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Gloucester on 28th October, 1378, 1483 and 1967….

from Gloucester Archive

28th October is a notable day for me because of three events in Gloucester’s history:-

(1) It was the day my second favourite king, Richard II was in Gloucester and Tewkesbury—well, he was from 20th October 1378 until mid-November, so had to be in one or the other on the 28th.

A young Richard II from the wilton Diptych

(2) It was also one of the days in 1483 when the treacherous Duke of Buckingham’s rebellion against Richard III floundered and failed. 

Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham

(3) Most important of all, of course, it was the day I was married in 1967 (not actually in Gloucester, but right outside).

Very late 1960s!

 

Right, back to 1378 . This was another difficult year for England, and for Parliament. Demands for ever higher taxes made holding Parliament in London a rather hazardous matter, and so the venue was moved to Gloucester instead. The citizens of that city being deemed less militant? Anyway, the MPs met close to the abbey/cathedral in a half-timbered house that is still called Parliament House.

from www.yourlocalweb.com

RII was eleven years old at the time, and is recorded as having stayed at Llanthony Secunda Priory, where he was seen in the gardens. The priory was (parts of it still are) just outside Gloucester city walls, close to the Severn.

Llanthony Secunda Priory

Gloucester had a special significance for young Richard, because his great-grandfather, Edward II, was buried in the abbey. All his life, Richard held Edward in special regard, and strove without success to have him canonized.

Tomb of Edward II

When Parliament rose, Richard and his retinue rode north to Tewkesbury, and thence out of “my” area.

On to 1483. Richard III, of course, had been Duke of Gloucester. And yes, I’d have liked him to be interred in Gloucester Cathedral. Well, he was ours, in a manner of speaking. And he certainly wasn’t unpopular here, far from it.

For a timeline of 1483 see here It’s OK for the dates, but be warned, it’s anti-Richard. For example for 12th October 1483 it says “Richard writes to Russell, calling Buckingham ‘The most untrue creature living’ (next to himself, I suppose)”. Oh, excuse me while my sides split. But the dates are useful.

Richard III

The town of Gloucester had reason to be grateful to Richard. After his coronation on 6th July 1483 he went on a royal progress accompanied by Buckingham, and on reaching Gloucester on 29th July he granted it a charter that stayed in force until 1974. This gave the city the status of a county, allowed it to have a Sheriff who could hold a County Court, and allowed the election of a mayor, aldermen and a coroner. See here.

Extract of the charter granting rights to Gloucester, GBR/I/1/22 held at Gloucestershire Archives. Reproduced by kind permission of Gloucester City Council

Richard also presented what is said to be his own personal sword (the so-called Mourning Sword) to the City, which still has it.

The Mourning Sword – my photograph

On 2nd August 1483, when they both left Gloucester, Buckingham parted company from the king and made his way over the Severn into Wales and his own lands. He had with him, supposedly as his prisoner, a treacherous Lancastrian serpent by the name of Bishop John Morton.

John Morton at Canterbury – from www.kyrackramer.com

It will probably never be known exactly why the Duke of Buckingham rose against his cousin, Richard III. That Morton whispered in his ear in the Garden of Brecon is not in doubt! The man responsible for the odious Morton’s Fork surely had a forked tongue as well! See https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Morton#ref185463

I’ve tweaked a painting by Edmund Leighton entitled “Call to Arms”

Buckingham had been grandly rewarded, and was doing very nicely from the new king. What his motive was for turning on Richard is a mystery, and may simply have been that he fancied being kingy himself. What I doubt very much is that he rose in support of Henry Tudor. Never! Buckingham’s claim to the throne was much better, and he probably thought Tudor was helping him, not the other way around.

But then, I don’t think our duke was over-endowed with grey cells, just with ego. Henry, on the other hand, was as crafty as they come.

Henry Tudor

But that’s not the point now, because I’m concerned with 28th October. When Buckingham commenced his rebellion, he left his castle in Brecon and made for Gloucester, which was the best place to cross the awkward River Severn. It also provided the most direct route in England, and to wherever the duke intended to go from there. To take London while Richard was elsewhere in the realm? But one big thing seems to have been overlooked. That autumn was one of the worst in living memory, and the Severn (as well as all other rivers, especially in the west) was in flood. And how. It’s a beast of a river, believe me, even when it’s at normal levels.

So there’s Buckingham, banner unfurled, riding at the head of his reluctant army of Welshmen, who weren’t inclined to fight against Richard in the first place. They reached the river…. Suddenly the duke turned to look back and his army had melted away. Yikes! He’s practically on his own, and by now he knows Richard has been alerted and is on the way on the English side of the river. The king will not be pleased…or in a forgiving mood. Time to panic, methinks.

Severn in flood, 2007

So Buckingham turned tail…at least, his horse did…and off to the north he fled. Then it’s into the hands of a “friend” named Bannaster. Oh dear, another nasty shock, capture and being bundled down the English side of the Severn toward Salisbury, where a trial awaited. Richard refused to listen to his cousin’s abject pleas for a chance to explain himself. Which is as well, because Buckingham’s son afterward said his father had concealed a dagger about his person and intended to drive it into Richard however he could.

Here’s more about this Bannaster connection. “….Buckingham’s rebellion began – and failed, largely because his Welsh tenants decided they liked him less than Richard III.  Robbed of this crucial support, he fled to a friend’s home but the friend, Ralph Bannaster, turned him in and, on 31 October, Buckingham was taken to Sir James Tyrell and Christopher Wellesbourne, staunch supporters of Richard III….”

This betrayal by Bannaster is still remembered (see here) by the name of a house in Finchampstead in Berkshire. It’s thought that the Berkshire property is actually a confusion with another property closer to the northern Welsh borders, where Buckingham fled when he realised the game was up. The name of the betrayer isn’t questioned, it was definitely a Bannister/Bannaster/Bannastre. You will also find more at http://www.gnosallhistory.co.uk/horns_inn.htm

Duke’s Head, Gnosall, from http://www.gnosallhistory.co.uk/horns_inn.htm

And Henry Tudor? Well, he sailed for England with French backing, and lurked off shore like an animal sensing a foe. Henry was a great lurker. When he heard the uprising had collapsed, he scuttled back to France. Tomorrow was another day, as someone on celluloid once said.

The Old West Gate over Severn, Gloucester, over which Buckingham had hoped to advance

Right, that was Buckingham’s fate, but what had been going on in Gloucester during all this? The city had known that if the Severn should miraculously recede again, and the crossing were sufficiently exposed, they were going to be invaded by a rebel army. They didn’t know if the rains had long since ceased upstream and in the Welsh mountains, where the Severn began. If there was no flood water coming downstream, then the river would go down again, perhaps too quickly for comfort.

The Western Prospect of Gloucester, showing crossing and branches of the Severn

Gloucester was the king’s city, and I think the inhabitants must have flocked to the abbey and every other available church to get on their knees and pray the Severn stayed nice and high, even though it flooded the lower parts of the town. Nice and high at nearby Tewkesbury as well, because that was the next crossing, and was ticklishly close to Gloucester.

Tewkesbury Abbey surrounded by flood water in Gloucestershire as the river Severn burst its banks. 27 Nov 2012 . Concerns have been raised that there will be further flooding as the River Severn is expected to reach its peak in Gloucester later. The Environment Agency said the river would be at its highest level since the mass flooding of 2007, when much of the county was under water.

Neither town wanted to be caught up in Buckingham’s antics. They probably took to their knees again, this time in praise, when it was known Buckingham had been captured and executed, because their first prayers had been answered! The danger was past.

Oh dear, there they were on 28th October 1483, on their knees while the autumn rain came down in stair rods…fast forward 484 years, still in Gloucester, and there I am, on my knees in a church on my wedding day while the autumn rain came down in stair rods. Yes indeed, and guess what? The Severn was in flood then too! The autumn of 1967 was as bad as the one in 1483.

Not that my marriage proved as disastrous as the duke’s uprising! It lasted until my husband Rob passed away in 2015.

The Precontract that Gave Us King Richard III

One of the main reasons we now have an amazing King in the list of British monarchs is without doubt the precontract between Lady Eleanor Talbot and King Edward IV.

The turning point in the election of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, as king of England was the discovery of a precontract between the former king and the representative of the noble and powerful family of the Shrewsburys.

Everything started in the early summer of 1460 when Eleanor and Edward met for the first time. She was 24, he was just 18. Edward fell in love with her and she was captivated by the charming new King. It seems that he had promised to marry her after bedding her and the wedding took place in secret, possibly in the spring of 1461 in the presence of Canon Robert Stillington who, on 1st November of the same year, was awarded by Edward an annual salary of £365 (around £235,000 today!). That was a regular contract of marriage so why do we refer to it as a precontract? The answer is that the term precontract has to be accepted with all the implications it had in medieval times: that is neither more nor less than an actual marriage. Precontract does not mean a “betrothal” but it is a legal term to indicate a marriage contract and it becomes a precontract only when a second marriage is arranged for one member of the couple while still married to the previous spouse. So the term precontract does not mean a contract arranged before a marriage but a contract arranged before a subsequent marriage. It is important to clarify this key point to fully understand the reason Richard, Duke of Gloucester, could become King Richard III.

If we consider the succession of events in the life of Edward IV, it is easier to understand why his brother, Richard, was the true and legitimate heir to the throne of England.

Edward IV married Eleanor Talbot with a regular contract of marriage. The nature of this marriage was a secret one, so the sources we have cannot be contemporary but date to about twenty years later. When Edward married Elizabeth Woodville (possibly on 1st May 1464), Eleanor was still alive even though retired as a tertiary of the Carmelite Priory in Norwich. This implies that the second marriage of Edward was adulterous. It also means that the second contract was invalid and Edward was a bigamist. This invalidity could not be changed by the death of the first wife before any children of the second marriage had been born, so there is no justification for Edward’s behaviour and it is undeniable that the consequence of the precontract was the immediate bastardisation of all the issue of the marriage between him and Elizabeth Woodville. The validity of a marriage depended on the existence of a contract, not on the birth of children so it didn’t matter that Edward and Elizabeth had ten children, both boys and girls. The fact that Edward V and Richard of York were born after the death of Eleanor Talbot (she died on 30th June 1468) is not relevant because they were offsprings of an invalid marriage, ergo the king’s bastard sons.

The precontract was known to the Council thanks to the witnessing of Robert Stillington, Bishop of Bath and Wells. He claimed he had celebrated the wedding of Edward and Eleanor and this declaration could be a factor in his arrest in 1478 as, apparently, the bishop had previously revealed the secret marriage to George, Duke of Clarence, who afterwards claimed to be the true heir to the throne. On 8th June 1483, Stillington unveiled the precontract’s existence to the Council during a meeting at which Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was not present. The possible reason for his absence could be that Stillington had already informed Richard about the precontract.

Many wonder if there was written proof of the precontract’s existence but so far nothing has been found and it is very unlikely anything will come to light. The first reason for this is that it is possible every proof in favour of Richard’s legitimacy to the crown was destroyed by the Tudors to strengthen their very weak claim to the English throne, and second because no proof of evidence was normally produced to invalidate a marriage. The authority of a bishop’s word was enough both for the Council and Church to accept the precontract as a fact. A false declaration for a man of God in medieval times was a warrant of eternal damnation in Hell. From then on, the Council started to consider Richard of Gloucester as the successor to his brother and the approval of the three Estates of Parliament to declare Richard king is proof of this. Edward V signed his last official document on 9th June 1483.

For centuries, historians have investigated the person of Robert Stillington and his role in the events of that crucial year, looking for a possible proof of bribery from Gloucester and Stillington’s corruption. This has been in vain. Nothing that could prove either or both has been found and Richard III never rewarded Stillington for his key role in his accession to the throne. Stillington was eventually handed over to Henry VII and died in prison after having being involved in the plot to place Lambert Simnel on the throne.

Other additional elements that could indicate the existence of the precontract were the fact that Edward IV declared public his marriage with Elizabeth Woodville only in September 1464, a couple of months after the death of Joan, Eleanor’s sister-in-law (possibly a witness of the first marriage?). Other elements are the sources. Over the centuries, historians have tried to give their personal opinions on the matter and many convey that the precontract was indeed a fact.

The Crowland Chronicle and the Titulus Regius state that Eleanor Talbot was indeed Edward’s wife and the Crowland writer uses the word matrimonium referring to the two of them. No source refers to Eleanor as Edward’s mistress.

THE RISE AND FALL OF WILLIAM LORD HASTINGS AND HIS CASTLE OF KIRBY MUXLOE

Reblogged from

A Medieval Potpourri sparkypus.com

 

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The atmospheric ruins of Kirby Muxloe Castle, showing the moat, the gatehouse and the only tower to near completion ..

Kirby Muxloe Castle, lies in Leicestershire countryside,  in ruins, the unfinished project of William, Lord Hastings.  Hastings was the epitome of a successful and powerful  15th century lord.  But as with other nobles of those turbulent times, success run cheek by jowl with downfall, dishonour, betrayal  and death.  Hastings’ life is well documented elsewhere and I want to concentrate more upon Kirby Muxloe Castle but to tell the story of the castle its necessary for a brief summary of Hastings life to be told too.

Hastings,  c1430-1483,  had been raised to be  a loyal Yorkist from youth,  his father, Sir Leonard Hastings having been a retainer of Richard Duke of York.  He first begun his rise and rise to power and fortune after the Battle of Towton 29 March 1461 where he was knighted.  Soon after as a mark of the closeness between him and Edward IV he was made Chamberlain of the royal household and in 1462 he was further rewarded with the granting of ‘full power to receive persons into the king’s grace at his discretion’.  Grants and lands,  removed from defeated and disenfranchised Lancastrians, enabling him to support  his new status were swiftly bestowed upon him.

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THE STALL PLATE OF WILLIAM HASTINGS, ST GEORGE CHAPEL, WINDSOR c.Geoffrey Wheeler

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Manticore badge of William Hastings c.1470

He seems to have been blessed with the trait of being able to run with the hounds and play with the foxes as he managed to stay on friendly terms with his brother in law, the great Richard Neville,  Earl of Warwick,  known later as the Kingmaker, after Warwick become disenchanted with Edward IV.  Rosemary Horrox suggests that Warwick  may have seen Hastings as ‘the acceptable face of Edward’s court circle, but it is certainly not evidence that Hastings had supported the earl’ (1).  Indeed when Edward went into exile in the Low Countries Hastings accompanied him, thus strengthening even more the bond between them.

Hastings extraordinary power and privilege stemmed from this closeness to the king and was known and commented upon  at the time,   a servant of the Pastons observing  ‘what my seyd lord Chamberleyn may do wyth the Kyng and wyth all the lordys of Inglond I trowe it be not unknowyn to yow, most of eny on man alyve’ (2). No doubt this would have led to clashes with the Queen, Elizabeth Wydeville, and her delightful  family, including her sons, despite one of them, Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset being married to Hastings step daughter, Cicely Bonville.    Later, Edward knowing death was approaching, pleaded with his bosom pal Hastings and his stepson, Grey,  to put their differences behind them and work together for the benefit of Edward’s young son.  Edward died at a comparative young age, 42, a death which came out of the blue for some.  Hastings, no doubt alarmed at the appalling thought of his enemies, the upstart and voracious Wydevilles getting it all, sent a letter to Edward’s brother, Richard Duke of Gloucester, warning him of  the Wydeville plots.  Hastings seems to have got on well with Richard, as he had with Warwick.  Gloucester,  having been warned,  took control of the situation and with a minimum of bloodshed took  up his role of Lord Protector as set out in the late king’s will.   Croyland Chronicler reports Hastings ‘as bursting with joy over this new world’ (3)   The rest is history, and  the mystery of why Richard,  known for his fairness, had Hastings removed from a council meeting at the Tower of London and beheaded on the 13th June 1483 can only be speculated upon.  After his death Richard dealt kindly with his widow, Katherine Hastings nee Neville,  granting  permission for Hastings to be buried close to his  late friend and king, in St Georges Chapel, Windsor , as requested in Edward’s will and allowing her to keep her husband’s lands and  which leads me to Kirby Muxloe….

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The Western Tower with the Gate House to the left..with thanks to Bobrad for photo.

On the 17th April 1474 Edward IV had granted Hastings, by then a very wealthy man.  licence  to fortify with walls and battlements  four of his properties plus enclose large areas of land to create hunting parks around them, one of these properties  being Kirby Muxloe (4) There was already an earlier medieval manor house there  but I have been unable to ascertain what condition it was in when building  of the castle commenced.  Its most likely that whatever condition it was in the intention would have been to demolish it at some stage as completion of the castle neared its end.  Indeed its known that some repair work was carried out on the old house while building of the new castle was taking place.   The foundations of this old house can still be seen today.  Its an indication of Hastings fabulous wealth that he had not completed Ashby de la Zouch Castle, intended to be his main seat, before work commenced on Kirby Muxloe in 1480.  The plans were for a rectangle courtyard surrounded by a moat  with a tower at each of the four  corners.   The gatehouse and one tower were nearing completion when news reached the builders of Hastings execution.    This must have thrown the workmen and craftsmen into disarray and its not beyond probability some of their number would have downed tools at that stage although  Katherine Hastings continued the work on a much smaller scale until finally giving up altogether the following summer.

Hastings had employed master mason John Cowper who trained as an apprentice  in the building of Eton College.  It is from Eton that Cowper would have come across the  method of bricklaying known as ‘diaper work’ – patterns made from dark bricks built into lighter brickwork – and used   it in the design of the walls at Kirby Muxloe.  The initials WH (although not the initials of his wife..really Sir William!), the maunce or  sleeve from his coat of arms, a ship and a jug are among designs  incorporated  into the diaper work.   Cowper was  also familiar with Tattershall Castle and may have based the gate house at Kirby on Tattershall’s great tower.  All that remains of what would have been a massive gatehouse is the base.  The remains of a  wooden bridge that led to the gatehouse and drawbridge were discovered in 1911  and are preserved in the  moat.   On entering through the gate  two rooms are to be found, both with fireplaces, one of them likely intended as a porters lodge.     Two spiral staircases, both made of brick lead to the first floor with rooms containing  fireplaces, latrines and  windows.  The floors above were never completed.

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Example of the diaper work at Kirkby Muxloe.  

Six towers were intended, four at each corner and two midway in the perimeter walls.  The surviving foundations of these towers can still be seen.  The West Tower is the only complete tower to survive, square in shape and comprising of three floors, a spiral staircase and latrines.

Luckily the building accounts for the castle have  survived.  They were written in a mixture of Latin, French and English by Hastings’ steward Roger Bowlett.  So we know that a Flemish man called Antony Yzebrond in charge of the manufacturing of the huge amounts of bricks required  was paid 10d a week, a man called John Powell was redirecting a brook to feed the moat, another man, Hugh Geffrey,  was building a cart track for the carriage of stone while John Peyntour was sent to gather crab apple trees to be used as grafting stock.  Were these gentlemen present when the shocking news arrived of the demise of their master we will disappointingly never know.    After Hasting’s widow, Katherine,  gave up her  valiant attempt to complete the work the  following year  Kirby Muxloe was abandoned, used as farm buildings for a  while before being finally  given up  to the elements.

 

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Gatehouse with replacement wooden bridge…

It is interesting to compare the rise and fall of Hastings to that of the building and fall of Kirkby Muxloe.  Whatever led to the execution of Hastings – did he betray Richard? Who in turn betrayed him?   – Catesby perhaps?  Was he perhaps bitter that he was not given the awards he had hoped for by Richard, Richard being a different kettle of fish to his brother Edward,  as he watched the rise and rise of Buckingham..Or  was it that Richard blamed him for keeping the pre contract between Edward and Eleanor Butler nee Talbot a secret from him..a secret that was the catalyst for the fall of the House of York.  Its sad to reflect that if Hastings had survived those initial very dangerous days his presence at Bosworth alongside Richard may well have led to a completely different outcome.

 

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William Hastings, first Baron Hastings’ signature..

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Doorway in the gatehouse leading to possibly a porters lodge.

 

I give a massive thank you to John Goodall and his most informative Guidebook on Ashby de laZouch and Kirby Muxloe.  Also to Rosemary Horrox for her article Hastings, William, first Baron Hastings to be found on the Oxford DNB.

  1. Hastings, William, first Baron Hastings Rosemary Horrox Oxford DNB
  2. Paston Letters 1.581
  3. Croyland Chronicle Continuations,159
  4. License to crenellate: Although never mandated by the monarchy nor a common practice until after 1200, applying for a license to erect a castle or to fortify a standing residence indicated not only that the applicant had the self-confidence to approach the king, but also demonstrated that he possessed the financial and personal status that came with the ability to build a castle. For many lords, receiving the license to crenellate was accomplishment enough, so they felt no urgency to complete the process with an outlandish expenditure of money that could result in bankruptcy. Just having the royal license proved they were qualified to move in the circles of the rich and famous and that the monarch recognized their social status.  Lise Hull Kirby Muxloe Castle – Quadrangular Glory in Brick and Water

     

SECRET STAIRS OF TUTBURY

Recently it was reported that a secret staircase some 600 years old was unearthed at Tutbury Castle in Staffordshire. Immediately the reporter leapt on the idea that  ‘Maybe Henry VIII walked down these stairs?!’ as if  that ultimately was the most exciting thing about the new discovery. (Why, why, why, are there so many newspapers articles that exclaim ‘Henry slept here’, ‘Henry  stood here’, ‘Henry stuffed his face here’  as if he is the only pre-modern royal worth mentioning. ) The stairs were not even  built in his lifetime but probably a hundred years earlier, and LOTS of famous historical figures must surely have walked on them–Mary Queen of Scots for one, and of course Richard III  whose visit in October 1484 has only fairly recently been ‘rediscovered.’  Richard was at Tutbury  to look into a large building project that was in progress–possibly this even included these new-found stairs that seem to only be considered exciting to the press if Henry VIII’s bulk was  crushing them!

(Apparently the castle normally holds a Richard III buffet dinner once a year, so they do celebrate the connections with Richard.)

Tutbury  has a very interesting history, anyway,  being a royal castle. Richard’s brother George of Clarence held it for a while and during his tenure there were some scandalous goings-one to do with members of the  garrison and some prostitutes!

At an earlier time, John of Gaunt also did much rebuilding of the castle, and gave it to his wife Constance as her main residence, where she had a flourishing court dedicated to various arts.

All of these are, to my mind,  a lot more interesting than ‘Henry VIII may have walked  down the stairs!”

SECRET STAIRWAY DISCOVERED AT TUTBURY

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The Priory of the Knights Hospitaller of St John at Clerkenwell and a visit by Richard III

REPOSTED FROM sparkypus.com A Medieval Potpourri https://sparkypus.com/2020/06/25/the-priory-of-the-knights-hospitaller-of-st-john-at-clerkenwell-and-a-visit-by-richard-iii/

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The Great South Gate now known as St John’s Gateway as it is today 

Shortly after the death of his wife, Anne Neville on the 16th March 1485 Richard rode to the Priory of the Knights Hospitaller of St John at Clerkenwell.  .  On the 30 March 1485,  which fell on a Wednesday (1)  King Richard III stood in the great hall of the Priory and addressing the Mayor, Aldermen and others gathered there denied in a ‘loud and distinct voice’ he had never intended to marry Elizabeth of York (2).   We know this thanks to the Croyland Chronicler.  The Chronicler never one to  miss out on an opportunity to throw some mud at Richard spitefully added that ‘many supposed he made the denial,  to suit the wishes of those who advised him to that effect, than in conformity with his own’...yes because of course when one is lying and dissembling before a large crowd one always speaks in a loud and distinct voice!   The rest is history and it is the Priory which is my subject here today.

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Steel engraving of St John’s Gate by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd 1829-83.  Note the inscription as described by Stow appertaining to the rebuilding completed by Prior Docwrey 1504.

The original Priory  founded about 1100, by Jorden Briset (3)  on a site which covered 10 acres of land, had  a chequered  history,  being burnt down by a mob in the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt , who caused it to burn for seven days allowing noone  to quench the flames,  being  rebuilt,  and  not being finished until 1504 by Prior Thomas Docwrey.   However it must have been sufficiently grand enough in 1485  for Richard to hold  his  council there.   The Priory’s troubles were not yet over,  later being  suppressed by order of Henry VIII   Still,  according to Stow   the priory church and house were ‘preserved from spoil of being pulled down’ and were ’employed as a storehouse for the kings toils and tents for hunting and wars etc.,’ (4) .  Don’t hold your breath though,  for moving on,  in the third year of Henry’s son,  Edward Vl, reign, ‘the church for the most part, to wit, the body and the side aisles, with the great bell tower, a most curious piece of workmanship, graven, gilt and enamelled, to the great beautifying of the city, and passing all other I have seen, was undermined and blown up with gun powder.  The stone thereof was employed in the building of the Lord Protector’s house at the Strand.  That part of the choir which remaineth, with some side chapels, was by Cardinal Pole, in the reign of Queen Mary, closed up at the West End and otherwise repaired.  Sir Thomas Tresham, knight, was then made lord prior with restitution of some lands” (5). me: the first Somerset House and also the porch of Allhallows Church, Gracechurch Street, which sadly was lost in the Great Fire of London)  Unfortunately this revival of fortunes did not last as the priory was again suppressed in the first years of Elizabeth l’s reign. To continue reading click here..

 

 

A hymn to Margaret Beaufort….?

I have taken this extract from Royal Central:

“….after the deposition of Edward V, and Richard III’s subsequent accession to the throne, it quickly became clear that the new king wasn’t a universally popular choice….”

Hmm, nor was it universally unpopular. In fact, far more people were in favour of Richard than against, but then, if you’re writing about Margaret Beaufort, you have to adopt the official Tudor line.

I won’t be reading this book, but that isn’t a reflection on the book or its author, more on my personal allegiances. I wish Margaret, her son and their odious descendants in perdition. Nicola Tallis may have been objective about Margaret, but I fear I cannot be objective about Margaret’s legacy, the truly awful Tudors, who turned England into a virtual police state and spilled blood as a hobby.

Yes, Margaret Beaufort was an amazing woman, there’s no doubt of that, and if she’d applied herself to the lawful succession, I’d have no gripes. But she didn’t. She was a traitor, and her activities led to a terrible blot on England’s history. End of story for me.

MINSTER LOVELL HALL, HOME TO FRANCIS LOVELL VISCOUNT LOVELL

Reblogged from sparkypus.com A Medieval Potpourri
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Minster Lovell at sunset @Colin Whitaker

Minster Lovell Hall, Oxfordshire  lies in beautiful,  atmospheric ruins set amongst trees besides the River Windrush in the heart of the Cotswolds.     Pevensey describes these ruins to be ‘still the most picturesque  in the country’.   It was at least the second manor house to be built by the Lovells on that site, the first having been built in the 12th century.  William Lovell Baron Lovell and Holand (d.13 June 1455) already rich and having  increased his wealth by a  very advantageous marriage,  built the second Hall  some time after  his return from the wars in France in 1431(1)  Its unclear whether part of the earlier buildings were incorporated into the new one as Pevensey suggests or the old buildings were entirely demolished.  But undoubtedly  materials from the older buildings would have been recycled in the new build.   The foundations of the earlier house were discovered beneath the east and west wings in the 1937/39.   It remained  home to the Lovells up until the Wars of the Roses.

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A drawing of the Hall as it may have appeared in the 15th c.  Alan Sorrell

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Site plan.  Minster Lovell . Photo A J Taylor

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The porch and  Hall from the north.  Photo @ Guy Thornton

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Same view of the porch and Hall from an engraving by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck 1729

Undoubtedly one of the best known of the Lovells is Francis Lovell b.1457.   Francis was a close and loyal friend to King Richard III.  Both had been  wards of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, known as the Kingmaker and both spent part of their childhoods at Middleham Castle although possibly not at the same time.    Francis’ life is documented elsewhere and I dont want to go into it too deeply here but suffice to say history has judged him kindly.  He seldom fails to get a mention in any fictional work about Richard and as far as I can tell he generally comes over as a good egg.  Of course there is the infamous rhyme that was pinned to the door of old St Paul’s.  ‘The Cat, the Rat and Lovel our dogge, Rule all England under an Hog’.  The author of the rhyme William  Colyngbourne, was later to get the chop, or hanged, drawn and quartered to be precise, under a charge of treason for another matter, although I should imagine the rhyme was burnt into everyones memories present  at the trial.  Strangely enough Colyingbourne was once employed by Cicely Neville, Richard’s mother and its been suggested he may have copped the needle when Richard wrote to her requesting Colyngbourne’s position be transferred to someone of Richard’s choice (2 ).   However I don’t wish to go off on a tangent here so back to Minster Lovell and the Lovells.

Its  unclear whether Lovell was at Bosworth as Richard had sent him to guard the south coast against Henry Tudor’s threatened invasion     Attainted of high treason after Bosworth in 1486 his lands were granted to Jasper Tudor, who held them until his death in 1495 after which they reverted back to the Crown.  However having survived the  aftermath of Bosworth,  June 1487  found Lovell at the Battle of Stoke, where, as the story goes, he was last seen making his escape (3)

After that Francis disappears into the mists of time.  This leads to the 18th century tale of   during  the process  of a ‘new laying’ of a chimney,  a  secret room was discovered  wherein  a skeleton assumed  to be that of Francis was found.   The skeleton, which was ‘sitting at a table. which was before him, with a book, paper, pen etc etc’, conveniently disappeared  into a puff of dust upon the room being opened (4).    The conversation which followed, if it ever happened, which I doubt,  can well be imagined  ‘what happened to the body dolt?’ – ‘it disappeared into a cloud of dust sir’.  Hopefully this old chestnut has been well and truly put to bed now.

Anyway – the manor house was built around a quadrangle with the southern side facing  the Windrush,.  Its hard to imagine a more idyllic site.  Approached from the north a diaper patterned cobbled  path leads up to the entrance porch which leads into the  hall.  The solar and private apartments are grouped to the west, the kitchen and service quarters to the east.  There was a chapel to the north of the hall above the entrance porch.  Nothing remains of the chapel today, the four windows of which can be seen in Buck’s engraving.

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The diaper patterned cobbled  path leading up to the Porch

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Vaulting on the ceiling of the porch

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Interior of the Hall.  Photo @Martin Beek

In 1602 the Hall was sold to the Coke family who owned it until 1812.  It was during the ownership of the Cokes that the Hall was dismantled about 1747.  ‘The remains were then left to fall into decay although part of them were used as farm buildings (5). It then passed through several owners until finally in 1935, the then owner, a Mrs Agnetha Terrierre passed the ownership into the hands of the state.

THE SOLAR

The solar was accessed by a staircase south of the dais in the Hall.  Lit by two large transomed windows, both with tracery, it had a fireplace, traces of which can still be seen, and set of stairs leading up to the chapel.  The solar would have been the personal and private  chamber for the family.  Perhaps it was in this room that Francis spent time with his friend, now King Richard III, when Richard stayed at the Minster Lovell in 1483 during his Progress {pingback to 29 August} after his Coronation.

North West Building

This once two storied building, which probably contained further private apartments of the Lord and his family initially survived the  destruction of the 17th century and was being used in the mid 19th century as a barn –  a door being cut into one of the walls to enable carts to be driven in.  This unsurprisingly led to the roof collapsing.   Then a small cottage was built in that area, the foundations of which have now been removed.  All that remains of this cottage is a small fireplace built into the north wall and a window that was partially blocked up.   The upper floor had transomed windows with window seats on the west side.

WEST WING

There were five room in this wing which led to the South West Tower.

South West Tower

The tower consisted of 4 floors, the top floor having battlements.  Its slightly later than the rest of the buildings being later 15th Century.  On the ground floor were garderobes, the pit being on the side nearest the river.  A external staircase led to the first floor and access to the remaining floors.

On the East Side of the courtyard were situated the kitchens, bakehouse and stables.

ST KENELMS CHURCH

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‘Lovell’ tomb in St Kenelm’s church.   photo@Aidan McRae Thomson

We cannot depart the Hall without a look around  St Kenelm’s Church which stands close by.    Most of the church that can been seen today is 15th century built on earlier foundations.  In the transept can be found a fine alabaster tomb chest with the effigy of a knight.  The effigy’s armour and the costumes of the weepers  dates  it to the mid 15th century.  Traditionally a member of the Lovell family it could be either William Lovell d.1455 or more probably his son John d.1465 (6). Unfortunately  due to the lack of an inscription it cannot be said with certainty whose monument it is.

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St Kenelms Church seen beyond the ruins of the North West building.  Photo @Canis Manor

Entry into this  wonderful place, now in the care of English Heritage, is free of charge.  If you should ever fancy a wander around these evocative ruins I would suggest you wrap up and go in the quieter months.  The summer months  can be  rather busy with families picnicking and children splashing in the River Windrush.  And who can blame them – there are not many places that can match Minster Lovell for being quite so magical.

1) BHO Minster Lovell: Manors and other estates pp184-192

2) Richard wrote a letter to his mother 3 June 1484 requesting ‘my lord Chamberlaine..be your officer in Wiltshire in such as  Colynborne had’  Richard III Crown and People p105 Kenneth Hillier

3) According to Francis Bacon ‘there went a report that he fled and swum over the Trent on horseback but could not recover the other side and so was drowned.  But another report leaves him not there but that he lived long in a cave or vault‘.

4) Letter written by William Cowper, clerk of the Parliament to Francis Peck, an antiquarian 1737.

5) Minster Lovell Hall p3 A J Taylor

6) Memorials of the Wars of the Roses p151 W E Hampton

 

Richard III and the Augustinian Friary in York

Dorothy Mitchell outside York Minster

During a branch visit to York during the 1990s the Worcestershire Branch went on a tour of York led by Dorothy Mitchell. Dorothy was the Chairman of The Friends of Richard III, which was based in York. We met her at the Minster which was our first port of call and then we went on to the Yorkshire Museum. After several fascinating talks about various sites Dorothy took us to a coffee bar on the Lendal, which she explained was the only remaining part of the site of the Augustinian Friars. We walked through the coffee bar to a door at the back and there inside was all that remained of the Augustinian Friary. Down some stone steps and we went back to medieval times in a room built of grey stone with a small window it was obviously very old probably pre 15th century.
“The Augustinian Friary in York was granted protection by Henry III and Richard III when Duke of Gloucester. It was renowned for its library of books on philosophy, theology and music. Situated in the Lendal, it was founded in 1272. By Richard III’s time it stretched most of the way along the Lendal from roughly where the Post Office is today to Museum Street.
The Friary may have been hidden from the street behind a row of houses but there would have been one or two entrances through to the Friary itself which occupied the land between the Lendal and the river.” John Oxley York City Archaeologist, York Press 9th of October 2013
While we were there Dorothy told us about a record in the York Records which told of Richard arriving in York late one night on his way back to Middleham. I am not sure if this was while he was King or Duke of Gloucester. As we know when Richard was in York he always stayed at the Augustinian Friary. It was late when he arrived, and he was tired. While attempting to sleep he was disturbed by a drunken resident of York who was making a loud noise outside. After asking them to quieten down and go away, Richard asked for the man to be arrested so that he could sleep.
The following morning Richard and his retinue left York early in order to continue his journey to Middleham. They had travelled quite a long way towards Middleham when Richard remembered that he had not authorised the release of the young man, so he immediately turned around and went back to York to order the young man’s release and then set off again for Middleham.
Dorothy’s question to us was “Do you think that a man who did that would murder his nephews?” Unsurprisingly the answer was no he would not.
We all have good memories of Dorothy, who sadly died in 2007. Dorothy was an ardent Ricardian and we ended the day at Micklegate Bar where the Friends of Richard III had a museum. Unfortunately, the museum at Micklegate Bar is now the Henry VII museum.
Dorothy and the The Friends of Richard III presented a chalice and a stained glass window to York Minster in memory of Richard III.
At the time of the visit we did not question Dorothy about where in the York records this could be found. I have Lorraine Attreed’s York House Books and it does not appear to be recorded there.

This is an extract from a leaflet “A Guide to Ricardian Yorkshire” by The Society of Friends of King Richard III, written by Dorothy:

THE SOCIETY OF FRIENDS OF KING  RICHARD III

Achievements to date include:

Minster Medieval Spectacular, June 1980

Commemorative Plaque erected to Edward Prince of Wales upon the Minster Library once the Archbishop’s Chapel, Dean’s Park York.

Promotion of the Richard III Public House, December 1980.

Children’s All England Literary Competition December 1978

Wars of the Roses Exhibition, Castle Museum, York.

Richard III Lecture Tours.

Organised Tours of Ricardian York.

Richard III Fairs at Sheriff Hutton.

Library Exhibitions.

And now in The Quincentenary Year:

Commemorative Plaque in the Guildhall.

Commemorative Coat of Arms to Prince Edward in The Cross Keys, Dringhouses, York.

Lecture tour to Teachers Training Centres.

Children’s Competition Literary/ Acting/Costume Competitions

Minster Play.

Recital of Ricardian Poetry.

Presentation of Minster Chalice, 1985

Traces of the Romans found during extensive work under York’s Guildhall….

 

A £15.5 million construction project is in progress, to restore York’s Guildhall, which has stood on the banks of the River Ouse for centuries. Certainly it was known by Richard III, who visited the building during his reign. And who lived in Yorkshire for many years as the Duke of Gloucester, of course.

Archaeologists have discovered ancient remains that go back to the Roman period. To read more, go to their article, where you will also find an informative video.

The Last Knight: The Art, Armor, and Ambition of Maximilian I

Maximilian I was Richard III’s nephew-in-law, and wanted an alliance with the English king in 1484.

RICARDIAN LOONS

Maximilian exhibit-190 Portrait of Maximilian I, from the workshop or a follower of Albrecht Dürer.

Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519) is one of those larger-than-life historical figures. Straddling the medieval and Renaissance eras, he worked tirelessly and spent a vast fortune to establish the Habsburgs as one of Europe’s dominant ruling families. In England, the House of York considered him a vital ally to the interests of English territories and trade on the continent.

In 1484, Maximilian’s envoy asked Richard III to send him 6,000 archers to strengthen that alliance, calling the English king ‘that prince of all Christian princes’ ‘of very great and excellent virtues’ to whom Maximilian had ‘most love and affection, and with whom he desires most to ally and confederate himself’[1].  Expressing no consternation over the deposition of Edward V or the disappearance of the ‘princes in the Tower’, and perhaps believing they were still…

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