From Spalding churchwardens' records, mid-16th century:
Quote found on Rootsweb:
"After the Dissolution, when it was decided that all the churches within the
monastery were to be destroyed, funds were urgently needed for restoring and
enlarging the church of St. Mary and St. Nicholas and converting it into the
parish church. The following curious record made by Maurice Johnson two
hundred years ago, tells how funds were raised for that purpose in Henry the
"In the old acts of the churchwardens of the Parish Church of
the Blessed Virgin St. Mary, in Spalding, there are, amongst others, very
large acts of some plays, which were exhibited here in the Gore against the
Great Gate of the Priory, one of which, uncertain as to time, wanting date, in three
long paper rolls appears to have been very costly and magnificent."
"All Lincolnshire and many great towns and much quality in the neighbouring counties,
being invited to it by special messengers by billets of baines.
From about thirty of the towns there were spectators present. It was
contributed to by Lord Willoughby, the Lady Fitzwilliam, the Champion Dymocke,
the Lady Kyme, Mr. Mann of Bolingbroke, the Lord Bishop of Peterborough (John
Chambers 1541-56), and the City of Peterborough, and the Burghers of Boston
and Stamford, from all of which many were present."
"It seems from the articles of expense such as arms, drums, and much minstrelsy,
besides the Grantham Waits, to have been a manly performance and sort of
Tournament or representation of the War in Heaven and battle between St.
Michael and the Devils, with the machinery of heaven and hell, much gunpowder
was used in it and bows and staves, headed with iron, and it seems to have been
performed on horseback. There are large allowances for horsemeal and shoeing
horses. It was composed and ordered by Mayster Howsun, an ingenious priest, and
the guests who were foreigners and nobility of the corporations, were treated
by the town with comfitts and other cakes, and with malmsey wine and claret
"The inhabitants had allotments of so many first places measured out about the
scene of action and paid largely for the same to accomodate their families and
foreign [visiting] friends. It seems to me, by all I can discover, to have been
towards the latter end of King Henry the Eighth's reign, and to have last three
days in action, besides the rehearsals which are mentioned, and for which, to
have it accurate, the players were fed likewise."
"The principal performer was one Edgoose, who I presume played the Archangel.
There is particular mention made of three tormentors with staves tipped with
iron. Much carving and painting, and the place seems to have been parted off
with great poles and cables and much cordage was used about it."