Excerpt from Edmund Waterton, Pietas Mariana Britannica, A History of English
Devotion to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God, 1879. pp 211-220
p.211Item, that not one of all of us shall, in any sermon, public or private, attempt to misconstrue any passage taken from Holy Scripture into a foreign sense ; but each shall preach, in a catholic and orthodox manner, Christ and His words and actions, simply, openly, sincerely, and to the form (normam) and rule of the Holy Scriptures, and of the truly catholic and orthodox doctors.Item, that each of us, in his accustomed prayers and supplications, shall recommend to God and the prayers of the people, first of all the King as Supreme Head of the Anglican Church, then Queen Anne with her offspring, and then, lastly, the Archbishops of Canterbury and of York, with the other orders of clergy as shall seem fit.Item, that we all and each aforesaid, Prior, Community, and our successors, firmly bind ourselves by the pledge of our conscience and our oath; and that we will faithfully and for ever observe all and each of the promises aforesaid. In testimony whereof we have affixed our common seal to this our writing, and, each with his own hand, have subscribed our names. Given in our chapter-house, the 18th day of the month of September, the year of the Lord one thousand five hundred and thirty-four.152per me RICARD VOWEL, Priorem. per me WILLELMUM RASE.per me EDMUNDUM WARHAM, Subpriorem. per me JOHANNEM CLENCHWARDTON.per me NICHOLAUM MYLEHAM. per me ROBERTUM SALL’.per me ROBERTUM WYLSEY.per me WILLELMUM CASTELLACRE.per me SIMONEM OVY.per me JOHANNEM HARLOW. per me JOHANNEM LAWINXLEY. per me RICARDUM GARNETT. per me JOHANNEM CLARK.152 Original preserved in the late Treasury of the Exchequer, in the Chapter-house, Westminster. Acknowledgments of Supremacy, n. 112. Journal of Royal Archaeological Institute v. xiii. p. 128.p.212per me JOHANNEM AWSTYNE. per me JOHANNEM MATHYE. per me THOMAM PAWLUM.per me EDWARDUM MARSTONE. per me JOHANNEM BYRCHAM. per me JOHANNEM HADLAY. per me THOMAM HOLTE.per me THOMAM WALSYNGHAM. per me UMFREDUM LONDON.(L. S.)Amongst the Harleian MSS. are preserved some Articles of Enquiry which were to guide the Commissioners in their unholy proceedings. The three first have an especial eye to the plunder.1. In primis, whether there be any inventarie allweys permanent in the house betwene the priour and the brethern of this house, as welle of alle the juelles, reliques, and ornamentes of the churche and chapel, as of alle the plate and other moveable goodes of this house? Et si sic exhibeatur.2. Item, yf there be no suche inventarie, whether there be any boke made therof, and of the guyfte of the juelles that have bene geven to our Ladye? Et si sic producatur.3. Item, whether any of the said juelles, ornamentes, plate, or goodes hathe bene alienated, solde, or pledged at any tyme heretofore? And yf there were, what they were, to whome they were solde, for how moche, whan, and for what cause?4. Item, what reliques be in this house that be or hath bene most in th’ estimation of the people, and what venue was estemed of the people to be in theym?5. Item, what probation or argument have they to sheave that the same are trewe reliques?6. Item, in howe many places of this house were the said reliques shewed, and whiche were in which; and whether the kepers of the same did not bring about tables to men for their offering, as though they would exacte money ofp.213theym or make theym ashamed except they did offer?7. Item, for what cause were the said reliques shewed in divers [and] sundrye places more than alltogether in one place?8. Item, what bathe th’ offring made to our Ladye and to the said reliques bene worth a yere whan it hathe bene most? what commonly? and what the laste yere?9. Item, yf the said reliques be nowe layde aside, howe long ago, and for what cause they were so?10. Item, what is the greatest miracle and moste undoubted whiche is said to have bene doon by our Ladye here, or by any of the said reliques? and what prouffe they have of the facte or of the narration thereof?11. Item, whether thane (yf the facte be welle proued) the case might not happene by some naturalle meane not contrarie to reasone or possibilitie of nature?12. Item, yf that be proved also, whether the same mighte not procede of the immediate helpe of God? and why the successe of that case shulde be imputed to our Ladye and yet that to the image of our Ladye in this house more than another?13. Item, whether the miracle were wonte to be declared in pulpite heretofore, and for what cause they were soe?a Whitesonne Monday the faire tyme they were wonte to be opened?14. Item, what is the sayng of the buylding of our Lady Chappelle, and the firste invention of thimage of our Lady there? what of the house where the bere skynne is, and of the knyght; and what of the other wonders that be here, and what proves be therof?15. Item, whether they knowe not that mene shulde not be lighte of credite to miracles, unlesse they be manifestly and invinciblie proved?16. Item, whether our Lady hathe doone so many miracles nowe of late as it was said she did whane there was more offring made unto her?p.21417. Item, what prouffe were they wonte to take of the miracles that the pilgremes did reporte shulde be made by our Lady? and whether they bileved the parties owne reporte therin, or toke witnes, and howe they toke the deposicions of the same?18. Item, whether our Ladye’s milke be liquide or no? and yf it be interrogetur ut infra.19. Item, who was Sextene upon a X. yeres agoo or therabout, and lett hym be exactely examined whether he hath not renewed that they calle our Lady’s milke whane it was like to be dried up; and whether ever he hymself invented any relique for thaugmentacion of his prouffit; and whether the house over the welles were not made within tyme of remembrance, or at the leste wise renewed?153Erasmus had taken good care not to publish the account of his visit to Walsingham until he had left England, and crossed the Ocean, the Father of Winds, never to return. Copies of it, however, must have found their way to England, and it is impossible not to come to the conclusion that many of the articles for this enquiry must have been suggested by it.I have been unable to ascertain whether the Commissioners made any report in detail, in reply to these queries ; but a letter from Southwell to Cromwell has been preserved.On the 25th of July, 1536, Southwell writes to Cromwell—It may please your good lordshipe to be advertised that Sir Thomas Lestrange and Mr. Hoges, accordinge unto the sequestratyon delegate unto them, have bene at Walsingham, and ther sequestred all suche monney, plate, juelles, and stuff, as ther wasse inventyd and founde. Emoung other thinges the same Sir Thomas Lestrange and Mr. Hoges dyd there fynd a secrete prevye place within the howse, where no channon nor onnye other of the howse dyd ever enter, as they saye, in wiche there were instrewmentes,153 MS. Harl. 791, 1. 27.p.215pottes, belowes, Oyes of suche strange colers as the lick non of us had seene with poysies154 and other thinges to sorte and denyd155 gould and sylver, nothing there wantinge that should belonge to the arte of moultyplyeng. Off all wiche they desyred me by lettres to advertyse you, and alsoo that frome the Satredaye at nigh tyll the Sondaye next folowinge was offred at their now beinge xxxiijs. iiijd. over and besyd waxe.Of this moulteplyenge it maye please you to cawse hem to be examyned, and so to advertyse unto them your further pleasuer. Thus I praye god send your good lordshipe hartye helthe.Frome my pore howse this xxv. of Julii a°, xxviii.Humblye yours to commandeRic. SOUTHWELL.156To the right honerable and my singulargood lord my lord prevyeceale.This description and “arte of moulteplyeng” evidently refer to the laboratory where the badges and pilgrims’ signs were made. Such a privy furnace, very probably destined for a similar purpose, may still be seen in an upper chamber in Canterbury Cathedral.157 The only multiplier in the case is Southwell, who possessed, in common with many others, the “arte of moulteplyeng” lies for the satisfaction of Cromwell.I have never met with a Walsingham badge; but a cast of one is described in the journal of the Royal Archaeological Institute. It is a small rectangular ornament of lead, on which appears the Annunciation, with the vase containing the lily between our Blessed Ladye and the Archangel Gabriel, and underneath is .158In 1537, an insurrection broke out at Walsingham. The cause was this. The inhabitants found154 i.e. weights.155 Probably foreign money.156 MS. Cott. Cleop. E. iv. f. 231 ; Letters relating to the Suppression of the Monasteries, p. 138.157 Journal of Royal Arch. Inst. v. xiii. p. 133.158 Ibid. v. xiii. p. 133.p.216out that the dissolution of religious houses, and the suppression of pilgrimages to the ancient and venerated sanctuary of our Ladye would, in a great measure, prove their ruin.159 This little disturbance was quelled with a savage and bloody hand; and in the same year “two of the rebelles” who had taken part in the insurrection, were hanged at Great Yarmouth, and drawn and quartered.160On the 20th of January, 1538, Roger Townsend writes to Cromwell, the Lord Privy Seal.161Please itt your good lordshipp to be avertysed that ther was a pore woman of Wellys besyde Walsyngham, that imagyned a falce tale of a myracle to be doon by the image of our Ladye that was at Walsyngham syth the same was brought from thens to London; and upon the tryall thereof, by my examinacõn from one person to another, to the nomber of vi. persons, and at last came to her that she was the reporter thereof, and to be the very auctour of the same, as ferforth as my consciens and perceyvying cowd lede me ; I commytted her therfor to the warde of the constables of Walsyngham. The next day after, beyng markett day ther, I caused her to be sett in stokkes in the mornyng, and about ix. of the clok when the seyd markett was fullest of people, with a papir sett aboute her hede, wreten wyth thes wordes upon the same, A reporter of falce tales, was sett in a carte and so carryed about the markett-stede, and other stretes in the town, steying in dyvers places wher most people assembled, yong people and boyes of the town castyng snowe balles att her. Thys doon and executed, was brought to the stokkes ageyn and ther sett till the markett was ended. This was her penans; for I knewe no lawe otherwyse to ponyshe her butt by discrecõn trustyng itt shall be a warnying to other lyght persons in such wyse to order them self. Howe be itt I cannot159General History of Norfolk, pp. 607, 608.160 Manship. Palmer’s Notes, v. 1. p. 413.161 He was made Lord Privy Seal, 2nd of July, 1536.top of pagep.217perceyve, but the seyd Image is not yett out of sum of ther heddes . . . Wreten the xxth of January.Humbly at your comande,ROGER TOUNESHEND.162At the suppression, fifteen of the Canons of Walsingham were condemned for high treason, of whom five were executed.The deed of the surrender of Walsingham and all its property to the King was executed in the chapter-house on the 4th of August, in the thirtieth year of Henry the Eighth. No names are appended to it, it is merely stated that the Prior and Convent caused their common seal to be put to it. The following memorandum is attached to it. Et memorandum quod die et anno predictis venerunt predicti Prior et Conventus in domo sua Capitulari apud Walsyngham coram Willielmo Petre, pretextu Commissionis dicti Domini Regis ei in hac parte directe, et recognoverunt scriptum predictum ac omnia et singula in eodem contenta in forma predicta.163This Sir William Petre was a great favourite of Cromwell’s, and one of the Commissioners employed by him to visit monasteries, of which Henry the Eighth had nominated Cromwell General Visitor. Sir William was afterwards Secretary of State, and held posts of high trust in four successive reigns. He had large grants out of the spoils of the monasteries as enumerated in the Biographia Britannica;164 and in the reign of Queen Mary he obtained from Pope Paul the Fourth, a Bull permitting him to retain them.The venerated Image of our Ladye of Walsingham was burnt at Chelsea, but there is a discrepancy as to the date of the perpetration of this sacrilegious act.“Allso this yeare, 1538,” says Wriothesley, “in the moneth of July, the images of our Ladye of Walsingham and Ipswich were brought up to162 State Paper Office, Second Series, xliii. p. 593.163 Given in full in the Journal of Royal Arch. Inst. v. xiii. pp. 129-131.164Life of Petre.p.218London with all the jewelles that honge about them, at the King’s commaundement, and divers other images both in England and Wales, that were used for common pilgrimages, because the people should use noe more idolatrye unto them, and they were burnt at Chelsey by my Lord Privie Seale.”165Hall says it was in the month of September. “In September, by the speciall motion of the Lorde Crumwel al the notable images vnto the which were made any speciall pilgrimages and offerynges were vtterly taken awaye, as the images of Walsyngham, Ypswirche, Worceter, the Lady of Wilsdon, with many other.”166 And according to Speede, they were burnt in the presence of Cromwell.167The following elegy is preserved in a volume lettered “Earl of Arundell MS.,” amongst the Rawlinson MSS. in the Bodleian library, Oxon.In the wrackes of Walsingam Whom should I chuseBut the Queene of Walsingam to be guide to my muse? Then thou Prince of Walsingam, graunt me to frameBitter plaintes to rewe thy wronge, bitter wo for thy name.Bitter was it, oh to see the seely sheepeMurdred by the raueninge wolues, while the sheephardes did sleep. Bitter was it, oh to vewe the sacred vyne,Whiles the gardiners plaied all close, rooted vp by the swine.Bitter, bitter, oh to behould the grasse to growe so statly did sheue.Such were the workes of Walsingam while shee did standeSuch are the wrackes as now do sheave Of that holy land!Levell, Levell with the ground the towres do lye,165 V. i. p. 83.166Chronicles, Lond. 1809, p. 826.167Hist. of England, p. 1026.p.219 Which with their golden glitteringe tops pearsed once to the Skye.Where weare gates, no gates are nowe; the waies vnknowenWher the presse of peares did passe while her fame far was blowen.Oules do scrike wher the sweetest himnes lately weer songe ;Toades and serpentes hold they dennes wher the Palmers did thronge.Weepe, weepe, O Walsingam whose dayes are nightes,Blessinges turned to blasphemies, holy deedes to dispites.Shane is wher our Ladle sate, heauen turned is to hell,Sathan sittes wher our Lord did swaye, Walsingam, oh farewell.168An impression of the seal of Walsingham Priory, in white wax, is appended to the acknowledgment of Supremacy. It is about three inches in diameter, and circular. On the obverse is represented a cruciform church of Norman character, and the inscription SIGILLUM ECCL’IE BEATE MARIE DE WALSINGHAM. The reverse represents our Blessed Ladye seated on a peculiar high-backed throne; she holds her Divine Son on her left knee, His right hand is extended in the attitude of blessing, and in His left hand He holds the Book of the Gospels. On her head is a low crown, an elegantly floriated sceptre is in her right hand; the draperies are poor and in low relief, and above the figures is a sort of canopy with curtains looped back at either side, and falling in ungraceful folds. The Angelical Salutation is engraved around the margin. ✠ AVE: MARIA: GRACIA: PLENA: DOMIVUS: TECUM. In addition to the less archaic effect of the workmanship, suggesting the notion that this side may be the reproduction of an earlier seal, it may be noticed that the word PLENA is blundered, a D being found in the place of N, an error which might easily occur from the similarity of the two letters in the particular character here used.168 Rawl. MSS. Poet. 242, given also in Percy’s Folio Manuscript: Ballads and Romances. Edit. Hales and Furnivall. Lond. 1868, v. iii. pp. 470k 471.p.220From the general execution, however, of the seals, their date may probably be assigned to the later part of the twelfth or commencement of the thirteenth century. This impression supplies an example of the rare practice of impressing an inscription upon the edge or thickness of the seal, as on that of Norwich Cathedral, the city of Canterbury, and a few others.169 In the present instance, the following words of a Leonine verse may be decyphered— VIRGO : PIA : GENITRIX : SIT: NOBIS : (MEDIATRIX?).170At Bodmin there was a Gild of Our Ladye of Walsingham.171After passing to different proprietors, Walsingham was purchased in 1766 by Dr. Warner, Bishop of Rochester; and it still continues in the family of Lee-Warner. The site of the renowned Sanctuary of our Ladye has recently been deeply buried beneath a terraced parterre. May it be hoped that the Lily and the Marygold, and the Forget-me-not—les yeux de Notre Dame, as it was called—are amongst the flowers which blossom on that once hallowed soil.And now, for the present, Walsingham, oh! farewell!Felix et sancta fuisti;Sis modo qualis eras, sic pia vota petunt!169 See remarks on this peculiarity by the late Sir F. Madden. Archaeologia, v. xx.170Journal of Royal Arch. Inst. v. xiii. pp. 126, 127. 171 Lysons, Magna Britannia, Cornwall, p. 35.