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A model of the royal palace at Havering-atte-Bower….

 

Model of Havering Palace at Havering Museum

It seems to me that for a royal palace and hunting lodge much frequented by royalty, and within easy reach of London, there is a paucity of illustrations of Havering {link to 29 February?}. Edward III was particularly fond of retreating there, and so was Henry VIII, who even held court there and considered the hunting to be excellent.

In 2018, however, a model of the palace (see above) in its heyday was put on display at Havering Museum. Maybe it is still there. Anyway, here is the relevant link. to the Museum website

A modern reconstruction of Havering Palace as it would probably have appeared in 1578, viewed from the north-east. From Wikipedia.
Village sign at Havering

MODERN RICHARD!

I came upon an interesting Instagram post  by Royalty-now where someone had taken the Society of Antiquaries portrait of Richard III, removed his hat and long hair and blended his face with that of a 21st century man. Although I miss the hair personally, I think he scrubbed up rather well! A few folk commenting noticed a resemblance to certain actors–Richard Armitage came up (Richard who was named for OUR Richard and  was born on August 22) and also Dr Who actor Arthur Darvill.

Modern Richard

For comparison, here is someone doing something similar with a couple  of the Tudors–Elizabeth I (also looking spookily as I’d imagine Margaret Beaufort did), looks like a very intimidating cutthroat business woman or politician…while her dad, Henry VIII, looks more like a night-club bouncer!

MODERN “TUDORS”

RICHARD IN THE 21ST CENTURY…

MODERNR

Some folk also claim to see a resemblance to some of Richard’s modern day descendants too–here is an article on Michael Ibsen and his family that is not often seen as it is from a Canadian source. I personally don’t see much  similarity to Michael, although some others do…but perhaps a little in his brother Jeff?

Canadian Relatives of Richard III

Desperately Seeking Wolsey….

The discovery in Leicester of the remains of Richard III was surely one of the greatest such event, and since then there have been increased attempts to locate other great figures from our past. Leicester has at least one other such person just waiting to be found, but as yet he’s proving elusive. The location of Cardinal Wolsey’s burial has been a matter of debate for some time now, and this blog has mentioned it at least twice, as well as the angels made for his tomb.

Over the past five hundred years there have been a number of attempts to find the man whose humble beginnings as an innkeeper’s son did not prevent him from rising to be one of the highest and most influential figures in Tudor England. It’s hard to even imagine what Leicester Abbey looked like at the time of his interment, let alone where in its footprint the great cardinal might be lying.

An artist impression of Leicester Abbey in its heyday. John Finnie

Now there has been another article about his missing tomb, but I’m afraid that if he really did look like his awful statue, I’d rather they didn’t find him! He’s enough to give children nightmares.

The Abbey Park statute of Cardinal Wolsey who died at Leicester Abbey in 1530 (Image: Will Johnston)

The rise of the Tudors….

This article may be about how the Tudors came to power, but it sits carefully (and, in general, sensibly) on the fence. By that I mean it doesn’t overload them with ‘golden’ praise. Thank goodness.

However, the typos run thick and fast. For instance, The widowed Catherine of Valois is referred to as a ‘window’, and Owen Tudor becomes ‘Owen Henry’ and then ‘Owner Henry’.

It’s an interesting potted history of the events that followed the end of Richard II’s reign and it ends with the reign of Elizabeth I. Richard III is described as follows: “….Richard III became King – the most evil King of England as he would become known….” The as he would become known is fair comment…and a saving grace. But it is not fair comment that Richard had a second coronation before Bosworth. He had no such thing.

I’m sure that most articles about the Tudors would word the remark about Richard’s reign rather differently. For example: “…Richard III became the most evil of England’s kings….” Although how anyone could think he was more evil than Henry VIII I really don’t know. Instead Henry is referred to as “one of Britain’s most popular figures in history”. Um, well, I doubt if his wives would relish hearing him so described! Or the Catholic Church! Or all the thousands of people he despatched to the hereafter.

But, the article does give a reasonably fair gist of how we were inflicted with the darling House of Tudor.

 

 

So wrong he could be right?

This article, by the former MP Norman Baker, appeared in the Mail on Sunday. Actually, the original version was much longer and referred to Elizabeth II as a descendant of Henry VIII. This is an egregious howler, surely, because all of his actual descendants died by 1603 (or the last day of 1602/3 in the old format), although she is a collateral descendant.

Strangely enough, Mr. Baker may just have been right, albeit unwittingly. Henry VIII did have three known illegitimate children, quite apart from the two born to marriages he subsequently annulled. Excluding the trio who reigned after him, as well as Henry Fitzroy Duke of Richmond who also died without issue, leaves us with the offspring of Mary Boleyn, the relationship with whom arguably invalidated his marriage to her sister, even before it happened. Ostensibly her children by her first husband (William Carey), they are Catherine Carey and Henry, Lord Hunsdon, who had a total of about twenty children.

Just like the Poles, the Carey family became extinct in the male line but they still exist through several mixed lines. Vol. 25 no. 9 pp. 345-52 of the Genealogists’ Magazine, through Anthony Hoskins’ article, as cited to me by John Ashdown-Hill, attributes the late Queen Mother to these lines, together with such as Charles Darwin, P.G. Wodehouse, Vita Sackville-West, Sabine Baring-Gould, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Horatio Viscount Nelson, Lady Antonia Pakenham and the second Devereux Earl of Essex (below)- presumably the easiest link to prove, being the shortest by far. His mtDNA was identical to that of Elizabeth I.

Vaughan Williams and Darwin are closely related to each other, as well as to Josiah Wedgwood.

As with all mixed lines, it is impossible to establish much of this descent by either mtDNA or Y-chromosome but who knows how genetic science may develop in the future?

Here is the evidence so far …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PS Thankyou to Peter Hammond for showing me the full article, which also names Lady Anne Somerset, J. Horace Round, William Cowper, Algernon Swinburne, “Princess Daisy of Pless” and Algernon Sidney as also being in the Carey line.

Thankyou also to Marie Barnfield.

HENRY VIII LOSES HIS HEAD

Only 500 years or so too late,  Karma finally takes its toll of England’s Nero…

 

HENRY

Strangely,  I found this amusing image on the very day I found out my oldest known relative was (according to Wikitree) related to old Henry ‘in the 29th degree’ via Henry’s sister Margaret “Tudor”. I admit I was inconsolable for a bit…but then had to think of the good ne…ie that also means a distant connection  with the House of York! And it could have been worse–could always have been Buckingham!

THE WHITE LYON & THE MOURNING SWORD

Within walking distance of Hereford Cathedral, stands an imposing hotel called the Green Dragon. That was not always its name, however; in the 15th c it was The White Lyon and was used as the headquarters of Edward of March, soon to be Edward IV, around the time of the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross. It had a long-term history of receiving important visitors even before the Wars of the Roses, being a popular hostelry for pilgrims to the shrines of St Thomas Cantilupe and the Saxon St Ethelbert in the cathedral.

On February 2, after Edward won the day at Mortimer’s Cross, he retired to Hereford with several of the enemy commanders as prisoner–including the elderly Owen Tudor, “grandfather” of Henry Tudor. Tudor, as an important prisoner, was held in the White Lyon while his fate was decided. He believed he was going to be shown mercy, perhaps because of his age–but Edward had no inclination to show clemency and Owen Tudor was promptly beheaded in the Market Place. A plaque  on the ground commemorates his execution. It was said that after he was beheaded, a madwoman  took his head, set it up on the market cross and lit candles around it as she combed the blood-matted hair…

There is also another Wars of the Roses connection in Hereford that few seem to know about. In the Town Hall is a fine collection of plate, Town Charters dating back into the Middle Ages sealed by Richard Lionheart and Henry III, and ceremonial swords and maces. One of these is the ‘Mourning Sword‘ (You’ll note that Gloucester also has a ‘Mourning Sword’ presented by Richard III). This was given to the city by Henry VIII and was supposed to have been the battle-dented, broken sword of his “great-grandfather” Owen Tudor.

I was fortunate enough to find out about this item on a trip to Hereford where I inadvertently booked into the Green Dragon without having an idea that ‘Ed was here’ some 600 years before me! I had no idea about the sword either until reading a local magazine. So off I trotted to the Town Hall, not sure if the item  was available for public viewing or not. The first gentlemen I spoke to at the desk, didn’t seem certain–he rang upstairs and asked, “Do we have a Mourning Sword?’ A few minutes later I was being ushered up the stairs to meet the Mayor’s assistant, who very kindly offered to show me the treasures of Hereford’s past.

The sword is in a case with two maces and a Cap of Maintenance. It is not used in any of the regular ceremonial functions of Hereford and will only be taken out for public use upon the death of the monarch. The assistant explained its history to me, then, to my great surprise, opened the cabinet,  removed the sword and handed it to me. “You can take off the sheath,” he kindly offered.  Unlike the other 17th C sword in a nearby case, which was light, poorly balanced and purely  for show, unsheathed the Mourning Sword was clearly a finely-balanced medieval blade, showing the odd mark from use. It had been broken near the hilt and the hilt replaced by another showing the arms of Hereford.

It was a great honour to handle this ancient weapon, and although Owen was on the ‘opposite’ side to where my sympathies lie, I must admit I felt a shiver pass down my spine as I held it, and as I walked back to the White Lyon/Green Dragon in the heavy, eerie fog, I could only think of that cold February Day when the Parhelion shone in the sky and the blood of the man who ‘once laid his head in Queen Catherine’s lap’ spread out on the cobblestones of Hereford.

THE WHITE LYON, HEREFORD

green

THE MOURNING SWORD, TOWN HALL, HEREFORD

mourning

The Treasures of Hereford Article

BLOOD OF ROSES NOVELLA, COVERING MORTIMER’S CROSS & OWEN TUDOR’S EXECUTION

Where Did You Get That Hat?

For those interested in such things, Macy’s online is offering a  portrait of a ‘man in a decorative hat.’ Ideal for any room…especially your bathroom/washroom/toilet! (Just not the bedroom, please; those little mean eyes would doubtless follow you.)

The picture in question happens to be by Holbein…and wait, the ‘man’ depicted, hat or no hat, is none other than Henry VIII!

Clearly someone at Macy’s is  not a history buff, or perhaps they just wanted to ignore the roly-poly tyrant and concentrate on his much more appealing titfer.

Whatever the case, if Henry were alive, I am sure he would see to it that this omission of his royal name would end with a great removal of hats…and heads with them.

macy

 

The importance of fish in the medieval diet….

There is no disputing that fish was very important to the medieval diet. The Church ruled that not only was it required food on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, but also for Advent and the forty days of Lent. And I’m sure there were other days when it was mandatory too, but the previous sentence covers the main diet.

If you go to this article you’ll find the story of how fish became part of the religious year. You’ll also find that “….after Henry [VIII] became smitten with Anne Boleyn, English fish-eating took a nosedive….” Henry’s son, Edward VI, took steps to rectify this awful situation!

The thought of fish for forty days is a little daunting, I have to say, but it’s what our medieval forebears observed seriously. And I’m sure may still observe this now. But today, of course, we have refrigerators and freezers to be sure of always having our fish fresh. But what about back then? In the middle of summer, many miles from the sea, how could they ensure their fish stayed edible? Well, they had it all worked out, I can assure you.

Fishmongers, from 15th century Chronicle of Ulrico de Richental

What follows now is mainly about knightly households and higher, because that is what I have been researching for my present novel. My source is The Great Household in Late Medieval Period by C.M. Woolgar, and I have by no means covered all the detail continued in this very informative book, which I thoroughly recommend.

Let’s start with sea fish. There wasn’t anywhere in England that was too far from the sea for people to have fresh sea fish, but such fish were also widely preserved—pickled in brine, smoked and dried (often accompanied by salting). This kept fish like herring, cod and other white-fleshed fish in good order for months, and was vital over the winter period.

Cod that was salted and pickled in brine was known as saltfish. If the cod was dried in the open air, it was known as stockfish. If certain fish were to be kept for a shorter period, but still longer than if they were fresh, they were “powdered” (lightly salted). But eels and oysters were kept in barrels, the salt water being regularly changed to keep it clear.

Both stockfish and saltfish were often imported from Scandinavia and the northern coast of Germany, but there was a large contribution from English waters as well. There is evidence in the Severn estuary of late-medieval fishtraps that would have caught sea-bream, salmon, mullet, plaice and so on.

from https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1020017

Herring was a vital fish for the nation’s diet, and around it grew a considerable industry in the North Sea ports. It was seasonal, of course, being readily available in mid to late summer. White herring (salted and pickled) became available toward the end of the fresh-herring season, and red herring (smoked) were to be had later on. Joan de Valence, when at Goodrich, was supplied with preserved herring from Southampton, and she had dried, salted cod brought by sea from her Pembroke estates to Bristol, shipped across the Severn to Chepstow, and thence by conveyed by packhorse to Goodrich. A lengthy business, but no doubt the cod was thoroughly enjoyed.

Oysters were much consumed at Lent, either fresh in shell, or pickled, without shells, in barrels. Mussels and whelks were sometimes confined to Lent. Shellfish were gathered along the shore by women. Joan de Valence’s cook, Master Roger, was sent weekly from her residence at Hertingfordbury to purchase fish in London.

Fresh sea fish were usually carried by packhorses, and like stockfish and saltfish were put in baskets or wickerwork panniers. Fish pickled in brine were transported and stored in barrels. Sometimes they were stored in straw.

Now let me move to freshwater fish, which could be very expensive and were generally confined to consumption by the upper class and monasteries. There was some fishing in rivers, but the great majority of such fish were kept in ponds. Not natural ponds, but those that were specially constructed around castles, great manor houses and religious houses. The more modest of these ponds were small and rectangular; others were like lakes.

Remains of fishpond alongside River Lodden in Old Basing, Hampshire

Households employed skilled fishermen to select and catch the denizens of these ponds. They went out in boats on the large pools, but the small ones required fishing from the banks.

From The Treatyse with an Angle
Men netting fish in a pond, 14th century

John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, kept a record (partly in his own hand) of the stock in his ponds. This included carp, which were not widely recorded in England before the 1700s. Clearly he deemed them worthy of his own personal attention.

The fish in these ponds included pike, eels, lamperns, lamprey, bream, roach, chub and tench. Trout were fished from freshwater streams, and I have not found them mentioned as being kept in ponds.

Freshwater fish were usually eaten within hours of being caught, and thus ponds were sited close to residence. There fish were sometimes moved wrapped in wet straw or grass, or in barrels that were lined with canvas and filled with water. Storing live fish in water is something still done by many fishmongers, and I well remember back in 1962 selecting trout from a tank outside a hotel in Grundhof, near Echternach, Luxembourg. The trout came from the nearby River Sûre. I’d never seen such tanks in England, so it came as a great surprise. And that particular tank is still there!

So, thanks to C.M. Woolgar, I am now more knowledgeable about medieval man and his relationship with fish, but one thing does puzzle me. The small matter of pike. In a pond. With other fish.

Now, the pike is a predatory cannibal, and I can’t imagine it will sit on its fins and whistle a happy tune. No, it will be hellbent on consuming anything that moves in its vicinity. So, what did medieval man do to preserve all his freshwater fish? Building a separate pond for the pike would be very expensive indeed, and unlikely. So…what happened? How did they cope with a rapacious pike?

I can only hope Master Pike didn’t grow to the proportions of Jonah’s whale!

Here is another article on the subject, another, another , another and another.
 
 
 

 

Henry VIII–‘Irritating’. A Historian Speaks Out!

 

Historians and historical fiction writers sometimes don’t see eye to eye over their respective chosen fields. David Starkey in particular excoriated fiction writers–mainly, it seemed by his rather inflammatory comments, because they tend to be a) female and b) hold different opinions to himself on certain figures  such as Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII.

Historian Diarmaid  MacCulloch, author of a vast biography of Thomas Cromwell (Thomas Cromwell: A life) quite refreshingly takes an opposite view. He is quite the admirer of the excellent works of Hilary Mantel and seems to understand that a good historical fiction can ignite an interest in  ‘real’ history in a reader by breathing life into long-dead protagonists and imbuing the prose with the feel of the age–something that often doesn’t happen with non-fiction because of its very nature. He also said he found Mantel’s portrayal of Cromwell to tally with his own studies in many respects–a high accolade.

Although a ‘Tudor historian’, while writing the Cromwell biography, he apparently  found himself very ‘irritated’ by Henry VIII, adding, ‘The more you know Henry, the more you dislike him: the intense egotism of the man and the way he distorts the lives of everyone around him.’

I don’t think many Tudor historians would have admitted such a thing in the past,  and find it very healthy and interesting that in the last few years  some  historians are modern and open-minded enough to challenge pre-conceptions about historical figures such as Thomas Cromwell…or Henry VIII…or, of course, Richard  III.

 

 

InterviewwithDiarmidMacCulloch

 

diar

 

 

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