Leland's Itinerary of England and Wales: Volume V, Part X, Appendix.


BURFORD, CULHAM, AND ABINGDON (Note by Thomas Hearne. See page 77.)

THO' King Henry the Vth. is here said to be the founder not only of Burford, [a] but of Culham, Bridge, yet this is to be understood only by way of complement, and 'tis grounded only upon the liberty given by him for building the bridges, and upon some other small privileges that he allow'd at this time. For 'tis certain that John of St. Helen's was the first beginner of Burford Bridge, to the maintenance of which and of the hospital of St. Helen's that he had founded, he left an estate in land of 50. pounds a year, which estate (I suppose) now belongs (at least it ought to belong) to the present hospital, call'd Christ's Hospital, that was built by K. Edward the Sixth and Sir John Mason. And 'tis withal as certain that Geffry Barbour was the principal founder of Culham [b] Bridge, towards which, and to the finishing of Burford Bridge, and to the making of the fine causey between both bridges he gave a 1000. marks, which was punctually laid out upon this work. The best artists that could be found were imploy'd, and every man had a penny a day, which was the best wages, and an extraordinary price in those times, when the best wheat was now and thenf sold for twelve pence a quarter. Twas likewise in

[a] Burford, Berkshire.
[b] In Oxfordshire, near Abingdon, which is in Berkshire.


those times that in the feasts of the fraternity of the Holy-Cross in Abbington they spent yearly six calfs, which cost two shillings and two pence a piece, sixteen lambs at twelve pence a piece, above four score capons at three pence a piece, above four score geese at two pence half penny a piece, eight hundred eggs at five pence a hundred; besides many marrow bones, much fruit and spice, and a great quantity of milk, cream and flour, all in proportion too to the prices that I have specify'd: and upon these days of rejoycing withal they us'd to have twelve minstrels, viz. six from Coventry and six from Maidenhead, for which and for other uses of the fraternity William Dyar, Vicar of Bray in Berks, gave them five tenements in East St. Helen's Street, three tenements in West St. Helen's Street, and other lands in Abbington. So that considering the cheapness of things in those times, Geffry Barbour's contribution was very great and extraordinary, and 'tis nothing but justice to style him the founder of the bridge, the stones whereof, as well as those of Burford Bridge, were taken out of the quarries of Bessilsleigh and Stanford, and were given them by Sir Peter Bessils, who moreover, besides the money he gave for carrying on the building of the bridges, by his last will and testament, dated Octob. 23. 1424. gave all his lands, tenements and reversions in Abbington towards the perpetual maintenance and repair of them. Besides Geffry Barbour's benefaction to this work, he was likewise so great a benefactor to the hospital of St. Helen, that some look upon him now, as they did even in Mr. Leland's time, to have been the chief founder of it. He was also in other respects a very great friend to this town, and did so much good in the place, that he is always mention'd by the inhabitants with the most profound respect. He was first of all buried in the Abbey Church; but upon the dissolution he was translated from thence in the most solemn manner to St. Helen's Church, where I have seen his grave-stone, and find the following inscription upon it: Hic jacet Galfridus Barbour, Mercator de Abendon, quondam Balivus Bristoliae, qui obiit vicesimo primo die Aprilis anno Domini 1417. Cujus animae propitietur Deus. Tis this great respect which the inhabitants of the town have for him that hath prevented the destruction of the brass-plate upon which the inscription


is ingrav'd. Other old monuments have been defac'd and utterly destroy'd by Puritans, Presbyterians, and the rest of the whining crew, purely out of a vain, idle conceit, that the memory of no Roman Catholicks ought to be preserv'd. This town hath been famous for fanaticks, and 'tis no wonder that there is so little of such kind of antiquities remaining amongst them; and yet these principles have not prevail'd so far upon them as to erase out of their minds the honour that is due to Geffry Barbour; which, perhaps, may be owing, in some measure, to this, that they do not believe him to have been a rigorous Roman Catholick, but rather an enemy to the Pope. We cannot conceive what rejoycing there was upon the finishing of Culham Bridge, not only because a stop was put by this means to the mischiefs which us'd to happen in ferrying over the water, but also because it conduc'd very much to the inriching of the town by influencing travellers in their way from Gloucester to London to pass through it, and not through Walingford as they had been accustom'd to do. And 'tis to be noted that 'twas nothing else but a sense of the many benefits that accru'd from hence to this place that occasion'd Mr. Richard Fannand, iron-monger, in the year 1457 (being the 36. year of the reign of K. Hen. VI.) to put up a table in the hall of St. Helen's Hospital in memory of Geffry Barbour, etc. in which we have an exact, tho' rude and barbarous, description of the proceedings in building of Culham Bridge, together with some Latin verses at the beginning (in which K. Henry the V. is mention'd as the founder of both bridges) and the rebus of Abbington at the end, (which differs somewhat from that in Dr. Plot's letter.)* 'Tis this table that is here cited by Mr. Leland, and 'tis now hanging in the hall of the present hospital, but being like to come to decay in some time, I shall here beg leave to transcribe and publish it, that posterity may know to whom it is that they


are chiefly indebted for the benefits that follow'd from the foundation of Culham Bridge.

Henrici quinti regis quarto revoluto Anno, rex idem pontem fundavit utrumque, Supra locum binum Borford dictumque Culhamford. Inter eos namque via regia tendit alta. Annis adjunctis dat inter gradientibus amplum; Principium cujus Abendoniae situatur. Annis tune donum M. quater C. numeratis, Ex sexto deno cum fecit opus pietatis. Vos qui transitis hujus memores bene sitis, Et vestris precibus fundator sit relevatus.

Off alle Werkys in this Worlde that ever were -wrought Holy chirche is chefe, there children been chersid., For be baptim these Barnes to blisse been i brought, TJiorough the grace ofgod, andfayre refresshed. Another blissed besines is brigges to make, There that the pepul may not passe after greet showres. Dole it is to drawe a deed body cute of a lake, That wasfulled in afount stoon, and afelow ofcures. Kyng Herry theffte in his fourthe Yere, He hathe ifoundefor hisfolke a brige in Berke schure. For cards with cartage may goo and come clere, That many Wynters afore were mareed in the myre. And som oute of her sadelsflette to the grounde Went forthe in the Water wist no man wkare. Fyve Wekys after or they were i founde, Her kyn and her kncnvlech caught hem uppe with care. Then the commons of Abendoii cryed on the fCynge, Upon Dukes and Lordes that were in this londe. The Kynge bad hem begynne apofi goddes blissinge, And make it also strange as they couthe with stone, lyme or sonde. Apon the day ofseynt Albon they began this game, And John Huchyns layde the firste stoon in the Kynges name. Sir Peris Besillis knyght curteys and heend, For his fadir soule and his frendes he dyd as he scholde. He gaf hem stonys i nowhe into the werkys ende, Also many as they nedidfeche hem if they wolde. Than crafti men for the querry made crowes of yre, Weges, and wayes, and many harde howys. Jeffray Barbour bad pay hem her hyre. Then must they have mooldes to make on the bowys. They cokid for cartes, and cast for her clusyng,


They founde oute the fundement and layde in large stones. They reysid up the archeys be geometre in rysyng, With xi. laborers lavyng at onys. Ther was mater i nowhe, stone, lyme and gravel, Werkemen als wise as they couldefynde any. And ever bad the Barbour payfor her travel, Til a M. Marke be spende eche a peny. Then the strenghe of the streme astoned hem strange, In labor and lavyng moche money was lore. Ther loved hem a ladde was a water man longe, He helpe stop the streme til the werke were afore. It was a solace to see in a somer seson, CCC. I wysse workynge at onys. iiii. and iiii. reulyd be reson, To wete who wrought best were setfor the nonce. Thepeple preved her power with the pecoyse, [a] The mattok was man handeled right wele a whyle, With spades and schovelis they made suche a noyse, That men myght here hem thens a myle. Wyves went oute to wife how they wrought: V. score in afiok it was a fayre syght. In bord clothes bright white brede they brought, Chees and chekenes clerelych A dyght. These weren the dyches i diged inful harde grounds, And i cast up to arere with the wey, Sethen they were i set with a quyk mownde To holde in the bunkesfor ever and ay. The gode Lorde of Abendon of his londe,

For the breed ofthe brige iiii. fate large. It was a greet socour of erthe and of sonde, Andyt he abated the rent ofthe barge. An C. pownde, and xvli was truly payed Be the hondes ofJohn Huchyns and Banbery also, For the waye and the barge thus it must be sayed. Therto witnesse al Abendon, and many oon moo. For now is Culham hithe i com to an ende, An al the contre the better and no man the worse. Fewfolke there were coude that wey wende, But they waged a wed or payed of herpurse. And if it were a begger had breed in his bagge, He schulde be ryght soone i bidfor to goo aboute, And ofthe pore penyles the hiereward wold habbe A hood or a girdel, and let hem goo withoute. Many moo myscheves there weren I say. Culham hithe hath causid many a curse. I blyssed be our helpers we have a better waye, Withoute any peny for cart and for horse.

[a] Peck or pick-axe.


Thus acordid the kynge and the covent, And the commones of Abendon as the Abbot wolde. Thus they were cesed and set al in oon assent, That al the brekynges of the brige the towne bere schulde. This ivas preved acte also in Perlement, In perpetual pees to have and to holde. This tale is i tolde in noon other entent Butfor myrthe and in memory to yonge and to aide. Now every good body that gothe on this brige, Bidfor the Barborjentiljeffray, That clothed many a pore man to bed and to rige, And hathe holpe to rentis to holde up this waye. The wiche rentes right trewe men have i take on honde, Andgraciously governed hem now a good while. Who so have hem hereafter withe trewthe but he stonde, It schal be knowen openly he dothe hymselfe begyle. I councel every creature to kepe hymfrom the curse. For of this tretis wil I no more telle. And be not to covetous to youre owne purse, For peril of the peynes in the pit ofHelk. Now godgeve us grace tofolowe treuthe even, That we may have a place in the blysse of Heven. AMEN.

[a] r. A.B.I.N.D.O.N. R.F.I.

Take the first letter of youre foure fader with A, the worker of wex, and I and N, the colore of an asse; set them togeder, and tel me yf you can what it is than. Richard Fannande Irenmonger hathe made this tabul, and set it here in the yere of Kyng Herry the sexte xxxviu.

[a] This Letter stands for rebus, unless I am mistaken.

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