Paleography Exercises
Indenture of 1546, Nottinghamshire Archives DDFJ 7/80/11. All images by permission of Nottinghamshire Archives.
Yes, I accept that 1546 is not counted as the middle ages in anybody's reckoning, but this document has some significance in relation to change and continuity at the end of the medieval era. The continuity comes with the form of the document, an indenture on parchment, complete with wavy edge at the top and the seals of one of the parties to the agreement attached to the bottom. An indenture is an agreement made between two parties, in which two copies of the document are made, then separated with a wavy cut. Each party retains one copy, which bears the seal of the other party. The language of the document is now English, and apart from a few eccentricities of spelling, quite comprehensible to modern readers.
The change relates to the place of this document in the events of the day. Most scholars of medieval English history regard the Reformation as the event that finally and ultimately put an end to the middle ages. This document dates from 1546 in the reign of Henry VIII, now described in the document itself as defender of the faith and in Earth the Supreme head of the church of England and also of Ireland. The monasteries had been dissolved and their wealth given over to the crown. The churches still contained chantries, in which priests said masses for the souls of the dead who had made over the funds to maintain the chantry structure and its priest. The writing was on the wall however, and their days were numbered. One chantry priest seems here to be ensuring that he has somewhere to live in the case of his forced redundancy.
Tickhill church One party to this document was Sir William Marshe, chantry priest of the parish church of Tickhill, in Yorkshire. This imposing church is one you see on a distant hill while travelling up the A1 and wonder what it is. It no longer contains any sign of a chantry, although it does have a number of interesting medieval bits and pieces. In this document he leases his house and several parcels of land to William Hall and Johan his wife, in return for the use of a parlour and chamber, for a period of 21 years.
Tickhill parish church.
One of the parcels of land is described as lying on the south side of the castle of Tickhill.
castle motte The motte of Tickhill Castle, seen from a neighbouring farm yard, overgrown with trees and shrubs behind the farmhouse.
gatehouse There is not much to be seen of Tickhill Castle today. Behind the moat, in an area overgrown with jungle, can be seen a bit of worked stone from the gatehouse. The motte is bare of any sign of a building. What is now a sleepy village, where the main occupation seems to be feeding the ducks on the village pond, once had a Franciscan friary and a hospital, fragments of which remain. But enough of the travelogue and on with the document!
Fragment of the gatehouse.

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