Station Five: Wilkins Donations (Politics and Religion)

John Wall

Ramus olivae, sive Concio ... , habita ad Clerum in Templo Beatae Mariae (1653)

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 John Wall, Ramus olivae

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This, the first of two Cromwellian pieces here displayed, is a local sermon by John Wall. Wall's dull sermon, with its titular pun on the Protector's name ('Olive branch'), 'ingeminates theological and political peace, with the minimum of suggestion of means to that end, and (in the dedication) a maximum of compliment to Cromwell'. But it contains one allusion that will interest locals, concerning a bizarre tragedy at the White Hart in Witney in early 1653. During a performance of the play Mucedorus by players from Stanton Harcourt, the floor collapsed, killing six and wounding sixty people. The disaster provided occasion for local sermonising on the wickedness of stage plays, namely John Rowe's Tragi-comoedia. being a Brief Relation of the Strange and Wonderfull hand of God Discovered at Witny (Oxford, 1653). Wall himself was to become a great benefactor to the city, but not the university.