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A History Walk in Wiltshire

Sometimes, in this very old country of ours,  even a simple afternoon’s walk out along the river  can come up with some rewarding historical data relating to the Middle Ages and the Wars of the Roses period. Recently I went for a walk near the Wiltshire Avon, from Figheldean to Netheravon, taking in  two little-known rural medieval churches, which proved to be of some interest.

At the Church of St Michaels and All Angels, where the worn effigies of two unknown 13thc knights lie in the porch, having been brought there from a now-lost nearby church or chapel, the advowsen was held in 1485-1487 by Francis Stourton. Stourton was the son of John Stourton who attended Richard III’s Parliament when attainders were passed on the Duke of Buckingham’s rebels. Unfortunately for Baron Stourton, his brother–in-law, Sir William Berkeley, had actually joined the Duke’s Rebellion. Richard said he would pardon Berkeley as long as John Stourton came up with a bond of 1000 marks. He agreed to pay the bond–but unfortunately, ungrateful William Berkeley promptly shot off to Brittany to join Henry Tudor, leaving Baron Stourton with a hefty bill. In-laws, eh?

One of the local manors, Alton Magna, also happened to belong at one time to the Earl of Warwick, Richard Neville. It is not certain  how he aquired it, as it had descended with the Honour of Leicester from Simon de Montfort, to Henry Duke of Lancaster, Henry’s daughter Maud, then her sister Blanche, the wife of John of Gaunt. When Blanche’s son became Henry IV in 1399 the honour of Leicester passed to the Crown.

Going along a pleasant leafy back road from Figheldean church, the traveller eventually comes to the village of Netheravon. Its church of All Saints has some similarities architectural qualities to that in Figheldean, including a very tall, stark tower. There was probably a Saxon  church originally  on site, and there is  visible Norman work that survives, including a carving of beasts on the capital of an exterior pillar.

The church was a prebendal church and one of the prebendaries in the 15th c happened to be Thomas Rotherham,who was first Bishop of Rochester, then Bishop of Lincoln and finally Archbishop of York. He was Keeper of the Privy Seal for King Edward IV and was appointed Lord Chancellor. When Edward died, Rotherham unlawfully handed the Great Seal to Elizabeth Woodville, and hence lost his position as Chancellor. He was present at the council meeting where Lord Hastings was arrested and then executed, and was himself arrested as part of the conspiracy. He went to the Tower, but not for very long; he was soon released and continued to be a player on the scene.

  As at Figheldean, the manor of Netheravon was held by the Duchy of Lancaster, first half of it, then eventually the whole. At one point one of the halves was held by the notorious Hugh Depenser the Elder and his family during  the reign of Edward II.  Upon their downfall, Queen Isabella was granted the estate  for life.  However, when her son, Edward III, captured her and Roger Mortimer at Nottingham in 1330, Edward gave the estate to Edward de Bohun. Later, through Mary, wife of Henry IV, it became part of the Duchy of Lancaster. Other local Despenser lands went to the Earl of Salisbury, which may be how Richard Neville came to own a manor in Figheldean.

Several local estates were also held by Sir William Beauchamp, husband to Elizabeth, suo jure Baronness St Amand; upon his death she held them jointly with her next husband, Sir Roger Tocotes. Sir Roger was a local landowner and sheriff who served George of Clarence for a while, but ended up as one of Buckingham’s rebels.

There is one other interesting feature of Netheravon. As you pass down the lane near the church, you will see the name ‘Beaufort’ clearly affixed  to a gate. The large, rather sombre mansion in the next field was owned by the Dukes of Beaufort -although not in medieval times, but rather from the middle of the 18th century, when the surname (Beaufort) and title (Somerset)  were reversed. Their stately pile, built by one Henry Somerset,  stands close to a Roman villa and is likely on the site of the medieval manor house of the Cormayles family.

 

 

A Boss from Buckingham & Crowland Connections

Henry Stafford fascinates me in a dark sort of way. I walk past the spot where he was executed almost once a week. I have always felt he is marginalised by historians because no one quite knows what to make of his behaviour, so he gets  pushed to the side as just  an unsuccessful rebel who lost his head. Over the years we have had silly theories, such as the one that he was enraged because didn’t get his hands on the Bohun inheritance quick enough (having to ggo through parliament, it wasn’t coming any quicker!) and the other one that he was horrified by news of the the death of the princes (he was a contender for being’right in there’ if they were killed, and if he actually KNEW, why was it all a case of  rumour and whispers; why was he not declaring his knowledge openly across the land?) I am even doubtful about his supposed ‘support’ for Henry Tudor, as what could Henry have given him that he did not already have? I see it more as an alliance of sort, and Henry Stafford may have been as eager for the crown as Tudor.

Be that as it may, there is not all that  much known about Buckingham, and we don’t even have  a proper portrait of him–the one that exists is clearly based on that of Buckingham’s own son, Edward Stafford. In it, he certainly looks roguish, like a medieval Bill Sykes.

During my recent research, however, I have come across seveal items of interest of this rather sidelined figure. A few years back a high status decorated boss was found at his manor of Bletchingley, dating from the 1470’s. It may not have been Buckingham’s personal adornment,  but it was very likely the possession of one of his retinue.

http://www.culture24.org.uk/history-and-heritage/archaeology/art48529

The other item I discovered is perhaps more interesting. The Abbot of Crowland (Croyland) Abbey established a hostel for student monks in Cambridge. Later on between 1472-83, the hostel came under the  patronage of the Duke and his family and got a change of name-to Buckingham College. As the Crowland Chronicle is noted as being very pro-Woodville, this could be one reason why this is so;  since Catherine Woodville, Queen Elizabeth’s sister, was the wife of Henry Stafford.

The college itself (renamed Magdalene in the 16th c) seems quite interesing archaeologically, with a collection of coins known as the ‘Magdalene hoard’ turning up on the edge ofthe property.

mag

 

 

 

 

Sunnes And Roses – A New Release by The Legendary Ten Seconds

Review by Elke Paxson

Sunnes And Roses – it’s finally here, the new album by The Legendary Ten Seconds. This new one focuses on the history and some of the events and people during the War of The Roses. Like the music of the 3 CDs about Richard  III, this is a unique and quite excellent mix of English Folk with a touch of Medieval music and a hint of Rock.

Album cover of Sunnes and Roses

The new album starts off with a song commemorating the battle of Towton, the biggest battle ever fought on English soil and the battle that brought Edward IV to the throne. Quite fitting – the song has a powerful intro with the sound of cannons. It moves on with a forceful rhythm and it has a really rich sound to it.

List of the Dead – this one has a foot tapping rhythm and it’s needed as the lyrics tell of the many battles, the long list of the dead through the many years of the “Cousins’ War”. Quite superbly done.

The Jewel – is a really pretty song. It tells the story of the stunning “Jewel of Middleham” found in 1985 by Ted Seaton. There is a beautiful trumpet intro before a number of other instruments are added – acoustic guitar, percussion, strings and tambourine.

Good King Richard – this is a very nice and rousing duet with Camilla Joyce and Gentian Dyer. It’s going back and forth between accusations and King Richard’s side – very well done with great musical sound and sound effects! Love the song.

Sunnes And Roses – an excellent instrumental. The guitar picking is just outstanding!! It has a very memorable sound!

Battle In The Mist – is a haunting an engaging song about the Battle of Barnet. It’s a good story and its instrumentation and the rhythm come together quite nicely.

Richard of York – this song is about the pretender Perkin Warbeck or was he…. Love the beautiful guitar intro of this song. The harmonies, strings and the guitar sound make it so very beautiful.

King’s Daughter – the second instrumental on this album. This is a really pretty combination of a love song with a fine medieval touch to it.

Middleham Castle on Christmas Eve – one of my all-time favourite songs. It brings everything together – beautiful lyrics that combine the past with the present, the instruments, the sound of the percussions, the harmonies. Fantastic.

A Warwick – the title tells the colourful story of the Kingmaker, the powerful Earl of Warwick. The song moves along nicely and has a swift beat to it.

Souvente Me Souvene – Remember me often, is another instrumental and also the motto of Harry Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham.

Autumn Rain – and speaking of Buckingham….this one is also about him or rather about the “washed out” October rebellion of 1483 that he was subsequently beheaded for. The song is pretty neat and the sound effects are quite fitting.

A Herald’s Lament – a sad song for sure, but it’s not a slow song as you might expect. It tells the story of a herald’s return to an unknown place – perhaps the city elders of York or King Richard’s mother Cecily.

Tewkesbury Medieval Fair – Time to go back in time yet again. This is a really nice song about the annual medieval fair in Tewkesbury. The way it presented it’s easy to imagine yourself being there.

Ian Churchward and The Legendary Ten Seconds have produced another tremendous album full of expertly written songs, fabulous music with a rich sound that brings history to life in a very profound way. ENJOY!

For anyone who might be interested in this fabulous new album, it is available on Amazon.com, at CDbaby.com for download and it should be available in CD format from the Richard III Society by the 31st of January 2017.

 

Richard & Co on Facebook….!

lovells-signature

Don’t worry about not being able to read the letter that’s illustrated, just have a darned good laugh at Michi’s Blog, which is a hoot about how, among other things, Richard, his friends and enemies might communicate on Facebook. It’s mainly concerned with poor old Francis Lovell, so be warned. But well done, Michi!

Read, laugh and enjoy!

 

 

RICHARD III IN EXETER–A PAINTING DISCOVERED

After Buckingham’s rebellion, Richard III rode west from Salisbury, where he’d ordered the faithless Duke executed (interestingly, IMO, on the birthday of the elder ‘Prince in the Tower’ which may well be significant–who knows!) and eventually reached the town of Exeter, after mopping up the last of the rebellion…and the rebels.

Although Exeter is not generally known for its Ricardian connections, it would seem there are more than one might think, not just in the way of medieval buildings Richard would have seen but in later artworks that commemorated his brief stay.  For instance, there is Victorian stained glass window found in the Mercure Hotel, originally called the Rougemont after the castle where Richard supposedly misheard the name as ‘Richmond’ and became very sorrowful since he knew he would not live long after seeing Richmond. (A tale that is without a doubt apocryphal!) The window was prized enough to be removed and hidden during WWII in case of bomb damage to the hotel.

It had also come to my attention that a Victorian era a painting also exists showing Richard’s arrival in the city through the East Gate. Both the painting and the stained glass show a young, upright King Richard–no Shakespearean limping monster here, despite the time in which both pieces were created! The painting is particularly interesting in its use of colour and the depiction of motifs such as Richard’s boar–being quite bright and airy, it has an almost modern feel as opposed to the more usual darkly-hued, melodramatic Victorian art on historical subjects.

The artist was George Townsend and the picture called ‘The East Gate , Exeter, and the Arrival of King Richard, 1483.’

http://rammcollections.org.uk/object/drawing-220/

exeterng-220

Details about various Ricardian places and items of interest in Exeter have been published in a booklet by Ann Brightmore-Armour; further research is ongoing.

r3-in-exeter

sam_2660

A sampler showing some of the events of 1483 in Exeter

Thanks to Ian Churchward of Richard The Third Records for his information on the Exeter painting, window and booklet.

 

 

 

New Richard III Memorial To Be Revealed

Back in April we reported that Bridport had recently discovered that in 1483 Richard III had visited the city on his way to Exeter to crush Buckingham’s rebellion and decided to commemorate this with a stone memorial. We are pleased to reveal that the initiative was successful and that the memorial will be revealed to the public on the 533rd anniversary of the event on Saturday, 5th November, at 2pm by the East Bridge. Sir Philip Williams, the High Sheriff of Dorset, and John Collingwood, the Bridport Town Crier, will be attending the unveiling.

The memorial was funded with donations from members of the public in the UK and abroad. It has been crafted by Master Stone Masons Christine and Karl Dixon from white Portland stone and, as well as containing relevant details, also depicts Richard’s white boar and his personal motto “Loyaulté me lie”. It will be placed beside the River Asker and facing the oriel window, which is one of the few remnants of the Priory of St John the Baptist where Richard is thought to have lodged.

You can find out more details about the initiative and Richard’s visit to Bridport here.

Three howlers in the only sentence that mentions Richard….!

Henrietta Leyser

More groaning from Yours Truly, I fear. At the weekend I was taken to see Berry Pomeroy Castle in Devon. It was very beautiful, and my complaint is not to do with the castle, but with a book I bought in the gift shop.

It’s called Medieval Women, is by Henrietta Leyser, and has mixed reviews, although I had not heard of it before buying it. See it at:- https://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/B00D3J2QE8/ref=acr_dpproductdetail_text?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

Being Richard’s strong supporter, I went straight to the index to find him. (Don’t we all?) One reference came up, on page 174. Here it is:-

“Margaret and Henry (My input: Yes, that Margaret and Henry) emerged from the Wars of the Roses in triumph but it could well have been otherwise. Widows who took their sons’ part in any kind of intrigue ran the risk of ending up destitute and in prison, a fate which Margaret had brought on herself for the part she had played in the conspiracy against Richard III in 1483.”

What howlers!!! She wasn’t a widow (unfortunately, because that blessed state would have meant Thomas, Lord Stanley had carked it—wishfully in a double ‘tragedy’ with his brother William) nor was she destitute or in prison. She had plotted against Richard, but her only punishment was to be placed in her husband’s care and not actually lose anything! Richard was too lenient, as usual. Oh, to be able to go back and put him on the right track where his foes were concerned! If I’d been him, Margaret Beaufort would indeed have been widowed, destitute and locked up forever (in a damp underground dungeon) with the key ‘lost’ somewhere in the North Sea.

So, Ms Leyser’s book clearly cannot be relied upon for anything. One small sentence contains three whacking great mistakes. Widowhood, destitution and imprisonment. What point is there in hoping the rest of the book will be better? So, a great disappointment, and I’d only looked at page 174!

Richard’s brother George built a bridge at Tewkesbury….?

Quay or Key Bridge, Tewkesbury

It seems that George, Duke of Clarence, may have built a bridge in Tewkesbury. Known as Quay or Key Bridge, it crossed the river to Healings Mill on the island meadow known as The Ham, which is caught in the confluence of the Severn and the Avon.

Is this connection with George well known, making me a latecomer to the scene? Or is it something that has slipped general attention? The reference was found in a leaflet about The Ham at Tewkesbury. http://www.visittewkesbury.info/…/17…/hamhistoryleaflet2.pdf – which in turn points to a book called ‘The Book of Tewkesbury’, 1986, by Kathleen Ross, as the source. This title is available at Amazon http://tinyurl.com/z6rz45f

The above illustration is of the old Quay/Key Bridge. Not the original bridge of George’s, I’m sure, but its second incarnation. And here is a view of the bridge in modern times. (not my photograph)

Quay or Key Bridge Tewkesbury today

The eagle-eyed Susan Kokomo Lamb (thank you, Sue!) also drew my attention to another interesting reference in the Tewkesbury leaflet about The Ham. It is again referenced to the same book by Kathleen Lamb, and concerns the Duke of Buckingham’s ill-fated rebellion of 1483. The flood that brought his plans to an ignominious halt was, according to the book, known in Tewkesbury as Buckingham’s Water. To me, the inference is that he was halted trying to cross the river at Tewkesbury. Well, I have never heard Tewkesbury given as a precise point.

I found the following alternative reference to the flood, which gives Gloucester as the duke’s intended crossing point: ‘In the second year of Richard III in the month of October 1483, as the Duke of Buckingham was advancing by long marches through the Forest of Dean to Gloucester, where he designed to pass with his army over the Severn, there was so great an inundation of water that men were drowned in their beds, houses were overturned, children were carried about the fields swimming in cradles, beasts were drowned on the hills. Which rage of water lasted for ten days and nights, and it is to this day in the counties thereabout called ‘The Great Water’ or ‘The Duke of Buckingham’s Water’ (Gloucester Journal November 1770) See http://www2.glos.ac.uk/severnfloods/Textsite/gloucs2.htm

But one thing is certain . . . there may be other interesting snippets in Kathleen Lamb’s ‘Book of Tewkesbury’. Maybe a detailed read would be in order?

 

Update: Having now acquired the book by Kathleen Ross, I can say that George, Duke of Clarence, appears to have been responsible for more than just Quay/Key Bridge, but also saw to the cutting of the Mill Avon, i.e. the branch of the Avon that now passes Quay Street and is probably the most well-known, most photographed waterway in Tewkesbury. See page 105. 

There is another tradition that monks were responsible for both ventures. I prefer to think it was George.

 

Bridport’s pride in its link with Richard III….

bridport-street

>>>On 5th November 1483 King Richard the Third stayed overnight in Bridport on his way to Exeter to deal with the remnants of the rebellion led by the Duke of Buckingham<<<

>>>Bridport Mayor Sandra Brown said: “I have been interested in
Richard and his unfair bad press ever since school. My history teacher put most of the blame on poor old Shakespeare, who was only keeping in with those Tudors.<<<

Things are afoot in Dorset to mark Richard’s visit to lovely Bridport. He may not have been there for long, but that he did is to be marked by the town. Good old Bridport – my father’s home, and well known to me!

http://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/…/14409989.What_was_Richard_II…/

Debunking the Myths – Richard III’s Execution of a Political Lampoonist

Richard III’s Execution of Collingbourne. A new take.

RICARDIAN LOONS

Ripon Cathedral misericord “And in another isle toward the south dwell folk of foul stature and of cursed kind that have no heads. And their eyes be in their shoulders.” – Sir John Mandeville (14th c.)

It’s funny how myths and legends become a part of history. This column – Debunking the Myths – is devoted to exploring the many false rumors, tales, and impressions that have embedded themselves into our modern perception of Richard III and his times.  Join us, as we hunt down the Loch Ness monsters, Sasquatches, and Blemyae that have roamed the Ricardian historical landscape for centuries.  No need to bring a weapon.  Just bring an open mind!

Today’s blog is about the infamous lampoon posted on the doors of London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral in July 1484, during the second year of Richard III’s reign.  Even the casual reader of Ricardian history can recite it from memory:

“The Cat…

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