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Doncaster Features: The Miracle of Robert Leche
On the eve of the Reformation (during the time of Henry VIII's first marriage) came one of ancient Doncaster's great story's. The story is of Robert Leche and his family who were wonderfully saved from drowning after they invocated Our Lady of Doncaster.
The full text of the story was recorded in a tome discovered by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, entitled "A curious account of a reputed Miracle".
It's a remarkably detailed account:
"Be it known to all Christian people that on the 15th day of July, I524, that as one William Nicholson of Townsburgh (some three miles from Doncaster) should have crossed the river (Don) at a ford at Seaforth Sands with an iron-bound wagon with six oxen and two horses, laden with household stuff, having in the said wayn or wagon one Robert Leche, his wife, two children (one child being half a year of age, the other being under seven years) set his servant Richard Kychyn upon the forward horse; and when past midstream, due to wind and rain, all were driven down stream; the first horse was drowned and the wayn and all was upset, with the wheels upside down."
"Then did the company all call and cry out to Almighty God and Our Blessed Lady, whose image is honoured and worshipped in the White Friars of Doncaster. Each in turn managed to call upon Our Lady and be saved; but Robert Leche's wife, carried three hundred foot and more midstream, and the wagon rolling over and over, and she in it.
"All people on land did kneel, and prayed that if ever Our Lady of Doncaster showed miracle, she would show some grace upon this woman. And saved she was; shouted out that she did right well for God, and that Our Lady of Doncaster had saved her.
"And that these premises be true and not feigned, William Nicholson, Robert Leche and his wife and children, came to Our Lady of Doncaster upon St. Mary Magdalene's Day next after, and did declare this gracious miracle, and it was sworn upon a book before the Prior and Convent with various witnesses named.
"And at that day this gracious miracle was rung and sung in the presence of three hundred people and more. DEO GRACIAS."
The Feast of St Mary Magdelene was on 22nd July, a week later, when over 300 people attended the Whitefriars in Doncaster.
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