Leicester – Grave of Thomas Wolsey

I admit that the title of this blog post is a little misleading, as the grave of Ipswich born Thomas Wolsey has been a bit lost, but they sort of know where it is. A few years ago, the bones of King Richard III was found in a car park in the city, which gave renewed impetus to find Wolsey. Wolsey will be more challenging to identify even if they find a skeleton, there aren’t any heirs to check DNA and it’s not clear in what clothes and with what items he was buried with.

Incidentally, I’m not sure that this statue does Wolsey complete credit.

This is where Leicester Abbey once stood, with these stones being added in the 1920s which mark out the lines of the former walls. It’s known from contemporary writers that Wolsey was buried in the abbey’s Lady Chapel.

To one side of the abbey complex is this grave slab commemorating Thomas Wolsey. Wolsey had been a loyal adjutant to King Henry VIII and had enjoyed a considerable wealth and status between 1515 and 1529. Then there was a bit of a falling out, which wasn’t ideal for Wolsey. Failing to secure a divorce for the Monarch, he was ordered by Henry Percy to return to London to face trial. Wolsey didn’t make it, he fell ill whilst staying at Leicester Abbey and he died on 29 November 1530.

He’s not under there, but perhaps one of the most important and influential crown servants will one day be found again, despite the previous failed attempts. This state of affairs isn’t what Wolsey had expected, he had even hired Benedetto da Rovezzano and Giovanni da Maiano to design his tomb. This big grand black tomb didn’t go to waste though, it now holds the remains of Horatio Nelson. But, there’s still a high level of confidence that Wolsey is in this field somewhere, so that was enough to intrigue me (I accept that I need to get out more).