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A National Emergency Library….

I hope this is of use to at least some of you.

“….To address our unprecedented global and immediate need for access to reading and research materials, as of today, March 24, 2020, the Internet Archive will suspend waitlists for the 1.4 million (and growing) books in our lending library by creating a National Emergency Library to serve the nation’s displaced learners. This suspension will run through June 30, 2020, or the end of the US national emergency, whichever is later….”

To find out more, go to this link

 

The Crown Jewels of East Anglia?

Picture: Birmingham Museums Trust

This excellent EADT article suggests that a horde found near Tamworth about ten years ago included some crown jewels worn by Anna* or Onna, the (Wuffing) King of East Anglia and nephew of Raedwald. He is likely to have died in a 653/4 battle near Blythburgh, along with his Bishop, Thomas, fighting against Penda’s pagan Mercians. Tamworth is, of course, in Mercia and parts of the treasure can be seen there: in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery as well as the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent. All five of Anna’s children, including Ethelreda (Audrey) and Jurmin, his only son who died in the same battle.

* Male, despite his name, as were the C16 French warrior Anne de Montmorency and the historian Sharon Turner.

How Richard III changed Leicester….

Was it really only five years ago? Sometimes it seems like forever. And for me, the most affecting thing is still seeing Richard’s Book of Hours, which is thought to have been with him in his tent at Bosworth. I confess I had tears in my eyes. It just seemed so very personal to him. One of the prayers inside it reads: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, deign to free me, your servant King Richard, from every tribulation, sorrow and trouble in which I am placed…’  Yes, he was thrust into these tribulations, he didn’t seek them, and he paid a terrible price for shouldering the burden.

The day of his reinterment in Leicester Cathedral was truly momentous, as you’ll read here here

The discovery of Richard’s remains has made such a difference to Leicester. And rightly so. The city has taken him to its heart.

News from around the tomb….

We remember the tragic helicopter accident that cost the life of much-loved former chairman of Leicester City Football Club Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. What with the discovery of Richard III’s remains and the club’s surge in victories, it was a truly devastating blow.

He donated toward Richard’s reinterment in Leicester Cathedral, and now, thanks to his foundation, the revamp of Leicester Cathedral itself is to receive £800K. He was, and remains, a true friend of Leicester.

From here :-

“….A charity foundation named after Leicester City’s former chairman is donating £800,000 towards the restoration of the city’s cathedral.

“….Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was killed in a helicopter crash near the football stadium in October last year.

“….After his death the football club renamed its existing Leicester City Foxes Foundation after him….”

Margaret Beaufort married John of Gaunt….!

 

wood carving of Sir Christopher Urswick in Urswick School’s musuem

I always thought Starkey was a waspish prig (his public opinion of those who support Richard III is just as derogatory!) but having read this article, I think he’s slap-dash as well. Certainly he can’t be checking what goes out to herald the latest of his lectures – this one will no doubt manage to be another anti-Richard diatribe. It’s based around Christopher Urswick, and here’s a quote from the above link:-

“Born in Furness, Cumbria, in 1448 Christopher Urswick had a remarkable life….He was a priest but and [sic] became a confessor of Margaret Beaufort. She had married King Edward III’s son, John of Gaunt, when she was just 13. Not long after she gave birth to his child, Henry, she was widowed.”

I had no idea that Margaret and her son were that old…or that such an extra skeleton lurked in their capacious cupboard. Henry VII would have been cock-a-hoop to claim Gaunt as his father! But I wonder if Gaunt was aware of this extra wife and son?

Visit to Rayleigh and Hadleigh – 20th July 2019

via Visit to Rayleigh and Hadleigh – 20th July 2019

The “Devilish Dame” of Lincolnshire….

Christians and Saracens, found on Pinterest

According to https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=hdovAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA342&lpg=PA342&dq=elizabeth+devilish+dame&source=bl&ots=ZZGPTAz6n6&sig=ACfU3U00pw4KiBMUmlu-OBTeW7AFdQIeXQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj2ipLJwPvlAhVYSxUIHblZCHQQ6AEwAnoECAwQAg#v=onepage&q=elizabeth%20devilish%20dame&f=false in the middle of the 14th century, Sir Thomas Holand of Estovening (Estoveninghall, Estovenhall) Manor in the parish of Swineshead in Lincolnshire, married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Piers Tempest.

Swineshead, Lincolnshire, from http://www.swinesheadhistory.com/

Elizabeth was apparently known as the “Devilish Dame”, and the unfortunate (or exceedingly wise!) Sir Thomas spent most of his time in the Holy Land, coming home only every seven years.

I have, as yet, been unable to discover why Elizabeth earned this epithet. Was she accused of being a witch? Did she call up tempests (sorry!) or raise demons? Or did she simply have such a vile temper that her husband preferred to face the Saracens? Whatever, one may read what one will into Sir Thomas’s almost permanent absence from England.

Witch raising a storm, 1562. From Olaus Magnus Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus, Antwerp. (Coloured black and white print).

Incidentally, Swineshead Abbey “….is famous for the poisoning of King John after his baggage train had been washed away on the tide at Sutton Bridge. It is debatable whether any treasure was actually lost in this accident and there is an excellent book by Richard Waters called ‘The Lost Treasure of King John’, in which the author puts forward a number of different scenarios as explanation for the supposed loss…”

available from Amazon

 

Eleanor of Aquitaine, the Kingmaker and Richard II: the eyes have it….!

Well, I have to say that the above carving is very startling. It is believed to be of Eleanor of Aquitaine, and has just been discovered at Bradwell Abbey, Milton Keynes. There is nothing in this article to say why they are so certain it’s Eleanor, but they seem in no doubt.

The first thing that occurred to me, however, was that the eyes reminded me very forcibly of the carving of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, the “Kingmaker”, as a mourner on the tomb of his father-in-law, Richard Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick.

There is also a likeness of the Beauchamp tomb of the Kingmaker’s sister, Cecily Neville, Duchess of Warwick, and she too has these striking eyes. I’m told by a friend that in his biography of the Kingmaker, Professor Pollard decided there had been a real attempt to create a true likeness, so I imagine that these eyes must indeed be a trait in the Neville family.

There is an odd little story about Edward III, in which he apparently gave credence to the story of his family being descended from Melusine, the Devil’s daughter. The king claimed that the House of Plantagenet was descended from Melusine, and that slanting eyes appeared to be evidence of this. There is one member of that house who definitely had slanting eyes, Richard II.

So, where did those eyes originate? Or was it all mere coincidence that the likes of Eleanor of Aquitaine, the Kingmaker and Richard II appear to have shared such a memorable feature?

Is it ‘Forty’? Or ‘Fourty’?

from Merriam Webster

The following article is from the excellent Merriam Webster online dictionary, and although I tried to post just the link, I couldn’t get it to work. So I’m posting the article in full, and state here and now that none of it is my work. It’s all Merriam Webster, very interesting and deals with the origins and development of the word ‘forty’.

“Hello, everyone. We have an announcement. We are pleased/sorry to report that there is never a u in forty.  

“That’s right: the word for the number 4 is four, but ten times that is 40, which is spelled forty. This is true in all of the vast English language, despite rumors that users of British English like the word to resemble colour (they don’t), and despite the frequent appearances of the misspelling out and about.

“In related facts, the number 14 keeps the u: it’s written as fourteen. But fortieth correlates to forty, so it too goes without a u.
 
“There is no good explanation for why forty lacks a u that its near-relation four has. Forty simply is, as American English Spelling author D.W. Cummings calls it, an “ill-formed but accepted spelling.” It is, however, also a relatively new spelling.  

“Origins and Spelling Variants

“While the word forty dates back to the language’s earliest incarnation, it had many varied spellings over the centuries, and the current spelling forty dates only to the 16th century. The Oxford English Dictionary includes a number of spellings that predate that one. From Old English (English as it existed from the 7th century to around 1100) there are the following:

féowertig

féowurtig

feuortig

“But things really got going in Middle English—English as it existed between the 12th and 15th centuries. In texts from that period the OED notes the following spellings:

fowwerrtig

feortig

feowerti (and fowerti)

feouwerti

feuwerti (and fuwerti)

fuerti

feowrti

fourte

fourti

vourti

vourty

forti

fourty

faurty

fourth

fourthy

“Modern English brought us other options:

fourtie

fourtye

fortie

forty

vorty

“The winner, of course, is forty, nearly the last of the bunch. The logical Middle English relic fourty, hiding most of the way down that long list, lasted until the 18th century, when for reasons unknown it fell out of use. Sometimes that’s just how it goes in English.”

By The Editors. (Merriam Webster)
 

References:

D.W. Cummings, American English Spelling (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988), pgs. 28, 31.
 
“forty.” OED Online, https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/73764. Oxford University Press. Accessed 9/24/2019.

From Sir Simon Burley to Leadenhall, and a renowned gander named Old Tom….!

When looking for information about a residence associated with the ill-fated Sir Simon Burley (executed by the Lords Appellant in 1388) I had cause to investigate the properties around London’s Leadenhall Market. It seems Leadenhall stems from a mansion on the site, owned at the beginning of the 14th century by Sir Hugh Neville, which had a lead roof, and was thus called Leaden Hall/Leadenhall.

Anyway, Sir Simon and his brother possessed a residential property in the grounds of Leadenhall mansion. But that is by the by, because the search lead me to the fascinating 19th-century tale of a gander called Old Tom. If you want to read about this valorous bird, who survived to the age of 37 in a market where poultry was sold (!) go to this article.

He passed away of natural causes on 19th March 1835, and his obituary was published in The Times:-

In memory of Old Tom the Gander.
Obit 19th March, 1835, aetat, 37 years, 9 months, and 6 days.

‘This famous gander, while in stubble,
Fed freely, without care or trouble:
Grew fat with corn and sitting still,
And scarce could cross the barn-door sill:
And seldom waddled forth to cool
His belly in the neighbouring pool.
Transplanted to another scene,
He stalk’d in state o’er Calais-green,
With full five hundred geese behind,
To his superior care consign’d,
Whom readily he would engage
To lead in march ten miles a-stage.
Thus a decoy he lived and died,
The chief of geese, the poulterer’s pride.’

And he has a bar named after him!

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