The abbey lubber first appears in the 15th century, a time when the corruption, laziness, drunkeness and wanton behaviour of those in holy orders was widespread. It was said that the monks had succumbed to the temptations of minor devils, the abbey lubbers, who haunted the kitchens and in particular the wine cellars of monasteries.[1] Friar Rush, about whom a chapbook was written is perhaps the best-known of the abbey lubbers. While working in the kitchen of one monastery in the form of a man, he was unmasked and driven out by the prior, eventually becoming a Will o’ the Wisp. The monks were said to be so shocked at what had happened that they resolved to reform themselves.[2]

The buttery spirit[a]Buttery is a historical term for a larder or pantry.[3] is a companion to the abbey lubber, haunting dishonestly run inns, or households where the servants were wasteful or hospitality was grudged to the poor.[1]


a Buttery is a historical term for a larder or pantry.[3]