Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The death of Bishop Richard Fleming

According to his episcopal register Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln, died at about two hours after noon on January 25th 1431 in his castle at Sleaford in Lincolnshire. He was about 45, and had suffered a stroke.

As he is the subject of my thesis research I always commemorate Bishop Fleming on his anniversary.

Virtually nothing now remains of Sleaford castle other than earthworks and one piece of stonework on the site, which lies on the south western edge of the town.

All that now remains of Sleaford castle is one small, toppled portion of a wall in the north-east corner of the inner bailey.

Photo: Eric Dewhurst

There are articles about the castle and its history here, and here, and here.

I have taken this reconstruction drawing from amongst the illustrations on the last of these sites:

Following his death the bishop's body was buried in his cathedral in Lincoln, where his cadaver or transi tomb can still be seen.


The tomb of Bishop Richard Fleming in the Angel Choir of Lincoln Cathedral

Photo by Gordon Plumb on Flickr

I believe that I have shown in my research that not only has the appearance of the tomb been changed in more recent centuries but also that as a result its place in the history of English, and European funerary monuments has been misunderstood.

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