The May edition of the social gathering ‘ In The Ballroom’ featured a talk by Trevor Langley about the Old Priory in Warwick, from its founding by the first Earl of Warwick in the 12th century for use by Augustinian monks (called Blackfriars due to their black cloaks).
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries it passed to the colourful Thomas Fisher (who rose from being the son of a Warwick fishmonger to the local MP thanks to the patronage of John Dudley), and thence to the Puckering family (whom Fisher’s son Edward attempted to defraud).
Sir John Puckering became Speaker of the House of Commons and Keeper of the Great Seal under Queen Elizabeth I and is buried in Westminster Abbey. His son Thomas was a JP and set up almshouses for apprenticeships and has a prominent tombstone in St Mary’s Church, Warwick.
Trevor Langley related how Thomas’s daughter Jane was kidnapped in London, taken to France, forced to marry underage, then brought home, again forced into marriage with a much older aristocrat, then sadly died in childbirth. Priory House was later sold to the Wise family and eventually to the American Wedells who in 1925 bought it at a demolition sale, dismantled it brick by brick and shipped it back to Virginia, where it is now a historical wedding venue! To add to the drama, the Wedells were both killed in a train crash in 1948.
Puckering’s Lane in Warwick is one of the smallest streets in the town, but as Trevor pointed out, there are no streets named after the Dudleys! So the Puckering legacy lives on.
The next gathering ‘In The Ballroom’ will be at 2pm on Wednesday 8th June, and will be a Cream Tea for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Space is limited so It is essential to book your place in advance at the Visitor Information Centre in the Court House, or call them on 01926 492212. It costs just £3 to include the tea – cash on the door, please.