This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Robert Julian Stonor OSB
From at least the time of King John's Charter and for 350 years afterwards one small building, right on the water's edge, held an absolutely unique place in the lives of every man and woman in the little harbour town of Liverpool. That was the ancient chapel always known to the townspeople as "Saint Mary of the Quay". Its origins are lost in the mists of time. One of the earliest written records of Liverpool mentions it incidentally as a landmark in 12571 but the fact that it was in danger of destruction in 1361 and that its repair and maintenance were an anxiety to the far-off Bishop of Lichfield seems to imply that it was very much earlier than that. Even when, in 1355, the bigger church, dedicated to Saint Nicholas, the patron of seafarers – “at the west end whereof, next to the river, stood the statue of Saint Nicholas, long since defaced and gone, to whom mariners offered prayers when they went to sea”2 – was built just behind St Mary's, it was still the ancient chapel, from which, since at least 1318, Chapel Street takes its name,3 which retained the deepest hold on the hearts of the townspeople. It was the high altar of this little chapel which was always referred to as "The High Altar of Liverpool"; three of Liverpool's four chantry altars endowed for Masses in perpetuity – St John (1326), Our Lady (1353) and St Katherine (1465) – were in this little chapel and only one – St Nicholas (1361) – in the bigger church; and it was in the ancient chapel with its white alabaster statue of the Mother and Child that all Liverpool's most distinguished sons asked to be buried, or at any rate to have masses offered for them there. Eight wills between 1353 and 1529 have survived, in each of which the dying persons bequeathed land as a further endowment of the chantry of Our Lady of the Quay that the Sacrifice of the Mass might be offered for them in perpetuity. One example will suffice.4
Moore Deeds. Antiquities, 1673. Deeds, passim.
2 Blore's 3 Moore 4 The
others will be found in the Appendix
where my burial-place is already appointed". and to all the company of Heaven" Thomas 5 6 Moore Deeds. or "in any way afford proof of their lover by contributing ornaments to the chapel or lights to burn before the image of Mary in her honour". who was chosen for that office eleven times by his fellow townsmen and who was held in high regard by Henry Plantagenet.6 On December 14th. 77. that he granted him a personal pension for life.5 and when he came to die in 1383 his last message to his fellow townsmen was: "I bequeathe my soul to God and the Blessed Virgin and all saints. "the Good Duke of Lancaster". the saintly lady Margaret. Already in 1361. In 1509 there died in Westminster. my maker and redeemer. Our Lady Saint Mary. 183. four months after his royal master. "Chief cook for the King's mouth". whose confessor was Saint John Fisher. Bishop John Hayes assured those who should make any offerings "towards the upkeep and repair of the chapel of the Blessed Mary at the town of Liverpool. Crosse Deeds. commonly called the Chapel of St Mary of The Quay" or should out of devotion contribute to the support of a chaplain to offer Mass there for the souls of the faithful departed. (traditions of his visits to the sick when staying at Knowsley still survive in the district).The most distinguished of Liverpool's early sons was William of Liverpool. 1459. on the feast of Our Lady's birthday. King Henry VII." And it was not only those who lived in the town who showed this devotion. the first recorded Mayor of the town. William had given an endowment “to God and the Blessed Mary the Virgin and to a chaplain in the chapel of the same Blessed Mary and to his successors at the chantry there" to offer Mass for his family every year by arrangement with the Mayor and commonality. had married for her second husband the Earl of Derby and spent part of her last years at Knowsley and Lathom. to the most glorious Virgin His Mother. 2 . and my body to be buried in the chapel of Liverpool before the face of the white image of Mary. Having bequeathed his soul "to Almighty God. a certain Thomas Barrow. The King's mother. with the special responsibility of safeguarding him against poison. that their "names will be devoutly mentioned whenever Mass is said. which perhaps accounts for her royal son taking a native of Liverpool into his household.
by thy special grace and mercy. It is a curious fact that the two neighbouring Catholic parishes of St Mary [closed 2000] and Holy Cross [closed 2001] are almost identical with the estates of these two families whose devotion to our Lady and the Church had been so conspicuous in the past. in the King as in his Liverpool servant. Crosse Hall stood near the site of Holy Cross Church in Great Cross Hall Street and its park extended from Marybone down to Whitechapel. like most of his family. had. show infinite pity. His Father. is a most moving document and reveals quite another side of the King whom history books consistently represent only as a cold and scheming character. the old home of Williams of Liverpool. had at his death in 1502 asked to be buried before the image of Our lady in the Chapel of the Quay and have a yearly Mass offered for him at her altar there. and by whom I have hitherto in all mine adversities ever had my special comfort and relief. in thy Blessed Mother. "My most merciful Redeemer. true mother and virgin. William. in my last need. the thoughts of another exile from Liverpool dying in far away London were centred on the same little chapel. Wilt thou. after Thee in this mortal life hath ever been my most singular trust and confidence and whom in all my necessities I have made my continual refuge. which suddenly addresses Our Lady in person. where I was borne". spoke the voice of medieval England. in whom. the golden collar given him by the King "my colar of Esses to the use of the image of Our Lady in the chapel of our Lady in Lyrepole. Our Lady Saint Mary. Moore Hall stood on the site of the Liverpool Warehouse building in Old Hall Street. been Mayor of the town and. who had died the same year. To do this. most humbly. most entirely and most heartily I beseech thee". 7 3 . the income from its courts and other business to support a priest From the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries the Crosses of Crosse hall and the Moores of Moore Hall were the two chief families in Liverpool and frequently provided the Mayors of the town. like his great predecessor. who had inherited Crosse Hall. sweet lady of mercy. I trust. which was then. John Crosse.Barrow gave his most precious possession. a tidal waterway. ever Virgin. of course. This time it was a priest. Incidentally. take my soul into thine hands and present it unto thy most dear Son. There. had left money for the building of a Town Hall or Guild Hall. the last will of his royal master four months earlier. its park extending from Moorefields down to the river and commanding a magnificent view across the Wirral to the Welsh mountains. Six years later. Maker and Saviour. well of pity and sweet refuge in all need. to be called 'Our Ladye House'.7 His second son.
found "but one chantry" in St Nicholas and three in St Mary of the Quay. The gifts and endowments which the Corporation was allowed to retain in order to keep a Protestant vicar for the church of St. nine years after his seizure of the monasteries and convents. to support a priest who would offer Mass every year for members of the Crosse family" and all their friends' souls". at the request of the devout Lord Mordaunt (who as an old man would be imprisoned for his faith) had spent all his priestly life in the city of London.who would sing Mass "before Our Lady of the Key in Lyrepolle". chantries and hospitals and to appropriate all the stipends which the priests who served them received for offering Mass for the deceased founders and benefactors. 8 The third son. Mercifully. the priest to be chosen by his brother Richard Crosse. the Corporation books only tell us that after two years he had "retired to Spain") and a school teacher to replace Father Humphrey Cross (a nephew of the founder) in the grammar school. which were public holidays in Liverpool. called Ladye of Mary ale. the future was hidden from his eyes. In 1545. the ancient chapel in honour of Christ's Mother was the most sacred spot in Liverpool. The new Protestant Bishop of Chester and Sir Thomas Holcroft were ordered to make an immediate inventory of all such endowments in Lancashire and Cheshire and to keep all plate and jewels "for such goodly intent as we shall hereafter appoint". There was even a special ale. but. who came to Liverpool to execute this decree in 1548.T. and finally. Nicholas (not an easy post to fill in Catholic Lancashire. were to come another 350 years (1150-1900) during which it would be desecrated and destroyed. For. It is scarcely necessary to add that the goodly intent proved to be the Royal mint at York. and the Mayor. At his death in 1515 he left all the money he had been able to save to the chantry of St Katherine in Our lady of the Key. John Jenison. the King himself had empowered to seize all colleges. chapels. which was sold at the "Ladye House" on festivals of Our Lady. 8 4 . Sir Anthony Milday. after those 350 years in which as we have seen. had become a priest. 32). (W. even the memory of it completely obliterated. Landmarks in Liverpool History p. John. and of the first one. one who would be suitable to keep a grammar school and take his recompense "from all the children except those whose name be Crosse and poor children that have no succour. Harrises.
With the accession of Queen Mary. 11. it eventually proved too small for the purpose and after various attempts to let it out as a warehouse. only five months later the Queen died and was succeeded by her half sister. any priest who could be convicted as such and anyone who had given hospitality to the priest was to hanged and then cut down an butchered while still conscious. Within a few months all the English Bishops were imprisoned for life.9 and the Mass was proscribed so savagely that. it be demolished.. Lord Derby. The Bishop of Chester. until 1745. 9 5 . and he also discovered that St Mary's itself. He discovered a silver pyx that had belonged to St Mary's and sold it the next day for 33s. as a guild chapel. 1552. But. though the Porte Mote Books (1. 1558. it was used for a time as a schoolroom. when sales in it were prohibited (ibid. we find the Mayor and Corporation deciding that the priest of the altar of St John in the Chapel of St Mary of the Quay. four copes. soon. In October 1553 Edward Parker.362) tell us that it was also used for the retailing of wines and other business until 1582. 1560. a pyx and a bell.On October 4th. Sir Thomas Gerard and Thomas Butler of Bewsey appeared at St Nicholas and ordered everything not already appropriated "to be kept to the use of our sovereign lord the king. a few months later life returned almost to normal in Catholic Liverpool. but he was broken in health and died very soon afterwards in Louvain. the Receiver. St Mary of the Quay was used at first as a warehouse for storing and selling the Mayor's Toll corn from the market. he eventually managed to escape and cross the sea to Belgium. arrived in Liverpool with a new commission to enquire if anything that ought to have come into the hands of the king had not done so. Cuthbert Scott. He accordingly put it up for sale and it was bought by the Corporation for 20s.254)." But this proved to be only eight chasubles. was imprisoned in the Fleet on May 13th. and on June 3rd. a chalice. "shall daily say Mass between the hours of 5 and 6 in the morning to the intent that all labourers and well disposed people may come to Mass at the said hour". was not technically the property of the town as was St Nicholas. described by a contemporary as "equal to the rest in constancy and superior to all in eloquence". St Nicholas was retained as a Protestant church for the town. 4d. but as the town grew. the Parish Vestry Book directs that being "ruinous and a great nuisance".
1361 Henry's successor as Duke of Lancaster. to celebrate Mass therein. the Good Duke of Lancaster. to certain chaplains to celebrate Mass every day for the souls of all the faithful departed in the chapel of the Blessed Mary… to be held by the said chaplains and their aforesaid in the form aforesaid for ever. the blessed Mary and to one priest to celebrate Mass in the chapel of Liverpool at the altar of the blessed Mary there by arrangement with the Mayor and commonality. dedicated to that saint. 1356 A chantry Mass at the High Altar of Our Lady in the chapel of Saint Mary of the Quay was founded by Henry Plantagenet. Witness. at Westminster. Duke of Lancaster. which was consecrated that year. which they hold of our beloved and faithful Henry. John of Gaunt. the others all being in St Mary of the Quay. 1464 In this year is recorded another donation "for the maintenance of a chaplain in the chapel of Saint Mary. the King.Appendix Other early References to Our Lady of the Quay 1326 John of Liverpool founded a chantry Mass at the altar of Saint John in the chapel of "Saint Mary del Key". 1411 A certain Nicholas made an endowment of land "to God. founded a chantry Mass at the altar of Saint Nicholas in the newly-built church. (1355). commonly called Saint Mary of the Key. By writ of Privy Seal. This was the only chantry in that church founded by the King's Commissioners in 1548. the nineteenth day of May. 1355 This was confirmed by King Edward III (know ye that of our especial grace we have granted… to our beloved Mayor and commonality of the town of Liverpool that they may give… certain lands… and rents. 6 .
1524 Thomas Walker. bequeathed on his deathbed his last gift "to the altar of Saint Mary the Virgin in the chapel of Liverpool" – the rent of the land to be paid to the successive Mayors. was probably a member of the same family. and for the habitation of the priests of Saint Nicholas and the Blessed Mary del Key. who gave lands in Wavertree and West Derby for a priest to celebrate Mass "at a certain altar called Our Lady's altar". only six years before the storm broke.* The altar in Saint Mary's dedicated to Saint Katherine was mentioned in the Crosse Deeds as early as 1407. the widow of yet another former Mayor. the first priest of the new Saint Mary's in 1707.1465 On October 10th Charles Gillibrand granted to the Mayor of Liverpool lands in Garston to hold forever for the maintenance of a suitable chaplain at the altar of Saint Katherine in the chapel of Saint Mary of Liverpool. "for a priest in the chapel aforesaid at the altar of the blessed Mary". or. Chorley. 1470 In this year came yet another donation "for the sustenance of a chaplain in the chapel of Liverpool at the altar of the Blessed Mary the Virgin. 7 . a former Mayor. and Father William Gillibrand. 1529 The last recorded bequest. was from Cecily Halghton. for the maintenance of a suitable chaplain at the Altar of Saint Mary. and in 1515 Father John Crosse was to endow this chantry still further and attach a grammar-school to it. in default. one of the Gillibrands of Gillibrand Hall. *Gillibrand is a very local name.
1921. the present letters shall be null and void. Confirmation of the indulgences and remissions which the late John cardinal bishop of St. prepared by J. Mary del Key situated within the cemetery of the chapel of Liverpolle".10 there is a reference to the medieval chapel. 11 8 . visit the said chapel on the feasts of St. Billinge. or for the maintenance of the priests who celebrate [divine offices] therein. To all Christ’s faithful who shall see these presents. have granted to all the faithful who pray there. having regard to the devotion of the people who flock to the chapel of St. or who make an offering for the repair of the said chapel. repair and maintenance.108-9.M. Mary del Key situated within the cemetery of the chapel of Liverpolle in the united dioceses of Coventry and Lichfield. being penitent and having confessed. The letter deals specifically with the devotion of the faithful at "the chapel of St. and to the miracles which God was working therein by the merits of the same Virgin. pp. Calixtus III. 1455-1464 . Mary and Whitsuntide and the octaves thereof and give alms for such conservation.S.. London. Birchley Hall Press. 10 Calendar of entries in the Papal registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland. pp.D. Vol. in perpetuity or for a certain time not yet elapsed. A. with relaxation hereby of five years and five quarantines of enjoined penance to all who. of which a copy survives in the Vatican Registers of Pope Calixtus III. The pope’s will is that if any other indulgence have been granted by him to the same chapel. or for such adornment.S. in the form of a papal letter. 1957. 7 Kal. 106-7. these presents to hold good forever.11 Stonor.Historical Sources In addition to English manuscript sources mentioned by Stonor. 'Saint Mary of the Quay' in Liverpool's Hidden Story. H.O.B. or for the adornment of divine worship in the same. Robert Julian. Papal letters. Rufina’s and by papal dispensation archbishop of Canterbury. Twemlow. July (25 June) 1456. ‘Et si docente propheta’. XI: A. O. 6-11. William archbishop of York and very many bishops of England.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.