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Hodgson also mentions, at page 104 of the volume already quoted, a tombstone found in some excavations ordered by Archdeacon Thorp, ' with a figure in the middle of it, and an inscription round the margin which nobody could read. It had disappeared for ten years when Hodgson wrote. It has not yet reappeared.
The laying bare of the plinths and buttress foundations of the old walls is the most interesting of all the work that has been done, and it is much to be wished that a further excavation could be made beyond that which is required for the trenching of the church, so as to show the extent of the ancient aisles and transepts.
The plinths now uncovered show round the chancel, and at the east ends of the aisles or transepts, a handsome double plinth with a string-course above it. This chancel had small buttresses about twelve inches by twelve inches, at intervals of about nine feet; also a low side window and a priest's door on the south side. The plinths followed the slope of the ground, declining towards the east about one in sixty, or two and a quarter inches in eleven feet six inches.
These plinths and string returned round all the buttresses, and at the east wall of the aisles, as above mentioned. The original masons' marks are quite clear on these plinths, showing that they were buried, and their surfaces thus protected from decay, at an early period in their history. All the tool marks are quite distinct. I give drawings of this chancel base, and of the masons' marks.
The tower had also a base of the same character, slightly differing in dimensions. This seems to show that one was copied from the other, rather than all worked from the same patterns at the same time.
The west walls of the transepts show no signs of any plinths whatever; and this is to be noted as additional and conclusive evidence that the transepts are not the original form, for if they had been, they would naturally have had their plinths on their western as well as their eastern walls.
The plinth of the present nave is like the lower plinth of the chancel, but a little smaller and of later chiselling, having the appearance of a reduced and re-used plinth, taken from the aisle walls when the present nave walls were built on the site of the ancient nave arcade when the aisles were destroyed. The foundations of both aisles show this plinth at their west ends. There is a break of five
inches in the thickness of the south wall at the west end, the present wall of the nave being two and a half feet thicker, outside and inside, than the respond wall against which it is built.
This thick nave wall contains the old aisle door, rudely rebuilt. This is the entrance doorway described by Hodgson as decorated with two shafts, mouldings, and a drip stone.' There is a north door, with a square head opposite, now walled up.
The foundations of the chancel walls extend further eastward than the modern east end; how far east I have not yet been able to discover. They appear to have been removed in order to make a path. There are also foundations of a western porch to the tower.
A portion of an aisle pillar with its base, apparently almost in situ, exists at the western corner of the south transept; but nothing is found to correspond with this on the north side.
There are several other fragments of mouldings—all indicating a fine and characteristic Northumbrian church-of the beginning of the thirteenth century. The summary of its history appears to me to be as follows, approximately:
Omitting the original Norman church, of which a few fragments remain, but nothing to indicate a plan, we find the usual Early Eng. lish church, with a long chancel, a nave with narrow aisles six feet six inches wide internally, and a western tower, bearing out Mr. Johnson's opinion that it was not originally a transeptal church.
Secondly, we have a general destruction, probably by fire, and a rebuilding of the chancel, with larger buttresses, on the north side; also a rebuilding of the nave (possibly about the same time), without aisles, but with transepts, bearing out Hodgson's record; a south porch, a great buttressing of the tower, and a destruction of the western porch. Part of this was probably at the end of the fifteenth or beginning of the sixteenth century, and part much later. The filling in of the fine pointed tower arch with its zigzag mouldings, the apex of which is still visible, and the huge character of the tower buttressing, all go to show that the tower was in a dangerous, if not ruinous, condition.
Lastly, the still more modern disturbances, involving the destructivad vi tre north chancel battresses and of the transepts, as men
tioned by Hodgson ; a rebuilding of the east end of the chancel, considerably short of the east wall foundations ; also, a partial destruction of the nave and rebuilding of the upper part of the nave walls; and the construction of the new roof.
I do not know how many of these last alterations may have been undertaken at the same time, when the leaden roof was taken off in 1805 and replaced by one of Westmorland slates, according to Hodgson, above quoted, page 203. This is the roof I found two years ago, and which I altered and repaired under the instructions of a committee of the Restoration fund, consisting of the bishop, the archdeacon, and the rural dean.
IV.-AN ACCOUNT OF THE CUSTOMS OF THE COURT
LEET AND COURT BARON OF MORPETH, WITH THE COURT ROLL OF 1632. (Extracted from Mr. Woodman's Collection.)
By J. C. HODGSON.
[Read on the 30th March, 1892.] THOUGH the history of Morpeth has been exhaustively given by the Rev. John Hodgson, there remains in Mr. Woodman's collection a great mass of unpublished information and documents : some of these relating to the Court Leet and Court Baron, with original notes of the Trades Guilds, the writer desires, with Mr. Woodman's permission, to lay before the Society.
As the charter of 15 Charles II. has it 'the inhabitants and 'burgesses of the town and borough beyond the memory of man have been a body corporate by the name of “the Bailiffs and Burgesses of the Borough of Morpeth."
The body of the corporation consisted of freemen elected in a certain customary manner from the seven companies' or crafts, and it
may be of some interest to preserve some notes of these trade guilds which originated in a distant and well-nigh prehistoric past, as the customs which their books, or tradition, have preserved if not now narrated will be lost. Each guild was independent and governed by its own bye-laws, each elected a definite number of its members to become freemen on the governing body of the municipality. 1. The merchants and tailors to whom were 'imputed' barbers,
waxmakers, 'bowers' and 'shaethers,' electing four brothers
to be burgesses. 2. The tanners and barkers electing six. 3. The fullers and dyers, to whom were “imputed' wrights, carvers,
and hatters, electing three.
'1666 1 Nov. It is agreed by the alderman and company of marchants to fine ye Taylors for their public contempt to ye alderman and trade of marchants six shillings eightpence every man toties quoties.
NOTE.-For deed as to Morpeth markets, fairs, and mills, see Arch. Aeliana, Vol. 111. (N.S.), p. 69.
AND COURT BARON OF MORPETH.
4. The smiths, sadlers, and armourers, to whom were ‘imputed'
slaters, loriners, and sword slippers, electing three.
What a change the present century has made in these trades ! The merchants and tailors still exist; the tanners entirely gone, and their tan-yards converted into building ground and gardens, yet Mr. Woodman remembers eight of them, although the very names of the occupants are forgotten. Of the fullers, carvers, dyers, and hatters, not one remains; one hatter he remembers who felted hats, and two or three fullers and dyers, but no carver. The armourers and sword slippers, all defunct, are no longer wanted, and the loriners’ gone, but a small number of cordwainers yet exists. The weavers are gone, although in the early years of the century the woollen, linen, and diaper weavers were numerous, but at that time a spinning wheel was in every house. Mr. Woodman recollects three skinners and one glover, now there is not one; three tallow chandlers, two cloggers, two hecklers, two woollen manufacturers, one considerable. A cotton manufactory was established, but failed. An old man from Lightwater house, near Mitford, attended the market weekly with turned wooden goods, milk bowls, creaming-dishes, trenchers, and butter stamps. The carding machine and power loom have banished heckling, and weaving is done in huge factories. An old woman used to boil linen webs in wood ashes and bleach them.
The members of the guilds or free brothers were inchoate freemen, but before they could be sworn in, it was decided by lord Mansfield that the full set of twenty-four must be complete and all of full age before any one could be sworn in, and that the lord of the manor was obliged to swear all, having no power to reject any of those who presented themselves, and as each of the seven companies had to
* Lorimers or Loriners, a company of artificers in London who make bits for bridles, spurs, and suchlike ironware for horses.—Bailey.
To the Worship of Almighty God and the sustentacion of Saint Loys gyld and light in the hye Kyrke of Morpethe after ye lawdable manner and coostome of the said Toune and in eschewinge of contencion and dyscorde yt bath ben amongs smyths Saidlares armarais
bretherin of ye said gyld &c.—Byelars of the Company of Smiths, Sadlers, and Armourers, 1533.