Mistress Sarah

02 November 2006

SARAH STANFORD, wife of John Stanford, a prominent Gloucester citizen who owned property there in the 1550s, was welcoming visitors to Gloucester Cathedral during half-term week, and telling them stories about some of the terrible happenings of her lifetime.

Mistress Stanford knew about the stripping of the abbey of its possessions in 1540, and about its being established as a cathedral the following year. She was there when John Hooper was nominated Bishop of Gloucester in 1550, and not only refused any reference to saints or angels in the Oath of Supremacy, but protested against wearing any vestments at his consecration. She was still there when Mary I came to the throne in 1554, and Hooper was among the bishops arrested for heresy. She might even have watched as he was burned at the stake in Gloucester on 9 February 1555.

“The tours were really aimed at children,” says Sarah Law (pictured), the cathedral education officer, who was playing her namesake; “but lots of adults came along, and really seemed to be enjoying it. It’s been such a success that we will definitely be doing it again, probably with different characters from the history and life of the cathedral, such as a stonemason or monk. Tours like this really help bring the cathedral to life, no matter your age.”

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