Henry Wells, Alice Wiche, and their devotional activities in fifteenth-century London
Lisa Colton, University of Huddersfield
Victoria's Room, Victoria Rooms
British Library Additional MS 25588 is a Sarum Missal that provides a unique window into the devotional practices within fifteenth-century London. The manuscript was owned by Henry Wells (d. c.1481), who worked as a private chaplain for two high-status patrons: John Dunstaple of Cambridge, Esquire (d. 1459), and later Dame Alice Wiche (d. 1474). In previous scholarship, Henry Wells’s Missal has been associated with the diocese of Norwich, but the book can in fact be placed in London, where I will show that he adapted it for use at Alice’s parish church of St Dionis Backchurch. Wells worked as Alice’s chantry priest in the Lady Chapel as part of her elaborate memorial provision, which also included polyphonic sung performances for Jesus Mass. The discussion illustrates the significant impact that a small number of people might have on their devotional environment, before and after death, and considers the annotations and adjustments made by Wells as evidence of the personal, spiritual, and musical agency of Alice Wiche in particular.
Lisa Colton is Professor of Musicology at the University of Huddersfield. Her publications include Angel Song: Medieval English Music in History (Routledge, 2017) and articles on medieval song from England and France. She has also published on music by female musicians, including Dame Judith Weir, Lady Gaga, and Beyoncé.
Michael Ellison: Michael.Ellison@bristol.ac.uk