This text about the life of Simon de Langham also features in an illuminated manuscript displayed in
the Parish Church of St Peter & St Paul Langham.
(Circa) born at Langham in the County of Rutland.
Benedictine monk at Westminster Abbey which held the manor of Langham with Barleythorpe.
Began studies in Theology at Oxford.
The Black Death raged across all Europe. Twenty-seven of fifty Westminster monks died.
Langham was recalled from Oxford and elected Prior. Seven weeks later, on the death of
Abbott Bircheston, he was elected Abbott in May 1349.
Travelled to Avignon for confirmation, by Pope Clement VI, of his election as Abbott.
Langham proved a capable administrator who restored morale and paid off the Abbey’s debts.
He continued building the cloisters.
Appointed Treasurer of England by King Edward III.
Elected Bishop of Ely.
Appointed Chancellor of England: The first to use the English language when opening a
Langham was elected Archbishop of Canterbury and in consequence he resigned the
Pope Urban V chose him to be a Cardinal Priest so Langham resigned the Archbishopric.
Henceforth he lived at Avignon but was employed on diplomatic missions as a Papal Nuncio in
Flanders and in England.
Pope Gregory XI created Langham Cardinal Bishop.
Simon de Langham died at Avignon 22nd July. He left vestments of plunket, a blue woollen cloth,
to Langham Church and many bequests elsewhere. The majority of his treasures, his books and
the residue of his estate he bequeathed to Westminster Abbey where the Nave was rebuilt with
his legacy. Regarded as the Abbey’s third founder, he is commemorated by a large window in the
Nave and by two small glass panels in the Chapter House. His splendid tomb in the chapel of St.
Benedict is the Abbey’s earliest ecclesiastical monument. It was originally surmounted by a
canopy above which hung the Cardinal’s hat.
Langham Village History Group ~ © 1996 - 2022
Simon de Langham