The Name Ulverscroft and the Old John Logo

Many librarians and readers of Ulverscroft Large Print Books have enquired why the Company, the first of the Large Print series and the Foundation were named 'Ulverscroft'

Frederick Thorpe, the founder and publisher of these Large Print Books, farmed a large acreage in the Parish of Ulverscroft. Close by is an ancient priory, which was founded in the eleventh century by Robert de Bossu. It began as a small refuge for Augustinian Eremites, at a time when the Knights of the Order were having a troubled existence in the Holy Land. About the year 1200, the Priory sheltered only three Brothers, all priests, but this number increased later.

Nearby, the small Priory of Charley, founded by Robert's son, was united with Ulverscroft Priory in about 1465. A report of 1536 gives a favourable picture of the augmented Priory. It then contained besides the Prior, eight Canons, of whom six were priests. These were virtuous and discreet men, skilled at writing, embroidery, painting, and intent on continuing in religion. At the height of its prosperity the Priory at Ulverscroft kept open house for the wayfarer, succoured the needy, comforted the weary, and maintained the poor in villages for miles around.

It seemed fitting when giving a name to the Company and the original Large Print series that they should be called Ulverscroft. This was done as a tribute to the Founders of the Ulverscroft Priory, so helping to perpetuate the memory of an edifice erected to shelter pious and poor alike. Although the Priory is now in ruins, it remains a symbol of Charity and Service rendered by Brothers in Faith.

The arms of the Foundation were first borne by Saer de Quency, a Knight Templar and an early patron or benefactor of Ulverscroft Priory. He was created Earl of Winchester on 13th March, 1207 and died at Acre on 3rd November, 1219.

The Trademark of Ulverscroft is a local landmark known as Old John. This watch tower stands on a hill in the midst of Bradgate Park, once the home of Lady Jane Grey, proclaimed Queen of England for nine days in 1553. Old John was erected to the memory of an old retainer of the Grey family.


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