Thursday, 31 January 2013

Worcestershire's "Institutor of Infirmaries": Isaac Maddox 1743-1759

What would you do if you realized that your local hospital or charity needed to raise funds urgently? The answer in the eighteenth century was call in one of the country’s most gifted preachers and exponents of improved medical care: Isaac Maddox.

Hartlebury Castle where Maddox and his family lived. Maddox restored the Chapel, which is the structure with the largest window. Reproduced by permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

In Worcester Cathedral is a monument to a one of the most important Bishops of Worcester, who helped to found Worcester’s first public infirmary. Isaac Maddox’s story is fascinating. Orphaned, he was possibly brought up his aunt. After time as an apprentice pastry cook he was tutored by a local parish clergyman, and gained an exhibition to Edinburgh University. He spent a short time at Oxford, then gained the well paid job of Clerk of the Closet to Queen Caroline, rose through the ranks of the clergy, and at the University of Cambridge, he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Divinity. He then married a wealthy niece of his patron the Bishop of Chichester. He wrote a book “A Vindication of the Government, Doctrine, and worship of the Church of England established in the reign of Queen Elizabeth” in 1733. A copy of this book is kept in the cathedral library. Maddox was made a Bishop in 1736. He was a brilliant and successful preacher of charity sermons, for example in support of the hospitals of Westminster and London. In 1743 he was promoted to the Bishopric of Worcester, where he was  conscientious, and kept an eye on the Cathedral and the Diocesan administration. In 1746 he was made President of the Small Pox Hospital, and pointed out the importance of inoculation against the disease in a successful pamphlet.

The Monument to Bishop Isaac Maddox in Worcester Cathedral.  Reproduced by permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

In 1745 he urged, together with others, the establishment of a Worcester infirmary in Silver Street which would serve the whole county. This proved such a success that a larger hospital on a new site was built in 1770. He not only encouraged others to contribute but also gave a generous regular payment, which his widow continued. Maddox drove home the importance of providing good quality health care, particularly for the poor, including the establishment of local infirmaries, where schools of medicine would facilitate improved standards.

The first page of Maddox's successful book on the Church of England. Reproduced by permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)
Maddox’s good work did not stop there. He preached against the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption, and established a special fund to help the poorly paid clergy of the diocese. He was on good terms with the Nonconformist Protestants of the locality. Tragedy struck Maddox’s family when his eldest daughter died aged 11 in 1747 and his son died aged 17 in 1757. They were both buried behind the Quire of the Cathedral. Bishop Maddox died in 1759. Thankfully one daughter, called Mary, survived him.

The title page of Maddox's successful book vindicating the Church of England. Reproduced by permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

On Isaac Maddox's monument is a depiction of the Good Samaritan- one of Jesus’ parables in the Gospel of Saint Luke. This story of an injured man helped by someone who was completely different from himself exemplifies the Christian values that Maddox put into practice in his ministry. Thanks to the establishment of Worcester infirmary, treatment of diseases would be offered regardless of who the sick were. Maddox's portrait is at Hartlebury Castle, the chapel of which he restored. He is also mentioned in the chaplaincy section of the new medical museum at the Infirmary.  As part of his epitaph states, he was: “A Guardian of the poor, he abounded in private charities and encouraged every public one. Long may the sick and impotent bless the patron and those of this county the institutor of infirmaries!”
To find out more about Bishop Maddox, the history of health care or Hartlebury Castle why not look at these:

The infirmary’s webpage is
The Hurd Library blog is at
William Moore Ede's Worcester Cathedral Its Monuments and their Stories, Worcester 1925
William Henry McMenemey, A History of the Worcester Royal Infirmary, London 1947

Thursday, 24 January 2013


In Worcester cathedral’s south nave aisle is a large tomb chest, covered in coats of arms, but otherwise quite plain. This fifteenth century monument is in fact that of one of England’s most important medieval lawyers, who came from the village of Frankley in Worcestershire. 
Thomas Littleton's portrait from his book. Photograph is reproduced by permission of the Dean and Chapter  of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

Sir Thomas Littleton is certainly one of the greatest laymen to be buried in the Cathedral. He was known as ‘the renowned Father of our English Laws’ and is remembered as the author of a legal treatise which avoided pedantic phraseology and was clear and readable. Sir Thomas Coke, an eminent legal authority in the reigns of James I and Charles I referred to his work as: ‘The most perfect and absolute work that ever was written in any human science’.

Thomas Littleton's tomb showing some of the family's heraldry. Photograph is reproduced by permission of the Dean and Chapter  of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

In the cathedral library, there is a copy of Sir Thomas Coke’s commentary on Littleton. The cathedral’s edition of this book was published in 1642. Few authors can say that there work would still be printed nearly two hundred years after their death. Combined with Coke’s commentary Littleton’s work continued to influence English property law.

From Coke on Littleton. A diagram showing the degree of Parentage  and of Consanguinity.  Photograph is reproduced by permission of the Dean and Chapter  of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

The exact details of Littleton’s early education are unknown. It is thought that he may have gone to university before proceeding to the Inner-Temple, London. His talent was noticed and King Henry VI made him Marshalsea of the King’s Household. In 1447, Littleton served as Under-Sheriff of Worcester and in 1450 was Recorder of Coventry. During the Wars of the Roses, Littleton did not take sides and he continued his legal studies and his legal duties. He worked his way up through the profession, being a sergeant-at-law, king’s sergeant, and judge of assize. Amid the civil strife, he busied himself with strengthening the basis of law against the avarice and ambition of men. When the House of York won, King Edward IV made him a knight and gave him the role of Judge of Common Pleas. Edward IV also gave him the lucrative 110 Marks a year from the customs on the ports of London, Kingston upon Hull and Bristol, as well as other rewards.

The side of the tomb showing the other heraldic badge of the family. Photograph is reproduced by permission of the Dean and Chapter  of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)
Judge Littleton died at Frankley. He left some of his manuscripts to his local Chapel in Frankley, and the monastery in Halesowen. This tomb was erected by him in his lifetime. Unfortunately, the brass on top of the tomb showing the lawyer saying the words Fili Dei miserere mei was lost in the English civil war era and was never replaced. 

Mary Somers

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Saint Wulfstan’s Legacy

          Wulfstan was born in 1007 and became a monk at the age of 26. He was master of the monastery’s school and later took up the post of Precentor. After this, he was elected prior in 1050 and guided the 12 monks resident at Worcester. Wulfstan was consecrated as Bishop of Worcester in 1062 and held his position until his death in 1095. During his Bishopric, the monastery at Worcester increased to 50 monks and consequently he had to give them more land, as seen in Wulfstan’s Charter, displayed in the Library.

Saint Wulfstan in the Cathedral's Goodman window. Photograph by Mr. Christopher Guy. Reproduced by permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

Bishop Wulfstan was an impressive character.  He was against the continuing of married priests in his diocese –  announcing that they should either give up their women or their priesthood!  This was in accordance with the reform of the Church as promoted by the papacy from the mid 11th century in which clerical marriage was censured. Wulfstan expected his monks and congregation to adhere to Christianity in the strictest sense; it is recorded that he recited Psalms repeatedly when travelling on horseback anywhere as a sign of his unwavering faith and conviction.

Wulfstan on the Cathedral's Jesus Chapel Reredos. Photograph by Mr. Christopher Guy. Reproduced by permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)  
            Wulfstan can be regarded as a modern man through his efforts to decry and abolish the slave trade. The diocese of Worcester extended as far down as Gloucestershire, which included the city of Bristol. Wulfstan made regular journeys to Bristol and would reside there for 2 to 3 months at a time in order that his residence there would make an impression upon the community. Bristol was one of the capitals of the slave trade in Britain and traded slaves native to England, Scotland and Wales. People resorted to slavery when they were severely impoverished, often families would sell their children into the trade. When a person was enslaved in Bristol, the process had to be undertaken in a public place with witnesses so that the slave could not deny their slavery at a later date. Thus, this measure reveals that it would have been nigh impossible to work a way out of the slave trade as, during the public process, you had relinquished all personal rights to your master. Wulfstan succeeded in abolishing the slave trade in Bristol by converting the traders, this accomplishment initiated a reform of the slave trade elsewhere in Britain.   

Part of Saint Wulfstan's charter of 1089. Photograph by Mr. Christopher  Guy. Reproduced  by permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

            Wulfstan died in 1095 and was buried in the choir of the cathedral church built during his time as bishop. However, this was damaged in the fire of 1202 yet his legacy remained paramount as it was rededicated to him (and his predecessor, Oswald) along with Saint Peter and the Virgin Mary.
Colette Davies

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Saint Oswald of Worcester and Fleury Monastery, France

If one wanted to become a monk in the mid 10th century and practice the most up to date monastic life, there was no place better to go than the monasteries of France. This was exactly that path which Oswald undertook when he believed that he could not yield a positive influence upon the English public.

Saint Oswald Bishop of Worcester. Photograph by Mr. Christopher Guy. Reproduced by permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)
Oswald was part of the monastic community at Winchester Cathedral before departing for Fleury as he believed he could lead a more productive monastic life in the French monastery than he could in England. His uncle had previously been a monk at Fleury and it was also this same uncle who first introduced Oswald to a religious education. This connection inspired Oswald to depart thence. Fleury had an active and significant scriptorium in the latter half of the 10th century. On Oswald’s return to England in 958, it is possible that the two Continental scripts which Worcester Cathedral Library now possesses, works of Gregory and Eusebius, travelled back along with him. 

The beginning of Pope Gregory's forty homilies. Photograph by Mr. Christopher Guy. Reproduced by permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)
When Oswald returned to Worcester, the Bishop’s seat was in St. Peter’s Church. He deemed this church far too small for his preaching and moved his sermons outside onto the churchyard in order that he could preach to a larger community. Through this, he also gained more funding which he put towards the construction of a new Church, St Mary’s, completed in 983. After this Church had been finished, Oswald brought an associate of his over from the Fleury monastery, Germanus, in order to assist in the training of new monks.
A lot happened to Oswald in the year of 972. Primarily, he was made the Archbishop of York whilst retaining his seat as Bishop of Worcester. There are many possible reasons why he held these two seats simultaneously in time; most probable of which was his worry that if he departed Worcester for York, his efforts of establishing the Benedictine monastery would suffer in its faith and organisation.  Secondly and according to Byrhtferth of Ramsey, he also assisted in the Coronation of King Edgar, along with Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury and former Bishop of Worcester. This coronation is significant as its description forms the basis of all coronations since.
Oswald died on 29th February 992 and was buried in the Cathedral Church of St Mary. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Saint Oswald’s and Saint Wulfstan’s bones were taken from their shrines and buried somewhere near the High Altar.

Oswald washes the feet of the poor just before his death. Photograph by Mr. Christopher Guy. Reproduced by permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)
Did you know? Oswald insisted on washing the feet of 12 poor men every day during Lent, drawing a parallel with Jesus washing the feet of his disciples and through which, he instructed them to promote his teachings among others. Oswald’s benevolent act can be seen in a stained glass window in the north cloister – keep an eye out for it!

Colette Davies

Thursday, 3 January 2013

A Colonist’s Tale: There and back again

by Jenny May

With the release of Peter Jackson’s eagerly anticipated The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey all eyes are turning toward Middle Earth, and it seems like a good time to share my discovery of a volume unassumingly tucked away in the Worcester Cathedral Library: The Official Handbook of New Zealand. A Collection of Papers by experienced colonists. Lovers of The Lord of the Rings be warned, the guide is lacking on info for encounters with trolls, dwarves and dragons.

The Handbook. Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

As a volunteer hailing from Christchurch, New Zealand I was delighted to come across The Official Handbook of New Zealand amongst the Cathedral Library’s impressive collection, and even more pleased when during my examination of the book, a variety of fascinating Kiwi connections with Worcester Cathedral itself became evident.

Those who incline to make New Zealand their home should not form extravagant anticipations of it. It is not paved with gold”

The Official Handbook of New Zealand is the 1875 forerunner to the Lonely Planet Travel Guide: the geographic chapter structure, the pastiche form compiling the accounts of various experienced globetrotters. However, change the target audience from international backpackers to middle class colonists, the accommodation from “super-hipster communal hostelling” to tightly patrolled, “immigrants barracks”, and trade tips for the hottest bars, for the assurance that “no rowdyism is tolerated” and you’ll have something of an overview of the handbook’s contents.

Dunedin c.1875. Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)
“A New Zealand view of New Zealand”

Our countrymen of the UK may form an idea of it if they suppose it to be a very thinly peopled country, with numerous points in common with the islands of Great Britain but possessing, on the whole, a much better climate, free from pauperism, more free from prejudices of class and therefore opening… a better road to advancement.

New Zealand, it seems, was perceived back then much as it still is today, as something of a ‘promised land’ for colonists. A land abundant with new beginnings, a chance to rediscover a lost pastoral England. The volume, commissioned by the New Zealand government, appeals both to the nostalgic Brit, and the adventurer.

To every Englishman whose colonizing taste has been inspired by his boyish reading of Robinson Crusoe (and with how many is not this the case?) … these charming little bays seem to realize the exact idea of his imagination.

Opening the text with an overview of New Zealand’s history, editor Julian Vogel is not only guilty of over-romanticizing life in the colonies, but of practically excluding any mention of the native Maori people whatsoever. Although typical of the time, such prejudice still grates and bemuses when read by modern eyes. The first mention of New Zealand’s indigenous Maori comes as a footnote to Abel Tasman’s claiming of the Islands in 1642.

The occupation of the savages (was) a thing of small account

The response of the warrior Maori people to the first European arrivals was first with spears. Vogel tries to rationalise this response with the comparison to the rough inhabitants of the “black country” of Staffordshire who greeted strangers by “heaving a brick”. Thus, he says in delightfully English manner, “The Maoris could hardly be expected to appreciate the relations which ought to exist between themselves and their visitors.”

Potential colonists are encouraged therefore, to rid themselves of the misconception that “emigration to New Zealand virtually means settling in the midst of a barbarous population, always on the look out for plunder” and instead reassured that although colonists might “notice a stray Maori or two” in towns of the North Island, they are “not however, clad in the dirty blanket or rough flax mat but “got up” in fashionable European Costume”. This entry certainly, you would not find in a contemporary travel guide. Visitors to the country today are encouraged to explore and understand the country’s rich Maori history.

“A settlement complete in itself”

George Lyttelton's effigy. Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)
One of the most important connections between my two homes lies with a nobleman buried in Worcester Cathedral itself, a gentleman described as “the centre of the intellectual life and progress of the county” from the time of his appointment as Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire in 1839 to his death in 1876.  George William Lyttelton, whose very handsome memorial can be found in the Cathedral, was, for a time, Secretary of the Colonies and took a special interest in New Zealand.

The tomb with family heraldry. Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)
In 1848 Lord Lyttelton formed the Canterbury association for the founding of a settlement in New Zealand. Land was bought from the Ngai Tahu tribe and Canterbury was established, with Christchurch as its main settlement. The port town of Lyttelton was named in honour of the colonist’s work, and still bears that name today.

The port  town of Lyttelton. Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)
The intention was for Canterbury to exist as a centre of civilization, “a settlement complete in itself, having as little connection as possible to the other centres of population in the colony, and composed entirely of members of the United Church of Great Britain and Ireland”. However the plans for this little English utopia were undone by the province’s very success and the city quickly diversified. Life in Canterbury proved lucrative, land was good and Christchurch became extremely wealthy – in 1858 it was dubbed the “richest community in the world up to this time” with a population of 7,000 producing a revenue of 96,000 pounds.

“Not for a long time to come…”

Christchurch in 1875. Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

At the heart of Christchurch today lies the remains of the very same Cathedral, designed by Sir Gilbert Scott, and described in The Official Handbook as being “not yet much more than commenced”. This icon of the city, cherished by the inhabitants of a young country as a historical landmark, has been a topic of controversy in recent months. Heavily damaged in the devastating 2011 earthquake, the decision was taken to demolish and rebuild. A temporary ‘Cardboard Cathedral’, designed by architect Shigeru Ban is currently in the process of being erected.

In the wake of the 2011 earthquake, much of the historic architecture that made Christchurch unique has been destroyed. However, even today, red telephone boxes encountered on the streets, punts drifting along the river Avon and the sight of people admiring roses in the botanical gardens recall England to passers-by. It seems Vogel’s prediction was right:

“Not for a long time to come, if ever, will the characteristics the settlements received from their early founders be entirely obliterated.”

And this thought does indeed draw us ‘back again’ to our own magnificent Cathedral in Worcester, and to that same Lord Lyttelton responsible for founding the region of Canterbury, New Zealand.

The Official Handbook of New Zealand: A collection of papers by experienced colonists as the colony as a whole and on the several provinces.
Edited by Julian Vogel, C.M.G.
(Printed for the government of New Zealand by Wyman & Sons, Great Queen Street, Lincoln’s inn fields, 1875)
Worcester Cathedral: Its monuments and their stories by The Very Reverend W. Moore Ede

N.B. To my delight, I came across an entry about the school I used to work at, ‘Christ’s College’, described in The Official Handbook as “a highly useful and effective establishment” with teaching so good “that the school has attained what may be called a pre-eminent position in New Zealand.” Obviously, I can vouch for the fact that over a hundred years later this is still the case.