Essential Wessex: Cardinal Wolsey in Wessex

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (c1475-1530) was born in Ipswich, but he has strong ties to Wessex. He graduated from Magdalen College, Oxford at the age of 15, earning himself the nickname "the boy bachelor". He later amassed great wealth and power for himself, part of which he used to found Christ Church (formerly Cardinal's College) in the university where he had studied. Wolsey's coat of arms is also the arms of the college, the only academic institution in the world which is also a cathedral.

Wolsey was first ordained as a priest at Marlborough by the Bishop of Salisbury in 1498. In 2020, a bust of Wolsey was unveiled at St Peter's Church in Marlborough - together with a bronze figure of his cat! He is also commemorated with a blue plaque at the same church.

Whilst Wolsey is most closely associated with Henry VIII, his rise to power actually began under Henry VII. His administrative talents were noticed by Richard Foxe (1448-1528), Bishop of Winchester and one of Henry VII's most trusted advisors. Wolsey later supplanted Foxe's role under Henry VIII, earning himself Foxe's former nickname of "the other king". Whilst Foxe became somewhat resentful of Wolsey, there appears to have been little personal animosity between them, and they remained friends.

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