The Accounts of the Guild of the Holy Trinity, Luton
Religious guilds or fraternities proliferated throughout England until their dissolution in the late 1540s, yet remarkably few of their records have survived. Amongst the survivals are the last twenty-one years of the accounts of the Luton Guild of the Holy Trinity, hitherto unpublished in full. The accounts record several hundred transactions each year, including rents for the guild's properties, and expenditure on wages to priests and clerks and dirges sung for deceased members of the guild. Purchases of food and hiring of cooks, kitchen helpers, utensils and entertainment show what extraordinarily lavish provision was made for the annual feast. The quantity of building materials which was purchased for the guild's properties suggests not only repairs but also modernisation and may be sufficient to attempt to reconstruct some of the houses. The majority of 'brothers and systers' of the guild were drawn from a radius of about twenty-five miles of Luton and included the towns and villages in neighbouring Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. A small, but noticeable, group were from London, Canterbury, Boston and Kendal. The guild was prosperous, well-connected and active, and its accounts provide an insight into daily life in mid-sixteenth-century south Bedfordshire and the surrounding area. The book contains a complete transcription of the accounts and an introduction presenting an overview of the guild's activities. It is fully indexed. Barbara Tearle is a retired librarian, formerly working at the Bodleian Law Library, Oxford, and is currently engaged in local history research with the Oxfordshire Probate Group and as editor for the Bedfordshire Historical Record Society.
The Bedfordshire Historical Record Society and Barbara Tearle are to be congratulated for making widely available these fascinating accounts, which have been meticulously edited and well indexed. THE RICARDIAN
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