Yes, indeed, there is a lot to enjoy at Sudeley this summer. From Richard’s modelled head and information about Lady Eleanor Talbot, to Marie Antoinette’s bed hangings, Charles I’s enormous four-poster bed, and the Octagon Tower, down the stairs of which George III took a tumble.
Plus, of course, there are the castle’s ruins and gardens, which are surely among the most beautiful and romantic in the whole of England.
Andrew Graham-Dixon has been on our screens for almost a quarter of a century; – he is tall, slightly grey, drawls a little and is an excellent art historian. His latest series tells the story of the Royal art collection – from Henry VIII and Holbein, Charles I and van Dyck, the Protectorate selling the collection off but Charles II rebuilding it, William III, the “I hate all boets and bainters” years of George II, George III’s careful acquisitions, George IV and Brighton, Prince Albert and the (profitable) Great Exhibition funding many London colleges, right up to the present day with Queen Mary and her dolls’ houses. Sadly, it says little about the pre-1509 era, although there is or was surely something from then in the collection.
If you cannot access the iPlayer for geographic reasons, or are too late, all four parts should now be on
A while back, Sunday, December 3rd, 2017, to be exact, I was looking through The New York Times Book Review section when I came across playwright Alan Bennett’s new book called “Keeping On Keeping On.” It was a mildly interesting review of his diary (ODD SPOILER ALERT: he once shared the same doctor as Sylvia Plath) until I got to this: “He’s so upset at what the Richard III Society has done to an old church that he rips down their banner and ‘would have burned it, had I had a match.'” Brow knitted, I wondered: what have those wild-eyed, tweedy academic types been up to this time??
Well, a brief Google search provided a hint in yet another book review, this time from the London Review of Books. In published excerpts from 2014, Bennett dismisses the significance of finding Richard the Third’s remains although admitting that the reconstructed head looks astonishingly like his famed portrait. Comparing Ricardians to those who believe Edward DeVere was a genius while William Shakespeare nothing more than the dim-bulb son of a rural glove-maker, he goes on to say this:
“Just east of Leeds and not far from Towton and its bloody battlefield is Lead Church, a medieval cell of a chapel which possibly served as a refuge or a dressing station after the battle in 1461. I have known the chapel since I was a boy when I used to go out there on my bike. It stands in the middle of a field, the grass grazed by sheep right up to the south door and has latterly been in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. It was untouched as late as 2000 when it figured in an article I wrote for The World of Interiors. However, calling there a few years ago we found that the grass outside the south door had been replaced or supplemented by a patio not even in York stone but in some fake composition. Inside, draped in front of the altar was a gaudy banner advertising the Richard III Society. This I rolled up and had I had the means would have destroyed. I wrote to the CCT, who generally do a decent job but was told the patio had been there for many years. It hadn’t and I suspect the culprits were the Richard III Society, who see the church as a Yorkist site…”
According to Mr. Bennett, not only have Ricardians managed to rehabilitate the name of the last Yorkist king but apparently have gone into the concrete, paving and masonry business! Of course, he offers no proof that the Society had anything to do with building a bad-taste deck on the back of a medieval church but when it comes to the world of denialists, I suppose any insult will do.* Luckily for them, while we Ricardian hard hats may be expert at mixing concrete along with our metaphors, we no longer prepare “Chicago overcoats” or cement shoes for those who have differing opinions…
*The website of St. Mary Lead reports only that it received a grant from The Richard the Third Society for renovations. It says nothing about the Society directing or instructing or approving the work.
This documentary, presented by Robert Hardman of the Daily Mail, unveils some of our longest-serving King’s secrets, such as a draft abdication letter after American independence was achieved. It also discusses his health issues in greater detail. Until recently, it was thought that he suffered from porphyria, a physical disease that Mary Stuart carried to her descendants but now it appears that he was afflicted by some form of insanity and was aware of it in the early stages. Hardman tells us that George, as a prolific writer, is likely to have appreciated the many scientific and technological advances that followed his reign.
We are also told how, at the onset of his reign, he micro-managed his royal duties, possibly wearing out his formidable mind. Just like Henry VI, George III had an early attack, in 1782 when his favourite son died and the letter was drafted, but recovered within months, only to lose that mind irrevocably at a later stage. Fortunately, George had several adult sons, the eldest of which could serve as Regent, whilst he stumbled around unaware, either mentally or visually, of his granddaughter Charlotte’s death in childbirth or of her cousin’s birth. At least he knew about the “discovery” of Australia.
This article is quite interesting, although Richard only gets a brief mention, for moving Henry VI from Chertsey to Windsor. Edward IV is in there, of course, and Henry VII’s endeavours too, although he’s not buried there, of course. Wasn’t it grand enough for him? Whatever, he built himself an extravagant but truly beautiful resting place in Westminster Abbey.
See also our previous article.
Earlier this month, King Bhumipol (Rama IX) of Thailand died after a seventy year reign, a tenure only approached once in England, another three times since the Union of Crowns and one notable case in France.
This article explains the circumstances in which he originally succeeded.
The year is 1817. George III is quite elderly and insane with only three years of his long reign remaining but he still has several sons, many of whom have no legitimate issue. The exception is the Prince of Wales, another George who is serving as his father’s Regent again, this time on a permanent basis. He is separated from his wife but their daughter, Charlotte, is married to Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. As autumn begins, Charlotte’s second pregnancy approaches its conclusion and the succession looks secure. On November 5, her son is stillborn and she died early the next day. Her “midwife” had been Sir Richard Croft, of the Mortimer’s Cross family, who shot himself the following February.
Without this tragedy, Victoria might not have been conceived and could well not have succeeded. Similarly, Lady Flora Rawdon-Hastings, at the centre of an apparent scandal that became a tragedy in 1839 , was descended from the Dukes of Clarence and Buckingham as well as William Lord Hastings, as we showed last month.
As you can see from the article, the author (Tom Leonard) knows the answer to be in the negative because the Royal Marriages Act 1772 precludes the descendants of George II from marrying without the sovereign’s consent – that sovereign being George III at the time.
James Ord’s putative ancestor is another James Ord, born in 1786, whose parents were supposedly the future George IV and Mrs. Fitzherbert (nee’ Smythe), yet only daughters have traditionally been attributed to them:
Of course, there are more established aristocrats in the USA. The current Earl of Essex is a retired teacher and septagenarian bachelor whilst his heir presumptive is a retired grocery clerk:
For comparison, the only known male line descendants of George III are from Germany, as his son Ernst returned to become King of Hanover: