Cases of outlawry during the early middle ages revolved mainly around criminal acts. The procedure was for a plaintiff to make a public accusation in the county court and the coroner issued a royal writ demanding the appearance of the defendant for trial.
If the defendants name was called out on the day of his trial and he didn’t appear at the first or the three subsequent hearings, he was declared an outlaw- unless two men were prepared to pay a financial bond and guarantee to bring him to the next meeting of the court. Failure of attendance at the fifth meeting of the court meant automatic outlawry and both guarantors would forfeit the money they had pledged.
Outlawry was extended during the later medieval period and was used as a sanction against people failing to attend court proceedings, both for civil and criminal actions. The county courts continued to be responsible for declaring outlawries, but the procedure had become more complex.
Now when a defendant failed to attend court proceedings, the court issued a ‘writ of capias’ instructing the local sheriff to apprehend the individual and keep him in custody until the next court convened. In the case of civil or minor criminal matters, three successive writs were issued, but for serious offences such as treason, murder or rebellion, this number was reduced to one or two.
If the sheriff was still unable to arrest the defendant, the next step was to obtain a ‘writ of exigent’ from the central courts at Westminster. This writ announced that the accused was officially missing and had no goods that could be seized to enforce his appearance. It went on to instruct the sheriff to make proclamations at the next five county courts demanding the defendant’s immediate presence. If the individual failed to turn up, he was automatically declared an outlaw. A Latin expression ‘ut lagati’ (sometimes written as UTL) might be used to record the sentence. Other expressions, such as ‘non venerod’, meaning the accused people didn’t come and ‘uratorese decont’ meaning jurors found the accused guilty.
© Clement of the Glen 2006-2007
In this our spacious isle I think there is not one
But he hath heard some talk of Hood and Little John;
Of Tuck, the merry friar, which many a sermon made
In praise of Robin Hood, his outlaws, and their trade.
(Michael Drayton -Poly-Olbion)
Friar Tuck is not mentioned in the existing medieval ballads of Robin Hood, although the Bishop Percy Folio does contains the later Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar (c.1640). But in this he is simply known as the cutted or curtailed friar.
I beshrew thy head, said the cutted ffriar,
Thou thinks I shall be shente;*
I thought thou had but a man or two,
And thou hast a whole convent. * hurt
Friar Tuck first appears in an early play of twenty-one lines written on the back of some household accounts, dated May 1475- August 1475, known as ‘Robin Hood and the Sheriff’. This verse-play seems to be based on the ballad of Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne and was found amongst the papers of the famous Paston family of Norfolk.
Beholde wele frere Tuke
Howe he dothe his bowe pluke.
Yeld yow, syrs to the sheriff,
Or ells shall your bows clyffe,
Nowe we be bownden alle in same,
Frere Tucke this in no game.
It does seem that Friar Tuck, like Maid Marian was a later addition to the legend via the popular summer plays and parish festivals where the Queen of May and the jovial fat friar played an important part. In 1536 Sir Richard Morison made this complaint to Henry VIII:
In Summer commonly upon the holy days in most places of your realm there be plays of Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Friar Tuck: wherein, beside the lewdness and ribaldry that there is opened to the people, disobedience also to your officers is taught whilst these good bloods go about to take from the sheriff of Nottingham one that for offending the laws should have suffered execution.
William Warner in Albion’s England (1586) describes the seasonal festivities:
At Paske began our morris, and ere Pentecost our May,
Tho Robin Hood, Li’ell John, Friar Tuck and Marian deftly play.
Henry Machyn watched an elaborate procession in London in 1559:
....A May-game .....and sant John Sacerys, with a gyant, and drums and gunes the Nine Worthes and then Sant Gorge and the dragon, the mores dansse, and after Robyn Hode and Lytull John and maid Marian and frère Tucke, and they had spechys rond a-bowt London.
Appended to William Copeland’s printed edition of the Mery Geste of Robyn Hoode between 1548-1569, were two summer plays, ‘to be played in Maye games very plesaunte and full of pastyme’, Robin Hood and the Potter and Robin Hood and the Friar. Unlike the earliest surviving ballad, the friar is, like in the Paston play, known as Tuck, but the usual elements of the story are here. Robin’s traditional fight in the water with the friar, the blowing of his horn, the friar’s dogs and the invitation to join the outlaws. But the link with the May Festival and Summer Games is revealed in the last few lines of the play.
Fryer: Here is an huckle duckle,
An inch above the buckle.
She is a trul* of trust,
To serve a frier at his lust,
Aprycker, a prauncer, a terer of sheses,**
A wager of ballockes, when other men slepes,
Go home, ye knaves, and lay crabbes in the fyre,
For my lady and I wil daunce in the myre for very pure joye.
The lady Friar Tuck refers to, in the final line of the play, is almost definitely Maid Marian, his constant partner in the Morris Dances and Whitsun festivals. The churchwardens accounts at Kingston-Upon-Thames from 1507-36 show some of the charges for costumes for what are described as mores daunsaies. In 1509 there was a bill for 12s 10d for a piece of Kendal cloth to make coats for Robin Hood and Little John and three yards of white cloth for Friar Tucks habit, 3s. 4d for four yards of Kendal cloth for Maid Marian’s hooded cloak, 4d for gloves for Robin and Marian and 6d for six broad arrows. One of the earliest known illustrations of these entertainers, can be seen at Betley Old Hall in Staffordshire where depicted in a small painted glass window, designed for George Tollet Esq. are dancers around a May Pole and in the bottom right hand corner we see the Queen of the May or Maid Marian and the Friar.
Royal writs of 1417 describe a chaplain of Lindfield in Sussex called Robert Stafford, who assumed the name ‘frere Tuck’, when he led an outlaw band committing murders and robberies in Surrey and Sussex. Friar Tuck’s crimes also included menacing the local forest wardens and warreners with violence, burning their lodges and hunting without licence. Stow’s Annals reveal :
In 1416 a commission was issued to, Thomas Canoys, Thomas Popynges and John Pelham to arrest a man using the alias Frere Tucke and other malefactors of his retinue who have committed divers murders, homicides, robberies and depredations etc. In the counties of Surrey and Sussex and bring them before Council.
Later we get another commission given to William Lasyngley and Robert Hull:
To enquire into the report that a certain person assuming the unusual name of Frere Tuck and other evil doers, have entered parks, warrens and chases of divers lieges of the king in the counties of Surrey and Sussex and divers times; hunted therein and carried off deer, hares and rabbits, pheasants and partridges.
Stafford continued these exploits for twelve years and was later pardoned in November 1429. These legal documents seem to show that the name Friar Tuck had never been heard of before and one of the clerk’s writing in the calendar of patent rolls describes the name ‘Friar Tuck’ as ‘newly so called in common parlance’. So was this renegade chaplain, Robert Stafford, the original Friar Tuck?
The interchangeable comic priest, who supplied ecclesiastical parody at the summer festivals, was originally known variously as the Abbot of Unreason, Abbot of Marham, and Abbot of Bonacord. But the local churchwardens accounts show that over time those traditional characters gave way to the more popular, jovial fat Friar Tuck. Some believe his name could have originated from the Old English ‘Tucian’- to torment or disturb. In more modern times, due partly to Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe (1819), where he portrayed Friar Tuck as the jolly Clerk and Hermit of Copmanhurst, the name Tuck has been linked to a greediness for food and the Australian tucker. Which in turn has give rise to the many Friar Tuck food outlets around the globe including countless cafe’s and restaurants.
The hermit only replied by a grin; and returning to the hutch, he produced a leathern bottle, which might contain about four quarts. He also brought forth two large drinking cups, made out of the horn of the urus, and hooped with silver. Having made this goodly provision for washing down the supper, he seemed to think no farther ceremonious scruple necessary on his part; but filling both cups, and saying, in the Saxon fashion, ``Waes hael, Sir Sluggish Knight!'' he emptied his own at a draught.
Scott’s interpretation of the gluttonous hermit can be found in most modern versions of the Robin Hood legend, including the Disney movie The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). Our first introduction to the jolly friar in this film, has him sat by a river, near his hermitage taking gargantuan swigs of Malmsey wine out of his leather bottle and swallowing large slices of Capon Pie. In this film, James Hayter stole the show with his unforgettable portrayal of Friar Tuck, a role he recreated in 1967 for Hammer’s Challenge for Robin Hood. Hayter later went on to become the television advertisers recognisable voice of Mr Kipling Cakes.
The antiquarian Francis Douce (1757-1834) suggested that the name Friar Tuck could have been a generic name for any friar, because the friar’s habit was often tucked or folded by means of a chord to make it easy to walk in. Geoffrey Chaucer describes the Reeve in his Canterbury Tales as tucked he was, as in a frère aboute.
And generally this is the accepted explanation for the origin of the name of the curtailed or tucked friar.
© Clement of the Glen 2006-2007
Born in Cricklewood, north west London on 25th October 1908, Carmen was the youngest of six children-two boys and four girls. Two of her sisters were also to become famous, Tess Dillon became head of the physics department at Queen Elizabeth College, London University and Una Dillon founded the first Dillons bookshop in London’s Tottenham Court Road in 1936.
After attending New Hall Convent in Chelmsford, Essex, Carmen went on to win an Architectural Association Scholarship.
I loved architecture not so much as a great classic thing, but I loved houses, whether ugly or not. I wanted to know how people lived, where they lived, what they did and how they decorated their homes. I particularly enjoyed the historical study of architecture.
But in her spare time she was becoming vey interested in the world of amateur dramatics and soon became involved both as a designer and actress in local productions. At that time, Carmen had been working in Dublin as an architects assistant, until she moved to London where she was eventually offered a job as an assistant art director and set designer at the Wembley Studios for Ralph Brinton making, ‘Quota Quickies’. She later described the B-film movies at Fox British as, rotten little old films, but very exciting and great fun .
Carmen recalls her early days at the film studios:
I just drifted in, I think, and for a long time I was the only female art director in the country. My mother was delighted, though, that I was going into films in some capacity. That was really quite progressive of her to be encouraging me to go into films in the 1930s.
During the early war years, Carmen moved to Denham Studios where she started her long association with Two Cities and Rank and became Britain's first and only female art director for more than forty years.
First I would read a rough outline of the story and try to imagine the kind of settings and do some rough sketches. You always had lots of talks with the director to be sure you both had the same ideas about the look and mood of the film. Then the draughtsman would make the working drawings and the sets would be based on these.
"It was my idea to do it that way," Carmen later said.
The backdrops dissolve when we reach the gritty Battle of Agincourt, then we are gradually brought back to the theatre for the final act. With a limited budget and restrictions this Technicolor film significantly proved a massive hit and morale booster in war torn Britain. Carmen was nominated alongside Paul Sheriff for an Oscar in 1947 for Best Art Direction-Interior Direction in Colour.
Her Oscar finally came for Best Art Direction and Set Direction in Laurence Olivier’s second film as director, the 1948 version of Hamlet, which she shared with Roger K Furse. This production was filmed by Olivier in high contrast black and white and is strikingly different to the extremely colourful Henry V. The mood is sombre and claustrophobic, with much use by cinematographer Desmond Dickinson’s deep focus. The camera creeps through the long dark atmospheric settings, along the bare ancient walls and up the long shadowy, winding staircases, past the huge pillars and repeating arches. Using Olivier’s metaphor that, ‘Hamlet is more like an engraving than a painting,’ Carmen and Roger Furse manage to frame the characters in a geometric minimalistic and detached way.
Hamlet became not just the first British film but the first non-American film to win the Oscar for Best Picture along with Best Actor (Olivier) Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.
Olivier’s conception of "Hamlet" as an engraving has been beautifully executed by Roger Furse and Carmen Dillon. Sets have been planned as abstractions and so serve to point the timelessness of the period. The story takes place anytime in the remote past. This conception has dominated the lighting and camera work and has made the deep-focus photography an outstanding feature of the film.
(Variety May 12 1948)
After working as Art Director on many notable films, including The Browning Version (1951). Carmen Dillon’s extensive research and beautifully constructed historical sets continued to be in demand by producers in particular for The Importance of Being Earnest (1952) (which was nominated for a BAFTA and the Venice Festival prize ) and of course Walt Disney’s The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952).
Ken Annakin remembers the start of filming at Denham Studios:
Two of the stages were over two hundred feet long, and I gathered from Carmen Dillon, the art director assigned to Robin Hood, that both stages would be completely filled. One with Robin Hood’s camp in Sherwood Forest, and the other with Nottingham Castle, complete with moat.
Carmen was one of the great art directors on the European scene. Not only was she an accomplished painter, but she was able to supervise big set construction and set-dressing, down to the last nail. So much so, that sometimes when I was lining up a shot, I found her a bit of a pain in the ass because she would insist that her designs and her visual conception of a scene must be adhered to, whereas I regarded the sets only as a background for the actors.
She continued working for Walt Disney on other historical live-action movies including The Sword and the Rose (1953) Rob Roy, the Highland Rogue (1953) and Kidnapped (1960) But:
They were very keen on having a storyboard and that was very trying. You had to pin down every shot for every scene; it was good for you as a discipline, but it wasn't the way I enjoyed working.
During her distinguished career, Carmen was to work on many of the finest British films and was continually favoured for her set design by Laurence Olivier, Anthony Asquith, David Lean and Joseph Losey. Including:
Richard III (1955)
The Iron Petticoat (1956) Checkpoint (1956)
The Prince and the Showgirl (1957)
A Tale of Two Cities (1958)
The Go-Between (1971)
Lady Caroline Lamb (1973)
During the making of the Prince and the Showgirl the unit assistant, Colin Clark described in his book what it was like working with Carmen:
The art director is a small, intense lady with short grey hair, cut like a man's. She is Carmen Dillon who works with a set dresser called Dario Simoni. Together with Roger Furse, they are responsible for the "look" of the whole film. They are all completely professional and only think about the scenery, and the props and the costumes. They didn't even glance at Marilyn Monroe when she walked in to look at the set for a moment last week, even though MM was quite excited by the whole thing.
Looking back at her career as a woman in a male dominated movie industry, she said:
When I was young and trying to get into films they were very against having women in films at all.”
Carmen didn’t enjoy making A Tale of Two Cities (1958) and later described it as a ‘rotten film, very poor, I’m ashamed of it.’ But she did confess to having a great deal of fun making the ‘Carry On’ films.
In 1977 Carmen worked with Gene Callahan and Wily Holt on production design for Fred Zinneman’s Julia starring Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave. Their art direction was nominated for a BAFTA and the movie itself was nominated for 11 Oscars and won 3. With simple clean lines, Carmen’s versatility in design, captures the whole spectrum of emotions in this very powerful movie and received much critical acclaim.
The period environment, brilliantly recreated in production design, costuming and color processing, complements the topflight performances and direction.
Carmen retired from the world of film making in 1979 and died in Hove, Sussex on 12th April 2000.
With a film one has to live with your draughtsmen much more, living with the work, the craftsmen and everybody all the way through. Whereas on the stage, however much one pours oneself into it, it is "Goodnight dear, see you some time". When one is working on a film one is influenced by the cutting, music - everything. It is much more alive. So, I suppose in a very selfish way I wanted to be "in on it".
© Clement of the Glen 2006-2007
Friar Tuck was the hermit of Alford Abbey, a plump faced cleric with a tonsured head burnt dark by the sun. He was dressed in a stained brown habit with the tattered cowl thrown back. Round his neck was a rosary and round his waist was a good broadsword. Contented in the warm sunshine, he was seated with his back against a giant oak singing a duet, with himself: first in a high shrill voice, then a deep bass.
“There was a lover and his lass,
Sat ‘neath a spreading oak,
And lest his heart should break apart,
The doting lover spoke:
‘Come sing low, come sing high;
Come change thy name to mine,
And you shall eat my capon pie,
And drink my Malmsey wine.’”
Robin had managed to come upon the fat friar unnoticed and hidden behind the tree he observed the friar’s merry game.
“We have meat and drink enough,” said Friar Tuck, (to himself) "but what is meat and drink without a merry song?”
So pleased with the first two verses, the friar cleared his throat and commanded, “now together!” And in a bass voice took up the next two lines:
“The maiden turned her head away
And answered ill at ease:”
The bass shot up alarmingly into falsetto:
“ ‘Is it in sport you pay me court
With such low words as these?’”
Robin had joined in with the second verse. As the notes died away the startled friar grabbed the wine bottle and spun around the tree.
“Spy on me, will you, you meddling prying snoopy-nose!” He roared.
“Nay,” said Robin making a gesture of peace. “We should not quarrel, who have sung together so sweetly.”
“What seek you here?” The friar asked.
“Would you lend me the breadth of your back to carry me over the stream?” Asked Robin pressing his sword into Friar Tuck’s fat stomach.
“Since you press me with such arguments,” he replied philosophically and walked down to the edge of water.
Robin Hood sheathed his sword and climbed onto the stout friar’s back.
As soon as they reached the farther bank, Friar Tuck sprung his surprise and pulled out his own broadsword and pushed its point into Robin’s chest.
“How now!” Said the rosy cheeked friar. “I carried you over. You carry me back!”