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Medieval remains under a Nottingham car park….!

Broadmarsh Car Park demolition, Nottingham

Not more remains under a car park! In Nottingham this time, and more likely to be evidence of what the city was like in the past. I hope they investigate though. And no, you can’t play direct from the above illustration, you have to go here.

 

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The Maligned Queen in the Car Park

Added to the list of monarchs and notables found or potentially to be found beneath car parks, tennis courts, and other such mundane places must be the Queen of Henry III, Eleanor of Provence. Buried in Amesbury Priory after her body was kept in ‘storage’ by the nuns for two months while her son, Edward I, was away at war, the grave was lost, like so many others’, during the Reformation. Quite possibly  the architect Inigo Jones stumbled over the Queen’s gravesite while plans were being drawn up to build a classical mansion on the abbey site. He describes a chest tomb which, when pried open, revealed a skeleton wearing ‘rich garments.’ There are only one or two possibilities as to whom these remains might belong to, and Eleanor is the prime candidate. No further mentions of the remains exist and it is presumed the tomb was resealed and then the site built over and landscaped.

Some years ago, archaeologists did some geophysics on the large open green space in front of the current Amesbury Abbey (the classical mansion.) Nothing showed up of interest–not even buildings, let alone a Queen’s last resting place.

However, bits of lead and medieval glass were recently turned up by the spade in the nearby flowerbeds; presumably these came from the destroyed priory church. Measuring the ground to the approximate length of the church,  the site of the high altar appears to be somewhere between a large tree and a small car park for residents on the private estate. Eleanor’s grave is thought to be in this approximate area.

Eleanor of Provence is one of England’s least known queens, and probably one of the most maligned. In several books about her husband, Henry III, she scarcely gets a mention, save to chastise her for promoting her family members or to recount the notorious incident at London Bridge, when her barge was pelted with stones and rubbish. While the promotion of her family was one of her ‘failings’, in fact Eleanor was a model wife and a medieval mother who really cared about her children, even causing diplomatic issues over their care–for instance, when her son Edward fell ill at Beaulieu Abbey, she insisted upon staying with him, overriding the abbot who said that no woman, not even a queen, could stay in the abbey. There was no hint of any marital infidelities by either King or Queen, and Henry had known no mistresses or illegitimate children. Eleanor was so trusted in her abilities, she was made regent in his absence; she also gathered an army in France when Henry and Edward were taken prisoner.

Maybe, like Richard, her reputation should be up for a revamp.

She is not to be confused with another royal Eleanor buried somewhere in Amesbury–Eleanor, Pearl of Brittany.  That Eleanor was the daughter of Geoffrey Plantagenet, son of Henry II, and sister to the unfortunate Arthur of Brittany. She was England’s longest-serving political prisoner; accused of nothing,  her only crime was having royal blood and a strong claim to the throne by strict primogeniture.

There has been some confusion about the actual burial-place of both women, as the local parish church of St Mary and St Melor was once part of an abbey. Many people assumed that is was the church for the vanished priory. In fact, it was part of an earlier monastic foundation–there were TWO religious houses in Amesbury, although St Melor’s became the parish church at a fairly early date. It is most likely that this church IS where Eleanor of Brittany is buried, due to the Breton connection, and geophysics have shown there are several gravecuts before the high altar. However, Eleanor of Provence almost certainly lies  in the priory that stood in the fields to the back of the older foundation.

eleanorimage

 

New theories DO turn up, so there’s hope for some Ricardian mysteries….

Another new theory about the fate of Jimmy Hoffa has raised its head. Hoffa’s disappearance in a Michigan parking lot forty-two years ago has always been a mystery. “. Hoffa was a Detroit labor union leader and activist who was well known for his involvement in the Teamsters’ Union as well as the criminal charges that he faced while president of the organization. ” He was also mixed up in the Mob and various other extremely dubious matters. In short, he was very well known and equally as notorious. Then, he simply disappeared, apparently from the face of the earth.

A new theory seeks to explain what might have happened. Read about it here.

Followers of the case, or mob afficionados, will know there are more theories as to Hoffa’s disappearance, and indeed more books for sale than you can throw a stick at.  He went into hiding.  The union had him killed because he threatened to talk.  The mob had him offed because he threatened to reveal their shady dealings with Teamster pension funds.   For years, the most popular theory was that he was buried underneath the Meadowlands Football stadium in New Jersey, but this has been disproven as the above linked story indicates.  

So despite many concerted attempts by law enforcement and cold case amateurs alike, we still don’t know.  

Which inevitably brings us to similar Ricardian “cold cases”.  The boys in the Tower are usually the first to spring to mind. They too seem to have simply disappeared without trace. And then there’s Richard’s last will and testament, which he must have had drawn up before Bosworth, if not well before even that. It disappeared. Whodunnit? No, I won’t mention the word T-d-r! There are other mysteries, of course. What happened to Francis Lovell? He too seems to have simply vanished from the records. What was Buckingham’s real purpose in rebelling against Richard? His own ambitions? We don’t know. And where did Richard’s crown go after being found at Bosworth? Maybe the latter is known, but not to me. I know there are many, many more unknowns from Richard’s life.

So, all in all, some new theories about these Ricardian mysteries are eagerly awaited. They all happened a lot longer than forty-two years ago, of course, but is there a statute of limitation on these things?

Another project under a car park….!

HVIII's blockhouse in Hull

This time it’s Henry VIII’s blockhouse in Hull, see above. It promises to be a huge project. You’ll find much more information here …

 

TWO RARE RICARDIAN NOVELS

Almost every Ricardian knows about the famous novels ‘The Sunne in Splendour’ by Sharon Penman and ‘We Speak No Treason’ by Rosemary Hawley Jarman.  Most know  Majorie Bowen’s ‘Dickon’,  Carleton’s ‘Under The Hog,’ and ‘The White Boar’ by Marian Palmer. More recent readers who are discovering  the world of kindle  probably have seen Meredith Whitford’s ‘Treason’, J.P. Reedman’s ‘I Richard Plantagenet’, Joanne Larner’s ‘Richard Liveth Yet’ time travel series, and many more.

However, a lot more novels have been written about King Richard in the past, and I am tracking them down as I am something of a completist (Ok,ok, the word is ‘nerd.’) I have recently managed to obtain  two particularly usual Ricardian novels that almost  never get a mention, both of which I believe have some merit.

FIRE AND MORNING by Francis Leary was published by Ace Giants in 1957. I found this an excellent read, with beautiful language that  is often missing from modern novels. Quite unusually, it starts when Richard is already King, and does not cover earlier periods in his life, although it refers to them. It is well researched with the knowledge available at the time, and uses it well. It is not the most appealing portrayal of Richard ever written, but  it shows a human being who is conflicted and real.  Elizabeth of York being in love with Richard is used as a device but there is no secret tryst between them–he outright rejects her. Bosworth is well written, and though there is outdated information, such as Richard being  on Ambion Hill, the  battle and weaponry are well described and the action realistic. In the aftermath of the battle one passage goes: ‘This was what he had dicovered: the end of the quest. The dishonoured broken body passing, like the bloody shame of a perished England. Men would become harder, more cruel; there would be less truth, less love.’

(I noted in the author’s  acknowledgements that Leary mentioned ‘his friend’ Isolde Wigram and the Fellowship of the White Boar.)

KING’S RANSOM  was written by Glenn Pierce (the penname of an American history professor) and published in 1986. It was never well known, no doubt floundering in the  titanic shadow of Sunne in Splendour, which preceded it by several years. Ignore the cover, which is  truly awful–Richard is wearing his dad’s hat and is modelled on a photo of Emilio Estevez (yes, really; we even found the photo!), there is a big muscly executioner with an axe, and, gasp, the wrong date is written on the reverse side…it says 1486!

However, once one forgets this 80’s cheesiness, it turns into rather a decent novel after a slowish start. The beginning is also different from other Ricardian novels, taking place in the 1980’s at an archaeological dig…in a car park, no less! No, not Richard they were digging up, but a monk–a monk buried with a manuscript and a secret. Therein develops a sub plot set in modern times about who gets the manuscript, which tells the real story of Richard’s life, how it should beinterpreted, and what to do with it. Most of the book, however, takes place in Richard’s own lifetime. There are a few noticeable  gaffes in the chronology, perhaps made deliberately so the events would flow easily into each other (and the author has a weird habit of giving everyone moustaches!) , but despite that,  it is an extremely readable novel and the author has the knack of carrying you on from page to page without flagging. The  story is told mainly from the first person POV of the monk Godfrey, whose bones were found in the car park, as he follows Richard and by his writing unravels the later Tudor propaganda.

 

P1320237

 

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in York….?

Rose Theatre in York

I do hope they plan to stage more than just the Bard’s improbable notion of Richard III, clever as it is. But whatever they do, this theatre can only do well for York.

See here, here and here.

 

A view of Richard and Leicester – all the way from Lahore….

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

It is always interesting to find out how Richard’s discovery and reinterment, and the effect upon Leicester, is viewed from afar. In this case, Lahore. Mind you, I’m not sure Leicester will appreciate being situated “in the North of London”!

Another Car Park, Another Find

What is it about carparks? They seem to hide a wealth of archaeology.

My own local one may not have held a king, but it certainly contained burials–a handful of   Bronze Age people who had been cremated and buried in long-vanished barrows strung out  along what once was a prominent  ridge. Several thousand years later their graves were desecrated by Anglo-Saxons, who inserted their own inhumation burials into the earlier mounds–one of them taking  a stunning amethyst bead into the afterlife.

The latest famous carpark find is from Switzerland, however, rather than Britain, and it is probably the oldest by far. It is the five thousand year old door of a neolithic hut, rather fine in its craftmanship, with a prominent hinge still existing–not at all what most people imagine when they hear the word ‘neolithic.’ It was discovered  while making, rather than digging up, a NEW carpark in Zurich, in an area where there were a number of ancient lake villages. It wasn’t the only door found either–others had been located in the area in previous digs, but it was the best preserved and most ‘modern’ to look at.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/oct/20/swiss-unearth-neolithic-door-zurich

door

I’m Henry I, I am?

r-6242797-1422183744-7972-jpegThere is some news from Reading, where Henry I is being sought under a car park. The GPR results are in and the Abbey seems to have been located

You can hear more from the Kingfinder-General here as well, after eleven minutes, or here after forty-four.

More exciting finds under a car park….!

coventry-wall

 

Car parks have become Aladdin’s caves for archaeology and things as wonderful as the remains of Richard III. Coventry’s lost history is now coming to light. Be patient with the Coventry Telegraph site, I found it as much a pain for ads and slowness as the Leicester Mercury!

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