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Holiday in Morpeth Castle’s wonderful gatehouse….!


I love to stay at places with history. Especially medieval history. That is why I so love going to 14th-century Dartington Hall near Totnes in Devon. Now I have found somewhere else I’d like to go, although it’s in the opposite end of the country – Morpeth Castle in Northumberland. Well, the castle gatehouse, to be precise. From everything I see at these websites, it’s well worth the effort!

The much restored gatehouse has been converted into very pleasing accommodation.

As an aside, in 1516 Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII’s sister and the widow of James IV of Scotland, stayed at Morpeth for four months as she fled to seek refuge with her brother in England. She must be one of the few women who actually sought protection from that man!

Another “Lancastrian” widow

Last week, we saw how Joan of Navarre, the widow of Henry IV, was imprisoned for witchcraft and only released after Henry V, her stepson, died. We were also reminded how legislation was passed just a few years later to prevent royal widows from marrying during their sons’ minorities – this was aimed at Catherine de Valois, widow of Henry V, who died before her eldest son attained his majority in mid-1437.

Joan “Beaufort” (c.1404-45) was the daughter of John, Earl of Somerset, whose mother was definitely Catherine de Roet and whose father was either Sir Hugh Swynford or John of Gaunt. Joan married James I, the prisoner or hostage of the three Lancastrian Kings for eighteen years, who was eventually killed at the Whitefriars in Perth in 1437. Two years later, she married another James Stewart, this one known as the “Black Knight of Lorn” but was soon arrested by the authority of her son’s regents and died under siege at Dunbar Castle.

So this Joan “Beaufort”, even though she wasn’t a lineal  Lancastrian (because she was unrelated to Blanche of Lancaster, whoever her grandfather was) and wasn’t living in England, fell victim to the same suspicions as the Navarrese and French Queens Dowager of England.

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