Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi

Medieval Stained Glass in Great Britain

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Norfolk: Cawston, Parish Church of St Agnes

O.S. TG 133237

Michael de la Pole, 2nd Earl of Suffolk (1367–1415), was granted the manor and advowson of Cawston in 1385. 1 His arms over the west tower door and on the south porch show that he was a major donor to the rebuilding, which was continued by his widow. The church has a west tower, which was under repair in 1421, after it collapsed in 1412. 2 The chancel is earlier, of c.1330, and the south transept, the Lady Chapel, dates to later in that century. 3 The nave and aisles post-date the tower (the frieze round the base of the tower is seen within the church, and the westernmost bay of the nave is wider than the rest), and the stonework and remaining in situ fragments of glass of the matching north and south aisles suggest a date of c.1420 – c.1430. The 1460 bequest to the rood-loft and seating, which has been used to date the completion of the nave, may have been linked to the building of the north chancel chapel, a later addition to the plan. 4 Certainly the fragments of glass in nIV in that chapel are later than the in situ aisle fragments, and the 1460 bequest would provide an appropriate terminus ante quem.

In one of the north windows of the chancel chapel, either nIII or nIV, an incomplete inscription was seen by Blomefield and Parkin and Martin in the eighteenth century: '… Pecket qui istam fenestram fecit'. 5 Simon Peket was an executor of the will of Margaret Wyclf in 1447 and died in 1466, leaving amongst other legacies to the church 2s., to the Guild of St John, to whom the chapel was dedicated. 6 The east window of the north transept, nV, contained a figure of St Edmund, king and martyr, and two bishops, with a partial bidding text '… et omnibus benefactoribus', implying a group donation. 7

Heraldic glass recorded in the east chancel window post-dates the architecture and records the grant of the manor and advowson to Sir James Bulleyn by Henry VIII in 1539. It included a shield of Bulleyn quartering Glanville impaling Butler, for Sir James and his wife Elizabeth. In another chancel window were the arms of Myldemaye. 8

In the late sixteenth century, in a window on the north side of the church (presumably one of the four north aisle windows nVIII–nXI), there were three shields, of East Anglia, St George, and Delapole quartering Arundel (for Michael de la Pole, 1394/5–1415, 3rd Earl of Suffolk, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, by his second wife Elizabeth, who was daughter of Richard Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel. 9 The shield of St George probably derives from the fact that the 3rd Earl died at the battle of Agincourt. The north aisle windows also had a set of Apostles, presumably one to each main light of the four three-light openings. 10

In the eighteenth century, much of the glazing of the south transept survived. In the east window, sVI, was the ‘History of the Creation, v. old and well done’ and an incomplete inscription asking for prayers for the souls of Thomas Hogekyns, his wife and his parents. 11 An inventory of church goods made in 1368 records the gift by Thomas of a vestment for the altar of St Thomas of Canterbury. 12 In what was probably the south window of the transept, sVII, was a life of Christ cycle, including a Baptism, Scourging, and Crucifixion, again described as very old; it too contained a bidding inscription, for the souls of Richard Baxter and his wife Matilda. 13

Martin saw an inscription in a south window, presumably in the aisle: 'Orate pro animabus Roberti Sparham de Causton'. 14 Blomefield’s version of this is fuller, but rather confusing: ‘This, on an old reading-desk, having the four doctors of the church carved on it, and his effigies, kneeling on a cushion, with his cap by him, and she kneeling also on a cushion, Orate pro animabus Roberti Sparham de Causton et …’. 15 This would suggest that the inscription was not in a window, but Martin is usually reliable, and Blomefield and Parkin can get their descriptions somewhat garbled.

In the four-light tower window were three shields: France and England quarterly, Delapole quartering Wingfield in the Garter, and the same impaling Stafford. 16 The second shield is for William Delapole, 1st Duke of Suffolk, after he received the Order of the Garter in 1421, and the third for his father Michael, 2nd Earl of Suffolk (d. 1415), who married Catherine, daughter of Hugh, Earl of Stafford. 17 The 1421 terminus post quem suggests that this window was glazed as part of the repairs to the tower documented in that year (see above), and may also apply to the glazing of the aisles and the earlier fragments now set in sX. A terminus ante quem for the nave and aisle glazing may be suggested, but not defined, by the absence of the arms of Delapole impaling Chaucer; William Delapole married Alice Chaucer in 1430.

The panels in sX 1a–c were put there in 1936 by G. King & Son, the glass having been recovered from the parsonage. The fragments are of two, or possibly three, dates, the earliest c.1420 – c.1430, the latest c.1450 – c.1460, and possibly a small group of an intermediate date. The two earlier groups are probably from the aisle windows and the latest from the north chancel chapel, where there is still a little glass in the same style, attributable to the workshop of John Wighton. 18 The stonework and in situ glass of the north aisle is different in design from that on the south, but not necessarily in date; if there is a difference, the north aisle may be slightly later. An inscription over the north door of the north aisle says that Robert Oxburgh built that aisle, but he has not been identified. 19


Blomefield and Parkin 1805–10, VI, p. 257. Return to context
The series of nine shields over the west door, of which the first and last are blank, can be dated to after the marriage of Thomas, Lord Morley, which occurred before 1402/3 (his coat impaling that of Delapole, for his wife Isabel, daughter of Michael Delapole, 2nd Earl of Suffolk, is on the third shield), and before 1421 (when William Delapole received the Order of the Garter). His coat, without the Garter, is on the second shield. His coat within the Garter was recorded in the west window above (BL, MS Lansdowne 260, f.246r; MS Harley 901, f.69r). Thus the bottom part of the tower could pre-date the 1412 fall, implying only a partial rebuild, but one that included a post-1421 reglazing of the west window. Return to context
For the dating of these parts, see Pevsner and Wilson 1997, p. 429. The large wall-painting of St Agnes on the wall between sV and sVI appears to date from c.1390 – c.1410. Return to context
Pevsner and Wilson 1997, p. 429; Cotton 1987, p. 47. Return to context
Blomefield and Parkin 1805–10, VI, p. 266; NRO, Rye MS 17, I, f.207v. Norris (NRO, Rye MS 6, I, p. 438) gives the first two words. Return to context
NRO, NCC, Wilbey 37; NRO, NCC, Cobald 99. Return to context
Martin, I, f.203r. Return to context
BL, MS Lansdowne 260, f.246r; MS Harley 901, ff.68v–69r; NRO, Rye MS 17, I, f.207v. Return to context
BL, MS Lansdowne 260, f.246r; MS Harley 901, f.69r. Return to context
NRO, Rye MS 17, I, f.204r. Return to context
The best description is by Martin (NRO, Rye MS 17, I, f.204r). See also Norris (NRO, Rye MS 6, I, p. 439), and Blomefield and Parkin 1805–10, VI, pp. 266–67. Return to context
Watkin 1947–48, I, p. 52. Return to context
Again, Martin’s description is the fullest (NRO, Rye MS 17, I, f.204r); see also Norris (NRO, Rye MS 6, I, p. 439), and Blomefield and Parkin 1805–10, VI, p. 267. Return to context
NRO, Rye MS 17, I, f.207v. Return to context
Blomefield and Parkin 1805–10, VI, p. 267. Return to context
BL, MS Lansdowne 260, f.246r; MS Harley 901, f.69r. Return to context
DNB, XLIV, pp. 713–14, 732–38. Return to context
The estoiles in nIV are frequently seen in windows by the Wighton workshop. Return to context
Blomefield and Parkin 1805–10, VI, p. 265. Return to context
Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi

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