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The Bedingfield turncoat of Oxburgh Hall….

Oxburgh Hall - picture by Art Fund

Oxburgh Hall – picture by Art Fund

In this 2014 post mention was made of Sir Edmund Bedingfield of Oxburgh Hall, near King’s Lynn in Norfolk. He was a Yorkist-turned-Tudor supporter who, like the Stanleys and others, failed Richard III at Bosworth.

Sir Edmund was a Yorkist who benefited under Edward IV and Richard III (at the coronation of the latter, he was created a Knight of the Bath), but the ingrate signally withheld support at Bosworth. By 1487 Bedingfield was very cosy indeed with Henry Tudor, playing host to him—and Elizabeth of York, Margaret Beaufort and the Earl of Oxford—at Oxburgh Hall at Easter 1487. I trust it stretched the Bedingfield finances to breaking point! The traitorous fellow then turned out for Henry at the Battle of Stoke Field, fighting under John de Vere, Earl of Oxford. After the battle, Bedingfield was made a knight banneret.

A rather handsome Henry VII

A rather handsome Henry VII from the Oxburgh Hall National Trust website

So, what conclusion are we to draw from all this? That Bedingfield was a staunch supporter of Edward IV, but did not agree with Richard III’s claim to the throne? He probably believed the rumours that Richard had done away with Edward IV’s two sons, and so went over the wall into the Tudor camp. One imagines he would subsequently have been very much under Henry’s eye, because that suspicious king very sensibly did not trust anyone who changed sides. Nevertheless Bedingfield prospered under the Tudors, as did his descendants, until their Catholicism got in the way under Elizabeth. Although that queen did honour Oxburgh with her presence in 1578.

Let us return to Easter 1487 (in April that year) and the royal visit to Oxburgh, which house, incidentally had been built after Edward IV granted Bedingfield a licence in 1482. Unusually, the chosen material was red brick, a very costly option at that time. Bedingfield’s gratitude can be seen in the numerous Yorkist falcon-and-fetterlock badges throughout the house, where Edward’s licence is on display. No doubt Bedingfield was especially honoured to have Elizabeth of York beneath his roof, because (in the absence of her brothers) he undoubtedly regarded her as the true heir of Edward IV.

falcon and fetterlock

According to Bedingfield family tradition, the king and queen did not lodge in the main house, but in the noble gatehouse, which has remained virtually unchanged since it was first built. Henry and his Yorkist queen would recognized everything about it were they to return now, and so would Elizabeth I.

Oxburgh Hall - 1482

According to a very detailed description in Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales, 1300-1500 by Anthony Emery:

“The gatehouse is a tall, three-storeyed block with dominating half octagonal frontal towers. The latter are divided by seven tiers of sunk panels decorated with triplets of cusped arches surmounted by a battlemented head on blind machiolations. The four-centred entry arch with double relieving arches is closed by the original pair of oak doors. The four-light window above has a stepped transom with a three-light transomed window at second-floor level. The whole is spanned by an open-machiolated arch supporting a line of blind cusped arcading and crow-stepped parapet.

“The gatehouse is a subtly modulated composition. Ashlar stonework was chosen for the central windows but brick for those in the towers with open cinquefoil lights in the stair tower and uncusped single lights with brick labels to the closets in the east tower. Contrasting chevron brickwork is used over the principal window but a single line of yellow brick surmounts that above. Though blind arcading was a common enough tower decoration at the time—as at Buckden, Gainsborough Old Hall and Hadleigh Deanery—the height of the Oxburgh towers is emphasized by the diminishing elevation of the embracing panels of brickwork. The east tower has loopholes at ground level with two quatrefoils above set in blind recesses withy two-centred heads, whereas the side faces of the stair tower at all stages have quatrefoils set in square frames. The entrance position is curious, for its hood is cut by the west tower and the head stop has had to be turned as though it was purposed to be in line with the hall porch on the opposite side of the courtyard, though this still lay a little to the right as the gatehouse does to the whole north frontage.”

Yes, a very detailed description, and (to the likes of me) somewhat confusing, so here are two photographs of the gatehouse, which will perhaps make Emery’s words easier to follow. The first one is of the external approach, while the one below it is a view of the gatehouse from within the courtyard.

Gatehouse at Oxburgh - approach from outside

Gatehouse at Oxburgh from courtyard - from Tour Norfolk

In the illustration below, of the gatehouse chamber known as the King’s Room, I fear that according to the National Trust, it is something of a misnomer. It is not the room in which Henry slept, nor is it the bed, which is 1675. I have not been able to find anything to identify the actual room. All we know is that the bed in which Henry rested his head was described in the 1533 will of Edmund’s son and heir, another Edmund, as being covered with “…a fustian [wool or cotton fabric] covering or red and green sarsnet [silk] unicorns and scallop shells.”

The King's Room at Oxburgh Hall

The illustration below is of the Queen’s Room, which does appear to be the one in which Elizabeth of York slept. The two figures represent Henry and Elizabeth. Not sure about the accuracy if the 15th-century television.

Queen's Room - with Henry and Elizabeth

Oxburgh Hall is a very beautiful old house set in a moat, and is a great testament to the taste of Sir Edmund Bedingfield. But for those who believe Richard III was rightly the King of England, it is necessary to overlook the fellow’s Judas tendencies.

Bedingfield arms

Bedingfield

 

 

 

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Remembrance of a Wedding

Remembrance of a Wedding

In the sleepy village of Stanford in the Vale, now in Oxfordshire, but formerly within the boundaries of Berkshire, stands one of the lesser known Ricardian sites.
Stanford, like most English villages, is an ancient place. A corpse-path runs over the village green, and part of a cell once owned by Abington Abbey still exists, built into a later farm building still known as Abbey Farm. A Roman villa once stood close by, lost somewhere in now-grassy fields. However other secrets lie half-hidden in this rural setting, memories of a marriage long lost in time…
Looming over the quiet streets with their clusters of attractive cottages, is the tall grey spire of the parish church, which has a rather unusual dedication to St Denys. The church itself, although suffering some Victorian restoration, has a 12th century Nave, a 14th c south porch, and a 15th century spire and other additions. It also has an unusual reliquary that may have once held the finger bone of a Saint, lent to the church by the monks of nearby Abington Abbey.
However, it is the south porch, often missed by visitors, being on the far side of the church and not generally open for entry (the interior was used for storage when I visited!) , that is of greatest interest, for it is unique in the country.
Little exists to commemorate King Richard in the way of period architecture or decoration, barring the boar carvings and chancel arch head at Barnard Castle, several boars in Carlisle castle, and a boar pendant on the effigy of a supporter who was buried in Norbury Church. Even less commemorates Anne, who was Queen for such a short time before her death in 1485.
Here, in this unassuming Oxfordshire village, seemingly far from the doings of the great and good during the Wars of the Roses, there is a structure that commemorates both Richard and Anne. The south porch of St Denys was built in the 1470’s in honour of their marriage.
Stanford had been part of the Beauchamp inheritance, through Anne’s mother the Countess of Warwick. In 1484 Anne, as Queen, granted it in free alms to ‘Andrew Doket the president, and the fellows of the royal college of St. Margaret and St. Bernard within the University of Cambridge, which was of her foundation’.
Why this special attachment to this particular village and why the commemorative porch? Of course, the locals will tell you that Anne was very fond of her manor at Stanford, and that she and Richard were actually married in St Denys’church, hence the porch being added in their honour.
As with so many things about Richard’s life, the place where he married Anne is uncertain, although many say it was probably in Stephen’s Chapel at Westminster.
Could the marriage have been at Stanford instead? Less likely, but could the young couple possibly have visited the manor and church on their way north, and the building work undertaken to celebrate the brief, happy stay of the newlywed Duke and Duchess of Gloucester?
The south porch itself is sadly, today, in poor repair. It has an embattled roof, lined with shield plaques; the inner vault was apparently never completed. Above the door, the arms of York, the fetterlock and rose, impale the Ragged Staff of Warwick. Over the years the stonework has grown very soft and crumbly, flaking to an alarming powder even to a casual touch. As time goes by, the insignias grow fainter and fainter, less distinguishable. English Heritage has been notified and has spoken about restoration and conservation work being done in the future.
We can only hope that the uniqueness of this structure will be recognised and proper preservation given to these rare carvings commemorating the marriage of a highborn couple who, at that time in their lives, never would have imagined they would one day be crowned King and Queen of England.

stanford

Postscript: After Richard’s death at Bosworth, the lands of Anne Neville’s mother, Anne Beauchamp, Countess of Warwick were briefly returned to her by Henry Tudor, including Stanford in the Vale. She immediately ‘granted’ all of them to him and his heirs male….

Murrey and Blue: New Livery Colors for a New Regime?

Did the House of York, founded by Edmund of Langley, first duke of York, have distinctive livery colors?   Perhaps this is an unusual question to ask, because I’ve always been under the impression that those colors were murrey and blue.

In their text Heraldry, published in 1993, Rouge Croix Pursuivant Henry Bedingfeld and Lancaster Herald Peter Gwynn-Jones, both of the Royal College of Arms, write that blue and murrey were the livery colours of the house of York. They support this statement with illustrations of the arms granted to Isabella Mylberry, illegitimate daughter of Edward IV and those of her husband, John Awdeley. The battle standard of Richard, duke of Gloucester, also shows the blue and murrey livery colors along with his well-known personal device of the blanc sanglier.

However, as someone pointed out to me in a discussion group recently, Langley’s grandson, the third duke of York, was observed to have been employing a different set of livery colors in 1459. According to the Gregory Chronicle, quoted in Arthur Gerald Fox-Davies’ Heraldic Badges, duke Richard was observed to be using white and blue livery colors: “duke of York came owte of Yrlonde (Ireland) and londyd at the Redde Clyffe in Loncaschyre and hys lyvery was whyte and brewe and brawderyd above with fetyrlockys [fetterlocks].”

Now, this is very curious, given that the same text by Fox-Davies states that blue and white were the livery colors associated with the House of Lancaster, beginning with John of Gaunt, his son Henry of Bolingbroke (later Henry IV) and his grandson Henry of Monmouth (later Henry V). Blue and white are also the colors of the bordure surrounding the arms of the illegimate children of Gaunt, later legitimized, and given the family surname Beaufort.

So why would Richard, third duke of York, employ the well-known livery colors of the very House he was attempting to displace from the throne in 1459-1460?

I can think of three possible explanations, none authoritative, but offered here as an invitation for further discussion and exploration:

Possibility # 1 – The chronicler had actually seen York using the colors of the Lordship of Ireland

Richard held the title of Lieutenant of Ireland, a position he acquired in the late 1440s. In effect, he was King Henry’s top deputy there, and would have been acting on the king’s behalf. (Kings of England at this time held the title Lord of Ireland.) The banner of the Lord of Ireland consisted of three gold crowns on a blue field with a white border. Richard could have used the king’s livery while he was in Ireland, as he was giving service to Henry VI while employed in that role. That could explain the blue and white colors. Perhaps the chronicler mistook the crowns for fetterlocks – this wouldn’t be the first or last time someone would confuse a device; see, e.g., the Battle of Barnet when soldiers mistook Oxford’s streaming mullet device for Edward’s sun in splendor.

Possibility # 2 – York was using a modified livery

Duke Richard found himself in Ireland in 1459 following the Yorkist disaster at Ludford Bridge, when troops from Calais abandoned his cause, leaving the duke and his family defenseless against the assembled Lancastrians. There was not much time to prepare for this expedition, as they were facing assured defeat. So the duke fled to Ireland, where he still held the Lieutenancy and was a popular leader, while his eldest son Edward fled to Calais (along with the earls of Warwick and Salisbury) and his wife and younger sons were taken into protective custody. It would seem unlikely that he had given any thought at this time of hauling his own personal livery over to Ireland under such duress; moreover, his retainers in Ireland would already have their standard uniforms. Perhaps when duke Richard embarked for England later in 1459 and landed in Redcliffe, Cheshire, what the Gregory chronicler observed was a modified livery adopted by the Yorkist leader.   Certainly, by this time, Richard was displaying the undifferenced royal arms of England, and calling himself the rightful king of England. The incorporation of fetterlocks (a well-known and established Yorkist device) into the blue and white livery would add further symbolism to underscore his claim.

Possibility # 3 – Duke Richard had always used blue and white as his livery colors

Looking further into the use of murrey and blue livery, I noticed that there is a paucity of evidence to support its use prior to the reign of Edward IV. Although the Royal heralds quoted above make the blanket assertion that it was the “Yorkist livery”, all they point to are the arms of Edward IV’s illegitimate daughter. So, perhaps the murrey and blue livery was a creation of Edward IV, to distinguish himself from his Lancastrian predecessors. It does rather fit in with what we know about the personalities of father and son. The father, duke Richard, was part of the “old guard” and a reluctant rebel, at best – at least until the very last months of his life. Perhaps he viewed his service to King Henry as required by chivalric traditions, and used the king’s livery colors for practically his entire life. His son, Edward, grew up in a different environment, when loyalties were already quite tattered and frayed. The murrey and blue livery would symbolize a Yorkist house with distinctive symbolism divorced from the Lancastrians. In other words, the murrey and blue were new livery colors for a new regime.

The Fotheringhay Boar(s)

In all my travels to England, I had yet to visit Fotheringhay, the place where Richard III was born on October 2, 1452, and where his grand-uncle, father, mother and brother Edmund are buried. So, when planning our latest trip this past October, I made it a high priority that my husband and I should visit this important Yorkist site; my main goal was to set eyes on the carved Boar that dates from Richard III’s lifetime. My interest in the boar was because Richard had adopted the white (or silver) boar as his personal badge while he was a young teenaged (or preteen) duke of Gloucester. It is located within St. Mary and All Saints church, only a few hundred yards from the castle remains. Much to my surprise, many visitors overlook the carved boar because it is not easy to locate, and it is not even mentioned in the church’s guidebook.

We were traveling by car from Leicester to Bury St. Edmunds, and Fotheringhay was an easy detour along our route towards East Anglia. It was our first foray into Northamptonshire, and we were excited to be visiting the place where not only the Yorkists had a major family home, but also the place where the Woodvilles had their home base. We were planning visits to other places historically significant to the Wars of the Roses: Ely Cathedral; Croyland Abbey; Cambridge; and Bury St. Edmund. But, for me, the boar was the paramount thing.

Many writers have described the pleasant perspective that greets the eye when approaching Fotheringhay, and they were not wrong. The church is situated in a very large field, at the top of a hill. From miles away, one can see the octagonal lantern at the top of its tower, and can catch a glint of gold from the falcon-in-a-fetterlock flagpole.

photo-21

The fetterlock-and-falcon symbol was adopted by Edward III’s fifth son, Edmund of Langley, first Duke of York, and became perhaps one of the more predominant cognizances of the house of York, even to the point that Langley used it for the groundplan for his renovation of Fotheringhay Castle.

 

flagpole

It was Langley who projected a college at Fotheringhay, and it is believed he built a “large and magnificent” choir adjoining the ancient parish church in the town that huddled close to the castle, near the River Nene. Langley’s son, Edward of Norwich, second Duke of York, obtained a charter in 1412 for its endowment, to include a master, 8 clerks, and 13 choristers. In 1415, the duke obtained a royal license to enlarge the foundation, but did not live to see it built. It was his nephew, Richard, third Duke of York, who carried his uncle’s designs into execution and on the 24th of September, 1435, he signed by commission a contract with William Horwood, freemason of Fotheringhay, for the rebuilding on a scale and in a style exactly corresponding to those of the choir erected by Langley.

model

Edward IV carried on his father’s interest in the church, and gave it new windows of stained glass to the cloisters, along with the windows in the college which were ornamented with shields of arms.   He also gave it a new charter, 300 acres of land, and various privileges and liberties, amongst many grants of income from estates and lands in surrounding communities. The goal was straightforward: it was to be a Yorkist shrine of a grand scale and suitable for the remains of his father and brother Edmund when they were reinterred here in July of 1476.

The lavish scale of the shrine is exemplified by the design of the hearse delivered to Fotheringhay to anticipate the final resting place of the Duke of York and the Earl of Rutland. It was originally designed in 1463. “The hearse and its many pennons and banners were mainly the work of John Stratford, the king’s painter. He made the ‘majesty cloth’ of Christ sitting in judgment on the rainbow, a symbolic scene which was to hang over the effigy [of the duke] before the ‘eyes’ of the dead man.” [Sutton/Visser-Fuchs] The hearse was decorated with 51 gilded wax images of kings and 420 gilded wax images of angels. As if that were not grand enough, the hearse was “dusted” with painted silver roses, over which a gilded single great sun, Edward IV’s personal badge, dominated.

The church at Fotheringhay must never have seen a grander day than that of 29 July 1476. This is when an enormous procession led by the king’s youngest brother, Richard, duke of Gloucester, arrived with the funeral cortege. It must have been quite a colorful sight, as a multitude of banners were carried, many depicting religious subjects, such as the Trinity, Our Lady, St. George, St. Edmund and St. Edward – the saints revered by the house of York. Also depicted were heraldic symbols of importance to York: the white hart, the white lion, the falcon-in-fetterlock, and the white rose.

Behind Richard, who was chief mourner, came several distinguished magnates: Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland; Thomas, Lord Stanley; Richard Hastings, Lord Welles; Ralph, Lord Greystoke; Humphrey, Lord Dacre; and John Blount, Lord Mountjoy. The bodies of the dead were accompanied by 3 kings of arms (March, Norroy, Ireland); 5 heralds (Windsor, Falcon, Chester, Hereford); and 4 pursuivants (Guisnes, Comfort, Ich Dien, Scales). Scores of nobles and their household officers on horseback formed a long cortege, and 400 “poor men” on foot carried torches. According to financial records, tents erected outside the church, could accommodate seating space for 1,500 people. And guests attending could expect to be fed very well by the King’s generosity, as this was an opportunity for him to display his munificence to the subjects of his realm. [Sutton/Visser-Fuchs]

When we entered the church last month, it was with this history in mind. As I walked to the north porch entrance, I imagined the spectacle of all the tents and the hundreds of people being fed. I imagined cups of small ale being raised in honor to the Duke, perhaps people telling stories about his life, and how the surviving children resembled their father in looks or deed.

But my goal was to see the boar. I had read about it in David Baldwin’s text, and he described it as being near or within the pulpit. It’s impossible to miss the pulpit, as it is remarkably colorful and elaborate, when contrasted to the rather plain white walls of the interior:

pulpit

In 1821, H.K. Bonney, archdeacon, made the following observation about the pulpit during his site survey of Fotheringhay, which was undergoing renovations at the time: “The pulpit is original and in good preservation. It is hexagonal, supported on one pillar, and adored with carved panels inserted in a border of tracery. Above are the remains of the canopy, which probably was surmounted by a high crotcheted pinnacle; but which has, since the reformation, given way to a large sounding board. On examining the canopy, whilst it was under repair, some of the ancient gilding, that covered this part of the pulpit, was discovered.”

According to an 1841 treatise by John Henry Parker, the pulpit was presented by Edward IV “as his arms and supporters are carved upon it”. These were carefully cleaned and restored by Archdeacon Bonney in 1821, “whose zeal in antiquarian researches is deserving of the gratitude of this [the Oxford] Society” he wrote. In 1890, C. A. Markham wrote that the pulpit at Fotheringhay was a good example of a paneled oak pulpit of the Perpendicular style, albeit of a design uncommon in Northamptonshire. Markham asserted the pulpit was “erected soon after the year 1440, when the body of the church was built”.

At first I walked around the pulpit several times, admiring the painted panels, but I did not see any carvings as described by these men. After my fifth go-about, I finally realized I had to walk up the pulpit steps in order see the carvings. So glad I did so, because it is there that I found the object of my search:

carvings

No doubt, this was the panel described by Markham as the shield of arms bearing France and England quarterly, surmounted by an imperial crown, and supported on the dexter side by lion rampant quadrant for the Earldom of March, and a bull for Clare; and on the sinister side by a hart, showing the descent from Richard II who took that device, and by a boar for the honour of Windsor possessed by Richard III, the silver boar being his badge.”

I have been researching the use of the boar badge for several months now, and I’ve always been curious about the statement that it was originally from the honour of Windsor. I have yet to locate any confirmed usage of a boar associated with Windsor. Some heraldic experts suggest that the boar was one of the badges of Edward III. Again, I have yet to confirm that. The oldest surviving Garter stall plate at St. George’s, by coincidence, does depict a boar’s head as a crest, but not the full creature.

Also, I think it odd that Markham would conclude the carving dated to the early 1440s under the supervision of the third Duke of York, Richard III’s father. That does not make sense to me since I am not aware of the house of York employing the boar as one of its badges. Yet, it is uncontested that Richard, his son, chose the boar probably when he was in his early teens or pre-teen, and was charged with arraying troops. (Badges were depicted on standards to identify the lord commissioned with the array.) So, the first confirmed Yorkist use of the boar would be somewhere in the mid-1460s, and that coincided exactly with when initial designs for the hearse had been made, in anticipation of the reinterment.

That the boar was designed and made during Edward IV’s reign would lend important information about its iconography. The message conveyed here seems to be that the King announces his descent from the Mortimer line which held the earldom of March and used the cognizance of the white lion. Edward IV is also announcing his claim to be Richard II’s legal heir by depicting that deposed king’s well-known hart cognizance. The black bull of Clarence flanking the dexter side would represent Edward IV’s brother, George, who employed that device as one of his badges. And Edward IV included his youngest brother, Richard, by portraying his badge of the white boar. It’s as though the three sons of York are illuminated here, and they are shown within a unified scheme, with the brothers’ badges being of equal size and support. At the time of the reinterment in 1476, this may have seemed literally true; sadly, only two years would pass, much would change with George’s execution.  How times change.

Much to my surprise, I discovered recently that there had been yet another carved boar in the church at Fotheringhay that also dated to the 15th century. The choir that had been built there by the third duke was dismantled and its furniture sold to various purchasers in 1553, during the reign of Edward VI. Some of those choir stalls still exist in the neighboring church of Hemington. According to written accounts, those stalls had misericords depicting a falcon-inside-fetterlock, a rose, a feather issuing from a ducal coronet, a grotesque, and a boar.

Although I wasn’t aware of the Hemington boar when we were at Fotheringhay, I was able to find a photo of the boar on-line:

Hemington_boar
So, perhaps Markham was right that there was a boar carving in Fotheringhay in the 1440s. And possibly, one could speculate that Richard III as a young lad, might have first set eyes on the boar while he lived there during his first 7-8 years of life, and possibly was impressioned with its symbolism well before he was arraying troops. It would make for an interesting story.

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