Wednesday, November 01, 2023

Cardinal Wolsey is buried somewhere in Leicester - don't worry, he's not under a car park

At last, with easy roads, he came to Leicester,
Lodged in the abbey, where the reverend abbot
With all his convent honorably received him;
To whom he gave these words: "O Father Abbot,
An old man, broken with the storms of state,
Is come to lay his weary bones among you.
Give him a little earth, for charity."

If the furore over the finding of Richard III ever dies down - at present there is another court case in prospect - the Leicester people could turn their attention to another historical figure who was buried in the city but whose grave is now lost.

The lines above come from Shakespeare's little-performed Henry VIII and describe the last days of Cardinal Wolsey. He had been summoned to London from York to face a charge of treason, but was taken ill on the journey. He died and was buried at Leicester Abbey.

The remains of the abbey were excavated in the 1930s and what was imagined to be its ground plan was marked out with low stone walls. They even put in a tomb for Wolsey.

I should report, though, that when the idea of searching for Wolsey was put to a leading member of the team that found Richard III, his response was: "If we did find him, Ipswich would only try to claim him."

1 comment:

Ian Patterson said...

Gone the way Henry I at Reading, Stephen at Faversham and (probably) Alfred at Winchester went. Dispersed in a fit of evangelical zeal during the Reformation.