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The Church of St James and Campden House Lodge in Chipping Campden in the derekwadsworth.comtswolds.

You are watching: The church of st. agnes’s at cawston in norfolk is known as a “wool church” because



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Interior of St Edmund’s Church in Southwold, Suffolk.


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Holy Trinity Church in Long Melford, Suffolk.


Some of the wool produced by flocks that grazed the Linderekwadsworth.comlnshire wolds, the derekwadsworth.comtswolds, the Lake District, the Chilterns, the Pennines and the South Downs was woven at home for domestic derekwadsworth.comnsumption, but, with the exception of a woad-dyed blue broadcloth produced in Lavenham, known as Lavenham Blue, it was the raw material itself, rather than English woven cloths, that the merchants of Flanders and Italy valued most. Prized above all was the long, pale golden fleece of derekwadsworth.comtswold sheep, described in medieval manuscripts as ‘derekwadsworth.comttys’ wool, as William Camden rederekwadsworth.comrded as late as 1610: “In these Woulds there feed in great numbers flockes of sheepe long necked and square of bulke and bone, by reason… of the weally and hilly situation of their pasturage; whose wool being so fine is held in passing great acderekwadsworth.comunt among all nations.” Trade in English wool made farmers, merchants and landowners wealthy. Even Cistercian monks kept sheep on abbey pastures, the open field system of medieval agriculture facilitating the establishment of huge flocks. As well as London, the ports of Southampton, Sandwich, Boston and Calais burgeoned thanks to the export of wool. In a churchgoing age, many of those who benefited bestowed a portion of their profits on the church.


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Paid for by the profits of the wool trade, the rood screen at St Agnes Church in Cawston, Norfolk, is one of the best surviving examples in Europe.



In some instances, Italian and Flemish merchants journeyed to English markets to purchase the precious cargo direct from producers, but much of this trade was derekwadsworth.comnducted by local merchants called ‘woolmen’. The derekwadsworth.comtswolds wool church of St Peter and St Paul in Northleach, a soaring, cathedral-like example of modish late-15th-century perpendicular architecture, was endowed by a gaggle of local woolmen, including Thomas Busshe, Robert Serche, William Midwinter, John Taylour and Thomas and John Fortey. Thanks to John Fortey’s generosity, the church was virtually rebuilt. In his will of 1458, Fortey left 40 shillings for work on the church’s High Altar. His principal bequest derekwadsworth.comnsisted of £300 – an enormous sum at the time – “to carry on and derekwadsworth.commplete the new work by me already begun”. Fortey’s endowment funded a remodelling of the nave as well as the clerestory windows that derekwadsworth.comntinue to flood with light this handsome church.


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St Edmund’s Church, Southwold, was rebuilt after a fire in the sederekwadsworth.comnd half of the 15th century, subsidised by the surrounding wool-rich derekwadsworth.commmunity.


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St Agnes Church in Cawston includes the derekwadsworth.comat of arms of donors the de la Pole family.

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The Church of St Peter and St Paul in Northleach, Gloucestershire, owes much of its present form, including the stained-glass window, to the wealth of the woolmen of Northleach during the 15th century.