'We pray you all ... to drink ere ye pass': Bann Criers, Parish Players, and the Henrician Reformation in England's Southeast

Ernst Gerhardt

Abstract


Prior to its decline in the 1530s, the staging of parish plays and ‘ludi’ often served as a means to raise funds either for parish revenue or for specific capital projects that the parish wished to undertake. While most of these funds were raised by collections taken from individuals attending these events, money also was gathered from towns and parishes as collectivities. Often the collection of funds was reciprocal, with parishes’ contributions to each others’ plays and ‘ludi’ marking these parishes’ traditional affiliation with each other. This article explores the history of such affiliation among several parishes and towns in southwest Kent, tracing the decline in the number of rewards made to bann criers and other parish performers and situating this decline alongside the coincident rise in the number rewards made to performers affiliated with various patrons. Yet the almost complete disappearance of these parishes’ performers during the 1530s does not appear to have been the result of evangelical suppression. Rather, this disappearance appears to be the conclusion to a decline which had begun in the late-1520s.

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