The Magna-Parva Way


The tract was discovered as part of the 16th Century archive collection of one Nicholas Gottes of Little Ryburgh. It is the only copy known to have survived. Whilst the writer has a gentle and subtle dig at some of the pre-Reformation  religious practices of the day, at the same time provides constructive  suggestions as to some sincere spiritual pursuits, disciplines, and expressions.

Along with the Nine Things were found two additional short tracts supporting  the radical and controversial idea of the Bible being available in the native  English  tongue, not just the academic, priestly Latin. All three manuscripts  are now held  at New York’s Columbia University (Plimpton mss. 259).  Acknowledgment is due to researcher Louisa Foroughi, who brought them to  our attention in 2013. The Nine Things presented here are based on Louisa’s transcription from the original Middle English manuscript.

An official new Walsingham Way pilgrimage route starting from Norwich Cathedral and continuing through Ryburgh is currently still at a development  stage. However, a one day walk as the last leg from Ryburgh to Walsingham  provides opportunity for mini-pilgrimage in its own right. There is an implicit integrity in viewing, as a starting point, the scale copy of Our Lady of  Walsingham that has resided at St Andrew’s, Great Ryburgh, since the  pre-War Walsingham revival, and making for the genuine article at  Walsingham.

As the suggested route runs through Little Ryburgh, and the pilgrimage puts  in touch with pre-Reformation Christian culture, an opportunity is presented to use the Nine Things as a framework for Stations at which to pause, ponder,  and to rest limbs for a while. The scripture readings I have selected are  complementary. They could be read in a similar old English style to that of the  Nine Things, from the pre-Reformation, ‘underground’ text of the Wycliffe     Bible; available freely online at Alternatively, the King  James Bible (Authorised Version) will set a similar tone.

Magna and Parva are the Latin suffixes that appear on old maps for the Great  and the Little of the Ryburghs, the Snorings, and also the Walsinghams, etc.  Hence Magna-Parva makes an obvious choice for the name of the route.




The following numbered scripture passages may be read in sequence per  Station, topped and tailed with the equivalent numbered ‘Nine Things’ tenet of faith from the tract, as a refrain. Optional questions have been  added to each, if study or reflection is desired, which originate from a  Benefice Lent Discussion Course.


1)  Luke 16: 19-31. Think of an act of kindness done to you. What effect did it have?

2)  Luke 18: 9-14. Suggest an area of life in which it is particularly important to be humble - and why.

3)  Matthew 5: 1-12. In what sense might we suffer an evil word, or persecution ‘sweetly’? And how might it be true that in doing so we are ‘blessed’?

4)  Luke 11: 5-13. How long might we have to wait – in personal experience – for God to answer?

5)  Luke 15: 1-8. Can you think of a time when you felt like a lost sheep? Was there any sense of being ‘shepherded’?

6)  James 3: 1-12. Can the tongue be as powerful with blessing as with curse? Give an example.

7)  Romans 12: 9-21. To what extent might it be helpful to be passive in the face of offence / nastiness? Or is it a sign of weakness?

8)  Philippians 4: 6-7 & Hebrews 10: 19-23. If indeed the meaning, in the tract, of the somewhat obscure word ‘lief-full’ is wholesome, can you think of something life-full you might prayerfully ask for?

9)  Luke 7: 36-50. Describe your impression and understanding of Jesus Christ – in a single word if possible. Has it changed or developed during your lifetime or remained constant?

Rector Revd RD Stapleford


We are indebted to Louisa Foroughi who researched the Gottes archive collection in the U.S.A. and alerted us to her findings. She has since visited us on several occasions and we hope to see her again soon!



Louisa Foroughi. “‘If yt be a nacion’: Vernacular Scripture and English Nationhood in Columbia University Library, Plimpton MS 259.” In Europe After Wyclif. Ed. J. Patrick Hornbeck II and Michael van Dussen, 265-287. New York: Fordham University Press, 2016






























Page last updated: 18th July 2017 3:33 PM