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A house in Scarborough

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The King Richard III restaurant today

If you visit Scarborough Castle and go down towards the beach from there, turn your head to your right and walk along the seafront opposite the Harbour, and you will notice something singular. Among the shops, cafés and fish-and-chip restaurants, there is a house that stands out because it is the oldest in the area. It is the ‘paradise’ of Ricardians in Scarborough as it is called ‘The King Richard III’ and it is a very well maintained restaurant where you can have a delicious lunch or just a pint, inside the ancient building or  outside to enjoy the sun and the sea breeze.

 

Why was the restaurant named after the last

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The plaque outside the building

warrior king of the House of York? There is a compelling story that might give people an explanation.  In the summer of 1484, Richard III went to Scarborough, apparently for naval business. He loved Scarborough and Yorkshire in general so it is easy to imagine he enjoyed the wonderful view of the bay and the fresh, salty sea air especially after the terrible spring that had taken away his only legitimate son from him. It is said that during his stay in Scarborough, the king had chosen to stay in a house rather than in the castle and he chose the building we can still see today.

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The oldest picture taken in 1912.

The story of the building is very interesting and it is a miracle it is still there, intact, as if no time passed for it. There have been attempts to find out the history of the house from the 15th century till today, but the lack of documentation has made it impossible to trace the owner of the house during Richard’s reign. We know that it was the property of the Tindall family, who had a long history as shipbuilders, but this was in the 17th century. The first owner from the Tindall family was James and, when he died, his son lived in the house with his family. When the Tindalls moved, in 1880, the house became the property of a baker, William Purcell, who baked in the house and after this it became an engineering shop owned by Thomas Varley. The next owner was a certain Mary Forrest who stayed there until 1850. Since then, the house has had other owners, including a certain Mr John Wray, and a picture was taken in 1892 in which the plaque is still visible. There is a sign over the top with the following information: ‘Late Residence of Richard III, May 22nd 1484’.

Scarb KR House

The oldest picture taken in 1912

During the Victorian Age, they had a terrible habit of trying to modernise every ancient building, so the house was completely changed, with the bay windows removed and the stone walls plastered. The house became a grocery shop until 1905. In 1908, the house was acquired by The Seaman’s Mission Institute but, at the same time, the mission started to allow visitors to view the house for an admission fee of 2d. Possibly, this gave the new owner, Mr Booth, the idea to take advantage of the story of the king by transforming the property into a museum in 1914. Unfortunately, just a year later, Mr Booth drowned on the Lusitania and the house was bought by one of his relatives, Mr Burrows. Referring to Mrs Wharton’s drawings, Burrows was able to remove the Victorian plaster and install a replica of the original bay windows, so that the house now looks very similar to the original medieval building. Mrs Wharton’s drawings also show the so-called ‘King’s Bedchamber’ located on the second floor, the furniture inside and the decorated plastered ceiling.

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The York Rose and the bull of the Neville family

The building’s restoration was not an easy task. It started in 1915 and it was discovered that the building was larger than expected, detached, with a two-storey hall and the extended west-wing. Boarding, plaster and wallpaper were removed and many details came to life including the decorative plasterwork in the ‘King’s Bedchamber’ decorated with a geometrical multi curve and a pattern of square panels with thin ribs.  In the centre there is the York Rose, the Arms of Richard III and, at each of the four corners, the bull of the Neville family.

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The stained glass in the restaurant

Today, the main hall is named ‘The King’s Hall’ and there is a stained glass with the symbol RIII. It is possible to see two reproductions of War of the Roses suits of armour and a panel in red with the same features as the glass. The King Richard III house is a Grade I listed building.

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The King’s Hall

It is not sure that King Richard stayed in this house because the castle is very close to it, so there shouldn’t have been any reason for the King to sleep in a normal house. Moreover, in the castle, you can see some panels with multiple choice questions. One of these asks: ‘Who was the last owner of the castle?’ and the right answer is, of course, Richard III. Where does the truth lie? My personal opinion is that the King slept in his castle and he possibly had a pint or a glass of wine in the house. One thing is certain; Richard had a particular dedication to the town of Scarborough. Had he survived Bosworth, Scarborough and its surroundings would have become an independent county, as written in a vellum document of his reign but, sadly, fate decided differently.

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Tales of a Ricardian Traveler – Part Two: Rievaulx Abbey and Helmsley Castle

RICARDIAN LOONS

Lady on Horseback Lady on Horseback, mid-15th c., British Museum

My previous Travel Tales blog talked about the Forest of Bowland and Skipton.  Today, we’re going to two places that sometimes get forgotten by the traveler who is interested in visiting places having some Richard III connections:  Rievaulx Abbey and Helmsley Castle.

Rievaulx Abbey Rievaulx Abbey – Refectory and undercroft

From our temporary homebase in Ripon-Masham, we drove 30 miles to visit one of the gems of English medieval history.  Like Fountains and Byland Abbeys, Rievaulx was one of the great Cistercian monasteries of medieval Europe, and its ruins are said to be the “most complete” of any of the dissolved religious houses in England. It has one of the most spectacular natural settings within a deep valley in the North York Moors National Park; however, to take a photograph from the best vantage point one has to pay an admission price of…

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On two nineteenth century novelists …

The novelists in question are Jane Austen (1775-1817) and Charlotte Bronte (1816-55). Jane Austen’s views on Richard III are well known: http://www.richardiii-nsw.org.au/about/a-literary-taste/jane-austen-and-richard-iii/.

Was Charlotte Bronte, whose sister Anne is buried on the approach to Richard’s Scarborough Castle, also a Ricardian? Perhaps she left a clue in her 1847 bestseller “Jane Eyre”, in which the eponymous character almost marries Edward Rochester, only to find out that he already has a wife. I really can’t think who she was referring to.

Between the Salt Water and the Sea Sand, Richard the Third Expresses his Affection for Scarborough Town:

http://www.culture24.org.uk/history-and-heritage/royal-history/art520834-charter-reveals-how-richard-iii-planned-to-make-scarborough-an-independent-county

One of the new myths to pop up since the discovery of the remains of Richard the Third (particularly by the denialists) is that The King had very little genuine connection to the county of Yorkshire, much less strong affection for it. And yet, in this recent article posted in Culture 24, a rare vellum document written by the King that will go on display in the Scarborough Art Gallery at the end of the month, paints an opposite picture of his feelings. Written in the spring of 1485, several months before his untimely death, he granted a charter to the city of Scarborough to let it become an independent county. He expressed his esteem in the following way:

“The special Affection which we have and bear towards the Town of Scardeburgh in the County of York and The Burgesses of the same and in consideration of their good and faithful Behavior and for their more secure Immunity and quiet and also for other Causes…”

Not the words of a man who was indifferent to the hopes and dreams of the citizens of Scarborough.

Recently, on Social Media, it has been pointed out again and again that Richard the Third was born in Fotheringhay in Northamptonshire and only spent about three years in knightly training in Wensleydale. This seems to be a major disqualifier for either suggesting that Richard was a Yorkshireman or that he thought of himself as a Yorkshireman. For me, this is like saying that the late great Mayor Ed Koch was not a New Yorker because he was originally from New Jersey!

Of course, we know that as Duke of Gloucester (the dukedom being another denialist disqualifier) he returned to Middleham where he ruled the north of England from 1472-1483, winning the allegiance and support of the people of that region. Is it no wonder that given this astonishing achievement, matched by his still impressionable youth and the birth of his son at Middleham, he began to develop a strong bond and identification with his adopted county?

Roots go down very quickly for human beings; before we are unpacked and while our belongings are still in crates, small, tender roots are going down into the soil binding us to our new home. Why should it be different for a King of England?

A return to the East Riding (2007)

I had visited York twice before, the first time with my primary school thirty years ago, and am thus familiar with the classic medieval and subsequent attractions. On my second visit, my late mother and I went to the same venues, thus I was determined to visit the subsequently built Jorvik centre.

In this I was thwarted because our visit was limited to ninety minutes on a Friday afternoon, one of the disadvantages of using a hotel in Middlesborough. Having walked as far as the Minster, I discovered that the Richard III Museum was close at hand. This entertaining little gem is inside Monk Bar and thus very difficult for the disabled visitor. Jorvik will just have to wait until next time.

Saturday was far more satisfactory. Whilst Cardinal Morton is reputed to have an adverse effect upon the weather when Ricardians go on tour, Mary “Tudor” has yet to develop such influence. There was some bad weather – a veritable downpour over the fishing village of Filey in the morning – that extended our visit to Scarborough. Here, a mere six miles away, the weather was fine and I made an immediate beeline for the famous Castle.

This great structure was held by Richard during his brief reign and, apart from the 1557 rebellion, was attacked during the Pilgrimage of Grace and slighted in the Civil War after a long siege. If you wish to hear the official line on Thomas Stafford’s capture of the castle, take an official audio guide and dial 21 at the right moment.

Scarborough also includes a Richard III House, which I was unable to reach, but I had one surprise. Anne Bronte’s grave is adjacent and her date of death was ……… 28 May.

On Sunday, we were allocated three hours in Whitby.  The main attractions here are the Abbey, a Captain James Cook Museum and a Dracula theme. I had just enough time for the Abbey and a nice lunch near the coach park. The Abbey was first managed by Saxon princesses and, at the Reformation, sold to the Cholmley family, one of whom was the Royalist leader who tried to defend Scarborough Castle. Sir Hugh, like Lord Capell, had been a Parliamentarian when the Civil War and his family were to recover on the Restoration.

Thomas Stafford – his execution clarified

Thomas Stafford – a new source

(by Stephen Lark)

 

When I composed a Bulletin article about Thomas Stafford in 2005, I knew a few things about him – his descent from George of Clarence and Henry of Buckingham whilst not being the senior descendant of either – but some things were not known. There was uncertainty as to where, and how, he was executed but I think this has been almost conclusively solved now.

Early in 2010, a Wikipedia page on Stafford was launched. A key source was Strype’s Ecclesiastica Memoria (volume 3, part 2) which Googlebooks have put online. The book, at first, appears to date from 1822 but John Strype or van Stryp (son of a Hugenot immigrant) lived from 1643-1737. It was actually first published in 1733, a mere 176 years after Stafford’s end, but the research must have been carried out over several years. It is surely infeasible for a nonagenarian to produce such a great work in the space of one year – and that makes it closer to the events it describes.

Pages 67-9 and 517-9 of Ecclesiastica Memoria (vol.3 part 2) list Stafford’s party, before stating that, on May 28th, “Thomas Stafford was beheaded on Tower Hill by nine of the clock, Mr. Wode being his ghostly father”. His accomplices Stowel, Procter and Bradford were drawn, hanged and quartered on the same day. It also reveals Stafford’s proclamation, describing himself as “Lord” Thomas – as if Edward VI had restored the Duchy of Buckingham to Thomas’ father instead of creating a new Barony for him – and that of Queen Mary.

Sources

Thomas Stafford – 16th Century Yorkist Rebel (Bulletin, summer 2005, by the author)

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=upwNAAAAQAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s (Ecclesiastica Memoria, op. cit.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Strype

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