Thomas Oken In the Ballroom

On 2nd January, Thomas Oken, the 16th Century Master of the Warwick Guilds who bequeathed his fortune to the town, was the guest speaker at the monthly social gathering ‘In the Ballroom’ at the Jury Street Court House.  

The famous benefactor was played engagingly by local writer Trevor Langley, who told of Oken’s life as a successful cloth merchant, and how he successfully negotiated with Henry VIII’s commissioners to protect the valuables in the formerly catholic St. Mary’s Church, and to gain a charter establishing Warwick’s independent administration by the guilds, later to become the corporation.

Members of the audience represented the kings and queens who came to various sticky ends before Elizabeth I’s reign established some order and continuity. Then with the aid of some fascinating illustrations and maps, Oken answered questions from the audience about the social conditions of the time, the powerful Dudley family based at Warwick and Kenilworth castles, and life in the walled town before the great fire in 1694.

The talk was followed by a quiz, with tea, coffee and cake served by Unlocking Warwick volunteers.

‘In the Ballroom’ is a good opportunity for local residents who might not get out very much and who might appreciate some company to meet new people over a cuppa, and to hear interesting talks about their town. So if you know of someone who might enjoy these get-togethers, please bring them along. 

The next free tea-and-talk event will be on Thursday 9th March with local historian Graham Sutherland. And there will be a Tea-dance in the Ballroom on Thursday 23rd February, costing just £2.  Both events start at 2pm.  For more information email   or call the Town Hall team: 01926 411694