Most people are aware that James Blunt’s real surname is Blount. This is an influential name in late mediaeval, “Tudor” and Stuart times. Bessie Blount was another mistress of Henry VIII and bore him Henry Duke of Richmond, who married Lady Mary Howard but died without issue, to be buried at Framlingham. Walter Blount, who lived through the mid-fifteenth century, was made Baron Mountjoy, although his male line became extinct in 1679. There were also two families of Baronets, although both of them are extinct, the second as recently as 2004. James Blunt, a former Captain himself, comes from a military family, with an 1855-born great-great-grandfather who died of dysentery during the Boer War, a great-grandfather and a great-great-uncle who fell during the Great War and a cousin who died in an air accident in 1940.
The latest common ancestor of the two major mediaeval branches was Sir John Blount of Sodington, who died in c.1358 and whose principal male line (marked by his grandsons Sir John and Sir Thomas) and leads to one of the baronetcies (Blount of Sodington). By tracing his agnatic descent, but ignoring the three titles which must be culs de sac, is it possible to connect him with the modern line?
It isn’t actually possible to do so with a single reliable cyber-source such as Genealogics as Sir John’s untitled descendants appear to expire in 1821, or 1825 for an American-based branch. However, there are other options to explore as Leo van der Pas would err towards omitting people. We have James’ ancestors back to c.1580 but they don’t connect just yet, although this Telegraph article, in two parts, helps. It describes a lineage back to Viking settlers from the tenth century – fighters, of course.
Archaeology isn’t all about the really old. The photographs accompanying this article show York digs in only recently gone decades. But, of course, there is also a lot of interesting information about York’s more distant past!
This article tells of various archaeological projects that took place in the 1970s and 80s.
“….Seven years after the remains of Richard III were discovered under a Leicester carpark, another legendary but lost English monarch has turned up in Hampshire.
“….Emma of Normandy, twice crowned Queen of England and the mother of Edward the Confessor, was interred in Winchester’s Old Minster in 1052 and was later transferred to the newly built Winchester Cathedral.
“Queen Emma, a powerful figure in late Saxon England, lay peacefully in a mortuary chest high above the cathedral choir for 600 years until the English Civil War….”
The above paragraphs are taken from this article.
Now there is a fascinating exhibition at Winchester Cathedral .
“…. The opening of Kings and Scribes: The Birth of a Nation marks the culmination of an ambitious seven-year project to unlock the Cathedral’s stories and treasures by inspiring active engagement in the interpretation and exploration of our heritage….”
When it comes to Winchester, that heritage is vast!
This Sun article, which originally confused Richard’s Leicester with Henry I’s Reading, lists what they consider to be Britain’s top burial sites, although there is no detail on the supposed “Princes” in that urn, especially now that there is evidence to test the remains.
Are there any others you might have included?
Following an unsuccesful Viking raid in 924, the battle of Maldon took place in August 991 and the result was a victory for the Norse invaders. Byrthnoth, the Essex earldorman who led the Saxons that day, was among those killed and Ethelred II instituted payment of the “Danegeld” to pacify the Vikings. This Byrthnoth statue (left), consequently, is displayed and a tapestry marking the millennium is part of the Maeldune Centre, to which we shall return.
Just over a mile from the town centre is Beeleigh Abbey, where Isabel Countess of Essex (Richard’s aunt) was buried, together with her Bourchier husband and son, before they were moved to Little Easton by her grandson, then Earl of Essex, at the time of the Dissolution, as were the Mowbrays and Howards in Thetford. The Abbey is closed nowadays, although it can be viewed from the gardens, which remain open.
This Essex town, by the Blackwater Estuary and the narrower River Chelmer, lies about six miles from Witham and was previously accessible from there by train. This plaque (left) by the Moot Hall details the more recent historic buildings, many of them on the High Street. The Rose and Crown (bottom) is one of these, down the hill and still in operation as an inn today.
The Maeldune Centre itself lies at the Market Hill junction, by Coes. Across the road is a long redundant church (St. Peter’s), which was adapted by the Maldon-born Thomas Plume (1630-1704), Vicar of Greenwich and Archdeacon of Rochester, to place Maldon Grammar School on the ground floor and his extraordinary private library (below left) on the first. The school has moved on but the Plume Library, funded by the income from nearby farmland, still stands.
Here, in a structure open only eight hours a week and accessible by a spiral staircase, the books are arranged by size and are not lent but have been stored since Plume’s time and a modern volume is very occasionally added. The collection relates to Plume’s interests in theology, history, science and philosophy, as well as the Civil War that plagued his youth. Some of the leather spines on the books are disintegrating although the pages themselves are in good condition.
Plume’s collection also includes a notable range of portraits, including all the monarchs of his lifetime and others from Edward IV, but excluding Edward V, the first two “Tudors” and Jane. The portraits include other clerics, including an “unknown divine”, whilst that of Charles I was made before his beard made an appearance. Groups can visit only by appointment and the total capacity is limited to twelve, including the staff.
So, to view a good portrait of Richard III and the former burial place of his Bourchier relatives, as well as some other history, Maldon is certainly worth a day out. All Saints, the contemporary civic church, houses the remains of George Washington‘s great-grandfather.
Hero or villain? Richard III, played by Nick Trott, is the latest subject of the York Dungeon’s Yorkshire Rogues & Legends series
Well, reading this, I thought by now that everyone in York knows Richard was a hero, but maybe not….
The scanty arches of St Oswald’s Priory lie tucked in a Gloucester suburb a few minutes walk from the cathedral. Once a place of great importance, it was the burial spot of Queen Aethelflaed, daughter of Alfred the Great. She was a warrior-queen who fought the Vikings. Henry of Huntingdon wrote this about her–
Heroic Elflede! great in martial fame,A man in valour, woman though in name:Thee warlike hosts, thee, nature too obey’d,Conqu’ror o’er both, though born by sex a maid.Chang’d be thy name, such honour triumphs bring.A queen by title, but in deeds a king.Heroes before the Mercian heroine quail’d:Caesar himself to win such glory fail’d
Her husband Aethelred was also buried at St Oswald’s and it is though they were attempting to found a new royal Mercian vault after the destruction of the one at Repton by the Norse invaders.
Recently, on the anniversary of the Queen’s death, a re-enactment was held in Gloucester with a funeral cortege bearing a ‘body’ arriving by water then passing through the town, past the cathedral and out to the priory.
As past of the commemorations, the local children were also asked to get involved with the local archaeologists, and a hitherto unknown tower belonging to St Oswald’s appears to have been found.
Maybe futher excavation might also find the bones of this ancient Queen, although it seems most likely her remains and that of her husband and St Oswald himself were moved around in the 11/12c rebuildingof the priory, and then everything was destroyed in the Reformation, leaving little above ground