Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Lincoln's Reformation

At the time of the Reformation Lincoln was suffering from 200 years of neglect; the once third most important city in England had been brought to its knees by the Black Death of the mid-14th century and the loss of the Staple in 1369. In less than a century Lincoln's population had declined from about 4,000 to 2,000. By 1540 many churches had no parishioners and former populated parts of Lincoln were being turned back to agriculture.

​An application was made to Parliament for the purpose of uniting the parishes, and an act was passed by in 1538, "for the union of churches in the City of Lincoln", authorising four people to carry it into effect, they were: John Taylor, the bishop of Lincoln; William Hutchinson, the mayor; George Stamp and John Fowler.

A copy of the deed of union, dated 4th September 1553, states that the parishes in the City, Bail and Close of Lincoln were reduced from fifty two to fifteen. One of the doomed churches was St Andrew's which stood on the junction of the High Street and the street now known as Gaunt Street.

St.Andrew's Church stood behind the wall in the centre of the picture. The graveyard remained there until West (of West's garage) built his house and shops on the site in the late 19th century.

The Sutton family lived in the large house that was known as "John O' Gaunts Palace" and petitioned the City Corporation not to demolish the church. The Sutton's annexed St Andrew's Church as their own private chapel, and would have kept it at their own cost. The timber, the lead, the glass, and the stones were too valuable and Lincoln Corporation were set on a course they would not be deterred from taking. The church was pulled down in 1551, some of it was used in the repair of the remaining 15 churches.

Lincoln churches prior to the Reformation

Adjacent to St Andrew's was a small building where Isabella, an anchoress, lived. Anchorites and anchoresses voluntarily cut themselves off from the world, lived in a cell within or next to a church and lived a life of religious devotion. The entrance would be bricked up and they would live there for the rest of their lives. At that time Lincoln has another two anchoresses at St Andrew on the Hill, below the Bishop's Palace walls and Holy Trinity, near the bottom of Greestone Stairs. It is not recorded what became of Isabella or the other anchoresses.

Lincoln's fortunes wouldn't improve for another 300 years with the coming of the industries created by such men as Ruston, Clayton, Shuttleworth, Foster and others.

West's building on St Andrew's Graveyard

1885 map of the area

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