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Archive for the tag “mediaeval buildings”

William the B … er, Conqueror

This piece, by Marc Morris in History Extra, describes the events that followed the previous usurpation from France. A lot more violent, indeed, than the early reign of the first “Tudor”, although his son and grandchildren changed that ..The Death of Harold at the Battle of Hastings, 1066.

Which place would YOU choose to define England….?


This enterprise by Historic England was drawn to my attention by an item on the BBC News channel. It certainly set me thinking. Just what place or thing would I nominate to represent the heritage of our land? So, I ask the same of you. Where or what will YOU choose?


The King’s Barge House on the Thames in Southwark….

City of London Barge House, Lambeth


I could not find an illustration of the actual original royal barge house (except that drawn in the map below) but above is an illustration of a grand barge house used by the City of London in Lambeth. The King’s Barge House may have been very similar.

The King’s Barge House was halfway between the Tower and Westminster, where the barges were moored. It was on Upper Ground, alongside Barge House Stairs, on the site of the present jetty near the OXO Tower. Here the Royal Barge Master saw to maintenance and preparation for state occasions. The barge house may have been there in the time of Henry VI and earlier, until the middle of the 17th century, when it fell into disuse and eventually crumbled away. A survey in June 1652 described it as ‘a building of timber, covered with tile, 65 feet in length, and 26 feet in breadth; but much out of repair, and valued at £8 per annum’. It was situated at the western edge of Paris Garden, near the remains of Old Barge House Stairs.

The quayside at Old Barge House Stairs - next to the OXO Tower

Quayside at Old Barge House Stairs – next to the OXO Tower

Barge House Stairs - 1

Remains of Barge House Stairs

It appears that Paris Garden was almost entirely encircled by the Pudding Mill Stream, but by the start of the 17th century there was confusion about the exact boundary between it and Prince’s Meadows near the river. The problem might have arisen because the Barge House was near or over the sluice from Pudding Mill Stream into the river.

prince's meadows 1636 - showing barge house - 1

Halfpenny - near king's barge house - 1

A post medieval copper alloy trade token or halfpenny from the Upper Ground near the King’s Old Barge House, Southwark dating AD1656-1674.


400 buildings were lost in the Great Fire of London….

Nonsuch House, London Bridge

(following this post about mediaeval London and this one that refers to the fire)

Nonsuch House was a “wildly eccentric, gaudily painted, meticulously carved Renaissance palace…the jewel in the crown of London Bridge. Made entirely from wood it was prefabricated in Holland and erected in 1577-79, replacing the medieval drawbridge gate. At four storeys it was the biggest building on the bridge, straddling the whole street and lurching over the Thames, affording its illustrious occupants spectacular views of the metropolis. Its tulip-bulb cupolas were admired from miles around and there was truly nonsuch like this architectural mongrel anywhere else in London.

“The fire only consumed a modern block of houses at the northern end of London Bridge, separated from the rest by a gap, and so Nonsuch House, built on the 7th and 8th arches from the Southwark end, happily survived – only to be dismantled with the rest of the houses a hundred years later.”

Thus the article below describes the amazing confection that was Nonsuch House.  It did well not to be destroyed between 2-5 September 1666, when the Great Fire of London robbed posterity of some four hundred wonderful buildings. It lasted another century, but many fine, historic buildings came to grief, and the article describes and illustrates a number of them.

This is also well worth a read!

Treasures of the House of York’s England….

Kirby Muxloe, Leicestershire

I love it when I’m browsing the net and happen upon something that is interesting, well illustrated…and concerns the House of York.

Here is just one such site, which covers not only Yorkist England, but some possessions across the Channel.

How to build a medieval castle….


If you have not seen the BBC documentary series “Secrets of the Castle”, please give it a whirl. It is about a 20-year project in Burgundy to build/rebuild a medieval castle, using all the materials and skills that would have been available to the original castle-builders. It is being repeated on the Yesterday channel at the moment.

Some of the techniques are absolutely astonishing. The human treadmill on top of a tower raises enormous weights of stone. Ingenious. Many details of medieval life are brought vividly to life, including the women’s tasks in the home. The cooking is simple but nourishing.  Thoroughly recommended viewing for anyone interested in those centuries.

How one mediaeval thing leads to another….


It’s the old, old story again – while looking for one thing, I came upon something else. A Google search turned up a detailed plan of Eltham Palace. I followed the link, and came to a Pinterest page (Traveling Ruygt) with links to other pages, all concerning palaces, castles, etc. from our period of interest. Granted there is a lot of Tudor in there – even Elizabeth I’s stays! – but equally, buildings that existed for the Tudors, had existed previously. Not even Henry VII dared to pretend they appeared magically the moment Bosworth was won! Anyway, I found it very interesting, and hope you do too.

Click Traveling Ruygt’s link below to find all sorts of goodies.



An extra shot but no mead, thankyou.

A mediaeval inn seems to have been discovered in Brentwood, by the Colchester Archaelogical Trust, whilst preparing to develop a new coffee shop. Then again, it could be older still:

Did Richard once use this staircase….?


Quote from the above link: “Today, the inner courtyard fronts of the Talbot Hotel – which has a sign bearing the year 1626 – is proudly erected from the stone of Fotheringhay Castle itself. Among other features in the hotel are the mullion windows, said also to come from the Castle and also that wooden staircase. If true, and the footsteps of Mary, Queen of Scots once graced its boards, it is a staircase with a history quite unlike any other.”

I did not know that some of the stone and other parts of Fotheringhay Castle had been reused, and that at the Talbot Hotel in Oundle, Northamptonshire, is preserved the staircase down which Mary, Queen of Scots, went to her execution. A staircase which, no doubt, could have been well known to a certain Plantagenet family. Might Richard have been acquainted with it? Surely the answer is yes. And he would have known parts of the inner courtyard fronts and looked out of the mullioned windows that are also preserved at the hotel.

oundle staircasse talbot hotel

(picture from The Woodcarvers Guild Ltd.)

oundle - courtyard

(picture by Baz Richardson)

See more about the hotel at

A treasure that Richard would have known….

London Charterhouse

What an absolutely magnificent building the London Charterhouse is, and this coming November we will all be able to see around it. Thank you Sophie Inge of the Islington Gazette for this information. See

The Charterhouse was built four years after Richard’s birth and he would surely have known it when he was king, if not earlier. It is is still breathtakingly beautiful all these centuries later. I am sure there are other such treasures dotted around the country, not least in London, and I hope they will all eventually be opened for us all to appreciate.



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