Warwick benefactor who died 450 years ago to be celebrated with a community service

Clive Mason (right), chairman of the Charity of Thomas Oken and Nicholas Eyffler, and Terry Brown, a trustee and chairman of the Oken Feast committee, outside Oken House in Castle Street, Warwick, where Thomas Oken died 450 years ago. Photo suppliedClive Mason (right), chairman of the Charity of Thomas Oken and Nicholas Eyffler, and Terry Brown, a trustee and chairman of the Oken Feast committee, outside Oken House in Castle Street, Warwick, where Thomas Oken died 450 years ago. Photo supplied
Clive Mason (right), chairman of the Charity of Thomas Oken and Nicholas Eyffler, and Terry Brown, a trustee and chairman of the Oken Feast committee, outside Oken House in Castle Street, Warwick, where Thomas Oken died 450 years ago. Photo supplied
The life of one of Warwick’s greatest benefactors who died 450 years ago, is to be celebrated with service for the community later this month.

The service will be celebrating Thomas Oken and is due to take place at St Mary’s Church on January 27 at 7pm.

Read More
Public meeting to discuss plans for new homes at police headquarters near Kenilw...

Clive Mason, chairman of the Charity of Thomas Oken and Nicholas Eyffler, which was founded in 1571 and last year distributed more than £200,000 to Warwick causes, said the service is open to everyone.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It will be a wonderful service held in accordance with Thomas Oken’s wishes and everyone in the town is invited to come and enjoy the music and hymns. I would strongly encourage people to attend,” said Clive.

On July 29 (the date he died in 1573), the Thomas Oken feast will be held at Warwick Castle for invited guests and civic dignitaries, where historian Graham Sutherland will be the guest speaker.

Thomas Oken was a wealthy merchant who left much of his fortune to the town, including almshouses – and today the charity administers 12 almshouses in Castle Hill and Bowling Green Street.

The charity also makes grants every year with recent grants going to; the Myton Hospice at Home service, Citizens Advice, Springfield MIND, The Parenting Project, Warwickshire College Group and the Lord Leycester Hospital.

The history of Thomas Oken and Nicholas Eyffler

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Thomas Oken lived in Warwick during the reigns of Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I

He devoted his time to the service of his town and fellow citizens and was heavily involved in local government.

He was the last master of the Guild of Holy Trinity and St George, which was dissolved in 1546.

Between Michaelmas 1544 and May 15, 1545, the date of the grant of the municipal charter to Warwick, he conducted negotiations with Henry VIII’s commissioners which secured for the people of Warwick a substantial part of the church and guild endowments, thereby preventing the worst effects of subsequent legislation by the Crown.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He was one of the principal burgesses named in the charter and was bailiff from 1557 to 1558 remaining a member of the corporation until his death.

In his will, he arranged amongst other things, for the payment of the salary of a schoolmaster, annual payments to ‘the poor’, the paving of certain streets, the repairing of a bridge, the wages of the herdsmen and the beadle, the repairing of wells, and the provision of alms houses for six people.

He also provided for the spending of £1 annually on a feast.

Nicholas Eyffler was a German immigrant from Osnabruck in West Phalia.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He is believed to have come to Warwick under the patronage of Sir Thomas Lucy who was building Charlecote and supplied glass both for Lucy and for the Earl of Leicester at Kenilworth Castle.

By his will Eyffler instructed that on a close on the Back Hills (now Castle Hill) two timber framed barns should be converted and extended into four almshouses.

When the great fire of Warwick destroyed three almshouses belonging to Oken’s charity in Pebble Lane, that charity built six additional almshouses in 1696 on the southern end of the almshouses at Castle Hill.

In 1996, the charity’s Trustees opened the newly built Guild Cottages in Bowling Green Street.

For more information go to: www.thomasoken.org.uk