Sunday, 7 September 2014

Little Jack Horner

The manor house in the village of Mells, Somerset, has been for many years the home of the Horner family. According to local legend the ancestor who made the family's fortune was none other than the famous Jack Horner of nursery rhyme fame; which was first recorded in 1725.

Little Jack Horner
Sat in a corner,
Eating a Christmas pie;
He put in his thumb,
And pulled out a plum,
And said 'What a good boy am I!'

It was believed that this 'Jack' was Thomas Horner, steward to the last Abbott of Glastonbury, Richard Whiting,1461-1539.


 Between 1536 and 1540, after breaking away from the Catholic church, Henry VIII and his chief minister Thomas Cromwell set about the systematic destruction of all the monasteries in the country, siezing all of their gold, silver and land; it also involved the destruction of much of the religious carvings and relics housed in the churches. By 1539 Glastonbury was the only religious house left in Somerset. It was also one of the wealthiest in Britain and owned extensive lands and properties throughout the county.

File:Henry VIII National Maritime Museum.jpg

 Whiting, in an effort to persuade Henry to spare Glastonbury, sent him the title deeds of twelve manors belonging to the abbey; one of which was Mells. In order that the bribe did not seem to obvious, he concealed the deeds in a large pie and sent it to the King. Thomas Horner was entrusted with the task of conveying the pie to London, but before it got to the King, Horner took the opportunity to steal one of the deeds, thus becoming the lord of the manor of Mells.
The remaining eleven manors were given to the crown but to no avail. The Abbott was convicted of treason for remaining loyal to Rome; his own Steward, Horner, was a member of the Jury, and he was found guilty.
Whiting was hung, drawn and quartered on Glastonbury Tor, and his beautiful Abbey destroyed.

Shortly after the Abbott's death, Horner moved into the manor and it remained in the possession of the Horner family until the 20th century.

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