Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Life and Death of Richard Whiting

1461 – Richard Whiting born at at Wrington, Somerset.

1483 - Whiting graduated  with an MA at the University of Cambridge.

1500 – Whiting ordained as deacon.

1501 – Whiting ordained as priest.

1525 - following the death of Richard Beere, Abbot of Glastonbury, Whiting is elected Abbot by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey.

1534 - Whiting signs his assent to the Act of Supremacy. The King's commissioner Richard Layton is sent to examine Whiting and the Abbey. Layton reports all in good order, but suspends the abbot's jurisdiction over the town of Glastonbury.

1535 - Suppression of Religious Houses Act brought about the dissolution of the lesser

1536 - The First Suppression Act (1536) and the Second Suppression Act (1539)  results in the disbandment of over 800 religious houses in England and Wales in the period 1536-1541 in which the Crown confiscated their assets during the legal process known as the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

1539 - by January, Glastonbury was the only monastery left in Somerset. On 19th September, Royal Commissioners Richard Layton, Thomas Moyle, and Richard Pollard arrive at Glastonbury without warning. The Commissioners discover a book condemning Henry VIII's divorce from Catherine of Aragon. They also claim to discover evidence that Whiting concealed a number of precious objects. Abbot Whiting is sent to the Tower of London for further questioning.

The commissioners write to Thomas Cromwell claiming that they had now come to the knowledge of "divers (many) and sundry treasons committed by the Abbot of Glastonbury". Pollard  escorts Whiting back to Somerset, reaching Wells on 14th November.

At Wells, we are told, a trial of some sort takes place, and Whiting is found guilty of treason. Next day, Saturday, 15th November, Whiting is taken to Glastonbury with two of his monks, Dom John Thorne and Dom Roger James. On the outskirts of the town, the frail old Abbot is fastened to a sheep hurdle and dragged by horses to the top of The Tor overlooking the Abbey. The three men are hanged, drawn and quartered. Abbot Whiting's head is fixed over the Abbey gate and his limbs exposed at Wells, Bath, Ilchester and Bridgewater.

1895 – 13th May, Richard Whiting beatified by Pope Leo XIII.

At 10 am on Wednesday, 15th November 2017 there will be a short remembrance of Glastonbury’s Last Abbot, Blessed Richard Whiting in St. Patrick’s Chapel, Glastonbury Abbey, where there will be a brief talk on the life and work of Abbot Whiting at the abbey. Normal entrance fees apply.

Recent research suggests that Richard Whiting, and his companions John Thorne and Roger James, were actually murdered on Friday 14th November 1539.

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