The Chantry Chapels of



The Chantry Chapels of St Mary Magdalene


The Chapel of St Mary Magdalene stood on a triangular piece of ground enclosed by a wall on a site bounded on the east by the Inbs beck (now called Chald beck), on the west by Chald Lane, on the north by the foot-bridge and ford over the Ings beck at the botto of Westgate.

The only bridge over the Ings beck was a wooden one for the use of foot-passengers, all animals and vehicles having to ford the stream.

This chapel stood outside the town some distance beyond Westgate bar ; all traces of it have now disappeared, but the name, Magdalene Bridge, still survives to commemorate the existance of the building.

The chapel was a small timber-framed building of post and panel work, with a stone roof, like the Six Chimneys or the old houses in Westgate. Its interior was spacious, the roof was arched, and at the west end were folding doors. It its gable were hung two small bells. It thus could not compete in architectural pretensions with either the Chapel on the Bridge, or with that of St John the Baptist. The chapel was founded by pious parishioners that the chaplain should celebrate mass there and pray for the souls of the founders, but the special reason for its foundation was that "in times of plague the chantry-priest should say mass and conduct Divine service there so that the sick and those in attendance upon them might thither resort in order that the rest of the parisioners might worship at their parish church without risk of contagion.

On 21 December 1388, William Wodergrave, the vicar of Wakefield, had license to have service for one year in the Chapel of St Mary Magdalene at Westgate Head. This may have been on account of work going on at the parish church, causing it to be partially closed, or because there was no chaplain licensed to this chapel, and the vicar, to prevent it being closed undertook the services.

The only benefactions to this chantry that I have found was one of 3s 4d., left by Oliver Furbyshour, chaplain to the Chapel of St Mary on Wakefield Bridge, by his will dated 14 June 1455 ; and another willing "a vestment with all stuf belonging thereto, unto the Chappell of Sancte Marie Magdalen in Wakefelde", by Edward Hanson of Wakefield, who will was proved 5 February 1540-1.

When the Valor Ecclesiasticus was compiled Robert Crofte was the chaplain, the rents of the lands and tenements in Wakefield amounted to 26s., and in Stanley to 25s. 2d. Total 51s. 2d.

In the Certificate of 1546 it is stated that Richard Battye was the priest, the goods of the chapel were worth 10s. 10d., and the plate 40s. The rentals then amounted to 64s. 4d. Two years later we find the same chantry-priest, "52 years of age, somewhat learned" ; but the goods were only valued at 4s. 3d., which gives colour to the conjecture that, fearing what was coming, chantry-priests and others appropriated what they ventured to remove. The altar-plate then weighed 9 ounces, probably a chalice and paten ; the freehold lands were worth 39s 6 1/2d., the copyhold 25s. 11d. The landed property of the chantry was situated in Westgate, Westgate Moor, and Thornes. The chantry-priest was awarded a pension of £1. 7s. 10d., and the chantry chapel with two acres of land around it, also one rood of land in Thornes Holme, and a parcel of land in Thornes, for the term of his life.

At the dissolution the chapel is described as "olde, buylded of tymbre and thacked with stone beynge somewhat decayed. There are twoo lyttle belles that hanged in the seid chappell wayenge tygether one hundred and one half waight".

On March 12 1549, Sir Thomas Gargrave and Thomas Darley obtained the chapel, with a cottage and a little garden, also another cottage in Kirkgate, and at a Manor Court on 3 May they were admitted to the above copyhold property in addition to 2 acres on Westgate Moor, called Ourepyttes, 2 roods of meadow in Thorne Holme and other lands in Thornes, conditionally that his assigned pension should be paid to Richard Battye, the late chantry-priest. On August 1 1550, the remaining portion of the property of this chantry was granted to Silvester Leigh and Leonard Bate, with the exception of one small field, containing a rood of land, which was granted to Francis Barker and Thomas Brown on 19 April 1571.

The two bells belongint to the chapel, each weighing three-quarters of a hundred weight, were sold for 20s.

Ultimately, in the separation of the property, this chapel and its lands fell to the share of Leonard Bate of Lupset, formerly of Munkey (Moor Monkton), who adquired Lupset by his marriage with Ann (Wyatt), widow of John Savile of Lupset. He was a large purchase of chantry property, and by his will dated the last day of August 1580, left "to xiij poore men and women xiij gownes pf bak cloothe whereof fyve of thoos poore foolkes now placed by me in fyve cottages or almeshousses sometyme a leetehows wth garthinges thereunto belonging in the West end of a streete in Wakefeld called Westgate wherin I have now placed fyve poore foolkes as beforesaid to have everie of them one gowne of the seid number". He alo left "one lytill crofte in Owchethorp of the herely rent of 20d. and two closes in Thornes called Wilfeldes of the clere yerely value of £5. 2s." to his trustees to pay 5s to each almshouse person quarterly. He also gave instrustions that the 20d. from the Ouchthorp close and a rent of 6s 8d. from a rood of meadow in Mooremunction Yngs should be used for the repair of the said almshouses as need required, also that " the part of the will regarding the poore folkes shall be delivered to them under ordinarly seale to remain fo ever in a chist to be found wyth yron and tyed to a post there, and four keys to be delyvered to the said poore folkes by mine executors". The will was proved 15 December 1581.

These almshouses, known as Leonard Bate's Almshouses were situated at Brooksbank, Westgate, west of the Chapel of St Mary Magdalene, and were administered by the Govenors of the Wakefield Charities. In 1866 the Charity Commissioners ordered them to be closed and sold, on account of their dilapidated condition, and on 15 October of that year they were purchased by Messrs.Thomas and Alfred Marriott. In 1825 the income received from rents for the supports of the almshouses amounted to £46. 4s. 10d., but in 1897 the investments from the sale of the properties brought in £136. 10s. 6d.

In the reign of Charles I the chapel belonged to the Saviles of Haselden Hall, for in the survey of lands of John Savile of Haselden Hall, taken on his death in 1629, among other property, he held "a chapel and messuage called Magdalen Chapel and 1/2 rood of land near Wakefeld Brooke", but later it came into the possession of the Maudes of Alverthorpe and Wakefield, who, for many years used it as a wool shop. About 1750 Daniel Maude pulled down the chapel and erected a dwelling house upon its site.





This information has been extracted from Walkers History of Wakefield published 1939.



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