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March 2001

Margaret Croston

Retreat House News
The House hosted its first group in February and is ready to welcome visits from old and new friends. Warden Valerie Fisher thanks all those who have helped with the furniture and given support in various ways to the six-week long refurbishment. Mrs Pauline West, the new Assistant Warden, has now arrived. Details of this year’s programmed can be obtained by telephone Chester 321801 or drop in for a quick look. An Open Day is to be arranged soon.

Plant Sale 4th/5th May
Please support the Friends who organise this each year. They would be grateful for seeds, plants and jars of marmalade.

Consistory Court
Nicholas Fry, the Visitors’ Officer of the Cathedral, writes about this Court, which is the only old church court to have survived in this country and at one time, wielded considerable influence.

‘It was presided over by the Chancellor of the Diocese and among its various duties it fined those who failed to attend their parish churches or misbehaved during services either within the church itself or even in the churchyard. It also dealt with wills and probate as well as slander, and the court records reveal that some fairly choice language was employed in years gone by!
‘When the Diocese was formed in 1541 the Court was situated in the present Lady Chapel, and it was moved to its present location in 1636. Therefore the furnishings must pre-date the time of their re-positioning, and the great table is said to date from the 16th century. The woodwork was altered to fit the new location – the canopy over the Chancellor’s raised seat has only a fragment of the name "Edward Mainwairing" who was appointed Chancellor in 1634. On either side of the Chancellor sat two clerks and the other officers of the Court sat around the table in the middle. The raised seat in the corner belonged to the Apparitor, who performed the duties of a modern-day court usher and ensured that the proceedings ran smoothly. Where the accused stood is open to conjecture. It is interesting to see that the floor level was raised considerably, presumably to add to the dignity of the Court and one can imagine going up the steps from the Nave to face the full force of the majesty of the Law – quite an intimidating experience!

Forthcoming Events
Plant Sale 4th/5th May in the Cloisters from 10.00 am – 4 pm.
Friends’ Outing to Southwell Minster on Wednesday 23rd May.
Friends’ Day Saturday 23rd June – speaker the Dean.
Autumn Lecture Tuesday 16th October in the Refectory at 7.30 pm – speaker Professor Tim Wheller, Principal of Chester College of Higher Education.
Annual Outing Saturday 22nd September – venue to be arranged.

Useful telephone number: Cathedral Office, Chester 324756.

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