- October 5, 2019
10:15 am - 4:00 pm
The Parish Church and the Community in Late-Medieval Suffolk.
with Dr Kate Jewell (Independent Scholar)
Please note: the start time is now 10:15am,
not 10:30am shown in earlier publicity
During the Middle Ages, the Suffolk parish church was the heart of a vibrant community. Using surviving documentary and material evidence, this study day explores the business of running the parish church and introduces the people who ran it. And, from education to having fun, domestic chores to elaborate funerals, we will also discover what can be learned about the community of people the parish church served.
09.45 – 10.15: Coffee on arrival
10.15 – 11.10: Introduction: Churchwardens and their Accounts.
One of the most valuable sources of evidence for the medieval parish church is the churchwardens’ account. The first session introduces these accounts, discusses how and why they were put together, and explains why they are so important. We will also meet some of the churchwardens of late-medieval Suffolk, exploring who these people were and why they would take on such a challenging role for the community.
11.10 – 11.35: Coffee break
11.35 – 12.30: “A Man of Many Hats”: Henry Chestan of Thorington. This session focuses on a set of accounts from one of Suffolk’s smallest parishes, revealing what can be learned about the late-medieval community from such documents. As well as being introduced to characters from every stratum of society, we will look in detail at two important aspects of medieval life- education and the ceremony of death.
12.30 – 13.45: Lunch break
13.45 – 14.35: “The State of Melford Church…as I did know it”: The Upkeep of the Parish Church. Churchwardens were required to maintain the church as a house fit for God, which could be a very expensive affair. This session explores how Suffolk wardens were able to do this. Most importantly, we shall discuss how the parish community took it upon themselves to help the churchwardens maintain the church and furnish it for the elaborate medieval liturgy.
14.35 – 15.00: Tea break
15.00 – 15.50: “At Bungey on Monday yt shal be sen”: Raising Money for the Church Roof Fund. Churchwardens knew that the best way to raise money for the church from the community was through the offer of reward, spiritual or practical. This session traces the development of medieval fundraising, exploring the nuts and bolts of parish-wide gatherings, drinkings, parties and plays.
15.50: Thanks and Close
About Kate Jewell
In 2015, Kate was awarded a PhD by the University of East Anglia in the festive culture of medieval Suffolk with a special focus on medieval plays and playgoing. An experienced teacher, Kate works currently as a tutor for the Suffolk Record Office and the WEA. As a palaeographer, Kate works with community heritage groups and individuals advising on the transcription, translation and contextualisation of medieval and sixteenth-century documents, and recently consulted on an HLF-funded project in Norfolk.
Some Suggestions for Optional Background Reading
- Charles Cox: Churchwardens’ Accounts from the Fourteenth Century to the Close of the Seventeenth Century, (Methuen, 1913)
- Eamon Duffy: The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1540 (Yale University Press, 2005)
- Eamon Duffy: The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Religion in an English Village (Yale University Press, 2003)
- David Dymond, The Business of the Suffolk Parish: 1558-1625 (Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History, 2018)
- David Dymond and Clive Paine: Five Centuries of an English Parish Church: The State of Melford Church, Suffolk, (EAH Press, 2012)
- Katherine L. French: The Good Women of the Parish: Gender and Religion after the Black Death, (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008)
- Katherine L. French: The People of the Parish: Community Life in a Late Medieval Parish (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001)
- Anthea Jones: A Thousand Years of the English Parish, (Windrush Press, 2000)
- Beat A. Kümin: The Shaping of a Community: The Rise and Reformation of the English Parish, c.1400-1540, (Scolar Press, 1996)
- Judith Middleton-Stewart: Inward Purity and Outward Splendour: Death and Commemoration in the Deanery of Dunwich, 1370-1547, (Boydell, 2001)
- Roy Strong, A Little History of the English Country Church, (Vintage, 2008)
- Robert Whiting, The Reformation of the English Parish Church, (Cambridge University Press, 2010)
Venue: The Court, Sutton Hoo