RELIGION Florilegium Urbanum

Keywords: medieval London parish churches churchwardens finances account revenues expenditures chantries endowments rent buildings maintenance repairs hardware artisans labourers wages priests funerals memorial services furniture furnishings waxchandlers
Subject: Accounts of the churchwardens of St. Mary at Hill
Original source: Corporation of London, Guildhall Library, Ms.1239/1, ff.15-26
Transcription in: Henry Littlehales, ed. The Medieval Records of a London City Church (St. Mary at Hill) A.D. 1420-1559. Early English Text Society, original series, vol.125 (1904), 76-92.
Original language: Middle English
Location: London
Date: 1477-79


This is the account of John Palmer and John Clerke, wardens of the church of St. Mary at Hill beside Billingsgate, in London, from 29 September 1477 to 29 September 1479; that is, for two whole years etc.

First, they are accountable for £29.12s.4d in rents from the tenements assigned to the chantry of John Weston during the 2 years; accounting for £14.16s.2d per year.  
And with £35.3s.4d. in rents from the tenements assigned to the chantry of John Causton for the same 2 years; accounting for £18.1s.10d per year, etc. And with £19.17s.4d in rents from the tenements assigned to the chantry of Richard Gosselyn for those 2 years; accounting for £9.18s.8d per year.  
And with £26.13s.4d in rent from a tenement assigned to the chantry of John Bedeham for those 2 years; accounting for £13.6s.8d per year.  
Also, received in rent from a tenement located in the parish of St. Christopher at Stocks, formerly belonging to William Cambridge, for the Midsummer and Michaelmas terms in 1478, £3. And in rent from the same tenement for the year ending at Michaelmas 1479, £10 £13
  total: £125.6s.4d
Rent increases:
Also, they are accountable for 23s.4d from a rent increase on a tenement in the parish of St. Mary at Hill, which is accounted for among the rents of Weston's chantry (called the Church Rents) at 20s. a year, recently [rented] to John Dokeling for 33s.4d a year; that is, for one year and three quarters etc.
total: 23s.4d
Item, received from Richard Bliot of Thussocks, Essex, as a gift towards the maintenance of the church
Item, received from John Johnson butcher as arrears of rent
Item, from dom. John Mortram as arrears of rent 24s.
Item, from the wife of William Geffereis as arrears of rent 20s.
And from James Cokke weaver as arrears of rent 20s.2d
  total: £5.17s.6d
Total on this page: £7.10d
Miscellaneous receipts
Received over the two years for the beam light 42s.
For the Easter taper during that period 25s.4d
For the melted wax from two candles [used] at Causton's obit 4d.
For the melted wax from two candles [used] at John Bedeham's obit 4d.
For the melted wax from two candles [used] at Richard Gosselyn's obit 4d.
For the melted wax from two candles [used] at William Cambridge's obit 4d.
For an empty hogshead, sold to William Proyne 6d.
For an old gravestone, sold to [blank] 6s.8d
From the sale of 2 bushels of sand 2d.
Item, received from the wife of Thomas Crulle, for the ringing of the great bell for her husband 3s.4d
For the burial of Thomas Crulle in the church 13s.4d
For the burial of dom. Thomas Wilkynson priest in the church 13s.4d
Received from William Prune for the burial of his son in the church 13s.4d
For the burial of a stranger in the churchyard 3s.4d
Received from John Jacob for observances held in the church for a Spaniard who was killed 5s.
  total: £6.7s.8d
Sums received for the burial of corpses in the pardon churchyard
For the burial of Crulle's daughter 2s.
For Harry Clerke's, as a donation 2s.
For William Blase's child 2s.
For John Smyth 2s.
For the kerchief launderer's daughter 2s.
For Dokeling's manservant 2s.
For Hunt's wife 2s.
For Cecily Crulle 2s.
For John Clerke's daughter 4s.
For John Baker's daughter 2s.
  total: 22s.
Total of all the receipts for which they are accountable: £139.16s.10d
Payments and expenses relating to Weston's living
First, paid to the abbot of Waltham, as a quitrent of 38s. [annually] due from a tenement that once belonged to John Weston, located in the parish of [blank]
To Michael Harryes, warden of the church of St. George in Pudding Lane, as a quitrent of 20s. annually due from a tenement located in the parish of St. Mary at Hill, for 2 years, [paid] at Michaelmas 1479 40s.
To the Prior of Christchurch inside Aldgate, London, as a quitrent of 3s. annually due from a tenement located in the same parish of St. Mary, for 2 years ending at Easter 1479, [evidenced] by two receipts 6s.
To the same Prior, as a quitrent of 5s. annually due from [blank] tenements located in the parish of St. Botolph's outside Aldgate, once of John Weston, for 2 years ending at Christmas 1479 5s.
  total: £6.12s.
Priests' wages:
Item, paid to dom. John Philippe for conducting the morning mass, at 5s. per quarter, for the period of 2 years
Item, paid to dom. John Colyns, to supplement his wages, at 8s.4d per quarter, for the period of 2 years £3.6s.8d
  total: £5.6s.8d
Total: £11.18s.8d
Allowance for the rent of a tenement located in the parish of St. Mary at Hill, held by Harry Williamson, accounted for in the rental at £4 a year, which stood empty throughout the first year
Item, paid for the obit of John Weston, held twice within the period covered by this account, at 3s.4d each time
Item, for the obit of dom. John Bradmere, who gave the church a new chalice weighing [blank], at 3s.4d per year 6s.8d
Paid to John Modley for serving the choir during the Midsummer and Michaelmas terms 1478, at 6s.8d per quarter 13s.4d
To the same John, for his wages serving in the choir from Michaelmas 1478 to Midsummer 1479, at 6s.8d per quarter – 20s. And from Midsummer to Michaelmas following, serving as the parish clerk, 13s.4d for his wages 33s.4d
To the parish priest to make mention from the pulpit of the soul of [Richard] Bliot, who gave 6s.8d towards the maintenance of the church 2d.
Item, paid to William Paris, for carrying the great book to dom. William Palmer's room, for making another copy 4d.
Item, paid to William Paris and the [parish] clerk for a meal one Good Friday 2d.
  total: £7.8d
Expenditures on the church
Item, paid to a vestment-maker for mending the black copes, and all the other copes in need of repair, for 14 days at 9d. a day. Total: 10s.6d
For red silk, 12d.
Ribbons of various colours, 4s.
For velvet, 9d.
For buckram for lining, 4s.
To Ralph Smyth, for mending a chain of a book in the choir, 2d.
For making a baldrick and a new buckle for the small bell, 8d.
For a rope for the same bell, 3d.
For 8 fathoms of rope for the middle-sized bell, 9d.
For washing altar-cloths, albs, amices, and towels, 12d.
For scouring the standards, candlesticks, and the rood loft, during the two-year period 3s.8d
For 72 lb. of tallow candles, used in divine services performed in the church during the period covered by this account, and in watching the church 6s.5d
To William Proyne, for 18 gallons of oil, used in the church lamps 16s.
For scouring, repairing, and gilding of a crucifix 5s.
To William Paris, for nails and repairs to certain of the church pews, 10d.
For a key to the lower vestry door, 3d.
For 2 small keys to a little chest in the vestry, 6d.
For a new key and repairs to a lock to the steeple door, 4d.
For leather and clasps for an antiphonary, 8d.
For mending a surplice, 5d.
For repairs to the pavement in the church, 2d.
Paid to William Paris, for taking down the cross from the steeple, 2d.
For washing and sewing John Modley's surplice 2d.
  total: 57s.8d
Item, paid for birch at Midsummer, 8d.
Item, paid for box[wood?] and palm on Palm Sunday, 12d.
For coal on Easter evening, 10d.
Item, for garlands on Corpus Christi day, 10d.
To 5 men, to carry the torches, 9d.
For rose garlands and woodruff garlands on St. Barnabas' day, 11d.
To dom. John Henley, for singing on those days, 8d.
To 4 children of St. Magnus [parish], for singing, 4d.
To Walter Plesaunce, for playing the organ, 6d.
For expenses of the priests and clerks in bread, ale and wine at the abovementioned festivals and at All Hallows, 2s.5d
For a new key to the chest containing the torches 3d.
Item, paid to Thomas Goldsmyth for repairs to 2 pax and the socket of a silver candlestick 2s.
Item for repairs undertakn by Michael Glocetir to the "capis" of the organs 8d.
For 3 wicker mats, bought for priests and clerks 4d.
  total: 12s.2d
Item, paid for 3,000 tiles, at 5s.4d per thousand, 16s.
Item, for 100 roof tiles, 15d.
To Harry Clerke, for 8 loads and a sack of lime, 8s.2d.
For 3 loads of sand, 18d.
For 2 loads of loam, 8d.
For 200 laths, 4d.
For 2 pecks of tile-pins, 4½d.
For 200 sixpenny nails, 12d.
For 500 spriggs, 3½d.
For a water-pail, 3d.
For 100 threepenny nails, 3d.
For 2 lb. and 3 quarterons of solder, used in the tenements of Harry Williamsson and John Dokeling, 22d.
Item, paid to a tiler and his labourer, for a day's work on the church 13d.
Item, paid to a tiler and his assistant, for a day's work on Thomas Raynold's house 13d
Item, to 2 tilers and 2 labourers, for 9 days work on John Williamson's house and John Dokeling's house, at 2s.2d a day (divided among them) 19s.6d
For a bucket for Harry Williamson's well, and for binding it 3s.2d
To a dauber and his labourer, for 3 days work there, at 13d. a day 3s.3d
For carrying off 8 loads of debris from the same locations 10d
For emptying out 2 tuns in the privy of Harry Williamson's house 5s.4d
For 400 hertlaths, at 5d. a hundred 20d.
Total on this page: £3.7s.10d
Item, for a wainscot used in Harry Williamson's house, 9d.
Paid to Stere for sawing 3 curves into the same, 3d.
For legs, 4d.
For 100 threepenny nails, 3d.
To a carpenter working there for 2 days, 16d.
To a mason and his assistant for a day's work, 13d.
To a paver, for laying 9 ties in front of the tenement of John Modley and Hugh Clerke, at 7d. per tie, and 12d. for 3 loads of gravel 6s.3d
Item, paid to William Paris for keeping watch in the church over 16 nights, during the construction of the vestry, 16d.
For a quarter of coal, 5d.
For bread and ale bought from the wife of [the keeper of] the Bell, 16d. spent there
Item, paid to a carpenter to make a shop door for Thomas Reynold's house, including the [cost of] nails, 12d.
And for a key to the same, 3d.
Item, for 3 loads of lime used in conjunction with the sand that was left from the materials acquired for the vestry construction 3s.
For drawing up a pair of indentures between the churchwardens and [blank] Mille, for the lease of his house 2s.6d
Item, to [blank] Masse scrivener, for reviewing the old indentures regarding that house 8d.
  total: 20s.9d
Expenditures on the tenements of John Causton's chantry
In money paid to the wardens of London Bridge, as a quitrent of 13s.4d annually due from a tenement in Gracechurch Street held by John Fisshe, for two years ending at Easter 1479
Item, to William Inkyrssale and Thomas Broke, wardens of the fraternity of Our Lady and St. Thomas of Canterbury, or Salve Regina, founded in the church of St. Magnus in London, as a quitrent of 6s. annually due from the same tenement, for two years ending at Midsummer 1479 12s.
Priest's wages:
To dom. Philip Norton, priest singing for the soul of John Causton, for two years' wages ending at Michaelmas 1479, at £6.13s.4d a year
To Hugh Clerke and Robert Clerke, for money due them for the Dirige of John Causton 10d.
Allowance for the rent of a tenement that Hugh Clerke held for 20s. annually, which stood empty during the terms of Easter, Midsummer and Michaelmas 1479. 15s.
Allowance for the rent of a tenement that the clerk of St. Dunstan held, who was in arrears to the church in the amount of 25s. and vacated the tenement without leaving behind anything that could be distrained for the rent, and afterwards died in the plague, leaving no estate from which payment could be made. 25s
  total: £17.13s.10d
For 2,000 tiles used to repair the tenement of William Blase and other tenements, 10s.8d
For 100 laths, 5d.
For 100 fourpenny nails, 4d.
For 100 fivepenny nails, 5d.
For a peck of tile pins, 1½d.
For a load of lime, 12d.
For a load of sand, 6d.
For a load of loam, 4d.
For 3 quarters of sprigg nails, 3½d
For a lock and key for Christian Stevyns garden, and for nails, 9d.
Paid to a tiler and his labourer, for 4 days work there, the pair receiving 13d. daily, 4s.4d.
To a dauber and his labourer working in the tenement of John Brewster turner in East Cheap for a day, 13d. And in the tenements of James Cokke and Clement [Hille], [for] two days, 2s.2d.
Item, for 3 loads of paving gravel, 12d.
To a paver for laying 9 ties of pavement, at 7d. per tie, 4s.1d
For a post, a plate, and a trestle head, to set under the binding joist in John Brewster's house, 14d., and 2 pieces [of timber] for the sides of a staircase, 6d.
For 25 feet of elm board, for steps and standards for the staircase, 6d.
For 6 quarters for the walls and bridges for the staircase, 12d.
To 2 carpenters working there for 2 days, 2s.8d
Item for repairing a lock, and for a new key, to Hugh Clerke's house, 3d.
For repairs to the tenement held by John Fisshe
For 1,000 tiles, 5s.6d
For a load and 4 sacks of lime, 20d.
Item, for 4 roof tiles, 4d.
Spent on repairs to John Fisshe's house in Gracechurch Street
To a tiler and his labourer working there for 4 days, at 13d. a day 4s.4d
To a carpenter, for his labour, a principal post, and a water board 20d.
For 4½ lb. of solder, 2s.3d
For a key to William Blase's shop door, 3d.
For transporting a thousand and a load of sand, from Foster Lane to Gracechurch Street, 6d. For transporting 5 loads of debris from Foster Lane and East Cheap, 10d.
  total: 50s.11d
Payments and expenditures made on the tenements belonging to Richard Gosselyn's chantry
To the Prioress of Kilborne, as a quitrent of 6d. annually due from the tenement in Foster Lane, for the two years ending at Michaelmas 1479
Item, paid for the costs of Richard Gosselyn's obit, held twice during the period covered by this account
Item, allowance for the rent of a tenement held by William Dighton, which stood empty for a year because no tenant could be found
Item, [allowance for] the rent of a tenement that William Catour embroiderer holds, which stood empty throughout the first quarter of [the period covered by] this account 4s.6d
Priests' wages:
Item, paid to dom. John Mounteyne for 12 weeks and 5 days, 31s.8d
To dom. Thomas Wilkynson, for a quarter and a half, 50s.
To dom Thomas [blank], for a quarter 33s.4d.
To dom. Robert Barette, for 5 weeks and 2 days, 13s.
And to dom. William Lun for 6 weeks and a day, 15s.4d
Priests singing for the soul of Richard Gosselyn during the period covered by this account
  total: £13.5s.6d
Repairs to Richard Gosselyn's tenements
For 6,000 tiles, at 5s.4d a thousand, 31s.8d
For 600 laths, at 5d. a hundred, 2s.6d
For a quarter of roof tiles, 16d.
For 1½ bushels of tile pins, 9d.
For 6 loads of sand, 3s.
For 10 loads and 4 sacks of lime, 10s.8d
For 2 loads of loam, 8d
For 12 feet of floor boards, 4d.
For 5½ feet of "lire" board, 2d.
For 31 yards of eave boards, 20d.
For quarter boards bought for the physician's house, 16d.M|
For 2 quarters, 5½d
For a rafter foot, 1d.
For a leg, 1½d.
For a quarter and a half of elm board, 6d.
For a quarter of elm, 5d.
For 200 sixpenny nails, 12d.
For 100 fivepenny nails, 5d.
For 200 fourpenny nails, 4d.
For threepenny nails, 5d.
For lead nails, 1d.
For spriggs, 12d., and for roof nails, 8d.
For 2 hooks, 1d.
For shaping a hundred and a half of lead, 2s.1d.
For 10½ lb. of solder, 5s.3d.
For a new bucket for William Dighton's well, 8d.
For two new hoops for, and binding of, that bucket, 14d.
Item, for a bast rope, 2d.
Item, paid to 2 tilers and 2 labourers working there for 20 days, at 2s.2d a day (divided among them), total 43s.4d
To a labourer, to remove debris from the house over 2 days, 10d.
For the carrying off of debris, 20d.
For transport of 2 loads of brick, some of this to's house, 4d.
For demolishing a chimney in the small shop, 6d.
For cleaning out the privies, 18d.
To a carpenter for 2 days, 16d.
To a dauber and his assistant for 3 days, at 13d. a day, 3s.3d.
  total: £6.2s.7d
Item, paid to a mason working on diverting the gutter for carrying off water from [William] Shirborne's kitchen, 2s.
For 300 bricks, 18d.
For 1,000 tiles used in the physician's house, 5s.6d.
For 2 loads and 6 sacks of lime, 3s.
For tile pins, 1d.
For 2 loads of sand, 12d.
To a tiler and his assistant for 7 days, at 13d. a day, 7s.7d.
To a carpenter for 2½ days, 20d.
For half a hundred and 8 feet of elm board, 14d.
For nails, 6d.
For quarter boards, 3d.
For legs and hooks, 4d.
For cleaning the house and getting rid of the dust, 8d.
For carrying off 3 loads of rubbish, 10d.
For a load of loam, to spread over the floor in [William] Levisham's house, 4d.
To a dauber and his assistant [working] there for a day, 13d.
  total: 27s.6d
Payments and expenditures on the tenement that belonged to John Bedeham
Priest's wages:
First, paid to dom. John Plomer, priest of John Bedeham's chantry, as his wages for 2 years, at £6.13s.4d a year
Item, paid for the obit of John Bedeham, 6s.8d for each year covered by this account
Item, allowed to the churchwardens, by John's bequest, 3s.4d to each of them per year, for both years
Item, paid for 4,000 tiles, 21s.4d
For 400 laths, 20d.
For 1,250 spriggs, 7½d.
For a bushel and a half of tile pins, 9d.
For 5 loads of sand, 2s.6d
For 12 loads and 2 sacks of lime, 12s.4d
To 2 tilers and 2 labourers working there for 18½ days, at 2s.2d a day (divided among them) 39s.6d
Item, paid for a half hundred and a quarteron of paving tiles, 7½d.
For a quarter of small paving tiles, 5d.
For 200 fivepenny nails, 10d.
For 100 fourpenny nails, 4d.
For 200 sixpenny nails, 12d.
For 4 hundred and 3 quarters of quarter board, 12s.2½d
For 9 quarters of oak, 16d.
To a carpenter working there for 5½ days, 4s.4d
Item, to a carpenter to mend the privy there, 6d.
  total: £5.4d
Total on this page: £19.13s.8d
For a load of loam, 4d.
For straw, 1d.
For a dauber and his labourer for 2 days, 2s.2d.
For two iron plates and nails for the gate, 12d.
For a board for the kitchen, 12d.
For nails for the same, ½d.
Item, paid to the scavagers for the charge concerning the pavement 8d.
For 4 loads of gravel, 16d.
For laying 11 "teies" of pavement, at 7d. per tie, 6s.5d
For a peck of plaster of paris, for repairs to a chimney 4d.
For carrying off debris 12d.
For 3 lb. of solder used there 18d.
Alms money:
Item, paid to 3 poor men, by bequest of John Bedeham, 4d. per person per week; that is, from 28 December 1477 to 6 February 1480 (both days inclusive), viz. for 111 weeks
  total: £6.6s.11½d
Payments and expenditures on the tenements belonging to William Cambridge's chantry etc.
First, paid to the abbot of Bermondsey as a quitrent of 6s. annually due from that tenement, for the two years ending at Michaelmas 1479
Priest's wages:
To dom. John Mortram, priest singing for William Cambridge, as wages for a year and a half, at Michaelmas 1479
Obits for William Cambridge:
Item, paid for the costs of William's obit in 1478, 4d. each to 8 priests, 2s.8d
To 2 clerks for their labour and for ringing, 2s.
To Humphrey Heyforde, mayor of London, 6s.8d
To Harry Colette and John Stokker, sheriffs, 3s.4d each, 6s.8d
And to Metford the [mayor's] swordbearer, 20d., as per the terms of William's testament, for their efforts in ensuring the observances for him are kept up
For two candles burned down, 4d.
For bread, 12d.
For a kilderkin of good ale, 2s.
For 10 cups, 4d.
Item, paid for William's obit in 1479, to 8 priests, 2s.8d
To 2 clerks for there labour and ringing, 2s.
To Master Gardiner the mayor, 6s.8d
Nothing paid to Robert Hardynge and Robert Byfelde, sheriffs, for they did not come
To [blank] Metford the swordbearer, 20d.
For bread, 12d.
For a kilderkin of ale, 2s.2d.
For a woman to draw the ale, 2d.
As an offering, 1d.
In alms, 2d.
Item, for 2 tapers burned down, 4d.
  total: £12.12s.3d
Item, paid for a load of sand, 6d.
To the plumber for mending a lead cistern, 6s.
To a mason for repairs to the paved floor of the kitchen, for 2 days, 16d.
To a labourer for 2 days, 10d.
To a carpenter for a day, 8d.
For 2 timber posts to support the kitchen underneath, 12d.
For a quarter and 8 feet of boards, 9d.
For plaster of paris, 2d.
For nails, 4d.
Item, paid to Richard Cyrik for repairs made in his house, as a reimbursement towards his costs for those repairs 5s.
Item, for cleaning out the privy in Cyrik's house 2s.
Item, paid to Hugh Clerke and to Robert Clerke, for money owing them for their services at the Dirige and obits of William Cambridge prior to the period covered by this account, 12d. each 2s.
  total: 20s.7d
Item, paid to [blank] Banestre sergeant, for arresting Christian Stevyns in an action of debt (for house rent), 8d.
For recording the complaint, 2d.
For withdrawing the complaint, 6d.
Item, they ask allowance of the money [due] from Christian that the parishioners forgave 5s.4d
Item, paid to John Russell clerk as wages for a quarter 12s.6d
Item, paid to Robert Clerke for what he was owed in wages: 2s.1d at Michaelmas 1479 and 3s.4d at Christmas 1479 5s.5d
Item, paid to Hugh Clerke for what he was owed in wages from the time that he was in service here 10s.1d
Item, paid to Thomas Warwyk clerk for money owing him: 19½d. that he should have been paid by John Smert, 19½d. by Robert Revell, 19½d. by John Braymong, and 19½d. by John Palmer. 6s.6d
Also, paid as wages to a clerk who came [from] St. Margaret's 25s.10d
  total: 57s.
Costs of the waxchandler
Item, paid for new wax bought for use in the church (such as for the [rood-]beam light tapers, prickets, and candles), weighing 92½ lb., at a price per lb. of 4½d., 34s.8d
Item, over the two years [of the period covered by the account] they received in old wax from the store kept by the church (as from old beam light tapers) 191 lb. Total of the new and the old wax: 283½ lb., [weighed] by the small hundred[weight].
Paid to Roger Middilton waxchandler for making the new and old wax into tapers for the beam light, and other tapers, prickets, and opaque candles, at ½d. per lb., 11s.11d.
Item, paid to the same Roger for making the Easter taper during the two years, weighing each year 30 lb., at 1d. per lb., 5s.; and for the wax lost from the same during those years, 5 lb., at 4½d per lb., 22½d.  
  total: 53s.3½d
Item, they ask allowance for money spent while collecting rents from the tenants and overseeing repairs during the 2 years, 10s. And for paper purchased for the purpose of making this quire, and other quires used to itemize the expenditures and repairs, 4d. 10s.4d
Total on this page: £3.3s.7½d
Total of all payments and allowances: £113.7s.1d
And so there remains [as surplus] £26.4s.9d
Item, there remain in the hands of tenants from money they owe the church, as follows etc.:
    John Johnson butcher   53s.4d
    John Dighton capper   45s.
    William Levisham   26s.8d
    William Shirborne   15s.
    William Breuster   9s.6d
    Harry Mershe   5s.
    [blank] Cobbe brewer   6s.8d
    The clerk of St. Dunstan's   £2
    Clement atte Hille   12s.
    [John] Motte carpenter   5s.
    Christian Stevyns   £2
    James Cokke   12s.6d
    John Kyrkeby   £2
Total: £9.11s.8d

So there remains owing [by the churchwardens] to the church: £16.13s.1d

£16.13s.1d was received by Thomas Breteyn and John Smert and put into the box.

Item, owed to the church for burial of Nicholas Vavasere, his daughter, and his son's child in the church, 13s.4d each 40s.
Item, for the burial of Harry Vavasere's daughter in the pardon churchyard 2s.
Item, [owed] by John Dokelying for burial of three of his children in the same place 6s.
  total: 48s.


There were a number of dedications to St. Mary in the city. St. Mary at Hill stood in the southeast quarter of London, the parish stretching down to the Thames, but the church itself was located upslope: London's walls enclosed two low hills rising from the river's edge and separated by the Walbrook, and it was possibly the eastern rise that gave the church its name.

England is not rich in medieval records from parish churches, but a volume of church records from the fifteenth century has survived for St. Mary at Hill. It contains documents related to properties held by the church and the several chantries founded there, inventories of church goods, and accounts of the churchwardens. The last type of document is represented by several accounts, or extracts therefrom, from the 1420s and then, after a hiatus, a fairly good series from 1477 through to the end of the century. These accounts focus heavily, but not exclusively, on revenues and expenditures related to the maintenance of the chantries and the properties whose rents supported the chantries; it is notable that, although we hear of numerous of the chantry priests and the parish clerk and sexton are well in evidence, William Wyld, the parson of the church at this time, does not figure in the accounts at all. The accounts from the 1420s are relatively unorganized itemizations of either receipts or expenditures, but not both. Those from the 1470s are more closely organized and represent fair copies of rougher lists, probably recorded as items occurred, and possibly with separate records for receipts and for outgoings; they suggest greater attention to the accounting process. Whereas the accounts for 1477-79 are organized mainly by chantry, those for 1479-81 were organized by type of expenditure, with the chantries being integrated except as regards repairs to their properties. Later accounts were variations on one or both of these themes.

The types of expenditure in 1479-81 were, however, much the same as in the preceding two years. Various locks needed attention, the candlesticks and other metal furnishings of the church needed cleaning, and the church linen and priestly vestments required further mending, while the best cope was decorated with gold, silk, pearls, buckram and ribbons. The procession churchyard was refreshed with new gravel; church and vestry windows were in need of repairs, and a major job of retiling the church roof was undertaken, while there were also signficant renovations to the steeple. The construction of a new pew was commissioned, and a table acquired for the vestry, on which to lay out the copes on festival days. Holy water sprinklers were purchased, and a new quire inserted into the antiphoner. A substantial part of the expenditures continued to be in repairs to the chantry properties, and it becomes evident that some expenditures at least were being cleared with the parish community before bills were paid.

Other than minor items of receipt, such as donations towards the cost of painting a image of the Virgin Mary inside the church and 1d. paid by an unidentified woman for her being allocated a place in the pews, the revenues differed in the 1479-81 accounts only in that we hear of two further chantries. Their absence from the 1477-79 accounts is strange because both were testamentary foundations of the fourteenth century, by John Nasing and Rose Wrytell. Wrytell had bequeathed in 1323 property in Thames Street that is referred to in 1485 as one large tenement (rented as a whole by a single individual, an ironmonger); it was then called the "old Swan" and elsewhere the "Swan on the Hoop", and may have been a tavern or inn when Wrytell owned it, as she refers to her brewing equipment therein. The property assigned to Nasing's chantry (founded ca.1361) was a tenement incorporating shops; by 1483 there were ten tenants, most of them occupying individual chambers, so it is unlikely that all these would have been vacant for several years. The lack of reference to these chantry properties in the 1477-79 accounts is therefore difficult to understand; and yet even in the 1479-81 accounts neither chantry's properties were furnishing rents for the entire two years. There is some small indication, however, that Nasing's chantry may have earlier been combined with Weston's or perhaps that of Bedeham (whose will made provision for prayers to be said for Nasing). Some kind of transition may have been taking place; it may be noted that the 1479-81 accounts make no reference to obits for Wrytell or Nasing, although these become items of expenditure in later accounts.

With the several chantries active in the church, services must have been going on there throughout much of the day. The church would normally be locked up at night, but opened just before dawn by the morrow-mass priest who said the first mass. Later in the morning would arrive the chantry priests to sing their matins and masses at one or other of the several altars in the church. Various other services were conducted by these priests during the day and into the early evening. Obits, diriges, special services at the frequent festivals – at the most important of which the church would be decked out with flora and/or banners – as well as funerals, weddings and other such ceremonies would have made a city church a more lively place than most parish churches are today.



"chantry of John Weston"
Weston, a merchant who made his will in 1407, sought burial in St. Mary at Hill and bequeathed to the parson and churchwardens a property he and his wife had purchased in the same parish, to furnish £4 to hire a priest to celebrate daily for his soul and that of his widow, to pay the parson a fee for conducting divine services on Weston's anniversary, and to pay other minor costs, to a grand total of £4.15s.2d; with any surplus from the rent to be distributed among poor parishioners. By 1477 the chantry had assigned to it 9 tenements in the parish – possibly reflecting subdivision of the original property, or perhaps the addition of property as other chantries were amalgamated with Weston's; the rents of these 9 tenements ranged from 8s. to £4, and several were being paid by priests. Two other properties, one in the neighbouring parish of St. Botolph and the other also nearby in St. Leonard's, were also providing rents, while smaller quitrents were coming from two further properties.

"chantry of John Causton"
Causton was a prominent mercer who served as alderman between 1323 and 1350. His residence was adjacent to St. Mary's churchyard, although he chose to be buried in St. Pancras'. He died in 1353, bequeathing his residence and several shops – some on the banks of the Thames at Billingsgate, and others in East Cheap (St. Andrew's parish) and parishes in the vicinity – to the Benedictine convent of St. Helen's Bishopgate. With an obligation to the prioress to use some of the revenues to pay: £6.13s.4d annual salary to a priest to celebrate in St. Mary at Hill for the testator, his two wives, and various members of the Causton, Abingdon and Langton families; 4s.10d in fees to the parson, parish clerk and his assistant for celebrating Causton's anniversary; and 20s. to pay for candles to burn before various altars in the church at specific times. Causton also bequeathed to St. Mary's his brewery in that parish, to support a priest to celebrate for the soul of Henry Barnard. In 1477 we hear of 4 tenements in St. Mary at Hill parish, 2 tenements in St. Andrew's parish, 3 tenements and 5 gardens in St. Botolph's, and 1 in Gracechurch Street assigned to the chantry.

"chantry of Richard Gosselyn"
Gosselyn was an ironmonger who served as alderman 1423-29; he made his will in 1428 and died three years later. His widow was to fund from the properties her husband left her a chantry within St. Katherine's chapel in St. Mary at Hill; to be continued after her death, when the property passed into the hands of parson and churchwardens. The revenues were also to cover the cost of a 5 lb. candle burning before St. Katherine's altar every Sunday and festival day, and 6d. a week given to the 2 of the neediest poor men and 2 of the neediest poor women in the parish, to pray for Gosselyn's soul; there is no indication from the accounts that these alms were being paid. From any surplus, the churchwardens might take 3s.4d for their labour, and the rest was to go to maintenance of the church. The property bequeathed to support the chantry was in St. Leonard's parish, and in 1477 the church's rental listed 6 tenements there from which rents were paid, along with a very small sum paid by a tailor without further explanation. Gosselyn's widow Beatrice married fishmonger John Bedeham.

"chantry of John Bedeham"
A fishmonger (presumably descended from the man who married Gosselyn's widow) who died ca.1472. He bequeathed to St. Mary at Hill a tenement in the neighbouring parish of St. George, to support: a chantry in St. Katherine's chapel in St. Mary at Hill; an oil lamp to be kept alight perpetually; celebration of the testator's anniversary; and 4d. a week in alms to 3 of the most needy poor parishioners. With any surplus going towards maintenance and renovations of the church. Bedeham also bequeathed the church a large garden just outside the walls, near Tower Hill, to pay for a priest to celebrate morning mass and remembers in his prayers the soul of John Nasing. The 1477 rental, registered immediately before the churchwardens' accounts, mentions only the St. George's property.

"William Cambridge"
Cambridge began his career as an ironmonger, but later advanced to the status of grocer; he was a city alderman 1415-32. His will was made at the close of 1431, and he died the following year. He desired burial in St. Stephen's chapel in St. Mary at Hill, to which (along with the wardens of the Grocers' Company) he bequeathed an unspecified number of tenements – although the 1477 rental and account refer only to one – to support a priest to celebrate for his soul in the same chapel, to provide candles for a candelabrum he had earlier given to the church, to cover costs of the celebration of his anniversary, and to pay annual fees to the mayor, sheriffs, and the mayor's swordbearer as incentive for them to ensure the terms of Cambridge's foundation were carried out. With any remainder going to the use of the church. Although not specified in the will, it also became the custom during Evensong on Christmas day for the parson, parish clerk and choirboys to make a procession to Cambridge's tomb, carrying candles and singing hymns dedicated to St. Stephen.

The first three were from rents assigned to Weston's chantry, and the fourth to a rent assigned to Causton's chantry.

"beam light"
Candlesticks that were attached to the rood-beam; the amounts received were probably donations or bequests to purchase candles.

"taper" "prickets"
Tapers were long, slender candles placed in holders, as opposed to short thick candles that might be put on plates; prickets were candles that were stuck on spikes, rather than being placed in candlesticks.

"melted wax"
Referred to in the original as the wast; the meltdown would be used to make new candles.

A cask used to contain wine, ale or beer (or other liquid items such as oil or honey). It was not necessarily of any consistent fixed capacity during the Middle Ages, but varied according to the contents. In later times it has been used to refer to measures ranging between 50 and 140 gallons; a wine hogshead was probably closer to 63 gallons (two barrels) in the late medieval period, for in 1423 a statute defined a pipe of wine as 126 gallons, and two hogsheads made a pipe.

"Proyne" "Prune"
Possibly the same man.

The deaths of several members of the family probably evidence the outbreak of plague around this time, as may the reference (at the close of the account) to the fate of the Vavaseres.

"pardon churchyard"
The east and west ends of the church faced directly onto streets, and there were therefore separate churchyards on the north and south side. The latter appears to have been the pardon churchyard; it more private and more commonly used for burials and storage. The former would have been the procession churchyard; it was also occasionally used for cheaper burials.

Although originally referring to fixed monetary rents substituted for rents in the form of services or produce, by the 15th century the term quit-rent was being used for what was earlier known as a rent resolute. It was a reserved rent – that is, a financial charge on a property that was passed along when the property changed ownership, so that the lord of the property remained compensated for the commutation of feudal services at earlier date.

"2 years ending at Christmas 1479"
This entry seems to be in error, and perhaps should say: for 1 year ending at Christmas 1478.

"John Philippe" "John Colyns" "Philip Norton"
They were also tenants of some of the rental properties assigned to the chantries they served.

"serving the choir"
This would appear to mean looking after (i.e. cleaning etc.) the choir. Modley, the tenant of one of the properties assigned to Causton's chantry, was apparently the sexton; during the period covered by this account he took over the post of parish clerk, at a doubling of his wages. But this was apparently only an acting assignment, until Thomas Warwyk was appointed; Modley again stepped in when Warwyk left (1480/81), until Saunder Clerke was appointed.

"William Paris"
He appears to have been used by the church as an odd-job man; in 1490 he is referred to as one of the poor men receiving alms from Bedeham's chantry. In the 1479-81 accounts, we find a John Paris similarly employed: sweeping out the church and the parsonage, mending the church window, and other tasks.

"a baldrick and a new buckle"
In this context a baldrick was a strap from which the clapper was hung inside the bell, and used to control how the clapper will strike the bell; the buckle was presumably to attach the baldrick to the bell.

A measure applied to ropes, equivalent to 6 feet.

"albs, amices"
An alb is the long white linen robe worn by a priest, and an amice is the piece of white linen worn around the neck and over the shoulders of a priest during mass.

"watching the church"
Usually a church was locked up at night; but there were some circumstances in which it was left open, and a night-watch was required to protect the valuables (including the sacrament).

Oil lamps were becoming more common at this time, as the whaling industry grew and furnished a more abundant supply; during the 1479-81 accounting period, the church purchased 34 gallons (compared to 16 gallons in 1428-29), as well as a pot in which to store oil, while in 1487-88 12 gallons were purchased just for Wrytell's chantry alone.

A liturgical book containing the psalm verses or sections of holy scripture chanted by the choir during services (notably, Matins and Vespers).

Used to decorate the church at this festival.

"bread, ale and wine"
It was common for medieval officials, ecclesiastical or secular, to take some refreshment after the conduct of business.

A small tablet bearing an image of the crucifixion, the Blessed Virgin or some other religious symbol, kissed during mass by the priest and others (instead of kissing each other) as an indication of being at peace with God and with fellow celebrants.

"Michael Glocetir"
Later referred to as an organ-maker.

Possibly the keys or the organ covers?

The pricing here and in other items makes it evident that a load comprised 6 sacks.

Thin planks used for walls and ceilings in building construction.

"sixpenny nails"
Nails of a certain size, so that a hundred cost 6d.

Small headless nails.

An uncertain weight, and perhaps one varying according to context; the term could be similarly used for a quantity.

A wooden panel usually used in walls; here it appears that some kind of moveable screen was being constructed.

A measure representing 6 ft. if linear, or about 4.5 sq.yds if area.

A term used to refer to horizontal timber beams of various kinds.

"binding joist"
A term applied to tie-beams that were part of a house frame, connecting the outer horizontal beams, so as to prevent the frame from spreading.

Smaller pieces of timber, equivalent to today's 2"-by-4" or 4"-by-4".

"Foster Lane"
The name had been corrupted from Vaast, a French bishop of the 6th century whose cult had been brought to England by the Normans.

"William Dighton"
Clerical error; the rental gives John Dighten as the tenant, as does the arrears section of the account.

"lire board"
Littlehales suggests this may mean edge boards.

"bast rope"
A rope made from tough fibres, such as obtained from flax, hemp, or some inner barks.

This seems to be what is intended by Sege holis (seat holes).

One of the duties of this minor civil official was to patrol the streets to look out for public nuisances (e.g. broken pavement, for which the tenant in front of whose house the pavement lay could be held responsible).

"6 February 1480"
This date would suggest the account was rendered well after the termination of the period it was supposed to cover.

A measure equivalent to 18 gallons (half a barrel).

"action of debt"
Stevyns is listed in the rental as tenant of a garden (associated with Causton's chantry) but may also have held a house associated with Cambridge's chantry, as the rental does not identify the tenants. As the list of arrears at the end of the account confirms, he owed a sizable amount in back-rent and the churchwardens had pressured him to pay up by having a legal action brought and Stevyns arrested. However, the parishioners decided that there were mitigating circumstances and waived part of the arrears; the case against him was dropped, perhaps on assurance by Stevyns that he would pay the rest. Whether those circumstances were personal hardship, or old age or illness, cannot be said, but Stevyns does not appear as a tenant in the following year – he may have been evicted or died.

"Richard Cyrik"
In the 1483-85 accounts referred to as Richard Crick upholsterer.

"money owing him"
Warwyk was the parish clerk, lasting in that office until about 1480. The wages of the parish clerks seem to have been paid by a levy on householding parishioners, although some parishioners were often in arrears. The 1483-85 accounts include a list of 76 parishioners contributing amounts, varying from 1d. to 16d., towards "the clerk's wages".

A drink between parties following business – whether the payment of a rent, or the completion of some repair job – was a way of keeping relations on a friendly level.

"Thomas Breteyn and John Smert"
Contrary to what one might expect, these were not the churchwardens for the succeeding term of office. They were probably parishioners who acted as auditors.

Probably the treasury chest in the vestry.

"William Wyld"
He is referred to as parson in John Bedeham's will (1472), again in 1492, and appears to have retired from the living or died ca.1503; a man of the same name, likely a relative, was sexton in the 1520s. Much of the parish work may have been carried out by his deputy, the parish priest.

"a place in the pews"
Seating in medieval churches was segregated: men sat apart from women, rich sat apart from poor.

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Created: March 14, 2003. Last update: August 18, 2014 © Stephen Alsford, 2003-2014