William Andrews.

Curiosities of the church; studies of curious customs, services and records online

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says : —

Jumping o'er times ;
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass.

In the " Merchant of Venice," he adverts to

u the sandy hour-glass." Says Francis Ouarles

in his " Feast for Worms" : —

Man's life's an hour-glass, which being run,
Concludes that hour of joy, and so is done.

Gay, in his " Pastorals," sings : —

He said that heaven would take her soul, no doubt,
And spoke the hour-glass in her praise quite out.

Butler, in his " Hudibras," thus refers to it : —

Gifted brethren preaching by the carnal hour-glass.

Here are four lines from Longfellow : —

A handful of red sand from the hot clime

Of Arab deserts brought,
Within this glass becomes the spy of Time,

The minister of thought.

Hogarth and other artists introduce the
hour-glass into their pictures. In the frontis-
piece of Dr. Young's volume, entitled


" England's Shame ; or, a Relation of the Life
and Death of Hugh Peters," published at
London in 1663, there is a portrait of Peters
preaching, in his hand holding an hour-glass,
and saying, "I know you are good fellows, so
let's have another glass."

Parish books of the olden time contain many
entries relating to this subject. We reproduce
a few items. The first is extracted from the
accounts of St. Katherine's Church, Aldgate,
London : —

1564. Paid for an hour-glass that hangeth by the pulpit
where the preacher doth make a sermon, that he may
know how the hour passeth away, one shilling.

According to an old parish book, in 1616, a
bequest was made of "an hower glass with a
frame of irone to stand it in." The Chamber-
lain's accounts of Stratford-on-Avon state, in
the year 1613 : —

Paid Walton for setting up the hour-glasse iiij</.

The Prestbury churchwarden's accounts include
some entries such as follow : —

1623. Itm. ffor an hower-glasse xvjr/.

,, Itm. ffor a sett for same xxd.

Some years later the parishioners of this parish
paid a certain sum "for the houre-glass gilding."



The accounts of Hartshorn, Derbyshire, in-
clude : —

1630. Ite. pd. for the Houre-glasse, and for railes

vsed about the Pulpit 00.00. oS.

An entry in the Bevvdley chapel accounts re-
cords : —

1632. Pd. Edward Walker for an hour-glasse for

the Chappell 00.00.08.

The following three items are from the Wilmslow

parish accounts : —

1635. Paide for a houre-glasse for church ,. xd.

1645, Paide for an houre-glasse is.

1655. Paide for mendinge the churche houre-glasse o.6Jd.

In the Leek churchwarden's accounts is an
entry : —

1664. Paid for an houre-glasse 0.0.8

Many items similar to the foregoing might be

Of the few remaining specimens of the hour-
glass, a fine one is preserved in the church of St.
Alban's, Wood Street, London. It is mounted
on a spiral column near the pulpit, and the
minister can conveniently reach it when
preaching. The frame is brass gilt, the design
chaste, and the workmanship of a superior order.
It is pleasing to learn that the old relic is guarded
with zealous care. This curiosity of the olden
days attracts much attention from visitors to the



At Hurst Church, Berkshire, a fine example
may still be seen. The bracket which supports
the hour-glass is a curious and interesting piece of
ironwork. It is ornamented with the lion and uni-
corn, and leaves, pomegranates, &c, are skilfully
wrought and artistically painted and gilded. The
letters E. A. and the year 1636 appear on the
bracket. The initials are stated to
be those of Elizabeth Armour, the
supposed donor, who was connected
with the parish. A small iron plate
is inscribed : — "As this glasse runneth,
so man's life passethe." An hour-
glass and stand may still be seen in
the church of St. Edmund, South
Burlingham, Norfolk. We have
notes of two hour-glass stands in

churches of the same county ; one
at Salhouse, near Norwich, and the flixtonHour-
other at Edinthorpe, near North GLASS Stand -
Walsham. About thirty years ago an hour-glass
stand stood at Flixton, but when the church was
restored it was destroyed. Happily, however,
a drawing was made, which we reproduce. It is
a good example of the stand usually placed in
country churches. In the church of Keyingham,
near Hull,^there is the old hour-glass stand still



i\t Leigh, in Kent, is an early and
interesting stand attached to the fine Jacobean
pulpit of the parish church. A drawing of it is
given in Parker's " Glossary of Architecture."
At ClifFe, near Rochester, there is an excellent

example. The pulpit
bears the year 1636
on it. The carved
wooden bracket for
the stand is on the left
side of the preacher.
At Compton Bas-
sett, Wiltshire, at the
end of a short iron
bar ornamented with
fleur-de-lys and fastened to the pulpit, is a half-
hour-glass. We have found several references
to half-hour-glasses. One is at All Saints' Church,
Newcastle-on-Tyne, in an inventory of the
church goods made about 1632. The Rev.
Andrew Edgar, in his valuable volume on " Old
Church Life in Scotland," referring to the parish
records of Mauchline, mentions : — " In 1672,
there was a half-hour glass bought for 10s., in
1677 another was bought for lis., and in 1688 a
third was purchased for 12s. In the last-
mentioned year the precaution was adopted of

Hour-glass Stand at Cliffe.


procuring for the glass an iron case at the cost of
£2 Scots." It is stated by one writer that,
where the smaller glasses were used, the con-
gregations were satisfied with sermons half the
usual length. At the restoration of the Chapel
Royal, Savoy, in 1867, an eighteen-minute pulpit-
glass was placed in the church, and several
journalists, commenting on the subject, regarded
it as a protest on the part of Her Majesty against
long sermons. It indicates how matters have
changed in regard to the regulation length of
sermons since the days of the old Puritans.


T was not until the year 1476 that
William Caxton, a London mercer,
introduced printing into this country.
He set up his press in the Almonry,
near Westminster Abbev. Many


years passed before printed books became com-
mon in England. The works produced were few
in number, and published at a price beyond the
reach of the people, and, as a rule, they were only
to be found in the mansions of the wealthy, the
seats of learning, and in the religious houses. On
account of the great value of books, precaution
was taken to prevent them being stolen.
Valuable volumes were generally chained to a
reading-desk, a pillar, or to some other thing from
which they could not be removed. Historians
have had much to say about battles, but respect-
ing books they are almost silent. We have it on
good authority that, in the earlier part of the
fourteenth century, the Royal Library at Paris


only contained the works of four classical
writers, Cicero, Ovid, Lncan, and Boethius ;
the remainder of the collection, consisting of
about 900 volumes, being made up of books on
devotion, chronicles, medicine, romances,
geomancy, &c. Charles V. is credited with
having collected the greater part of the books,
which were kept with great care in one of the
towers of the Louvre. This library was pur-
chased in 1425 by the Duke of Bedford, and, it
is said, became the foundation of the famous
library established by Humphrey, Duke of
Gloucester, at the Oxford Universitv. It is
recorded as a matter of history, that the prior and
convent of Rochester threatened sentence of
everlasting damnation against anyone who should
either purloin or deface a fine copy of Aristotle's
" Physics," which was in their possession. In
the reign of Henry VI. books were so difficult
to obtain, on account of their high prices, that
we find it was one of the rules of St. Mary's
College, Oxford, that no student be permitted to
retain a book in the library longer than one hour
at a time, so that others might not be prevented
using it. Kings borrowed books from their
subjects. An old chronicler states that Henry
V., having a taste for reading, had borrowed


a number of volumes, which, afler his death,
were claimed by their owners with the same
anxiety as a landed estate.

At the Reformation, in the reign of Henry
VIII., the Bible was translated and printed in
English. In 1537 it was ordered to be set up in
the churches, at the joint expenses of the incum-
bent and his parishioners. The education of the
people had been neglected, and only a com-
paratively few could read. Learned men often
read the Bible aloud, and gathered around them
listeners who were anxious to hear the Scriptures
read. Of the large number of Bibles ordered to
be set up, we do not know of any that remain at
the present time in their original positions. Old
parchments, however, contain numerous items
relating to the matter. Here is an example,
extracted from the accounts of St. Martin's
Church, Leicester : —

1548-9. Item : p (1 ij chenes and naylls for the

bybell v' 1 .

The finest specimen of a chained Bible in
England is to be seen at the ancient church of
Cumnor, near Oxford. It is strongly bound in
wood covers, strengthened with iron, and
fastened with a strong iron chain to the desk-
board of a pew. It bears the date of 161 1 on its


title-page, and so is a copy of King James's, or
the Authorized Version of the Bible. At the
Hampton Court Conference, held January, 1604,
it was stated by Dr. Reynolds, a notable Puritan
divine, that a great national want was a new trans-
lation of the Scriptures. It was agreed that a new
version was desirable. The King took a deep
interest in the work, and issued a letter in July
of the same year, stating that fifty-four scholars
had been appointed to make the translation.
His Majesty requested the bishops to give
intimation of any livings to the value of twenty
pounds becoming vacant, so that he might com-
municate with the patrons, and recommend one
of the translators. Out of fifty-four selected,
only forty-seven engaged in the undertaking.
They appear to have worked with considerable
industry ; they commenced their labours in 1607
and completed them in 16 10, and a year later the
Bible was published. Baker, the printer and
patentee, appears to have borne the cost ; he
paid ^3,500 for the right of publishing it.

The sight of the large old Church Bibles
reminds us of the days of yore, when persons
suspected of witchcraft were often weighed
against them. We find in turning over the pages
of the "Annual Register," under the year 1759,


the following allusion to the practice: — "One
Susanna Hannokes, an elderly woman, of Win-
grove, near Aylesbury, was accused by a
neighbour of bewitching her spinning-wheel, so
that she could not make it go round, and offered
to take oath of it before a magistrate ; on which
the husband, in order to justify his wife, insisted
upon her being tried by the Church Bible, and^
that the accuser should be present. Accordingly
she was conducted to the parish church, where
she was stript of all her clothes to her shift and
tinder-coat, and weighed against the Bible, when,
to the no small mortification of her accuser, she
over-weighed it, and was honourably acquitted
of the charge." The belief in witchcraft lingered
for a lorn* time in this country ; and even as late
as 1768 that great and good man, the Rev. John
Wesley, wrote in his journal : — " The giving up
witchcraft is in effect giving up the Bible." The
laws against witches were repealed in 1736, with
little opposition, although not long prior to this
year Mrs. Hicks, together with her daughter, a
child of nine, was executed at Huntingdon, on
July 28th, 1 7 1 6, " for raising a storm of wind by
pulling off her stockings and making a lather of
soap in a basin in league with the devil." They
were the last persons hanged in England for


In the church of St. Botolph, Boston, Lincoln-
shire, may still be seen the staple and a single
link of the chain to which, in former days, the
Bible was attached. The Corporation Records
of this town for the year 1578 state that it was
agreed " that a Dictionarye shall be bought for
scollers of the Free Schoole ; and that boke be
tyed in a cheyne and set upon a deske in the
scoole, whereunto any scoller may have accesse
as occasion shall serve." Bibles were not the
only books chained in churches, for at St. Mary's
Church, Bridlington, even at the present time may
be seen chained to adesk the following works (after
the title of each is the date of publication) : —
Jewell's " Controversial Works," 161 1 ; Heylin's
11 Ecclesia Vindicata," 1681 ; Hooker's " Eccle-
siastical Politie," 1 682, and Comber's " Companion
to the Temple," 1684. In the church of St.
Crux, York, until quite recently might be seen
a chained copy of " A Replie unto Mr. Hardinge's
Answeare, Imprinted at London, Fleete Streate,
Henry Wykes, 1566." A popular book to "set
up " in the church was Foxe's " Book of Martyrs."
We have notes of this work recently seen at
Winsham Church, Somerset. At Mancetter,
Foxe's book and the following are chained in the
church : " The Paraphrases of Erasmus upon


the New Testament " (two vols.) ; Jewell's
" Defence and Apology," 1609. Robert Glover
and Mr. Lewis, of this place, are in the list of the
" noble army of martyrs." The house where
Mr. Glover was arrested adjoins Mancetter
Church, and is a fine example of a half-timbered
homestead of the olden days. He was burnt at
Coventry, September 19, 1555. The church of
St. Michael's, Alnwick, has in it an old wrought-
iron lectern, to which is chained a " Book of
Homilies." In the chancel of Breadsall Church
is a reading-desk to which are fastened several
chained books, including Bishop Jewell's works,
a " History of the Reformation," &c. The Rev.
J. Eastwood's "History of Ecclesfield," (London,
1862) gives an interesting list of " Bookes
chayned in the church in 1606." The books
were numerous and important. We gather from
" Illustrations of Manners and Expenses " by
Nichols, that at Grantham were many chained
books, but the titles are not given.

Single chained books may often be found in
churches at the present day, but, say Willis and
Clark in " The Architectural History of the
University of Cambridge," so far as we have
been able to discover there are only three collec-
tions of books in England now attached to the


shelves by chains, namely : "The Chapter Library
in Hereford Cathedral ; a library in the vestry
of the Parish Church of All Saints, in the same
city ; and the library attached to Wimborne
Minster." At Hereford Cathedral the collection
of books consists largely of Monastic Books and
extends to 2,000 volumes of which 1,500 are
chained. Here are five ancient bookcases com-
plete and portions of two others. In the work
by Willis and Clark it is stated that " each case

In the Library, Hereford Cathedral.

is 9 feet 8 inches long, 2 feet 2 inches wide, and
about 8 feet high. The material is unplaned oak,
very rough ; the ends are 2 inches thick, made
of three boards, fastened together with strong


wooden pegs. The vertical supports which
sustain the first shelf are also 2 inches thick ;
but the divisions between the upper shelves,
made of rough boards which do not meet, and
all the shelves, are only one inch thick. The
whole structure seems to be quite original, with
the exception of the cornice, the brackets which
support the desk, and frames to contain the
catalogue. The latter occur on three cases only,
and are known to have been added in the 17th
century by Thomas Thornton, D.D., Canon
Residentiary." We are enabled by the favour
of Messrs. C. J. Clay & Son, of the University
Press, Cambridge, to include two illustrations
from " The Architectural History of the
University of Cambridge.' ' One is a drawing
of a Bookcase in the Chapter Library, Hereford
Cathedral, made by the permission, and with
the kind assistance of the Rev. John Jebb, D.D.,
Canon of Hereford. The other is a picture of
bookcases and desks in the library of the
University of Leyden ; from a print dated 1610.
It will be observed in the latter that those who
consulted the books were obliged to stand. In
the valuable work by Willis and Clark is the
best account of chained books which has come
under notice.


The library at All Saints' Church, Hereford,
is interesting on account of shewing the survival
of the ancient custom of chaining books in com-
paratively modern times. Some of the works
were published in 1706 and 1707. William
Brewster, M.D., in 1 7 1 5, bequeathed the books
to the parish. The ironwork and chains appear
to have been copied from the Hereford Cathedral

In a room of the eastern tower of Wimborne
Minster, Dorsetshire, is an important collection
of chained books. Mr. H. R. Plomer has recent-
ly inspected this library, and from his account we
gather that it contains some 240 volumes.
"The books," says Mr. Plomer, "are ranged
on shelves round the sides of the room, with
their backs turned inwards, each book being
attached to the shelf by a small chain fastened
to an iron rod." The library was formed in
1686, and the greater part of the works were
presented by the Rev. W. Stone, a former rector
of the parish. A manuscript volume of prayers,
the book of the monks, written in 1343, is the
oldest work in the collection. It is not
finished, as the initial letters are omitted. The
Breeches Bible, dated 1595, strongly bound in
wood, is there. Walton's Polyglot Bible,
several well-known commentaries, numerous


works of the Old Fathers, Camden's " Life of
Elizabeth," Barnes' " Life of Edward the
Third," Chamberlayn's " State of England,"
1670 ; also a copy of Sir Walter Raleigh's
Si History of the World," bearing date 1614.
Of this latter work, Mr. Plomer says that
" several pages of this book have been burnt,
and tradition has made Matthew Prior, the
poet, the culprit ; the story being that, whilst
reading in the library by the aid of a candle,
he fell asleep over the volume, and the candle
committed the ravages. Judging from the
appearance of the holes, it is much more likely
that they were made, as suggested by a corres-
pondent of Notes and Queries, with a red-hot
poker. By whatever mischance the accident
occurred, the destroyed part of each page has
been neatly patched, and the text restored — that
also, and with more probability, a work attributed
to Matthew Prior."

At the Annual Meeting of the Library
Association of the United Kingdom, held in
London in October, 1889, Mr. William Blades
read a paper full of curious out-of-the-way
matter " On Chained Libraries." He refers to
Seldon's books being sent to the Bodleian
Library, Oxford, stating that ^25 10s. was



paid for new chains. Mr. Blades goes on to
say that " taking the chains at a cost of sixpence
each, they would serve for 1,120 volumes. In
the reign of Henry III. the whole library of
Oxford University consisted of only a few books,
some of which were chained, and some locked
in chests in St. Mary's Church. In 1683 the
library of King's College, Cambridge, was in
chains, and among the rules for the guidance of
the scholars was this : ' For the rendering his
business about the library more easy, each per-
son that makes use of any books in the said
library is required to set them up again decently,
without entangling the chains." This entangle-
ment must have been very incommodious, as it
was a fault easily committed when the chains
hung so close together. It will be gathered
from the foregoing, and the following note by
Mr. Blades, that the cost of chains was not a
serious matter. "In the school-house of
Tavistock, in the year 1588, a ' Dictionarrie '
was secured by a chain which cost gd. In the
churchwarden's accounts at Ecclesfield, in the
year 1589, are the following entries : —

Item, Pd. to the Vicar when he laid down the English

Paraphrase of Erasmus ij-f.

Item, chains for two books xij</.

At Wigtoft, Lincolnshire, chaining was much


cheaper, as the payment for securing an Erasmus
was only 40*."

In The Library for December, 1889, in
which Mr. Blades' paper is printed, are the
following extracts drawn from the accounts
connected with the church of St. Michael,
Cornhill. The years to which they refer are
from 1456 to 1475 : —

Payd for ij cheynys to teye wh ij sautye (psalter)

bokys lying iu the chapel of Saint Catryn... \]s. \)d.
For amendyng of a cheyne for a boke in oure

Lady Chapell \\\]d.

Payde for wryting of the copy of Pynchon's

testament \\]s. \\\)d.

Payde at Seynt Bartilmewe's Spytell for the same

testament viij^.

It'm, for pap. and for wryting of Pynchon's last

testament \)S. ]d.

Payd to Danvers for counsell of the same

testament \\)s. \\\)d.

Payd to Calop, for ij rolles of p'chemyn

(parchment) to make with this boke xxs.

Payd for makyng and byndyng of the same

boke, and for clapces (clasps) i\]s. iu]d.

Payde to S. Will'm for v queyres of prykked song ixs. \jd.
Payed to Sir William Barbour for prykkyng of

a masse *d.

Payde to Roberd's clerk for prekyng of a masse

in the cherche boke x\]d.

Payd to the scolle-me of Polles, for wrytyng

of the masse in Englysh and ye Benedicities vs.

Payd for viij sawlters (psalters) in Englyshe v]s. viije/.

Of Mr. Hurst, for a massyng boke vs.

We may congratulate ourselves that we are

living in an age when books may be owned by

all, and that chains are no longer necessary to

retain them in a particular place.


HE origin of the practice of carrying -
waxen effigies at funerals may be
traced back to an early period of
history. In Saxon and Norman
eras it was customary, when a mon-
arch died, to enbalm the body, then to dress it
in the most costly regal robes, and on an open
bier to carry it with much ceremony to its final
resting place. Many interesting and important
particulars may be gleaned from ancient
chronicles respecting the stately funerals of
mediaeval times. In the year 1189, died Henry
II., and an old chronicler describes the King's
burial as follows : — " He wascloathed in Royal
Robes, his Crown upon his Head, white gloves
upon his Hands, Boots of Gold upon his Legs,
gilt Spurs upon his Heels, a great rich ring
upon his Finger, his Sceptre in his Hande, his
Sworde by his side, and his Face uncovered and
all bare." Prior to interment the body lay in


state, and on either side of it lighted tapers
were placed, and attendants standing by, with
hoods drawn over their heads.

In course of time a change was brought
about in the manner of conducting royal
obsequies. The body was enclosed in a leaden
coffin, while an effigy of wood skilfully carved
was employed to represent the deceased. This


figure was dressed in a similar manner to the
corpse of preceding kings, and carried on a
bier in front of the funeral procession. In a
small picture representing the funeral of Richard
II., from an early manuscript of Froissart, we
get an illustration of the effigy which formed
such an important feature in the funerals of


royalty, and of the leading men and women of
this kingdom in bygone days.

One important circumstance must not be
lost sight of. In early times burials were much
longer deferred than they are at the present day.
In support of this assertion, it may be stated
that the Black Prince died on June 8th, 1376,
and was not buried until after Michaelmas of
the same year; and, says Emily S. Holt in "Ye
Olden Time," from whom we draw the
information, " his widow Joan, who died August
7th, 1385, was still unburied on the 7th
December following, when letters were issued
by the peers to attend her funeral."

Finally the faces of the dead were modelled
in wax, instead of being carved in wood. Some
of these waxen figures are still preserved at
Westminster Abbey, and for a long period were
one of the sights of London. Amongst the

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Online LibraryWilliam AndrewsCuriosities of the church; studies of curious customs, services and records → online text (page 6 of 11)