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A WHITE BOAR MOUNT DISCOVERED

A beautiful mount bearing Richard III’s boar has been found by a metal-detectorist in the West Country. Quite a few  boar badges have turned up here and there over the years, but this mount, which probably was fastened on a sword-belt, seems rather unique–and is very impressive, still retaining parts of its silvering and painted red background. As it was found in the vicinity of Devon, could it have been dropped by someone riding with the King to ‘mop up’ after Buckingham’s rebellion?

There is a good article on the mount here:

 

RICHARD III BOAR MOUNT

 

boarimage

 

 

The legend of Fowlescombe Manor….

Fowlescombe Manor

It is a fact that in this modern age most of us frown upon the ancient practice of hunting with hounds, whether on horseback or not, but in times gone by, such things were commonplace and accepted. I’m not here to promote a debate on the rights and wrongs of hunting, but to mention a legend that I have just happened upon. It may be something that most of you know already, but it was new to me.

Fowlescombe Manor, near Ugborough in Devon, is now an ivy-covered 16th-century ruin, but its records go back to 1453, when a Sir Thomas Fowell, “a member of the king’s court” (Edward IV? Richard III? Or, horrors, Henry VII?) is recorded as being born at the manor. I have not found him anywhere, but the Fowell family was definitely associated with the manor, and a William Fowell (Fowhill) was born there in 1408. This means there must have been a house there prior to 1408, but how far back, I do not know. Anyway, my ramblings around the internet took me to this website, where I found the legend:-

“….A pack of hounds was kept at kennels at Fowlescombe for many years. It is said that a kennel-master used sometimes to keep the hounds hungry so that they would hunt well the following day, but that one night, when visiting his hounds which were making a lot of noise, he failed to wear his usual jacket, and was eaten by the hounds, only his boots being found the next morning….”

There is a song about the story here.

Such an awful fate serves the kennelmaster right, did I hear you say? Well, probably, but by now my interest in Fowlescombe Manor had unearthed more about the house. It is one of three in Devon that may have been Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle’s Baskerville Hall. The others are Hayford Hall, west of Buckfastleigh, and Brook Manor, a few miles east of Hayford Hall. See more here.

There is another Baskerville-type legend attached to Brook Hall, and you can read it at here. This one, of course, is very much like the Sherlock Holmes legend of Baskerville Hall, and how the dreadful hound first came about.

One thing seems evident… when you’re in that neck of the woods, don’t upset any large canine you may encounter!

And on a lighter note:

Mr Fox’s Hunt Breakfast on Xmas Day (1900) by Harry B. Neilson

History Book Part One

The Legendary Ten Seconds have a new album out. The tracks go back chronologically to Arthurian times, before including two about the Battle of Hastings – or of Battle to be precise. The last six cover Richard III’s adult life and reign, from the seemingly effortless taking of Edinburgh to the Harrington dispute and the subsequent Stanley treachery at Bosworth.

Here is a recording of their performance at Coldridge, with reference to the stained glass window there.

More travels in enemy territory (2006)

Arlington Court is not a particularly old building but it commemorates a family that can be traced back to the Battle of Hastings, with a twentieth century twist. It dates from 1820, however it is the third or possibly fourth grand house to occupy the same site since the sixteenth century. The grounds are extensive and the circular walk is reputed to take an hour; there is also a Carriage Museum. The whole estate lies about five miles from Barnstaple.
Until 1949 it was the home of the Chichester family, Sir John having married a Raleigh heiress in 1385. The Chichesters were recusants from 1577 but maintained a loyalty to the Crown through the following centuries. Another John Chichester was awarded a Baronetcy in 1840 but left only one son and Sir Bruce’s only child was a daughter, “Miss Rosalie”.
It is through her eyes (1865-1949) that visitors see the present house, as she survived her father by sixty-eight years and her mother by forty-one. Her many collections, including model ships and family portraits, and individual style dominate the many rooms. Sir Bruce’s widow married one of his cousins, Rector of the adjacent parish of Shirwell, and his grandson was the 1967 solo circumnavigator Francis Chichester (right), knighted on board his Gypsy Moth IV. The National Trust, to whom she left the house and grounds, added a model of this to his “aunt’s” collection.
I am certain that she would have welcomed this posthumous augmentation.

Did Richard III prefer to travel his realm by land, river or around the coast. . .?

King Edward III's cog, Thomas

Here is a question that has bugged me for some time now. If, during medieval centuries, a journey could be made around the English coast, rather than across country, was the sea option likely to be chosen?

I will take a particular example. It’s from the 14th century, but could be from the 13th or the 15th. A high-ranking aristocrat, who was accustomed to sailing (he was at one time Admiral of the Fleet in the Western Seas – I think that is the correct title) wished to go from London to Dartmouth on the south coast of Devon. It was a journey he would have made fairly frequently, because his country seat in Devon was his favourite residence, some of his children were born there and he clearly like to escape to its peaceful acres.

cog and boat of fugitives

RII embarks for Ireland, 1394

Now, medieval journeys fascinate me, and I wonder what governed the choice of route. For instance, when Richard II made his two visits to Ireland, he travelled across country and then along through Glamorgan and Pembroke to Haverford, from where he set sail for Ireland. The voyage took two days. But many of his men/ships/horses/equipment and so on were sent by ship from Bristol.

Bristol Castle in 14th Century

Why didn’t Richard leave from Bristol as well? It would certainly have been easier than all the way through South Wales. Was it simply to show himself to the people of Wales and the southern Marches? He went from castle to abbey to castle and so on. Quite a long way to be in the saddle. Yes, all medieval aristocrats and royalty showed themselves around the country, but they liked their comfort too, and surely a few extra days’ voyage from Bristol would be preferable to a couple of weeks on indifferent roads?

medieval fleet - 3

Which brings me back to my particular nobleman in Devon. When he joined the king in Ireland in 1394, he sailed from Bristol on 7th March. He certainly didn’t go up to Gloucester, across the Severn and then all the way through South Wales to Haverford. No indeed. But why not from Dartmouth, which was only a few miles from his residence? His wife had just given birth to a son there, and it seems fairly certain (not confirmed) that her husband had been there with her just prior to leaving on the Irish campaign?

dartmouth_castle_engraving

Back to London. Let me provide a particular scenario. There has been a lot of rain and the roads are appalling, but the weather is otherwise calm. Would he choose to labour to Devon by road? Or take a vessel and sail along the south coast?

It seems to me that surely he would prefer to go by sea, but apart from international travel, or travelling along navigable rivers, I have yet to come across a definite reference to sailing around the coast from one part of the mainland to another. Sometimes there is simply a statement that one town was left and another reached. If the towns are in the middle of the country, then it’s obvious the journey was by road. But if close to the coast…? What then? Traders did it, of course, but did other travellers do the same?

Postscript:
Since I first composed this article, I have come upon the interesting thoughts of prominent historian, Ian Mortimer, on the very subject of whether travel would have been by water or road. In Appendix Five of The Fears of Henry IV, he ponders the speed of Henry’s movements around the country, and whether or not roads would have been the natural route. As places like Nottingham and Pontefract are mentioned, it makes me wonder about some of Richard III’s journeys. I have always imagined that he travelled by road, but might he have actually gone by river?

Here is an extract from Mortimer:

“The distances. . .all presume Henry travelled by road, and it needs to be stressed that some of the journeys were probably by water. In fact, Douglas Biggs has suggested that Henry moved mostly by water in 1407.* With regard to his journey from York (5 September 1407) to Beverley (11 September): he sailed down the River Ouse, pausing at Faxfleet, and up the River Hull to Beverley. Similarly Henry could have travelled by water from Nottingham to Pontefract (via the rivers Trent and Calder), and from Bishopthorpe to Cawood (via the Ouse). However, he did not always move by water. His journey from Nottingham to Pontefract via Newstead and Worksop. . .must have been by road, and his presence at Kilham indicates that, although he probably sailed from Beverley to Bridlington, he returned to Bishopthorpe by road.”

* Syllabus: T.D. Hardy (ed.), Syllabus. . .of Rymer’s Foedera (3 vols, 1869-85). Vol ii, p.544. Also Douglas Biggs. ‘An Ill and Infirm King: Henry IV, Health and the Gloucester Parliament of 1407’ – paper delivered at Nottingham 2006).

What did Richard do? Did he always ride on horseback or take to his barge or cog? Over to you, ladies and gentlemen.

The Champernownes of Devon

Champernowne_CoatOfArms

The Champernownes (above), a Norman line whose alternative spellings include Chapman and Chamberlain, are surely Devon’s second family after the Courtenays of Powderham Castle, who hold the Earldom. From 1162, their (Domesday Book-cited) home was at Chambercombe Manor near Ilfracombe (middle right) but, by the early sixteenth century, this had passed to Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, father of Jane (below left).

The Champernownes Arthur Champernowne (1524-78) moved the family from Polsoe, near Exeter, to Dartington near Totnes, where the Hall (middle left) was built in 1560 and his descendants lived there – the previous building had been owned by the Holland Dukes of Exeter. Kat Ashley, his aunt, was Elizabeth I’s governess, Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Walter Raleigh (above right) were among his nephews, Henry Norris (executed over the Anne Boleyn case) was his father-in-law and Sir Edward Seymour, grandson of the Protector Somerset, married one of his daughters, launching a line of baronets, so Arthur’s close family were at the centre of the “Tudor” political scene.

Arthur was a Vice-Admiral as well as an MP in the south-west, as was his grandson Arthur and his Georgian descendant Arthur (ne Harrington), who married a relative of Crediton’s General Sir Redvers Buller (below).

BullerStatue

As this genealogy also shows, Champernownes married Courtenays at least once.

 

 

The contrasting fates of two properties associated with Sir Francis Drake….

 

Crowdale Farm, Tavistock, Devon - birthplace of Sir Francis Drake

Crowndale Farm, Tavistock, Devon, birthplace in 1540 of Sir Francis Drake.

The recent concern https://www.metro.news/sir-francis-drakes-birthplace-at-risk-of-being-lost-forever/1243118/ gradual disintegration of Sir Francis Drake’s birthplace, the Grade II listed Crowndale Farm, in Tavistock, Devon, where he came into the world in 1540. It is unbelievable that such neglect has been allowed to take place. What is the point of listing a property, and then not providing the owner with the funds to restore/protect it? Not all owners are rolling in money. And what is the point of listing something at all, if that’s the end of it? Listing would appear to = slow demise.

Crowndale is not the only building associated with Sir Francis Drake, nor is the Gatcombe associated with the present Prince of Wales the only place of that name in Gloucestershire. There is another Gatcombe, a tiny place on the Forest of Dean side of the River Severn. Most people will have heard of the prince’s Gatcombe, but not this other one.

Here is an extract from Riversprite: A Trow’s Story, by Roger Poole:-

“The ancient town of Lydney is situated a few miles north of ~Chepstow on the Forest of Dean side of the River Severn. It has a history that goes back many centuries. Iron Age tribes lived and worked here, as did the Romans, but as a port it grew maninly during the 18th and 19th centuries.

“One of the main cargoes that went through the harbour was coal from the pits in the Forest of Dean, although large quantities of timber and iron ore also passed through the port and on across the Severn Sea.

“Before that, In Tudor times, ship-building was an important business in the area, Warships for the King’s navy were built here, using oak and other timber from the Forest of Dean. Sir Francie Drake lived for a time at nearby Gatcombe, and Sir Walter Raleigh is said to have done business with local timber merchants while staying in the tiny hamlet of Purton, a couple of miles upstream….”

If you go to https://www.sungreen.co.uk/gatcombe/severn-fishermen.html, you will find a very old photograph of Severn fishermen (see below), and in between them the distant white rectangle of Drake’s house.

Old View of Gatcombe on the River Severn

Severn fishermen on “Waveridge Sands”. The Old Severn Bridge pub is on the left, the Purton ferry staging is on the water’s edge and between the two men with the Lave nets is Drake’s House.

And if you go to https://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-66396161.html you will see much more about the same house. Doubt is cast upon the connection with Sir Francie, but nevertheless, the legend is very strong, on both sides of the Severn.

Drake's House, Gatcombe, Lydney

Drake’s House, Gatcombe, Lydney, Glos.

I have drawn attention to this house on the Severn as a contrast to the fate that is being allowed to befall Crowndale Farm in Devon. Maybe the present appearance of Drake’s House isn’t to all tastes, not everyone likes pink, or wishes to live right next to a main railway line, but at least the house is still standing and still loved. Still there for future generations to appreciate.

The same should be able to be said of Crowndale Farm!

 

 

 

A very busy presenter

Rob Bell seems to be on television a lot at the moment. Although he is an engineer and not quite a historian, many of his programmes go back in time as structures were built. Walking Britain’s Lost Railways, for instance, goes back under two centuries because of the subject matter, but Great British Ships (both Channel Five) has already covered HMS Victory and the Mary Rose, which was built in 1510 and sank in 1545. At the same time, possibly literally, Bell is appearing on BBC1 and BBC4’s (repeated) Engineering Giants, projects which he narrates actively with enthusiasm and technical knowledge, together with an interest in the local culture. For example, he tells viewers of Brunel’s great feats, tries to explain why the Mary Rose sank and walks most of the Dartmoor route from Plymouth to Exeter, although a small stage of this track has re-opened in recent years.

The last episode featured Ruabon to Barmouth via Llangollen, where the Irish Ladies lived.

A performance in Coldridge – a review

The Legendary Ten Seconds Concert at Coldridge

 Nestling deep in the Mid-Devon countryside is the hill-top village of Coldridge where the windswept St Matthews Church is hiding secrets relating to the mystery of The Princes in the Tower.

The Church and its links to Richard III and Edward V are currently being investigated by Philippa Langley’s Missing Princes Project.

Maybe in an attempt to stir up some mediaeval spirits of the past, it was very fitting that on 5 March 2018 the folk rock band the Legendary Ten Seconds came to Coldridge and presented an excellent concert to the village.

The atmospheric and acoustic setting of the Church resonated with original and very entertaining music evocative of the Tudor Period. It was very special to hear the mediaeval harmonies sung so well in that ancient building.

The bands highly competent musicians comprised Ian Churchward on guitar and vocals, Elaine Churchward vocals, Rob Bright lead guitar and Lord Zarquon (Mike) on keyboards.

We were entertained by a range of songs, composed by the band, featuring;

WRITTEN AT RISING (about a letter written in June 1469 by the Duke of Gloucester at Castle Rising)

LORD ANTHONY WOODVILLE (a song about Elizabeth Woodville’s oldest brother who was looking after Edward V at Ludlow)

THE LADY ANNE NEVILLE ( sung by Elaine )

FELLOWSHIP OF THE WHITE BOAR

KING IN THE CAR PARK  ( sung by Elaine )

HOW DO YOU REBURY A KING (the reburial of Richard III in Leicester)

RAGGED STAFF instrumental

THE GOLD IT FEELS SO COLD (about Edward IV’s campaign in France 1475)

THE YEAR OF THREE KINGS (Edward IV, Edward V and Richard III 1483)

THE COURT OF KING RICHARD III (the visit of a knight from Silesia to the Court of Richard III in Nottingham in 1484)

ACT III SCENE IV (using the words written by Shakespeare in Act III, Scene IV of the play called Richard III)

The above three photographs showing the band recording their album “Murrey & Blue”

WHITE SURREY (Richard III at the battle of Bosworth)

HOUSE OF YORK (the first song that The Legendary Ten Seconds recorded about Richard III)

 

I spoke to several villagers after the concert and all were in agreement that it was a thoroughly enjoyable and special experience for the Church, and who knows – was that the armour of  our Tudor Knight, Sir John Evans, we heard clinking away in time to the music ? !

John Dike

Coldridge

Devon.

Recording the Murrey and Blue album

 

 

The Legendary Ten Seconds again

They will be performing at Coleridge Church on 5th March and for the Devon and Cornwall Branch of the Richard III Society on 26th May. Read more here

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