Donated by: The Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society
Churchwardens’ accounts are becoming increasingly popular as a source for the social and religious history of sixteenth-century England.
Tewkesbury’s are of particular interest for three reasons. First, the absence of significant expenditure for books and for changes to the chancel often associated with the coming of Protestantism, coupled with the continued presence of the accoutrements of pre-Reformation worship in the inventories of church goods, provide a counterbalance to the still-popular picture of a quick and full Reformation at the local level. Second, the accounts give evidence of the continued production of plays right through to the end of Elizabeth’s reign, long after they had been banned in most communities in the realm as a result of puritan pressure. Third, the procedure by which places in pews were assigned and control transferred between the parish and its members, which is documented in these accounts, is quite distinctive,
More generally, these accounts are quite detailed and nearly complete. They show in great detail the measures taken to maintain the fabric of the building and to keep the bells and clock in working order. They reveal the regular routines of parish life and also list by name all the inhabitants to whom pews were assigned. In conjunction with other records they can be used very effectively to furnish fresh insights into this formative period in the development of Tewkesbury.
The introduction illustrates these points as well as discussing the duties of churchwardens in this period in the light of the latest research. The text is supported by a glossary and full indexes.