Hundreds of pupils join parade to celebrate Thomas Wolsey project

Children and pipers parade through Ipswich
More than 300 children from five schools took part in the parade [John Fairhall/BBC]

Hundreds of children took part in a parade through a town centre as part of a school project celebrating the life of a powerful medieval statesman.

Pipers in medieval dress led more than 300 pupils along a specially-named "Cardinal Route" in Ipswich on Thursday for the Thomas Wolsey 550 schools programme.

Thomas Wolsey was born in the town in 1473 and was King Henry VIII's Lord Chancellor. He was also a cardinal and one of the last churchmen to play a dominant role in English political life.

Kath Cockshaw, the Wolsey 550 project director, explained the schools' programme was about celebrating his life as well as inspiring children.

"With the schools' programme we are taking aspects of his personality, his confidence and his go-getting attitude towards his career," she explained.

"We've been doing confidence building workshops with children in primary schools, so they learn to situate themselves in the world and talk about their home with pride and themselves easily.

"At secondary level we talk to the kids about broadening their horizons and really understanding the world of work."

Actors portraying Wolsey and Henry VIII with the Ipswich mayor
Actors dressed as Wolsey and Henry VIII joined Ipswich mayor Elango Elavalakan (right) [John Fairhall/BBC]

The Wolsey 550 Project organised the parade with the Suffolk Music Hub, which included children from five primary schools across the town.

Emma Mordue, music lead for the project who goes into schools to teach Tudor song and dance, said the parade had been a year in the making.

"The Wolsey 550 project has been an ideal starting point to not only find out a bit about the history of Ipswich but to really think about then and now, what has changed and what has stayed the same," she said.

“The schools have all jumped into the workshops with enthusiasm, with lots of interesting questions about Tudor times, changing fashions, landscapes and morals along the way."

The parade kicked off at 12:00 BST from St Peter's and was led by Ms Mordue and other musicians playing traditional Tudor music through to Cornhill.

Dance performances from the children were held and actors dressed as Wolsey and King Henry VIII were in attendance alongside Ipswich mayor Elango Elavalakan.

Thomas Wolsey
Thomas Wolsey is often described as Ipswich's most famous son [Getty Images]

Wolsey was at the height of his power in 1524 as more and more responsibility was delegated to him by the king.

He even set up his own college in Ipswich - with Wolsey Gate on College Street being all that remains.

Wolsey fell out of favour with Henry VIII after failing to secure an annulment of his first marriage.

He was charged with treason and before he could be executed it is believed he died of natural causes.

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