Chichele, Archbishop (biog)

Archbishop Henry Chichele (1364-1443) was founder of All Souls College Oxford, and served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 1414 until his death. His tomb, one of six to Archbishops in the choir, was designed by Thomas Mapilton, and is by far the most colourful in the cathedral – in large part arising from refurbishment and repainting financed by All Souls.  The lower level was in place by 1425, so the Archbishop had a daily reminder of the frailty of his human life for 18 years as he took his place on the Archbishop’s throne the far side of the choir. This supposedly underlined his remorse at supporting the unsuccessful French wars conducted by Henry V. Figures in the many niches around the tomb were destroyed by Puritans and later replaced. These were in turn removed to the pulpitum in the 1890s, and replaced with wooden figures in a major restoration by the artist C E Kemp.

What to see:

  • the tomb, known as a memento mori (Remember your mortality) tomb, showing two Chichele images – below, a gaunt, naked corpse or cadaver on a shroud, above as Archbishop in full regalia with pallium and crosier, angels supporting his head cushion; this is amongst the earliest of this type in England
  • the canopy which is high to permit light from the north side into the choir
  • an inscription in Latin below which reads “now I am cut down and served up for worms – behold my grave”.

Sources;  see standard cathedral sources