Wotton, Dean (biog)

Nicholas Wotton (about 1497-1567), successful lawyer and diplomatist, was the first post-reformation Dean of Canterbury, a post he held from 1541 until his death. He has been described as the prototype of the vicar of Bray, having survived during the troubled reigns of Henry VIII through to Elizabeth I holding the two posts of Dean of Canterbury and Dean of York. The large Renaissance monument (Image 1) shows Wotton in full academic surplice of a Doctor of Divinity, kneeling on a sarcophagus at a prayer desk, facing an ornate stone screen, his back to a high obelisk, with a lengthy Latin epitaph on a neighbouring pillar. This impressive assembly represents one of the first notable Renaissance tombs in England.

What to see:

  • striking image of a dapper bearded man in academic surplice reading at his prayer desk (Image 2)
  • the tall obelisk with ball on top behind him (Image 3)
  • coats of arms of Wotton family, Dean and Chapter, and others – the first example of a Dean ‘impaling’ (joining together) family arms with those of the Dean and Chapter (Image 4)
  • a lengthy epitaph in Latin which praises everything about Wotton – even his exquisite diet which he ate just once a day! (Image 5)

Sources: see standard cathedral sources