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A model of the royal palace at Havering-atte-Bower….

 

Model of Havering Palace at Havering Museum

It seems to me that for a royal palace and hunting lodge much frequented by royalty, and within easy reach of London, there is a paucity of illustrations of Havering {link to 29 February?}. Edward III was particularly fond of retreating there, and so was Henry VIII, who even held court there and considered the hunting to be excellent.

In 2018, however, a model of the palace (see above) in its heyday was put on display at Havering Museum. Maybe it is still there. Anyway, here is the relevant link. to the Museum website

A modern reconstruction of Havering Palace as it would probably have appeared in 1578, viewed from the north-east. From Wikipedia.
Village sign at Havering

Where the Bayeux Tapestry was always meant to be….

“….New evidence, published in the Journal of the British Archaeological Association, has confirmed that the Bayeux Tapestry was designed specifically to fit a particular area of Bayeux’s cathedral….”

The above quote is from an interesting article that tells us how they arrived at deciding on the actual spot in Bayeux Cathedral for which the great tapestry was always intended.

The close-up of the tapestry (above) gives a real idea of how beautiful, intricate and downright astonishing this work of medieval art really is. Such a pity it depicts the invasion and defeat of Saxon England!

A king in a car park…now a king in your front garden….?

The burial places of kings continue to be located in the British Isles, and this latest one is in East Belfast.

“….four centuries after the death of a Gaelic lord, the site in east Belfast where historic records say he is buried is up for sale to developers.

“….Look around the place names in east Belfast and you might notice a theme: Connswater Shopping Centre, Connswater Bridge, Connswater River.

“….They are named after Conn O’Neill, the Lord of Upper Clandeboye, referred to by some as the last King of Castlereagh, who ruled from 1601 to 1619….”

To read more go to this article.

And then resort to your piggy banks, because the site is up for sale!

The Crown Jewels of East Anglia?

Picture: Birmingham Museums Trust

This excellent EADT article suggests that a horde found near Tamworth about ten years ago included some crown jewels worn by Anna* or Onna, the (Wuffing) King of East Anglia and nephew of Raedwald. He is likely to have died in a 653/4 battle near Blythburgh, along with his Bishop, Thomas, fighting against Penda’s pagan Mercians. Tamworth is, of course, in Mercia and parts of the treasure can be seen there: in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery as well as the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent. All five of Anna’s children, including Ethelreda (Audrey) and Jurmin, his only son who died in the same battle.

* Male, despite his name, as were the C16 French warrior Anne de Montmorency and the historian Sharon Turner.

How Richard III changed Leicester….

Was it really only five years ago? Sometimes it seems like forever. And for me, the most affecting thing is still seeing Richard’s Book of Hours, which is thought to have been with him in his tent at Bosworth. I confess I had tears in my eyes. It just seemed so very personal to him. One of the prayers inside it reads: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, deign to free me, your servant King Richard, from every tribulation, sorrow and trouble in which I am placed…’  Yes, he was thrust into these tribulations, he didn’t seek them, and he paid a terrible price for shouldering the burden.

The day of his reinterment in Leicester Cathedral was truly momentous, as you’ll read here here

The discovery of Richard’s remains has made such a difference to Leicester. And rightly so. The city has taken him to its heart.

A book to avoid if you uphold the truth about Richard III….

from the Rous Roll

When we buy a non-fiction book (in our case usually something to do with Richard III and the medieval period) we anticipate its arrival with some relish. This is how I felt when, after reading many praises for Peter Ackroyd’s History of England, I decided to buy Volume I online.

It arrived this morning, and I leafed eagerly through the pages, to get a feel of it before reading it properly…but when I came to Illustration 49 (of 51) it was an image of Richard III from the Rous Roll – just him, taken from the image above. Then I read the caption: “Richard III standing on a white boar; the white boar was his personal badge or ‘livery badge’. It may derive from the Latin name of York, Eboracum, since he was known as Richard of York.”

Um…oh no he wasn’t, Mr Ackroyd. His father was Richard of York, and so was his nephew, Richard of Shrewsbury, who was created Duke of York and became one of the boys in the Tower. Richard was always Richard of Gloucester, and then Richard III.

As you can imagine, my heart sank and my hackles began to rise as I sensed that I’d purchased a real turkey. I have indeed, because Peter Ackroyd goes on to relate in full the version of events according to the Sainted More, strawberries, withered arm and all. The murder of the boys in the Tower is taken for granted, but the possibility of Henry VII being responsible is “essentially a fancy”. Oh, right. Why, may I ask? Because his tricky, grasping, dishonest hands were suddenly lily-white? No, according to Ackroyd: “There can be little doubt that the two boys were murdered on the express or implicit order of Richard III.” Clearly this author has inside information that has been hidden from everyone else.

And there’s more: “There had been usurpers before, wading through gore, but Richard III was the first usurper who had not taken the precaution of winning a military victory; he claimed the crown through the clandestine killing of two boys rather than through might on the battlefield.” Really? Methinks Mr Ackroyd is too accustomed to composing eyecatching blurbs!

And Richard “set up a ‘council in the north’ to consolidate his power in that region. Excuse me? Richard was consolidating his own power? Um, where was Edward IV while all this was going on? Or was Richard now ‘king of the north’, and a law unto himself?

And Richard contemplated marrying Elizabeth of York…at least, he would have done if he’d been able to get away with it. No mention at all of the important Portuguese negotiation for both his own marriage and that of his niece. Indeed no, the only reason Richard didn’t rush her to the marriage bed was because he would not have been “able to marry the girl whose brothers he had destroyed”.

Polydore Vergil “states that Richard III was now ’vexed, wrested and tormented in mind with fear almost perpetually’.” In fact, Ackroyd is prepared to judge Richard solely on the traditional stories, which were (sorry to repeat it again) the work of the victor at Bosworth, in whose interest it was to blacken Richard’s name and memory as much as he possibly could. Henry VII was surely the best spreader of fake news in history!

Oh, and Richard was “buried without ceremony in a stone coffin. The coffin was later used as a horse trough and the bones scattered”. Really? No wonder Ackroyd thinks Henry VII was the best thing for England, they share a liking for telling stories!

The copyright for this abominable work of fiction is 2011. Oh, dear, a year later and Richard himself was able to refute claims of hideous deformity and being chucked in the Soar (Ackroyd missed that one, by the way.)

There are many other points in this book with which anyone of common sense will disagree. Those who have really studied Richard III, will know that he has indeed been cruelly maligned by history. He did not do all those things of which he was accused…and if he had Hastings executed without delay, you can bet your bottom dollar it was for a damned good reason. Richard didn’t execute people left, right and centre…there are quite a few he should have topped, but he was lenient! Which makes him a black-hearted, villainous monster, of course.

Anyway, I regret being swayed into buying this book. It is nothing but traditionalist garbage! I hardly dare turn its pages to my other favourite king, Richard II. No doubt Henry Bolingbroke gets the laurels and is patted on the head for having that other Richard murdered. Ah, but that’s different. It was OK to kill Richard II. So, in 1399 there was a Richard usurped by a Lancastrian Henry, and then another such thieving Lancastrian Henry happened along in 1485. Neither of the Richards (both married to Annes, by the way) usurped anything, but they both get the blame for everything.

Desperately Seeking Wolsey….

The discovery in Leicester of the remains of Richard III was surely one of the greatest such event, and since then there have been increased attempts to locate other great figures from our past. Leicester has at least one other such person just waiting to be found, but as yet he’s proving elusive. The location of Cardinal Wolsey’s burial has been a matter of debate for some time now, and this blog has mentioned it at least twice, as well as the angels made for his tomb.

Over the past five hundred years there have been a number of attempts to find the man whose humble beginnings as an innkeeper’s son did not prevent him from rising to be one of the highest and most influential figures in Tudor England. It’s hard to even imagine what Leicester Abbey looked like at the time of his interment, let alone where in its footprint the great cardinal might be lying.

An artist impression of Leicester Abbey in its heyday. John Finnie

Now there has been another article about his missing tomb, but I’m afraid that if he really did look like his awful statue, I’d rather they didn’t find him! He’s enough to give children nightmares.

The Abbey Park statute of Cardinal Wolsey who died at Leicester Abbey in 1530 (Image: Will Johnston)

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.

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.

Three unlucky kings?

They are: Edward IV, Charles II (buried today in 1685) and William IV, all of whom had a large number of illegitimate children, but none left a legitimate heir.

Edward IV (1442-83) had twelve to fifteen children by various mistresses, including Elizabeth Wydville, but none by Lady Eleanor Talbot, his only legal wife, whose probable remains (CF2 in Norwich) show no signs of pregnancy – thus Richard III was his legitimate heir.

Those ten were purported, until 1483 to be legitimate and not all of the others were recognised during Edward’s lifetime.

 

 

 

Charles II (1630-85) fathered about fourteen children, of whom only James, Duke of Monmouth could possibly have been legitimate. The Duke’s mother, Lucy Walter died before Charles’ marriage to Catherine Braganza, sister of Pedro II, King of Portugal – thus James VII/II was his legitimate heir.

Catherine’s only known pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.

 

 

 

William IV (1765-1837) had ten illegitimate children by the Irish actress Dorothea Bland (“Mrs. Jordan”), whose descendants thrive today, as do Edward IV and Charles II’s lines – thus Victoria was his legal heir.

His marriage to Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen resulted in five children but three were stillborn, one died after a few hours and the other at three months.

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