Arthur Smith, Rick Jones and Jane Jones - The Life of Elizabeth Newcomen

Special Event Heritage
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    2:30 PM

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Free event with Arthur Smith, Jane Jones and Rick Jones as they tell the story in words and music of Shakespearean feminist Mrs Elizabeth Newcomen 1605-1675

Join us for our annual celebration of Shakespeare's birthday.  This year, Arthur, Rick and Jane will focus on the life of a Shakespearean feminist, Elizabeth Newcomen who is buried in the Cathedral.

Elizabeth Newcomen is remembered in this Cathedral for her great charity. She died in 1675 and left money for clothing boys and girls and teaching them “to read and write and cast accounts.” At one time of her life according to tradition she lived in Bowling Green Lane off the Borough High Street and “vended milk”. She married a rich mercer and when he died left significant property in Axe and Bottle Yard off the Borough High Street and in the High Street itself. Childless, she left all her money to other people’s children.

The rents of her properties administered by the Wardens of St Saviour’s provided suits of linen and wool for a number of boys and girls, of whom two thirds came from the Borough and one third from the Liberty of the Clink. When they had been taught to read, write and cast accounts, the boys should be apprenticed at £5 apiece at the age of 14 and there would be £5 for the usher of the Grammar School “for his better encouragement to teach such boys as shall go thither from my intended school.”

 A sum left to her woman companion would on her death go to provide clothing for 20 women who each year would receive a petticoat and a waistcoat and 20 shillings for headgear. Each year on her birthday the wardens were to spend £5 on a dinner “the women to be present one year and the boys and girls with their teachers the other year.” A Victorian tablet commemorates her in the north transept and Newcomen Street off the Borough reminds us of her school and benefaction.

She is commemorated in the Cathedral on November 15th.

This is a free event and there is no need to book.