Hugh Cook Faringdon (d.1539), also known as Hugh Faringdon or Hugh Cook, was the last abbot of Reading Abbey in the English town of Reading. At the dissolution of the monasteries, he was accused of high treason and executed. He was beatified by the Catholic Church in 1895, and is therefore sometimes known as the Blessed Hugh Faringdon.[1][2]

Born Hugh Cook, he adopted the monastic surname Faringdon when he became a Benedictine monk, sometime prior to 1500. The monastic surname suggests that he came from Faringdon, a town some 30 miles (48 km) north west of Reading. However it is also notable that he subsequently adopted the arms of the Cook family of Kent, suggesting he may have had connections there. He is believed to have been educated within the abbey, and later served as sub-chamberlain.[1]

Hugh Cook Faringdon was elected abbot of Reading Abbey in 1520, on the death of Abbot Thomas Worcester. As well as his spiritual duties, he also took up the temporal duties expected at that time of a mitred abbot, being appointed to commissions of the peace and other governmental commissions for Berkshire from 1526 to 1538.[1]

At first his relationship with King Henry VIII seems to have been supportive. He sat in Parliament from 1523 to 1539 and, in 1530, he signed, with other members of the House of Lords, a letter to the Pope pointing out the evils likely to result from delaying the divorce desired by the King; and, again in 1536, he signed the Articles of Faith which virtually acknowledged the supremacy of the crown over the church. When the commissioners arrived to take the surrender of Reading Abbey, they reported favourably of the Abbot's willingness to conform, but the surrender of the Abbey does not survive, and it is not therefore known whether Faringdon signed it.[3]

In 1539, Faringdon was indicted of high treason, being accused of having assisted the Northern rebels with money. He was tracked down at Bere Court, his manor at Pangbourne, and taken back to Reading. Along with John Rugge, a known associate, and John Eynon, the priest of St Giles' Church in Reading, he was found guilty and hanged before the abbey gatehouse on 14 November 1539. As no other members of the monastic community were involved in Faringdon's alleged treason, the monks of Reading were allowed to keep their pensions at the dissolution.[1][3]

The Blessed Hugh Faringdon Catholic School, a specialist performing arts college in Reading, is named after him.[2] The Blessed Hugh Catholic Church in Faringdon is named after him. The Patronal feast is on 14th. November.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Cross, Claire (2004–9). "Cook, Hugh". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Blessed Hugh Faringdon (d. 1539), Last Abbot of Reading Abbey". Reading's Great People. Reading Borough Libraries. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ford, David Nash. "Hugh Cook of Faringdon (d.1539)". Royal Berkshire History. Nash Ford Publishing. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 

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