Here is a link to an interesting paper about a certain Roger Machado, who is known to have been Henry VII’s herald. It seems that before then he’d been Leicester Herald to Edward IV, Edward V and Richard III, but deserted Richard late in 1483 to go over to the Dark Side. Er, sorry, to Henry Tudor.
I don’t know how these things were done in the 15th century, or who appointed heralds, but if this one actually was Leicester Herald to Edward V, surely this is a pointer to Richard’s having fully expected to see his nephew on the throne? This, to me, is evidence that the accusations of More, Shakespeare & Company were untrue. The Duke of Gloucester didn’t have an eye on the throne from the outset. So his preparations for Edward V’s coronation were honest.
Well, it just goes to show that although the past may now be buried far underground, now and then it still comes to light to thrill us all. Now it seems they’ve discovered the site of the Red Lion, “the earliest known attempt to build a playhouse in the Tudor era, a precursor to the famed Globe Theatre”.
“….Around 1567, a man named John Brayne built an Elizabethan playhouse called the Red Lion just outside the city of London to accommodate the growing number of traveling theatrical troupes. Its exact location has proven elusive to archaeologists—there were many streets and pubs named the Red Lion (or Lyon) over the ensuing centuries—but a team from University College London (UCL) believes it has found the original site at an excavation in Whitechapel….”
It’s the usual story. There I was, rambling around looking for something completely different, when I happened upon the above photograph, which is of the tomb effigy of Ralph Fitzherbert, who died 1483, a supporter of Richard of Gloucester. As you will see from the caption, it is “the only extant example of a Yorkist Boar Pendant”.
The History Jar is about Ralph (died 1483) and his father Nicholas (died 1473), both of whom supported the House of York. The pendant on Nicholas’s effigy is a lion, and is believed to show Edward IV’s recognition of his descent through the Mortimer Earls of March. Ralph wears the boar emblem of Richard of Gloucester, who did not become Richard III until a few months after Ralph’s death. Both father and son are buried in the same church in Norbury, Staffordshire.
There is more information about Ralph on Wikipedia.
There once was an Anglo-Saxon manor in the south of Kent called Berwic, which became known as Le Hangre, and was then split into two manors, Westenhanger and Ostenhanger. Westenhanger is still very much in evidence (see illustration above) but Ostenhanger as such has disappeared entirely. It’s still there really, of course, but was incorporated into Westenhanger in the 16th century and now no one seems to know where the now invisible dividing line was placed. It can’t be to the south, or surely we’d have Northanger and Southanger. So, if present-day Westenhanger is the west, then Ostenhanger has to be…well, east. Right?
At the period of the novel I’m working on, the late 14th century, the medieval castle at Westenhanger was just emerging like a phoenix from the crumbling remains of an earlier incarnation. The then occupant, the knight banneret Sir John Kyriel (numerous spellings)*, had in 1343 obtained a licence to crenellate, and set about the long, costly business of turning a fortified manor house into a proper castle. After all, it was the Hundred Years War and Kent was very definitely in the French firing line. Sir John was involved in decades of ongoing work.
No one knows what the original manor house had been like, except that in Anglo-Saxon times it was on the large manor originally called Berwic. There’s a myth that a palace stood here, belonging to King Orric/Oeric, son of Hengist, although whether this is based in fact, I don’t know, but certainly the site itself, as a manor, was in existence in that period.
Apparently the word Hangre can stem from either hunger or a wooded slope. My money’s on the latter, because I wouldn’t have thought the rich well-watered meadows around the East Stour river would ever allow hunger. But that’s my guesswork. The now defunct Folkstone Racecourse, which closed in 2012, still stands among these meadows, most of which are well drained in this modern age.
In the twelfth century Le Hangre was held by another John Kyriel (the family was then known as de Crioll, various spellings), and it’s said that during the reign of Henry II one of the round towers housed Fair Rosamund Clifford, Henry’s beautiful mistress. From there he moved her to her bower at Woodstock where, as the legend goes, she was poisoned by his jealous queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Well, Rosamund may indeed have been at Westenhanger, but the round tower was built since then. As for Eleanor’s part in the lady’s demise…I have no idea.
But that’s beside the point for my purposes here, because this 12th-century John Kyriel’s grandsons inherited. Their names were Nicholas and another John, but the latter’s only surviving heir was a daughter, Joan. This meant that when the time came, Nicholas and his niece Joan were joint heirs. Le Hangre had to be divided. Nicholas’s portion was named Westenhanger, and Joan’s became Ostenhanger. She then married Sir Richard Rokesley, a very important Kent man, who gained her portion. So, at this point it’s abundantly clear there were two separate manors.
Joan and Rokesley had one daughter, no sons, and this daughter (another Joan) married Michael de Poynings, 2nd Baron Poynings. Thus Ostenhanger (which I’ve seen written rather delightfully as Ostywhanger) came to the Poynings family, who remained in possession for a long time – well, more or less for the rest of its existence as a separate entity, becaus the Fogge family did intrude for a while.
Sir Edward’s rather ancient mansion at Ostenhanger was abandoned, and both manors were united as Westenhanger, the castle of which Sir Edward rebuilt. But the present-day mansion, which nestles within the medieval castle ruins, is Georgian from the 18th century. And what remains now is but a shadow of the castle as it was rebuilt by Sir John Kyriel in the 14th century.
The last Kyriel of Westenhanger, Sir Thomas, was summarily executed after supporting the Yorkist cause at the second battle of St. Albans, which took place on 17th February 1461 and during which the great Earl of Warwick, known to posterity as the “Kingmaker” was slain. The Yorkists had earlier captured King Henry VI and during the battle they placed him in the care of Lord Bonville and Sir Thomas Kyriel. Once the battle was lost, Bonville and Kyriel escorted the king to the victorious queen, Margaret of Anjou, and the story goes that she asked her (apparently obnoxious) son—the boy Edward, Prince of Wales—how the two Yorkists should be treated and he replied that they should be executed. So they were beheaded, even though they’d behaved with honour throughout. And even though Henry VI himself wanted them spared. Kyriel left two daughters, the elder of whom married a Fogge, and thus the male line of the ancient de Crioll/Kyriel line of Westenhanger was no more.
The Fogge family became ensconced there (Westenhanger) until a Sir John Fogge apparently II don’t know the details) demised it to Sir Edward Poynings in the reign of Henry VIII. Oh, but whoa! One of the Fogges referred to Ostenhanger in his will as one of his manors…! Groan. So who held what, pray? Of course, I could take the easy way out and pretend that some scribe or other simply made an error….
What I can say for certain is that in the early 16th century Sir Edward Poynings held both Westenhanger and Ostenhanger, and that on his death the now-single manor went to the Crown, i.e. Henry VIII, who started doing it up to suit. I’m not sure of what happened next, because it’s too far “out of period” for my wip.
Sir Edward seems to have somehow made Ostenhanger disappear entirely. Well, clearly the land didn’t disappear, but which land it is remains unknown. There isn’t so much as an Ostenhanger Farm or Ostenhanger Brook lingering sneakily somewhere in the landscape. Zilch. There’s an engraving that’s said to show the remains of Ostenhanger (see below). However, this same print is also sometimes labelled Westenhanger, and occasionally the caption sits firmly on the fence and claims it’s either one or the other. I don’t know anything for certain, and the more I try to find out, the less I seem to know.
The following map has been drawn from the known Anglo-Saxon boundaries of the original Berwic/Le Hangre, and Westenhanger manorhouse/castle is shown close to the eastern boundary. It wasn’t known by that name in 1035, of course, but has been shown as an indication to the modern reader. Something stood there in Anglo-Saxon times, maybe even Orric’s palace. So, if Ostenhanger was east of Westenhanger, it must have been somewhere in the direction of Saltwood and Hythe.
As you can see quite clearly on the right, the Roman road Stanstraete (Stone Street leading north-south on its way from Lympne on the coast to Canterbury) divides Westenhanger from whatever was to the east. Ostenhanger? But if Westenhanger and Ostenhanger are what used to be Berwic/Le Hangre, as shown on this map, these ancient boundaries don’t leave much room to the east for Ostenhanger to be situated. Surely there must have been more Berwic/Le Hangre land to the east of Stone Street? Otherwise, Ostenhanger must have been a very skinny strip! I can’t see a man of Sir Richard Rokesley’s standing putting up with his wife having been short-changed when Le Hangre was divided between her and her uncle Nicholas Kyriel, so something, somewhere, is wrong.
Below is another map of the area, this time an old OS map, showing Stone Street slicing vertically through the middle. There’s Westenhanger, top left, clearly drawn…so was Ostenhanger somewhere around where Hilhurst or Little Sandling are shown?
It’s all a huge puzzle. The fiction writer in me needs to know if Ostenhanger was visible from the towers of Westenhanger. Maybe even from the curtain walls of the outer bailey? Were the two residences separated by Roman Stone Street? Indeed, was Stone Street the actual boundary between the two? All I know is that, because I’m writing about the 14th century, when the Kyriels occupied Westenhanger, and the Barons Poynings were in Ostenhanger, I need to learn these infuriatingly elusive details.
So, if anyone reading this desperate crie de coeur knows anything more about the two manors or can correct me on what I’ve already included in this article, please, please let me know!
This article is a well written summary of how one became a medieval knight, and what was expected of one’s conduct ever after.
If you’d like to see the 14th-century process of being dressed in armour, here on You Tube is the site to go to.
And if the composition and wearing of a knightly girdle intrigues you, then I recommend this very detailed and illustrative video by Ian LaSpina (go down the page):
This is all very interesting for someone (like me!) who is not an expert on such things but still likes to know about it. Especially when everything about knighthood was so very revered and respected in the medieval period. Being a knight was the lodestone of these men’s very existence.
It’s obvious from the amount of depictions of dogs from the medieval period they were highly prized by our ancestors, both for work and play. They are everywhere! Their delightful little figures pop up on tombs, heraldry and manuscripts regularly.
Some think, when depicted on a tomb effigy of a lady especially, they represent fidelity. Of course..that figures..but casting that aside I believe that actual pets were being represented unlike the lions, representing strength, that were found at the feet of the effigies of males. Indeed some of their names are on the tombs. Lady Cassy’s little dog, ‘Terri’ was shown and named on her brass at Deerhurst, Gloucestershire and since the brass was commissioned by Lady Cassy after the death of her husband ‘it is likely that the name of the dog represents personal initiative on her part'( 1 ). Another dog named on an effigy at Ingham was “Jakke”.
Lady Cassy’s little dog, Terri, wearing a collar of bells. Deerhurst, Gloucestershire.
Many wore collars festooned with bells such as the dogs on Bishop Langham tomb instead of the usual lions found on a male’s tomb. Richard Willoughly specifically requested that bells adorn the collar of the dog at the bottom of his wife’s effigy.
Richard Willoughby specifically requested the dog on his wife’s effigy to be adorned with bells. Wollaton, Notts.
Blanche Mortimer’s effigy has a little dog, now sadly headless, peeping out of her spread skirts on her tomb at Much Marcle, Herefordshire.
Blanche Mortimer‘s little dog, still with her on her monument. Much Marcle, Herefordshire.
And there they are, for all posterity at their mistresses and masters feet, looking for all the world as if they are about to roll over for a belly scratch at any time.
The dogs that lived in upper class households undoubtedly were extremely lucky and led pampered lives but hopefully even the poorest households valued their dogs or ‘mungrell curres’ as a 13th century writer put it. For the many other aspects of medieval doggies lives see this article, covering everything you ever wanted to know about our canine friends…. I must say I feel for the poor ‘dog boy’ who had to be in the kennels at all times, even nights, to prevent the dogs fighting – Good luck with that! – to monks complaining that dogs and puppies ‘oftentimes trouble the service by their barkings, and sometimes tear the church books’..
Piero della Francesca – detail of the dogs from St Sigismund and Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta
Most historians now accept that, while the white rose of York was a heraldic badge used by the house of York during the Wars of the Roses, the origins of the red rose of Lancaster can only be traced back to Henry VII.1 After his accession to the throne in 1485 and marriage to Elizabeth of York he effectively invented it when he created the bi-coloured red and white Tudor rose, which symbolised the union of the houses of Lancaster and York. But what about the origins of the white rose of York?
The Welsh Marches – Yorkist Heartland
It is hard to over estimate the influence their Mortimer ancestry had on the Yorkists and their claim to the English throne. The Mortimers were descended from Lionel, duke of Clarence, the second surviving son of king Edward III, whereas the Lancastrian kings of England were descended from his third…
We have already shown how Shakespeare was inadvertently influenced by contemporary or earlier events in setting details – names, events, badges or physical resemblance – for his Hamlet, King Lear and Richard III. What of Romeo and Juliet, thought to have been written between 1591-5 and first published, in quarto form, in 1597?
The most notable point is that Romeo’s family name is Montague. The barony of Montagu was a courtesy title of the Earldoms of Salisbury and Warwick and Henry Pole, the last holder, was executed in 1538-9, as we have shown. His grandson, Henry Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon and a prominent figure for two thirds of Elizabeth I’s reign, died in 1595. Is that why Shakespeare chose a particular surname for the male lead character that doesn’t sound very Italian?