Monday, February 2, 2009


In the year A.D. 1220, on the day of St. Vitalis the Martyr, being the fourth of the calends of May (which was the twenty-eighth of April), the foundations were laid by Bishop Richard Poore. "On the day appointed for the purpose the bishop came with great devotion, few earls or barons of the county, but a great multitude of the common people coming in from all parts; and when divine service had been performed, and the Holy Spirit invoked, the said bishop, putting off his shoes, went in procession with the clergy of the church to the place of foundation singing the litany; then the litany being ended and a sermon first made to the people, the bishop laid the first stone for our Lord the Pope Honorius, and the second for the Lord Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury and Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, at that time with our Lord the King in the Marches of Wales; then he added to the new fabric a third stone for himself; William Longespée, Earl of Sarum, who was then present, laid the fourth stone, and Elaide[3] Vitri, Countess of Sarum, the wife of the said earl, a woman truly pious and worthy because she was filled with the fear of the Lord, laid the fifth. After her certain noblemen, each of them added a stone; then the dean, the chantor, the chancellor, the archdeacons and canons of the church of Sarum who were present did the same, amidst the acclamations of multitudes of the people weeping for joy and contributing thereto their alms with a ready mind according to the ability which God had given them. But in process of time the nobility being returned from Wales, several of them came thither, and laid a stone, binding themselves to some special contribution for the whole seven years following."

Another account, differing from the more generally accepted version just quoted, says that: Pendulph, the Pope's legate, in 1216 laid the first five stones; the first for the Pope, the second for the King, the third for the Earl of Salisbury, the fourth for the countess, and the fifth for the bishop. This statement is wrong in date, for Bishop Poore was not translated to the see of Sarum until the year 1217. In the charter of Henry I. the first stone is mentioned as having been laid by the king, i.e., in his name.

"On the 15th of August, 1220, at a general chapter when the bishop was present, it was provided that if any canon of the church failed paying what he had promised to the fabric for seven years, that next after fifteen days from the term elapsed, some one should be sent on the part of the bishop and chapter to raise what was due from the corn found on the prebend, and so long as he should remain there for that purpose he should be maintained with all necessaries by the goods of the said prebend. But if the prebend or any person failing in the payment of what was promised be in any other bishopric than Sarum, such canon should be denounced to that bishop by the letter of the bishop and chapter for his contumacy, either to be suspended from entering the church, or from celebration of [8]divine service, or excommunicated according as the chapter shall judge it."

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