Suffolk

Ipswich links to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey celebrated

Thomas Wolsey Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption From a humble start Thomas Wolsey became the "most powerful minister in Tudor England",

A day of events in Ipswich aims to shed light on King Henry VIII's minister Cardinal Thomas Wolsey.

Wolsey, who was recently played by Jonathan Pryce in the BBC's adaptation of the novel Wolf Hall, was born the son of a butcher in the town.

From a humble start he became the "most powerful minister in Tudor England", said Prof Diarmaid MacCulloch, a leading expert on Wolsey.

"Who could not be interested in him?" said Prof MacCulloch.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sam Neil played Cardinal Wolsey in The Tudors

As well as being born in Ipswich, Wolsey started a college in the town that historians believe could have rivalled the colleges of Oxford if the cardinal had not fallen from power and then died in 1530.

Prof MacCulloch said one of the big legacies was his role in mentoring Henry VIII's next great adviser Thomas Cromwell, the principal character in Hilary Mantel's award-winning novel Wolf Hall.

"Thomas Cromwell was his [Wolsey's] servant in particular with the projects of creating the colleges, including the college in Ipswich," he said.

To fund Wolsey's projects Cromwell closed down a small monastery to raise funds.

Image copyright Adrian Cable/Geograph
Image caption A statue of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey sits on the edge of Ipswich town centre
Image caption Prof MacCulloch said one of the big legacies was Wolsey's role in mentoring Henry VIII's next great adviser Thomas Cromwell

Cromwell later played a key part in the dissolution of the monasteries and reformation in England which transformed the country.

After Wolsey fell out with Henry VIII, Cromwell was "extraordinarily brave" in standing his old employer, said Prof MacCulloch, who has written a biography of Cromwell, due out later in the year.

Wolsey's tomb was to be decorated with gleaming angels but he fell from grace and died with few friends and all his riches gone.

An exhibition looking at Wolsey's life - and containing the angels - is currently on display in Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich.

The Thomas Wolsey Study Day on Saturday also includes Dr Amanda Flather and Dr Tom Freeman, both of the University of Essex, and Lisa Temple-Cox - the artist in residence at the Ipswich Museums Service.

The £10-a-ticket event is taking place at the Ipswich Masonic Hall, 9-10 Soane Street, Ipswich.

Related Topics

More on this story