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John of Waltham

John of Waltham, bishop of Salisbury from 1388 was buried in St Edward the Confessor's chapel in Westminster Abbey by order of Richard II, who held him in great esteem. This caused outrage that a commoner should be buried among the kings. His grave is near that of Edward I and consists of a brass which has many parts now missing. Most of his figure, dressed in Mass vestments with a pastoral staff, still remains but much of the surrounding decoration had disappeared by 1825 and more has been lost since an engraving was made in that year. The king gave the Abbey two splendid copes and a large sum of money in order to appease the authorities.

John was born at Waltham near Grimsby in Lincolnshire, a son of John and Margaret. His great uncle was John Thoresby, archbishop of York. He served in the royal chancery where two of his uncles were employed. By 1375 he was a clerk and was custodian of Welhowe Abbey and was an administrator who dealt with high ranking matters. He became Master of the Rolls, Keeper of the Great Seal and Lord Treasurer and was a great favourite of Richard II. He was to have been buried at Salisbury cathedral but the king intervened and ordered his burial in the Abbey. Richard was later buried near him in the chapel.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Died

13th September 1395

Location

Shrine

Memorial Type

Grave

Material Type

Brass

John of Waltham
John of Waltham

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

John of Waltham
John Waltham brass

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

The work can be tough, but even the cold and rain don’t bother me as I enjoy it so much. I love every day that I spend at the Abbey – just being here makes me smile.

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Tim - Gardener

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