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The Bedingfield turncoat of Oxburgh Hall….

Oxburgh Hall - picture by Art Fund

Oxburgh Hall – picture by Art Fund

In this 2014 post mention was made of Sir Edmund Bedingfield of Oxburgh Hall, near King’s Lynn in Norfolk. He was a Yorkist-turned-Tudor supporter who, like the Stanleys and others, failed Richard III at Bosworth.

Sir Edmund was a Yorkist who benefited under Edward IV and Richard III (at the coronation of the latter, he was created a Knight of the Bath), but the ingrate signally withheld support at Bosworth. By 1487 Bedingfield was very cosy indeed with Henry Tudor, playing host to him—and Elizabeth of York, Margaret Beaufort and the Earl of Oxford—at Oxburgh Hall at Easter 1487. I trust it stretched the Bedingfield finances to breaking point! The traitorous fellow then turned out for Henry at the Battle of Stoke Field, fighting under John de Vere, Earl of Oxford. After the battle, Bedingfield was made a knight banneret.

A rather handsome Henry VII

A rather handsome Henry VII from the Oxburgh Hall National Trust website

So, what conclusion are we to draw from all this? That Bedingfield was a staunch supporter of Edward IV, but did not agree with Richard III’s claim to the throne? He probably believed the rumours that Richard had done away with Edward IV’s two sons, and so went over the wall into the Tudor camp. One imagines he would subsequently have been very much under Henry’s eye, because that suspicious king very sensibly did not trust anyone who changed sides. Nevertheless Bedingfield prospered under the Tudors, as did his descendants, until their Catholicism got in the way under Elizabeth. Although that queen did honour Oxburgh with her presence in 1578.

Let us return to Easter 1487 (in April that year) and the royal visit to Oxburgh, which house, incidentally had been built after Edward IV granted Bedingfield a licence in 1482. Unusually, the chosen material was red brick, a very costly option at that time. Bedingfield’s gratitude can be seen in the numerous Yorkist falcon-and-fetterlock badges throughout the house, where Edward’s licence is on display. No doubt Bedingfield was especially honoured to have Elizabeth of York beneath his roof, because (in the absence of her brothers) he undoubtedly regarded her as the true heir of Edward IV.

falcon and fetterlock

According to Bedingfield family tradition, the king and queen did not lodge in the main house, but in the noble gatehouse, which has remained virtually unchanged since it was first built. Henry and his Yorkist queen would recognized everything about it were they to return now, and so would Elizabeth I.

Oxburgh Hall - 1482

According to a very detailed description in Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales, 1300-1500 by Anthony Emery:

“The gatehouse is a tall, three-storeyed block with dominating half octagonal frontal towers. The latter are divided by seven tiers of sunk panels decorated with triplets of cusped arches surmounted by a battlemented head on blind machiolations. The four-centred entry arch with double relieving arches is closed by the original pair of oak doors. The four-light window above has a stepped transom with a three-light transomed window at second-floor level. The whole is spanned by an open-machiolated arch supporting a line of blind cusped arcading and crow-stepped parapet.

“The gatehouse is a subtly modulated composition. Ashlar stonework was chosen for the central windows but brick for those in the towers with open cinquefoil lights in the stair tower and uncusped single lights with brick labels to the closets in the east tower. Contrasting chevron brickwork is used over the principal window but a single line of yellow brick surmounts that above. Though blind arcading was a common enough tower decoration at the time—as at Buckden, Gainsborough Old Hall and Hadleigh Deanery—the height of the Oxburgh towers is emphasized by the diminishing elevation of the embracing panels of brickwork. The east tower has loopholes at ground level with two quatrefoils above set in blind recesses withy two-centred heads, whereas the side faces of the stair tower at all stages have quatrefoils set in square frames. The entrance position is curious, for its hood is cut by the west tower and the head stop has had to be turned as though it was purposed to be in line with the hall porch on the opposite side of the courtyard, though this still lay a little to the right as the gatehouse does to the whole north frontage.”

Yes, a very detailed description, and (to the likes of me) somewhat confusing, so here are two photographs of the gatehouse, which will perhaps make Emery’s words easier to follow. The first one is of the external approach, while the one below it is a view of the gatehouse from within the courtyard.

Gatehouse at Oxburgh - approach from outside

Gatehouse at Oxburgh from courtyard - from Tour Norfolk

In the illustration below, of the gatehouse chamber known as the King’s Room, I fear that according to the National Trust, it is something of a misnomer. It is not the room in which Henry slept, nor is it the bed, which is 1675. I have not been able to find anything to identify the actual room. All we know is that the bed in which Henry rested his head was described in the 1533 will of Edmund’s son and heir, another Edmund, as being covered with “…a fustian [wool or cotton fabric] covering or red and green sarsnet [silk] unicorns and scallop shells.”

The King's Room at Oxburgh Hall

The illustration below is of the Queen’s Room, which does appear to be the one in which Elizabeth of York slept. The two figures represent Henry and Elizabeth. Not sure about the accuracy if the 15th-century television.

Queen's Room - with Henry and Elizabeth

Oxburgh Hall is a very beautiful old house set in a moat, and is a great testament to the taste of Sir Edmund Bedingfield. But for those who believe Richard III was rightly the King of England, it is necessary to overlook the fellow’s Judas tendencies.

Bedingfield arms

Bedingfield

 

 

 

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The real site of the Battle of Barnet…?

site-of-battle-of-barnet

The excellent BBC series Digging for Britain, Series 5, the episode concerning the east of Britain, presented by the equally excellent Dr Alice Roberts, contained a section on the Battle of Barnet, 1471.

Why is it that an accepted site for a battle so often proves to be the wrong one? Bosworth is a prime example, of course, but it seems the Battle of Barnet was another. Apparently it has always been thought that the battle took place where the town of Barnet is now, yet there was never any proof. So the discovery of some 15th-century cannon balls in fields outside the town had the local detectors out in force.

Accounts of the battle describe it as having taken place in a hollow in the landscape, and the area of the fields fitted the bill. Standing in the middle and panning his camera around in a circle, one of the searchers showed how the land rose gradually all around. He and his fellows searched and searched, only finding things that might have had nothing to do with the battle, but then (in a style that brought Time Team to life again!) right at the eleventh hour a final detector happened upon something more substantial. They did not know if it was from horse harness or perhaps male clothing, although it was a little heavy for that.

battle-of-barnet

Various other finds convinced them they had found the true site of the battle. But it seemed curious that Edward IV, arriving on the scene with his battle at the end of the day, should choose to place himself in a dip. Surely that would be inviting trouble? Especially as he did not know exactly where the Lancastrian army was situated. But, the Lancastrians didn’t know the exact whereabouts of the Yorkists.

Battle commenced in at dawn, in fog, with the Earl of Warwick, in command of the Lancastrians, firing his cannon where he thought the Yorkists were. But he couldn’t see them because they were low down, and his cannon balls went harmlessly over their heads. Edward, on the other hand, kept his cannon silent, in order not to give his position away.

It became a bloody affair, with the Lancastrians mistaking one of their own, the Earl of Oxford, whose badge was a star, for Edward IV, whose badge was the sun in splendour.  Warwick was killed in the rout that followed.

So, was Edward IV a brilliant tactician in choosing the site he did? Or was it pure chance? We will never know.

See this previous post or this one.

Go here to see some of the programme itself.

The saga of how I eventually acquired The Complete Armory by Sir Bernard Burke….

sir-bernard-burke-dressed-as-ulster-king-of-arms

The above illustration is actually of Sir Bernard Burke dressed as Ulster King of Arms for a fancy dress ‘do’, but he really was Ulster King of Arms!

I recently posted about Anne Neville sharing a white boar badge with Richard, see this post , although hers was muzzled and chained. Or so is claimed in a tome entitled The General Armory by Sir Bernard Burke, C.B., LL.D. Ulster King at Arms. At the time I did not possess The General Armory, and came upon the reference in another work, but I was interested enough to acquire the Burke book. Eventually.

AbeBooks UK apparently had a number of copies for sale, but there was some disgruntlement among purchasers (among whom I numbered) that most of the offers proved to be one or other of three print-on-demand volumes, broken up into chunks of the alphabet. My copy turned out to be R-Z. Not one of the listings at AbeBooks made this clear, and customers had been bitten. But then I approached one of the sellers, Anybook Ltd, who seemed to ask more than the others, but it soon transpired that they really were offering  the complete Armory.

https://www.anybook.biz/how-it-works.php Anybooks Ltd is a clever idea. They acquire books that libraries no longer want, and sell them on to all the folk who do want them. Then a generous share of the profit goes back to the libraries. Everyone’s happy. I certainly was. And they were also very helpful and approachable, so I thoroughly recommend them to anyone interested in acquiring books.

Right, enough of that. The Armory is a very heavy work, originally published in 1884, and the author, Sir Bernard Burke,  is also of Burke’s Peerage, so I imagine he knows what he is talking about.  I say this because his statement about Anne Neville and the White Boar was challenged, many believing Boar had to be a ‘typo’ for Bear. Why? Because Burke states the White Boar , chained and muzzled in gold, was an ancient cognizance of the House of Warwick. I cannot find such a cognizance, except the Warwick Bear and Ragged Staff, which, always features a lopped tree trunk (the ragged staff) as tall as the bear. Maybe Anne chose the bear on its own and decided on white. But maybe that’s not so, and she went for a White Boar instead. I would not care to argue with Sir Bernard on a subject he clearly knew inside out. Anyway, suffice it that in The Armory, she definitely chose a muzzled, chained White BOAR.

The book (my copy of which is in excellent condition, except for the cover, which is a little shabby, as advised by Anybooks) is a vast enterprise that is a registry of armorial bearings from the earliest to the then present time (late nineteenth century). It explains heraldry, then lists all the monarchs, orders of knighthood, families and at the end supplies mottoes, and the names of those who possessed them. I have browsed through it (reading in detail would be a gigantic exercise requiring youthful eyes, gritty determination and the will to grapple with the weight) and found it fascinating. Choose any person from history, and there he or she will be, with details of arms, crests and so on.

Anyone interested in history would, I’m sure, find this work of great benefit. I recommend its acquisition…but beware the lurking trap of the three volumes of print-on-demand.

Richard III: Their part in his rediscovery

220px-EaglepubArms_of_the_Earl_of_Derby_02666index

 

We all know that Richard III was identified by his mitochondrial DNA and that DNA was discovered in Cambridge. The discovery was announced at the “Eagle” pub in the city.

It is less well known that this name is derived from the Stanley badge, the “Eagle and Child” , although it ought, perhaps, have been the Cross of Lorraine?

Anne Neville was a boar too….

Anne Neville's Boar

We always hear about the badges of medieval families, e.g. Richard III’s white boar, the Warwick bear and ragged staff, the Stafford knot, Richard II’s white hart and so on and so on, but what about the ladies? Maybe they didn’t ride into battle with the banners streaming (well, there were some notable exceptions, of course), and mostly they seem to have used their family’s badges, but they also had their private personal badge or device, perhaps on a ring to seal their private letters.

It’s possible to identify some of these badges. Richard II’s queen, Anne of Bohemia, had a sprig of rosemary, which is why such sprigs appear along with Richard’s device on the Wilton Diptych. His mother, Joan of Kent’s badge was a white hind, and it was from this that Richard II, derived his white hart, also adding the crown and chain around its neck. (See Richard II and the English Royal Treasure by Jenny Stratford.)

Joan of Navarre, the second queen of Henry IV, used ‘an ermine collared and chained, with the motto ‘à tempérance’. Elizabeth Talbot, Duchess of Norfolk, was believed to have chosen the blue borage flower as her badge. (See Eleanor, The Secret Queen by John Ashdown-Hill.) Her mother, Margaret Beauchamp, Countess of Shrewsbury, chose to play upon her name, and had the daisy/marguerite. Margaret of Anjou had a swan (see Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses by John A. Wagner) and a daisy (see The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, by Sir Bernard Burke, page lvii.

I have now learned that according to the same page of the latter book, Anne Neville’s badge was a variation of the white boar of her husband, Richard III.

Anne Neville's Badge

Anne’s cognizance is interesting, and I wonder if she chose it by chance before her marriage (after all, it was a badge of the House of Warwick), or whether she only adopted it once she was Richard of Gloucester’s wife. Or, indeed, whether Richard himself decided to use it because it was a Warwick badge and he wished to honour the great lord whose daughter he was to marry.  Those who deride Richard, will no doubt claim that such was Anne’s subordination to her cruel husband, that it was her only way of showing how confined and bullied she was. On the other hand, those who know Richard was nothing whatsoever like the fictional monster, may see it as her way of stating her love and faith in him. I am of the latter persuasion, of course.

Finding an instance of Anne’s boar has defeated me. I can’t even find a boar that has been assigned to Richard, yet might actually be Anne’s. Maybe someone out there knows all this and can point directly to such an illustration? In the meantime, I will confine myself to the boar you see at the top of this article. It has a crown around the neck, if no muzzle and chain.

As a source of information about badges and so on, the great work by Sir Bernard Burke is a gold mine. See it at Amazon. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Scotland-Comprising-Registry-Armorial-Bearings/dp/0788437216/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1471783806&sr=1-1&keywords=sir+bernard+burke+armory

I have just ordered it, and am looking forward to a great deal of delving.

 

The Buckingham Tiles

The Buckingham Tiles

These tiles were on display at the Richard III Exhibition in Gloucester, and I think they are very interesting. Thornbury Castle ended up in the hands of Jasper Tudor, who died there, I think. Not certain, so don’t take that as a statement of irrefutable fact. As the castle is still there (it’s a hotel) I don’t know which part of it was pulled down/refurbished so that the tiles were utilised elsewhere. The following text was with the exhibit:-

Arms of the Duke of Buckingham, c.1511.

These floor tiles were discovered built into a farmhouse fireplace in the Forest of Dean. It is thought they came from the part of Thornbury Castle, South Gloucestershire, built by the son of the Duke of Buckingham who supported then betrayed Richard.

The swan was a heraldic device of the de Bohun family and represents the claim of the Duke of Buckingham to be the rightful heir of the powerful de Bohuns. The flaming wheel’s axle is a reminder of the Duke’s ancestor Thomas de Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester and son of Edward III. The knot is the knot of Stafford, the Duke’s own family name. The mantle, or cloak, refers to Brecon in Wales, home of the Duke.

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