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Echoes of Minster Lovell?

In 1708, a skeleton is supposed to have been found in a secret chamber of the ruins of Minster Lovell Hall. The legend is that this pertains to Francis, Viscount Lovell, who was known to have fought at Stoke Field in 1487, suggesting that he may have fled back to his home to hide and suffocated as a result.

There are two complications with this legend:
1) Lovell was granted a safe conduct to Scotland on 19 June 1488 by James IV, whose reign had begun just eight days earlier, after his father’s defeat and death in the Sauchieburn rebellion. This does not prove that Lovell ever left for Scotland, indeed it could even have been a bluff on James’ part, implying that the Yorkist adherent was still alive to foment further resistance in England.
2) Minster Lovell Hall had been in the hands of Jasper “Tudor”, Duke of Bedford, for almost two years, making it very difficult for Francis to just stroll into his former home undetected for a game of sardines.

The New York Times and the Smithsonian website here have introduced a very similar case. A skeleton has been found at Leine Castle in Germany and will undergo DNA testing in case it is Count Philip Christoph Konigsmarck, the lover of Sophia Dorothea of Celle and a Swedish nobleman who was last seen in 1694. It is thought that the future George I, Sophia Dorothea’s husband then known as Georg Ludwig, caused or ordered Konigsmarck’s death.

blue_plaque_of_francis_lovell

1694 was the year that Mary II died without issue but her husband William III was still to live for eight years. He didn’t remarry but could have done. His sister-in-law Anne was still alive with at least one of her children. The Act of Settlement, which excluded Catholic claimants was not passed until 1701, so James VII/II’s son (James Francis Edward) and youngest daughter (Louisa Maria Teresa) still arguably had claims to the British thrones, as did Sophie, Electress of Hanover, who was Georg Ludwig’s elderly mother and only predeceased Anne by a few months in 1714.

In 1694, Georg was possibly seventh in line and could have been relegated further had William III had children by another wife or Anne’s children survived for longer. The events of the next twenty years, although all natural or legislative, were almost of Kind Hearts and Coronets proportions.

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On two nineteenth century novelists …

The novelists in question are Jane Austen (1775-1817) and Charlotte Bronte (1816-55). Jane Austen’s views on Richard III are well known: http://www.richardiii-nsw.org.au/about/a-literary-taste/jane-austen-and-richard-iii/.

Was Charlotte Bronte, whose sister Anne is buried on the approach to Richard’s Scarborough Castle, also a Ricardian? Perhaps she left a clue in her 1847 bestseller “Jane Eyre”, in which the eponymous character almost marries Edward Rochester, only to find out that he already has a wife. I really can’t think who she was referring to.

A return to the East Riding (2007)

I had visited York twice before, the first time with my primary school thirty years ago, and am thus familiar with the classic medieval and subsequent attractions. On my second visit, my late mother and I went to the same venues, thus I was determined to visit the subsequently built Jorvik centre.

In this I was thwarted because our visit was limited to ninety minutes on a Friday afternoon, one of the disadvantages of using a hotel in Middlesborough. Having walked as far as the Minster, I discovered that the Richard III Museum was close at hand. This entertaining little gem is inside Monk Bar and thus very difficult for the disabled visitor. Jorvik will just have to wait until next time.

Saturday was far more satisfactory. Whilst Cardinal Morton is reputed to have an adverse effect upon the weather when Ricardians go on tour, Mary “Tudor” has yet to develop such influence. There was some bad weather – a veritable downpour over the fishing village of Filey in the morning – that extended our visit to Scarborough. Here, a mere six miles away, the weather was fine and I made an immediate beeline for the famous Castle.

This great structure was held by Richard during his brief reign and, apart from the 1557 rebellion, was attacked during the Pilgrimage of Grace and slighted in the Civil War after a long siege. If you wish to hear the official line on Thomas Stafford’s capture of the castle, take an official audio guide and dial 21 at the right moment.

Scarborough also includes a Richard III House, which I was unable to reach, but I had one surprise. Anne Bronte’s grave is adjacent and her date of death was ……… 28 May.

On Sunday, we were allocated three hours in Whitby.  The main attractions here are the Abbey, a Captain James Cook Museum and a Dracula theme. I had just enough time for the Abbey and a nice lunch near the coach park. The Abbey was first managed by Saxon princesses and, at the Reformation, sold to the Cholmley family, one of whom was the Royalist leader who tried to defend Scarborough Castle. Sir Hugh, like Lord Capell, had been a Parliamentarian when the Civil War and his family were to recover on the Restoration.

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