Bosbury in

A Roll of Household Expenses of
Richard de Swinfield, Bishop of Hereford,
during part of the years 1289 and 1290.

edited by Rev. John Webb
Camden Society, 1855

The Roll of Household Expenses of Richard De Swinfield, Bishop of Hereford during part of the years 1289 and 1290”, was written on parchment in abbreviated Latin and has never been published either written out in full or directly translated into English. But in 1854 the Rev. John Webb published a transcription with notes (sample shown) and in 1855 published an Abstract of the document from which the following extracts concerning Bosbury are taken. The original document is held in the Bodleian Library Oxford, ref. MS.Lat. hist.d.1.(R).

sample of original Latin

Abstract and Illustrations.

page liv [54]

The expenses of the roll include almost daily those of the Horses, very frequently those of the Hounds. The latter were not idle appendages, nor inconsistent with the ecclesiastical character of the owner. On the contrary they were more than allowable, since they were highly useful and even necessary in collecting and turning to profit the wild stock upon his manors, and thus contributing to his annual resources.

Our predecessors of this aera were critically expert in all matters relative to deer-hunting, and were closely observant of the appointed seasons. That for the hind or doe began on Holy-rood day.* Accordingly the huntsmen are out in October. From that time, throughout Martinmas, when the household moved from Sugwas to Bosbury, in the neighbourhood of some of the best hunting ground, and up to Christmas, when the Bishop again shifted his quarters to Prestbury***, great havock was made among the female deer. This season lasted till Candlemas**, and that of the hart or buck began at Midsummer.
* 14th September ** 2nd February *** near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire

page lviii [58]

He [the bishop] had residences more than enough for security and pleasure, on the rivers and in fair parks, Sugwas and Ross on the Wye, and Whitborne on the Teme. Bosbury, Colwall, and Prestbury, amidst corn and meadow land, graced with timber, and backed by the slopes of Malvern, or the hills that rise from the vale of Gloucester.

page cvi [106]

Having remained three weeks at this manor [Sugwas] he removes to Bosbury. Preparations are set on foot. Whitewashing and some repairs are attended to. Rushes are cut for strewing the floors, and brushwood for culinary purposes, and wood for charcoal is felled and burnt in Storidge, a woodland attached to Bosbury manor. The baker, the usual harbinger, goes forward, that the pantry may not be without bread on the arrival of my lord, and the household are established.

At BOSBURY from October 21 to December 17 inclusive.

Seated in a a deep but fertile country, about 4½ miles to the north-west of Ledbury, this manor seems, from the use that was made of it, to have had its attractions and peculiar advantages, and to have been much resorted to by the occupants of the see: at least Swinfield frequently visited it; and there indeed he appears to have breathed his last. He may be presumed to have been personally attached to the place where his father’s remains had been laid. Five hundred years had almost passed away when, in 1776, the memorial of this fact was found. A monumental stone, containing a name and date to that effect, was discovered in the church, inverted and half concealed behind a pillar in the wall of the southern aisle of the nave. The inscription was at that time legible, though now very imperfect, and ran thus:


[ translation:
Here lies Stephen
the late Father
of the Venerable Father, Lord,
Richard de Swinfield,
by the grace of God,
Bishop of Hereford A.D. 1282 ]

pages cx-cxi [110-111]

Wine, as an article of daily consumption, required a stated renewal; and it seems to have come round, as to foreign wine, once in about six months. The roll exhibits this in December and July. Two of the squires, Raulin, or Ralph de Marines, and John de Baseville, were entrusted with this commission. They went to Bristol, the most convenient mart, bought five tonells* of red wine in the merchant’s cellar, paid ready money for it, £10. 17s. 3d., shipped and paid freightage for it, saw it delivered into boats that plied upon the Severn from that city to Upton; and placed the casks under the care of servants, who were furnished with mats to keep off rain or frost, and who might have been as a watch against the roguery of boatmen on the passage. A part of it was landed at the Haw, a wharf between Gloucester and Tewkesbury, and was sent to Prestbury; the remainder seems to have been delivered at Upton, and conveyed to Bosbury by land carriage. Many allusions leave little doubt that the Bosbury vaults were at all times its main depository. From these Ledbury, Whitborne, and Sugwas received their needful supplies, and all the way through is to be traced the stock of Bosbury wine.
* Spanish for ‘cask’

The hounds had their repeated allowances of meal; but, though kept in constant exercise, were so blooded with the frequent chase that they appear to have grown mischievous; and a little anecdote of their wantonness incidentally comes out in their having attacked and killed a pig for J. Long, of Bosbury, for which the Bishop paid lawful damages.

This manor, with its appurtenances, was valued in the Taxation at £25. 14s. 4d.; and the Bishop had the great tithes, amounting to £20 more, which he collected at the end of autumn either in this or the following year. The vicarage was also in his gift.

pages cxvi- cxvii [116-117]

It was remembered that, while they were at Bosbury, half a seam [a horse-load of 8 bushells or sum of 100 pounds] of salt had been borrowed of their neighbour, the preceptor or manager of the Templars at Upleden, and it was bought to repay him. That military religious fraternity had a house and manor so called from its situation on the river Leden, in Bosbury parish. It was a manor therefore within a manor, and one of the several thousands that they were reported to possess in Christendom, soon to fall into the hands of others. The reputation of the wealth of the order was in part the cause of their ruin, as the possession of it had been of their decay. Little did the brethren in that retired spot think of the cruel fate that awaited them. In 1308 every knight throughout the kingdom was arrested, on the morning of Jan. 10. The brotherhood were subsequently dispersed and degraded, many of them persecuted to death, and all of them stripped of their lands and treasures.

Guydo de Foresta, grand master, with the consent of his chapter at Dynnislee, Dec. 1292, granted to Richard de la Felde, chaplain, for his service, a perpetual maintenance at the table of the squires, in the house of the Temple at Upleden, for his life, on condition of his discharging the office of a priest as long as he was able, and an annual salary of twenty shillings from the preceptor for wages; and when incapacitated by age or weakness from officiating, he was to have the same advantages as any one of the brethren. Documents Illustrative of English History in the 13th and 14th Cent. London. 1844, p. 154.

William de la More, the last grand master in England, in the same manner, in 1300, granted to John, parson, of Garway, for his service during life, perpetual maintenance at Upleden, at the squire’s table, a dress and five shillings annually as long as he should be able to serve; and after superannuation to have his victuals somewhere in the court, and only five shillings per annum. Ibid. p. 155.

page ccxxviii [228]

From Pencombe, across the country, they remove to BOSBURY, June 14, 13, 16. As Swinfield has been here for several weeks, during part of the preceding months of October and December, including the whole of November, and as no novelty of importance calls for Abstract or Illustration, we may accompany him at once to WHITBOURNE, from June 17 to July 20, inclusive.

pages ccxxix-ccxxx [229-230]  [While at Whitbourne...]

Their general stock of foreign wine, however, required replenishing, and, as in the former half-year, was sent for to Bristol. Squire Raulin, or Ralph de Marines was again charged with this commission; and he bought seven casks and a barrel, six of which were transferred to Bosbury, and one to Colwall. The whole cost of wine, freightage, and carriage to the Bosbury cellar, was fifteen pounds six shillings.

page ccxxxii [232]

The allusion made in a former page to the place where Swinfield died* is more precisely confirmed by Leland, whose testimony has recently fallen under the notice of the editor. This, though loosely, and in some respects to all appearance inaccurately, worded, is sufficiently explicit as to the point in question. It shows that his death took place at Bosbury, and that he was interred with great ceremony in his own cathedral. His words are these:
“Richard Swinefeld obiit anno Dom. 1316. die 5. Gregorii Pont. Ro. apud Bosburie. Sedit annis 34. Sepultus est pompa max. in Herifordensi ecclesia.”

And they form no inappropriate close to our imperfect memorial of this prelate’s character and mode of life.

* It was noted earlier in the abstract that
the last entry in Bishop Swinfield’s Register
is dated March 4th, 1316 at Bosbury.

Source: Online facsimiles: The Roll -   Abstract and Illustrations - accessed June 2014.
Particular thanks to David Strutt of Bosbury for his research.
Transcription: Barry Sharples, Bosbury 2014

 go to previous menu go to front page