chantries of St John's church

chantry of the name of jesus

Of the Church of St John the Baptist

 

The Chantry of the Name of Jesus, also known as the Chantry of Jesu, with the altar of St Thomas the Martyr, was located at the eastern end of the northern aisle of the chancel of St John's church.

This was the last chantry to be founded in St John's and came into being in 1480 as the result of a guild being formed for its maintenance in association with the establishment nearby of Woborn's almshouse four years earlier. Provision was made in the almshouse rules for the inauguration of a fraternity or brotherhood "of the parishioners of Yeovil and all others who, of their own devotion, will join the Custos and Wardens to provide for the sufficient sustenance of the almshouse poor" and additionally to provide for the maintenance of "a chaplain to perform divine service every day in a chapel newly erected for that purpose, or otherwise, in the parish church of Yeovil."

The Chantry of the Name of Jesus was endowed with very considerable property, including the house known as the Church House which stood in the Borough on the corner of Middle Street and Silver Street, where the HSBC building stands today.

In 1480 John Byconnel and others obtained leave from the king to endow a priest to sing masses for ever at the altar of St Thomas the Martyr for the good estate of the king and queen and for six relatives of their own.

Sir John Busshe (the title 'Sir' when applied to the clergy was invariably only a courtesy title) was "chaplain to the chantry of Jesus at the altar of St Thomas the martyr in the parish church of Yevell"  and became vicar of St John's. He was succeeded as the chantry's chaplain by Sir John Whyte in 1501. In 1507, on the death of Whyte, Sir William Tilly became chaplain. On Tilly's death in 1529 Robert Bysse became chaplain, followed by James Holmys in 1536.

The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus was placed on the Calendar in 1480, though it had formed a part of Medieval English usage before this time. The Jesus Mass and Jesus Anthem were common throughout the country on Fridays, the anthem being sung after Compline and the Mass celebrated in red vestments.

A list of benefactors of the Chantry in the year 1548 is shown below.

In his will of 1506, Simon Grene of Bruton bequeathed 6s 8d "to the fabric of the parish church of Yevell" and a further 3s 4d "to the fraternity there for the sustentation of one chaplain celebrating mass nominis Jhesu" as well as 3s 4d to the poor in Woborn Almshouse.

Inventories were taken by the Commissioners of the goods and ornaments of all chantries but that for 'Chantry of Jesu' was the only one surviving for the Yeovil chantries. It reads as follows -

Inventory of Church goods, Somerset, 37 Henry VIII, made 17th march [1547]
William Harvey, Incumbent of the Chantry for the name of Jesus in yevell.
Goods and ornaments remaining in his custody -

First a chalyce of sylv pcell gylt weighing 8 ounces
Item, vi pairs of vestments of divers sorts, valued at 35s.
Item ii aulter clothes and i towel valued at 14d.
Item a cloth to hang before the aulter, of satin, valued at 8d.
Item j corporys with cases, valued at 4d.
Item ij candelstyck of laten, valued at 8d.
Item ij paxes of laten with a sacryng bel of brass, valued at 4d.

Total 35s 10d [actually adds to 38s 2d - about £900 at 2017's value]

After the Dissolution the Chantry properties were sold off and the proceeds went to the Crown although even by Michaelmas 1602 there still remained unsold properties that had belonged to the Chantry of the Name of Jesus comprising - 6 burgages, 1 cottage, 1 house, 1 stable and 2 closes.

 

See also the Windows in St John's church.

 

Survey of the Chantry & its benefactors, 1548

 

The following is taken from the Survey and Rental of Somerset Chantries of 1548. Note that I have converted amounts from Latin to English, for example xiiijli xjs ijd as £14 11s 2d.

 

Thomas Kyle holds by indenture the dwelling house of the said Chantry, and renders per ann. 8s.

John Edmonde holds a burgage in the High Street there with appurtenances, and renders per ann. 16s.

Andrew Vauston holds a burgage with appurtenances there, and renders per ann. 18s.

William Stone holds a burgage in Pytlane, and renders per ann. 13s 4d.

The same William Stone holds a tenement and a cottage in Kingeston with an orchard containing an acre, and one acre of meadow and 23 acres and a half of arable land, and renders per ann. 22s.

William Hayne holds 2 closes and 2 gardens there, and renders per ann. 4s.

The Wardens of the church hold a burgage there called the Corner House, and renders per ann. 13s 4d.

Bartholomew Sewer holds a burgage with appurtenances, and renders per ann. 26s 8d.

Thomas Keyle holds a stable with a garden, and renders per ann. 2s.

Henry Father holds a stable with a garden, and renders per ann. 2s.

The same holds a burgage with a garden, and renders per ann. 4s 6d.

John Howell holds at the will of the lord a burgage there, and renders per ann. 10s.

Edith Thressher holds a cottage with a garden there, and renders per ann. 4s.

John Turnour holds a burgage with a garden there, and renders per ann. 7s.

Robert Hale holds a burgage with a garden in Stoforde, and renders per ann. 6s 8d.

James Meade holds half a tenement rofeles [roofless tenement = a plot of land with no building upon it] there, with an acre of meadow and 2 little closes containing an acre, and 13 acres of arable land, and renders per ann. 10s.

 

Total £8 7s 6d.

Deduct in. Rent resolute to the Burgesses of Yevill aforesaid, for free rent, per ann. 6d.

Rent resolute to William Caraunt, Kt., for free rent, per ann. 2s.

Total 2s 6d

And remains over, per annum. £8 5s. 

 

gallery

 

The eastern end of the northern aisle of the chancel of St John's church - site of the Chantry of the Name of Jesus. The glass in the window is Victorian. Photographed in 2013.