Historia translationis veteris ecclesiae beatae mariae sarum ad novam


The early building history of Salisbury Cathedral from an account written by William de Wanda (Wauda), precentor, then dean (elected 1220) of Salisbury Cathedral. The following is a copy of a translation of the Latin text from William Dodsworth, An Historical Account of the Episcopal See, and Cathedral Church, of Sarum, or Salisbury: comprising biographical notices of the bishops; the history of the establishment, from the earliest period; and a description of the monuments. Salisbury:-Printed by Brodie and Dowding, for the author, and sold at his house in the close. 1814. pp 107-121. Dodsworth omitted some parts of the original text.

The Latin text was printed by W.H. Rich Jones, Vetus Registrum Sarisberiense alias dictum Registrum S. Osmundi Episcopi, Vol. II, London, 1884, Kraus reprint 1965, pp 10-124.

During the time of Bishop Herbert Poore (d.1217)


"In the time of Herbert, of happy memory, bishop of Sarum, the canons of the church held frequent consultations, relative to its translation to a more free and convenient place. For, as it was surrounded by the walls of the king's fortifications, it was exposed to various troubles, and continually labored under the most grievous injuries and oppressions. By the diligence of this bishop, who was a person of great sagacity and able in temporal matters, the affair was so far advanced, that a plot of ground was selected, with general approbation, as a more commodious situation for the church, and as affording each of the canons a proper space for the erection of a dwelling-house. The design was favored by the illustrious king of England, Richard, who freely gave his assent. But afterwards, the bishop having computed the charges of finishing so great a work, and maturely considered his own ability to defray the expense, concluded that it would far exceed his utmost means, although he was rich and careful. Hence he proceeded no farther in the project. Afterwards, in the reign of the most cruel king John, he suffered great losses in his goods and possessions; being stripped by confiscations, of what he had devoted to so pious a purpose. Truly, God knows whether this bishop was a man of sanguinary disposition, and not permitted to build the House of the Lord; and therefore this work devolved on his successor, who was of a most peaceable temper. But, by God's assistance, I will relate this matter, as it proceeded successfully in my time.

Bishop Richard Poore


In the year of Grace, 1217, upon the death of bishop Herbert and king John, the affairs of the see of Rome, in this kingdom were administered by Gualo, Cardinal Legate, then resident here, who carried matters with a high hand. Richard, bishop of Chichester, the brother of Herbert, was at that period translated to the see of Sarum, by the pope's authority. In this translation the church of Sarum shewed extraordinary zeal, as he had been several years its dean, had exerted himself in the execution of that office, and was known to be a man of the greatest learning, as well as of the purest morals. This choice was approved by the whole nation, which had found him a loyal and excellent champion against Lewis, son of the king of France, and his frenchmen, who, at that time, were come over to take possession of the kingdom. The legate also assiduously labored to effect this translation; because bishop Poor had been an useful assistant to him, in managing the affairs of the realm. Therefore, after a report was transmitted to the holy roman see, the assent of the pope was given; and thus was done, what every one wished, what God provided, what the pope effected, and what the universe required.

Papal bull of Honorius III


The said bishop, pitying the sufferings and straits of the church of Sarum, which he had newly espoused, and being not a little solicitous for its liberation, joined with the dean and chapter, in the year of Grace, 1218, in dispatching special messengers to that city, which is the mother and mistress of all. These agents represented the necessities of the church, and the manifold inconveniences of its situation. They were charged, also, with letters from Gualo, the legate, framed on an Inquisition taken by him, concerning these matters, in virtue of a mandate from the pope; and at length brought back an indulgence, granted by the bounty of the apostolic see, in this form:--

'Honorius, bishop, servant of the servants of God:--To our reverend brother, Richard, bishop, and to our beloved sons, the dean and chapter of Sarum, health and apostolic benediction.

'My sons, the dean and chapter: It has been heretofore alleged before us, in your behalf, that as your church is built within the fortifications of Sarum, it is subject to many inconveniences and oppressions, and you cannot abide therein without great corporal peril; for, being situated on a lofty place, it is continually shaken by the concussion of the winds; so that while you are celebrating the divine offices, you can scarcely hear each other. Besides, the persons resident there, suffer such continual oppression, that they are scarcely able to keep in repair the roof of the church, which is often torn by tempests. They are also forced to buy water, at as great a price as would purchase the common drink of the country. Nor is there any access to the church, without leave of the castellans; so that it happens on Ash Wednesday, when the Lord's Supper is administered, at the time of synods, and celebrations of orders, and on other solemn days, that the faithful, who are willing to visit the church, are refused entrance by the keepers of the castle, on the plea that the fortress is thereby endangered. Besides, as you have not dwellings sufficient for yourselves, you are compelled to rent houses of the laity. In consequence of these and other inconveniences, many absent themselves from the service of the church.

'We, therefore, willing to provide for this exigency, gave out letters and mandate to our beloved son, Gualo, cardinal presbyter of St. Martin's legate of the apostolic see, diligently and carefully to enquire into this matter, either by himself, or others, as he should see expedient; and to make a faithful report to us. And whereas he has transmitted to us, under his seal, the depositions of witnesses, hereupon received; we have caused the same to be inspected by our chaplain, who has found the representations before made, relative to the aforesaid inconveniences, to be sufficiently proved. Therefore, the truth, by his faithful report, being evident, we do, by the authority of these presents, grant to you, free power to translate the said church to another more convenient place; but saving to every person, secular and ecclesiastical, his right, as well as reserving the dignities, and all the liberties of the church, in their full state and force. And it shall not be lawful for any person, in any manner, to infringe, or rashly to oppose this grant: Otherwise, be it known, that he will incur the indignation of Almighty God, and of the blessed Saints, Peter and Paul, his apostles. Dated at the Lateran, the fourth of the calends of April, in the second year of our pontific

Bishop Poore's response

1218 continued

Then the bishop, earnestly exerting himself, that the enterprise, which through the mercy of God had been begun, might be happily finished, without delay, caused all who were principally concerned in this matter, namely, the canons of the church of Sarum, to be called together. The greater and better part, being present, decreed in the manner following:--

'To all the children of our holy mother church of Sarum, as well present as future, to whom this writing shall come:--Richard, by divine permission, the humble servant of the church of Sarum; and Adam, the dean, and the chapter of Sarum, health in the Lord. Free power being granted to us by our most holy father, pope Honorius, to translate the church of Sarum to a more commodious place, on account of the many inconveniences and oppressions under which it labored, and of which sufficient proof hath been made before him, as in the preceding Act is more fully contained, we have caused a general convocation of the canons of Sarum, by themselves, for the major part, or by their proctors, being resident in chapter.

Bishop Poore's response 1218 Continued Then the bishop, earnestly exerting himself, that the enterprise, which through the mercy of God had been begun, might be happily finished, without delay, caused all who were principally concerned in this matter, namely, the canons of the church of Sarum, to be called together. The greater and better part, being present, decreed in the manner following:-- 'To all the children of our holy mother church of Sarum, as well present as future, to whom this writing shall come:--Richard, by divine permission, the humble servant of the church of Sarum; and Adam, the dean, and the chapter of Sarum, health in the Lord. Free power being granted to us by our most holy father, pope Honorius, to translate the church of Sarum to a more commodious place, on account of the many inconveniences and oppressions under which it labored, and of which sufficient proof hath been made before him, as in the preceding Act is more fully contained, we have caused a general convocation of the canons of Sarum, by themselves, for the major part, or by their proctors, being resident in chapter. 'The votes and inclinations of every one being diligently examined, it was unanimously answered, that it was useful and convenient to translate the church to a more commodious place. And when the charges, which the translation and construction of the new fabric required, were considered, (since a community can accomplish that effectually and speedily which a single person sometimes attempts in vain) they all and every one promised, with a willing mind, to assist in the building of the new fabric, according to their prebendal estates, continually for seven years, in the terms following. For the greater security, a promissory act was drawn up, and signed, stating what, and how much each would annually contribute.

'We, all and singular, by this our present writing, both strengthened by the seal of the chapter, and corroborated by the subscription of each and every one, do voluntarily bind ourselves, and appoint by our common provision, four terms, in which, during every year to the seventh, we will pay, without contradiction or fraud, the fourth part of the money annually promised to be applied towards the building, and, by the grace of God, the completion of our fabric. These are the terms:--The first, on the feast of All Saints; the second, on the Purification of the blessed Virgin Mary; the third, on the Ascension of our Lord; and the fourth, on Lammas day. The payment of the said contribution is to be made in the Chapter House of Sarum, at the terms specified, to such persons as shall be deputed for the purpose, on the part of the bishop and chapter. Done in the year of the Incarnation 1218, in the second year of our pontificate, in the Chapter House of Sarum, on the day of the Saints Processus and Martinianus.'

The same year, the bishop gave the precentorship to William de Wanda, which Thomas de Disci before held. This was on the Advent of the Lord; on which day he was installed, the dean being absent.

Activities at New Sarum: Raising money


In the year of Grace 1219, a new wooden chapel was begun at New Sarum, in honor of the blessed Virgin, on Monday next after close of Easter. In a short time, the work was so far advanced, that [on?] the Feast of the Holy Trinity, the lord bishop first celebrated divine service therein, and consecrated a cemetery. The same year, being the third of his pontificate, the chapter of Sarum assembled at the Feast of the Assumption, the bishop, dean, chanter, chancellor, and treasurer, assisting. The canons present unanimously decreed, that the translation from the old place to that of the new fabric, should be made on the Feast of All Saints, next following, by those who were willing and able; and others, in the mean time, were charged with the care of the building. They decreed also, that the heirs of the first builders, as well canons as vicars, should receive two parts of the just value of what should be actually built, the third part being yielded for the land. The appointment and collation of the houses, after the first vacancy, were to be left on sale to the bishop; but the family of the deceased person, who first built, or the persons to whom the said two parts were by him bequeathed, were to remain in possession of the houses until satisfaction was made for the price, according to his last will. It was also ordered, that the contribution assigned for the use of the fabric, should be paid at the four terms, by each of the canons, in such manner, that having respect to the time of the receipts, every one should answer for that portion which he received, as well the living as the heirs of the deceased as well canons as vicars and chaplains; and the vicar was to answer for the canon his principal. And it was decreed, that such as should not pay the said portion, within eight days of the stipulated term, or should not have leave of delay, were to be apprised that they were suspended form entrance into the church, unless unavoidable accident could be alleged in excuse. Also, on the death of any canon, all the appurtenances belonging to the land were to remain upon his prebend, as well as fixtures.

But the bishop, being still solicitous in his design, and perceiving that these sums were not sufficient to complete the work, by the advice of the chapter, appointed preachers, or rather collectors of alms, through divers bishoprics in England. The clerks and inferior ministers all declining the office, he addressed himself, with sighs and tears, to the higher persons. Some of them, likewise, excused themselves; but other cheerfully undertaking the task, he gave them proper instructions. As the Nativity of the Lord drew near, they left the habitations which they had prepared for their use against the holidays, and went abroad, every one to the district assigned. W. the precentor, to the bishopric of London; Mr. W. de Badiston, to Canterbury; Mr. R. de Hertford, to the bishopric of Ely; Mr. H. the chancellor, to the bishopric of Winchester; Mr. W. de Wilton, to the bishopric of Exeter; Robert, the scot, to Scotland; Mr Luke, to the bishopric of Chichester. Others were afterwards, in the like manner, dispersed through divers places. But, as to other matters relating to the church, during that year, few or none came to my knowledge; because I was long absent in the bishopric of London, promoting the affairs of our establishment, to the utmost of my power.

Foundation ceremony


In the year of Grace 1220, on the day of Saint Vitalis the Martyr, which was then on the fourth of the calends of May, the foundation of the new church of Sarum was laid. Now the bishop expected that our lord the king would have come hither, on that day, with the legate and archbishop of Canterbury, and many of the english nobility. Hence he prepared a solemn entertainment, as a great expense, for all who should appear; but in consequence of a negotiation then pending with the welsh, at Shrewsbury, he was disappointed. He could not, however, defer the ceremony, because it had been publicly announced throughout the diocese.

On the day appointed, the bishop came with great devotion. Few earls or barons of the country attended; but a great multitude of the common people crowded hither from all parts. Divine service was performed, the grace of the Holy Spirit invoked, and the bishop, putting off his shoes, went in procession with the clergy to the place of foundation, singing the Litany. After the Litany, a sermon was made to the people, and the bishop laid the first stone for our lord, pope Honorius, who had granted leave to translate the church; the second, for the lord S. [Stephen Langton] archbishop of Canterbury, and cardinal of the holy roman church, at that time with our lord the king in the marches of Wales. Then he added to the new fabric, a third stone, for himself. William Longespee, earl of Sarum, laid the fourth stone; and the fifth was laid by Ela de Vitri, countess of Salisbury, his wife, a woman truly praiseworthy, because she was filled with the fear of the Lord. After her, the few noblemen, present added each a stone. Then Adam, the dean; W. the chanter; H. the chancellor; A. the treasurer; and the archdeacons and canons, who were present, did the same, amidst the acclamations of the multitude; the people weeping for joy, and contributing thereto, with a ready mind, according to their ability.

But, in process of time, the nobility being returned from Wales, several came hither, and each laid his stone, binding himself to some special contribution for the whole seven years. * * * * * * (break in text)

Funds from the cathedral canons

1220 continued

At the Feast of the Assumption, next following, in a general chapter, and in the presence of the bishop, it was thus provided:--Any canon failing to pay what he had promised to the fabric, if his prebend was within the diocese of Sarum, some one should be sent, on the part of the bishop and chapter, fifteen days after the period had elapsed, to raise what was due, from the corn which was found there. As long as such person should continue for that purpose, he was to be maintained, with all necessaries, from the goods of the said prebend. But if the prebend of the defaulter should be situated in any other bishopric, he was to be denounced as contumacious to that bishop, by the letters of the bishop and chapter, and was either to be suspended from entering the church, from the celebration of divine service, or excommunicated, according as the chapter should judge proper.

And at the chapter then held, which began on the morrow of the Assumption, and laster three successive days, Adam, the dean, was present in good health. He hastened from hence to Sunning, where he arrived on the octave of the Assumption. The morrow of the Vigil of Saint Bartholomew, the apostle, he died; and the third day following, his body was brought to Sarum, and honorable interred in the new chapel.

By mandate of the bishop, the chapter's letters were issued, citing all the canons then in England, to assemble at Sarum, on Sunday next after the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, and elect a dean. On that day the bishop being present, about twenty-seven canons appeared, of whom three were selected, secretly and singly, to take the votes of every one in writing. Robert Grossa Testa, then archdeacon of Wiltshire, with two other canons, were appointed in behalf of all, to name the said examiners. They chose Mr. Robert de Bingham, a man of great learning, and a long time master in divinity; Mr. Geoffry de Rouen, who was then commencing in divinity at Paris; and Mr. Henry de Bishopston, who used to read the Decretals at Oxford, and then governed the schools in the new city of Salisbury. [Dodsworth's note: This observation, as well as the preceding, shows that the building of the city must have been considerably advanced, previous to the dedication of the church.] These swore, on the Gospels, that they would fulfil their office, without exception of persons, and designate him a dean, who should be chosen by the majority.

[Dodsworth omitted some part of the account, saying, "De Wanda describes a contest which ensued for the office, to which he himself was at last elected, principally by the interest of the bishop. He then resumes the account of the building."]

Events: first service in the new fabric


In the year of the Incarnation 1225, the bishop, finding the new fabric, by God's assistance, sufficiently advanced for the performance of divine service, rejoiced exceedingly, since he had bestowed great pains, and given much assistance in this work. He, therefore, commanded William, the dean, to cite all the canons to be present on the day of Saint Michael following, at the joyful solemnity of their mother church; that is to say, at the first celebration of divine service therein. He ordered also, that on the morrow of the Festival a conference should be held in the Chapter House, relative to the affairs of the church, pursuant to the citation of the dean and chapter. On that day the following canons were present:--

The Lord Bishop, who is also a canon
W. the dean
G. the chanter
Robert, the chancellor
Edmund, the treasurer
Humphry, archdeacon of Wilts
William, archdeacon of Berks
Hubert, archdeacon of Dorset
Martin de Patteshull
Luke, dean of St. Martin's, London
Hugh de Wells, archdeacon of Bath
Gilbert de Lacy
Mr. Henry Teissun
Mr. Henry de Bishopston
Mr. Luke De Winton
Mr. Martin de Summa
Mr. Richard de Brembla
Mr. Thomas de Ebelesburn
Mr. Henry de St. Edmund
Mr. Geoffry, of Devon
Mr. Robert de Worthe
Hugh de Temple
William de Leu
Robert Coteral
Peter Picot
Elias Ridal
The Abbot of Sherborne
Anastasius, the subchanter
Mr. R. de Bingham
Mr. Roger de Sarum
Daniel de Longchamp
Elias de Deram
Richard de Maupoder
Bartholomew de Rennes
Stephen de Tyssebury

Events: consecration of altars

1225 continued

On the fourth of the calends of October, namely the Vigil of Saint Michael, which happened on a Sunday, the bishop came in the morning, and consecrated three altars. The first, in the east part, in honor of the holy and undivided Trinity and All Saints, on which henceforward the mass of the blessed Virgin was to be sung every day. He offered, for the service of the said altar, and for the daily service of the blessed Virgin, two silver basons [basins], of the weight of * * * * [blank] and two silver candlesticks, of the weight of * * * * [blank] which were bequeathed by the will of the noble lady, Gundria de Warren, to the church of Sarum. Moreover, he gave, from his own property, to the clerks who were to officiate at that mass, thirty marks of silver, yearly, until he had settled as much in certain rents; and ten marks, yearly, to maintain lamps round the altar. He then dedicated another altar, in the north part of the church, in honor of Saint Peter, the prince of the Apostles; and a third, in the south part, in honor of Saint Stephen, the proto-martyr, and the rest of the Martyrs.

On this occasion were present, Henry, archbishop of Dublin, and Stephen, lord archbishop of Canterbury. After some hours spent in prayer in the new church, they went down, with many nobles, to the house of the bishop, who generously entertained the numerous company during the whole week.

On the day of Saint Michael following, the lord archbishop of Canterbury preached a sermon to the people, who came in great numbers. Afterwards he went into the new church, and solemnly celebrated divine service. The said festival was thus happily conducted, from the beginning to the end, without the least interruption or disturbance. The persons who were present, besides the knights and barons, were

S. archbishop of Canterbury
Henry, archbishop of Dublin
Richard, bishop of Durham
Joceline, bishop of Bath
Ralph de Nevil, bishop of Chichester
Benedict, bishop of Rochester
The Bishop of Evreux in Normandy who was before abbot of Bec
Richard, bishop of Sarum

Among these was Otto, the pope's nuncio, who was come to intercede for one Falcarius, then in rebellion, having defended, against the king, his castle of Bedford. The nuncio was to have audience at Clarendon, on Michaelmas day.

Events: the king comes to New Sarum

1225 continued

On the Thursday following, our lord the king, and Hubert de Burgh, his justiciary, came to the church. The king heard the mass of the glorious Virgin, and offered ten marks of silver, and one piece of silk. He granted also to the church, the privilege of a yearly fair, from the Vigil to the Octave of the Assumption inclusive; namely, eight days complete. The same day, the justiciary made a vow that he would give a gold Text [Bible] with precious stones, and the relics of divers saints, in honor of the blessed Virgin, for the service of the new church. Afterwards, the king went down, with many noblemen and knights, to the bishop's house, where they were entertained.

The Friday following came Luke, dean of St. Martin's, London, and Thomas de Kent, clerks of the justiciary, who brought the aforesaid Text, and offered it on the altar of the new fabric, in behalf of Hubert de Burgh. By the advice of the bishop and the canons present, it was ordered to be delivered to the treasurer to be kept; and the dean of Sarum was to be intrusted with one of the keys.

The Sunday following, the bishop obtained leave that the new altar and chapel should remain in his custody for the whole seven years following; and that the oblations made there should be appropriated to the use of the fabric, except such as were given by the faithful for the perpetual ornament and honor of the church. He promised to execute a deed, stipulating that, after the expiration of the seven years, all things should return into the custody of the treasurer; and the oblations of all the altars be applied to the common use, according to the ancient custom of the church of Sarum. And also, that those things which should have been offered to adorn the church, should then be delivered up. All which the bishop now committed to the custody of Elias de Deram, in whom he reposed the greatest confidence. * * * * * (break in text).

On the day of the Holy Innocents, the king and his justiciary came to Sarum. The king offered one gold ring with a precious stone, called a ruby, one piece of silk, and one gold cup, of the weight of ten marks. When mass was concluded, he told the dean that he would have the stone which he had offered, and the gold of the ring, applied to adorn the Text, which the justiciary had given. But as to the cup he gave no particular directions. The justiciary caused the Text, which he had before given, to be brought, and offered it, with great devotion, on the altar. They then repaired to the bishop's house, where they were honorably entertained.

On Saturday next after the Epiphany, the fourth of the ides of January, William Longspee, earl of Sarum, after encountering many dangers by sea and land, returned from Gascoigne, where he had resided almost a year, with Richard, the king's brother, for the defence of the city of Bourdeaux. The said earl came that day, after nine o'clock, to Sarum, where he was received with great joy, and with a procession from the new fabric. On the morrow he went to the king, who was sick at Marlborough. Eight weeks after that day on which he had been received in procession, on Saturday the nones of March, this noble earl died in the castle of Sarum, and was brought to New Sarum, with many tears and great lamentation. The same hour of the day on which he had been received with great joy, being the eighth of the ides of March, he was honorable interred in the new church of the blessed Virgin. At his funeral were present, the bishops of Sarum, Winchester, and some bishops of Ireland; earl William Marshall, and earl William de Mandeville; and these barons, Robert de Vieuxpont, Hugh de Gurnay, and Ralph de Toani, with a great multitude of their military attendants.

Burial of the earl of Sarum; Translation of bodies of bishops from Old Sarum


In the year 1226, on the feast of Trinity, which then was the 18th of the calends of July, the bodies of three bishops were translated from the castle of Sarum to the new fabric, namely, the body of the blessed Osmund, the body of bishop Roger, and the body of bishop Joceline."