Hambleden Church Font

Nominated by: Chris Whitehead

My object is the ancient font in Hambleden Church. It is at least 800 years old, but could be Anglo Saxon. It was used in the Christening of Thomas de Cantilupe in 1218, and is still in use today.

Thomas went to achieve great things.

He was born in the Manor House in Hambleden in 1218, the third son of William de Cantilupe, steward to the household of King Henry III and Millicent, the widow of the Earl of Gloucester. She had inherited the Hambleden Estate in 1213.

Thomas was educated at Oxford, Paris and Orléans. During his illustrious career he became Chancellor of Oxford University, Archdeacon of Stafford, Lord Chancellor of England and Bishop of Hereford.  Despite leading a blameless life, he fell out with the Archbishop of Canterbury around 1280 and was excommunicated. He died near Orvieto, in Italy in 1282 on his way to Rome to plead his case before Pope Martin IV. His remains were returned to Hereford where they are interred in a spectacular mausoleum in the Cathedral.  

After his death, his supporters petitioned Rome to have him canonised which Pope John XXII granted in 1320 – the last Englishman to be so elevated before the Reformation. St Thomas was credited with 425 miracles including the healing of 21 lepers, the restoration of sight and speech to 23 blind and dumb men, and the restoration to life of several deceased persons. Presumably a slight exaggeration – medieval spin!

There are not many Saints who have been born in Buckinghamshire, so the font used for the baptism of St Thomas de Cantelupe must be a strong candidate to be included in the 100 items that define our county.

The Hambleden Church Font was nominated by Councillor Chris Whitehead.