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Archive for the month “Feb, 2020”

The deer fancied a writ or two….!

from here.

When it comes to deer and the medieval period, we always think of the poor things being hunted for their venison and everything else. But it seems that they were sometimes kept in the house! Not just a casual break-in as in the image above, but actually being there all the time.

Hard to imagine having a large hart wandering around the home as if it were the mistress’s cat or master’s dog. But it did happen, and here is an amusing anecdote to prove the point:

“….We know from a letter circa 1280….that John of Maidstone paid a visit to Gregory de Rokesle, then mayor of London. With him, he brought some writs from court, which he left on a counter in Gregory’s chamber, presumably for his review, before they were dispatched to Boston and elsewhere. This routine matter was disrupted, however, when a hart (the male red deer), which was in the house, entered the chamber and devoured the writs. The mayor was forced to write to John de Kirkby, the keeper of the chancery rolls, to ask for duplicates….”

The above paragraph was taken from this website.

I am reminded irresistibly of the (apocryphal?) story of Henry VII’s pet monkey, which was allowed such free rein that it was loathed by courtiers. Henry, as we know, kept a little (black?) book in which he jotted down things people said or he’d heard (or his accounts, depending on where you read the tale). That book was mightily feared. Then, one blessed day, the monkey destroyed the book in a fit of pique. The court changed its opinion of him…but Henry, being Henry, merely started another book….! 

The legend of Fowlescombe Manor….

Fowlescombe Manor

It is a fact that in this modern age most of us frown upon the ancient practice of hunting with hounds, whether on horseback or not, but in times gone by, such things were commonplace and accepted. I’m not here to promote a debate on the rights and wrongs of hunting, but to mention a legend that I have just happened upon. It may be something that most of you know already, but it was new to me.

Fowlescombe Manor, near Ugborough in Devon, is now an ivy-covered 16th-century ruin, but its records go back to 1453, when a Sir Thomas Fowell, “a member of the king’s court” (Edward IV? Richard III? Or, horrors, Henry VII?) is recorded as being born at the manor. I have not found him anywhere, but the Fowell family was definitely associated with the manor, and a William Fowell (Fowhill) was born there in 1408. This means there must have been a house there prior to 1408, but how far back, I do not know. Anyway, my ramblings around the internet took me to this website, where I found the legend:-

“….A pack of hounds was kept at kennels at Fowlescombe for many years. It is said that a kennel-master used sometimes to keep the hounds hungry so that they would hunt well the following day, but that one night, when visiting his hounds which were making a lot of noise, he failed to wear his usual jacket, and was eaten by the hounds, only his boots being found the next morning….”

There is a song about the story here.

Such an awful fate serves the kennelmaster right, did I hear you say? Well, probably, but by now my interest in Fowlescombe Manor had unearthed more about the house. It is one of three in Devon that may have been Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle’s Baskerville Hall. The others are Hayford Hall, west of Buckfastleigh, and Brook Manor, a few miles east of Hayford Hall. See more here.

There is another Baskerville-type legend attached to Brook Hall, and you can read it at here. This one, of course, is very much like the Sherlock Holmes legend of Baskerville Hall, and how the dreadful hound first came about.

One thing seems evident… when you’re in that neck of the woods, don’t upset any large canine you may encounter!

And on a lighter note:

Mr Fox’s Hunt Breakfast on Xmas Day (1900) by Harry B. Neilson

A Naughty Anchorite

Isolde de Heton, a widow, retired to a hermitage attached to Whalley Abbey with the intention of living as an anchorite. Henry VI appointed her to the position during 1437-38. Isolde, besides having a roof over her head, was to receive a weekly food allowance that included twenty-four loaves of bread and eight gallons of beer. She was also to have a weekly cash allowance and two servants to look after her, with access to the abbey kitchens.

This is not quite the austere lifestyle one might imagine an anchorite enduring. Indeed, many modern widows would be glad of such generous support!

Nevertheless, Isolde evidently received a “better offer” perhaps a chance to live with a man (or woman) of her choice. The Abbot of Whalley, John Eccles, petitioned Henry VI during 1440-41 to close the hermitage due to Isolde having broken her vows. She had been absent for “two yere and more” and was showing no intention of returning and making amendment. Moreover, her women servants had been “misgovernyd” and “gotten with chyld” within the hallowed space.

Presumably these servants had some assistance in making babies, but the abbot did not bother to identify the male culprits. Perhaps they were too close to home.

Henry VI obliged by dissolving the hermitage and replacing it with a chantry for the benefit of the soul of Henry, Duke of Lancaster. Chantry priests were, of course, most unlikely to become pregnant.

Sadly we do not know what became of Isolde and her servants. Certainly, they lost their secure provision.

Source: The Lancashire Witch Conspiracy by John A. Clayton, pp. 203-204

 

 

 

History isn’t “horrible”, it’s essential….!

Richard III – from ‘Horrible Histories’

“…Imagine knowing the entire list of British monarchs by heart at age 10. Imagine knowing about cavemen courting rituals or what soldiers ate during World War I. Imagine becoming so invested in the life of the infamous King Richard III of England that you joined the Richard III Society, a group dedicated to finding his bones and solving the mystery of what happened to his nephews over 500 years ago…”

The extract above is from this study breaks article which, as you might guess, is all about ‘Horrible Histories’!

It made me think, because I did know my English/British monarchs by the age of 10…by 8/9 in fact. There was a chart on my bedroom wall and it faced me when I sat up in bed. I noticed Richard III even then, because he was so different from the rest. Slender, dark-haired, troubled…or so it seemed to me. The other kings/queens seemed more or less expressionless (except for Henry VII, who looked out of the chart in that rather crafty, sideways manner we know and love so well!)

A present-day friend tells me: “There was a frieze over my classroom door { at the same age} with them all on from Alfred, including the years. I did the research and writing, although none of us could reach where it was placed.”

There’s no doubt that history lessons used to entail knowing our stuff. Nowadays, it seems, they’re taught that the world didn’t exist before World War I. Medieval? What the heck is that? So, the likes of ‘Horrible Histories’ are to be welcomed, because they introduce modern children to the past. It’s their past, after all. They should know how their country developed to become what it is today…and realise that it wasn’t a process that came into being magically in the year 1900!

PS: And if help is needed to remember history and its facts, then there’s nothing better than a good song. So try this one.

So wrong he could be right?

This article, by the former MP Norman Baker, appeared in the Mail on Sunday. Actually, the original version was much longer and referred to Elizabeth II as a descendant of Henry VIII. This is an egregious howler, surely, because all of his actual descendants died by 1603 (or the last day of 1602/3 in the old format), although she is a collateral descendant.

Strangely enough, Mr. Baker may just have been right, albeit unwittingly. Henry VIII did have three known illegitimate children, quite apart from the two born to marriages he subsequently annulled. Excluding the trio who reigned after him, as well as Henry Fitzroy Duke of Richmond who also died without issue, leaves us with the offspring of Mary Boleyn, the relationship with whom arguably invalidated his marriage to her sister, even before it happened. Ostensibly her children by her first husband (William Carey), they are Catherine Carey and Henry, Lord Hunsdon, who had a total of about twenty children.

Just like the Poles, the Carey family became extinct in the male line but they still exist through several mixed lines. Vol. 25 no. 9 pp. 345-52 of the Genealogists’ Magazine, through Anthony Hoskins’ article, as cited to me by John Ashdown-Hill, attributes the late Queen Mother to these lines, together with such as Charles Darwin, P.G. Wodehouse, Vita Sackville-West, Sabine Baring-Gould, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Horatio Viscount Nelson, Lady Antonia Pakenham and the second Devereux Earl of Essex (below)- presumably the easiest link to prove, being the shortest by far. His mtDNA was identical to that of Elizabeth I.

Vaughan Williams and Darwin are closely related to each other, as well as to Josiah Wedgwood.

As with all mixed lines, it is impossible to establish much of this descent by either mtDNA or Y-chromosome but who knows how genetic science may develop in the future?

Here is the evidence so far …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PS Thankyou to Peter Hammond for showing me the full article, which also names Lady Anne Somerset, J. Horace Round, William Cowper, Algernon Swinburne, “Princess Daisy of Pless” and Algernon Sidney as also being in the Carey line.

Thankyou also to Marie Barnfield.

HENRY VIII LOSES HIS HEAD

Only 500 years or so too late,  Karma finally takes its toll of England’s Nero…

 

HENRY

Strangely,  I found this amusing image on the very day I found out my oldest known relative was (according to Wikitree) related to old Henry ‘in the 29th degree’ via Henry’s sister Margaret “Tudor”. I admit I was inconsolable for a bit…but then had to think of the good ne…ie that also means a distant connection  with the House of York! And it could have been worse–could always have been Buckingham!

Plus ca change …

Here is an Evening Standard article about Clauvino da Silva (left), a Brazillian gang leader who tried to escape from prison disguised as his own daughter, but his “feminine walk” was unconvincing and he didn’t leave the prison. He seems to have hanged himself the following day.

Things turned out differently for William Maxwell, the 5th Earl of Nithsdale, who proclaimed James “VIII/III” at Dumfries and Jedburgh but was captured at the Battle of Preston in 1715 and sentenced to death by beheading, to be carried out on 24 February. With the help of his weeping Countess, he escaped from the Tower disguised as her equally lachrymose maid, the day before his execution had been set. Both lived on in Rome, he until 1744 and she until 1749.

Found in a car park! A medieval garden gnome….?

Well, yet another “find” in a car park. This time a lost garden gnome who has—-for obvious reasons—been named Richard. No one knows where he came from, but judging by his clothes, he just has to be medieval. Yes? And perhaps he is a King of Gnomes, who got lost on his way to Bosworth to offer support to the King of England? If so, then it is entirely fitting that he too should have been found in a car park!

To read more about him, go to: this article.

Rising from the ruins: castles as they are now, and as they once were….

The above image shows Kendal Castle as it is now, but if you go to the link below, you will see an animation that takes you back to its medieval heyday. I love these reconstructions!

To see more, and not simply about castles, go to The Time Travel Artist.

Digging up Britain’s Past

This Channel Five documentary has just completed a second series, with Alex Langlands and Raksha Dave, late of Time Team, in place of Helen Skelton. One particular episode was about Auckland Castle, where the “Prince Bishops” of Durham have lived for centuries and where archaeology is being carried out around the building.

One of these influential Bishops was William Bek who, surprisingly for a cleric, co-commanded the English army against William Wallace at Falkirk, shortly after Wallace and Moray’s victory at Stirling Bridge. Consequently, Langlands and Dave visited a few other venues associated with the story, including those in Scotland.

The series has also covered the lost Roman town of Silchester and HMS Invincible, as well as the Catterick garrison and Sudeley Castle.

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