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of Winchester in the time of Abbot Brithnoth (970), was conjointly to St
Peter and the Blessed Virgin Mary, as will be seen in the account taken
from the Liber Eliensis which is given in a footnote 1 .

While many of the extant deeds speak of the Cathedral as the great
Church of St Mary, St Peter's name is very freely used for other edifices,
e.g., the Stepil gate was called "Turris Sci. Petri." The earliest place in

1 At the dedication of the Church in the time of Abbot Brithnoth by Bishop
Ethelwold of Worcester, we read: " Dedicacionem inceperunt in Benedictionibus
dulcedinis : in Capite Ecclesie, Beati Petri Apostolorum Principis ponentes ; et in
australi parte, memoriam Sancti Dei Genetricis semper Virginis Marie."

Lib. Eliens. Lib. II., cap. 52.


6 nj


3 "I
16 ii

(goff ©,©♦ ;n>* 105

which the name " Holy Trinity " is applied to the greater parish is in
Fordham's Survey, a.d. 1416 1 .

The financial statement for the twelve months ending Michaelmas, 1360,
shews a larger income than had been received for several years past.


Expenses of the office, including arrears of
last year ...


"Custus noui operis"...

Leaving an adverse balance ... ... ... 72 12 n|

Length of the Roll, 56 inches.

Receipts occupy 24 inches.

The expenses, 32 inches to " Custus vestiar."

In dorso the expenses continue for 25 inches; the "Custus noui
operis " continues for 19 inches ; and a store account follows.

The heading is good, the dexter side of the Roll is very defective, the
material of inferior quality.

There is no doubt that Robert of Sutton continued in the office of
Sacrist for the years Michaelmas 1360-1 and 1361— 2; for in the long
" ordinatio " which Prior Alan of Walsingham drew up in 1363, Robert
affixes his seal to the deed as Sacrist of Ely ; but from that date we possess
no Sacrist Roll for twenty-four years. Robert of Sutton's friendship
and his interest in the Sacristy it is clear were a source of comfort to
Prior Alan in his declining years. He is found associated with the Prior
in the purchase of Mepal, in the year 1361. Towards the expense
incurred for the transfer of the manor and advowson of that parish,
Prior Alan contributed ^66. 13*. 3d. and the Sacrist £8. 3^. $d. The
principal person, however, concerned in the transaction, who secured the
mortification of the property by a journey to London, from whom also
finally the estate was conveyed to the Church of Ely, was William of
Wisbech, known also as William Brun, or Brown.

The whole account of this purchase is of considerable interest, and in
the course of arranging the documents of the Ely Muniment Room,
twenty-six charters, all concerned with the title-deeds, were gradually
brought together, and may serve for an illustration of the manner in which
lands might be conveyed to a religious society in the time of Edward the
Third 2 .

1 Houses in the Stepil Row (High Street) are mentioned in the Survey, " simul
abuttant versus austrum super cimiterium Sancte Trinitatis." — Fordham's Survey, of
which there is a copy penes D. and C.

2 These documents were exhibited at a meeting of the Cambridge Antiquarian
Society in 1890 by the Editor, and a full account of the story read to the members.

106 (goff Qto* XV.

Looking back on the period during which Alan occupied the position
of Prior of Ely, we may notice certain events which are not touched upon
in his Rolls, but which are elsewhere recorded.

In the year 1345, two actions were brought against Prior Alan in the
Bishop of Ely's high court of justice by Pylgrym of Wycham, who in one
cause claimed certain lands in Wycham, and in the second cause lands in
Sutton, which he declared had been wrongfully granted to the Prior and
Convent of Ely by members of his family, while he himself claimed to be
the rightful owner. In both cases Pylgrym was adjudged to have made a
false claim 1 .

Nevertheless we can imagine that a charge of that character, brought
forward in the Bishop's (Simon de Montacute) court, would be most
distressing to the Prior, and the necessity for defending the action suggests
how needful it would be for a religious house, receiving frequent eleemo-
sinary gifts of lands, to preserve with extreme carefulness all deeds and
papers by which their titles were secured.

About this time also, in July 1346, by a parchment preserved in the
Muniment Room of the D. and C, we learn that Prior Alan had to pay
for himself and his steward the sum of ^200 to the Abbot of Ramsey, on
account of various transgressions of his men ; perhaps the sequence of the
quarrels in Prior Crauden's time, related on page 71 s .

A third legal action was brought against Prior Alan before the judges
of King's Bench, three weeks after Easter in that same year. The accusa-
tion was that Prior Alan had taken away a horse belonging to Thomas de
Scalariis, from lands in Waddon, and had unjustly detained it. It would
appear, however, that the horse had been removed to secure payment of
some bushels of corn and barley and oats which were due from de
Scalariis, as a service for certain lands held by him under the Prior and
Convent ; the tenure was so ancient that Domesday book was produced in
court, with the result that de Scalariis acknowledged his indebtedness and
only fell back upon a question of the size of the measure with which the
grain was to be measured ; finally a deed was drawn up declaring that
Sir Thomas de Scalariis, with the Prior and a large number of witnesses,
had gone into the granary of the Convent within the circuit of the

1 Bp Ely Reg., Liber M.

2 " Pateat universis nos Abbatem de Rameseye recepisse de Alano de Walsingham,
Priore ecclie Cathed. Elyensis, et Simone de Brunne ducentas libras sterlingorum in
quibus idem Prior et Simon in solidum per scriptum suum nobis tenebantur pro
diversis transgressionibus per homines et tenentes ipsius Prioris nobis in Ramseye
factis de quibus vero ducentis libris fatemur nos esse pacatos et ipsos Priorem et
Simonem successores heredes et executores suos quietos fore per presentes sigillo
nostro signatas. Dat. apud Huntingdon die Veneris prox. post festum Sancte Margarete
Virginis anno Regni Regis Edwardi tercii post conquestum vicesimo." The Abbot of
Ramsey's seal is still attached to the parchment.

(goff (£©♦ W. 107

Monastery, and had seen the corn measured out by a measure which
was called " cumba de Scalariis 1 ."

From these vexatious lawsuits we are glad to turn to notice Prior Alan,
in the October of the year 1348, undertaking a wholly new set of duties
more akin to those with which he had been occupied when Sacrist of the

Bishop Thomas de Lisle, in the fourth year of his consecration, finding
himself at Avignon and without any prospect of a speedy return to his
diocese, nominated five ecclesiastics to act for him as Vicars general of
the diocese ; especially for the purpose of performing all things necessary
for the filling of vacant offices or benefices ; with power to act for the
Bishop when any preferment became vacant, which was in his collation or

Of these five persons Alan, Prior of Ely, was named first, yet he does
not appear to have acted personally on this commission until the very last
day before it expired ; for on the 3rd of April a new letter from the Bishop,
dated "in Urbe " superseded this commission by a fresh one, in which the
number is augmented to eight, but in which Prior Alan's name only
stands third.

The Bishop himself acquaints us with the motive which prompted the
ordering of this second commission. He had received information of the
spread of the Great Pestilence in his diocese, and the fear had seized him
lest by a mortality amongst his Vicars general the duties of a Bishop
should cease. He, therefore, instead of leaving the second set of com-
missioners to divide the duties as might be most convenient to themselves,
appointed that the first named was to act as his Vicar general " solus et
solidus " ; and if he should die the second should act ; if, again, the second
named should depart this life, the third should take up the duty ; and so
on likewise to the last. Notwithstanding this provision Alan, though
named third in order, appears to have taken the greater number of the
institutions for fourteen days after the arrival of the Bishop's letter ; after
which John de Co took the burden upon himself until the 7th July, when
Alan's name again appears as performing the necessary episcopal duties
until the middle of August.

By Bishop de Lisle's register we find that in October, 1350, Prior Alan
takes an institution at Ely; and on the 24th February in the same year,
1350 (the year running from April to April), the Bishop himself, in

1 " Eodem die predictus Dominus de Scalariis cum predicto Priore ingressus est
granarium Prioris et conventus infra septa Monasterii et ibidem recognovit quandam
mensuram vocatam Cumba de Scalar, cum qua debet mensurari totum supradictum
bladum." — Bishop's Register, Liber M, pp. 618-9. Probably the " combe " ; the half
quarter ; a sack measure used generally in the eastern counties.

io8 (goff (Jto* XV.

residence at Holborn, resumed the exercise of his office. While Vicar
general our Prior seems to have admitted some seventy clergy to benefices;
receiving them sometimes at Ely, more often at Brame, where the old
Manor House had been restored.

The interest which Alan took in this Manor of Brame will have been
noticed in the Rolls which he issued as Sacrist, and further information will
be given concerning it in Appendix C.

Concerning the death of Alan nothing can be gleaned from historical

We should have anticipated that at the death of a man holding the
position of Prior of a great Cathedral some entry would be found in one of
the civil Rolls of record ; but these have been diligently searched without
success. The Bishop's Register also might be expected to furnish an
account of the election of a new Prior, but from 1362 to 1377 the Ely
registers are missing; or again, from the Sacrist Rolls for 1363-4-5, we
might have learned something of Alan's death, but these also have been

But while there seems to be sufficient reason for the absence of
information concerning the death and burial of Alan of Walsingham in the
usual episcopal and monastic documents, it must be a matter of surprise
that the monkish historians of Ely maintain an absolute silence concerning
the last days of the man who for forty years had been the most prominent
figure in Ely. After having recorded with minute carefulness and admira-
tion the opening of Alan's career as Sacrist, they say nought of the later
services which he rendered to the Church as Prior. These have come
down to us only in the laudatory verses of a monk who seems to have seen
his tomb.

In the pages of the historians of the Church of Ely, Alan of Walsing-
ham is " the builder" and nothing more. But may we not think that Alan
of Walsingham was something more than a building Sacrist, and that, in
substituting a light and wide-spreading octagon for a square tower formed
on heavy Norman piers, he was not merely pleasing himself with the idea
of an architectural tour de force in his character of builder to the
Monastery, but was more distinctly moved by the devout spirit of a clerical
Sacrist to whom was confided the charge of the worship of God in
his sanctuary?

It is not possible for us, indeed, to realize the grandeur and solemnity
which may have been added to the services in the Choir and at the Altar
by the fuller light and spaciousness and cheerfulness won by the Octagon
and Lantern ; but though the chroniclers tell not of it, we may be sure

QRoff (Jto* xx>* 109

that the sense of a great gain stimulated a warm thankfulness when
the brethren processed once more to their seats in the Ritual Choir.

It is, indeed, the many-sidedness of the man which seems to invest our
Sacrist and Prior with his great charm.

If he were a genius full of dreamy visions of beauty in his favourite art,
he was not above care for the details of accounts, and the lesser demands
of the business entrusted to his office ; enjoying a life of comparative
freedom, as head of a large establishment, he was not forgetful of the
privations and sufferings which the sick and the aged must endure in a
monastic life ; a monk, too, with so much religion and with so much
sympathy with the religious lives of the parish priests, whom it was the
fashion of the day to term seculars, that he was selected by his Bishop to
perform a Bishop's duties among them.

Certainly Alan of Walsingham was one of those men who are good all
round ; and yet, who when opportunity calls them, develop a power and an
excellency in one direction, which wins for them the respect and the praise
of those who are near; and perhaps of those, too, who only hear of
their good work in the generations of the future.


Zfyt (geceipfB of t%t ^acrisfg.

An enquiry into the annual income of the Ely Sacrist has been relegated
to an appendix chiefly because almost every item of the Receipts has
its origin in some passage of the ancient History of the Monastery; or
has grown out of ideas or customs prevailing in those earlier days.

And as, to some minds, the chief interest in our earliest Rolls may
lie, rather in the thoughts they may evoke concerning the moving life
of those past days, than in the building operations of the Sacrist, some
little labour has been given to recover the facts of history, and to recall the
customs which underlie the Sacrist's figures.

The Income of the Sacrist of Ely may be divided under three heads.

i. The receipts from Churches which were appropriated to his office;
five in number — (i) Wentworth, (2) St Andrew's Church, Cambridge,
(3) St Cross, Ely Parish Church, (4) St Mary's Church, Ely, (5) a pension
from the Church of Downham.

2. The offerings made at Shrines, Altars and Crosses, etc., six in

(1) At the Great Altar in the Cathedral Church.

(2) At the Shrine of St Etheldreda.

(3) At the Altar of St Cross in the Cathedral.

(4) At the Altar of St Mary's Church, Ely.

(5) At the Cross at the Fountain.

(6) At the Boie, or Fetters.

3. Receipts from Farms or Granges; from lands in various places;
from rents of Tenements and from Rent Charges.

ii2 Qwtnbix &

From Churches.

i. From the Church of Wentworth a goodly sum was abstracted
in the 13th century by an act which in those days was deemed pious and
laudable, and in this way it came about: — When Hugh de Northwold,
for many years Monk and Abbot of Bury St Edmunds, was promoted to be
Bishop of Ely, he must needs have been frequently on the road between
his old and his new home, passing through Soham and Stuntney. How
rotten the state of the roads at that time, and how dangerous the bridges,
we may surmise from the result of a conference between the Bishop and
the Convent, which appears in a deed under Bishop Hugh's seal. "Know
all " runs the deed "that with the assent of our whole Chapter, by an
inspiration of charity, we have granted and confirmed to the Sacrist of the
Church of Ely, the Church of Wynteworth with all its appurtenance, so that
ten marks a year shall be assigned from the said Church, for the repair of
the bridges and roads between Ely and Soham 1 ."

The causeway passes through the parish of Stuntney, which from early
days belonged to the monastery, and was thus acquired, —

While a court was being held in the reign of King Edgar at the gate of
the Convent, a certain lady named Ascuen of Staneia came there with
many friends and relations, and in their presence gave Staneia with its
fisheries to Wulfstane of Dalham, whereupon Wulfstane before them all
stood up, and gave to St Etheldreda the land and the fisheries which
the aforesaid widow had given to him 2 . This giving of the land by Ascuen
does not exclude the idea of a money payment. Such a public renunciation
of a claim to a property would be a good legal conveyance, so that
Wulfstane probably did not bestow on the Church a gift which cost him

1 Carta ejusdem [Hugonis] super appropriacionem Ecclesie de Wynteworth.
Universis Christi fidelibus presentes literas inspecturis Hugo Dei gratia Eliensis

Episcopus salutem in Domino sempiternam.

Noveritis nos assensu totius Capituli nostri concessisse caritatis intuitu et hac presenti
carta nostra confirmasse Sacristarie ecclesie Elyensis, ecclesiam de Wynteworth cum
omnibus pertinentibus — ita quod decern Marce annuatim assignentur de dicta ecclesia per
manum Sacriste Elyensis qui pro tempore fuerit ad reparacionem pontium et calceti
de Saham, et totum residuum dicte ecclesie cedat ad sustentacionem nove fabrice ecclesie
Elyensis. Salva vicaria centum solidorum ad opus alicujus Capellani qui in dicta ecclesia
ministrabit. In cujus rei test. etc. Bp of Ely's Register M, fol. 184.

2 Liber Eliensis, Lib. ii. sec. 24. Cf. Receipts in the Rolls annually,

de Stunteneye

de piscacione super calcetum.

(&ppenbtr ($ 113

The expenditure under Bishop Hugh's grant on the causeways will be
found entered every year under the marginal heading " Custus Calcet."
In Roll viii. is given the building by the Sacrist of the first stone bridge
over the river towards Stuntney.

2. From the Church of St Andrew's, Cambridge.

The original gift to the Monastery of the advowson of this Church was
made between 1225 and 1229, by Absolon, at that time both Parson and
patron of St Andrew's, who in his deed, a copy of which still exists, reserved
to himself the enjoyment of the benefice during his life 1 .

Soon after parson Absolon's death, Bishop Geoffrey de Burgh 2 con-
firmed his gift of the Church to the Prior and Convent ; assigned it to the
Sacrist's office, and canonically instituted the whole Convent to the living
as if they represented the Rector.

The technical expression in the original under which the income of
the Rectory was diverted to the use of the Monastery "in proprios usus,"
may be recognised in the term "Impropriator."

The revenue received by the Sacrist each year is entered in his receipts
as " De ecclesia Sci. Andree Cantebrig." and the benefice was for a time let
on lease at ^4 a year.

3 and 4. From the two Ely Churches or Chapels of
St Cross and St Mary's.

Concerning the Church or Chapel of St Cross which had its altar
in the nave of the Cathedral, no grant to the Monastery has been found ;
probably because it had no existence apart from the Monastic Church. In
the Charter of Bishop Hervey 3 in which the division of the property of the
Abbacy to Bishop and Convent is set forth, no particular mention is made
of that which was afterwards called " the Church of the greater parish."
We must suppose that it was understood to be included in a phrase of the

1 Notum sit presentibus et futuris quod Ego Absalon presbiter filius Algaris dedi
et concessi Deo et Ecclesie See Etheldrede et Conventui Elyensi quicquid juris habeo
in advocacione Ecclesie Sci. Andree extra portam Cantabrigie pro salute mea et ante-
cessorum meorum: salva possessione mea dum vixero. Bp Ely Reg. M, fol. 175.

2 Noverit universitas vestra nos intuitu pietatis contulisse et in proprios usus con-
firmasse conventui Elyensi, Ecclesiam Sci. Andree de Cantabrigia in augmentacionem
Sacristarie Elyensis Ecclesie ; ipsosque in eadem, nomine persone, canonice instituisse.

Bp Ely Reg. M, fol. 176.

3 Carta Hervei Episcopi Elyensis de rebus quas permisit et concessit monacliis
habere. Bp Ely Reg. M, fol. 143.

C. VOL. I. 8

ii4 ®4>penbir (&

document which assigned all emoluments and oblations of the altars
of the Mother Church to support the necessities of the Church. In the
same document St Mary's Church has a special notice, "The Church of
St Mary's of Ely with the lands, tithes and all things pertaining to that

It must not, however, be thought that the difference of aspect in which
the two Churches are set before us in the Charter implies that St Mary's
then occupied the more distinguished position. The intimate relationship
in which St Cross stood to the Cathedral Church implies a priority of
existence. From the beginning of the foundation of Queen Etheldreda,
the people who gathered round her, excluded by the rule from the
Ritual Choir, would have been admitted to worship in the Nave.

The Church of St Mary's must have been built and the parish formed
before the opening of the 12th century; but is generally supposed to have
been rebuilt by Bishop Eustace (1198 — 1215), who by a Charter 1 , assigned
to that Church certain rent charges which he had acquired, confirming in
it a purchase made by Adam the Sacrist of the time from Radulphus
the fisherman, declaring also that the donation which he made to the
Church was by way of a dowry (in dotem) on the day when he dedicated
the Church to the honour of God and of the Blessed Mary His Mother.

From a Charter of Bishop Hugh de Northwold dated 1232 2 , it would
appear that soon after the dedication of St Mary's by Bishop Eustace the
Monastery had committed the Church to a certain priest named Baldwin,
as a sole charge, but that upon Baldwin's death the Chapter, becoming
afraid that their act might be construed as an abandonment of the rights of
the Sacrist over the Church, procured from Bishop Northwold a deed
affirming and confirming St Mary's Church to the Sacrist, to be held
in proprios usus, and asserting that he had put the existing Sacrist W. into
the full and corporal possession of it.

1 Eustachius dei gracia Elyensis Episcopus omnibus hominibus de honore Beate
Etheldrede, etc. * * * *

Ad universitatis vestre noticiam volumus pervenire nos dedisse et concessisse et
presenti carta nostra confirmasse Deo et Ecclesie Be. Marie de Ely,— et cetera.

Hanc autem donacionem et concessionem fecimus predicte ecclesie in dotem die Sci.
Jacobi apostoli quando earn in honorem Dei et Beate Marie matris sue dedicauimus.

Bp Ely Reg. M, fol. 165.

2 Carta ejus [Hugonis]de Ecclesia See. Marie de Ely et vicaria....

Ut Eccliam See. Marie de Ely, non obstante quod vicariam predicte Ecclie bone
memorie Baltevvino presbitero quoad viveret contulistis, post decessum ejusdem B. sicut
earn prius tenuistis, possitis in usus proprios retinere...Sacristam in plenam et corporalem
possessionem totius predicte Ecclie nomine Majoris Ecclesie fecimus introduci. Ita
tamen quod eidem Ecclie singulis diebus per idoneos Capellanos honeste deserviri
faciatis. Cf. Bp Ely Reg. M, fol. 178.

Qpipenbix (& 115

The document is witnessed by Everard and John, Chaplains of St
Cross, and by William and Peter, Chaplains of St Mary's Church, with

The Chaplains of the two Churches receive their salaries in a somewhat
intermittent fashion in the Sacrist's Rolls, as if that officer were not under
obligation to enter them in his accounts; but in the year of Alan's retire-
ment from office a considerable payment was made (Roll ix. b, page 121) by
his successor. To the Chaplains of the two parishes £6. oj\ od. with
an extra payment of 5-f. for the reading of the Gospel ; while oblations
were given to them in the Christmas and Easter weeks.

Each of the parishes possessed a house of residence for the Chaplains.
They are continuously mentioned in the Sacrist Rolls in one of the earliest
paragraphs of the expenses ; the Sacrist allocating to himself a small sum
every year, as a rent which was not paid to him '.

The tithes, etc., arising from the four Parishes of Wentworth, St
Andrew's, Cambridge, and the two Ely Churches, are taken notice of
as Spiritualia, and are carefully looked after whenever the Pope or the
King make a claim for tenths.

They were thus assessed in "the Pope's taxation 2 ."

Ecclesia de Wentworth

Ecclesia Beate Marie de Ely cum Capella ecclesie
See. Crucis appropriate eidem Sacriste

Ecclesia Sci. Andree Cantebr. appropriata eidem

Summa totalis ... ... lxvij. x.

5. From Downham (a Pension).

One of the earliest entries in the Sacrist's receipts every year is " de
pensione Ecclesie in Downham, 6/8."

The care with which this payment was collected each year, and its
confirmation preserved under the hand of the Bishop, is illustrated by
the subjoined Charter of Bishop Hugh of Balsham 3 ; the right of the Sacrist

1 See page 25 and annually.

2 Taxatio P. Nich. ad loc. Cf. Bentham, Ap. to Snpp. p. 19.

3 Carta eiusdem (H. de Balsham) de Collatione Ecclesie de Downham ad presenta-
cionem Prioris et Conuentus Elyensis.

Pateat uniuersis quod Ego H. ad presentacionem dilectorum filiorum nostrorum

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