SIMON OF SUDBURY

 

 

 

The head of Simon in St. Gregory's Church, Sudbury
HOME
The following articles are all reproduced from an exibition held at St. Gregory's Church in June 2007, where to this day the head of Simon is housed.
HOME
Simon as Bishop of London
Simon as a Diplomat
Simon's College
Archbishop Simon of Sudbury
Simon's Building Work at Canterbury
St. Leonard's Hospital
The Peasant's Revolt
Simon the Chancellor
The Suffolk Revolt
The Theobald family

Simon as Bishop of London

It is possible that his father's connections (Nigel Theobald)with Elizabeth de Burgh, Lady of Clare and Grand-daughter of Edward II, may have smoothed the path of Simon's career. Influential connections were necessary but it also helped if your father was a wealthy merchant able to advance loans to the king to finance his wars with France.

However, the plain fact was that Simon had been good at his job, whether for the Church or as a diplomat. When the promotion came as Bishop of London in 1361, it had been thoroughly earned.

The substantial revenues of his bishopric enabled him to begin a new career as benefactor, builder, and patron of art. In Sudbury he was responsible for starting the work on the virtual total rebuilding of St. Gregory's Church.

He drew up the constitution for the running of St. Leonards Hospital for Lepers in Melford Road. But he is chiefly remembered in this town for the founding of his College for the training of priests.

Apparently he was appalled to discover that many of the priests in his diocese and elsewhere were ignorant of the meaning of much of what they were reciting during the
services. He was determined that the two churches in the parish where he was raised would be better served.

Top of page Top of page

 
Simon as Diplomat

The English possession of the duchy of Aquitaine caused a tension in Anglo-French relations. Even more so with Edward III's claim to the French throne and fear of a French alliance with Scotland.

In 1338 Edward invaded France in the first of a series of campaigns which were to become The Hundred Years War Anti French feeling was intensified by the fact that Pope Clement V (1305-14) had moved the Papacy to Avignon, in
France. With the outbreak of war the efforts of the Papacy to promote peace, which served French acquisitive aims more than anything, aroused intense hostility in England.

In 1349 Simon took up a position in the service of the Papacy as an Auditor of Causes in the Papal Court at
Avignon. Just prior to that he had been made a Canon at Hereford.

He was awarded the post of Chaplain to Pope Innocent (1352-62) then was sent to England as Nuncio (Papal Ambassador) to Edward. He was engaged in several diplomatic missions and gained a reputation for being 'learned, eloquent and liberal'.

In 1353 he was made a Canon at Salisbury and he also held the Prebend of Henstridge at Wells, which was later passed, to his brother John and then to his younger brother Thomas.
Top of page Top of page

 

Simon's College

Update November 2009 - The remains of the arch have now been restored (see picture right) with the help of funds provided by this society.

The picture below is of the remains of Simon' s College and it is dated 1818., from a drawing by T. Higham and engraved by Neale for a book illustration. It shows the building when it was being used as a workhouse. It was totally destroyed to make way for a new workhouse in 1836 designed by John Brown of Norwich, which is now called Walnuttree Hospital.

We cannot be sure when the idea for the College was first conceived. Neither do we know whether the idea was discussed with his father before his death. What we do know is that the substantial Theobald house and grounds were ideally situated abutting the St. Gregory's churchyard to the west and that not much was needed to adapt it for their purpose.

Secondly the St. Peter's Chapel of Ease was being rebuilt on a grand scale on a spectacular new site and when completed would be larger than the 'Mother Church'.

At St. Gregory's the North Aisle had been rebuilt at the expense of the Theobalds and the chapel containing their parent's remains was joined to it. It made sense therefore to try to acquire the church and raise it to Collegiate Status.

The advowson of the church had been given to the Nuns at Eaton in Warwickshire by the Earl of Gloucester in the mid 12th century. It would be necessary to retrieve it from them.

Simon's status as Bishop of London and the subsequent increase in his spending power had enabled him to invest in
City of London property. He was an honest man and calculated that the value of the rents from four shops in the City would be more useful to the Nuns than the advowson of a church many miles away with all its responsibilities.

The Nuns agreed!!

It is interesting to remember that Simon's Diocese of London reached right up to the Essex bank of the River Stour. The proposed site of the College and the church to which it would be attached was on the Suffolk bank and in the Diocese of Norwich. He was obliged therefore to seek permission from the Bishop of Norwich to proceed. An agreement was reached on Nov. 1st 1374 between the two for the foundation in connection with St. Gregory's Church.

A second agreement dated August 9th 1375 involves Simon's brother John as a third party, because Simon had been promoted and had become Archbishop of Canterbury.

The actual Royal Charter of Edward III for the foundation of Sudbury College is dated Feb. 21st 1375. The head of the College was The Warden (or Custos) and under him were five secular canons and three chaplains whose duty was to perform the Divine office daily in the two churches of St. Gregory and St. Peter.

These numbers were increased at a later date.

In 1382 Richard II granted his licence for Simon and John to give to the College further lands and tenements together with the Manors of Middleton Hall and Ballingdon which they had purchased from St. Alban's Abbey.

Subsequently Kitchen Farm and the Manor and Church of Brundon would be included with their possessions.

The Chapel of Ease
St. Peter's Chapel, founded in the 12th century by William FitzRobert, Earl of Gloucester, was first sited within the Great Ditch. Work began on the new Chapel c.1327 and when completed with extensions c.1425-40 it was larger than the 'mother church' of St. Gregory.

By the sixteenth century it had acquired the status of a Parish Church and part of the parish of St. Gregory was
allocated to it.
Top of page Top of page