Thomas Wolsey Statue

The procession from St Mary Le Tower

I attended today the unveiling of the Thomas Wolsey Statue by invitation of the Mayor of Ipswich, Cllr John Le Grys, and the Patrons of the Cardinal Thomas Wolsey Appeal.

There was great celebration amongst those who processed from St Mary Le Tower to the site of the unveiling at the junction of St Peters Street, Silent Street and St Nicholas Street. The large solid statue was most impressive.  But why?  Four reasons were given as to why Thomas Wolsey a ‘son of Ipswich” should be honoured.  

  • Cllr John le Grys spoke of his ‘responsibility and provision for the poor.’
  • Judge John Deveaux, Honourary Recorder of Ipswich, spoke of his service to the state as head of the judiciary for 14 years where ‘he was conscientious.’
  • Dr John Blatchly, former Head of Ipswich School and champion of the whole project spoke of Wolsey’s great contribution to education saying that he was ‘far in advance of his time’ and that he taught that ‘pleasure should mingle with study.’
  • Rt Revd Nigel Stock, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, spoke of his contribution to the church as chaplain to Henry VII and Henry VIII and of his role as Archbishop of Your and Cantebury.

Wolsey back after 600 years

It was though Thomas Wolsey’s contribution to education, from which this area benefitted, that seemed to be the driving motivation for Dr Blatchly.  Wolsey gave the teaching masters this advice:

‘Pleasure is to mingle with study, that the boy may think learning rather an amusement than a toil. Tender youth is to suffer neither severe thrashings nor sour and threatening looks, nor any kind of tyranny, for by such usage the fire of genius is either extinguished or in great measure damped.’
I bet many children and students wish their teachers understood this.

The Statue

3 thoughts on “Thomas Wolsey Statue

  1. Wolsey was a persecutor of followers of Jesus. He relentlessly pursued Tyndale and encouraged and supported the burning of many a Godly man. He was said to have two dominant vices – ostentation and pride. “When appearing in public for example, he was preceded by two of the tallest (and comeliest) priests he could find, each bearing a large silver cross, one for his Archbishopcy and the other for Papal Legate. It is said that he had more than 500 servants including several titled lords, and he personally dressed in scarlet velvet and silk, with matching hat and gloves. His shoes were embroidered with gold and silver, inlaid with pearls and precious stones.” He kept a mistress and when she became inconvenient he married her off to avoid embarassment. D`Aubigne in his History of the Reformation said this “Wolsey – a man of more than suspected morals, double hearted , faithless to his promises, oppressing the people with heavy taxes, and exceedingly arrogant to everybody”.

    I won’t be laying flowers at the statue.

    • Ah yes, I wondered who would be the first to raise this small matter of all his abuses and failings. I was intrigued to attend precisely because I was so unsure what exactly about his life was to be honoured by the statue. He might be a ‘son of Ipswich’ but I agree that much of his life was not that commendable at all. I pondered too, at the unveiling. whether such behaviour should disqualify him from any public honour. I’m not sure. However It did leave me hoping that one day people would afford me the same grace by honouring any good whilst overlooking much that wasn’t. I was drafting a blog on all this but your comment has saved me the bother. Thanks.

  2. Interesting. My favourite Wolsey quote (on his deathbed): “If I had served my God as diligently as I did my king, He would not have given me over in my grey hairs.” Of course, it all depends on what diligent service might have been in his eyes!!

    For a contrast perhaps we should all turn up for this year’s Ipswich Martyrs’ Memorial Open-air Service which (according to the Protestant Truth Society website) “will be held, the Lord willing, at the Martyrs’ Memorial in Christchurch Park on Saturday 9th July at 6:30pm. The chairman is Rev. Jeremy Brooks (PTS) and the preacher is Rev. Gearoid Marley (Birmingham).”

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