As part of our National Lottery Heritage Fund supported Eastern Cloisters Project, we have been finding out lots about the Vicars Choral (VC). During our archaeology stage we discovered several broken beer bottles hidden under the slabs - so it was clear that the VC enjoyed a drink! As it’s #InternationalBeerDay we thought we’d share some more of our brewing related discoveries...

  • Act Book 1 7003/1/1 p.100, 24 September 1596 | Thomas Boyce granted space in the gardens to the south of the cloister to grow hops. He would use the hops to make ale for St Michael archangel’s feast at All Saints Church on High Street.

  • The Cloisters originally had a brewhouse and hired a brewer to make ale and beer on site.

  • There are records of the VCs spending far too much money on ale so it had to be regulated:

28 September 1582 Act Book 1 7003/1/1 | ‘It is concluded and agreed between the custos and vicars chorall that none of ye brethren shall have any ale or beer before 8 of ye clock forenoone & three of ye clock in ye afternoone’

  •  A relation of a short survey of 26 counties in 1634, By a Captain, a Lieutenant, and an Ancient, L. G. Wickham Legg (ed.), F. E. Robinson & co., London, 1904, pp.82-83

‘Next came we into a brave and ancient priviledg’d place…called the Collegde Cloyster where 12 of the singing men…have their convenient dwellings.’ The visitors ‘freely tasted all of their Choral cordiall Liquor’ and spent their time in the cloisters ‘till the Bell toll’d us away to Cathedral prayers’.