Visitors to the Glastonbury Festival probably don’t give a thought to the fate of Richard Whiting. As an old man convicted of treason he was hung, drawn and quartered on Glastonbury Tor.
When Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell set about the dissolution of the monasteries in England the Benedictine Monastery, Glastonbury Abbey, was the wealthiest Abbey in England.
Supposedly Bishop Richard Whiting tried to bribe the King. His steward was entrusted with a gift of twelve title deeds to English manorial estates. To protect the deeds from thieves they were hidden in a pie. However the steward stole the deeds to the Manor of Mells, the ‘plum’ of the twelve manors.
The jury that found Bishop Whiting guilty included the treacherous steward. Following the destruction of the Abbey the steward moved into the Manor of Mells.
The steward’s name was Horner; the family lived at Mells until the 20th century.
The lyrics to a nursery rhyme were first published in 1725:
Little Jack Horner sat in the corner
Eating his Christmas pie,
He put in his thumb and pulled out a plum
And said “What a good boy am I!”
That’s an accolade I have earned today when I presented my wife with a bag of plums picked from a tree with the permission of the owner of the garden.