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Master Thomas could come to Ely if wanted, and when ; for under the
" novum opus " another boy is paid for looking for or fetching the said
Master Thomas.

The special work then committed to this Master Carpenter was the
erection of a great crane for lifting heavy weights; timbers for the
scaffolding and stone for the columns. An assistant came with him who
was paid 2s., he himself received 6s. 8d. for raising the crane, and 2s. for
his expenses in going and returning.

These entries seem to indicate, not that Master Thomas who came
from Newport was a native of that town, but rather that he was engaged
there upon some work of importance from which he could only be absent
for short periods. Whether he was a London craftsman we know not.

The important works which were being carried on in London must

1 Anglia Sacra, vol. i. p. 644, ed. 1691.

2 " Et lanterna incepit construi per fratrem Alanum de Walsingham tunc Sacristam
A.D. 1322." Lambeth MS. No. 448, page in pencil, 119.

22 (goff (Jto* f&

certainly have made it for a considerable period a great centre and school
of the building arts, whither the best of the provincial workmen, after
having derived their earliest inspirations from the nearest Monastery or
Cathedral, were drawn, wandering forth again it may be to carry their
increased knowledge to other places.

Thus the Master Carpenter, for whom the Ely Sacrist sent his lad
to Newport, may have served his time or won his title in the King's works
at Westminster, answering Alan's summons to Ely as did the King's head
carpenter William of Hurley some few years later.

That the Sacrist's mind was turning early in his great work to the
experienced craftsmen of the metropolis is manifest from the simple yet
pregnant entry which is found on page 45, in the Transcript of the Rolls.

" Dat. cuidam de Londonia ad ordinand. nouum opus."

Master Thomas Carpenter appears again in Rolls iv. and v., but as the
stonework of the Octagon was only slowly progressing, there was no
demand on the new Campanile for the labours of the carpenters. They
were generally employed in selecting and bringing home timber for
future requirements.

We turn then naturally to enquire what craftsman is in charge of the
rising stonework.

In Alan of Walsingham's first Roll a Master John Cementarius appears
and receives a stipend, and Peter Quadratarius, who is supposed to have
carried in his name a certificate for talent and experience in the art of
laying out buildings " arte architectonica," also comes to give advice.

The assistant masons are numerous if we may judge by the sum paid to
them in the year, nearly ^70, besides £$ to a nameless mason under
contract. Both Master John and Peter Quadratarius are occupied on the
Church in Rolls iv. and v., but in the latter the certain (quidam) cementarius
has disappeared.

With regard to Master John the Mason we have again to deplore the
omission of the surname 1 . In this particular, the exchequer accounts for
the Royal works going on in London at this time certainly surpass in
interest the Rolls of the Ely Monastery ; surnames of the chief men as well
as their wages and the dates of their working being carefully preserved.

1 In 1334 — 5 a John de Rammeseye is found working at Westminster Palace ; a John
Ramsay, called John le Mason, died in 1349; the brother of the latter, as the King's
Cementarius, was in 1337 associated with W. de Hurle who maybe identified with the
Master Carpenter who appears in Roll vii. Cf. Exch. Accts. K. R. 469. 6.

(goff (tto* Hi. 23

With so much more satisfaction then shall we observe, in the sixth and
following Rolls, how the surnames attached to the craftsmen then working
at Ely are to be recognized in the King's Rolls of a like date.

We must not, however, think that Alan's labours recounted in his third
Roll were confined to the rebuilding of the fallen Tower; the obligations of
the Sacristy were numerous and exacting. His clerical obligations towards
the Cathedral continue, though the old Ritual Choir has disappeared — and
twice in the year he presents himself, with his usual attendants, at the two
Visitations of the Bishop wherever they may be held ; he watches over the
Chaplains whom he has selected to meet the needs of the parishioners
of St Mary's in Ely and of those in the greater parish who worship at
St Cross's Altar in the Nave of the Cathedral. His income being in the
main earmarked for special purposes, it is distributed into those divisions
which he himself had mapped out. He mends the roads and bridges
for which he is responsible and repairs the houses within the circuit of
the Monastery, in his granges, or in the town. He manufactures candles
of wax and tallow. He gives out pittances on the stated days for his
brethren in the house and in the refectory, and spreads his table in the
hospice of the Sacristy for the workmen engaged in his office or on the

In one department, however, we may think that his promotion brought
him into some embarrassment. By virtue of his office he was permitted to
keep four horses, and his former life may not have accustomed him to
the keeping and management of horses. Apparently he kept two for his
personal use, and one for the " Molendinum equinum," and this year
an entry tells us that he paid the blacksmith for curing two sick horses 1 ,
and another that he feed a doctor for curing the kitchen boy who had
been wounded by his palfrey 2 , and that misfortune may possibly have been
the cause of a purchase of a chain to secure the horses in the stable 3 ;
and further, possessing apparently an animal not broken in to an easy
pace for riding, he had to remunerate somebody for teaching the horse
to amble 4 .

Further, in this the earliest of Alan's Rolls, we have an evidence that the
Sacrist's energies were not wholly absorbed even by these twofold duties,

1 "Item fabro pro curacione duorum palfridorum infirmorum."

2 " In cuidam medico pro curacione Pagii Coquine vulnerati per palfridum."
" In medicamento pro palfrido."

3 " In j catena pro equis nexandis in stabulo."
" Cuidam facienti nigrum equum ambulare."

24 (Koff (Tto* tit.

viz., the ordinary work of the Sacristy, and the great Novum Opus; and it
will be needful to observe that continually small incidental entries are
indicative of some design, apart from those two sets of duties, which has
struck root in the Sacrist's mind and which is leading him to a wholly
new and important undertaking.

Thus in this Roll there occur a few apparently simple entries concerning
a " novum murum " easily passed by unnoticed, but which in fact represent
the commencement of a great work which lasted many years: the pulling
down and rebuilding of the whole of the offices of the Sacristy, and the
surrounding them with a stone wall.

Up to Alan's acceptance of the Sacrist's office we may suppose that the
condition of the yards and workshops used by his men would have been
adequate to the needs of the building operations carried on in the
Monastery ; but with the fresh demands for accommodation which would
arise from the rebuilding of the Church under the two sets of workmen
employed by the Sacrist, and by Bishop Hotham who had undertaken the
restoration of the Chancel, the increase of the yards and workshops would
be of imperative importance.

At the present time the houses which stand on the original site of the
Sacristy have a continuous frontage to the High Street, from the house of
the Almonry to the stone Tower now used as a Bell Tower for Holy Trinity

But it was not so when Alan of Walsingham became Sacrist. The
Sacristy with its yards and workshops lay then mainly, if not entirely, open
to the Lane then called Stepil Row ; and the carts which carried the
building materials from the river wharf up that which was then truly the
"Fore Hill," the foremost and principal approach to the Gate of the
Monastery, which stood in the wall of the Almonry Garden facing the
Market-place, would deliver their freights to the Sacrist by the Stepil Row.
If therefore there were no adequate separation between that lane and the
Sacristy yards, the first operation would be to set out the new wall with
gate entrance ; while the absence of fitting accommodation for stores and
workmen for the new works beginning in the Cathedral, would urge the
Sacrist to the addition of buildings within the walls and on the walls, as
the need grew before his eyes.

Hence we observe immediately payments for masons and divers
workmen "super novum murum"; rushes soon purchased "pro dicto
muro cooperiendo " ; labourers paid " prosternando domos et muros in
hospitio"; and so rapidly does the reconstruction proceed that in the
next Rolls thatchers (arundinatores) are at work putting on the roof,
and iron is purchased for the windows, "pro fenestris vitrariis."

(Roff Qto« tit* 25

The further progress of this portion of Alan's labours may be traced in
successive Rolls, until the design of the architect is completed.

Again, passing into the Church we may perceive, under the guidance of
the entries in Alan's first (extant) Roll, that even there he is not yet able to
concentrate his thoughts wholly on the new Octagon. The preservation
and custody of the vestments and sacred vessels appear to have required
his attention. The ancient Vestiarium, the door of which stood some-
where at the juncture of the south aisle of the Choir with the east aisle
of the south transept 1 , had probably been rendered useless by the fall
of the Tower, and a suitable place for another entrance door had to be
found somewhere in the side towards the transept. Two entries suggest
this. " For making hinges and iron nails and working at the new door of
the Vestry," and " For a piece of iron for working bars of the said door."
We may suppose further that if the old Vestry (now occupied by the
Library) continued in use, some arrangement would have to be made
for access to the Chapel of St Katherine where the Services were then
being carried on. In the same paragraph occurs an entry of the purchase
of glass which may have been for the repair of the windows shattered by
the fall of the Tower.

At the end of the items of the income of the Sacristy will be found
a list of the donations received towards the new work. " Dona ad nouam
operacionem." They do not appear to be personal gifts, but allotments
from the general and special funds, representing in the main acts of self-
denial on the part of the whole community. The first donation by the
Lord Prior corresponds to an entry on page 26, line 6, "In convocacione
Conventus nihil hoc anno propter novum opus." Certain sums which
would have been granted to individual monks were thereby diverted to the
building fund ; other entries tell of gifts from the property of the Convent
or from individual officers, and, lastly, come benefactions from private

By way of preface to the accounts of the first extant Roll of Alan
of Walsingham, it may be as well to notice that the monastic writers, in
reckoning the years in Avhich he was building the Campanile, speak of
this as being the first year of his work. This method of reckoning is not
altogether accurate, as Alan had been Sacrist for the greater part of the

l Cf. the injunctions of Bishop Ralph Walpole in 1300 — " Ne fiequens accessus
secularium maxime mulierum contemplacionem impediat monachorum statuimus et
ordinamus quod inter altare beate Virginis et Vestiarium diuersorium statim erigatur."
MS. Add. (Brit. Mus.) 9822, fol. 55 v .

"Diuersorium " a separation or division ; diuertere or diuortere = to separate, e.g. of

26 (Hoff QU iiu

previous year in the February of which the Tower had fallen. The
difficulty also may be pointed out of the different dates at which a year
may commence and end in the writings of the chroniclers. While in
our days a year a.d. is understood to date from the first of January, of
old it might have started from the ist April or the 25th March; or the
year mentioned may be the regnal year, which in the Sacrist Rolls now
before us began in Edward II.'s reign from July 8th, or in Edward III.'s
reign from January 25th. When, therefore, such an expression as "in
the following year" occurs it is necessary to enquire what manner of
dating is employed. The Ely Chapter year is dated in each Compotus
from Michaelmas to Michaelmas.

There are extant two copies of Roll iii.

Roll A is 6 ft. 1 \ inches in length, in excellent condition, backed with
thin paper ; the writing good throughout ; on the chief side a bold and
good heading. The margins are fairly good, but in some parts the dexter
side is frayed. It begins with general expenses; about 12 inches from the
bottom commences the "Custus noui operis"; at foot the words "respice
tergum " and the continuation of the expenses on the lower part of the
same skin. On the upper part " in Dorso " a heading " Recepte fratris
Alani," etc., with the receipts continued to the summaries. A blank
interval before the continuation of the " Custus noui Operis," on the
last skin.

Roll B is 3! inches shorter than A, the opening being torn and partly
obliterated. It follows the order and arrangement of the other, but the
parchment is very dark and much destroyed in places.

Roll A has almost invariably provided the text of the transcript.

The accounts of the year Michs. 1322 to Michs. 1323.

Arrear from last year £53- 3- 2

Expended on the ordinary business

of the Office
On the " novum opus "
Total expense

Receipts of the Sacristy

Total Income

Apparent deficiency on the 29th
Sept. 1323 ^44. 17. si
but the scribe writes
Et sic excedunt expense receptas ^44. 17. 5-








12. 4^
IS- 6£


1 1.






18 1

44- i7- 5i




(&fan of Waf0tn£#atm Sacrist from Michs. 1323
to Michs. 1324 1 .

Among the general expenses of the Sacrist's Office in this Roll, as in
No. iii., and in all following Rolls for many years, there appears a charge
for the rent of a tenement where Johanna del Bray lived.

This lady was a member of a highly respectable Ely family whose name
still lingers in a street called Bray Lane, which opens from the north into
the market-place and marks the site of the old family house of the Brays ;
Johanna had a claim on the Prior and Convent as a creditor for a loan
made in the time of Prior Fressingfield, for which they had bound them-
selves to pay her 100s. annually for her life, and to give her a tenement in
Ely rent free, to be kept in repair by the Sacrist. Hence the entry which
occurs annually from 131 3 to 1346 when, the entry disappearing, we may
suppose Johanna died.

From another entry in the same paragraph which tells of two tenements,
inhabited by the Chaplain of the greater Church of Ely, now called Holy
Trinity, and by the Chaplain of the lesser parish, now St Mary's, we
may conclude that there was at that date a clerical house of residence
belonging to each parish.

In the next paragraph is entered a payment to the Nuns of St Radegunde
in Cambridge which will be found continued annually. Whence this
obligation arose is not clear, but there is evidence that many business
transactions passed between the two houses in this century.

The giving out of the pittances bestowed on the monks by pious
benefactions took place, as usual, on the anniversary of the burial of
St Wythburga, on the third Rogation day, on the vigil of the translation of
the body of St Etheldreda and on its deposition, on the feast of the
Assumption, and the obit day of Bishop Eustace. The accounts of the
Pitanciarius who had charge of the pittances were rendered every year.
Sixteen Pitanciarius Rolls of various dates remain in the Muniment Room.

The robes, in a later paragraph (page 40), were for the servants of the
Sacristy, the clothing for the monks being provided by the Camerarius or
chamberlain and entered in his account Rolls.

1 The date inserted in the heading of this Roll in the Transcript is supplied from
the heading given on the Receipt-side (Dorso).

28 (Roff Qto, ix>.

Sometimes cloth is bought in large quantities (panni), sometimes robes
are entered singly, but the word robe will often imply not one garment
only but a suit. The shearing or clipping of the robes (tonsio) was
rendered necessary by the coarseness of the material ; the operator bearing
the name of "tonsor" or "cimator," the shearer or top-dresser 1 .

The cost of the causeways of Stuntney and Soham, which were merely
what are now called corduroy roads, was imposed on the Sacrist by
Bishop Northwold in return for a grant from the vicarage of Wentworth 2 .
The employment of women on this causeway in this year is one of the few
occasions on which women's labour appears in these Rolls, with the
exception of an annual entry under " minute " of a woman who helps the
cook in the larder 3 .

The entries under " minute" are numerous and of great variety.

The Chapel at Chettisham, which was then under the charge of the
Prior and Convent, as now under that of the Dean and Chapter, has
its roof repaired with reeds. The bells mentioned (page 43) as requiring
mending, were probably in the great western campanile ; " the small bell
in the choir" (page 42) provokes the question, what we are to understand
by "the choir."

"Cost of the New Work."

Under this heading we find first a very large expenditure for stone from
merchants whose names are given, with a considerable aggregate payment
to masons and their assistants amounting to over ^60.

The piers of the Octagon are clearly advancing. Master John
Mason is still engaged on the work, although probably he only visits Ely

1 " Cimatori pro opere suo," p. 5.

2 Cf. Appendix A, Receipts of the Sacristy.

3 That women were not altogether prohibited from holding positions of some
importance in the Ely Monastery seems to be proved by the following copy of a parch-
ment which still remains in the Muniment Room ; although at the same time it may
betoken the determination of the authorities to put a stop to the custom for the future.

Universis Christi fidelibus presens scriptum visuris aut audituris, Alicia filia Walteri
Ediline de Ely, Salutem in Domino sempiterno. Noverit universitas vestra me con-
cessisse remisisse et omnino quietum clamasse pro me et heredibus meis Domino Johanni
Priori de Ely et ejusdem loci conventui et eorum successoribus in perpetuum totum jus
et clamum quod habui vel habere potui quoquo modo in ministeriis spectantibus ad
pistrinum monachorum Elyensium videlicet forneria butteria et hostiaria una cum
corrediis ad eadem ministeria pertinentibus et omnibus aliis que aliquis in domo Elyensi
predicta mini poterit vendicare in posterum.

Ita quod nee ego Alicia neque heredes mei etc In cujus rei testimonium sigillum

etc. (Many witnesses.) Carta No. 184. Temp. Ed. I.

(Roff (fto* ix>. 29

from time to time when less occupied elsewhere. The entry on the last
line of page 45, "Paid to someone from London to arrange about the new
work," may be taken to imply that the Sacrist during some temporary
absence of the master mason wished for some explanation or further
instruction concerning the stonework on the tower, and sent to London a
note of enquiry on the subject. The person (the quidam) who comes from
London is evidently not the master mason himself but some assistant who
is qualified to advise. The sum paid to him, 3/4, does not at first sight
seem large, but if we remember that one shilling of money at that time
may be taken to represent one pound of our own day, the remuneration
would be sufficient for a mason of superior position.

Among the expenses of the stonework now going forward in the second
year appear two sets of payments for the sharpening and setting of the
axes and other instruments, not only of the Sacrist's masons but also of
those of Bishop Hotham, who had engaged to rebuild all the eastern
portion of the ruined Church 1 .

The conclusion to be drawn from this is, not that the two bodies of
workmen were equally under the supervision of the Sacrist ; but rather, that
the sharpening of the axes of the Bishop's masons, with the steels, etc., of
the Sacristy, had caused exceptional expense to the office, and was to be
entered on the accounts, in anticipation of repayment at some future time.
This is quite in accordance with circumstances which come to light in
later Rolls.

The greater part of the account of the New Work is taken up with
the accumulation of large quantities of timber, partly for the wooden
staging which is gradually mounting up for the masons working on the
piers; and partly for future use when the time should come for the
commencement of the structure of the Lantern.

The Sacrist, the Master Carpenter Thomas (the man who in the last
Roll was summoned from Newport) and other workmen, are busily
engaged in making journeys for the selection and purchase of timber. A
considerable portion is bought at Chicksand in Bedfordshire, and brought
thence to Barnwell, and so by water to Ely. Not only meremium, that
is sawn or prepared wood, is secured, but whole oak trees and fir trees, and
one loading is so large that its freight costs £2. 16s.

The payments of the carpenters themselves are scattered through the
long section under the marginal note minut. or small payments ; and there
is no separate entry for carpenters' wages. The time for the carpenters has
not yet come.

l Cf. Roll iv., pages 47 and 48.

30 QRoff Qto* ix>.

The large purchases of wood made this year provoke the question
whether some hoarding would not have been erected across the nave
to preserve the western portion of the Church from the dust and noise of
the work going on in the central tower. It is probable that some pro-
vision of this kind was made ; but we may feel confident that the services
at the parish Altar, which stood under the shadow of the great Rood
immediately to the west of the ritual choir, would have been continued and
perhaps with increased congregations. Altars of St Cross were not an
unusual feature in the same position in Monastic and Cathedral Churches,
and sometimes they received the name of the " Altar of the Fabric " from
having been used for the workmen engaged on the building. And we may
imagine those who were, at this time, in the employment of the Sacrist and
of the Bishop, gathering in the early morning to hear Mass at the Altar 01
St Cross.

There was also an "Altare Crucis " in the eastern portion of the
Church, of which mention will be made in connection with the work
undertaken by the Sacrist in the north aisle on the " tria altaria," in
Roll xiv.

The accounts for the year Mich. 1323 to Mich. 1324, as they appear in
the Sacrist's Rolls, are at first somewhat perplexing, owing to the Summaries
occurring in places where the parchments are in bad condition; a collation
however of the figures which are found in the two Rolls has fairly established
the following as a correct balance sheet for the year.

Arrear from last year ^44- x 7- 5]

Expenditure on the ordinary business

of the Office
On the " novum opus "

Total expended

Ordinary Receipts of the Sacristy


There are two Rolls extant for this year, but they cannot be called
duplicates in a strict sense. They are alike in words and figures, but they
differ in the order of the paragraphs. As far as the " custus calcetorum,"
they agree, and then branch off into different arrangements. Having
in view all the other Rolls issued under Walsingham's eye, we cannot fail
to decide which is the corrected and correct Roll. The incorrect Roll is
in the better preservation, and is 9 ft. 6 in. long ; the other is only 6 ft. 10 in.,
having lost the opening, which has had to be supplied from the longer Roll.

140. 14.

4) ^185.







216. 17.
68. 7.











(&fan Of Wafeittgflann Sacrist from Michs. 1325
to Michs. 1326.

The accounts for the 12 months which followed Roll iv. are lost,
Roll v. therefore advances another year, and in it we can clearly observe the
onward movement of the Sacrist's work in both departments of his duties.

In the general expense of the Sacrist's Office, the reconstruction of
the premises of the Sacristy which border on Stepil Row is not only
advancing but reaching further development under a plan of increasing
magnitude. The Sacrist has found it necessary to enlarge the area which

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