Wykeham, William of

views updated May 08 2018


Bishop, chancellor, and founder of New College (Oxford) and Winchester grammar school; b. Wickham, Hampshire, 1324; d. Sept. 27, 1404. Wykeham's mother was perhaps of gentle birth. After some schooling at Winchester, he became an official, eventually in royal employ, serving mostly as a surveyor and works clerk. In 1363, he became keeper of the privy seal at which time Froissart said that he controlled the administration. The King had given him so much ecclesiastical preferment that urban v was reluctant to make him bishop of winchester, to which see he was elected in 1366. After much pressure was exerted by Edward III upon a number of cardinals at the Curia, Wykeham was provided in 1367. In that year he became chancellor of England, but in 1371 he was forced to resign by an anticlerical group, probably headed by John of Gaunt. At the Good Parliament of 1376, Wykeham assisted in the overthrow of Gaunt's ruling clique; when Parliament broke up, Wykeham was charged with improper conduct as chancellor and lost his temporalities. Back in favor on the accession of Richard II, he acted as a political moderate and was again chancellor from 1389 to 1391.

As a churchman, Wykeham was too lay-minded to make a mark, although he supported the measures against the lollards. His principal fame comes from his foundation, beginning in 1378 and 1380, of the two separate, but related, St. Mary Winton colleges, one at Oxford (New College) and one at Winchester (Winchester grammar school). Both marked a break with the pastthe former was designed primarily for undergraduates in arts who had been trained in grammar at the latter, which became the first English "public school."

Bibliography: g. c. heseltine, William of Wykeham: A Commentary (London 1932). g. h. moberly, Life of William of Wykeham (2d ed. Winchester 1893). r. lowth, The Life of William of Wykeham (3d ed. Oxford 1777). j. r. l. highfield, "The Promotion of William of Wickham to the See of Winchester," The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 4 (1953) 3754. a. h. m. jones, in The Victoria History of The County of Oxford, ed. l. f. salzman et al., 7v. (Oxford 190762) 3:144162.

[f. d. blackley]

Wykeham, William of

views updated May 17 2018

Wykeham, William of (1324–1404). English ecclesiastic and builder. In 1356 he was named as Clerk of the Royal Works at Henley and Easthampstead, and later Surveyor of the Royal Castles at Windsor, Leeds, Dover, and Hadleigh. He superintended the erection of the Royal apartments east of the keep at Windsor Castle (1360–9), and built a new castle on the Isle of Sheppey, called Queenborough (1361–7), known from plans drawn by Hollar, but destroyed. In the 1360s his rise as an ecclesiastic was meteoric, and he was showered with livings. He was responsible for the foundations of New College, Oxford (1379) and Winchester College, Hants. (1382). Both were erected on similar plans, with hall, chapel, and sets. They were the models for later colleges including Eton and King's, Cambridge. Wykeham does not appear to have been an architect, however, and obtained the services of William of Wynford to act in that capacity. Wykeham's name is primarily associated with major works at Winchester, where he was Bishop from 1366. There, using Wynford, he remodelled the Romanesque nave from 1394 in the Perpendicular style of Gothic, which explains the abnormally substantial piers for that style.


J. Harvey (1987);
Hayter (1970);
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004)

William of Wykeham

views updated May 14 2018

William of Wykeham (1324–1404). Bishop of Winchester, keeper of the privy seal, chancellor of England. Possibly the son of a Hampshire serf, he entered royal service (c.1348) and superintended the rebuilding of Windsor castle. As bishop of Winchester (1366), he was the greatest ecclesiastical pluralist of the century with twelve appointments, headed by the archdeaconry of Lincoln. As chancellor (1367), he was efficient rather than statesmanlike. The tide of anticlericalism forced him to resign (1371) to make way for laymen. He was briefly chancellor under Richard II (1389–91), but took no further part in politics. He is chiefly remembered for his benefactions to education by founding New College, Oxford (1379), and Winchester College (1382), the latter a unique corporation, independent of cathedral or monastery, a model for Henry VI's Eton and Wolsey's Ipswich college. He also resumed the rebuilding of the cathedral at his own expense.

Revd Dr William M. Marshall

William of Wykeham

views updated May 11 2018

William of Wykeham (1324–1404) English bishop and political leader. As Bishop of Winchester from 1367, he was prominent in royal counsels. He served as chancellor (1367–71) under Edward III and again (1389–91) under Richard II. He founded Winchester College, Winchester, and New College, Oxford.

William of Wykeham

views updated May 23 2018

William of Wykeham (1324–1404). See Wykeham.

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William of Wykeham

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