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Editor: E.A. Jones

This source book offers a comprehensive treatment of the solitary religious lives in England in the late Middle Ages. It covers both enclosed anchorites or recluses and freely-wandering hermits, and explores the relation between them. The sources selected for the volume are designed to complement better-known works connected with the solitary lives, such as the anchoritic guide Ancrene Wisse, or St Aelred of Rievaulx’s rule for his sister; or late medieval mystical authors including the hermit Richard Rolle or the anchorite Julian of Norwich. They illustrate the range of solitary lives that were possible in late medieval England, practical considerations around questions of material support, prescribed ideals of behaviour, and spiritual aspiration. It also covers the mechanisms and structures that were put in place by both civil and religious authorities to administer and regulate the vocations. Coverage extends into the Reformation period to include evidence for the fate of solitaries during the dissolutions and their aftermath. The material selected includes visual sources, such as manuscript illustrations, architectural plans and photographs of standing remains, as well as excerpts from texts. Most of the latter are translated here for the first time, and a significant proportion are taken from previously unpublished sources.

E.A. Jones

independent figures that people would turn to for advice, or merely to share a problem or a confidence. 15 The law of charity required that they should do their best to be good listeners. Julian of Norwich seems to have fallen into this category. She was visited towards the end of her life, in 1413, by Margery Kempe, who spent ‘many days’ telling her about her experiences, and in particular her ‘many

in Hermits and anchorites in England, 1200–1550
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E.A. Jones

Cornhill, St Benet Fink, St Clement Danes, and the Dominicans’ church of Blackfriars [ 6b ]; hermits in the parishes of St Clement’s, St Lawrence Jewry and Charing Cross, and solitaries dwelling in or near the city wall at Aldgate, Bishopsgate, Cripplegate [ 40 ], [ 62 ], All Hallows in the Wall [ 6a ], [ 35b ], and at the Tower of London. 16 In Norwich between Julian of Norwich at the end of the fourteenth century and

in Hermits and anchorites in England, 1200–1550
E.A. Jones

Julian of Norwich. Four fifteenth-century wills contain bequests to Julian (either by name or beyond reasonable doubt); two of those mention her servant: in 1404 Thomas Emund left 12d to Julian, anchorite at the church of St Julian, and 8d to Sarah who lives with her, and in 1415 John Plumpton left 40d to the anchorite at St Julian’s, 12d to her maidservant, and 12d to her former maid, Alice. 11 As we saw in Chapter I , an

in Hermits and anchorites in England, 1200–1550
Bernard O’Donoghue

numinous was always immanent, ready to appear. This spirituality, which is a matter of impulse, rather than being founded on an explicit system of dogma, is of course nothing new in poetry, Irish or otherwise. T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, which are arguably the greatest English religious poems of their century, are concerned with the numinous impulse rather than with an achieved set of beliefs. They end with the great passage drawing on the late medieval mystic Julian of Norwich: And all shall be well and All manner of thing shall be well Catholic-Christian identity

in Irish Catholic identities
Laurence Lux-Sterritt

an experience common to all mystics. English Benedictine mystics partook of a long-standing heritage and recounted similar sensations, using images comparable to those of the mystics whose works they read. As indicated by Augustine Baker’s and Gertrude More’s lists of recommended books, Benedictines – at Cambrai at least – were familiar with Gregory of Nyssa, Blosius, Bernard of Clairvaux, Hugh and Rich of St Victor, St Bonaventure, Tauler, Ruysbroeck, Eckart, Suso, the author of the Cloud of Unknowing, Walter Hilton, Julian of Norwich, St John of the Cross, St

in English Benedictine nuns in exile in the seventeenth century
Laurence Lux-Sterritt

emphasise inner prayer. Baker’s teachings were based upon the writings of late medieval mystics whose works he copied and translated for his nuns, including, as we have just seen, the author of the Cloud of Unknowing and Walter Hilton, but also Blosius, Harphius, John Ruysbroeck, Henry Suso or John Tauler.43 The nuns copied Julian of Norwich’s Showings of Love and had knowledge of Julian’s unique brand of immediate female spirituality.44 Baker’s cultural and religious heritage did not endorse the method of the Ignatian exercises, and, rather, sought a prayer of silence

in English Benedictine nuns in exile in the seventeenth century
E.A. Jones

been anxious that a resident solitary could become a nuisance, a distraction or a financial burden [ 6b ]. On the moral and spiritual questions, our sources are generally quieter, though a tempting hypothesis suggests that Julian of Norwich may have prepared the Short Text of her Revelations in connection with such an enquiry into her suitability for the anchoritic life. In some cases the bishop would

in Hermits and anchorites in England, 1200–1550
E.A. Jones

in the record [ 61 ] she denounced the bishop of Lincoln as Antichrist and scornfully refused to answer the charges against her. Palmer was a contemporary of Julian of Norwich, just as Richard Rolle was a contemporary of the charismatic Yorkshire preacher Henry Staunton [ 59 ]. It is easy to think of the heretic and the mystic as opposites, but these examples suggest that it may also be worth considering what they might have in common

in Hermits and anchorites in England, 1200–1550
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Oliver P. Rafferty

and benediction could exert such a powerful and moving impact on modern Irish writing. For his part Bernard O’Donoghue in Chapter 20 illustrates the fact that the idea of the transcendent, the relationship between the world of time and eternity, between the numinous and the immanent is a central 16 Irish Catholic identities theme in the poetry of many contemporary Irish writers. Drawing on traditions as old as the medieval mystic Julian of Norwich, but reflected in the work of modern poets such as T. S. Eliot, religious images and ideas are all pervasive in the

in Irish Catholic identities