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May something wonderful be discovered at the Scarborough Castle dig….!

“….English Civil War musket balls, Roman pottery and items from the 2nd Century AD are among objects unearthed during a rare dig at a Yorkshire landmark. [Scarborough Castle]

“….Teams discovered the find during a six-week operation on land at Scarborough Castle, which was twice besieged in the 17th Century civil war.

“….The last major excavations on this section of the site took place almost a century ago….”

With all the amazing detectorist discoveries in recent years, let’s hope that something really amazing turns up at the Scarborough Castle dig.

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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.

Quite an unfortunate family

Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, cannot be called unlucky. The story of his revolt against Richard III, ending in Salisbury at the start of November 1483 is so well known that even Shakespeare has the right end of this particular stick. However, his family suffered fates that they didn’t always deserve so obviously:
1) His son Edward, the 3rd Duke, was beheaded in May 1521 having expressed the view that he was a claimant to the throne, Henry VIII being almost childless at the time. Despite Shakespeare’s portrayal, evidence that he was engaged in a plot of any kind is very thin on the ground.
2) His granddaughter, Margaret Bulmer *, was burned in May 1537. Together with her late husband, Sir John, she had been involved in the Pilgrimage of Grace and a later revolt.
3) His great-grandson, Thomas, was beheaded in May 1557 as the ringleader of the Scarborough Rebellion.

After Thomas’ time, the Stafford surname became somewhat safer. His nephew Sir William rebelled against Elizabeth I but was merely imprisoned. The Stafford barony was restored in 1548 and it eventually passed to one of the last remaining members of the family, Mary. As a ward of the Howard family, taking a ninety year enforced holiday from their Norfolk duchy, she was married to William Howard, descended from Edward Stafford’s daughter, who was created Viscount Stafford. On the third last day of 1680, as one of five Catholic peers arrested over the “Popish Plot”, the aged Viscount met his death at Tower Hill although none of the other four were actually convicted. Mary Stafford was created a Countess five years later, which didn’t quite compensate her adequately.
The final example came just over a century later – the victim didn’t bear the Stafford surname even by marriage and he wasn’t executed in England.  William Jerningham was posthumously agreed to have been a Baron Stafford and Frances, nee Dillon, his Baroness. General Arthur Dillon, her brother, was an English-born Irish officer in the French army and was beheaded in April 1794 as an alleged counter-revolutionary.

* Stephanie Mann on Lady Bulmer:
http://supremacyandsurvival.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/ladys-not-for-hanging-margaret-bulmer.html

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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