Page images

stipend ”;l in the list of church possessions drawn up in the same town during Edward VI.'s reign nearly a page is devoted to the apparel for “game players, 2 though there is nothing to show whether the goods belonged to the gilds, to the parish as a whole, or to the Society of Watch and Play. This fraternity, which existed early in the sixteenth century, afforded the men of Wymondham a special outlet for the love of acting which is characteristic of their descendants to-day. In its accounts payments are noted for canvas to the gyant,” for cutting his clothing and “werking ” him, for canvas for armour, for half a bundle of grey paper, and for a

payer of devyl's shoes.''3 There is no direct evidence to show that the religious gilds of the villages in the fifteenth century took part officially in the plays and games which were extremely popular throughout the county, 4 and the absence of any mention of pageants in the certificates shows that such was not the intention of the

who founded the gilds existing in 1389; the only allusion apparel is in the ordinances of the gild of St. John the Evangelist, the members of which were to receive every Christmas week

nova capicia de simili panno."5 On the other hand, the combination of the fulfilment of religious duties with a large amount of purely secular enjoyment seems to have been thoroughly characteristic of the century, and it is possible that the gild processions may have



1 Bk. I., fol. 3. ? Inventory. Wymondham Church Chest. 3 N.A., vol. ix., p. 145ff. Chambers, The Mediæral Stage, vol. ii., p. 398.

* N.A., vol. xi., pp. 335, 339, 351. Harrod, Records of King's Lynn, p. 88. Chambers, The Mediæval Stage, vol. ii., p. 384. 6 Certifs., No. 342.

Elizabeth Woodville visited Norwich in 1469, and to welcome her a pageant the Salutation of Mary and Elizabeth was given at Westwyk Gate; here stood two giants stuffed with hay, two patriarchs, twelve apostles, and sixteen virgins in mantles with hoods. N.A., vol. v., p. 35.

been enlivened by the setting forth of scenes from scriptural history or from the stories of the saints. 1

However this may be, it is clear that the religious gilds must have filled a large place in Norfolk village life during the fifteenth century; their importance can, perhaps, hardly be overestimated. Through their agency self-dependence and administrative powers must have been developed, and though their existence could not preserve order in the county as a time when central and local government were out of gear, yet they must have helped hundreds of ordinary folk to pass their uneventful lives with more pleasure and more profit than they could have done without the close ties of gild brotherhood. The Paston Letters on the one hand, on the other hand the churches as they exist to-day, give evidence as to the condition of the county which seems in many respects strangely conflicting; the story of the gilds helps in some degree to explain the contradictions. In them common-place people found an outlet for the restless energy which led certain classes of society into ceaseless litigation, and certain bold individuals into deeds of lawless violence; in them, again, were clearly shown such a practical idea of Christian charity and such an illustration of the intimate connection between religion and the details of ordinary life, as appealed with no little force to minds which realised keenly the existence of a spiritual world. Moreover, no member of a gild could seek to develop his own

Icf., The Corpus Christi Gild in St. Edmund's Church at Bury, which was founded in order to find lights in the church and to provide an interlude of Corpus Christi. Publications of the Suffolk Institute of Archæology, vol. xii., pt. i., p. 25. The accounts of the Trinity Gild of Sleaford note that in 1480, 3s. 8d. was paid “ for the Ryginall of ye play(n) for the Ascencion and the wrytyng of spechys and payntyng of a garment for God.” Brit. Mus., Add. MS., 28533, fol. 2.

individuality in proud isolation from his fellows. The corporate and the democratic ideals which are bound up with Christianity were brought in simple form within sight of the men and women of the villages, and one result of their reaching out towards such ideals remains in the parish churches which are the pride of Norfolk to-day

In editing the foregoing paper, certain facts connected with village Gildhalls have come to light which, though very scanty, should not be, as we think, lost sight of, since they may prove useful to future researchers.

BANHAM. — The Gildhall, not far from the east end of the church, is still in existence. It is converted into three cottages and was, at one time, used as a parish workhouse. An account of it which is, in some particulars, open to question, may be seen in the Report of the Charity Commissioners, c. 1839.

BINHAM. — “ The Chequers Inn " is the ancient Gildhall. Close inspection shows that the main walls contain the mutilated stone-frames of the former windows. The interior appears to be completely modernised and the end walls are of recent construction.

BLAKENEY.--An interesting building known as the Gildhall is yet standing on the Quay. It has a double vault supported by a row of stone columns, and seems to have been the undercroft of a

more perfect structure.

BRESSINGHAM.-Blomefield (vol. i., p. 67) mentions a house here which he says was the Gildhall and afterwards the Townhouse. It is still standing as described by the historian.


Diss.-An account of the Gildhall will be found in Norf. Arch., vol. ii., p. 11. It is there spoken of as a thing of the past.

FORNCETT.— The Guildhall mentioned by Miss F. G. Davenport in The Economic Development of a Norfolk Manor has long ceased to exist.

TIBENHAM. -Allusion is made to a Gildhall here in Norf. Arch., vol. viii., p. 141. It disappeared long ago, probably before the mention of it was made. Some almshouses stand near the site but not upon it.

WALSINGHAM. According to Proc. Arch. Inst., 1847, p. 118, the Gildhall was destroyed by fire about 1554.

WYMONDHAM - Blomefield (vol. ii., p. 523) tells us that Becket's Chapel was sometimes used as a Gildhall. Another stood in East Green Street, and its site is now occupied by a Nonconformist Chapel. There is said to be another, yet remaining, on the Spooner Row Road about a mile out of Wymondham, but investigations in this direction failed to locate it.

EAST WRETHAM.—The mention of a Gildhall here and the charity connected with it by the Charity Commissioners, c. 1839, seems to be an error. Their remarks, apparently, relate to some other parish which we have not identified.

The Town Hall at Thetford occupies the site of the former Gildhall, no portions of which, it seems, are now extant.

J. C. T.

Time-dials in the Deanery of Depwade.



l'icar of Hapton.

Of the twenty-one existing Churches of the Deanery of Depwade, fourteen still retain the ancient Time-dial.' or earliest form of Sundial, consisting of 'rays' or 'rays with a circle,' that is to say, lines radiating from a central hole, and incised upon the surface of the stone. These very interesting relics are found in many parts of England, and elsewhere, upon unrestored churches; in Norfolk they abound. Being, however, for the most part, time-worn and inconspicuous, they have so far escaped observation, that with a few striking exceptions they are locally often quite unknown.

A paper on the subject read at a clerical meeting awakened quite a new interest amongst those who were present. Our purpose here is not to traverse ground already covered, but to describe the dials of one deanery which, on examination, prove to be of exceptional interest.

For general information on this type of dial we may at once refer the reader to Mrs. Alfred Gatty's well

« PreviousContinue »