The History of Lincoln Waites

The Significance of St Anne

St Anne's Guild

St. Anne (Mother of the Virgin Mary, Grandmother of Christ) was originally the Patron Saint of joiners and cabinet makers. But not only joiners took Anne as their patron - she became popular with all those engaged in shoemaking, spinning, weaving and all craftsmen and artisans.

An old Greek Akathist hymn contains the words: "Let us cry to holy Anne with cymbals and psaltery." So there is perhaps the basis of the music, dancing and revelry that soon became associated with St Anne's Day.

In England St. Anne's feast was authorized by Pope Urban IV in 1381. Thus she was honored here more than two hundred years before her day was celebrated as a feast in the rest of the Church.

St Anne held a particular significance to Lincoln. Lincoln's Medieval Cathedral is dedicated to The Virgin Mary - daughter of St Anne. Thus, in Medieval times, any citizen of Lincoln was considered to be a member of St Anne's Guild (Parish), which, of course wasn't free. Every man and woman fit enough to work had to pay an annual fee (a bit like modern day Council Tax) to the Guild. Each Household had to pay these fees during the Whitsun processions in the 12th and 13th Centuries. The people called these fees "Pentecostals".

St Anne's Day Feast

In Lincoln, all through Medieval and Renaissance times and continuing much later, St Anne's Day was celebrated with feasting, a Cycle of Plays from both the Old and New testaments, and undoubtedly music and dancing.

St Anne's Day Music

Whilst information about the feast and the plays is abundant, finding clear information about the music and musicians is far more difficult, not in the least because players and musicians were often mentioned using the same Latin word - "histrio" ("histrionibus", etc). It is quite possible that this came about because many actors were also musicians or singers, but that doesn't help us unravel it all now. Our assumption is that musicians did take part in the St Anne's Day celebrations, as this Feast Day was such an important one in Lincoln's calendar."


These snippets are exactly that - a small sample of the vast well of information surrounding St Anne's procession, Feast, Guild and the Guild Fees. It serves to give you a feel for what was going on at the time. It is very likely that the Waits and possibly other minstrels played quite a big part in the festivities - playing marches for the Mayoral procession, music to accompany the Cycle of Plays, and dance music during the festivities.

1344 - St Peter's Parish in the Skin Market. A beautiful wax candle burns before St Anne's image, and the people had lights at their feast.

1515 - The Mayor and five or six others "had communication with Dr. Ranstone for the profits of St Anne's Guild."

1515 - The Mayor's procession was on Ascension Day

1518 - Aldermen ordered to take part in the Procession

1519 - Statute: "Every Man and Woman in the City, being able, shall be brother and sister in St Anne's Guild and pay yearly 4d, man and wife, at the least.

1521 - Aldermen wear Crimson Gowns (which are the property of the Guild) to the Procession. Any Alderman refusing to take part is fined.

1521 - The Pater Noster play was performed

1522 - Two honest persons to be appointed to gather the money on St Anne's Day.

1527 - "Stipendia officiorum, Item soluti histrionibus istius civitatis pro feodis suis."

1558 - When Henry Capcote was Mayor, an Act was passed that, following the procession, all people should go to Service or Sermon in Lincoln Minster. It seems like he was trying to replace the feasting and pageantry with something more pious.

1567 - The play of "Old Tobye" (Tobias) to be played at the feast of Pentecost next.