EDWARD V – STAINED GLASS COLDRIDGE CHURCH
A guest post from John Dike who is leading Philippa Langley’s Missing Princes Project team in Devon and following on from my post A Portrait of Edward V and Perhaps Even a Resting Place? :-
The window in the Evans Chantry, St Matthew’s Church, Coldridge.
As far back as the writings of Beatrix Cresswell in the early 1900’s, learned authors have been puzzled by the rare stained glass window of Edward V in the Evans Chantry at Coldridge Church, Devon, one of only four contemporary depictions of him in glass. Edward V was one of the two Princes in the Tower who disappeared, presumed by some to have been murdered by his uncle Richard III. Later authors than Cresswell have speculated that Evans was in fact Edward V, living a secret life in Coldridge. It might sound far-fetched but there are a number of clues that add up to this possibility. The true identity of John Evans is currently under investigation by a small team of amateur historians under the guidance of Philippa Langley MBE who was responsible for the discovery of the grave of Richard III at Leicester. The following points are of interest.
EVANS ARRIVES IN COLDRIDGE
At some point after the battle of Bosworth in 1485, John Evans was granted the Manor of Coldridge and the Stewardship of the Royal Coldridge Deer Park by Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset and half brother to Edward V. He took over these estates from Robert Markenfield who had been granted them by Richard in 1484. Robert was the brother to the more famous Sir Thomas Markenfield who fought for Richard at Bosworth. Both the brothers, who were from Ripon in Yorkshire, were friends and Richard was extremely generous to Thomas (1). It would thus seem very strange that although Sir Thomas was granted much wealth, his brother, another good friend, was sent to a small and remote village in Devon. I will come back to this later. After Richard was killed at Bosworth and Henry VII took the throne, Robert Markenfield moved to nearby Wembworthy and become an associate of Sir John Speke who held the Manor there.
COLDRIDGE DEER PARK
Coldridge Deer Park
Being appointed the Parker was a prestigious appointment for Evans and allowed him to give favour to local dignitaries on behalf of Thomas Grey. The Deer Park was approximately 3000 yards in circumference and in 1525 had 140 ‘beasts of the chase’. Existing place names indicate the area of the park on a modern map. Higher Park, Lower Park, Lower Park Break, Park farm, Park Wood etc., Park Mill was originally called Parker’s Mill. Long Parks named from Parker’s Long Field but adjacent to Coldridge Barton, John Evan’s manor house.
THE EVANS CHANTRY
The chantry was built by John Evans and completed in 1511. We know this because it originally contained two prayer desks with the inscriptions ‘Pray for John Evans, Parker of Coldridge, maker of this work in the third year of the reign of King Henry VIII’ and ‘Pray for the good estate of John Evans, who caused this to be made at his own expense the second day of August in the year of the Lord 1511’.
The renovated prayer desks with original inscriptions
‘Pray for John Evans, Parker of Coldridge, maker of this work in the third year of the reign of King Henry VIII’
The prayer desk front with the bench behind. Photo John Dike.
Another view of the renovated prayer desks and bench. It’s possible the bench and other pew ends were originally part of the furniture in the Evan’s Chantry and added in 1930s when the desk was restored.
By the early 1900’s these prayer desks were in poor condition and in 1930 the Rural Dean requested that these valuable objects be renovated. And so by 1931 a Miss Harris had rescued the desks by combining the remains into one with the new top engraved with the first inscription above. This desk is now in the Barton chapel as the Evans Chantry is now used as the vestry. The desks are significant as they confirm that John Evans was in Coldridge before 1511. As a chantry was intended to establish a ritual of prayer to speed the donor to heaven, it was likely that, with the then short life expectancy, he was around 40 years of age when it was finished. This would mean that he could have been the same age as Edward V who was born in 1470!.
Original carving from the two prayer desks now combined into one. Photos Devon Churchland,
Situated in the chantry is the tomb chest memorial to John Evans with his effigy carved from Beer Stone and dressed as a knight in armour with shield and helmet. The tomb itself is empty but the remains are probably below the slab at the base of the tomb. The shield is inscribed ‘John Evas’ which is rather strange as the surname Evans has been correctly spelt at many other locations in the church. It has been postulated that if Edward V was in hiding in Coldridge then Evas could be hinting at E V with the letters AS an abbreviation of ASA which in Latin means ‘in sanctuary’. Also situated on the shield is a very old inscription, perhaps mediaeval graffiti, which appears to be the inverted word ‘king’. Below it are nine very mysterious inscribed lines. Is this a reference to the year 1509 when Henry VII died and if all things were resolved Edward V living a life as John Evans should have become Monarch. We know from the Tudor Lady carvings in the screen that things to be kept secret in the church were depicted upside down.
The shield with Evans incorrectly spelt as Evas. Was this a hidden clue with ‘EVa s’ a disguised ‘E V in sanctuary’
Grafitti, possibly medieval, on the shield which appears to be the word ‘king’ inverted.
CARVED FROM BEER STONE JOHN EVANS EFFIGY LIES ON TOP OF HIS TOMB
JOHN EVANS EFFIGY BUT COULD THIS BE THE FACE OF EDWARD V AS AN ADULT ?
THOMAS GREY AND ROYAL PLOTTING?
Grey was the eldest son of Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen, who married Edward IV, and was the mother of the Princes in the Tower who were supposedly murdered at the hands of Richard III. Thomas married Cecily Bonville, a rich heiress, and owned as a result much land in Devon including Coldridge. After Richard III acquired the throne of Edward V in 1483, the widowed Queen Elizabeth took sanctuary in Westminster Abbey, accompanied by Thomas Grey and Richard of Shrewsbury, the brother of Edward V. Grey then escaped to join the future Henry VII in France.
However on the 1st of March 1484 Elizabeth and her daughters came out of sanctuary after Richard III publicly swore an oath that her daughters would not be harmed or molested and that they would not be imprisoned in the Tower of London or in any other prison. He also promised to provide them with marriage portions and to marry them to gentleman born. The family returned to court apparently reconciled with Richard.
I think we can agree that if the princes were still alive it would be at that point in time that their mother would have negotiated their safe sanctuary as part of the deal. So it would be really interesting to look for any activity promoted by Richard to facilitate this. In particular the appointment of a person loyal to the king who would insure that the prince/ princes were kept out of the way.
Two days later on the 3rd of March 1484 Robert Markenfield was dispatched to Coldridge. Was he then at Coldridge with Edward V who had been renamed John Evans? We know that after Bosworth the Markenfields were pardoned by Henry VII and that in 1495 Robert Markenfield was associated with Sir John Speke at Wembworthy, the manor adjacent to Coldridge. A possible scenario may be that he had handed the manor and deer park of Coldridge over to John Evans by then. We also know that Speke gave support to Perkin Warbeck, who claimed to be Richard Duke of York, the brother of Edward V. Warbeck attacked the North Gate at Exeter and the route from Cornwall would have taken him close to Coldridge and Wembworthy. Speke was related by marriage to St James Tyrell the alleged murderer of the princes and it would seem strange he would support Warbeck without Tyrell warning him off if the princes were dead. So in a very small area of Devon there may have been an intriguing meeting between Edward V and possibly his brother Richard aka Perkin Warbeck.
With Richard III dead in 1485 and Henry VII on the throne, Elizabeth sought to restore her fortunes by marrying her daughter, Elizabeth of York to the new king. Thomas Grey also had his estates, previously attained by Richard III restored to him. If Edward V was still alive at this point, Henry would have required, as part of a deal with Elizabeth Woodville, that Edward should disappear into the landscape. There is no doubt that Elizabeth would have used Thomas Grey to facilitate and control this and where better than Coldridge, part of the Grey estates?
THE CROWN WITH 41 DEER INSTEAD OF THE USUAL STOATS TAILS. PHOTO JOHN DIKE
The stained glass depiction of Edward V shows a large crown descending above the figure. Some years ago the Curator of the Department of Ceramics at the V & A was shown the window and commented that the crown was too big to fit the figure and must have come from another position in the church. It is possible that the crown was shown hovering over another image, probably in the original chancel glass, now long gone. What is of real interest is that the crown has links with the Deer Parker. Most unusually, rather than having stoats tails as the black spots in the ermine of the crown, there are 41 deer depicted. So 41 years before 1511 gives 1470 or the year of birth of Edward the fifth! No example of animals in Ermine other than stoats tales has come to light elsewhere.
A NOTE FROM THE KEEPER OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CERAMICS AT THE V & A VERIFYING THAT THE STAINED GLASS PORTRAIT IS EDWARD V
THE SMALL PORTRAIT
COULD THIS PORTRAIT BE OF RICHARD III OR THE ADULT EDWARD V/JOHN EVANS ?
Also in the Edward V window are the remains of a portrait of a man from a similar period as the main subject. The face appears deformed and certain academics have suggested that this could be only the second contemporary portrait of Richard III in existence. It is also possible that this is John Evans and that the partial image of a crown on his chest may indicate that he was a royal Yeoman to Henry VII. Henry gained the support of many Welsh soldiers during his successful invasion. Certainly there was a John Evans at court as a Yeoman. Many Yeomen were granted estates or deer parks and the unique Chancery Rolls we have today document these grants. However despite exhaustive research no record of grants of the Coldridge Estates to anyone, other than Robert Markenfield has been found which adds to the mystery of John Evans and the Edward V window.
JOHN EVANS TOMB IN THE EVANS CHAPEL, COLDRIDGE CHURCH, DEVON
Examples of the hidden clues of Coldridge Church. Inverted heads of Tudor ladies who appear to be vomiting..
Pews perhaps made from the fittings from the Evans Chapel in the 1930’s.
- Sir Thomas Markenfield and Richard III Prof A J Pollard.
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