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Brotherhood of Corpus Christi

This page was written by Sally Williams

During the later medieval period a Brotherhood of Corpus Christi was established in Cranfield and became attached to the church.  This was a body of men organised for religious or devotional purposes who had premises adjoining the churchyard. 

The Honour of Ampthill Ministers Accounts for 1542 lists the Brotherhood and shows the rent of their house or tenement called the Churchhouse or Brotherhood House of 4d. It stood where Church Walk enters the churchyard today. 

Church Walk Z1306-34-2-11

Church Walk, Cranfield 1914 [Z1306/34/2/11]

The Brotherhood was well supported by bequests in the wills of local residents, for example: in 1531 John Vause left the Brotherhood a young heifer, in 1533 William Baker bequeathed 13s 4d and Richard Brittain a cow. In 1534 William Sugar left a weaned calf and Nicolas Birreal 6s 8d. In 1537/38 Henry Wheeler left a two-year-old bullock and William Berne left a cow‘if the service be maintained and go forward’. In 1539/40 Robert Borrell left a bushel of wheat and Richard Borrell left a cow ‘for their prayers’. Thomas Baker left 6s 8d and Agnes Fuller 2s in the 1540s. Given that the rent for the Churchhouse was 4d, these bequests must have represented very significant financial support.

In 1549, following the dissolution of the Brotherhood, the house was granted by the King to William Smythe and his son [CRT100/25, 1542]