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Authors: Candace Robb

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The Riddle of St Leonard's

BOOK: The Riddle of St Leonard's
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Also by Candace Robb

The Apothecary Rose

The Lady Chapel

The Nun’s Tale

The King’s Bishop

The Riddle
of St Leonard’s



This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

Version 1.0

Epub ISBN 9781446439838

First published in Great Britain 1997
by William Heinemann
an imprint of Reed International Books Ltd
Michelin House, 81 Fulham Road, London SW3 6RB
and Auckland, Melbourne, Singapore and Toronto

Copyright © 1997 by Candace M. Robb
The author has asserted her moral rights

A CIP catalogue record for this title
is available from the British Library

ISBN 0 434 00293 3








1 A Reputation at Stake

2 Manqualm

3 Things Fall Apart

4 An Unnatural Mother?

5 An Uneasy Conscience

6 Disturbing Developments

7 A Vow to Heal

8 Julian Taverner

9 The Master’s Cares

10 Alisoun’s Plight

11 The Stones of Sherburne

12 Delirium

13 Bess’s Complaint

14 Complexity

15 A Clash of Wills

16 Unsavoury Characters

17 Alisoun’s Resolve

18 A Riddle

19 Too Many Coincidences

20 Alisoun’s Secret

21 More Than Friendship

22 A Sleuth and a Samaritan

23 A Day of Diplomacy

24 Owen’s Suspicion

25 The Guilt of a Father

26 Tidal Waters

27 Painful Truths

28 Rich as the Master

29 Shattered Plans

30 Jasper’s Despair; Wulfstan’s Request

31 Remorse

32 Honouring the Dead




For Aunt Mae,
who has ever been much more than an aunt to me


I wish to thank Lynne Drew and Evan Marshall for nursing me along in the writing of this book during a difficult year. Charles Robb for patient systems support; painstaking work on the map; careful, detailed photography of key sites; and questions that led me deeper into my research. Lynne, Evan, and Victoria Hipps for thorough and thoughtful edits.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Patricia H. Cullum for her extensive work on St Leonard’s Hospital, and her patience with my questions. Jeremy Goldberg, Joe Nigota, Carol Shenton, and the knowledgeable and generous members of Mediev-l, Chaucernet, and H-Albion for responding to my queries with facts and bibliographies. Any mistakes are my own.

Research for this book was conducted on location in York and at the University of York’s Morrell Library, the British Library, and the libraries of the University of Washington, with additional critical materials from the York Archaeological Trust and my colleagues on the internet.




one of the canons, whose work was to give alms (food and drink) at the gate (at St Leonard’s, probably the Water Gate on Footless Lane), and also to go out of the house in order to visit the sick, infirm, blind and bed-ridden of the locality


a fragrant waxy secretion of the intestinal tract of the sperm whale, often found floating in the sea, used in medicine for its aroma


the undercroft of St Leonard’s infirmary in which the children were housed


the canon in charge of supplies of meats and victuals; at St Leonard’s he was often submaster


a pension or allowance provided by a religious house permitting the holder to retire into the house as a boarder; purchased for cash or by a donation of land or property

Gog and Magog

biblical reference; Gog and the land of Magog were the enemies of Israel; it was believed that the reign of the Antichrist would be heralded by the return of Gog and Magog

grammar school

a school in which the emphasis was on the
(grammar, rhetoric and dialectic), or the analysis and use of language, preparing the student for university; St Leonard’s operated a grammar school




men’s attire; a flowing gown, often floor-length and slit up to thigh level to ease walking, but sometimes knee-length; sleeves large and open


a minstrel who sang, juggled and tumbled

Keeper of the Hanaper

head of the department within Chancery that received fees paid on charters and letters under the great seal, paid the wages of the Chancery staff and bought materials for the office, and accounted for the whole proceeds annually at the exchequer; also received payments of fines by recipients of chancery writs; called the hanaper because the documents waiting to be sealed were kept in a hamper (hanaper)


first of August, when the Archbishop of York held an annual fair

lay sister

a woman who takes the habit and vows of a religious order, but is employed mostly in manual labour and is exempt from any studies or choir-duties




an Anglo-Saxon word for plague, pestilence


feast of St Martin, 11 November


a large wooden cup


a plot of land occupied by or intended for a dwelling house


income supporting St Leonard’s Hospital, dependent on the harvest (Peter’s corn)


the portion of the revenues of a cathedral or collegiate church granted to a canon or member of the chapter as his stipend



Queen’s Receiver

officer in the Queen’s household who gathered in revenue which he then disbursed at the Queen’s order in lump sum, paid over to her treasurer; Ravenser had power to act as the Queen’s attorney in any court in England




early English word for hospital, later ‘spitalhouse’ and ‘hospital’




common grazing area


a medicinal bath of mallow and sweet-scented herbs

swine gall

exactly what it says; medieval medicine was not without its oddities


a thick slice of brown bread a few days old with a slight hollow in the centre, used as a platter


the sixth of the canonical hours, towards sunset

BOOK: The Riddle of St Leonard's
2.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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