Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Found: the Chantry, the Church and the Artist!

Yesterday I posted a blog that asked the good people of Twitter to help me find  the real location of this etching, with an inscription "St Catherine's Chantry, in St Michael on Wyre" the only evidence to go on. 

They came back with armfuls of information!

First to respond was Ricky Bee, saying there was both a River Wyre and Wyre Forest in Worcestershire - might these be a clue?

The Lancashire Tourist Board also kindly RT's my blog to ask if any of their followers could help.

Then Christine Farmer, a fine artist researching her family history at the moment, gave me this amazing link to an online version of the


In which the following description can be read:

Thomas Butler, at the altar of the Blessed Katherine within the pishe churche of St. Michaell-upon-Wyre " lately dissolved, together with all the lands, tenements, and appurtenances now or late in the tenure of Robert Styham, and situate in Great Eccleston, being part of the said chantry ; and the said Henry Butler agrees to sell the said so acquired lands and tenements in Eccleston to the said John Wilkinson. 1 The chantry itself continued in the Butlers holding, and subsequently went to the France family, one of whom repaired it and erected a tablet in it bearing the following inscription : "This oratory, known before the Dissolution to have been a chantry dedicated to St. Catherine, and competently endowed with lands in the neighbouring town- ships, was repaired by John France, Esq., of RawclifFe Hall, A.D. 1797, being an appendage to that ancient mansion house." This chantry is at the eastern end of the north aisle, and is raised two steps above the rest of the floor.

Raised by two steps above the rest of the floor – exactly like my picture. My heart skipped a beat!

Then my good friend Sarah Ballans sent me a link to Google Books.

There I could search through a scan of A history of the Chantries within the county palatine of Lancashire, by Francis Robert Raines.

On page 217-218 in delightfully antiquated language it told me of

The Chauntrie in the paroch church of Saynt Myghell Upon Wyre


Willyam Harryson pst Incumbent ther of the ffoundacon of John Butler to celebrate ther in the saide church for his sowle and all chrysten sowles and the Incumbent therof to teach gram skole…


At the alter of saynt Katheryne within the poche churche saynt Myghell upon Wyre and the same priest doth celebrate ther and kepe gramer skole accordinglie

So there was a grammar school!

Sarah also pointed me to three Flickr accounts which included current photographs of the church – but frustratingly none showing the chantry reconisable in my etching. 

These are here:




Then Chris Hale posted this wonderful comment on the original blog, summarising his research brilliantly. I reproduce his text here in full

I have ascertained from a report dated 1871 that St-Michael's-in-Wyre was (and is) 'A late Perpendicular church of rather coarse architecture, comprising nave, with aisles and chancel, with south aisle only carried to the east end, a west tower, and south porch. The north aisle, after the first two bays to the west, is expanded, but without arcade, into a chapel, but only extends four bays in all, and is not carried along the chancel. The north chapel is dedicated to S. Catherine, and belongs to the Butlers.'

I have also discovered that one John Boteler (Butler), who was born at Rawcliffe on 16 Aug. 1489, and baptized at St. Michael's, 'had begun a chantry and service in St. Michael's Church.' This was probably on his death in 1534. It is likely that he would have left money in his will for a chantry priest to say masses for his soul.

There now. I have too much time on my hands!

So the chantry is definitely at St Michael on Wyre church, in Lancashire, England.

Finally Sarah came back with an amazing breakthrough on the artist that created the etching.

My C G Coperman is in fact Constance Gertrude Copeman.

Born in 1864, she studied at the Liverpool School of Art where she was awarded a silver medal and was a Queen's prize winner. Elected an associate of the  Royal  Society  of  Painter-Etchers and Engravers in 1897.

Here’s another of her etchings unearthed by Sarah, with her distinct signature matching the one on my picture.

According to artnet, six of her works have come up for auction recently, but they won’t tell me the price unless I sign up to the site. Buggeration.

So, within 24 hours of my original post I know the exact location and history of the Chantry depicted in my junk-shop find, and I know the name of the artist, a little of her background, and that her work regularly comes up for auction.

I cannot thank you enough. A picture I love anyway has gained a whole new level of enjoyment.

And let this tale waggle its bare bum at anyone who thinks Twitter is just about broadcasting what you had for breakfast.

So now to my next mystery picture… watch this space!

As ever, do please leave a comment if you've enjoyed my ramble. 


  1. This is amazing - brilliant researching and discovery and a little bit of local history that I was unaware of. Thanks for blogging about this :)

  2. 'Ask [on Twitter] and you shall receive'... The internet is the best thing that ever happened to inquiring minds!

    I had much the same response last year after posting an old 1910-ish postcard on my blog showing a railway cottage near Long Marton, Cumbria, in which my grandfather was born. Since then, I've heard from several residents in the area, some of which are distant relatives.

    Before that, I tracked a different line via the same type of documents your helpers used to a village in Somerset, then spent 4 lovely, life-changing days at the farm which in the 1600s was owned by my ancestor's cousin or nephew.

    How did we ever get along without this wonderful research tool!

  3. Thank you Nickie and JamaGenie.

    I was suprised and delighted that people were willing to help and they unearthed so much.

    I will have to hunt down that Cumbrian Postcard blog...


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