Thursday, 14 February 2013

Izaak and Anne Walton: A Staffordshire lady in Worcester Cathedral

Izaak Walton. Photograph copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

It’s Valentine’s Day and so the blog this week looks at the story of a couple, which reflects this. In the Lady Chapel at the East end of the cathedral you will find a small white marble monument. The inscription states:

Here lyeth buryed, soe much as
could dye of ANNE,the wife of
who was
A woman of remarkable prudence
and of the Primitive Piety, her great
and generall knowledge: being adorn’d
with such true Humility, and blest
with soe much Christian meeknesse as
made her worthy of a more memorable
She dyed  (Alas that she is dead)
the 17th of Aprill 1662. Aged 52.
Study to be like her

Izaak was born in August 1593 in Stafford. He moved to London, where he lived in the parish where John Donne was vicar. They became friends. In 1626, Izaak married Rachel Flood. They had seven children, who all died by the time they were in their teens, and then Rachel died. However, in the 1640’s Izaak married Anne Ken. His nickname for her was Kenna. They had two children, imaginatively named Izaak and Anne. During the dark days of the civil war, Izaak decided to escape Puritan London and return to his native Stafford. Once safely in the Midlands, the Waltons gave succour to Doctor George Morley, a Royalist clergyman wanted by the Parliamentarians.
Bishop Morley. Photograph copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

Morley had stayed with them in Stafford before going into exile in France with King Charles II. Morley had stayed with King Charles I as long as he was allowed and also ministered to Lord Capel, another captured Royalist commander when he was on the scaffold. After the Restoration of the monarchy, when Morley became Bishop of Worcester, he was able to repay their bravery and kindness by appointing Izaak his steward.

Unfortunately, Anne contracted a fatal illness while living at the Deanery with her husband. In the cathedral archives there is a record of two pounds being paid for the choir to sing at Anne's funeral by Izaak.
The Anne Walton monument. Photograph copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

Izaak Walton wrote the inscription to his beloved wife originally in his Prayer Book, which has slight differences to what is on the monument. Walton first wrote “of Primitive Piety”. The change is to clarify that her piety was that of the reformed church (i.e. The Church of England). The monument is not the only memorial to his wife. Walton also wrote a ballad in which he refers to ‘my Kenna’ (Anne).

Izaak himself is of course famous in his own right as the author of The Compleat Angler, and author of The Lives of John Donne, Henry Wotton, Richard Hooker, George Herbert, and Robert Sanderson. The cathedral library does not have the Compleat Angler but does have his other works. Izaak Walton died at the age of 90 in 1683 at the home of Doctor Hawkins, a Canon of Winchester Cathedral. Walton had moved to Winchester when Doctor Morley became Bishop of Winchester.

Liz Sydney

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