A PROCESSION held in Warwick 450 years ago to celebrate the founder of The Lord Leycester Hospital, has been re-staged.
The Collegiate Church of St Mary, as part of its £3million fund-raising campaign, paid homage to the legendary celebration which welcomed Earl of Leycester, Sir Robert Dudley, on Michaelmas Day in September 1571.
Town councillors, the brethren who live at The Lord Leycester Hospital and Warwick Court Leet, wore their ceremonial robes to lead the procession from the historic hospital site to St Mary’s.
The church is raising money to pay for urgent repairs to its landmark tower and to ensure the fabric, music and ministry of the medieval ‘county church of Warwickshire’ for the next millennium. The aim is to secure the majority of the money needed to coincide with its 900th anniversary in 2023.
The fund-raising fellowship – The Order of St Mary – has been established to provide a regular stream of income and so far over 40 people have joined, raising over £100,000.
The service was held to coincide with the 450th anniversary of the Earl’s visit.
Warwick held a special significance to Dudley, as he was a descendant of Richard Beauchamp, the 13th Earl of Warwick. It was also in 1571, under royal charter from Queen Elizabeth I, when he established The Lord Leycester Hospital for aged or injured soldiers and their wives – a charity that still operates today.
Dudley is buried at St Mary’s with his wife and son in a tomb within the ornate Beauchamp Chapel, which is considered to be one of the great funerary chapels in England.
The Rev Vaughan Roberts said: “Written accounts of the celebration at St Mary’s of Robert Dudley’s investiture into the prestigious Order of St Michel tells of a momentous day in the history of Warwick, so its 450th anniversary was the right time to formally establish a new ‘Order’ whose members will help secure the future of our church.
“We know there are many thousands of other people who have a connection to St Mary’s, whether they were baptised here, were married here, or are among the 40,000 people who pay a general visit every year, and joining the Order of St Mary is one of many ways that they can contribute to our fundraising and in turn create a legacy for themselves in the timeline of our church.”
Visit www.stmaryscampaign2023.org.uk for more information.