Those mysterious childrens coffins in Edward IV’s vault….


Edward’s IV Monument in St Georges Chapel, Windsor


Back in  2016  I was much intrigued by a story that had been hanging around for some time that when Edward’s IV’s vault and coffin were discovered in 1790 in St Georges Chapel, an adjoining vault was also discovered which was thought may have contained the coffins of two of Edward’s children  – George who died aged 2, and Mary who died aged 14.  This vault was not explored although a ledger stone was laid with George’s name thereon over the vault.      A drawing/diagram that was made at that time is on St George’s timeline clearing showing the ledger stone with the inscription.  


The floor plan dating from 1790 showing the ledger stone inscribed George Duke of Bedford next to the stone inscribed with his parents name on. The ledger stone covers the mysterious vault thought at that time to contain the coffins of George and Mary.

However  in 1810, during further work being made at St George’s, the actual lead coffins of George and Mary were discovered in another part of the chapel in the area known then as  Wolsey’s Chapel and now as the Albert Memorial Chapel.   These were easily identifiable because George’s lead coffin was inscribed with   

serenissimus princeps Georgius filius tercius Christianissimi principis Edvardi iiij”

and it was known that Mary had been laid to rest alongside her little brother – her funeral accounts tell us  “and after Dirige she buried by my Lorde George, her brother, on whos solles God have mercy”  (1).

When Mary’s coffin was examined it was found she was “enveloped in numerous folds of cere-cloth closely packed with cords” (2).  Finally George and Mary were laid to rest in the small vault adjoining their father’s but frustratingly no mention was made as to whether there were any other coffins in there (3).  Might this indicate there were none? Indeed would there have been room?


Mary Plantagenet.  From the Royal Window in Canterbury Cathedral. 

But still  a story was born and persists that there were two mysterious coffins in the vault which might belong to the missing boys, Edward V and Richard of Shrewsbury  who were last seen alive in the Tower of London.   Having heard of this story I wondered,  for example,  had Buckingham had the boys murdered, and Richard (not guilty of a hand in it!) then had them buried secretly next to their father? 

To add strength to the story mention of the  puzzle of ‘the coffins’ appeared on the web page of the chapel and also in an article in the Richard III Society Bulletin in September 2001, by someone who worked at the chapel in the capacity of a steward.  In the article it stated that further investigation would be made about the vault and its contents but this has, as far as I know, never happened.

Together with another friend on the RIII Society Forum, I  made an on-line search for the report that had been made at the time. It was found but could not be opened!  I then asked the St George’s Archivist via email , who kindly responded on 22nd November, 2016, to the effect that the original information on their website was inaccurate although ‘it had been used to support the theory’ and ‘if there were any coffins in the vault it is not known how many there were or when they dated from’.   The email went on to explain the 1790 report had mentioned that a small vault was noticed at the time when Edward’s vault was opened but not explored, and it was thought it could contain the coffins of two of Edward’s  children, George, Duke of Bedford, and Princess Mary.

So to clarify the St Georges blog posted in 2012 misinterpreted the information, and speculated that the coffins in Edward’s vault could belong to the missing boys from the Tower.  St George’s webpage has now been edited to reflect this. 

So, alas, the whole story is merely based on  speculation which transpired to be erronious. To clarify  when the small vault was noticed  it was not explored, but was mistakenly presumed to probably hold the remains of Edward’s children, George and Mary, who were subsequently found located elsewhere.  No one actually looked. So it is  actually not  known whether it is an empty vault or If there are coffins in there at all, because no one has ever looked…which of course provides another mystery.

With thanks to my friend Sandra Heath Wilson who corroborated on this post with me..

Timeline of References as supplied by St Georges Chapel

( A) S.M. Bond, The Monuments of St George’s Chapel (Historical Monographs series no. 12): describes the memorial stone placed in the Chapel for Princess Mary and Prince George in 1789 and briefly describes why they are thought to be buried there: “In Vetusta Monumenta, Vol. III, p. 4, an account is given of the finding, in 1789, in a vault near that of Edward IV, of what were supposed to be the bodies of his daughter, Mary, and his third son, George, Duke of Bedford. The slab then placed in the aisle, by Emlyn, was in the same style as his slab to Edward IV. Britton, in his Architectural Antiquities of Great Britain, 1812, Vol. III, p. 45, describers the later finding of two coffins in what is now called the Albert Memorial Chapel, which were also thought to contain the bodies of Mary and George. On 30 July, 1813, these two coffins were also put under the stone already bearing their names (notes, X.23).”

(B) D. & S. Lysons, Magna Britannia, vol. I, pt. I, Berkshire (reprint of an 1806 publication), p. 471 and note: talks about the 1810 discovery of Prince George’s coffin and the inscription on it – serenissimus princeps etc.; describes the body supposed to be that of Princess Mary as “enveloped in numerous folds of cere-cloth closely packed with cords”

(C) “On Friday 30th of July 1813. The two coffins which were discovered in the Tomb House in Wolsey’s Chapel in the year 1811 – & were, upon very competent evidence supposed to contain the bodies of the Infant Duke of Bedford and the Princess Elizabeth (sic.), son and daughter to King Edward the 4th, were deposited in a vault (in the presence of the Dean) constructed for the purpose immediately under the stone which bears their names, and adjoining to the tomb of King Edward the 4th, in the North Aisle of St George’s Chapel.”

St Georges Website can be found by clicking here..

(1) The Royal Funerals of the House of York at Windsor p58 Anne E Sutton & Livia Visser-Fuchs p65

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On the bones in the urn –

Mary Plantagenet –

Dr Argentine –

Edward’s mysterious death –

Katherine Plantagenet, her burial in St James Garlickhithe.

imageThe Great Fire of London. The devastating conflagration that consumed so much of medieval London including St James Garlickhythe.  Artist  Lieve Verschuier

This post will of necessity prove to be short there being a dearth of information on both Katherine and the  pre-Fire St James Garlickhythe Church where she was buried.  The church was located on Garlick Hill, or Hithe,  delightfully so named because of the garlic sold nearby.  Thanks to John Stow we know that the  Countess of Huntington the Lady Harbert was buried in that church or as it was then known, St James Garlick Hithe or Garlick Hive (1).   A church was first mentioned on the site in 1170, although it had probably stood on the site for some considerable time before this. It was rebuilt in around 1326 by Richard Rothing, Sheriff, who was buried there and  also left money for the maintenance of the fabric ( 2).  Christian  Steer has confirmed that this Countess of Huntington was indeed Katherine Plantagenet illegitimate daughter of Richard III (3). Sadly little is known about Katherine who remains  just a footnote in history so it’s comforting to know  that her burial place was known and recorded by Stow as well as in the early 16th century by the herald Thomas Benolt who noted ‘the countesse of huntyndon ladie Herbert wtout a stone’  (really William!).   We do not know who her mother was, although there has been speculation, her date of birth or if she was a sibling to Richard’s illegitimate son John of Pontefract.

We do know she was married to William Herbert  2nd Earl of Pembroke  about 1484 and presumed dead by 1487 when  her husband was recorded as  a widower at the coronation of Elizabeth of York.   William who died 16th July 1491 aged  35 (although there is a possibility it could have been earlier in  1490)  was buried at Tintern Abbey next to his first wife Mary Wydeville  as he requested in his will  ‘in or neare as may be the same where my dear and  best loved wife resteth buried’.   Mary, who died around 1483, was sister to Elizabeth Wydeville and thus aunt to Elizabeth of York.


Tintern Abbey, burial place of William Herbert and his first wife Mary Wydville close to the high altar to the north of his parents tomb. 

Henry Tudor had grown up in the Herbert household at Raglan Castle and perhaps he and William could have formed a friendship as young boys before, possibly, William was sent elsewhere to continue his education  in another noble household as was the custom of the time.   Indeed it was at one time  mooted that Henry should  marry one of William’s sisters,  Maud.  William’s thoughts when Tudor invaded England can only be speculated upon as his actions, or non actions to be precise, and whereabouts are shrouded in mystery.  It has been suggested he ‘said nuthing and lay low (4). He certainly did not fight at Bosworth despite the fact that Richard III named Herbert to two commissions of array in 1484 (5).  Later he was to receive a pardon from Tudor.


Raglan Castle home to the Herberts.   Katherine may have spent some of her short married life here. Photo Jeffrey L. Thomas

Perhaps William, who had been treated generously by his father-in-law, hoped Richard would crush Tudor entirely  and life go back to normal or may  he still have held a residue of loyalty towards Tudor remaining from the times Tudor spent with his family?   Did he just think the best thing was to sit it out and see how it all panned out?  These and other reasons for his failure to act have been suggested including plain military inability. It’s difficult to see how his position, son in law to the king,  would have been enhanced if  Tudor proved triumph, which he did, but no action did he appear to take in playing his part in  ensuring a victorious outcome for Richard.  Its baffling.

How Katherine felt about how things transpired, the death of her father and her husband’s, albeit miniscule, position in the new Tudor regime can only be guessed at.    Were they both pragmatic and  decided it was inevitable and the only way to survive was to accept the situation?  Perhaps Katherine had no say in the matter?  Was William pleased  at the chain of events and how would this have left Katherine feeling? How would Katherine have felt if her husband had deliberately held the support that her father had needed at Bosworth?  Could it even be that Katherine had now become something of an embarrassment for him?   For Katherine it hardly mattered for long as she was possibly dead by 1485 perhaps a victim of the sweating sickness that engulfed London after Bosworth (6).  Intriguingly W E Hampton made the observation that ‘Her fate, curiously ignored remains a mystery and is perhaps not unconnected with the summoning of Anne Devereux (Katherine’s mother-in-lawto Henry VII after Bosworth’ (7)  Were they perhaps ordered to live apart – Tudor may not have relished the idea of a child with Plantagenet blood coursing through its veins coming into the world?

It does feel as if Katherine was a sad soul who died young and without making any kind of impact.  There is much  speculation  here of course and hopefully William, who may have suffered from ill health, was kind and reassuring  to his young wife.

For Helen Maurer’s interesting article on William click here 

and for Laurence T Greensmiths comments click here

and for an article on the wives of William Stanley Click here

Back to St James Garlickhythe – Sharing Katherine’s place of burial were other notables from that era including Lady Stanley, Lord Thomas Stanley’s first wife Eleanor Neville,  sister to Richard Neville known as the Kingmaker also ‘wtout a stone’.      Also laid to rest there was Eleanor and  Stanley’s son, George Lord Strange after his death allegedly from  poisoning.  Upon George’s mother’s death in 1472 his father had married  Margaret Beaufort that same year and thus George became Henry Tudor’s step brother.   William Stanley’s widow, Elizabeth Tiptoft Countess of Worcester d.1498 is also buried there along with an unknown Stanley child – yes dear reader the  very Elizabeth who prior to being the widow of William Stanley was widow to John Tiptoft aka The Butcher of England.  This lady was either very brave or very unlucky to have a predilection for choosing husbands that were to end their lives on the chopping block – maybe a combination of both –  but I digress.    However it is  ironic that Katherine should share her burial place with members of the very family that betrayed her father  with such tragic outcome at Bosworth.

A total of 84 churches, (plus 3 that were damaged but saved) were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666,  St James  being one of them (8).   Some of them were rebuilt including St James.   Sadly it would seem the church where Katherine lay buried was utterly destroyed and no remnants were included in the rebuild (9).  Whether any of the remains of the illustrious dead buried there, perhaps in underground  vaults, survived the fire and what became of them (and I dread to think)  I have been unable to ascertain as history frustratingly never records such interesting minutiae.  


The closest to an image of the medieval St James I have been able to trace.  St James in the middle with the grander St Martins Vintry to the east.  From the Wyngarde panorama.  See the Agas map below for comparison.


St James as in the Agas map.  St Martins Vintry is highlighted for comparison.

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(1) A Survey of London Written in the year 1598 John Stow p.221

( 2) A London Inheritance.  On line article dated 16 November 2014

(3) The Plantagenet in the Parish  Christian Steer.  The Ricardian Vol XXIV 2014 pp.63-73

(4 ) L T Greensmith Ricardian Vol 4 no.54 1976 p29

(5) Further Notes on William Herbert, Earl of Huntingdon Helen Maurer Ricardian June    1977 pp.9.11

( 6) The Children of Richard III Peter Hammond p51

(7) Memorials of the Wars of the Roses W E Hampton p123

( 8) The registers dating back to 1535 were saved. The Great Fire of London Walter Bell p40

(9) The Great Fire of London Walter George Bell p227


















Entrance to the tomb of Henry VII as seen on the opening of the vault in 1869.  Drawing by George Scarf.  

I cannot say I get a warm fuzzy feeling when I think about Henry VII’s possible reaction to King James being laid to rest alongside he and his wife, Elizabeth of York,  in their vault in Westminster Abbey.   After all,  the costs incurred in the building of Henry’s memorial and tomb were astronomical and I’m sure, from what we know of Henry’s character he didn’t intend to shell out all that money for the benefit of long distant Stuart descendants, especially those known for their dribbling,  to be buried alongside him and his ‘derest late wif the Quene’ . It’s clearly stated in his will the vault was intended just for he and Elizabeth alone.  But shove James in there they did, which its thought  was how Elizabeth’s coffin got damaged.  Oh the outrage and its not on!

‘AND we wol that our Towmbe bee in the myddes of the same Chapell, before the High Aultier, in such distance from the same, as it is ordred in the Plat made for the fame Chapell, and signed with our haude: In which place we wol, that for the said Sepulture of vs and our derest late wif the Quene, whose soule God p’donne, be made a Towmbe of Stone called Touche, sufficient in largieur for The us booth.’

How did James come to be interred in Henry VII’s vault?  Unfortunately it’s not known,  but we do know how it was discovered to be the case.  In 1868, Dean Stanley’s attention was drawn to conflicting reports of  the whereabouts of James’ and his Queen, Anne of Denmark’s vault.    Recognising the importance of ‘the knowledge of the exact spots where the illustrious dead repose‘ (1) Dean Stanley resolved to get to the bottom of it.


Dean Stanley

Although it had been noted  by one brief line in the Abbey’s Register that James had been buried in Henry’s vault

‘this was not enough for  Dean Stanley.  He loved exploring and he persuaded himself that he must first eliminate all other possible places by opening up each of the Royal vaults in turn’ (2).

Vault after vault was opened, some were empty, some crammed full.  The coffins were discovered of a multitude of royal and noble personages including Mary, Queen of Scots (Dean Stanley thought James might have been interred with his mother),  Mary Tudor and her sister Elizabeth, the latter ‘s coffin on top of the other, Edward VI, the numerous children of James II and of Queen Anne, and many others too numerous to mention here.  The vault of James’ wife Anne of Denmark was also found, her coffin standing alone besides the empty space where James, her husband, should have been.  Where was he?


James lst painted by Daniel Mytens

Laurence Tanner, Keeper of the Muniments and Librarian,  Westminster Abbey,  wrote

Night after night the Dean with a few of the Abbey staff was able to carry out his self-imposed task undisturbed.  On one occasion the historian Froude was present.  Speaking of it afterward he said ‘it was the weirdest scene – the flaming torches, the banners waving from the draught of air, and the Dean’s keen, eager face seen in profile had the very strangest effect.  He asked me to return with him the next night, but my nerves had had enough of it’ (3)

At last, with nowhere else left to look, the actual vault of Henry was opened and to the Dean’s genuine surprise, if not perhaps to that of others, James was found!  James’ coffin, a wooden one with a lead one inside was easily identifiable by the inscription on a copper plate soldered to the lead one :



Principis Jacobi Primi,

Magnae Britanniae

Franciae et Hiberniae, qui natus apud Scotos xiii

It was discovered on examination of the other two lead coffins therein that Elizabeth’s had been slightly damaged at the top, possibly when it was removed to allow James’ in and then she was replaced, being rather squashed into the space between the two kings.  Its easy to imagine Henry spinning in his  coffin, as, after the enormous expense of his funeral, he and his Queen are now sharing their tomb with a gooseberry, albeit a royal one.  And here they are…


The lead coffins of Henry, Elizabeth and James.  Elizabeth lies in the middle, with Henry to her right.  

To find out more about the costs of Henry’s funeral see my post 

You might also like  and


  1. Dean Stanley, Westminster Abbey, p.651
  2. Laurence Tanner, Recollections of a Westminster Antiquary, p.177
  3. Sir M E Grant Duff Notes from a Diary Vol 1 p235



Was Henry VII mean? His funeral and other Expenses.

IMG_3508.JPGEffigies of Henry Vll and Elizabeth of York by Torrigiano 

Henry died on 21 April 1509.  Henry has come down through history as something of a miser, a tightwad.  Whether this is undeserved or otherwise , I do not know,  although his Privy Purse Expenses make very interesting reading.  He certainly enjoyed gambling, frequently incurring debts (1) as did Elizabeth,  his wife, whose debts often Henry paid (2),  although on one occasion £100  was given as a loan and to be repaid (3).  An astonishing £30 pounds was paid to a ‘young damoysell that daunceth’ (4) really, Henry! although the ‘little feloo of Shaftesbury‘ only received a £1,  presumably the poor little blighter was not  as attractive as the damoysell (5).   But I digress,  because what I wanted to discuss here,  are the expenses incurred from Henry’s  funeral and tomb, an area in  which Henry clearly did not wish to rein in.

I am grateful for the following information which I have gleaned from Royal Tombs of Medieval England Mark Duffy – a marvellous book which I can thoroughly recommend.

‘The costs of building the new chapel at Westminster are estimated at around  £14,856.  The chapel was conceived as Henry’s personal chantry, and there was to be no room for any doubt.  Henry’s will instructed that

‘the Walles , Doores, Windows, Archies and Vaults, and Ymages of the same our chappel, wittin and without, be painted, garnished and adorned with our Armes, Bagies, Cognoissants, and other convenient painting, in as goodly and riche maner as suche a work requireth, and as to a Kings wek apperteigneth'(6).


And so it was done!  An Interior View of the Henry VII Chapel.  Artist Giovanni Canaletto


The  pendant fan vaulted  roof of the Henry VII chapel adorned with Beaufort portcullis and Tudor Rose ‘Bagies’.

‘The tomb commissioned by Henry itself,  featured gilt effigies of himself and Elizabeth,  plus figures of himself and 4 kneeling lords and a tomb chest of black and white marble housing 12 small images of saints to be crafted by a group of craftsmen.  The cost of this tomb was estimated at £1257.6s.8d of which the gilt metal amounted to £1050 (7).’

‘The funeral expenses exceeded an unprecedented £7,000  including £ 1,000 pounds of black cloth supplied by 56 merchants and 3,606 lbs of candle wax (8)’

‘The bronze screen enclosing the tomb was supplied by a Thomas Ducheman who was paid £51.8s and housed 32 bronze statues of saints (of which only 6 survive)’. (9)

‘The tomb chest contains an epitaph in bronze recording the achievements of the couple, not least the procreation of Henry VII, suggesting his role in the detailing of the monument’ (10)


Chantry screen of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York


Tomb of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York

imageHenry Himself…

If you liked this post you might be interested in :

  1. Excerpta Historica Edited by Samuel Bentley pp 88, 90, 102, 108, 120, 122, 126.
  2. Excerpta Historica Edited by Samuel Bentley pp 95, 907, 111, 132.
  3. Excerpta Historica  Edited by Samuel Bentley p 97
  4. Excerpta Historica Edited by Samuel Bentley P 94
  5. Excerpta Historica Edited by Samuel Bentley P 88
  6. Royal Tombs of Medieval England Mark Duffy p 279
  7. Royal Tombs of Medieval England Mark Duffy P.281
  8. Royal Tombs of Medieval England Mark Duffy p.284
  9. Royal Tombs of Medieval England Mark Duffy p.287
  10. Royal Tombs of Medieval England Mark Duffy p.286



Edward of Middleham from the Beauchamp Pageant.  Described  as ‘Edward Plantagenet, son to Kyng Richard’

Its often been written that,  along  with so many children of the times he lived in, even those of the nobility, not a lot is known about Richard III and Anne Neville’s small son Edward.  There is even confusion about both his date of birth and death, although some very plausible suggestions have been made,  as well as his place of burial which is what I would like to focus on here.

beauchamp .JPG

King Richard and Queen Anne, The Beauchamp Pageant

The fullest account of Edward’s short life, as afar as I am aware , can be found in Peter Hammond’s book The Children of Richard III while Professor Pollard devoted a chapter with the the poignant title of Last Summer at Middleham in his book The Worlds of Richard III.   Both give details of expenditures covering the last months of Edward’s life some of which are quite charming including ’12d for Martyn the fole’.

Returning to Edward’s unknown  place of burial,  various locations have been suggested including Coverham , Jervaulx, Sheriff Hutton, York and Middleham.   I personally would plump on Middleham.  Rous, who would have been in a position to know states  quite clearly Edward was buried at Middleham which would make perfect sense.   In his Latin version of his Roll,  Rous states

‘ Edward,  illustrious Prince of Wales,  only son and heir to King Richard the third and his honourable consort Anne , Queen of England,  but in fact heir to Heaven;  his sacred soul was never infected by the blemish of guilt and he died a child before his parents and was taken with honour to a grave at Middleham’ (1)

If this were the case Edward would be lying at rest undisturbed in the church of St Mary and St Akelda, Middleham.    Lets hope it stays that way,

DocbrownChurch of St Mary and St Akelda,  Middleham.  Could Richard and Anne’s son have been laid to rest here?  Photo @Docbrown

Turning to the belief that Edward was buried at Sheriff Hutton and an alabaster tomb in poor condition being his.  Despite  informative articles now being available  a quick online search will still turn up numerous articles and photographs unequivocally identifying the monument in  the church of St Helen and the Holy Cross Sheriff Hutton, Yorkshire as that of Edward of Middleham.    Although in poor condition the  damage has now been stabilised by conservation work.   Jane Crease in her article on the monument notes that   it was  first suggested in 1904 it was Edward’s tomb was even though it was not mentioned before 1623 when Dodsworth visited the church (2)    Peter Hammond mentions that a George Hardcastle in a letter in Notes and Queries Dated 1870   ‘surmised’  that Richard may have buried his son at Sherriff Hutton and thus legends are born (3).  Tellingly the monument was not mentioned in 1584 when the church was visited by Robert Glove Somerset Herald (4). Other than the 1904 reference  there does not appear to be much beyond that as to why a parish church at  Sheriff Hutton would have been chosen as Edward Prince of Wales’  burial place.  It is also strange that Richard, no doubt accompanied by Anne, after hearing about his son’s death,  left Nottingham where the tragic news had been  brought to him, travelled to Middleham via York and  Nappa, failed to visit Sheriff Hutton(5). The King and his Queen as according to the customs of the times may not have attended the funeral of their son but would surely have wished to visit his grave.  

The monument itself, which is a cenotaph, that is its empty,  is not in its original position being placed where part of  a chantry chapel c1447 which would have been standing at the time of Edward death and burial.  So where could the monument have been prior to its removal to St Helens Church?  Dr Jane Crease suggests the weathering  it has  sustained indicates it may have been outside at one time and open to the elements. Prior to this she suggests it may have been inside Sheriff Hutton Castle in a chapel.  If this is the case its possible the monument  become open to the elements after the castle became ruinous, which is how it is described in 1618,  and  prior to being transferred to the church.    No other tombs in the church have suffered from the same damage as this particular one.


The Sheriff Hutton Monument


This manuscript dates from 1447 and depicts a young boy who can be seen with a pudding basin hair style as well as wearing costume – note the stiff pleats, sleeves, cuffs and collar  –  almost identical to that of the Sheriff Hutton monument.  @Chronicles of Hainault Rogier Van der Weyden.  

With  the costume etc of the effigy dating from approx 50 year earlier two possibilities have been suggested as to whom the monument was made for which make far more sense than Edward of Middleham.

  1.  Ralph b.approx 1440, son of Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury (1400-d1460) is known to have  been buried at Sheriff Hutton Radulphus mortuus. apud Shirefhoton sepultus  – Ralph died. buried at Sheriff Hutton(6).  Peter Hammond and W E Hampton in their article Sherrif Hutton : Historic Doubts Reconsidered say that ‘one  coat of arms indisputably on the tomb was that used by Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, and could have been placed on the tomb to represent any of his descendants’ (7).  However both the authors then go on to say that Ralph probably would have been too young when he died to have had such an elaborate monument. They both seemed determined, despite persuasive arguments from Pauline Routh and Richard Knowle,  that this is the tomb of Edward – despite the costume, hairstyle and donor figure clearly being from the first half of the 15th century although Hammond does seem to have softened his stance on this in his later book The Children of Richard III.

2.     John son of Ralph Neville Earl of Westmorland.  Ralph was the father  of the above Richard Neville as well father to  Cicely  Neville and thus John would have been Richard III’s uncle.  Ralph had 23 children by his two wives.   None of the sons by the first wife died young but 3 sons by  the  second wife ,Joan Beaufort , are known to have died young.  John was born about 1413 and would have about 12 in 1425 (8) .These dates equate with the time frame of the making of the memorial given its design, the style of clothes and hair style of the donor as well as fit the age of the child  portrayed in the effigy.   Note the identical  sleeves and cuffs of the effigy and those of Ralph’s sons.


Ralph Neville Earl of Westmorland with some of  his enormous family – plus ‘pudding basin’ hair cuts galore.  

An important and glaring  clue is the small figure of the bare haired donor kneeling in prayer at the foot of the Trinity.   No doubt this would have been  the deceased child’s father but his closely cropped to the ears hair style or  ‘pudding basin’ hair cut was not a style Richard would have worn.  However both Westmorland and his son Salisbury  would definitely have had their hair styled this way as can be seen here below.   Think Henry V!  Sadly the donor’s wife is very badly worn.


The Donor figure, facing east, in armour and ‘pudding basin’ hairstyle worshipping at the foot of the Trinity.  



Richard Neville Earl of Salisbury’s effigy St Mary’s Church Burghfield. The effigy is much battered but his ‘pudding basin’ hair cut is still  very evident.  Could Salisbury be the donor?

Whereas we do know who would not have sported such a hair style and that is Richard III and his son.


Richard III @ Society of  Antiquaries of London 

As Dr Crease, who wrote the definitive article on the monument , puts so succinctly

 ‘The heraldry reliably recorded on the tomb links it with the Nevilles and, at the period of its manufacture, Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland held the castle and manor of Sheriff Hutton, so it may be one of his children. It may be some comfort to Ricardians to think that the tomb may be that of a kinsman of his Queen, even if it is not of her son.” (9)

Its often been speculated that Edward was a sickly child, due no doubt to his dying at such a young age.  But I’m unconvinced.  Its pointed out to add to the argument that he was frail that  he travelled by  litter from Middleham to Pontefract, a distance of 58 miles and from Pontefract to York 28 miles.  This is absurd.  It would have been much safer for a young child to travel distances like this in a litter rather than horseback.     It may be that he was a perfectly healthy child until struck down with a sudden and fatal illness.  Certainly his death, the news of which was carried to his parents while they were staying at Nottingham Castle, devastated them which may indicate they were unprepared for the awful shock.  It does seem that Queen Anne’s health, sadly,  took a downward spiral  after that and she herself died the following year on March 16th 1485.

If you have enjoyed this post you might be interested in:

1)The Ricardian Vol XXX 2020.  Of Lordys lyne and lyneage sche was.  Anne F Sutton and Livia Visser-Fuchs.  They make the comment that its ‘astonishing” this information given by Rous is ‘apparently never used’.

2)  J W Clay  first speculated this was Edward’s tomb in his Dodsworth Yorkshire Church   Notes 1904.  The Sherrif Hutton Monument Jane Crease

3)  The children of Richard III p38 Peter Hammond

4)   richard-iii-son

5)  The Itinerary of King Richard III p18,19   Rhoda Edwards

6) Sheriff Hutton: The Great Debate Pauline Routh and Richard Knowles

7)  The matter was debated at length by  in 4 articles in the Ricardian in the 1980s: Sheriff Hutton: Historic Doubts September 1980 and Sheriff Hutton: The Great Debate June 1981 Pauline Routh and Richard Knowles  and Historic Doubts Reconsidered P W Hammond and W E Hampton December 1980 and Sheriff Hutton: Further Debate P W Hammond & W E Hampton June 1981

8) The children of Richard III p74 Peter Hammond

9) Is this the Tomb of Richard III’s Son Church Monument Society Jane Crease.





Aveline de Forz tomb and effgy.  One of the earliest tombs in Westminster Abbey.

 Aveline de Forz, Countess of Lancaster Edmund ‘Crouchback’s’ Plantagenet’s first wife died on the 10 November 1274.    Aveline was the daughter of William de Forz , Count of Albermarle, Lord of Holderness and Isabella de Fortibus, Countess of Devon.  and having been born on 20 January 1259, at Burstwick in Holderness was 10 years old when she married Edmund, famously nicknamed Crouchback in Westminster Abbey.  Initially, in 1268 Edmund had been granted royal permission to marry Aveline’s widowed mother, Isabella, a very rich lady,  after the death of her husband William de Forz but the following year he married the young Aveline instead (1).  Theirs was the first recorded marriage in Westminster Abbey,  Henry III’s new Gothic abbey,  shortly after the translation of the relics of the Confessor and on her death, only five years later, she was buried there in the Sacrarium on the north side of the altar (2). Her tomb was amongst the first of many in the Abbey and her heavily worn effigy on top depicts a rather maturer lady than Aveline actually was.    However it is still very beautiful and was drawn by Stothard in the 18th century when it still retained some of its original decoration and colouring.  It had once been richly gessoed and heavily gilded and   Stothard recorded the mantle green, the surcoat red with purple lining and the kirtle blue.  He also drew Edmund’s tomb and effigy.

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Aveline’s effigy as drawn by Charles Alfred Stothard ‘The Monumental Effigies of Great Britain’.

It has been speculated that Aveline may have died in childbirth but I have been unable to verify this and there were certainly many other causes that could have carried her off.  Its interesting that her five sibings all died young and all before Aveline herself.


On his death in June 1295 Edmund was first buried in The Minories also known as the Abbey of the Minoresses of St Clare without Aldgate,  which he had founded jointly with his second wife Blanche of Navarre.  Four years after his death he was reburied in Westminster close to Aveline (although his heart remained at the Minories) their tombs being separated by that of Aymer de Valence.  His Second wife Blanche was buried elsewhere so perhaps he had requested to be buried close to Aveline.

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Edmund Crouchback’s  effigy as drawn by Stothard.

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Another view of Crouchback’s effigy as drawn by Stothard 18th century.


Edmund’s tomb and effigy today.


The tombs of Aveline, Aymer de Valence and Edmund.  A  drawing by Herbert Railton 1910


The three tombs as they are today making one range of breathtakingly beautiful sepulchral monuments

Aveline died in Stockwell, which is now a busy South London suburb and I presume her death took place in the medieval Manor House,  which once stood to the east of Stockwell Road, and facing the north of Stockwell Green, the green disappearing a long time ago.  No traces of this manor house, the gardens and orchards of which were contained in about  4 acres ,  have survived, and the area is now covered by a housing estate, garages and wheelie bins  but traces still linger in the name of nearby Moat Place.  Remains of this moat, alleged to have been 40-50 foot wide could still be seen as late as  19th century (3)



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Queen Anne Neville

and Margaret Gaynesford   –

(1) Royal Tombs of Medieval England Mark Duffy pp81-82

(2) Historical Memorials of Westminster Abbey Dean Stanley 1869 p140

( 3) Survey of London Vol. 26 Lambeth: Southern Area 1956 pp88-95 Originally published by London County Council




In the church of All Saints, Carshalton, now part of South London, can be found the charming 15th century brass of Margaret Gaynesford nee Sidney,  her husband Nicholas and their various children.  Due to the brass being attached to the wall and not the floor, as is usually the case,  it has still retained much of its original  enamelling including Margaret’s vivid red gown.



Both Margaret and her husband Nicolas  served Queen Elizabeth Wydeville in various capacities including Margaret as one of the queen’s Gentlewoman.  There is much information can be found about Nicholas Gaynesford and his career, he being another one who changed sides when the need arose – including  taking part in Buckingham’s rebellion, October 1483,  although  Richard III later pardoned  him – but I would like to focus here on this wonderful brass.


Margaret kneels in front of a prie-dieu, prayer book open, the folds of her red gown draped gracefully around her feet.  


Margaret is depicted in front of a prie-dieu, wearing a collar of suns and roses, and a butterfly headdress.  The empty matrix for four now missing daughters is behind her although the small brasses depicting her four sons have survived.  A brass of the Trinity , which the family are adoring, is also missing.


Nicholas who died about 1498 is shown in armour.


What Margaret’s thoughts were regarding the shenanigans and  the  ups and downs of  Elizabeth’s turbulent life –  how much did she know? – what did she think about Elizabeth’s ‘retirement to Bermondsey’ ?- are sadly unrecorded.  However she lived long enough to see Elizabeth’s daughter crowned in 1487, with both her and Nicholas attending,  with Nicholas serving Elizabeth of York in the post of Usher of the King’s Consort.


The church of All Saints, Carshalton.  Photo @Colin Castledine

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The tomb with the brass fitted on the wall above.


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Three  interesting   videos – all short – London in the year of the great plague, Old London Bridge and a reconstruction of the tomb of Thomas A’Becket at Canterbury Cathedral..







Mary of York  Royal Window, Northwest Transept, Canterbury Cathedral

Mary Plantagenet or Mary of York was the second daughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Wydville.  She was born at Windsor Castle in August 1467 and died at her mother’s favourite palace of Greenwich 23 May 1482 aged just 14 years.   Strangely enough another royal child, even younger than Mary,  Anne Mowbray Duchess of Norfolk, her sister in law –  being  the child bride of her brother Richard of Shrewsbury – had also died at Greenwich just six months earlier  on 9th November 1481.  Even at a time when child mortality was high it must have been heart rending to have 2 deaths so close together for the royal household and by horrible coincidence in the same royal apartments.  Elizabeth Wydeville’s  whereabouts at that time are unknown so its impossible to say if she was at Greenwich at the time of Mary’s death although  it is known that her father had visited Canterbury on the 17th  May and was back  in London on the 23rd and thus it is possible he may, perhaps  accompanied by the queen,  have seen his daughter as she lay dying  (1 )


A print by an unknown artist now in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich depicting the Palace c 1487.


A view of Greenwich Palace from a print published by the Society of Antiquaries 1767


The Royal Window, Canterbury Cathedral.  Elizabeth Wydeville and her daughters.  Mary is shown as the last figure on the right hand side.  

The cause of death of neither of the girls is known.   While Anne’s body had been taken by barge to her burial place in Westminster Abbey Mary’s was taken by stages to St Georges Chapel,  Windsor, where she was interred next to her 2 year old brother George who had died in March 1479 possibly of the plague.     Several Wydeville ladies were  among the mourners including Jane, Lady Grey of Ruthin, sister to the queen and Jacquetta, another sister’s daughter,  Joan Lady Strange, wife of George Stanley.   Another niece, Lady ‘Dame’ Katherine Grey, possibly the daughter of Jane Wydeville was also present.  Dinner for the funeral group was at the palace after which Mary’s body was taken from Greenwich parish church where it had been taken and begun its last sad journey to Windsor (2).


Over time the exact location of the graves became forgotten and lost but in 1810 during the course of building work their coffins were discovered in the area known then as  Wolsey’s Chapel and now as the Albert Memorial Chapel.   These were easily identifiable because George’s lead coffin was inscribed with   “serenissimus princeps Georgius filius tercius Christianissimi principis Edvardi iiij” and it was known that Mary had been laid to rest alongside her little brother – her funeral accounts tell us that she was “buried by my Lorde George, her brother, on whos solles God have mercy”.   When Mary’s coffin was examined she was found wrapped in numerous folds of strong cerecloth (waxed cloth used for wrapping a corpse) closely packed with cords ( 3)


Mary and George were then reburied in the small vault  close to  their father’s.   Their mother’s remains, a  skull and pile of bones found  lying on top of Edward’s coffin along with the remains of her cheap wooden coffin had  disappeared between the time of Edward’s vault being discovered and resealed in 1789 (4).    Edward’s remains had  been thoroughly poked about and  no doubt Elizabeth’s were appropriated by the dreaded Georgian souvenir collector along with numerous locks of Edward’s hair.      A slab was already in place with their names on it as mistakenly it was believed they had already been buried close to  their father  in the small vault adjoining his.


St George’s Chapel, Windsor. Yorkist Mauseoleum photo @Roger Simon

Its not surprising that little is known about Mary of York a child of 14  who was hardly here ere she was gone.    She was mentioned along with her sister Elizabeth in the will her father made prior to leaving for France in 1475 – ‘Item we wil that oure doughtre Elizabeth have x ml marc towards her marriage and that oure doughtre Marie have also to her mariage  x ml marc , soo that they bee gouverned and rieuled in thair mariages by oure derrest wiff the Quene and by oure said son the Prince if God fortune him to comme to age of discrecion’ but ‘if either of oure said doughtres doo marie thaim silf without such advys and assent soo as they bee therby disparaged, as God forbede, that then she soo marieing her silf have noo paiement of her said x ml marc, but that it bee emploied by oure Executours towards the hasty paiement of oure debtes and restitucions as is expressed in this oure last Will’ (5).   Ah man makes plans while the gods laugh as they say for we all know how differently things panned out.  However its rather gratifying to know, at a time when so many ancient and royal remains have been lost that at least Edward has two of his children with him.


Mary of York ‘Royal Window’ Canterbury Cathedral


If you enjoyed this post you might be interested in my posts –

  1. The Royal Funerals of the House of York at Windsor p58 Anne E Sutton & Livia Visser-Fuchs
  2. Ibid p60
  3. D. & S. Lysons, Magna Britannia, vol. I, pt. I, Berkshire (reprint of an 1806 publication), p. 471
  4. Elizabeth had requested a modest funeral and that is exactly what she got.  Even the herald reporting on the funeral was shocked   The Royal Funerals of the House of York at Windsor p68 Anne E Sutton & Livia Visser-Fuchs
  5. Excerpta Historica : Illustrations of English History p369 edited Samuel Bentley




Clattern Bridge, Kingston upon Thames, was built prior to 1293 and is still in use today.  It was known as Clateryngbrugge in medieval times maybe because of the sound horses made crossing it.  Unfortunately I can find no trace of King Richard ever using it in his travels although there is a tenuous link  –  Shakespeare’s King Richard III was recently performed  at the Rose Theatre – a short distance away from the bridge!



This wonderful old bridge  doesn’t actually cross the Thames, but the Hogsmill River which is a tributary of the Thames.  However it is but a very short distance from  the present Kingston Bridge..where  close by once stood an  earlier bridge.. and it is probable that it was this bridge that the funeral cortege of Richard’s niece, the 15 year old Princess Mary , crossed over,  on her way to burial at Windsor having died at Greenwich in May 1482.


Clattern Bridge @Eric Hands


Clattern Bridge @ Lloyd Rich


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