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15th-century ‘love’ ring found near Harrogate….



This beautiful ‘love’ ring was dug up in a field near Harrogate. The article suggests that it is 15th century and therefore Tudor, but I cannot help thinking it is more likely to be Plantagenet, and if in Yorkshire, then maybe connected to the House of York. Oh, I know, wishful thinking. But why not? It is as likely as the ring being Tudor.

The illustration is from the article. And well done Lee Rossiter for finding such a treasure!

The story of a spirited Duchess of Norfolk….



The above illustration is by Hans Holbein the Younger – Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk (Royal Collection)

 This post, about Edward IV’s daughter Catherine, prompted me to post this, about the husband of another of Edward IV’s daughter, Anne, Countess of Surrey. Thomas Howard, eventually 3rd Duke of Norfolk, was the grandson of John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, who fell with Richard at Bosworth. I am not impressed with Thomas Howard, and whether or not he treated Anne well I do not know, but after her death, he certainly did not do right by his second wife. The marriage became a scandal second to none, and if Thomas thought he could do as he pleased with Lady Elizabeth Stafford, he soon learned better. She was made of stern stuff.

I have taken the following from the extremely interesting , and make no claim to authorship. If you follow the link, you will find more information, and sources.

“Lady Elizabeth Stafford (later Duchess of Norfolk) (c.1497 – 30 November 1558) was the eldest daughter of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, and Lady Eleanor Percy. By marriage she became Duchess of Norfolk. Her stormy marriage to  Thomas Howard, 3rd duke of Norfolk, created a public scandal.

“Before 8 January 1513, when she was only fifteen and he was thirty-five years of age, Elizabeth married, as his second wife, Thomas Howard, then Earl of Surrey. He had previously been married to Anne Plantagenet (2 November 1475 – 23 November 1511), the daughter of King Edward IV, by whom he had a son, Thomas, who died 3 August 1508.

“Elizabeth had earlier been promised in marriage to her father’s ward, Ralph Neville, 4th Earl of Westmorland. The young Elizabeth and Ralph Neville seem to have been mutually devoted, and years later, in a letter to Thomas Cromwell, dated 28 September 1537, Elizabeth recalled that,

“‘He and I had loved together two years, an my lord my husband had not sent immediately word after my lady and my lord’s first wife was dead, he made suit to my lord my father, or else I had been married before Christmas to my Lord of Westmorland’.

“Elizabeth’s father initially attempted to persuade Howard to marry one of his other daughters, but according to Elizabeth, ‘He would have none of my sisters, but only me’.

“Elizabeth brought Howard a dowry of 2000 marks, and was promised a jointure of 500 marks a year, although Howard apparently never kept that promise. In her later letters she asserted that she had been a dutiful wife, continuing to serve at court daily ‘sixteen years together’ while her husband was absent in King Henry VIII’s wars, and accompanying him to Ireland when he was posted there in 1520–22. She bore him five children, and according to Graves, as late as 1524, when he became 3rd Duke of Norfolk, ‘they appeared to be bonded by mutual love’.

“However, in 1527 Norfolk took a mistress, Bess Holland, the daughter of his steward, with whom he lived openly at Kenninghall, and whom the Duchess described variously in her letters as a bawd, a drab, and ‘a churl’s daughter’, ‘which was but washer of my nursery eight years’. It appears the Duchess’ anger caused her to exaggerate Bess Holland’s inferior social status, as her family were probably minor gentry, and she eventually became a lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne Boleyn.

“During the long period in which King Henry VIII sought to have his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled, the Duchess remained staunchly loyal to Queen Catherine and antagonistic towards her husband’s niece, Anne Boleyn, with whom the King was infatuated. Late in 1530 it was noted that the Duchess was secretly conveying letters to Queen Catherine from Italy concealed in oranges, which the Queen passed on to the Imperial ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, and at one time the Duchess told Chapuys that her husband, the Duke, had confided in her that Anne would be ‘the ruin of all her family’. In 1531 the Duchess was exiled from court at Anne Boleyn’s request for too freely declaring her loyalty to Catherine.

“According to Graves, the Duchess also quarrelled with Anne over Anne’s insistence that the Duchess’ daughter, Mary Howard, should marry Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy. When Anne Boleyn was crowned on 1 June 1533, the Duchess refused to attend the coronation ‘from the love she bore to the previous Queen’.

“Meanwhile, the Duchess’ own marriage continued to deteriorate. The Duke refused to give up his mistress, and resolved to separate from his wife. Both the Duke and Thomas Cromwell requested the Duchess’ brother to take her in, a suggestion he utterly rejected.The Duchess wrote of her husband’s abuse of her during this period, claiming that when she was recovering after the birth of her daughter, Mary, he had pulled her out of bed by the hair, dragged her through the house, and wounded her with a dagger. In three separate letters to Cromwell the Duchess repeated the accusation that the Duke had ‘set his women to bind me till blood came out at my fingers’ ends, and pinnacled me, and sat on my breast till I spit blood, and he never punished them’. Howard responded to the stream of allegations by writing that ‘I think the apparent false lies were never contrived by a wife of her husband that she doth daily increase of me’.

“Whatever the truth of the allegations, continued cohabitation was clearly impossible, and on 23 March 1534 Howard forced a separation. According to the Duchess, the Duke had ridden all night, and arriving home in a furious temper had locked her in a chamber and taken away all her jewels and apparel. She was sent to a house in Redbourne, Hertfordshire, from which she wrote a stream of letters to Cromwell complaining that [she] was kept in a state of virtual imprisonment with a meagre annual allowance of only £200. At first the Duchess attempted to reconcile with her husband, but when she received no reply to her ‘kind letters’ to the Duke, she declared to Cromwell in a letter dated 30 December 1536 that ‘from this day forward I will never sue to the King, nor to none other, to desire my lord my husband to take me again’. On his part, Norfolk refused to give up Bess Holland, and attempted to persuade the Duchess to agree to a divorce, offering to return her jewels and apparel and give her a great part of his plate and stuff of household, but she rebuffed his offers. She received little or no support from her family. Her eldest son and daughter became estranged from her, while her brother condemned her behaviour

“Forsaken by almost everyone, the Duchess remained obdurate. On 3 March 1539, she wrote to Cromwell that:

“I am of age to rule myself, as I have done these five years, since my husband put me away. Seeing that my lord my husband reckoned me to be so unreasonable, it were better that I kept me away, and keep my own house still, and trouble no other body. . . I pray you, my lord, take no displeasure with me, although I have not followed your lordship’s good counsel, and your letters, as touching my lord my husband for to come home again, which I will never do in my life.

“The Duchess’ entreaties to Cromwell ceased with his fall from power in 1540. She and her brother were eventually reconciled, and at some time before 1547 he sent one of his daughters to live with her, whom the Duchess treated very generously.

“During Henry VIII’s last years  Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford, and Henry’s last Queen, Catherine Parr, both of whom favoured the reformed faith, gained influence with the King while the conservative Duke of Norfolk became isolated politically. The Duke attempted to form an alliance with the Seymours through a marriage between his widowed daughter, Mary Howard, and Hertford’s brother, Thomas Seymour, but the effort was forestalled by the provocative conduct of the Duke’s eldest son and heir, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, who had displayed in his own heraldry the royal arms and insignia. On 12 December 1546 both Norfolk and Surrey were arrested and sent to the Tower. On 12 January 1547 Norfolk acknowledged that he had ‘concealed high treason, in keeping secret the false acts of my son, Henry Earl of Surrey, in using the arms of St. Edward the Confessor, which pertain only to kings’, and offered his lands to the King. Norfolk’s family, including the Duchess, his daughter Mary, and his mistress, Bess Holland, all gave evidence against him. Surrey was beheaded on 19 January 1547, and on 27 January 1547 Norfolk was attainted by statute without trial. The dying King gave his assent to Norfolk’s death by royal commissioners, and it was rumoured that he would be executed on the following day. He was saved by the King’s death on 28 January and the Council’s decision not to inaugurate the new reign with bloodshed.

“Norfolk remained in the Tower throughout the reign of King Edward VI. He was released and pardoned by  Queen Mary in 1553, and in Mary’s first parliament (October–December 1553), his statutory attainder was declared void, thereby restoring him to the dukedom. He died at Kenninghall on 25 August 1554, and was buried at St Michael’s Church at Framlingham in Suffolk. The Duchess was not named in his will.

“Elizabeth Howard died 30 November 1558 at Lambeth, and was buried in the Howard chapel in the Church of St Mary-at-Lambeth. Her brother wrote a brief but apparently heartfelt epitaph:

“Thou wast to me, both far and near, A mother, sister, a friend most dear.”




New Richard III Memorial To Be Revealed

Back in April we reported that Bridport had recently discovered that in 1483 Richard III had visited the city on his way to Exeter to crush Buckingham’s rebellion and decided to commemorate this with a stone memorial. We are pleased to reveal that the initiative was successful and that the memorial will be revealed to the public on the 533rd anniversary of the event on Saturday, 5th November, at 2pm by the East Bridge. Sir Philip Williams, the High Sheriff of Dorset, and John Collingwood, the Bridport Town Crier, will be attending the unveiling.

The memorial was funded with donations from members of the public in the UK and abroad. It has been crafted by Master Stone Masons Christine and Karl Dixon from white Portland stone and, as well as containing relevant details, also depicts Richard’s white boar and his personal motto “Loyaulté me lie”. It will be placed beside the River Asker and facing the oriel window, which is one of the few remnants of the Priory of St John the Baptist where Richard is thought to have lodged.

You can find out more details about the initiative and Richard’s visit to Bridport here.

A Richard III concert in Denver Colorado – at the GM meeting of the American Branch – the evening of the 24th of Sep. 2016

By Elke Paxson

With Ian Churchward (photo)

Having been interested in Richard III for a number of years it took me a long time to decide to become a member of the R III Society and it was my very first attendance of a “General Membership Meeting”. Living in the States is wonderful and exciting, but it also means everything is a bit farther away and there is nothing historically connected to Richard the 3rd, the Wars of the Roses or places with a medieval feel. However, if you put together an enthusiastic group of true Ricardians you will end up learning and experiencing about a long ago time that can be as fascinating and different from ours as you can imagine. There were talks about armour as demonstrated and explained by Dominic Smee, who is affected by scoliosis as Richard was, but proved through his training that it doesn’t diminish much what could be accomplished on the battlefield of medieval England. He brought along some of his armour pieces and padded garment. We were also treated to an interesting account of what a re-enactment group like the “Les Routier De Rouen” is all about and how much interest, pride and fun they have during those re-enactment weekends. The insight was given by Christina Smee – Dominic’s mother, who has been a member for many years.

Photo of Ian Churchward

We were also treated to a copy of the “Jewel of Middleham” by its owner Susan Troxell – a most beautiful and artful piece of jewellery.  Sally Keil gave an interesting look into “Heraldry, Blazonry and (not Coat of) Arms”. It is a pretty complex, yet intriguing subject.

 Photo of Ian and Robert

Saturday evening was very special all around as many of the attending members dressed up for Cocktail hour in a variety of beautiful medieval garb some of which were pretty elaborate. After dinner we were treated to the evening’s highlight – the performance of the Legendary Ten Seconds. The group is headed by Ian Churchward who also composed most of the songs. He was accompanied by his lovely wife Elaine who sang harmony and some solos. His excellent lead guitar player Robert Bright supported Ian’s rhythm guitar with a flawless performance and a special “sound effect”. Jackie Hudson also sang harmony and accompanied some songs with a harp.

The Legendary Ten Seconds

When they took the stage they started off with a short intro and then a song called “Written at Rising”, a song based on an actual letter written by Richard III. This song was followed by a most beautiful and melodious “Ambion Hill” – about an unexpected appearance of a knight. One of the intriguing things about the music of “The Legendary Ten Seconds” is that it is so diverse – in speed, rhythm, in what the songs portray and reflect as well as the sound and instrumentation. Not having the full back up and support available so far from their home base it was truly excellent what they were able to convey. The next songs were “Fellowship of the White Boar” – a song about the R III Society’s history and goals, “The King In The Car Park” –  I always thought the title a bit strange, but it’s a fantastic song that moves rapidly and tells the story put into excellent lyrics by Elaine Churchward: King Richard of England, he of the White Boar.  This one was followed by “How Do you Rebury A King” – not only a good question, but an outstanding song that talks about the thousands attending and watching and it also highlights the significance of the soil from 3 places connected to Richard that was put into his tomb. Ian filled the time between songs with introducing his fellow performers as well as telling us a bit about the songs he has created. The tale of a “Yorkist Archer” was followed by an instrumental about the “Ragged Staff” of Lord Warwick. Then we were treated to a song about Edward’s French campaign in 1475 and the disappointment Richard must have gone through. After that came the lively “The Year Of Three Kings” – a perfect song to sway to and sing along – something we all seemed to enjoy doing.  The next song was about the beauty of King Richard’s court and it’s indeed a beautiful song. Sooner or later one is confronted with Shakespeare’s treatment of Richard III. Ian does so in 2 songs – one about the way he turns Tudor’s rewritten history into a play that so many people over the centuries unfortunately have taken as history and not as entertainment. ”Act III, Scene IV” is actually a song straight from the bard’s mouth put into a very smart song of that play. The harmonies are really beautiful and so is the instrumentation. There was a rather sad song about Richard’s role as Lord Protector and all the intrigues that arose. The evening ended with one of Ian’s best songs called “White Surrey”. While he acknowledges that this is legend and we really have no way of knowing what kind of horse took him into his last battle, it is a fabulous song about Richard’s last charge. It is exciting as the listener is taken along the unfolding courageous charge.

It was a wonderful and enjoyable evening. The audience showed their appreciation for a great performance with a well-deserved standing ovation. Personally, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this evening, it was such a treat to hear them. Thank you to all who made this possible and Thank you for coming to Denver, Colorado.

How C15 families shaped Victoria’s succession and early reign

The year is 1817. George III is quite elderly and insane with only three years of his long reign remaining but he still has several sons, many of whom have no legitimate issue. The exception is the Prince of Wales, another George who is serving as his father’s Regent again, this time on a permanent basis. He is separated from his wife but their daughter, Charlotte, is married to Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. As autumn begins, Charlotte’s second pregnancy approaches its conclusion and the succession looks secure. On November 5, her son is stillborn and she died early the next day. Her “midwife” had been Sir Richard Croft, of the Mortimer’s Cross family, who shot himself the following February.


Without this tragedy, Victoria might not have been conceived and could well not have succeeded. Similarly, Lady Flora Rawdon-Hastings, at the centre of an apparent scandal that became a tragedy in 1839 , was descended from the Dukes of Clarence and Buckingham as well as William Lord Hastings, as we showed last month.

Now Richard of Bordeaux murdered the boys in the Tower….!


Oh dear, now it seems that it was Richard the SECOND who ordered the deaths of Edward IV’s sons. Our Richard, the THIRD, is accused of all the usual crimes, of course, but a little sensible proof-reading might have spared poor old Richard of Bordeaux from being dug up to be accused of murdering the boys—whose actual fate we do not know, except for being fairly sure it wasn’t any monarch named Richard who did away with them. In fact, we don’t even know if they were done away with at all! But at least the website admits it isn’t known if the bones in That Urn belong to the boys.

Please,, correct this glaring error! Let Richard the Second off the hook.

Who’s Buried in Westminster Abbey?

Modern Tudor propaganda….?


Has a ‘Tudor’ job been done on Prince Charles before he even gets to the throne? Judging by what I’ve read of this play, it seems maybe so.

No, don’t get excited – it’s the same old Shakespearean Richard….


Unfortunately, Dr Bronwen Price is Principal Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Portsmouth, and a specialist in Shakespeare, so we cannot expect anything about the real Richard. Still, if the illustration is anything to go by, at least he keeps up with the times. He’s been portrayed in numerous periods and settings, so maybe this time he’s a rock star.


Sad Days at Sandal Castle

Late September saw some dramatic developments at Wakefield’s important Wars of the Roses and English Civil War site, Sandal Castle. It’s been making the news for all the wrong reasons: increasing levels of abuse and misuse from littering to anti-social behaviour, joyriding, and damage to the monument culminating in a load of horrible graffiti in purple paint being sprayed on the stones of the Great Hall.

Why has this happened? Ultimately, it’s down to national government starving local authorities of the funds to support quality-of-life amenities including heritage. Having done a good job of looking after and developing the site, over several years Wakefield Council was forced to cut back staffing and opening times for its Visitor Centre until it finally closed altogether. This was very sad, not to mention sorely inconvenient for visitors deprived of its facilities (information, loos, refreshments, educational space and gift shop); it also threatened the castle’s wellbeing by removing the staff who discouraged inappropriate use by their very presence.

Nonetheless, the Council continued to maintain the grounds and people continued to come and enjoy Sandal Castle until the rot set in – literally – in March 2016, when the timber walkways and steps giving access to the inner bailey and keep were pronounced structurally unsound and closed for safety reasons. Denying access for grounds maintenance crews means that the motte is now overgrown with weeds and bushes; this unkempt appearance encourages a ‘don’t care’ mentality and contributes to the littering problem – and the lack of safe access makes it impossible for the Friends group to get in and clean up. Worse, many people don’t give a hoot that the walkways are closed, and risk life and limb by scrambling up and down the steep earthworks. Some are teenagers, who congregate in the inner bailey to drink or whatever, secure in the knowledge that adults, including the police, would have a hard job reaching them before they could scarper.

Wakefield Council’s response is too little, too late. The recent graffiti incident led to local press coverage, (87 people including costumed re-enactors turned out for a Wakefield Express photo-call last week), a substantial feature on BBC Radio Leeds on Friday 30th September, masses of public interest and support, and (hurrah!) the subsequent arrest of one of the culprits. Now the Council has issued a statement promising CCTV coverage and more security presence at the site, and they’re also seeking a new tenant for the Visitor Centre so that it can re-open in some form (perhaps as a café). This is all welcome news – albeit no solution to the core problem. Until the walkways are reinstated, people determined to access the monument will continue to climb the earthworks, doing considerable damage in the process and risking serious injury to themselves.

I wish the Council had acted more vigorously to protect Sandal Castle – especially in view of the millions being spent on conservation and new visitor facilities just a few miles away at Pontefract Castle. I can’t understand why the officers responsible for heritage haven’t capitalised on the upsurge of interest in medieval history thanks to Richard III, and put Sandal firmly on the Wars of the Roses tourism map. I can’t understand why a major appeal to raise £175,000 to replace the walkways and steps wasn’t launched back in the spring – if it had been, this monument of national historical significance might not have suffered such harm. But as it is, such works cannot be undertaken over the winter months – so this unhappy situation will persist well into 2017, and the final repair bills will be even higher than they are at the moment.

Meanwhile some of the unauthorised access and attendant damage to the site is being caused by folk out hunting ruddy Pokémon – so if you’d like to join the campaign to get Pokémon removed from Sandal Castle, please visit the Friends of Sandal Castle Facebook page for information and instructions!


When the Normans came to England they built their stern castles upon  huge mounds that gave them clear views across the countryside from the height of the donjon or keep. For many years, it was thought these mottes were mostly of Norman date, contemporary with the castle structures,  or else were natural, glacial features utilised by the incomers.

Recently, however,  archaeologist Jim Leary, well known in the Wiltshire area for his work at Marden Henge and Avebury, has been studying these numerous round mounds in some detail and finding that many of them tell another story. Sometimes on that stretched far into the depths of time.

Marlborough mound is one example. For years, various guidebooks debated whether the enormous  hill in the grounds of Marlborough college, complete with later grotto inserted in its flank, was a Norman construction, a prehistoric earthwork,  a natural hill, or even a much more recent garden folly.

The castle, of which no stone remains above ground today, was quite prominent in the 12th century: an oath of allegiance was sworn to King John in its now-vanished hall, and Eleanor of Brittany, kept prisoner for most of her life by John and then his son, Henry III, due to her closeness to the throne, was briefly incarcerated within its walls.  Later, it became a dower property of Eleanor of Provence and a host of subsequent queens, until it finally fell into ruin, becoming completely uninhabitable by 1403. The Seymour family, who owned many local lands, ended up with it.

About five years ago, Jim Leary had some charcoal found inside the mound carbon dated. It turns out Marlborough mound, reputed in legend to be the burial place of Merlin, is a Neolithic artificial hill dating from 2400 B.C., a smaller sister to the famous, pyramid-sized Silbury Hill, which liesa few miles down the road near the stone circles of Avebury.

Now Dr Leary is working on analysing further monumental mounds, with exciting and unexpected results from the motte at Skipsea castle,  which was built in 1086 by Drogo de la Beauvriere as protection against an incursion of Danes via the North Sea.  The castle was destroyed  by the forces of Henry III in 1221, when William de Forz rebelled and was never subsequently rebuilt, with only the mound remaining today.

In the recent analysis of Skipsea, the archaeologists have found that the motte is neither Norman nor natural glacial hill (as was generally thought) but, unusually, that it is an artificial mound dating from the Iron Age. It is quite possibly a burial mound, which would make it a one of a kind in this country, since by the British Iron Age huge funerary barrows had long dropped out of fashion. It bears a marked similarity to the large German Celtic barrows, which often hold rich remains, such as those of the Hochdorf chief (also known as the Prince with the Golden Shoes, due to his blingy footwear!)

Leary and his  team have also recently surveyed Fotheringhay and Berkhamsted mottes. The study goes on….



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