CHAPTER VI. CHANGES IN THE CHURCH AT THE REFORMATION.
The story of the alterations in St. Mary's church consequent on
the Reformation is set down very clearly in our text. In the brief
reign of Edward very great changes are recorded by the churchwardens. Under Mary a return to the old system takes place, more
or less fully, and with the accession of Elizabeth comes the complete
downfall and collapse of the old order.
In this little chapter no attempt has been made to deal with the
general aspects of the Reformation, the plan adopted having been
simply to collect and place before the reader the principal entries of
the churchwardens' expenses in carrying out the decrees of authority.
1547–53. Destruction and Alterations.—The first items in our
text which disclose the progress of the Reformation are found under
the year 1547–8, where at pp. 386, 387, we see certain sums of
money set down as having been paid for the removal of various
Further sums are also paid for investigations concerning the
Chantries, for the purchase of psalters 'for the quyer,' and for the
painting of certain 'scriptures' on the rood loft.
In the year 1548–9 we meet with the greatest change in these
Records, when, the Chantries having fallen to the king, the entries of
their income and expenditure disappear wholly from the annual
In this year, too, we have the important record of the purchase
of two copies of the first edition of the new Book of Common Prayer.
The churchwardens also sell the gilt of three 'ymages' and two
painted cloths, one of which was purchased by the only churchwarden
apparently then in office.
The next year's accounts, 1549–50, record the sale of two of the
old service books and a chalice, a pax, a silver bell and twelve ounces
of silver, this scrap silver 'beyng claspes of bokes and the busshops
myter,' pp. 389 and 58–9.
In this year, too, the 'Table' that 'stode vpon the Alter' was
sold (the 'Table of the Trynete,' p. 33), and 'laborers' were employed
for 'vj dayes for takyng downe the Alters,' p. 391, three shillings and
fourpence being received for one of the slabs for use as a grave-stone,
In 1551-2 the 'Inventory of our Churche gooddes' was written
(see p. 50), and an entry of the purchase of 'bred and wyne' is
recorded. An entry also occurs of sixpence being paid—
"vnto a goulde smith for to take the sylluer ffrom a gospell
boke & to waye it," p. 393.
1553–8. Reconstruction of the Old System.—In 1553 the
accounts furnish very curiously the conflicting particulars of expenses
connected with both the new and the old forms of service; the
reason being that this year covered both the end of the reign of
Edward VI and the commencement of that of Queen Mary.
Respecting the former we have the entry telling of the sale of
four pieces of hair cloth from the old altars. Also another entry
recording the payment to carpenter Wynne (by whom for so many
years the carpentry work had been carried out) for the making of 'a
benche yat went Rownd abowt ye comvnyon boorde.' Sixpence too
"for the sowynge together of the best alter clothes for to laye
on the Commvnyon boorde," p. 396.
On the other side, that of the reconstructing of the old system,
we find entries recording the purchase of a chrismatory of pewter and
apparently of several books of the old services, p. 396.
On p. 395 two peculiarly interesting entries are recorded:—
"payed for nayles to mende the kytchyn when yt was broken
downe for the alter stone."
"payed to the plasterer for plasterynge the kytchyn."
The amounts for these two items have perished with part of the
leaf, but clearly the 'alter stone' (presumably the slab of the high
altar) had been built into the wall of a kitchen possibly as a
temporary expedient for its security.
In 1554, and for several years after, the old forms are in great
measure restored, and many of the common entries of former years
A new 'shyppe' for incense is purchased, which however, like
the chrismatory lately referred to, is also of pewter.
An interesting item on p. 397 is that of the payment of one
shilling and eightpence 'for puttyng owt of the scrypture in the
roode lofte,' which only in 1547–8 had been painted on at a cost of £4.
On the same page is also an entry recording the purchase of two
loads of 'lyme to make the altars,' and at p. 407 the record of the
'borrowynge' of a cross, two candlesticks and a censer, all of which
were of silver.
1559. Final Destruction of the Old Forms and Reconstitution
of the New.—In 1559, pp. 411–12, the last complete pages of our
text, record the details of the final collapse of the ancient forms.
The communion table is made, and the great Rood with its
figures of Mary and John, the 'sepulcure,' and the altars, are all
taken down. An entry recording that five men were called in with
'v doble rafters' to 'helpe tack downe the great auterston,' tells
also of one rafter being broken. The fact helps us, in a measure, to
picture the scene in the old church. The demolition appears to have
been very complete, so much so that money was expended for—
"lyme & sande, and for whiting wher ye awltrs wer," p. 412.
The sum of sixteenpence too was paid—
"to whight ye raker for too carry awaie all ye rubbushe of ye
auters yat did ly at ye cherch dore," p. 412.
By rubbish is probably meant the rubble or loose material.
Our notice of these great changes may close with the record of
the payment of twelvepence—
"for bringging downe of ye Imagis to rome lond and other
thinges to be burnt," p. 412.
Such is a brief outline of the sequence of events in the parish
church of St. Mary's as set down at the time of the Reformation by
The student will find in our text additional details bearing on
the history of the period; and the Inquiries of the Commissioners
respecting the valuables of the church, etc., printed at p. 56, will also
be found worthy of attention.