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Ralph Arundel (alias Papillon)

Ralph Arundel (alias Papillon) was Abbot of Westminster from 1200 to 1214. He was buried in the nave of the old Norman Abbey at Westminster which was later demolished to build the current structure. So his grave is not marked.

It appears he was a secular clerk in the Benedictine monastery at Westminster before becoming a monk. He was then Almoner and also Prior of Hurley from about 1173-1200. This was a cell of Westminster Abbey in Berkshire.

During his time as abbot King John restored the manor of Islip in Oxfordshire, birthplace of Edward the Confessor, to the Abbey. He did write several sermons but copies of these no longer exist. Ralph was deposed by the authority of the Papal Legate due to complaints about his management of funds. However provisions were made for his retirement out of the manors of Teddington and Sunbury. He died on 12th August 1223.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004


12th August 1223


Abbot; priest/minister



Ralph Arundel (alias Papillon)
The Nave

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2020 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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I’ve worked here for over thirty years and have seen many of the major services - it’s strange to realise that you are in a small way part of history.

Pamela - Rector's Secretary

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