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Archive for the tag “museums”

Mont-St-Michel and its history as you’ve never seen it before….

“….The historic island commune of Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, France, is a stunning visual display, with its medieval monastery rising up out of the sea. Four hours away in Paris, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs offers its own captivating look at the landmark with a meticulously handcrafted 300-year-old relief map.

“….Now the museum is partnering with Microsoft to wow visitors and take them further into the look and feel and story of Mont-Saint-Michel through the use of mixed reality and the software giant’s HoloLens technology….”

Well, I’d never heard of HoloLens technology before, but Microsoft seem to have mastered it. This display sounds astonishing, and well worth a visit if you can make it to Paris. To read more, go to this article.


Another Richard III Coin – Museum Seeks Funding for Purchase

Buckingham Old Gaol Museum (which is an interesting little museum situated in a fortified lock-up in the town centre) is seeking to purchase a rare Richard III  coin found this September by a local metal detector. The gold half-angel was found only one mile from the town centre of Buckingham (some people have all the luck!) It is an extremely rare piece, with only seven being known to exist.

The museum is hoping to raise five figures and obtain the coin for permanent display. If it succeeds, it will be the ONLY one of these half-angels available to be be viewed by the public. The last one that turned  up was sold to a private collector for around £44,000.

Fingers crossed that this one will , with the renewed interest in Richard III since 2012, generate enough donations to keep it in Buckingham, where the public can view it as an important piece of regional–and national–heritage.


Buckingham Museum & Richard III Gold Angel


Anne of Brittany’s heart has been stolen; literally….

Anne of Brittany

At least the word “presumed” has been allowed in! It introduces an element of doubt about Richard III. Which is better than nothing.

I hope this relic is returned to where it belongs. This sort of thievery is despicable.

Footnote: I am delighted to be able to report that since I wrote this article, the stolen treasure has now been found. See here.

Mediaeval Armour

I just found some videos on You Tube discussing how a mediaeval knight was armed and the differences between Gothic German armour and White Italian armour. They were both very interesting and you can see them here: How a Man Shall Be Armed: 15th Century and here: White Italian Armour VS German Gothic Armour

Photo Italian mediaeval armour c.1450

Italian armour circa 1450

Have a look and then post your opinion on the following:Which type of armour do you think Richard wore? I presume he would have had one or the other, since they were the best. He was known to have commissioned Italian armour for his knights, so I would plump for that – also which type would you prefer to wear and why?




Image credit: Walters Art Museum [Public domain, CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (, via Wikimedia Commons

William Caxton and the Birth of English Printing

caxton 2It is always a pleasure to visit the sumptuous J. Pierpont Morgan Museum and Library located in the Murray Hill section of New York City.  Built in 1906, designed by the esteemed architectural firm of McKim, Meade and White, it is breathtakingly beautiful as well as a unique source of medieval riches, housing one of the smallest yet select collection of illuminated manuscripts and medieval art.  Every once in a while, the curators dip into this archival treasure trove and fish out something that makes spending the exorbitant exhibition costs well worth it!  This year, they have given us a tiny but interesting group of printed manuscripts from the late 15th century produced in Ghent and London from the printing press of English merchant and diplomat, William Caxton.  Caxton came twenty years after Johann Gutenberg but apparently wasted no time learning the craft and using his knowledge of English, Latin and French to produce key works of literature, ranging from the Bible to Chaucer and Malory, an early encyclopedia as well as the first illustrated English book, “The Mirror of the World” published in 1481.

In this, of course, he was helped along by those highly intelligent royals – The Plantagenets – starting with Margaret of York (Duchess of Burgundy) who patronized the finest book artists in Europe.  On display is one of her illuminated manuscripts called “Apocalypse” written or translated by the scribe, David Aubert, and published in 1475.

caxton 3William Caxton Lunette, Morgan Library

In 1476, probably encouraged by Margaret,Caxton set up a press at Westminster Abby with illustrious clients such as Earl Rivers and the future Richard the Third.  Sadly, while much emphasis is placed on Margaret’s and Edward IV’s encouragement of Caxton, there is no mention of Richard the Third in the exhibit. As Ricardians know, Richard had a library of his own and was a great champion of the English language as well as a patron of Caxton.  Two books on display – one an unusual Canterbury Tales with woodcuttings and a volume simply called”The Royal Book,” a much-used edition with a leather embossed cover and rubricated lettering, date directly from his reign (1483).

caxtonThe Canterbury Tales, 1483

Perhaps the most interesting, and certainly the most intimate exhibit is a printed indulgence from the workshop of Caxton requesting that Richard Hopton, headmaster of Eton College, be forgiven for promoting war against the Ottomans. Included is the papal seal of Pope Innocent VIII – a blood-red wax replica of what looks like a mitre worn by a bishop. The seal was so carefully broken that it retains a perfect shape.

Perhaps the most important takeaway of this exhibition is Caxton’s work to help stabilize the English language by promoting one dialect – the so-called London dialect – which went on to form the basis of modern English.

The Exhibition last through September 20, 2015.

Skeleton from medieval battlefield goes on display at York museum….

Towton Skelly

I wonder who this gentleman might have been? At over 6′, and apparently buried aside from most of the fallen, he is thought to have been high status. So…how many noblemen died at Towton? Might he be someone of consequence to the Richard III/House of York story?

Two articles about this have come to my attention. The first is, which has a lot of detail about the skeleton’s injuries. The second is, which was actually the first one I came upon.

Here is the text of the above yorkpress article:-

THE skeleton of a warrior who fought in one of England’s bloodiest battles has gone on display in a York museum.

The Richard III Experience at Monk Bar says the remains will help visitors uncover the grisly history of Towton battlefield near Tadcaster. .A spokesman said the man, aged between 36 and 45 at the time of his death, measured an impressive 6 foot 1 inches, which was unusually tall for the medieval period.

“He is thought to be of a high status, down to his height, age and the fact he was found separate from the mass graves, under the floor of Towton Hall, close to the battlefield,” he said.

“He may have lived a privileged life but that didn’t protect him on the battlefield or spare him a gruesome death, as evidence on the skeleton shows some very deep cuts acrosshis body.

“The skeleton shows some extensive injuries, he has a stab wound to his left foot, which shattered one of the bones and cut two more, does this mean he was on horseback and combatants on the ground were slashing at him from below or was this an injury caused by downward blow of a sword?”

Sarah Maltby, director of attractions for York Archaeological Trust, the owners of the Richard III Experience, said there were two wounds on the skull – an apparent weapon cut on his lower jaw but at the base of the skull a blunt force trauma has taken place, either from a blunt instrument striking the skull or a bladed weapon caused the same injury under the protection of headgear.

“It is thought that this blow to the back of the head is the fatal injury,” she said.

The skeleton display is a new addition to the ‘Commemorating the Re-Interment of Richard III’ exhibition in Monk Bar, which explores the significance of the 1461 battle of Towton on Richard’s life and the story of the re-discovery of the last Plantagenet monarch in Leicester.

The museum is open 10am to 5pm every day. For more information visit

*People can watch a time-lapse video of the installation of the skeleton by going to


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