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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  June 2014

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION June 2014

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Subject:

Re: St Nicholas

From:

Anne Willis <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Sat, 7 Jun 2014 23:13:05 +0100

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

The St Nicholas chantry has an interesting history.  [BTW Jones was an
extremely good linguist (he won a Boden Scholarship to Hertford Hall) and
did a great deal of work on early Diocesan records, so he may have found
something there.]

The north aisle at HT Bradford was built in two phases; a Lady Chapel on the
north east side of the nave in the early 14th century when Shaftesbury Abbey
finally took possession of the church; and a chantry to the west of that
built around 1420, by the Halle family, who were THE family in Bradford, and
dedicated to St Nicholas (and I have to say that WH Jones is my only source
for that).  There was a dividing wall between the two, and you can still see
the corner corbel, with some paint remaining, above the Thresher monument on
the north wall of the aisle.  It is not known when the dividing wall was
pulled down (I suspect when there was a lightning strike on the church in
1612 which caused a lot of damage) The original arcading of the north aisle
was destroyed during the 1860's re-build of most of the church, so the
current building gives no idea of the former layout.  (Stephen Glynne wrote
a good description of it)

Come 1524 there were two wealthy merchants in Bradford, the Halle of the day
and Thomas Horton, an upstart from Lullington in Somerset, who was said to
be a millionaire.  Horton lived at Westwood and is probably responsible for
the upper stage of the tower there; the beautiful north aisle with its
carved roof; and the lovely late medieval glass.  He took over the Lady
Chapel and turned it into a chantry to the Virgin Mary.  Halle, not to be
outdone, built his own chantry to the Holy Trinity on the south side of the
nave.  (It was rebuilt in 1864 and is now the sacristy).  Both were
dedicated on the same day.  It would seem that the St Nicholas Chantry
lapsed, and I wonder if the endowment was transferred to the new Holy
Trinity chantry  

You won't find the St Nicholas or the Holy Trinity Chantry in the returns,
only the one for Horton's chantry.   This is because the Chantry Priest,
William Byrde, who was also Vicar of Bradford, not to mention Vicar of
Fittleton and Chaplain to Lord Hungerford, was not only foolish enough to
make Rude Remarks about Henry VIII, but also had the misfortune to be caught
up in the Hungerford rebellion in 1540.  He was tried for treason , found
guilty, attainted, hung, drawn and quartered on Tower Hill just after
Hungerford was executed.  Fittleton records this on its parish priest list.
HT does not; Jones merely  remarks that 'Byrde lost his living'.  The
chantry goods and the patronage of the church reverted to the King, and in
1542 the Dean and Chapter of Bristol took over the living, most of
Shaftesbury's property being used to finance the new diocese of Bristol

Byrdes' successor Thomas Morley was the last Abbot of Stanley, the
Cistercian Abbey between Chippenham and Calne, who was also the first, and
last, Bishop of Marlborough (and Vicar of Fittleton)


Anne

Anne
 

-----Original Message-----
From: medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious
culture [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Graham Jones
Sent: 07 June 2014 22:33
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [M-R] St Nicholas

medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

John's cautionary words are well made. Having now read through W. H. R.
Jones' history, it seems that he associated the structure with a chantry of
St Nicholas in the parish church - but I didn't notice how he made the
connection. Maybe I missed it. Like other parishes throughout England,
Bradford on Avon had late medieval devotions both to Nicholas and his female
counterpart Catherine.

A quick look at the Wiki article on 'Village lock-ups' strengthens the
feeling that what is seen today at Bradford is indeed a lock-up of the
seventeenth or eighteenth century. And yet... I've seen no others
incorporated into a bridge. Trowbridge's, offered locally as the alter ego
of Bradford's, is in fact on 'dry land' at one end of the town bridge. Most
lock-ups, though secure, look pretty low-key. Early modern lawmakers were
not known for over-spending on prisons, least of all the overnight variety.
It's hard to imagine Bradford or the county of Wiltshire - the two were in
contention in the seventeenth century over who should repair the town's
bridge - going to the trouble and expense of building a lock-up on a
specially constructed extension of one of the bridge piers. What would be
the point?

They might well, however, have commandeered, and rebuilt as necessary, an
existing structure. If I were a betting man, I'd go along with John Aubrey's
report of a chapel.

Though a matter of immediately local interest, Anne's query has nevertheless
drawn attention to several wider themes. One is papal indulgences for 'good
works' which including the building of bridges and roads. The pope called
for donations towards the repair of Bradford bridge in 1400.  I used to
wonder why bequests immediately after the Reformation so often benefitted
road repairs when previously they had been made to altars and chantries and
the like, but of course this was one of the many areas in which the medieval
church did essential social service. Perhaps the endowment of a priest to
serve at Bradford's chantry of St Nicholas not long afterwards in 1420 led
Jones to make the link between saint and bridge.

Incidentally, the VCH article John mentions also details a rare late
survival of church-scot, an English variety of local ecclesiastical
taxation. Worth a look for those who may be interested.

Graham

________________________________________
From: medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious
culture [[log in to unmask]] on behalf of John Dillon
[[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 07 June 2014 18:41
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [M-R] St Nicholas

medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

The wording of Anne's original query suggests greater caution on her part
regarding the structure's original dedication than is evident in the page
from the St Nicholas Center in Bari cited by Jane below. Such caution seems
perfectly appropriate.

The nineteenth-century historian of Bradford on Avon, W. H. Rich Jones, is
reported here <http://www.freshford.com/bridge_bradford.htm> as saying,
"Concerning the dedication of the Bridge Chapel we have no authentic
information at present." Jones' early twentieth-century successor as a local
historian, John Beddoe, has nothing to add on that particular score (the
discussion of the chapel linked to just above is taken from his annotated
edition of Jones' _Bradford-on-Avon: A History and Description [Bradford on
Avon: Wm. Dotesio, the Library Press, 1907] and the matter in brackets is
his).

The English Heritage data sheet on the Town Bridge and Chapel is likewise
silent about any dedication
<http://list.english-heritage.org.uk/resultsingle.aspx?uid=1036011>. The
discussion in vol. 7 of the Victoria county history of Wiltshire observes,
in the paragraph beginning "Bradford's name", that apart from a statement by
the seventeenth-century antiquary John Aubrey there is "no evidence that the
building was ever used for religious purposes"
<http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=115456>

Similarly suspect the St Nicholas Center's assertion that "The gudgeon
(fish) on the weather vane is a Christian symbol dating from the time of the
chapel" (<https://www.stnicholascenter.org/galleries/gazetteer/4219/>),
whatever "the time of the chapel" may mean (here probably medieval but on
another page the St Nicholas Center seems to think that the building is
still a chapel and a Roman Catholic one at that; see
<https://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/gazetteer/?category_id=16&p=4&n=29>)
. Beddoe, seemingly followed by English Heritage, thought the vane to be
sixteenth-century work. The VCH is rather less positive: "The antiquity of
the weather-vane is uncertain. It existed in 1858 but is not shown in an
engraving that was probably made about 1800."

Best,
John Dillon

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