Notes on the Reformation in Worcester

  • 16 Jan 2012
  • Church Curiosities
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Among the manuscripts in the Bishop's Registry is one entitled Notitia Dioec Wigorn. It is written by the hand of Chancellor Price in about 1700, and records the changes in Worcester resulting from the Reformation. Extracts from the mauscript were published by Sir Ivor Atkins in 1953. The Reformation in Worcester began in 1529 when the High Crss before the Cathedral door and others were defaced. In 1537, the 'Black and Greyfriars were expelled their house's...... The ancient house in Friar Street ceased to be a religious house. In the next year, the shrine of St Thomas a'Beckett of Canterbury was taken down and his bones burned there, while at Worcester, the shrines of St.Oswald and St Wulstan were taken down, and their bones wrapped in lead and buried at the north end of the high altar. The relics of Oswald and Wulstan were treated with more respect than those of St. Thomas of Canterbury, but the superstitious were seized with terror when a thunder storm of great violence broke during the removal and reburial of the bones. In 1542, the empty tombs were levelled to the ground. Meanwhile in 1539, the monks, friars and canons were forced to assume secular dress; many were expelled, and the bells from the steeple in the Cathedral ground were broken up. By 1549, all the mass-books and other office-books were solemnly burnt, except for one, the Worcester Antiphonar. The Chapel of Our Lady and several others were 'pull'd down' together with the organ, and Bishop Hooper during his term of office in 1552, held no confirmations. By this time, the services were being held in English, a fact carefully recorded. Much further destruction took place, and in 1560, Bishop Sandy's, during his visitation, burnt the image of Our Lady in the churchyard. The scribe did not know how the Worcester Antiphonar or chant-book escaped the burning, but it is acknowledged to be a treasure of great price, Nor is it known who hid the altar-cloth used at Areley Kings church in Mary Tudor's reign, but someone took a great risk and hid it among the beams of the church.