Maycock 1938

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Maycock, A. L. Nicholas Ferrar of Little Gidding. London: SPCK, 1938.

St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life

  • known by Ferrar; was bound by the Little Gidding women

pgs 49-51: no good reason to think Ferrar came in contact with Oratorian Rule, although it bears a resemblance to how Little Gidding was run

Ferrar's prayer of thanksgiving, after delivering his family from near-ruin financially (108-9) (c.f. Skipton 1907)

life of the church during/after the civil wars (140-142)


  • private bedchambers
  • common sitting-room known as the Sisters' Chamber fo rht use of the Collett sisters; meetings of the Little Academy held here (146)
  • dining room with an organ
  • large apartments at opposite ends of the house, night oratories (one for men, one for women)
  • infirmary and surgery
  • suite of rooms acting as a miniature almshouse; permanent home for four poor widows (based on Dutch almshouses Ferrar saw during his travels) (147-8)
  • Great Chamber; long Tudor gallery; hung with tapestry, with an organ on one side; table in the center with the Bible and a Book of Common Prayer (148)
    • this is where psalms were recited, religious exercises performed; chief public room
  • Concordance Room, adjoining Great Chamber, used for making Harmonies (148-9)
    • decorated in green; long tables against the walls
    • two large presses, operated by iron bars, for stampin gthe folios as they were completed (149)
    • walls hung with inscripions -- text from Scriptures, aphorisms, exhortations

Nicholas was fond of inscriptions; kept a visitor's book, for visitors to inscribe sentences and aphorisms

  • inscription hung over the mantlepiece the urging of Herbert (see 149) -- has IHS, Jesuit inscription (Jesus Hominum Salvator); used commonly at Little Gidding
    • IHS caused suspicions of popery; finally taken down at Bishop Williams' urging in 1641 (151)

names of family members living there (158ff)

  • John Ferrar (brother to Nicholas) and Bathsheba; daughter Virginia, son Nicholas
  • Susan Collett ("The Moderator") (sister to Nicholas) and John Collett; daughters Hester ("The Cheerful"; later a dressmaker/sempstress in London, 176), Margaret ("The Affectionate"), Joyce, Judith, Mary ("The Chief," 179, then "Mother"; wrote a paper arguing St. Athanasius wrote the Creed bearing his name (178)) and Anna ("The Patient"; Anna's letter dedicating herself to God's service, 184) ("the two central feminine figures in the whole story of Little Gidding" (179))
    • Collett letters are preserved in the Bodleian (is this still the case?) (173)

pigeon-house turned into a schoolhouse (164-5)

  • staffed by three resident masters (for English/Latin, for writing/math and for singing/music) who shared in the life of the community

Nicholas Ferrar Jr., John Ferrar's son, at age 14 trasnlated a devotional work, Mysinger's Devotions, from Italian; by the time he was 20, he had produced a Harmony of the Gospels in 24 languages, and a parallel version of St. John's Gospel in 21 languages (168)

Richard Crashaw was tutor to Ferrar Collett (169); Ferrar later became rector of Steeple Gidding (1659-1664) (169)

"To describe Little Gidding is to describe the mind and the ideals of Nicholas Ferrar." (189)

hourly acts of worship (15x/day), reciting the whole of the Psalter each day, Gospels read through once in an entire month (209)

  • "Initially it seems that an ordinary New Testament was used and the gospels taken in succession. But Nicholas was not entirely satisfied with this arrangement and thought that it could be improved. he conceived the idea of combining the four separate Gospel stories into a single connected narrative, in such a way that no part of any Gospel should be omitted. Parllel passages would be clearly shown as such. By using different types it would be possible either to follow the composite narrative or to pick out quite readily the contributions of each separate evangelist." (209)
    • 150 heads/chapters; book read entirely once a month
    • Harmonies begun toward the end of 1629
  • "In his travels abroad Nicholas had collected a large number of prints of sacred subjects, and these were lavishly used to illustrate and embellish the book." (210)

old Mary Ferrar sat in the parlour with the children too young to go to school, working at her needlework or reading while the children played (211)

books read during dinnertime, usually of general interest (chronicles, travel diaries, books about the customs of foreign countries, narratives of geographical discoveries, biographies of famous men) (213)

  • two younger Collett girls (Margaret and Hester) and the four boys took turns reading
  • one adult took notes/minutes of what was read

Nicholas put together a series of short chapters and discourses to be memorized and recited by the boys after dinner (214 -- see for a list of titles)

night watch; men and women stay up kneeling, reciting alternating verses of the Psalter (216-7)

  • Richard Crashaw came to participate in some of these night offices (217)

entire Little Gidding rule is based on the book of Common Prayer (218); Biblical, not sacramental, basis for activities (219)