Gainsborough Old Hall.  Photo thanks to Graham Oxford Photography Street.

Sir Thomas Burgh was the builder  of Gainsborough Hall, as seen today,  after inheriting the original building in 1455 on the death of his mother Elizabeth Percy,  when he was 24 years old.  The building and enhancement, which took place over the course of  20 years, was enabled by  Thomas becoming a very wealthy man ‘through the force of his personality,  sage advice (he was counsellor to three monarchs),  administrative and business acumen and skill in serving four kings in turn – Lancastrian, Yorkist and Tudor to become the leading magnet in the country (1)   Thomas clearly was one of those adept and charming characters who can both run with the hounds and play with the foxes being awarded lands by Henry VI but later to become and remain one of Edward IV’s favourites. He was appointed Constable of Lincoln and Bolingbroke castles in 1461 – both traditionally Lancastrian prizes –  made an esquire of the king’s body on 2 April 1461 four days after the battle of Towton,  which meant of course he would wait personally on the king in his private chambers,  knighted by February 1463, and was  Master of the Kings Horse by February 1464.    He consolidated the authority of the new dynasty in and around Lincolnshire as Hastings and Herbert where doing in the Midlands and Wales and was similarly rewarded as they were with lands and offices (2). But in those turbulent  times trouble was never far away, and Thomas’ rise and rise had caused resentment, jealousy and anger – then as now one man’s gain could well be another man’s loss.    In late 1469 trouble was brewing in Lincolnshire and this instability was exploited by members of the Welles family led by Richard, Lord Welles,  his son Robert and his brothers-in-law,   Sir Thomas de la Launde  and Sir Thomas Dymmock,  who to settle a private feud went full tonto when they attacked and sacked the Hall.   The Warkworth Chronicle reported ‘the Lorde Willowby,  the Lorde Welles his son,  Thomas Delalond  knyght, and Sere Thomas Dymmoke knyght,  the Kynges  Champyon,  droff oute of Lyncolneschyre  Sere Thomas à Burghe,  a knyght  of the Kynges howse and pullede downe his place and toke all his goodes and cataylle that thei myght find’ (3).  Warkworth may have over egged the pudding slightly with the remark pullede downe his place’ -as pointed out by Nicholas Bennett  – as much of the surviving structure of the Hall predates 1469.  However Emery points out that while it’s possible parts of the Hall were unaffected by the attack  the west range was indeed so damaged that it had to be rebuilt in 1479 (4). Certainly the attack and sacking  must have been extremely violent and a horrendous experience for the inhabitants resulting in Thomas and his family fleeing to Yorkshire. This  volatile situation escalated eventually culminating in  an enraged and galvanised Edward IV marching on Lincolnshire to quell what had now become a full blown rebellion at the Battle of Empingham  – also known as Losecoat Field – near Stamford on the 12th March 1470.  I have only touched lightly here upon the rather confusing toing and froing that took place in the weeks which led to Empingham but for those who would like to delve deeper I can recommend reading The Road to Losecoat Field: The Story of the First Lincolnshire Rebellion by Nicolas Bennett.  After the rebellion – which later became known as the First Lincolnshire Rising –  had been crushed and Lord Welles executed, Thomas’ wealth was enhanced by the reversion of the lands forfeited by the executed lord.   Thomas’ powers would be  eclipsed for a while with the readeption of Henry VI until Edward’s triumphant return to the throne in 1471.  When Edward died rather suddenly in 1483 and Richard III became king Thomas was able to seamlessly and successfully transfer himself to the new king’s household retaining all his old offices.  On October 10th 1483 Richard III would spend the night at the Hall on his way to London from York.  That night Richard dictated a letter to a John Crackenthorppe, Receyvor,  instructing him to pay Humphrey Metcalfe, a servant, ‘for thexpenses of oure housholde at oure Castelle of Carlile the somme of fyve hundreth markes’ signing off with Yevene etc at Gaynesburghe the xth day of Octobre the furst yere of oure Reigne (5).  Richard would go on to  create  Thomas a Knight of the Garter.   However following the death of Richard at Bosworth in 1485 –  a battle at  which there is no indication Thomas was present  –   the accession of Henry Tudor brought about the loss of his gains from Richard as well as several of his Lincolnshire offices.  Nevertheless he did manage to maintain his position of royal councillor – no doubt Henry recognised his skills and wisdom – and in 1487 he received a personal summons to parliament.  Rosemary Horrox wrote there is no evidence he took his seat in the Lords and in his will he described himself simply as ‘Thomas Burgh knight‘ (6). IMG_9145

Thomas died on the 18th March 1496, a goodly life span for those times and still an extremely wealthy man.  He requested in his will that  his body was to be buried next to his wife Margaret –  daughter of Thomas, Lord Ros/Roos who had died on 10th December 1488 –  in the chapel he had built in the nearby All Saints Parish Church in  Gainsborough  – ‘wheresoever it happen to decease in my newe chapel’   Besides requesting that a perpetual chantry was to be founded for himself, Margaret,  his parents, his ancestors and all Christian souls he also left  instructions on the design of the tomb he wanted built for himself and his wife at the north end of the altar in his chapel.   Today only the tower of the medieval church remains today having been drastically rebuilt in the 18th century.  I have been unable to discover what became of the tomb of Thomas and his wife.  Perhaps they still lie there in a vault but sadly I fear the worst.


All Hallows Church Gainsborough where Sir Thomas Burgh asked to be buried next to his wife.   Only the tower of the medieval church remains the rest is Georgian.   Thomas would have known this church very well and passed regularly through the old doorway shown here.  



 A benign carved lion peers down from over an old doorway.  Photo Lee Beel@Alamy

There is no sweeping grand entrance to Gainsborough Old Hall, no avenue of ancient oaks or sheep safely grazing that you find with many  other similar ancient and impressive manor houses.   Gainsborough Old Hall has been aptly described by Anthony Emery as a ‘major country house in an urban setting.  When it was first built in the early 15th century it stood on the edge of a small inland port but, with the passage of time,  it now stands slap bang  in the middle of a depressing 19th century agricultural town’.   Having never been to Gainsborough I cannot really say, but to be honest,  on the whole time and progress does not deal kindly with architecture especially that which is centuries old and indeed in the 1960s some bright spark suggested the Hall be demolished to make way for a car park.   The Hall had managed to retain much of its original surroundings with its grounds extending to the parish church, the River Trent to the west and open land to the north until the arrival of the late 19th century when warehouses rose between the Hall and the river and, rather shockingly,  housing estates swallowed up the Hall’s grounds.  Nevertheless the Hall, now standing on ‘a lawn in a back street’,  has miraculously survived and make no mistake about it – it is undeniably a truly wonderful survivor and has been described, justifiably experts say,  as ‘one of the country’s best preserved medieval manors’.  

Leyland tell us that the Hall was originally surrounded by a moat.  This may be why two 19th century houses to the immediate north of the hall  suffered from subsidence probably as a result of poor infilling of the moat when it was emptied.  As was the usual plan for  later medieval  manor houses of that period  the private apartments would have been in the east range facing the quieter  inner court and furthest away from the main entrance.   For the greater part English oak was used for the close studded timber framing that is in abundance and which was  almost certainly sourced locally from the great swathe of forest that once formed a part of the surrounding estate  although towards the end of the period of building more brick was used (6).

The Great Hall.


The Great Hall Looking towards the High Table.  Photo Craig Thornber

In the time of Thomas the floor of the Great Hall was not tiled as it is today but would have been of compressed earth which sometimes would have been ‘consolidated by the addition of a layer of fresh ox blood’ . It would then have been strewn with rushes known as thresh which soaked up spillages and was easily scooped up and replaced with fresh when required.  Of note is the beautiful dressed stone bay window with Perpendicular  traceried openings.


The bay window with its perpendicular tracery in the Great Hall.  Photo Ben Abel@Flickr


 The medieval bay window from the exterior.  Photo Glass Angel@Flickr.

As usual with great halls from the period at one end was the dais on which the lord’s table stood and at the other end were doors leading, conveniently,  to the kitchen, buttery and pantry.  There may also have been a minstrels gallery above these doors.  Heating was via an open fire in the the middle of the hall supplement by open braziers dotted around.  The smoke would have escaped through an open louvre in the the roof, the original of  which has now been moved to a bedroom in the tower.

The Kitchen

The kitchen is amongst the best preserved medieval kitchens in England with two massive fireplaces.  There is also a twin oven built into one of the walls possibly for pastries etc., Looking up the chimney by the built in ovens there can be seen the bricks jutting out that aided the young boys sent up to ‘sweep them’.   A louvre similar to that in the Great Hall as well as  helping  to get rid of the excess steam, smoke and fumes would also give some extra light.   This medieval louvre has not survived and the one seen today is 19th century.   Ladders would have led to the servants quarters.


The Medieval Kitchen.  Photo

The Tower and East Range

It is believed that the Tower was added to the East range in the mid 1480s.   Consisting of three floors connected by a spiral stone staircase with a room and garderobe on each one it’s believed the Tower may have been used for Thomas’ family.   Mention is made of a tower in Thomas’ will  ‘And also I will if my son Thomas  life at the day of my buriell that he have the bedde of the lowe tower and hanging and counterpoint of the said towere’


Unlike other buildings from the period where the rooms were generally ‘linked’ the Hall has a number of interesting  and atmospheric corridors.  The one on the East wing is reputed to be haunted by a female ghost, dressed in grey, obvs, who after reaching the leaded lights changes direction and heads through a doorway leading towards the Tower.  It has been suggested this may be the ghost of Queen Catherine Howard, who stayed at the Hall with her spouse, the fragrant Henry VIII.  The guide book suggests if you should happen upon her do ask her who she and solve the mystery.  Yikes and Not A Chance!


One of the intriguing passage ways at the Hall, one of which is said to be haunted by a lady in a grey dress.   Perhaps not somewhere you would like to linger when night falls and the shadows lengthen…

I have only touched briefly here upon Gainsborough Old Hall – home to Sir Thomas Burgh and his family during the period covering his life there.  There is much more should you wish to delve including the three day visit by Henry VIII and his ill fated wife, Catherine Howard in August 1541.  If ever you should chance up that way a visit surely a visit to check out Gainsborough Old Hall should be high on the list of Interesting Places To Visit!

  1. Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Volume II.  p.p.243-250. Anthony Emery.
  2. Ibid.
  3. A Chronicle of the First Thirteen Years of the Reign of King Edward the Fourth by John Warkworth.  
  4.  The Road to Losecoat Field: The story of the first Lincolnshire Rising. Nicholas Bennett. Article in The Ricardian Vol XXX 2020. 
  5.  Harleian Manuscript 433 Vol II p.28.  Ed Rosemary Horrox and P W Hammond.
  6. Burgh, Thomas, Baron Burgh (c.1430-1496). Rosemary Horrox.
  7. Gainsborough Old Hall Guide Book. p.3.Sue Allen

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Coldharbour – An Important Medieval London House


A segment of the Visscher Panorama of London 1616 showing Coldharbour after the earlier medieval house had been demolished by the Earl of Shrewsbury c.1585 and rebuilt up to the waterfront.  The rebuild incorporated many tenements ‘now letten out for great rents to people of all sorts’ (Stow).   Image Peter Harrington Rare Books.

Further to my post on L’Erber,  another famous house from those turbulent times,  was the equally impressive Coldharbour.   This imposing house had numerous illustrious owners including Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII.  Margaret carried out major renovation work to the house and I will return to this later.


Margaret Beaufort.  Margaret took possession of Coldharbour in 1485 overseeing extensive renovations.  Her future daughter in law Elizabeth of York lived there prior to her delayed marriage to Henry Tudor.

First mention of building in the area –  a messauge and tenements –  where Coldharbour House would eventually be built crops up in 1297.    I’m now going to mention in the interest of clarity  that it has been said in a recent article  that there were two Coldharbours –  one of which appears to be an insignificant one to the west of our Coldharbour separated by a narrow lane known as Wolsey Lane. However I remain unconvinced about this theory  and I have chosen to  base much of this post on the information  contained in the  excellent in depth articles on London’s Medieval Houses by the late C L Kingsford M.A Vice President of the London Topographical Society and Marjorie B Honeybourne M.A., F.S.A.(1). 


The Reconstructed Map of London Under Richard II. Marjorie B Honeybourne M.A., F.S.A  Coldharbour House shown in the middle,  Pountney’s Inn slightly to the north separated by the thoroughfare then known as The Ropery , L’Eber to the north west.  

One certain error that crops up now and again is that Coldharbour was at one time known as Pountney’s Inn –  indeed Stow even made this mistake –  no doubt because the owner of Pountney’s Inn, the immensely rich Sir John de Pulteney,  built much of Coldharbour as well as the  nearby Pountney’s Inn where he sometimes lived.   Pountney’s Inn stood a little to the north of Coldharbour with a lane to the west of it known as Wolsies Lane.  Is this where the belief that there were two Coldharbours comes from?  Both Coldharbour and Pountney’s can clearly be seen in Marjorie Honeybourne’s map of London in the Time of Richard II.   Nevertheless the great mansion with its appurtenances and sprawling tenements referred to in this post  covered the area between Thames Street (then known as The Ropery) and  the church of All Hallows the Less  to the north,  the River Thames at Hay Wharf  to the south,  to the east by Weston Lane and to the west by Wolsyes Gate (2). Frustratingly no depictions of the front of the medieval Coldharbour house were made or if they were,  they have not  survived.   The famous view of it seen from the back, and opening up on the river Thames in the Hollar etching dated 1647 was made after the original medieval house had been pulled down by the earl of Shrewsbury c.1585 although some of the original medieval house may have been incorporated into the new build.  When Shrewsbury  rebuilt, adding more tenements, he extended the house down to the water front doing away with the medieval garden.  The area this garden covered can be seen in  the earlier  Wyngaerde Panorama dated 1543 between the southern range of the house and the waterfront.  This medieval garden was mentioned by Thomas Lytley/Litley, the man who was in charge of the renovations carried out by Margaret Beaufort in 1485:  The Glasier callid Nicholas Hawkyn. For iiij olde casys newe glasyd ouer the garden on the water syde….

untitled                 The medieval Coldharbour from the Wyngaerde Panorama c.1543 clearly showing an open area – the medieval garden –  between the house and the river and mentioned  in the accounts left by Lytley. 


The same view after the old medieval house had been torn down and rebuilt by the Earl of Shrewsbury.  From Wenceslas Hollars etching made later in 1647 showing Coldharbour now opening up onto the river.

One of the first owners, William de Hereford, prominent London Citizen, goldsmith, alderman of Aldgate Ward,  sheriff and representative of the City in the Parliament of 1296,  bequeathed his messuage and rents in the parish of All Hallows, Haywharf,   to his sons William and Robert on his death in 1297.  Hereford’s widow, Margery,  married Sir John Abel and her son Robert de Hereford demised the house to his mother and her new husband,  Sir Abel,  for a term of 10 years in 1317.  However on being widowed in 1319 Sir Abel leased the house then known as ‘Coldherherghe‘ to a gentleman by the name of Henry de Stowe, a draper,  for a rent of 33s.4d. to be paid to Robert de Hereford.  When Robert died a  few years he left two daughters, Idonia who married Sir Ralph Bigot and Maud who married Sir Stephen Cosenton.   In 1334 the  Bigots and the  Cosentons both had sons by the name of  John who sold their shares of the house to Sir John de Pulteney.  Pulteney, four times mayor, was one of the wealthiest citizens of the times and it was he that was behind much of the enhancement of the house including the building of a new church,  All Hallows the Less (also known as All Hallows on the Cellars ‘for it standeth on vaults’) incorporating its steeple over the arched main gateway into Coldharbour (3).  All Hallows the Less should not be confused with the nearby All Hallows the Great (also known for a while as All Hallows at Hay because of the hay sold nearby at Hay Wharf as well as All Hallows the More) which stood to the west of the new All Hallows separated by narrow lane then known as Wolsyes Gate  – please keep at the back dear reader. ….   Pulteney however  did not live himself at Coldharbour but a stones throw  away at Pountneys Inn in St Lawrence Pountney parish north of Coldharbour as well as at his beautiful manor house,  Penshurst Place, Kent which he had built in 1341.    From then on the tenants became increasingly illustrious which gives us an indication of the size and splendour of the house.  These earlier tenants included William de Montagu, Earl of Salisbury who leased it in 1346 the year he was made a Knight Batchelor (4).     In February 1347 Pulteney leased the house to Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, for life with reversion to his heirs.  In his will dated 14 November 1348 and proved in 1349, Pulteney  directed that ‘le Coldherberwe‘ was to be sold and that one Henry Pykard should have the refusal of it for 1000 marks.  However Pulteney’s widow, Margaret, had a life interest of one third in Coldharbour as dower.  In 1353 Margaret and her new  husband, Sir Nicholas de Loveyne,  purchased Coldharbour from Pulteney’s executors.    Edward, the Black Prince was said to have resided there between 1371 and 1376 but between 1370-1377 it was in the possession of Alice Perrers (c.1348-1400) mistress to Edward III then at the ‘height of her powers‘   Perrers further enhanced Coldharbour including a mysterious building known as le Toure.  After her fall from grace,  John of Gaunt in 1378  obtained a grant for life for the new Inn lately belonging to Alice Perrers near the Thames’ as well as other houses built by her nearby.  Gaunt surrendered his grant but a year later and on the 13 May 1379 Coldharbour and its ‘appurtenances‘ were granted during the King’s pleasure to Edmund of Langley, afterwards Duke of York.  Confusingly Perrers seems to have recovered some right in Coldharbour because it was from her that John Holland, earl of Huntingdon and half brother to Richard II,  acquired le Toure in about 1390. Holland also went on to purchase from other holders the lands, messuages, shops, cellars and sollars in Coldharbourlane which had also once belonged to Perrers as well as two cellars by and beneath the church of All Hallows the Less.   Coldharbour was growing and growing and in 1397 Huntingdon entertained Richard II there.  However in those times of ups, downs and swift turnarounds in 1400 Coldharbour was forfeited to the crown on Huntingdon’s attainder and by 18 March of that year Henry IV was living there.  Henry would later grant Coldharbour for life to his half brother, John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset who was living there in February 1410.   By the time of Beaufort’s death on the 16th March 1410 Coldharbour, or part of it,  seems to have become known as a hospice by the name of Le Toure.  Could this Le Toure refer to the Le Toure that Perrers built?  However on the 18th March 1410 Henry Prince of Wales, later Henry V, was granted ‘quoddam hispitium sive placeam vocatam le Coldherbergh‘.  It is thought that Henry made the manor house his London residence while he ruled for his father in 1410-11.  Henry IV himself was at Coldharbour in February 1412 when he received the Duke of Burgundy’s ambassadors.  Coldharbour would later be restored to the Hollands and was occupied by Henry IV’s sister Elizabeth, widow of the Earl of Huntingdon.  Elizabeth died at ‘Colde Herborowe‘ on the 28 November 1426 (5).   

Coldharbour seems then to have passed on to her son, John 2nd Earl of Huntingdon, afterwards Duke of Exeter. When Exeter died in 1447 he was succeeded by his son Henry Holland.    This Henry Holland, duke of Exeter married Anne, Edward’s IV sister and on forfeiture of his lands in 1461 for supporting the Lancastrian side Anne was able to hold on to  some of them including Coldharbour.    Anne died in 1476 and Coldharbour was granted to Elizabeth Woodville, Edward IV’s Queen.  In 1480 Edward’s sister Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy was lodged there during a visit to England.   Four shillings was spent on a travas with two curtains of green sarsenet for the chapel; sheets, fustions, an arras depicting the story of Helen and Paris,  plus various rings and hooks being issued by the Great Wardrobe to enhance her stay there.   After Elizabeth Woodville’s eventual fall  Richard III granted Coldharbour to the College of Heralds in 1483,  but their stay was to be brief.  Upon Henry Tudor taking the throne after the Battle of Bosworth Coldharbour was granted to his mother Margaret Beaufort.    Margaret  who was speedily in possession of Coldharbour by September 1485 gave the house a through refurbishment in readiness for the stay of Elizabeth of York prior to her marriage to Margaret’s beloved man cub, Henry,  while he procrastinated over marrying her. Elizabeth had been taken to Coldharbour directly after being brought down from Sheriff Hutton, Yorkshire,  after her uncle,  Richard III’s,  tragic defeat at Bosworth.  But she was not alone.  With her came the young Edward Stafford son of Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, who had been executed by Richard in 1483 after he rebelled.  Edward,  whose mother was Catherine Woodville, a sister to Elizabeth Woodville and thus an aunt to Elizabeth of York, was also given a room at Coldharbour.  Accompanying them on their journey from Yorkshire was another young lad with royal blood coursing through his veins  –  Edward Earl of Warwick, son of George Duke of Clarence.  This young man was not so fortunate as his fellow travellers and after either  a very brief stay at Coldharbour or perhaps on arrival in London  he was swiftly transported to The Tower of London never to leave until his execution on the 28 November 1499.   That is another story and I won’t go into it here but I’ve covered it in another post to be found here.

Elizabeth of York may have held pleasant memories of Coldharbour for later, when she was queen,  she would  spend a week there with one of her sons –   ‘my lord of York’  (later Henry VIII).   After Margaret’s death in 1509, her grandson, Henry VIII, granted ‘Coldharborough’  for life to George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury.  November 1539 found the Bishop of Durham, Cuthbert Tunstall (what a marvellous name!) living at Coldharbour.   He was confined there in 1543 upon his fall, rise and further final fall again.  Edward VI then granted the house  to Francis Talbot Earl of Shrewsbury in 1553.  The ending for this great but admittedly ancient, house was in sight.  In 1598 Stow described Coldharbour, as a great house,  and still entered entered by the  arched gate under the tower of  All Hallows the Less  which had been built by Sir John de Pulteney in the 14th century.    However he added ‘the last deseaced Earl of Shrewsbury took it down, and in place thereof built a great number of small tenements, now letten out for great rents to people of all sorts’.  

It appears there was some right of sanctuary attached to Coldharbour for the Lord Mayor of the time wrote in a report to Sir Robert Cecil  regarding some keys found upon the person of one Edmund Williamson  ‘I do think they are for chamber which I hear he has in Cold Herbert,  which is a privileged place,  and therefore the authority of our City does not reach thither;  yet the same place may be searched by the help of the Earl of Shrewsbury’

The final ending came for the comparatively newly built Coldharbour and both the churches of All Hallows the Less and All Hallows the Great when they were all lost on the night of Sunday 2nd September 1666 in the Great Fire of London, a spectacle witnessed by Pepys from his boat on the river,  But maybe we should not lament too much the destruction of this second 16th century Coldharbour for Walter G. Bell in his marvellous book covering the fire wrote ‘The flames sweeping along the Thames-side,  at least did good service by ridding London of Coldharbour’s pestilential alleys.  This, till the Dissolution half a century before the Fire,  had been one of the smaller sanctuaries where debtors and vagabonds herded together in a nest of foul tenements erected by the Earl of Shrewsbury when he pulled down the historic house known as Coldharbour’   All Hallows the Less would never be rebuilt.  Ancient stairs and foundations were still to be found until 1843.   Waterman’s Hall was built on the site of Coldharbour, the hall finally being sold in 1776 to Calvert’s Brewery which was later absorbed into the City of London Brewery.    Mondial House completed in the mid 1970s now covers a large part of the medieval house.  Such is progress.  I am now going for a lay down in a darkened room.  

Now to return to Margaret Beaufort’s tenure of Coldharbour and her refurbishments.  We are very lucky that  the extant accounts covering these enhancements have survived.   Upon Margaret taking possession in September 1485, Henry VII ordered Thomas Lytley to supervise the necessary improvements and repairs required after the occupation of the Heralds: 

Where of late oure trusty and welbeloued servaunt Thomas Lytley, late oone of the customers of the subsidie of iij s. in the tonne and xij d. of the lb. in oure poorts of London, by oure commaundement by mouthe, hathe spent and employed upon certaine reparacions and bildinges within oure place called Cold Harburghe in oure Citie of London aforesaid.

Under Lytley’s  supervision the not modest amount of £28 18s 2d was spent that Autumn alone which included the building of a new chimney, new lattices and glass for numerous windows and casements.  Numerous locks and keys had apparently vanished never to be found and needed to be replaced.  The walls were recoloured with red Motty, Cole and Oker (eat your heart out Farrow and Ball!)  Built in fitments, which made up a lot of the furniture in a medieval house,  had to be renewed, leads and tiles were made good and the garden was given an overhaul.  It is Mr Lytney we have to thank for recording in great detail in his accounts book which had Liber de Parcellis Repakacionum  emblazoned on the cover. All the  expenditure of  renovations was dutifully noted down as well as helpfully attaching bills and receipts of the various workmen employed.  The work was described as being done on behalf  of My lady the King’s mother and the  indications are that Margaret actually lived at Coldharbour while the work was going on, no doubt to keep her beady eye on things.    We know that there were forty rooms in the house including a Great Hall which had a door opening up to the garden where  a great vine grew.  The rooms on this south range of the house had views of the river which lay just beyond the garden from its newly glazed windows.  Besides the Great Hall was a Little Hall which Kingsford thinks may have been a private dining room.  

Two of the rooms of interest are the one called Lady Elizabeth’s Chamber and the chamber belonging to the young Edward Stafford.  Elizabeth’s chamber was provided with a table and two trestles costing 2s and 8d,  four boards costing 8d and six sawdelet bars fitted to the west window. I have to say I don’t have a clue as to what ‘sawdelet bars’ are and their use although its tempting to think they were bars at the window to stop young Elizabeth doing a runner.   Also supplied was a new key for Elizabeth’s Wardrobe which may have been a small adjoining room.   Little Edward Stafford’s chamber had a new door plus new glass in the windows.  There was also a high window over a door at the stairfoot on the backside of the chamber.  

Other chambers were allocated to Margaret’s Officers of the Household, namely Reginald Bray,  obviously,  Thomas Fowler and John Denton.   The windows of Bray’s and Denton’s chambers were newly glazed with Normandy Glass and Bray also had a new cupboard costing 2s and 4d.  Fowler needed a new chimney.  How very cosy.

The items listed in the accounts are too numerous to list here so I have chosen just a small random example here:

On the Cover. LIBER DE PARCELLIS REPAKACIONUM factarum super placeam sine hospicium vocatum Coldeherburgh in London per mandatum domini Regis Henrici VII Thome Litley, Supervisori earundem Reparacionum, attribut. Anno regni eiusdem domini Regis primo.

Thes be the parcelles of Reparacions or other empcions made and done att Coldherberugh in the tyme of Thomas Roggers and Thomas Litley, ouerseers ther ; paid by the said Thomas Litley of the some of vij li. ij s. viij d., which the said Thomas Roggers deliuered to the said Thomas Litley by a bill endented by commaundement of my lady the Kynges moder in the monyth of September, the first yere of regne of Kyng Harry the vij 

To ij men which bereth xx lodes fagottes and talow woode from the stere  (possibly the stair to the water gate) the place with cowchyng of the same, xviij d.   A laborer which dyd find the masshon of morter, watter and of all such thynges accordyng to the same crafte, iij dayes, xv d.   To Hermon the glasyer for the mendyng of the Gret Chamber glasses wyndowes, the which glassier tok a  gret (i.e. a contract to work by quantity) of Thos. Roggers and Thos. Litley, ouerseers to the same.

A gardiner ij days, xvj d. A laborer workyng and dressing the hyerbes for the gardenes, ij days, ix d. Another gardiner, j day, viij d. A mason mendyng of the gret chambre upon the Water side, iij days ij s.

Wages—26 Oct of  Carpenters, daubers, labourers, tilers, ij Carpenters which dyd make the fourmes of the seid halle, xvj d.   A laborer for carriage of dung from the stable of Coldherber to the waterside.  A gardener and his child.   John Cosin, mason, for the makyng of an owen, for which the said Cosin took a gret, iij s. iiij d.

Among the bills and receipts a  bille of John Laurence, joynour, dwellynge in the parysh of Seynt James at Garlik hythe in London : To my lady the Kynges Moder. 

A tabyl and a payr of traystelles, vj s. viij d.  Stolles, v s. iij d.   Makyng of ij peces of lateyces, liiij fote, xiij s. vj d.   iij peces of lateyces seten in the Steward chamber, v s.   A pece of latyce in the countynghouse, ij s v d.  For furvyng of viij soylles of the Wyndow, wher the seid new lateyces are set, xij d.   ij long Wannyscotes bought for the Gate at Coltherber, ij s. iiij d.   ij Fourmes for the Chapell at Coltherber, ij s. viij d.  A Tabyll and a payre of Traystelles, v s.   A close chayre for my lady, v s.  Makyng a fourme, for fyndyng of the fete and the lancelles therto for the Controllers Chamber.  For departyng of ij gret chestes and joynyng ayen of the same, which are now setten in the Wardrobe at Coldherber, xij d.      A pece of latthys standing in the hey (high) wyndow ouer my lord of Bokynghames loging, contayning xv fote, iij s. ix d.  John Laurence, the joiner.  was finally paid on the 7 April 1486 a total amount of 70s 6d.

Amounts  payable to John Clerk, ‘loker’: A new lok within the Great Chambre, otherwyse called my lordes Wardrobe, vij d. The key of the same lok,  it was lost by my lordes servauntes and so the said loker maad an other key, iij d.  An other key maad for the steyr dore be the Cookes Chambre, iij d. A holow key for a stayer dore betwene the two yates, iiij d.

ij barres of Iern for a Cauderon sett in a fourneyse  in the seid boylling house, ij s.   ij keyes and ij staples for the Porters logge, viij d.   A new key for a spruse chest in the Celer, iiij d.   A new key for the Wardrobe for my Lady Elizabeth, iij d.   ij gret keys for the Wynne Celer dore,  xvj d.

Mending hynges and a pair of new hokes for the Stewards Chamber dore, iiij d.  A key and stapule for the steere dore, iiij d.   A new key for the Chamber dore ouer the gate, iij d.   Bolt and harneys for the Weket of the seid gate, vj d.   Key and staple to the Maister Cooks Chamber, iiij d. ij new keys deliuered to the secound Cook,  ij d.   ij Spryng lokes, eche of thaim with ij keys, on to the Wete Larder and an other to the Drey Larder,  ij s.  Staple and plate for the same, ij d.   Hook and staple for the cheyn of the Wekett of the great gate, ij d.   A new stree boket viij d.   Byndyng a new boket with iij new houppes, a bayle, and ij eyres of Iern for the same, xxd.   A half C. of xd. nayle white-tynned for the weket of the great gate, vj d.

A swepe (the swepe of a door was probably a bar hinged at one end to the door post and having a padlock at the other end)  Iern to the dor at the stere fote vpon the bak syd of my lord of Buckyngham Chamber, weying xij lb. di., price the lib. ij d., ij s. j d.  A new lok for the same swep, viij d.    iiij hinges and iiij hokes to the Pastre house, xx d.   Mendyng a lok in the Pantre dore, ij d.   New lok to the great Chamber dor, viij d.   A new key, iij d.   A stapyll to the same lok, j d.

iiij hookes to ij casses in my Lady Elizabeth Chamber, iiij d.   vj Sawdelettes  to the west wyndow in the same Chamber, weying v lb, x d.

For a Whillebarow for the store of the place in Coldherber, xiiij d.

Owed to John Davy, ‘Sandeman’ : xlij lode of sande, xxj s. viij lode of sande, iiij s. x lode of lome, iij s. iiij d.

For various glass:

Item, for viij fote of florysche glasse settin in the Great Chambre Wyndow ouer the Great Hale, price the fote vjd., iiij s.
Item,  for a casse of new glasse of {sic) conteynyng ij fote and a quarter sett in the seid Chambre, price the fote vj d. xiij d. 
Item, for Iij quarelles of Englyssh glasse sett in the wyndows of the seid Great Chambre, price of euery pece j d., iiij s. iiij d.
Item, for xiij fote of Duche glasse sett in the wyndows in my lord of Buckyngham Chamber, price of euery fote iiij d.  iiij s. x d. 
Item, for xiiij fote of Duche glasse set in ij Wyndows of the Great Chambyr ouer the lytyll Hale, price the fote vj d., vij s.
Item, for xxviij  fote of Normaundy glasse settin in the wyndows of my ladys her owen Chambre, price the fote vj d., xiiij s.

Item, for ij panes of new glasse for my lady chamber, in eyther pane iiij fote and di., w’ the Armes of my lord and my lady, iij s. ix d.

Item, for a skochyn w’ my ladys Armes set on the Watter side, xx d.

 Although we can now only imagine this now sadly lost house with its various grand tenants including kings, the nobility  and their families,  I hope you have enjoyed this little recce into the much longer list of the expenses etc., of Coldharbour House which at least gives us something of an idea of how splendid it once was.  

1.The Two Coldharbours of the City of London Vanessa Harding, M.A.  On Some London Houses of the Early Tudor Period. C.L. Kingsford. The Reconstructed Map of London Under Richard II. Marjorie B Honeybourne M.A., F.S.A

2. C.P.R. Edward VI, v. 130-1

3. A Survey of London Written in the Year 1598 p.93. John Stow.

4. A Dictionary of London.  Harben. Cal.P.R. Ed.III 1345-8 p.141. Shaw, Wm. A. (1971). The Knights of England: A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of All the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of the Knights Bachelors. Vol. 2. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company. p. 6

5. Historical Notes on  Medieval London Houses. London Topographical Record Vol.X p.94. 1914. C L Kingsford.

If you have enjoyed this post you might also like:

L’Erber – London Home to Warwick the Kingmaker and George Duke of Clarence

The Augustinian Priory of St Mary Merton and its Destruction.

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







Shrine of many ribbons at the entrance to Crossbones Cemetery.  Photo Kay Nicols. 

It’s harder to find a more sadder place in South London than the site of Crossbones Burial Ground, Redcross Way,  which is a side street tucked away off the busy Borough High Street, South London.   It’s safe to say that many Londoners are not aware about the existence of this sad place so hidden away is it.  John Stow first mentioned the burial place in 1598 in his History of London.   He wrote “ I have read of ancient men of good credit report that single women were forbidden the rites of the church, so long as they continued that sinful life, and were excluded from Christian burial, if they were not reconciled before their death. And therefore there was a plot of ground called the Single Womens churchyard, appointed for them far from the parish church.”(1).

Those buried there were the poorest of society and predominantly women and children. A large number of these women were prostitutes known as ‘Winchester Geese‘  so named because the Lord of Manor at that time was the Bishop of Winchester who  licensed  and taxed the Southwark brothels which lay just outside of the stricter jurisdiction of the City of London.    This taxation secured another source of income for  the church to add to their ever burgeoning coffers.  The crown also tried to regulate the Southwark brothels then known as ‘stews‘ and In 1161, Henry II laid down 39 rules known as the “Ordinances Touching the Government of the Stewholders in Southwark Under the Direction of the Bishop of Winchester.  These rules included :

No stewholder was to prevent his ‘geese’ from entering or leaving the premises at will.  Each prostitute had to pay 14 pence per week for her chamber.

Constables were to search each brothel regularly to check that no woman was being held there against her wishes.  Any such woman was to be escorted to safety and out of reach of her stewholder.

No stewholder was  to lend one of his prostitutes more than 6 shillings and  8d.  This was designed to prevent girls from being enslaved by running up large debts.

No prostitute to be prevented from boarding wherever she wished.

No stew to open for business on a religious holiday except between the hours of noon and 2 pm.

No stewholder to knowingly accept a nun or another man’s wife for whoring without the Bishop’s permission….I know.. I know…you couldn’t make it up…!

No stewholder was to imprison any customers on the premises for not paying their bills.

No prostitute to wear an apron which was the garment of a respectable woman

Prostitutes were not allowed to throw stones or pull faces at passers by if they refused to enter the stew.(2)

Nevertheless completely unabashed from profiting financially from their Winchester Geese the church ordained that they would not be allowed burial in consecrated land.  In such highly religious times this must have been devastating for those unfortunates who no doubt  would have found it impossible to extricate themselves from prostitution.     After 1769 as well as the Winchester Geese the cemetery also became the last resting place of paupers, people who had died in the local work house, and unfortunates found drowned in the River Thames.     Over the centuries they were buried there, layer upon sad layer, and in  1832 a letter from parish authorities had noted the ground was “so very full of coffins that it is necessary to bury within two feet of the surface,” and that “the effluviem is so very offensive that we fear the consequences may be very injurious to the surrounding neighborhood.”(3). 

In 1853 following a petition made by a Mrs Gwilt, involvement by the Board of Health and finally on orders from Lord Palmerstone,  all future burials  were stopped on the grounds that the site was ‘completely overcharged with dead’.

   Incredibly in 1883 the site was sold as a building site.  However on the 10th November 1883,   Lord Brabazon – bless him – fired off a furious letter to the Times demanding the burial site be saved from any further desecration and the area retained as an open space for the use and enjoyment of the people. For a while it was used in the 20th century as a timber yard and for an ever shorter while,  a fair ground.  But locals remembered the original use of the land and in the 1990s,  when an offshoot of the building of the Jubilee Line was about to be built,  an opportunity arose to  excavate a small area to the east and around 140 bodies were recovered.  Tests carried out  by the Museum of London  on these remains found them in the main  to be infected with smallpox, tuberculosis, osteoarthritis and scurvy (4). These remains found just below todays surface  are thought to date from the last 50 years that the site was in use i.e. 1800 to 1853. Over one third of the remains recovered consisted  of perinatal infants,  that is babies who died immediately before or very soon after birth with individuals under 1 year of age making up a further 11%, indicating a high infant mortality rate (5).   The remaining undisturbed burials now lay in a more peaceful setting through the efforts of the Friends of Crossbones who have transformed the area into a peaceful haven and communal garden.

One of the entrances known poignantly  as the Goose Wing entrance has a wooden carving designed by local wood carver Arthur de Mowbray which represents the spirit of Crossbones – a goose stretching her wings and protecting her outcast children –  as well as visitors to the site..


Entrance known as Goose Entrance representing the spirit of Crossbones,  a goose with outstretched wings protecting her outcast children as well as visitors to the site. Photo

Thanks to History Cold Case, a history documentary that went out in 2018,  the identity of one of the  skeletons – that of a young woman whose remains were excavated by the Museum of London in 1992 from the area in the cemetery where an electrical substation was to be built for the Jubilee Line extension – has been discovered.  The archaeologists discovered that although the latest burials ie.1830-1853,  discovered not far from the surface , had been made in coffins,  they were of the poorest quality recycled wood.  Equipped with the  approximate date of the young woman’s burial  further investigation  by a team of experts enabled her to be identified.  Her name was Elizabeth Marshall.  Careful analysis of her remains would reveal Elizabeth would not have lived  beyond her 19th year and possibly had died as young as 15 or 16.  Life had dealt Elizabeth the most cruelest set of cards for her body, as well as  her face had been  ravished by syphilis.  Not one bone in her body was untouched by the disease and her suffering must have been intense.  As each expert revealed their findings the facts became more and more sadder.   Her syphilis was so advanced that she must have have contracted it when she was but a child.  To add to Elizabeth’s woes, her contraction of syphilis would mean that she was in the lowest class of prostitute – to put it bluntly the stage where prostitute meets beggar.   Her height of just 4′ 7″ would indicate that she was malnourished throughout most of her short life as would the fact that she also suffered from rickets.   She was tracked down as dying on the 15th August 1851 in Magdalen Ward which was the ward for women suffering from venereal disease in St Thomas’ Hospital, Southwark.  But it was not the syphillis that had finally killed Elizabeth but pneumonia  Her address was given as St Thomas’ so it is likely that she was homeless,  although her body did show signs of high levels of mercury,  so at one time she had received ‘treatment’ in an attempt to cure her.  But of course there was no cure.  And Elizabeth, I hope she finally found the peace and tranquility that had eluded her during her lifetime.    Professor Caroline Wilkinson, who recreated the face of Richard III, has recreated Elizabeth’s face.   For those that would like to watch the programme themselves, I recommend it, here is the link:

There is a vigil held on the 23rd day of every month at the Ribbon Gates on Redcross Way, SE1,  for those interested in visiting the burial ground and paying their respects.

Finally I am indebted to the various articles on Crossbones including, a history of the site to found here

1.  A Survey of London Written in the Year 1598. p.341. John Stow

2. Birth of the Liberty. Paul Slade

3. The London Graveyard that Became a Memorial for the City’s Seedier Past. Bess Lovejoy. Smithsonian Magazine.  Article 2014.

4. Brickley and Miles.  The Cross Bones Burial Ground. 1999.  MoLAS

5.  See The Museum of London’s website for info 

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

L’Erber – London Home to Warwick the Kingmaker and George Duke of Clarence

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Ralph Neville, 2nd Earl of Westmorland c.1406-1484 and one of his wives.  Fine oak effigy once in Brancepeth Church, County Durham.  Destroyed 1998. Drawn by Charles Stothard c.1815.

An interesting life if somewhat tinged by tragedy.    Ralph Neville 2nd Earl of Westmorland, born at Cockermouth in Cumbria (c.1406-1485) was the son of Lord John Neville (b.c1387) who died in Verneuil, possibly of dysentery,  while campaigning in France in 1420 and Elizabeth Holand (b.c.1388 d. 4 January 1423) daughter of Thomas Holand, Earl of Kent.  Lord John was the son and heir of the famous Ralph 1st Earl of Westmorland by his first wife Margaret Stafford.  It was the children Ralph 1st Earl had with Margaret that he would later go on to largely disinherit in favour of the children from his second wife Joan Beaufort.    Ralph,  the 1st Earl who died in 1425 thus outlived his heir John.  Westmorland’s grandson,  the second earl and  the Ralph (I’ll call him Ralph II from now on) we are concerned with here may have been an invalid if historians including Chrimes and W E Hampton are correct. (1)  It has to be said the face on the effigy, which appeared to be an attempt at a true likeness, seems to depict the face of a man who has endured illness and suffering or perhaps just reflects, on the other hand, a man who had reached a ripe old age.   A J Pollard suggests that in his later life Ralph may have succumbed to some kind of mental illness pointing out that William Worcestre noted in his Itinerary that he was ‘simple-minded‘ (innocens homo) and that Sir Thomas Neville, his younger brother (d. c.1461), once had his guardianship. ‘ However James Petre remains unconvinced and declaring the theory ‘unfounded’  because Worcestre’s remark remains the only reference there is to the possibility that Ralph II may have been incapacitated in some way either mentally or physically.   If Ralph did indeed suffer from some sort of ill health  then to add to his woes he had ‘inherited an earldom shorn of its  richest possessions through the influence of his grandfather’s second wife Joan Beaufort.’   Prof Ross explains it well….  ‘The old earl diverted most of the great Nevill estates to his second wife, Joan Beaufort, and so through her to their eldest son Richard, thus largely disinheriting young Ralph. By an elaborate series of fines and conveyances to trustees, the earl succeeded in depriving his grandson, Ralph, . . . of the bulk of the lands in favour of Joan, through whom they were transmitted to the younger branch of the family. . . . Ralph was left in possession only of the lordship of Brancepeth, County Durham, some manors in Lincolnshire, the Nevill Inn, Silver Street in London and some property in Ripon. To Joan went the original Nevill lordships of Middleham and Sheriff Hutton in Yorkshire and Raby in Durham along with the family estates in Westmorland and Essex’

The long and unequal struggle to regain  the major part of  his inheritance  ‘which had been settled by his grandfather on his step-grandmother, and their family ‘ would dominate Ralph’s life with him claiming that his expected income of  £2600 had been reduced to £400 p.a. (2) Ralph II’s first wife –  who he married on the 7 May 1426, at Roche Abbey –  was Elizabeth Percy (b.c.1392 d.1436) daughter of the famous Henry Percy – who earned himself the sobriquet of ‘Hotspur’  – and widow of John,  Lord Clifford.  Ralph and Elizabeth would have a son John, named after his grandfather.  John was to die in 1450 of unknown causes.  The  death of his heir  must have brought fresh devastation to Ralph in an already troubled life.  John’s date of birth is unknown although he was married to Anne Holand daughter of the Duke of Exeter and suggestions of his age when he died range from early teens to early twenties.   The marriage was said to have been unconsummated which would indicate the bride and groom were both underage although his will makes it clear they shared a household.  This will has survived and makes poignant reading.  He requested to  ‘be buriede in the chirch in Hautenprice with in the quere in the mydds of the chauncell’ i.e. in the church of Haltemprice Priory, Yorkshire.  Hardly anything remains of the Priory today except perhaps a doorway leading into a now ruined farm house.  John made further requests leaving his ‘wiff all ye money that is due to me by my said lorde hir fadir. Also I bequeth all my furrs to my wiff Anne. Also I will that my said wiff have holly all the lyflode yat sche was indued inne even like as I have itt’.   This money owed to him by his father in law was from his wife’s marriage portion and would suggest that they had not been married long.  Requests were made for his servants to be paid, one of them Thomas Prowfott  for the rest of his life.  A request was made that  ‘myn executours ordayn an honest and a kunnyng prest to synge for my soule a twelmoneth, and yat he have for his sallary x. marc ‘and a horse by the name of Lyard Neville was bequeathed to the place where his body had lain at rest.   And thus John ‘the hope of a princely house’ was gone (3). The young widowed Anne Holand would go on to marry Sir John Neville, her dead husband’s uncle and their son Ralph – please  keep up at the back dear reader – would go on to become the third Earl.   This Sir John would die at the battle of Towton in 1461.  If Ralph II had his hopes dashed with the early death of his son his hopes were further dashed, on the whole, when he sought to have his grievances addressed concerning the unfair legacy left by his grandfather.  Ralph could not overcome the combined might of the junior branch of the Neville family led by a formidable Joan  Beaufort, his step grandmother, and her eldest son Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury.  After the death of Joan in November 1440 Raby was returned to Ralph but at a heavy price.  From this time forward Ralph who now lacked any ‘confidence in the impartiality of the royal council’ seemed to accept the inevitable and he played no future significant role in politics although he would still be included on every commission of the peace for Westmorland ‘from 1432 to 1459, every one for Northumberland and the North Riding from 1437 to 1460 and every one, but one, for the East Riding from 1443 to 1460.’ (4).  

By his second wife  Margaret Cobham (d.somewhere between 1466-1471)  daughter to Reginald Cobham (and  niece to the infamous Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester who would go on to be imprisoned for life after being found guilty of witchcraft)  Ralph would have but one child, a daughter named Margaret after her mother,  who died in infancy.   Although Ralph’s was a remarkably long life for those times, dying aged about 77, it was also a stressful one, with perhaps more than a fair share of tragedy,  when added to the equation of a life possibly blighted by both mental and physical ill health there were the long standing  repercussions resonating from the unjustness of his grandfather’s legacy to contend with.   Whatever his grandfather’s motives were – he suffered from a  complete  lack of  hindsight, as we all do –    his plans proved to be the catalyst for disaster for both branches of his family,  and there can be no dispute that the treatment of his family from his first marriage, in particular the second earl,  was woefully shabby, shabby, shabby….   This injustice of what amounted to the disinheriting of his sons by his first marriage would lead to years of  turmoil, destruction and bloodshed.  As J L Laynesmith puts it in her biography of Cicely Neville this injustice would ‘inevitably set generations of Nevilles at odds with one another and contributed to the baronial infighting of the Wars of the Roses’.  W E Hampton wrote:‘Ironically,  the brilliant and unjustly favoured offspring of his second marriage were to bring about the destruction of the houses of Lancaster and Beaufort while the issue of the first marriage, although injured by their stepmother,  were to support Lancaster and Beaufort with results disastrous to themselves’. (5)

For those who would like to go more in depth regarding the convoluted ups and downs of the arguments etc., that raged over the years emanating from the injustice of Ralph 1st Earl of Westmorland’s legacy I can recommend two Richardian articles available on line.  They are The Nevilles of Brancepeth and Raby 1425-1499. Part I 1425-1469. Nevill v Nevill. James Petre  and  The Nevills of Brancepeth and Raby 1425—1499. Part II 1470—1499: Recovery and Collapse James Petre.

Ralph 2nd Earl of Westmorland’s Burial Place. St Brandon’s Church Brancepeth.

St Brandon’s Church standing close by Brancepeth Castle and where Ralph’s grandmother Margaret Stafford had chosen to be buried, had stood for over 1000 years but tragically suffered from a catastrophic fire on the 16th September 1998 apparently due to an electrical fault.  The fire was described by Pevsner as ‘Probably the greatest single loss of the North East’s cultural heritage in the 20th century.’  Included in the heartbreaking losses were much wonderful medieval wood carving including the fine oak effigies of Ralph and one of his wives.    These effigies, possibly a pattern for an alabaster monument which may never have been completed through lack of funds, although originally on a tomb chest,  had at some time been placed upon the floor of the south side of the chancel.  Decent photographs of the monument have proved impossible to track down but we are indebted to Charles Stothard who made  beautiful engravings of the effigy when it still retained  some of its colour in the early 19th century. 


Another view of Stothard’s engraving…


Closeup of the beautiful artistic skill of Stothard in Ralph’s intricate belt buckle. 


The clearest photo I have been able to trace of the oak monument to Ralph and wife before its destruction.  Photo thanks to jmc4 Church Explorer.


Brancepeth Castle – A Neville Residence.


The Neville Tower, Link Block and Bulmer Tower at Brancepeth Castle, County Durham.

This range of buildings are the last remaining medieval remnants of the once majestic Brancepeth Castle which was first mentioned in 1216.  These were where the private apartments of the Nevilles were located and where Ralph II spent the the bulk of his latter years.   Of this range the ground floor of Bulmer Tower, with a large vaulted chamber lit by several windows,  is the least altered of the apartments although the upper floor was much altered by the 19th century architect John Paterson who we will return to later.    The  Neville Tower, which has managed to retain its original vaulting, had a bed chamber located on the top floor.  The original approach to these apartments from the courtyard has sadly been destroyed perhaps in the 16th century.  This courtyard entered via a ‘great toure‘ with a gateway was mentioned by Leland on his visit in 1534 when he noted the courtyard and its entrance was the castle’s greatest ‘pleasure‘.    The remainder of the castle was doomed by the endeavours of an over enthusiastic 19th century architect,  John Paterson.  Anthony Emery, the noted architectural historian,  explains that the additions by Paterson are so ‘overwhelming that they smother any appreciation of this important late mediaeval residence.   Unfortunately Patterson possessed little understanding of mediaeval design and form,  limited feelings for mediaeval workmanship and no appreciation for decoration or texture.   The diagonally machine-tooled stone use throughout his work has been admirably likened by Pevsner to the patterning of tweed cloth,   The result is stage scenery of the most dismal sort’ (6)   

And so we leave Sir Ralph Neville, 2nd Earl of Westmorland to his rest.  Let us hope his mortal remains still rest safely and peacefully in a hard to access vault somewhere in St Brandon’s church.  Let’s  also hope besides the enormous amounts of disappointments he encountered during his lifetime there were moments peppered with joy, perhaps in his marriages and his young children,  and  especially in the small but important victories  he gained from time to time.  

An archaeological report –  frustratingly no mention of medieval burials –  made since the fire in St Brandon’s , can be found here.

1. Memorials of the Wars of the Roses p.49. W E Hampton

2. Neville, Ralph, second earl of Westmorland. Oxford Dictionery of National Biography 23 September 2004 A J Pollard.

3. Testamentum Domini Johannis Nevill Militis, Filii et Heredis Radulphi Comitis Westmerland”, Test Ebor vol. 2, p.146

4. The Nevills of Brancepeth and Baby 1425—1499. Part I 1425-1469: Nevill v Nevill Ricardian article December 1981 James Petrie

5. Memorials of the Wars of The Roses p.49. W E Hampton.

6. Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales. Vol.1. Northern England. p.56 Anthony Emery.










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.  This drawing was made by Charles A Stothard c.1811 and shows them minus the graffiti.  

In the village of  Staindrop,  Durham, you can find the church of St Mary’s, originally known as St Gregory’s,  which being the church  of the nearby Neville fortress of Raby Castle, it’s scarcely surprising that it has an abundance of  Neville tombs therein.  One of the earliest  monuments is that of Euphemia de Clavering – what a deliciosus name! Euphemia c.1267-1320 was the daughter of Robert fitz Roger of Clavering, Essex, and Warkworth, Northumberland (1).  She was the first wife of  Ralph/Ranulph Nevill,  (who served both Edward I and Edward II in Scotland) third Lord Neville c.1262-1331 by whom she  had several children the most well known being Ralph Neville,  fourth Lord Neville c.1291-1367.   This son would be  described by chroniclers as a ‘powerful man, brave, cunning, and much to be feared, fought so fiercely that his enemies bore the imprint of his blows after the battle‘   and was one of the victors of the Battle of Nevilles Cross, 1346.    Known to be ‘great with the king‘ Ralph  would rebuild the south aisle of Staindrop church to house his mother’s tomb.

39913799_1474601075 Euphemia de Clavering, her of the lovesome name, angels gently stroke her face – died c.1320.  First wife of  Ralph Neville, third Lord Neville.   Photo jmc4 Church Explorer


Marjorie Neville nee Thwenge,  second wife to Ralph,  third Lord Neville.     Marjorie and Ralph were childless.  Unusually for a lady her feet rests on a lion.  Photo thanks to fragglerocking.  


An effigy of an unknown Neville child with the Neville saltire symbol on both sides of his pillow. Next to the child an effigy thought to be that of Isobel Neville who died c.1260.   Photo thanks to fragglerocking.

An effigy of a lady, possibly Isobel Neville,  who died in 1260 and whose marriage to Robert fitz Maldred/Meldred, Lord of Raby brought the Neville family to Raby after their son, Geoffrey fitz Robert, adopted his mother’s surname ‘Neville’

The child is unknown and has the Neville saltire symbol on both sides of the pillow supporting his head.  It must have seemed to the parents that no sooner was this child here than he was gone…..


The pièce de résistance of the Neville monuments  is surely that of Ralph Neville, first Earl of Westmorland and his two wives.  This Ralph Neville  was eldest son of John Neville, fifth Baron Neville, c.1330-1388 and grandson of the above Ralph Neville, fourth Lord Neville,  victor of Neville’s Cross…. please keep up at the back dear reader….  The monument  was created from alabaster that came from the quarries of John of Gaunt,  duke of Lancaster,  at Tutbury.  All three wear collars of Lancastrian SSs and it’s unusual in that  the small bedesmen carved at Ralph’s feet  kneel at lecterns rather than counting rosaries.   Ralph died on 21 October 1425, and was buried in the choir of his collegiate church at Staindrop. In his will he stated his wish to be buried either in Durham Cathedral or at Staindrop but Staindrop it was.   Although effigies of both his wives lay either side of his on the monument neither were buried with him.  His first wife Margaret Stafford was buried at Brancepeth,  his second, Joan Beaufort d.1440,  daughter of John of Gaunt,  was  buried in Lincoln Cathedral close to the tomb of her mother Katherine Swynford (2).


The large alabaster monument of Ralph Neville Earl of Westmorland, Margaret Stafford and Joan Beaufort.  Photo  Note the bedesmen, now sadly headless, kneeling at lecturns. 



UntitledWatchful lion on which Ralph rests his feet.  Multilated but still loyally fierce.  Photo thanks to fragglerocking.


Profile and details of headdress of one of Ralph’s wives.  Drawn c.1811 by Charles A Stothard.

Westmorland led a most interesting life which is well worth delving into.  His monument was originally in the chancel but later removed to its present position.  However his remains were found, with what was presumably his favourite greyhound (greyhounds being supporters on the earl’s seal) in the chancel during excavations. The skeleton was of a very tall man with a diseased leg (3).   Ralph fathered  a total of 22 (some say 23) children from his two marriages which  led to  many bitter problems caused by what has been described as ‘an ambitious family feud’ (4).   His will made at Raby on 18 October 1424, is described as ‘niggardly to the children of his first marriage‘ largely disinheriting the sons from that marriage  and written to settle the greater part of his inheritance on his children from his second marriage to Joan.    As J L Laynesmith puts it in her biography of Cicely Neville this injustice would ‘inevitably set generations of Nevilles at odds with one another and contributed to the baronial infighting of the Wars of the Roses’.  I will leave it to W E Hampton to summarise what were the end results of the life of Ralph Neville, first earl of Westmorland.

‘Ironically,  the brilliant and unjustly favoured offspring of his second marriage were to bring about the destruction of the houses of Lancaster and Beaufort while the issue of the first marriage, although injured by their stepmother,  were to support Lancaster and Beaufort with results disastrous to themselves’.


 Ralph Neville with twelve of his 14 children from his second marriage to Joan Beaufort.  The oldest son was Richard Neville earl of Salisbury c.1400-1460, father to Richard Neville who was later known as The Kingmaker.  Manuscript illumination Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris


Joan Beaufort shown here with some of her daughters and stepdaughters.    The daughter in the yellow dress is often labelled as being Cicely Neville but in fact as Cicely was the 5th daughter she is probably  depicted standing further back.  Cicely of course would go on to become Duchess of York and the mother of two king – Edward IV and Richard III.   Manuscript illumination Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.


St Mary’s Staindrop, Durham.  Burial place of generations of Nevilles.  Photo with thanks to fragglerocking.

With thanks to Fragglerocking for some examples of her wonderful photography.  Here is a link to her delightful blog.

  1. Neville, Ralph, fourth Lord Neville (c. 1291–1367) Anthony Tuck. Oxford DNB.
  2. Ralph, Neville First Earl of Westmorland c.1364-1425. Anthony Tuck. Oxford DNB.
  3.  Memorials of the Wars of the Roses p.52.  W E Hampton.
  4. Charles Ross.  Quoted in Neville, Ralph first earl of Westmorland (c. 1364–1425Anthony Tuck. Oxforddnb.

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Anne Beauchamp Countess of Warwick – Wife to the Kingmaker

The Mysterious Disappearance of Henry Pole the Younger in the Tower of London


Picture this…a young lad of about thirteen or thereabouts.   Royal Plantagenet blood coursing through his veins.  His father is dead and no longer able to neither protect nor  save him.  His mother is also no longer around to help or comfort him.    Life has changed for him overnight and will never be the same again.  The servants who tended to his every need are gone.  Alone, perhaps frozen with fear and full of dread he is taken into the inner bowels of the Tower of London – I’m not talking about the ghastly cell known as Little Ease but I’m not talking the  royal apartments either  – after which hair or hide of him is never seen again. Poor little blighter.  Ring any bells? Gadzooks!  ‘Oh god not that old chestnut again!’ I hear some of you groan – but wait – read the heading – this is not about one of the sons of Edward IV but of another lad of noble lineage, Henry Pole the Younger,  who also disappeared mysteriously from the Tower.   


Old photo of the cell known as Little Ease.  I’m not suggesting young Henry ended up here but the knowledge that such places were deep in the labyrinth that was the Tower must have struck terror in even the stoutest of prisoners.  

This young Henry was the grandson of Margaret Pole,  Countess of Salisbury, daughter of George Duke of Clarence who was executed by his brother, King Edward IV in 1478 and Isobel Neville, daughter of the famous Richard Neville later known as The Kingmaker.      Aspects of the story mirror that of  the sons of Edward IV who also disappeared while staying at the Tower  but whereas gallons of ink have been expended on the subject of these two royal lads Henry remains something of an after thought in the pages of history.  It has been suggested that he may have been starved to death.  A cruel death but one that would avoid the shedding his blood.  Neat eh?  If we were to  follow the same trains of thought of those that believe the sons of Edward were murdered in the Tower because they  were last seen alive in the Tower, ergo they must have died in the Tower,  and thus  a heinous child murder had taken place then the same conclusion must be arrived at for Henry.   However if poor Henry was not one of  Richard III’s ‘victims’ it seems as if his possible murder doesn’t count so what’s the problem?  But seriously,  where is the outcry?  Where is the denunciation?  There is none.   Whereas Richard III – held responsible for his nephews deaths by many for over 500 years  – has been vilified up to this very day and particularly by a cohort of modern historians who really should know better.   While the ‘murders’ of his nephews has been surely the absolute worst lump of mud to be chucked at Richard, the possible murder or death brought on by  the wilful and cruel neglect of an equally young and innocent Henry Pole  ne’re evokes hardly a mention.  How strange.    Rather than having the charge of child murderer hurled at him, Henry VIII is  better known, in the main,  for having been the husband of  the unfortunate Anne Boleyn –  as well as  five others,  two of whom were executed –   and  to a somewhat lesser degree the cause of the  Dissolution of the Monasteries.  This seems unfair to me.  But could it be that in actual fact Richard – which even his haters have to admit or stoutly ignore –  prior to the death of his brother, Edward IV and the legal disinheriting of his nephews led, on the whole,  a pretty honourable life for your average 15th century nobleman.  This is difficult for those that try to defend the usurpation of Henry Tudor.  What to do?  Well go down the propaganda route I’d say.   For who can admire someone –  who enables the murder of young defenceless children?  However the most sensible route to go down if  one is a cheerleader of a dynasty that has gone down that cruel route would be to  do all in one’s power to Shut It Down And Make It Go Away or as a last resort Fake Amnesia.   And so we can see why the fate of the young Henry Pole has remained to all intents and purposes muted.  


While several artworks have been created showing the two little sons of Edward IV awaiting their ‘imminent deaths’ in the Tower no artist has thought to do the same depicting the equally young Henry Pole the Younger.  King Edward V and the Duke of York in the Tower, Paul Delaroche 1831.Wallace Collection.

But I’ve gone off on a tangent somewhat and to return to Henry Pole jnr.  Such is the dearth of information about Henry it can hardly fill a paragraph.  Even his age is a mystery and its been suggested he could have been aged anywhere between 13 to 18.    But the fact that he was not executed along with his father, Henry Pole,  Lord Montague,  suggests that he was in the lower age range.  When Henry jnr’s  uncle Reginald wrote about the ‘tyranny‘ that had  now extended from priests to nobles he described how it had also  ‘come to women and innocent children’.    Reginald, rather wistfully,  would also go on to describe Henry as ‘the remaining hope of our race’. Charles de Marillac, the French ambassador described him as ‘the little nephew of Cardinal Pole’(1). These remarks would indicate Henry was still quite a young child at the time of his arrest and incarceration.   

It is known that Margaret had been sent from confinement  at Cowdray to the Tower by November 1539.  She would have found her grandson already languishing there as he had been sent to the Tower along with his father at the time of the latter’s arrest in November 1538.  Were the pair able to meet, sit and converse, perhaps even embrace?  One would hope so.   In 1540 both Henry and Margaret were refused pardons.   However Henry VIII continued to provide £13 6s.8d a month food allowance for Margaret, Henry and another child detainee,  Edward Courtney.    Margaret was executed at the Tower on the 27th May 1541, the same location where both her father and young brother had been put to their deaths.   A terrible pattern was forming.  In 1542 the last payment for his food was made and Henry is heard of no more. But why would he have been treated so harshly?  It has been suggested that in a plot hatched by his uncle, Reginald Pole,  Henry was put forward as a possible spouse for Henry VIII’s Catholic daughter, Princess Mary.  Chapuys did indeed report that Mary would never marry an Englishman save maybe Reginald Pole or Henry Pole Jnr (2).  As it would have been pretty pointless to marry Reggie seeing as he had taken a vow of celibacy it would seem that Henry indeed was certainly up there at the  top of the list of marital candidates for Mary although  I suppose no problem would have been insurmountable in those times if you had the clout.  Reggie Pole would go on to wear a  cardinal’s Biretta instead of St Edward’s Crown –  but still – what’s not to like?  However the fact that Henry’s name was mooted as a possible spouse for Mary may have sounded the death knell for him or certainly put paid to him being released.   Certainly he was not as lucky, if lucky is the right word, as Edward Courtney, son of Henry Marquis of Exeter, who managed to survive being  imprisoned for 15 years until being released in 1553 after Mary took the throne.  Perhaps Courtney’s survival may be put down to the fact that his imprisonment was less onerous than that of Henry’s.  Marillac wrote to the French king, Francis 1st, in July 1540 that Courtney ‘is more at large than he was, and had a preceptor to teach him lessons, a thing which is not done towards the little nephew of Cardinal Pole, who is poorly and strictly kept and not desired to know anything’ (3).  Courtney’s later life and shenanigans is quite interesting and his story can be found elsewhere.  


No depiction has come down to us of Henry Pole the Younger but here is the portrait of his grandmother, Margaret Pole, now at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Of course, being a strong believer in the theory that the young sons of Edward IV were unharmed and sent to places of safety it’s only fair that  I should explore the idea could it be possible that this is what happened to Henry?  Even though I would like to think so I think in this case  it’s highly likely yes, a child of noble blood did die in the Tower perhaps if not actually murdered then at the very least suffering a high level of neglect which very likely contributed to his early death.   

I would like to recommend Hazel Pierce’s biography Margaret Pole Countess of Salisbury 1473-1541 Loyalty Lineage and Leadership from which I have drawn on heavily for this post.

  1. Margaret Pole Countess of Salisbury 1473-1541 Loyalty, Lineage and Leadership p. 172. Hazel Pierce.
  2. Pole, Henry, Baron Montague (1492-1539) T F Meyer Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  3. Margaret Pole Countess of Salisbury  Loyalty, Lineage and Leadership 1473-1541 p. 173 Hazel Pierce.

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L’Erber – London Home to Warwick the Kingmaker and George Duke of Clarence

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



L’Erber – London Home to Warwick the Kingmaker and George Duke of Clarence


London before the Great Fire and much as Richard Neville ‘The Kingmaker’ and his family would have known it…  L’Erber stood  slightly to the north west of Coldharbour which is the large house seen here in middle of the picture  facing the Thames.  No depiction of L’Erber has come down to us. Part of the The Visscher Panorama of London, 1616. Image Peter Harrington Rare Books.  

L’Erber numbered amongst the most important houses in Medieval London.  It gets regularly confused, even by one well known  historian,  with that other great house,  Coldharbour,  which confusingly was known for a while as Le Toure.  If searching old maps for these once magnificent houses it might be helpful to remember that L’Erber stood on the east side of Dowgate Hill which was situated to the north of Thames Street, while Coldharbour was to the south of Thames street  and fronted onto the River Thames.


The oblong area within the red lines was the site of L’Erber.  Entrance was via the main gate which  was approached from Dowgate Hill.  Bordered to the south by Carter Lane later known as Chequers Yard/Lane and from  the east by Bush Lane where there was a back entrance.  Immediately to the north of  L’Erber was the church of St Mary Bothawe.  This church was destroyed in the Great fire and rebuilt.  Chequers Lane now gone but Bush Lane has survived the centuries. The area is now covered by Cannon Street Station.  From Strype’s edition of Stow’s Survey c.1720.

Both these houses have been covered in depth by C L Kingsford’s article ‘On Some London Houses of the Early Tudor Period’ (1)  This excellent article which gives the best and most accurate description of L’Erber available to us is now very difficult to get hold of but I was kindly sent a copy by someone from the Richard III Society.  Frustratingly no depictions  were ever made of L’Erber but we know exactly where it stood.    Basically it was massive covering just  slightly under three quarters of an acre.  Along with the house itself were two gardens, a large garden known as the Great garden and a smaller one known as the ‘Lytell’ garden.  There were also tenements, which were rented out, and a brew house known as the ‘Cheker’ (remembered in the name Checkers Yard),   stables and also an area for carts.   Situated immediately south of the church of St Mary Bothawe it was an irregular quadrilateral, having street frontages on three sides opening up on Dowgate, Carter Lane, later known as Chequer Lane/Checkers Yard,  and Bush Lane and having two large gates referred to in the houses accounts as simply the fore gate and back gate.  Built in the 14th century as a merchants house it would develop into one of the finest noblemans houses of London.

L’Erber’s most interesting period was during the Wars of the Roses when it was owned by Richard Neville, later known as Warwick the Kingmaker,  and later through his daughter, Isobel, passed into the possession of her husband,  George Duke of Clarence.  Stow tells us of Warwick’s largesse and that at his other house situated down nearby Warwick Lane   ‘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’  (2).   Perhaps the same generosity could be found at L’Erber.  In 1457 Richard the Earl of Salisbury , Warwick’s father, was housed at L’Erber along with 500 of his men while Warwick stayed at his house in Warwick Lane with his equally large entourage.   

Interesting shenanigans  took place at L’Erber – and oh,  to have been a fly on the wall -during the period following the Battle of Tewkesbury in May 1471 because it seems safe to surmise that  Clarence would have found it prudent to stay in his London house to  be at the epicentre of the robust arguments then taking place at Westminster Palace between the three royal brothers, Edward IV,  Clarence and Richard Duke of Gloucester regarding the inheritances of the Neville sisters, Isobel,  Clarence’s  wife and her sister Anne.  Following on from that it’s also safe to further surmise that it was probably from  L’Erber,  while Anne was in the care of her brother-in-law and sister,  that the young Duke of Gloucester sought her with marriage in mind.  I’ll let Croyland take up the story ‘This proposal did not suit the views of his brother, the Duke of Clarence, who had previously married the eldest daughter of the said earl.  Such being the case he caused the damsel to be concealed in order that it might not be known by his brother where she was, as he was afraid of a division of the earl’s property which he wished to come to himself alone in right of his wife and not to be obliged to share it with anyone other person.  Still however the craftiness of the Duke of Gloucester so far prevailed  that he discovered the young lady in the city of London disguised in the habit of a cook maid upon which he had her removed to the sanctuary of St Martin’s.   This charming story is so extraordinary and out of the common that I tend to believe it in the main although I am more inclined to think that it was probably Anne who took her fate into her own hands and slipped away into hiding rather than a dastardly George disguised and hid her in an attempt to thwart Richard’s marriage plans.   It’s quite easy to imagine an abundance of raised voices, door slamming and tears going on at L’Erber around that time.   In a very happy ending Richard found Anne and took her to the nearby sanctuary of St Martin le Grand until the arguments regarding the inheritance were concluded and resolved by King Edward himself. It was also likely that it was L’Erber where Clarence spent his last days of freedom before, having been summoned to appear before brother Edward at Westminster he was sent to the Tower and execution.


George, Duke of Clarence.  Rous Roll.

img_4543.jpg copy

Possible portrait of George’s wife, Isobel Neville. Luton Gild Book.


Possible portrait of Anne NevilleEton Wall portraits.

But how did the house first fall into the ownership of the great Neville family?   A lease dated 1371  with all the shops, cellars, sollars, gardens and rents was acquired by William Latimer, Lord Danby.   Latimers daughter, Elizabeth,  married John Neville, father of Ralph the first earl of Westmorland.   Westmorland was the father of  many children including Richard, Earl of Salisbury and Cicely Neville, mother to the three famous York brothers, Edward IV, Richard III and George Duke of Clarence.  It was Westmorland who ‘obtained a grant in fee from Henry IV‘  and who would leave L’Erber to his son Richard Earl of Salisbury,  who was father to the Richard Neville who would become known as  ‘The Kingmaker’.   After the Kingmaker’s death at Barnet in 1471, Edward IV would grant L’Erber to his brother Clarence, whose wife, Isobel, was the Kingmaker’s  eldest daughter. However after Clarence’s judicial murder L’Erber reverted to the crown once again and was later granted by a grateful Henry Tudor to the Earl of Oxford for life.  Following Oxford’s death in 1513 and in one of history’s funny old twists,  L’Erber was restored, in her own right,   to one of the  last of the Plantagenets, Clarence’s daughter, Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury,  by a benevolent Henry VIII.   Later Henry would revert to type and  she too was judicially murdered, basically because Henry had the raging hump with her son Reginald.


Portrait of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury.  L’Erber was the London home of Margaret. National Portrait Gallery.  

As both her parents were dead by the time Margaret was five years old its doubtful she would have had any memories of staying at L’Erber with them.  However no doubt she felt a feeling of fulfilment as what had once been one of the  homes of her parents, and several Nevilles before them,  was returned to her.  We do know that her son, Montague, had his own room there as a receipt for repairs to a dore bytwyne my Lord of Mountagewes Chamber and the hey house‘ is still extant.  This also lets us know that Montague’s chamber would have been to the south-east corner of the house since that was near where the hay house was situated. Other repairs noted were: ‘a groundcell for my Lady’s Chamber’, ‘a somer pese under the gystes in the Lowe Chamber under the Great Chamber’, ‘bord spent in the back syde of my lady’s Great Chamber for weder bordyng and pentyses’,  ‘mendying a wall in the bak syde of my lady’s place in the Lytell Garden’,  ‘work in my lady’s Great Chamber on the great garden syde and the bak syde of the hey house’.  We can glean from this that Margaret’s Chamber i.e. bedroom,  was on the east side of the house overlooking the great garden. There was in January 1521  a payment of 7d. (7 pence)   made for cutting the Vine and in 1524 16d. was spent on four roots of vine and for cutting the vine.  On the 3rd July 1520 13s.4d. was paid to a William Kellam ‘by my Lady of Salusbury’s commaundement, the which he had for a tabernacle wherein (an image) of our Lady was enclosed, the which was paynted in the Erber’.  Also 3s.4d.  ‘which my Lady gave of her pity to the man who made the old tabernacle and gave him the old tabernacle and the said money’.  Payments were also made for the paving in the street in front of the gates, 19s.8d., plus 2s. for planks for the gutter beneath the paving (3). It’s also on record Margaret presenting St Mary Bothawe – whose priest she employed at L’Erber –  with tapers of wax which were to be ‘renued twyse a yere’.

However as is well known, the ending was tragic for the last scion of the Neville owners of L’Erber.  Margaret and other members of her family, including Montague, were arrested in November 1538 and placed in the Tower.  The rest is history which I won’t go into here. L’Erber was taken back yet again by the Crown.  It was purchased by the Drapers Company who let it to Sir Thomas Pullison, a lord mayor,  who according to Stowe ‘rebuilt’ it.  Pullison transferred the lease to none other than Sir Francis Drake who used it as his London residence until 1593.  The ending for L’Erber was in sight…


The Great Fire of London. The devastating conflagration that consumed so much of medieval London including L’Erber.  Artist  Lieve Verschuier

This  ending for L’Erber arrived by midnight of the  first evening of the awful conflagration known as the Great Fire of London which begun in the early hours of the morning of Sunday 2nd September 1666 and which would  burn for three days.  On that evening along with L’Erber went Dowgate, Elbow Lane, Skinners Hall and St Mary Bothawe Church and much, much more.  As no illustrations have come down to us we have no way of knowing how much of the original medieval house still survived in 1666.  But I would like to think that had the shades of Warwick, his son-in-law, two daughters and granddaughter wandered through the those grand old rooms they would have been able to recognise the wonderful old house they had known so well.

  1.  On some London House of the Early Tudor Period C L Kingsford Esq 14th April 1921.  Published by the Society of Antiquaries
  2. A Survey of London Written in the year 1598 p.92.  John Stow.
  3.  On some London House of the Early Tudor Period C L Kingsford Esq 14th April 1921.  Published by the Society of Antiquaries

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Bodrugan Leap – a traditional Cornish story tells of how Sir Henry Bodrugan leaped from this cliff top to a waiting boat and made his escape first to France and later to Ireland. 

If you are reading this then it is also likely that you have read my other various posts relating to the Coldridge theory including :  A Portrait of Edward V and Even a Resting Place?




If reading any of these posts you have ever wondered who was it who could have taken the young Edward V alias John Evans over the sea to Dublin may I suggest – drum roll – step forward Sir Henry Bodrugan.   Sir Henry, also known as Henry Trenowith,  was one of those larger than life characters who litter history and who had done exceedingly well during both the reigns of  Edward IV and Richard III.  He was a knight of the body of Richard and according to old Cornish tradition he may have been present at Bosworth for Richard before making his escape after the battle to Cornwall (1).    Knighted by Edward on the creation of Prince Edward as Prince of Wales.  he was one of the most powerful men in Cornwall during those interesting times (2).

Moving on to 1484 It has already been noted in some of the articles mentioned above that on the 3rd March two days following Elizabeth Woodville emerging from sanctuary,  Richard III sent one of his loyal followers, Sir Robert Markynfield from Yorkshire to Coldridge, an isolated village in Devon, granting him the position of Parker there  – Robert Markyngfeld/the keping of the park of Holrig in Devonshire during the kinges pleasure… (3).  This was a rather puzzling move by Richard which became even more intriguing  when in April Coldridge was among the slew of properties that Richard granted Sir Henry the lordship of including the manors of Trelawne and Tywardreath (4) Thus we have Coldridge, an isolated  backwater, becoming quite a hotbed of activity.  If the Coldridge theory is correct and we are barking up the correct tree this activity was due to Edward V being sent to live there incognito by Richard III in 1484 to what had once been the property of  Thomas Grey,  Marquis of Dorset, Edward’s half brother.   Further to this is speculation  that Edward V, who had been living under the alias of John Evans,  was the King Edward who was later crowned in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin on the 24 May 1487.  But if the Coldridge theory is correct who would have accompanied the young Edward to Dublin?  Certainly not fellow Yorkist rebels, Lincoln and Lovell for they arrived in Dublin after the arrival of the young lad who was about to be crowned and his supporters.    And here is yet another vitally important  link – for we know that none other than Sir Henry,  owner of Coldridge,  and his son John ‘Beaumont’,  were both present at the coronation in Dublin (5). I think we need look no further for the chaperone of Edward.  It is not known whether Sir Henry also accompanied the newly crowned Edward back to England and then on to Stoke but his name being left off the list of those who fought for the Yorkist cause that day we must assume he did not.  However both Henry and John Beaumont would be included in the Act of Attainder against the Yorkist rebels in November 1487.     We must backtrack a little to the 8 February 1487 when  Sir Richard Edgecombe, who had his own axe to grind, had been sent to arrest Sir Henry and John Beaumont on the grounds that they had ‘withdrawn themselves into private places in the counties of Devon and Cornwall and stir up sedition’ (6).    It should be noted that this coincided with the time the news of the ‘Lambert Simnel’ plot reached the ears of Henry VII, the ‘retirement’ of Elizabeth Woodville to Bermondsey Abbey and the arrests of  Thomas Grey,  Marquis of Dorset  and Bishop Stillington.    But our medieval version of Errol Flynn made his escape, and if a traditional  story is to be believed, in a most spectacular way, leaping off a cliff and landing in the sea below where a boat awaited him.    We will pause here to repeat the story which is too good to miss:

 “… Bodrugan slipped away out of his house to the cliffs nearby, where there was a boat waiting for him.   As soon therefore as he came to the cliff above an hundred feet high, he lept down into the sea upon a little grassy island there without much hurt or damage, where instantly a boat which he had prepared in the cove attended him there, which transported  him to a ship that carried him into France.  Which astonishing fact and place is to this day well known and remembered by the name of Harry Bodrugan’s leap’ (7).

He would make his way to Ireland where on the 24 May 1487 he attended in Dublin the coronation  of the young lad who was crowned King Edward.   Was this Edward in fact the true Edward V who had been living incognito at Sir Henry’s property of Coldridge under the name of John Evans?  Had Sir Henry some time between his escape from arrest and the Dublin Coronation journeyed  to Coldridge to escort the young Edward V/John Evans over the sea to Ireland?     Did Sir Henry ever return to England or did he live out his last days in exile in Ireland?   Let us hope it was not too onerous.


15th century stained glass image of Edward V in the Evans chapel at Coldridge Church.  This image has been verified as being of Edward V by stained glass experts Brooks and Cherry as well as the Keeper of  Ceramics at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Photo  Photo Dale Cherry

 Later in 1503,  Sir Henry’s  heirs, John Reskymer and Richard Antron, made a somewhat cheeky attempt to have the Act of Attainder reversed.  They claimed that Sir Henry had departed into Ireland to (visit) a kinsman of his when he soon afterwards there deceased’  and furthermore he ‘was never in the company with the said Earl (Lincoln) nor never spake with him nor never sent him message by writing, nor none otherwise, nor never committed treason’(8)  

Predictably this attempt failed but nice try.  It does beg the question though was Sir Henry  ill, perhaps even mortally, around time of the coronation and too unwell to make it back to England with the other Yorkist rebels and the newly crowned King Edward.  Bodrugan Barton, from where Sir Henry made his escape,  would be amongst the clutch of Bodrugan manors  later granted to Sir Henry’s arch enemy,  Sir Richard Edgecombe on the 26 April 1488 although Coldridge would be returned to Thomas Grey Marquis of Dorset.


The choir Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.  Here Sir Henry Bodrugan and his son John Beaumont attended the coronation of the ‘Dublin King’.  Photo with thanks to Diliff @ Flikr.
What else is known about the indomitable Sir Henry?  He came from an ancient Cornish family of high status.  His father, another formidable figure,  was Sir William Bodrugan of Newham, Cornwall (c.1398-1441) and his mother was Philippa, daughter of Sir John Arundel of Lanherne, Cornwall.  He married in 1454 Joan Beaumont nee Courtney, widow of William Beaumont.  Her son, John Beaumont, would later prove to be not the son of William but indeed the son of our Sir Henry and conceived before the death of William who at the time was estranged from Joan (9)    This young man would be brought up at Bodrugan, nr Mevagissey and would  become a partner in his father’s later misdeeds’ (10).   His father who died in 1441 when Henry was 15 left his son a sizeable inheritance including 21 manors.   He became the ward of Thomas Courtenay,  Earl of Devon,  until 1447.   Courtenay would pay the Earl of Suffolk for this privilege.
Sir Henry who can be safely described as having led rather a chequered career has been described by historian David Baldwin as a ‘lawless and rumbustious individual who was pardoned on at least four occasions between 1467 and 1480.  He and his associates seem to have terrorised Cornwall, breaking and entering, engaging in piracy, extracting and misappropriating money under cover of the King’s commission and corrupting wills.  His victims complained they could obtain no common law remedy against him ‘for if any person would sue the law against the said Henry  … or against any of his servants, anon they would should be murdered, slain and utterly robbed and despoiled of all their goods…’ (11). 
This was not all.  1472 found him doing a stint in the Fleet Prison for debt.   On Ist May 1476 he was  yet again in trouble for not paying his tailor, Nicolas Mills to whom he owed the enormous amount of £150 18s 7d.  Really Sir Henry!  But this pales into insignificance when compared to attacks, piracy,  threats to burn houses down – with the occupants still at home –  forcibly entries into houses and taking away goods, chattels, horses, cattle, even featherbeds and bedding etc., etc.,  The list goes on.  What’s not to like?  But still, it should be remembered, as the historian A L Rowse pointed out,  Sir Henry left behind him ‘a popular memory  in Cornish tradition’ and Charles Ross’ statement that half the gentry of Cornwall’ petitioned against him in the 1473 Parliament can be dismissed as a rather generous over egging of the pudding (12).
But stop! Enough of the negativity for surely he must have had some worthy attributes to gain the trust of the two aforementioned kings?  His name can be found on numerous commissions to investigate acts of piracy on ships,  commissions of array,  he was sent to arrest notable Lancastrians who were involved in acts of insurrection, playing an every growing part in the affairs of the country.  He played an active role in supporting Richard III during the Buckingham Rebellion which led to him seeking and hunting down Sir Richard Edgecombe who only just managed to  escape by the skin of his teeth,  who then made his way to Brittany and the court of Henry Tudor.   After Bosworth Sir Henry’s previous staunch loyalty to the Yorkist kings would make for an uncomfortable time for him within the new Tudor regime and a target for his former enemies such as Sir Richard Edgecombe, who in the reign of the new Tudor king,  found himself in the ascendancy.   In a reversal of roles it was Richard Edgecombe who once Sir Henry had hunted now became the hunter arriving at Bodrugan Barton to arrest him and John Beaumont on the orders of Henry VII.    As told above, Sir Henry, expecting no mercy made his daring escape and the rest is history.
Bodrugan Barton, home to the Bodrugan family is long gone with a just few grassy knolls where once it stood.  It has been erroneously described as a castle but was actually a manor house although it’s possible it could been fortified and probably had a park attached to it.  Borlais who visited the site in the 18th century when some of the ruinous walls still stood left us an interesting description  –
As you come from Mevagissey to the house on the right hand lies the largest barn I have ever seen. You pass through a large gate way into the stable yard where that which remains of the stables is vastly larger than any I have seen in Cornwall. The chapel lyes on the left hand but is now converted into a very large barn and having been often alter’d one should scarce know what it had been but for a nich us’d for holy water which is been of the same stile as the remains of the ancient house I there copy’d as well as I could in a darksome place.  The house you enter by a small porch on this side which makes me conclude that the great front must be to the south and that this was the back inferior entrance. The ancient hall makes a pretty large hall,  a dining room over and a very large kitchen but when formerly in one room must have been very magnificent. In the kitchen the timbering of the roof work appears and is very great and curiously carved and disposed in parabolick curves above and supported by pillars of oak which descend visibly thro’ the wall to the bottom of the room. No remains in the County come near what Bodrugan can show…'(13). 
In 1786 the last remains of Bodrugan Barton  were demolished.   An ancient wall, which includes a 14th century doorway of Pentewan stone,  that  may have been  either part of the main house or chapel  is  incorporated into a  property now known as The Chapel.   So sadly the back entrance that Sir Henry made his escape from that day in 1487 now no longer exists.  There is no way of knowing whether the story of Harry Bodrugan’s Leap is true however we do know that Sir Henry did indeed make his escape to end up in Dublin for the coronation of the ‘Dublin King’.   Nothing is heard of him after that and it’s possible he may have died soon after that event or  perhaps lived out the last few years of his life in Ireland perhaps on the  land that was once owned by a 13th century Bodrugan ancestor.     But he had survived into his 60s, a good age for those turbulent times, long enough for one last shout and what may have been a bold albeit futile attempt at returning Edward IV’s son to his throne.  After the battle the young lad who had been crowned ‘King Edward’ was discovered.  The  heralds recorded that although the young King Edward was taken,  his real name was ‘John’   : ‘And there was taken the lade that his rebelles called King Edwarde (whoos name was in dede John) – by a vaylent and a gentil esquire of the kings howse called Robert Bellingham’ (14).    If the theory is correct, perhaps Sir Henry gained some comfort in the knowledge that Edward V survived the carnage of Stoke and was returned to Coldridge where he lived out his life quietly as  John Evans.
1. The Parochial History of Cornwall, 4 Vols. Gilbert Davies. London: J B Nichols and Son, 1838 
2.  Ross p.411.
3.  Harleian Manuscript 433. Vol.1.
4.  Ibid.
5.  Oxford DNB. Philippa Maddern 23 September 2004.
6.  Cal.Pat.Rolls 1485-94
7.  The Parochial History of Cornwall, 4 Vols. Gilbert Davies. London: J B Nichols and Son, 1838
8.   Star Chamber Proceedings.  Henry VIII  vol 23 folio 305.
9.   Cal.Pat.Rolls, 1461-1467, p.539.
10. The Turbulent Career of Sir Henry de Bodrugen.  A L Rowse 1944.
11. Stoke Field, The last Battle of the Wars of the Roses p.p.25.26. David Baldwin.
12. ODNB Bodrugan (Trenowith), Sir Henry. Philippa C Maddern 23 September 2004.
13. The Bodrugans: A Study of a Cornish Medieval Knightly Family  p..p 50.51  1995. From the Borlaise MXX in Gorran. Records of Early English Drama (REED).
14. Chroniques de Jean Molinet ed. G Doutrepont and O Jordogne Brussells 1935.  Translation taken from Michael Bennett’s Lambert Simnel and the Battle of Stoke. See also Heralds’Memoir  1486-1490 pp.116-17 E. Cavell.
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The Summer of 1483: Who Was Doing What, Where, With Whom and Why.

Annette word-cloud 1

Today a guest post from Annette Carson, author of many excellent books about Richard III and his times including The Maligned King,  Richard III: A Small Guide to a Great Debate, Richard Duke of Gloucester as Lord Protector & Constable of England and a new translation of Mancini. Annette was also a member of the Looking for Richard Project.   Thank you Annette: 

The summer of 1483 was a hotbed of activity for those people who had a political interest in the disposal of the throne of England.  Richard III had been offered the crown in June and had enjoyed a splendid coronation on 6 July. He had effectively disposed of opposition, and had set off to display himself to his people on a royal progress which proceeded westward from Westminster and then northward to culminate in September with the investiture of his son as Prince of Wales at York. We are fortunate in that his whereabouts at every stage have been traced by Rhoda Edwards in The Itinerary of Richard III (1). 

15th cwntury map crop 2

Southern England and Wales in the 15th century.

So we know where Richard was at any given time. More interesting is where his opponents were, and what they were up to. For although they had been defeated, they were not eliminated; and in his absence they were busily finding ways to overthrow his rule.

Those whose activities will be traced in this article fall into four main strands: the Woodville family; the Duke of Buckingham; Henry Tudor; and his mother Margaret Beaufort. All four came to be woven together by the month of September.

First there was the Woodville family, whose power-base had been removed with the deposition of the young Edward V. Edward, the 12-year-old son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, had been brought up among Woodvilles who expected him to be their passport to power on the death of his father in April 1483. Misguidedly, they had attempted to bypass Richard’s protectorship as willed by the late king, but were over-ruled by the King’s Council. Rather than reconcile with the new government, they scattered. Elizabeth, together with several family members including her daughters, fled into sanctuary at Westminster Abbey in May. By mid-June the deposed Edward V, together with his brother Richard of York, Elizabeth’s younger son by Edward IV (known to history as ‘the princes in the Tower’) were lodged in the royal apartments of the Tower of London where they soon became a focus for dissidents who wished to see Edward restored to the throne.

One of Elizabeth’s brothers was to play an important role in subsequent events, although Tudor ‘histories’ ensured that no credit would attach to his name. This was Sir Edward Woodville, who as early as April had set himself up with a force of ships at sea, in a foolhardy move to counteract French privateering in the Channel. At the same time Thomas Grey, Elizabeth’s elder son by her previous marriage, had spent several thousand pounds raising men at arms for the venture. When Richard took charge as Protector and Defender of the Realm, most of the fleet was brought safely back to England. Edward Woodville escaped with two ships and large quantities of treasure, including a haul of £10,250 in gold coin audaciously taken from a carrack lying in Southampton Water(2). Woodville and his fortune fetched up eventually in Brittany with Henry Tudor, of which more below. Meanwhile Thomas Grey absconded, and history tells us nothing more of his expensively equipped soldiery; we may guess that he and his family made good use of them in the events that followed.

The second strand we will follow is the career of Harry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, who was Richard’s chief lieutenant in 1483 and a principal architect of the constitutional settlement whereby the representatives of England’s Parliament set aside Edward V and petitioned Richard to assume the throne. Buckingham’s status in life had been transformed by his new association with Richard III. So it is hard to understand why, in view of his new prominence on the royal stage, together with all its material rewards and financial gains, within weeks of Richard’s coronation he would rebel against his generous benefactor.

Third we come to Henry Tudor, Richard’s contemporary who had been raised a supporter of the Lancastrian dynasty, and had thus been on the losing side in England’s civil strife commonly known as the Wars of the Roses. Henry and his uncle Jasper Tudor had fled into exile and by 1483 were enjoying the hospitality and financial support of Francis II, Duke of Brittany. During Edward IV’s glory years of consolidating his throne, Henry had been little more than a minor irritant. But evidently he harboured ambitions that prevented him from reconciling to the rule of York, for although terms had been discussed for his return to England to access certain inheritances if he swore allegiance to Edward, so far Henry had refused to budge (3).  Towards the end of Edward’s reign, when he was virtually isolated from his erstwhile European allies, Duke Francis was using Tudor in an attempt to pressurize Edward into complying with his demands for support. As the duke’s grip on reality became more frail, he was persuaded to side with the Tudor camp against England.

Our fourth strand deals with the partnership between Henry’s mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond, and the man who emerged as her politically astute counsellor, John Morton, Bishop of Ely. As our curtain goes up, Morton is under arrest for participating in a plot (led by William Hastings) to assassinate Richard, and has been sent to be held in custody at Buckingham’s seat of Brecon in south-east Wales. Buckingham himself has left London heading for his estates in the west, parting from Richard as the king’s progress leaves Gloucester (on 2 August according to The Itinerary).4 Allowing time for Buckingham to visit others of his estates on the way, he probably reached Brecon about the middle of August.5 Morton was clever enough to suborn him to treason, and secret letters were soon flying between Brecon and Margaret Beaufort, whose great wealth would help to finance their plans.

Meanwhile we must look at events in London that summer, where certain followers of the Woodvilles made a precipitate and ill-fated attempt to remove the sons of Edward IV from the Tower of London which seems to have occurred in July. Its date can only be estimated, but the actual report of the circumstances, by the 16th/17th-century antiquary John Stow, appears to receive independent support in the writings of Thomas Basin, Bishop of Lisieux (6).  For reasons explained in my new book, Richard III: The Maligned King, chapter 8, a likely date for the attempt is the third week of July, which ties in with a letter dated 29 July from Richard III to his Chancellor ordering action to be taken against the perpetrators, now apprehended, of just such a foiled plot.

Stow, who apparently took his information from the original indictment, says that the conspirators were in correspondence with the Tudor camp in Brittany. This is confirmation that the Woodville strand has become enmeshed with the Tudors. The reason becomes clear when we recall that Sir Edward Woodville has been cooling his heels in Brittany for the past two months, with two ships at anchor and coffers overflowing with gold, desperately wishing he could find a way to restore Edward V (and the Woodville family) to power.

The ill-conceived plan in July is followed by another in August, which draws three of our four strands into the mix: on 13 August John Welles, Margaret Beaufort’s half-brother, is arrested for plotting rebellion.7 Margaret’s biographers, Michael K. Jones and Malcolm G. Underwood, believe that Margaret was up to her eyes in this intrigue, and probably was involved in the July plot also; Louise Gill and Rosemary Horrox agree (8).

The only possible conclusion is that these were attempts to restore Edward V (still safely residing at the Tower) to sovereignty. At this date there is no indication that any harm has come to the ‘princes’, certainly not on account of Welles’s plot because the latter, after forfeiting his lands, was allowed to go free. The last reference to their whereabouts on any particular date comes from the Crowland chronicler, who informs us that at the time of the Prince of Wales’s investiture in the first week of September they were still being guarded closely in the Tower of London (9).

We must now return to the Woodville strand and consider their options. By refusing to reconcile they were now condemned as reprobate by the King’s Council, as shown by the Chancellor’s draft speech to the 1483 Parliament.10 The only active member of the clan was Sir Edward in Brittany, who by August had evidently recruited the Tudors to support (as he supposed) the restoration of Edward V. The Tudors, however, were small fry in themselves since they were dependent on the whim of their Breton hosts. The real prize for the Woodvilles was Henry’s mother in England, Margaret Beaufort, wealthy in her own right, ambitious for her son, and currently married to a hugely influential husband, Thomas, Lord Stanley.

Margaret had evidently seen a vista of golden opportunities opened up by such a liaison, and was keen to exploit it. Otherwise there was no earthly reason why she and her half-brother John Welles would risk being involved in rebellious plots which served their family’s interests not one whit.

The most golden of all opportunities for Margaret in the summer of 1483 was the potential hand in marriage, for her exiled son, of Elizabeth Woodville’s eldest daughter, since this would transform him at a stroke into a major player on the world stage. Accordingly she sent intermediaries to Elizabeth in sanctuary to commence negotiations. Historians have been quick to assume, in line with the story peddled by Henry Tudor’s later historian Polydore Vergil, that Elizabeth subscribed to the glorious destiny proposed for her daughter of uniting York with Lancaster; and that, because this action was against the interests of the ‘princes’ if alive, Elizabeth must have believed them dead. Such conclusions, however, are over-credulous. You simply have to work out the chronology.

When the marriage was mooted, it had to be at a time in July/August when the Beaufort side of the bargain was required to demonstrate its bona fides by being willing to commit treason in the Woodville cause. Both mothers were in an equivocal position. Margaret Beaufort had long hoped for a royal bride for her son, but knew there was a price to pay. Elizabeth Woodville had no need to hand over her most senior daughter without gaining something of enormous substance in return. Yet with her son deposed, she was powerless until he could be restored. Therefore we may safely assume that Elizabeth’s price for her daughter’s hand was active assistance in his restoration. The person the Beauforts must help to place on the throne was not Henry Tudor, but Edward V.

At this point we must return to our second strand, represented by the Duke of Buckingham in Brecon. From around mid-August his strand is entwined with that of his prisoner Bishop John Morton, who belongs to Lady Margaret Beaufort’s faction. Morton must have spotted some telltale signs of envy or resentment in the duke’s attitude to the newly crowned Richard, for within a short space of time he was able to persuade Buckingham to align himself with the pockets of rebellion already brewing in protest at the deposition of Edward V.

As a seasoned politician, ‘a man of many designs and much boldness, versed in party intrigue since the time of King Henry [VI]’,11 it was not difficult for Morton to link together in Buckingham’s mind a grand coalition of the disaffected. I.e. the disgruntled Tudor and his mother as the ‘last of the Lancasters’; bringing with them Lancastrian money and backing as well as Duke Francis with his men and ships; plus those of no particular faction in England who sought the restoration of Edward V; topped off with evidence that the Woodvilles could count on continued support from beneficiaries of their 20 years of power and patronage.

Polydore Vergil in his Anglica Historia is the best source of information about the Buckingham- Morton-Beaufort-Tudor conspiracy, thanks to his contacts at Henry Tudor’s court. We may be confident that, although massaged to present a spin complimentary to Tudor self-aggrandization, his account came virtually from the horse’s mouth.

Additionally, it appears Bishop Morton was so impressed with his own prowess that he set out the entire entrapment of Buckingham in an anti-Richard tract which survived for at least a century, although it has since disappeared. The existence of this tract was recorded around the turn of the 1500s/1600s by (among others) Sir George Buc(k), Master of the King’s Revels to King James I: he produced a History of King Richard III in which he stated categorically that Morton’s tract had come into the possession of Sir Thomas More. Sure enough, More’s History of King Richard III included a scene recounting the very words that Bishop Morton was supposed to have used to incite Buckingham to treason. The consensus among those who saw the tract seems to be that the duke was persuaded that he, rather than Richard, was more fit to wear the crown.

Vergil filled in the blank spaces by recounting how Morton, once Buckingham had taken the bait, sent messengers speeding between himself and Margaret Beaufort, reporting the good news that the duke was ready to betray his friend Richard (this exchange of messengers can be traced to the middle two weeks of August) (12).  Lady Margaret, recognizing the importance of having split Buckingham from the king, was so thrilled that she immediately sent large amounts of cash to Henry Tudor in Brittany. Vergil, of course, was given a different gloss on Buckingham’s motivation to rebel: not that Buckingham sought the crown for himself, but that he postulated a glorious vision of Henry Tudor on the throne of England with a daughter of Edward IV as his queen (13).

Before we can continue with Buckingham’s strand, we first have to cross to Brittany to see who is doing what there. After years spent sitting on his hands as a pensioner of Francis II, Henry Tudor has leapt into action with his new (soon-to-be-forgotten) friend Sir Edward Woodville. Duke Francis, persuaded by the latter’s two stolen vessels and five-figure sums of treasure, as well as by new funding recently arrived from Henry’s mother, agrees to prepare and provision a flotilla of ships which is already being equipped in the first weeks of September (14).

Annette Carson map showing English coast and Brittany 2The French Coast in the 15th Century..

Since these preparations precede the September date on which not only the Crowland chronicler but also Polydore Vergil15 claim that the ‘princes’ were still alive in the Tower of London, we have to conclude that Francis II was duped into thinking he was supporting the Woodvilles’ attempts to restore the throne to Edward V.

This was also the rallying-cry of the rebels in England as Buckingham, a pillar of Richard’s establishment as his High Constable of England, offered himself to them as their unlikely leader in overthrowing the rule of his benefactor. At the end of August he had received a commission from a trusting Richard requiring him to investigate reports of uprisings that had broken out in London and the southern counties. Instead of bringing the rebels to justice, Buckingham toured the seats of rebellion in early September presenting his credentials as their brand new captain-in-chief – and, incredibly, they accepted him in that role. As the Crowland chronicler tells us, he now issued his public proclamation against Richard.16 Since we know that the king was still happily ordering monies to be paid over to Buckingham as late as 16 September,17 this proclamation cannot have been issued before about 10-12 September.

Continuing with the Crowland narrative, we now have a sudden change in circumstances. A rumour spreads like wildfire among the rebels that the boy-king they want to restore, along with his brother, has met an unspecified but violent end. Now bereft of a candidate for the throne, they are thrown into confusion. But one thing is certain in the subsequent hiatus: they are not prepared to vote in Harry of Buckingham for that role (18).

There is, of course, no way that the rebels can confirm the fate or even the whereabouts of the boys. A decision must urgently be taken to cover the eventuality that the rumours may be correct, and at this point someone – probably the ever-helpful Morton – steps in to mention that Lady Margaret Beaufort happens to be negotiating a marriage contract between Henry Tudor and the eldest female heir of the ‘princes’. The rebels accordingly make Tudor their champion on the promise of this marriage.

The promise seems to have been offered and accepted without demur, even though it can have been made only by proxy, given that the principals in the matter were unavailable to confirm it. This leaves it open that the rebels may have regarded Tudor as a stopgap candidate, and were not necessarily convinced Edward V was actually dead.

So at this point all our four strands have come together. Buckingham has joined Morton and Margaret Beaufort in a rebellion that now has Henry Tudor catapulted to prominence as leader rather than supporter. Sir Edward Woodville, having sought Tudor backing, now has rather more involvement from Henry and his mother than he bargained for. And Elizabeth Woodville finds her daughter promised away to Henry Tudor without the quid pro quo that lay at the heart of her original deal.

Let us end by considering Elizabeth Woodville, tucked away in sanctuary, with a question-mark over the fate of her sons and the prospect of their claims being swept aside by Tudor. Just how happy was she to have her boys written off in the space of a few days, while the restoration movement was hijacked by this adventurer from Brittany who clearly intended to use her daughter to set himself up in their place?

I have indicated that the marriage discussions began as a deal that would bring in the weight of the Beaufort-Tudor faction in favour of Edward V. The negotiating process would have been a protracted one, with each side jockeying for the best terms: what was the maximum Elizabeth could demand in return for her daughter, and what was the minimum to which Margaret Beaufort would commit while being able to secure a promise of marriage? It is reasonable to suppose that an agreement was close by the time Margaret sent money to Henry at about the end of August.

But then came the devastating news that Elizabeth’s sons were rumoured to be dead. I would argue that a frantic mother would never voluntarily accept any such rumour as true without instituting the most strenuous enquiries and searches. We know that Elizabeth took money and possessions with her into sanctuary, and had the wherewithal to hire agents to carry out her instructions. Even had she been told to her face that the boys were dead, would she not keep hoping it was just a ploy? Short of seeing their bodies for herself, what could possibly serve to convince her?

Yet too many people are still ready to accept the Tudor story that Elizabeth straightaway betrothed her daughter to the very man who posed the greatest threat to her sons while they remained alive. I say ‘straightaway’ because for this story to be true, she must have done so in the space of no more than a few days after the rumour broke.

This timeline is found by reckoning backwards from the latest date by which planning for the rebellion had resumed (so far as records show) after the hiatus caused by the rumour. This must have been by about 20 September, as indicated by the fact that Robert Morton, keeper of the rolls in chancery, was caught plotting, investigated, and replaced in his post by 22 September. On the following day action was taken against Bishop Lionel Woodville who also had become embroiled in the resumption of the rebellion (19).

As mentioned above, Buckingham’s leadership proclamation could not have been issued before about 10-12 September. Therefore the rumour that ousted him from that position must have been spread after this point and before 20 September. That leaves a total of just seven to ten days in which (as is commonly – and erroneously – assumed) Elizabeth Woodville heard the rumour of the death of her sons, investigated and believed it, then abandoned their cause so that Henry Tudor could claim the throne in right of his betrothal to her daughter. This is simply beyond credulity.

Very soon afterwards, on 24 September, Buckingham sent letters to Henry Tudor urging him to invade England.20 By then the rebellion was in full swing, Henry had been accepted as the rebels’ new champion and the initial panic at the rumours was over. For Elizabeth, however, I would argue it had only just begun.


  1. Rhoda Edwards, The Itinerary of King Richard III, 1483-1485 (London, 1983).
  2. Rosemary Horrox, Richard III: A Study of Service (Cambridge, 1989), pp.102-3.
  3. Michael K Jones and Malcolm G.Underwood, The King’s Mother: Lady Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby (Cambridge, 1992), pp.60, 61.
  1. Polydore Vergil, Anglica Historia (J.B. Nichols, 1846), book 25, p.194.
  2. Bill Hampton, in ‘“Our trusty and wellbeloved servant and squire for our body”, Nicholas Baker alias Spicer’, The Ricardian, 2003, and Louise Gill, in Richard III and Buckingham’s Rebellion (Stroud, 1999, 2000) agree on Buckingham’s probable route to Brecon. He was certainly there on 23 August when an order passed under his personal signet: Gill, p.64.

6. John Stow, The Annales or Generall Chronicle of England (London, 1615), p.460; Thomas Basin, Histoire de Louis XI, ed. C. Samaran, vol 3, Les Classiques de l’histoire de France, vols 26, 29, 30 (Paris, 1972), p.234.

  1. Horrox, A Study of Service, p.150; Gill, op cit, p.63.
  2. Jones & Underwood, op cit, p.125; Gill, op cit, pp.63-4; Horrox, A Study of Service, p150.
  3. The Crowland Chronicle Continuations 1459-1486, ed. Nicholas Pronay and John Cox (London,1986), p.163.

10. Published in full in Carson, Richard Duke of Gloucester as Lord Protector and High Constable of England (Horstead, 2015), Appendix X.

  1. Carson, Domenico Mancini: de occupatione regni Anglie (Horstead, 2021), p. 63.
  2. Carson, Richard III: The Maligned King (Stroud: 2008 edn p.138; 2013 edn p.162).
  3. Vergil, Anglica Historia, book 25, pp.194-5.
  4. Ralph A. Griffiths and Roger S. Thomas, The Making of the Tudor Dynasty (Stroud, 1993), p.102.
  5. Vergil, Anglica Historia, book 25, p.188.
  6. Crowland Chronicle, p.163.
  7. British Library Harleian MS 433, ed. R.E. Horrox and P.W. Hammond (Upminster and London, 1979-83), vol. I, pp.3-4.
  1. Crowland Chronicle, p.163.
  2. Horrox, A Study of Service, pp.151-2, citing BL Harleian MS 433 vol. II, pp.23-4; Gill, op cit, p.64.
  3. Rolls of Parliament, vol. 6, pp.244-9.

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‘So rude a matter and so strange a thinge, 

As a boy in Dublin to be made a kinge..’ *

Untitled copy 6

Old St Paul’s where the tragic Edward Earl of Warwick was displayed in February 1487 and with ‘Lambert Simnel’  on the 8 July 1487.  ‘Old St Paul’s Cathedral Seen from the East 1656-58’ Wenceslaus Hollar.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

I have gathered much of the information to be found here from the excellent  books written by Michael Barrett (very helpful having all the key sources in chronological order in an appendix), David Baldwin (very useful for the battle of Stoke ) and John Ashdown-Hill for candidates for the ‘Dublin King’.  Articles by Gordon Smith, Barrie Williams and Randolph Jones were also invaluable.

Main key sources include  Molinet, André, Vergil and the Heralds Memoir.

So who was the Dublin King and following on from that who was Lambert Simnel?  For the Dublin King we can safely say there were four candidates –

Edward V b. February  November 1470,  16 years old in June 1487,

Richard of Shrewsbury b.August 1473, 14 years old in June 1487.

Edward Earl of Warwick b. February 1475,  12 years old in June 1487.

Lambert Simnel described as 10 years old in Lincoln’s Act of Attainder November 1487.

Richard of Shrewsbury was very soon passed over (Perkin Warbeck anyone?) which leaves us with Edward V,  Edward Earl of Warwick and Lambert Simnel.

I’ve tried to work out logically who the Dublin King was and not factually as that is of course  impossible.

Let us look at Lambert Simnel:


‘Lambert Simnel’  as a scullion in the kitchen of Henry VII.   Artist unknown.  Getty images.

Despite historian A F Pollard opining that No serious historian has doubted that Lambert Simnel was an imposter’ historians have still doggedly expended large quantities of ink on the probability of whether or not  the ten(ish) year old boy known as Lambert Simnel  was the young lad who was  crowned in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin on the 24 May 1487.   The next favourite seems to be the Edward the young Earl of Warwick although he was, to all intents and purposes, firmly lodged in the Tower of London at the time.   For same strange reason the chances of the young Dublin king being Edward V have been, on the whole,  overlooked which is exactly what the Tudor regime had hoped would happen.   It should be remembered that Edward V and his siblings, including Henry’s queen had all been declared legitimate by Henry’s Parliament in January 1486  and if it got out that a young lad claiming to be Edward V had been crowned in Dublin it was going to open a very unpleasant can of worms for Henry.   This fact may also have focussed Lincoln’s mind on the fact that as Edward V was now legitimised he would have been the rightful king and in the event of the rebellion proving successful it would have proven difficult for him to make a try for the throne.  Perhaps loyalty and decency never allowed the thought to creep into his mind anway.   To muddy already muddy waters further it is unclear whether the boy king was crowned Edward V or Edward VI.    This is despite it being totally illogical that Lincoln would  have thought it a sensible plan to have a blatantly fake Edward of Warwick or even the genuine  article crowned.     This is baffling and has never been  convincingly explained.  Although  evidence is lacking  that Richard III either made Lincoln his heir or intended to do so,  the fact is that  after the death of his son, Edward of Middleham,  he appointed Lincoln Lieutenant of Ireland,  a post that had been held by Edward and this  may  indicate the likelihood that he did indeed intend to make Lincoln his heir rather than the much younger Edward Earl of Warwick.  Richard may have stated his wishes on the eve of  Bosworth should things go wrong, which they did.   But  there is another option which I will return to later.  Obviously the truth of the matter went to the grave with Lincoln, which annoyed Henry VII no end,  but as way of explanation it has been suggested Lincoln may have believed  he would have been unable to attract enough followers –  so to follow that logic through –  the suggestion is,  that he believed the 12 year old son of the attainted George Duke of Clarence would? This is absurd.  This is put forward despite the fact that he, as a competent  adult of the Yorkist royal family with unquestionable and untainted  lineage would surely have been preferable to the young son of Clarence whereas for him to stand aside for a true son of Edward IV makes perfect sense.    Suggestions have also been mooted that he may have wanted to rule through a puppet king i.e. young Warwick,  or even take the throne from himself in the event the rebellion was successful.  Only wait, wouldn’t he have had a problem with then turfing the young Warwick, now the newly crowned king,  off the throne?  Why not just go for it himself?  However perhaps the most difficult sticking point  with Warwick being nominated as Richard’s heir would be that he had no legal claim to the throne because the issue of his father, George Duke Clarence had been barred in an Act of Attainder which was  reiterated later in Titulus Regius (The Royal Title) :

 ‘Moreover we consider howe that aftreward, by the thre estates of this reame assembled in a parliament holden at Westminster the xvijth yere of the regne of the said King Edward the iiijth, he then being in possession of coroune and roiall estate, by an acte made in the same parliament, George Duc of Clarence, brother to the same King Edward now decessed, was convicted and attainted of high treason; and in the same acte is conteigned more at large. Because and by reason whereof all the issue of the said George was and is disabled and barred of all right and clayme that in any wise they might have or challenge by enheritence to the crowne and roiall dignitie of this reame, by the auncien lawe and custome of this same reame …’   

To be fair it’s possible Richard could have overturned this just prior to Bosworth and the evidence lost,  but how likely would it have been that he would have passed over the adult Lincoln in favour of a small boy 10 year old boy.  It makes no sense.   Surely if the worst came to worst, which it did,  he would want a strong hand at the helm to take the House of York safely forward? 

A cursory look into Lambert’s story will immediately throw up contradiction after contradiction.     For example even the  name of the priest who ‘mentored’  Lambert, and is therefore a person of importance,  is completely muddled being either  William Simonds or Richard Simons depending on what version of events you are reading.   For example on 17th February 1487 the proceedings of a convocation of Canterbury,  held at St Paul’s,  were noted by a clerk to John Morton Archbishop of Canterbury.  To whit a priest William Simonds, 28 yrs old, confessed to the big wigs gathered there that he had abducted and taken across to places in Ireland the son of a certain organ maker, of the university of Oxford, and that this boy was there reputed to be the earl of Warwick and that afterwards, Simons himself, was with Lovell in Furness Falls to reconnoitre a suitable place for the Yorkists to land.  Honestly you couldn’t make it up… but still …onwards!  Simonds was then taken to the Tower of London as Morton was already holding a  prisoner, being held for the same offence,  at Lambeth and lacked the room for another.   Note that neither the boy or his father at this stage had been named.

However according to Vergil, who on the whole is judged to be a good egg, but nevertheless was writing nearly 20 years after the event,   ‘Lambert the false boy-king’ was captured along with  his mentor, a priest, who had now morphed into  Richard Simons,  after the battle of Stoke Field.   To get over this awkward anomaly it’s been suggested  that William and Richard may have been brothers.   As Barrie Williams points out  it should be taken into account Vergil would only have been about 17 when these events were taking place and probably still living in Italy.  Therefore his version of events came from ‘ Tudor strong partisans including Morton – yes him again – More, Foxe, Bray and Urswick.  It does not need spelling out yet again the importance  for the Tudor regime, that it  be believed that the Dublin King was a 10 yr old Lambert Simnel,  impersonating  the 12 year old Earl of Warwick who could be proven to be, beyond doubt,  at that moment in time incarcerated in the Tower of London.   And indeed in the aftermath of Stoke, Lambert Simnel, according to  London Chronicle, recently discovered at the College of Arms,  and the hapless young Earl of Warwick were shown openly together at St Paul’s on the 8 July 1487 (1). 

It may be worthwhile to remember that Vergil made an interesting blunder with Edward, Earl of Warwick’s age, stating that he was 15 years old  when he was removed from Sheriff Hutton in 1485  when in fact it would have been Edward, son of Edward IV,  who was then aged 15.   Interestingly Vergil did say that the Irish and Germans said that they had come to ‘restore’  the young Edward crowned in Dublin to the kingdom – Restituere means to restore, put back, reinstate etc.,  As Gordon Smith points out this would rule out young Warwick, who had never been king and thus did not require restoring,  but strongly indicates that the Dublin King was indeed Edward V.

In a story found in the Book of Howth some years later, Henry VII invited Irish nobles to a banquet in England where the servant serving them wine was none other than the young Lambert, who had been despatched to the kitchens.  The very nobles who would have been present at the coronation in Dublin failed to recognise the young boy.  This is when Henry, who enjoyed a joke as well as the next man, made his famous  comment ‘My masters of Ireland you will be crowning apes at length’.  Now this is rather confusing.  Because if Henry had set out to to demonstrate that the young lad crowned in Dublin was the servant serving  them,  then all he had to do was to sit back and wait for them to recognise him.  Which is exactly what did not happen.  Shot in the foot much springs to mind.  So who was he and from whence did he come, this young Lambert?

The Council Meeting at Sheen and its Aftermath

This meeting held at Sheen, now known as Richmond, in February 1487 concluded with three decisions being made (as well as Lincoln making an immediate exit closely followed  by a  swift sprint to Flanders) :

  1. The proclamation of a general pardon.
  2. The exhibition of Warwick
  3. The removal of Elizabeth Wydeville’s recently won back status, loss of her properties and ‘retirement’ to Bermondsey Abbey.  It has been argued by some historians, unconvincingly,  that she chose to remove herself there of her own free will.  This is despite the fact that she had just taken out a 40 year lease on Cheyneygates,  the luxurious Abbot’s house at Westminster Abbey  where she had spent time in comfortable sanctuary before sallying out in March 1484 with her daughters in tow  having made her peace with Richard III.  This  event had coincided with Robert Markenfield, a loyal follower of Richard being sent by the king two days later from Yorkshire to Coldridge, Devon, a property that had recently been removed from Elizabeth’s son, Thomas Grey,  Marquess of Dorset.  I will return to that later.   Oh! but  she was ill some say in explanation.  The  medieval illness that was serious enough to make someone so  poorly as to opt to give up all their worldly possessions and  move into closeted Abbey life  but where you survived five years has never been specified. IMG_7401 Old and atmospheric photo of the Archway in Abbots’s Court leading out into the cloisters and the outside world.  It was through this ancient archway Elizabeth would have led  her daughters when they departed the sanctuary of the Abbot’s house at Westminster  Abbey.                                                                            Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset was also at this time removed to the Tower for the duration of the rebellion all the while expressing his hurt and disbelief that he, of all people,  should be held in suspicion!  Robert Stillington, Bishop of Bath and Wells,  was not so lucky and after his arrest in March 1487, roughly around the time of the council at Sheen, remained in prison for the rest of his life.  These facts, taken as a whole,  serve to strengthen the belief that Elizabeth et al knew that one or perhaps even both her sons had survived the reign of Richard III.   For would she have jeopardised her daughter’s and heirs futures for the son of Clarence, a man who she had loathed and with good reason to believe was behind his execution and who on reaching adulthood may possibly seek to take revenge for his father’s murder?  Interestingly Thomas Grey – who had Coldridge restored to him after Bosworth –    would forever more have a close  eye kept on him  by Henry VII.  T B Pugh, who described Dorset as ‘’shifty’ mentions that in June 1492  measures were taken to put the Marquis under restraint through an indenture intended to ensure that he did not commit treason or conceal acts of treason of which others were guilty (2) 

When was the name Lambert Simnel first bandied about as being the name of the Dublin King? Lambert Simnel was first named in John de la Pole’s Act of Attainder in parliament in November 1487:

On the 24th day of May last past at the city of Dublin contrary to his homage and faith, truth and allegiance, traitorously renounced, revoked and disclaimed his own said most natural sovereign liege lord the king,  and caused one Lambert Simnel a child of 10 years of age, son to Thomas Simnel, late of Oxford, joiner, to be proclaimed, erected and reputed as king of this realm and to him did faith and homage, to the great dishonour and despite of all this realm’.

This lapse in time between Stoke and Lincoln’s Act of Attainder gave  the Tudor regime time to cook up a story to explain away the true, and awkward,  identity of the Dublin King.

Prior to the Dublin coronation Henry heard of the rumblings of what was going on in Ireland  and according to André he sent a herald to Ireland in an attempt to discover the true identify of the young boy.  This herald has been identified as John Yonge, Falcon Pursuivant, by historian Randolph Jones.  Yonge was paid £8 with an additional £5 on his return.  The trip proved fruitless but it was said that the herald was impressed with ‘Lambert’s’ ability to answer all his probing questions about the court of Edward IV (3).         However despite this  André still insisted that the young lad was an imposter,  although, as  Gordon Smith has pointed out, he failed to explain who in Ireland would have had the detailed knowledge of English court life necessary to deceive a herald. The failure of the herald’s trap suggests that the pretender may have been genuine and a detailed knowledge of the times of Edward IV might suggest he was an older boy or young man’ (4) .


This is when it gets really sticky.  As Gordon Smith mentions:

If the imposter survived the battle of Stoke, a consistent story would need to be told to fill  the silence left by the death or disappearance of the conspirators and by the lack of any public investigation. However ‘the narratives of Molinet, André and Vergil  suggest there was no such consistency and indeed the new facts about imposter’s name, age and parentage in the Act of Attainder add to the confusion’.

However in light of the fact that both André, who was tutor to Prince Arthur,  and Vergil  had access to Henry VII’s court where Lambert Simnel had been resident this seems  odd.  To be fair though André may have been mostly based at Ludlow and not quite  in the loop.     It seems suspect that there is  only one source,  Lincoln’s Act of Attainder,  where Lambert’s age is given as 10 years old while chroniclers of the time all seem to reach the conclusion he was older and an adolescent.

The late historian John Ashdown-Hill devoted a whole book to the subject – the Dublin King – in which he concluded that it was unlikely that Edward V was he.  Loathe as I am to disagree with the findings of such a respected historian who delved far and wide into his research but needs must.  Dr Ashdown-Hill, who though of course, as we all are, was unable to ‘prove’ who the Dublin King was he seems to have veered towards it being the Duke of Clarence’s son, Edward.  This is on the grounds that Clarence was accused in the Act of Attainder against him, of plotting to get Edward, his then two year old son,  out of England and away to safety and it’s possible of course, that he succeeded in this.  His book makes many interesting points such as it was written in the Annals of Ulster that a great fleet of Saxons came to Ireland this year (1487) to meet the son (sic grandson) of the Duke of York who was exiled at this time with the Earl of Kildare.  And there lived not of the race of the blood royal that time but that son of the Duke and he was proclaimed king on the Sunday of the Holy Ghost (third of June) in the town of Ath Cliath (Dublin).  Alas Dr Ashdown-Hill did not make a connection to the possibility of this grandson being the oldest grandson of the Duke of York.  

So  in summary Lambert Simnel  being the young boy that was crowned in Dublin and  who was then taken after Stoke is so extremely unlikely as to be non existent as well as daft.   After looking at it as far as I can go,  I now believe  that Lambert Simnel  was never at Dublin leave alone crowned king in Christ Church Cathedral.     I think he was substituted in the aftermath of Stoke with the ‘lad that his rebels called King Edward whose name was indeed John’ (5).   As Gordon Smith puts so succulently ‘ The changes between Simons confession in February and Lincoln’s Attainder of November 1487  tend to  confirm that the character of Lambert Simnel emerged at the end of an ad hoc story invented by the English government in response to the events of the 1487 rebellion.   Virgil’s narrative transposed Lambert back to the start of the conspiracy and to this transposition can be attributed Virgil’s mistakes (e.g. Warwick’s age … and the capture of Simons)  and the implausibility of the pseudo-Warwick plot.  …  the conclusion that the king from Dublin was Edward V not only fits the events of the so-called Simnel rebellion of 1487 but also explains the differences in the narratives of Molinet, André and Virgil    There are reasons to believe that the  John who was captured after Stoke was John Evans who indeed was Edward V and who had been living incognito in Coldridge, Devon, the property of his half brother, the Marquess of Dorset with the knowledge of Richard III.  It should be remembered that on the 3rd March Richard had despatched one of his trusted followers, Robert Markynfield –  ‘Robert Markyngfeld/the keping of the park of Holrig in Devoneshire during the kinges pleasure..’  –  to Coldridge two days after Elizabeth Wydeville left sanctuary on the 1st March 1484, where he would remain until after Bosworth (6).    Furthermore is it possible that Richard on the eve of Bosworth had asked Lincoln, in the event of the battle going badly, to aid his younger cousin when the time was right to regain his throne?  Richard would have known this would have appealed to the dissident Yorkists who had never quite accepted the removal of Edward IV’s son from the throne.  Did Richard reason that if he were to lose his life in the ensuing battle that an illigitimate son of Edward IV would be very much preferable to the alternative.   With guidance from Lincoln perhaps all would be well and the white rose of York bloom once more.   This could be an explanation of why Lincoln gave the Dublin King, who I believe was Edward V,  his complete support in the venture to try to regain his throne.  Tragically Lincoln was to die in the attempt and as ‘John’ disappeared after Stoke there is good reason to believe that he may have been returned to Coldridge to live out his life incognito.  

We should also add to the equation Sir Henry’s Bodrugan’s role in the story of Coldridge, which he owned, Richard III having given it to him, and his presence at the Dublin Coronation.  But that is another story and if you are interested you can read it here.

The adults who arranged the switch and presented the 10 year old boy who had been hastily renamed Lambert Simnel would have known, one would like to believe, that under the circumstances,  the young and innocent  boy would not be severely punished even if at all.  In fact Lambert was given a safe if unexciting job in the kitchens although later he would rise to the giddy heights of falconer. I wonder could he have been the son or a young family member of an accommodating servant who could have been bribed and convinced that if the young boy went along with the story and new identify  he would be found a safe position in the  kitchens and perhaps even get promotion.  Which he did.   What’s not to like?  Is there any record of what became of Lambert.  Vergil wrote that he was still alive ‘to this very day’ when writing c.1513.  Michael Bennett wrote that he was issued with robes for the funeral of Sir Thomas Lovell, a courtier and counsellor of Henry VII in 1525.  After that he fades away into the mists of time.  

* From an old Irish song.  With thanks to Randolph Scott.

  1. Lambert Simnel’s Rebellion: How reliable is Polydore Vergil? Barrie Williams.
  2. Grey, Thomas, first marquess of Dorset c.1455-1501.  T.B. Pugh. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004.
  3. The Extraordinary Reign of ‘Edward VI’ in Ireland 1487-8.  Ricardian Bulletin March 2021
  4.  Lambert Simnel and the King from Dublin. Gordon Smith.
  5. Heralds Memoir.
  6. Harleian Manuscript 433 p.140 Vol One

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Edward Earl of Warwick – His Life and Death.

The Mysterious Dublin King and Battle of Stoke


Lady Katherine Gordon – Wife to Perkin Warbeck


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


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