Suffolk heroes: Cardinal Wolsey

PUBLISHED: 00:16 23 February 2011 | UPDATED: 20:34 20 February 2013

Suffolk heroes: Cardinal Wolsey

Suffolk heroes: Cardinal Wolsey

Tim Passmore, leader of Mid Suffolk District Council, believes that the achievements and character of his Suffolk Hero, Cardinal Wolsey, are as relevant today as in the 16th century

Tim Passmore, leader of Mid Suffolk District Council, believes that the achievements and character of his Suffolk Hero, Cardinal Wolsey,are as relevant today as in the 16th century


I was born and bred in Suffolk and am very much an East Anglian as well, but I can see that Thomas Wolsey (below) is a great hero because of what he achieved locally, nationally and internationally. Tim Passmore is in no doubt that Henry VIIIs Ipswich-born advisor is a man, if not for all seasons, then certainly one for all generations.
Passmore rates Wolsey not only for the physical expressions of the mans achievements, but the manner in which he went about realising them.
Wolseys greatest European triumph, depicted in the Field of the Cloth of Gold, was successfully bringing together two factions with contrasting cultures and dispositions for the greater good.
In so far as one looks at his Suffolk legacy then there is Ipswich School, of course, to which I went as a boy. The original foundation was sited on the docks and it was that legacy that began to put Ipswich on the nations and Europes cultural map. The many endowments he made to the School and other public buildings were made at great financial risk to himself.
Passmore becomes quite emotional at this point. He came from a very humble background and clearly wanted people to better themselves. He felt that by giving people a good education they had a chance to get on and succeed. I certainly view education as a cornerstone. Whatever happens, the State cannot take away what goes on in your head!
Wolseys sense of purpose and vision also made a difference and that drives me on as well. Having a vision gives hope for the future. I equally think that he was quite diplomatic and had a single-minded ability to bring people together a quality lacking in much of todays politics.
Furthermore, for Passmore, even when Wolsey was at the height of his powers, furiously striving to achieve the divorce his monarch so desperately needed, he never lost his humanity. He used his power in a sensitive manner and was not really autocratic at all.
But didnt his hero finish his career in disgrace, failure even? Passmore concedes that Wolseys life didnt end well, but draws some solace from the reasons for his demise. Well perhaps he was a bit short-sighted in terms of what was happening. You can hang on for too long, he laughs.
And what do his family think of Wolsey? Well, Ive got three boys and I believe whats rubbed off on them is a sense of history, a love of Suffolk and a belief in public service.
Not a bad legacy indeed.

For further information about Babergh and mid Suffolk councils merger plans, go to either or

Latest from the EADT Suffolk Magazine