Short URL for this page:

[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

[image ALT: link to previous section]
This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Handbook to the Cathedrals of England

by Richard John King

published by John Murray, Albemarle Street,
Oxford, 1862

the text and engravings of which are in the public domain.

This text has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


[image ALT: link to next section]
Note I

 p326  Lincoln Cathedral

Part II. History of the See,
with Short Notices of the principal Bishops.

The great diocese of Lincoln, which until it was dismembered in the reign of Henry VIII was by far the most extensive in England,​1 grew out of the union of three Saxon bishoprics, — those of Lindsey or Sidnacester (Stow in Lincolnshire); Leicester; and Dorchester in Oxfordshire.

After Paulinus (A.D. 627) had converted and baptized Edwin of Northumbria, (see York, Pt. II), he proceeded to preach Christianity throughout Lindsey (Lindisse), the northern portion of Lincolnshire, of which Lincoln, the Roman Lindum Coloniae, was the chief place. Here he converted Blaecca, the "praefect" of the city, with all his household; and here he built a church of stone, which Bede calls "opus egregium," in which he consecrated Honorius to the archbishopric of Canterbury. The existing church of St. Paul (Paulinus), a little north-west of the cathedral, and on higher ground, is said to occupy the site of this, the first resting-place of the faith in Lincoln. It stands not far from a blackened Roman arch, one of the  p327 ancient gates of the city, which twelve hundred years ago must have flung its shadow on the figure of the Christian Apostle, — "vir longae staturae, paululum incurvus, nigro capillo, facie macilenta, naso adunco pertenui, venerabilis simul et terribilis aspectu."2

A.D. 678‑958. See of Lindsey. The province of Lindsey, like the rest of Lincolnshire, was either at that time dependent on Mercia, or soon afterwards became so. After the establishment of the Mercian bishopric at Lichfield (see that Cathedral) in the year 656, Lindsey formed a part of the wide district presided over by that see; until, in 678, Egfrid of Northumbria defeated the Mercian King Wulfere, and making good his power over Lindsey, erected it into a separate diocese, the seat of which he fixed at Sidnacester, now represented in all probably by Stow, a village between Lincoln and Gainsborough, famous for its fine Norman church. A succession of bishops of Lindsey (the "Lindisfarorum provincia" of Bede) can be traced from Eadhed, who was consecrated to the see in 678, to Berhtred, whose last signature occurs in 869. For nearly a century from this date the see seems to have remained unfilled, owing no doubt to the ravages of the Northmen, who in this interval established themselves in Mercia and Northumbria. In 953 occurs the signature of Leofwin as bishop of Lindsey. Before 958 he had removed the see to Dorchester, in Oxfordshire, probably for greater security. One later bishop of Lindsey is, however, recorded, — Sigeferth, whose signatures occur between the years 997‑1004.

A.D. 680‑869. See of Leicester. Eadhed was consecrated to the see of Lindsey (or Sidnacester) by Archbishop Theodorus, one of whose main objects was to increase the number of bishoprics in the different Saxon kingdoms. (See Canterbury cathedral, Pt. II.) It was probably at his suggestion, and no doubt with his co-operation, that  p328 the see was established by Egfrid after his conquest of Lindsey in 678. Two years later (680) Theodorus divided the great Mercian bishopric, and erected a new see at Leicester, to which he consecrated Cuthwin. After Cuthwin's death, in 691, the see of Leicester was administered by the famous Wilfrid of York, until the year 705, when it was re-united to the original Mercian see of Lichfield. So it continued until 737, in which year the see of Leicester again appears, with Torthelm as its bishop. From this time until the year 869, there is a regular succession of bishops of Leicester, the last of whom was Ceolred (840‑869). At his death the see was removed to Dorchester, in Oxfordshire. The Northmen had already commenced their attacks on Mercia, in which they soon made good their settlements, and Leicester became one of the five great Danish burghs. As in East Anglia (see Norwich Cathedral, Pt. II) it is probable that the Mercian Danes were, as the Saxon Chronicle represents them, "heathen men," although they may have embraced a nominal Christianity. At all events, no bishop appears within the bounds of the Danelagh.

A.D. 870‑1067. See of Dorchester. Dorchester, to which place the see of Leicester was removed, had been (A.D. 634‑676) the seat of the West Saxon bishopric, until Headda (676‑705) removed it to Winchester, as had been originally intended; (see Winchester cathedral, Pt. II). The district in which Dorchester is situated seems about this time to have passed under the control of Mercia, and it was probably within the bounds of that kingdom when the see of Leicester was removed to it, about the year 870. But the ravages of the Northmen soon broke up the ancient limits, and Alheard, the first bishop of Dorchester, who died of the plague in 897, is recorded in the Saxon Chronicle as one of King Alfred's "most excellent thanes."​3 From Alheard to Wulfwy, who died  p329 in 1067, we have the names (and little besides) of eleven bishops of Dorchester. Of these, the fourth from Alheard is Leofwin, who, a little before 958, removed the see of Lindsey to Dorchester. Remigius, the successor of Wulfwy, removed the chief place of the three sees which had thus become united, to Lincoln.

See of Lincoln. A.D. 1067‑1092. Remigius, or Rémi, a Benedictine of Fécamp, had accompanied the Conqueror on his expedition, to which he is said to have contributed a ship and twenty armed men. According to Giraldus he was the leader (decurio) of the ten knights sent as the contingent of the Abbot of Fécamp. A leaden plate preserved in the Chapter Library at Lincoln, seems to prove that Remigius was related to the powerful house of Deincourt, and thus allied to the Conqueror,​4 who promised him an English bishopric if the expedition should be successful. On the death of Wulfwy in 1067 Remigius was accordingly consecrated to the see of Dorchester.

The Norman bishop found his vast diocese in a state of utter disorganization; and at once "perambulated the whole of it, so that by his sermons and instructions he wrought a happy reformation in every part." The lofty mind and excellent disposition (beatissimum ingenium) of Remigius are contrasted by William of Malmesbury with his dwarfish stature: "Ipse pro exiguitate corporis pene portentum hominis videbatur; luctabatur excellere et foris eminere animus, eratque 'gratior exiguo veniens e corpore virtus.' " "Statura parvus, sed corde magnus," says Henry of Huntingdon, "colore fuscus sed operibus venustus." In the year 1071 he accompanied Archbishop Lanfranc and  p330 Thomas, Archbishop of York, to Rome, where the Pope, Alexander II, deposed from their sees both Archbishop Thomas and Remigius, the former as being the son of a priest, the latter on account of the bargain he had made with the Conqueror. Both were restored, however, by the interest of Lanfranc.

Remigius, who, like most of the Norman bishops, had a passion for building, prepared to erect a cathedral at Dorchester. But the Council of London, in 1072, ordered the removal of episcopal sees from "vills" to cities; and it was no doubt in consequence of this decree that the see of Dorchester was removed to Lincoln — as it certainly was before 1073. Lincoln was situated at the extreme end of the diocese; but the site was at least not more inconvenient than that of Dorchester; and the strength of the position — on high ground, and close under the walls of the great royal fortress then in the course of erection — was probably a main consideration here, as it was in fixing the sites of the other sees removed at this time. Accordingly, Remigius, in the words of Henry of Huntingdon, himself Archdeacon of Lincoln, "built in a place strong and fair, a strong and fair church to the Virgin of virgins; which was both pleasant to God's servants, and, as the time required, invincible to their enemies."

The cathedral thus built by Remigius occupied the south-east quarter of the original Roman city, the castle taking up the south-west quarter. The exact site, "on the brow of the hill beyond the river Witham, had," says Giraldus Cambrensis, "been presignified by certain visions, miracles, signs, and wonders." Remigius lived to complete it, "after the manner of the church of Rouen, which he had set before him as his pattern in all things,"​5 and placed twenty-one canons in it. He died, however, four  p331 days before that fixed the consecration (May 8, 1092); and was buried in the new church, before the altar of the Holy Cross. He was never canonized; but numerous miracles were said to have taken place at his tomb; and his episcopal ring dipped in water was held to produce an excellent febrifuge.

All that remains of the church of Remigius is a portion of the west front (Pt. I §III). Its eastern termination was apsidal. The cathedral of Rouen, which Remigius copied, was destroyed by fire in 1200.6

A.D. 1094‑1123. Robert Bloet, after the see had been vacant two years, was consecrated by Archbishop Anselm and seven other bishops, at Hastings — the day after Battle Abbey was consecrated (Feb. 11). Bishop Robert was Chancellor to William Rufus, and his appointment to the see of Lincoln was made after that King's illness at Gloucester, when "he promised many promises to God, to lead his own life righteously, and never more for money again to sell God's churches."​7 The new cathedral was consecrated during Bishop Robert's episcopate; and he removed (against their will) the monks from Stow, in Lincolnshire, to Eynsham, a newly restored monastery in Oxfordshire, in order to appropriate the manor of Stow for the use of the bishops of Lincoln. Bishop Robert died suddenly in the park at Woodstock, Jan. 10, 1123. "It befel," says the Saxon Chronicle, "on a Wednesday that the King (Henry I) was riding in his deer-fold, and the Bishop Roger of Salisbury on one side of him, and the Bishop  p332 Robert Bloet of Lincoln on the other side of him; and they were there riding and talking. Then the Bishop of Lincoln sank down, and said to the King, 'Lord King, I am dying!' And the King alighted down from his horse, and lifted him betwixt his arms, and caused him to be borne to his inn; and he was then forthwith dead; and he was conveyed to Lincoln with great worship, and buried before St. Mary's altar." Bishop Robert enjoyed no good reputation in his own time; and Bale, the "foul-mouthed," asserts that the "church keepers" (at Lincoln) "were sore annoyed (they saye) with his sowle and other walking spretes till that place was purged by prayers."

A.D. 1123‑1148. Alexander, Archdeacon of Salisbury, and Chief Justice, was nephew of Roger, the powerful Bishop of Salisbury (see that Cathedral, Pt. II) by whose influence he was raised to the episcopate. As in the case of his brother Nigel, Bishop of Ely (see Ely, Pt. II), Alexander's fortunes were involved in those of his uncle Bishop Roger; and with him he was seized and imprisoned during the Council of Oxford, 1139. On this occasion Bishop Alexander was compelled to resign to the King his castles of Sleaford and Newark, which he had himself built. He had built another castle at Banbury, and four monasteries, at Dorchester, Haverholme, Thame, and Sempringham. A great fire occurred at Lincoln in June 1123, shortly before Alexander's consecration, which burnt nearly the whole of the city; and in 1141 occurred a second fire, which did great mischief to the cathedral, and destroyed the whole of the wooden roofs. Bishop Alexander vaulted it with stone, and so repaired and adorned it, according to Henry of Huntingdon, that it was "more beautiful than before." The doorways in the west front are assigned, with great probability, to this bishop (Pt. I §III); who was buried in his own cathedral.

A.D. 1148‑1167. Robert de Chesney, Archdeacon of Leicester. This bishop built the episcopal palace at Lincoln,  p333 the site of which he bought "at a great price;" and pledged the ornaments of his church in order to do so, to "Aaron the Jew" in the sum of £ 300.

The death of Bishop Robert occurred in the height of the controversy between the King and Archbishop Becket; and the see of Lincoln remained vacant nearly seventeen years; a certain monk of Thame, one of the many prophets of the time, predicting that it would never be filled again. In the year 1173, however, Geoffrey Plantagenet, natural son of Henry II, was appointed to the see, under a dispensation from the Pope, Alexander III, on account of his being under age. But Geoffry was never consecrated, although for several years he retained the temporalities; and he resigned Lincoln​8 before

A.D. 1183‑1184. Walter of Coutances (so‑called although, according to Giraldus, he was a native of Cornwall) was appointed by the King. The year afterwards he was translated to Rouen.

From 1184 to 1186 the see was again vacant. In the year 1185 occurred that great earthquake "such as there had not been in England since the beginning of the world," says Hoveden, which shattered the cathedral of Lincoln and "split it in two from top to bottom."9

A.D. 1186‑1200. Hugh of Avalon, or of Burgundy; best known as St. Hugh of Lincoln, the founder of the existing cathedral, which was far advanced during his lifetime, and on which he laboured with his own hands. There were many Lives of St. Hugh, of which the longest and most important, written by a Benedictine monk who was the  p334 Bishop's chaplain and constant associate, remains in MS. in the Bodleian. An abridgment of this life, dating probably from the fourteenth century, is printed in the Bibliotheca Ascetica of Bernard Pezius (vol. X); and reprinted in the 153rd vol. of Migne's Patrologia. A very curious and interesting metrical life, written to all appearance immediately upon the canonization of Hugh (A.D. 1220), has been admirably edited by the Rev. J. F. Dimock (Lincoln, 1860), whose brief sketch of St. Hugh's life can hardly be improved.

"St. Hugh was born about the year 1140, of knightly Burgundian family, which took its name from Avalon, a place about three miles distant from Grenoble. At an early age he lost his mother, and soon afterwards entered a priory of Regular Canons established in the neighbourhood of his father's castle. To this step he was led by the precepts and example of his widowed father; who at the same time retired from the world, and became an inmate of the same priory. At this time Hugh was a mere child; according to the best authority not quite eight, but according to others, ten years old.

"At the age of eighteen he was ordained deacon. And some time afterwards, probably when about twenty-four years old, was made prior of a neighbouring cell, a dependency of his convent. Within two or three years, it would seem, he deserted this post, and betook himself to the Great Chartreuse, near Grenoble, then in the zenith of its fame, for the rigid austerity of its rules, and the earnest piety of its members.

"After ten years spent in the most exemplary devotion to his duties as a Carthusian monk, he was advanced to the office of procurator, a post second only to that of the prior of the house. This post he can have held but a year or two. Had he held it a short time longer, he would have succeeded, with little doubt, to the priory of the Great Chartreuse, then one of the proudest pre-eminences in the  p335 religious world. Such, however, was not to be his destiny. Henry the Second of England was founding a Carthusian convent, at Witham, in Somersetshire, the first of the Order in this country. Difficulties and disasters obstructed the royal purpose. At length, hearing of the fame of Hugh, and assured certainly that he was the man of all others who would succeed in carrying his designs into full and good effect, Henry managed, with difficulty, to procure his removal for this purpose into England. This was probably in A.D. 1175 or 1176.

"Hugh did not disappoint the expectations formed of him. All difficulties soon vanished, upon his taking the rule of Witham . . . . of which establishment, which soon became the admiration of all . . . . he was prior about ten years. He became an especial favorite of Henry II. In the year 1186, mainly through the royal influence, and that of Archbishop Baldwin of Canterbury, he was made Bishop of Lincoln.

"Sorely had he striven against this removal from the religious calm of his beloved Carthusian cell to so different a sphere of action. But, once compelled to acquiesce, he brought all his determined earnestness and untiring energy to the duties of his new station. It may be safely said that a more zealous and indefatigable prelate than was Bishop Hugh of Lincoln seldom, if ever, presided over a see of our own or any other Christian land. He was Bishop of Lincoln for a little more than fourteen years, dying in the autumn of A.D. 1200."​10

  Several remarkable anecdotes, principally from the prose lives, illustrating the character of St. Hugh, — his "resolute unbending firmness of purpose"º in what he believed to be right, his "singular and exquisite tact," and his mixture of cheerfulness with asceticism, — will be found in Mr. Dimock's Introduction.  p336 His great work at Lincoln was the rebuilding of his cathedral; which, as we have seen, had been ruined by an earthquake the year before his consecration. The remarkable description of this work, contained in the Metrical Life, will be found in Part III.

St. Hugh was canonized by the Pope, Honorius III, in 1220; and in 1280 his body was translated, with great ceremony, into the newly-built eastern part of the cathedral — the so‑called "Angel choir." This translation took place at the cost of Thomas Bek, who on the same day was consecrated to the see of St. David's; (see post, Bp. Oliver Sutton). Numerous miracles were said to be worked at his shrine. "Up to the time of the Reformation, no such saint in the English calendar, with one exception, had his fame more widely spread, or received more earnest reverence. The one exception is, of course, St. Thomas Becket; with whom, however, Hugh of Lincoln has no cause to fear comparison. With fully as stern a resolution to defend the rights of the Church against the encroachments of the State, in many other points the character of Hugh was a far finer one, and his consistent life more saint-like, than can ever be truly predicated of Becket. . . . . So long as his cathedral stands, in its grand beauty, the name of Bishop Hugh of Lincoln cannot altogether be forgotten. . . . . He only wants now to be rightly known, in order to be more rightly appreciated. We can still, I hope, admire the upright, honest, fearless man; we can still revere the earnest, holy, Christian bishop."11

The emblem which generally accompanies representations of St. Hugh is his pet swan, which is said to have taken up its abode at Stow, the episcopal manor-house, on the day of the Bishop's installation at Lincoln. It formed an especial attachment to St. Hugh; and displayed extreme grief on his last visit to Stow, before going to  p337 London, where he died. "Haec avis," says the "Metrical Life": —

"in vita candens, in funere cantans,

Sancti pontificis vitam mortemque figurat:

Candens dum vivit, notat hunc vixisse pudicum,

Cantans dum moritur, notat hunc decedere tutum."

Bishop Hugh died at London, and was brought to Lincoln for interment, the journey taking up six days. The Kings of England and Scotland (John and William) had met by appointment at Lincoln, and assisted in conveying the bier into the cathedral. Three archbishops, nine bishops, "populus abbatum, turba priorum," were also present.

A.D. 1203‑1206. William of Blois. After the death of St. Hugh there was for some time a dispute between the King and the Chapter as to the right of election to the vacant see. William of Blois, Prebendary and Precentor of Lincoln, was elected by the Chapter in 1201; but was not consecrated until 1203.

From 1206, in which year William of Blois died, to 1209, the see was again vacant. In that year

A.D. 1209‑1235. Hugh of Wells, of which cathedral he had been Archdeacon, and Canon of Lincoln, was appointed. The interdict pronounced by Pope Innocent was still in force; and Hugh was ordered by King John to proceed for consecration to the Archbishop of Rouen, rather than to Stephen Langton, the exiled Archbishop of Canterbury. The bishop elect, however, found Archbishop Stephen at Melun, and was there consecrated by him: John accordingly seized the temporalities of Lincoln, which he retained until after his submission to Pandulf, in 1213.

Little is recorded of Bishop Hugh's long episcopate. It is probable that the cathedral commenced by St. Hugh was far advanced, if not completed, by him; as the great hall of the episcopal palace certainly was. In 1220, after an examination by Archbishop Stephen Langton, and John, Abbot of Fountains, of the miracles said to have been performed  p338 at the tomb of St. Hugh, his canonization was solemnly decreed by the Pope, Honorius III.

Bishop Hugh of Wells was buried in his own cathedral, at Lincoln.

A.D. 1235‑1253. Robert Grostête; a worthy successor of St. Hugh, and one of the most remarkable men of the thirteenth century.

"Robert Grostête was of humble birth: at Oxford his profound learning won the admiration of Roger Bacon. He translated the book called the 'Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs.' He went to France to make himself master of that language. He became Archdeacon of Leicester, and Bishop of London. As Bishop of that vast diocese he began to act with holy rigour unprecedented in his times. With him Christian morals were inseparable from Christian faith. He endeavoured to bring back the festivals of the Church, which had grown into days of idleness and debauchery, to their sacred character; he would put down the Feast of Fools, held on New Year's day. But it was against the clergy, as on them altogether depended the holiness of the people, that he acted with the most impartial severity. He was a Churchman of the highest hierarchical notions. Becket himself did not assert the immunities and privileges of the Church with greater intrepidity; . . . . but those immunities, those privileges, implied heavier responsibility; that authority belonged justly only to a holy, exemplary, unworldly clergy. Everywhere he was encountered with sullen, stubborn, or open resistance. He was condemned as restless, harsh, passionate. . . . . The dean and chapter of Lincoln were his foremost and most obstinate opponents; the clergy asserted their privileges, the monasteries their papal exemptions; the nobles complained of his interference with their rights of patronage; the King himself that he sternly prohibited the clergy from all secular offices; they must not act as the King's justiciaries, or sit to adjudge capital  p339 offences. His allies were the new Orders, the Preachers and Mendicants. He addressed letters of confidence to the generals of both Orders. He resolutely took his stand on his right of refusing institution to unworthy clergy. He absolutely refused to admit to benefices pluralists, boys, those employed in the King's secular service, in the courts of judicature, or the collection of the revenue; he resisted alike Churchmen, the Chancellor of Exeter; nobles, he would not admit a son of the Earl of Ferrars, as under age; the King, whose indignation knew no bounds; he resisted the Cardinal Legates, the Pope himself."​12

  The pope whom Robert Grostête thus resisted was Innocent IV — the last opponent of the great Emperor, Frederick II — than whom no Roman pontiff carried the papal claims farther. "Grostête received command, through his Nuncio, to confer a canonry of Lincoln on the nephew of Innocent, a boy, Frederick of Louvain. Grostête was not daunted by the ascendant power of the Pope. His answer was a firm, resolute, argumentative refusal: 'I am bound by filial reverence to obey all commands of the Apostolic See; but those are not apostolic commands which are not consonant to the doctrine of the Apostles, and the Master of the Apostles, Christ Jesus. . . . . You cannot in your discretion enact any penalty against me, for my resistance is neither strife nor rebellion, but filial affection to my father, and veneration for my mother the Church.' "13

The passion of Innocent, on receiving this letter, is said to have been extreme; but he listened at last to the more moderate counsels of his cardinals, and "acknowledged, almost in apologetic tone, that he had been driven by the difficulties of the times, and the irresistible urgency of partisans, to measures which he did not altogether approve."

 p340  "On Grostête's death it was believed that music was heard in the air, bells of distant churches tolled of their own accord, miracles were wrought at his grave and in his church at Lincoln. But it was said, likewise, that the inexorable Pontiff entertained the design of having his body disinterred and his bones scattered. But Robert Grostête himself appeared in a vision, dressed in his pontifical robes, before the Pope. 'Is it thou, Sinibald, thou miserable Pope, who wilt cast my bones out of their cemetery, to thy disgrace and that of the church of Lincoln? . . . . Woe to thee who hast despised, thou shalt be despised in thy turn!' The Pope felt as if each word pierced him like a spear. From that night he was wasted by a slow fever. The hand of God was upon him. All his schemes failed; his armies were defeated; he passed neither day nor night undisturbed. Such was believed by a large part of Christendom to have been the end of Pope Innocent IV."​14

Bishop Robert was the correspondent and friend of Adam Marsh (de Marisco), the learned Franciscan friar, whose letters have been printed in the Monumenta Franciscana, edited by the Rev. J. S. Brewer; and was, according to Matthew Paris, the special adviser and confessor of the great Earl Simon de Montfort. He died, however, long before the Barons' War. His character can only fairly be understood in connection with the history of his time, — when England lay more completely than ever, before or since, under the control of the Pope. Matthew Paris, little as he admired him while living, was not sparing of panegyric after his death. "Fuit Domini Papae et Regis redargutor manifestus, Praelatorum correptor, Monachorum corrector, Presbyterorum director, Clericorum instructor, scholarium sustentator, populi praedicator, incontinentium persecutor, Scripturarum sedulus perscrutator diversarum, Romanorum malleus et contemptor. In mensa refectionis  p341 corporalis dapsilis, copiosus et civilis, hilaris et affabilis: in mensa vero spirituali devotus, lachrymosus et contritus: in officio Pontificali sedulus, venerabilis, et infatigabilis."​15

Unlike St. Hugh, or his contemporary, Edmund Rich, Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Grostête was never solemnly canonized. Like Waltheof, who was interred at Crowland, however, and like Simon de Montfort, Bishop Robert was canonized by the voice of the English people. His tomb, in the south-east transept of his cathedral, was especially reverenced; and, as direct proof of his sanctity, an oil was said to distil from it. No direct record exists of his works in the cathedral; but some portion of the central tower is generally assigned to him (Pt. I §IX); and the roofing of the nave may possibly be his work. There was a tradition that the fragments of a magic head, constructed by Bishop Robert, were preserved in the vaulting:—

"Fabricat aere caput . . . .

Dum caput erigitur corruit ima petens.

Scinditur in cineres . . . .

Dicunt vulgares, quod adhuc Lincolnia mater

In volta capitis fragmina servat ea."​16

Robert Grostête died at Buckden, Oct. 10, 1253. His letters have been edited, with a most valuable Introduction, by H. R. Luard (Longmans, 1861).

A.D. 1254‑1258. Henry Lexington, Dean of Lincoln, was elected by the Chapter in opposition to the wishes of the King, who had named Peter de Aquablanca, Bishop of Hereford. The most remarkable event of his episcopate was the persecution of the Jews of Lincoln on account of the death of "Little St. Hugh," or St. Hugh the Less, — a child who was found dead in a well, and who was said to have been sacrificed at the Passover, in contempt of our  p342 Lord, by the Jews. A process was commenced against the Jews by the authorities and clergy of Lincoln; and thirty-two of them were in consequence put to death: some of whom were tied to the feet of wild horses, dragged out of the city till they were dead, and then hanged on the gibbets at the common place of execution. A long account of the whole proceeding will be found in Matthew Paris. The ballad of "St. Hugh of Lincoln" records the popular version of it; and Chaucer thus alludes to it at the end of the "Prioress' Tale": —

"O younge Hew of Lincolne slain also,

With cursed Jewes, as it is notable,

For it n'is but a litel while ago,

Pray eke for us, we sinful folk unstable,

That of His mercie God so merciable

On us His grete mercie multiplie,

For reverence of His Mother Marie."

Eighteen Jews had been put to death at Norwich twenty years before,​a on a similar accusation. (See Norwich Cathedral, Pt. II). The shrine of St. Hugh has been noticed, Pt. I §XXIV. It was opened in 1790, when the skeleton of a child was found in the coffin.

A.D. 1258‑1279. Richard of Gravesend, Dean of Lincoln. With the Bishops of London, Winchester, and Chichester, he adhered to the party of the Barons; and, like those Bishops, was excommunicated by the Papal Legate, Cardinal Ottoboni.

A.D. 1280‑1299. Oliver Sutton, Dean of Lincoln. During his episcopate the cloister, to which he contributed fifty marks, was built; the cathedral precinct was enclosed with a wall, "because of the homicides and other atrocities perpetrated by thieves and malefactors;" and houses for the Vicars Choral were built at the Bishop's own expense. But the great event of Bishop Oliver's episcopate was the translation of the body of St. Hugh, which, on the octave of St. Michael, 1280, was solemnly deposited within  p343 its shrine in the new presbytery, or "Angel choir." Edward the First and his Queen; Edmund "the King's brother," and the Queen of Navarre, his wife; the Archbishops of Canterbury (John Peckham) and Edessa;​17 many bishops, and 230 knights, were present. Two conduits outside the gate of the Bishop's manor ran with wine. The whole cost of the translation was defrayed by Thomas Bek, who on the same day was consecrated to the bishopric of St. David's. He was brother of Antony, the powerful Bishop of Durham and Patriarch of Jerusalem, who at his own consecration, three years and a-half afterwards, translated the remains of St. William of York at his own expense.

A.D. 1300‑1320. John D'Alderby, Chancellor of Lincoln. The upper part of the central tower dates from his episcopate. Letters of indulgence exist, dated March 9, 1307, granting a relaxation of forty days, "de injunctâ sibi penitentiâ," to any one who should assist in building the tower. In 1310 the bowels of Queen Eleanor, who died at Harby, were interred in the cathedral. (Pt. I §XXI). Little is recorded of the personal life of Bishop D'Alderby, who died at Stow in 1320, and was buried in the south transept, where his remains were afterwards placed in a silver shrine. "Tanquam sanctus colebatur," says Godwin; and numerous attempts were made, but in vain, to procure his canonization during the subsequent episcopate of Bishop Burghersh. Many miracles were said to have been wrought at his tomb.

Anthony Bek, Chancellor of Lincoln, was elected by the Chapter on Bishop D'Alderby's death. His election was, however, annulled by the Pope, who appointed

A.D. 1320‑1340. Henry Burghersh, Treasurer, and afterwards Chancellor, of England; grandson of Bartholomew de Badlesmere, the great Baron of Leeds Castle, by  p344 whose influence he obtained his bishopric. Not long before his death, which occurred at Ghent, Bishop Burghersh had enclosed a park or deer chase, at Tinghurst, and in order to do so effectually had seized on certain lands held by some of his poorer neighbours. Their imprecations on the Bishop were loud and deep; and Walsingham asserts that after his death he appeared to one of his friends, dressed in a short coat of Lincoln green, with a horn slung round his neck, and carrying a bow and arrows. As a punishment for his wrongs against the poor, he declared that he had been made keeper of the chase at Tinghurst; and that he was condemned to wander about it until the fences should be again thrown down and the lands restored to their former owners. The Canons of Lincoln accordingly, having been duly informed of the Bishop's distress, proceeded to relieve him in the way he had pointed out. Bishop Burghersh's tomb remains at the end of the retro-choir. (Pt. I §XVIII).

A.D. 1342‑1347. Thomas Bek, nephew of the great Bishop of Durham, and brother of Anthony Bek, Bishop of Norwich.

A.D. 1347‑1362. John Gynwell, Archdeacon of Northampton.

A.D. 1363‑1398. John Bokyngham, Archdeacon of Northampton, and Keeper of the Privy Seal. During his episcopate the head of St. Hugh, in its golden reliquary, was stolen from the cathedral. The thieves, after stripping away the gold and jewels, flung the head into a field; where, says Knighton, it was watched by a crow until recovered by the confession of the thieves themselves, and brought back to Lincoln.​18 Bishop Bokyngham was, much against his will, translated to Lichfield by the Pope, in 1398. He refused, however, to accept a bishopric the  p345 revenues of which were so much less than those of Lincoln, and retired to Canterbury, where he died a monk.

John de Welburn was treasurer of Lincoln from 1350 to 1380, and was a great benefactor to the cathedral. Among others of his benefactions enumerated in a volume preserved in the Chapter Record-room are, — "Qui eciam ut Custos Sancti Hugonis, fecit reparari ii. costas superiores feretri ejusdem, cum uno tabernaculo et i. ymagine Sancti Pauli stantis in eodem ex parte boreali, cum plato de auro puro, quae fuerunt pro antea depictae; et eciam canopeum novum de ligno pro eodem. Qui eciam, post furacionem et spoliacionem capitis Sancti Hugonis, de novo fecit cum auro et argento et lapidibus preciosis ornari et reparari. Qui eciam existens magister fabricae, fuit principalis causa movens de factura duarum voltarum campanilium in fine occidentali monasterii, et eciam voltae altioris campanilis. Ac eciam fecit fieri Reges in fine occidentali predicta; ac eciam facturam horilogii quod vocatur Clok. Et inceptor et consultor incepcionis facturae stallorum novorum in ecclesia cathedrali Lincoln."

A.D. 1398, translated to Winchester 1405. Henry Beaufort, son of John of Gaunt by Catherine Swynford, who was buried at Lincoln during his episcopate. Her tomb remains in the cathedral; (Pt. I §XV). For a long notice of Cardinal Beaufort, whose death-bed has been so wonderfully and so unfairly painted by Shakespeare, see Winchester Cathedral, Pt. II. He died in 1447, and was buried at Winchester, where his superb chantry still remains.

A.D. 1405‑1419. Philip Repingdon, Abbot of Leicester, and Chancellor of Oxford, was for some time before his elevation to the episcopate a vigorous Wickliffite, until compelled (in 1382) to make a solemn recantation at Paul's Cross. Honours were then poured thick upon him. Pope Innocent VII intruded him into the see of Lincoln; and in 1419 Gregory XII made him a cardinal, when he resigned  p346 his bishopric. He died about the year 1434, and was interred in Lincoln Cathedral, near the grave of his great predecessor Robert Grostête.

A.D. 1410‑1431. Richard Fleming, Canon of Lincoln, was nominated by the Pope (and consecrated at Florence) on the resignation of Repingdon. In 1424 Bishop Fleming was translated by papal authority to the vacant see of York; but his translation was resisted by Henry V, who refused to restore the temporalities. Bishop Fleming was accordingly compelled to remain at Lincoln; as bishop of which see he executed the sentence of the Council of Constance in 1425, which ordered the body of Wickliffe to be exhumed, as that of a heretic, the bones to be burnt, and the ashes thrown into the nearest river. (The church of Lutterworth, in which Wickliffe had been buried, was in the diocese of Lincoln.) Bishop Fleming was buried in the chapel erected by himself on the north side of the choir; (Pt. I §XVIII). He was the founder (1430) of Lincoln College, Oxford; the buildings of which were further advanced by Thomas Beckington (1443‑1464), Bishop of Bath and Wells, and completed by Thomas Scott, or Rotherham, translated (1480) to the see of York from Lincoln; see post).

A.D. 1431‑1436. William Gray; translated to Lincoln from London.

A.D. 1436‑1449. William Alnwick, Confessor to Henry VI, was translated to Lincoln from Norwich. At Norwich Bishop Alnwick almost rebuilt the west front of his cathedral (see Norwich); and the west window at Lincoln is his work; (Pt. I §III). He was a great benefactor to the Philosophy Schools at Cambridge.

A.D. 1450, died the same year. Marmaduke Lumley, translated from Carlisle, of which see he had been bishop for twenty years. He gave £200 toward the building of Queens' College, Cambridge; and supplied the library with many books.

 p347  A.D. 1452‑1471. John Chadworth, Canon of Lincoln, and Provost of Queens' College, Cambridge, was elected after the see had been vacant for more than twelve months. In 1454 Bishop Chadworth, and Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester, were appointed by Henry VI to revise the statues of his two royal colleges at Eton and Cambridge.

A.D. 1472‑1480. Thomas Scott, or Rotherham, translated to Lincoln from Rochester, was elevated to the see of York in 1480. He died in 1500, having for some time been Chancellor of England. Lincoln College, Oxford, was completed by him.

A.D. 1480‑1494. John Russell, translated to Lincoln from Rochester. He was the first Chancellor of the University of Oxford who retained his office for life, his predecessors having been elected year by year. Bishop Russell's piety, learning, and general knowledge of affairs were greatly praised by Sir Thomas More. He was buried in the chapel which he had built during his life, on the south side of the retro-choir at Lincoln; (Pt. I §XXII).

A.D. 1496‑1514. William Smith, translated from Lichfield. He had been a Fellow of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, and Archdeacon of Surrey. " 'A good name,' observes Fuller, 'is an ointment poured out,' saith Solomon; and this man, wheresoever he went, may be followed by the perfumes of charity he left behind him." At Lichfield he founded a hospital and a school; and at Oxford he commenced the rebuilding of Brasenose College on the site of the ancient hall of that name. That college accordingly retains his arms (Argent, a chevron sable between three roses gules), and he is regarded as its founder. Bishop Smith was Chancellor of Oxford; and was appointed the first President of Wales by Henry VII; "that politick Prince," says Fuller, "having, to ease and honour his native country of Wales, erected a court of Presidency, conformable to the Parliaments of France, in the Marches thereof." The Bishop was buried in his own cathedral at Lincoln.

 p348  A.D. 1514. Thomas Wolsey was Bishop of Lincoln for nearly twelve months, before his elevation to York.

A.D. 1514‑1520. William Atwater, Dean of the Chapel Royal.

A.D. 521‑1547. John Longland, Dean of Salisbury, and Confessor to Henry VIII. For the greater part of his episcopate — during which the bishoprics of Oxford and Peterborough were erected out of portions of his vast diocese — he was Chancellor of Oxford. His chantry has been noticed, Pt. I §XXII.

A.D. 1547‑1551. Henry Holbeach; had been consecrated Suffragan Bishop of Bristol in 1538: in 1544 he was appointed Bishop of Rochester; and was thence translated to Lincoln. The temporalities were restored to Bishop Holbeach in August 1547; and in the following September he resigned to the Crown (Edw. VI) a large proportion of the manors belonging to the see.

A.D. 1552‑1554. John Taylor, Dean of Lincoln, and President of St. John's College, Cambridge. On the accession of Mary, Bishop Taylor refused to be present at the celebration of Mass, and was accordingly deprived; escaping further penalties by his death, which occurred at Ankerwyke, in Buckinghamshire.

A.D. 1554; translated to Winchester 1556. John White.

A.D. 1557‑1559. Thomas Watson, a decided opponent of the Reformation, was deprived on the accession of Elizabeth. He was consigned to the care of the Bishops of Ely and Rochester, successively, and was finally imprisoned in Wisbech Castle, where he died in 1584, and was buried in the parish church of Wisbech.​b

A.D. 1559; translated to Worcester 1570. Nicholas Bullingham.

A.D. 1570; translated to Winchester 1584. Thomas Cowper, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford.

A.D. 1584; translated to Winchester 1594. William Wickham.

 p349  A.D. 1594‑1608. William Chaderton, President of Queens' College, Cambridge, was consecrated Bishop of Chester in 1579; and in 1594 was translated to Lincoln.

A.D. 1608‑1613. William Barlow; translated to Lincoln from Rochester.

A.D. 1613; translated to Durham 1617. Richard Neile, passed successively through the sees of Rochester, Lichfield, Lincoln, Durham, and Winchester, to the archiepiscopal see of York (see that Cathedral), where he died in 1640.

A.D. 1617; translated to London 1621. George Monteigne. He passed from London to Durham, and thence to York.

A.D. 1621; translated to York 1641. John Williams, the well-known opponent of Laud, was a native of Carnarvonshire, and educated at Cambridge. On the removal of Lord Chancellor Bacon in 1621, Williams was made Keeper of the Great Seal; and, in the same month, Bishop of Lincoln: with which he held the deanery of Westminster and the rectory of Waldgrave in commendam. A full notice of Archbishop Williams, whose life belongs in fact to the history of his time, will be found in the Handbook to York Cathedral, Pt. II.

A.D. 1642, died 1654. Thomas Winniffe, Dean successively of Gloucester and London, was expelled from his see during the Civil War, and retired to Lamborne in Essex; of which place, says Fuller, he had been for some time the "painful minister." He died there in 1654, and was buried in the parish church.

A.D. 1660‑1663. Robert Sanderson, the most eminent casuist of the English Church, was descended from an ancient family, and born at Rotherham, in Yorkshire, in 1587. He was educated at Lincoln College, Oxford, and became rector successively of Wybberton and of Boothby Pagnel, both in Lincolnshire; and in 1629 Prebendary of Lincoln. He was recommended by Laud for one of the  p350 King's chaplains; and Charles I used to say that "he carried his ears to hear other preachers, but his conscience to hear Mr. Sanderson." In 1642 Sanderson was appointed by the King Professor of Divinity at Oxford; and he was concerned in many of the descriptions during the Civil War, before, in 1647 and 1648, he obtained leave to attend Charles I during his retention at Hampton Court and in the Isle of Wight. In the latter year he was deprived of his Professorship by the Parliamentary Visitors, and retired to Boothby Pagnel, where he was permitted to remain, not altogether undisturbed, until the Restoration. During this retirement he wrote, at the request of Robert Boyle, his book De Conscientiâ.

On the Restoration, Sanderson was elevated to the see of Lincoln. He nearly rebuilt the palace at Buckden, which had been ruined by the Puritans, and was buried in the chancel of the parish church there, after having held the bishopric for not quite two years. The reputation of Bishop Sanderson was great during his lifetime. "That staid and well weighed man Dr. Sanderson," says Hammon, "conceives all things deliberately, dwells upon them discreetly, discerns things that differ exactly, passeth his judgment rationally, and expresses it aptly, clearly, and honestly." His life is one of those written by Izaac Walton. His works have been frequently reprinted; the most important being "Sermons," "Cases of Conscience," De Juramenti Obligatione, De Obligatione Conscientiae.

A.D. 1663; translated to Ely 1667. Benjamin Laney, translated to Lincoln from Peterborough.

A.D. 1667‑1675. William Fuller, translated from Limerick.

A.D. 1675‑1691. Thomas Barlow, Archdeacon of Oxford. Godwin asserts that he never held a visitation within his diocese, and, what is more incredible, that he never saw his cathedral at Lincoln. He defended the strongest measures of James II, but was equally ready to do homage to  p351 William III. Bishop Barlow's learning was considerable, and he has been especially praised by Clarendon, who applied to him the words of Cicero, "Non unum in multis, sed unum inter omnes prope singularem."

A.D. 1691; translated to Canterbury 1694. Thomas Tenison. (See Canterbury, Pt. II).

A.D. 1694‑1704. James Gardiner.

A.D. 1705; translated to Canterbury 1715. William Wake. (See Canterbury, Pt. II).

A.D. 1715; translated to London 1723. Edmund Gibson.

A.D. 1723‑1744. Richard Reynolds, translated from Bangor.

A.D. 1744; translated to Salisbury 1761. John Thomas.

A.D. 1761‑1769. John Green.

A.D. 1779; translated to Durham 1787. Thomas Thurlow.

A.D. 1787; translated to Winchester 1820. George Pretyman.

A.D. 1820‑1827. George Pelham; translated from Exeter.

A.D. 1827‑1853. John Kaye; translated from Bristol.

A.D. 1853. John Jackson.​c

The Author's Notes:

1 From the Conquest to the middle of the sixteenth century it stretched from the Thames to the Humber, embracing the counties of Oxford, Buckingham, Northampton, Bedford, Huntingdon, Leicester, Rutland, and Lincoln. In 1541 the see of Peterborough, presiding over Northamptonshire and Rutlandshire, and in 1542 that of Oxford, for the whole of that county, were founded by Henry VIII.

2 Beda, H. E., lib. II, c. xvi.

3 Sax. Chron., ad ann. 897.

4 This inscription runs as follows (the letters in blueº are supplied conjecturally):— "Hic jacet Willm Filius Walteri Aiencuriensis consanguinei Remigii Episcopi Lincolniensis qui hanc ecclesiam fecit. Præfatus Willm regia styrpe progenitus dum in curia regis Willi Filii Magni regis Willi qui Angliam conquisivit aleretur II. Kal. Novembris obiit."

5 Giraldus.

6 For a very interesting conjectural "restoration" of the church built by Remigius, see a paper by the Rev. G. A. Poole, in the Transactions of the Lincoln Diocesan Architectural Society. "Where," says Mr. Poole, "it may be presumed that Rouen retains its original dimensions (for as to the actual fabric, not a stone which Remigius beheld remains on another) it agrees remarkably with the Lincoln which we have recovered."

7 Sax. Chron.

8 In 1191 he was consecrated Archbishop of York.

9 "Terrae motus magnus auditus est fere per totam Angliam, qualis ab initio mundi in terra illa non erat audita. Petrae enim scissae sunt, domus lapides ceciderunt, ecclesia Lincolniensis metropolitana scissa est a summo deorsum. Contigit enim terrae motus iste in crastino diei dominicae in ramis palmarum, viz. xvii. Kal. Maii." — Hoveden, ad ann. 1185.

10 J. F. Dimock, Introd., i‑iii.

11 Dimock, Introd., xii, xiii.

12 Milman's Latin Christianity, vol. IV. 468, 469.

13 Id.

14 Milman's Latin Christianity, vol. IV pp468, 469.

15 M. Paris, p754 (ed. Watts).

16 Ric. Mon. Bardeniensis, de Vita R. Grosthead — Anglia Sacra, vol. II p326.

17 The Crusaders had identified Edessa with Rages in Media. This Archbishop was an Englishman (Rishanger's Chron., p54). His see had been for many years in the hands of the infidels.

18 Knighton, ap. Twysden, Decem Scriptores. The same chronicler asserts that many similar robberies of shrines and relics took place about this time.

A decade after the Great Plague, in a devastated England, this is very plausible; on the other hand, human nature insures that where there are valuables, there will be theft, and we read of such earlier on in this same chapter, in the peaceful 1280's. The routine occurrence of church robberies is confirmed by the security precautions commonly taken: see for example the watching-chambers of Ely and Oxford cathedrals.

Thayer's Notes:

a In 2004 the remains of 17 people were found in a well in Norwich; investigators concluded they were those of Jews of this period: on what grounds is not stated, but the BBC reported it in 2011.

b He was the last Catholic bishop of Lincoln; see the article Lincoln in the Catholic Encyclopedia for a brief Catholic view of him and of the history of the diocese.

c He was translated to London in 1868; for a few more bishops after King's Handbook was published, see the list of bishops in A. F. Kendrick's The Cathedral Church of Lincoln, which also gives additional information for many of them, especially the post-medieval holders of the see; and after that, for bishops up to our own time, see Peter Owen's site.

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 13 Dec 20