Courtenay, Archbishop (biog)

William Courtenay (1342-1396) was a great grandson of Edward I and Archbishop of Canterbury from 1381 (when he succeeded Simon Sudbury) until his death. During his tenure and in his will he made generous provision for rebuilding of the nave and cloisters in the new perpendicular style. He also persuaded others to contribute, including Richard II who gave 1000 mark towards the nave west window. Courtenay died in Maidstone in 1396, and for many years it was a matter of dispute whether his body lay there, as specified in his will, or in Canterbury.

What to see:

  • the tomb (Image 1), now accepted to cover his resting place, is of Purbeck marble with an effigy in alabaster;  it is situated close to Becket’s shrine; Courtenay wears his mitre and looks fleshy faced – according to Canon Ingram Hill appearing rather rather arrogant (Image 2)
  • long-fingured cherubs looking heavenwards and arranging his headrest
  • no weepers below – they have long since disappeared
  • the Courtenay arms in the cloisters (south side) supported by two woodwose (mythical wild men of the woods)! (Image 3)

Sources:  see standard cathedral sources