A GUIDE TO THE CHAPEL RUINS

Who was William Sandys?
William Sandys, 1st Baron Sandys of the Vyne (1470 – 4 December 1540) was an English Tudor diplomat, Lord Chamberlain and favourite of King Henry VIII.

William was the son of Sir William Sandys of The Vyne, a Tudor mansion in Sherborne St. John, near Basingstoke, Hampshire, which the son greatly improved. It now belongs to the National Trust.

As a young man, he gained preferment at Court and was soon associated with Prince Henry, assisting at his knighthood and the reception of Catherine of Aragon in 1501.

William remained a great friend of Henry when he became king and held a number of minor posts before becoming Treasurer of Calais in 1517.

He was made a Knight of the Garter the following year and was instrumental in organising the Royal meeting at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520.

He was made Baron Sandys of the Vyne soon afterwards.

William became Lord Chamberlain in 1530 and Henry visited him three times at the Vyne, once with Anne Boleyn whom Sandys was later to escort to her imprisonment in the Tower.

Sandys later retired from court life and died in Calais on 4 December 1540.

He was buried in the Holy Trinity Chapel which had been built as a burial place for the Sandys family. All that remains are two slabs with arms and crests. Probably from his parents’ tomb and therefore not where he was buried.

Sandys married Marjorie Bray, niece and heir of powerful Tudor supporter Sir Reginald Bray. Sir Reginald Bray served as principal minister to Henry VII for eighteen years and was a principal negotiator in arranging Henry VII’s marriage to Elizabeth of York.

When Bray died in 1503 he left enough funds to enable the building of St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle to be completed and his executors ensured that this occurred. Bray’s badge of a hemp brake or bray (a tool used by weavers to crush hemp) was added to many areas of St George’s Chapel as work was completed – in total it features 175 times, on doors, cornices, vault bosses and windows.

Bray boss. Photo credit and copyright: Chapel of St George, Windsor.

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