CURIOUS CHURCH GLEANINGS.
6g Wiffiam C&nbretts,
Mr. Andrews' books are always interesting. Church Bells.
Mr. Andrews' works are a rich mine of curious learning, displayed
in an attractive form. " Echoes of the H\-ck," by Mr. G. A. Sa/a.
I think your labours, -writes the Right Hon. ll' r . E. Gladstone to
Mr. Andrews, of real interest and value in their illustration of Old
Curiosities of the Church.
We feel sure that many will feel grateful to Mr. Andrews for having
produced such an interesting book. The Antiquary.
A volume of great research and striking interest. The Bookbuyer
Contains in a popular and readable form, much that is curious and
instructive. Manchester Gua rdian.
An interesting, handsomely got up volume. . . . Mr. Andrews
is always chatty and expert in making a paper on a dry subject
exceedingly readable. Newcastle Courant.
An admirable book. Sheffield Independent,
Old Church Lore.
Mr. Andrews' book does not contain a dull page. . . . Deserves
to meet with a very warm welcome. Yorkshire Post.
A worthy book on a deeply interesting subject. . . . We commend
this book strongly. European Mail.
An interesting volume. The Scotsman.
The book is eminently readable, and may be taken up at any
moment with the certainty that something suggestive or entertaining
will present itself. Glasgow Citizen.
Curious Church Customs.
A thoroughly excellent volume. Publishers' Circulat.
We are indebted to Mr. Andrews for an invaluable addition to our
library of folk-lore, and we do not think that many who take it up will
skip a single page. Dundee Advertiser.
Very interesting. To-Day.
Mr. Andrews is too practised an historian not to have made the most
of his subject. Review of Reviews.
A handsomely got up and interesting volume. The Fiteside.
A very readable and instructive volume. The Globe.
Many are the subjects of interest introduced in this chatty volume.
A delightful volume for all who love to dive into the origin of social
habits and customs, and to penetrate into the byways of history.
Liverpool Daily Post.
There is a large mass of information in this capital volume, and it is
so pleasantly put that many will be tempted to study it. Mr. Andrews
has done his work with great skill. London Quarterly Review.
'A delightful book,' is the verdict that the reader will give after
a perusal of its pages. Mr. Andrews has presented to us in very pleasing
form some phases of the social life of England in the olden time
Publishers Circulat .
Some of the chapters are very interesting, and are most useful for
those who desire to know the origin and history of some of our daily
practices and amusements. The World.
BTHELMARUS, BISHOP OF WINCHESTER, I26l.
WILLIAM ANDREWS, F.R.H.S.,
AUTHOR OF "CURIOSITIES OF THE CHURCH," " OLD CHURCH LORE,"
" BYGONE ENGLAND," ETC.
WILLIAM ANDREWS & CO., THE HULL PRESS.
SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, HAMILTON, KENT & CO., LTD.
I ^ H E welcome given by the public and the
-*- press to my previous volume issued under
the title of " Curious Church Customs," has en-
couraged me to prepare on similar lines another
collection of papers dealing with the byways and
highways of Church history.
My contributors have done their best to furnish
articles of interest, and I think their work is of
permanent value. I should be ungrateful if I
did not express my gratitude for their assistance.
I send forth this book hoping that it may not
fail to prove entertaining, and throw some
light on matters of interest to lovers of our
THE HULL PRESS,
St. Nicholas' Day, 1895.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN OLD CHURCH. By George Benson i
EARLY CHURCH DEDICATIONS. By J. A. Sparvel-Bayly, B.A. 14
THE CHURCH PORCH. By William E. A. Axon, F.R.S.L. . . 29
THE .LIGHTS OF A MEDIEVAL CHURCH. By the Rev. J.
Charles Cox, LL.D., F.S.A 36
CONCERNING CROSSES. By Florence Peacock .... 65
MISERICORUES. By T. Tindall Wiidridge ..... 92
CHURCH GILDS. By the Rev. J. Malet Lambert, M.A., LL.D. . no
PEWS OF THE PAST. By J. A. Sparvel-Bayly, B.A. . . 138
THE BISHOP'S THRONE. By the Rev. Geo. S. Tyack, B.A. . 163
CHANTRIES. By John T. Page ....... 170
HAGIOSCOPES. By John T. Page 178
SOME ENGLISH SHRINES. By the Rev. Geo. S. Tyack, B.A. . 181
THE CHURCH AND WELL OF ST. CHAD. By J. A. Langford,
LL.D. .......... 193
BURIALS IN WOOLLEN. By William Andrews, F.R.H.S. . . 201
HEARSE: How A WORD HAS CHANGED ITS MEANING. By
Edward Peacock, F.S.A. ...... 209
HEART BURIALS OF ENGLISH PERSONS. By Emily Sophia
Hartshorne ......... 224
BOY-BISHOPS. By England Hewlett ...... 241
GLEANINGS FROM A PARISH CHEST. By Rev. J. Charles Cox,
LL.D. F.S.A. ......... 251
INDEX ........... 277
CURIOUS CHURCH GLEANINGS.
Wbat to look for in an l& Cburcb.
BY GEORGE BENSON.
THE church in many villages is the only
object of antiquity. In it, generation after
generation of the villagers have been baptised,
married, and buried ; on it, the best work of the
village mason, joiner, smith, and carver has been
employed, and a good deal of the village history
is contained within its walls, rendering the edifice
so interesting that even strangers rarely leave the
village without a peep at the church. To render
the visit to a village church as interesting as
possible, we purpose explaining the various
objects as we may meet them.
The church, with its burial ground, is enclosed
by a wall.
2 CURIOUS CHURCH GLEANINGS.
Each in its little plot of holy ground,
How beautiful they stand,
These old grey churches of our native land.
At the entrance to the churchyard is the lych-
gate, or corpse gate (A.S., lich, a dead body),
being a covered gateway, beneath which the
coffin rests on a bier for a few minutes. Through
the lychgate are the stocks, in which those who
had been guilty of some minor offence were
placed. Nearer the church is the tall churchyard
cross, elaborately carved and raised on steps,
from which in some places sermons are preached
in fine weather. Scattered over the burial
ground are yew trees, which, having a long life,
are typical of immortality. At Easter, Whitsun-
tide, and Christmas, boughs of this tree were used
to decorate the interior of the church. The church-
yard is filled with headstones, table tombs, etc.,
many of them inscribed with quaint and curious
The church, generally approached on the
south side, consists of a tower at the west end ;
south porch and aisles, with roof sloping from
below the windows of nave ; and chancel, with
priest's door. On the east end of the nave roof
is a Sanctus bell cot, containing the bell which
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN OLD CHURCH. 3
was rung at the words " Sancte, sancte, sancte,
Deus Sabaoth " (Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of
Sabaoth) ; and all who heard it were expected
to prostrate themselves. The east end of the
chancel roof is terminated by a gable cross, richly
sculptured, and on the wall is a consecration
cross sculptured where the bishop when con-
secrating the church had made the sign of the
cross. The projecting pieces of masonry to the
wall are termed buttresses, and on some there are
deep furrows worn by sharpening arrows, when
archery was practised in the churchyard. The
buttresses terminate in gargoyles, projecting
grotesque figures, with open mouths, which carry
the water from the roof and throw it off the
building. On one side of the entrance to the
south porch is an ancient sun-dial, whilst above
the moulded arch is a canopied niche, containing
an effigy of the patron saint. Above is a window
which lights the room over the porch. Within
the porch on either side runs a stone bench, and
on the walls are posted the church notices. The
deeply moulded and shafted doorway is fitted with
a door made from the oak of Old England, and
enriched with beautiful bands of wrought ironwork
representing the Fall of Man.
4 CURIOUS CHURCH GLEANINGS.
Within the church, at the east side of the door,
is a stone basin formed in the masonry. This is
the " Stoup " used in mediaeval days for holy
water. On entering, each worshipper dipped his
finger into it, and crossed himself. Sometimes a
stoup is met with outside the priest's door.
Opposite the entrance stands the font, of stone,
lined with lead, and filled with water for baptism.
It is deep and circular in shape, ornamented on the
exterior, and surmounted with a lofty crocketed
spire, raised by a pulley and a counterpoise in the
form of a dove, so that as it ascends the holy dove
descends. The font stands between the north
and south doors. Through the former Satan is said
to escape from the child when, by baptism, it be-
comes a child of Christ. Over the tower arch are
the Royal Arms, and along the walls under the
tower are tables recording the names of past
benefactors to the poor, the parish, and the church.
A bread board in the form of a carved cabinet
with shelves, displays the loaves given to the poor
who attend service in accordance with the wish of
Unlocking a door in the angle, the tower is
ascended in corkscrew fashion by narrow, dusty,
and ill-lighted stairs. Plodding up the decayed,
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN OLD CHURCH. 5
broken, and rugged steps, a faint glimmering of
light illuminates the darkness, gradually increasing
until a low door is reached : stooping beneath, a
large, lofty, and gloomy apartment is entered.
This is the Ringing Chamber. A loud, sharp,
metallic creaking noise arrests attention, and the
clock apparatus is observed in the dim light.
The great clock is about to strike, and for some
minutes is preparing itself for the alarming event.
Dangling from the ceiling are the ropes from the
belfry ; on the floor is a carved oak settee for the
ringers, and a highly ornamented chest full of
disused rate books, with the banner of St.
George and the Union Jack thrown carelessly
over, and sometimes as carelessly hoisted on the
staff, for we have noticed church flags gaily floating
in the breeze upside down. From the windows of
this chamber many charming views are obtained.
Affixed to the walls are peal boards, recording
achievements of former ringers, and also rules in
rhyme relating to ringing, as follows :
He that a bell doth overthrow
Shall twopence pay before he go,
And he that rings with spur or hat
Shall fourpence pay, be sure of that :
And if these orders he refuse
No less than sixpence will excuse.
6 CURIOUS CHURCH GLEANINGS.
By a dilapidated ladder in the corner the ascent
is made to the belfry ; then passing through the trap
door, the breeze whistling through the louvres
and nearly taking away the breath, the belfry is
reached, and a sudden and loud dong alarms us,
but our nerves are reassured as we realise that
it is only
The crazy old church clock
And the bewildered chimes.
Amidst the heavy timbered framing hang the
bells, fine specimens of casting, in good tune, and
with pious mottoes beautifully lettered and
ornamented. Caution is necessary in examining
the bells, especially during ringing time. Im-
pressions of the raised inscriptions and ornaments
are obtained by stretching over them strips of thin
narrow paper and rubbing with pieces of thin,
black boot leather.
The interiors of belfries are often in a dirty
condition, owing to birds flying in and out, and
jackdaws and owls occasionally taking up their
abode there. By a ladder reaching to the trap-door
above, the summit of the tower is reached, and a
panoramic view of the district obtained. In
the centre of the tower is the flag-staff, whilst
a corner is occupied by the beacon, restored and
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN OLD CHURCH. 7
re-lighted at Her Majesty's Jubilee. In another
corner is the vane, a metal plate turning on a
vertical spindle to show the direction of the wind.
Descending the tower, the church is again
entered. In front is the alms box, formed
from a tree trunk, securely locked, and having
clasps of hammered ironwork. The Church-
wardens' Pew attracts attention, having at each
end of the seat a tall thick wand painted black,
with the Royal Arms or CW (churchwarden) in
gold on the upper part. These emblems of
authority demanded a good deal of respect in
days gone by. On the desk-rail are wrought-iron
candle-holders. In the spandrels of the nave
arches are hatchments, lozenge-shaped black
frames containing the coats-of-arms of persons
interred in the church. On the floor, fixed to
blue stones, are large plates of brass, on which
the effigy of the deceased is graven. They
are known as " Sepulchral brasses," a form of
memorial adopted about the middle of the
thirteenth century. Rubbings of these effigies
are obtained by placing a piece of thin white paper
to cover the brass and then rubbing it over with a
piece of black heel-ball, which can be obtained
at any shoemaker's. There are also some stone
8 CURIOUS CHURCH GLEANINGS.
slabs with floriated crosses, an earlier form of
memorial. A recess in the wall on the north side
was the hermit's cell, formerly tenanted by a
A small stair leads to the room above the
porch, which is termed a parvise ; a small open
quatrefoil gives a view into the church, and a fire-
place occupies a corner. This room formerly
contained a library of chained books, the chain
of sufficient length to allow of the book being
laid on a desk for perusal. The room was
probably occupied by a priest. Descending
from the parvise, it is noticed that the walls of
the church have been scraped, revealing masons'
marks, some faint outlines of ''frescoes" and
texts on the wall. In this case the interior
of the walls being ashlar, the removal of the
plaster is justifiable, but the "scraping" process
has been carried too far, and plaster removed
from rubble walls that were never intended by their
designers to be exposed. All the irregularities of
these rubble stones have even been accentuated
by jointing them in black mortar. Round the
walls is a solid mass of masonry, forming a long
stone bench or seat, a remnant of the time
when there were no other seats in the church.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN OLD CHURCH. 9
The wood seats in the nave have beautifully
carved ends with poppy heads.
A beautiful oak screen, termed a parclose,
separates the nave from the chantry chapel,
which contains the tomb of its founder. He
erected the chapel, and endowed it with lands,
etc., in order that after his death masses should be
daily celebrated for his soul. Above are sus-
pended pennon and armour. The chapel con-
tained an altar, and also a " Squint," a splayed
opening through the masonry in an oblique
direction, which enabled the priest in the chantry
chapel to see the elevation of the Host during
mass at the high altar. Near the entrance to the
chancel is the desk, termed the " Lectern," from
which the lessons are read. It is formed of
brass, and represents a pelican with wings ex-
panded to hold the Bible. The bird is drawing
her blood out of her breast to feed her little ones.
The pulpit of oak has an imposing appearance.
It is reached by stairs having twisted balusters,
and surmounted by a huge projecting canopy or
sounding board, intended to throw the sound of
the preacher's voice among the congregation. On
the pulpit ledge is a relic of the days of long
sermons. It is the wrought-iron frame which con-
io CURIOUS CHURCH GLEANINGS.
tained the sand hour-glass. Below the pulpit is the
old reading desk, having beneath, the seat formerly
occupied by the parish clerk. Such a pulpit
is commonly termed a three-decker. The gallery
at the west end formerly contained the choir of
male and female voices, and the orchestra of flute,
violin, and bassoon. Now the choir is surpliced,
and consists of male voices only, who are seated
in the chancel, near the organ, which has super-
seded the instrumental band.
In the vestry are kept the Parish Registers,
Churchwardens' Accounts, etc., which are invalu-
able to the Parish, and in these days of cheap
printing, copies should be made ere the originals
perish by neglect or fire. A framed Terrier sus-
pended on the wall records the possessions of this
The chancel is separated from the nave by a
carved wood screen, with folding doors in the
centre. The upper part of the screen projects,
and carries a gallery or rood loft, the front of
which has canopied niches that were filled with
figures of saints. Above the screen is the rood
or Crucifixion, between the figures of St. Mary
and St. John. The approach to the rood loft is by
a narrow stair in the wall. Within the chancel are
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN OLD CHURCH. 1 1
the stalls, arranged on each side and re-turned at the
west end. They are separated from one another
by large elbows. The seats are fitted with hinges.
Underneath is a bracket, termed a miserere, with
a grotesque carving. When turned up it was
sufficient, without actually forming a seat, to
afford considerable rest to any one leaning upon
it, thus being a relief to the infirm ecclesiastics
during the long services when it was necessary to
stand. At the western end of the south side of
the chancel is a low side window, considered to
have been the window where lepers assembled
outside to hear the service. Three steps lead to
the railing across the altar space. The Com-
munion table is placed close to the east wall. At
the back is the reredos, enriched with sculpture ;
and on either side of the east window are the
Commandments and the Belief. South of the
table is the piscina, a sculptured recess, containing
the sink in which the chalice was rinsed at the
time of the celebration of mass ; above was the
Credence shelf, on which the bread and wine
were placed before consecration. A closet in the
.wall which contained the sacred vessels was
termed a locker. On the south side are the Sedilia,
three canopied seats recessed in the wall,
12 CURIOUS CHURCH GLEANINGS.
formerly used by the priest, deacon, and sub-
deacon ; and on the north side is a sculptured
recess, known as the Easter sepulchre. In it the
crucifix was placed with great solemnity on Good
Friday, and watched continually from that time
till Easter Day, when it was taken out and re-
placed on the altar with special ceremony. Under
the chancel was the crypt, a chapel with a stone
altar, the top slab being marked with five crosses, in
allusion to the five wounds of Christ, while a recess
in the altar once contained relics, the bones of a
saint. In course of time the crypt, being disused
as a chapel, was utilised as a bone-house ; any
bones dug up in the churchyard whilst making
new graves were religiously taken care of and
placed there. In later times it became the vault
of some local family, and is now filled up with
earth. An important element in the decoration
of the edifice is the stained glass. The earliest
was coloured throughout by oxide of metal fused
with it in the furnace, and termed "pot metal."
The first coloured glass windows were formed of
pieces of different colours, arranged in patterns
outlined by lead, similar to mosaic ; afterwards the
surface of larger portions of pot metal glass were
adorned with a dark brown fusible colour ; then
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN OLD CHURCH 13
diapered backgrounds became general, on which
were coloured outlined geometrical figures. After-
wards the windows consisted of subject panels
alternating with geometrical patterns, termed
grisaille work. Then came large single figures
under canopies, followed by greater freedom of
treatment. Finally, instead of each light being
a single subject, the whole window becomes
occupied with one general subject.
It is greatly to be regretted that much church
furniture of historic and artistic interest, that was
considered to adorn the edifice previous to what
is termed the restoration of the church, has been
sold or lost. They were relics of the various
epochs in the history of the church, as well as
examples of the progress of art, and were worthy
of preservation. All the objects mentioned in
this chapter may not be found in every
church we may visit, for much destruction has
taken place within churches during the centuries
they have existed, some suffering more than
others, but each edifice has some special feature,
and if examined in the manner indicated, the
visitor will find the inspection of an old church a
source of instruction and delight.
jarl\> Church BeMcatione.
BY J. A. SPARVEL-BAYLY, B.A.
MORE than once during the past ten or
twelve years have we heard a puzzled
clergyman say, when alluding to his recently
restored church, " I do not know when to ask the
Bishop to re-open it ; my church, unfortunately,
has no dedication that I am aware of." In answer
to this, we have, in our turn, put the question,
" Is a fair held in your parish ? because, if so, it
is most probable that your church is dedicated to
the saint whose festival falls upon that fair-day, or
the one nearest to it." That there is good warrant
for this assertion is proved by a comparison of
known dedications with the dates of the fairs held
or formerly held, in the respective parishes
Knowing that the pagan English had long been
accustomed to hold great feasts and drinking
festivals in honour of their gods and of dead
ancestors, St. Gregory the Great, who was a
EARLY CHURCH DEDICATIONS. 15
shrewd man of the world, directed the day of the
dedication of a church to be kept as a holiday,
that the people might build themselves huts with
branches of trees around the church, and pass the
time in religious feasting. Thus, the parochial
holiday and village fair on the day of the dedica-
tion of the church became an institution ; the
sylvan bowers suggested by St. Gregory in his
letter to the Abbot Mellitus being now represented
by the booths and stalls of itinerant mummers and
pedlars. Still, it would seem that even in the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the dedication
names of many of our early churches were equally
unknown. Can it be possible that some of our
oldest churches had originally no dedication names
at all, but were simply consecrated to the honour
and glory of God ? It may have been so, but we
can scarcely think it, because in times long since
passed away religious sentiment took the form of
special devotion to this or to that particular saint
as, for example, that of the Confessor to St.
Peter, "his friend," and to St. John, "his own
dear one." Witness also the reverence of Edward
the Black Prince for the Holy Trinity, as evinced
in his will bv the minuteness of the instructions for
his burial in the Trinity Chapel of Canterbury
16 CURIOUS CHURCH GLEANINGS.
Cathedral ; and it is strange that it was on the
Trinity Sunday of 1376 that he, the
" Sable warrior,
Mighty victor, mighty Lord,"
entered upon his rest. But perhaps the most
striking example is afforded by Henry III., the
most alien in heart of all our Angevin Kings, who
spent his whole time and energy in vain efforts to
recover the Continental dominions lost by his
father, John. Henry was, after his fashion, a
deeply religious man, and did special honour, by a
curious contradiction, to two purely English saints.
One of these was Edward the Confessor, whose
Abbey Church of Westminster Henry rebuilt in
the shape in which we still see it, though it was
slightly enlarged by the Renaissance chapel of his
Tudor successor, Henry VII. The other was St.
Edmund, King of the East Anglians, murdered
during the first Danish invasion by the heathen
Scandinavians, and duly enshrined as a martyr in
the town of Bury St. Edmund's, which takes its
title from his relics. After these two English
saints Henry named his sons, Edward I. and
Edmund, Earl of Lancaster. Therefore, we think
it highly improbable that the founders of our
ancient churches " the gates of heaven, the
EARLY CHURCH DEDICATIONS. 17
ladders of prayer "-would omit to associate with
their great and good work the name of that member
of the celestial hierarchy whom they held in the
highest reverence. To many old churches, other
names than those originally invoked have, without
doubt, been added or substituted ; and especially
so at the time of the Reformation, when, no doubt,
many merely local and historical invocations gave
place to more catholic ascriptions. Re- dedications,
we know, were also common in honour of the
" saint-name " of some new and popular Bishop of
the diocese. Mistakes, too, may have arisen