Cut Down That Family Tree!

Online History groups are frequently visited by new members who excitedly tell tales of their illustrious ancestral history–Eleanor of Aquitaine is their x 20 gran, Richard III is a direct forebear along with Anne Boleyn, they have mysterious Dark Age chieftains, Roman generals like Magnus Maximus…even King Arthur has popped up from time to time.… Continue reading Cut Down That Family Tree!

Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn really did sleep here….!

If you fancy staying in a Tudor castle, then Thornbury Castle in Gloucestershire is the place for you. It’s a beautiful castle that is now presented very much in the Tudor style. “….It was built in 1510 by Edward Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham, who had been given permission by the young King Henry VIII… Continue reading Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn really did sleep here….!

Buckden Bishop’s Palace

A few years back I wrote about Buckden Towers in Cambridgeshire, the old palace of the Bishops of Lincoln. Finally, with the pandemic receding, I was able to visit the site in its small village (once a thriving place in coaching times and earlier but much diminished with the advent of the railways.) Here Richard… Continue reading Buckden Bishop’s Palace

Scandal in Salisbury

Recently I had a rare opportunity to visit Church House in Salisbury. Used for administration of the diocese today, it is an attractive medieval/post-medieval building retaining many original features, and has an interesting but sometimes rather murky past. Originally it was built in the 15th century by a merchant called William Lightfoot, and was known… Continue reading Scandal in Salisbury

Wait ’til you see the Duke of Buckingham….!

  Here’s an old theatre anecdote:- “….There’s a luvvies’ tale known to every old thesp, about the Shakespearean giant and inveterate boozer Robert Newton, who rolled on stage one night, inebriated as a stoat. As the pickled ham spluttered, drooled and slurred through Richard III, a woman in the front row accused him: ‘You’re drunk!’… Continue reading Wait ’til you see the Duke of Buckingham….!


  When anyone hears the name ‘Margaret Beaufort’, they always think instantly of the mother of Henry Tudor. However, there was another Margaret Beaufort, who also had a famous son called Henry, whose mother also bore the surname Beauchamp, who married one of the Staffords, and who was widowed young and remarried—although there her life… Continue reading The OTHER MARGARET BEAUFORT

Newport and the lucky/unlucky Staffords….

It seems to me, looking at the list in this article about Newport Castle, that a few members of the Stafford family came to sticky ends, some deserved, some apparently not. They may have been unlucky, but the family was wealthy and titled, so perhaps not that hard done by. In 1377 Hugh, Earl of… Continue reading Newport and the lucky/unlucky Staffords….

The Wandering Butler: John, 6th Earl of Ormond

FAMILY BACKGROUND The Lancastrian leader who faced – or failed to face – Thomas, Earl of Desmond, at the Battle of Piltown in 1462 was the fourth of the five children born to James Butler, 4th Earl of Ormond (otherwise known as the White Earl), and his countess Joan Beauchamp, daughter of William Beauchamp, Lord… Continue reading The Wandering Butler: John, 6th Earl of Ormond


When I saw that a new musical called THE HAUNTING OF RICHARD III was on at the Merlin Theatre in Frome, a mere 40 minutes away, how could I resist? I realise musical theatre is a bit of a ‘marmite’ subject for many, but in my own misspent youth, yes, I confess I tread the… Continue reading THE HAUNTING OF RICHARD III- A NEW MUSICAL

The Rise of the Stanley family.

In the late 14th Century, the Stanleys were a gentry family, their power base lying chiefly in Cheshire, notably in the Wirral. Their ancestry might fairly be described as ‘provincial’. There were certainly no kings in their quarterings. This is not to say they were unimportant, but their influence was of a local rather than… Continue reading The Rise of the Stanley family.