The first Dean of
Nicholas Wotton kneels in permanent prayer at the East end of the Trinity Chapel. Although I cannot comment on his abilities as a cleric, he must have been one of the greatest politicians that England has ever had. The reason I make this statement because as the first Dean of Canterbury Cathedral following the dissolution of the monasteries, Nicholas Wotten served under no less than four monarchs from 1542 to 1567. This was during the difficult times when power switch from Protestant to Catholic and back again. Prior to being appointed Dean, he was a regular ambassador to other European Countries and was therefore no stranger to difficult negotiations. Not only was Wotton the Dean of Canterbury but he also held the post of Dean of York at he same time. The mable monument is worth more than a second look because of the fine workmanship. It is probable that it was carved in Italy and it is also possible that the likeness of Dean Wotton was carved during his lifetime.
The Reformation and Beyond
Despite these difficulties with the royal line, Canterbury's mystique as the site of Becket's shrine and its centrality in the English church made it the burial site of important monarchs and other figures. Among those buried here are Archbishop Henry Chichele, Henry IV and his wife, Joan of Navarre, and Edward the Black Prince, son of Edward III. The tomb of Becket was destroyed during the Reformation, and if his relics survived the destruction, their whereabouts are unknown. Henry VIII dissolved the priory in 1540. In 1540 there were fifty monks at Canterbury. Twenty-eight of the monks became members of the reconstituted cathedral foundation led by a dean and consisting of prebendaries, minor canons, vergers, and choristers. The cathedral contains the tomb of the first dean of the cathedral, Nicholas Watton, who helped to arrange the marriage of Henry VIII to Anne of Cleves. Further destruction of Canterbury occurred during the English Civil War, when Richard Culmer and Cromwell's troops destroyed much of the stained glass in the cathedral as they "rattl[ed] down proud Becket's glassy bones."
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