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The Bishop, the MP, the scientist, the historian and the brewer

The preacher at St. Paul’s stated that the late King’s surviving issue were illegitimate. On this occasion, it wasn’t Dr. Ralph Shaa on 22nd June 1483 about Edward IV’s sons but Rt. Rev. Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London and Westminster, on 9 July 1553 about Henry VIII’s daughters, at which time Jane was proclaimed. As we know, Ridley (b.c.1500), together with Hugh Latimer, Bishop of Worcester, was burned in Oxford today in 1555. Like the earlier victim, Rowland Tayler, he had been a chaplain to Thomas Cranmer, his Archbishop. Furthermore, as a result of the Reformation in which all three had participated with gusto, they were part of the first generation of English clergy, not bound by clerical celibacy, to marry and have legitimate children. Bishop Ridley’s own notable descendants include these four, three of whom are closely related to each other and share his connections to Northumbria:

Rt. Hon Nicholas, Baron Ridley (1929-93), son of the 3rd Viscount Ridley, who was MP for Cirencester and Tewkesbury for more than half of his life and a Cabinet Minister for seven years. His maternal grandfather was the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens.

 

 

 

Professor Jane Ridley (b.1953), daughter of the above and a modern historian at the University of Buckingham, who is a particular expert on the nineteenth century, who we cited in this post. Here, on the BBC’s “Keeping the faith”, she speaks about her ecclesiastical ancestor.
Jasper Ridley (1920-2004), the fellow historian who wrote the Bishop’s biography as well as those of Cranmer and Knox, is a more distant relation.

 

Matthew, 5th Viscount Ridley (b.1958) is Nicholas’ nephew and thus Jane’s cousin. He is a scientist, blogger, writer and businessman, whose team won Christmas University Challenge in 2015.

 

 

 

 

Nelion Ridley is an Essex-based brewer, as this article from a Wetherspoon’s newsletter also shows. “Bishop Nick” is a recent company, formed after Ridleys (1842) was bought out, producing “Heresy”, “1555”, “Ridley’s Rite”, “Martyr” and “Divine”.

Other interesting coincidences are emboldened.

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RAM RAIDERS REVEAL TUDOR/MEDIEVAL HOUSE

A group of ram-raiders in Dedham, Essex drove their vehicle into the facade of a plain, old Co-Op, causing considerable damage–and revealing behind the 1950’s front a timbered-framed merchant’s house built around 1520, with earlier medieval features such as a hearth and a large cauldron blocking the doorway, possibly as a talisman to ward off evil.

The talisman seems to have worked–the ram-raiders fled empty-handed.

RamRaidersRevealHouse

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Haunted Essex

Some of the venues in this article are surprising and the nocturnal visits sound very expensive but they include some classic historical venues. In Colchester, the Castle and (Howard) Red Lion are included, as is the Redoubt at Harwich, although the Kelvedon Nuclear Bunker and North Weald Station are much newer. In the north of the county, many of the locations are connected to Matthew Hopkins and his anti-witchcraft activities, or earlier victims such as Ursula Kemp (the St. Osyth Cage). In the south, there is also the Valence House, Dagenham.

Good luck ghost-hunting.

A constitutionally important “Tudor” servant

Sir Richard Rich

We tend to have rather a negative view of Sir Richard Rich, or Baron Rich of Leez as he became in February 1547, nowadays. In this, we are somewhat influenced by Robert Bolt’s portrayal of him, as a “betrayer” of More, together with the history of Trevor-Roper. One Bolt line, memorably delivered by Paul Scofield as More, was “Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world, but Wales?”, as Rich (John Hurt) becomes Attorney-General for Wales a few (film) minutes before More is executed. More is also quoted as saying that Parliament could make Rich King if it so wished.

Leez Priory

Rich, a lawyer, protege of Wolsey, Colchester MP, Speaker and Solicitor-General, was certainly involved in many of the events of the mid-“Tudor” period such as the prosecution of More and Fisher, accounting for Catherine of Aragon’s assets at Kimbolton Castle, supporting Cromwell in the Dissolution, quite possibly a personal hand in Anne Askew’s (unprecedented and illegal) torture, executor of Henry VIII’s will, the attempted prosecution of Bonner and Gardiner and the Seymour brothers’ fatal division. He then resurfaced under Mary I as an enthusiastic persecutor of heretics in Essex, before dying, nine years into the next reign, at Felsted where he donated money to the church and famous school in the village.

His descendants were granted the Earldom of Warwick and were heavily involved, on both sides, in the Civil War – one great-grandson, the Earl of Holland, fought for the Crown at the 1648 Battle of St. Neots and was beheaded the following March with the Duke of Hamilton (captured at Preston) and Lord Hadham (taken at Colchester).

So where exactly is “Orwell”?

Harwich Town station is the end of the line, a twenty-five minute ride from Manningtree and the north-eastern extremity of Essex. As you cross the main road from the station car park, turning left takes you past a series of old buildings with Harwich Society plaques amid a modern setting. Some of these commemorate people such as Pepys, Christopher Newport the Jamestown settler and Christopher Jones, of Mayflower fame but the first of these is the site of the inn known as The Three Cups (left). Eventually, you will reach the Ha’penny Pier, from which the busy Port of Felixstowe is visible. Indeed, a passenger ferry across the rivers operates on most summer days.

Harwich is situated on the south bank of the confluence of the rivers Stour and Orwell. Between them lies the Shotley peninsula, which also features the village of Holbrook. Warner (Edward II, The Unconventional King, p.216) reports that Queen Isabella, Roger Mortimer, Edmund Earl of Kent and his steward John Cromwell, with a thousand or more other men, landed at “Orwell in Suffolk” on 24 September 1326. However, I have never heard of an actual settlement by this name.

Contemporary chroniclers are irritatingly vague about this location and it would be difficult to satisfy the conditions precisely because Harwich is in the wrong county. This map (right) illustrates the situation – that only the north bank of the Orwell from Felixstowe to Ipswich, or the northern half of the Shotley Peninsula, fit these criteria.

The Harwich Society cannot now locate their source.

George Washington’s England, especially Sulgrave Manor….

sulgrave-manor

Sulgrave Manor

 

Sulgrave

Sulgrave Manor

I had never looked into the English origins of George Washington’s family, although I did know that his ancestors were associated with Washington Old Hall, Washington, Tyne & Wear. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/washington-old-hall

Washington Old Hall

Washington Old Hall, Tyne & Wear

So I am surprised to discover that the family was also associated with other places, including Purleigh in Essex

 (http://www.kenmore.org/genealogy/washington/descendants.html) 

and Sulgrave Manor in the south of Northamptonshire, the latter being what I am mainly concerned with here., especially, I suppose, because Northamptonshire also happens to be the birth county of Richard III.

There was a castle at Sulgrave, on a site next to the present church, where some of the earthworks can still be seen. https://sulgrave.org/sulgrave-history-society/sulgrave-castle-project/

sulgrave-castle-mound-and-st-james-the-less-church-sulgrave

Earthworks of Sulgrave Castle beside the parish church

It is believed that the first buildings on the site were 10th-century Anglo-Saxon, maybe a stone and timber house and detached kitchen, with defensive earth ramparts. Then came the Normans, who replaced the original hall with one built entirely of stone, and increased the height of the ramparts. The castle site seems to have been abandoned at around 1140.

Toward the end of the reign of Henry VIII, Sulgrave and two other manors were granted to a wool merchant and former Mayor of Northampton, Lawrence Washington, who set about building a new manor house, using local limestone. The manor remained in the Washington family until 1659, when it was sold to the Hodges family (who reunited the three estates into which Sulgrave had become divided). Then Lawrence’s descendant, John Washington of Purleigh in Essex, emigrated to the Colony of Virginia. John was the great-grandfather of George Washington, the first elected President of the United States.

The house that Lawrence built, between 1540-60, stands at the north-east of the village, facing south-west. Because of foundation stones found a considerable way from the present building, it is believed the original house was much larger than the surviving property. The great hall has a stone floor, and a Tudor fireplace in which there is a salt cupboard bearing Lawrence Washington’s initials.

Great Hall Sulgrave

Great Hall, Sulgrave Manor

Over the south-west porch, which projects through two storeys, are the royal arms of England and the initials E.R., for Elizabeth I. There is also the Washington arms of two bars and three mullets or spur-rowels.

Sulgrave_Washington_Coat_of_Arms

Washington coat of arms, Sulgrave Manor porch

Today, Sulgrave Manor is a very attractive proposition for a visit, as indeed is the whole village. The manor house had lost one wing, which was restored in the 1920s. Here it is before restoration.

Sulgrave-Manor in 1910

Sulgrave Manor in 1910

Sulgrave village

Sulgrave Village

See more at:

https://www.sulgravemanor.org.uk/about-us/a-brief-history

http://www.discoverbritainmag.com/visit_sulgrave_manor_ancestral_home_of_first_us_president_george_washington_in_northamptonshire_1_3937451/

http://www.britainexpress.com/attractions.htm?attraction=2404

Another place that is associated with George Washington, although not in the usual way, is at the American Museum in Claverton, near Bath. His garden at Vermont has been recreated there, complete with white picket fences and some wonderful old-fashioned roses that have the most heavenly scent imaginable. It is some thirty years since I was last there, but I can still remember that exquisite fragrance on the warm summer air. Well worth going to for that alone. https://americanmuseum.org/about-the-museum/gardens-grounds/

Washington, of course, was born when Britain and its colonies were living under the Julian calendar. American independence happened long after 1752, when it switched to the Gregorian calendar, under which he died – see here.

Witchcraft (3): Matthew Hopkins

matthew_hopkins_witch-finder-_wellcome_l0000812If the witchcraft trials at North Berwick in the 1590s and later in England, of which Pendle in 1610 is an example, happened because James VI/I fervently believed in witchcraft, as shown by the three characters in Macbeth, it can be argued that the subsequent decline in such cases came because judges and Charles I took a more sceptical approach, Charles being a more Anglican King than his father. There was, however, a significant case in his reign at Lancaster in 1634.

This trend was reversed in the early 1640s when the start of the First English Civil War saw Charles lose his authority over several parts of his largest kingdom but particularly Puritan-inclined counties such as Suffolk and Essex. To fill this vacuum, various individuals assumed some Parliamentary aut240px-st-_johns_church_great_wenham_suffolk_-_geograph-org-uk_-_213446hority in finding witches. Matthew Hopkins, born in about 1620, was the son of a Puritan vicar who had held the living of Great Wenham and land in Framlingham. By 1643, Matthew was an innkeeper near Manningtree but could also rely on an inheritance from his father and appointed himself Witchfinder General. With John Stearne and four followers, he began hunting witches the following year across the whole of East Anglia, subjecting them to the “swimming” ordeal, psychological torture and sending them for trial. By 1647, when his The Discovery of Witches was published, about three hundred people from Bury St. Edmunds to Chelmsford had been hanged, out of the five hundred such executions throughout England between 1400 and 1700.

Early that year, magistrates in Hopkins’ own region began to demand more evidence and the convictions stopped. Hopkins died that August, probably from tuberculosis. Stearne, a decade older, lived on in Bury St. Edmunds until 1670. Their methods had already spread to the New World Colonies, where there was a hanging in Connecticut in May 1647. The first American witch-hunt continued until 1663 but it wasn’t to be the last …

What goes around, comes around….

sir-john-holand-tournament

In January 1400, after the failure of the Epiphany Rising that was intended to remove Henry IV from the throne and restore Richard II, John Holand, Earl of Huntingdon, the younger of Richard’s half-brothers, fled from London. The weather was foul, and time and again his vessel was driven ashore. Eventually he gave up, and took to the land again in Essex. To shorten the story, he was captured and summarily beheaded by his enemies at Pleshey.

As I’ve said, Holand was Richard II’s half-brother, but he was also Henry IV’s brother-in-law. He chose to stand by his blood kinsman, and it cost him his life. Holand was not an angel, but he was a renowned tournament knight, a great showman in the lists, and always put on a star-quality performance. Other knights on the famous tournament ‘circuit’ knew he was a force to be reckoned with. He always delivered the goods as far as his audience was concerned, and must have been quite something to watch, so how very sad the shabby fate he was to meet that New Year in Essex.

The thing is…what is the January weather like in Essex today? Well, Holand might have recognised it, what with high winds, floods, storm surge warnings and the like. It seems that all these centuries later, when it comes to weather, nothing much has changed in that neck of the woods. It was vulnerable then, and still is.

Something strange at Hadleigh Castle in Essex, once held by Richard’s father….

Hadleigh Castle and the anomaly

Hadleigh Castle in Essex was a favourite with both Edward II and Edward III. It eventually came down through some names of great interest to Ricardians . . .Richard, Duke of York (Richard’s father), Edmund Tudor (Henry VII’s father) and Edward IV (Richard’s elder brother), who gave it to his queen, Elizabeth Woodville. The castle and its newer counterpart in Kent, Queenborough Castle, were formidable guardians of the approaches to London. Now only picturesque ruins, perched on a rocky height above the estuary, Hadleigh’s more recent claim to fame is that it is adjacent to the venue of the mountain-biking competition for the 2012 Olympic Games.

I have been researching the castle and surrounding area as it was during the reigns of Richard II and Henry IV, and while browsing around online, going here, there and everywhere in search of those all-important snippets that an author of historical fiction is always hoping to run to ground, I came upon an anomaly. Well, I do not know what it is, so ‘anomaly is as good a name as any, I think.

It came to light on Google Maps, specifically at

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.5436974,0.6130895,925m/data=!3m1!1e3

which shows Hadleigh to be on a ‘tongue’ of green land that is actually a saddleback of higher ground above the marshes and saltings of Benfleet Creek and the Thames Estuary. I was startled to find something on the southern slope below the castle. It looks like . . . a huge pavement? Certainly remains of some sort. It’s clear in the above picture. You can home in much more satisfactorily, of course, using the link. And if you go over to Google Earth, it’s visible in even more detail.

The thing is…what is it? A ghostly image that has somehow found its way into the system? I don’t mean that literally, of course, more that it is probably a photographic glitch. In other words, it looks as if it shouldn’t be there. But there it is. At least, it is in the latest aerial photographs by Google. You can look at previous photographs, using a facility on Google Earth, but none of them shows this strange formation.

Does anyone have the answer?

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