J C Dickinson, The Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham, 1956 Chapters 1-3 (‘Historical’)
Chapter 1 Chapter 3
Chapter 2 The Progress of Pilgrimage
Page 24 ALTHOUGH the readily available evidence for this period continues to be scrappy in the extreme, it suffices to show that, from the late fourteenth century on, the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham was of national importance. At first, signs of royal patronage are disappointingly small. Edward II seems to have first visited Walsingham as king 6-8 October 1315,1 though six and a half years earlier, at the instance of Queen Isabella, he had granted the house the valuable licence to acquire in mortmain lands and rents to the yearly value of £40,2 probably a symptom both of royal favour and of the rising resources of the priory. In 1326 letters of 2-6 February show that the king was at Walsingham for the feast of the Purification.3 Edward III was a frequent visitor in the early years of his reign, the royal chancery being at Walsingham 19-20 September4 and 9 November5 1328, 26-28 June6 and 21 August7 1331, 20-30 August 1333,8 6-8 October 1334,9 13 March 1339,10 12-20 February 1336.11 Late in 1343 the king returned to England from France and went on pilgrimage, first to Canterbury on foot, and then riding to 1 C.C.R. (1313-8), 249-53. For his offerings at this time see below, 40. 2 C.P.R. (1307-13), 156. 3 C.C.R. (1323-7), 444, 448, 544, 545. 4 C.P.R. (1327-30), 319, 321; see below, 40. 5 C.P.R. (1327-30), 421. 6 C.P.R. (1330-4), 148, 150; C.C.R. (1330-3), 7 C.P.R. (1330-4), 466. 8 C.C.R. (1330-3), 75, 131. 9 Ibid. 265, 343. 10 C.P.R. (1334-8), 93. 11 Ibid. 222-6, 281; C.C.R. (1333-7), 541-3, 645-7. Page 25 FOURTEENTH-CENTURY PILGRIMS Gloucester and Walsingham.1 Rather surprisingly the Chancery Enrolments show no sign of Edward’s having visited Walsingham in the remaining thirty-four years of his reign. After this time easily accessible evidence on royal movements is for a century and a half exceptionally meagre. Richard II and his queen were on pilgrimage in the May and June of 1383, visiting Walsingham and Bury St Edmunds.2 Meanwhile some eminent foreign visitors came. In 1332 we have mention of ‘the old Queen’ coming from Walsingham.3 In March 1361, John, duke of Brittany, received £9 from the king for expenses incurred by a pilgrimage to Walsingham,4 and in the following May licence was granted to the duke of Anjou to visit the shrines of St Thomas of Canterbury and Our Lady of Walsingham .5 In April 1363 Gerard le Boucher, described as ‘Burgess of Compiègne, hostage’, was licenced to visit Our Lady of Walsingham and St John of Beverley, as was Amanda de Landa, burgess of Douai;6 in May, Guy, count of St Pol, had similar permission to go to Walsingham.7 The following year David Bruce was given safe conduct by the king to make the same pilgrimage.8 In 1383 John of Gaunt gave safe conduct to Sir James Lindsay, a Scottish knight, and to a hundred people riding in his company, for various pilgrimages including Canterbury and Walsingham.9 In 1380 and 1382 he had given permission to Sir Bernard Brocas to 1 Adam of Murimuth, Chron. Contin. (R.S. 93), 135. 2 Polychronicon Ranulfi Higden (R.S. 41) IX, 20. 3 Hist. MSS. Corn., 11th Rep. III, 213. 4 T. Rymer, Foedera, III (2), 605= Syllabus (ed. T. D. Hardy), I, 416. 5 Syllabus (ed. T. D. Hardy), I, 417. 6 Ibid. 427. 7 Ibid. 428. 8 Ibid. 431. 9 John of Gaunt’s Register 1379-83 (Camden Soc., 1937), ed. E. C. Lodge and R. Somerville, no. 1194. top of pagePage 26 ‘hunt reasonably’ on his way to and from Walsingham.1 A glimpse of the wealth of the shrine a little earlier is afforded by the curious and elaborate petition of the canons of Walsingham against the proposal to establish a house of Franciscans in the town (c. 1346).2 Amongst other things this tells us that to safeguard the jewels offered in honour of Our Lady and their other possessions from thieves, the canons found it necessary to close the priory gate at night. About the same time the Slipper Chapel at Houghton was built and may be a further sign of the established popularity of the shrine by this date.3 This evidence is reinforced from other sources. Written signs of the hundreds of pilgrims of low degree who flocked to Walsingham at this time are still of the scantiest, though of the fact itself there can be no reasonable doubt, even if we are still straitly limited to occasional glimpses of the part Our Lady of Walsingham played in the life of ordinary people. In or about 1343 some fishermen from Winterton, having lost their nets at sea, implored divine aid that ‘by reverence of the image of Blessed Mary at Walsingham and by the merits of St Edmund’ they might be recovered.4 In 1364 the pilgrims to Walsingham included not only David Bruce but one Philip Crikyere who, by rights, should have been in Hertford jail whither he had been consigned after being indicted of extortion. But he was evidently a persuasive character, for he secured his keeper’s licence to go on pilgrimage to Walsingham. Unfortunately, on his way back Philip got involved in a 1 John of Gaunt’s Register 1379-83, nos. 252, 645. 2 Cartul. fos. 160r-161r, printed in Arch. Journ. XXVI (1869), 169-73; cf. Norfolk Archaeology, XXV, 269-71; the friary was founded in 1347-8. 3 See Appendix IV, below (141-2). 4 Memor. of St Edmund’s Abbey (R.S. 96), III, 319. Page 27 EARLY LITERARY REFERENCES brawl, in the course of which he killed a man and thus further interested the powers of the law.1 Of similarly unimportant status were the two jurors who in 1367 are said to have remembered the birth of one Adam de Wolveton, because on the Monday after it they started on their journey to Walsingham on pilgrimage.2 By this time the growth of English literature gives a few typically erratic references to the history of the shrine. Archbishop FitzRalph of Armagh in a sermon in 1346 spoke temperately of the dangers attendant on the cult of, inter alia, ‘our dere lauedy of Walsyngham’.3 Langland’s Vision of Piers the Plowman (c. 1362) mentions that ‘Heremites on an heep with hoked staues, Wenten to Walsyngham’,4 whilst his Avarice swears repentance and vows to wenden to Walsyngham and my wyf also, And bidde the Rode of Bromeholme brynge me oute of dette’.5 Indirect tribute to the importance of Walsingham at this time is furnished by the violent attacks on it made by the Lollards, noted by the chroniclers. Knighton’s Chronicon under 1382 notes that the Lollards inveighed against what they crudely called ‘the wyche of Walsingham’.6 Thomas of Walsingham tells us that the pilgrimages they singled out for attack were those to Walsingham and to the Cross at the north door of St Paul’s Cathedral7 as does Capgrave8 (c. 1453), whilst Pecock’s Repressor (c. 1449) records their contention, ‘it is vein waast and idil forto trotte to Wasingam rather than to ech other place in which an ymage of Marie is ‘.9 1 C.P.R. (1361-4), 473-4. 2 Calendar of Inquisitions post modern, XI, no. 231. 3 G. R. Owst, Literature and Pulpit in Medieval England (Cambridge, 1930), 141; cf. 145. 4 Piers the Plowman, ed. W. E. Skeat (1886), Text B, Prologue, 53-4. 5 Ibid. Text B, V, 230-1. 6 Chronicon (R.S. 92), II, 183. 7Hist. Anglic. (R.S. 28), I, 188. 8 Liber de illustribus Henricis (R.S. 7), 252. 9 R.S. 19, 1, 194 Page 28 At the priory itself, the main signs of its wide repute at this time must have been the extensive rebuilding certainly now begun, involving the erection of a new church of great magnificence, the scheme being in full swing under Prior John Snoring (1374-1401).1 The aspect of Snoring’s priorate, however, which attracted most contemporary notice was his protracted and rather mysterious feud with the bishop of Norwich. The first sign of trouble in the offing is found in a letter of 6 October 1382,2 wherein the king ordered the canons of Walsingham not to attempt anything that might prejudice his rights or those of Roger, son and heir of Edmund Mortimer, earl of March,3 or the laws and customs of the realm or the foundation of the house; it had been reported to the king that the prior ‘fearing not the pain of perjury, has without craving or obtaining licence of the king or earl procured letters of the Pope to be made abbot and to rule the same (house) . . . in the name of abbot . . . contrary to the founder’s will, which would tend not only to the contempt of the king and to the prejudice of the said earl but to overset the rules and constitutions of the priory and to impoverish the same’. The papal bull mentioned has not survived, but we shall see reason to believe that the rather remarkably vigorous opposition which the prior’s action so clearly aroused was due to a cause unmentioned in the royal letters. We may here note in passing that the conversion of a priory into an abbey would not necessarily involve the diminution of royal or patronal rights nor involve Walsingham in expenses it could not afford. Nor is it certain that the step would grossly infringe the ordinances of the house or the founder’s intention. One or 1 Below, 75-6. 2 C.C.R. (1381-3), 161. 3 Patron of the priory at this time. top of pagePage 29 THE SEARCH FOR ABBATIAL RANK two cases are known of a founder of a house of Austin canons stipulating that it should not become an abbey, as for example at Cartmel,1 but it is far from established that any such stipulation was made here. On 6 March of the next year (1383) the Close Rolls refer again to the matter, one John Yarmouth ‘monk of Walsingham abbey’ (sic) being ordered to give security not to go abroad or attempt there anything that would tend to the prejudice of the king and his people or law or to a breach of the laws of the realm.2 For nearly a year there was a pause, and one would give much to know the content of the confabulations in the chapter-house at Walsingham in these months. That trouble was smouldering and was not extinguished is shown by letters patent wherein the king, as guardian of the young Roger de Mortimer, patron of the priory, appointed the subprior of Walsingham as custodian of the priory, ‘divers contentions having arisen between the subprior and prior who is desirous to obtain the position of abbot therein and to that end expends its revenues and possessions wastefully’.3 This was on 1 March 1384 and on the same day the king appointed his chancellor with the keeper of the rolls and three others to inquire concerning ‘trespasses and other offences in the priory of St Mary, Walsingham’, where divers quarrels had arisen between the brethren to the dissipation of its revenues, the diminution of its worship and the prejudice of Roger de Mortimer.4 Prior Snoring seems to have acted quickly and temporarily made his peace with the king; for, eight days later, those appointed to inquire concerning ‘trespasses, 1 J. C. Dickinson, The Origins of the Austin Canons (1950), 156-7. 2 C.C.R. (1381-3), 283-4. 3 C.P.R. (1381-5), 383. 4 Ibid. 421. Page 30 extortions, maintenance of quarrels, dilapidations, charges to the decrease of divine worship in the priory of St Mary of Walsingham and withdrawal of alms and works of piety appointed of old times’ had their commission annulled, since Prior John Snoring had found three sureties of 1000 marks each, that, until the next Parliament, he would keep the priory and possessions without waste or alienation and not go to or send to the Roman court;1 on the same day letters patent record the revocation of the grant of custody to the subprior.2 On 1 April 1384 the bishop of Norwich succeeded in extracting from Prior Snoring a sworn affirmation that he did not intend to use abbatial rights, including the ring and staff, nor to appeal to Rome.3 What happened next is not clear. Prior Snoring was clearly a man of determination who may well have felt that he was being persecuted by an unholy combination of bishop and king and have sought redress from the Holy See, but the course of events in the next five years has not been discovered by the writer. However, the removal of Prior Snoring by the bishop of Norwich is mentioned in letters patent of 21 May 1389. These gave the custody of the priory of Walsingham to a body composed of the priors of Coxford and Wymondham, a knight and two clerks. They were to inspect, audit and direct its financial affairs and notify the king if they had any difficulty in reforming abuses; it was noted that the prior had appealed to Rome against sentence of removal.4 On 25 June fresh custodians were added, it being enjoined that no canon of the house be 1 C.C.R. (1381-5), 433-4. 2 C.P.R. (1381-3), 389. 3 The original deed—somewhat damaged—is Bodl. Lib. Old., Norfolk Charters, 558. 4 C.P.R. (1388-92), 36. Page 31 THE SEARCH FOR ABBATIAL RANK appointed to administer it or to rule or dispose of its rents.1 On 22 October of the same year, the bishop of Norwich took the disturbing step of appointing John of Hereford, canon of Walsingham, to be prior of the house, on the grounds that collation had devolved to the diocesan by reason of the long absence of the prior.2 Soon after—on 18 November 1389—Prior Snoring secured royal permission to go to the Roman court to defend his right to the priory.3 This was no easy matter, and eighteen months later—on 5 June 1391—we find him licensed to prosecute to a conclusion in the Roman court his suit which had long been pending, a knight and two citizens of London having stood surety for a thousand marks each that during his stay he would not attempt anything against the king or the law and customs of the realm.4 It seems that Prior Snoring was now defending his right to be prior of Walsingham (as the letters patent of 18 November suggest) and not his original petition for the priory to be converted into an abbey (as is implied in the rather obscure note attached to the list of priors in the cartulary).5 But, as this note in the cartulary shows, Snoring was ultimately restored to office. However, the end of the contest was not yet. In 1398 we find that John had again appealed to Rome, this time against a decision of the official of the court of Canterbury that he should pay 5 marks to the bishop of Norwich, a sentence he only accepted when threatened with papal excommunication.6 1 Ibid. 73-4. 2 Norwich Episcopal Registers, VI, fos. 140v-141v. 3 C.P.R. (1388-92), 152. 4 Ibid. 424. 5 Below, 134. 6 C. Pap. Reg. V, 159-60. top of page Page 32 The contest ended abruptly in 1400. Archbishop Arundel came to Walsingham on metropolitical visitation, found the prior there ‘deeply ensnared in a great variety of defects’ and ordered his removal from office. The prior submitted and the archbishop sweetened the pill by granting him a good pension and exemption for life from his old foe, the bishop of Norwich, and from the prior of the house.1 The history of the above struggle, when examined closely, shows certain curious features. The hints of the heavy financial expenditure by Prior Snoring are worth noting: his proceedings at Rome may well have been costly, as the cartulary note recorded, but it is very likely that expenses at this time were, in part, due to the heavy building expenditure incurred by Prior Snoring which is known to have taken place at this time,2 though unmentioned in any of the documents just quoted. From the complaints made against the prior it would seem likely that the not inconsiderable resources of Walsingham were so strained that he employed funds bequeathed for other purposes to close the financial gap; ‘the diminution of worship’ alleged may well refer to either appropriation of chantry bequests by the prior or possibly a reduction in the size of the convent. There can be no doubt that the prior incurred considerable expenditure, against the will of at least part of the convent. But it is extremely unlikely that more than a part of this was spent in the legal expenses involve in the attempt to convert the priory into an abbey, expensive though the cost of this seems to have been. For the medieval monastery to get into financial trouble was not uncommon, but this alone seldom disturbed the king and the diocesan in the way that 1 Memorials of St Edmund’s (R.S. 96), III, 185. 2 Below, 75-6. Page 33 THE SEARCH FOR ABBATIAL RANK Prior Snoring’s activities, whatever they may have been, clearly upset Richard II and Bishop Henry of Norwich. Placing the struggle against the background of the times, it is difficult to avoid the conjecture that the violent opposition of king and bishop to the prior of Walsingham was not caused by any of the actions mentioned in their official deeds, but by an attempt on Snoring’s part to obtain for his abbey from the pope the great privilege of exemption from episcopal visitation. Such an action would be violently resented by any normal medieval bishop of Norwich, involving, as it did, the removal from diocesan control of one of the greatest monasteries of his diocese. Whilst the king, as is well known, was so sensitive to anti-papal feeling as to re-enact at this time the Statute of Provisors1 and the Statute of Praemunire2 which in theory banned papal provisions and certain important appeals to the papal courts.3 From what we have already seen, it is quite clear that by the fifteenth century Walsingham had become a shrine of national importance. It is all the more to be regretted therefore that the available evidence for this period still remains far from adequate. Despite the magnificent windfall of the Paston Letters, comparatively little reference is found to the shrine at this time, the Chancery Enrolments and chronicles of the day proving notoriously inadequate, whilst more hopeful sources remain unedited. For the early part of the century only a few brief glimpses of pilgrims to the shrine have been found. 1 Passed in 1351, re-enacted in 1390. 2 Passed in 1353, re-enacted in 1393. 3 See C. Davies, ‘The Statute of Provisors of 1351’ in History (June 1953), 116-33 and W. T. Waugh, ‘The Great Statute of Praemunire’ in Eng. Hist. Rev. (1922), 173-205. Page 34 Henry V was at Walsingham in 1421 during his last visit to England1 and in 1427 Queen Joan came to St Albans after visits to Walsingham, Norwich and Peterborough;2 the chronicler who notes her visit affords an interesting sidelight on the popularity of the shrine when he notes that, after Easter 1431, there was a fire at Little Walsingham which destroyed four inns there and was rumoured to have been started by pilgrims who had been charged extortionate prices.3 About 1433 the pious Margery Kemp went to Walsingham to ‘offer in worship of Our Lady’.4 Evidently in 1456 and 1457 the abbot of Peterborough came here on pilgrimage, paying 20s. for his expenses on each occasion .5 The year 1455 had seen ‘the duc of Yorke ... beyng comme out of Irlande ridynge to oure Lady of Walsingham in pylgrymage’.6 Henry VI visited Walsingham in 1447, 1448 and 1459,7 and on 18 November 1456 Sir John Fastolf wrote to John Paston, ‘my Lord of Norfolk is remevid from Framlyngham on foote to goo to Walsyngham’.8 In 1460, Warwick the kingmaker was on pilgrimage here with his wife.9 In October of the next year it was rumoured the king was going to Walsingham.10 In 1465 Edward IV certainly licensed the priory to acquire in mortmain lands and rents to the considerable value of £40 yearly ‘that they may pray 1 J. H. Wylie and W. T. Waugh, The Reign of Henry the Fifth (1929), III, 272. 2 J. Amundesham, Chronicon (R.S. 28), I, 26. 3 Ibid. 62. 4 The Book of Margery Kempe, ed. W. Butler Bowdon (1936), 310, 378. 5 The Book of William Morton, ed. W. T. Mellows, P. I. King and C. N. L Brooke (1954), 86, 106; I owe this reference to Mr Brooke. 6 C.C.R. (1454-61), 77. 7 M. E. Christie, Henry VI (1922), 382, 384-5. 8 The Paston Letters, ed. J. Gairdner (4 vols. 1900), I, 411. 9 Jehan de Waurin, Recueil des Croniques (R.S. 39), V, 309. 10 Paston Letters, II, 54. top of pagePage 35 EARLY BEQUESTS TO THE SHRINE for the good estate of the king and Elizabeth his queen and for the king’s soul after death’1 and in 1469 the royal pair were evidently at Walsingham,2 whilst the king was expected there again in October 1475,3 after absence in France, as was the duke of Buckingham three years later.4 As usual the lower orders left little or no trace of their visits but there must have been not a few who turned their eyes to Our Lady of Walsingham in their hour of need. When John Paston developed a ‘grete dysese’, his wife ‘be hestyd to gon on pylgreymmays to Walsingham’, whilst his mother-in-law ‘be hestyd a nodyr ymmage of wax of the weytte of yow to oyer Lady of Walsyngham’5 (September 1443). The cost of a pilgrimage from Ghent to Our Lady of Walsingham was estimated at four livres.6 By this time medieval wills provide further signs of the popularity of the shrine. But the accessions from this source were not numerous, to judge by surviving evidence; and it is clear that most of the offerings at the shrine were made by pilgrims at the time of their visit, though a few made arrangements for another to carry out a posthumous pilgrimage for them. One of the earliest gifts bequeathed to the shrine, of which knowledge has survived, is that made in 1326 by Archbishop Walter Reynolds of Canterbury, who left altar ornaments and fittings to the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.7 In 1367 one Sir Thomas Uvedale left to the 1 C.P.R. (1461-7), 484-5. 2 Paston Letters, II, 353-4, 355. 3 Ibid. III, 141. 4 Ibid. III, 234. 5 Ibid. I, 48. 6 Waterton, Pietas Mariana Britannica (1879), 173 quoting Cannaert, Witten Bouc, 354. 7 Hist. MSS. Rep., 5th Rep., App. 460. H.P. Feasey (Our Ladye of Walsingham, Weston-super-Mare, 1901, p. 23) notes a bequest in 1317 by Gilbert Russell for pilgrimages to Compostella, Rocamadour, Bromholm, Walsingham and Canterbury. Page 36 chapel at Walsingham a silver tablet gilt with the salutation of the Blessed Virgin, together with a painted image,1 and 10 marks to the building of the choir.2 Twenty years before, John earl of Surrey had bequeathed ‘mon egle dez saune les anels qe sount mys par constellation’.3 In 1369 Sir Bartholomew Burghersh, a founder of the order of the Garter, left ‘my body to be buried in the chapel of Walsyngham before the image of the Blessed Virgin’ 4 which implies some sort of offering, and in 1381 William earl of Suffolk willed a statuette of a horse and man armed with his arms to be made in silver and ‘offered to the altar of Our Lady of Walsingham’.5 The previous year Edmund earl of March had devised to the house forty marks and an elaborate set of white vestments and altar furnishings.6 By her will, proved in 1360, Elizabeth de Burgh, Lady Clare, patron of the priory, bequeathed to it £4 in pence, two cloths of gold and a silver and enamel cup (godet) with a trepar.7 In 1414. Semari de Tonge a baron of the Cinque Ports left 20 marks for masses in Our Lady’s chapel before the image.8 In 1433 Benedict, bishop of St David’s, left 10 for various pilgrimages 1 Surrey Arch. Coll. III, 151: ‘unam tabellam argenteam et deauratam de Salutatione beatae Mariae cum una ymagine depicta’. 2 Below, 76. 3 Testamenta Eboracensia (Surtees Soc.), I, 41. 4 Testamenta Vetusta (ed. N. H. Nicholas, 2 vols., 1826), I, 77. 5 Ibid. 115. 6 Royal Wills (ed. J. Nichols, 1780), 107, 109; ‘. . . une chapelle blanche, cest assavoir, deuz curtynes, trois aubes, trois amytes, deux estoles, trois fanons, un chesible, deux tonicles, trois chapes, deux fronteles, un towaill ove un frountell, un longe towaill pur l’autier, un cas pour un corporas avec le corporas acordant a la chapele, toute d’une seute’. 7 Ibid. 32. She had incurred the displeasure of the canons by founding a Franciscan friary at Walsingham. The text of their long and interesting petition against this step survives (see above, 26). 8 Register of Henry Chichele (ed. E. F. Jacob, 3 vols.), II (1937), 13. Page 37 EARLY BEQUESTS TO THE SHRINE including one to Walsingham, to be made ‘with all possible haste’1 (‘cum festinacione possibili’) after his death, whilst the same year Thomas, bishop of Worcester, bequeathed a share of ‘all my relics which I brought from Rome in two small bags’.2 The will of Isabel, countess of Warwick (1440) provided that ‘my tablet with the image of Our Lady, having a glass for it, be offered to Our Lady of like in the timber to that over Our Lady of Caversham’.3 In 1471 William Ponte bequeathed 6s. 8d. to the shrine and 1s. to ‘any of those who will pilgrimage for me to Blessed Marye of Walsingham ,4 and in 1474 Lady Elizabeth Andrew bequeathed a ring with diamonds.5 In 1483 Anthony Wydevill, Earl Rivers, bequeathed his ‘trapper of blakk cloth of gold’.6 The large number of published North country wills suggests that Walsingham had comparatively little attraction there, partly, perhaps, because of the great repute of Saint Cuthbert, partly also because of that isolationist spirit of the land north of the Humber which was so marked throughout the Middle Ages. But in 1453 Lord John Scrope of Masham left 10 marks for ‘forgeten avowes and beheestes’ made by him to Our Lady of Walsingham.7 In 1472 the will of William Ecopp, of Heslerton, ordained that after his death a pilgrim or pilgrims should go on his behalf, inter alia, to Walsingham and six other sanctuaries of Our Lady offering 4d. at each.8 In 1498 William Mauleverer left the house ‘a 1 Ibid. 485. 2 Ibid. 491. 3 Testamenta Vetusta, I, 240. 4 Ibid. 326. 5 Ibid. 329. 6 S. Bentley, Excerpta Historica (1831), 248. 7 Testamenta Eboracensia (Surtees Soc.), II, 192. 8 Ibid. III, 201. Page 38 litell ring with a diamount, that king Richard gave me’,1 and Lady Ann Scrope left ‘x of my grete beedes lassed with sylke crymmesyn and goold with a grete botton of goold and tasselyd with the same’.2 In 1505 Lady Catherine widow of Sir John Hastings bequeathed to Walsingham her velvet gown.3 Although a great number of medieval wills have not been examined, the above bequests to Walsingham are all to be found among several thousand consulted by the writer. It is, indeed, clear from the most cursory study of these that the habit of making bequests to far distant good causes is a very modern one. The mass of charitable bequests were to very local institutions, notably, of course, the testator’s parish church, and the few of wider importance seem to have been due to some private devotion or to special reasons, such as that which led the nobility to make gifts to religious houses of which they were patrons. Certainly there is little doubt that only a very small part of Walsingham’s wealth came from bequests. Infinitely more important was the wealth derived from offerings made at the shrine by those on pilgrimage there. Unhappily we have but the scantiest evidences of these. The only account roll from the priory traced by the writer is one of the cellarer for the year 1495-6,4 which, however, does not deal with this side of the revenue. The chronicler John Capgrave quotes from some annals of the chapel of Walsingham which contained, inter alia, details of some important gifts to the shrine. Henry, duke of Lancaster (d. 1361, he tells us, 1 Testamenta Eboracensia, IV, 182n. 2 Ibid. IV, 153. 3 Ibid. IV, 257. 4 Society of Antiquaries of London, MS. 622: ‘Compotus domini Thome Bynham in officio cellerarii’ (10—11 Hen. VII). Some short, quite minor accounts not connected with the shrine survive on the flyleaves of a Bible from the priory (see below, 115). Page 39 ROYAL OFFERINGS TO THE SHRINE gave a cup and other things to the total value of about 400 marks, whilst his father Henry, earl of Lancaster, gave what was evidently a picture of the Annunciation with precious stones also of an estimated value of 400 marks1—the disappearance of this manuscript is, perhaps, more to be regretted than that of any other belonging to the priory. Under such circumstances we are forced to rely principally on the very few donors’ accounts which have survived to get glimpses of the offerings made at the shrine. Inevitably most of these are accounts of the royal household, and the gifts they record are inevitably much more lavish than was usual with donors of less degree. The gifts of Henry III have already been noted. Various benefactions of Edward have been found. The king had £14. 15s. 2d. of silver given to William de Fardon ‘from which to make an image in the likeness of the lord king’ and also 2½ ounces of gold ‘for gilding the same image which was offered in the chapel of blessed Mary at Walsingham’.2 The Account Roll of 18 Edward I shows that on 8 February the king made offerings, of 7s. each ‘at the statue of Blessed Mary in the small chapel of Walsingham’ and ‘at the statue of the blessed Gabriel in the same chapel’.3 The roll of 28 Edward I records some most valuable and extensive particulars of royal offerings. On 15 May 1300, the king offered 7s. and a gold brooch (firmaculum) valued at 8 marks ‘at the statue of Blessed Mary in the chapel of Walsingham’ and 7s. each ‘at relics placed above the same altar’ and ‘at the statue of Saint Gabriel and the 1 ‘Salutationem angelicam cum lapidibus pretiosis’, Liber de illustribus Henricis (R.S. 7), 164. 2 P.R.O., Wardrobe Accounts, E. 352, no. 84 m. I (22 March 1282to 20 November 1284); I owe this reference to Mr A. J. Taylor. 3 P.R.O., Chan. Misc., 46, m. 1. top of pagePage 40 lac beate Marie at the high altar in the priory church there’. On behalf of the queen, 7s. and a gold brooch valued at 6 marks were offered in Our Lady’s chapel and 7s. at ‘the milk of blessed Mary in the church of the aforesaid priory’. Whilst ten days later (25 May) the Lord Edward’ (the future King Edward II) offered a shilling at the high altar and 7s. at the altar in the chapel of Our Lady.1 Two years later, on 30 March, the same stock payment of 7s. was made by the king at the altar of the chapel and at the high altar of the priory church.2 On 6 October 1315, seven shillings was given on behalf of King Edward II (then at the priory) ‘at various relics in the chapel of blessed Mary of Walsingham’. The queen gave the same amount ‘at the altar in the small chapel’ of the priory and a gold brooch set with stones costing 40s.3 Edward III, on the first visit of his reign to Walsingham (20 September 1328) made gifts at the altar in Our Lady’s chapel and to the statue of Our Lady there, to a total value of 83s. 4d., which included valuable cloth and a gold brooch with jewels.4 Such offerings as this give us some idea of the way in which the wealth of Walsingham steadily increased in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. By the end of the period it was clearly getting a big part of its revenue from these offerings and was in a position to invest considerable sums in land. In 1425 the priory got a licence to acquire considerable Norfolk property for which privilege the king was paid 100 marks,5 another 1 Liber quotidianus contrarotulatoris garderobae anno 28 Edwardi primi (Soc. of Antiquaries, 1787), 36, 39, 334• 2 P.R.O., E. 101/361/13, m. 2. 3 P.R.O., E. 101/376/7, mm. 4, 5, 9. 4 P.R.O., E. 101/383/14. 5 C.P.R. (1422-9), 270. Page 41 HENRY VII AT WALSINGHAM for £100 in 1448,1 followed by a grant in mortmain for £10 in 1453,2 another licence for £40 annual value in 14653 and one for £24 in 1481.4 A final considerable indication of the financial resources of Walsingham at this time is provided by the great list of properties acquired by Prior John Farewell5 (1474-1503), for which he paid the gigantic sum of £717. 5s. 6d. Published materials for Tudor history are substantially more ample than those for preceding generations, and leave no shadow of doubt as to the enormous repute of the shrine in its last days. Nowhere is there any effective evidence of any decline in the popularity of Walsingham6 and there is much to show that it continued highly attractive. The shrine at this time seems to have had no greater devotee than Henry VII. Polydore Vergil tells us how, in the crisis of 1487 when his throne was in grave peril, Henry ‘came to the place called Walsingham where he prayed devoutly before the image of the Blessed Virgin 1 Ibid. (1446-52), 180. 2 Ibid. (1452-61), 68. 3 Ibid. (1461-7), 484-5. 4 Ibid. (1476-85), 223 (in part satisfaction of a previous licence). 5 Cartul. fo. 59v = Mon. 75 where the list is given in full. 6Only two allegations to this effect have been noted, both of which are suspect. In a big licence to alienate in mortmain, granted by Henry VI in 1448, it is asserted that the house ‘is so poorly endowed that the profits of their possessions scarce suffice to celebrate divine service’ (C.P.R. (1446-52), 180), but this is nothing more than a stock chancery formula used in a place where it is utterly inappropriate. The wealth of Walsingham is adequately proved by the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535 (below, 59-60) when half of its income came from endowments, and from the note in the cartulary of its wealth in the time of Prior Farewell just noted. Wolsey’s grant of Flitcham priory to Walsingham in 1528 asserts that the universal devotion by which it [Walsingham] was first sustained is now cooled by the perverse reviling of some and the pestiferous preaching of others’ (L. and P. IV, no. 2254) ; but the other contemporary evidence does not support this, which, again, is probably a purely conventional phrase aimed at providing a formal motive for the grant. Page 42 Mary (who is worshipped with special devotion there), that he might be preserved from the wiles of his enemies’.1 And after the defeat of his rival, Lambert Simnel, the king sent Christopher Urswick with the military standard which he had used against the enemy whom he had defeated, to Walsingham, ‘to offer thanks for the victory in the shrine of the Blessed Virgin and to place the standard there as a memorial of the favour he had received from God’.2 On 7 March 1489, William Paston wrote that the king was expected to be at Norwich on Palm Sunday ‘and so tary there all Ester, and than to Walsyngham’,3 and on 23 August 1498 Henry was there again.4 On 16 April 1506 ‘the king toke his pilgrimage toward our Lady of Walsingham and the xxii day of the said moneth his hygnesse came to Cambrig’.5 It was perhaps on this occasion that he offered at the shrine that ‘ymage of silver and gilt . . . that we have caused to bee made to be offred and sette before our Lady at Walsingham’ referred to in his will.6 In 1502-3, the expenses of Elizabeth of York, aunt of the king, included numerous small donations to shrines, the largest being half a mark each to Our Lady of Walsingham and Our Lady of Sudbury.7 More surprising to many will be the evident devotion of Henry VIII to Our Lady of Walsingham in the early 1 Anglica Historia ed. D. Hay, Camden Soc. LXXIV (1950), 21. Henry was apparently at Walsingham on 17 April 1487 (Materials for the reign of Henry VII (R.S. 6o), II, 137). 2 Anglic. Hist. 25; cf. J. Hardyng, Chron. (1812) , 557, ‘He incontynently sent his banner to Walsyngham to be consecrate to our Lady there to bee kepte for a perpetuall monument of victorie.’ 3 Paston Letters, III, 351. 4 Excerpta Hist. (ed. S. Bentley), 119. Bodl. Lib. Oxf. MS. Ashmole 1113, fo. 126. 6 T. Astle, The Will of King Henry VII (London, 1775), 37; the will fetches out very strongly the king’s devotion to Our Lady. 7 Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York (ed. N. H. Nicolas, 1830), 3. Page 43 HENRY VIII AND WALSINGHAM years of his reign, a devotion which, one may suspect, was intimately bound up with his passionate desire for a son and heir. In Spelman’s day men still told of Henry’s pilgrimage to the shrine, when he walked barefoot to the shrine and offered to Our Lady a necklace of great value;1 on what occasion this was we cannot be certain, but it must have been early in the reign. The king is known to have endowed a candle there. An annual payment of 46s. 8d. for this appears in 1509, 1510 and 1515,2 which gift may have been made during a royal visit. In the accounts for 1525-6, 43s. 4d. was paid for the king’s candle before Our Lady of Walsingham3 and in 1529 the same sum appears.4 There is also evidence of a sum of £10 yearly paid for a priest ‘singing before Our Lady of Walsingham’,5 which continues down to the suppression of the shrine in 1538, which seems to be a quite recent obligation, though the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535 records that one had been established for the souls of Edward I and Edward II.6 The payment of £1. 13s. 4d. made in January 15117 is described as ‘offerings at Our Lady of Walsingham’ and presumably followed the birth of the young Prince Henry on New Year’s Day, 1511; certainly before the queen had been churched the king hurried off to Walsingham,8 evidently to give 1 ‘Obtinuit fama celebris me adhuc puero, Regem Angliae Henricum VIII nudis pedibus a Bashamia [Barsham] ad praesentiam Virginis perrexisse, conceptisque votis monile peringentis pretii obtulisse,’ Reliquiae Spelmanniane (ed. E. Gibson, 1723), II, 149. For another reference to barefooted pilgrimage to Walsingham see L. and P. VII, 454. 2 Ibid. II (2), pp. 1442, 1445, 1469. 3 B.M., Egerton MS. 2604, fo. 5v. 4 L. and P. V, 309. 5 Ibid. II (2), pp. 1442, 1445, 1469; v, p. 309; III (2), 1535; B.M., Egerton MS. 2604, fo. 5v. 6 Valor Ecclesiasticus (Rec. Com.), III, 386; below, 60. 7L. and P. ii (2), 1449. A royal grant of 23 September 1513 is dated at Walsingham (Ibid. (2), no. 2422 (2)) when Henry was abroad. 8 E. Hall, Chronicle (1809 ed.), 517. Page 44 thanks. Much more significant are the two payments totalling £43. 11s. 4d. made to Barnard Flower in 1511-12 for glazing the Lady chapel at Walsingham.1 Barnard was the royal glazier, to become famous for his work at King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, and it is highly likely that this commission to him was in the nature of a thank-offering or (in view of the early death of the prince) of a continued plea for divine aid. That Queen Katherine was party to this invocation of the aid of Our Lady of Walsingham in the momentous matter of a male heir to the throne is perhaps hinted at in the pathetic postscript to her letter to Henry of 16 September 1513, announcing the great victory over the Scots at Flodden Field—‘And with this I make an ende, praying God to sende you home shortly, for without this noo joye here can bee accomplisshed; and for the same I pray and now goo to Our Lady at Walsyngham that I promised soo long agoo to see’.2 In March 1517 she was there again.3 Amongst the lands granted to the queen were the manors of Great and Little Walsingham4 and Katherine’s will (1536) provided ‘that some personage go to Our Lady of Walsingham on pilgrimage and distribute 20 nobles on the way’.5 In 1524 Wolsey had secured a brief of plenary indulgence for the king and queen if they would make an annual pilgrimage to Walsingham, Bury St Edmunds or Canterbury with power to name twenty other persons to partake of it.6 1 L. and P. II (2), 1451, 1458. 2 H. Ellis, Original Letters illustrative of English History (1834), I, 89 (=L. and P.I (2), no. 2268). The queen was evidently at Walsingham on 23 September (Ibid. 2422 (2)). 3 Ibid. II (2), no. 3018. 4 Ibid. II (2), no. 3893. (In 1495 these had been assigned in jointure to Queen Elizabeth, Rotuli Parliamentorum (Rec. Corn.), VI, 4.63a.) 5 L. and P. X, no. 40. 6 Ibid. IV, no. 652. top of pagePage 45 TUDOR PILGRIMS AND BEQUESTS Some years earlier—in 1514—a most interesting letter from Sir Edward Howard to the king shows a similar devotion to Walsingham in ‘Master Arthur’ (Lord Lisle, illegitimate son of Edward IV). He was given liberty to go home on landing after a naval action off Brest ‘for Sir when he was in extreme danger and hope gone from hym he called upon Our Lady of Walsingham for help and comfort and made a vow that, and it pleased God and her to deliver him owt off that peril, he would never eet fleshe nor fyche tyl he had seen heer. Sir I assure you he was in mervelous danger, for it was merveil that the shipp beyng under al her sayls strikyng full but a rok with her stam that she brake not on peces at the first strok.’1 Considering the sparsity of the evidence on this sort of point, even at this period, it is remarkable how many dignitaries are known to have visited or supported Walsingham in these days. Wolsey came early in September 1517 to fulfil a vow ‘and also to take air and exercise which may correct the weakness of his stomach’2 and again in 1520.3 Bishop West of Ely revived ‘the old complaint in his leg’ when riding to Walsingham in 15234 and in 1519 the duke of Buckingham vicariously offered half a mark at the shrine.5 The marquis of Exeter’s accounts for 1525 show that while spending 3d. on cherries for himself and his lady and expending 20s. 6d. at cards, he contrived to contribute 4d. to the 1 L. and P. I, no. 1786. 2 Ibid. II (2), nos. 3655, 3676, and appendix no. 38. 3 Ibid. III (i), nos. 894, 1113. 4 Ibid. III (2), no. 3476. 5 Ibid. III (1) p. 499. The Northumberland Household Book (1512) (London, 1770), 252, shows that the duke of Northumberland was paying for the maintenance of a candle ‘birnynge yerly befor Our Lady of Walsyngham’ and sending a yearly offering of 4d. Page 46 shrine.1 In June 1528 Bishop Tunstall of London wrote to Wolsey that he had ‘promised a pilgrimage to Walsingham’2 as had Bishop Longland of Lincoln ‘as sone as my strengthe will serve me,’3 though a baker and a friend from Colchester said it was idolatrous to do this at Walsingham, Ipswich or elsewhere.4 Amongst lesser folk one John Haly wrote early in 1531 of his intention to visit Walsingham and Cambridge and so return to Warwickshire;5 and in the following year John Beyston, a servant of the prior of Spalding, made a pilgrimage to Walsingham ‘by order of his mother’.6 Late in 1536 we hear of ‘some Cornish soldiers who were coming from the North on a pilgrimage to Walsingham’,7 and amongst the last to see the shrine in its full glory was Thomas O’Reef, an Irish priest dismissed by the archbishop of Dublin for ‘popishness’, whose presence at Walsingham is mentioned in 1538.8 The Lincoln wills for the years 1516-32 contain fourteen bequests to Our Lady of Walsingham from people of no great social importance. All but two of these are small sums of money, 4d. being the usual sum though one was 6d., one 8d., and two 1s.;9 of the other two cases, Richard Smyth left money for ‘iij messys before Our Lady of Walsyngham, continuyng the space of iii yeres’,10 whilst Catherine Barton bequeathed ‘a corse gyrdell with a pendyll and a bukkyl of sylver’.11 Amongst the other humbler gifts at this time were the ‘corall bedys of 1 L. and P. IV, p. 794. 2 Ibid. IV (2) no. 4418. 3 H. Ellis, Original Letters . . ., 3rd Series (1846), I, 252. 4 L. and P. iv (2), no. 4175; for another reference to the practice, see Ibid. no. 4545. 5 Ibid. V, no. 530. 6 Ibid. V, no. 1576. 7 Ibid. xi, no. 1260. 8 Ibid. XIII (1), no. 1478. 9 Lincoln Wills (ed. C. W. Foster), I, 73, 126, 143; II, 82; III, 14, 30, 32, 102, 115, 162, 183, 200. 10 Ibid. II, 148. 11 Ibid. III, 77. Page 47 TUDOR PILGRIMS AND BEQUESTS thrys fyfty and my maryeng ryng with all thyngys hangyng theron’ bequeathed in 1504 by Anne Barett of Bury.1 The will of Sir Roger Strange of February 1505-6 left £126. 13s. 4d. ‘to be paid to a prest for to synge for me and my frendys beforne our lady att Walsyngham during the tyme of iiij years’.2 Amongst the distinguished foreigners who visited Walsingham at this time the most famous was Desiderius Erasmus. On 9 May 1512, he writes of his having taken a vow to go to Walsingham and hang a Greek ode there.3 It is thought that he went there soon afterwards and it is possible, though not certain, that he paid a second visit in 1514.4 In the 1526 edition of his Colloquies first appeared his rather misleading essay Peregrinatio religionis ergo5 which has a longish account of his visit there. The light this throws on the shrine will be considered below.6 In 1534 the imperial ambassador, Chapuys, had intended to go on pilgrimage to Walsingham, but had given up the project as ‘it would be thought I had gone chiefly to visit the Queen’,7 who was evidently residing nearby. 1 Wills and Inventories from Bury St Edmund’s (ed. S. Tymms, CamdenSoc. 1850), 98. 2 Norf. Arch. ix, 235. 3 L. and P. I (1), no. 1188 (= Erasmi Epistolae, ed. P. S. Allen, I, no. 262). 4 Ibid. note. 5 Preserved Smith, A Key to the Colloquies of Erasmus (Harvard Theol. Studies, XIII, 1927), 40-1. 6 Pp. 53-8. 7 L. and P. VII, p. 387.