chapter 4

A brefe rehersall of the first foundacion of the mynstre of Chestre / and of the institucion of secular chanons in the tyme of kyng Edwarde senior.

stanza 81

562Diuine seruice was obserued deuoutly
Euery day, encreasyng with feruent adoracion increasing / adoration
As the feest required / and the solemnite,religious festival, occasion / solemnity
To the honour of our lorde and hie glorificacion;high, exalted
Preistis and clerkes with pure meditacion prayer
Obseruynge their dutie gaue vertuous example presented a virtuous example
Of great perfection to the comon people.

stanza 82

569After kyng Alured / regned his son
Edwarde senior, by liniall discence, 1 the descent of lineage
Crowned the yere of grace .ix. hundreth and one,901 C.E.
[W]ith wordly glorie and great preeminence;worldly
Buylded castles, townes of myghty defence,
Subdued the danes .vii. tymes in batell;seven
Encreased his realme manfully and well.Enlarged

stanza 83

576 That tyme the realme of merciens was translate At that time / kingdom of the Mercians / transferred
By the kynge / and gyuen to duke Ethelrede, 2
A noble man of auncetre / politicke and fortunate,noble ancestry / prudent / prosperous, beneficent
Whiche maried his syster, lady Elflede, 3 Who / kinswoman, female relative
Doughter to the forsaid valiant kynge Alurede;
The sayd gentilman was wyse and vertuous,nobleman
Sad and discrete, pacient and famous.Solemn / wise / renowned

stanza 84

583This lady Elflede, duchesse of merciens, 4
Had speciall loue and singular affectionparticular
To blessed Werburge, and true confidence:faith, trust
Wherfore she mynded with great dilectacion For which reason she decided / joy
To edifie a mynstre, a place of deuocion,build
To this holy virgin, for profite of her soule,benefit
Enlargynge the churche of Peter and of Paule. 5

stanza 85

590 She moued her husbande with great mekenes prevailed upon, persuaded / meekness
To supplie the same dede of his charite, 6 accomplish / through
And diuers other nobles of theyr goodnes
For aide in that cause after their degree.according to their status
Ioyfull was the duke of the mocion gostle,Joyful / at the spiritual proposal
Glad were the nobles within all the shire
To founde a mynstre after her desire.

stanza 86

597 Afore the holy roode in a table writen isBefore / cross
At saint Iohans churche without the sayd cite, 7 outside
Howe that prince Edmunde, the thyrde son e-wis third / indeed
Of Edward senior, true foundour shulde be - 8
To whom lady Elflede was aunt by auncetre.ancestry
So betwix twayne was founded in short space between the two / time
An holy mynstre, of vertue full and grace.

stanza 87

604 They sende for masons vpon euery syde,
Counnynge in geometrie / the foundacion to takeskilled
For a large mynstre, longe, hie, and wyde,
Substancially wrought / the best that they can make,Solidly
To the honour of god / for saynt Werburge sake;
At the est end taken theyr sure foundacioneast
Of the apostoles churche / ioynynge both as one.from / joining

stanza 88

611Whan it was edified / and curiously wroughtcarefully
And all thyng ended / in goodly proporcion,everything completed
Than riche enormentes were offred and broughtornaments
Of the said nobles with great deuocionBy
Temporall landes / rentes / possessionWorldly
Were gyuen, for euer to mayntayne the placemaintain
Of blessed Werburge by singular grace. 9


Edward the Elder (ruled 899-924). See PASE. Back to context...
Æthelræd of Mercia (ruled c. 833-911). Whilst ruling Mercia as 'earl' or 'ealdormann', Æthelræd was subject to the authority of King Alfred of Wessex, as Bradshaw explains here. Back to context...
See PASE. As Bradshaw notes in the following line, Æthelflæd was the eldest daughter of King Alfred, so a distant female relative of Æthlraed. Back to context...
This appellation echoes the title 'Lady of the Mercians', given to Æthelflæd in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (DEF versions) and in later texts. See for example the entry for 918 'Her Æthelflæd forðferde Myrcena hlæfdige' ('In this year Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians, died') (Irvine, 2004). Back to context...
Bradshaw is the only extant source for this late tradition that Æthelflæd enlarged the church of St Peter and Paul and re-dedicated it to Werburgh, founding a new church of St Peter in the centre of the city. See below, lines 625-31 and A.T. Thacker, Medieval Parish Churches, Lewis and Thacker, 2005, 133-155, 153, also available via British History Online. Back to context...
Bradshaw appears to allude to the popular medieval tradition that Æthelflæd was the true power behind her husband's rule. Back to context...
Though there is no specific evidence for the inscription Bradshaw mentions, Alan Thacker notes that fragments of tenth-century memorial stones were recovered from St John's churchyard in the late nineteenth century. See A.T. Thacker, Collegiate Church of St. John, Lewis and Thacker, 2005, 125-133, 125, also available via British History Online. Back to context...
These lines refer to Edmund I King of England (ruled 939-46), son of Edward the Elder and grandson of King Alfred. See PASE. Back to context...
As in line 545, above, and lines 622-4, below, Bradshaw again uses legalistic language here to indicate the legitimate, rightful endowments and possessions of St Werburgh's. Back to context...