William of Wallingford

William of Wallingford, 47th abbot of St Albans Abbey, died 20 June 1492.He was a Benedictine monk at Holy Trinity Priory, Wallingford, Berkshire (now Oxfordshire), England and like John of Wallingford and Richard of Wallingford, moved from this cell of St Albans Abbey to the abbey itself. He was a favourite of John Stoke, 44th abbot of St Albans, also from Wallingford. On his deathbed in 1451, Stoke was supposed to have given William and Thomas Wallingford, his senior chaplain, charge over 1000 marks but after his death they could only account for 250 marks. The abbot John Wheathampstead who succeeded Stoke suspected the two over the money. Nevertheless, William of Wallingford was later appointed abbot in 1476, after the death of William Albone, apparently for his financial acumen, at a time when the abbey was in debt. William of Wallingford managed to get rid of the debt whilst also spending on the abbey. He built the high altar known as the Wallingford Screen at a cost of £733 and completed the chapter house. The former was destroyed during the Dissolution but a copy was built in Victorian times.

According to historian James Anthony Froude, William made the abbey “a nest of sodomy and fornication – the very aisles of the church itself being defiled with the abominable orgies of incestuous monks and nuns”. This is based on an account by Cardinal John Morton who investigated on behalf of Pope Innocent VIII after obtaining a papal bull, though it is not clear if a formal visitation took place. The charge was seen as incredible by another historian, F.A. Gasquet, who noted that an obituary said "Nobody showed more care in the worship of God than our reverend father, abbot William Wallingford, or more kindness in works of piety. Nobody showed more devotion to the fervour of faith, hope and charity. None of the ancients before him had shown so much generosity in putting up buildings to the praise and glory of this monastery."

1492 is widely accepted as the year of his death, as that is when the succeeding abbot took charge, but some accounts suggested that he died in 1484.


*Froude, A. (1877) Short Studies on Great Subjects. Scribner, Armstrong & Co.
*Gasquet, F.A. (1912) Abbot Wallingford: an inquiry into the charges made against him and his monks. (London).
*Eckenstein, Lina (1896) Woman under monasticism: chapters on saint-lore and convent life between A.D. 500 and A.D. 1500. Cambridge University Press [http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/History/History-idx?type=HTML&rgn=DIV2&byte=17669991&q1=Wallingford text]
*Riley, H.T. (Ed) (1871-1872) William of Wallingford. Chronica Monasterii S Albani (Rolls Series).
*Ritchie, C.I.A. (1956) Abbot Thomas Ramryge's Lost Register, and the Date of William Wallingford's Death. "English Historical Review", 71 (280) pp. 434-435.

External links

* [http://uk.geocities.com/david.hemming1@btinternet.com/history Wallingford History Gateway]
* [http://www.berkshirehistory.com/bios/wwallingford.html Royal Berkshire History: William of Wallingford]

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