Such a garden as this is referred to when the Abbot of Ramsey, between 1114-1130, had to come to some agreement about certain pieces of land in London which adjoined the property of the Priory of the Holy Trinity; and the Prior consented § "to give up his claim which he had upon the chapel of the Abbot, and the garden which is before the chapel." These " gardini Sacristae " were not only found within monastic precincts, but were attached to many churches and chapels. The Hortulanus of Abingdon let out a garden " next to St. Nicholas' Church," to the Rector, for a term of years.* There is an interesting record of the chapel garden in the Manor of Wookey, in Somersetshire, which belonged to the Bishops of Bath and Wells, in the account of the Reeve of that place for the year 1461-2.† Three men were employed for four and a half days at two pence a day, " digging and cleaning the chapel garden".
* Abingdon Accounts. R. E. G. Kirk : 1388-9, et de iiij hussellis frumenti de Sacrista pro orto suo, nichil hic in denarijs quiae recipuntur in sua specie ut patet extra.
† Sacrist Account, MS. Norwich : 1431. " In weeding in the garden of St. Mary, 2s." 142S. " For weeding in the ' green garden.' "
[489. " Received for the trunk of a pear-tree blown down by the wind, 11d." Gardener's account, 1472. " For farm of the garden of the Sacrist, 2S".
‡ Wharton, Anglia Sacra. Part 1, p. 209.
§ Cartalarium Monasterii de Ramesia. Vol. 1., p. 133.
Henry VI. left such a garden to the church of Eton College. The clause in his will runs thus : " The space between the wall of the church and the wall of the cloister shall conteyne 58 feet, which is left for to sett in certaine trees and flowers, behovable and convenient for the service of the same church," and it was to be surrounded by " a good high wall with towers convenient thereto." ‡ Many other such examples of gardens connected with churches could be enumerated.
At all great functions, both during the processions or while performing the services, the priests were crowned with flowers. This was specially the custom at St. Paul's,§ in London : and when on June 30th, 1405, Bishop Roger de Walden was installed there, he and the Canons of the Cathedral walked in solemn procession, wearing garlands of red roses. ||.
The use of these " coronas sacerdotales," or wreaths worn by the priests on feast days, continued for many centuries,||| and their prevalence up to the time of the Reformation is apparent from various churchwardens' accounts. These entries, however, are not frequent, as the gardens attached to the churches were evidently, as a rule, able to supply sufficient flowers for ordinary use, and it was only for great occasions, or on special feast days, when larger quantities were required, that they had to be bought.
* 1413. Accounts, by Kirk.
† History of the Parish and Manor of Wookey, by T. S. Holmes.
‡ Nichols' Wills of the Kings and Queens of England. Ed. 1780, p. 298.
§ Polydore Vergil, De rerum Inventoribus. Lib. II.
|| Historia di Episcopis et Decanis Londiniensibus, by H. Wharton, 1695 (p. 150).
||| " Ceremonial use of Flowers," Nineteenth Century, 1880.
For instance, at St. Mary Hill, where some entries are found in the accounts, there was a garden near the church.*
A.D. 1483-1497. St. Mary Hill. Churchwarden account. " For birch at Midsomer, 8d.—Box and palme on Palmesonday, is.—Polis on Estir evyne, 10d.—Garlondes on Corpus Christi day, 10d.—A dozen and a half rose garlondes on St. Barnebe's day, 8 1/2d.—for rose garlondis and wodrove garlondis on Seynt Barnebe's day, 11d.—for two doss. di bocse garlondes for prests and clerkes on St. Barnebe daye.
1510. For palme flowrys and cake on Palme Sunday, 10d.
Also at St. Martin Outwich, London, 1524.
Item—For rose garlands on Corpus Christi day, 6d.—Item—For byrche at Midsomer, 2d.—Item—For rose garlands, brede, wyne, & ale on ij Sent Marten's days, 15 1/2d.—Item—For holy and ivy at Chrystmas, 2 1/2d.
1525. Paid for palme on Palme Sunday, 2 1/2d. Paid for brome ageynst Ester, 1d. Payd for rosse garlonds on Corpus Christi daye, 6d.
When such decorating of churches was considered unlawful after the Reformation, these gardens would naturally fall into disuse, even where the lands they covered were not at once appropriated for other purposes.
In 1618, James I. set forth a declaration permitting certain " lawfull recreations . . . after divine service,† and allowed that women should have leave to carry rushes to the church for the decoring of it according to their old custome." These rushes may have been simply for the floor, and not for the altar or walls, as, for example, we find in 1580, churchwardens at Wing, in Buckinghamshire, spent 1d. for " one burden of roshes to strewe the church howse agaynst the comyssyoners sate there." ‡
Coles, writing as late as 1656, says : " It is not very long since the custome of seting up garlands in churches hath been left off with us : and in some places setting up of holly, ivy, rosemary, bayes, yew, etc, in churches at Christmas, is still in use." § This, however, is looking too far ahead, and at the time we are considering, the monks within the quiet cloister, week by week and year by year, supplied the best flowers their skill and knowledge could produce, to adorn their churches and chapels.
* Nichols, Illustrations of the Manners and Expenses in England. . .deduced from Accounts of Churchwardens, etc. 1797.
† Fuller. Church History. London, 1655. Book X., p. 74.
‡ Archceologia. Vol. XXXVI., p. 238.
§ The Art of Simpling, by W. Coles. 1656.
But to return to the consideration of the department of the gardinarius. He had more than the garden under his care, for his jurisdiction extended over both the orchard and vineyard.
The orchard, or " pomerium," supplied not only apples and pears for eating and cooking, but also apples for cider. Large quantities of cider were made each year, except when in an unusually bad season the apple crop failed. This was the case in 1352, when the Almoner at Winchester made the following note in his accounts, " Et de ciserat nihil quia non fuerunt poma hoc anno." 1412 was another bad apple year, and no cider was made at Abingdon, and the not unfrequent purchase of apples and pears for the use of some of the monasteries, shows they did not always grow sufficient for their consumption, although in some years there was enough and to spare.* The Wardon pear, which was such a favourite for many centuries, originated at the Cistercian monastery of that name in Bedfordshire, and they bore three Wardon pears for the arms of the house.† It was a kind of cooking pear, and every early cookery-book contains receipes for " Wardon pies," or pasties. They are usually mentioned quite as a distinct fruit, as "apples, pears, Wardons, and quinces," because they were the best known variety.