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A Scottish Crown Jewel found in Durham Cathedral?

Has the Black Rood of Scotland been hiding in plain sight, indeed? Well, David Willem think so and is speaking about it in Edinburgh on Wednesday, how Margaret of Wessex took this cross to Scotland in 1068, how Edward I removed it along with the Stone of Destiny but it was returned and relocated again, to Durham, after David II’s defeat at the nearby Neville’s Cross. It is known to have been there until about 1540.

At Durham Cathedral, a similarly jewel-encrusted gold cross was found in St. Cuthbert’s grave in 1827. Is this the missing part of the Scottish Crown Jewels?

Agnes Lancecrona and Robert de Vere

Robert de Vere (1362-1392) Earl of Oxford, found great favour with Richard II and was elevated first to the title of Marquess of Dublin and then in October 1386 to the dukedom of Ireland. This was the very first dukedom awarded outside the immediate royal family, and was, in effect, a “fingers up” to Richard’s many critics and opponents, the great majority of whom resented what they saw as the excessive influence de Vere had over the King.

Richard was often criticised at this time for the youth and low birth of his closest advisers, but really this was a canard. As will be seen from the bare facts of the matter, de Vere was neither young (by medieval standards) nor low born; indeed his was one of the oldest earldoms in the kingdom, albeit one of the least well endowed.

In addition, de Vere was married to the King’s first cousin, Philippa de Coucy, who was the daughter of the King’s late aunt, Isabel of England. Unfortunately, de Vere, for whatever reason, was not happy with Philippa, possibly because her inheritance had never been properly secured or perhaps for more personal reasons. At any rate, he decided to annul their marriage. This was seen as a great affront by the lady’s uncles, the dukes of York and Gloucester, who quite probably had concerns for the futures of their own daughters. The Duke of Lancaster would probably have been equally offended had he been in the country.

To make matters worse, de Vere proposed to replace Philippa with the Queen’s Czech (or possibly German) waiting-woman, Agnes Lancecrona. This was clearly a love match (at least on de Vere’s side) as Agnes had no money or land and no prospect of getting any. Agnes’ social status is obscure. One chronicler described her as the daughter of a saddler, another as a washerwoman, but she appears to have been a Lady of the Bedchamber, with the responsibility for caring for Queen Anne’s jewels. It is highly unlikely that the daughter of a saddler could have risen to such eminence, while the very idea of a washerwoman doubling up as a lady-in-waiting is too absurd to contemplate. Having said that, we really do not know who her parents were. To the English of the time, even more xenophobic than their descendants, it was probably bad enough that she was a foreigner and an immigrant.

It appears that de Vere, by giving false evidence to the Pope secured a dissolution of his marriage. He certainly gained possession of Agnes, but whether with her consent is less clear. Two of his retainers were later accused of abducting her and taking her to Chester, where de Vere was residing in the summer of 1387. They may or may not have undergone a form of marriage.

De Vere was defeated by his King’s enemies at the Battle of Radcot Bridge (20 December 1387) he fled abroad and was never able to return during his life. It is not clear whether Agnes followed him, or what happened to her. She simply disappears from the record. De Vere died in a hunting accident in 1392 before Richard could recall him.

In 1389 the dissolution of the marriage was revoked. Duchess Philippa seems never to have lost her status in practice, though for a time she was sheltered by de Vere’s rather formidable mother, who took Philippa’s side against her son. She had an annuity of 300 marks a year after her husband’s death, and was granted dower in 1398. She lived on until 1411, but chose to remain single.



Was the lost coronet/crown of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, Prince of Wales, really the lost crown of King Arthur. . .?

Crown Jewels

The above illustration is of the British Crown Jewels as we know them now, but there were predecessors, long gone now, thanks to the efforts of Oliver Cromwell, who had no truck with such baubles.

This image is of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Prince of Wales, crowned and seated beneath his personal arms.We are inclined to forget that there was a Welsh crown too, until it was seized by Edward I in 1283. The picture immediately above is of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, Prince of Wales, crowned and seated beneath his arms. It is not contemporary, but is set when he paid homage to Henry III in 1267.

Arms_of_Wales - with possibly Llewelyn's coronet on topThe next illustration above is from the 16th century, and shows the arms of Wales, surmounted by a crown of unusual design. Llywelyn’s crown was still around at this time (pre-Cromwell) and so this may well be an accurate depiction of the crown that Edward I seized in 1283.

Llywelyn’s crown (Talaith Llywelyn) was left at Cymer Abbey (together with other priceless items) at the start of Llywelyn’s final campaign, but was seized by Edward I when Llywelyn was killed in 1282.


The death of Llywelyn and his grave at Cymher (Cymhir) For more about the abbey, see

Taken to Westminster Abbey, it was presented to the shrine of Edward the Confessor as a symbol of the crushing of the Welsh. Before this presentation it was coated in gold to make it look more impressive, which the contributor to Wikipedia thinks is an indication that the original was perhaps made of iron. shrine edward confessor

It remained in Westminster Abbey, until transferred to the Tower of London at the beginning of the 14th century. It remained in English hands until Oliver Cromwell came along, warts and all. Or rather, it does not appear to have still been present when he melted down the Crown Jewels. Where had it gone? And when?

Tapestry showing Arthur wearing a coat of arms often attributed to him. c. 1385

Tapestry showing Arthur, circa 1385

No one knows the age of this lost crown, or what else was left with it at Cymer Abbey. However, when it was all seized by Edward I, the crown of King Arthur was said to have been among it. This latter crown was believed to have been forged much earlier. Now, whether the “crown of Arthur” is a general term for principality of Wales, or refers to the actual crown of King Arthur is not known. And there is some confusion as to whether this crown of Arthur was actually the same item as Llywelyn’s crown. One and the same crown. If it was indeed the crown of King Arthur. It was truly priceless.

Maybe it still is, if we knew where to look. . .

In the meantime, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd is still remembered. See




Channel 5’s “Inside the Tower of London”

This four-part series is narrated by Jason Watkins and heavily features Tracy Borman, Joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces.

The first part dealt with the Peasants’ Revolt, which resulted in Simon of Sudbury‘s beheading and Borman travelled to St. Gregory’s in his home town to view the preserved head. She spoke about the animals kept in the various mini-towers and the Royal Mint that coined “Long Cross Pennies”, introduced by Henry III. We saw the Beefeaters, including a retirement party for one, before scholars at Eton and King’s College commemorated their founder, Henry VI, at the “Ceremony of the Lilies and Roses”. Then came the mystery of the “Princes”, as Borman used Domenico Mancini’s correct forename whilst taking him at face value a little too much, although she did note that More was five in 1483 and wrote three decades later to please Henry VIII. The seventeenth century discovery of remains of some sort was mentioned and a new exhibition on the “Princes” was launched, even as counter-evidence has emerged and been clarified.

Part two focussed on Henry VIII’s first and second “marriages”, together with the dramatic end of the second. Part three moved on to the twentieth century with the shooting of Josef Jakobs and other German spies, together with the 1913 visit of the suffragette Leonora Cohen. Rudolf Hess was also held there, as were the Kray twins later. The concluding part dealt with the role of the Constable, the ravens and the interrogation of Guy Fawkes and other prisoners, together with the tale of the more privileged, such as Raleigh, and the audacity of Colonel Blood’s attempt to steal the Crown Jewels, so soon after many of them had been recreated.

Who or what is under the Esplanade in Rochester….?


Here’s a new suggestion – that Richard’s crown might be under the Esplanade at Rochester. Well, the idea is dismissed because the English Civil War saw an end to the original crown jewels – but who is to say Richard’s crown was destroyed too? But, big but, why on earth would his crown be in Rochester in the first place? So, I guess that whatever they’ve found under the Esplanade is more likely to be the helicopter or Lord Lucan!

Memorial stone to mark Richard III’s visit

The lost crown of Henry VII – yes, it was probably HIS first….

Crown of Henry VII Henry-VIIIs-replica-crown-012

Left: The original crown.  Right: The replica, shown from the same angle.

The crown shown in the picture above left is said to have originally been made for Henry VII, but ‘done up’ considerably for his spendthrift son, Henry VIII. Here is what I know of it:-

If you go to the following site, you will find an interesting article about the history of the original crown, now regarded as Henry VIII’s, and the making of a modern replica. You will also find a video about the latter crown.


Maev Kennedy wrote the article, which was published on Sunday, 7th October 2012.

The article is as follows:-

“The lost crown of Henry VIII [according to other sites, it was definitely Henry VII’s first. viscountessw] has been recreated in minute detail, down to the last pearl and thumbnail-sized enamelled sculpture, almost 400 years after the original was melted down along with every scrap of royal regalia Cromwell’s government could lay its hands on.

“The crown will be exhibited at Hampton Court Palace, where Henry [VIII] wore the original on great occasions of state and church. It will be displayed in the royal pew of the Chapel Royal, which reopens this month after seven years of restoration work.

“The crown may have been made for Henry’s father, Henry VII, and was used in the coronations of his children Edward, Mary and Elizabeth, and then of James I and Charles I. By then it was a sacred object: a portrait by Daniel Mytens in 1631 – now in the National Portrait Gallery, and crucial evidence for the historians who pored over every surviving image and account – shows Charles I standing bare-headed by a velvet-draped table, on which the crown is shown in scrupulous detail.


“In 1649 Charles was beheaded in Whitehall and the crown was broken up at the Tower of London. The gold went straight to the mint for coinage, and the jewels were sold off in mixed packets like loose sweets. Of the heap of centuries-old treasures, only one 12th-century spoon escaped the melting pot.

“Henry’s crown is first mentioned as “the kingis crowne of golde” in an inventory of his jewels in 1521. Kent Rawlinson and Aileen Peirce, historians on the staff of Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), tracked it through later inventories, including the one made after Henry’s death in 1547 when every royal cupboard was turned out to record everything from torn bedsheets to the crown and its 344 gems, including “nyne perles not all of one sorte and three Saphires”.

“The inventories showed how Henry remodelled the crown during his reign to reinforce his new role as head of the Church of England, substituting three kings for three small figures of Christ. Few in the watching crowds could have spotted that at the back of the crown, shown in the Mytens painting, he kept the tiny image of the Virgin and Child.

“The materials, costing an undisclosed five-figure sum, were paid for by HRP, and the hundreds of hours of labour, faithfully following Tudor metalworking techniques including use of hand-twisted square gold wire, were donated by Harry Collins, who retired this year as crown jeweller after completing the redisplay of the jewels in the Tower, but remains the Queen’s personal jeweller.

“The gems and pearls in the recreated crown are real, but fortunately for the HRP budget the Tudors cared more about size and colour than flawless quality. The only substitute was rock crystal for the huge diamonds and gold-plated silver instead of the original three kilos of solid gold, which would now cost considerably more than a king’s ransom.

“The recreated crown of Henry VIII goes on display at Hampton Court Palace from 27 October (2012)”

There is more about the original crown at As follows:-

“Henry VII’s crown, featuring bejewelled crosses and fleur-de-lys; with arches and a monde and cross was used right through until the Crown Jewels were destroyed by Cromwell. “Although made for Henry VII, this crown is more commonly associated with his son Henry VIII, it is first mentioned as “the kingis crowne of golde” in an inventory of his jewels in 1521; and it can be seen in later inventories, including the one made after “Henry’s death in 1547 when every royal cupboard was turned out to record everything from torn bedsheets to the crown and its 344 gems, including “nyne perles not all of one sorte and three Saphires”. “The inventories showed how Henry remodelled the crown during his reign to reinforce his new role as head of the Church of England, substituting three kings for three small figures of Christ. Few in the watching crowds could have spotted that at the back of the crown, shown in the Mytens painting, he kept the tiny image of the Virgin and Child.

“This crown was recorded in minute detail in the portrait of Charles I by Daniel Mytens in 1631.”

Right, so that’s the story as I know it. But it prompts another passing thought from me. If the original crown, as seen in the portrait of Charles I, was made for Henry VII, might jewels and so on from Richard III’s crown have been used? I realise that Henry VIII would have piled it with precious stones and glory for himself, but Richard’s crown doesn’t seem to have survived beyond Bosworth – at least, if it did, I don’t know. It would hardly have been tossed aside, nor, I imagine would it have been the crown he wore when riding into battle. So what happened to it? Was it cannibalised for Henry’s crown? That would seem an obvious thing.

I write as a layperson, of course, so if someone has the hard facts about Richard’s crown and Henry’s crown, I’d love to know.

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