TWO ANGELS, TWO BUCKINGHAMS

A nice little pre-Christmas break took me to two towns of interest, Buckingham and Grantham. I wanted to see Buckingham museum which is currently hosting a Richard III display featuring the gold Half Angel found in the fields nearby. It was a nice little collection and the info panels were mercifully free of too many biases. The museum, though small, had some other interesting artefacts, and the town itself sports some interesting buildings, including a medieval chantry chapel with a fine Norman door and a very tall-spired church bearing the Swan of Buckingham, a badge that was also used by the Stafford Dukes of Buckingham.

Then it was on to Grantham and a stay at the famous (or infamous) ANGEL AND ROYAL. It was here, in the King’s Chamber, on October 19th 1483, that a furious Richard sent for the Great Seal to sign Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham‘s death warrant, writing in his own hand that Buckingham was the ‘most untrue creature living.’

The inn originally belonged to the Knights Templar, and was a major stopping point on the Great North Road. Many royals have stayed there through the ages, including Richard’s brother Edward IV, and Edward III and Queen Philippa. Plenty of the medieval structure remains, especially on the facade, where there are eroded grotesques, some very worn corbels of Edward III and Philippa, and the famous gold angel itself , which is said to be St Michael and holding Richard’s crown.

The King’s Chamber is used as the breakfast room today, which was great–as that meant it was open to explore! The window embrasures still held much elaborately carved medieval work and there was an original fireplace and a tiny narrow staircase leading where? It was very evocative, even with a Christmas tree in the middle window, and it was easy to imagine Richard seated within, definitely not in the best of moods after Buckingham’s betrayal!

The rest of the town has a few other places of interest close by. Another medieval inn, The Blue Pig, the ancient school attended by Isaac Newton, and the very imposing church which has a collection of medieval books, a rebuilt shrine to St Wulfram, a Saxon Saint, a fine 15th C carved font and a couple of ruinous medieval tombs with interesting carvings including an elaborate knight’s helmet..

 

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