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John Feckenham (alias Howman)

John Feckenham was Abbot of Westminster from 1556-1559 but is not buried in the Abbey and he has no memorial. Queen Mary I re-established the Benedictine monastery at Westminster and the Dean and Chapter handed over to John and the monks on 10th November 1556. He was born about 1510 the son of Humphrey Howman from Feckenham in Worcestershire and his wife Florence. On entering the monastery at Evesham he took the surname of his birth place as was often the case. Educated at Oxford he became vicar in his home town after the dissolution of the monastery. Later he was rector of Solihull. During Edward VI's Protestant reign he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for his part in various disorders and for his religious views. In 1554 he was installed as Dean at St Paul's Cathedral. During his time at the Abbey he re-assembled the Shrine of St Edward the Confessor and defended the right of Sanctuary. He arranged for painted inscriptions to be put on the tomb of Edward I (which had no inscription) and, probably, that on the base of Henry III's tomb. But when Catholic Queen Mary died the monastery at Westminster was abolished and in 1560 Feckenham was again imprisoned but was out on parole in custody of various people including at one time Dean Goodman at Westminster. In 1580 he was taken to Wisbech Castle and died there, being buried in the churchyard on 16th October 1584.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

Westminster Abbey Reformed 1540-1640 edited by C.S. Knighton and R. Mortimer, 2003

John Feckenham and Tudor religious controversies by P. Tudor in "The cloister and the world" edited by J. Blair and B. Golding, 1996

Died

16th October 1584

Field

Priest; abbot

John Feckenham (alias Howman)
Coat of arms of the monastery at Westminster

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2018 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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The Shrine of St Edward the Confessor is one of the most powerful features of the Abbey. To stand in the presence of a man who is both a saint and a monarch is awe-inspiring.

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