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.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Thomas Cromwell’s house at Austin Friars

Last month I posted in Thomas and Gregory Cromwell and the suppression of Lewes Priory about Sir Diarmuid MacCulloch’s excellent lecture about Thomas Cromwell’s attempt to establish his son Gregory as a landed figure in Sussex by taking over the assets of Lewes Priory. Not long before that I came across some details online about Cromwell’s London residence at Austin Friars when I was looking into the history of that monastic house. Today the MailOnline has a report about recent research into that house of Cromwell’s and a reconstruction of its plan and appearance.

Due to the constraints imposed upon the site Cromwell had to acquire more land and the houde he created was a mixture of what he found there and what he did to extend and rebuild it. 

Having become the hall of the Drapers Company in 1543 the whole complex was swept away by the Great Fire in 1666. However plans and some pictures survive alongside the papers and records the ever meticulous Cromwell left behind him, as well as the archives of the Drapers. The result is an impressive evocation of his splendid house and we are thereby provided with a good idea of the setting for his life and actions.

Thomas Cromwell may not be a likeable figure but he was an important one. To be able to envisage him at home does add to our understanding of his personal world and tells us more of the context within which he operated.

The illustrated article can be viewed at Historians recreate Thomas Cromwell's Tudor mansion

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