Election of MPs. How local ‘democracy’ worked in the late Middle Ages.

In principle, each shire was supposed to elect two knights to represent it in Parliament – hence the expression ‘Knights of the shire.’ The leading men of the county (excluding magnates) would meet at the quarter-sessions or county court and choose suitable candidates, who would then be nominated by the Sheriff, whose job it was… Continue reading Election of MPs. How local ‘democracy’ worked in the late Middle Ages.

The Wanderings of King Henry VI

  After the Battle of Hexham (15 May 1464) Henry VI very wisely made himself scarce. His first recorded place of refuge was Muncaster Castle in what is now Cumbria. The distance involved is roughly 90 miles, but anyone who has read Wainwright’s Guides to the Lakeland Fells will appreciate that this would include many… Continue reading The Wanderings of King Henry VI

Four Men Murdered by Henry Bolingbroke

I wish I had a pound for every word written about the executions of Hastings, Rivers, Grey and Vaughan at the hands of Richard III. I should certainly be able to expand my portfolio of shares very substantially, indeed well beyond ISA limits. I might even be a millionaire. It may be that these men… Continue reading Four Men Murdered by Henry Bolingbroke

Sir Edmund Cockayne

The Cockayne family eventually established themselves as lords of the manor of Ashbourne (Derbyshire) for all practical purposes – in truth, it was a manor that belonged to the House of Lancaster, and they served in the roles of bailiff, steward, and so on. As time went by they took on wider responsibilities and became… Continue reading Sir Edmund Cockayne

Vastern – a little known Yorkist manor

In 1376 King Edward III granted the manors of Vastern and Wootton to his son Edmund, Earl of Cambridge. The manors adjoin, with Wootton know better known as Royal Wootton Basset, Wiltshire. Vastern Manor still exists, although it has been extensively rebuilt. The core of the stucture is, however, said to be fifteenth century. It… Continue reading Vastern – a little known Yorkist manor

Elizabeth Vernon, Countess of Southampton.

Elizabeth Vernon, who lived from 1572 to 1655, was a maid-of-honour to Queen Elizabeth I. In 1598, while serving in that capacity, she became pregnant by Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton (1573-1624) who is perhaps best remembered as a patron of Shakespeare. Queen Elizabeth was not amused, and had the pair of them thrown in… Continue reading Elizabeth Vernon, Countess of Southampton.

The origins of the White Rose of York?

According to Caroline Halstead in Richard III As Duke Of Gloucester And King of England, the White Rose derives from Clifford Castle (near Hay-on-Wye). It therefore came to the York family as part of their inheritance from the Mortimers, who had themselves inherited Clifford Castle. But why is Clifford Castle associated with a white rose?… Continue reading The origins of the White Rose of York?

The Medieval River Ferry

A few days ago I had a need to describe a medieval ferry in my work-in-progress, albeit as a background, scenic item. I realised I had no idea how they were propelled, or even what they looked like. The answer seems to be rather like this one at Evesham. The vessel itself is rather like… Continue reading The Medieval River Ferry

Medieval locks – the sort found on rivers, not doors.

We are all familiar with modern locks of the sort found on canals and rivers today. Two sets of gates, and a space between from which, or into which, water can be removed or added by mechanical means. Once the water level has risen or fallen (as required) the vessel can proceed. Medieval (and early… Continue reading Medieval locks – the sort found on rivers, not doors.

The many wonders of medieval Caversham

Caversham is just across the Thames from Reading. The present bridge carrying the main road between the two places is modern, but it is more or less on the site of a medieval stone and timber bridge, dating from between 1163 and 1231. Sources vary as to whether it had one, two or three chapels,… Continue reading The many wonders of medieval Caversham