At Christmastime many people will hope to celebrate by sharing good food and entertainment with close family and friends. However, the terms of a lease agreed by the Dean & Canons in 1625 required that money be provided towards:
twoe fatt bores for the hospitality of the Dean and Canons … at the feast of the birth of our Lord God every yeare
Which hardly sounds like the ideal preparation for a Christmas party!
The lease in question is of the Rectory and Parsonage in Ruislip for a term of twenty-one years to a gentleman called Raphe Hawtrey [SGCXVI.1.60]. The full annual rent for the property cost £20 to be paid in two instalments – once at Michaelmas (the feast of St Michael, 29 September) and once at Lady Day (the feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 25 March). On Lady Day he was required to pay an additional £4 towards the provision of the two fat bores – which we can safely assume is in fact a misspelling and was intended to be meat for the table rather than dull guests.
In return, Raphe received not only the rectory and parsonage but all of the buildings, lands and profits belonging to them. The Dean and Canons retained for themselves the right to appoint a new priest to the parish. Raphe was obliged to maintain all of the buildings and lands and return them to the Dean and Canons in good condition; he was not allowed to alienate any part of the property leased to him.
Raphe had first rented the rectory of Ruislip in 1613, when the cost had only been £20 a year. The £4 towards Christmas hospitality was added for the first time in the renewed lease of 1625. The Hawtrey family continued to rent the property at the same rent until 1728.
Kate McQuillian, Archivist & Chapter Librarian