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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  November 2009

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION November 2009

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Subject:

Re: veneration of statues - fonts

From:

Harriet Sonne <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Sun, 8 Nov 2009 09:00:42 -0500

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text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Hello Maddy,

We have a record for a 19th Victorian font at the Church known as the Holy Trinity, located at Westbury-on-Trym (Bristol), and from The National Monuments Record, English Heritage [http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/details/default.aspx?id=379174] [accessed 16 September 2009] we have the additional information about the church:

"C19 font, octagonal on marble shafts".  and we have the additional note "[NB: there may have been a church -part of a monastery- here as early as the 8th century; the present church goes back to at least the 13th century, but we have no information of the earlier font(s)]"

Do you think the reference in the will of Hugh John of Bristol might refer to the earlier font in this particular church? Or is this impossible to know...? It would be nice to be able to link the reference to the font in this document to the earlier church.

This is the only Holy Trinity church we have listed for the Bristol area (so far) in BSI. This may be a far stretch...as we now, fonts move about. cheers,

Harriet.
-------
Dr. H. Sonne de Torrens
Rm. 3130, 905-569-4610
Centre of Visual and Media Communications
Institute of Communications and Culture
University of Toronto Mississauga
3359 Mississauga Road North
Mississauga, Ontario L5L 1C6
Canada
________________________________________
From: medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture [[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Madeleine Gray [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Sunday, November 08, 2009 7:20 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [M-R] veneration of statues of the Virgin Mary

medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Hello Jim (and others). If you haven't come across it I guess it must be a new one! which makes it quite exciting. I'll probably put a short note in one of the local journals.
A bit more context -
The reference is in the will of Hugh John of Bristol, brewer. The document is in the PCC probate records in the National Archives in London: reference TNA Prob.11/14 (or 36 Holgrave in the old referencing system.)
He asked for burial in the parish church of Holy Trinity, Bristol, near the baptismal font (one for Harriet?)
As I said in my original posting, the testator does seem to have had a particular devotion to the Virgin Mary. As well as 3s. 4d. to the statue at Margam, he left 3s. 4d. to the much more famous shrine at Penrhys.
He also had some connection with, or devotion to, the Cistercian abbey of Margam. He left them 10s., and 3s. 4d. to the work of the parish church of Llangynwyd, which was one of theirs. (Llangynwyd had a famous holy rood, but he doesn't mention that.) He also leaves small sums to other churches in the area and to Llandaff cathedral.
My comment about 'me-too-ery' was tongue-in-cheek speculation but I think it stands up. The land on which the more famous shrine of Penrhys stood had been given to Margam to found a daughter house. The foundation didn't prosper and the land became a grange. It was given to Llantarnam in an exchange as part of the settlement of a dispute over land in the early C13. I've always thought that Margam must have been pretty fed up when Penrhys became so popular (and lucrative) in the C15 and I wonder whether that were trying to establish a cult at Crick not so much as a rival as an extra. It would have fitted very nicely into a route from Llantarnam via Penrhys and Margam's shrine at Llangynwyd and on to St David's.
I'm assuming the statue was in the church now called Capel Mair (I don't know how far back we can date the dedication) on the ridge just north-west of the abbey. The general assumption is that this was one of the churches which the Cistercians built for lay tenants when they started letting out their land as opposed to farming it with their own lay brothers. It's in pretty much the same relationship to a holy well now called Ffynnon Fair [ie Mary's Well] - again I don't know how far back we can push the name of the well - as the chapel and well at Penrhys. In both cases the chapel is on a spur with higher ground behind it and the well is down a steep slope.
Unfortunately the Margam well isn't marked on the Ordnance Survey map but if you go to
http://www.multimap.com/maps/?bundle=maps&locale=en-gb&countryCode=GB&mapData=904&zoom=15&qs=margam&moveMap=200,200
you get the location of the chapel and the well is just off the track to Cwm Maelog farm.
There is now a substantial well chapel (I think I have a photo if anyone's interested) but it's almost certainly a C19 rebuild. How much of the original survives I don't know.
So now that I know it's a new discovery I clearly have a lot more work to do! I'll wait until I hear from Christine James and Jane Cartwright, both of whom have done a lot on Welsh poetry to shrines of the Virgin Mary, then follow it up and post results to Jim off list.
Btw - you can access the original will on the National Archives web site (for a fee of 3.50) - go to Documents Online at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/?source=ddmenu_search5, click on Wills and key in the search terms. It will download as a PDF  file you can save to your own computer. But beware - I don't know how politely you can put this in your database, Jim - the PCC online indexes are notoriously problematic particularly for early wills and the name has to be entered as Hugh Johannes.

Best wishes
Maddy

Dr Madeleine Gray
Reader in History
School of Education/Ysgol Addysg
University of Wales, Newport/Prifysgol Cymru, Casnewydd
Caerleon Campus/Campws Caerllion,
Newport/Casnewydd  NP18 3QT Tel: +44 (0)1633.432675

'You may not be able to change the world but at least you can embarrass the guilty'
(Jessica Mitford)

________________________________
From: medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture on behalf of Dr Jim Bugslag
Sent: Sat 07/11/2009 8:32 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [M-R] veneration of statues of the Virgin Mary


medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Dear Maddy,
This is not a shrine I've come across.  Many thanks for pointing it out
to me!  It's now in my database, with an acknowledgement of you as the
source of information.  There are, in fact, a considerable number of
Marian shrines in the British Isles now known only through such bequests
in wills.  And it is not uncommon for people to have "hedged their bets"
by making donations to more than one Marian shrine.  Small Marian
shrines focussed on a miraculous image, usually a statue -- and often,
as you know, a miraculous spring -- were ubiquitous throughout England
and Wales.  Not only were they systematically destroyed at the
Reformation, however, but it would appear that even the records of them
were destroyed in an intentional attempt to consign them to oblivion.
This appears to have worked rather well.  Rather than thinking of this
one in terms of "me-too-ery", you might think of it in terms of a shrine
that would have served a fairly local population.  By the end of the
Middle Ages -- and well past it in the still Catholic areas of Europe --
a whole medico-geographical network of local shrines became established,
to which people resorted, not simply for their salvation, but for their
health, fecundity, the welfare of their livestock, etc., etc.  It is a
daunting task to reconstruct these networks, let alone put them into any
sort of chronological development.  Might I ask the date of your will?
Cheers,
Jim

Madeleine Gray wrote:
> medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
> I think this may be one for Jim Bugslag or Graham Jones -
>
> Trawling through early Glamorgan wills in the National Archive in
> London (and looking for something completely different - as you do - )
> I came across a legacy to an image (I'm presuming it was a statue,
> though the Latin word is ymaginum and could also mean a painting) of
> the Virgin Mary described as being 'at the blessed Mary of Creke
> belonging to the abbey of Margam'. This is presumably Capel Mair on
> the Crugwyllt ridge above the abbey and in roughly the same
> relationship to Ffynnon Fair, Margam, as the Penrhys chapel was to the
> well there.
> Have you (in your work on the cult of the Virgin and the churches of
> the region) ever come across a reference to this statue, or anything
> that could be interpreted as such? David Williams doesn't seem to have
> come across it. My own suspicion is that it's the monks of Margam
> doing a bit of me-too-ery! The testator does seem to have had a
> particular devotion to the BVM - in the preamble he leaves his soul to
> God and to 'Mary the virgin, queen of mercy' and he gives money to
> Penrhys as well.
>
> I've contacted Christine James and Jane Cartwright to see if they have
> come across any poetry that could be interpreted as a reference to
> this statue.
>
> Best wishes - hope all is well with you.
> Maddy
>
>
> Dr Madeleine Gray
> Reader in History
> School of Education/Ysgol Addysg
> University of Wales, Newport/Prifysgol Cymru, Casnewydd
> Caerleon Campus/Campws Caerllion,
> Newport/Casnewydd  NP18 3QT Tel: +44 (0)1633.432675
>
> 'You may not be able to change the world but at least you can
> embarrass the guilty'
> (Jessica Mitford)
>
>
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