Slimbridge Rector in Coronation Scandal

Owen Oglethorpe was Rector of Slimbridge from 1540 to 1544. He would go on to play an important part in the Royal succession.

Queen Mary I, daughter of Henry VIII, had reversed many of her father’s religious changes and the Church of England was Catholic once more. But Mary died in November 1558 and her sister Elizabeth wanted a quick Coronation to secure her legitimacy, this was carried out on the 15th January 1559 when she was only 25. However, there was difficulty finding a Bishop to officiate:

  • The Archbishop of Canterbury had died 12 hours after Mary and no replacement had been appointed because of the religious turmoil.
  • The Archbishop of York refused because of Elizabeth’s reforms.
  • The Bishop of London was unacceptable to Elizabeth because of his role in persecuting Protestant heretics.
  • The Bishop of Winchester was under house arrest following an anti-protestant sermon.
  • The Bishop of Chichester had died in prison the previous month after a also delivering an anti-protestant sermon.

Eventually the low ranking Bishop of Carlisle, Owen Oglethorpe, was persuaded to officiate.

Oglethorpe had previously upset Elizabeth when, during Christmas Mass, Oglethorpe had “raised the host” part of the Catholic tradition. Elizabeth walked out of the ceremony!

Oglethorpe carried out the Coronation service, but the Dean of the Royal Chapel conducted mass to avoid Oglethorpe misbehaving again.

After her Coronation Parliament passed her “Religious Settlement Act”. Oglethorpe refused to swear the oath of allegiance, was deprived of his see, placed under house arrest and died on the 31st December 1559.

On the East elevation of St John the Evangelist, Slimbridge, are two pairs of busts of Elizabeth and Oglethorpe.

Owen Oglethorpe and Queen Elizabeth I
Find us on Facebook