chapter  2
17 Pages

Wulfstan of Worcester’s weeping

The architecture of the Norman Conquest as a site of cross-cultural emotion
WithJane-Héloïse Nancarrow

William of Malmesbury’s early twelfth-century Gesta Pontificum Anglorum¸ or Deeds of the English Bishops, describes an episode of deep emotional distress experienced by the late-Saxon Bishop Wulfstan of Worcester. In addition, Wulfstan’s experiences during the destruction of the Saxon church allow to explore several emerging themes within the field of heritage studies. Wulfstan, alongside many English secular leaders, submitted to William the Conqueror in the winter of 1066. While Wulfstan’s humility and asceticism were undoubtedly amplified in the hagiographical narratives commemorating his life, he was unique in the retention of his post during the turmoil of the Norman Conquest. Wulfstan’s overpowering, conflicted feelings are intrinsically connected to his construction of the new church at Worcester, built in the Anglo-Norman Romanesque style which flourished in the century following the English Conquest. Wulfstan’s precarious station as the last English bishop in Norman England may have occasioned the political caution apparent in this situation.