Introduction: Note on Images

The Estate and Household Accounts of William Worsley Dean of St Paul's Cathedral 1479-1497. Originally published by Shaun Tyas on behalf of Richard III and Yorkist Trust and the London Record Society, Donington, 2004.

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'Introduction: Note on Images', in The Estate and Household Accounts of William Worsley Dean of St Paul's Cathedral 1479-1497, (Donington, 2004) pp. 39. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/london-record-soc/vol40/p39 [accessed 29 February 2024]

Note on Images

We have only one certain representation of William Worsley. His tomb brass in St. Paul's cathedral was destroyed in the fire of 1666, but there is a drawing of it in Dugdale's History of St. Paul's Cathedral. (fn. 1) This drawing shows a relatively slight man, wearing a richly embroidered cope.

More problematic is the identification of the kneeling cleric shown in a wall painting in 'Brooke House' at Hackney, traditionally thought to be a depiction of Worsley. (fn. 2)

The heraldic shield painted above the main image displays the arms of Radcliff (argent, a bend engrailed sable), differenced by an escallop. This shield is flanked by the letter W on either side. A second shield, in a less prominent position, is of the Radcliff arms (without the escallop), impaling a probable representation of the Worsley arms (argent, a chief gules, differenced by 4 annulets interlinked two and two). This shield is flanked by the letter T, or possibly the cross of St. Anthony, which is also repeated in-between the roses on the main wall. (fn. 3) The roses on the main wall have a white centre on a blue outside. These roses could be either a badge or a religious symbol, but may alternatively be purely decorative. Further problems are raised by the bearded figure which towers over the kneeling cleric. The crossed keys held by this patriarch identify him fairly unambiguously as St. Peter, the patron saint of Westminster Abbey and of York Minster, but not of London's cathedral church. As the families of Radcliff, Booth and Worsley all had close ties with the province of York, it is still possible that the building that housed the painting of St. Peter was part of the property owned first by William Booth and later by William Worsley, but it is far less certain whether the kneeling cleric can with any degree of certainty be identified with the latter. Alternatively, it is possible that different elements in the painting are of varying date, and that Brooke house was the suburban house of the deans of St. Paul's, rather than part of Worsley's personal property.

Footnotes

  • 1. C. N. L. Brooke, 'The Earliest Times to 1485', in A History of St. Paul's Cathedral and the Men Associated with It, ed. W. R. Matthews and W. M. Atkins (London, 1957), plate 4; Sir William Dugdale, The History of St. Paul's Cathedral, London (London 1818), p. 53.
  • 2. For Worsley's connection with Brooke House, see p. 31, above.
  • 3. A Survey of London, ed. F. H. W. Sheppard (42 vols., London 1900–86), vol. 28, pt. i: Hackney: Brooke House, a monograph. For the identification of the Radcliff arms, cf. pp. 20, 54–5, 67.