Tales of a Ricardian Traveler – Part One: Forest of Bowland and Skipton


Lady on Horseback Lady on Horseback, mid-15th c., British Museum

I am passionate about history and travel!  As soon as I got my passport, I was determined to go out and see the world with my own eyes, but more importantly, to encounter places associated with Richard III.  In his brief 32 years, he assembled what has been called by Professor Rosemary Horrox of Cambridge “the largest noble affinity of its day” — meaning, he owned a vast number of castles and estates that we can still visit in the UK.

For me, the most interesting period of Richard’s life as a man began in 1471 when he was only 17 years old and still living in the shadow of his older brothers Edward IV and George, Duke of Clarence. That was the year Richard returned from exile in Burgundy, led his first troops in combat at the Battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury…

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  1. There is a wonderful ‘old road’ between Skipton and Colne. Not signposted as such, it takes the high ground and is one of the best-kept scenic secrets of Northern England. Every time we drive over it (and we do quite often) I think to myself ‘Richard must have come this way!’ It would be his most likely route from Skipton into Lancashire and Cheshire.


  2. Lovely article about my back yard. The Bowland area is generally bypassed by tourists, but is delightful. The reason that your hosts would be attached to the White Rose is because their town was moved into Lancashire in the 1970s. It was meant to be for administrative purposes only. At the same time Lancashire lost south west of Cumbria, the area where Lambert Simnel landed and parts of the Lake District. There are many who try to recall the old boundaries.

    It would be interesting to know of the occasions on which Edward IV had to intervene against the Stanleys. I am aware of the Hornby dispute – but in that case, it seems more as though Edward found in favour of the Stanleys and was having to control his younger brother.

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    1. Thank you for your comments, David. I agree about Bowland being a really special place. It’s now become practically our first stop whenever we travel to the UK! Hard to beat the Farm Shops and of course the Inn at Whitewell.

      You asked about Edward IV’s interventions aside from Hornby. On 7 July 1471, Edward IV ordered Stanley and his servants to cease meddling in certain offices given to Gloucester. Those offices were the stewardships of Tottington, Rochdale and Penwortham. Edward IV previously granted them to Thomas Lord Stanley, but apparently changed his mind and granted them to his brother. (See Horrox, p. 67-68, who cites to the PRO, DL 37/40 nos. 28, 46.) Professor Horrox believes that Richard may have never actually collected his fees from those stewardships, leaving them for Stanley instead.

      Earlier, in May 1469, Edward IV gave Gloucester a major collection of duchy land in Lancashire and Cheshire, including Clitheroe, Liverpool and Halton. The grant specifically included all rights and offices in the lordships concerned. “The resentment at Gloucester’s insertion into the area manifested itself in open rivalry with the duke and early in 1470, Edward was obliged to intervene in the quarrel.” (Horrox, p. 30, citing CCR 1468-76 no. 535.)

      The Hornby dispute was settled in 1475, and you are correct, it was in a manner favorable to the Stanleys.

      I hope this helps answer your questions.


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