Question: What connection is there between the Shakespeare family and Christopher Wren, the architect of St Paul’s Cathedral? Don’t know the answer? neither did I.
I recently had to attend a meeting at Wroxall Abbey which is situated in the countryside a few miles outside away from the town of Warwick. I had passed this way before but had never noticed the Wroxall estate which lies at the end of a long drive.
The estate is in a lovely setting, surrounded by trees and fields and at the time of my visit there were masses of snowdrops to be seen amongst the trees.
As I passed an old church I noticed that there were some ruins across the road from it, and I decided to have a look around. I found out that the Church which is known as Wrens Chapel was once attached to the ruined buildings I had seen.
If you look at the side of the Church you can see where it must have once been attached to these other buildings. A little more research revealed that this was once the site of a Benedictine Priory founded in 1141. This Priory was demolished in the time of Henry VIII, the only part that was left was the Nuns Chapel which became St Leonards parish church. There is an interesting Shakespeare connection here.
Shakespeares Grandfather came from a place called Snitterfield which is to the north east of Stratford. (According to Google maps this is a 7 1/2 mile – 2 1/2 hours walk). Apparently, at the time of the dissolution, Richard Shakespeare was the Bailiff to Prioress, Agnes Little.
An Elizabethan house was built nearby by the Burgoyne family who bought the land in 1544, this house was demolished in 1861 and was replaced by the current building.
Another famous connection came about when the land was bought by Sir Christopher Wren in 1713. Wren is especially well known as the designer of St Pauls cathedral in London.
As I drove away after the meeting, I reflected on the fact that in a very short time I had touched upon so many historical paths in such a small area. As I mentioned above, this was an area that I have passed so many times without knowing anything about it and I was pleased I had stumbled upon this little piece of the past.
(See also this link)
PS I have just started using Twitter – if anyone wants to follow this see ‘About Tudor stuff’ above or click here – I am not sure if I really ‘get’ Twitter but thought I would give it a go. My following/ followers bit looks a little thin right now so please feel free to help me out!