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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  May 2004

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION May 2004

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Subject:

Re: Position of Hell

From:

Jim Bugslag <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 22 May 2004 11:47:25 -0500

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text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

  In
> Dorset, Sherborne Minster the canons and parishioners fought about the
> arrangement. according to Leland's Itinerary someone shot a flaming arrow
> into the top of the roof. the resulting fire burned the church and melted
> the bells. reportedly there are flaming arrows in some of the roof bosses,
> but i can't vouch for that personally. there are also churches that are
> both monastic and parochial, but not minsters--ie. Dunster, in also
> Somerset, had Benedictines.

Dear Kit,
I did quite a bit of work on this for my MA thesis.  There were many Benedictine
monasteries in England with parishes attached to them.  Some believe that this
relationship dates back at least to the 10th-century monastic revival in England, but
I believe that it received much impetus from the Gregorian reforms of the late 11th
and erly 12th centuries which made it improper for lay persons to collect church
tithes.  Many "Eigenkirche" that provided care of souls thus formed the nucleus of a
monastic foundation.  In some small houses -- Easebourne, Hurley, Wilmington --
the monks shared their church with parishioners right until the Reformation, the
parish using the nave, the monks the east end.  These relationships were not always
entirely felicitous, however, and it was thus not uncommon for separate parish
churches to be built within the monastic precinct.  Perhaps the most apparent
example of this now is St Margaret's Church, right next to Westminster Abbey.  But
even this arrangement did not always proceed smoothly.  In 1312 an agreement
was made between the prior and convent of Rochester cathedral priory on the one
hand and the parishioners on the other stipulating that if at any time the monks
would build them a separate church outside the cathedral, the parishioners should
move to it and resign all claims to an altar in the cathedral.  Such a church had
actually been started in the 13th century but had come to naught; another was
begun in the early 15th century -- but by the parishioners, not by the monks.  This
went slowly, however, because the monks kept raising various objections.  The
parishioners had good reason to want their own church.  As early as 1283
Archbishop Pecham ruled that, since the people of the city had no parish church
except the cathedral, from which they were debarred at night by the closing of the
priory gate, they should henceforth either have access to it at all times or a parish
church should be built for them.  There was never a great deal of cooperation,
however, on the part of the convent.  The monks, disliking the arrangement, tried by
a variety of means to prevent the parishioners from using the church: they shut the
doors at night, refused the sacrament to the sick, denied services, and in 1327 they
locked the doors of the nave.  By the intervention of the bishop, a compromise
solution was adopted to satisfy the parishioners.  An oratory was built in the north
nave aisle by screening off the three westernmost bays from the rest of the nave,
probably with wooden screens.  The parishioners had access to the oratory even at
night.  Undoubtedly this must have entailed night access into the priory, a situation
which no doubt rankled with the monks and which may have affected the layout of
the precinct.  However, it did keep the parish church and its fees inside the priory
church, so the monks also benefitted from the compromise.  Similar solutions were
adopted elsewhere.  Ely cathedral priory had a parochial chapel attached to the
north side of the nave, for example.  There are some really weird court cases from
the later Middle Ages dividing churches up between a parish and convent.
Sorry to go on for so long.  I meant to fill in details about Sherborne!  Oops!
Cheers,
Jim Bugslag

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