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Fancy a stay in a castle? Here are 17 to choose from….!

Hever Castle

Hever Castle

Well, how about staying in a castle – in the style to which we just know we should be accustomed?

Here is the introduction.

“Modern life, eh? It’s so full of stress. Whether its our phones bleeping with work emails through the night or the chaos of city life, sometimes escaping can be very tempting – and these hotels and holiday rentals are the perfect place to do that, transporting you back in time and giving you a taste of royal life. Want to feel like a king or queen for a weekend? These are the places to do it.”

Well, Hever is right down at 16 out of 17, so I cannot for a moment imagine these castles are in any particular order. Surely Hever would be high than that.

Anyway…take your pick, ladies and gentlemen!

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The oldest house in England, once lived in by the Conqueror’s brother. . .?

The Great Hall, Luddesdown Court

Well, it was lived in by Odo, that’s for sure, but “The assertion that a particular house is the oldest in the country is as impossible to prove as it is to refute, but Luddesdown Court probably has as good a claim as any – and it’s now on the market. “

“The sales details for historic, Grade I-listed Luddesdown Court, near Cobham, Kent – currently on the market with Knight Frank at a guide price of £3.5 million – suggest that the former manor house, which was held by William the Conqueror’s half-brother, Odo, until his disgrace in 1082, may be ‘the oldest continually occupied house in the country’.

It’s a snip at only £3.5 million, or thereabouts. It’s certainly a beautiful place, and I’d like to live there, but the price tag is beyond me. But please go to the catalogue to read more and see some of the delights.

PS: I don’t think Odo had a dip in the swimming pool…unless he comes back on the sly.

HASTINGS’ HEAD

I came upon this interesting little medieval doodle the other day, taken from the St Alban’s Register.  It shows a crude, cartoonish drawing of the head of the executed William Hastings, looking, to my mind, rather like a malevolent elf or  goblin. Someone who viewed the picture said, ‘He has pig’s ears’ and this or something like it, I am guessing, is what may have been intended by the artist. Clearly, Lord Hastings was not as all-round popular as certain factions would have you believe. The St Alban’s chronicler was also the one who wrote that Hastings’ execution was ‘deserved, as it is said’–ah, if only the author had given some more details! However, their comment shows that not everyone was horrified, and that the reasons for the execution,whatever they were, were accepted. As this incident was written up in an Abbey’s  Register, no one can accuse Richard III of somehow magically influencing the writer, either.

 

HASTINGSHEAD

The “saintly” “Jane Shore”….?

 

Well, if you read this you will surely be led to believe she was a saintly woman. She wasn’t, and considering her history with Edward IV, Hastings, the Woodvilles, and heavens know who else, Richard showed her amazing leniency. But then, he didn’t punish troublesome women to the extent they deserved. And yet fingers are pointed at him, and he is accused of cruelty etc. etc.

She could count herself fortunate it wasn’t a Tudor that she conspired against, because her fate would surely have been far, far worse!

 

A different portrait of Anne Neville….

Here is a portrait of Anne Neville that isn’t seen very often. It’s not contemporary, of course, but shows her looking fresh and healthy, with no sign at all of the wilting Anne who is so often referred to. It also shows her with a fringe, which I’m certain she would not have. She lived in an age when women shaved their foreheads high, so a little fringe would be an abomination to her!

I found the illustration at this website which is an excellent place for endless information. I certainly recommend you to visit it.

A Peterborough mystery

Peterborough is a well-planned city. The walk from station to Cathedral passes through two short subways, with an optional detour to start of the Nene Valley Railway heritage line, to a semi-pedestrianised street with the Cathedral ahead,  with a range of shops, restaurants and even a parish church on the approach. The Queensgate Centre includes a footbridge over the main road from the centre back to the station. The Cathedral is adjacent to a cafe and bank in other ancient structures.

The building itself was converted from of the remains of Peterborough Abbey and the last Abbot, John Chambers, became the first Bishop, a fate very unlike that of his counterparts. Katherine of Aragon (left) is buried there, as was Mary Stuart (below) until her son removed her remains to Westminster Abbey. It is, however, the second Bishop that concerns us here.

As the plaque in that Cathedral relates, his name was David Pole and he held the see from 1556-9. At first light, it is easy to conclude that this was a misprint for Reginald, who was Cardinal and Archbishop of Canterbury from 1555-8, whilst there had been many high-level pluralists in ecclesiastical history, such as Thomas Wolsey. Furthermore, David is a highly unusual name in sixteenth century England. However, the ODNB reveals that David had a separate existence from Reginald and the clinching argument is that he was demonstrably Vicar-General of Coventry and Lichfield whilst Reginald was in exile in Italy and his mother and nephew were in the tower. Reginald died on 17 November 1558 and Matthew Parker was not appointed to succeed him until the following year. David Pole played a part in this process before being deprived and is thought to have died in 1568.

So where would David Pole, who the ODNB suggest was possibly related to Reginald, fit in to the great family? He was definitely not a son or grandson of Sir Richard and Margaret, Countess of Salisbury as their issue can all be accounted for, but that he was a Fellow of All Souls, Oxford, by 1520 show that he was approximately of Reginald’s age, the latter having been born in 1500. Before that, Sir Richard’s father was Geoffrey Pole I of Cheshire or North Wales, possibly descended from the Princes of Powys, who is not thought to have had other sons. At best, therefore, he was Reginald’s second cousin, but evidence of any such relationship is missing.

The Bard’s Richard, as played by Richard’s grandfather. . .!

Serial killer? Murdered his nephews? Infamous? Had no children? Oh, well, this New Zealand article does go on to say that the actual Richard had a much better reputation than the Bard saw fit to bestow upon him. But if the illustration above is supposed to be Richard….it’s more like his grandfather! Or Jeremy Corbyn admiring the new colour of his beard!

For more, see here.

Bishop Stillington’s Lost Chapel

The beautiful Cathedral of Wells  is a medieval visual delight. It was, of course, the See of Bishop Robert Stillington who sought out Richard Duke of Gloucester and announced that King Edward IV had been secretly married to Eleanor Talbot, daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury, prior to wedding  Elizabeth Woodville in a second secret ceremony, thus making his second marriage bigamous and invalid. He knew the matter was true, he said, because he was the one who had officiated at the marriage of Edward and Eleanor..

Stillington was Archdeacon of Taunton when Edward might have met and married Eleanor Talbot, probably around 1461. He was, of course, not then a Bishop but the Canon Stillington. He also served in Edward’s government as Keeper of the Privy seal. He was elected to his Bishopric in 1465–at King Edward’s insistence, as the the Pope initially proposed a different candidate. He was also intermittently Lord Chancellor, though he appears to have been dismissed in 1473. A few years later, Stillington was briefly imprisoned for unspecified offences which seem to have been connected with George of Clarence’s treason charges.

After Richard III’s death at Bosworth, Henry VII immediately ordered Stillington imprisoned . Upon his release, rather than retiring somewhere far from court or bowing to the new Tudor regime, he immediately involved himself in the Lambert Simnel uprising. Once Stoke Field was fought and Tudor victorious , Stillington fled to Oxford, where for a while the University protected him. However, eventually he was captured and thrown in prison in Windsor Castle–this time for the rest of his days. He died in 1491 and was taken to Somerset for burial at Wells Cathedral.

During his lifetime, Stillington did not spend much time in Wells but he did complete building work within the cathedral and raised his own mortuary chapel there in the 1470’s, complete with huge gilded bosses bosses of suns and roses. This chapel, dedicated to the Virgin, was built on one side of the cloisters near the holy springs that give Wells its name and on  the foundations of an earlier Saxon church. During the Reformation, in the reign of Edward VI, Sir John Gates destroyed the chapel and tomb and, according to old accounts,ripped the Bishop’s remains out of his lead coffin.

Rather interestingly, Stillington’s Chapel is the ONLY part of Wells Cathedral that was severely damaged during the Reformation, the Bishop’s tomb not only being desecrated but the building itself razed to the ground – and some would have it that there’s no such thing as Tudor propaganda? Of course, the roof was later pillaged by Monmouth’s rebels to make ammunition for use at Sedgemoor.

The foundations of Stillington’s chapel have been excavated, and if you visit Wells Cathedral today, you can see scant stonework sticking out of the ground in Camery Gardens. Nearby, in the cloisters, several massive chunks of his tomb canopy are on display, decorated with symbols of the House of York.

 

Films about the monarchy in Britain….

Not that I think William Wallace counts as part of the British monarchy. I don’t believe Old Longshanks would have had any of that! Anyway, to read an article about films concerning various kings and queens, go here.

But where’s King Arthur?????

Leicestershire’s griffin of Griffydam….?

Leicestershire folk tales for children

Here’s Legends an interesting book of Leicestershire folk tales for children. It includes the intriguing story of the griffin of Griffydam.

Oh, and it also relates the “legends” about King Richard III !!

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