Ralph Neville, second Earl of Westmorland.

Ralph Neville (about 1406 to 1484) was the son of Sir John Neville and Elizabeth Holland. Sir John was the eldest son of Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmorland by his first wife, Margaret Stafford, while Elizabeth was one of the late 14th Century’s answer to the Mitford Sisters, the Holland sisters who married anyone who… Continue reading Ralph Neville, second Earl of Westmorland.

Richard II’s visit to Edward II’s tomb, 1390.

Edward II‘s “tomb” is, as is well-known, to be found in Gloucester Cathedral. What is less well-known is that Richard II wanted it become a shrine, and for his great-grandfather to become St. Edward of Caernarfon. Interestingly, we cannot even be entirely sure that Edward II’s remains lie in the tomb. Kathryn Warner has produced… Continue reading Richard II’s visit to Edward II’s tomb, 1390.

The Decline of Villeinage

The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 is well-known, and it is often thought that the decline of serfdom, or villeinage, began at about this time. The truth is more complex. Like most English traditions, villeinage took a long time to pass and outlived its usefulness by many decades. Indeed Queen Elizabeth I still owned serfs –… Continue reading The Decline of Villeinage

The Stanley who could have been King.

Ferdinando Stanley (1559-1594) was very briefly 5th Earl of Derby. He was descended from Mary Tudor, Duchess of Suffolk, and according to the terms of Henry VIII’s will, which had statutory force in this respect he was the heir to Elizabeth I, since the Scottish branch were excluded. It is worth mentioning that he was… Continue reading The Stanley who could have been King.

Philippa Mortimer, Countess of Pembroke and Arundel – a short, interesting and little-known life

Philippa was the younger of the two daughters of Edmund Earl of March and Philippa of Clarence,and second youngest of their four children, being born in November 1375. Philippa lost both her parents at a very young age, but her future was provided for (eventually) by her marriage to John Hastings, Earl of Pembroke after… Continue reading Philippa Mortimer, Countess of Pembroke and Arundel – a short, interesting and little-known life

Windleshaw Chantry

Windleshaw Chantry dates from about 1415 and is the oldest structure extant in St. Helens. (Now Merseyside, formerly Lancashire.) It is an unusual example of a detached chantry, not part of some other religious building. Locally, it is sometimes known as Windleshaw Abbey, though in fact it was never an abbey or even a priory.… Continue reading Windleshaw Chantry

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