The word ‘Communar’ comes from the Medieval Latin word communarius (communa and the suffix arius), which was a term used for an official who administered a common fund. The position of Communar no longer exists at Salisbury Cathedral, but the term is still in use at Chichester Cathedral.
The Salisbury Cathedral Communar (usually a canon) oversaw the Cathedral’s Common Fund, which was used for everyday payments such as salaries or food. The Communar, who was elected in October each year, would oversee revenue and payments and draw up accounts, many of which still survive in the Salisbury Cathedral Archive. The earliest dates from 1343, and until about the mid-17 century they were drawn up every quarter: October-January, January-April, April-July, and July-October. By the mid- to late 17 century the Communar’s accounts were kept in volumes with annual rather than quarterly statements. You can see an example of a roll dating from 1409-1410 (during the time of Simon Sydenham) at the top of this page.
Some of the Communar’s account rolls were stored quite well and had had conservation work carried out. The remainder, however, are very fragile and can be difficult to open. I have recently finished cataloguing them, but the entries are basic as the rolls contain a huge amount of detail which would need a lot of work to capture fully. I have also been cataloguing the more modern Common Fund accounts, which date from the 20 century. They are not quite as exciting as the older rolls (mainly because they require minimal effort to read!), but it is interesting to see how the accounts have changed over the centuries.