Face soon revealed
PUBLISHED: 12:00 23 August 2011
ALMOST 630 years of waiting are almost over as the face of Suffolk’s most iconic and tragic figure is set to be revealed.
Forensic experts from Dundee University have been working to put a face to Simon Theobald of Sudbury who had his head hacked off by Watt Tyler’s rampaging mob during the peasant uprising in 1381 for his role in introducing the poll tax.
In June the team removed the skull, which sits in a cubby hole in St Gregory’s Church, Sudbury, and took it to West Suffolk Hospital for a series of scans by a radiologist in the first phase of the process to reconstruct his face and reveal what he would have looked like.
Ian Copeman, who lives in Sudbury, is behind the project and cannot wait to see the results.
“It has been a very long wait. It’s taken over two years to get to this point so it’s very exciting.
“I have seen photos of the partially reconstructed head and it’s just amazing.
“I’m so looking forward to seeing the final product when I travel up to Dundee University in a fortnight’s time to collect it. It’s going to be wonderful.”
The idea for the project was first discussed as St Gregory’s Church made plans for the annual Lifepath church event in June last year.
Dr Caroline Wilkinson, who is one of the world’s leading figures in facial reconstruction and a regular expert on TV shows including Meet the Ancestors, led the project to put a face to Simon.
Mr Copeman added: “It should mean a lot to the people of Sudbury and there’s been a lot of support from different organisations and individuals to get to this stage.”
Simon of Sudbury, whose parents are buried underneath the organ at St Gregory’s Church, was a high-profile figure in medieval England.
The son of a rich merchant family who exported goods to Europe from Ipswich docks, he decided to take a religious path and by 1362 was Bishop of London.
In 1375 he was Archbishop of Canterbury and then Lord Chancellor of England in 1380.
It is believed Simon’s head was placed on a spike on Tower Bridge where it was spotted by a man from Sudbury who grabbed it in the middle of the night and brought it back to his home town.
The skull will be unveiled at the church at 4pm on September 15.