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One of London’s earliest imposters….?

Well, once again we have the painting of the two Princes in the Tower by Sir John Everett Millais. They look like frightened little angels, which, of course, is the traditional view of them. Nasty Uncle Richard, etc. etc. But it has never been proved that Richard did anything to them. He might even have had them taken away to safety. We will never know, and neither, it seems, did Henry VII, whose reign was blighted by fears of the return of one or both of them. And, of course, Yorkists claimants to his stolen throne did indeed turn up to make his usurper’s life difficult. The most important of these was “Perkin Warbeck”, who may or may not have been Prince Richard of York, as Ashdown-Hill’s research may answer for us soon.

Anyway, the paragraphs below are the relevant section of this article, in which Perkin is labelled as a ‘brass-necked imposter’, along with four other similar, um, frauds. Whether Perkin was an imposter or brass-necked is, as ever, in the eye of the beholder.

“….One of London’s earliest imposters emerged from the confusion surrounding what would become one of the city’s most enduring mysteries. Uncertainty has always existed over the fate of King Edward IV’s sons Edward and Richard, or the ‘Princes in the Tower’. They’d been next in line to the throne until their uncle, Richard III, declared them illegitimate and made himself king instead.

“….The boys had been living in the Tower of London but were never seen again after the summer of 1483, and it was often speculated that they had been murdered at Richard’s instructions. However, some believed it was plausible that one or both had escaped and gone into hiding elsewhere, and several years later, one person sought to capitalise on the belief in the possibility of a secret royal survivor.

“….A man named Perkin Warbeck emerged in 1490 (sic), claiming to be the younger son, Richard, and that his brother had been murdered, forcing him to go undercover for his own safety. Warbeck made a claim to the English throne and managed to convince some members of European royalty of his identity, including the future Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I. However, his various armed attempts to progress his claim in England did not meet with success, and he was eventually captured and handed over to Henry VII in 1497.

“….Ironically, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London itself, only being released when he confessed he was not actually one of the Princes in the Tower after all. While he was still allowed to attend the royal court, he remained under guard, which led him to make a number of escape attempts. He was eventually recaptured and locked up in the Tower again, before being executed at Tyburn in 1499….”

Richard, the willow king….?

 

Another new Richard III sculpture…although this one is a very different medium, and is recognisable from the full-length statue that we all know and love. Do I like it? Well, I fear it looks a little vulnerable.

Anyway, here is a link to learn all about it: 

Maldon

Following an unsuccesful Viking raid in 924, the battle of Maldon took place in August 991 and the result was a victory for the Norse invaders. Byrthnoth, the Essex earldorman who led the Saxons that day, was among those killed and Ethelred II instituted payment of the “Danegeld” to pacify the Vikings. This Byrthnoth statue (left), consequently, is displayed and a tapestry marking the millennium is part of the Maeldune Centre, to which we shall return.

Just over a mile from the town centre is Beeleigh Abbey, where Isabel Countess of Essex (Richard’s aunt) was buried, together with her Bourchier husband and son, before they were moved to Little Easton by her grandson, then Earl of Essex, at the time of the Dissolution, as were the Mowbrays and Howards in Thetford. The Abbey is closed nowadays, although it can be viewed from the gardens, which remain open.

This Essex town, by the Blackwater Estuary and the narrower River Chelmer, lies about six miles from Witham and was previously accessible from there by train. This plaque (left) by the Moot Hall details the more recent historic buildings, many of them on the High Street. The Rose and Crown (bottom) is one of these, down the hill and still in operation as an inn today.

The Maeldune Centre itself lies at the Market Hill junction, by Coes. Across the road is a long redundant church (St. Peter’s), which was adapted by the Maldon-born Thomas Plume (1630-1704), Vicar of Greenwich and Archdeacon of Rochester, to place Maldon Grammar School on the ground floor and his extraordinary private library (below left) on the first. The school has moved on but the Plume Library, funded by the income from nearby farmland, still stands.

Here, in a structure open only eight hours a week and accessible by a spiral staircase, the books are arranged by size and are not lent but have been stored since Plume’s time and a modern volume is very occasionally added. The collection relates to Plume’s interests in theology, history, science and philosophy, as well as the Civil War that plagued his youth. Some of the leather spines on the books are disintegrating although the pages themselves are in good condition.

Plume’s collection also includes a notable range of portraits, including all the monarchs of his lifetime and others from Edward IV, but excluding Edward V, the first two “Tudors” and Jane. The portraits include other clerics, including an “unknown divine”, whilst that of Charles I was made before his beard made an appearance. Groups can visit only by appointment and the total capacity is limited to twelve, including the staff.

So, to view a good portrait of Richard III and the former burial place of his Bourchier relatives, as well as some other history, Maldon is certainly worth a day out. All Saints, the contemporary civic church, houses the remains of George Washington‘s great-grandfather.

All bones tell a story – but not all a tale as amazing as Richard III’s….

Because of Richard III, and all that could be accurately gleaned from his remains, it is now very interesting to read of other cases where bones give up fascinating details.

This article describes a grisly discovery on an Orkney beach. How old might it be? I quote:

“….The world leading forensic bone scientist heads a Glasgow University team that can tell the age of a body from a tiny fragment.

“….His Glasgow University labs at the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre in East Kilbride can identify the remains of the recently murdered to others who died up to 50,000 years ago.

“….After tests, he could tell the island police the arm found on Burray Sands had been around for almost 3,000 years….”

More recent remains in Manchester were of a young woman of 18-24, murdered between 1969 and 1974. In spite of discovering that she was Caucausian with possible African ancestry, and between 5ft 3in and 5ft 6in tall, police are still no closer to identifying her.

So it doesn’t matter whether remains are modern or ancient, they can all tell a story. But the chances of finding someone of such importance as Richard III are very small indeed, so we Ricardians must never lose sight of the fact that we are very fortunate indeed to have him back!

The historic Townleys of Burnley, Lancashire….

I have to confess that I had never heard of the Towneleys of Lancashire, so I came as some surprise to see them described as one of the most notable families in that county. I do have an interest in a particular Lancashire family, the Holands of Upholland.

There is a connection with Richard III, in that one of the Towneleys took part in “the Scottish campaigns led by Richard Duke of Gloucester, soon to be Richard III, following the end of the second period of the Wars of the Roses”. This member of the family died of wounds sustained at Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1482. Afterwards they seem to have been well in with the Tudors.

Anyway, the Towneleys are definitely interesting, and were around for a long time, certainly throughout the medieval period. To read about them, please go here.

Another of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s palaces….

Charing Palace through the 14th century gateway

My inexhaustible interest in the past takes me everywhere…mostly via the internet these days, I confess. Finding buildings that are wonderful jewels from our history is always rewarding, and so here is my latest discovery.

The article below begins: “….Charing Palace is the remains of an 11th-century bishop’s palace used by Archbishops of Canterbury as a stopping place between Canterbury and their London residence of Lambeth Palace. The village of Charing stood on the main pilgrim route to Canterbury, and it made sense for the Archbishops to have an official presence there….”

Well, there are bishops’ palaces all over Britain, and I only know of a fraction of them. This is one I did not know, yet it was important enough for kings Henry VII and Henry VIII, as well as the Archbishops of Canterbury themselves. “….In 1520 the Palace hosted some of the 4000 men and women of Henry VIII’s entourage as they journeyed to the king’s famous meeting with Francis I of France at the Field of the Cloth of Gold near Calais….”

Henry VIII at the Field of Cloth of Gold, Calais

Read more at about Charing Palace at https://www.britainexpress.com/attractions.htm?attraction=2890, which also contains a number of photographs.

The Plantagenets were all stupid….?

Here’s something to ponder. “….He [John of Gaunt] built the large mansion called The Savoy by the bank of the Thames in London, lost in during one of the countless rebellions against Richard [II], who, with John I and Henry III, could be termed one of the unusually stupid Plantagenets, though all three had terrible tempers, a family trait….” (quoted from this article)

Um…stupid? Were any of the Plantagenets worthy of that particular adjective? Even less that the entire line was stupid to one degree or another! Hmm…well, perhaps Henry VI was one loaf short of a dozen, but then does he count as Plantagenet, or House of Lancaster? Or both? Whatever, we could have done without him. But he’s just one, not the whole darned lot!

As for Richard III’s terrible temper…it was invented by More and Shakespeare!

Of course, the above quote may be a typo…but doesn’t read like one. In fact it seems pretty definite. Oh, and King John was just King John, he won’t become John I until there’s a John II.

Medieval gaming board clue to lost monastery….

The Monastery of Deer in Aberdeenshire has been lost for centuries, but now the discovery of a stone medieval gaming board has raised archaeologists’ hopes that they have found the missing buildings. The search has been on since 2008.

It was at Deer that the monks wrote the celebrated 10th-century illuminated manuscript known as the Book of Deer, which is widely believed to be the oldest surviving Scottish manuscript, and is noted for containing the earliest extant Gaelic writing from Scotland.

To read more, go to this article

Would this be your top ten list of Britain’s buried treasures….?

Here are the headlines from an article in The Guardian:-

“….Red Lady to Richard III: Britain’s 10 best buried treasures – ranked!

“….How does ‘Britain’s Tutankhamun’, a Saxon prince’s tomb found near an Aldi in Southend-on-Sea, fit in with the UK’s great archaeological finds?….”

To read the full list of these ten discoveries, go to this Guardian article.

What do I think? Well, to me, the Mary Rose doesn’t rank No. 1, that’s for sure, but that’s just me. Do you agree with the list? Do you have any suggestions that have been omitted? Would you simply rearrange the 10 in order of importance? Over to you, ladies and gentlemen….!

MORE TREASURES FROM LEICESTERSHIRE: AN IRON AGE SHIELD FROM THE SOAR

Leicestershire seems to be a county that just keeps ‘giving’ to archaeologists, from the discovery of Richard III’s remains (naturally)  in 2012  to gigantic Roman structures under Leicester…and now, moving back in time, an Iron Age shield has been found in, of all places, the River Soar. (Everyone was wrong about Richard being in the Soar, but it seems a lot of other things were thrown  in its waters over the centuries!)

What makes this item unique and an extremely exciting find,  is that it is made of wood. Organics seldom survive in the archaeological record unless the conditions are perfect–and they seem to have been in this case.

The shield, which is 2300 years old, is made of hardwood, with a hazel rim and a boss of willow. At first archaeologists thought it might simply be a ‘ritual deposit’, made purely to go into the waters and never used in warfare,  as they thought such thin wood would not stand up well in battle, but experimental reproductions showed the light, bendy shield was in fact adequate at deflecting blows. It still may have gone into the water as a deliberate offering–water deposits to Chthonic gods were common in Britain from the late Bronze Age through the Iron Age.

It is interesting to note that its  shape is almost identical to that of the famous Battersea Shield, found in the river in London, only that shield is metal with exquisite enamelled designs.

IRON AGE SHIELD LEICESTERSHIRE ARTICLE    

shieldbattersea

Top-New Shield and reconstruction. Bottom-the Battersea Shield.

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