Cardinal Thomas Wolsey

‘Wolsey: Ipswich’s Greatest Son’

Enter the world of Tudor power politics with Wolsey: Ipswich’s Greatest Son, Christchurch Mansion’s new exhibition.

Opening date: 14 October 2017
Closing date: 11 March 2018
Venue: Christchurch Mansion (Wolsey Art Gallery)

Thomas Wolsey was born in Ipswich in the early 1470s, the son of an inn keeper and butcher. From these modest beginnings he rose to become Henry VIII’s chief minister, archbishop of York and a cardinal. Over ten years he was second only to the king himself, but ultimately his failure to arrange Henry’s divorce led to his downfall and death in disgrace.

This exhibition explores how Wolsey wished to project an image of himself both in life and death. It is centred on Wolsey’s portrait, on loan from London’s National Portrait Gallery, and the spectacular angel figures made for the tomb that he was never to occupy. ‘Wolsey’s Angels’ were acquired by the V&A in 2015 and this is the first time that they have been shown outside London.

Also on display are two documents relating to Cardinal College, the school that Wolsey founded in Ipswich. These are the Foundation Charter of 1528 and the College’s Statutes on loan from the National Archives and Christchurch College, Oxford respectively. Together these documents provide a fascinating insight into what might have been one of Tudor England’s greatest achievements.

These loans are accompanied by rarely seen Tudor objects from Ipswich Museum’s collections including the architectural timbers from the town and several portraits of Wolsey.

The Suffolk Record Office also holds material relating to Cardinal Wolsey, including records of the 1930 Wolsey Pageant – an event produced by Nugent Monck for the Corporation of Ipswich, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of Cardinal Wolsey (HD867).