Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Friday, 29 May 2020

Oak Apple Day

Happy Oak Apple Day!

On May 29th 1660, 360 years ago, on his thirtieth birthday, and in the twelfth year of his reign, King Charles II entered London on what came to be seen thereafter as the formal date of the Restoration, rather than the vote in the Commons calling him back on May 8th or the King’s landing at Dover on May 25th.

King Charles II
Image: jvcullenblogspot

There is a very readable article from three years ago by Ian Mortimer about the Restoration and its impact on the life of the realm and all the King’s subjects, arguing that we underestimate its far-reaching significance. It can be read at 1660: The year that changed everything

The Court culture of the Restoration is well summarised in a glowing review of the exhibition two years ago at The Queen’s Gallery from The Guardian which can be seen at  Charles II: Art and Power review – crowning glories of a royal passion

Traditional celebrations of Oak Apple Day are covered in another article, this time from Country Life five years ago, entitled Bring back Oak Apple Day

That sentiment is one I heartily endorse, even if this year it is impractical, but would argue that, rather as the theme of Ian Mortimer’s article, there is something here than can unite Crown and people in a shared celebration of history and identity. It is in some ways very understated in its expressions, or slightly eccentric, but it springs from impulses that are far older than 1660. To make more of it would be good, and be a way of expressing gratitude for all that the Restoration did restore, for an institution at the heart of the nation that we take too easily for granted. Being who we are as a people it would also be genuinely of the people, and not the assertive strident celebration of nationhood that some other countries feel obliged to have on national days - but then they lack monarchs.

A  Happy Oak Apple Day to you all!

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Milanese Ascension Spectacle

Today being the Octave Day of the Ascension is an appropriate day on which to share this post by Gregory DiPippo from The New Liturgical Movement a week ago about the distinctive feature, over and beyond the Ambrosian Rite, of the celebration of Ascension Day in the cathedral of Milan.

The ceremony is of the type that are described in accounts of medieval liturgies and still in pre-1789 French churches, or such survivals today as the Assumption Mystery Play at Elche in Spain. The Milan Ciloster dates from 1447, which is just the era when such spectacle was valued as an adjunct to worship.

The background and the video link are at 

Our Lady ‘of Ardenbergh’ at Great Yarmouth

The virtual Marian pilgrimage today reaches its most easterly point with the devotion to Our Lady of ‘Ardenbergh’ in Great Yarmouth.

This has some interesting aspects to it. Firstly it invoked the Virgin under a continental title, being properly that of Our Lady of Aadenberg, a town which lies in the southernmost part of Zeeland at the mouth of the Rhine. Off the coast by the neighbouring town of Sluys in 1340 the English navy won the first great victory of the Hundred Years War. In thanksgiving the next day King Edward III went on foot on a pilgrimage to this nearby shrine. As at least sixty of the ships in his fleet of 260 were from Great Yarmouth Waterton’s suggestion that some at least of their crews accompanied the King is a very reasonable one, and that they brought the cult of Our Lady of Aadenberg back with them to Norfolk. By 1349 the altar of St Mary ‘de Arnsberg’ there was in receipt of bequests.

A generation later, in 1370, the Prior of the house of Augustinian canons dedicated to St Olave at Herringfleet, a few miles south-west of Great Yarmouth, built a chapel in the churchyard of the town’s parish church of St Nicholas and dedicated it to Our Lady of Aadenberg. This stood to the east of the chancel, and there was already a chapel to the west of the church dedicated to St Mary. What is perhaps unusual about this aspect of the devotion is that St Nicholas was not just the town’s parish church but was also a daughter house of the Benedictine cathedral priory in Norwich. So here is apparently cooperation between two different orders of religious in action. Maybe the original focus of the cult had been at Herringfleet, which lies inland on the Suffolk side of the river Waveney, and was now  moved physically into the centre of the town’s spiritual life. A request for burial at the north door of this chapel in the churchyard is recorded in a 1508 will. The chapel no longer survives, but it is interesting as being in a sense almost a contemporary war memorial to the Hundred Years War.
The pilgrimage to Aadenberg itself came to an end in 1452 when in an episode of inter-provincial rivalry - both being ruled at that time by Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy - the Zeeland town was attacked and the church burned by men from Flanders, who carried the statue of Our Lady back with them to Bruges and installed it on the front of their Town Hall. Aadenberg itself, which claims to be the oldest city in Zeeland, declined and is now a small picturesque town almost on the Dutch-Belgian border.

Our Lady of Aadenberg Pray for us 

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Bede, Augustine and Gregory on 21st century Liturgy

The latest Minute Missive sent out to friends and supporters by the FSSP has a historically based reflection on the potential for future pathways in the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of Mass. I do not know how many of my readers will have received it directly, so I have copied the text and am reproducing it as follows:

This week we celebrate back-to-back feasts of two great English saints–Bede the Venerable on May 27 and Augustine of Canterbury on May 28. Both of these men are recognized today as key figures in the early English Church–St. Bede who wrote the Ecclesiastical History of the English People and saved much history from oblivion, and St. Augustine who was appointed by Pope St. Gregory the Great to convert the Anglo-Saxons and become the Apostle to England.

Among many other treasures, Bede’s chronicle preserves an invaluable exchange between Augustine and Gregory. Augustine asks why communities who shared the same faith nevertheless had different liturgical expressions.

Pope Gregory answered back:

You know, my brother, the custom of the Roman church in which you remember you were bred up. But it pleases me, that if you have found anything, either in the Roman, or the Gallican, or any other church, which may be more acceptable to Almighty God, you carefully make choice of the same, and sedulously teach the church of the English, which as yet is new in the faith, whatsoever you can gather from the several churches. For things are not to be loved for the sake of places, but places for the sake of good things. Choose, therefore, from every church those things that are pious, religious, and upright, and when you have, as it were, made them up into one body, let the minds of the English be accustomed thereto.

Fourteen hundred years later, we are still coming to terms with similar issues.

The 1962 Missal has been the standard missal for FSSP parishes for so long–but many have long lamented that it is profoundly untraditional for a calendar to be “frozen in amber” without any new saints being added. For example, it feels quite unnatural to honor St. Pio of Pietrelcina everywhere but on our altars. Yet on the other hand, how would it be possible to add in 60 years of new saints while also respecting the integrity of the traditional calendar? It took until this very year to painstakingly work out a solution, through the Congregation of the Faith’s promulgation of the decree Cum Sanctissima.

Other scholars have looked back to earlier times and wondered whether it would not be truer to the classical Roman Rite to restore practices that were abolished by Pius XII’s liturgical changes of 1955. Rome has granted some limited allowances along these lines as well, with some FSSP parishes being provisionally allowed to use the pre-1955 Holy Week rites.

Like Augustine on his arrival on the British Isles, we find ourselves confronted with disparate liturgical books but a wish to harmonize them in a single “body” that best exemplifies the overall spirit of the classical Roman Mass. Our different missals are chronological rather than geographical, but the essential problem is the same.

A liturgical purist might well object that to foray outside the protective confines of the 1962 missal is, to use the vernacular expression, “picking and choosing.” That for something as vitally important as the liturgical books of the Roman Rite, we should simply stick to the commonly-used missal and be done, instead of embarking on a complicated synthesis that will lead (so the thinking goes) to inevitable liturgical chaos.

But thanks to the pens of both Augustine and Bede, we can put the question back to Pope St. Gregory for advice.

Gregory flatly stated that it pleased him for Augustine to “carefully make choice” from the liturgical practices of different churches.  Indeed, he himself was responsible for finalizing the Traditional Latin Mass as we know it today.

However, he is no reckless reformer. He naturally assumes that such a synthesis will only make use of those things that  “may be more acceptable to Almighty God”, and are “pious, religious, and upright”. In other words, the ingredients of that synthesis must be chosen from what is in accord with the faith that Christ has given us and that contributes most to God’s glory. This principle necessarily excludes from consideration any concept that stems from mere convenience, worldliness, current fashions, or hostility or embarrassment toward tradition.

As the spiritual descendants of the English Church founded by Augustine and chronicled by Bede, we ought to consider how to apply Gregory’s sage words to our own time and our own liturgical challenges. Granted, they do not give us minute instructions to that effect, but they do provide us with some key points to keep in mind.

For tradition, in its fullest and truest definition, is not so much the exclusive property of one Missal or another, but remains ever present, in varying degrees, as a unifying thread through all of them. May Sts. Bede, Augustine, and Gregory watch over us as we strive to preserve it.

This seems to me to offer not a political mechanism but rather a traditional understanding and precedent for appropriate adaptation of practice in respect of the Calendar and a framework for looking at further restoration of ancient observances. It does not depart from traditional understanding but seeks to provide a subtle new light to enhance the living inheritance. This is not so much a programme as a philosophy and a hermeneutic. It is also one that could be profitably be applied in parishes to celebrations in the Ordinary Form to assist in the recovery of the sacred.

Old London Bridge

Country Life last week republished on its website two articles, from 2005 and 2019, about the building of what we now refer to as Old London Bridge and about the shops and houses that lined it until the mid-eighteenth century. Until the construction of Westminster Bridge earlier in that century it was the only roadway across the Thames into the capital and served not only as a shopping street but as a ceremonial entry to the City from the south bank.

Our Lady of Winfarthing

Today the Marian virtual pilgrimage reaches Winfarthing in southern Norfolk. I think this is by far the strangest place on the course of the spiritual pilgrimage, and parts of the story of this East Anglian village seem like the setting for one of the ghost stories of M. R. James.

In the parish church in the late middle ages was a statue of Our Lady of Peace, and offerings at it are recorded.

St Mary's Church, Winfarthing. Photograph from www.norfolkchurches.co.uk.

St Mary's Church, Winfarthing.

Image: norfolkchurches.co.uk. (© S. Knott.)


However Winfarthing had another object which drew the prayerful. Blomefield, the great county historian of Norfolk, in his account of the village published in 1805, quoting the sixteenth century Norfolk born reformer Thomas Beccon records that:

Here was a clock formerly, which now stands disused in the south aisle; and in a chapel at the upper end thereof was placed a famous sword, called the Good Sword of Winfarthing, of which Becon, in his Reliques of Rome, (printed in 1563,) fo. 91, gives us the following account.

In Winfarthing, a littel billage in Norfolke, there was a rerteyne Swerd, called the Good Swerd of Winfarthyng, this Swerd was counted so prerious a relique, and of so great birtue, that there was a solemne pilgrimage used unto it, with large giftes and offringes, with bow makings, crouchinges, t kissinges: This Swerd was bisited far and near, for many t sundry purposes, but specialy for thinges that were lost, and for horses that were eyther stolen or else rune astray, it helpid also unto the shortning of a married mans life, if that the wyfe which was weary of her husband, would set a randle before that Swerd ebery Sunday for the space of a whole yeare, no Sunbay er cepted, for then all was bain, whatsoeber mas done before.

I have many times beard (says that author) when I was a rhild, of diberse ancient men and wemen, that this Swerd was the Swerd of a rertayne thief, which took sanctuary in that church pard, and after wards through the negligence of the watchmen escaped, and left his swerd behind him, which being found, and laid up in a rertaine old chest, was afterward through the suttilty of the parson and the clerk of the same parish, made a precious Relique, full of bertue, able to do much, but specially to enrich the bor, and make fat the parson's pouch. “

I have left Blomefield’s transcription of Beccon uncorrected with its slightly odd typography - the odd use of b for v, h or p, r for c and t for &, is not too difficult to understand.

The sword is featured on both the modern village sign and stained glass in the church. The original is lost, and how efficacious it was is unquantifiable, so marriage guidance might be a better idea....

The Winfarthing sword does appear to be similar in its invocation to dispose of unwanted husbands to the late medieval appeal to ‘St Uncumber’, as it was known in England. This was the insular version of the rather curious cult of Wilgefortis.

Today Winfarthing is a small and rather obscure village but it appears from the discovery there in 2014 of a very significant early Anglo-Saxon Christian burial to have been a place of significance in the mid-seventh century. There is a discussion of this at An assemblage of Anglo-Saxon material from Winfarthing, Norfolk

Am I being unnecessarily tidy as a historian in wondering if all these stray things can be tied together - an early cult centre, perhaps pre-Christian in origin, that evolved into devotion to Our Lady alongside residual folk magic?

Our Lady of Winfarthing Pray for us

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Our Lady of Windsor

The Marian spiritual pilgrimage has now reached Windsor and St George’s Chapel, which possessed the the-cross-gneth, believed to be a relic of the True Cross given by King Edward III,  from 1416 a major relic of its principal patron St George  and also the relics of the Buckinghamshire priest John_Schorne

Edmund Waterton records in his Pietas Mariana several images of the Virgin Mary at St George’s in Windsor.

The first was the little image of Our Lady. In the inventory of the Treasury taken in the eighth year of King Richard II, 1384-85, Sir Walter Almaly being then the custos, it was in need of some repairs, as there were enumerated four lilies which are wanting in the crown of the little image of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  There were also three crowns of silver gilt, adorned with divers precious stones, one of which was for Our Lady, another for her Son, and the third for St. Edward. Presumably the royal saint was kneeling in a tableau with the Virgin and Child. Five stones were wanting in the crown of Our Lady, and a flower of delicate workmanship in that of Our Lord.

King Henry IV gave another image of the Virgin and Child to the chapel: this was made of silver and gilt with Our Lady holding the Christ Child, who was shown playing with a bird, in her right arm. In 1427-28 in the minority of King Henry VI  this was repaired or replaced - the records appear slightly contradictory - using 20 pounds 31ounces of silver by a goldsmith recorded as Conus Melver.

This may have been similar to the type of expensive Court art devotional image which has occasionally survived on the continent, or perhaps to the elaborate and delightful pieces of gold with jewels and enamel decoration which were certainly a speciality of Parisian goldsmiths in the first decade or so of the fifteenth century.

Pin image
'The Goldenes Rössl' was a New Years gift in 1405 from King Henry VI’s grandmother, Queen Isabeau of Bavaria to her husband King Charles VI of France. This beautiful piece is on display in the Schatzkammer und Wallfahrtsmuseum in Altötting, Bavaria, Germany
Image: Pinterest

The building for which these images were provided was replaced by King Edward Iva from the 1470s onwards by the much larger St George’s Chapel we see today and which was completed under King Henry VIII in 1528.
On the site of the previous chapel, and retaining the thirteenth century doorways of its predecessor King Henry VII built what looks like an intended Lady Chapel which would have housed such images. The King may have planned to be buried in it rather than at Westminster - his eponymous chapel there may have been intended as a shrine chapel for a still not yet canonised St Henry VI.
Wolsey was given the chapel as a proposed burial place by King Henry VIII, who then took over the unfinished tomb, when the Cardinal fell from power, for himself. That project was never completed either: its fate is discussed in the late Jennifer Loach’s article in Past and Present 1994 ‘The Function of Ceremonial in the Reign of Henry VIII’. The King remains buried in the vault under the choir. The metal work was stripped away in the Civil War in 1642 or 1643 and the sarcophagus eventually ended up holding the body of Nelson in St Paul’s Cathedral. The empty chapel survived a plan to replace it with a mausoleum for King Charles the Martyr proposed in the time of his son King Charles II. King George III created a new royal vault under the chapel and it was Queen Victoria who decorated it in a lavish style as the Albert Memorial Chapel from the 1860s. I suspect it is, unfortunately, not always appreciated by visitors if they see it at all, dismissing it until recently as merely Victorian and as they cannot usually enter it, not seeing it as really part of St George’s.

In the ambulatory between the main chapel and this eastern chapel, and near the Cross Gneth, there appears to have been the image of “Our Lady behind the high altar” This is mentioned by John Foxe in The Book of Martyrs.  Writing of one Robert Testwood, a chorister in St George’s Chapel at Windsor, he says : "It chanced Testwood one day to walk in the church, at afternoon, and to behold the pilgrims, especially of Devonshire and Cornwall, how they came by plumps, with candles and images of wax in their hands, to offer to good King Henry of Windsor. [King Henry VI was reinterred in the main chapel and there was a considerable devotion to him supported by King Henry VII]." Testwood spoke to a group of them against pilgrimage, &c. "Then he went further and found another sort licking and kissing a White Lady made of alabaster, which image was mortised in a wall behind the high altar, and bordered about with a pretty border, which was made like branches, with hanging apples and flowers. And when he saw them so superstitiously use the image as to wipe their hands upon it, and then to stroke them over their eyes and faces, as though there had been great virtue in touching the picture, he up with his hand, in which he had a key, and smote down a piece of the border about the image, and with the glance of the stroke chanced to break off the image’s nose. “Lo, good people !” quoth he, “you see what it is nothing but earth and dust, and cannot help itself; and how then will it help you? For God s sake, brethren, be no more deceived.” And so he gat him home to his house, for the rumour was so great, that many came to see the image how it was defaced."

Edmund Waterton adds at this point the following comment “This sacrilegious wretch lost his life under Henry the Eighth, for denying the Real Presence”

Testwood was indeed to be one of the three Windsor_Martyrs of 1543. There is a biography of him him at Robert_Testwood
The Chapel’s organist also had radical religious opinions but was saved from the flames by Bishop Stephen Gardiner on the basis that he was only a musician and was the composer John_Merbecke

Our Lady of Windsor Pray for us

Monday, 25 May 2020

Our Lady of Winchester

The virtual Marian pilgrimage has today reached Winchester and the great cathedral church there. In his Pietas Mariana Britannica Edmund Waterton recounts that William of Wykeham chose the position of his chantry chapel in the fifth bay of the nave he had substantially reconstructed because that was where as a boy he had attended Mass at the altar of Our Lady. His two educational foundations in Winchester and Oxford are under her patronage - New College is merely a nick-name in origin for the College of Our Lady of Winton. There he is depicted in carvings kneeling before the Annunciation. His chantry provided for three Masses each day, the first being of Our Lady. This is all discussed in a handsomely illustrated post The Tomb of William of Wykeham in Winchester Cathedral

That we can still appreciate Wykeham’s tomb and chantry is probably due to the old Wykehamist Parliamentary officer who stood with his drawn sword at the chapel door to protect it when his fellow troops were pillaging the  rest of the cathedral and its contents in the Civil War. Nothing like the virtues of the Old School Tie...

The remains of this charming Madonna and Child can be found in The Triforium Gallery.

This damaged statue of Our Lady and Child from the screen can be seen in The Triforium Gallery at the cathedral

Image: anticsroadshowblog.wordpress.com

Elsewhere in the cathedral there is the vandalised statue from the High Altar screen. The construction of this was apparently completed in 1475-6 and if the statues were not  installed at that time, they were over the coming years to about 1490. There is a good feature on the Winchester cathedral website about its construction, damage, patching and eventual late Victorian restoration atBrief-History-of-Great-Screen.

As this points out the statues were removed in the mid-sixteenth century and decapitated in most cases, then systematically sawn up and reused as standard units as building material for walls in the Close. Quite when this happened is not clear; I would suspect after Bishop Gardiner was imprisoned and deprived in 1548, or possibly at the beginning of the Elizabethan settlement. Many pieces have been recovered in modern times and are now on display in the new exhibition space in the south transept triforium. As the link above explains extenive areas of colour still remain on the recovered statues all of which are carved from Caen stone. The hair is gilded and flesh areas are coloured pink, eyes are pale grey with black pupils. On the most famous statue of the Virgin and Child there is evidence that the lining of her cloak was deep blue whilst the robe was brilliant red with gold cuffs, giving an indication of how colourful and magnificent the statues must have been originally.
There is another post on sculpture fragments that have been recovered and returned to the cathedral from the Proceedings of the Hants Field Club which can be viewed at Lindley
This illustrates what is still being recovered, what we can learn about the artistic life and culture of the medieval cathedral community and the shocking scale of destruction inflicted by fanatics.

In the cathedral Lady Chapel are a cycle of paintings from the very end of the fifteenth century depicting the miracles of the Virgin Mary. These are a rare survival, but I suspect that in their rather faded condition many visitors miss them. That is a pity and on my last visit to the cathedral with a priest friend, after we had said the noon Angelus in Latin in the chapel, we spent a while examining them. I was particularly taken with the scenes where St George was brought back to temporal a life by Our Lady to deal with Julian the Apostate.... There is another cathedral website article about the paintings with photographs of each panel which can be seen at The-Wall-Paintings-of-the-Lady-Chapel

As a cathedral Winchester has good background material on features like this in the way that York does on its stained glass, Lincoln with its series of history pamphlets by experts in their field or the library at Worcester with its blog.

Our Lady of Winchester Pray for us

The remains of this charming Madonna and Child can be found in The Triforium Gallery.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

A medieval priest from Lincoln cathedral

By coincidence as I was planning to write about Lincoln cathedral my eye lit on a news feed story on the Internet from the Daily Express about a facial reconstruction of the skeletal remains of a priest found during recent excavations in the area outside the west front.  

I do think it a bit tantalising that a closer date for the burial is not given - I am sure that such dating will have been done rather than just saying the chalice and paten is of a twelfth and thirteenth century type. I also wish they would not give people’s height in centimetres. We do not speak of the living that way, so why should we of the dead like that? I had to find a conversion table to work out that the priest stood about 5’6” high. 

The report with photographs and a link to a previous article about the discovery can be seen at Archaeology breakthrough: Facial reconstruction brings 900-year-old priest back to life

The BBC News website had a report about the discovery of the remains, and also covering evidence about life in Roman and Anglo-Saxon Lincoln from the excavations in January and that can be seen at Lincoln Cathedral: Medieval priest's items 'rare find'

Our Lady of Lincoln

Whilst we are still in Lincolnshire it seems a pity not to take in, though it is not on Canon Stevenson’s list a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Lincoln. That also gives the opportunity to reflect a little further on the depredations of the reformers upon the spiritual and artistic heritage of the country. In 1536 the Lincolnshire Rising was the precursor to the better known Pilgrimage of Grace in Yorkshire and further north. It was when the Rising had occupied Lincoln and had based itself in and around the Cathedral Close that King Henry VIII’s message in response to their uprising was delivered to them in the Chapter House. It told them in no uncertain terms to disperse and saying that they were the rude commons of a county "one of the most brute and beastly of the whole realm," So unlike, so very unlike royal messsges to the regions these days....

In his great history of medieval Lincoln Sir Francis Hill refers to devotion to Our Lady. She was chosen as patroness of the city on the occasion of the victory of the citizens over the forces of the Earl of Chester in 1147 during a bout in the civil war between the followers of King Stephen and the supporters of the Empress Matilda. 

The City of Lincoln itself, like the cathedral, was under the patronage of Our Lady, and the arms of the Citysre a gold fleur de lys superimposed on the cross of St George. The Annunciation is also depicted on The Stonebow, the historic late medieval seat of the city’s government and with an arched entry across the High Street. Viewed from the south side, the figure of the Archangel Gabriel stands on the right of the Gate, bearing a rolled scroll (originally inscribed 'Ave, gratia plena, Dominus tecum") while on the left the Virgin Mary, with hands joined, stands in an attitude of prayer, her feet treading on a dragon, symbol of evil. 

In Lincoln Cathedral by the High Altar was the devotional statue of Our Lady, it’s patroness. A description from the early sixteenth century is as follows:

A great image of Our Lady, sitting in a chair of silver and gilt with four polls, two of them having arms in the front, having upon her head a crown, silver and gilt, set with stones and pearls; and one bee [metal torque] with stones and pearls about her neck, and an ouche [brooch] depending thereby, having in her hand a sceptre with one flower, set with stones and pearls and one bird in the top thereof; and her Child sitting upon her knee, with a crown on his head, with a diadem set with pearls and stones, having a ball with a cross of silver and gilt in his left hand and at either of his feet a scutcheon of arms.

One rather wonders how “great” it was in size. I recall seeing a reference to the tradition that Bishops of Lincoln were expected to make a suitable offering of jewellery to the image.

When the statue was removed is not quite clear. Bishop John Longland, diocesan from 1521 to his death in 1546 had the doubtless interesting position of being Henry VIII’s confessor. It was in his time in  1540 that the shrines of two of his predecessors, St Hugh and Bl. or Ven. John of Dalderby, were removed on royal authority. At the end of a "Registre and Inventarye of all Jewell Westimentes and other ornamentes in the yere of owr lorde god m.ccccc.xxxvj," is "A Copye of the Kinges Lettres by force whereof the shrynes and other Jewels were taken" [1540]. Part of the letter reads as follows: 

For as moch as we understand that there ys a certain shryne and di[vers] fayned Reliquyes and Juels in the Cathedrall church of Lyncoln with [which] all the symple people be moch deceaved and broughte into greate su[per]sticion and Idolatrye to the dyshonor of god and greate slander of th(is) realme and peryll of theire own soules,

"We Let you wỹt that (we) beinge mynded to bringe or lovinge subiectes to ye righte knowledge of ye truth by takynge away all occasions of Idolatrye and supersticion. For ye especiall trust (and) confidence we have in yowr fydelytyes, wysdoms and discrec̃ons, have (and) by theis presentes doe aucthorise name assign and appointe you fowre or three of you that immediatelye uppon the sighte here of repairinge to ye sayd Cathedrall church and declaringe unto ye Deane Recydencyaryes and other mynisters there(of) the cause of yowr comynge ys to take downe as well ye sayd shryne and supersticious reliquyes as superfluouse Jueles, plate copes and other suche like as yow shall thinke by yowr wysdoms not mete to contynew (and) remayne there, unto the wych we doubte not but for yeconsiderac̃ons rehersed the sayde Deane and Resydencyaryes wth other wyll be conformable and wyllinge thereunto, and so yow to precede accordingly. And to see the sayd reliquyes, Juels and plate safely and surely to be conveyde to owr towre of London in to owr Jewyll house there chargeing the mr of owr Jewyls wth the same.


"And further we wyll that you charge and com̃ande in owr name the sayd Deane there to take downe such monumentes as may geve any occasioñ of memorye of such supersticion and Idolatrye hereafter...."

Underneath is the following "memorandum” proving how great was the treasure possessed at that time by the authorities of the minster

Memorandum that by force of the above wrytten comyssyoñ there was taken owt of ye sayd Cathedrall church of Lyncoln at that tyme in gold ijmvjcxxj oz (2621 oz.), in sylver iiijmijciiijxx.v oz (4285 oz.); Besyde a greate nombre of Pearles & preciouse stones wych were of greate valewe, as Dyamondes, Saphires Rubyes, turkyes, Carbuncles etc. There were at that tyme twoe shrynes in the sayd Cath. churche; the one of pure gold called St Hughes Shryne standinge on the backe syde of the highe aulter neare unto Dalysons tombe, the other called St John of Dalderby his shryne was of pure sylver standinge in ye south ende of the greate crosse Ile not farre from the dore where ye gallyley courte ys used to be kepte."

Harry Lytherland was the last Treasurer of Lincoln. His responsibilities were care of the treasures, not the finances, of the cathedral. As he saw the last of the treasures carried away, he cried "ceasing the Treasure, so ceaseth the office of the Treasurer," and flinging down the keys on the pavement of the choir, he walked out of the church. This occurred on the 6th June 1540. The office of Treasurer in the Chapter, which was part of the foundation, has not been filled since.

Bishop Longland was a conservative in religious matters. His successor, Henry Holbeach, whom we encountered at Worcester last week, was a keen reformer.  He was appointed in August 1547 by the government of Protector Somerset. 

In An Historical Account of the Antiquities in the Cathedral Church of St. Mary, Lincoln  published in that city in 1771 it records : "A second Plunder was committed in this Church Anno 1548, during the Presidence of Bishop Holbech, who being a zealous Reformist, gave up all the remaining Treasure which Henry had thought proper to leave behind; this Bishop together with George Henage Dean of Lincoln, pulled down and defaced most of the beautiful Tombs in this Church; and broke all the Figures of the Saints round about this Building; and pulled down those [of] our Saviour, the Virgin, and the Crucifix; so that at the End of the Year 1548, there was scarcely a whole Figure or Tomb remaining."

Henry Holbeach having become Bishop of Lincoln in the August after Henry VIII's death, did what was expected of newly appointed bishops under Henry VIII in his time as Supreme Head and under both Edward VI and Elizabeth I: soon after taking possession of the See he surrendered to the Crown twenty-six (or according to Strype thirty-four) rich manors belonging to the see. He died at one of the remaining episcopal manors at Nettleham, just outside Lincoln in 1551.

What had survived that onslaught then had to endure the Parliamentarian trips in the Civil War - they accounted for most of the stained glass that had survived as well as the monumental brasses.

With thanks to A.F. Kendrick The Cathedral Church of Lincoln  (Bell’s Cathedral series) 1898.

In 1943 a new Catholic parish was created for the area to the north of the city centre and that has the title of Our Lady of Lincoln.

2014 witnessed the installation of a very impressive new statue in the cathedral of Our Lady. The life size work is by the sculptor Aidan Hart, who is Orthodox, and funded partly by Catholics it has been sited in the south-east chapel of the Angel Choir.

There is a good illustrated article by Aidan Hart about the commissioning, design, creation and completion of the statue which can be seen at Our Lady of Lincoln Sculpture.

The new statue was dedicated by the Bishop of Lincoln on May 31 2014.

                    Our Lady of Lincoln, Lincoln Cathedral, England. Completed May 2014. Carved from a single block of Great Ponton limestone. Total height, about 2.3 metres (7'-6"). Polychromed with egg tempera and casein, using azurite and ochre pigments, and gilded with 23 1/2 carat gold leaf.

 Our Lady of Lincoln, Lincoln Cathedral   

Image: orthodox arts journal        

Our Lady of Lincoln Pray for us