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chantries

chantries. Founded either by individuals, guilds, or corporations, chantries were endowments for offering masses usually near a person's tomb or effigy, for the soul's repose in purgatory. Wealthy men invested heavily; for example, Cardinal Beaufort requested 10,000 masses for his soul. Humble villagers grouped together for an annual obit (memorial mass). Starting in the late 13th cent., with the greatest growth in the 14th, the number fluctuated, but by the Reformation there was a total of about 3,000 chantries. Most cathedrals had up to two dozen (in 1366 St Paul's had 74) and large churches had several. Many ‘chantry priests’ were employed specifically for this function and, as they had no pastoral duties, founders often provided for the mass-priest to teach in school. Ostensibly to rid the Church of superstitious practice, but incidentally increasing government revenue, chantries were dissolved in 1547. The small chantry chapels, such as Bishop Bubwith's (Wells), Cardinal Beaufort's (Winchester), and Humphrey, duke of Gloucester's (St Albans), are ‘a series unique in the history of European art’.

Revd Dr William M. Marshall

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