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Archive for the tag “Yorkshire”

From a wild flower to the Great Feast of Cawood….

Sedum telephium

While looking in A Dictionary of Superstitions, edited by Iona and Moira Tatem, specifically for anything concerning Midsummer traditions, I found one that involved the orpine/sedum plant. The following passage was taken from Brand, Antiquities I 263-4, 1777:-

“….on 22nd January, 1801, a small gold ring….was exhibited to the Society of Antiquaries….It had been found….in a ploughed field near Cawood, in Yorkshire, and had for a device two Orpine plants joined by a true-love knot, with this motto above: ‘Ma fiance velt’, i.e. my sweetheart wills, or is desirous. The stalks of the plants were bent to each other, in token that the parties represented by them were to come together in marriage…From the form of the letters it appeared to have been a ring of the fifteenth century….”

Apparently the tradition at Midsummer was to take two slips of orpine/sedum plant and put them close together in a chink in the roof joists. They were kept moist and called Midsummer Men, representing a lover and his sweetheart. The way the slips grew toward or away from each other told if the lovers would know happiness or not. Woe betide them if the slips died!

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find out more about this ring, not its present whereabouts or an illustration, but it is yet another such treasure from the fifteenth century found in Yorkshire.

Cawood has an ancient bridge over the River Ouse, and a former residence of the Archbishops of York that is now called Cawood Castle. According to Wikipedia: “….George Neville became Archbishop of York in 1465 and held a feast at the castle. The Earl of Warwick, the Archbishop’s brother, aided in the preparation of the feast and is said to have wanted a feast larger than the King’s coronation feast. Guests included the Duke of Gloucester, the King’s brother. The feast lasted several days and became known as the Great Feast of Cawood due to the sheer size of it. Records from the feast show that a substantial quantity of food was consumed, including 104 oxen, 6 wild bulls, 400 swans, 1000 capons and 104 peacocks; 25,000 gallons of wine were consumed with the meal….”

To read more of the feast and of the castle and its history, go to this article This site is well worth a lengthy visit.

Perhaps it was during this great shindig that the ring was lost! But all this goes to show how astonishing research can be. This time it started with finding an interesting Midsummer superstition, led to a 15th-century ring with twined sedum flowers, and thence to a nearby residence of the Archbishops of York and the famous Great Feast of Cawood, attended by Richard and Warwick the Kingmaker, among others. From little acorns great oak trees do grow!

Medieval jewels have been found, but my emerald has gone forever….

This illustration is from the Yorkshire Post and has been chosen to illustrate the sort of wonderful finds that have been made by detectorists.

There has been a positive rash of such discoveries, and each time I am reminded again of how dreadful it must have been, way back when, to lose something as valuable as, say, a ring. People had fewer possessions then, and a jewelled ring would have been a dreadful loss.

There are other examples of lost jewellery, such as this article

plus, of course, the matchless Middleham Jewel!

Of course, not all detectorists are well-intentioned. Those they call nighthawks are in it for more nefarious reasons.

Illustration from the Independent

I cannot claim to have lost anything as valuable as the Middleham Jewel, but I did lose the emerald from my engagement ring. That awful moment when I glanced at my hand and saw the hole/space/gap, will live with me forever. It was like hearing the hollow clang of a huge invisible bell. My beautiful emerald had gone forever, and I was gutted.

Not my ring, merely an illustration from Gemselect.

Finding another emerald of the same colour and clarity proved impossible, so the ring now boasts a lovely ruby instead, but I still wonder what happened to the emerald.

Might someone find it in years to come? Or has it gone forever? I’d been into Gloucester that day, so it could had been lost then. A girl going shopping goes everywhere! One thing’s certain, unless they invent an emerald-detector, it won’t be located by some hopeful detectorist in a future century.

 

Sweet, sweet revenge….! The White Rose forever….!

from here

Not quite grossly humiliated over the back of a horse, but it’ll have to do. Much better if there’d been a very thorny white rose stuck in the van’s exhaust pipe. Ah, well….

Phone app will take Barnard Castle tourists into the past….

This seems a wonderful idea. Don’t we all like looking at old photographs of place and seeing what is still there now? if anything? It’s possibly why the Francis Frith photographs are so popular. We love to look at what has been lost forever, but which some of the more senior of us still remember.

Of course, Ricardians would love to see photographs that were taken in medieval times. Impossible, I know. But we can dream.

In the meantime, take a look at this article.

PS: I confess that my very first thought on seeing the above photograph was that if it had been taken on a very “touristy” day in midsummer, someone pausing like this, to compare past with present, would very likely cause a huge knock-on effect! People everywhere, like skittles.

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.

A drive to save Barnard Castle church windows paid for by Richard III….

Local people in Barnard Castle are getting together to help with restoration at St Mary’s parish church. Such a thing would always be of interest to us, of course, more especially if you read the article below and get to: “Work is also needed to replace stonework around some of the windows that Richard III paid to have installed and which were last replaced during Victorian times.”

And when did you last see your father?

This famous painting, which hangs in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, is so well known that it barely requires introduction.

It should be noted though that, contrary to some analysis, the fact that the children are wearing colourful clothing does not of itself make them “Royalist”.

Parliamentarians often wore colourful clothing too, and many of them wore their hair long – not cropped. Equally, supporters of the King often appear in portraits wearing black. Black happened to be fashionable, and it was also an expensive dye. So a suit of black implied your wealth, especially if cut from fine cloth. The mother of the children, standing in background, is wearing black.

Clothing was, in fact, more a matter of class distinction than political.

At the Battle of Marston Moor, one of the Parliamentary generals, Sir Thomas Fairfax (not this Royal ancestor), passed through the Royalist lines by the simple expedient of removing his “field sign” – without which he was indistinguishable from a Royalist officer.

It should be explained that up until the creation of the New Model Army (which wore red) regiments were clothed in whatever colours their colonel chose, so you could have regiments wearing (say) blue on both sides of a battle. Officers naturally wore their own clothes and equipment – nothing so lowly as uniform for them! Hence the “field sign”. This was usually improvised on the day. It could be something as simple as a sprig of barley worn in the hat, depending, of course, on what was available.

 

 

 

Where a refugee from Towton fled

Today in 1461, which was Palm Sunday, the Battle of Towton was fought, resulting in a Yorkist victory with large scale casualties. Legend has it that Henry VI fled to Muncaster Castle, then in Cumberland, where he gave his host Sir John Pennington a glass drinking bowl. It became known as the “Luck of Muncaster” such that both host family and deposed monarch would thrive so long as the bowl remained intact. It does today and the Penningtons (originally Alan de Penitone when granted the building in 1208) still own the castle, although the fragile Henry died just over ten years later.

This building was visited by Paul Rose in his recent BBC2 The Lakes series.

The Church of St. Alkelda at Middleham

History of St Mary and St Alkelda Church

If you go to Middleham, your priority will be to visit the castle of King Richard III but you can’t leave this fabulous town of the Dales without having a look at the church of St Mary and St Alkelda. This church is a must for visitors, especially Ricardians, and considering it is not a massive church, it has a lot to offer to those who love historical buildings.

The first church on the actual spot where the present church is built dates back to the 12th century but just a couple of stones are still there. The actual date of the foundation of the church seems to be the year 1280.

The dedication of the church is to the Virgin Mary and St Alkelda. Myth and folklore surround this saint and many even doubt her existence, even though in 1818, when the nave was dug, a stone coffin was found. When it was opened, the mortal remains of a woman were found and in the exact spot where tradition indicates St Alkelda was buried in the south east corner of the present church.  The meaning of her name derives from the Old English – Norse healikeld in Modern English “holy well”. It seems that there was a well close to the church and the water was very effective for eye problems.

The new church was built around 1350 while the tower was added in 1450 approximately. St Alkelda was martyred around 800 AD so it is possible that a Christian society was already active in Middleham. However, we need to go to 1280 to have a church there with a nave, aisles and a chancel. The following year, Mary of Middleham was born. She is thought to have been the heiress to the castle and the patron of the church. The first mention of the church is found in a taxation document by Pope Nicholas IV in 1291. The value of the church was fixed at £8. In 1310 the church was endowed with lands to increase the value of the building.

The Feast Day of St Alkelda was granted in 1388 by Richard II on 5th November and lasted 3 days. In 1470 Edward IV granted a license to found a chantry in the south aisle. Previously, in 1460 St Alkelda and the castle of Middleham was the house of Richard Neville, better known as Warwick the Kingmaker. After the death of Richard, Duke of York, Cecily Neville of Raby, his wife, moved with her children to Middleham. Warwick made Edward Plantagenet King Edward IV but when this latter failed the Kingmaker’s expectations by “marrying” Elizabeth Woodville and not a French princess, Neville plotted against him, planning to put on the throne George Duke of Clarence, the King’s brother, or to restore Henry VI. The outcome was the battle of Barnet, where Warwick lost his life. Middleham castle and lands including the church were granted to the youngest of Cecily Neville’s sons Richard Duke of Gloucester, who later became King Richard III. He married Anne Neville, one of Warwick’s daughters and inherited the Lordship of Middleham.

In 1477, possibly at Gloucester’s request, Edward IV, his brother, granted a license for transforming St Alkelda into a College with a Dean, six Chaplains, four Clerks, a Sacristan and six Choristers. In the Statute drawn up by Richard Gloucester, the Dean was appointed to lead perpetual masses for the Royal Yorkist family. A copy of the original statute is currently displayed on the left aisle under the white boar and the stained glass window depicting Richard and his family. When Richard became King Richard III, the church became known as the King’s College, Middleham. Sadly, in 1547, the Chantry was closed by Act of Parliament under Henry VIII’s Reformation of the Church. It seems that the Collegiate title was one in name only because it was never listed as an exempted Collegiate church in the Act for the Dissolution of Chantries in 1547 during the reign of Edward VI.

In 1538 Thomas Cromwell decided to allow couples to marry in St Alkelda without a license or banns. This practice stopped in the 18th century. Because of this, St Alkelda was a sort of Gretna Green in Yorkshire.

In 1839, Dean Wood tried to revive the Chapter appointing six Canons and reinstated the Cathedral form of service. In 1845 the status of Royal Peculiar ended. The Dean became a Rector and St Alkelda an ordinary parish church under the Bishop of Ripon.

St Alkelda has many valuable objects and decorations. Apart from the 14th century relief of the Crucifixion and the 15th century glass depicting St Alkelda’s martyrdom, the visitors can also appreciate the Saxon gravestones in the north aisle, the 14th century stone font and chancel arch. In addition to this, there is the Lady Chapel aisle with Richard III’s White Boar standard, a copy of his royal seal, a copy of the statute of the church signed by Richard Gloucester and the beautiful window depicting the King and his family.

There are many other artefacts and decorations in St Alkelda to see such as the medieval grave covers, the carved gargoyles, the copy of the Middleham jewel and much more. St Alkelda is a church belonging to the Anglican Diocese of Leeds.

St Alkelda Pilgrimage Way

There is a new plan going on as regards St Alkelda; a walking route around 35 miles long that follows an ancient prehistoric and Roman route for most of the way. It goes through the Yorkshire Dales National Park and it would take walkers 2-3 days to complete it depending on how experienced they were.

The route from Middleham goes via Coverdale, passing by little hamlets, Coverham Abbey, churches with monastic associations, evidence of ancient settlements, tumuli and an impressive earthwork. It then takes in Kettlewell (tourist centre), passes down Wharfedale to Kilnsey, up  and into the  limestone hill country, Mastiles Lane, an ancient trackway, Roman camp, the remains of 5 medieval wayfaring crosses. Il passes down Celtic and medieval field systems into Malham tourist centre and where the archaeological dig of St Helen’s chapel, holy well and graveyard, medieval and Anglo-Saxon, takes place in May. From there it goes past Malham Cove, peregrine falcon reserve, a spectacular limestone scenery, down to Stockdale Lane and descends to Ribblesdale past evidence of a Roman camp waterfalls,  limestone caves where prehistoric and Romano-British remains have been found,  Settle, market town and across the river to Giggleswick and its church.

On the route, we see how the different rocks – limestone and millstone grit mostly, produce different scenery, grass colours and flora. In St Alkelda’s day, there would have been marsh and bog around the rivers, woodland and even thick forest in places, the habitat of deer, wolves, bears, and wild boar. These animals are mentioned in some Celtic nature poetry, also Prayers for Protection! It was the monks and their sheep during the Middle Ages who changed the landscape to what it looks like today. The plan has just started but visitors and good walkers will soon enjoy the awesome St Alkelda Pilgrimage Way.

Richard III and Football

A few years ago, when Leicester City won the Premier League, some people connected the success to the then-recent discovery of Richard’s remains in the city.

This is a fanciful idea. However, there are three major clubs that play in Richard’s colours.

Aston Villa This historic club is by far the largest in the Midlands. They have many, many honours, albeit most of them were collected in the 19th Century. Having said that, they are one of the few English teams to have won the European Cup, a feat achieved in 1982. They are currently languishing in the Championship, the second tier of English football. It is likely that such a large and important club will soon regain a Premier League place.

West Ham United. This club has long been noted for playing open attractive football. Its finest hour was perhaps 1966, when it provided three players (Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst) to the England side that won the World Cup. West Ham won the European Cup Winners Cup in 1965 and they have also won 3 FA Cups over the years, although never a top level Championship. Many people’s favourite London club, they recently moved into a new stadium at Stratford, forsaking their long-established and much-loved Boleyn Ground.

Burnley Currently the nearest Premier League club to Middleham. Burnley are a “small town” club who have never been able to attract the crowds of their big city rivals and have always had to operate on a budget, often making good use of youth products. At the time of writing they are rather closer to the foot of the table than their friends and supporters would wish. The won the top-flight championship for the one and only time in 1960. They have also won the FA Cup once. Given their limited resources, mere survival in the top tier is a brilliant achievement.

 

 

 

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