With churches closed this year, I have been taking the time to look at their exteriors (when allowed out!). One church that has fascinating carvings that take the viewer back to the early 16th century is St Andrew’s at Cullompton in Mid Devon. On the south side of the church is the Lane Aisle which was built circa 1526.
John Lane was a wealthy merchant adventurer specialising in the production and exporting of woollen cloth. His merchants mark is much in evidence. This would have been placed on the bales of his goods to evidence his ownership.
He died on the 15 February 1529 (different sources say 1528). I haven’t seen the ledger stone that inside the church to try and determine which is correct. His exporting activities are suggested significantly by the carvings of ships on the aisle. These are fascinating images captured at the time. His export activities are evidence by the detailed annual accounts sent by the Exeter customs collectors to the royal exchequer. 10 survive intact for the first 30 years of the 16th C and include Lane’s shipments of cloth from October 1506 until the last on Christmas Eve 1528.[i] This last shipment suggests that the date of his death was 1529.
He also traded in imports. These consisted mainly of a type of linen cloth called ‘crescloth’ which was made in Brittany. He shipped it often in Breton vessels.[ii]
He made his will 12 days before his death. The following description is from Eleanor Carus-Wilson’s 1957 essay on the Lane Chapel:[iii]
Note: a ‘bederoll’ is a list of persons to be prayed for. The list was read out from the pulpit each Sunday and at Christmas and Michaelmas – they were usually benefactors of the church.[iv]
Carved on the lower part of the aisle are inscriptions underneath the windows. Now somewhat weathered. The inscription was recorded by Philip Chilwell Delagarde in the mid 19th C:[v]
The inscription reads (as best I can ascertain):
‘In honor of God and his Blessed mother Mary Remember the soule of John Lane … and the soule of Thomasyn his wife to have in memory with all other their children and friends of your own charity which were founders of this chapple and here lie in sepulture, the year of our Lord God a thousand five hundred and six and twenty. God of his grace on their both soules to have mercy and finally bring them to the Eternal Glory. Amen for charity.’
[i] Eleanor Carus-Wilson, ‘The Significance of the Secular Sculptures in the Lane Chapel, Cullompton’, Medieval Archaeology, Volume 1, Issue 1 (1957), p. 114.
[ii] Carus-Wilson, p. 115.
[iii] Carus-Wilson, p. 114.
[iv] Oxford Reference, ‘bederoll’ https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803095455126 [accessed 30 November 2020]
[v] Philip Chilwell Delagarde, ‘An Account of the Church of St Andrew, Cullompton’, Transactions of the Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society, Volume 3 (Exeter, 1846-9), p. 57.
Carus-Wilson, Eleanor, ‘The Significance of the Secular Sculptures in the Lane Chapel, Cullompton’, Medieval Archaeology, Volume 1, Issue 1 (1957)
Delagarde, Philip Chilwell, An Account of the Church of St Andrew, Cullompton, published in Transactions of the Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society, Volume 3, Exeter, 1846-9
Oxford Reference, ‘bederoll’ https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803095455126 [accessed 30 November 2020]