Old London Bridge and Its Houses by Dorian Gerhold – a review.

London from Southwark, c.1630. Old London Bridge is in the right foreground and old St Paul's Cathedral on the skyline to the left. This is one of the few remaining pictures showing the city before the Great Fire. Oil on panel, Dutch School not signed or
A view of the bridge  from Southwark, c.1630.  Note the houses that are standing to the south of the Stone Gate, shown here adorned with heads on pikes, were in fact on the first pier of the bridge.  This is one of the few remaining pictures showing the city before the Great Fire. Oil on panel, Dutch School not signed or dated.

Since my earlier post on  Old London Bridge – A Medieval Wonder!  I am happy to say that the wonderful book Old London Bridge and Its Houses with its wealth of information by  Dorian Gerhold has been reprinted.   Being born and raised in London I always had a deep, deep  interest in old London and its history but perhaps of anywhere that I have read about (or visited if it still stood) none has  piqued my interest more than the old medieval bridge with its long and chequered history.  Building work commenced in 1176 led by Peter de Colechurch, a priest, chaplain and architect,  who would later be interred in the chapel that stood on the bridge.   It’s quite frustrating that the many views of the bridge created by artists over the centuries, although charming, have only captured the backs of the houses.    What would it have looked like in its heyday when it was crowded with medieval shops each with its own sign swinging outside?  What would the medieval shopper seen?  It would have been the medieval equivalent of Harrods or even Hatton Garden and a trading area for prestigious trades to which people would travel long distances to buy the superior goods that were available.   Street traders were not allowed and no one went there for a hot pie or a loaf of bread.  Indeed a Humfrey Searel was imprisoned for selling apples in 1617.  Shops selling food and drink in the period spanning the middle ages – of which I find the most interesting and am concentrating on here –  were unknown.    The few grocers that were trading on the bridge in the 14th and 15th centuries sold more specialist items such as spices and even dyes.

imageA view of Old London Bridge by an unknown artist.   The area just to the  south of the Stone Gate was known as Bridge Foot.  Getty Images.      

In the time span which I am focussing on here, the 14th and 15th centuries, five trades dominated the bridge – haberdashers, glovers, bowyers, fletchers, cutlers with a few pursers and stringers. The haberdashers sold an enormous range of items including ‘thread of various sorts, dress accessories such as combs, purses, girdles, bracelets, spectacles, looking glasses, undergarments, hats, writing materials such as parchment and paper, rosaries, garment fasteners such as laces, points, pins, buttons and miscellaneous small items such as thimbles and money boxes’.  When from 1285  ‘every freeholder in England with land worth between 40s and 100s a year was expected to keep in his house, a sword, a knife and bows and arrows and from 1363 all able-bodied men were expected to practice archery’ it can be seen that the bowyers, fletchers and stringers would be kept busy.  Interestingly after 1371 it was no longer allowed to make both bows and arrows.  You had to choose one trade or another.  Of course naturally some people ‘resisted’,  as you do, and a gentleman living on the bridge, Robert Verne, found himself in hot water when it was discovered in September 1375 he was making both.  He thereupon promised to stick to being a fletcher only.  By October he had broken his promise and the Mayor fined him and ordered him to be a bowyer.  

The author has included charts covering how many of each type of merchant were trading in any one period.  So we can see that from 1404 onwards haberdashers increased dramatically from 14 to approx 28, which remained a constant figure up to the 18th century.  Bowyers maintained a steady trade from 1381 onwards until a rapid decline in 1577-1606 when they became non existent.  Spurriers too became non existent around 1545 but it was good news for miscellaneous durables covering such items as makers of bottles,  combs, clocks, trunks and spectacles etc.,  The last armourer left in 1478.  

SCAN 2 1

This chart shows and names the tenants on the bridge in the year 1478.  Stone Gate is shown at the bottom of the chart on the right hand side with the chapel at the top.  The rest of the bridge is shown on the chart to the left.  The most prestigious trades were located to the north of the bridge.  

For me the most intriguing part of the history of the bridge is that touching upon the houses and the people who lived and worked in them.    What were their names, what did they sell, what were the interiors of their homes like?   Happily for me and anyone interested in the minutiae of  the history of the bridge the extensive records of Bridge House which maintained the bridge and owned the buildings on it have survived recording these very facts including the rental incomes as far back as 1358 and 1404 to 1421. The author has studied these records indepth and the result has been this amazing book.  By happy chance the  leases of the houses from the early 17th century thoughtfully begun to list the number of rooms in each house, plus the dimensions.  These leases are especially plentiful in 1650s when all the houses were relet and a new source of information has been uncovered by the author – a table of measurements which was drawn up in 1683.  This has enabled the author to write a book that is jam packed with information about how the houses and their rooms would have been utilised.   There are some informative and delightful cutaway depictions  which gives an intriguing peep inside as to how these houses would have appeared.



Cutaway of the eastern section of Nonsuch House c.1590.  Artist Stephen Conlin.


Reconstruction drawing of the bridge c.1590.  Artist Stephen Conlin.

Foreigners enthused about the bridge so let us leave the last word with  a French man L Grenade wrote in 1578 : 

“A great and powerful bridge,  the most magnificent that exists in the whole of Europe. It is completely covered with houses which are all like big castles. And the shops are great storehouses full of all sorts of very opulent merchandise. And there is nowhere in London which is more commercial than this bridge … I reiterate that there is no bridge in the whole of Europe which is on a great river like the Thames and as formidable,  as spectacular and as bustling with trade as this bridge in London.”

I have been absolutely entranced by this book and if anyone reading this who shares my love of the history of old London should feel tempted to purchase it I would say go ahead, treat yourself, you will not be disappointed.  

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The Sisters Neville – Isobel, Duchess of Clarence and Queen Anne Neville, Daughters to the Kingmaker.


Warwick Castle birthplace of both the Neville sisters.  Photo with thanks to Scotty Rae @Flkr.

Richard Neville and Anne Beauchamp, Earl and Countess  of Warwick had in their long marriage just two daughters.  If there were any initial disappointment about that there was always Plan B,  that illustrious marriages could eventually be made for them and strong links forged  with other noble families.  This is indeed what happened with both sisters marrying Edward IV’s brothers,  George and Richard Plantagenet.   Isobel the oldest sister, was born  5 September 1451 at  Warwick Castle, her sister Anne on the II June 1456 also at Warwick. The two sisters are often described as ‘tragic’ perhaps because they both died in their 20s.  But unquestionably their younger years, as members of one of the most powerful noble family of the times, would have been ones of a sumptuous lifestyle which could only have been dreamt about by the majority of the population of the time.


The Neville sisters parents, Richard Neville ‘The Kingmaker’ and Anne Beauchamp.  Rous Roll Latin edition.  Donated to the College of Arms by Melvyn Jeremiah.

As promised by her father, Isobel, aged 18 was married to the 19 year old George,  Duke of Clarence thus making her a young and very probably highly attractive Duchess of Clarence.   Isobel is often depicted in popular fiction in a never ending tedious trope as being rather brow beaten by an oafish and alcoholic husband.  And yet there is absolute nothing in primary sources that implies anything like this at all.  In fact primary sources tell us that George was handsome, ‘right witty’, a very loyal friend who protested passionately about the execution of one of his followers,  extremely eloquent, pious, possessed a sense of humour,  according to Rous a great almsgiver as well as being a ‘grete bylder’ and nothing at all to suggest he was an alcoholic.  The late historian John Ashdown-Hill wrote in his biography of George that the myth  he was an alcoholic was spawned from the belief that he was executed by drowning in a butt of malmsey (1).  That George did not, as far as is known, have any illegitimate children, something rather unusual for a 15th century nobleman,  would indicate that George was true to Isobel.  There are indications that he may have gone to pieces on her death and rightly or wrongly believed that she and their baby son had been poisoned.  This led to the Ankarette Twynyho affair but that is another story for another day.


George Duke Clarence.  Rous Roll. Motto ex Honore de Clare.

Details of Isobel are rather scant.  But we know that on Tuesday 11 July 1469 life begun to change for her in a dramatic way when she and George were married in Calais her father being Captain of that place,  an act that had been furiously vetoed by Edward IV, his relationship with her father having grown hostile.  The papal dispensation that was required –  they were blood relations in the second and third degree –  had been granted on 14 March 1469.  The ceremony had been performed by the bride’s uncle George Neville Archbishop of York and was followed by five days of festivities.    However soon after the celebrations were over her father and husband sailed to Sandwich while the new duchess, her mother and sister remained in Calais no doubt in states of high anxiety (2).    Warwick and his new son-in-law’s  plan was to oust the voracious and annoying Widvilles – denouncing them in public for their  ‘disceyvabille covetous rule‘ –   once and for all.   At the battle of Edgcote the results went their way.  Earl Rivers and his son John Wydeville were captured and both executed at Kenilworth on the 12 August. Edward, although not disposed,  was in their custody.  Rumours were circulating at the time that Edward was a bastard.  If this were the case then George would be the rightful king and Isobel queen.  What’s not to like? They appeared to be on a roll.   Although the precise date is not known it was around this time that the  Countess, Isobel and Anne returned to England.   However man makes plans and the gods laugh as they say and Warwick and George’s plan soon went pear-shaped.  Warwick had no choice other than to release an uncooperative Edward.  It seemed an uneasy peace was made between the trio for the time being at least, forced upon them somewhat by the Council.  It’s highly unlikely given the personalities involved that any of the men were happy bunnies and things may therefore have been a bit sticky for the ladies who no doubt had to put up with some melodramatics in what must have been a period of more intense worry in their lives.  They didn’t have to wait too long for things to implode.   In March 1470 a rebellion in Lincolnshire led by Sir Robert Welles,  but highly likely fermented by Warwick,  led to Edward marching northwards to suppress it.   Warwick and George struck while the iron was hot. Leaving their family at Warwick, they travelled eastwards to attack Edward.  Failing in that endeavour they returned to Warwick to pick up the ladies with Isobel now being well advanced in her first pregnancy and made their escape to Calais.  Approaching Calais they were shocked to be refused entry by Warwick’s deputy, Lord Wenlock.  To add to their woes Isobel went into labour.  Lord Wenlock relented and sent two flagons of wine to help alleviate Isobel’s agony.  In what must have been a nightmare scenario witnessed by the 14 year old Anne,  Isobel’s baby was born on the 16th April but died almost immediately,  the little body being buried at sea.  The beleaguered band, led by Warwick and Clarence, were now no more than  ‘defeated traitors’ and life must have suddenly seemed very bleak for the two sisters.  Arriving in Honfleur they were welcomed by representatives of King Louis XI,  who was no doubt tickled pink to see this welcome turn of events with the relationship between Edward IV and Warwick now completely unravelled.  But Warwick was not quite ready to capitulate.   His back against the wall,  a meeting was arranged between him and his once arch enemy Margaret of Anjou.  Although at first the ‘Quene was right dificle’ a marriage was now suggested between Margaret’s son, Edward of Lancaster and the 14 year old Anne of Warwick (3).  We will never know what Anne or the young bridegroom-to-be thought about this.  We don’t know what the Clarences thought about it either but it can be easily surmised.  Isobel now understood it was not she who would be queen in the fullness of time but her younger sister instead.  George  was downgraded to  Duke of York and only in the event that the marriage between Anne and Edward remained childless would he ever  become king.  It must have stung mightily and Paul Murrey Kendall goes so far as to suggest that George was now demoted to an embarrassing encumberance (4).    On the 25 July 1470 in the cathedral of St Maurice at St Angers Anne and Edward were formally betrothed.   On 9 September and before  the marriage on or about the 13th December at Amboise had been celebrated,  Warwick and George headed back to England, leaving their ladies once again although Isobel would leave France and join George by the end of the year (5).   On their arrival  back in England Edward was forced to hastily take ship at Bishop’s Lynn (now King’s Lynn) and flee to the low Countries for a short time whereupon on his return an understandably miffed George would abandon his father-in-law and be welcomed back into the bosom of his family.  George has been accused of being disloyal, a turncoat etc., but yet if thought about, his actions become understandable and no worse than the actions by other noblemen of the time including Edward IV.    No doubt these travails impacted on his marriage but perhaps Isobel, who was closest to him, fully understood the angst he was experiencing especially as it mostly emanated from the actions of her own father.  This is not meant as a criticism as Warwick found himself between a rock and hard place as result of the extremity of the situation he  found himself and his family engulfed in.  The root cause and catalyst of all this turmoil was Edward’s cataclysmic marriage and cavalier attitude toward Warwick who, according to historian A J Pollard,  he ‘progressively marginalized’  despite his long history of loyal service to Edward’s father, Richard Duke of York and also to Edward himself.   Pollard also makes it clear  should there be any doubt  that ‘Edward IV owed his throne to Warwick and his kinsmen’ (6). Paul Murrey Kendall in his biography of Warwick wrote that George ‘eager to try to refurbish his honour by reconciling his royal brother and father-in-law’ tried to bring Warwick back to the Yorkist fold sending a messenger to him (7).  This offer Warwick,  that larger than life warrior, scornfully spurned and went on to  lose his life at Barnet on the 14th April along with his brother, John, Marquis of Montague, a loyal man but yet another caught between a rock and hard place.  Such were the times.  On the same day as  the death of her husband the Countess of Warwick arrived in Southampton where she immediately took flight into sanctuary at Beaulieu Abbey, Hampshire.   We know that Anne remained with her mother-in-law until after the Battle of Tewkesbury.  

It was in the aftermath of Tewkesbury  that Isabel and George lived at their London house,  L’Erber once the home of her father.  Perhaps George decided it would be prudent to be close to Westminster, the epicentre of where arguments and decisions were being made about the Warwick inheritance.  Anne would be sent to live with them and it was at this house that Richard of Gloucester, with marriage in mind attempted to find her.  There is the charming story related by the Croyland Chronicler that he eventually found Anne ‘disguised in the habit of a cookmaid’ somewhere in London where she had been hidden by George in an attempt to thwart Richard’s marriage plans, and thus prevent him from obtaining half the Warwick inheritance,  whereupon he took her to the safety and sanctuary of St Martin’s-le-Grand until the arguments regarding the inheritance were concluded and resolved by Edward himself.   This story is rather extraordinary and yet rings true as it’s highly unlikely the Croyland Chronicler writing quite  soon after the event would neither have made it up or got the wrong end of the stick quite so badly.    But I do wonder however if  there was a slight modification to the story because I can’t for the life of me see how George could have forced Anne, against her will into remaining incognito, labouring in a kitchen, in a kitchen maid’s dress if she had not been compliant.  And why would she be compliant to that? Surely there would have been more appropriate places to hide her than a hot and greasy kitchen where she,  the daughter of an earl, would have stood out like a sore thumb?   It makes little sense.  Could the truth be that Anne, a true daughter of her father, resolved to take her fate  into her own hands and decided herself to run away from L’Erber, disguising herself until she got word to Richard of her whereabouts? 

We hear little of Isabel for a while but we do know that while living at Hungerford Farleigh Castle,  Somerset, she gave  birth to their daughter whom they named Margaret on 14th August 1473.  A son,  Edward,  was born at Warwick Castle on the 25 February 1475.  


A possible portrait of Isobel from the Luton Guild Book.  See  The Dragonhound’s  interesting post here

The 5th October 1476 found Isobel in the new infirmary of Tewkesbury Abbey where she gave birth to another son, Richard.  Why she gave birth in the infirmary rather than in one of her very comfortable homes remains a mystery.  It begs the question was she already ill,  perhaps suffering from a problematic pregnancy  or maybe even something else entirely?   After the birth of her baby Isobel was not taken home to Warwick until November 12th.   Presumably she must still have been very ill as she died on the 22 December 1476 aged 25.  Alternatively she may have recovered somewhat and George’s belief that she was poisoned was correct.  Baby Richard followed his mother to the grave a short time later.  The body of Isobel was returned to Tewkesbury for her burial where she lay in repose on a decorated hearse in the midst of the choir for 35 days while a new vault was built for her south of the altar into which she was finally laid to rest on 8 February 1477.   Tragedy upon tragedy was to follow with the execution of George aged 28 –  described by historian Michael Hicks as a judicial murder – just over a year later on the 18 February 1478.   This left the couple’s two young children orphans and after the death of their aunt and uncle,  Anne and Richard,  basically unprotected or at the very least in the hands of perhaps uncaring people.  This especially applied to young Edward, now the Earl of Warwick,  whose wardship was given at one time  to none other than Thomas Grey, his father’s old enemy.   His tragic story is told elsewhere.  George was laid to rest besides Isobel in the  vault which later became known as the Clarence Vault.  The opening to the vault was later fitted with iron gates, and in the pavement above a brass inserted engraved with two suns in splendour, the badge of the House of York. with the inscription, composed by a Mr. J.T.D. Niblett:

 Dominus Georgius Plantagenet dux Clarencius et Domina Isabelle Neville, uxor ejus qui obierunt haec 12 Decembris, A.D. 1476, ille 18 Feb., 1477.

Macte veni sicut sol in splendore, Mox subito mersus in cruore.

Which translates thus..

 ‘Lord George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence, and Lady Isabelle Neville, his wife, who died, she on Dec. 12, 1476, he on Feb. 18, 1477.

I came in my might like a sun in splendour, Soon suddenly bathed in my own blood’


The entrance to the Clarence Vault, Tewkesbury Abbey.  Photo with thanks to the Wars of the Roses Catalogue

George’s death warrant was signed by his own brother Edward IV who was later said to have regretted it, having been persuaded by his wife, Elizabeth Wydville that George must go.   Mancini wrote that Elizabeth was worried to her very bones – ‘her fears intensified’  – that if George was not ‘removed’ her children would never receive their inheritances, which despite George being executed was precisely what happened. 

Following on from the quarrels that had taken place regarding the Warwick inheritance between the two brothers George and Richard it is not known whether this infringed on the sisterly relationship between Anne and Isobel.  It may be that time had healed any wounds and they remained amicable.  Anne did take into her household her nephew the orphaned young Earl of Warwick (and presumably his sister Margaret) and for the young Edward it was, as it transpired,  the last stable and happy period  he was to experience.  

After Tewkesbury, the death of her first husband and the inheritance problems being sorted, not to everyone’s liking it should be said,  the papal dispensations necessary for Anne and Richard to be married were secured.   Presumably if Anne was in London at St Martin-le-Grand, as mentioned above,  Richard may have stayed at his mother’s home, Baynard’s Castle until the marriage took place which may have been in St Stephens Chapel, Westminster.  Afterwards they turned northwards to Middleham, which they both  knew so well  and where they were to spend most of their married lives.  They also gave a home to Anne Beauchamp,  the now widowed countess of Warwick although it is uncertain where.   They were only to have one son, Edward of Middleham.  There is some confusion about his date of birth but Annette Carson has suggested it was between mid June and early September 1476 (8).   It was probably for him that the countess had the Beauchamp Pageant, the pictorial history of her father’s life created.  The years spent at Middleham may have been among the happiest years of the married life of the Gloucesters but of course all this changed virtually overnight with the sudden death of Edward IV in April 1483.  Richard travelled to London and at first gave his support to his nephew, the 13 year old Edward V.  In a story that is well known and covered at great lengths elsewhere Richard found out the shocking truth about his brother’s bigamous marriage.   As we know the result of all this was that it was Richard and Anne who were crowned king and queen.  The Kingmaker’s hopes that one of his daughters would become queen was realised  although probably not in quite the way he had envisaged.    


A possible portrait of Queen Anne Neville.  Eton Wall painting.  

The end of the story reads like a tragic novel.  Richard and Anne’s small son died some time in April 1484, gone before he had scarce been here.  Rous tells us that he was ‘taken with honour to a grave at Middleham’.  Anne and her husband were described as being besides themselves with grief and she was to follow her son to the grave less than a year later on the 16th March 1485.  Richard gave her a magnificent funeral befitting a queen in Westminster Abbey before  scarce five months later Richard too lost his life at Bosworth.  He was not given the time needed to consolidate his rule but he showed signs of being one of the most forward thinking kings of the medieval period making good laws for the benefit of the poorer classes including those covering bail.  

And so passed away the Kingmaker’s last daughter.  The sisters were survived by their mother, Anne Beauchamp.  Anne would spend the last years of her life at Sutton Manor which at that time was in Warwickshire and a part of the Beauchamp estates (9). Her burial place has been lost to us but it’s possible that Anne was laid to rest in Sutton Parish Church.  As her burial has never been discovered hopefully that is where she still lays undisturbed.  

  1. False, Fleeting, Perjur’d Clarence  p.80 M A Hicks
  2.  Collection of Ordinences 98.  See Anne Neville Queen to Richard III notes p.226.  M Hicks
  3. False, Fleeting, Perjur’d Clarence  p.80 M A Hicks.
  4. Warwick the Kingmaker and the Wars of the Roses p.269 Paul Murrey Kendall.
  5.  False, Fleeting, Perjur’d Clarence  p.104 M A Hicks
  6. Neville, Richard, sixteenth earl of Warwick and sixth earl of Salisbury (1428-1471).  A J Pollard. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  7. Warwick the Kingmaker and the Wars of the Roses p.313. Paul Murrey Kendall.
  8. The Birth of Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales. © Annette Carson and Marie Barnfield, 2016 
  9. ‘Of lordis lyne & lynge sche was Ricardian Vol.XXX 2020 p.24. Anne F Sutton and Livia Visser-Fuchs.

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Anne Beauchamp Countess of Warwick – Wife to the Kingmaker


Anne  Beauchamp and her husband, Richard Neville, ‘The Kingmaker,’ Earl of Warwick.  From the Latin version of the Rous Roll.  Donated to the College of Arms by Melvyn Jeremiah. 

Anne Beauchamp, Countess of Warwick,  daughter of Richard Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick and his second wife Isobel Despenser,  was born at Caversham, Oxfordshire in 1426.   She was sister and heir to Henry,  Duke of Warwick and wife to Richard Neville,  16th Earl of Warwick known as ‘The Kingmaker’.  Anne  was one of that distinguished band of ladies who suffered in varying degrees during the tumultuous times known as the Wars of the Roses mostly due to the propensity of their menfolk spending much of  their time charging up and down the country trying to knock each others blocks off.

Anne and Richard would have two daughters who themselves made illustrious marriages, Isobel the eldest,  to George,  Duke of Clarence and Anne who became a Queen, wife to Richard III.  But let’s not gallop too far ahead in Anne’s story.  To start back at the beginning –  in 1434 Anne’s father Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick along with Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury,  would arrange the marriages of their daughters and sons when they were but young children.  The 8 year old Anne would marry the 6 year old Richard Neville, while Richard’s sister, Cecily would marry Henry Beauchamp, Anne’s brother which was the more important marriage of the two.    A double wedding was celebrated at Abergavenny, Wales on or about 4 May 1436.  Salisbury would pay a hefty dowry for Cecily of  4,700 marks which equated to about £3,233 13s 4d (1).   Prima facie this did not appear to be the most advantageous marriage for Richard, for it was his child bride’s brother Henry who  would inherit the vast Warwick and Despenser estates and of course the earldom (2).   However fate took a hand with the early deaths of Henry in 1446  and Anne his five year old daughter in 1449. This little girl would be buried before the high altar at Reading Abbey besides her great grandmother,  Constance (3).   Anne, being Henry’s sole whole  sister and thus his heir,  inherited the Beauchamp estates as well as being a coheiress with another sister and also entitled to a half-share of their mother’s Despenser estates.  (According to Hicks Warwick acquired the other half by the simple expedient of securing the custody during the minority of the coheir, George Neville of Abergavenny, and refusing to relinquish it on his majority (4) ). 

 This caused quite a flap with Henry and Anne’s three half sisters  from their father’s first marriage to Elizabeth Berkeley but however to no avail.  The die was cast legally and the young couple were now Earl of Warwick jure uxoris/by right of his wife and Countess of Warwick, suo jure/in her own right.  Their great wealth  was further increased in 1462 when Richard upon his mother’s death inherited her Salisbury inheritance 

harry ann and anne

Henry, Earl of Warwick, his daughter Anne, and sister Anne who would after their deaths become Countess of Warwick. Rous Roll.  

John Rous, antiquarian  and chantry priest of Warwick, wrote glowingly of the Countess, as he did for all the Earls of Warwick (for Rous ‘there is  no such thing such a bad earl of Warwick..’) and their families (5).


Anne Beauchamp.  Latin version of the Rous Roll.  Unmuzzled bear at her feet. Photo the Heraldry Society.

‘Dam Anne Beauchamp a noble lady of the blode royal dowhter to Eorl Rychard and hole sustre and eyr to fir herre Beauchamp duke of Warrwik and aftre the deffese of his only begoten dowhtre Lady An. by trew enheritans countas of Warrewick which goode lady had in her dayes grete tribulacon for her lordis fake Syre Rychard Neeuel fon and Eyre to fir Rychard Eorl of Salifbury and by her tityll Eorl of Warrwik a famus knyghe and excellent gretly fpoke of thorow thr mofte part of all chrifendam.  This gode lady was born in the manor of Cawerfham by redyng in the counte of oxenforde and was euer a full deuout lady in Goddis feruys fre of her fpeche to euery perfon familier accordyng to her and thore degre. Glad to be at and with women that traueld of chyld.  full comfortable and plenteus then of all thyng that shuld be helpyng to hen. and in hyr tribulacons fhe was euer to the gret pleafure of God full pacient. to the grete meryte of her own fowl and enfample of all odre that were vexid with eny aduerfyte.  Sho was alfo gladly euer companable and liberal an in her own perfone femly and bewteus and to all that drew to her ladifhup as the dede fhewid ful gode and gracious. her refon was and euer fhall. 


Richard Beauchamp,  Earl of Warwick.  Bronze effigy in the Beauchamp Chapel, Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick.  Photo Aiden McRae Thomson.

So we have seen by 1449 Anne and Richard were now Countess and Earl of Warwick their main home being Warwick Castle but also spending time at Middleham and Sheriff Hutton as well as a great London house, The Erber,  where food would be given to the crowds of poor people who would gather at the gate every day.  Stow tells us that ‘were oftentimes six oxen eaten at a breakfast and every tavern was full of his meat; for he that had any acquaintance in that house might have there so much of sodden and roast meat as he could prick and carry upon a long dagger’ (7).

 All may have been well for a while but by 1450 there were warning signs that the feuds and disgruntlements involving Warwick’s uncle by marriage, Richard Duke of York and the Lancastrian royal party were beginning to take a turn for the worse.  York had returned from Ireland and demanded, with good reason,  a reform of the Government.  Things were to rumble on until coming to a head in 1455.   The turbulent period later to be known as the Wars of the Roses took off.  I will not go too deep here into the twists, turns, battles,  victories and defeats that occurred in the years that were to follow for this is, after all,  about Anne.   They are well set out elsewhere and if anyone should want to find out more about the Kingmaker I can recommend the biographies on him by Paul Murray Kendall and A J Pollard.  In brief summary as Kendall noted in his biography,  Warwick had arrived at where he was by ‘consequence of the family into which he was born, the marriage his father made for him, and the time of violence in which he was bred’.    Warwick would labour hard and long for York until events triggered by York’s son, now Edward IV,  resulted in a once unthinkable turnaround – he would throw in his lot with the Lancastrians led by his once great enemy Margaret of Anjou. This now unstoppable chain of events culminated in Warwick’s death at Barnet          .  

Anne does appear to be rather an elusive character but one  of the facts that is known about her  is that about 1465 she took into her household at Middleham the young Richard Duke of Gloucester.  Richard was  the younger brother of the new king Edward IV who her husband had been instrumental in setting upon the throne.    The young Gloucester stayed there for approximately three years to learn with his henchmen the art of war as well as the more refined arts of manners,  conversational skills and so forth.   It is possible that an affection grew between Richard and Anne Beauchamp as she took the place of his mother during those formative years.  This domestic situation came  to a swift end when the relationship between her husband and Edward IV grew strained.  Things went from bad to worse when in Calais in July 1469,  her eldest daughter Isobel was married to Edward’s  brother, George Duke of Clarence against the explicit wishes of the king.  

Returning to England would find Anne with her daughters at Warwick Castle while Warwick and Clarence became embroiled in open rebellion.  Proclaimed traitors and with a price upon their heads they were forced to flee but not before a diversion to Warwick castle where after gathering their womenfolk together, including a now eight month pregnant Isobel,  they made their escape, their intended haven being Calais.  Now I know the ladies of that time had backbones of iron but that journey must have been the very stuff of nightmares for Anne and her daughters.  Isobel went into labour while they were at sea and had been refused entry into Calais.  Despite wine being sent to them to ease Isobel’s pains by a sympathetic Lord Wenlock, Isobel and George’s baby was born dead or died shortly after birth.  What a dreadful day when that little body was buried at sea.  Finally the bedraggled party arrived in Honfleur where they were received by representatives of King Louis who tried to intercede for them with Margaret of Anjou, their old enemy.  This led to an extraordinary deal being struck between Warwick and Margaret of Anjou, that ‘great and strong laboured woman…’ (7).  Anne’s youngest daughter, Anne Neville,  was betrothed to Edward of Lancaster, in a move which reneged on Warwick’s pledge to make George and Isobel king and queen.  Following on from this astonishing volte-face no one  knows what words were exchanged in private between the parents, daughter and particularly the son-in-law  but it couldn’t have been pretty.     George would have, understandably,  been mightily disgruntled to say the least which would lead to his eventual desertion of his father-in-law and return to the Yorkist fold.  What Anne’s thoughts were on these events – did she question her husband’s judgement or did she back him in this startling change of plans – we will unfortunately never know.   Warwick and Anne bid farewell to each other for what was to be the last time when he set out on his journey back to England.  Engaging with Edward IV’s army at Barnet on the 14 April 1471 left both Warwick and his brother John Marquess of Montague,  with his divided loyalties, dead.  Anne was to hear about her husband’s death when she landed at Plymouth the same day of the battle.     She immediately headed for Beaulieu Abbey, Hampshire  and sanctuary where she was to remain until the summer of 1472.  Three weeks after her arrival at Beaulieu, her new son-in-law, Edward of Lancaster was to die at Tewkesbury, his mother captured and later returned to France a broken woman.  In the outside world a battle supreme was to take place over Anne’s inheritances between her two royal son-in-laws, George and Richard Duke of Gloucester who had in the interim married the now widowed Anne Neville.    Anne would complain and send out letters to anyone she thought might aid her in her battle to get some restitution of what should have been rightfully hers.  It was all to fall on deaf ears and her lands were divvied up  ‘as yf the seid Countes were nowe naturally dede’.  When it had all been done and the dust settled, Richard and Anne would send a trustworthy Sir James Tyrell to Beaulieu to bring Anne home to Middleham much to the annoyance of George who was informing anyone who would listen that he was going to ‘dele with’ his brother.  As it transpired, it was George who was dealt with but that is another story.  And there in Middleham Anne gently faded into the mists of time.  Rous was to write that Richard and/or Anne held her as a prisoner and locked up.  This rather lurid tale we can confidently discount as he also wrote that Richard had been two years in his mother’s womb and was born with a full set of teeth.  

There is every reason to believe that Anne spent those latter years in well deserved peace, tranquillity and a very comfortable lifestyle.  It’s recorded that a servant, William Catour, were sent to do shopping for her in York which would indicate that she was once more living a privileged lifestyle (8).    It is also very likely that she was behind the creation of the Beauchamp Pageant, a beautiful pictorial history of the life of her father, Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick.  The Pageant consists of 53 drawings accompanied by explanatory text and is dated to having been made around 1483,  the year that her daughter Anne Neville became queen (9).   Anne’s life was to take one last final turn in 1485 with the death of her son-in-law, Richard III at Bosworth leaving her destitute.  She had by then lost her husband, two daughters, two son-in-laws and a grandson.  Fortunately she did not live long enough to see the execution of her two Clarence grandchildren.   However she reached some sort of agreement with the new king, Henry Tudor, who granted her a yearly pension of 500 marks and  returned some of her lands to her on the basis that when she died, they would revert back to the crown.  Anne was thus able to live out the remainder of her life in reasonably wealth and comfort.  Although of course the glory days were over so too were the days of angst, fear and extreme stress although perhaps tears may have been shed from time to time as she must have recalled the grievous losses she had sustained over the years.   Perhaps she gained some comfort when she perused the ‘Pageant’ and was reminded once again of the exploits of her illustrious father.  Anne was to die in 1492.  It’s unknown where she was buried but as she is believed to have died at Sutton Manor, Warwickshire and so may be buried in the parish church of that place (10).

Below just a few of the beautiful drawings from the Beauchamp Pageant.  All of them and full text can be found in The Beauchamp Pageant Edited by Alexandra Sinclair. A sumptuous book and fully recommended.  


Here the earl kneels before King Henry receiving a letter appointing him Captain of Calais.


Here can be seen Anne’s parents, Earl Richard and Isobel Despenser as well as her brother, twelve year old Henry,  lashed to a mast during a great storm.  They pray for deliverance as does a sailor.  The Earl has donned a blazoned surcote which would ensure their identification should the worse come to the worst…


A joust between the Earl and Sir Colard Fynes.  The earl is shown re-mounting his horse after dismounting to prove he was not tied on…


The Earl’s burial in the Beauchamp Chapel, St Mary’s Collegiate Church, Warwick.


A family tree from the Pageant.  Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick is shown at the top with his wives beside him, Elizabeth Berkeley and Isobel Despenser.  Three branches at the bottom left show the three daughters the earl had by Elizabeth and the two branches to the right depict Henry and Anne,  his children by Isobel.  

  1.  Anne Neville Queen to Richard III p. 37.  Michael Hicks.
  2.  Warwick the Kingmaker, p.19.  Paul Murrey Kendall.
  3. The Rous Roll By John Rous.  Introduction by William Courthope. Printed for William Pickering 1845
  4. The Warwick Inheritance Springboard to the Throne.  Michael Hicks.  Ricardian Bulletin June 1983.
  5. The Rous Roll p.xv.  By John Rous.  Introduction by William Courthope. Printed for William Pickering 1845. 
  6. A Survey of London Written in the year 1598 p.92.  John Stow.
  7. Paston Letters, I.p.377.
  8.  Testamenta Eboracensia vol 3 p.3.
  9. The Beauchamp Pageant, Edited by Alexandra Sinclair.  Reprinted in 2002.  I have found this the most useful source of information for the life of Anne Beauchamp available
  10. ‘Of lordis lyne & lynge sche was’ Ricardian Vol.XXX 2020 p.24.  Anne F Sutton and Livia Visser-Fuchs.

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The Tournament Tapestry of Frederick the Wise c.1490.  South Netherlandish.  Silk, silver and gold threads.  Musée des Beaux-Arts de Valenciennes, France. Photo Nicholas Roger theartnewspaper.com

My attention was first drawn to this sumptuous tapestry by an article written by Nathalie Nijman‐Bliekendaal in the Ricardian Bulletin, the magazine of the Richard III Society in 2019.  Not only is it breathtakingly beautiful but also of great interest to those interested in 15th century English History because it may depict the portraits of two people who strongly featured in the those turbulent times.  They are Margaret Plantagenet, Duchess of Burgundy, sister to Edward IV and Richard III and possibly her nephew,  Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York then known as Perkin Warbeck.  I say ‘may’ but I am 100% certain it is these two people.  I’ll return to this later.  Described ‘the most spectacular representation of a tournament of that time’ it depicts a mock combat of knights before an audience in a loggia which includes Margaret of Austria and Philip, daughter and son of  Maximilian of Hapsburg, Holy Roman Emperor (1).  The tapestry had become very grimy, fragile and structurally degraded over the centuries but thank goodness was saved in Aubusson, France,  at a cost of over £100,000.  Now the tapestry is restored to all its former glory.  

In the loggia and at the forefront can be seen Margaret standing beside the future Charles VIII of France proudly displaying her engagement ring.  Charles would later renege on this engagement, oh the scoundrel, and marry Anne Duchess of Brittany in 1491. To compound the insult, Anne had already been married by proxy to Maximilian, his abandoned fiancée’s dad.  Yikes (2).   This of course helps to date the tapestry to c.1490 when Margaret and Charles were still betrothed.   Fortunately as the tapestry had probably been commissioned by Frederick the Wise, the tapestry, now somewhat awkward for those portrayed in it,  stayed intact and was not destroyed in a hissy fit.  What is amazing is how accurate and recognisable the facial features of those featured are and were without doubt based upon individual contemporary portraits because in actual fact Margaret, Philip and Charles were never in the same place leave alone same room at any one time.  Which probably was best for all concerned seeing as how the situation panned out.  However and moving on,  some of the characters still have to be officially identified which brings us to the two that are of most interest to those interested in the period now known as the Wars of the Roses – Margaret Duchess of Burgundy and Perkin Warbeck.


Philip, Charles and Margaret.  Margaret proudly displays her engagement ring .. 


Philip Ist of Castile. Also known as Philip the Handsome (frustratingly it’s not known if the appendage to his name was apt  or an unknown person’s attempt at sarcasm).  His mother was the tragic Mary Duchess of Burgundy. 


Margaret of Austria.  Artist Pieter von Coninxloo.  Royal Collection.


Charles VIII of France.  Slightly older than portrayed in the tapestry.  Perhaps  painted on the morning he woke up, and aged rapidly, as he realised he had just married the proxy wife of his abandoned fiancée’s father!  ‘Where am I, who am I?’ you can hear him mutter.  I joke of course… 

So you can see from the above portraits the extraordinary talent of the weavers of this tapestry in capturing the portraits of the above so accurately.  Now we turn to the two figures on the left of the tapestry.  A beautiful, elegant lady stands next to a handsome young man.  This must be Margaret Plantagenet, Duchess of Burgundy and she has in her hand a gillyflower, known nowadays as a pink or carnation, which she holds close to the young man’s heart.  Surely the young  man must be Perkin Warbeck who claimed to be Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York.  The gillyflower was full of symbolism in the middle ages and was the device of,  if he were Richard, his mother,  Elizabeth Woodville. It’s unknown why Elizabeth chose this flower as her device but it has been suggested it may have symbolised virtuous love and marriage particularly marriage (3).   Was this an attempt to send a message to the onlooker that his parents had indeed been truly and legally married?    If so you may believe it or not as you will.  However moving on he does have  some kind of blemish or birthmark above his left eye as we view the portrait full on.   Where have we seen this before?  I believe, as does the author of the  article,  that this is indeed the young man known as Perkin Warbeck but who later revealed that he was none other than Richard, the youngest  ‘missing’ son of King Edward IV,  who had disappeared off the radar around 1483.  Compare the portrait from the tapestry to the famous pencil sketch of Warbeck.


Warbeck/Richard from the tapestry.  Compare the blemish above the eye as well as the similar mouth to the pencil portrait below..


Perkin Warbeck/Richard Plantagenet. Sanguine on paper.  Arras, Bibliothèque municipale, Bridgeman Art Library.


The well known portrait of a young Margaret Plantagenet, Duchess of Burgundy.  She was stepmother to Maximillan’s wife, the tragic Mary of Burgundy who had died after falling from her horse in 1482. Artist unknown. 


Margaret’s portrait from the tapestry.  Slightly older but still recognisable as the sitter in the painting. 

So besides the sheet beauty of this tapestry what can be gleaned from it?  The fact that as well as Margaret Plantagenet, Duchess of Burgundy some of the crowned heads of Europe recognised Warbeck as the missing son of Edward IV.   Although things did not pan out well for Warbeck,  it should not be assumed that because of his failure he was nothing more than a pretender.  The uncomfortable question must remain – was the young man with the battered face who was executed at Tyburn on November 23rd, 1499 in actual fact Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, the son of King Edward IV?

  1. Pierre Terjanian, curator in charge of the arms and armour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
  2. Ibid. 
  3. The Device of Queen Elizabeth Woodville: A Gillyflower or Pink Anne F Sutton and Livia Vissher-Fuchs.  Ricardian Article.

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Edward’s parents Isobel Neville and George Plantagenet, Duke and Duchess of Clarence.  From the Latin Version of the Rous Roll.  With thanks to the Heraldry Society.

Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick was born at Warwick Castle on the 25 February 1475. Among his godparents were Edward IV, who created him Earl of Warwick,  and John Strensham,  Abbot of Tewkesbury (1).  His father was George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence, his mother Isobel Neville, daughter of Richard Neville, the great Earl of Warwick who would become known as the Kingmaker.  Kings he had for uncles – Edward IV, Richard III and his aunt was Queen Anne Neville. This noble lineage would not prevent him from being among those numbered as the saddest victims of the Wars of the Roses and was indeed the catalyst for it.   

edward 1

Edward Earl of Warwick.  His feet rest on the bear of Warwick unmuzzled and the Clarence black bull (described elsewhere in Glover’s transcript as the Dun Cow of Warwick).   From the Rous Roll.  No contemporary portrait exists of Edward and this drawing is from Rous’ imagination as he would not have seen him as the older boy depicted here.  

Edward’s tragic destiny was to be beheaded in 1499 aged just 24 after many years of imprisonment.  Alas his sister Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury was to also to share the same fate in 1541 another victim of the Plantagenet blood that coursed through her veins.  Margaret’s life is told elsewhere and whereas she did live long enough to marry and raise children,  Edward was to have no semblance of a normal life once he reached the age of 10 years old. This was when, now an orphan and his uncle, Richard III,  having fallen at Bosworth in August 1485  he was brought down to London with his cousin Elizabeth of York from what appears to have been a royal nursery at Sheriff Hutton Castle, Yorkshire. To begin with he  stayed with Elizabeth at Margaret Beaufort’s London home,  Coldharbour,  where she had recently had renovation work carried out, including new wardrobes,  in readiness for her son’s future bride’s stay there (2).    However in 1486 on the order of Henry VII,  Edward now aged 11,  was sent to the Tower of London where he would live out the remainder of his life although not held in an actual cell, one would hope,  certainly in even stricter confinement,  a prisoner with no freedom of movement.   Perhaps once there his education was so  poor, even non existant or just merely a lack of companions and stimulation that  it was said  “out of all company of men, and sight of beasts, in so much that he could not discern a goose from a  capon’.  Thus wrote Tudor Chronicler Edward Hall although we do not know whether this meant that Edward was mentally deficient in some way or just merely naive and childlike.

But I have galloped too far ahead here and to return to Edward’s younger years when his life would have been one of luxury and indulgence.  There are reasons to believe  that his parents marriage was a happy one based upon, as far as we know , George did not have any illegitimate children, something rare for a 15th century nobleman and his distress and agitation on Isobel’s death.   A further indication of George’s enduring love ‘and sense of loss’ for Isobel may be that when he and his surviving children were admitted to the guild of the Holy Cross at Stratford upon Avon six months after her death, Isobel was enrolled posthumously (3). Thus his very  early years would probably  have been cheerful as he grew up in the bosom of  a loving family although of necessity one or both of his parents may have not always been around.   Tragedy was to strike on the 22nd December 1476   when his mother was to die at Warwick Castle, aged 25  a few weeks after giving birth in the new infirmary at Tewkesbury Abbey.   The baby, a boy who had been named Richard,  was  to follow his mother to her grave soon after on the Ist January 1477.  Here the plot thickens.  George believed that Isobel and  baby Richard had been poisoned.  He accused one of her servants, Ankarette Twynho of the murder of  Isobel by giving her poisoned ale on the 10 October 1476.   This  a story that still remains shrouded in mystery and is deserving of fuller investigation.   Ankarette,  who was not arrested until four months after the death of Isobel, which is puzzling in itself,  was hanged for Isobel’s murder on the 15 April 1477.   But prior to Ankarette’s arrest and  execution and in the immediate  aftermath of his wife’s death,  George had attempted to get his small son out of the country.  Indeed it is suggested by the late historian John Ashdown-Hill that George spent some time in Ireland.  He had requested help from amongst others,  John Strensham,  the Abbot of Tewkesbury, to get Edward abroad to perhaps Flanders or Ireland.  The intention was, it is said,  to replace the not yet two year old  Edward with a changeling child (which would not have been too difficult with such a young child and one that would not have been recognisable by many other than those who lived and worked in Warwick Castle).     This request, it was said,  was refused. This plot would be one of the charges listed in the Act of Attainder against George.  Edward IV obviously thought it quite unacceptable and not on that George should seek to get his small son out of England to safety even though he had genuinely believed, which seems the case, that his wife and baby son had both  been murdered.  The Act contains the following wording :

   ‘And also, the same Duke purposyng to accomplisse his said false and untrue entent, and to inquiete and trouble the Kynge, oure said Sovereigne Lorde, his Leige People and this his Royaulme, nowe of late willed and desired the Abbot of Tweybury, Mayster John Tapton, Clerk, and Roger Harewell Esquier, to cause a straunge childe to have be brought into his Castell of Warwyk, and there to have beputte and kept in likelinesse of his Sonne and Heire, and that they shulde have conveyed and sent his said Sonne and Heire into Ireland, or into Flaundres, oute of this Lande, whereby he myght have goten hym assistaunce and favoure agaynst oure said Sovereigne Lorde; and for the execucion of the same, sent oon John Taylour, his Servaunte, to have had delyveraunce of his said Sonne and Heire, for to have conveyed hym; the whiche Mayster John Tapton and Roger Harewell denyed the delyveraunce of the said Childe, and soo by Goddes grace his said false and untrue entent was lette and undoon.

John Ashdown-Hill has given us a brief summary in modern English…

    ‘Clarence had requested the Abbot of Tewkesbury, John Tapton and Roger Harewell to bring a child to Warwick Castle, to impersonate his son the Earl of Warwick, while sending the real Earl of Warwick to Ireland or the Low Countries, to provide a focus for rebellion against Edward IV. Clarence’s servant John Taylour was sent to take the earl abroad, but Tapton and Harewell refused to hand the boy over’.  

 The Act of Attainder can be found on John Ashdown-Hill’s website along with a full appraisal.

The general consensus that  has come down in history is that George failed in his task to get his son to safety and thus at the time of his execution on the 18th February 1478, the three year old Edward was still in England at Warwick Castle.   Following on from his father’s execution the small boy  was given into the guardianship of Thomas Grey, Marquis of Dorset, Elizabeth Wydeville’s son which was perhaps unfortunate as the Wydevilles and Edward’s father had hated each other.  Why does my blood run cold at the thought of this?   However it was not all bad as Edward IV’s household accounts include entries for several pairs of expensive shoes and boots for his young nephew which I would have thought was the least he could do considering he had executed the boy’s father, his own brother… 

To th’Erle off Warrewyk to have for his were and use, iiij peire of shoon double soled and a peire of shoon of Spaynyssh leder single soled ….2 june 1480.

To th’Erle off Warrewyk to have of the yifte of oure said Souverain Lorde the Kyng for his use and were, a peire of shoon single soled of blue leder, a paire of shoon of Spaynyssh leder, a paire of botews of tawny Spaynyssh leder; and ij paire shoon single soled…24 july 1480

 In 1483 following the death of Edward IV,  Edward was present at the coronation of the new king, Richard III,  and knighted at the investiture of Richard’s son as Prince of Wales at York.  Life would have seemed to have suddenly become rather brighter for the young Edward who according to Mancini was placed for a time in the care of his maternal aunt, now Queen Anne Neville, prior to being sent to join the other royal children at Sheriff Hutton.   Anne was to die on the 16th March 1485 and as touched upon above, Edward’s paternal uncle, Richard III, was to die at the battle of Bosworth 22 August 1485.  Edward was utterly alone.  Those who had a genuine care in the welfare of Edward were now practically all gone.  The few who still lived such as his grandmother Cicely Neville, his sister Margaret or his cousin Elizabeth of York would have been powerless to intercede on behalf of the parentless boy.   Immediately in the aftermath of Bosworth Henry Tudor had despatched Robert Willoughby to bring the Plantagenet royal children to London. As mentioned above  Edward,  Elizabeth of York as well as the young Edward Stafford,  were taken to Margaret Beaufort’s London home, Coldharbour.     He was now in the hands of the new Tudor king’s mother, who ‘acted as a jailer on behalf of her son (5)’.   Blood running cold again! Sometime in 1486 on the order of Henry VII,  Edward, now aged 11,  was sent to the more secure Tower of London where he would live out the remainder of his life.  


Coldharbour.  Stood in Upper Thames Street.  Removed from the College of Heralds by Henry Tudor and given to his mother Margaret Beaufort.  It was to here that some of the Plantagenet children were taken in the aftermath of Bosworth. 

Much ink has been expended on whether George did somehow manage successfully  to spirit Edward away to safety,  only for him to reappear in 1487 to be crowned king Edward VI at a coronation held in Dublin.   The young lad who was to all intents and purposes Edward Earl of Warwick languishing in the Tower was paraded through the streets of London to St Paul’s Cathedral in an attempt to quash this story.  As  John Ashdown-Hill points out in his book about Edward and Lambert Simnel ‘The Dublin King’  there were among those that attended the Dublin Coronation many who believed that the boy they were crowning was indeed Edward Earl of Warwick including Gerald, the Earl of Kildare.  To muddy already muddy waters further in an act,  which up to the present time has never been clarified fully,  John de la Pole,  Earl of Lincoln, Richard III’s adult and capable nephew who it is believed Richard may have  nominated as his heir should he die at Bosworth – which he did –  inexplicably backed the Dublin king, i.e. Edward Earl of Warwick’s  claim to the throne as opposed to himself making a claim to the throne.  This is quite extraordinary, given that his claim to the throne could be looked upon as superior to Edward’s, as well as he was an adult and better placed to take the throne and actually be able to hang on to it.    Unfortunately Lincoln did not leave a diary explaining his actions and if he had a Plan B neither did Richard III leave a will that has survived.      Of course an explanation could be that Richard on the eve of Bosworth, named Edward as his heir should the battle go badly.  This would mean that a loyal Lincoln was obeying Richard’s wishes honourably instead of making a sneaky try for the throne himself. We will never know.  But what is clear is that after Richard’s death, the new king Henry VII viewed Edward Earl of Warwick as someone who posed a dangerous threat and  could possibly be used as a future figurehead for dissident Yorkists or  had even heard that Richard had named him as his heir on the eve of Bosworth.  Edward’s fate, tragically,  was sealed.  

In 1499 Edward was accused of plotting with Perkin Warbeck, who claimed to be Richard of Shrewsbury, one of the ‘missing princes’.  Warbeck was also housed, conveniently,  in the Tower of London and apparently able to communicate, again conveniently,  with Edward whereupon they planned their escape.  To be honest this sounds rather too good to be true if viewed from Henry VII’s perception being a win win situation for him.   Two birds with one stone as they say!   It is possible, and a thought hard to brook, that a guileless  Edward was purposefully ensnared in a plot with a more foolhardy and desperate Warbeck that would lead to both their trials and executions.   In other words they, especially Edward,  were stitched up like kippers  If Edward was indeed a little backward this would make it even more crueler and even today causes a little shiver at the sheer cold bloodedness of it.   It has been suggested that Katherine of Aragon’s parents, the Spanish king and queen demanded that Edward was put out of the way before they agreed the marriage of their daughter to Henry Tudor’s heir, Arthur.  Whether this is true or not Edward was beheaded on Tower Hill on the 28th November 1499.  His remains would be taken to Bisham Priory to be interred near to where so many illustrious Nevilles, including his grandfather, the Kingmaker, lay at rest. So passed the son of George, Duke of Clarence or did he? George’s  daughter Margaret was shockingly  to suffer the same fate 40 years later.  Thus perished  the last scions of the House of Plantagenet.   


Margaret Pole née Plantagenet – Edward’s sister who shared the same fate as he did.  Margaret was beheaded at the Tower of London on the 27 May 1541.  The little barrel on her bracelet symbolises the butt of malmsey legend says her father was drowned in.

To those who wish to delve further into this intriguing but somewhat confusing story I would recommend reading John Ashdown-Hill’s The Dublin King where it is discussed and examined at length.  

1. False, Fleeting Perjur’d Clarence p.126 M A Hicks

2.  On some London Houses of the early Tudor Period.  C I Kingsford.  Archaeologia 1920-1.

3. False, Fleeting, Perjur’d Clarence p.128.  M A Hicks

4. Ibid p.166.M A Hicks

5. The King’s Mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort p.67 James and Underwood. Cambridge 1992.

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Elizabeth Wydeville – Serial Killer?




Thomas Cromwell c.1532.  Minature attibuted to  Hans Holbein the Younger. Oil on panel. Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

Following on from my earlier post on Perkin Warbeck and his burial at Austin Friars where I touched upon Thomas Cromwell’s house in the Austin Friars precinct I was happy to come across this excellent article covering the in-depth history of that house by Dr Nick Holder at the University of Exeter.

I won’t attempt to  go into the somewhat complex history of Cromwell in this post as it can be found well covered elsewhere.  Suffice it to say that Cromwell was yet another man of wealth and great power once held in high esteem by Henry VIII,  only to fall out of favour, destroyed and his sumptuous property passed on to the crown.  

The Augustinian friary owned 10 tenements in or around the south west corner of their precinct.  Three of these tenements were built around 1510 by Prior Edmund Bellard and a draper,  William Calley.  The idea was to generate rental income for the friary and for Calley, who contributed £40, to receive commemorative masses after his death.  A win win situation for both.  Cromwell begun renting one of these tenements around 1523 and it is known he sent a letter to his wife Elizabeth there in 1525.    In the diagram below you can see the three tenements marked 1, 2 and 3 with number 3 being the Cromwell residence marked with a red circle.


So far so good.  The rent for this nearly new built house was about £4 per annum.  It was built to high specifications with the luxury of fireplaces in nearly every room, a kitchen and buttery wing with a separate larder,  (and perhaps a cellar below) yards with a privy and woodshed …… well lit with large windows with stone and brick mullions’.  Furthermore  the house had 14 rooms arranged over three stories with in addition at least one cellar and some garret rooms in the roof.   The house was arranged in three wings with the main wing and the kitchen wing separated by a narrow entrance hall and a hall set further back behind the main yard. The ground floor parlour was an impressive room carpeted with a long table and a screen.


Thomas Cromwell’s first house in Austin Friars based upon a 17th century survey. This was the house Cromwell lived in with his wife Elizabeth, daughters Anne and Grace and son Gregory.

So far still good.  In 1532 his status had risen rapidly and with it obviously his wealth.   He had plan, big plans and  begun to ‘expand’ his ownership of further properties on the precinct obtaining a 99 year lease in June of that year for the property he was renting eventually purchasing it from the friary for £200 in 1534.   He also  begun to consolidate and enlarge his portfolio, purchasing another property called The Swanne that fronted onto Throgmorton Street that had also been owned by the friary but lay just outside the precinct.  Further plots were duly purchased that added to the street frontage.  Cromwell then turned his attention to the garden buying out a George Eglyffeld’s lease on a large property.  Sometimes his methods to gain more land were far from ethical.  We know this because one of the people he rode roughshod over was none other than the father of John Stow who wrote ‘A Survey of London 1598′.  We can still feel the rising of Stow’s hackles over the centuries  as in writing his description of the Friary he added “On the south side and at the west end of this church many fair houses are built namely in  Throgmorton Street, one very large and spacious built,  in the place of old and small tenements by Thomas Cromwell.    This house being finished and having some  reasonable plot of ground left for a garden, he caused the pales of the gardens adjoining to the north part there off on a sudden to be taken down;  twenty-two feet to be measured fourth right into the north of every man’s ground,  a line there to be drawn, a trench to be cast,   a foundation laid and a high brick wall to be built. My father had a garden there and a house standing close to his south  pale; this house they loosed from the ground and bare upon rollers into my fathers garden twenty-two feet,  ere  my father herd thereof.  No warning was given him, nor other answer when he spake to the surveyors of that  work but that their master Sir Thomas commanded them to do so, no man durst go to argue the matter but each man lost his land and my father paid his whole rent which was  six shillings and sixpence for the year for that half which was left.   Thus much of my own knowledge have I thought good to note, that the sudden rising of some men causes them in some matters to forget themselves’.  Really Sir Thomas!   

From the diagram below we can see how Cromwell’s portfolio of properties had now expanded – including the theft of Stow Snr’s land.  The house Cromwell had first lived in is  again indicated by the little red circle.  


Cromwell had now shelled out about £550 for the plots thus purchased.  This now made him the owner of ‘one of the largest pre-Dissolution private properties in London owning 2 & 1/3 acres of land which included a greater garden (marjorem ortum) and  a lesser gardeyn’. 

Now in the happy position of being the owner of a 188 foot strip of land fronting onto Throgmorton Street,  Cromwell was able to embark upon building one of the grandest private residences in London.  Money was spent like rice with a least £1000 being spent on the new build project.  Then, as now,  delays could occur, and did, when Cromwell’s nephew Richard took the whole site team of eighty workers to Yorkshire to help Thomas Howard against the rebels of the Pilgrimage of Grace.  The whole project would take four years.  


Artists impression of the completed mansion c.1539. Peter Urmston.


Reconstruction of the mansion as it would have appeared from Throgmorton Street.



Ground, first and second floor plans.


Austin Friars, Throgmorton Street and the mansion from the Copperplate map.c.1550.  Museum of London.

The interior of this wonderful mansion can only be wondered at.  It must have been a glorious sight with grand staircases,  oriel windows and a series of long galleries looking down on the courtyards below which may have had Italianate decoration.    Cromwell’s private rooms were probably situated on the first floor of the west block and included chambers with views of the garden to the north and lockable cupboards (two ammeres with durres of waynscott).  The family apartment even included a separate bathroom with a plaster ceiling,  a chamber that ‘hath a closet and a Stew therin the Stew being syled’. 

There was more than one kitchen, the main one, a pastry kitchen with large ovens and a smaller kitchen in the western block where Cromwell’s private rooms were located.  Very handy if one wanted to order a quick snack..or two.  There was also a private chapel…of course.  

The bedrooms must have been the height of luxury for in an inventory of Henry VIII’s possessions drawn up after his death there are listed bedroom items removed from Cromwell’s mansion after his arrest in 1540.  These include a bed, three bedsteads, nine sets of bed linen, nearly all of them with a canopy, head cloth and valances, two quilts and four other bed canopies.  Each item is in luxury cloth such as cloth of gold, damask or velvet.  

The garden too was splendid with space enough for  a diceing house and a bouling alley as well as of course stables.   We know this because  ‘Sir,’ one of his servants wrote to him ‘ther you maye have a fayer stabell mayd and ther you maye have mayd a fayer tennys playe and a close Bowlyng alle with a gallewre over it.  The garden also contained hedged knot gardens, arbours and fruit trees  and needed two male gardeners and six female gardeners to tend to it. 

Sadly all this glory and beauty were not to be enjoyed for long by their owner.  Cromwell was arrested in June 1540  and executed in a botched beheading on the 28 July at the Tower of London.  Immediately following his arrest members of the king’s household took over  possession of the house.  Some of the furniture would be removed from the house, so much that it could not all be taken in one day,  to be given, ironically, as a divorce present to Anne of Cleves.  Later in 1543 the house would be purchased by the Draper’s Company from Henry VIII and was one of the properties lost in the Great Fire of London 1666.  It was rebuilt but once again destroyed by fire in 1772, rebuilt and still stands today.

The purchase of Cromwell’s mansion by the Drapers Company has ensured that a wealth of information has survived over the centuries, including inventories, that has enabled Dr  Holder to write in such rich detail about Cromwell’s house.  These inventories range from high quality items to the basics such as the tools in the wood house.  Listed here are just  a few –

Ground Floor Parlour

A pair of playing tables, a table of my lorde Cardynalles armes paynted and gylted, a long table, a screen and the arms of the King and Queen. 

Old Parlour

Tables, chests,  old hangings and four javelins


A greate cesterne of leade for water with a cocke of brasse, good collection of pewter, pottery,  pottery tableware, brass pots, fireplace equipment and pots for wine and ale. 

First Floor Chamber of Cromwell’s mother-in-law Mercy Prior –

40 sets of sheets, six chests, six coffers, a relyque closyd in crystall, various cloths, shirts,  linens, altar cloths, rosary beads, mirror and a chamber pot.

New Chamber

Bed and bedding, men’s gowns, Jackets, caps, four swords and some daggers, an alter of the natyvitye of oure lorde, painted cloth of the battle of Pavia and two paintings of Cromwell.  

Chamber adjoining the new chamber –

A bed, bedding,  several women’s gowns, swords and carved gilt altar.

Is it just me or does it  feel a little intrusive to peruse these rooms and lists of belongings of a man, who left his mansion one morning never to walk through its doors again.  Or perhaps others may see it  simply as a visit from Karma….?

image.pngThe site of Thomas Cromwell’s house in Throgmorton Street, London today.

To read Dr Nick Holder’s article in full click here.

1.  A Survey of London 1537 p.   John Stow.

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  1. A Survey of London Written in the year 1598 John Stow p163

Margaret Pole Countess of Salisbury 1473-1541 Loyalty Lineage and Leadership by Hazel Pierce.



Those looking for an in-depth assessment of the life of Margaret Pole need look no further.  Hazel Pierce has more than adequately supplied it in her biography of Margaret – Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury 1473-1541 Loyalty Lineage and Leadership.  Covering Margaret’s life from early childhood – orphaned at five years old,  Margaret’s earlier needs were catered for by her uncle Edward who supplied her with the necessities – well –  it was the very least he could do under the circumstances – her marriage to Sir Richard Pole – Pierce opines this was a happy one – her widowhood  – the restoration to her  of her brother Edward’s Earldom of Salisbury  by Henry VIII and finally, her violent death at the hands of an inept axeman aged 67.


George Duke of Clarence – Margaret’s father ‘a myghty prince semley of person and ryght witty and wel visaged’.  At her birth in 1473 he stood third in line of succession to the crown of England.

I must confess that on reaching the end of the book my view of Margaret had changed slightly.  I was left slightly  confused – was she merely obstinate, stubborn and hardheaded,  foolishly pressing Henry’s buttons to the limits – unwisely as it transpired – or was she driven by the remembrance of her noble lineage, indeed more noble than Henry’s,  the present occupier of the throne?   Did she feel honour bound , even duty bound,  after the judicial murder of her brother, Edward the Earl of Warwick, to fight Henry tooth and nail over property matters, a fight that raged for 10 years?  Did this lead to Henry nurturing a dislike for her which would later influence the decision to execute her?  Undoubtedly she infuriated Henry when she encouraged his daughter, the rebellious  Mary,  aiding and abbeting her in her refusal to return her jewels when her father needed them for his new wife, Anne Boleyn.  Margaret seems to have suffered from a nervous breakdown when she and Mary were forcibly parted but later regained her strength and resolve when standing up to the most strenuous of interrogations ,  her courage shining  through in the comments made by one of these interrogators,  Sir William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton, who according to Pierce was sympathetic to Margaret’s younger son Geoffrey, but disliked Margaret.  He later wrote ‘we have dealid with such a one as men have not dealid with to fore us,  Wee may call hyr rather a strong and custaunt man than a woman


William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton by Hans Holbein.  The face of the man who interrogated Margaret over 2 days.


Warblington Castle, Hampshire,   Margaret’s principal residence where she was interrogated by  Sir William Fitzwilliam and Thomas Goodrich Bishop of Ely.

Fortunately for Pierce – and for us – plentiful records have survived that cover Margaret and her sons’ lives ( had the human shredders from the reign of Henry VII long since departed this mortal coil?)  that have enabled Pierce to write a cracking good book and her meticulous attention to detail must be applauded.  I found it difficult at times to put this well researched and balanced book down.

Margaret’s eldest son, Henry Montague seems the most sensible of the lot although prone to letting his mouth run dangerously away with him from time to time.

Geoffrey, the youngest,  is perhaps the one that took after his maternal grandfather, the mercurial George Duke of Clarence, a loose cannon, but at the same time likeable and charming , with friends  that tried to save him, but perhaps lacking the courage of George. He tried to suffocate himself with a cushion, which,  not surprisingly failed, and his wife was terrified that he might reveal too much if interrogated –  indeed he feared this very thing himself.

Reginald – ah Reginald! – he was the fly in the ointment, safely on the Continent, he managed to survive assassination attempts on his life and was complicit, via his writings, in the downfall of the Pole family.  Reginald survived to become a Cardinal and later Archbishop of Canterbury under Mary Tudor.  For me a further question arises over Reginald’s rather cavalier attitude to his family back in England.  Opposed to Henry’s religious changes in 1537 he sent a message warning that if his mother supported these opinions  ‘mother as she is myne, i wolde treade appon her with my feete”    Reginald seems not to have  give a flying fig over the survival and fates of his family.  If so why?  Perhaps a grudge of some sort, an axe to grind?  Pierce added that Reginald’s actions are so well known that they do not need including in her book.  So that is another story.


Margaret’s son, Reginald Pole, consecrated as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1556.

And so around spun the fickle wheel of fortune, until they, with the exception of Reggie, were totally undone,  disaster and tragedy overtaking them all , with even Montgue’s young son, Henry Pole the Younger, disappearing from sight forever once he entered the Tower of London with his father and grandmother.  Poor little blighter.

Although this book does answer many question about Margaret and her family it does leave me with one – did the Poles contribute to their own demise, all in some way stretching Henry’s patience to the limit OR was it always inevitable that Henry would in the end,  annihilate the last of those who had the royal and noble Plantagenent blood coursing through their veins?


The Salisbury Chantry, Christchurch Priory, Dorset.  Margaret’s intended resting place.  Margaret was eventually buried in the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula at the Tower of London alongside Henry VIII’s other victims.  Photo uksouthwest.net website.

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St Andrew’s Church, Wingfield and the Tombs of the de la Poles


St Andrew’s Church, Wingfield, Suffolk.  Mausoleum of the de la Poles.  

You know when the great Sir Nikolaus Pevsner was ‘impressed’ with a church then it must indeed be rather special (1).   And St Andrew’s with its soaring clerestories, nave roof with  arched braces resting on figures of winged angels,  charming ‘Decorated’ window tracery of flower petals  and the rood loft reached by two stairways does not disappoint.   Combine all that with some of the finest 15th century medieval monuments in England and it takes some beating.

Founded by Sir John Wingfield d.1361 improvements to the church was carried out by  both his son in law Michael de la Pole First Earl of Suffolk d.1389 and in his turn by his son, Michael de la Pole, Second Earl of Suffolk d.1415.  The improvements made by the second Earl are described by Pevsner as the ‘real glory‘ of the church  and the monuments of the Earl and Katherine Stafford his wife lie today between the chancel and the chapel which he built.

Sir John Wingfield c. 1307- d. 1361.  

Sir John’s monument lies in the north side of the chancel.  Held in high esteem by Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales known as the Black Prince,  who in 1356 appointed him Chief Administrator of the Prince of Wales and in  October 1359  Master of the Household and Prince’s Councillor.   The Black Prince would later pay £57 13 4d for his funeral (2).  He left much of his wealth for the rebuilding of St. Andrew’s Church as well as the foundation of a chantry college and to make Wingfield a collegiate church.  These wishes his widow, Eleanor/Alianore, would help to arrange.   Sir John’s monument is much worn now but the etchings by Charles A Stothard in the early 19th century have captured what it once would have looked like.  


Sir John Wingfield’s effigy Wingfield Church.  Etching by Charles A Stothard.


Although not buried at Wingfield,  Sir Michael de la Pole’s story should be touched upon to better understand the link of the de la Poles to Wingfield.  Sir Michael  was the eldest son of Sir William de la Pole d. 1366, a financier, successful wool merchant and entrepreneur  from Kingston upon Hull. In 1361, the year of her father’s death, the 30 year old Sir Michael  married Sir John Wingfield’s 13 year old daughter and heiress, Katherine (b.c1349 d.1385).    Her father’s death shortly before the marriage brought a ‘dowry of substantial estates‘ (3).  Sir Michael also had links with Edward ‘the Black Prince’ and it may be that it was the Black Prince’s patronage helped with the Wingfield marriage.   Sir Michael had come a long way.  As historian Anthony Emery points out,  the de la Poles story is a classic example of how a rapid rise in social advancement was possible from a wool merchant to an earldom in two generations to even a heir presumptive four generations later.   In 1362 following his father in law’s death and under the terms of his will, Sir Michael and his young wife would establish the  college of priests at Wingfield  and rebuild much of the church  ‘sumptuoso’.  After a busy career with some ups and some downs,  and which I do not have space to go into here,  Sir Michael  was convicted of treason by the Merciless Parliament in 1388.  Being a favourite of Richard II had made him a scapegoat for the king’s enemies.   Escaping to France he was out of reach of those who wanted him dead but  was to die shortly after in Paris on the 5 September 1389.  He would be brought home to England to be buried alongside his wife, who had died around the onset of his downfall in 1385, in the Carthusian Priory, Kingston upon Hull.   


It is Michael de la Pole,  second Earl of Suffolk,  who lies at rest in Wingfield Church along with his wife, Katherine Stafford, for after his father’s death he regained possession of the entailed land of his family which had only been confiscated during Sir Michael Snr’s lifetime.  Thus he was able to return home to Wingfield.  He completed his father’s unfinished building works including the enlargening and beautifying of Wingfield Church.  He and his wife made their home at Wingfield, building Wingfield castle and gaining a licence to crenellate in 1384.   He lived out a respectable life, managing to avoid the many pitfalls of the times that had resulted in  his father’s fall  and earned the accolade of being a ‘knight of excellent and most gracious name.  By his studied respectability he sucessfully removed from his family’s reputation the taint of scandal that had hitherto hung about it (4).   Sir Michael would travel to France to serve Henry V in 1415 taking with him a force of 40 men at arms and 120 mounted archers.  Sadly on the 17th September he succumbed to dysentery at the  siege of Harfleur.  He had requested in his will to be buried at Wingfield in the church that he had added to and enhanced.  This requested was carried out and to this day he rests there with his wife Katherine Stafford.  


Michael de la Pole and his wife Katherine Stafford.  Effigy in St Andrew’s church, Wingfield.  


Michael de la Pole, 2nd Earl of Suffolk and Katherine Stafford.  An etching by C A Stothard.


Also resting here with a wonderful tomb, the gem of Wingfield,   are John de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk b.1442 d.1492 and his wife Elizabeth Plantagenet, sister to Edward IV and Richard III.  John was Michael de la Pole’s grandson.  His father William de la Pole’s story can be found elsewhere.  It is tragic and it would appear that John de la Pole perhaps learning from his father’s fate and with some degree of luck avoided the dangerous events of 1485 which culminated in the final and total ruin of his wife’s family as well as the rebellion led by his son John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln which resulted in Lincoln’s death at Stoke Field in 1487.  As Michael Hicks wrote ‘He was a loyal member of the Yorkist house and shared in several of its victories that were far from predetermined for success. Luck, rather than studied calculation, explains his escape from the consequences of any major defeats and disasters. He avoided supporting causes that were lost, quickly acquiescing in the successions of Richard III and Henry VII’ (5).   The face on the effigy, perhaps based on a death mask has been described as careworn.  No doubt, no doubt…. although dying in 1492 he was spared the violent deaths of his other sons Richard and Edmund.


John de la Pole, second Duke of Suffolk and his wife Elizabeth Plantagenet. Alabaster effigies Wingfield Church


Elizabeth Plantagenet – sister to kings.  Dying in 1503 and depicted here in her widow’s ‘barbe’.


John de la Pole, second Duke of Suffolk.  Alabaster effigy Wingfield Church.


The merry little lion at the feet of John de la Pole gazes around at him in perpetuity..  Photo Simon Knott @ Flickr

At the end of the day the de la Poles that chose Wingfield as their burial place were more fortunate  than the other family members who opted for the Carthusian Priory of Kingston upon Hull.  For their remains were lost when the priory was dissolved 1539 and later demolished.   The bones mentioned by Leyland in his Itiniary ‘dyverse trowehes of Leade with bones in a Volte under the high Altare ther….. ‘ were probably the remains of the de la Poles that were discovered sadly only to be lost forever.  

 1. The Buildings of England : SUFFOLK p.490. 2nd Edition revised by Enid Radcliffe.

2.  Wingfield Family Society Online Website

3.  Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales VoI II.  p.160.  Anthony Emery. 

4.   Pole, Michael de la, 2nd Earl of Suffolk. 1367-1415.  Simon Walker.  Oxford Dictionary of    National Biography.

5. Pole, John de la, Second Duke of Suffolk (1442-1492).  Michael Hicks.  Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 17 September 2015.

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Effigies of Ralph Neville 2nd Earl of Westmorland d.1491 and one of his wives.  Branchepeth Church, Durham.  These effigies, which were wooden, are now lost to us having since been destroyed by a disastrous fire in 1998.  Made in very dark oak it was difficult to get good photos of them thus we are indebted to Charles Stothard for this wonderful etching.  Photo British Museum.

Having seen a copy of Monumental Effigies on sale for £750 I quickly grasped it would be forever beyond my reach.   But wait! I found a very nice facsimile copy at an affordable price and very pleased am I….

The artist whose work this books covers ,Charles Alfred Stothard (1786-1821),  was a remarkably gifted antiquarian draughtsman.  Born in London, his father was an artist , Thomas Stothard R.A., and following in his footsteps Charles who as a child developed a ‘genius’ for drawing,  begun his career as a painter, his first work being The Death of Richard II at Pomfret Castle.  Charles based his depiction of Richard on his effigy in Westminster Abbey.  Was it then that first the idea took root to make etchings of the medieval effigies throughout England  to give other historical artists detailed and accurate descriptions of medieval costumes, armour and jewellery etc.,?   Whatever triggered the idea, in 1811 the first part of Monumental Effigies was published with others to follow periodically.  After his death his widow, Anna, re-issued the plates as a full volume in 1832.  

Sometimes the life of a 19th century engraver of medieval monuments was far from easy.  But our Stothard was nothing more than resolute and once he had made his mind up, his mind up he had made! When confronted with difficulties in gaining a good vantage point for his drawing of Aveline Countess of Lancaster   whose monument in Westminster Abbey had been cut off from all daylight by a ‘lofty‘ and ornate 18th century cenotaph to Lord Ligonier (me: why, why why?),  our intrepid artist was undeterred. ‘ Never daunted by any difficulties which offered themselves to an antiquarian  pursuit, Mr Stothard  furnished his pockets with wax candles,  clay and a percussion tube (a German invention for producing fire).   Thus prepared he watched his opportunity,  scaled the monument of Lord Ligonier,  lit and fixed his candles and in the situation above described, smothered with dust,  actually completed the drawing of the beautiful monument which embellishes  his series of Effigies,  without the knowledge of any of the attendants  in the abbey’ (1).    


The resultant  etching of Aveline de Forz, Countess of Lancaster.  Westminster Abbey. 

Tragedy was to strike in 1821 when on a working trip to St Andrew’s Church, Bere Ferrers,  Devon, while tracing a picture of a face from a stained glassed window, Charles fell from a ladder and was fatally injured.   He was, poignantly,  buried in the churchyard of St Andrews and a brass plaque dedicated to his memory can be found inside the church.   His intrepid widow would look after much of his work and on her death in 1883 she bequeathed his etchings to the British Museum.  Here below is just a small selection:


Ralph Neville Earl of Westmorland and his two wives.  Staindrop Church Durham.  Ralph Neville by his wife Joan Beaufort,  was the father of Cicely Neville, mother of two kings – Edward IV and Richard III.  


Two children of Edward III : William of Windsor and Blanche of the Tower.  Westminster Abbey.


 Some of the engravings would also show details of headdresses, or jewellery in closer detail often hand coloured.   This is a close up of Blanche’s headdress.


Edward Prince of Wales d.1376.   Known as The Black Prince.  Canterbury Cathedral.


Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales ‘the Black Prince’.  Canterbury Cathedral. Photo Royal Collection.


Detail of the sword of Edward of Woodstock, known as the Black Prince.  From his effigy in Canterbury Cathedral.  From the original engraving @ British Museum


Henry IV and his Queen, Joan of Navarre.  Canterbury Cathedral.  Photo @ British Museum Collection.


Close up of Joan of Navarre’s exquisitely drawn crown.  When Charles Stothard created his engraving the effigies often had traces of their enamel work and paint still on them


Aveline’s de Forz’s husband, Edmund ‘Crouchback’, Earl of Lancaster.  Westminster Abbey.


Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick.  Monument in St Mary’s Church, Warwick.  Father in law to ‘Warwick the Kingmaker’.


Robert, 2nd Baron Hungerford.  Salisbury Cathedral d.1459.  Fought in the Hundred Years War.


William Fitzalan Earl of Arundel  d.1487 and his wife Joan Neville.  Joan was sister to Richard Neville ‘The Kingmaker’.  Fitzalan Chapel, Arundel Castle.  Photo British Museum.

IMG_8154Unknown warrior.   Identified elsewhere as Sir John Wingfield.  Wingfield Church, Suffolk.


Etching of a brass.  Miles Stapleton and his wife.  Ingham Church Norfolk.


John de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk d.1491 and his wife Elizabeth Plantagenet.   Elizabeth was sister to Edward IV and Richard III. Wingfield Church, Suffolk.


Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford d.1221.  Effigy in St Mary’s Church, Hatfield Broad Oak. One of the barons who forced King John in signing the Magna Carta.


Michael de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk and his wife Catherine.  Wingfield Church, Suffolk. The Earl died during the seige of Harfleur 1415


John of Eltham,  Earl of Cornwall d.1336.    Son to Edward II.  Westminster Abbey…

All these and many, many more copies of his etchings are to be found in this beautiful book.    It’s sad that Charles Stothard died in a cruel accident before he had completed all his work but 142 are to be found in this book.  So his achievement was outstanding.   No doubt he would be pleasantly surprised that nearly 200 years after the publication of Monumental Effigies in 1832 his etchings are still pored over and enjoyed by lovers and scholars of all things medieval.  Thank you and Bravo Mr Stothard.


Charles Alfred Stothard born 5 July 1786 died 28 May 1821.


Memorial brass plaque in St Andrew’s Church, Bere Ferrers, Devon.

  1. The Monumental Effigies of Great Britain p.20.  C A Stothard.  Introduction by A J Kemp F.S.A. 1832. Publisher Ken Trotman.  

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The Eton Wall Paintings – A Portrait of Queen Anne Neville

Canterbury Cathedral and the Royal Window

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The English Medieval Cathedral

Royal Peculiars and their Peculiarities


Does anyone else like me get irritated by misidentified portraits of historical characters?  Is it that difficult to get correct? It’s quite sloppy to be honest as just a quick glance at them tells you something ain’t quite right here!  It’s particularly common around  16th century portraiture when in actual fact that type of art reached its zenith with wonderful artists like Holbein the Younger.

One of the most irksome for me, and from an earlier period,  is the portrait that is frequently used to depict Richard Neville 16th Earl of Warwick, known as The Kingmaker.  Lets take a look..

This is a prime example of a wrongly, really wrongly identified portrait.  I don’t know who it is  but this is definitely NOT Richard Neville,  16th Earl of Warwick known as the ‘Kingmaker’.

I ask you, does this resemble someone who fought in the Wars of the Roses and was dead by 1471?  Give Me Strength! There is no known contemporary portraits of Richard Neville other than the drawings of him in the Rous Roll and  a weeper on his father-in-law’s tomb, Richard Beauchamp,  13th Earl of Warwick, St Mary’s Warwick,  said to depict him.  None of these depict him with a beard which was not fashionable in the 15th century.  Nor did he wear anything like the costume in the offending portrait.  Warwick would not  have been seen dead in those late 16th knickerbockers.   However still this portrait is used regularly and captioned with his name. Please make it stop! groan.  And kudos to those that get it right.


Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, known as the Kingmaker.  Drawing by Rous – who would have actually known him by sight.  Not a knickerbocker – or beard –  in sight…

Misidentified portraiture is not just limited to paintings.  It can also occur in stained glass.  Take a look at the wonderful early 16th century stained glass windows in St Mary’s Church, Fairford, Gloucestershire.   In these windows are figures of the Tudor Royal family.  These include Henry VII, his wife Elizabeth of York and his mother Margaret Beaufort. All these figures closely resemble their paintings and busts .There is one included of a chubby child identified as Henry VIII as a toddler.      


Drawing of a cherub like Henry VIII as a child.  Ah..what’s not to like. Holbein.
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Chancel, north chapel, Lady Chapel, North window, Fairford Church.  Jesus as a small boy in the temple modelled on a young angelic Henry VIII.    A good likeness between the sketch and the glass – all ok here.

However there is also a figure of an elderly churchman.  This has been identified by an ‘expert’ as being that of Cardinal Wosley.  This is despite the fact that when these windows were made c.1500,  Wolsey, being born in 1473 would have been  young man and not the older man portrayed.    A closer look combined with a bit of research and it can be seen ‘Wosley’ is in fact Cardinal Morton portrayed as the elderly man he would have been when the windows were made.  Morton was held in high regard  with the Tudors, particularly Margaret Beaufort and Henry Tudor for whom he had tirelessly laboured/plotted to enable Henry’s usurpation of Richard III’s throne.   I base my conclusion on comparing the face in the window to the wooden boss of Morton in Bere Regius church, Dorset.

See for yourself and decide…image

Stain glass portrait in Fairford Church identified as Cardinal Wolsey.  I believe the churchman looking benignly down on the Tudor family is actually Cardinal Morton whose plotting helped get Henry VII to the throne.  

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 Carved wooden boss of Morton in Bere Regius Church.  

Moving on to the Tudor Queens…teeth gritted…

The portrait below of Queen Katherine Parr is, at this very moment as you read this, being erroneously identified regularly in books and online article/searches as Lady Jane Grey or even Mary Tudor.


Katherine Parr, attributed to Master John, circa 1545.  Regularly misidentified as Lady Jane Grey. © National Portrait Gallery, London 

Casting aside the obvious and glaring fact that this is a lady who is considerably more older than Lady Jane Grey who was dead at 17,  but don’t let common sense get in the way of choosing illustrations for one’s book/article.    A bit of research would uncover, for comparison,  another portrait of Katherine Parr where its clear to see they are one and the same lady.   


Katherine Parr.  Unknown Artist.  National Portrait Gallery

Quite recently, thank goodness, another long held  misidentification of a Tudor queen has been rectified – this time Anne of Cleves.  A minature by Hans Holbein has  long been identified as Queen Catherine Howard despite being in the Queen’s Collection, and thus you would think some investigation going into who it is supposed to represent.  It has now  been identified by art historian Franny Moyle as actually Anne of Cleves which if you compare the minature to the well known portrait of Anne is quite apparent.  Yes the minIature is of a slightly older version of Anne in English dress but still the similarities cannot be denied.  As Franny Moyles says ‘The sitter’s heavy eyelids and thick eyebrows bear distinct similarities to Holbein’s 1539 portrait of Anne. They’re the same woman.  She has this soporific expression in both paintings’ .  To read this interesting article click  here. 


Portrait of Anne of Cleves by Hans Holbein.  


The Miniature long described as being a portrait of Catherine Howard but now reidentified as being a slightly older Anne of Cleves.

The sitter in this portrait below has also been named as being Queen Catherine Howard.  Now it has been renamed an unknown lady possibly from the Cromwell family.  


Portrait of an unknown lady, possibly from the Cromwell Family frequently misidentified as Catherine Howard.  Artist Hans Holbein.  Toledo Museum of Art.

The sad fact is that probably no portraits existed or have survived due to the fact Catherine was queen for such a short time it’s doubtful she had time to sit for any portraits.   It’s more than likely Henry VIII found portraits of his deceased/beheaded queens hanging around to remind him a tad irksome,  combined with Catherine having suffered the same fate as Anne Boleyn,  anyone owning a portrait of her may have thought it prudent to destroy it.  Why do not biographers and the like just admit to there are, as far as we know, no known portraits of Catherine.  You may as well insert a photo of Minnie Mouse….

Speaking of Anne Boleyn.  Here is the crème de la crème of misidentified portraits.  Among Holbein’s beautiful drawings of members of Henry’s court there is one, to be fair, labelled  Anna Bollein Queen  However, just a quick perusal and a comparison to his beautiful portrait of Queen Jane Seymour and you will see that this is one and the same lady.  


Hans Holbein’s portrait of Queen Jane Seymour.  Note the weak chin..


Hans Holbein drawing said to be of Queen Anne Boleyn but clearly the same sitter as the lady in the portrait of Queen Jane Seymour.   Check out the eyes, small mouth, weak and slightly double chin. The double chin is accentuated by  both the ribbon that is tying her cap to her head and that the sitter is  looking down.

It is said that Sir John Cheke, the gentleman who years later identified the drawing as being of Anne,  also wrongly identified other portraits.  Not only did Sir John Cheke get it wrong so did ‘expert’ on everything Tudor, David Starkey, and John Rowlands who wrote a joint article An Old Tradition Reasserted: Holbein’s Portrait of Queen Anne Boleyn.  According to Starkey the double chin in the drawing is a ‘goitre’ ..  yes me neither.  Perhaps he is convinced by a Nicolas Sanders, who wrote in 1586, fifty years after Anne’s death, that Anne had a ‘sallow complexion as if troubled by jaundice’ as well as ‘projecting tooth under the upper lip…six fingers..and a large wen under her chin and therefore to hide its ugliness she wore a high dress covering her throat'(1).  

Lastly there are many portraits of Anne Boleyn most of them copies of a copy of a copy of a lost original.  This one below is perhaps the one that comes to mind, I think, for most people when they think of a portrait of Anne.

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Portrait said to be of Anne Boleyn by an unknown artist.  National Portrait Gallery, London.

Yet wait!  Although I am less certain that I am of the portraits I have named about as being misidentified I always wonder if this portrait is not of Anne but of Henry VIII’s sister, Mary.  Compare to the portrait of her with her second husband Henry Brandon.  Was the ‘B’ on the portrait said to be of Anne representing ‘Boleyn” actually “B” for Brandon?

Mary Brandon nee Tudor with her husband Charles Brandon.  Could Mary actually be the sitter for the portrait of Anne?  

Anyway that is my take on it.  You may agree or disagree with me but I do hope that it does lead to some taking an extra careful look at historic portraits in future and not taking ‘experts’ words for it.  Because there really is no point to using a misidentified portrait in place of the actual real thing or even because a portrait of a certain person does not actually exist.  

1) Anne Boleyn regains her head. Art History News.  John Rowlands



The Eton Wall Paintings – A Portrait of Queen Anne Neville

Canterbury Cathedral and the Royal Window

Cardinal John Morton’s Tomb Canterbury Cathedral

Those Mysterious Childrens Coffins in Edward IVs Vault

The English Medieval Cathedral

Royal Peculiars and their Peculiarities

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