The arms of Richard III in Crosby Hall
On June 5th 1483 the Duchess of Gloucester arrived in London and joined her husband at Crosby Place (1). She had left both her small son and and home at Middleham to join her husband, who had been staying until then, with his mother at Baynards Castle, and on her arrival they would have had much to catch up on covering the drastic events which had taken place since she had last seen Richard. Much has been written about these events elsewhere and I would like to focus here on the place that would be their home for a short while, Crosby Place, and the man that built it.
A print of Crosby Hall before the extra floor was added.
Crosby Place was built by Sir John Crosby in Bishopsgate on land he had leased from Alice Ashfed, prioress of the Convent of St Helens, on a 99 year lease for an annual rent of £11.6s.8d, on land previous used for tenements/messuages.
Sir John , a soldier, silk merchant, alderman and MP, came from a staunch Yorkist family and was knighted by Edward IV at the foot of London Bridge on 21 May 1471 after having driven off the attack on that bridge by the Bastard of Fauconberg.
He lies with his first wife Agnes in St Helens church, Bishopsgate, where their splendid effigies, well preserved, he with a Yorkist collar and Agnes with two dogs at her feet can still be seen, His second wife , Anne nee Chedworth, was related to Margaret Chedworth, John Howard Duke of Norfolk’s second wife, Anne’s father being Margaret’s uncle. At the time of Sir John writing his will, Margaret, his wife’s cousin was living with them.
Sir John Crosby and his wife Anne’s effigies on their tombs, St Helens, Bishopsgate.
Sir John Crosby and his Wife Lady Anne drawn by Stothard c1817 British Museum
Sadly, Sir John, who died in 1475 did not live long to enjoy his stunning home which was completed in 1470, and described by Stow as ‘built of stone and timber, very large and beautiful and the highest at that time in London’(2)
There is some debate as to whether the house was then either rented to Richard Duke of Gloucester or purchased by him. Stowe wrote that Richard had ‘lodged’ there although there are others of the vein that Richard had purchased it (3) . However I am confident enough to say that I go along with Richard only renting. For surely if it had belonged to Richard it would have been taken by Tudor when he usurped the throne and gifted to either one of his acolytes or his mother who was known for her acquisitiveness. Certainly Sir John’s will provided unconditionally that his wife, Anne, should have the lease of Crosby Place for her life. It would seem that Anne was pregnant at the time of Sir John’s death and that this son, Sir John’s heir, died without issue upon which Crosby Place etc., then was left to Sir John’s cousin, Peter Christmas,who also died without issue (4) and thus Crosby Place passed out of the hands of the Crosby family.
Old drawing of the oriel window
The Oriel window in Crosby Hall today. Modern glass and repainted
The Oriel window repainted
In the 17th century it became the home of the East India Company until a disastrous fire in 1672, the first of several, left only the Great Banqueting Hall and Parlour surviving. These buildings then slowly declined after that until in 1910 the Hall was saved from demolition and removed brick by brick to its present location in Chelsea, finally passing into private ownership in 1989.
Returning to the past, after Anne Neville’s arrival in London , Richard seems to have spent his time between his mother’s house Baynard’s and Crosby Place, using Crosby Place for meetings. It has been speculated that it was at Crosby Place that Richard was offered the crown by the Three Estates rather than at Baynard’s Castle.
1) Richard III Paul Murray Kendall p207
2) A Survey Of London John Stowe p160
3) Memorials of the Wars of the Roses W E Hampton p120
4) Crosby Hall, a Chapter in the History of London Charles W F Goss 1907
I was privileged to be able to help proof-read a copy of Alex Marchant’s new children’s novel about a twelve-year-old boy in the service of Richard, Duke of Gloucester and I was delighted to find that it was well-written, engaging and – wait for it! – pro-Richard! At last we have a novel for children from aged ten and up (and that includes children up to 100!) which depicts Richard as we see him: the just, fair, merciful and intelligent man as opposed to the traditional Tudor/Shakespearean monster and tyrant.
The Order of the White Boar tells the story of Matthew, a talented singer who is sent to Middleham and taken into the household of Richard and Anne. He makes friends while there, including Richard and Anne’s young son, Edward. This is a refreshing change as Edward is shown as a more major character than in most Ricardian novels.
Because of the main protagonist’s age (twelve), it will certainly appeal to children, both boys and girls, of a similar age but don’t let that concern you – it is not an oversimplified story and the plot is just as enthralling for adults. There is a suitable villain and tests of loyalty, chivalry and courage – everything that a child would love. The historical detail is accurate and well-researched and Richard’s character is shown in a sympathetic and positive light.
The Order of the White Boar is the first part of Matthew’s story and the next part promises to be just as exciting and appealing. I can honestly see this becoming a classic for Ricardians and it should definitely be promoted for schoolchildren learning about Richard III, either through history lessons or as a counterpoint to Shakespeare.
To buy the Kindle e-book or the print version click here
Protected by her consort, Edward IV, through their 19 year marriage, Elizabeth Woodville took to appropriating property from the “Old nobility” faction, including Richard Gloucester and Harry, Duke of Buckingham. This included marrying members of her own family to the heirs of great families, thereby draining the pool of marriageable heirs, denying them to the “Old nobility”. As a boy, Harry Buckingham was one such mark, put to marry Elizabeth’s sister. Following Edward IV’s death, the queen stood alone with her greed and her faults.
Gloucester, just weeks from taking the throne as Richard III, reminds Queen Anne [Nevill] of their days in Middleham, at the time when he was a boy “fostered” to her family to receive military training. (A common practice among noble families in the medieval world.)
St Columba may have been the founder of Iona, but he (apparently) had some rather odd views, including the need to banish women and cows from the island. He said—”Where there is a cow there is a woman, and where there is a woman there is mischief.” Like far too many men of God, his antipathy toward women was ridiculous. It wasn’t the fault of women, it was the fault of men who obviously could not be guaranteed to keep their base urges under control. But, blame the women. It’s easier. And keep them out of the Church, so you can keep blaming them for everything. Pathetic.
But I digress. St Columba’s views on women are not why I am writing this article, rather it is something else he apparently did. Today, while I was passing the time waiting for an appointment, I browsed through the Encyclopaedia of Superstitions by Edwin and Mona A Radford, and came across the following passage, which, rather strangely, comes under the heading of Christening!
“…St Columba, founder of Iona, buried one of his monks alive under the foundations of the new Abbey. It is true that reports state that the monk, Oran, consented to die. That, at least, is how O’Donnell attempts to gloss over the story in his Lives of the Saints. There is little doubt, however, that the ambitious Colomba meant the foundations of the Abbey to stand, and immolated the monk…”
“…Baring-Gould finds an origin in the period, in heathen times, when every house, castle and bridge had provision made to give each its presiding, protective spirit. This may, and possibly did, grow out of the earlier pagan idea of a sacrifice associated with the beginning of every work of importance. Thus the sacrifice was buried under the foundations…”
“…It may be that this explains ghost-haunted houses—the protective spirit of the sacrifice on its patrols…”
“…When, in 1885, Helsworthy parish church was restored, the south-west angle of the wall was taken down. In it, embedded in mortar and stone was the skeleton of a man who had obviously been buried, hurriedly, alive. There was no sign of an orthodox tomb…”
Holsworthy Parish Church, Devon
So, St Colomba and the builders of Helsworthy (which I think must be Holsworthy in Devon) parish church appear to have thought nothing of burying someone alive in order to protect a building. This does not seem very Christian. In fact, it is a shocking practice. Yes, yes, in times gone by things were different, but murder is murder, no matter how you dress it up, and I wonder if St Columba, that holy man of God, would have been so keen if he were expected to be the victim? I’d hazard not. He would have had too much of God’s work to do, right?
Columba lived in the 6th century, but Holsworthy church dates from the mid-13th century, well within the medieval period. Were human sacrifices still being made at that time? And for a church? If so, how long did the practice continue? And if it applied to important building works, e.g. churches, castles and bridges, how many human remains might yet be found beneath such foundations?
Depending upon whether or not one believes in ghosts and hauntings, is it really possible that many of our great buildings and ancient bridges are built upon sacrificial victims? Were the medieval ruling classes still so superstitious that they could set aside their Christian beliefs and keep quiet so that some poor so-and-so could be buried alive? Or was it something the more gullible builders did on the quiet? I cannot, for example, envisage Richard III sanctioning a human sacrifice before the building of the chapel for the dead of Towton!
And what of the supposed ghost of Middleham Castle? People like to think it is Richard, wandering his old home again…but what if it isn’t Richard at all? What if it’s a victim of human sacrifice who was robbed of his life when the castle was first built, to ensure the castle’s security and longevity and to protect the place forever more?
There are other churches, other castles and other bridges…and other ghosts?
Old London Bridge was supposedly built on human sacrifice
Review by Elke Paxson
Sunnes And Roses – it’s finally here, the new album by The Legendary Ten Seconds. This new one focuses on the history and some of the events and people during the War of The Roses. Like the music of the 3 CDs about Richard III, this is a unique and quite excellent mix of English Folk with a touch of Medieval music and a hint of Rock.
The new album starts off with a song commemorating the battle of Towton, the biggest battle ever fought on English soil and the battle that brought Edward IV to the throne. Quite fitting – the song has a powerful intro with the sound of cannons. It moves on with a forceful rhythm and it has a really rich sound to it.
List of the Dead – this one has a foot tapping rhythm and it’s needed as the lyrics tell of the many battles, the long list of the dead through the many years of the “Cousins’ War”. Quite superbly done.
The Jewel – is a really pretty song. It tells the story of the stunning “Jewel of Middleham” found in 1985 by Ted Seaton. There is a beautiful trumpet intro before a number of other instruments are added – acoustic guitar, percussion, strings and tambourine.
Good King Richard – this is a very nice and rousing duet with Camilla Joyce and Violet Sheer. It’s going back and forth between accusations and King Richard’s side – very well done with great musical sound and sound effects! Love the song.
Sunnes And Roses – an excellent instrumental. The guitar picking is just outstanding!! It has a very memorable sound!
Battle In The Mist – is a haunting an engaging song about the Battle of Barnet. It’s a good story and its instrumentation and the rhythm come together quite nicely.
Richard of York – this song is about the pretender Perkin Warbeck or was he…. Love the beautiful guitar intro of this song. The harmonies, strings and the guitar sound make it so very beautiful.
King’s Daughter – the second instrumental on this album. This is a really pretty combination of a love song with a fine medieval touch to it.
Middleham Castle on Christmas Eve – one of my all-time favourite songs. It brings everything together – beautiful lyrics that combine the past with the present, the instruments, the sound of the percussions, the harmonies. Fantastic.
A Warwick – the title tells the colourful story of the Kingmaker, the powerful Earl of Warwick. The song moves along nicely and has a swift beat to it.
Souvente Me Souvene – Remember me often, is another instrumental and also the motto of Harry Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham.
Autumn Rain – and speaking of Buckingham….this one is also about him or rather about the “washed out” October rebellion of 1483 that he was subsequently beheaded for. The song is pretty neat and the sound effects are quite fitting.
A Herald’s Lament – a sad song for sure, but it’s not a slow song as you might expect. It tells the story of a herald’s return to an unknown place – perhaps the city elders of York or King Richard’s mother Cecily.
Tewkesbury Medieval Fair – Time to go back in time yet again. This is a really nice song about the annual medieval fair in Tewkesbury. The way it presented it’s easy to imagine yourself being there.
Ian Churchward and The Legendary Ten Seconds have produced another tremendous album full of expertly written songs, fabulous music with a rich sound that brings history to life in a very profound way. ENJOY!
For anyone who might be interested in this fabulous new album, it is available on Amazon.com, at CDbaby.com for download and it should be available in CD format from the Richard III Society by the 31st of January 2017.
28th March is the Feast of St Alkelda, a lady who has two churches named after her, one in Middleham, the other in Giggleswick. That seems clear enough. BUT there does not appear to be a St Alkelda. “She” may even be a well, there being a theory that the name Alkelda derives from an old word for holy well or spring.
To read much more on this interesting matter, go to the Darlington & Stockton Times’ article, from the 27th March 2015.
Back in 2013, Dr Philip Shaw of Leicester University gave a demonstration of how Richard might have spoken, putting into the spoken word two of Richard’s personal letters. He concluded that from Richard’s spelling, he would have sounded as if he came from the West Midlands – Dudley, Birmingham, Ludlow, or thereabouts.
This sample of Dr Shaw’s “Richard” is in circulation again (which I know courtesy of Jenny Mcfie – thank you, Jenny), so maybe those who have not heard it before would like to hear it now:-
Listening to him is very strange indeed. Today’s royalty and aristocrats all sound the same. Juicy fruit from the same superior plum tree. But back then it seems they were identifiable by the place they came from. As we all were and mostly still are. Richard spent a lot of his childhood in Ludlow Castle, hence the Ludlow-area accent. So, did Edward and George sound like that too? But what did Henry VII sound like? Any lingering Welsh from his first fourteen years? And what of Anne Neville, Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort? Fascinating thoughts. I’d love to know what Warwick the Kingmaker had to say for himself.
One last thought about Richard. As he spent most of his adult life in the north, did he end up with a Yorkshire accent? We will never know, of course.
Go back further and they all sounded French anyway.
Where’s that danged time machine when we need it?
… or the probable anniversary of the battle of Mortimer’s Cross:
Sunnes and Roses, a new album
by The Legendary Ten Seconds
Released on R ichard The Third Records on 31st December 2016.
Songs featuring Warwick the Kingmaker. Richard III, Henry VII, Lord Hastings, Edward Earl of March, Lord Fitzwalter, Sir Andrew Trollope, Lord Bonville and Perkin Warbeck
Instruments played by Lord Zarquon, Rob Bright, Ian Churchward, Ashley Dyer trumpet on ‘The Jewel’ and Ivy Curle flute on ‘Richard of York’
with the singing of Ian Churchward. Camilla Joyce, Elaine Churchward and Gentian Dyer
A Richard III Records Publication, Catalogue number R35
Recorded in Torbay at Rock Lee and Rainbow Starshine Studios.
CDs available from the Richard III Society (see below) and the songs in digital format on itunes, CD Baby and Amazon.
AT MORTIMERS CROSS THREE SUNS WERE SEEN
FOR THE UNEDUCATED WHAT DID THIS MEAN
THE EARL OF MARCH DECLARED “ A GOOD SIGN”
FOR THE THREE SONS OF YORK AT THAT TIME
All songs written by Ian Churchward except for Herald’s Lament written by Sandra Heath Wilson and Ian Churchward, and Middleham Castle on Christmas Eve written by
Frances Quinn and Ian Churchward
Sunnes and Roses, an instrumental.
List of the Dead, a song about several of the battles of the Wars of the Roses.
Towton, the bloodiest battle on English soil told in a song.
A Warwick, a song about Warwick the Kingmaker.
Battle in the mist, about the Battle of Barnet in music and verse.
Souvente me Souvene, an instrumental, the motto of the Duke of Buckingham.
Autumn Rain, a tale of Buckingham’s rebellion in the autumn of 1483
Good King Richard, a song about the reign of Richard III.
The King’s Daughter, an instrumental for Judy Thomson who lives in Chicago.
Heralds’ Lament, a song about the betrayal of Richard III at Bosworth
Richard of York, a song about Perkin Warbeck.
Middleham Castle on Christmas Eve, past and present merge into one another in this song.
The Jewel, the story of the Middleham Jewel performed in this tune.
Tewkesbury Medieval Fair, go back in time, yes you could be there in this song.
Here is some new information regarding the album:- The album in CD format can be purchased via the Richard III Society’s Sales Provider and prospective buyers should contact E-Mediacy, with the appropriate payment – including post and packing, as follows and quoting item reference M228: Richard III Sales c/o E-Mediacy 5 The Quadrangle Centre The Drift Nacton Road Ipswich, Suffolk IP3 9QR email for enquiries only not for orders richardiii@e-mediacy,com Members’ price: £6.00 (non-members’ £8.00) plus P&P £1.10/ UK £2.00 EU/£2.60 Rest of the World. Details of the how to make payment can be found on the Society Shop page of the Richard III Society website. Members will need to give E-Mediacy their membership number to obtain the discounted rate. For the time being the CDs of this album can only be purchased via the Richard III Society. A percentage of funds from the digital sales of this album will be donated to S.A.U.K.