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William Sponne - Towcester History Society Publish New Book

Author: John Morris Published: 3rd August 2010 09:29

William Sponne, Archdeacon of NorfolkWilliam Sponne, Archdeacon of Norfolk

William Sponne

A remarkable aspect of day-to-day life in Towcester is the effect on it exerted by a medieval cleric named William Sponne.

In the 15th century Archdeacon Sponne was Rector of St.Lawrence parish church in the town. Today Sponne School, Sponne shopping arcade and the Sponne Charities are just part of his legacy.

To co-incide with the St. Lawrence Flower Festival this week (Friday to Sunday) Towcester and District Local History Society decided to fill a gap in the history of the town and publish a book on the life of a priest who accomplished so much.

It will be on sale as part of the Society’s display at the Festival and has been researched and written by Brian Giggins, the Society’s leading expert on archaeology and planning.

Brian is a building historian,archaeologist and occasional poet. Formerly the Senior Archeologist for Milton Keynes Council and Building Historian for the MK Development Corporation,he has lectured and run courses for Leicester University, Northamptonshire County Council and the Workers’ Education Association.

“So far as I know there had never been a published history of William Sponne’s life” says Brian, “and I decided to put that right, particularly as he has had such an impact on Towcester for so long.

“The research took me to many parts of the country because Sponne’s church,and business, career took him as far as Canterbury, Norwich and Lincoln as well as London and, of course,Northamptonshire.

“Sponne was a protégé of John Wakering who was at one time Archdeacon of Canterbury and Clerk in Chancery but became Bishop of Norwich and was much involved in affairs of State.

“Through him Sponne rose to several important positions and as his career progressed became Rector of St. Lawrence. What I wanted to discover was why the Rector of  Towcester was also Archdeacon of Norwich.

“I have answered at least some of the questions and certainly outlined his legacy here in Towcester. This includes the school – he founded the first Grammar School – the Chantry House on the Market Square, the enlargement of the Chancel within the church and the building of the crypt.

“He bought the Tabard Inn on the Market Square – later the Talbot Hotel – which is now part of the Sponne arcade and his tomb/monument in the church is one of the finest examples of its kind in the country.

“He even hid gold and silver coins in the Rectory that became the subject of a treasure trove inquest after his death.”

The new book will be on sale at the Festival and then at Towcester Tearooms, St. Lawrence and other outlets in the town.


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