Display Records

Displaying results from region of County Durham

Prior of Holy Island’s Accounts

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Jurisdiction 1: MonasticDocument category 1: Priors' or abbots' accounts
From region: County DurhamFrom place:
Relevant material from 1342 to 1537
Holy Island (or Lindisfarne) was historically the most significant of all the Durham cells, and one of the oldest Christian sites in Northumbria. Given by St. Oswald to St. Aidan as the seat of his new bishopric in 634, it had also been the seat of St. Cuthbert, and hence of the Community of St. Cuthbert, from which the Priory, City and Bishopric of Durham were all derived.


*The records are presented here in draft form and have not had final checking and editing for official publication by REED staff. Permission to cite this material must be sought from REED: Durham editors Mark Chambers and John McKinnell, using the contact form provided on this site.

Sacrist of Coldingham’s Accounts

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Jurisdiction 1: MonasticDocument category 1: Priors' or abbots' accounts
From region: County DurhamFrom place:
Relevant material from 1363 to 1367
Coldingham had been the site of a famous Anglo-Saxon monastery, which was re-founded by 1139 following grants to Durham Priory from the Kings of Scots. Wars between the English and the Scots led to disputes over control of the monastery, which ended with Durham’s loss of control (to Dumferline) in 1462.


*The records are presented here in draft form and have not had final checking and editing for official publication by REED staff. Permission to cite this material must be sought from REED: Durham editors Mark Chambers and John McKinnell, using the contact form provided on this site.

Prior of Finchale’s Accounts

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Jurisdiction 1: MonasticDocument category 1: Priors' or abbots' accounts
From region: County DurhamFrom place:
Relevant material from 1365 to 1529
Originally founded as a hermitage by St. Godric in the early 12th century and bequeathed to Durham priory when he died, Finchale became one of the richest of the cells and a place where Durham monks frequently took retirement or holidays.

*The records are presented here in draft form and have not had final checking and editing for official publication by REED staff. Permission to cite this material must be sought from REED: Durham editors Mark Chambers and John McKinnell, using the contact form provided on this site.

Durham Priory Almonry Accounts

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Jurisdiction 1: MonasticDocument category 1: Obedientiaries' accounts
From region: County DurhamFrom place:
Relevant material from 1367 to 1480
The charitable responsibilities of the Almoner included the welfare of elderly men and women in an infirmary outside the abbey gate, old people’s hostels at St. Mary Magdalen, Durham and at Witton Gilbert, a house for four widows, and the Almonry School, whose schoolroom was immediately above the abbey gate. Although the Almonry Bishop was selected from among the boys of the school, there is no evidence that the Almoner ever received payment from other officers on his behalf; rather, these contributions probably went direct to the expenses of the ceremony, and it seems likely that they were administered by the Master of the Almonry School. After 1474 they went to the Feretrar’s Office, and it is doubtful whether the actual ceremony continued.

Most of the dramatic records in the Almoners\' accounts relate to local folk customs. Records include payments for the folk custom of the harvest goose and perhaps a plough festival connected to it (1337-39ff), to further plough ceremonies (such as those at Elvethall Manor in New Elvet in 1413), as well as numerous regular, usually annual, payments for the Almonry Bishop (Episcopo Elemosinarie) - the Boy Bishop - selected from the boys of the monastery\'s Almonry School.

There are also payments recorded to minstrels attached to noble households, including minstrels Ralph, Lord Neville (later first Earl of Westmoreland, born c.1364, d.1425), his son-in-law Ralph of Lumley (first Lord Lumley, 1384-1400), and Sir Ralph Euer of Witton-le-Wear, Co. Durham (c.1350-1422).

Payment to a ‘Dominus Nicholas’ (Seynteler) appears under ‘Pensiones’ in the account of 1458-9, as master of the children of the Almery School; he appears to have been paid for copying the words and music for the Corpus Christi service and for a service for dedicating a church.

*The records are presented here in draft form and have not had final checking and editing for official publication by REED staff. Permission to cite this material must be sought from REED: Durham editors Mark Chambers and John McKinnell, using the contact form provided on this site.

Durham Priory Feretrars Accounts

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Jurisdiction 1: MonasticDocument category 1: Obedientiaries accounts
From region: County DurhamFrom place:
Relevant material from 1376 to 1538
Because the Feretrar was responsible for the Shrine of St. Cuthbert and its relics, his income and status returns provide as much relevant material as his expenditure. His income includes details of payments at processions, especially during the week of Pentecost, both from incumbents who attended and (following a legal process that began in 1398-9) also from those who were absent, as well as some idea of the banners and relics carried in these processions, especially the Banner of St. Cuthbert, which was also used to accompany military campaigns, e.g. Richard II’s Scottish campaign in 1385 and probably the Flodden campaign in 1513, which may explain why it needed repair (Feretrar’s Account 1513-4). It was repaired again in 1536-7 after being damaged by the common people of Durham (perhaps as a result of the heightened sectarian unrest which preceded the Pilgrimage of Grace).

From the mid-1470’s, the Feretrar’s office also received the Boy Bishop payments from other officers of the priory – see the Prior of Finchale’s account 1474-5, Feretrar’s Account 1480-1 and end notes. As there are no Feretrar’s expenses that can be linked to the Boy Bishop, this may imply that the actual ceremony had lapsed and survived merely as an annual levy on the other obedientiaries and cells; this may also explain why the Boy Bishop is not mentioned in The Rites of Durham.

These records are offered in a pre-pub format, meaning they have not yet been through REED\'s vigorous editorial procedures. Permission to use, share or quote the records must be sought from the REED: Durham editors John McKinnell and Mark Chambers.

Durham Cathedral Treasurers Books

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Jurisdiction 1: DiocesanDocument category 1: Cathedral dean and chapter accounts
From region: County DurhamFrom place:
Relevant material from 1597 to 1634
After the death of the first dean (and last prior), Hugh Whitehead, in 1548, Durham had a succession of strongly protestant deans, one of whom, William Whittingham, dean 1563-79, had even spent some years in Geneva and was married to John Calvin’s sister. It is therefore not surprising that most Treasurer’s Books from this period yield no evidence of performance, and the solitary payment to the Earl of Leicester’s players on 28th July 1580 probably reflects the unique privileges enjoyed by that company as a result of its royal patent rather than any appreciation of drama by the dean and chapter (see End Note). But a more relaxed attitude began to appear in the affairs of the cathedral after the arrival of William James (as dean 1596-1606, then as bishop until 1617), for he was famous for the quality of his entertainment. This trend was maintained under Bishop Richard Neile (1617-28) and Dean Richard Hunt (1620-38), when the Cathedral came under increasing Laudian, high-church influence.

The statutes of the Dean and Chapter also required continued annual accounts in roll form, but these continue the trend towards mere formality which is already apparent in the late rolls of the Bursar. Treasurer’s rolls survive between 1547 and 1607 and have all been searched, but they present the finances of the Cathedral in such a summarised form that they contain no material relevant to performance.

These records are offered in a pre-pub format, meaning they have not yet been through the vigorous editorial procedures for full REED publication (which will take place over the next year). Permission to use, share or quote the records must be sought from the REED: Durham editors John McKinnell and Mark Chambers.

Durham Parishes and Borough Court Records

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Jurisdiction 1: ParishDocument category 1: Churchwardens' accounts
Jurisdiction 2: ParishDocument category 2: Parish registers
Jurisdiction 3: CivicDocument category 3: Borough civil court books (eg, mayors' court or leet books)
From region: County DurhamFrom place: City of Durham
Relevant material from 1395 to 1642
The document contains records from Durham, including St. Nicholas’ Church Parish Register; Borough of Crossgate court records; St. Giles’ Church Grassmen’s Accounts; and from St. Giles’ Church Parish Register. The Crossgate Borough court records contain records of lights carried in the Corpus Christi procession. The Grassmen's Accounts include musical accompaniment to dung-spreading.

Durham Priory Chamberlain's Accounts

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Jurisdiction 1: MonasticDocument category 1: Obedientiaries' accounts
From region: County DurhamFrom place: Durham
Refers to location(s): County Durham, Durham Priory
Relevant material from 1350 to 1528
[NOTE: The PDF of these records – including the introduction, transcription, translation and notes – have been provided by the REED: Durham editors John McKinnell and Mark Chambers, with the permission and assistance of Durham University Library\'s Special Collections staff. These records are offered here in a ‘pre-pub’ format, meaning that have not yet received REED’s full and official editorial checking and formatting. Permission to use or cite this material must be sought from the editors in any instance.]

The chief responsibility of the Chamberlain was for the provision of clothing. The existing priory Chamberlains\' accounts for Durham Priory survive from the years 1334-1533, but relevant REED material appears only between 1350 and 1528. Most of the Chamberlains\' accounts record gifts (dona) made to the Priory Almonry Bishop, also known as the \'Boy\' Bishop (Episcopus puerili).

Boy Bishop ceremonies featured in Durham, York, Beverley and other places with important churches or cathedrals. On feast days appropriate to children – such as the feast of St Nicholas (who became our familiar modern Santa Claus) or the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the children killed by King Herod – churches would appoint a Boy Bishop from among their choristers, to dress in rich robes like those of a real bishop, go in procession through ‘his’ parish, lead the congregation in prayer and preach a sermon. Durham in fact had two, unusually appointed in the summer; one chosen by the Cathedral, the other – the ‘bishop of Elvet’ – in St Oswald’s parish.

The ceremony of the Almonry or Boy Bishop at Durham provides a good example of how a widespread custom could be adapted to local circumstances. The Almonry School probably opened around 1340, and its classroom was the room above the Abbey Gate. The earliest record of the existence of an annual Almonry \'Boy Bishop\' ceremony is in the 1346-7 account of the Prior of Lytham, a cell of Durham Cathedral Priory. In most other places the ceremony took place either on St. Nicholas’ Day (6th December) or on Holy Innocents’ Day (28th December), but in Durham, the ceremony seems to have taken place either in the week of Ascension Day or around Pentecost.

A note on the manuscripts:
One membrane, length between 474 and 1001 mm., width 199-355 mm. Single column; until 1352 expenses are undivided, but thereafter they are in subsections grouped according to subject matter, at first with a separate line for each item. From 1403-14 there is a tendency to group more than one item into a single line, and in the 1440’s some accounts have continuous subsection paragraphs. From 1448 until 1499 there is gain a separate line for each item, after which continuous paragraphs return until the end of the series.

Terminal dates are usually on the Monday after Ascension, with the following exceptions:

1414 – Monday after Ascension to St. Cuthbert in September (4th September)
1440-1 – Friday before Pentecost to Friday after Ascension
1441-2 – Friday after Ascension
1442-3 – Martinmas to Monday after Ascension
1527-8 – Pentecost.

Durham Priory Cellarer's Accounts

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Jurisdiction 1: MonasticDocument category 1: Obedientaries' accounts
From region: County DurhamFrom place: Durham Priory
Relevant material from 1443 to 1444
The Cellarer’s main responsibility was to procure food.

Durham College Oxford Accounts

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Jurisdiction 1: MonasticDocument category 1: Priors' or abbots' accounts
Jurisdiction 2: SchoolDocument category 2: Accounts
From region: County DurhamFrom place: Durham Priory
Relevant material from 1399 to 1402
Durham Priory began to send monks to study at Oxford in the late thirteenth century, but did not found its own college there until 1381, when the initiators of the foundation were Prior Robert Walworth and the dying Bishop Thomas Hatfield. Durham College prospered both academically and financially and became the forerunner of the present Trinity College; Dobson estimates that nearly half of all Durham monks studied there in the last 150 years of the priory’s history, and while this is an exaggeration, its educational importance to the Priory was clearly very great (Dobson, Durham Priory: 1400-1450 [London: Cambridge University Press, 1973], 343-359). We are grateful to Alan Piper for access to his unpublished detailed figures for each decade, which show that between 22 and 34 percent of all Durham monks who were alive at any one time had studied or were studying at Durham College).

Because Durham College had no land, derived its income only from appropriated churches and was expected to maintain eight monks and eight secular scholars, together with all the buildings, books etc. that they needed, it was usual to keep the mother-house’s financial demands on it to a minimum. It is therefore surprising that its only two contributions to the Almonry Bishop of Durham date from the brief period when it was in financial difficulty.

Durham Priory Hostillars' Accounts

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Jurisdiction 1: MonasticDocument category 1: Obedientiaries' accounts
From region: County DurhamFrom place: Durham Priory
Relevant material from 1348 to 1481
The chief responsibility of the Hostillar was for the welfare of guests.1 Because he derived part of his income from his lordship of the manor of Elvethall, which was in the parish of St. Oswald’s Elvet, he makes a number of contributions to the parish Boy Bishop known as the ‘Bishop of Elvet’.

Durham Priory Locelli

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Jurisdiction 1: DiocesanDocument category 1: Cathedral memoranda and correspondence
From region: County DurhamFrom place: Durham Priory
Relevant material from 1237 to 1507
The designation locelli (from Latin locellus, lit. ‘a little place’) originally referred to boxes or chests in which important documents were stored. Now referring to a category of important Priory documents, the Durham locelli contain several fascinating records for ‘performance’ from pre-Reformation Durham. For example, there is a very early record of the presumed death of a tight-rope walker who apparently fell from the towers of Durham Cathedral! This appears in Durham Priory Locelli VI:20, under the 1237 ‘Objections of King Henry III to the Election of Prior Thomas Melsonby as Bishop’ (DUL Loc.VI:20). Among other accusations, the king was accusing the prior of manslaughter by (apparently) having let the performer attempt such a dangerous act on his cathedral church.

Other valuable records include:

• a letter of King Edward III of 1372, written to the Prior and convent of Durham, requesting prayers and processions to assure success in his proposed campaign against the King of France (Loc.I:55);

• a record of a complaint made by the priory following a Benedictine visitation in the last decades of the fourteenth century (Loc:XXVII). In it, the monks complain that minstrels and others (who were presumably performing in the Prior’s Hall) are being allowed to use the privies in the building where the brothers are eating;

• from 1394, there is a letter from Bishop Walter Skirlaw to the Prior, giving instructions for religious processions during a time of war (Loc.XVII:5); in this case, King Richard II had embarked for Ireland towards the end of September of 1394 in order to quell rebellion;

• sometime around 1435, the Archbishop of York, John Kempe, wrote a very disconsolate letter to Thomas Langley, Bishop of Durham, commanding processions and other penitential acts (Loc.:XVII.21); in this document, reference England’s recent troubles may be an allusion to the Burgundians’ desertion of their alliance with England in September 1435, when the Archbishop had himself presided over the unsuccessful English negotiating team;

• Loc.XVII:15 contains a comperta (a list of findings) made by the Bishop after his visitation of Durham Priory. Here the monks complain that visiting lords should help provide for their own performers (minstrels, acting troupes, etc.), rather than relying on the meagre provisions of the priory;

• Loc.XIII:22 contains a payment to ‘minstrels’ by the priory;

• Loc.XX:21 is a letter dated 20th October, 1452, from the Bishop of Durham to the Prior, written in time of plague and commanding processions and other penitential acts;

• Loc.XXVII:29 tells us a bit more about church drama in Durham in the period: it contains a list of petitions dating from May, 1464, and notes, among other things, that the Sub-Prior should ‘be the keeper of the chalices and missals pertaining to liturgical plays’;

• an inventory of the Prior’s of 1464-5 lists payment to ‘minstrels’ and other servants (Loc. XVIII:110):

• Loc.XVII:38 contains yet another letter from the Bishop of Durham (in this case Lawrence Booth; 1457-76) to the Prior, requesting processions in time of trouble; in this case, the Bishop relays a papal request for processions in support of a proposed crusade to the Holy Land (1465);

• finally, an inventory of 17th September, 1507 (Loc.XXXVII:10) containing record of a payment to a minstrel named ‘Craykke’.

The locelli represent a category of document of medieval origin, though somewhat modified in modern times. It consists of a variety of papers that are grouped roughly according to subject matter, though with occasional deviations; thus most of the requests for processions are in Loc.XVII, some documents connected with visitations appear under Loc.XXVII, and wills of secular people are in Loc.XXXVII. A brief calendar, available in the Search Room of the Palace Green Library in Durham, was searched for any document that might contain anything relating to performance. All documents that might possibly contain any relevant were then read in detail.

These pre-pub records have been made available by the REED: Durham editors John McKinnell and Mark Chambers. We are grateful to Durham Cathedral and Durham University Libraries for making these documents available to us.

Durham Priory Communars Accounts

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Jurisdiction 1: MonasticDocument category 1: Obedientiaries' accounts
From region: County DurhamFrom place: Durham Priory
Refers to location(s): County Durham, Durham Priory and County Durham, Durham City
Relevant material from 1416 to 1454
The duties of the Communar were rather limited, including the provision of a number of minor physical comforts for the monks, notably fire and wine, with figs, walnuts and spices during Lent (see Fowler, Surtees Soc. 103, Introduction, xlv-xlvii; The Rites of Durham, Surtees Soc. 107, 101). The account for 1453-4 includes a payment to singers (most likely the cathedral choir?) for a performance in the Infirmary, presumably for aged and infirm monks.

A Note on the manuscripts:
Relevant rolls are one membrane each, length 429-685 mm., width 250-266 mm. Single column, with income and expenses divided into subsections according to subject matter. The account for 1416-7 has a separate line for each item, but thereafter continuous subsections are used. Terminal dates for relevant accounts are usually Pentecost, but the account for 1416-7 runs from St. Romanus (23rd October) to St. Petronilla (31st May, also Whit Monday in that year).

NOTE:
These records are offered in a pre-pub format, meaning they have not yet been through the vigorous editorial procedures for full REED publication (which will take place over the next year). Permission to use, share or quote the records must be sought from the REED: Durham editors John McKinnell and Mark Chambers, with acknowledgement to Durham University Library.

Master of Farne’s Accounts

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Jurisdiction 1: MonasticDocument category 1: Priors' or abbots' accounts
From region: County DurhamFrom place: Farne
Relevant material from 1432 to 1537
Great Farne Island was famous as the hermit retreat for St Cuthbert, and from the mid-12th century provided a semi-ermitic life for one or two monks from Durham.

Master of Jarrow’s Accounts (1313-1314)

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Jurisdiction 1: MonasticDocument category 1: Priors' or abbots' accounts
From region: County DurhamFrom place: Jarrow
Relevant material from 1313 to 1314
Founded in 685 as part of the famous twin monastery of Wearmouth, it was famous as the home of the Venerable Bede (c.637-735).

Master of Jarrow’s Accounts (1402 - 1537)

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Jurisdiction 1: MonasticDocument category 1: Priors' or abbots' accounts
From region: County DurhamFrom place: Jarrow
Relevant material from 1402 to 1537
Founded in 685 as part of the famous twin monastery of Wearmouth, it was famous as the home of the Venerable Bede (c.637-735).

Prior of Lytham’s Accounts

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Jurisdiction 1: MonasticDocument category 1: Priors' or abbots' accounts
From region: County DurhamFrom place: Lytham
Relevant material from 1346 to 1534
Lytham Priory was founded on the north bank of the River Ribble between 1189 and 1194, as a result of a gift from Richard Fitz Roger, a local magnate. It was a relatively prosperous cell that, at times, had a rather mixed relationship with its mother house and with local landowners.

Prior of Stamford's Accounts

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Jurisdiction 1: MonasticDocument category 1: Priors' or abbots' accounts
From region: County DurhamFrom place: Stamford
Relevant material from 1383 to 1533
The Priory of St. Leonard outside Stamford was in existence by 1146; it may have been founded by Durham Priory out of a desire for a cell south of the Trent.

Master of Wearmouth’s Accounts

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Jurisdiction 1: MonasticDocument category 1: Priors' or abbots' accounts
From region: County DurhamFrom place: Wearmouth
Relevant material from 1362 to 1534
Founded by Benedict Biscop in 674, Wearmouth had been Bede’s first monastery. Along with Jarrow, it was re-founded ca. 1075, having previously succombed to Viking attacks. In the later Middle Ages it was a small and rather impoverished cell.