliament.

Assisted by Colonel Mitton, he besieged Abergavenny, in South Wales, and
reduced the stronghold to the obedience of parliament. He expired at Lady
Mostyn's house at Gloded, on the 25th of March, 1650, being the 68th
anniversary of his birth.

Thus an old Yorkshire history: "While he was in his greatness, he was
characterized a person of a generous mind, a lover and encourager of
learning and learned men (being himself very learned), hospitable and a
great benefactor to the public; but when, through anger and disgust, he
sided with the parliament and Puritans, he was styled by the Royalists a
perfidious prelate, the shame of the clergy, and the apostate archbishop,
which how much he deserved, considering his provocations, let the reader
judge. He hath many things in print, etc." Lord Campbell adds this tribute
to the memory of this unfortunate prelate, for truly unfortunate he must
be esteemed, "He will always be memorable in English history, as the last
of a long line of eminent ecclesiastics, who, with rare intervals, held
for many centuries the highest judicial office in the kingdom, and
exercised a powerful influence over the destinies of the nation."

Such are a few of the romantic and interesting facts relating to the
military experience of English bishops, which are scattered through the
pages of our national history. In some cases we cannot blame, in others we
must actually applaud, our fighting bishops for patriotism, courage, and
conduct of no common order; and where we may be disposed to censure, we
may justly pause, and weigh the character of the times, the usages of the
church, and admit that in their day and generation, they were not acting
so opposite to their character and profession as we may be disposed to
regard them, if we do so from the higher spiritual conditions of our own
more favoured and settled times.

The Cloister and its Story.


  "The treasures of antiquity laid up
  In old historic rolls I opened."

Fair and famed are the monastic ruins of our land, from Fountains and
Rievaulx among the Yorkshire dales, to Tintern on the silvery Wye, and
Netley near the placid Solent, one and all alike tell a tale of their past
annals, making up, verily, a treasured page of "Bygone England."

With these buildings are closely connected one of their great agencies,
when, as dispensers of learning, in the early ages, darkness and ignorance
was all around. Just as the legendary dictum arose, that the exquisite
lantern of Ely Cathedral became a guiding light to the traveller, in the
fens and morasses of Eastern England, so these religious homes were the
beacon spots of learning.

In that remote period of way-faring, it was the custom for some churches
to have a fire lighted in an iron framework on the top of an angle
turret, to direct the steps of the stranger, especially through those vast
woods which covered our land, and of which a famous example existed in the
forest of Galtres, in Yorkshire.

The visitor to Gloucester Cathedral will have noticed its exquisite
cloisters, and have seen the screens or "carols" where the monkish scribe
sat diligently to copy his chronicle, or the artist to illuminate its

The examples at Gloucester are almost unique as an illustration, so to
speak, of the workshops of the mediæval copyist; but a "scriptorium," or
room, was arranged in most monastic houses, as the more general place of

As the chief homes and nurseries of religion, these houses attracted their
different leaders and schools of learning. With Bede in Northumbria, and
Augustine in Kent, two great missionary scholars, the memories of ancient
lore seem to be recalled. In quick succession arose the vast abbeys of our
land, at St. Albans, Glastonbury, York, Canterbury, Lindisfarne, and
Hexham, spreading their influence far and wide, with a host of lesser
foundations. Their erection, often due to the zeal of some noted
ecclesiastic or pious layman, is closely connected with our church
history and customs, revealing many a vivid picture of olden days. Their
abbots and priors can show many illustrious names, and Matthew Paris,
Aldhelm, Bishop of Sherborne, St. Cuthbert, and William of Malmesbury, are
but a tithe of the roll-call of writers and chroniclers.

It is, however, the work which remains to this day as the evidence and
link of an almost forgotten agency, through the preservation of our early
documents, that the moving history of those times is recalled. The
"scriptorium" under the abbot's direction, with specially trained scribes,
was the great literary workroom, rules and admonitions were hung on its
walls, expressive of the care to be taken in copying, the work was
portioned out, and no monk could exchange his allotted task for another.

There were those specially selected, to insert the rubricated letters and
designs of the border page, while others prepared the vellum, or attended
to the binding. In the larger monasteries, especially of the Cistercians,
there were smaller "scriptoria" for the more learned of the community,
distinguished also by their skill and attainments.

The transcription of Missal or Service books was often made, not only for
the great houses, but for the smaller ones, unable to maintain so large a
staff, and then both "scriptorium" and cloister became a ceaseless centre
of labour. Books were often lent from one monastery to another to be
copied, and besides the actual staff, hired writers were also employed,
thus rapidly developing the learning of those early times. Special grants
of money were made to support this constant occupation--tithes and other
aids procured the vellum, the ink, and the colours for the artist; thus,
by degrees, came into existence those grand volumes which, despite time
and decay, have survived to our day. The abbey chronicle and the abbot's
letters became one great monastic diary, each containing a record of
events and customs which shadowed forth many a noted incident or rare

In the Christ Church letters, at Canterbury, we hear of Prior Chillenden's
love of building, and mention of the grey old walls of that city, portions
of which are now standing, is found in this correspondence.

Truly can it be said, that the abbey and its literature grew together,
that the annals of the one were the foundation stones of the other. The
"Chronicle," perhaps the most typical form of monastic work, gave
expression to endless literary fragments, some, undoubted forgeries, as
one scribe often copied the errors of a preceding writer. The lives of
saints, and their legends, were lightly interwoven in this day-book of the
religious house, and the famous miracles of Thomas á Becket, repeated in
all their varying allurements, formed the staple theme for many a
credulous monk.

On the other hand, the "Chronicle" recorded important events, especially
the building of a noted minster, oratory, or shrine. Ingulphus treated of
Croyland; William of Malmesbury, of Glastonbury; Gervase, the burning of
Canterbury, and many like instances. In these volumes we often find
allusions to the means used to raise money for building, and the curious
customs arising out of this effort. When a cathedral wanted repair, the
bishop selected from among his clergy a few preachers, and along with them
a saint's shrine, in which relics were enclosed and carried by young
clerks in procession. On reaching a town, these relics were taken to the
church and left on one of the altars, and those who could afford, threw
their offerings on the same.

Processions to some noted spot formed another source of revenue, and the
picturesque though fanciful custom of strewing the churchyard cross with
boughs on Palm Sunday, may have been another of the quaint usages to
attract the devotee to make his offerings.

Fairs, too, were held, sometimes in the very cathedral precincts, and
mystery and miracle plays also combined to increase the funds required for
a grand fabric, or village church. A leading feature in the archivist's
work were the bishop's registers, to be found in every diocese, and
varying greatly in their interest and contents. Those of Canterbury and
York form a unique collection of church history, while others are models
of exactness or statesmanlike precision.

As we turn over their pages, we recall the names of William of Wykeham
(Bishop of Winchester), Bishop Alcock (Ely), Chichele, the munificent
founder of All Souls', Oxford, while among lesser dignitaries may be
classed Abbot Islip, of Westminster, and John of Whethampstead, for St.
Alban's, whose registers and minute books betoken their care and
knowledge, as "Supervisors" of the noble buildings under their charge.
Perhaps the register of St. Osmund, Bishop of Salisbury (1078-1107), may
fairly be taken to represent the idea of what is usually found to
illustrate the growth, maintenance, and customs connected with those
stately fabrics and minsters of our land. As St. Osmund was one of the
prelate-architects, so to speak, and having much to do with the building
of that cathedral, there are, naturally, endless allusions to antiquarian
lore, indeed, his register can well be likened to a storehouse of local
customs, and ecclesiological learning.

On one page is an account of the maintenance of Savernake forest, over
which the Dean and chapter of Sarum had certain rights. On another, we
find a description of the stones and ornaments for the church, while
elsewhere are the charters for the bestowal of land, towards the endowment
of canonries and other preferments, and to these last were attached seals
of deep historical value.

This register may be taken then as the keystone to the annals of Sarum
diocese, and what the keen inquirer finds in this as a typical book, may
equally be said of several other episcopal archives. In their silent,
though not less expressive, language, they have handed down those
incidents on which hang the story of many an effort to build a costly
shrine, a sculptured porch, or greater still, the minsters and abbeys
which have made England of the past so rich an inheritance for us of

The fullest scope for the mediæval artist was found in the pictured
chronicle, or the illuminated missal, that task on which painter and
scribe devoted their best talents, and with this embellishment is
interwoven many an old usage or fanciful legend.

The monastery garden supplied endless designs for the exquisite
plant-forms and scrolls which mingled so gracefully with the written text
or the printed page. In the gifted words of the late Lady Eastlake, who
said, "Here on these solid and well-nigh indestructible parchment folios,
where text and picture alternately take up the sacred tale--the text
itself a picture, the picture a homily--the skill of the artist has
exhausted itself in setting forth the great scheme of salvation."[21]

Flowers also supplied an un-ending theme for symbolism which always
allied itself to sacred and legendary art, and tradition asserts that the
monks reared an appropriate flower for each holy-day, and that certain
flowers were dedicated to saints. The ivy a type of immortality, the oak
of virtue and majesty, the lily, and the rose, all had their significance
on the vellum book.

Mingled with the border designs were satirical allusions in the form of
grotesques and other drolleries, evidently aimed at the jealousies of the
secular and regular clergy, one against the other, or both against the
mendicant friars. What was found on the illuminated page, was echoed in
the architectural carvings of the time, and the fantastic wood work in
some of our cathedrals and many churches, especially in the stalls of
Christ Church, Hants, repeat the teachings of the caustic monk in his
cloistered seclusion.

It was reserved for the architect-artist to perpetuate in stone the
beauties of the floral world, and nothing speaks a stronger though mute
language than the foliage sculptured on the arches, doorways, and nooks of
our minsters, churches, and abbey ruins.

  "Ivy, and vine, and many a sculptured rose,
  The tenderest image of mortality,
  Binding the slender columns, whose light shafts
  Cluster like stems in corn-sheaves."

Not only was symbolism embodied in these carvings, but as an exercise and
offering of devotion to the Unseen, the best efforts were lavished on it
by the skilled master-workmen of the time.

Thus the scribe, the illuminator, the architect were all striving in a
kind of companion rivalry, each illustrating by his efforts some phase of
artistic labour, or reviving a long-forgotten custom.

However much we may dissociate legend with truth, we cannot always ignore
it, mingled though it may be with monkish ignorance and superstition.

The tale of many a noble structure has been veiled under the guise of the
chronicle or the monastic ledger book, and the foundation of Waltham Abbey
is said to have originated from a 12th century MS., entitled, "De
inventione Sancte Crucis." Around the grand church of Minister in Thanet,
gathers a pretty story, in that Dompneva, wife of Penda, King of Mercia,
asked Ethelbert to grant her land in Thanet, on which she might build a
monastery. In answer to how much she required, "Only as much as my deer
can run over at one course." The King gave her the wide tract of land run
over by the deer, and she founded the cloister on the spot where now
stands Minister church. Local names have sometimes been associated with
the story of the cloister. The Bell-rock with its lighthouse was so called
from the bell which the monks tolled, to warn the mariner of his danger.

The smallest item on the parchment page can have an extended meaning; the
sign of the cross was found in many old deeds, which often contained an
invocation to the Trinity, and the famous story of St. Helena, and the
finding of the cross, has its incidents oft repeated in the MS., the
printed book, the panel or fresco painting, as well as in the marvellous
pieces of the sacred wood, so greatly venerated by the faithful! Of St.
Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, there is a drawing, said to be by his
own hand, in the illumination of a manuscript in the Bodleian Library, and
of dedication of churches to saints, the name is legion. St. Barnabas Day
is specially linked with English life and manners, it was the longest day
according to the old style, and the old rhyme,

  "Barnaby bright, Barnaby light,
  The longest day and the shortest night."

Every form of chronicled lore, be it register, fabric roll, charter, or
brief, teems with some peculiar custom which is a moving history, an
heirloom from the old world, helping to connect the past and the present.

Architectural items enter largely into the varied forms of church
documents; the Indulgence often gave full particulars as to the repairs of
a building, a fact most valuable for supplying the date at which any
portion was built or renewed. Cathedral archives of whatever class, are
sure to abound in allusions to the fabric or its annals, sometimes going
so far as to sketch some portion in the marginal pages, of which an
example is found in a drawing of old St. Paul's in the 14th century,
occurring in a MS. called the "Flores historiarum." The statutes of our
minsters are rich in ecclesiastical lore, the mediæval fraternities or
guilds are often mentioned in them, and in the statutes of St. Paul's a
most curious custom is mentioned of waits parading the streets of London,
to give notice of the feast of the Transfiguration, and carrying with them
a picture or banners of that event.

The antiquarian enthusiast on these subjects cannot do better than consult
the work on "English Guilds" published by the Early English Text Society,
and that of the "Statutes of St. Paul's," by Dr. Sparrow Simpson, 1873.

Fabric rolls and inventories are an endless source of detailed
information, in both of these, most minute descriptions are given; the
painting and drawing of images, the materials, even to the pencils and
brushes, being mentioned. Perhaps the most elaborate is that of the
expense rolls for St. Stephen's chapel, in the old palace of Westminster,
a bill of charges that helps to identify the kind of work done at that
time, and the general artistic treatment in the reign of Edward III.

The following entries may be given as a typical illustration:--

  William de Padryngton, mason, for making twenty
  angels to stand in the tabernacles, by task work
  at 6/8 per each image                                 £6 13s. 4d.

  For seven hundred leaves of gold, bought for the
  painting of the tabernacles in the Chapel             £1 8s. 0d.

The following item shows that there were artists who designed the work
afterwards carried out by inferior craftsmen.

  Hugh de St. Alban's and John de Cotton, painters,
  working on the drawings of several images.            £0 9s. 0d.

An examination of this expense roll, of which this is not a tithe of the
entries, printed in Smith's history of Westminister, will well repay

With those graceful chantries, which adorn most of our minsters, are
closely connected the service books of the middle ages, for it was usual
to insert in the blank spaces of the collects the names of the founders of
the chantry chapels.

Indeed, the subtle way in which our old documents, of whatever class,
interweave themselves with the annals of our mediæval buildings, whether
as regards the general plan, the design of some sculptured porch, the
pictured images on walls, or the many-coloured votive chapel, each and all
illustrating a quaint legend or significant custom, is too numerous to

"Nor was all this labour spent in vain; their homes for centuries were in
the silence of the sanctuary; their authors have mingled with the dust of
the convent cemetery; over them have passed the rise and fall of the
kingdoms of this world; but through them history has been transmitted with
a continuity and fulness not to be found in any other form of art, or, it
may be said in any form of literature."[22]

  "Mid all the light a happier age has brought,
  We work not yet as our forefathers wrought."

Shorthand in Church.


When Job Everardt published in the year 1658, his "Epitome of
Stenographie," he had certainly no intention of minimising the value of
his art, but, on the contrary, was quite ready to magnify the office of
the shorthand writer. The engraved title-page is ornamented by eleven
emblematical pictures, and stenography is declared to be "Swifter than the
swift of foot" (Amos ii. 15); "Swifter than a post" (Job ix. 25); "Swifter
than a weaver's shuttle" (Job vii. 20); "Swifter than waters" (Job xxiv.
18); "Swifter than clouds" (Isaiah xix. 1); "Swifter than ships" (Job ix.
26); "Swifter than horses" (Jer. iv. 13); "Swifter than dromedaries" (Jer.
ii. 23); "Swifter than roes" (1 Chron. xii. 8); "Swifter than leopards"
(Heb. i. 8); "Swifter than eagles" (2 Sam. i. 23). It may be remarked in
passing that the worthy Everardt consistently spells than _then_ in the
text to each of these emblems. We have left to the last the picture which
holds the place of honour. Here we see a worthy divine, robed in a black
gown, set off with white collars and cuffs, and with his head covered by a
furred skull cap. He stands in a low pulpit, his hands rest on the
comfortable cushion, which is unencumbered either by book or MS. Opposite
to him, and occupying the whole of a comfortable form or very wide chair,
is a stenographer. He wears his hat, as was often customary in church
during the seventeenth century; he has impressive white hands; he has not
taken off his cloak, but on a fold of it allows a book to rest, in which,
with an impossible pen, he is taking down the sermon, and stares with
fixed gaze as the divine asserts "My tongue is as the pen of a swift
writer," and seems almost inclined to dispute the assertion that any
tongue could keep pace with his nimble stylus.

It must be confessed that the early stenographers--to confine our
attention to them--were not at all in the habit of under-valuing their
art. Here is what this same Everardt, "dropping into poetry" like Silas
Wegg, has to say in a triple acrostic:--

  Secret,  short,  swift  this  Writer iS, the Sun's course seemes but slow to hiS
  The Teacher's nimble tongue comes shorT   this  Writer  waits  his  nexT  reporT
  Eagles  arE swift,  his  pen  doth fleE   his  quill  an  Eagle's  seems  to  bE
  Noe clouds  can flee,  Nor  waters  ruN  swifter theN his quick strokes have doN
  One  postin g Swiftly  TO    and    frO   his  Oft-turn'd  quill  doth  even  SO
  Galley  or ship with Sailes and   FlagG  the  Weavers  shuttle,  Leopard,  StagG
  Roe,   Dromedary,   Horse    oR    Ha'R:   oR  the  swift  swiming  Dolphin ra'R
  And  the   quick  Scribes,  As  ShemajA    Baruch,     EzrA,     E L I S H A M A
  Paint  forth,  as  Patterns  in  a  maP  this  ARTS  true  Portrature  and  shaP
  Haste Haste to learn what it doth teacH  Swiftness  and  Shortness botH to reacH
  Yea     both     in       StenographyLY   much    more     in    this    EPITOMY

After this ingenious torturing of the Queen's English, it is not
surprising to find,

  "In steed [sic] of Tenne command{ts.} Lords Pray'r, Creed:
  Heer's Three and Thirty Languages to Reade,"

that is to say, the sentence "But the just shall live by his faith," in
that number of tongues, first in his stenographic characters, and then
transliterated into longhand. His dedication is written in the style of a
sermon, and in an introductory verse he does not fail to claim that by his
art are

  "... Sermons writ even from the lip,
  And sudden thoughts before they slip."

His good opinion of his own stenography, and powers of versification,
sustains him to the end of his book, and he bids us adieu in this wise:--

  "Herewith Farewell; If you can tell
  What yet more fair, short, swift maybee,
  Let the world know it, candedly [sic] show it
  Or if not, Follow this with mee."

William Hopkins "Flying Penman" (1695), has the following commendation
signed by one whose surname has since become famous in divinity:--

  "Virgil, who largely wrot about the Gnat
  That saveing Man's life his own ruine gat,
  Might have emploi'd his pen about this Fly
  With greater pleasure and Utility,
  A Fly this is, but of more noble kind
  Than in the winged crue you ere did find:
  A Flying Man; the Flying-Pen-man 'tis
  Whose wing the fleeing game doth never miss.
  The Eagle strikes down and eats up his prey
  Destroying all that he doth bear away,
  But what this Pen-man takes he doth preserve,
  And makes it better to all uses serve,
  When fleeting words would vanish with their sound
  He doth them stay, and them deliver bound,
  By Lines of Characters wherein they rest
  As in a dwelling that doth please them best.
  The Art of Spelling at first was thought
  Strange, and they deem'd immortal who it taught,
  Spelling by Characters excelleth all
  That under any other Art doth fall.
  Some Charactors creep, some go, these do Fly
  Showing their authors great agility,
  And this ability he doth impart
  By certain rules of a defusive Art."
                                    EDWARD BEECHER.

Hopkins gives a long list of theological words, and of abbreviations of
such phrases as "the blood of the saints," "the breath of the Almighty,"
"the candle of the Lord," etc. In reporting the words of preachers, he
advises the use of a book, with a margin ruled off, in which to "set down
the numbers and names of all the heads contained in the sermon. All these
heads," he says, "with parts of the Inlargements used upon them may be
taken by such who hardly ever wrote before." This statement must be
received _cum grano salis_.

The system best known as that of Jeremiah Rich, who appears to have copied
it from his uncle, William Cartwright, was one that seems to have been
favoured by the divines of the seventeenth century. It was modified by Dr.
Doddridge, and taught in his academy for the training of Nonconformist
ministers, and then came into use in most of the older dissenting
colleges, so that twenty years ago there were many who had thus been
trained and conned the dumpty little bibles and psalm books that were
engraved in Rich's system. That system has had many names attached to it.
Let us take that which bears the impress of "Botley's learned hand." One
of his eulogists tells us

  "Sermons this art transfers, its oft known
  The countrey reaps what's in the City sowne;
  The sacred pulpit is not its confine
  The general good is this art's main designe."

Botley's "Maximum in Minimo," which appeared in 1659, is avowedly Jeremiah
Rich's "Pen's dexterity compleated." The theological uses of the system
are further asserted by ingenious devices for indicating such phrases as
"to be joyned in love to those that are not of the people of God," "to
embrace the cross of Christ," etc. This character = [symbol] signifies "to
be miserable as the world is miserable," whilst [symbol] meant "a saint is
a 1000 times better than the world." So in Noah Bridge's "Stenographie,"
issued in the same year, there are phraseograms for "in the name of the
Lord," "wherefore said the psalmist," etc.

The "New Method of Short and Swift Writing," which was given away to
purchasers of Dr. Chamberlen's "anodyne necklace for children's teeth," is
declared to be "necessary for all Ministers of State, Members of
Parliament, Lawyers, Divines, Students, Tradesmen, Shopkeepers,
Travellers, and in fine, all sorts of persons from the highest to the
lowest quality, degree, rank, station, and condition whatsoever, and write
down presently whatever they hear or see done." The theologian here is
somewhat lost in an indiscriminate crowd.

That shorthand was used for the purpose of obtaining copies both of plays
and of sermons in the seventeenth century is sufficiently well-known.
There is a curious tract which professes to be a shorthand report of a
discourse, by no less a person than our "Cromwell, chief of men," and
although it is but a satire, its curious titlepage is nevertheless
evidence of the common belief,--founded doubtless on the common
practice,--that stenography could secure verbatim reports of the
exhortations of preachers, whether clerical or lay. The tract professes to

    "A most Learned, Conscientious and Devout Exercise or Sermon of
    Self-Denyal, (Preached or) Held forth the last Lords-day of April, in
    the year of Freedom the 1st, 1649. At Sir P. T.'s House in
    Lincolns-Inn-Fields. By Lieutenant General Oliver Cromwell,
    Immediately before his going for Ireland, as it was then faithfully
    taken in Characters, By Aaron Gueredo. And now published for the
    Benefit of the New Polonian Association, and late Famed Ignoramus
    furies of this city. Humbly Dedicated to the Worthy
    Protestant-Hop-Merchants, and the rest of the Ignoramus-Brethren.
    London: Printed in the Year of Freedom 43."

The sermons of Tobias Crisp, which gave rise to a long controversy, were
printed from "shortwriting," in 1642-43, and also those of Stephen Crisp,
the Quaker, in 1694.

The quarrel between the preacher and the reporter was not long in breaking
out. Here is the indignant complaint of Dr. Calamy in the preface of one
of his discourses.--

    "The iniquity of the times hath necessitated the printing of the
    ensuing Sermon. There is a Fellow, (who he is I know not) who hath for
    his own private advantage, published it very imperfectly and
    corruptly. And herein hath not only sinned against the 8th Commandment
    in taking away another man's goods without his leave, but also against
    the 9th Commandment, in bearing false witness against his neighbour.
    For he makes me to say not only such things which I never said, but
    which are very absurd and irrational. As for example: That the Body is
    the worse part of the Soul. That the party deceased had not only dona
    sanaia, but selutifera. That I should tell a story of one good Pell, a
    Minister, born without doubt in Utopia, for of such a man I never
    either read or heard. To make some satisfaction to the living and the
    dead, here you have the same sermon in a truer edition with some few
    additions then omitted for want of time. If this unhappy necessity may
    contribute anything to thy good, or to the perpetuating of the Memory
    of the Reverend, Learned, and godly Minister (at whose Funeral it was
    preached), I shall not much repent for what I have done, though I am
    assured, that he that brought me into this necessity, hath cause to
    repent of this, his irregular and unwarrantable practice. ("The
    Saint's Transfiguration," a Sermon preached at the Funeral of Dr.
    Samuel Bolton, by Edmund Calamy, B.D., October 19, 1654. London,

The preacher had of course alluded to Conradus Pellicanus, the German
theologian, whose name the stenographer had but partially caught, and set
down as "Pell!" _Hinc illae lachrymae_--of angry indignation.

The stenographers of the last century followed closely in the footsteps of
their predecessors. James Weston's "Stenography" of which various editions
appeared between 1727 and 1740, has an engraving showing a cathedral, in
which a bewigged divine is preaching to a crowd of fashionably dressed
ladies and gentlemen, many of whom are busy with pen and notebook.
Underneath the picture is the motto,--

  "Be perfect in this useful art, and then
  No word from pulpit can escape your pen."

This idea was conveyed by Aulay Macaulay, whose "Polygraphy" has for a
frontispiece a pretty engraving, in which two gentlemen and a lady are
seen taking down the words which, from the preacher's gestures, we may
suppose to be both impressive and profitable.

In the nineteenth century, as in the seventeenth, the church is much
frequented by stenographers, but more it is to be feared for practice in
shorthand than for perfection in piety. The first ambition of the boy who
is learning shorthand is to "report" a sermon by the preacher whose
ministry he attends. Mr. Thomas Allen Reed has given an amusing account of
his first exploit in this direction, when he was still struggling with the
early difficulties of the system he soon after abandoned for phonography.
He says, "I did not, however, relinquish my practice, and in a few weeks I
resolved on making a grand attempt to take down the Sunday sermon. I rose
early in the morning with the sense of a weighty responsibility resting
upon me. I sharpened my pencil with the gravity of a senator, and folded
several sheets of paper together, in the profound conviction that I was
undertaking a serious, if not a formidable, duty. I did my best to conceal
my emotions, but my heart was beating all the way to the church. As to the
preliminary service, I understood as little of it as if it had been read
in Cherokee. I stood when I ought to have knelt, and knelt when I should
have sat or stood, and demeaned myself like a youth whose religious
education had been sadly neglected. At length the clergyman entered the
pulpit, and I took my sheets of paper from the Bible in which I had
concealed them, and my pencil from my pocket. If I did not feel like
Bonaparte's soldiers, that the eyes of posterity were upon me, I devoutly
believed that every eye in the church was directed to my note book. The
colour mounted my cheeks (as it very often did at that period of my life,)
and my whole frame trembled. I had a strong impulse to abandon my project,
but I summoned all my energy to the task, and awaited the commencement of
the sermon. 'The 12th chapter of Isaiah and the 3rd verse,' said the
minister in solemn tones. This presented no great difficulty. I am sorry
to say that, stenographically speaking, I burked Isaiah, and contented
myself with the long-hand abbreviation, Is., and as to the text itself, I
thought the first three words would suffice. And now for the sermon. 'The
remarkable words, my brethren, of this important prophecy.' Laboriously I
followed the deliberate utterances of the speaker, but when I reached the
prophecy I floundered about in a maze of dire confusion. I thought it
began with ph, and I accordingly started as I had been instructed, with
the stenographic equivalent, f, but, finding that this would not do, I
crossed it out. Then I tried p, r, and getting a good deal confused,
plunged madly into the alphabet, the result being a combination of
characters altogether beyond description. But where was the preacher?
Away in the distance, almost out of sight and hearing. I was fairly
beaten, but not quite disheartened. When another sentence was begun I made
a fresh start, this time I was pulled up by the word 'synonymous,' I knew
there were some n's and m's in it, but not how many. I must have written
three or four of each, and while I was jerking out these segments of
circles (their forms were the same as in Phonography,) the clergyman was
remorselessly pursuing the intricacies of a long sentence, which I was
compelled wholly to abandon. I made several other efforts with the like
result. At length I secured an entire sentence of about twenty words, and
felt very proud of the achievement. Some half-dozen such sentences
rewarded my labour during the sermon. How I racked my brain in the
afternoon in poring over these fragments! My memory (not then a bad one)
was utterly useless. I had not the slightest conception of the drift of
the sermon, but I was determined to make some kind of a transcript, and it
was made. I presented it to my mother as my first attempt, and I believe
she kept it carefully locked up in a drawer among her treasures. It was
fortunate for my reputation that it never afterwards saw the light."
(Leaves from the Notebook of Thomas Allen Reed, vol. 1, p. 12; vol. 2, p.

The professional reporting of sermons is now an important department of
the stenographer's work. The late Mr. Spurgeon's sermons were thus
reported by Mr. Reed. Dr. Cumming had his own reporter, as had Beecher,
and as Talmage and others have. Dr. Joseph Parker's discourses were
"specially reported" by his wife. It is to the phonographic skill of a
lady that we owe the preservation of many of the lectures, sermons, and
prayers of the late George Dawson. The sermons of the Rev. Thomas T. Lynch
were also reported by Mr. Reed. Yet the preacher had a strong dislike to
his discourses being reported and printed, "especially without his
revision." There, no doubt, is the rub. Dr. Morley Punshon had a strong
dislike to be reported, and some letters that passed between him and Mr.
Reed are given in the _Phonetic Journal_, July 30th, 1881. His objections
were that the reporter was sometimes inaccurate, and that the preacher
alone had a right to decide whether he would or would not address the
larger congregation to be reached by the press. And he urged very strongly
that the arguments used by Macaulay as to the unauthorised publication of
his speeches were equally applicable to the case of sermons. It is still a
rather doubtful point whether sermons are covered by the law of copyright,
and many single sermons and even volumes have been published without the
sanction, and sometimes against the wishes, of the preachers. But as it
has been held by the law courts that a professor's lectures cannot be
legally published without his consent, it is possible that some day a
preacher may arise who will test the question and ask the judges to say if
the pulpit is as much protected as the teacher's desk. The late Bishop
Fraser is said to have jocularly declared that there was no heresy that
had not been attributed to him by the slips of note-takers and condensers.

Shorthand has been extensively used for the MS. of preachers, as by Dr.
Chalmers, Job Orton, and a host of other preachers,--so many, indeed, that
to deal with stenography in the pulpit would need a larger space than is
here available.

Perhaps the most original use of shorthand in church was that due to the
conscientiousness and business instincts of the late Rt. Hon. W. H. Smith.
Ecclesiastical patronage he felt to be a great responsibility. When there
was a minister to be appointed he sought the best information as to those
who were recommended to him as suitable. Sometimes he corresponded with
friends likely to know; "at other times he used to send his confidential
shorthand writer to attend the services of clergymen who might be suitable
for the vacancy, and bring him verbatim reports of the sermons, with
confidential memoranda of their appearance, views, abilities, and other
details. It was only after carefully examining this information that he
would proceed to make the appointment."

Those clergymen who owed their promotion to the testimonials thus obtained
might say with Job Orton's pious fervour, "Blessed be God for shorthand."

Reminiscences of our Village Church.


I propose in the following notes to write my recollections of a village
church. They extend over nearly sixty years, and will, no doubt, describe
a growth and change which might have been observed in a thousand English

But first, let me say a few words of this church before my recollection of
it; not long before, for I am indebted to my mother's reminiscences for
the few trifles with which I open. It was a heavy looking edifice, not
attractive to the eye as compared with the "storied windows, richly
dight," which mark the churches of the beautiful Gothic revival of our own
times. This was a plain building, flint, with queer old stone facings, a
heavy tower, "churchwarden" windows with diamond panes, with not an atom
of beautiful tracery from one end to the other.

And yet that church, if you had been taught how to look for it, contained
features of the deepest interest to an antiquary. Within, were heavy
Norman pillars between nave and aisles, and a round-headed flattened
chancel arch, unmistakably Saxon. For that church was built by S. Wilfred
of York in the 8th century, and built so substantially, that there it was
in the 19th century, sturdy and strong, though successive generations had
bepewed it and begalleried it, and put in square ugly windows, and a
three-decker, in fact, had used their utmost endeavours to disfigure it.
They could not destroy the simple Norman capitals, but they had
whitewashed them, and had written up, with the best intentions, texts on
the walls, in which my youthful eyes discovered two or three blunders in
spelling. It is no wonder that the old Rector, who liked to see everything
graceful and artistic, but who had never learned the principles of
Architecture scientifically, failed to appreciate S. Wilfred's ancient
work, and yearned to see something more graceful in its place. But of that
presently. Let me go back for eighty years. The incumbent in those days
was an old foxhunter, very fat and of enormous appetite. One day he came
in from a long run across country. "Wilthon," said he (he used to lisp)
"What ith there for my dinner?" "A goose, sir," said Wilson. "Bring him
up, Wilthon, I'll goothe him." And he finished the goose and picked every
bone clean. A well-known politician, who died only recently, was born in
the village, and the old rector was called on to baptize him. "Name thith
child," said he, and the answer was duly given, "James Edwin Thorold." The
rector stared, for such exuberance of nomenclature was very uncommon in
those days. "What?" he said in amazement. The name was repeated. "Bleth my
thoul, what a lot of nameth," said he, "thay it onthe more." The name was
said a third time, and the baby was duly christened. A lady who witnessed
this, and who still lives, told me of this. She was twelve years old. My
grandfather, in those days, was leader of the choir. They sat in a
gallery, and had a fiddler and a trombone to accompany them. The trial of
Queen Caroline, in 1820, raised the passions of the whole country to fever
heat, and the rustics, for the most part, took the queen's side. When the
news came down, that Government had abandoned the "bill of pains and
penalties" for depriving her of the title of queen, there were processions
through the street, and every window that did not display a candle, by way
of illumination, got a stone through it. On the following Sunday my
grandfather gave out the Psalm, which of course was Tate and Brady's,
"35th Psalm, 11th and three following verses, _False witnesses with forged
complaints_." It was sung with tremendous energy, and the old rector was
furious, not unreasonably, and sent the whole choir to Coventry for some
time. He used to put on his surplice in the chancel, before the people,
and exchange it in the reading desk for the black gown, and used to preach
one sermon on Sundays. He died about 1826, and was succeeded by one who
was a brilliant scholar, a canon of a northern Cathedral, and a man who
according to his lights was zealous for the decencies of worship. Thus he
built a vestry, put the clerk into a black gown, and started a verger with
a long coat and red collar, knee breeches, and a long staff of office, who
always preceded him to the reading desk. I am now come within the sphere
of my own recollections. This old rector lived until 1844, and my early
ideas of the proprieties of the church service were all drawn from him.
For he had a reason for everything, and expressed it pleasantly, and he
was very kind to me personally. Is it any wonder that for many a year I
tried all questions of ritual--I am not sure that I have ceased even
now--with "What would Doctor B. have thought about this?" He never
preached one sermon in the church during his whole incumbency. I
understood that it was the danger of a sudden failure of voice, to which
he was subject, that prevented him. Anyhow that was the fact. But he
established afternoon sermons, and his curate always preached them. He
himself used regularly to say the Prayers, and never since his day have I
ever heard anybody read the lessons so well as he did. I never hear the
first chapter of the Hebrews without recalling the magnificent roll of his
voice, as he brought out of it the points of the opening argument. He was
keen upon chanting, and vocal music, and we always sang the Canticles, and
the metrical Psalms--as I think very well--and a few Sanctuses. The only
case of chanting the Prayer Book Psalms was certainly curious. He had
heard in Westminster Abbey, the 137th Psalm, "By the waters of Babylon,"
sung to a chant which much delighted him, and on the 28th day of the
month, when that Psalm occurs, we chanted it to the music referred to. All
the other Psalms were read.

We used to be told at school that on Sundays we got a taste of Heaven, for
we went to church and sang God's praises. I do not quarrel with the
teaching even now, I think there is something in it. But I used to think,
in those tender pinafore years, that in Heaven there would be one
improvement, namely, that we should not stand on cold damp stones and feel
half perished. There were forms running up the centre of the church, the
whole length of it, on the cold bricks, no arrangement at all for
kneeling, and on these forms we sat during lessons, prayers, sermon; and
many a cold in the head did I catch. The best singers among the boys, of
whom I was not one, went into the gallery. The old Rector established a
school in the village, and we learned the Tonic Sol-Fah, and the singing
was said to be the best for miles round. I think it was in 1842, two years
before his death, that the fiddles and clarionettes were disestablished,
and the music was entirely vocal.

There was one feature of his incumbency which I must not forget, I mean
his church catechising. It had always been a favourite doctrine of his,
that catechising in church should be a feature of church work, and every
Sunday afternoon in Lent, the boys were marshalled round the reading desk
and catechised. Perhaps rather unfortunately, he had a keen sense of fun,
and occasionally a bit of humour in his questions, or his comments, set
the congregation in a titter. But there was no question that those who
listened picked up a great amount of Biblical and ecclesiastical

One mistake as I know now, the dear old rector made. He did not know of
the archæological interest of the church, disfigured as it had been by
country carpenters and painters and white-washers, and he built a new one,
designed by Sir G. Gilbert Scott, then a very young man. And so S.
Wilfred's Church was pulled down, and a modern building, handsome enough,
has taken its place. But before it was finished the old rector died. So
now my recollections pass on to another building and another idea of

The new church was certainly more comfortable for the schoolboys, and the
singing still continued good. But the new rector made some alterations in
matters on which his predecessors had been strong. He was a very
pronounced Puritan, and forbade the school children to turn eastward for
the Creeds. He forbade such simple anthems as "Lord of all power and
might," and Cecil's "I will arise." But he had his very good points. He
was young and active, and visited his people assiduously, established a
monthly Communion, and worked up a regular branch of the Church Missionary
Society, which nobody in the village had ever heard of before. I grew up
to manhood during his incumbency, and though I regarded his Puritan
practices, and listened to his Calvinistic sermons and tirades against
Popery with extreme dislike, I see now that he was a man who was most
faithful to his convictions, and no man could be more earnest for the
spiritual welfare of his people. He was no scholar, I doubt whether he
could have read a page of the Greek Testament in his later days. But he
was the kind friend of the sick and the aged, and looked after the young
people of his flock, and when they went forth into the world gave them
loving and sensible counsels. His wife was as sweet and saintly a
character as ever I knew, and their large family have all proved the
wisdom of their training. One son has earned himself a name as respected
as it is widely known.

His successor was a man of like views, better read, and a kindly-hearted
man. But he was less in his parish. Though he kept no curate, he was
constantly absent as a "missionary deputation," and his congregation, who
had never been instructed in church principles, fell away. He died, and
his successor, who was only there for a year or two, was, I am told, a
failure, greatly owing to weak health; and so we come down to present
times. An organ has been given to the church, thanks to a generous layman;
the choir march in procession to their places in the chancel, they do a
respectable choral service, and of course turn eastward for their Creed.
The parson looks thoroughly well after them, and loves them. There are
regular week-day services, and a fair attendance on holy days, and the
Sunday congregation is steadily increasing. It had gone down terribly.

Such is an impartial review of the church life in an out-of-the-way
country village. My own special old Rector (for I owe more to him than I
could ever tell), the builder of the church, was one of the original
movers in the celebrated movement of 1833, was in fact one of the persons
present at the meeting at Hadleigh Rectory, under the presidency of Hugh
James Rose, which led to the starting of the _Tracts for the Times_.

His name appears both in Palmer's Narrative, and in Newman's
Correspondence. He was a great friend of John Keble. But as the Tract
Movement declined visibly towards Rome he regarded it with increasing
dislike, and in his last years expressed that dislike with emphasis. I
have sometimes wondered what position he would take up if he lived in our
own day, and am inclined to think that the present Archbishop of
Canterbury would be regarded by him as best expressing his own views.
Peace to them every one, everlasting Light and Rest.

Ye Ende


  Abbatial staff, 196

  Abbots Bromley, horns at, 13

  Advent ringing, 46

  Agnus Bell, 43

  Ale, baptized in, 80

  Ales, Church, 19, 151-152

  Altars in churches, 161-166

  Andrews, William, F.R.H.S., Inscriptions on Bells, 49-63;
    Laws of the Belfry, 64-73;
    Bells cast in churchyards, 154-156.

  Anglo-Saxon burials, 127

  Anglo-Saxon marriage, 100

  Anglo-Saxon prelates, 198-201

  Annointing at baptism, 89

  Announcements of fortunes at marriages, 121

  Apostle Spoons, 90

  Armour, burial in, 132

  Armour in Churches, 174-181

  Armour at funerals, 129, 178

  Arvel Dinner, 139

  Ascension Day customs, 188-189

  Axon, W. E. A., Shorthand in Church, 246-260

  Banns, forbidding, 113

  Banns peal, 46

  Baptism, earliest titles of, 78

  Baptism rejected, 79

  Barton-le-Street, curious customs at, 20

  Batley bells, poem on, 61-63

  Beating the Bounds, 182-190

  Bell inscriptions, 35, 39, 40, 45, 49, 63

  Bells cast in churches and churchyards, 154

  Bells lost, 38-39

  Benham, Rev. Canon, B.D., F.S.A., Customs and Superstitions of Baptism,
    Reminiscences of our Village Church, 261-270

  Bibles, throwing dice for, 165

  Biddenden Maids, 25

  Bidding at weddings, 119

  Bidding for funerals, 146

  Bishops in Battle, 198-231

  Black Prince, armour of, 175

  Blinds taken down at death, 139

  Bragget Sunday, 23

  Bread and beer distributed at a tomb, 20

  Bridegrooms, 104

  Box at funerals, 145

  Boy-bishop, 2-8

  Bozeat toffee, 25

  Bridesmaids, 103

  Briscoe, J. Potter, "Curiosities of the Belfry," 73

  Bull-running, 28

  Burial Customs, 126-146

  Burial without city walls, 127

  Bumping children, 187-188;
    a curate, 188

  Buns and cider, 24

  Burning books, 158

  Burnley marriage custom, 123

  Butchers' serenade, 122

  Caistor gad-whip, 28

  Canute's crown, 175

  Card-playing, 20

  Carling Sunday, 23

  Caroline, Queen, trial of, 26;

  Catechising, 266

  Chanting in Church, 265

  Choir in the olden days, 263-264

  Christening bit, 92;
    garments, 89;
    tongs, 91;
    folk-lore, 94-98

  Chrisom, 143

  Christmas, 13, 22, 29, 46

  Church-Ales, 19, 151, 152

  Churchwardens' accounts, 186-187

  Churchyards, 127

  Cider, 24

  Cock-fighting, 20

  Coffins, burials without, 134-135

  Collecting at funerals in Wales, 139-140

  Commonwealth, marriages under, 115

  Corpse, and right of way, 140

  Costume at weddings, 123

  Cox, Rev. J. C., LL.D., F.S.A., on Sports in Churches, 1-20;
    Armour in Churches, 174-181

  Cremation, 127

  Cromwell, satire on, 252

  Cross roads, burial at, 144

  Crosses, burial, 141, 144, 158

  Crusaders, 218, 224

  Customs and superstitions of baptism, 78-98

  Dancing in churches, 8-15

  Dates on bells, 40

  Day for marriage, 125

  Dead, baptism of, 84

  Dead, ringing home, 130

  Deaf and dumb marriages, 120-121

  Dice cast on the Altar, 165

  Disputes settled in churchyards, 147

  Doles at funerals, 135, 152

  Domesday Book, churches mentioned in, 147

  Dowry for poor maidens, 111

  Druids, 26

  Easter, 24, 36

  Easter Eggs, 31

  Eastern portion of churchyard, burial in, 136-138

  Edward III., armour of, 176

  Embalming, 126

  Epitaph, curious, 58, 137

  Fairs held in churchyards, 149, 237

  Feast, 22

  Feasts, burial, 136

  Feasting in churches, 19

  Feudal tenures, 211

  Fig-pie Sunday, 23

  Font, use of, 81

  Football, 27

  Foxhunting parson, 262

  Funeral banquets, 19

  Garlands at funerals, 143

  Garlands, nuptial, 105

  Gifts at christening, 92-93

  Girls baptised first, 94

  Gold and silver, altars made of, 163

  Good Friday, 24, 28

  Good Shepherd, 193

  Grain at weddings, 119

  Great Rebellion, 227, 231

  Great Tom of Lincoln, 41

  Gretna Green marriages, 120

  Gowrie Plot, 37

  Gunpowder Plot, 35-36

  Hats worn in church, 247

  Hampshire burial superstitions, 131

  Handbells, 44

  Hare-pie, 24

  Harvest Bell, 45

  Haxey Hood, 27

  Heart burial, 128

  Hearse, 130

  Hindoo marriage custom, 110

  Holy Cross, 147, 167

  Holy Day Customs, 21-32

  Horn-dancers, 13-14

  Horse claimed at a mortuary, 129

  Hot cross buns, 24

  Hot pot at weddings, 102

  Hour-glasses in coffins, 131

  Howlett, England, F.S.A., Marriage Customs, 99-125,
    Burial Customs, 126-146

  Hucksters' stalls in churches, 1

  Husband and Wife re-united, 117

  Images, 244

  Immersion, 81

  Inscriptions on Bells, 49-63

  Kershaw, S. W., F.S.A., The Cloister and its story, 232-245

  Kendal Custom, 30

  Kissing, 109

  Knives, 103

  Lamplough, Edward, Bishops in Battle, 198-231

  Lights to guide travellers by night, 232

  Longest day, 242

  Laws of the Belfry, 64-73

  Market Bell, 37

  Marriage Customs, 99-125

  Mass on the field of battle, 213

  May 29th, ringing on, 34

  Maunday Thursday, 30

  Midnight burials, 142

  Mince-pies, 22

  Miracle Play, 16-18

  Mistletoe, 26

  Mitred Abbots, 196

  Molly Grime, 28

  Monks of Durham, 204

  Moravian marriage customs, 117

  Morris dancers, 10-12

  Mothering Sunday, 23

  Mulled ale, 23

  Myton, battle of, 203

  New Year's eve ringing, 40

  Nicholson, John, Concerning the Churchyard, 147-160

  Notorious characters buried north side of the church, 137

  Oak-apple day, 34

  Palm Sunday at Leigh, 29

  Palls, 145

  Page, John T., The Rood Loft and its uses, 167-173;
    Beating the Bounds, 182-190

  Pancakes, 22, 37

  Pancake bell, 23

  Parish Armour, 178-181

  Parish Clerks, 114

  Passing Bell, 47, 128

  Pastoral staff, 129

  Paul's Pitcher Day, 30

  Paying toll at weddings, 122

  Peacock, Florence, Church Bells, when and why they were Rung, 33-48

  Penance performance in Hull, 158

  Preaching from Shorthand, 259

  Private baptism, 83

  Proxy, marriage by, 106

  Processioning, 184

  Puritan, 267

  Quakers baptized, 81

  Quarrels in churchyards, 151

  Reeve, Isaac J., Ringers' Jugs, 74-77

  Refreshment Sunday, 23

  Reminiscences of our Village Church, 261-270

  Reporting, objections to, 258

  Revival of the rood screen, 172

  Rice at wedding, 118

  Rings, wedding, 107

  Ringers' Jugs, 74-77

  Rival Popes, 216

  Rome, ancient, marriage in, 10

  Rood Loft and its Uses, 167-173

  Roods swept away at the Reformation, 170

  Rogation Week, 183

  Rosemary at funerals, 131

  Rubbish heap in churchyards, 159

  Russian burial customs, 141

  St. Andrew, 40-41

  St. Hugh's Day, 44

  Saints and martyrs buried under the altar, 161

  Salt at funerals, 144

  Sand strewing at weddings, 124

  Sanctus Bell, 42

  Sawdust strewing at weddings, 124

  Saxon Church, 261-262

  Screens in churches, 168-169

  Scrope, Richard, 224-227

  Scriptorium, 233-235

  Scrambling customs, 153-154

  Seasons for marrying, 111

  Secular uses of churches, 1

  Sceptre, 192

  Seville, dancing at, 14-15

  Shakespeare on armour, 175

  Sitting posture, buried in a, 134

  Shrines, 236

  Shrove Tuesday, 22-36

  Shoes at weddings, 118-124

  Shorthand in Church, 246-260

  Simnels, 23

  Skeletons represented on tombs, 142

  Smith, W. H., shorthand reports for, 259-260

  Spencer, Bishop of Norwich, 214, 216

  Sponsors, 86

  Sports in Churches, 1-20

  Sports in churchyards, 150-151

  Staff of authority, 191

  Standard, battle of, 201-202

  Stocks, 157

  Story of the Crosier, 191-197

  Sunday burials, 145

  Sunday of the Five Loaves, 23

  Sundials, 156-157

  Swedish funerals, 141

  Taxes on baptism, 94

  Torches at funerals, 137-138

  Tracts of the Times started, 269

  Trading in churchyards, 148

  True Lovers' Knot, 107

  Twickenham cakes, 24

  Tyack, Rev. G. S., B.A., on Holy Day Customs, 21-32.
    Altars in Churches, 161-166.
    The Story of the Crosier, 191-197

  Umbrella, parish, 140

  Upright burial, 133

  Viands connected with Holy Days, 25

  Washing feet, 30

  Waxen effigies, 142

  Wedding bells, 114

  Wedding biddings, 119

  Well-dressing, 27

  Welsh custom, 29

  Whitby funeral cakes, 146

  Whitsuntide, 11

  Wine, baptized in, 80

  Wine drinking in church at weddings, 102

  Wills about armour, 177

  Wool stored in churches, 1

  Woollen, burial in, 132

  Wren stoning, 29

  Wymund, the Saxon, 205-207

  Yule-log, 26

  Yule, songs of, 13


[1] The two best recent books on the subject are Pollard's _English
Miracle Plays_ (Clarendon Press, 1890,) and Bate's _The English Religions
Drama_ (Macmillan, 1893.)

[2] Peacock's _Church Furniture_.--p. 103.

[3] Peacock's _Church Furniture_.--p. 85.

[4] _Ibid._--p. 103.

[5] _English Bells and Bell Lore_, 1888, T. North, cp. 16, p. 191.

[6] At the bottom of the plate occurs the name of the engravers, Sellers
and Nelson, Leeds.

[7] See Edward's _History and Poetry of Finger Rings_, Cap. 5, p. 221.

[8] See Robinson's "History and Antiquities of Stoke Newington."

[9] Acta SS. Ord. Benedict, sec. iii., part 2.

[10] York Fabric Rolls, p. 256.

[11] York Fabric Rolls, p. 255.

[12] Andrews' "Curiosities of the Church."

[13] Andrews' "Curiosities of the Church," p. 89.

[14] York Fabric Rolls, p. 116.

[15] 8th S. V. 150, Feb. 24th, 1894.

[16] In some parishes a Triennial or even Septennial visit to the
boundaries is considered sufficient.

[17] Brand.

[18] Vol. ii., part i., p. 165.

[19] Walton's "_Life_."

[20] Lysons' "_London_," ii., 126.

[21] "History of Our Lord," by the late Mrs. Jameson, continued by Lady

[22] "History of Our Lord," by the late Mrs. Jameson, 1864.



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Bygone England:

Social Studies in its Historic Byways and Highways.


CONTENTS:--Under Watch and Ward--Under Lock and Key--The Practice of
Pledging--The Minstrel in the Olden Time--Curious Landholding
Customs--Curiosities of Slavery in England--Buying and Selling in the
Olden Time--Curious Fair Customs--Old Prejudices against Coal--The
Sedan-Chair--Running Footmen--The Early Days of the Umbrella--A Talk about
Tea--Concerning Coffee--The Horn-Book--Fighting Cocks in
Schools--Bull-Baiting--The Badge of Poverty--Patents to wear Nightcaps--A
Foolish Fashion--Wedding Notices in the Last Century--Selling Wives--The
Story of the Tinder Box--The Invention of Friction Matches--Body
Snatching--Christmas under the Commonwealth--Under the Mistletoe Bough--A
carefully prepared Index.

"We welcome 'Bygone England.' It is another of Mr. Andrews' meritorious
achievements in the path of popularising archæological and old-time
information without in any way writing down to an ignoble level."--_The

"A delightful volume for all who love to dive into the origin of social
habits and customs, and to penetrate into the byways of
history."--_Liverpool Daily Post._

"There is a large mass of information in this capital volume, and it is so
pleasantly put that many will be tempted to study it. Mr. Andrews has done
his work with great skill."--_London Quarterly Review._

Fcap. 4to. Bevelled boards, gilt tops. Price 4s.

Famous Frosts and Frost Fairs in Great Britain.

Chronicled from the Earliest to the Present Time.


This work furnishes a carefully prepared account of all the great Frosts
occurring in this country from A.D. 134 to 1887. The numerous Frost Fairs
on the Thames are fully described, and illustrated with quaint woodcuts,
and several old ballads relating to the subject are reproduced. It is
tastefully printed and elegantly bound.

"The work is thoroughly well written, it is careful in its facts, and may
be pronounced exhaustive on the subject. Illustrations are given of
several frost fairs on the Thames, and as a trustworthy record this volume
should be in every good library. The usefulness of the work is much
enhanced by a good index."--_Public Opinion._

"A very interesting volume."--_Northern Daily Telegraph._

"A great deal of curious and valuable information is contained in these
pages.... A comely volume."--_Literary World._

"The work from first to last is a most attractive one, and the arts alike
of printer and binder have been brought into one to give it a pleasing
form."--_Wakefield Free Press._

Biblical and Shakespearian Characters Compared.

Studies of Life and Literature.

By the Rev. JAMES BELL.

Between the Hebrew Bible and Shakespeare there exist some interesting and
instructive points of resemblance, especially in respect of their ways of
life and character. No doubt certain inevitable differences also exist
between them, but these do not hide the resemblance; rather they serve to
set it, so to speak, in bolder relief.

The author in this volume treats of this striking resemblance, under
certain phases, between Hebrew Prophecy and Shakespearian Drama.

The following are the chief "Studies" which find a place in the
work:--Hebrew Prophecy and Shakespeare: a Comparison--Eli and Hamlet--Saul
and Macbeth--Jonathan and Horatio--David and Henry V.--Epilogue.

The foregoing list of subjects will give some notion of the drift and
style of the book, which, it is hoped, is a contribution towards a better
study of the Bible in connection with our literature and moral experience.

The following short extracts are selected from a large number of reviews
of Mr. Bell's book:--

"One of the most suggestive volumes we have met with for a long
time."--_Birmingham Daily Gazette._

"An interesting book."--_North British Daily Mail._

Second and cheaper edition. Crown 8vo. Price 1s.

The Studies of a Socialist Parson.

By the Rev. W. H. ABRAHAM, M.A. (London).

The volume consists of sermons and addresses, given mostly at the St.
Augustine's Church, Hull. The author in his preface says, "It is the duty
of the clergyman to try and understand what Socialism is, and to lead men
from the false Socialism to the true."

CONTENTS:--The Working-man, Past and Present: A Historical Review--Whither
are we going?--National Righteousness--The True Value of Life--Christian
Socialism--Jesus Christ the True Socialist--Socialism, through Christ or
without Him?--The Great Bread Puzzle--Labour Day, May 1, 1892--The People,
the Rulers, and the Priests--Friendly Societies--Trades' Unions--The
People's Church--On some Social Questions--The Greatest Help to the True
Social Life--The Great I Am--God as a Present Force--Signs of the Times.

The following are selected from a large number of favourable notices:--

"The volume is deserving of all praise."--_Glasgow Herald._

"An admirable contribution to the solution of difficult problems. Mr.
Abraham has much that is valuable to say, and says it well."--_Spectator._

"Eminently readable."--_Northern Daily News._

"The book is nicely printed and got up."--_Eastern Morning News._

Crown 8vo., 140 pp.; Fancy Cover, 1s; Cloth Bound, 2s.

Stepping Stones to Socialism.


CONTENTS:--In a reasonable and able manner Mr. Maxwell deals with the
following topics:--The Popular meaning of the Word Socialism--Lord
Salisbury on Socialism--Why There is in Many Minds an Antipathy to
Socialism--On Some Socialistic Views of Marriage--The Question of Private
Property--The Old Political Economy is not the Way of Salvation--Who is My
Neighbour?--Progress, and the Condition of the Labourer--Good and Bad
Trade: Precarious Employment--All Popular Movements are Helping on
Socialism--Modern Literature in Relation to Social Progress--Pruning the
Old Theological Tree--The Churches: Their Socialistic Tendencies--The
Future of Earth in Relation to Human Life--Socialism is Based on Natural
Laws of Life--Humanity in the Future--Preludes to Socialism--Forecasts of
the Ultimate Form of Society--A Pisgah-top View of the Promised Land.

The following are selected from a large number of favourable notices:

"The author has evidently reflected deeply on the subject of Socialism,
and his views are broad, equitable, and quite up to date. In a score or so
of chapters he discusses Socialism from manifold points of view, and in
its manifold aspects. Mr. Maxwell is not a fanatic; his book is not dull,
and his style is not amateurish."--_Hull Daily Mail._

"There is a good deal of charm about Mr. Maxwell's style."--_Northern
Daily News._

Bound in cloth gilt, demy 8vo., price 7s. 6d. Only 500 copies printed, and
each copy numbered.

The Monumental Brasses of Lancashire and Cheshire.

With some Account of the Persons Represented.

_Illustrated with Engravings from Drawings by the Author._


"Mr. Thornely's book will be eagerly sought by all lovers of monumental
brasses."--_London Quarterly Review._

"Local archæologists will give a hearty welcome to this
book."--_Manchester Guardian._

"Mr. Thornely has produced a very interesting volume, as he has not only
figured every monumental brass within the two counties to which he has
confined his researches, but in every case he has given a description
also, and in some instances the genealogical information is of a high
order of value."--_The Tablet._

"The book is wonderfully readable for its kind, and is evidently the
result of careful and painstaking labour. The chapters are well condensed,
nowhere burdened with verbiage, yet sufficiently full to serve the purpose
in view. The illustrations of the various brasses are exceedingly well
done, and add much value and interest to the work, which should become
popular in Lancashire and Cheshire."--_Warrington Guardian._

The Press on Messrs. William Andrews & Co.'s Printing and Binding.

"The book is very handsomely got up."--_Dundee Advertiser._

"A remarkably handsome volume, typographically equal to the best
production of any European capital."--_North British Daily Mail._

"The book is entitled to unstinted praise on the ground of its admirable
printing and binding."--_Shields Daily Gazette._

"Will bear comparison with the best work of the first publishing firms in
London or Edinburgh, the printing and paper being everything the most
fastidious could desire."--_Boston Independent._

"The book is handsomely brought out."--_Scotsman._

"Beautiful work in typography and binding."--_Yorkshire Post._

"Very pretty binding."--_Publishers' Circular._

"Most elegantly bound and tastefully printed."--_Hull Daily Mail._

"Beautifully bound and printed."--_Daily Chronicle._

"The letterpress is beautifully clear."--_Birmingham Daily Gazette._

"The printers' part is perfectly done."--_India._

"The book is handsomely got up."--_Manchester Guardian._

"The book is excellently printed and bound."--_Library Review._

"Handsomely printed."--_Newcastle Chronicle._

A notice of "Bygone Scotland" concludes as follows:--"The book forms a
splendid addition to the works of the same series all printed at the 'Hull
Press,' and, like all its predecessors, is printed in the exceptionally
beautiful style which marks the productions of Mr. Andrews' establishment.
The volume is handsomely bound, and well illustrated. Mr. Andrews is a
bookmaker par excellence."--_Printing World._


Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _italics_.

Superscripted characters are indicated by {superscript}.

The original text contains two circular symbols which are represented by
[symbol] in this text version.

The original text contains two letters with diacritical marks that are
not represented in this text version.

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