Cardinal Wolsey – exhibition at Christchurch Mansion


Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich hosted an exhibition in 2017 about Cardinal Wolsey, Ipswich’s greatest son. I loved it!

Who knew that the butcher’s son from a small (at the time) remote town in East Anglia could rise to be the most powerful man in the land, answerable only to the King Henry V111, and then fall so quickly from grace, only avoiding a public execution because he died on his journey back to London from York.

The exhibition has been curated by Philip Wise of the Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service. He has brought together objects from the Museums own collection, and other objects not seen before outside of London.

The centrepiece of the exhibition are four angels, which Wolsey had designed to stand at the corners of his tomb. On his death in Leicester he was buried not in Windsor as he envisaged, but in Leicester Abbey. The location of the four angels were lost until two turned up at an auction in 1994 describes as being in “the Renaissance style”, and the other two were discovered at the Harrowden Hall, a country house in Northamptonshire, now owned by the Wellingborough Golf Club. They were bought for the nation, and are now normally on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum

As well as the carvings and the portraits of Wolsey, there are many small details to take in, including the wooden carvings, a bonnet, and the stitch work on the Tudor side saddle.

And in the same gallery, divided by just a small partition, is another exhibition about two more famous Suffolk sons – the great artists John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough. Such riches in one small museum. And its all free.

The Cardinal Wolsey exhibition runs until the 11th March 2018.