Old London Map c1572.  Franz Hogenberg

And so Dear Reader, we are going to take a break from murderous queens, scheming duchesses,  bad kings, good kings, missing royal children and silly bishops.  We are going to take a look at London’s Old Gates.  Where were they positioned, how many were there, and what become of them?  Part of the old Roman and Medieval London Wall they were once the only exits and entrances into old London, unless of course you were leaving or arriving via old London Bridge although there were smaller posterns here and there for pedestrians.  How did they they manage to survive and contain what would appear was  an unstoppable ever growing population? Well up until the late 16th century as can be seen by the map above late medieval London was still pretty much contained by its old walls but by the mid 18th century the Gates were destroyed in order to facilitate the widening of roads etc.,  Ah …. I understand it had to be but still, it makes the heart weep a little to think of these grand old Gates totally and utterly destroyed.  

There were seven gates – in no particular order….


Moor Gate.  Medieval.    Originally a small postern gate.    This was demolished in 1415 and Thomas Falconer, mayor,   caused London Wall to be breached near Coleman Street and a new postern to be  built to allow pedestrians to ‘walk by causeways out to the hamlets of Isledon (Islington) and Hoxteth (1).  Repaired in 1472 by William Hampton,  fishmonger and mayor,  the postern  was enlarged,  and  made higher so that the trained bands could march through with their pikes upright (2).  This was  after there were a couple of instances of eyes getting poked out – I made this last bit up but you never know!.     In June 1483  Richard of Gloucester, later Richard III  probably went through the Moor Gate to review his northern troops after their arrival and when they were encamped in the open fields between Moorfields and Holywell Priory (3).   After it was demolished in 1762 the stones were used to prevent London Bridge been washed away by the tide.

Stood approximately near the junction of Coleman Street and London Wall.

scan 2

Moorgate c1483.  From the Copperplate map.  Drawn by Julian Rowe.  Illustration from Richard III The Road to Bosworth.  P W Hammond & Anne F Sutton


ALDERSGATE – Roman.   Probably linked with Watling Street.  In 1335 it was resolved that the gate should be covered with lead and, thoughtfully,  a small house made under it for the gatekeeper (4).  Stow explains how the gate was named NOT after the Eldarne (Elder?) trees ‘growing there abundantly‘  but for the very  ‘antiquity of the gate itself, as being one of the first four gates of the city, and serving for the northern parts,  as Aldgate for the east, which two gates, being both old gates, are for difference sake called the one Aldgate, and the other Aldersgate’.! (5). However its suggested elsewhere the name is Saxon and means Gate of Ealdred (6).  You can make your own mind up about that one.   In Stow’s time Aldersgate was one of the largest gates containing divers large rooms and lodgings‘ with one floor being paved with ‘stone or tile‘.   John Day a famous  stationer and printer from Stow’s  time had living accommodation within the gate.

Situated opposite No.62 Aldersgate Street. 


ALDGATE – Roman.  Not to be confused with Aldersgate above – keep up Dear Reader, keep up! – known as Ealdgate by the Saxons for it was ancient even in their day.  It had two pairs of gates and two portcullis, which would later prove to come in handy (see below).  Geoffrey Chaucer leased the room above the Gate between 1374 and 1385.  In Stow’s time only one of these two gates survived although the hooks still remained.   This grand old lady came into play during the Wars of the Roses and no doubt probably got a bit bashed about.  I will here have to divert  briefly a little from the actual gate….  In 1471 Thomas the Bastard of Falconbridge aka Thomas Neville advanced upon London.  Reaching Southwark he demanded to be allowed to bring his men into the city.  This was refused (obviously).  In response Neville put Southwark to the torch.  He then begun a three pronged attack on London including one on our Aldgate.  I’ll let Stow tell the rest of the story – he does it so well…

‘…the rebels being denied passage through the city that way set upon Aldgate,  Bishopsgate,  Cripplegate,  Aldersgate,  London Bridge and along the river of Thames, shooting arrows and guns into the city, fired the suburbs and burnt more than three score houses. And further on Sunday the 11th of May,  5000 of them assaulting Aldgate, won the bulwarks, and entered the city but the portcullis being let down,  such as had entered were slain and Robert Bassett alderman of Aldgate ward, with the Recorder, commanded in the name of God to draw up the portcullis which being done,  they issued out and with sharp shot and fierce fight put back the enemy so far as Saint Botolph’s church by which time the Earl Rivers and Lieutenant of the Tower was come with a fresh company which joining together discomfited the  rebels and put them to flight …. Thus much for Aldgate’ (7). Phew!  

After demolition this doughty old gate was re-erected at Bethnal Green for a while.  

Stood approximately at  the corner of Aldgate and  Duke’s Place.


CRIPPLEGATE – Roman.  Possibly begun life as a postern.   Origin of name unknown.  Maybe from a regular meeting place of ‘cripples’ begging there or perhaps from the Anglo Saxon word crepel meaning an underground passage.   Stow wrote he had read that after the body of King Edmund the Martyr being brought to London in 1010,  and entering  through the gate,  ‘miracles were wrought as some of the lame to go upright,  praising God‘.   In 14th century room over gate used as a prison.  During the Wars of the RosesHenry the six and Margaret of Anjou arrived at Cripplegate after their victory over Warwick the Kingmaker at Saint Albans in 1461. Pro Yorkist citizens promised him food as long as they kept out of the city but just as the wagons were rolling through the news came that Warwick and Edward,  later Edward IV were about to re-enter London. The wagons were called back and the Lancastrians had to retire hungry to the north’ (8)

Rebuilt in 1491. After being demolished in 1760 the materials were sold to a Mr Blagden, a carpenter of Coleman Street for £91..

Stood approximately at the junction of Wood Street and St. Alphage Gardens


NEWGATE.  As its name implies not one of the oldest gates but even so possibly in existence since 857 although Stow stated built in the time of Henry Ist c.1068-1135.   First mentioned as a prison in 1188.  In 1218 in ruinous condition.   Henry III wrote to his  Sheriffs of London demanding they rebuild the gate ‘for the safekeeping of his prisoners’.  Rebuilt again in the 15th century.  Rebuilt  after being destroyed by fire in 1555, 1628 and the Great Fire of London.  What a dolorous place – forever linked with Newgate Prison.  

Stood approximately at the junction of Newgate and the Old Bailey.


LUDGATE.  Traditionally said to have been built by King Lud, described as a Briton, in 66bc… maybe, maybe.     Roman connections and  led to a Roman burial ground in the area now known as Fleet Street.  Rebuilt 1215 using the stones from the Jewish peoples houses that were destroyed by the barons who were in opposition to King John.   Yet another gate used as a prison.  Stephen Forster, fishmonger and later Lord Mayor of London in 1454 was imprisoned there as a boy for debt.  In 1463 with the input of  Stephen’s widow, Dame Agnes,  improvements were made to enlarge and improve the prison including having lodgings and water ‘free without charge’.  Stow writes of a plaque that was once fixed there inscribed ‘graven in copper‘  –

Devout souls that pass this way

For Stephen Forster, late mayor, heartily pray

And Dame Agnes his spouse to God consecrate,

That of pity this house made for Londoners in Ludgate

So that for lodging and water prisoners nought here pay,

As their keepers shall all answer at dreadful doomsday.’

Amen to that..and Bravo to Stephen Forster and his good wife Agnes! 

Rebuilt once more in 1586 and repaired after the Great Fire of London 1661.

This gate stood opposite St Martin’s Church.  


Bishops’s Mitre at the junction between Bishopsgate and Wormwood Street

BISHOPS GATE – Stow speculated built by a Bishop of London.  If this is so, this Bishop’s name so long dead is now forgotten.  Its a great shame for his name should ever be remembered for the ease he generously gave to Londoners in enabling them from making what was a very long and winding journey for those wishing to travel north east.    Prior to this the intrepid traveller’s journey would have entailed passing out through Aldgate, turning east towards Mile’s End, then turning left to Bethenhall Green (Bethnal Green), Cambridge Heath and then north or east depending upon the destination.  The alternative was torturous and convoluted via Aldersgate street towards Isledon (Islington) signposted ‘ by a cross of stone on the right hand, set up for a mark by the north end of Golding Lane, to turn Eastwood through a long street, and till this day called Alder Street to another cross standing, where now a Smith’s Forge is placed,  by Sewers-ditch (Shoreditch?) church, and then to turn again north towards Tottenham, Enfield, Waltham etc’…what happened if the Smith had upped and left taking his Forge with him is anyones guess.  

Edward V, one of the ‘Princes in the Tower’ would have entered London through Bishops Gate escorted by the Duke of Gloucester, after King Richard III May 1483.  

Stood opposite Camomile Street.


Bishopsgate.  c1483.  From the Copperplate map.  Drawn by Julian Rowe.  Illustration from Richard III The Road to Bosworth.  P W Hammond & Anne F Sutton

And here endeth our brief trip around the Old Gates of London.  Much more can be found online for those that wish to find out more.  

1) A History of London p.128.  Stephen Inwood.

2)  The London Encyclopaedia  p.542.Edited by Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert 

3) Richard III The Road to Bosworth p.117 P W Hammond and Anne F Sutton

4) The London Encyclopaedia  p.13.Edited by Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert 

5) A Survey of London 1598 p50.  John Stowe

6) Ibid p.48

7) The London Encyclopaedia  p.13.Edited by Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert 

8) Ibid p.217

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Cheyneygates, Westminster Abbey, Elizabeth Woodville’s Pied-à-terre


A tantalising glimpse of  an ancient passage leading to Abbot’s Court and the steps leading up to Jerico Parlour.  The Abbots House and Cheyneygates, later known as The Deanery, was situated to the right of the steps.  Photo Dr John Crook Country Life Picture Library.

This updated post was written with the help and input of my friend Sandra Heath Wilson… 

 Its known well how that old fickle wheel of fortune dealt with Elizabeth Wydville, taking her down. taking her up, whirling her around a couple of times and then dumping her, finally, in Bermondsey Abbey, where  she died, impoverished mother in law to the King, Henry Tudor.

What I would like to focus on here is her last stay in Cheneygates, part of the Abbots House complex in Westminster Abbey.   It seemed she liked it there,  after all it was very convenient  being just over the road from Westminster Palace where her daughter Elizabeth of York , now Queen, would sometimes stay, because she took out a  40 years lease which has survived. However as they say man makes plans and the gods laugh because her son-in-law,  and his advisers sagely decided to call time on her sojourn there and with another and final spin of that old wheel of fortune off she went to Bermondsey which is yet another story.

How did Elizabeth come to rent Cheyneygates?  When Edward IV died suddenly in April 1483,   Elizabeth, his bigamous wife and her rapacious family,  attempted to take control of her eldest son, the new king, Edward V, in order to maintain their hold on power.  This was completely riding roughshod over her very recent deceased husband’s will and with hob nail boots to be precise.  The Wydevilles  endeavoured, foolishly and unsuccessfully, to outmanoeuvre Richard, Duke of Gloucester, her husband’s only remaining brother, who had been named in Edward’s will  as Lord Protector ( 1 ) The Woodvilles would not fare well under Richard, so I imagine their aim was to be rid of him entirely and there is good reason to believe that there was a plot to assassinate him  while on his journey to London possibly near the Wydeville stronghold at Grafton Regis.  However he confounded her, and on 30 April 1483  took Edward V under his wing besides arresting Elizabeth’s brother, Earl Rivers and her son, Sir Richard Grey.  When tidings of this event reach London ‘the following night’ Elizabeth panicked (2 ).   For reasons at the time best known to herself, Elizabeth skedaddled over the road  to sanctuary at Westminster Abbey, taking her remaining and no doubt confused children  with her. In her scramble to take as much  stuff  her as she could,  a hole had to be  knocked in the wall separating the abbey from Westminster palace to accommodate all the treasure and other loot she’d grabbed. Not very dignified, but then dignity was not uppermost in her mind at that point.  According to More,  the Chancellor, Bishop Rotherham also in a rush to take the Great Seal to Elizabeth found ‘much heaviness,  rumble, haste and business, carriage and conveyance of her stuff into Sanctuary; chests, coffers, packers, fardels trussed all on mens backs; no man unoccupied, some lading, some going, some discharging, some coming for more, some breaking down the walls to bring in the nearest way, and some yet drew to them that helped to carry a wrong way (I think this means there was a bit of  looting going on here..oh the irony!) (3).

And so ensconced there she remained for the foreseeable future.  How that played out is well known now but back to Cheyneygates…..  On the 10 July 1486 the following lease was drawn up  – 


This eindenture made bitwene John by the sufferaunce of god Abbot 
of the Monastery of seint Peter of Westm' the Priour and covent of the 
same of the one partie And the most high and excellent Princesse 
Elizabeth by the grace of god Quene of England late wyf to the moost 
mighty Prince of famous memore Edward the iiij th late Kyng of Englond 
and of Fraunce and lord of Irelond on the other partie Witnesseth 
that the forsaid Abbot Priour and Covent consideryng and wele re- 
membryng that the forsaid excellent and noble pryncesse in the tyme 
of her said late husbond our alder liege lord was unto the said Monastery 
verry especiall good lord aswele in protectyng and defendyng the libertes 
& ffrauncheses of the same as in bountevous and largely departyng of 
her goods to the edifying and reparacions of the ffabrice of the said 
monastery by the hole assent concent & will of all the Captre have
graunted dimised and to ferme letyn unto the forsaid Quene a mansion with in the said Abbey called Cheynegatis Apperteynyng unto the Abbot of the said place for the tyme beyng with all the Howses Chambers Aisiaments and other Appertenaunces therunto belongyng To have and hold the forsaid mansion with Thappertenaunces and other premisses to the said Quene from the fest of Ester last passed before the date herof unto thende of the terme of xl yeres then next folowyng and fully to be complete Yeldyng therfor yerely to the same Abbot or his successor or theire Assignes x w of lawfull money of Englond duryng the said terme to be paid atte festis of Mighelmas and Ester by even porcions And the forsaid Quene at her propre costis and Charge shall sufficiently repaire uphold and mayntene the said mansion and voide dense repaire and make the gutter goyng from the kechen of the same as often as shall be necessary and behovefull And atte ende of her terme the said mansion with Thappertenaunces sufficiently repaired mayntened and upholden yeld up unto the forsaid Abbot Priour and Covent and theire Successours Also it is covenanted and agreed bitwne the parties abovesaid that the said Quene shall in no wise sell lete to ferme nor aliene her said yeres nor eny parte therof in the said mansion with Thappertenaunces to any other person or persones duryng the said terme And the Abbot Priour and Covent and their successours forsaid the said mansion with thappertenaunces to the said Quene in the manner and fourme aboverehersed shall warant ayenst all people by these presents Provided alwayes that yf it shall happen the same Quene to dye within the said terme of xl yeres as god defend that then this present graunt and lees immediately after her decesse be voide and of no strengthe And over this it is covenanted and agreed that yf it happen the said Rent to be behynd unpaid after any terme of the termes abovelymytted in party or in all that is to say the Rent of Mighelmasse terme at seint Martyns day in wynter then next folowyng and the Rent of Ester at Whitsontyde then next ensuyng that then it shalbe leefull to the said Abbot and his Successours in the forsaid mansion with the Appertenaunces to reentre And the said Quene therfrom to expelle and put out this lees and dimyssyon notwithstanding In Witnesse &c Yeven the x day of Juyll the yere of our lord god mcccclxxxvi And the first yere of the reigne ofkyng Henry the vii (4)

Despite scenes in the tv dramatisation, I use the word loosely,  of  Philippa Gregory’s  ‘White Queen’ which portrayed Elizabeth and her daughters languishing in what appeared to be a dank cellar with damp walls, Cheyneygates being part of the Abbots House complex would have been luxurious.  Tragically Cheyneygates/Abbots House, later known as the Deanery after the Reformation,  was destroyed during the Blitz in 1941.  I have been unable to find any illustrations of what Cheyneygates would have appeared like in the 15th century.  


Old, atmospheric photo of the Archway in Abbots’s Court leading out and into the cloisters as well as the exit to the outside world.    Elizabeth and her family would have gone through this ancient archway which has remained unchanged throughout the centuries to enter and leave Cheyneygates.


Jerico Parlour and Cheyneygates c1910.  Illustration by Herbert Railton.  It can be seen that even before the bomb destruction the Abbots House and Cheyneygates exterior facade were much altered since the 15th century.  However one of the upstairs rooms was still known as My Lady’s Bedchamber in the 18thc.  Could this ‘Lady’ have been Elizabeth Wydeville?


This photo shows the Jerico Parlour as it is today, middle of the picture with steps.   Cheyneygates would have stood where the  modern white building stands on the right.    College Hall to the left.  No doubt Elizabeth would be able to recognise the scene today although Cheyneygates is sadly much altered.  


A different view of the ancient passage way leading to Abbot’s Court.  Elizabeth and her entourage, daughters, brother Lionel and small son would have approached Cheyneygates via this passageway and trod these very flagstones..


‘The Abbey of St Peter and Palace of Westminster about the year 1532’.  Illustration by A E Henderson F.S.A 1938.  The Abbot’s House complex circled in red.  College  Hall stands to the left, Jerico Parlour at the back and Cheyneygates to the right.  Cheyneygates overlooked the Great Cloister.


An old plan of Westminster Abbey showing Abbot’s Court.  The Abbot’s House/ Cheyneygates , is here called the Deanery which it became known as after the Reformation.  Note the site of the Refectory where Margaret’s Beaufort’s body was taken from Cheyneygates to lie in repose before her burial.


 College Hall.  Built by by Abbot Litlyngton along with the Jerusalem Chamber c1376.  The roof is  original.  There was a dais at the far end where the Abbot and his guests would be seated.  The gallery dates from the 17th century.

 It was in College Hall  that Dean Stanley writing in the 19th century suggests that Elizabeth and her group would have been met by Abbot Esteney  on their hasty retreat from the palace (5).  And there she was sat, according to More,  when Bishop Rotherham found her ‘ alone, low down on the rushes, all desolate and dismayed'( 6).  And who could blame her to be honest as reality kicked in and she realised the game was well and truly up.  Rotherham apparently tried to reassure her that all would be well, in fact he left the Great Seal with her.  Unfortunately the very next day realising he had done something really silly he sent someone to get it back.  Ah – why fools achieve such high status is one of life’s mysteries.  

Pretty soon Richard uncovered the depth of Elizabeth’s plotting.  The 10 June found him writing in haste to York for extra troops to  ‘eide and assiste us ayanst the Quiene, hir blode adherentts and affinitie, which have entended and daily doith intend, to murder and utterly destroye us and our cousyn, the duc of Bukkyngham and the old royall blode of this realme…’ (7).   And so begun Elizabeth’s second stay in the Abbot’s house.  In time and pragmatically she reconciled with Richard and sent her daughters out of Cheyneygates into Richard’s care, whereupon probably the older ones breathed a massive sigh of relief.  The rest is history and after Bosworth having taken out a 40 year lease on Cheyneygates  she returned to live there, perhaps she had never left.   However the lease came to nothing as a short while later she was sent to live out her days at Bermondsey Abbey by her son in law, a canny Henry Tudor,  no doubt comfortable but according to her will impoverished –   Sic transit gloria mundi.  But wait!  She was not the last lady of the nobility to be a tenant at Cheyneygates  – Margaret Beaufort, Henry Tudor’s  mother, decided she wanted to live at Cheyneygates too and indeed it was where she died on the 29 June 1509 (8 ).  How strange, the richest woman in England with numerous properties had to have the very property where Elizabeth Wydeville resided if only for a short while.  Was it that Margaret, Elizabeth’s one time fellow conspirator,  just had to have  something that the ex-queen once had as she also  had to have the prayer book of Richard III or indeed his crown for her own son – or – am I being a tad cynical…? Hmmmm!.


Elizabeth Wydeville, in her glory days before it all went pear shaped.  This is the earliest known version of the many copies of a now lost original portrait of Elizabeth which was possibly from a likeness of her taken when she was alive.  The Royal Collection.

For those who wish to delve deeper into the history of the Abbots House and Cheyneygates a link to an interesting book The Abbots House at Westminster; J Armitage Robinson 1911 can be found here.

(1). This is complex.  For the best and fullest explanation of this situation I would recommend Annette Carson’s Richard Duke of Gloucester as Lord Protector and High Constable.

(2) Richard III The Road to Bosworth p.99 P W Hammond and Anne E Sutton
(3)  Richard III The Great Debate p.47 Thomas More.  

 (4) The Abbot’s House at Westminster.  1911 J Armitage Robinson 

(5) Westminster Abbey p411 1869 Dean Stanley 

(6) History of King Richard III Thomas More

(7) Richard III The Road to Bosworth p.103 P W Hammond and Anne E Sutton

(8) The King’s Mother p.237.  Jones and Underwood.

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Anne Herbert Countess of Pembroke, Yorkist widow & mother in law to Katherine Plantagenet


Ann Devereux, John Lydgate’s Troy Book and Siege of Thebes @British Library

Well that old wheel of fortune could certainly whizz around and no more so than in the lives of the noble women from the turbulent times we now know as the Wars of the Roses.  An example of one of these ladies  is Ann Herbert nee Devereux Countess of Pembroke.  Ann was the daughter of Sir Walter Devereux and born about c1433.   In 1449 Ann was married to William Herbert Earl of Pembroke c.1423-1469 and  with whom she had at least 10 children including William jnr and Maud.  William jnr would go on to marry Elizabeth Wydeville’s sister Mary and after her death, Richard III’s illegitimate  daughter Katherine –  I will get back to William jnr and Katherine later – while her father left instructions in his will that Maud was to marry, ‘Lord Henry of Richmond’ ie Henry Tudor. (1 ) As we know this marriage never came about, Henry marrying Elizabeth of York and Maud, Henry Percy Earl of Northumberland.  William had received the custody and marriage of Henry Tudor on the  12 February 1461 when Henry was 4 years old and had been sent to be brought up in Ann’s household at Raglan Castle with the rest of the Herbert children.  Ann must have been a kind and loving guardian as when Henry Tudor usurped the throne as a result of the  tragic outcome at Bosworth one of his first actions  was to send for Ann.  But we gallop away here and should return to Ann’s earlier life.  Both Anne  and her husband, although from staunch Yorkist families (both Herbert, and his  father  served in France, his father in Richard Duke of York’s retinue) had once supported Henry VI but as the tricky situation between the king, who was mentally unstable, and York developed and grew ever more turbulent, Herbert his ‘loyalties strained’ threw in his lot with York – and to be perfectly honest who can blame him – but I digress.  Herbert assured York in May 1454 that he was noo monis mon but only youres (2)  It must have been a worrying time for Ann as she sat in Raglan castle with her brood of children and of course young Henry, as well as other ladies of the nobility, as their menfolk thundered about the countryside, sometimes losing, sometimes winning and sometimes off into exile only to return, envigorated and ready for more.  In her case, at that moment in time, her husband was victorious and although York was to lose his life at Sandal Castle his son Edward would go on to win a decisive victory at the Tewkesbury  and finally claim the crown as his own.  This led to the glory years for Ann and her husband.  He was to become a cherished and well rewarded follower to the young king.  Rewards were showered upon him including Privy councillor to the new king,  Chief Justice of North Wales for life,  Knight of the Garter,  custody of the Stafford lands during the Duke of Buckingham’s minority and Lordship of Pembroke.  Created Baron Herbert he became  ‘massive wealthy’ his income amounting to £3200-3300 per annum.  Heady days indeed for  both William, who had became known as Edward’s ‘master-lock’ and Ann.


Ann Devereux and her husband Sir William Herbert kneel before an unknown king, probably Henry VI judging by William’s ‘basin’ haircut.  John Lydgate’s Troy Book and Siege of Thebes c.1457 with later additions.  @British Library

However around the wheel spun and things took a dangerous and downward turn when the Earl of Warwick and the King’s brother George of Clarence, increasingly  alienated from Edward, enraged by the rise and rise of the voracious,  parvenu Wydevilles,  and who can blame them, rebelled.  Unfortunately for Ann, her husband was now as heartily hated by Warwick as much as the Wydevilles, but perhaps for somewhat different reasons, and his  luck had begun to run out.  William’s history with Warwick went back a long way and indeed he had once been Warwick’s Steward and Sheriff of Glamorgan in 1449-53. (3)   No doubt one of the reasons for Warwick’s hostility towards his erstwhile friend was when Edward made the decision In 1461 to make William chief Justice and Chamberlain of South Wales as well as transfer to him the offices and custody of the estate all previously granted to Warwick.  And so friends that had once rode together,  fought together and perhaps even laughed  together become mortal enemies with devastating results.  This was the tragedy that was the  Wars of the Roses.   The  wheel was spinning and after a skirmish at Banbury in  1469   an argument ensued about billeting between William and Humphrey Stafford Earl of Devonshire.   Some have said the argument was about a woman, but come on, is it likely a woman would be a priority for them with the battle of Edgcote about to take place the next day!    However after Devonshire stormed off in a fit of pique taking his archers with him, William  was left in a vulnerable position.  Although stories of how courageously he and his brother, Sir Richard of Colebrook, both fought wielding poleaxes, the fight was lost.  Sir Richard is said to have twice passed through the ‘battail of his adversaries’ armed with a poleaxe and ‘without any mortal wound returned’ (4).  Both were taken prisoner and executed the next day.   With  his impending death staring him in the face, William wrote out his last will,  tender, poignant, almost a love letter to his clearly beloved wife.

..And wyfe, thwt ye remember your promise to me, to take the ordre of wydowhood, as ye may be the better mayster of your owne, to performe my wylle, and to help my children, as I love and trust you, &c…. Wife pray for me, and take the said ordre that ye promised me as ye had in my lyfe, my heart and love….’

’’Item, I to be buried in the Priory of Bergavenny under charge; bytwene my fader’s toumbe and the chancell, and the cost that should have be at Tynterne to be set upon the chancell, as my confessor &c. shall say; and you my wife and brother Thomas Herbert, &c.’

It can only be imagined how Ann’s tears fell when she read this.  She adhered to her late husband’s wishes and never married again.  William’s wishes in regard to his place of burial were not carried out because  for some reason lost to us now, he was buried at Tintern Abbey and not the Herbert Chapel, Priory of Bergavenny (Abergavenny) close to his parents as well as his brother Sir Richard Herbert of Colebrook and his wife Margaret.     A large chest tomb near the high altar at Tintern  destroyed during the Dissolution is said to be that of William and Ann although William Hampton in his book Memorials of the Wars of the Roses goes with Abergavenny  being the place of burial as nominated in the will.  It must be said that there is no sign of a tomb for William and Anne in the Herbert Chapel at Abergavenny.  


William’s parents, Sir William ap Thomas d.1445 and  Gwladus/Gladys Gam d.1454, effigies on top of their tomb in the Herbert Chapel, Priory of Abergavenny, where William requested to be buried. Sir Richard of Colebrook, William’s brother and executed with him also lies buried here with his wife Margaret.  Gladys Gam was the daughter of ‘Davy’ Gam made famous by Shakepeare’s mention of his name being among the English dead at Agincourt in his play ‘Henry V’. Photo @Rex Harris


William Herbert’s paternal grandmother Gwladys/Gladys Gam was a celebrated beauty in her time and known as the Star of Abergavenny.  A Welsh poet described her as ‘like the sun – the pavilion of light’.  Photo @ Rex Harris

After her husband’s death, followed by the death of his nemesis Warwick, little is known about Ann in her widowhood.  However on the death of King Edward and Richard III’s arrival on the throne, her son William jnr, now a widower was honoured by Richard when he was given the hand of the kings daughter, Katherine in marriage.  This marriage was of short duration as it appears Katherine died young and without issue.  What would have become of Ann’s daughter-in-law after Richard’s death at Bosworth is anyone’s guess.  At the very least she may have been an embarrassment to the Herberts.  Indeed William Hampton posed the question was Katherine Plantagenet the reason why Ann was summoned by Henry Tudor in the aftermath of Bosworth?  We  know now that Katherine was laid to rest at St Jamesgarlickhythe close to the London home of the Herberts, William was laid to rest in 1491 besides his first wife Mary Wydeville at Tintern Abbey where, it is said, both his parents lay buried together.


Raglan Castle.  Where Anne would have spent most of her time raising her children and the young Henry Tudor.  Note the resident cat!

(1) Testamenta Vetusta p.304

(2) Herbert, William, first Earl of Pembroke ODNB R A Griffiths.  Quoting Pugh, The Magnates p92
(3) Warwick the Kingmaker A J Pollard p94

(4) Herbert, Sir William, Earl of Pembroke ODNB.  Sidney Lee.  Published 1891.

If you enjoyed this post you might like my post on Katherine Plantagenet found here



Edward IV and Elizabeth Wydeville.    Original 15th century stained glass panels.   Royal Window North West Transept Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral, of all the cathedrals I have managed to visit, remains firmly on my ‘favourites’ list. I lived there for a while many years ago, having been entranced by the city and cathedral on one visit. In those far off days as it was free to visit the Cathedral, which was very handy as money was in short supply, I spent many a happy lunchtime wandering about that wonderful place and grew familiar with its many interesting spots, such as where Thomas Becket was slain, where Cardinal Morton, Good King Richard’s nemesis, once lay buried, his grave now empty and the beautiful tomb of Edward the Black Prince. But my favourite spot was to stand and gaze up at the glorious windows, known as the Royal Windows, depicting Edward IV and his family. From their likenesses in those windows they all appeared to be very good looking, quite beautiful in the Queen’s case, and the people of that time who visited the Cathedral must have been proud of their handsome royal family. Of course it was to end tragically but that is covered elsewhere and so…. back to the windows..

Edward commissioned these windows, which were glazed by William Neve, about 1480, having been a frequent visitor to Canterbury. They were badly damaged in 1643 by an over zealous and obnoxious Puritan, Richard Culmer, who left a description of himself in the very act of destruction ‘on top of the citie ladder, neer 60 steps high, with a whole pike in his hand ratling down proud Becket’s glassy bones’.(1).  Later this odious man relieved himself in the Cathedral as he was too afraid to leave being in fear of the crowd  which had gathered outside and  was ready ‘to knock out his brains’(2 ). He sounds a right little charmer!

The late historian John Ashdown-Hill stated that the faces of Edwards sons, Edward of Westminster and Richard of Shrewsbury,  are modern restorations as is the portrait of Cecily, which I believe actually represents her sister  Mary.  The original stained glass panel depicting Cicely/Mary is now in the Burrell Collection in Glasgow where it also is identified as Cicely. However the figure John Ashdown-Hill identified as Cicely  ( the daughter with the restored face, last figure on the right) at Canterbury is clearly identified at the bottom of the glass  as  Mary/ Marie. Why Mary should be at the end of the row of the sisters ,not being the youngest, is a puzzle as she was the second eldest. However its possible that Mary who died in May 1482 while the windows were still being created was placed at the end being deceased.  It is equally puzzling why Cecily, being third but second surviving daughter would be at the end of the row of daughters too.   In any case Cicely would surely have been one of the three sisters depicted together being third daughter, second to survive.

Stained glass panel portrait of Cicely.  15th century original once in Canterbury Cathedral now in the Burrell Collection, Glasgow.


Modern restoration of Cicely shown behind her sister Katherine.  Royal Window Canterbury Cathedral.  The inferiority of the copy is very plain to see.  

All in all I am happy to ascribe the last figure on the right which has been restored as that of being Mary but having said that I have a sneaky suspicion that the names beneath each sister  at the bottom  of the panels may have got so totally muddled  over the centuries that we are all barking up the wrong tree and it could be any one of the five daughters.  But still the most important thing we must rejoice in is that these windows have in the main survived.


The three daughters identified at the bottom of the glass as Elizabeth of York, Cicely and Anne.  


The faces of the two sons of Edward, Edward of Westminster and Richard of Shrewsbury are said to be modern restorations.  

As pointed out by John Ashdown-Hill the faces can clearly be seen are not up to the same standards of workmanship as the rest of the panels.


The face of Elizabeth Wydeville has been damaged in the same attack made by Richard Culmer.  Now restored.  This would appear to be a very accurate likeness.  Compare it to Elizabeth’s portrait in the Luton Guildbook.


Elizabeth Wydeville.  The Luton Guild Book.

And now to Edward.  Edward’s face has been broken but expertly restored.


Edward IV.  His portrait appears to depict a lean and  handsome Edward in his glory days before he become a couch potato.  


Edward IV and his oldest son, Edward Prince of Wales, Canterbury Cathedral.


The Royal Window in its entirety.

If you enjoyed this post you might also like

(1) Culmer, Cathedrall Newes, 22

(2) Culmer, A Parish Looking-Glasse

‘WE SPEAK NO TREASON’ – Rosemary Hawley Jarman


Richard brought to Greyfriars for Burial.  Artwork  Emma Vieceli

And so once more the awful date has come and gone.  Many fictional Ricardian novels  have been written based on Richard and his life but surely the scenes of the aftermath of Bosworth in We speak no Treason written by the late Rosemary Hawley Jarman must rank amongst the most moving.    Many Ricardians will already be familiar with this book but for those who have not yet read it,  part of the story is told through the eyes of the Maiden who had ever loved Richard from when she was  a young girl and,  after losing him from her life,  events  had led to her becoming a nun.   She had not seen Richard for many years but in the aftermath of the battle Richard’s body has been brought to her convent to be laid to rest by loving hands.    

Men came to kneel by me,  first one cloaked like the stranger, then another still clad in harness and with a neck wound from which the red oozed wearily,  then four or five together. One of these wore a hermit’s robe carelessly donned with the strength of his mail winking beneath it.   They say that the church filled up from the porch to rood screen with men who entered like ghosts and wept like babes.   There were running feet and a voice that burst through the whispering silence with  ‘My Lord! My Lord Lovell!’ –  crying that they were hanging the prisoners and fugitives in Leicester market and Lovell must fly at once,  and for answer came only the deep,  dreadful sound of men’s grief,  the hasty feet clattered nearer and stopped short, the voice said “Ah Dickon!’ as a child might wail in the night, then swore like a man in the face of murder. And the church was filled with love and hate and vengeance, and a heaviness that one could touch with the hand…. Then suddenly Ursula came, hurrying, hobbling in, smiling joyfully,  her eyes blinking joyfully like a mole in the dark.  unseeing and heedless of the silent work, the sadness or the Mother’s prone, praying form beneath the candles, she came while the ranks of  mourning men parted for her.  It was days since she last left her cell.  In her arms she carried a sheaf of satin riches, green as love, each shining rose perfect and proper, each spray a living frond, each colour a jewel, with the stern words of the Absolution limned like lustrous soldiers around the edge.  ‘I’ll make penance for the rest of my days’ she said in a joyous whisper.  ‘I’ve missed Mass,  I’ve missed confession but, Oh Lord,  sister!  ‘Tis finished!  Is it not fair’.    She came close blind to the grief or the figure on the bier.  ‘And for you child, see!’   with a daring, naughty look.   ‘So small and in his honour too’.   She had fashioned a silver Boar in each corner.  ‘Ursula, I said, Ursula’.  She did not hear me.  She was looking at his body, his murdered naked body, so white so still.  ‘Ah!’ she said with deep compassion.  ‘Ah the poor young knight’..

And she unfurled the beautiful frontal like a banner.  It was heavy, but with one movement of her old arms, she threw it out upon the air, so that it caught and glowed in the light, green, the colour of hope, with its roses like stars, its crosses of flame and the eternal words of the Absolution tall and clear. And it fell,  as she had intended,  upon the body of Richard and he lay beneath it wrapped in green fire and was magnificent’.

Miss Jarman,  who had the most extraordinary ability to paint pictures with words, captured the essence of Richard’s character so well  when  a character in the book,   upon catching  sight of him  whispered “Jesu how he shines‘...and so he did. Loyaulté me lie.


Artwork  Emma Vieceli

NOTE: It should be remembered when this book was published in 1972 it was still believed by many, including the author, see R.H.J’s Forward, that after the Dissolution of the Monasteries Richard’s remains had been disinterred and thrown into the River Soar. Of course we now know the truth and that Richard’s remains have been reinterred with the honour due to him at Leicester Cathedral.



Portrait of an Unknown Lady formerly known as Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury by an unknown artist c.1535.  National Portrait Gallery

For many years this was believed to be  a portrait of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, daughter of George Duke of Clarence, and  niece to two kings,  Edward IV and Richard III.  Intriguingly the lady is wearing a black ribbon around her wrist with a jewel of gold fashioned like a little barrel.  Surely this would indicate this portrait is indeed Margaret and of her tacit recognition and acknowledgment of her father’s death by drowning in a butt of Malmsey?  Unfortunately we do not know whether Margaret did in fact wear a piece of jewellery such as this or not but it would come as no surprise if she had.  Margaret was known for her feistiness such as when she actively encouraged Princess Mary’s refusal to return her jewellery to her father, Henry VIII,  so that Anne Boleyn could wear them.  Poignantly Margaret holds a Honeysuckle flower, symbol of devotion and love.  

However I was disappointed to see  this portrait, in the National Portrait Gallery , is now described as that of an Unknown Lady, formerly known as Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury.  Baffled by this turnabout I contacted the Gallery who very kindly clarified the matter for me.

barrel 2.png

Close up of the barrel jewel attached to the black ribbon and the W monogram.

In 1963 the portrait underwent detailed investigation by the Gallery’s Scientific Department the results of which showed

‘what appeared to be  extensive repainting,  including the ermine spots on the headdress, scumbling on the white fur of the sleeves, also the ermine edge to the bodice ‘ (1).   Worse still,   ‘the gold barrel shaped jewel  was almost certainly a  later addition as almost certainly were the black ribbon and W monogram jewel.  Without stripping the picture it would be impossible to access how accurately it recreates motifs originally there and how far it is fictitious’  However the report goes on to say there is, so far, no reason why the portrait in its original condition should not have represented Margaret Pole, so there is still hope, although  ‘ these doubts may only be resolved by the reappearance of another  16th century picture of her that was known to have existed.  The W shaped jewel is inexplicable unless the portrait was intended  for her granddaughter Winifred'(2). I am grateful to the National Portrait Gallery Archives for this information’ 

Could it possibly be a direct descendant  of Winifred had these additions added to the portrait in homage and to draw attention  to Winifred’s noble lineage? The portrait was once at  Barrington Hall Winifred Pole had married into the Barringtons and the family prided themselves on their descent from her.   To make matters worse  the Roy Strong catalogue suggests this could be a 17th or 18th century Barrington lady dressed up as the Countess!   Bad news, maybe, for those who once believed this was without a doubt a portrait of Margaret.

However the  matter is  further muddied by notes from Hazel Pierce’s biography of Margaret – Margaret Pole Countess of Salisbury, Loyalty, Lineage and Leadership,  which state:’ The panel is of oak and tree ring dating suggests that it was felled in 1482 thus the most likely period of use is believed to have been between 1515 and 1525 ‘(3).  The notes go on to say that Initially it did appear that the ermine spots on the outer part of the headdress had been painted over the original craquelure, which indicated that these were later additions along with the ermine spots on the outer sleeves.  However when the portrait was finally cleaned in 1973 the ermine spots did not disappear, neither did the barrel bracelet or the ‘W’ suspended from the sitter’s fingers, which suggests they may have been original after all.  The barrel will refer to Clarence and the W to Warwick.  Therefore the results of the cleaning result once more to the portrait being an authentic likeness of Margaret, Countess of Salisbury’ (4).

So there we have it. The final cleaning in 1973 outdates the 1963 information suggesting that the barrel and ermine were added at another date…sigh of relief!   However casting aside for one moment the two reports both of them from experts surely its obvious that the portrait of the older Margaret bears remarkable similarities with that of the young,  fuller faced Margaret,  as drawn by Rous?


Margaret as a young girl from the Rous Roll


Margaret Pole nee Plantagenet?

Can anyone else see the similarity with the almond shaped eyes and small rosebud lips? Or is it just me?  Rous would have known Clarence and his family by sight so we may deduce this drawing is a true likeness of the young Margaret.  I will leave it to you, dear reader,  to make your own mind up…

(1) Roy Strong Tudor and Jacobean Portraits 1969 p 272

(2) Ibid

(3)  Hazel Pierce Margaret Pole Countess of Salisbury Loyalty, Lineage and Leadership p.198

(4) Ibid

Edward IV – A King of Bling’s Wardrobe Accounts

imageThe Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York and The Wardrobe Accounts of Edward the Fourth Edited by Nicolas Harris Nicolas Esq

As demonstrated by my earlier posts on the subject I enjoy nothing more than a delve around privy purse/wardrobe expenses.  This may be partly due to my naturally nosy nature but also because of  how much they can tell you about that specific person.  Take for example Elizabeth of York’s cheap lanten shoe buckles or her generosity to any person who rocked up who had been in the service or provided help for any of her relatives.  Not to mention Henry VII’s penchant for dancing maidens – now theres a surprise!   Here today are some of Edward IVs Wardobe Expenses.  Good grief did that man  love bling bling –   the wonderful fabrics he wore, the jewels  – how he must have shone and shimmered  in the candlelight..


Edward IV  motto, ‘confort et lyesse’,

However before I go further I should say I’m  being unfair to call Edward King of Bling – all medieval monarchs knew the importance of dressing sumptuously, even Henry Tudor, who known for his meanness, except where it came to his funeral,  had his helmets encrusted with jewels  – yes he did! –

27th May 1492  many precyous stones and riche perlis bought of Lambardes for  the ‘garnyshing of salads, shapnes and helemytes’ 

June 30th 1497 £10 was paid to the Queen to cover her costs of ‘garnyshing of a salet’.

August 9th John Vandelft, a jeweller was paid £38.1s.4d for thegarnyshing of a salett‘ – Now thats what you call ostentatious! 

helmet studies albrech durer 1503.jpg

A Helmet or Salet decorated.  This is not Henry’s salet because his would have been more jewel encrusted and pretentious.  

It was actually  written by an  ‘historian’  that,  Richard III who was just being a medieval king,  was a fop! (1).   We have Sharon Turner (1768-1847) to thank for this gross misinterpretation  of  facts.    Turner did not stop there and went on to also absurdly describe Richard as a vain coxscomb and we have the editor of The Wardrobe Accounts of Edward IV, Sir Nicolas Harris Nicolas,  writing in 1830 to thank for righting this silliness.   Sir Nicholas wrote that the

love of splendid clothes and taste for pomp belonged  to the age and not to the individual‘ (2).

So we can clearly see all medieval kings were all naturally very blingy.   However  fortunately,  or unfortunately,  depending how Edward would have viewed people gawping over his expenditure,  his wardrobe  accounts are readily available for us to peruse.   Mind you I do not think Edward himself would have cared a flying fig.    Indeed he liked nothing better than to show off as Mancini has mentioned – 

‘He was wont to show himself to those who wished to watch him and he seized any opportunity that the occasion offered of revealing his fine stature more protractedly and more evidently to onlookers’ (3). 

So I feel he would just smile and roar  ‘Yea I was magnificent!’ and indeed Edward you were,  you were!

So herewith are a very small sample of the wonderous items in Edward’s Wardrobe Accounts that stand out for me, particularly the fabrics of which we  can only imagine the sumptuousness,  although scroll down for some details of fabrics from paintings from that era


Items of clothing included :

A longe gowne made of blue clothe of gold uppon Satyn ground emaylled and lyned with green satin

A longe gowne of grene velvet upon velvet tisshue of gold and a long gowne of white velvet upon velvet tissue of gold; both gownes lined with blac satyn

A demy gown of grene velvet and a gowne of grene damask both lyned with blac satyn

A doublet of purpulle satyn and a doublet of crymysyn velvet lined with Holand clothe interlined with busk

A loose gowne of velvet upon velvet blac clothe of gold furrid with ermyns

A demy gowne made of tawny velvett lyned with blac damask;

A demy gowne made of blac velvet lyned with purpulle satyn ;

A demy gowne made of grene velvet lyned with blac damask;

A demy gowne of purpulle velvet double lyned with green sarsinette;

A jaket of blue clothe of gold emayled not lined

A longe gowne of white damask furrid with fyne sables

To make further items of clothing fabrics were purchased including .

For crimson velvet of Montpilier in Gascony at xiiij s the yard ;  Black cloth of gold at xl s.the yard ;  velvet upon velvet white tysshue cloth of golde ; velvet uppon velvet grene tisshue cloth of golde at xl s. the yarde ;  cloth of gold broched upon satyn grounde at xxiij s. the yard ;  blue clothe of silver broched uppon satyn ground at xxiiij s. the yard

For white damask with floures of diverse colours at viij s. the yard ; damask cremysyn and blue with floures at vj s. the yard ; Black Velvet speckled with white ;  Blue velvet figured with tawney iiij s. the yard

For white velvet with black spots ; Chekkered velvet ; Grene chaungeable velvet ; velvet purpull ray and white ;  velvet russet figury ;  velvet cremysyn figured with white at viij s.the yard

Cremysyn clothe of golde the grounde satyn viiij s. the yard

To the famous Alice Claver ‘sylkwoman’ ;

For brode ryban of blak silk for girdelles at xv d. the ounce ;  ryban of silk for poynts laces and girdles xiv d. the ounce ; a mantell lace of blue silk with botons of the same xvij s. ;  frenge of gold of Venys at vj s. the ounce ;  a garter of rudde richeley wrought with silke and golde xvij s. …..

To complete his ensemble Edward would have required shoes, boots and slippers and lots of them

A Peter Herten,  cordswainer , supplied some of these –

A pair of Bootes of blac leder above the kne price vj s. ; ij paires of Bootes oon of rede Spaynyssh leder and the other tawny Spaynyssh leder viij s. ; a pair of shoon double soled of blac ledre doulble soled and not lyned price v d. ; viij paire of sloppes (A type of shoe) lyned with blac velvet vij d. the pair ..

and of course socks were needed – Sokkes of fustian iiij pair…

Of course no outfit is complete without a hat…

For iiij hattes of wolle the pece xij d. ; for bonetts  ij s. every pece  – clearly Edward got through a lot of hats!

For the xj ostrich feders to adorn the hats ; x s.every pece.

Hose was required – obvously:  To a  Richard Andrew, citezen and hosier of London,  for making and lyning of vj pair of hosen of puke (nowadays known as puce..thank goodness!) lyned, every pair iij s. iiijd.  

A nice pair of spurs was needed : For a paire of blac spurs parcell gilt v s. ; spurres longe, a pair, shorte, a pair…

Obviously someone had to be paid to make the fabrics into magnificent clothes – step forward George Lufkyn and  take a bow.  Mr Lufkyn, taylor,  was paid for the making of :

doublettes of purpull velvet, for every doublet making with the inner stuff unto the same vj s. ; for the making of iij long gownes of cloth of gold,  iij long gownes of velvet; vj demy gownes and a shorte loose gowne of velvet and damask,  for every gown making iij s. iiij d.; for making of a jacket of cloth of gold ij s.and for the making of a mantel of blue velvet vij s.

Edward’s sons did not miss out –

To Prince Edward : white cloth of gold tisshue for a gowne, v yerdes…

To the righy highe and myghty Prince Richard  Duke of YorkA mantelle of blue velvet lined with white damask garnissht with a garter of ruddeur and a lase of blue silk with botons of golde ;  v yerdes of purpulle velvet and v yerdes of green velvet ; white cloth of gold for a gown, tissue cloth of golde; v yerdes of blac satyn and v yerdes of purulle velvet for lynyng of the same gown…

Even the young Earle of Warwick was generously catered for : A peire of shoon of blue leder; a peire of shoon of Spanynyssh leder; a peire of botews of tawny Spanynyssh leder




Jan van Eyck,  Madonna of Chancellor Rolin










The majority of these examples are taken from the wonderful paintings of Jan Van Eyck a Flemish painter

It nice to know that besides the people these glorious  fabrics etc., were  purchased and made into sublime clothing for, the names of the  people that supplied and toiled away at making the garments, shoes, boots, hosery, laces, ribbons and hats have come down to us.  So remembering those industrious citizens, artisans and merchants including Piers Courteys/Curteys, Keeper of the Kings Great Wardrobe, Alice Claver, lace maker, Richard Rawson, Piers Draper, John Poyntmaker (this gentleman’s name is self explatory) John Caster, skynner,  Petir Herton, cordewaner, William Dunkam and William Halle taillours and Robert Boylet (surely an appropriate name) for washing the sheets.

I hope dear reader you have enjoyed this short meander through Edward IV’s Wardrobe Accounts.  If you have you may like to take a look at my posts concerning Privy Purse expenses – just click on the links..


Was Henry VII mean?

The Privy Purse Expenses of Henry VII

Elizabeth of York – Her Privy Purse Expenses

I have of course drawn heavily from The Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York : Wardrobe Accounts of Edward the Fourth.  Editor Nicholas Harris Nicolas

(1) Richard III as a Fop: A Foolish Myth Anne F Sutton. Ricardian 2008 Vol 18

(2) Wardrobe Accounts of Edward the Fourth Editor Nicolas Harris Nicolas.  Introductory remarks p.iv

(3) The Usurpation of Richard III  Dominic Mancini.  Translated by C A J Armstrong p65

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
















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