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A King under a Post Office?

Edward Balliol was crowned King of Scotland at Scone Palace, today in 1332. He, alongside Edward III, had won the Battle of Dupplin Moor and was able to supplant the eight year-old David II, although he was removed shortly later. He was also at the Battles of Halidon Hill and Neville’s Cross – the first saw him briefly restored and the second saw David II imprisoned but there was no second restoration and Balliol retired to Yorkshire, where he died twenty-one years later.

This article, dating from just nine days after Richard III’s remains were officially identified, speculates on where Balliol, son of a Scots king like his rival, is likely to be buried in or around Doncaster. Just as first a school, then a car park, was built over Richard’s tomb and a car park over that of John Knox, does a post office at Priory Park lay over Balliol? If so, he is barely a mile from Lister Avenue, Balby, made famous by someone else (right).

The alternative venues include Conisbrough Castle, the birthplace of Richard’s paternal grandfather, Doncaster Minster and yet another car park that was once … a Greyfriars!

 

A pleasant surprise

In recent years, Dan Jones’ posing and fanciful Crimewatch-style re-enactments, together with Starkeyesque conclusions formed before he started, has marred quite a few series on mediaeval history. Now he seems to have changed tack completely with this series, covering canal building from the middle of the eighteenth century and – yes – I rather enjoyed it, even though Rob Bell may have been more appropriate.

My main criticism is not with the programme content or the presenter but that it was broadcast as two ninety minute episodes and not three separate hours. The content definitely subdivided this way, showing that canals superseded the unreliable roads and rivers of the Early Modern Era.

The first hour was about the Grand Union Canal, originally conceived to join Birmingham and London via Oxford, with the first stretch to Coventry already constructed – it eventually went further east and the Oxford Canal filled the gap. Then came the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, taking Yorkshire produce to the great west coast port via a few higher rainfall Lancashire mill towns – after negotiation because lengthening the route would slow down the journey. Finally, it moved on to the Avon-Kennet Canal that opened in 1810 to link London and Bristol, although railways and improved roads were about to make them commercially obsolete, particularly through a certain Mr. Brunel. As Jones made clear, canals remain popular for pleasure boats and the Avon-Kennet Canal avoided closure in the 1950s for this reason.

No sooner has this series finished than Jones has returned to the Channel Five “cluster” with a show about Roman roads. Trailers showing him dressed as a centurion are not promising.

An unusual witchcraft case in Ipswich

Catherine Murphy, coiner, was the last case, in 1789. She was strangled first and Mary Lackland may have been as well.

Mid Anglia Group, Richard III Society

Mary Lackland, or Lakeland, was burned on the Cornhill on 9th September 1645 but why? The heresy laws had been repealed in 1558/9 although they were invoked later, up to 1612/3.

This execution took place at the peak of the Matthew Hopkins witch mania but those convicted of witchcraft under English law, unlike Scotland and the continent, were routinely hanged – which was not just far more comfortable for the convict but makes life easier for scientists and historians today who can analyse bones.

About twelve years ago, I attended a talk at the University of Essex by that institution’s Professor Alison Rowlands, in which she spoke about evidence towards the identification of the St. Osyth witches, before Hopkins’ time. Hopkins himself, son of a vicar of Framlingham and Great Wenham, only lived from c.1620 to 1647 but, coinciding with the legal vacuum of the Civil War, procured the hanging…

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Blood of the Clans

Neil Oliver has been back on our screens, BBC1 Scotland at least, with another short series. Following on from his 2018 Rise of the Clans, which detailed tribal influence over events such as the ascent of Robert I and subsequently the Stewarts to Mary’s troublesome reign and deposition, Blood of the Clans deals with Scottish events after the Union of the Crowns as the Grahams of Montrose and Campbells of Argyll clash during the War of the Three Kingdoms, the MacGregors become involved in the first Jacobite Rebellion and the MacDonalds, with others, participate in the second, which is initially far more successful. Scottish society, chieftains and the clans themselves evolved during the century in question.

As usual, Oliver is present at reconstructed events as all three episodes conclude with at least one execution. The loyalty of the other clans to the Stuarts, having enthroned their ancestors is severely tested and some are internally divided. Oddly, the dramatic events of 1688-92 were omitted but perhaps this series was advance planned for just three episodes.

Richard’s first resting place – recreated

Five years ago, we wrote about the lost Newarke Church in the Hospital of the Annunciation, where Richard lay for two days between his death and burial in the Greyfriars. As we said, the site is now occupied by the Hawthorn Building of de Montfort University, although these two original arches have been integrated.

Here is an article from de Montfort themselves about a 3D model of the Church, including notes of two Duchesses of Lancaster and Lady Mary Hervey, governess to Henry IV’s children, who was later moved to Trinity Church.

Colchester’s Dutch Quarter

Like other towns near the east coast, Colchester was partially settled by Hugenot refugees from the Low Countries in the sixteenth century. The Dutch Quarter is defined as being to the immediate north of the middle of High Street, as West Stockwell Street turns off at the Town Hall. This Victorian structure has six historic statues, from Boudicca to Harsnett, together with some abstract statues and St. Helena (left), mother of Constantine I, on the roof. She is, improbably, said to be the daughter of “Coel”, a local chieftain, although her birthplace in the Middle East is quite well established.

John Ball Walk and Wat Tyler Walk, commemorating the Peasants’ Revolt leaders the former of whom had an Essex connection, lie at the lower end of West Stockwell Street. The nearby St. Helen’s Lane incorporates a church, now part of the Russian Orthodox Church, dedicated to the Empress.

 

Sometimes, it is hard …

… to know whether to take certain images at face value. Although we have often been told that snooker was actually invented in India during the late Victorian era, here is Phillip II with a cue in hand.

Furthermore, the cue extension known as a “swan-neck” must surely have been named after Harold II’s wife. Another piece of apparatus is the spider, obviously named after Louis XI.

More on More

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”
(Marmion, Sir Walter Scott)

We all know that there was some deception in Thomas More‘s “History“, but how much? In Cairo, they think that the whole first half of his narrative is the gospel truth but the second half is an invention – because it conveniently fits with the discredited, soon to be disproved, theory of the “Princes”‘ burial.

Suppose More departed from the truth earlier than that. Successful deceit starts with some facts that the reader will know and continues with some that he or she can verify, before misleading them. In particular, when he accuses Sir Robert Brackenbury, Sir James Tyrrell, Miles Forrest and “Will Slaughter” (Slater?) of carrying out the killing of Edward IV’s illegitimate sons, is it not more likely that they transported them, probably separately, to safe locations? This would be far easier than digging a large hole, burying the “Princes”, filling it in and sending all the attendants away, even if we aren’t supposed to believe that a priest disinterred and reburied them – it doesn’t correspond with Charles II’s antics.

Forrest, by the way, was a Northerner who died by 1484 (1)(2a)(2b), Brackenbury at Bosworth and Tyrrell, who was abroad in 1485, was beheaded for a separate offence seventeen years later. Thomas Dighton, however, lived beyond 1502, as even More admitted.

Notes:
(1)   9 September 1484: “Grant for life to Joan Forest, widow, late wife to the King’s servant Miles Forest, and Edward her son of an annuity of 5 marks from the issues of the lordship of Bernard Castell.” (CPR, p. 473).
(2a) 12 September 1484: “Johanne Forest and Edward his (her) son an an annuytieof v markes during theire lyfes and of eithre of theim lenger lyving of thissues of the lordship of Barnardcastelle by the hands of the Receyvour etc.“(Harleian Manuscript 433, ed. Horrox and Hammond, vol.1, p.216).
(2b) 14 September 1484: “A warrant to the Receivor of the lordshippe of Bernard Castelle to content and pay unto johanne Forest widow late wyf to Miles Forest deceased the somme of five markes sterlinges due unto the said Miles at Michelmase now next commying for keping of the warderobe theire yeven etc at Notingham the xijth dat of September A* secundo 2*.” (Harleian Manuscript, op. cit. vol.2, p.160)

A late mediaeval “decade ring”

Here is a guest post on the Colchester and Ipswich Museums website, by Jill Holmen, Collections Manager of Epping Forest Museum. It depicts a “decade” ring, used for a form of devotion in ten stages and dates from 25 years either side of 1500, recently borrowed by Colchester Castle Museum and was on display there until mid-February.

The ten stages of the ring are known as “bezels”, five of which are described in the article. The wearer was clearly of high status and notably religious whilst the ring was discovered in 2004.

A contemporary of the House of York

James III of Scotland’s reign overlaps the whole of Yorkist rule in England, succeeding on 3rd August 1460, more than seven months before Edward IV’s first coronation, to 11th June 1488. almost three years after Richard III’s death at Bosworth and including Henry VI’s re-adeption. His uninterrupted reign spanned the decisive battles of Mortimer’s Cross and Stoke Field and was to end at the hands of his own countrymen, led by his eldest son, but it could have terminated six years earlier and the future Richard III would have been at or near the scene. He became King of Scotland in his minority, as did his successor, reigned in an era when the later “British Isles” consisted of only two nations (following Alexander III’s victory at Largs in 1263) and was killed a mere four miles from a Scottish triumph at Bannockburn.

James III’s reign began as his father was blown apart at Roxburgh by an exploding cannon and he was crowned at Kelso a week later. By most accounts, although Norman MacDougall disagrees, he was almost nine at the time. His mother was Regent for three years, during which Roxburgh Castle was dismantled and Berwick reconquered, before she too died prematurely, to be succeeded by the Kennedy brothers and then Lord Boyd. James’ 1469 marriage to Margarethe of Denmark was arranged by the Boyds, bringing the Orkneys and Shetland Islands to the Scottish realm and ending payment to Norway. James attained his majority and the Boyd influence continued, although some of their number were executed.

James established good relations with England and contracted his eldest son, James Duke of Rothesay, to Edward IV’s second daughter Cecilia. At the same time, he moved against the (MacDonald) Lord of the Isles and fell out with both his brothers – the Duke of Albany and the Earl of Mar. Mar died in suspicious circumstances and Albany left for France.

Edward IV then launched an invasion under the Duke of Gloucester, accompanied by Lord Howard and Albany. Berwick fell and has been part of England ever since. James sought to resist but was arrested at Lauder Bridge, near Thirlstane Castle, by some Scottish rebels, who hanged some of James’ favourites there and imprisoned him at Edinburgh Castle. The English army had made their point and left for home, taking Albany back into exile, eventually to France, where he died in a duel in August 1485. His son was later regent for James V and fought at Pavia.

James III had re-established his authority by that year, as Richard III and Norfolk died in battle that very month. James executed another Albany supporter, but the end was in sight as Margarethe died in 1486. By spring 1488, his sons were fifteen, twelve and eight. Another revolt evolved and this time the Duke of Rothesay was involved. A battle took place to the west of Stirling and James was either killed during the conflict or in flight. Rothesay succeeded him but this Stewart minority was to be mercifully short.

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