The Fraternity of the Holy Crosse in Abingdon in Henry 6. tyme being there where nowe the Hospitall is, did every yeare keepe a Feast, and then they used to have twelve Preistes to singe a Dirige, for which they had given them foure pence a peece. They had also Twelve Minstrells, some from ICoventre, and some from Maydenhith , who had two shillinges three pence apeece, besides theyre dyet and horsemeat. this was in the raigne of Henry 6. Observe that in those dayes they payd theyre Minstrells better then theyre preistes.|
Theyre Feast they kept yeareley on the Invention of the Holy Crosse, videlicet the third of Maye. They had at theyre feast six calves jj s. II d. a peace, sixteene lambes XII d. apeece. 80 capons III d. apeece. 80 geese 2 d. ob. apeece. 800. Egges which cost five pence the hundred, and many marrowe bones, much fruit, spice, a great quantity of mylk, creame and floure. Wheat was then XII d. the Quarter in the 23 of Henry 6. besides what theyre servantes and others brought in, and Pageantes and playes and May games to captivat the sences of the zelous beholders, and to allure the people to the greater liberalitye. For they did not make theyre feastes without profit. For those that sate at dyner payd one Rate, and those that stood payd an other.
The section from which this extract is taken begins (p 594): 'Numerum XII. Vide supra in Dissertione de Chilswell, 23. | E Collatis nostris MSS. Vol. 115. p. 127.' The extract is well known. It was first published by Sparval-Bayly in 1889, and noted by R.J. Fynmore in The Quarterly Journal of the Berks Archaeological and Architectural Society 2 (1892–3), 73. It was picked up by Ditchfield in 1896 and entered the discourse on early entertainment when it was cited by Chambers in 1903 (Bygone Berkshire, p 121; Medieval Stage, vol 2, p 337). Preston, in 1929, discusses and quotes briefly from the original documents concerning the wine and other details of feasting (Christ's Hospital, Abingdon, pp 23–4). The original is now lost.
Record title: Liber Niger (A)
Work title: Liber Niger, vol 2
These two volumes contain miscellaneous antiquarian compilations, numbered consecutively. An entry dated 1447 includes 'playes' among the activities of the guild of the Holy Cross in Abingdon.
Hearne, Thomas (ed). Liber Niger Scaccarii, e codice, calamo exarato, sibique ipsi à Richardo Gravesio Mickletoniensi donato, descripsit & nunc primus edidit . . . Qui & cum duobus aliis Codicibus MSS contulit, Wilhelmi que etiam Worcestrii Annales Rerum Anglicarum (antehac ineditem ineditos) subjecit. Vol 2 (Oxford, 1728).