The Feast of Corpus Christi in the West Country


  • Alexandra F. Johnston University of Toronto



‘The Feast of Corpus Christi in the West Country’ first challenges the persistent myth that the phrase ‘Corpus Christi Play’ invariably means a full cycle portraying salvation history from Creation to Judgment. Using the now complete subset of the REED series for the counties of the southwest, the article then examines the variety of dramatic and quasi-dramatic activities that did take place in the summer festivals in the region. Particular attention is given to the one reference to a Corpus Christi Play in Exeter in 1414. By examining the context of the ongoing struggle between the Mayor and Council of Exeter and the Bishop of Exeter over the right to collect taxes from two city parishes, the author suggests that the entry concerning the play simply records one move in a complex series of ongoing negotiations.