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Hugh Cook of Faringdon's Memorial
in the Chapter House, Reading Abbey
 
 
Hugh Cook of Faringdon was the last Abbot of Reading. A good friend of King Henry VIII who had entertained him at the Abbey, Hugh had naturally accepted his monarch as head of the Church in England. However, his conscience would not allow him to deny the spiritual authority of the Pope. He could not be persuaded to take the bountiful pension offered him to surrender up his monastery and in September 1539 he was arrested.

Poor abbot Hugh was imprisoned in the Tower of London before returning to the town two months later "to be tried and executed" as Thomas Cromwell recorded. So much for 'Innocent until proven Guilty'! He was dragged through the streets and hanged, drawn and quartered, along with two of his monks, outside the old Abbey Gate on 14th November 1539. The plaque in the Chapter House is his only memorial.

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