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Bourchier

Hayter

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Thomas Bourchier

Bishop of Worcester, Birshop of Ely, and Archbishop of Canterbury

Thomas was born in 1414, (some say 1404), the son of William Bourchier, Earl of Eu and Princess Anne of Woodstock, (a granddaughter of Edward III.)

He obtained several preferments, amongst them being the Deanery of St. Martin-le-Grand, London.  He also became Chancellor of Oxford University, and took up residence at Nevill's Inn.  He became Lord Chancellor soon after he became Archbishop of Canterbury.

When the Wars of the Roses broke out, Thomas Bourchier attempted, for a time, to mediate between the two parties.  Finally, he placed himself on the side of the Yorkists and even officiated at the Coronation of King Edward IV.  In 1471, together with other peers of the Realm, he took an oath accepting the Prince of Wales as heir to the throne but, upon the death of Edward IV, his son was set aside and Bourchier placed the crown on the head of Richard III.

Knole House, Sevenoaks, Kent, England.

However, it is known that, in 1456, Thomas Bourchier (Archbishop of Canterbury) bought Knole for little more then £266, and set about transforming this fortress-like building in a home 'fit for the Princes of the Church.'  Knole saw four more Archbishops before Henry VIII took possession of it, enlarging it to a standard befitting a Royal Palace, but never actually spending much time there.  After a generally confusing period of history and ownership, Elizabeth I presented the house and estate to her cousin, Thomas Sackville in 1566, and his descendants have lived at Knole ever since.

The closing scene of his public life was in 1486, when the strife between the red rose and the white was ended by his marrying King Henry VII to Princess Elizabeth of York. Thomas Bourchier died two months later.

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This is Bourchier's Tower, the great inner Gatehouse at Knole.

"Then on Jan 18th 1486, Henry, Earl of Richmond and Princess Elizabeth, 'the true successor of each royal line,' were married by Archbishop Bourchier in Westminister Abbey. 'His han', wronte Thomas Fuller quaintly, 'held that sweet posie wherein the white and red roses were first tied together.'  It was the last act of the cardinal-archbishop at the close of a strange and eventful primacy of twenty-two years.  Himself (Thomas Bourchier) of royal descent, he had anointed three Kings of England; now he was over eighty, and the burden of life lay heavy upon him. From Knole, his mansion near Sevenoaks, where he died (6th April 1486) some three moths later, his body was removed to Maidstone, then to Faversham. On 14th April the funeral procession passed through the nave of the Cathedral to the tomb already waiting in the choir. 'I leave my body,' so ran the archbishop's will, 'to be buried in my Cathedral Church of Canterbury, in that place which in the choir of the said Church, on the north side of the great altar, I have cohsen for my sepulcre.' The position of the high altar has been changed since the lofty and elaborate tomb was built, rich with delicate carving - the family badge of the 'Bourchier Knot' - the royal badge of Edward IV, the rose within a sun and many other devices. The images have been torn from their riches, but everyone may see that the archbishop realised the nobility of his family in the making of his tomb."


Tomb of Thomas Bourchier in Canterbury Cathedral.  (Unfortunately the Bourchier knots are missing from the tomb when I took these photos.)


Here you can see the name Thomas Bourchier, in brass, in old English.

Tomb of Archbishop Thomas Bourchier in North choir Aisle of Canterbury Cathedral.

Links:

New Advent-Catholic Encyclopedia-Thomas Bourchier