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Ralph of Shrewsbury
(Died 1363)

Bishop of Bath & Wells
Died: 14th August 1363


Ralph of Shrewsbury (Radulphus de Salopia) whose birth and antecedents are unknown, was the unanimous choice of the monks of Bath and of the canons of Wells when elected to that see in 1363. His consecration took place without the assent of the Pope, for which unfortunate haste, Bishop Ralph had subsequently to pay an enormous sum into the Roman treasury. He was the founder of the Vicars' College at Wells, afterwards added to by Bishop Beckington. At Wells is still retained a curious picture in which the vicars are seen kneeling at the feet of the bishop, with this inscription attached
"Per vicos positi villae, pater alme rogamus
Ut simul uniti, te dante domos, maneamus."

The bishop benignantly responds:
"Vestra petunt merita, quod sint concessa petita,
Ut maneatis ita, loca fecimus hie stabilita"

Bishop Ralph also built a house for the choristers, besides restoring many of the palaces belonging to the see and surrounding, with lofty walls and a deep moat, the episcopal palace at Wells. It is probable also that the recasting of the eastern limb of Wells Cathedral was mainly the work of this bishop. He rendered himself especially popular by procuring the disafforestation of Mendip, hitherto a Royal hunting-ground. The change was greatly in favour of the country people. "Beef," says old Fuller, "better pleasing the husbandman's palate than venison." His tomb, with effigy, remains in the north choir-aisle of Wells Cathedral.

Edited from Richard John King's "Handbook to the Cathedrals of England: Southern Division" (1903).

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