St Peters 14th Century

Addingham Vavasour Illuminated text of part of the Mass to be said in times of pestilence Archers

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  • 1341 Robert de Syderington
  • 1349 William de Walthew
  • 1352 Thomas Burgham
  • 1353 Robert de Walsley
  •          William Loundres
  • 1371 John Skayf
  • 1383 Thomas de Eston
  •          Robert Pokelyngton
    • A good man was there of religioun,
    • And was a povre PERSON of a town –
    • But rich he was of holy thought and werk.
    • He was also a lerned man, a clerk,
    • That Christes gospel trewly wolde preche.
    • His parishens devoutly wold he teche.
    • Benign he was, and wonder diligent,
    • And in adversitee full pacient, ——–
    • Wide was his parish, and houses fer asunder,
    • But he ne lafte nought for rain ne thunder,
    • In sickness nor in meschief, to visite
    • The ferrest in his parish, much and lite,
    • Upon his feet, and in his hand a staff. —–
    • To drawen folk to heven by fairnesse,
    • By good ensample – this was his bisinesse. —-
    • A better preest I trow there nowhere none is!
    • He waited after no pomp and reverence,
    • Ne maked him a spiced concience,
    • But Christes lore and his apostles twelve
    • He taught-but first he followed it himselve.

      Chaucer: extracts from The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales circa 1386.

  • In 1305, the manor and advowson (patronage) of the church was in the hands of John de Rythre. He had married Alionora, the widow of Sir Walter Vavasour. He was granted the right of free warren (the right to hunt) in 1318 and in 1323 he became Constable of Skipton Castle. On his death, the manor and patronage reverted to the Vavasours.

    Another Sir William Vavasour gave stone from his quarries in Thievesdale for the rebuilding of the nave of York Minster which was completed in 1360.

    The Arms of Vavasour (or, a fess dancetty, sable). The arms displayed on the pillar in the nave are incorrect as they do not conform to the rules of heraldry. The fess dancetty (the zig-zag) should be contained in the middle third of the shield.


    The plague known as the ‘black death’ arrived in England in 1348 and spread rapidly throughout the kingdom. By 1350 it had killed thousands of people. The clergy were worst hit as they ministered to the sick and dying. We are told that a Rector of Addingham was a victim, the most likely being William de Walthew. When the excavations for the hall extension uncovered graves, it was first thought that they may have been plague victims. The symptoms were boils, which could be the size of an apple, in the groin, armpits or neck and black spots on the skin. It is said that those who spat blood died in three days and the rest in five!

    In London, two huge new cemeteries were created outside the city walls and an inscription read:

    “A great plague raging in the year of our Lord 1349, this churchyard was consecrated; wherein..were buried more than fifty thousand bodies of the dead..whose souls God have mercy upon. Amen.”

    A contemporary chronicler wrote:

    “After the pestilence many buildings both great and small in all cities, towns and boroughs fell into total ruin for lack of inhabitants; similarly many villages and hamlets became desolate and no houses were left in them, for all those who dwelt in them were dead, and it seemed likely that many such little villages would never again be inhabited.”

    Illuminated text of part of the Mass to be said in times of pestilence.

    During the Middle Ages it was a legal requirement for all men to regularly practice archery with the longbow. Practice usually took place once a week in the churchyard and stones with long grooves in, where arrows were sharpened, can be found in some churches. It is safe to assume that practice at the butts regularly took place here at St. Peter’s. It was such practice that enabled the English bowmen to inflict devastation on the French armies at Crecy in 1346, Poitiers in 1356 and Agincourt in 1415 during the Hundred Years War.

    Archery practice, circa 1340