Sunday, 27 March 2011

Echoes of Wolsey

Cardinal Wolsey was, of course, an Ipswich boy. He grew up in an oak-framed 15th century house close to the town's docks. The house still stands, but all that remains of Wolsey's school, intended as an Eton for Ipswich, is a brick gateway that for many years looked over the Pauls & Whites concrete malting towers on the docks. Many of us hold Wolsey in the same sort of affection as we do Basil Hume - as 100% English ecclesiastics who just happened to be Catholics. What's prompted this little aperçu is the news that three former CofE bishops who were received into the Catholic church as priests in January have just been elevated to monsignori


Mgr. Keith Newton, Apostolic Protonotary, and Mgrs. Andrew Burnham and John Broadhurst, Honorary Prelates, can now exercise those minor distinctions of clerical dress peculiar to Rome. Under a galero they may wear a scarlet-trimmed black cassock with purple sash, looking for all the world like, er, bishops. But what's prompted the link with Wolsey and Hume is their grant of arms; Mgr. Newton may carry his escutcheon beneath an amaranth galero with twelve scarlet tassels (below), and Mgrs. Burnham and Broadhust likewise but with violet tassels. Wolsey's little choughs are familiar enough, impaled by the arms of his archbishopric, and Hume's very English personal beast impaled by his diocese. I'm confident that these three ex-CofE bishops will select arms that similarly proclaim their Englishness; there's something very right about such clerical distinctions.

2 comments:

Ed P said...

Amaranth galero? It looks like a flying saucer to me. What do they know that they're not telling us?

Demetrius said...

Wolsey did some high class knitwear, as I remember. They were based in Leicester. The brand name was sold on later to an international firm that shifted production to Portugal. Whether the brand is still there or not and where it is made who knows? Cardinal Wolsey was buried in Leicester Abbey which explains the connection. He never made it to London to account for himself. The Wolsey products were shipped via the old Great Central line with a dedicated parcels section for a long while. I recall working there in the 1950's. The Cardinal unluckily got it wrong and perhaps let his ambition outrun his ability to deliver. Perhaps ths same may apply to the English Monsignors.