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Robert Winchelsea, Archbishop of Canterbury 1293-1306 and 1308-1313

Robert Winchelsey was elected as the successor to Archbishop Petcham.

Unusually, neither the pope nor the king had a hand in his election. On 1 April, Winchelsey left England for Rome to get papal confirmation. He was not consecrated immediately because of a papal vacancy; Celestine V eventually performed the ceremony at Aquila on 12 September 1294. Winchelsey was a fearless opponent of Edward I.

Winchelsey, after a very stormy relationship with, and exile imposed on him by King Edward I, was restored by Edward II and spent most of the rest of his life at Otford where, in the early 1300s he undertook a major enlargement of the manor buildings. He died here on 11th May 1313 and his body interred in a magnificent tomb in Canterbury Cathedral five days later.

“He was a man of great resolution, as appears by his conduct during his dissentions with the king, to whom refusing to be reconciled, and his revenues being withheld, he discharged his family, left the city, and withdrew himself to Chartham, from whence he rode every Sunday and holiday, and preached in the adjoining churches.

“He was of great liberality and extensive charity to the poor, to whom the large fragments of his table were every day plentifully distributed at his gate. He gave every Sunday and Thursday, when corn was dear, 2000 loaves, and when cheap, 3000 to the poor at a time; upon solemn festivals he relieved with money, 150 needy persons; and to the aged, to women in child-bed, and to the infirm who were not able to come to his door, he sent his alms, bread, fish, or flesh, according to the season, to their own houses; of all which, a particular account is given by archbishop Parker, bishop Godwyn, Stow, and others.

“After having sat in this patriarchal chair for the space of nineteen years, he died greatly esteemed and regretted at Otford, on May 11, in 1313, and was buried beside the choir, on the south side of this church, near the upper south wing, but there is no monument of him remaining at this time.”  (Edwards Halsted, (1801) The history and topographical survey of the county of Kent second edition, volume  12.  Canterbury)