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J. Harvey (James Harvey) Bloom.

Shakespeare's church, otherwise the collegiate church of the Holy Trinity of Stratford-upon-Avon; an architectural and ecclesiastical history of the fabric and its ornaments online

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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
AT LOS ANGELES




THE GIFT OF

MAY TREAT MORRISON

IN MEMORY OF

ALEXANDER F MORRISON



Shakespeare's Church,
otherwise the Collegiate
Church of the Holy Trinity
of Stratford-upon-Avon -!




THE CHURCH FROM THE RIVKR.



Shakespeare's Church, other-
wise the Collegiate Church
of the Holy Trinity of
Stratford-upon-Avon ** ** **



An Architectural and Ecclesiastical History of the
Fabric and iti Ornaments .



BY



J. Harvey Bloom, M.A.



Author of "The Heraldry of the Churches of the West Riding of Yorkshire,

" A History of Preston-on-Stour," " The Cartae Antiquas of Lord

Willoughby de Broke," and Editor of the " Victoria History

for the County of Warwick "



ILLUSTRATED BY L. C. KEIGHLT-PEACH



London

T. Fisher Unwin
Paternoster Square
1902



[All riihlt rturvtd.]



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NO

^

I



TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
^
(M

I FRANCES EVELYN COUNTESS OF WARWICK



THIS VOLUME IS HUMBLY DEDICATED
BY THE AUTHOR



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t



434169



PREFACE



r I ^HERE have been many guides to Shake-
JL speare's church, but, so far as the author
is aware, no history. It is, of course, legitimate
enough to provide the public with the species
of literature they require, and it amply satisfies
the needs of the majority, to whom mistakes
matter little, since so long as a statement appears
in print it obtains a credence beyond its value.
In the present volume nothing is stated without
authority, and that authority is added in a foot-
note for reference should it be so required by
future students. It is thus hoped that a fair,
unbiassed view has been obtained of the fabric
and its history. The lists of ornaments and
vestments are taken en bloc from the original
documents, and they bring back to us as nothing
else can do the worship of the church when at its
height of beauty, and they contrast forcibly with



- ix



x PREFACE

modern ideas as to what is fitting. We find no
flowers distorted in inartistic tin shapes, no little
" benediction lights," none of the pulpit frontals and
bookmarkers and other stereotyped forms so dear
to the modern Anglican mind, but we do find a
simple grandeur, a great flood of colour, and
appliances of the richest gold, silver, silks, and
rare embroideries far more worthy to decorate
the sanctuary than the wet moss and decaying
evergreens used nowadays in such reckless and
dangerous profusion, leading to the wanton de-
struction of the very stonework itself. I have
to thank many for kindly help, especially the
Vicar and his sacristans, as also the Corporation
of Stratford and the Trustees of Shakespeare's
Birthplace for facilities in consulting the docu-
ments in their respective keeping, without which
the work could not have been produced at all ;
also Miss Ethel Stokes for advice and suggestions,
and Mr. Richard Savage for the loan of docu-
ments in his private possession.

J. HARVEY BLOOM.
WHITCHURCH RECTORY, June u, 1902.



CONTENTS



PAGE

FOUNDATION AND STRUCTURAL ALTERATIONS . . I

THE BUILDING . . . . . 25

THE MEDIEVAL FURNITURE AND ORNAMENTS . . 67

Misericordes ..... 87

Stained Glass . . . . .96

Altar Plate . . . . . 101

The Font . . . . . . 101

The Bells . 102

The Organ . . . .104.

The Pulpit . . . . .106

THE CHAPELRIES : BISHOPTON, LUDDINGTON, CLOPTON,

SHOTTERY, ST. JAMES . . . .in

THE COLLEGE, HISTORY OF . . . 121

The Building . . . . .134

Seals . . . . . .137

Rectors, Chantry Keepers, Deans and Vicars . 138

MONUMENTS . . . . .147

ABSTRACTS OF INSCRIPTIONS UPON THE OLDER TOMBS

IN THE CHURCHYARD .... 233

APPENDICES . . . . . 255

ADDENDA ...... 279

INDEX 281



ABBREVIATIONS USED

THE documents referred to as "Corporation" muniments are
the property of the Corporation of Stratford-upon-Avon.
They are classed in divisions and kept at Shakespeare's
Birthplace, where arc also the Whcler MSS., including
Charters, Collectanea, and MSS. Collections. The Gild
records are included in those of the Corporation in these
pages.

C.C. = Corporation Charters.

P.A. = The Yearly Accounts of the Proctors of the
Gild.

P.C.C. = Prerogative Court of Canterbury.



XII



ILLUSTRATIONS



PAGE

THE CHURCH FROM THE RIVER . Frontispiece

VIGNETTE : THE CHURCH FROM THE RIVER . 4

VIEW OF CHURCH FROM THE SOUTH . . .11

WEATHER MOULD OF EARLY ROOF . . 17

THE NORTH-EAST PIER OF THE TOWER . . 28

THE PRIEST'S ENTRANCE . . . . 31

WINDOWS OF CENTRAL TOWER . . -35

WINDOWS OF THE GILD CHAPEL ... 37

THE SOUTH-WESTERN TURRET . . . . 41

TABERNACLES OVER WEST DOOR ... 43

THE PORCH . . . . . -47

SOUTH DOOR AND RING HANDLE 49

THE INTERIOR, LOOKING EAST . . . -53
CORBELS OF NORTH CHANCEL DOOR

The Legend of St. Christopher . . . 57

The Resurrection of our Lord . . -59



Xlll



liv ILLUSTRATIONS

PACK

DEAN BALSALE'S TOMB . . . -63

MASKS ON SCREEN ..... 70

THE CHANCEL SCREEN . . . . -83

MlSERICORDES

On the South Side of the Choir (2) . . 89

On the North Side of the Choir (4) . . 93

THE ANCIENT FONT .... 99

THE CHAINED BIBLE ..... 107
THE MACE STAND . . . . .114

THE GILD SEAL . . . . . 139

THE CLOPTON MONUMENTS . . .150

MONUMENT OF SIR HUGH CLOPTON . . . 153

THE CHANCEL . . . . ^183

MONUMENT OF JOHN COMBE . . . .187

TABLET OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE . . . 191

INSCRIPTION ABOVE SHAKESPEARE'S GRAVE . . 195

INSCRIPTION OVER THE GRAVE OF SHAKESPEARE'S WIFE 195
THE LIME-TREE WALK . . . .236

PLAN ....... 258



FOUNDATION AND STRUCTURAL
ALTERATIONS



FOUNDATION AND STRUCTURAL
ALTERATIONS

THE lover of the beauties of Nature and the
language spoken by its various component
parts, its ever shifting setting of cloud and sky
now radiant with instinctive light, now sobbing
with weird forecast of storm, throwing over all
things created a shimmering of ever changing
light and shade. The lover of Nature, I say, that
is of life, may not at the first glance care to extend
his vision to the works of man, even though they
be softened down by Nature's touch. And yet
the Master urges us to be " instructed by the
antiquary times," times which buried at first in
portentous shadows, the Titanic masses of early
half-forgotten folklore, yet though in the mists of
other days, enwrap here and there historic truth.

When such mists first begin to roll away from
the Avon valley, towards the close of the seventh
century, we find a royal owner, and very shortly a
religious house ; all beyond is vague and uncertain.
It is true many coins said to have been found in



6 STRATFORD-UPON-AVON CHURCH

the immediate vicinity are in existence, and date
from the Consular age ; but in no instance is the
exact place of tbeir discovery recorded ; and, indeed,
so far as inquiry at present reaches, there have been
no authentically recorded discoveries of any remains
of man earlier than the twelfth century ; * but even
had scattered coins been found it would have done
little more than prove that a people utilising
Roman money had used the ford from which the
town gains its name. It is perhaps but rare that
written history precedes that of the monuments,
but in the case of Stratford it is certainly the case.
The earliest record is a somewhat dubious
charter whereby ^Ethelred, King of the Mercians,
grants to Oftfor, Bishop of Worcester, certain
lands at Fledenburg (Fladbury) ; to it is added
an endorsement, necessitated by the death of
Oftfor, which happened in 692, from which we
gather that Ecguuine, his successor in the see,
granted it in exchange to ^itholheard, one of the
sons of Oshere, King of the Hwiccas, in return
for sufficient land to support twenty families, 2 in
the place called Aet-Stretford, in all forty-three

1 The remains of skeletons, &c., and reputed earthworks
at Wclcombe arc too indefinite to be made an exception
without excavation.

a In the former phrase twenty carucates is the equivalent
of this twenty manents, and these again of the later Hide.



STRUCTURAL ALTERATIONS 7

manents of land in return for twenty ; at first
sight the Prince would seem to have the best of it,
but the Bishop obtained his land for ever " in
elemosinam sempiternam." The three brothers
of the Prince ^thelric, ^Ethelweard, and jEthel-
berht witness the charter, together with the Abbot
Omohixg. I

We may add in passing that the Reformation
entirely set aside the " sempiternam " of the
charter.

A further grant was made to the see of Wor-
cester between 704-9, when Offa, then ruling
over Mercia, gave to the Bishop the woods of
Hnvthyrste (Nuthurst) and Hellers] ye (Allesley)
in the place, at that time called Scottarid (Shot-
tery), hard by the river Afen. 2 And later on
in a charter of undoubted genuineness, Berhtuuulf,
King of the Mercians, granted, in confirmation
to Heaberht, Bishop of Worcester, extensive
privileges for the monks of Ufera Stret Ford,
situated on the banks of Eafene, viz., that they
may be free for ever from all bondage and
service, all taxes and imposts, whether in field
or wood, mead or pasture, river or fishery,
that they shall not be called on to find refresh-
ment for king or noble, even when hunting

1 Birch, " Cart. Sax.," vol. i. p. Hi.
Ibid., vol. i. p. 179,



8 STRATFORD-UPON-AVON CHURCH

or hawking. And these rights to be theirs " so
long as the Christian Faith shall last among the
Angles in Britain." This document, dated at
Tomeuuordic, the Nativity of our Lord, 845,
held good until the unscrupulous first " Defender
of the Faith " robbed the see of Worcester of
many a broad acre. 1

At a later date yet another charter, though but
a lease, throws light on the monastery, and shows
that the land granted to the Bishop in Shottery
was really parcel of its possessions. In 872
Werfyrd, Bishop of Worcester, granted to
Eanwulf, the King's thegn, land at Hnuthyrste
for four lives, with reversion to the monastery of
Straetforde. 2

Such is the little that can be gathered of the
history of the monastery of Ufera Stretford 3 and
the first Christian Church by the banks of Eafen.

It is probable that, like many another Church,
it died a natural death on the change of rule
under Norman Bishops. Be this as it may,
it passed from the scene and no relic of its exist-
ence has been recovered ; the buildings were
probably merely of wood and of very slight
pretensions to architectural excellence.

But the grant of the far away Saxon King with

1 Birch, "Cart. Sax.," vol. xi. pp. 31-33.

* Ibid., vol. xi. p. 149. 3 See note on p. 278.



STRUCTURAL ALTERATIONS 9

the Worcester Saint was not a mere passing breath
of wind ; it had an effect a lasting, indelible
effect on the character of the town that sprang
up about the church and ford, and on its people.
The episcopal overlord, pledged to peace, protect-
ing his people in a settled and continuous rule,
developed among them commercial enterprise and
religious learning, and laid a foundation for the
early education of the greatest genius of the
golden age of Elizabeth, the man who to-day
receives the homage of the civilised world.

When the Saxon charters fail us the Church
history of Stratford remains a blank for many a
long year. It has been customary to state that a
church was here in Domesday times ; if so the
great survey of the Conqueror is silent on this
head. It is true that account says that the Bishop
held here " in demesne two carucates with twenty-
one villains and a priest," but it does not follow
that he had even an oratory to serve in. And,
moreover, no remains of any work earlier than the
thirteenth century appear in the fabric of the
church, and there is no record of any architectural
fragments of early date in any of the " Restora-
tion " works, save only a portion of a cross slab,
and that not earlier than the existing transepts.
In Leland's time there was a rumour that the
church stood on the same site as had been used



io STRATFORD-U PON-AVON CHURCH

by the Saxon monks. It may have been so ;
sentiment was often strongly in favour of con-
tinuity of site, but beyond the fact that both
stood near the Avon banks there is no precise
evidence.

The older antiquaries, however, ascribed great
antiquity to the " Charnel House," a building of
two stories, which, to judge from a drawing of
the interior, 1 a ground room of two bays, and
also from one of the exterior, showing a three-
light fifteenth-century window in a steep gable,
together with cross-shaped looped openings below 2
could not be of earlier date than the close of
the fifteenth century, and was no doubt built
to accommodate the " singing boys " of the
college (see under that heading). The edifice
had skew buttresses at the corners and others
in the middle of the east and west walls. It
was approached from the chancel by steps. The
building itself gradually fell into decay, and
the lower portion was used for many years as a
receptacle for bones. An order for its removal
was signed 4th of July, 1799, and by 1801 it was
demolished, the stones, such as were suitable,
being utilised to form strips of stone-work in the
front of the new house built by William Oldaker

1 Saundcrs' Warw. Drawings, vol. ii. p. 47.
Jbid., vol. ii. p. 46.



STRUCTURAL ALTERATIONS 13

in- Mill Close. The house is now known as
Avonfield. 1

The church succeeding that of the Norman
period was a large and imposing building. It
apparently had a nave with aisles, a chancel with
aisles, a central tower, and transepts, of which
portions remain in the existing " Cross Aisle."
Immediately north of the north-east and north-
west respond of the tower is a trace of the
impost, springer, and corbel of an early thirteenth
century arch, and in the corresponding corners of
the transept vaulting corbels of similar date. The
lancet windows, two in the east and two in
the west wall, are probably contemporary, and a
good deal of the exterior walling is original. In
this connection it must not be forgotten that
Dugdale, quoting from the will of Sir Hugh
Clopton, says " that worthy rebuilt the cross
aisles " ; the wording of the will is, " To the
making of the crosse ile in the parish church of
Stratford upon Avon, 5!}., to be paid by myn
executors as the workis goith forth." It is
difficult to see now what was done, but it pro-
bably amounted to little more than renewing the
roof and inserting debased windows in the tran-
sept gables ; such windows as are shown in
Gwin's Print. The will of Thomas Handys, of
? Wheler's "Collectanea," p. 237.



H STRATFORD-UPON-AVON CHURCH

London, mercer, dated August 7, 1502,! records a
bequest to the rebuilding of the almshouses in
Stratford-on-Avon, and failing their reconstruc-
tion " to the new building of the cross aisles in
the parish church of Stratford-on-Avon, when
it shall happen to be a doing, 10 marks";
from all of which it would appear that there
was some intention to entirely reconstruct these
transepts, but fortunately, from lack of funds, or
some other cause, it was never proceeded with,
and we still have a portion of walling, and even
ornament, sufficient to indicate the general out-
line of the fabric, prior to the reconstruction
of the fourteenth century, the work of the
illustrious family of Stratford, or Hatton, which
numbered among its members men who not only
filled the highest offices in Church and State
during the Edwardian era, but who, although
removed by their honourable position from the
town of their birth, never forgot it ; to them is
due the foundation of the powerful gild of the
Holy Cross, the raising of the parish church to
collegiate rank, and its entire reconstruction.
Their work may be singled out from later
additions by the presence of the yellow oolite of
Campden, obtained from the older structure.
The gild sprang into being in the year 1269,2
1 Blamyr, 32. Whclcr charter No. 4.



STRUCTURAL ALTERATIONS 15

and Robert de Stratford was its first master. It
was founded as a hospital, under Augustinian
rules, for the poor of Stratford and priests with-
out cure, and shared, with the older gilds of
St. Mary and St. John the Baptist, the north aisle
of the nave. The cult of the Blessed Mary had
become more and more popular as the century
progressed, and in the great cathedrals the smaller
side chapels began to be replaced by stately
erections extending eastward of the chancel ; the
movement in Stratford found vent in the recon-
struction of the north aisle, in progress 1312-13,
at which time Rowland Jorse, Archbishop of
Armagh, aided local effort by a forty days' indul-
gence r to all who would visit its altar or aid its
erection, and again in 1315-16, when 2 a confirma-
tory indulgence was granted by Walter, Bishop of
Worcester, conjoined to a request for prayer for
the soul of his mother, Juliana.

After this a more colossal work was undertaken.
The great central tower was rebuilt. To make
room for it the earlier tower was levelled to the
ground, the chancel arch and those of the aisles
almost entirely removed, and the new tower piers
erected in the gap. It was in the case of Strat-
ford, in part at least, a rough-and-ready piece of

1 Corp. of Stratford-upon-Avon. Unbound Records.
Div. xii. 158, a Ibid., No. 159.



16 STRATFORD-U PON-AVON CHURCH

work ; the setting out, commonly faulty enough
in any large mediaeval church, was unusually bad,
a fact due doubtless to the want of clear space and
the confusion of the existing walls. In any case,
from whatever cause, the result is to this day seen
in the apex of the arches being at least four feet
out of the central line of the building. This
skew has suggested to inventive minds a good
deal of imaginary symbolism, few people realising
that architects so careful and masterly as those of
the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries were,
could be so careless about the veriest elements of
their art. Yet here we do not depend alone upon
the " skew " of the arches ; the spacing of the
clerestory windows abutting on the tower shows
the same want of care, the work having to be
crowded and cramped to make it fit into its
position ; work carried on, not with the rule of
plan and measure, but the mere tyro's rule of
thumb, unskilled labour in lieu of that of a master
in the craft.

The erection of the tower proceeded apace in
the same rough-and-ready way, though at first
whilst money came in, and while enthusiasm
lasted, the work was fairly good ; the supporting
piers and arches are massive and well executed ;
but the groining was not finished until the 1842
restoration, and the chamber above has all the



*'V^/:***~-' - - * s .

3jLjasr ~ '5r- "~^- "^ . . s**~ "' *^f




WEATHER MOULD OF EARLY ROOF.



[ p. 17.



STRUCTURAL ALTERATIONS 19

appearance of a re-use of earlier material, both
in its windows and in the external walling, and
it would perhaps never have been finished, in the
satisfactory way we see it, had not a further
indulgence, granted by Thomas Cobham, Bishop
of Worcester, March 4, I325, 1 been forthcoming.
By it thirty days' canonical remission was granted
to all contributing to its reparation ; as a result
the beautiful concluding stage, with its elegant
circular windows, was completed. This was fol-
lowed by the reconstruction of the south aisle,
which indeed was completed as early as I33I, 2
at which time the suggested chantry of St.
Thomas a Becket began to create interest. To
this period too may be assigned the nave piers
and the> line of the chancel and nave roofs still
visible in the tower walls.

The builders rested until Thomas Balsale, D.D.,
Dean of the College, rebuilt the chancel from the
ground, a work apparently completed before his
death, which took place in 1491. (See later.)

It is generally said that his successor continued
the work of rebuilding, working westwards along
the nave, in which he destroyed the roof and

1 Corp. of Stratford-upon-Avon. Unbound Records.
Div. xii. 1 60.

2 Chancery Inc. P. H. 5 Edw. iii. (and Nos.) 156, and Pat.
Roll 5 Edw. 3, Pt. i, M. 29.



20 STRATFORD-UPON-AVON CHURCH

rebuilt the walls from the tops of the piers,
reconstructing a greater part of the west end,
in which he placed a door and an unwieldy
window, and finally added a north porch.

In the seventeenth and early eighteenth cen-
turies no great alteration took place, but in the
year 1763, on August I2th, an agreement was
made to raise the tower, in place of a lead-covered
spire (shown in Gwin's view) which had lately
been destroyed. It was, however, determined on
the 4th of September following to cancel this and
erect a spire of stone l which was carried into
effect through subscriptions of the local gentry.

In the nineteenth century there were three
distinct periods of restoration : the first began
about 1825, when the "Shakespeare Club" took
the matter up. At this time the old ceiled roof of
the chancel made in 1790 was removed and a new
roof, designed by Harvey Eginton, of Worcester,
took its place ; new altar railings were set up, and
a new cross fixed in the east gable at a cost of
10 ; in all a total, excluding the cross, of
1,195 55. was paid to the contractors.

In 1839 the body of the church was bepewed

and galleried with square horse boxes on either

side, and plain forms with backs up the centre.

In front of the tower stood a high "three-decker,"

' Whclcr, " Coll. Stratford," vol. i. p. 282.



STRUCTURAL ALTERATIONS 21

and the candelabrum now in the north transept
hung from the centre ; the organ was built on a
gallery over the tower arch, which had a screen,
as well as that across the chancel arch.

At this period .the second restoration com-
menced. The middle aisle received a new roof,
the tower new pinnacles, while the organ was
removed to the west end, and in all about ^3,392
were spent. The reopening took place on the
Feast of SS. Simon and Jude, 1840. It was at
this period too that the new altar was built and the
pavement was laid down, the rebus of the donor
(Weston) occurring more than once, viz., a tun
surmounted by an eagle displayed between three
W's and the letters E.S., all within a garter
inscribed, " From his love to this church gave
this altar and pavement, A Dom. MDCCCXLII."
In the pavement are the arms of H.M. Queen
Victoria, the See of Worcester, the vicar (Dr.
Davenport), the Peculiar of Stratford, and those
of Messrs. Weston and Wheler. The altar was
reconstructed and pavement relaid in 1890.

The new light oak pews in the nave, with carved
poppy-heads, stretched entirely across its centre,
and new side galleries were added with panelled
fronts.

The third period, 1884, began with a request
to the Society for Preserving Ancient Buildings



^^ STRATFORD-UPON-AVON CHURCH

to examine and report on the state of the church.
A careful expression of opinion resulted, and it
is but fair to say that on the whole its general
lines have been adhered to. An agreement was
entered between the vicar and corporation whereby
several former difficulties were removed, and a
basis of fresh action arranged. By this the
vicar undertook to hand to the restoration com-
mittee all money obtained from visitors paying
entrance fees for sight-seeing ; and that from this
money the committee should pay for necessary
attendance, and give half the balance towards the
support of assistant clergy, to insure the church
against fire, and keep the church, chancel, and
churchyard in good order and repair, and, lastly,
to form a fund for repairs and improvements, and
the vicar resigned a sum amounting to ^101
yearly which had formerly been paid to his per-
sonal use, on condition that it should go towards
repairs of the church and churchyard.

On the iyth of December, 1884, a public
meeting was held in the town hall, at which the
Bishop was present, and a start made, but no work
commenced until the following July, the first
attention being given to the tower and clerestory.
In 1886 work began in the interior, and during
the alterations the side galleries and oak pews of
1840 were removed, and the proportions of the



STRUCTURAL ALTERATIONS 23

building again disclosed. A reopening took place
August 22nd. In 1887 the choir stalls were
brought forward from the tower, and two new
bells added ; these were dedicated to God's service
on June 2Oth, and at the same time the " Jubilee
Avenue " was planted, and opened on Jubilee
Day. So far about 3,000 had been expended.

A fresh appeal for funds was issued in 1887, in
order that the organ might be removed from the
north transept to its present position, viz., above
the tower arch and in the chapel of St. Thomas of
Canterbury. In the meanwhile the chancel re-


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Online LibraryJ. Harvey (James Harvey) BloomShakespeare's church, otherwise the collegiate church of the Holy Trinity of Stratford-upon-Avon; an architectural and ecclesiastical history of the fabric and its ornaments → online text (page 1 of 12)