The Rood of Boxley

Boxley is best known through its celebrated Rood of Grace, a cross with an image supposed to be miraculously gifted with movement and speech. More than a century before the Dissolution the abbey is spoken (fn. 25) of as ‘called the abbey of the Holy Cross of Grace.’ Archbishop Warham, writing (fn. 26) to Wolsey in connexion with claims against the abbey, says that it was much sought after by visitors to the Rood from all parts of the realm, and so he would be sorry to put it under an interdict. He calls it ‘so holy a place where so many miracles be showed.’ But the image proved to be a gross imposture. Geoffrey Chamber, employed in defacing the monastery and plucking it down, wrote (fn. 27) to Cromwell on 7 February, 1538, that he found in it certain engines and old wire, with old rotten sticks in the back, which caused the eyes to move and stir in the head thereof, ‘like unto a lively thing,’ and also, the nether lip likewise to move as though it should speak, ‘ which was not a little strange to him and others present.’ He examined the abbot and old monks, who declared themselves ignorant of it; and considering that the people of Kent had in time past a great devotion to the image and used continual pilgrimages there, he conveyed it to Maidstone that day, a market day, and showed it to the people, ‘ who had the matter in wondrous detestation and hatred so that if the monastery had to be defaced again they would pluck it down or burn it.’ The image was afterwards taken to London and exhibited during a sermon by the bishop of Rochester at St. Paul’s Cross, arid then cut to pieces and burnt. (fn. 28) The news of the exposure appears to have been widely spread, and probably nothing was more damaging to the case for the monasteries.

source

Such were the con tricks used before the Reformation to deceive the people. Similarly the Blood of Hailes

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