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OPERATIONS OF THE COLUMNS.…

THE CHESHIRE MILITIA. -I

IARCHÆOLOGAL SOCIETY.

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I ARCHÆOLOGAL SOCIETY. t RALPH HIGDEN'S TOMB. THE CITY CHARTERS. The annual general meeting of the Chester Archaeological and Historical Society was held at the Museum on Tuesday evening. The Ven. Archdeacon Barber presided, and there were also present Dr. H.-Stolterfoth, Dr. J. C. Bridge, Mr. Henrv Taylor, Mr. E. Hodkinson, Mr. T. S. Gleadowe, Mr. T. B. Blower, Mr. W. E. Brown, Mr. W. Conway (secretary), etc. Apologies for absence were read from Mr. Robert Yerburgh, M.P., and the Rev. H. Grantham. The Secretary presented the treasurer's state- ment of accounts for the year ending 31st March, 1902. The total income amounted to L126 8s. 5d. and the expenditure £12.3 Os. 2d., leaving a balance in hand of £ 3 odd. It was explained that the present journal of this year had not been paid for, and would cost J358 19s. 6d., thus causing a debit balance. The council, in their annual report, recorded a particularly interesting session, not only with regard to the papers that had been read, but also with regard to the increasing interest which the members themselves had taken in the various meetings and excursions. During the session six meetings had been held. By making a charge for admission to non-members to Dr. Bridge's lecture, "The Masque of Comus," the council were enabled to grant a sum of £ 10 to the fund which was being raised for providing better ac- commodation for the curator of the Museum. The summer excursion took place on June 5 to Much Wenlock, and on the 16th July there was an afternoon exoursion to Basingwerk Abbey. The recommendation of the council that more frequent excursions to inspect the many objects of interest in the city should be arranged had been carried out, and by the kindness of the Dean and under the guidance of the Archdeacon six visits had been paid to the Cathedral. It was intended that a permanent record of these excursions should be published in the journal of the society. The council had to report the issue of volume eight, new series, of the journal and to express their obligations to the editorial secretary, the Rev. F. Sanders, M.A., F.S.A., for his labour in connection therewith. The hon. treasurer's statement of acounts was sub- mitted, shewing a deficit of £ 49 lls. lOd. The following gentlemen bad been selected to repre- sent the society upon the Grosvenor Museum Management Committee, namely: Archdeacon Barber, Mr. H. Taylor, F.S.A., Mr. T. S. Gleadowe, Mr. E. Hodkinson, Mr. F. Skipwith, and Dr. J. C. Bridge, M.A. The council, while thankfully reoordingr the fact that new members had been elected during the past year, again appealed to all members to do their utmost to induce others to join, and thus to place the society in a better financial position. Mr. E. Hodkinson, hon. librarian and curator, presented his report, and said that a few coins ana pieces of pottery had been received and a number of volumes exchanged for other publica- tions. The Chairman proposed that the report of the council, the hon. curator's and librarian's report, and the statement of accounts be adopted. It was certainly satisfactory to see the membership increasing and a larger attendance at their meetings, and espeoially at the excursions. He felt the society should be more widely and liberally supported than it was. Mr. Henry Taylor seconded. He would like to emphasise what the Archdeacon had said about the society's being better supported than It was. There was in an historical city like Chester, unique in its architecture and teeming with information of all kinds and all periods, a mass of material which had yet to be brought to light. They ought to be better supported, and if the public would only realise the great and good work that that society had done and was doing, be felt certain that there would be a considerable addition to their members.—The resolution was carried. Mr. W. E. Brown moved the re-election of the retiring members of the council, namely, the Rev. H. Grantham, the Rev. Canon Cooper Scott, Dr. Stolterfoth, Mr. Henry Taylor, F.S.A., and Mr. W. W. Tasker.—Mr. Gleadowe seconded and the motion was agreed to. Mr. Haswell was elected hon. auditor, on the proposition of Dr. Stolterfoth seconded by Dr. Bridge. Mr. E. Hodkinson moved a vote of thanks to the donors of books and objects of antiquarian interest. He thought the society and city in general had been most fortunate in the kindness of their patriotic donors.—Mr. Tasker seconded aEd the vote was heartily accorded. Mr. T. B. Blower moved a vote of thanks to the president, vice-presidents, and officers of the society for the able way in which they had con- ducted the affairs of the society during the past arH^as sure they owed them their sincere thanks.-Thls was unanimously carried. Archdeacon Barber, in responding, said every- one present must have known how they were indebted to the vergers of the Cathedral during the visits that had been paid to it. He thought it would be a graceful thing if they elected the two vergers hon. members of the society. They ought to pass a resolution of that kind .-Dr. Stolterfoth seconded and Mr. Henry Taylor sup- Stolter,foth see,n d e d an d ported.—The resolution was heartily agreed to. At the close of the meeting Archdeacon Barber read a paper on the discovery of Ralph Higden's tomb. He said he had not been able to find any papers in the published transactions of the society relating to the subject, but the Rev. E. L. Y. Deacle, who was precentor at the time, had very kindly furnished him with his recollections,j of tiio ovt'ut, a,law wrwi some uoiiespondence on the subject. By the kindness of the editor, he was able to give an extract from the "Chester Courant" of June 3rd, 1874, being the portion of a paper read by the Rev. E. L. Y. Deacle at a meeting of the Archaeological Society on May 27th. The Archdeacon read the quotation, which described the discovery of a grave Oil February 16th of the same year, containing a body perfect in form. In a short time after its discovery the distinctness of the form was gone, and, besides some of the larger bones, nothing remained but a glittering white powdery matter. Writino- on March 10th, 1902, the Rev. E. L. Y. Deacle said the grave was proved to be that of Higden, by an account of a Royal Progress found in the Bod- leian Library. Writing again in April, Mr. Deacle said that he sent a bit of the serge cassock which he found on the body to the British Museum, and from an unguent use d they fixed the date of burial, which coincided with the death of Higden. The tomb, if not actually in the wall, was close to it, and might have been partly in the wall and partly in the adjoining pavement. At the time of the discovery of the tomb, Canon Blomfield drew Mr. Deacle's attention to the fact that several of the later abbots were buried in the south aisle of the Choir. In mentioning these facts, he contended that it was unlike that a richly ornamented tomb would be erected in honour of an ordinary monk. Among some notes by the late Mr. Ewen he found one mentioning the discovery of a coffin with the remains of an embalmed body in the Cathedral. According to the note a record had been found, proving it to be the body of Thomas Birchelsey, otherwise Lytheilen, a chaplain to King Edward I. He had since ascertained that the paragraph was ex- tracted from the "Chester Chronicle" of March 2nd, 1787, and he was much indebted to the chief reporter, who had kindly made search in the files of the paper and verified the extract. To account for the presence of the hazel rod, he read a letter signed Emily S. Holt, which ad- vanced the theory that the hazel rod was a guard against witchcraft. Against this theory must be set the opinions of two ecclesiastics or the Roman Church. In a fragment of a letter he found it stated that hazel rods were buried with persons who had done penance in lifetime, and were so to say post-mortem absolutions. In some cases, it appeared, the dead body was scourged with rods of this wood and the rods were buried with the corpse. As Higden was a lay monk, no sacramental vessels being found in the coffin, the wand most probably indicated that he had ro- ceived absolution in hora mortis. They would agree that it was interesting to have had those points brought to their notice, and that they owed a debt of gratitude to Mr. Deacle for his kindness in making this possible by placing the various papers at their disposal. Dr. Bridge said that they were very much indebted to the Archdeacon for putting on record what Mr. Deacle saw. It was a pity that society did not preserve Mr. Deacle's papers. He hoped it would now appear in print in their proceed- ings. Dr. Stolterfoth then exhibited and explained, by means of magic lantern slides, a number of the old city charters, from 1171 to 1689. He said that the beauty of the writing was most remarkable, and as far as penmanship went we had not improved upon what our ancestors could do. Some, unhappily, had been damaged. The scroll work on some of the charters was very beautiful, and the portraits of the Sovereigns were excellent, except in the case of the one of Ojiver Cromsrell, which must haqe been'done by a Royalist. At the conclusion the Doctor presented the slides to the society. Mr. Henry Taylor said few cities had such a valuable series of documents. He wondered if the Corporation could we their way to print copies of the documents.

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