Thursday, 28 February 2013

Carrying out Local History Research at Worcester Cathedral's Archive.

By Vanda Bartoszuk
Have you ever wondered about the history of your village, house, church or other building? When was it built? Why was it built? Who owned it? who lived there? Then perhaps we can help you.In the Cathedral Library we maintain not only books but many documents relating to holdings of the medieval Cathedral Priory of Worcester, some dating back to the thirteenth century, and from 1540 onward the archives of the Protestant Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral.
If you are not sure where to start your research, then our Librarian is able to guide your search using our holdings.  Added to which, many of the library volunteers have their own areas of research and are willing to share their expertise to help you.It's a good idea to begin your research from what you know for certain and work back gradually step by step. Maps are a brilliant place to start as Ordnance Survey maps dating back to the nineteenth century are easily available to be searched online or in your local Record Office.


Once you have established the place you are searching for was around in the nineteenth century then the Tithe and Enclosure maps and associated apportionments are particularly useful to take you a step further back in time.
These photographs are Pre-Enclosure and Post-Enclosure maps of Iccomb showing how the former medieval land management system which consisted of strips of individual holdings around the village were later turned into large single ownership fields.
This photo is copyright of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral, UK

This photo is copyright of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral, UK

From the sixteenth century onward, some landowners, including the Dean and Chapter, began to employ surveyors and cartographers to make maps of their lands. These maps can provide not only details of the boundaries of the estate but also the houses that were there and sometimes who owned them. They might include information on adjoining manors and parishes. And don't forget to look for early books that have been published covering your area they may include maps.
This photo is copyright of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral, UK

Section of map from The History and Antiquities of the City and Suburbs of Worcester by Valentine Green published in 1796

Deeds are another source of information.  Owners or holders of property are said to have a 'title' to that property and the term deeds is the collective name for a variety of documents which help to prove that title.   Many deeds can appear complicated but don't be put off as they are formulaic and the information contained within them is easily understood once you grasp the way they are laid out.
Deeds can provide a vital means of tracing the history of a particular piece of land, building or house.   They may even include information on previous owners, previous uses and even previous rights associated with the property.  They can even sometimes contain detailed descriptions of the property at a particular date, if you are lucky perhaps they may even include lists of fixtures and fittings!
This photo is copyright of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral, UK

This is a cathedral lease of 1768

Manorial Records

To go even further back in time manorial records can be useful for family history as tenants of the Lord of the Manor appear in many of the court rolls and rentals. The names of the pieces of land they held can survive down the centuries to be still traceable today.  Another avenue to explore may be a manorial rental.  This was a list of the names of all tenants who held land in the manor, together with a description of the land they held and a record of the rent they paid.  
This photo is copyright of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral, UK

A rental about Himbleton village from 29th July 1502 in the reign of King Henry VII

The manorial system in England and parts of Wales affected much of the population until well into the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In fact some manorial courts operated in a few areas until the early years of the 20th century.

And Last but not Least - Things are not always what they seem:

On maps North is not always at the top!  Always look to see if a Compass Rose or North Arrow is drawn on the map.

The scales vary.  Some of these will be easy to interpret, for example six inches to a mile. Others are more difficult, referring to measurements such as roods and chains and yet others may be represented graphically, using a calibrated bar.

Roads move.  Look out for trackways, some become roads, some disappear, but they lead somewhere, or used to lead somewhere.

Names change.  Clerks sometimes had to choose between various phonetic spellings of local names.

Finally, as with any piece of research, there will be dead ends and disappointments, but don’t give up.  If one line of research comes to a halt, retrace your steps to known facts and start again – every house, church or village will have a different history that requires a unique research path.

Friday, 22 February 2013

A very successful author: Ellen Wood

Ellen Wood is the first woman who, by her own work and abilities, won a place among the great of Worcester who are commemorated within the Cathedral. She was born Ellen Price on 17th January 1814.
Ellen Wood's plaque. Photograph copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

She married aged 21 years and had the misfortune of having to leave Worcestershire with her new husband. Ellen Wood, or as she was more commonly known to her readers at the time Mrs. Henry Wood, turned her hand to writing novels after her husband’s business’s failed. It came to be one of the wisest decisions she ever made because her books proved to be extremely successful across the English-speaking world. To say that her novels sold well would be an understatement. Her stories gave a true picture of the life of the people of Worcester, of the King’s School and of the Cathedral. Her depictions of the Worcestershire countryside were fresh and vivid and she wrote in a simple and natural style of early Victorian life. Her ‘Johnny Ludlow’ stories are considered to be her supreme achievement. Many of these tales focus on romance or unhappy love entanglements. Some of her fiction concerns an aspect of rural life, a few are ghost stories or tales of schoolboy pranks and a high proportion are crime stories. She also wrote for periodicals, and found time to be the editor of a monthly magazine.

Her father, Thomas Price, was the chief glove manufacturer in the city and the family lived near the Cathedral. He was a most cultivated man and associated with the deans and canons. Thus the future Mrs. Henry Wood knew the families of the dignitaries and observed their foibles. Her boyfriends were King’s School scholars and she knew all the school gossip from them. Her father’s connection with the glove trade meant that she could draw on her knowledge of the town’s inhabitants when she began writing. For many of her stories, she was able to resurrect her early memories.

Bishop Carr. Photograph copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester  (U.K.)

In her novel East Lynne, there is the incident of the body of the heroine’s father Lord Mount Severn being seized before a funeral can take place, due to unpaid debts. The author actually based this on a true event that happened at Worcester. Bishop James Carr (1831-1841), a good friend of King George IV, died in debt due to a lavish lifestyle. As a result his body was seized by debt collectors. His relatives were forced to pay over securities for them to go ahead with the ceremony. Not all of the clergy were so unfortunately remembered by her. Her son later recalled to the cathedral in 1916 that she often used her memories of the handsome Dean Lord George Murray (1828-1845) in her novels. Murray, son of a Scottish Earl, was Dean of Worcester when Ellen was growing up in the city.
Dean Lord George Murray. Photograph copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester (U.K.)

Another of the many connections with Worcester is that No. 2 College Green was used in her novel The Channings. She was also good friends with Canon Benson, whose bust is kept in the cathedral library to this day.

Canon Benson. Photograph copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

Ellen Wood died 10th February 1887, and in 1916 a plaque commemorating this successful writer was finally unveiled in Worcester Cathedral near the entrance to the tower. Her son also gave a sum of money to the King’s School Worcester to endow a writing competition for the best essay on Worcester, its neighbourhood, or any other subject. The plaque was made by the sculptor Miss D. S. Wise A.R.C.A. The Cathedral library in its modern reference section holds a copy of her novel East Lynne.

Mary Somers

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Izaak and Anne Walton: A Staffordshire lady in Worcester Cathedral

Izaak Walton. Photograph copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

It’s Valentine’s Day and so the blog this week looks at the story of a couple, which reflects this. In the Lady Chapel at the East end of the cathedral you will find a small white marble monument. The inscription states:

Here lyeth buryed, soe much as
could dye of ANNE,the wife of
who was
A woman of remarkable prudence
and of the Primitive Piety, her great
and generall knowledge: being adorn’d
with such true Humility, and blest
with soe much Christian meeknesse as
made her worthy of a more memorable
She dyed  (Alas that she is dead)
the 17th of Aprill 1662. Aged 52.
Study to be like her

Izaak was born in August 1593 in Stafford. He moved to London, where he lived in the parish where John Donne was vicar. They became friends. In 1626, Izaak married Rachel Flood. They had seven children, who all died by the time they were in their teens, and then Rachel died. However, in the 1640’s Izaak married Anne Ken. His nickname for her was Kenna. They had two children, imaginatively named Izaak and Anne. During the dark days of the civil war, Izaak decided to escape Puritan London and return to his native Stafford. Once safely in the Midlands, the Waltons gave succour to Doctor George Morley, a Royalist clergyman wanted by the Parliamentarians.
Bishop Morley. Photograph copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

Morley had stayed with them in Stafford before going into exile in France with King Charles II. Morley had stayed with King Charles I as long as he was allowed and also ministered to Lord Capel, another captured Royalist commander when he was on the scaffold. After the Restoration of the monarchy, when Morley became Bishop of Worcester, he was able to repay their bravery and kindness by appointing Izaak his steward.

Unfortunately, Anne contracted a fatal illness while living at the Deanery with her husband. In the cathedral archives there is a record of two pounds being paid for the choir to sing at Anne's funeral by Izaak.
The Anne Walton monument. Photograph copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

Izaak Walton wrote the inscription to his beloved wife originally in his Prayer Book, which has slight differences to what is on the monument. Walton first wrote “of Primitive Piety”. The change is to clarify that her piety was that of the reformed church (i.e. The Church of England). The monument is not the only memorial to his wife. Walton also wrote a ballad in which he refers to ‘my Kenna’ (Anne).

Izaak himself is of course famous in his own right as the author of The Compleat Angler, and author of The Lives of John Donne, Henry Wotton, Richard Hooker, George Herbert, and Robert Sanderson. The cathedral library does not have the Compleat Angler but does have his other works. Izaak Walton died at the age of 90 in 1683 at the home of Doctor Hawkins, a Canon of Winchester Cathedral. Walton had moved to Winchester when Doctor Morley became Bishop of Winchester.

Liz Sydney

Monday, 11 February 2013

The alchemist: Bishop John Thornborough, 1551-1641

The monument at the West end of the cathedral.  Image is copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.) 

In the west end of the cathedral is a large striking monument. It commemorates one of the more unusual bishops of Worcester. Bishop Thornborough wrote a book on alchemy published in 1621. Alchemy was the study of turning base metals into gold and was a term for chemistry from the middle ages to the early modern period. Some of the wording and numbers on his monument often intrigue visitors as it appears to be a code. It is believed one half translates as: “In Him, who is the source, the beginning, the middle, and the end of all existence and perfection, though I breathe no more, yet shall I hope.”  The other part of the inscription is believed to read: “While I live I hope for the perfection of wise men”. The first part was worked out by John Noake in 1856 and published in his Notes and Queries on Worcestershire, and the second part was quoted by Dean Moore Ede in his 1925 book on the cathedral’s monuments.
 The bishop's effigy. Image is copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

John Thornborough was born at Salisbury, Wiltshire in 1551 and was educated at Magdalen College Oxford. It was recorded that whilst there, his fastness of living took over from his diligence of study. After university he was ordained in the Church. In 1580 after holding several livings he was appointed one of Queen Elizabeth’s chaplains. In 1589, he was appointed Dean of York, to which was added a Prebend and later two rich Yorkshire livings: all of which he held until arriving at Worcester as bishop in 1617.
A document in the cathedral archives. The Bishop appointed a  keeper of Hartlebury Castle.  Image is copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.) 

In 1593, Thornborough was appointed Bishop of Limerick where as an active supporter of the crown he made his next move in 1602 as Bishop of Bristol: but still was Dean of York. At this time James I became King of England and the Bishop showed his loyalty by publishing two books praising the king’s wisdom in visiting the kingdoms of England and Scotland.
Another document in which the Bishop appointed a keeper of Hartlebury Park. Image is copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

January 1617 saw Thornborough elected Bishop of Worcester and whatever traits of his early character had surfaced prior to this appointment; he now fully displayed them until his death in 1641. He decided to appoint to the two best benefices in his diocese Hartlebury and Upton-upon-Severn his son-in-law and chaplain; but the king wished to appoint two friends and therefore the Bishop was forced to withdraw his nominations.

Thornborough’s twenty-five years in office was a period when a breach developed between the people and the Crown. There was popular sympathy with the ideas of the Puritans on theology and on church ceremonies. The bishop was much in sympathy with the popular view, but the Dean Dr. Mainwaring was strongly in support of the arbitrary power of the king. Perhaps this is one reason why the cathedral library does not have a copy of Thornborough's book or any books belonging to him. 

In 1626 the forty year lease on the Carnary Chapel to the Chapter Clerk expired and Bishop Thornborough took this over at the same rent 6/8d per annum and used the chapel as a hay barn. In 1635, Dean Mainwaring was ordered by the Archbishop to restore the Carnary Chapel to its proper use. A new Dean Christopher Potter was appointed in 1636 and decided, faced with an expanding library, to move it to the schoolhouse (Refectory) and move the school into the chapel. The bishop complained to the archbishop that whilst he had complied with his instruction to remove his hay and restore the chapel, it was now to be used by schoolboys. This would create noise and in his opinion this would be worse than filling the chapel with hay as the school boys would swear and lie! The furious mayor and leading citizens, whose relatives were educated there, lodged a complaint with the Archbishop of Canterbury over the location of the school. In 1637 Thornborough had the tomb of a noble lady translated from the chapel to the north aisle of the Lady Chapel. The school remained in the Carnary chapel for five years until 1643, returning to the College Hall.
Heraldry on the Thornborough monument. Image is copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

Bishop Thornborough had a very determined attitude to life for a man in his eighties. He had lost a son unable to cope with debts, who committed suicide. Another son was forced to marry an heiress, with whom he was living, but he spent her fortune and she was left penniless to beg from her father-in-law. The Bishop gave her a very small allowance to live on. He died at Hartlebury Castle in July 1641. To read more about this time in Worcester's past, read Pat Hughes and Annette Leech’s The Story of Worcester, Logaston Press 2011 or William Moore Ede's Worcester Cathedral, Its Monuments and their stories, (Worcester, 1925).

Ian Clargo