Life in a Medieval College: The Story of the Vicars-Choral of York Minster

By Frederick Harrison | Go to book overview

PART SIX: ECCLESIA ANGLICANA

CHAPTER 12
THE KITCHEN BOOK

The book which is the authority for the whole of this chapter is of paper throughout, but has lost its binding and has suffered from damp and neglect. Nearly every word in it however can be read with ease. As the first record is of the year 1563, and as only a few pages at the beginning are missing, it is reasonable to assume that the book was begun when the new order of ecclesiastical polity, launched under Henry VIII and Edward VI and interrupted under Mary, was resumed under Elizabeth. The peculiar value of the entries on most of the 251 folios, therefore, is that, for half a century, they tell the story of the college at a period when the new act of uniformity was on its trial.

At York, doubtless as at other places, during the changes of a quarter of a century ( 1534-1559) some of the vicars seem to have managed to keep their places with remarkable ease. These were Anthony Iveson (since the year 1546; one of the most prominent and gifted of a long line of vicars), Thomas Acrige (since 1545), James Crosthwaite (since 1530), Robert Mell (since 1533), John Steel (since 1547) and Edward Swayne (since 1549). In being restored to their former status, the collegiate clergy attached to cathedral foundations were much better off than their contemporaries as monks and chantry priests with no other preferment. Further, as the colleges were continued with little, if any, break, those who either retained their connexion with them throughout the changes, or came as new members after 1559, found themselves in possession not only of their corporate character but also of their corporate property. The change in the services from Latin to English would not trouble them much; the Book of Common Prayer would be found to be more convenient and less exacting than the pre-Reformation service-books; the relief from

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