Read A Corpse at St Andrew's Chapel Online

Authors: Mel Starr

Tags: #Fiction, #Christian, #Historical, #Mystery & Detective, #General

A Corpse at St Andrew's Chapel

BOOK: A Corpse at St Andrew's Chapel
5.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Readers’ praise for THE UNQUIET BONES

Thoughtful and curious, surgeon Hugh is an engaging character who feels totally real.

– Rikki B. USA

Absolutely loved the book and cannot wait for the next one. One of the best medieval genre novels I’ve read in years. More of the same please – soon!

– David C. UK

I enjoyed the setting, the period, the very realistic characters and the dry wit.

– Donna B. USA

I enjoyed the story, and the insight into life in 14th century Britain. A lovely way to learn history – I’m looking forward to the sequel.

– John H. UK

I read all of it in one go; it’s quite the best medieval mystery I’ve read in a while. I teach medieval history, so it’s always nice to read something by someone who actually knows what they’re talking about. Can’t wait for the next one!

– Sarah T. USA

The first chronicle of Hugh de Singleton is a great read.

– Richard A. UK

I found your novel a most enjoyable read and a rewarding venture into the history of Bampton in the company of real and entertaining characters. Should I find myself in the UK again I will definitely stop for a peek at St Beornwald’s.

– Anne Marie C. Ireland

A wonderful story, which could have been ghost-written by a true 14th century surgeon. I’m looking forward to reading more of his work.

– Jill M. USA

A great read – appreciate the detail – and the glossary. I hope you have more to follow!

– Ross D. Australia

As a retired nurse I enjoy reading the history of medicine. This book fed my hunger and left me wanting more. I am sending a donation to help save the beautiful old church in the story.

– Patricia N. USA

This is an outstanding book and I found it impossible to put down. I shall look forward to the next chronicle with eager anticipation.

– Roger F. UK

The first chronicle of Hugh de Singleton was first rate all the way. Amusing, educational, interesting, clever, and realistic all rolled into one fantastic piece of work. I am eagerly awaiting the second.

– Annie E. USA

Just a few lines to say how much I have enjoyed reading
The Unquiet Bones
. It is going on my ‘keeper shelf’ with my other favourite medieval mysteries. I hope this book is the first of many.

– Sue G. UK

An excellent first novel. The plot is well thought out and moves along nicely, with enough in the way of twists, turns, and red herrings to keep the reader interested.

– Gary M. USA

What an outstanding first novel! Great plot, easy to read…I’ve read all the Cadfael books and
The Unquiet Bones
exceeds them all. Can’t wait for the next book in the series.

– Peter S. UK

Excellent debut of a fine new protagonist…the author shows a firm grasp of history. We can cheerfully hope that this will be the first of many.

– Suzanne C. USA

I have never written to an author before but I really feel I must thank you for
The Unquiet Bones
. I have so enjoyed this book. I am a great fan of medieval whodunits and this must rank as one of the best.

– Roger G. France

All in all this was a great first novel and I will purchase any others forthcoming from this author.

– Ruth I. USA

The book contains fascinating insights into medieval surgery.
The Unquiet Bones
is a delight to read and I’m looking forward to the next installment.

– Chris P. USA

I have just finished
The Unquiet Bones
and I loved it – a breath of fresh medieval air.

– Annie C. USA

You’ve created a real sense of place, coupled with characters a reader can like and be interested in. Hugh is a great hero and I look forward to more of his adventures.

– Maria H. USA

It was a wonderful read; I can’t wait to see where Master Hugh’s adventures will take him.

– Travis B. USA

Copyright © 2009 Mel Starr.
The right of Mel Starr to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

First published in the UK in 2009 by Monarch Books
(a publishing imprint of Lion Hudson plc),
Wilkinson House, Jordan Hill Road, Oxford OX2 8DR.
Tel: +44 (0)1865 302750 Fax: +44 (0)1865 302757
Email: [email protected]

Reprinted 2010 (twice).
First electronic format 2010.

ISBN: 978-1-85424-954-8 (print)
ISBN: 978-0-85721-040-1 (e-pub)
ISBN 978-0-85721-039-5 (Kindle)

Distributed by:
UK: Marston Book Services Ltd, PO Box 269, Abingdon, Oxon
OX14 4YN;
USA: Kregel Publications, PO Box 2607, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, © 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Ltd. All rights reserved.

British Library Cataloguing Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British

Cover image: Corbis

For Amy and Pastor Jen

“Many daughters have done well, but you exceed them all.”

Proverbs 32:29 (NKJV)


On a June afternoon in 1990 my wife and I found a delightful B&B in the tiny village of Mavesyn Ridware. Tony and Lis Page, the proprietors, became good friends. Nearly a decade later Tony and Lis moved to Bampton, where Susan and I were able to visit them in 2001. I saw immediately the town’s potential for the novels I intended to write. Tony and Lis have been a great resource for the history of Bampton, for which I am very grateful.

Dr. John Blair, of Queen’s College, Oxford, has written several papers illuminating the history of Bampton. These have been a great help, especially in understanding the odd situation of a medieval parish church staffed by three vicars.

When he learned that I had written an as yet unpublished novel, Dan Runyon, of Spring Arbor University, invited me to speak to his classes about the trials of a rookie writer. Dan sent some sample chapters of
The Unquiet Bones
to his friend, Tony Collins, Editorial Director of Monarch books at Lion Hudson plc. Thanks, Dan.

And thanks to Tony Collins, my editor, Jan Greenough, and all the people at Lion Hudson for their willingness to publish a new author with no track record.

To our many friends in the UK: your hospitality over the years has been a blessing. Thanks especially to Peter and Muriel Horrocks, Ron and Joan Taylor, George and Sally Kelsall, Frank and Jean Mitchell, and John and Jane Leech.

Mel Starr


Angelus Bell:
Rung three times each day – dawn, noon, and dusk – to announce the Angelus devotional.

Ascension Day:
Forty days after Easter. In 1365: May 22.

A city now in southern France where the popes resided from 1305 to 1378.

A lord’s chief manorial representative. He oversaw all operations. Collected rents and fines, and enforced labor service. Not a popular fellow.

A manor officer in charge of fences, hedges, enclosures, and curfew. He served under the reeve. Also called a hayward.

A room for beverages, stored in “butts”, or barrels.

Marked the purification of Mary after the birth of Christ. Women traditionally paraded to church carrying lighted candles. Tillage of fields resumed on this day.

A sleeveless outer garment worn by a priest during the mass.

A vegetable and fruit casserole, often including cabbage, parsnips, carrots, turnips, pears, and currants, flavoured with spices, wine, and honey.

A city in northwestern Spain thought to be the burial place of the apostle James. A popular pilgrimage goal.


To cut a tree back hard to the base to stimulate the growth of young shoots.

Corpus Christi:
The Thursday after Trinity. In 1365: June 12.

Open space between the merlons of a battlement.

One who holds that sanctity in a priest is necessary for the administration of sacraments.

Mixed grains planted together in a field; often barley and oats.

Ember Day:
A day of fasting, prayer, and requesting forgiveness of sins. Observed four times per year on successive Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Easter Sepulchre:
A niche in the wall of church or chapel where the host and a cross were placed on Good Friday and removed on Easter Sunday morning.

One-fourth of a penny – the smallest silver coin.

Feast of St. Edward:
March 18.

The keeper of a lord’s hunting dogs.

A Rogation Day procession around the boundary of a village.

Eight leaves of parchment, made by folding the prepared hide three times.

Merchant who sold household items such as pins, buckles, buttons, hats, and purses.

The manorial court. Royal courts judged free tenants accused of murder or felony, otherwise manorial courts had jurisdiction over legal matters concerning villagers. Villeins accused of murder might also be tried at hallmote.

See “beadle.”

An inheritance tax (called a fine) paid to the lord of the manor – usually the heir’s best animal.

The Sunday after Easter; a time for paying rents and taxes. Therefore, getting out of hock.

Hue and cry:
Alarm call raised by the person who discovered a crime. All who heard it were expected to go to the scene of the crime and, if possible, pursue the criminal.

A panel woven from willow or other pliable wood, used for fencing in animals.

King’s Eyre:
A royal circuit court, presided over by a traveling judge.

The basic medieval undergarment.

Lammas Day:
August 1, when thanks was given for a successful wheat harvest.

A fine for sexual relations out of wedlock.

A fashionably long tail attached to a man’s cap.

Lombardy custard:
A custard made with the addition of dried fruit.

Lych gate:
A roofed gate in a churchyard wall under which the deceased rest during the initial part of a burial service.

the sweetest variety of madeira wine, originally from Greece.

Marcher country:
Border lands between England and Wales, and England and Scotland.

The stables and associated accoutrements.

bread made from mixed grains, usually wheat and a coarser grain such as rye or barley.

A solid portion of wall between the open crenels of a battlement.

September 29. The feast signaled the end of the harvest. Last rents and tithes were due.

a fee paid to a lord for permission to allow pigs to forage in the forest.

The upper level of a castle wall.

Paschal moon
: The first full moon after March 21.

Pax board:
An object, frequently painted with sacred scenes, which was passed through the medieval church during service for all to kiss.

A penny – the most common medieval English coin. Like the half-penny and farthing (one-fourth penny), made of silver. Twelve pennies made a shilling and twenty shillings a pound. There was no one-pound coin.

anything cooked in one pot, from soups and stews to simple porridge.

The lord’s servant in charge of chickens, ducks, and geese.

The most important manor official, although he did not outrank the bailiff. Elected by tenants from among themselves, often the best husbandman. He had responsibility for fields, buildings, and enforcing labor service.

Rogation Days:
The Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Ascension Day. Also called “gang days.”

St Crispin’s Day:
October 25.

St David’s Day:
March 1.

St Scholastica Day Riot:
February 10, 1355. Several townsmen and students were killed in the riot.

St Swithin’s Day:
July 15.

A perennial herb with pink or white flowers which emits a pleasant odor when bruised.

An over-garment.

Land surrounding a home. In the medieval period often used for growing vegetables.

Treaty of Bretigny:
Cemented the English victory over France at Poitiers in 1356.

: In charge of the lord’s forest lands.

A non-free peasant. He could not leave his land or service to his lord, or sell animals without permission. But if he could escape his manor for a year and a day he was free.

Vyaund cyprys:
A chicken and rice pottage, often tinted with blue coloring.

Pentecost; seven weeks after Easter Sunday. In 1365: June 1.

A shrub often found twining about a tree – a variety of honeysuckle.

Thirty acres. Also called a virgate. In northern England also called an oxgang.

BOOK: A Corpse at St Andrew's Chapel
5.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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