[MR] Wikipedia: Order of Brothelyngham

Garth Groff and Sally Sanford mallardlodge1000 at gmail.com
Mon Apr 1 04:33:38 PDT 2024

Noble Friends,

Today's Featured Article on Wikipedia discusses the "Order of
Brothelyngham", a pseudo-religious sect that parodied the Church in Exeter
during the mid-14th century.

The order appears to have been something like an ongoing "Feast of Fools"
or other performances and celebrations that briefly turned the rules of
medieval society on their heads. The Order elected an "abbot", an apparent
madman, who was carried about in a chair and directed the members'
activities. Other members dressed in masked costumes, some representing

The general drift of the Order was a parody of the official church, which
was widely seen as corrupt. Needless to say, the real Bishop Grandisson
(who almost never visited his cathedral in Exeter) was *not* amused. He
ordered church officials to track down members of the order and hold them
to church discipline, which could have meant excommunication or even death
for heresy. It didn't work. Nobody seems to have ever been arrested or

Eventually the phenomena died out in Exeter, and it was rare in other
English towns and cities. Such groups were more common on the
continent, especially in France. Midler forms of such behavior persisted in
England, especially during the Christmas season, via "mummers" and various
other revels. Shakespear's MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM certainly draws on this
tradition through the "six hard-handed men of Athens" and their absurd
play-within-a-play (one of my few parts "treading the boards" in high
school was as Robin Starveling the Tailor, one of the "hard-handed men").

Wikipedia's main article about the Order of Brothelyngham is found at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_Brothelyngham .

Yours Aye,

Mungo Napier, Laird of Mallard Lodge 🦆
Continuing a crusade to keep Merry Rose relevant and in business.

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