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Transcribed and translated by Kay Collins, 2015
Bedehouse Rules
Taken from a photocopy (kindly lent) of a little booklet, the pages being sewn together and encased in part of an indenture of Thomas Foscote of Woodford.

There are 36 rules and they were drawn up in 1597, at the request of Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury and the founder of the hospital for the poor.

The text on the left is as spelt in the document, and a translation is given on the right.

Right: two pages from the rules

the first page rules 23 -25

Theis be the orders and statutes for the poor hospetall of higham Ferrers sett down by hennerye Chicthelle by the great providence of god lord Archbusheope of Conterberie fonder of the same hospettall

The orders and statutes for the poor hospital of Higham Ferrers set down by Henry Chichele by the great providence of God Lord Archbishop of Canterbury founder of the same hospital

Itm ther shalbe Twellfve poor men chosen of fyfftye years olde or a bove and not under to praye for the keinges Moste Riall Majesties and for the fowder of the same hospetall and for all others that the shall fayre the better for

Item there shall be twelve poor men of fifty years old or above and not under to pray for the King’s majesties and for the founder of the same hospital and for all others that there shall fare the better for

Itm that the shall have one of them that is sober and wise to be ther governer and shalbe called ther pryor and he shall see the be well governed and that the shall observe and kepe all such orders and statutes as shalbe heare sett down upon paine of depriving or Expullsion of ther livings of all such that will withstand him

Item that they shall have one of them that is sober and wise to be their governor and shall be called their prior and he shall see they are well governed and that he shall observe and keep all such orders and statutes as shall be here set down upon pain of depriving or losing their livings of all who disobey him

Itm that the said poor men shall Rise Evrie Morninge in Sommer by sevene a clocke and in winter by eyght a clock and goo to the church and ther to be in prayer until nine and then the prior shall come Whome and his Bretheren with him and shall take such mette as god have sente them

Item that the said poor men shall rise every morning in summer by seven o’clock and go to the church and there to be in prayer until nine and then the prior shall come home and his brethren with him and shall take such food as god has sent them

Itm that evrye poor man that is chosen shalbe Sworne upon a Booke that hath the gospel in it before the Wardin or Subwarden or before some other sperituall man that hee shalbe trewe to the house so farre as his powers will geve him leave to help to maynteyne the same house

Item that every poor man that is chooses shall  swear on a bible before the  warden or subwarden or before some other spiritual man that he shall be true to the house so far as he is able to keep the same

Itm if ther be anye Whormaster within the house befor two witnesses shalbe clearly Expoulshed and Never to come in againe

Item if there is a [workmaster] in the house before there are two witnesses he shall be expelled and never come in again

Itm everye poore man that shalbe chosen shall bringe in his bed and bedding with hime that is to saye a matris a blolster pillow two payer of sheetes a blanket & a coverlet & also a brasse pott of two gallons & a brase panne a pretwer dishe & a sauser also he shall make them a Dinner or els give everie one of the poore men iiijd for the said dinner

Item every poor man that shall be chosen must bring in his bed and bedding that is to say a mattress a bolster pillow two pairs of sheets a blanket and a cover and also a two gallon brass pot and a brass pan a pewter dish and a saucer and he shall make them a dinner or else give every one of the poor men 4d for the dinner

Itm if ther be anye common brauler he shall have warning by the warden if he will not amende it the second tyme he shall have a pennye of that wicke of his wages taken away from him by the prior and his bretheren

Item if there is a common  brawler he shall be warned by the warden and if he does not behave the second time he shall have a penny of his week’s wages taken away by the prior and the brethren

Itm if hee will nott take warning the third tyme hee shall have two pence taken awaye of his wages

Item if he does not take warning the third time he shall have two pence taken out of his wages

Itm the forth tyme he shalbe Expullsed out of the house never to come in agayne

Item the fourth time he shall be expelled from the house never to come back

Itm ther shalbe ordeyned a common boxe with a holl in the tope sett in the mides of the dorter with two lockes and two keyes the warden to kepe the one and the prior to kepe the other that well dishposed peepoll may come theither & putt in ther Charritye and that two of the poore men shall goo abroad to gather up the Devotions of the brothers & to put in the said box ether to Remayne until St Thomas day before Cristmas then the Warden or his debbutie shall bringe in the keye of the foresaid boxe & the prior bring forth his keye and shall open the boxe and take forthe the money and devied it equallie to evrye poore man for his part

Item there shall be a common box with a hole in the top, set in the midst of the dormitory, with two locks and two keys the warden to keep one and the prior the other, that well disposed people may come & donate and that two of the poor men shall go round and collect from his brothers & put the money in the box and to be opened on St Thomas’ Day near Christmas and the warden or his deputy and the prior shall bring their keys and open the box and the money inside to be equally divided between the poor men

Itm at two of the clock in the after noonne the prior and his Bretheren shall go to the church there to Remayne in praier till foure of the clocke then the pryore and his bretheren shall come whome to supper and eat such meat as god hath sent them

Item that a two o’clock in the afternoon the prior and his brethren shall go to church and remain in prayer until four o’clock when they shall come home and eat such food as god hath sent them

Itm at sixe aclocke at night the shall Ringe a bell haninge in the Weste end of the said hospital haulse a hower to gather to cause the bretheren to gether & ther evrye man shall knell downe at his chamber dore and ther shall praye for the kings M’sties & all ther well welleres unntill seaven a clocke & at eyght a clocke the shall go to bedd

Item at six o’clock at night they shall ring a bell hanging in the west end of the hospital halls

to call the brethren together to kneel at their chamber door and pray for the King’s majesties and all their [well-wishers] until seven o’clock and at eight o’clock they shall go to bed

Itm that ther shalbe no drongkerde nor hanters of Allhowse or tavorens he shall have warning the first tyme the second tyme to have a penie of his wages taken awaye frome him the third tyme two pence a wicke & the forthe tyme Expullste expostfacto

Item there shall be no drunkard or haunters of alehouse or taverns - to have warning the first time, the second time to have a penny of his wages taken away and the third time two pence a week and the fourth time to be expelled

Itm yf it fortuwen that any of their poore men die the gards of the same poore man shalbe taken into the house called the store house & ther shall Remayn to the use of the other poore men to ayd and helpe them with all and the prior to kepe the keye of the same house

Item if it be the fortune of any of the poor men to die the clothes of that poor man shall be put into the storeroom for the use of the other poor men if they have need and the prior to keep the key

Itm the next poore man that shalbe chosen in his towne yf he have note such goods of his one he shall bye of the same goodes that Remayne in the store house and the money to be equallye devided amongst the poore men in the house

Item the next poor man that is chosen by his town and has no goods of his own, he shall buy goods from the storeroom and the money to be equally divided amongst the poor men in the house

Itm that ther shalbe none chosen that hath land or tenement but such as is not abell to live of them selves except that he will geve his lands and tenements After his deathe freely to the said hospetall for ever

Item that there shall be none chosen who have land or property but unable to make their own living unless he leaves his land or property after his death freely to the hospital for ever

Itm ther shalbe non chosen but such as be cleane men of ther bodies without botshes bites or bleames the shall not be annoysome to the other poore men

Item there shall be none chosen except clean men without rashes bites or blemishes on their bodies [so that] they shall not annoy [infect] the other poor men

Itm if it forteyn that any of theis poor men shall fall in to any deasee to the denoysome of the other poore men he shall go to his frends and ther to Remayne till he may be cured of his dessease then after to Remayne wher he did befor

Item if it is the fortune of any of these men to get a disease that might spread to the other poor men he must go to his friends and stay away until he is cured and then may return

Itm it shalbe lawfull for evrie poore man in the house to go amongst his frends and fore evrie quarter awicke in the yeare and to have his wages allowed him for that tyme but yf he pase the wicke apoynted he shall lose for evrie daye a pennie of his wages

Item it shall be lawful for every poor man in the house go to visit his friends for a week four times a year and to lose no wages for the time but if he stays more than a week he shall lose a penny a day from his wages

Itm ther shalbe Allowed to theis poore men A barber shall come evrie fridaye at noune to shave them and to drease ther hedes and to macke them cleane

Item the poor men are allowed a barber, he to come at noon on Fridays to shave them and dress their hair and make them clean

Itm that ther shalbe a lampe hanging in the midst of the dorter full of oyle and shalbe litted by the apoynentment of the prieor all winter tyme frome sixe a clock at night until it be Eyght to litt the poore men to bed & then to be putt forth

Item there shall be a lamp hanging in the dormitory full of oil and to be lit by order of the prior all wintertime from six o’clock at night until eight to light them to bed and then extinguished

Itm evrie poore man that shalbe chosen if he have nott agowne of his own he shall have the best gowne of the other poor man that is deade for that he shall paye three shillings four pence & foure pence for putting it on his backe unto the other poor men to make merrye with all & also sixe pence for whotmeall & sallt & two pence to the woman for macking his bed & a peney to the barber

Item every poor man that is chosen if he has no gown of his own shall have the best gown of any dead poor man and he to pay 3s 4d and 4d for putting it on to the other poor men to make merry with & also 6d for wheatmeal and salt & two pence to the woman for making up his bed and a penny to the barber

And also ther shalbe a woman chosen which shalbe onest of good name and good fame witch shalbe fiftye years olde to helpe the poor men if ned be that the fall sicke she shalbe Redye to help them

And also there shall be a woman chosen who is honest, of good name and character that shall be 50 years old to help the poor men if they fall sick and to be ready to help them

Itm the said woman shalbe quiet and oneste & no braller nor chider but shalbe glad to please evrye poor man to hur power

Item the said woman shall be quite and honest, no brawler or chider, and be glad to please every poor man to the best of her ability

Itm that evry poor man shall bye his mett upon the Satterday and shall bring it whome and delever it to ther woman & she shall aske theme wch the will have against Sondaye she rest she shall powther up against Wedesendaye she shall upon Sondaye sett on the pott & macke them good porrdge and shall geve everye man his own peese of met & a mese of porrdg in his dishe and the Rest of the porridge shalbe saved until Monday the come whom to diner

Item that every poor man shall buy his food on Saturday and bring it home and deliver it to the woman and she to ask them what they want on Sunday and she to cook enough on Sunday to make them enough to have their own piece of meat and mess of potage, and the rest to be saved for Monday when they come home to dinner

Itm the woman shall tacke the mett that is lefte upon Wedensendaye she shall sett the pott one the fier and make them good porridge to dine & dellever every one his peese of mett and a mese of porrig which is before written & also the same woman shall upon the fridaye gooe into the towne & get some good barme to make them good porridge upon the fridaye and Satterdaye

Item the woman shall take the meat that is left on Wednesday and put a pot on the fire to make another good potage and give each his meat and potage and the woman shall go to town on Friday to get good food to make them potage for Friday and Saturday

Itm the woman shall upon Monday gather all the poore menes clouse to gether & se them cleane washen and pritte and it shalbe lawfull for the woman to hiere on that day that shee washe to helpe hur washe that day & no other day

Item the woman shall on Monday gather all the poor mens’ clothes together and see them washed and [pretty] and she may hire help on wash days only

Itm Allso the poor men in the springe tyme of the yeare shall go into the garden & ther shall dige & dress the said garden of ther owne proper cost & charges & that poore man that is awaye shall geve the dressers a penie evrie day that he is awaye & ther shalbe a dore and a locke to the garden and the keye delevred unto the woman & shee shall se that ther be no spoil made nether in the dorhouse nor in the garden

Item also in spring time the poor men shall go into the garden and shall dig and dress the garden at their own cost but if they are away they are to pay those who do work a penny a day and there will be a key to the garden given to the woman and she to see that there is no waste in the house or garden

Itm the woman shall evrye morning make the poore men A fier agaynest the Rise and a panne of fayre watter and a dishe by it to washe ther hands & also she shall see the house cleane swepte evrye day & also she shall come to evrye man that is sicke or deased in the night and see what he lack & she shall mack it Reddye and geve it him at his owne coste and charge and do hur dewty to helpe the said poore man

Item the woman shall every morning make the poor men a fire before they rise and give them a pan of water and a dish by it to wash their hands and also she shall see the house is swept clean every day & also tend every man taken sick in the night to see what he needs & to give it to him at his own cost, and do her duty to help that poor man

Itm that evry poor man and the woman shall have ther wages upon Friday at none to be delevred to the prior and he shall delever evry poor man & the woman ther wages that then may bye that which is nedfull for them upon the Satterday

Item that every poor man and the woman shall have their wages on Friday at noon to be given out by the prior so they might buy what they need on Saturday

Itm ther shall none of theis poor men goo abroad nether in the towne nor contrye a begging but shall go in to the towne of ther bussines and so to Returne whome againe

Item none of these poor men are to go out in town or country begging, only to do their own business and return home again

Itm ther shall non of theis poor men wander abroad into the contrye but he shall aske the prior leave that he maye knowe wheraboutes he go if he thinke it good to geve hime leave to go & not else that he may return whome agayne at night to his prayer

Item none of these poor men are to go out unless they ask permission from the prior so he may give his permission and know where they have gone & that they will return again at night for prayers

Itm ther shalbe non mayntayened or kepte within the said hospital but Twelve poor men and the woman

Item there shall only be twelve men maintained in the hospital and the woman

Itm the woman shall have for her paines as much as anye of the Twelve men have in evrie Respecte

Item the woman shall have as much [wages] for her trouble as the men in every respect

Itm theis poore men and the woman shall have allowed them for ther wagges evrie man vijd awicke and the woman vijd awicke also during ther lives so that the kepe theis orders & statutes her sett downe & that the shall have yerly as much black as will mack evrye man a gowne & the woman also delvred them always against Cristmas & vs yearly for ther lampe & vs to the barber and eight loade of wood to be brought whome yearly without anye charge to them & xs for fuell to washe them

Item these poor men and the woman shall have allowed as wages every man 7d and the woman 7d a week so long as they keep to these orders as set down & they shall have as must cloth as will make each man and the woman a gown given to them near Christmas  & 5s yearly for their lamp & 5s to the barber and 8 loads of wood to be brought home yearly without any charge to them & 10s for fuel to wash them

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