A King and Queen. Dated c 1480s – could these paintings be based upon Anne And Richard? The Eaton Wall Paintings
Queen Anne Neville died on the 16th March 1485 less than a year after her small son Edward who had died some time in April 1484. The Croyland Chronicler tells us that she first fell ill shortly after Christmas 1483.
‘In the course of a few days after this, the queen fell extremely sick and her illness was supposed to have been increased still more and more because the King entirely shunned her bed, declaring it was by the advice of his physicians he did so, Why enlarge? About the middle of the following month upon the day of the great eclipse, which then took place, Anne, before named departed this life and was buried at Westminster with no less honours than befitted the internment of a queen’.
Thanks to the contemporaneous accounts given by Croyland (1) and the Acts of Court (2) we have a good insight into the events that followed almost immediately the death of Queen Anne i.e. rumours that Richard, in his eagerness to marry his niece, Elizabeth of York, hastened the death of his wife with the aid of poison. His denial was made publically, ‘in a loud and distinct voice‘ in the Great Hall of the Priory of the Knights Hospitaller of St John, Clerkenwell on Wednesday the 30th March (3)
‘…where as he in the grete Hall there in the presens of many of his lordes & muche other people shewde his grefe and displeasure aforsaid & said it neuer came into his thought or mynde to marry in suche maner wise nor willyng or glad of the dethe of his quene but as sorye & in hert as hevye as man myght be…’
Croyland, disapproving of Richard as per usual, and never missing an opportunity to have a poke, wrote that he was pushed into the denial by Sir Richard Ratcliffe and William Catesby adding, rather slyly, it was not what he really wished himself although it’s unclear how Croyland was privy to these most private thoughts of Richard – but I digress. This is all well documented elsewhere, including the plans afoot for Richard to marry Joanna of Portugal, the daughter of Alfonso V of Portugal and I shall not go into it here except to comment on those dark, insidious rumours.
The Gate House of the Priory of the Knights Hospitaller of St John at Clerkenwell.
I would have thought, hopefully , that nowadays, the idea that Richard poisoned Anne is now perceived as ridiculous, a complete and utter nonsense. However, not entirely so. Indeed Prof Hicks in his biography of Anne declared in a chapter headed ‘Past her Sell By Date‘ that ‘she was unwell, languishing and died, unattended and indeed unregretted by her husband“. What? Anne the Queen, daughter of the great Richard Neville aka The Kingmaker – died a lonely death, cruelly neglected by her uncaring husband? What a cruel outrage. And where was Richard at that desperately sad time? One way to find out – check the late Rhoda Edwards wonderful little book – The Itinerary of King Richard III 1483 – 1485(5) And there we have it – the truth of the matter. From the onset of Anne’s fatal illness, soon after Christmas 1484 to her death on Wednesday 16 March 1485 Richard never left the Palace of Westminster, where she lay dying, except for a total of II days when he was at Windsor.
I would say that there could be no stronger indication than this, that, yes, Richard did love his wife and was loyal to her to the end. He could have gone elsewhere, made his excuses, got away from it all but he didn’t. He stayed with her until the day she died – finally leaving Westminster on Thursday 12 April – never to return. Five months later, he too was dead. And thus ended one of the perhaps most tragic stories of all from those turbulent times. A young family, child, mother and father all dead in a space of 18 months along with the hopes and dreams of promising new starts.
Clearly Richard gave to Anne the loyalty that he was to find so disastrously lacking in others to himself. A sweet, personal reminder of the closeness of the couple exists in Richard’s expenses, when as Duke of Gloucester, were included the following items
…the same, for certain cloth bought for the use of the most dear consort of the said duke, London 3 December 1476 £10.8.4
Thomas Cole of London, skinner, for certain furs delivered by command of the said duke to his most dearly beloved consort, London 4 December 1476 £19.7.11.
John Knotte of London, mercer, for silk cloth and other things delivered to the aforesaid consort, London 6 December 1476 £20.12.11
Henry Ivy for the furring of various garments for the use of the said dear
Arms of Queen Anne Neville @ British Library
Those wishing to visit the Abbey to pay their respects at her grave will be unable to find one although the general location is known. The Westminster Sacrist’s Roll record the payment of ₤42.12 for her burial but no further accounts of the funeral have survived nor a monument. The Great Chronicle of London, written in the 1530s records that Anne was buried south of the High Altar – ‘by the South dore that does ledyth Into Seynt Edwardys Chapell’. A late 16th century list of Westminster burials also records her burial on the south side of the Sanctuary. According to Stow, Anne was buried south of the Westminster Vestry while Crull claimed her grave stood in the south choir aisle (7). The lack of a gravestone or monument might be explained by either Richard’s own death a short five months later at the Battle of Bosworth on the 22 August 1485 or perhaps due to the confined space between the High Altar and the sedilia (priests seats).
in 1960 an enamelled shield of arms with a brass plate was placed on the wall of the south ambulatory as near to the grave site as possible, by the Richard III Society. The brass plate is inscribed with the words
QUEEN OF ENGLAND
YOUNGER DAUGHTER OF RICHARD EARL OF WARWICK CALLED THE KINGMAKER WIFE TO THE LAST PLANTAGENET KING RICHARD III
‘In person she was seemly, amiable and beauteous and according to the interpretation of her name Anne full gracious’
REQUIESCAT IN PACE.
This beautiful quotation is taken from the English Version of the Rous Roll.
Brass plate and enamelled shield of arms given by the Richard III Society Westminster Abbey
Anne from the English version of the Rous Roll in royal robes, wearing Queen Edith’s crown and carrying an orb and sceptre. Hands emerging from the clouds proffer her the crowns of Lancaster and York. British Library.
- Croyland p.499
- Richard lll The Road to Bosworth, P W Hammond & Anne F Sutton, Acts of Court pp 173-4.
- Croyland p.499
- Anne Neville Queen to Richard lll, Michael Hicks, Chaper 7, Past Her Sell by Date, p.212.
- Itinerary of King Richard lll 1483-1485, pp29, 30, 31, 32, 33. Rhoda Edwards.
- Some Expenses of Richard Duke of Gloucester The Ricardian Vol 6 pp 266-269 R Horrox and A F Sutton
- Royal Tombs of Medieval England. Mark Duffy p.265
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ANOTHER PRECIOUS FIND TO ADD TO THE MIDDLEHAM JEWEL AND RING.
The Sisters Neville – Isobel, Duchess of Clarence and Queen Anne Neville, Daughters to the Kingmaker.
Anne Beauchamp Countess of Warwick – Wife to the Kingmaker
THE ETON CHAPEL WALL PAINTINGS – A PORTRAIT OF QUEEN ANNE NEVILLE?
EDWARD OF MIDDLEHAM ‘SON TO KYNG RICHARD’ & THE MYSTERIOUS SHERIFF HUTTON MONUMENT
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