|| Preaching was an important part of clerical activities since
the founding of the Franciscans and Dominicans in the first half of the
13th century. The two preaching orders were a response to the rising
needs of an urban population, part of the gradual development of a mercantile
economy. Pulpits were constructed in front of the chancel screen,
so that the preacher would be out into the nave, the space of the laity.
Sermons were very often independent events unconnected to any other activity,
such as a mass. They became regular occurrences on Sundays and feast
days, and their themes reflected the specific time of the church calendar,
such as Lent, or the qualities of the saint honored.
Margery Kempe speaks frequently about sermons: for example, during Lent an Augustinian Friar preached “in his own house” to a very large audience (Ch. 68). Kempe distinguishes visiting preachers, as during the chapter meeting of the Franciscan Order’s in Lynn when one of the visitors was asked to preach at St. Margaret’s, from the local “doctor of divinity” who has regularly been assigned to the church to preach. (Ch. 68). If a preacher had achieved a good reputation, people would either go with him or follow him from town to town (Ch. 62). Frequently Kempe specifies a pulpit. A visiting Franciscan preached a sermon from the pulpit in the church of St. James in Lynn (Ch. 61). On Palm Sunday at St. Margaret’s it was the custom to have a sermon on that day - the sermon on Christ’s Passion was preached from the pulpit (Ch. 78). No pulpit from Kempe’s time is extant in Lynn.