New Suffolk wine Fosters Fate has a grisly back story!
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
In an era when there's no shortage of eye-catching and even amusing names for new wines in supermarkets and off-licences, this latest Suffolk-based name might not look particularly eye-catching.
But Foster's Fate, a new white wine from the vineyard at Copdock Hall on the edge of Ipswich, hides a grisly tale of death, torture, and even an encounter with the devil himself in its label.
Back in the 1550s, Copdock Hall was owned by William Foster - who was also a local magistrate and catholic zealot at a time when the country was riven by religious intolerance and persecution.
Keen to curry favour with the Roman Catholic Queen Mary, who appointed him a justice of the peace, Foster targeted prominent local protestants.
Current Copdock Hall owner Diane Evans, who has researched the history of the barn with her husband Ian, said the first eminent person to be picked on was Hadleigh rector Dr Rowland Taylor.
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Dr Taylor was also the archdeacon of Bury St Edmunds and the leading protestant cleric in Suffolk.
Mrs Evans said: “Foster wanted to impress the Queen and make his mark.
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"Taylor opposed some catholic teachings including celibacy of priests so was an easy target for Foster. He was arrested and tried for heresy and burned at the stake at Aldham Common in February 1555.”
Parishioners in Hadleigh erected a monument to Taylor in 1818 at the exact spot where he was executed, which is still there.
Next on the list was East Bergholt priest Robert Samuel, who also opposed celibacy.
He was first sacked from his job and then caught visiting congregation members and his wife - prompting his arrest by Foster, imprisonment first in Ipswich and then Norwich gaol where he was tortured.
Samuel was later burned at the stake on Ipswich Cornhill in August 1555.
Samuel is one of the Ipswich Martyrs commemorated by the memorial in Christchurch Park.
Mrs Evans said: “To be honest, we’re not sure what to make of this previous owner of the barn. He sounds an awful man, handing out this horrible justice to his religious opponents.”
However, legend has it that William Foster had his comeuppance when the devil came for the soul of ‘Faustus’ (Foster).
Local history reports state that the devil ‘carried the luckless lord of the manor through the roof of the Hall and dashed out his brains on an oak tree’.
Mrs Evans said: “It’s a pretty grim end but perhaps deserved? Maybe it’s a bit dark but we thought it would make an interesting name for our new white wine which is a bacchus/solaris blend – Foster’s Fate.”
Whatever his actual fate was, Foster seems to have disappeared from the Suffolk scene early in the Elizabethan era. There are no known images of him.
Copdock Hall opened in 2015 but the wedding venue has been largely closed over the past 11 months because of the Covid crisis.
Mrs Evans added: “We’re hopeful we will get some good news soon so that we can again host weddings in the barn.”