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REED-L  February 2004

REED-L February 2004

Subject:

Re: a query

From:

[log in to unmask]

Reply-To:

REED-L: Records of Early English Drama Discussion

Date:

Wed, 11 Feb 2004 13:23:14 -0500

Content-Type:

TEXT/PLAIN

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

TEXT/PLAIN (176 lines)

Thanks, Jim and Larry for an intersting discussion. Jim, is there any
relevant evidence of special devotion to a St. John (images, dedications,
relics) that might help?

Cliff

On Wed, 11 Feb 2004, James Stokes wrote:

> Dear Larry,
>
> I haven't found such a place (a village or town) in the place-name
> dictionaries and other local sources, including feasts of dedication, so
> I'm getting the impression that there was no place of that name in the
> county.  But the guild hall in Grimsby was often called St. John a Bower
> house (which I take to mean St. John of the Bower House).  So, I'm
> thinking that it might well mean St. John of the Guild Hall, the guild
> hall being perceived locally as a kind of haven (near The Haven in
> Grimsby).
>
> Could it refer to something a la Shripshire in a field, with structures?
> That sounds very reasonable and very Lincolnshire.  A Grimsby record
> from 1602 (admittedly much later) describes a play near Whitsontide at
> which two fellows were sitting together (so, seating of some kind was
> available), and one of the two fellows knocked the other one to the
> ground (which I take literally to mean that the play was being held out
> of doors). I cite this only  in support of the notion that they were
> familiar with outdoor plays in Grimsby.
>
> I've received some good suggestions from folks for further research, and
> I'll let you know if something turns up.
>
> Thanks again, Jim
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: REED-L: Records of Early English Drama Discussion
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of nm
> Sent: Wednesday, February 11, 2004 10:39 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: a query
>
>
> Dear Jim--
>
>         You certainly have a better knowledge of the kinds of activities
> going on in this area than I do.  The significant fact, which I didn't
> recall from my reading of the records, is that there are a number of
> prominent people organizing this thing.  That would suggest something
> larger than a spring festival organized by young people.  I did wonder,
> however, whether this may be somethig like the festival at Shropshire
> where they built some kind of structures in the field outside town for a
> feast.  I look forward to seeing the records you have collected.
>
>         But the "Bower" reference remains a problem.  You suggest that
> this might be some local appropriation of a saint (St. John in this
> case), but that still doesn't explain why he is St. John of Bower.
> There isn't any such place, is there?
>
>                                 Larry
>
> On Wed, 11 Feb 2004, James Stokes wrote:
>
> > Hi Larry,
> >
> > Thanks for the interesting and helpful information about faux saints.
> > It's a phenomenon new to me, so I'll need to get the book and learn
> > more.
> >
> > When I first encountered the record (in Stan's book and in the Grimsby
>
> > archives), I had a similar thought--that the bower must refer to a
> > seasonal game with a Summer or similar lord. Nineteenth century
> > antiquarians claim, with absolutely no documentary evidence, that
> > early Grimsby staged Robin Hood games and lots else in the churchyard.
>
> > In Somerset I had found Robin Hood and May bowers everywhere--from
> > Yeovil to Wells, and so have many people in other parts of the
> > country, of course.  The bowers in Somerset were purpose built little
> > structures used in the games; and the word also suggests a haven or
> > refuge or shelter.  Since I haven't had time yet to learn more about
> > faux saints, I don't quite know what the French were doing.  But
> > something comes to mind.  I've encountered many cases of local folk
> > appropriating a saint as their own.  In Wells, for example, St Andrew
> > (patron saint of Wells Cathedral) is often referred to in the records
> > as St Andrew of Wells.  Not faux exactly, but faux-ish in that it
> > afixes elements of local mythology to him.  I could see the folk at
> > Grimsby referring to St John as St John of the Bower (but that's pure
> > speculation).  Anyway, perhaps you are right.
> >
> > However, a couple of issues continue to bother me.
> >
> > While the principal festive and fund-raising entertainments in
> > Somerset parishes tended to be the seasonal kinds of games (lords,
> > ladies, etc., ridings, mock battles, etc.), the situation in
> > Lincolnshire was different in that all the evidence that we have
> > indicates that their fund-raisers were large religious plays, as at
> > Donington, Lincoln, and elsewhere.  Lincolnshire towns had big,
> > wealthy religious guilds, a different kind of landscape, and a social
> > environment history that more resembled East Anglia.  What I find in
> > parish and guild records in Lincolnshire is not summer lords but
> > Ascension plays, for example, or biblical plays.  I wonder, would the
> > second oldest chartered borough in the county have had only a Summer
> > Lord game as its parish play?  Would it have traveled to other towns
> > to promote that?  I don't know. Maybe so.
> >
> > (I must stress agreement that Lincolnshire certainly had traditions of
>
> > such Summer Lords, wakes,ales, et al, from the time of Robert
> > Grosseteste all the way to the seventeenth century and beyond; it's
> > just that they don't show up in records as "the" parish play).
> >
> > Also, would the mayor of Grimsby have found it necessary to appoint
> > six of the most important merchants and burgesses of the town (four of
>
> > them former mayors) to oversee preparations for a summer lord?  I
> > don't know, but maybe so.
> >
> > Also, in the year of the entry (1527), Lincolnshire towns were filled
> > with extremely pious religious guilds then mounting the most elaborate
>
> > Corpus Christi processions, plays, music, worship, etc. Royals, their
> > minions, and their players were strongly present.  There might have
> > been a spirit of drollerie and a faux saint in Grimsby, but, I don't
> > know and I've found no other evidence of it.
> >
> > At the moment: I'm thinking that the entry might possibly refer to St
> > John Baptist somehow appropriated by the locals and connected in its
> > symbolism with the ruling oligarchy and the sea-going life of the
> > town.
> >
> > Thanks again Larry, and others
> >
> >
> > Abby: I'm putting a photocopy of the doc. in the mail.
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: REED-L: Records of Early English Drama Discussion
> > [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of nm
> > Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2004 1:12 PM
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Subject: Re: a query
> >
> >
> > Jim--
> >
> >         Sorry to get in on this so late.  I don't think this is a real
>
> > saint.  The Bower is the tip-off.  I suggested in my book that this is
>
> > a summer lord of some kind and that the bower refers to the structure
> > that summer lords and ladies used to hold their court.  He's a faux
> saint.
> >         There's a wonderful recent book by my colleague Jacques
> > Merceron about French faux saints.  Don't have the title at hand, but
> > it can be easily accessed through his name (title begins, I think,
> > Dictionnaire). The French seem cleverer at this sort of drollerie than
>
> > the English as best I can tell.
> >
> >                                 Larry
> >
> > On Wed, 28 Jan 2004, James Stokes wrote:
> >
> > > Is anyone on the list able to shed light on the name Holy John of
> > > Bower, which appears in the records of Grimsby, Lincolnshire?  Is it
>
> > > likely to refer to John the Baptist, or is there another saint of
> > > that
> >
> > > particular name who has eluded my best efforts to identify him?
> > > Many, many thanks for any light cast into this resistant little
> > > darkness. Jim Stokes
> > >
> >
> >
> >
>

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