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The Mystery of the Vanishing Chapel.

According to Perkin by Anne Wroe (page 140) Henry VII’s envoy, Somerset Herald, when visiting Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy and her son-in-law, Maximilian of Austria in 1495, offered to show them the chapel where Richard, Duke of York was buried.

I am surprised that this particular piece of evidence has not been shouted to the world by the anti-Richard brigade, because if Richard, Duke of York had a burial place in a chapel in 1495, it demonstrates beyond doubt that he was dead before that date, and it may even suggest that Richard III killed him. The possibility that Henry VII’s envoy might have been telling porkies is surely too remote a contingency to be considered.

So, the question arises, where is this mysterious chapel? There are a few other questions too. Was Edward V buried there too? Was there an account for a tomb – given Henry VII’s meticulous accountancy, there surely must have been. If he was willing to spend £50 on Richard III’s tomb, obviously he must have spent at least as much on that of his innocent brother(s)-in-law. Somewhere there must be an account of Henry, Elizabeth of York and Margaret Beaufort sobbing over the little white coffin(s) – it just needs to be discovered. Why did More not mention this chapel in his account? After all, he mentioned several things that we know didn’t happen, so you might have thought he would have mentioned one that did. Especially when such a tomb would have been the most wonderful and conclusive evidence to round off his tale.

If we can but identify this chapel, and recover the body (or bodies) DNA testing would demonstrate proof of identity. But of course, it would mean that the skeletons found 10 feet deep under the Tower staircase were definitely not the boys after all. (Certain medieval saints appear to have had two bodies, or two heads – according to the reputed relics held by the Church – but this explanation will scarcely serve for the Princes.)

What are people waiting for? There are books in this. Maybe even a TV series. And this chapel pretty well has to be close to London. It just needs finding. How careless of people like Leland not to have noticed it!

Or perhaps Somerset Herald was thinking of that other Richard, Duke of York, Edward IV’s and Richard III’s father. Because he has a tomb you can visit to this day, at Fotheringhay.

Or maybe, as Wroe suggests, he was just bluffing.

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7 thoughts on “The Mystery of the Vanishing Chapel.

  1. Alan White on said:

    The most likely explanation is that the English ambassador was referring to the tomb of the father of Edward IV – Richard, Duke of York – in the then collegiate church at Fotheringhay, not that of the Duke’s grandson and namesake. The present tombs of the Duke and his other son, Edmund, Earl of Rutland, were set up in the reign of Elizabeth I.

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    • Consulting the relevant page of Wroe, she refers merely to “Richard …”, not “… of York”. This was part of a conversation about the “Princes”, to which their paternal grandfather was not relevant, indeed his place of reburial was already well-known.
      The reference was clearly to Richard of Shrewsbury, the younger “Prince”.

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  2. Alan White on said:

    Richard, the 3rd Duke of York, was the father of Margaret of Burgundy too. Margaret was born at Fotheringhay, like her other regal brother, Richard III.

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  3. sighthound6 on said:

    I cannot imagine why Henry VII’s ambassador would feel the need to inform Margaret of Burgundy where her father was buried. He had been there since 1476 and as his daughter Margaret would have been well aware of that. The reference is clearly to her nephew, the younger of the ‘Princes in the Tower’. She was claiming he was ‘Perkin Warbeck’ the ambassador was saying: ‘No, he’s dead and what’s more I can show you the chapel where he’s buried.’ Paraphrase of course, but the meaning is obvious from the context unless one assumes that the ambassador was so inept and impertinent that he was gratuitously offering to show the lady where her father’s tomb was located.

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    • kbinldo on said:

      If the ambassador was truly offering to show Margaret where her nephews were buried, why is the name & location of this chapel still unknown? There have to be records somewhere of this chapel. It makes no sense for Henry to keep its location quiet, especially with all the pretenders cropping up.

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      • It also makes no sense for Henry, Elizabeth of York, or Elizabeth Woodville to never have ordered requiem masses said for the souls of the children if they were known to be dead. To have a requiem mass said for someone who was still alive… was not done. So the lack of a mass…well, draw your own conclusions. The boys’ mother never proclaimed her children had died. Neither did she visit a chapel where her children were buried. Nor did she ever accuse Richard of killing them… or that he and Stillington or Edward V’s council had erred when they proclaimed her marriage invalid. How strange that their own mother wouldn’t proclaim far and wide, once Henry had “saved” England, what a monster Richard was to have killed her darlings. Perhaps it’s not so strange after all, if they weren’t actually dead.

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