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Lady Chapels and the manifestation of devotion to Our Lady in medieval England

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:44 authored by Guy Sumpter
The subject of Lady Chapels and devotion to Our Lady in medieval churches is vast. This thesis investigates whether liturgical Marian observances required a particular setting or not, and the forms it might take. This is achieved by a careful selection of material that highlights the evolutionary development of the most influential physical manifestations of the cult of the Virgin and some of the more humble ones. Accordingly, attention has been focussed on three main areas that form the principal components of this study, Chapter one investigates the development and gradual inclusion of specifically Marian commemorations in the liturgical calendars that sustained the cult and fed its growth. Chapter two comprises case studies of Lady Chapels and other manifestations of the Marian cult in major churches. Each has been chosen to provide evidence of chronological and geographical diversity in terms of its respective contribution to the holistic picture, and /or because it has attracted little previous notice. In addition, the cumulative examination of the available material has permitted a degree of fresh and original insight. The third chapter focuses on the county of Northamptonshire in order to examine Lady Chapels and the cult of Mary in the context of the parish, in order to establish as accurately as possible the incidences of specifically Marian chapels and the degree to which devotion and the manner of its observance was manifest. The justifications for such a study are firstly, that it was at parish level that most people would have experienced and participated in any such observance, and secondly, that no countywide survey has previously been attempted. The conclusion draws the evidence together and argues that the veneration of Our Lady could take place in a variety of settings that reflected the diversity of Her cult.


Date of award


Author affiliation

English Local History

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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    University of Leicester Theses