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From an Jwprrxxloii nftnrhtd to the Deed oj Stirniido- to Jlcm-y V 111.,
\lth Novrvihir, 1540.

It Hoems to portray tlie Virgin scntcd with tlic Child on licr hi]i. and tlu> legend
'Sifjillum S;incte Mario .... welliv."

Tlic seal Hccms to be of n date not later than the first hall' of the 12th century—
perhaps of the time of KaMred, Arehhishop of York, luCI-loT'., who ^a.\c the
Canons separate prehends. The seiil was hniken up iiy the Chapter in luHS. to
invfilidate some deeds fraudnlentlv seidcd with it.










[new series XLYIIl.]


FOR THE YEAR 1889-90.

JAMES J. CARTWRIGHT, ESQ., M.A., F.S.A., Treamrer.

W. J. C. MOENS, ESQ., F.S.A.

The Council or the Camden society desire it to be uiider-
btood that they are not answerable for any opinions or observa-
tions that may appear in the Society's publications; the Editors
ot the several Works being alone responsible for the same.


Introduction : History and Constitution of Southwell Minister .
-Contents of White Book of Southwell ....

Contents of Chapter Register of Southwell

Visitations and Corrections of Ministers of Southwell Collegiate Churcli
U69-15J2 .......

Wills proved before the Chapter of Southwell, 1470-1641
Admissions and Resignations of Canons and Ministers of the Church
Extracts from Liber Albus :

Inquisition on Customs of York Minster, 1106 .

Inventory of Ornaments and Goods of Southwell Parish Vicar
1369 ......

Statutes of the Collegiate (Jhurch of the Blessed Mary

Southwell, 1221-1335 ....

Index, General .....

Names of Persons ....

the \

irgin o:







I liave only boon al)le to hear of two imiiressions of this seal now
extant. One is in the British Museum (Harl, Ch. 83, D. 2) attached to
a grant to Rufford Abbey, Notts, witnessed by the Chapter of Southwell,
about 1220. This is No. 4058, vol. i., p. 750, of Mr. Birch's Catologue
of Seals in the MSS. Department at the British Museum. It is much
damaged, only the lower part of the drapery of the Virgin being distin-
guishable. Enough remains, however, to identify it as from the same seal as
the second impression, viz., that attached to the Surrender to Henry VIII.,
from a cast of which the engraving is taken. This impression is now in
the Record Office (Augmentation Office, Surrenders, 218). It has been
further damaged since the cast in the British Museum (Ixx. 58, No. 4058
in Mr. Birch's catalogue) was taken by Mr. Ready, of the British Museum,
some 40 or 50 years ago, when the Augmentation Office Records were
still at Westminster.

Mr. W. H. St. John Hope is my authority for the date of the original


Southwell with its Minster is a curious instance of a place of rj.^^ ^^,^
arclntectural beauty and historical interest of the first rank, which
owing to its lying on a bypath, apart from the great highways
of traffic and travel, has fallen almost into oblivion. In pre-
Reformation times Southwell, owing to the Minster and the
adjoining palace of the Archbishops of York, near the great
Fossway, and the important castles of Newark and Nottingham,
was the frequent resort of kings and magnates. Now, being on a
small branch line between ]\Iansfield and Newark, accessible only
by a special journey, and lying off the main road, it has sunk into
something less than a market town and is passed by on the other
side by a hurrying world.

Yet it is far more worth a visit than many a much-frequented
spot. The Minster, lying in a most striking situation, in green
meadows bordering the old-world town of Southwell, is of cathedral
proportions, and contains in its chapter-house one of the most
beautiful, if not the most beautiful, gem of Gothic architecture in
the world ; while as a collegiate church of almost cathedral dignity
and immemorial antiquity, whose constitution remained essentially
unchanged from the time of King Edgar to the time of Queen
Victoria, it possesses a historical interest which is absolutely
unique. Besides^ the half-restored ruins of the noble palace of
the Archbishop of York, with its memories of Wolsey (and
other archbishops, in their time as great as he), almost touching


us in r/uo.


the south side of the Minster ; and on the west, ahnost opposite the
gates of the Minster yard, the ancient Saracen's Head Inn, liardly
altered since Charles I. dined or slept there the night before his sur-
render to the Scotch at Newark, should be alone enough to make the
l)lace famous. Yet in fact Southwell, if its name is known at all,
is known chiefly for the quite modern interest attached to it as
the newly-constituted cathedral of the newlj'-constituted see ot
Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, whose first bishop. Dr. Ridding,
is likely to leave his mark there for the same highmindedness,
breadth of view, and generosity as he has at Winchester as head
Import of the Sontli- The present writer must confess that only so was it known
rtgis ci . ^^ him, until he had the good fortune to be deputed by the

Charity Commissioners, at the end of 1886, to inquire into the case
of Southwell Collegiate Grammar School. In this inquiry it became
of practical importance to ascertain exactly the position which the
school held in regard to the collegiate churcli. Finding but little said
of it in print, research into the ancient MS. records of the church
became necessary. In this search the unique position occupied by
the Minster, the antiquity of the school, and the extreme interest
of the two pre-Reformation registers of the church, Avhich are still
preserved, at once arrested attention. Interest in the question
as to what, in point of life and morals, was the real state of the
ecclesiastical institutions of the country at the Reformation
lias been strikingly revived by Father Gasquet's brilliant book
on Henry VIII. and the Monasteries, and by Canon Dixon's
racy History of the Church of England. As bearing on this
question, the later of the two registers, extending as it does from
the year 14G9 to the year 1547, and containing a very full record
of the inner life of the place during those critical years, is of great
importance. The records of the triennial visitations of the church,
held with fair regularity during the greater part of this period,
supi)ly most valuable evidence on the main thesis of Father Gasquet,
tli;it the alienations brought bv Ilenrv \'II1. and his Conunissioners


of Inqiiiiy against tlie monasteries and other ecclesiastical establish-
ments -were false and scandalous. Owing to the multiplicity of
legal and other questions arising in the case of the Southwell
Grammar School itself, and the onerous requirements of official
business of a kind which demands not only one's whole time but
more than one's whole brains, so that only scraps of time snatched
from vacation and " early morn and dev\y eve/' or rather
night, are available, the execution of this design has been long
delayed. In consequence, the appearance in 1888 of Dr. Jessop])'s
book on the Visitations of the Diocese of Norwich 1492-1532,
has to some extent anticipated tliis book. But there are these
very important differences between the two. First, the Norwich
Visitations are mainly of monastic establishments, those of the
very few collegiate churches in that diocese being somewhat
superficial, wdiile the Visitations now recorded are entirely of one
of those collegiate churches which most of the leaders of the
Reformation, except Cranmer, were desirous of leaving wholly
untouched. Second, and more important, while the ISTorwich
Visitations are those of an outside authority to whom nothing
would be personally known, and to whom as little as possible
doubtless was communicated, these Southwell Visitations are the
records of a domestic forum, in which the facts were almost as
well known to the visitors personally as they were to the persons
visited; tlie judges being personally, if not judicially, cognisant of
the characters and conduct of those on their trial.

The interest of this register is not confined solely to the question
of the conduct of the inmates of Southwell Minster, it is equally
interesting also for the picture it gives of the whole manner of
life and working of a collegiate church.

It is remarkable. how little was until very lately known of, and Collegiate charches

. "^ . "^ , n ^ oi secular canons m

ho-sv little study was given to, the collegiate churches ot secular general.

canons, even to those which were cathedrals, compared with the
great amount of research that has been devoted to the con-
ventual establishments. Indeed, the former have often been


confouiulcd witli tlio liittcr by professed autliorities on ecclesi-
astical Iiisloiv, and the canons of Beverley or Southwell talked
of as monks or friars, or identified with the Augustinian canons ;
which is very much as if an Oxford coUof^c were confounded with
a Jesuit seminary or Salvation Army barracks. Even tlie Dean
and Chapter of Kipon informed the Cathedral Commissioners of
18/54 that their predecessors in pre-Reformation times were
Augustinian canons, a statement which was enough to make
their predecessors turn in their graves. Yet the collegiate
churches of secular canons, (or prebendaries as they were after-
wards called by way of contradistinction from the canons regular)
were probably the most ancient, certainly in historical times the
most important, of the ecclesiastical institutions of the country,
when the most important institutions of the country were eccle-
siastical. The most splendid of our churches — old St. Paul's, York
Minster and its three sister churches (Southwell, Beverley, Ripon),
Lincoln, Salisbury, Wells, Windsor ; and, amongst lesser lights,
Howden in Yorkshire, St. Mary's, Stafford, St. Mary's, Leicester,
^. St. Mary's, Warwick, Wolverhampton, Manchester, Higliam Ferrers
— were collegiate churches of secular priests, not abbey's or priories or
houses of monks or regular canons, still less friaries. And as they
were some of the most ancient, so at the time of the Reformation
were those collegiate churches or colleges some of the most modern
and flourishing of ecclesiastical foundations. It is true that during
the whole period of pre-Reformation history new collegiate churches
were continually being created. But the fashion prevailed strongly
for monastic foundations — from the Conquest to the reign of Henry
L, in favour of Benedictine monasteries ; from the time of Henry I.
to that of Henry III., in favour of regular canons, Augustinians,
Pra:>monstratensians, Gilbertines; and afterwards in favour of
friiiries ; besides occasional outbreaks in favour of such excej)tional
reformed orders as Cistercians, (Wthusian.s, and the like. In the
time of Edward III., however, a new impetus was given to the foun-
dation of establishments for secular priests. From 1350 onward


hardly a single monastery or friary was established. A reaction
set in. Collegiate churches or colleges became again the fashion-
able foundations, as they had been before Dunstan and Lanfrane,
or new additions were made to the collegiate establishments by
the institution of chauntry priests. From the great institutions
of Windsor with its canons and poor knights, Winchester and
Eton with their fellows and poor boys, the Newark, Leicester,
with its 100 poor men and women, to the small collegiate chapels
in the castles of Pontefract or Nottingham, innumerable collegiate
institutions of all sorts and sizes arose. Nor was there any difference
between these more modern foundations and the ancient collegiate
churches of secular canons, except sometimes in name, the term pre-
bendaries, fellows, chaplains, clerks, or simply secular priests, being
used instead of canons, which term had been usurped in common
parlance by the Augustinian canons and their offshoots. Only, as
the Reformation approached, more and more of an eleemosynary or
educational, and less of a purely ecclesiastical character, was given
to them. While the early prebendaries were only expected to
teach and preach and give alms at discretion, poor knights, or
poor men, or poor boys were in the later colleges made part of
the foundation ; and the prebendaries or fellows, as at Archbishop
liotherham's college of Jesus at Rotherham, in Yorkshire, Arch-
bishop Chicheley's at Higham Ferrers, in Northamptonshire,
were to be masters in grammar, in song, or theology, even in
reading, writing, and arithmetic, instead of mere priests. Besides,
these collegiate churches being always parish churches as well,
were far more living institutions and more intimately connected
with the life of the country than the monasteries. It was from the
ranks of the secular canons, not of the regulars, that the great
ecclesiastical statesmen, the Beckets, the Grossetestes, the Wyke-
hams, the Wolseys rose. They furnished the lawyers and judges,
the civil service, and the diplomatic service of the day. If they
did not furnish so many writers of history as the monasteries, they
supplied what is more important perhaps— the makers of it. Nor


were their services to learning any way inferior to that of tho
monks and friars. Tliey did not produce so many ilhuninated
service hooks. But the collegiate churches were tho direct parents
and models of tho universities, and more especially of the colleges
therein ; they wei'c the direct keepers and founders of a verv largo
number of the ancient grammar schools of the country now exist-
ing, as well as of an immense number swept away ; and, indirectly,
through Winchester and Eton they were the ])arents of our great
public schools. Through the chauntries, which, in fact, made so
many parish churches into small colleges, they were also indirectly
the nursing mothers of by far the largest proportion of the existing
grammars schools of the country. Indeed, wherever a grammar
school exists, which can trace its existence as far back as 1625, wo
may be pretty sure that it is descended, directly or indirectly, trom
a preReformation school kept by a collegiate church, or a chauntry
priest, on the same spot.

Of the more than 200 collegiate churches existing at the Refor-
mation, from the magnificent York Minster with its 36 canons,
and Windsor with its £1,600 a year (equal to £20,000 or £30,000
of our money), down to the small college of Astley, Warwickshire,
with its dean and two canons and three vicars choral on £39 10s. Gd.
a year, nearly all — Avhich were not cathedrals — were swept into
the pockets of Henry YIII. and Edward VI. and their courtiers.
Not even the royal cliapel of St. Stephen's, Westminster, in the
precinct of the royal palace, founded by Edward III. on the same
day as Windsor ; not even the gorgeous Newark at Leicester, tho
special creation and Campo Santo of the Dukes of Lancaster, through
whom the Tudors claimed the throne, were spareil. The very
fabrics were in most cases utterly destroyed. Even the educational
foundations, sucii as Rotherham, shared the same fate, while
Eton and Winchester and the colleges of the universities were on
tlie brink of destruction. Some, like Beverley, Ripon, and Stafford,
were i)urchased by tho inhabitants and made parish clmivhos.
A bare half-dozen, like Windsor, Manchester, Wolverhampton,


Middleliam, Southwell itself, were spared. Of these, the most

famous, the most ancient, and one of the largest and richest was

Southwell Minster. Almost a cathedral before Lincoln or Salisbury

Cathedrals existed, a college of secular canons before Windsor or

Manchester were thought of, and in point of fabric, amongst the

most ancient and the most beautiful of all the collegiate churches

which were not cathedrals, the Collegiate Church of the Blessed

Mary the Virgin of Southwell has a unique and manifold interest.

The fabric of Southwell Minster is a splendid one. Its total Southwell Minster-

^ /^ 1 1 1 ^'''^ architecture,

length is 307 feet, about 20 feet only less than Lichfield Cathedral,

Except for traces of Saxon architecture in its north transept,
the present building does not probably date back further than the Normau nave.
early part of the reign of Henry 1. The Norman nave is on the
very model of Chichester, even down to such details as the exist-
ence of nodes and notches in the arches of the triforium, apparently
intended for smaller interlacing arches which have been broken or
removed. Chichester could not have been begun till after 1075,
when the see was transferred from Selsey to Chichester. In the
oldest register of Southwell, called, as at York Minster, the Liber
Albus, is a copy of a letter of Archbishop Thomas^ addressed '' to all
his parishioners " (i.e. people in his diocese) "of Nottinghamshire."
" We pray you, dearest sons, that in remission of your sins, ye
will give help from the blessings of your alms to build the church
(ad faciendam ecclesiam) of S. Mary of Suwell. And whosoever
there, even in the least degree gives assistance, shall be to the
end of this age a partaker of all the prayers and blessings (bene-
ficiorum) which shall be done in it, and *in all our churches: And
that ye may the more willingly do this We release to you that ye
need not visit every year the church of York, as all our other
Parishioners do, but the Church of S. Mary of Suwell, and have
there the same pardon that ye have at York." This release from
attendance at York at the Whitsuntide procession fixes the date
to Archbishop Thomas I. or 11. For this jDrivilege, which, in
effect, made Southwell, if not so before, the cathedral of Netting-


liamsliirc, was enfurecd by Papal Bull in 1171 by Pope Alexander
III. addressed to the canons : " Moreover as lias been granted
to you by the same Arclibislioj) (viz. of York) and for a long time
observed, -we enact (statuinuis) that as well clerks as laymen of the
county of Nottinghamshire shall go at Pentecost in solemn pro-
cession to your church, and that every year according to ancient
and reasonable custom of the same church a synod shall be held ;
and there the chrism shall be brought by the Deans of that
county from the church at York, and thence distributed through
the other churches." The only question is whether it was
Thomas I. of Ba3'eux, the first Norman Archbishop, 1075-1100,
or Thomas II. of Beverley, his nephew, 1108-1114, who wrote
the letter. According to the Rev. J. L. Petit (Archaeol. Jour.
1848, p. 197), confirmed by Mr. Ewan Christian, the style is
nearer the later date than the earlier ; and it is thought that
the energies of the first Thomas were given to the building of
York, while the second Thomas, his successor, devoted himself to

Early Kn<''i:,b dioir. "^^^^ ^^^^^ ^^ ^^^® beautiful Early-English choir is even more
definitely fixed by an Indulgence gi'anted by Archbishoj) Walter
Grey in 1235 for contributions to the Fabric of Southwell, printed
in Canon Eaine's edition of Grey's Register.

Decorated chapter- The building of the Decorated chapter-house is similarly deter-

mined by a statute of Archbishop John le Romaine in 1293,
addressed to the Chapter of Southwell, directing that " the houses
of alien Canons threatening ruin shall be duly repaired within a
year, to which repair we will and command (hat they are to be
compelled by you, under heavy penalty to be assessed by you,
the chapter, according to the defects ; which (|)enalty) is to bo
apjilied to the fabric of the new chapter-house. " It is satisfactory
thus exactly to fix the date "^ of so exquisite a work, which brings

• Mr. DiiiKJck, a late vicar-choral of Southwell, lo whoso research the dates of the
architecture of the church above given arc due, has carefully collected from the
White Book all the datiiigs of documents " in capitnlo " or " in domo nostra capitu-


it to practically the same period as the Angel Choir in Lincoln ;

Cathedral. The chapter-house is on the plan and model of that

at York^ but smaller and far more beautiful. Like that of York, it

stands on the north side of the church, and is approached by a long j

straight passage leading, on the right, to the octagonal chapter-house. !

This has no central pillar. Nothing can surpass the elegance of the

windows, or the rich yet chaste beauty of the carvings of the

capitals of the columns of the stalls, and the arcadings on the walls, i

and elsewhere, in imitation of natural foliage. But the crowning i

glory is the entrance arch through which the chapter-house itself is ,

seen and approached. It is simply lovely. Nothing can hope to

rival the splendid symmetry of its proportions and the exquisite i

lightness and grace of its poise. In general effect, the Sainte 'i

Chapelle at Paris, the Angel Choir at Lincoln, fall into a second

rank compared with this Southwell chapter-house. Rosslyn Chapel

is almost barbarous, the Percy tomb at Beverley seems too florid, i

compared with the serene self-restraint and yet luxuriant beauty

of this perfect work of art. In design and execution alike,

in its general proportions and its minutest detail, it is impossible i

to conceive anything more beautiful. It is the most perfect work

of the most perfect style of Grothic architecture.

Though the dates of the present fabric of Southwell Minster are Origin of the ;

thus exactly ascertainable, the date and origin of the original -"^i^^*^^'- j

Minster and its inhabitants are "lost in the mists of antiquity." [

lari" of Southwell. From his list it appears that the earliest document dated "in ' '

capitulo '' (one of the earliest in the book) is in 12GG. There is however one so dated |

in 12(J0. The next so dated is not till 1291, from Mhich time till 1352 frequent i

examjjles i-emain. From thence onwards the usual dating was " in domo nostra i

capitulari." Is it not a legitimate inference that the old chapter-house was burnt .

or otherwise destroyed or pulled down in or shortly after 126G, and that the new <

chapter-house was finished in 1291? As some of the later documents dated "in ■

capitulo" (which undoubtedly means "chapter-house" as well as "chapter") are |

contemporaneous with the earlier documents dated " in domo capitulari," it would j

not appear that the change into the later formula from the earlier shows any change I

of house. '


Of course it 1ms been asserted that it 'svas founded by Paubnus,
the first Bisliop of York, or Apostle of Northumbria, in or about 625.
No better authority is, however, i)roduced than a statement of Bede's
that Paulinus preaclied and baptized on the Trent, " juxta Tiovul-
fingeeeaster," -which straightway has been identified with Southwell,
without the smallest evidence of identity either topographical or
etymological.^ Indeed, such evidence as there is, is all against
identity. Southwell is not on the Trent, but on the Greet, u tiny
trout stream which falls into the Trent three or four miles from
Southwell, and which would hardly suffice for the baptism of a
cliild of five years old, as baptism was then understood, viz., by
total immersion, still less for the stalwart Saxon savage. Nor is
it an open stream where the heathen would assemble in their
thousands to hear and be dipped. Moreover, Southwell, as a

Online LibrarySouthwell CathedralVisitations and menorials of Southwell Minster → online text (page 1 of 35)