A Guide to Tideswell and Its Church

By Rev J.M.J. Fletcher

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2013


and Case

We now cross over to the North Transept, or Lady Chapel,- so called from the Gild of S. Mary, whose Chantry was established here. The Screen which divides it from the Nave. and the Organ Case are the work of the late Mr. Advent Hunstone. The subject of the carving, when completed, will be “The Visit of the Angels to the Shepherds”. The Organ, a fine two-manual instrument, was erected in 1895, by Foster and Andrewes, of Hull.


Against the wall, behind the altar, is placed a portion of the Old Stone Altar. Two of the five Consecration Crosses are plainly visible. It was found under the floor at the restoration of 1875.

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There is no means of telling who are represented by the two stone effigies which lie at the back of the Organ, though it has been variously conjectured that they were Daniels or Foljambes. They used to be popularly known in the district as 'Adam and Eve'. In reality they are both female figures, quite unconnected with each other, and of somewhat different periods. A cursory inspection of the figures will show that they were originally situated on the opposite (south) side of the Church, and not necessarily near to each other. They were placed in their present position during the restoration of the Church in 1875.

Dr. Cox is of opinion that the oldest would date back to the latter half of the thirteenth century - so that it would have been placed in the earlier Church alluded to above.

The date of the other figure, wearing a veil and wimple, and with her feet resting on a dog, would be about 1375.

Old Stalls

The old black Oak Stalls, now placed in this N. Transept were doubtless some of the original Chancel Stalls, and, consequently, are considerably more than 500 years old. They were in days gone by probably occupied by the Chantry Priests attached to the Gild, and possibly also by the Aldermen, as well as by the Parochial Clergy. The seats have “misericordes”, or “misereres” as they are often called. That is, there are projecting brackets on the under side of the seats, which were designed to afford some degree of rest to the occupants of the stalls during the long Services when they would be standing.

Fragments of ancient coloured glass may be seen at the tops of the windows in the N. Transept, and on the

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Easternmost window of the S. wall of the Nave. The letters A.M. relate to A. Meverill.

In the latter half of the sixteenth century, Wyrley appears to have found in the Church (possibly in the windows), shields bearing the armorial bearings of the following families: Stanley, Daniel, Foljambe, England, Francis, Meverill, Darley, Warren, Frecheville, and Thorold.

The Gild
of S. Mary

More than once mention has been made of the Gild of S. Mary of Tideswell. Such Gilds were a great feature in the religious and social life of the people of England during Middle Ages. They were voluntary associations of men and women of various ranks, uniting them together in bonds of mutual aid and responsibility, so that the members might be assisted in the various exigencies of life, in times of sickness and old age and poverty, or when suffering from wrongful imprisonment, or from loss by fire or water. At the cost of the Gild, care was taken for the fitting burial of the brethren. Added to this, there was the thought of mutual aid in spiritual matters; of earnest ministerial work amongst the living, and of prayers for the living and the departed. Each year there was a great Festival. After the Anniversary Service in the Church there would be a procession to the Gild Hall, where all would sit down to a common meal. We can well imagine the benefit that a town would derive from its Gild uniting, as it did, all classes of the community in bonds of mutual sympathy and help. Such Gilds combined the work of the Friendly Societies, the Insurance Societies, and the Public Assistance Committees of the present day. The “Gild of our Lady”, at Tideswell, was founded about the year 1349, which would be soon after the erection of the present Church. Its object was “to increase divine service and maintain two chaplains at the altar of our

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Lady”. In 1365, John Foljambe, with others contemplated the endowment of a Chantry (that is to say the provision of special clergy to carry on the religious duties of the Gild) connected with it; and a license for the purpose was granted by King Edward III. In 1384, James Foljambe, son of the above-mentioned John, with other inhabitants of Tideswell, obtained leave from Richard II. to establish this Chantry, and to endow it with a considerable amount of private property. Still, however, times were not favourable. It was feared that the property of the Gilds generally might be confiscated by the State. And the Tideswell Gild was not in a very flourishing condition. A Certificate of 1389 states that “The brethren do not hold assemblies, nor have they held feasts for seven years. They come together only for funeral ceremonies”. However, the license was eventually granted in 1392, and in this Charter the names of Thurstan o'Boure and Margaret his wife are recorded as being members of the Gild. It is interesting to know that for more than 150 years this their Chantry Chapel was largely used by the Brothers and Sisters of the Gild. The Chantry was finally dissolved and its revenues confiscated in the time of Edward VI. (1549), Christopher Synderby and Christopher Lytton being the last of the Chantry Priests. Some portion of the property was purchased by Edward Peak and William Winlove of London: the remainder including the Chantry House, by Lawrence Hyde of London.

This Ancient Chapel of the Guild of S. Mary was restored for use as a Lady Chapel in 1924, as the bronze tablet affixed to the North wall, within the Altar rails, tells us:- “In remembrance of the men of Tideswell who gave their lives in the Great War, and in thankfulness for all who loyally served their Country in the midst of many and great dangers, and by the mercy of God returned in safety to their homes”.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in March 2013.

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