Bishop took a fatal beating from angry sailors

A little fuzzy perhaps but here we see Portsdown Hill Road where it meets London Road. The George pub would be on the right behind the soldiers. 'Picture: Barry Cox Collection

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On this day in 1450 the Bishop of Chichester, Adam de Moleyns, Keeper of the King’s Privy Seal, held a service at the Domus Dei in Portsmouth – later the Garrison Church.

The bishop had been dispatched to the town to pay soldiers and sailors a part of their outstanding wages, but a group of angry sailors arrived at the church not having had anything to live on for some time.

They remonstrated with the bishop and accused him of being partially responsible for the recent loss of Normandy which had been given away as part of Henry VI’s marriage negotiations.

They dragged him out of the church and beat him so badly that he died.

Before being killed, the bishop is said to have alleged that the king’s chief minister, the Earl of Suffolk, had embezzled large amounts of money which is why the men had not been paid.

For this heinous crime against the church, the town was excommunicated by the pope and it was nearly 60 years before this was lifted after an elaborate ceremony of penance – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.