St Mary’s, Fairford, Gloucestershire.  ‘A complete and perfect Perpendicular church’  and famous for it fine collection of medieval glass.

Described in Betjeman’s Best British Churches as ‘a complete and perfect Perpendicular’ church(1) this beautiful wool church was rebuilt by John Tame, a wool merchant from Gloucester , in the late 15th Century to replace a much older church.  The tower had already been rebuilt by Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick and Lord of the manor around 1430.  St Mary’s possesses a complete set of medieval stained glass, amongst the finest in England and it is this glass that I want to focus on now.  The glass was made between 1500 and 1517 and, other than the west window, which was severely damaged in a storm in 1703 and later restored, the glass has somehow miraculously survived, although how this has happened remains a mystery.  It has been suggested that their survival is due to the Tudor royal portraits contained in them. The windows are thought to have been a gift from Henry VII himself.  It should be remembered that when Henry had the young Edward Earl of Warwick executed in 1499 he seized his estates which included Fairford.  It has also been suggested that Henry may have then given the manor to Prince Arthur whose badge of ostrich feathers and motto appear in some of the windows and one of the portraits is thought to have been modelled upon his wife, Katherine of Aragon.  Thirty years after Arthur’s death Henry VIII presented Fairford manor to Katherine of  Aragon after he had divested her of her title of queen.  The portraits are mostly members of the Tudor royal family and influential people in the Tudor court  although one of them is thought to be of a Plantagenet, that of Henry’s brother-in-law, the young Edward V, one of the ‘princes in the Tower’ and with a Sunne in Splendour heraldic badge above his head. Other portraits were modelled on Henry himself, obviously, his wife Elizabeth of York, Catherine of Aragon, Prince Arthur, Henry’s  daughters Mary and Margaret and a young Henry VIII and last but not least Margaret Beaufort (2)   I also think its possible that one of them is based on Richard III, depicted as holding a severed head and a fine piece of Tudor propaganda but that is purely my own speculation.


Nave, north aisle, north Window.  The figure of the Queen of Sheba is believed to be a likeness of Elizabeth of York

Jesus in the temple henry Vlll.png

Chancel, north chapel, Lady Chapel, North window.  Jesus as a small boy in the temple modelled on a young cherublike Henry VIII possibly...ah bless..


Holbein’s sketch of Henry VIII as a child to compare.  What a dear little chap… whats not to love? IMG_3802.JPG

Nave,north aisle, west window.  The figure of Solomon is thought to have been modelled on Edward of Westminster, one of the ‘princes in the Tower’, for a short while Edward V and brother to Elizabeth of York


Nave, north aisle, west window.  Could this figure be Morton? It has been described as Wolsey but I disagree.


A wooden boss on the roof of Bere Regis church thought to represent Morton in comparison.

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Chancel, south chapel, Corpus Christi Chapel, east window.  This version of the Virgin Mary is believed to have been modelled on Mary Tudor, Henry VII’s daughter.   See picture below to compare likenesses.


A portrait of Mary Tudor to compare to her likeness in the above portrait of her at Fairford.


Nave, West Window.  The figure with the crown is thought to be that of Henry VII entering Heaven.


Chancel, north chapel, Lady Chapel, north window.  The Magus is believed to have been modelled on Prince Arthur.

Chancel, north chapel, Lady Chapel, north window.  Two royal likenesses here.  It it thought that the Virgin Mary was modelled on Catherine of Aragon while that of the attendant with the doves is modelled on Margaret Tudor, Henry VII’s daughter.  Could the lady in red be modelled on Margaret Beaufort?


Two kings here..Henry VI on the left and Henry VII on the right.

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Purely my speculation here but could the warrior holding the severed head be a Tudor representation of King Richard III?  For surely one shoulder has been depicted higher than the other one! 

If in the area I do recommend a visit to St Mary’s. It is quite stunning when you enter and thoughtfully binoculars have been made readily available.

I am  indepted to the excellent Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi  online for these images

(1) Sir John Betjeman, updated by Richard Surman, Betjeman’s Best British Churches p.270

(2) Sir Nickolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England, Gloucestershire 1. The Cotswolds, p367 

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This is thought to be a portrait of Perkin Warbeck/Richard Duke of York from the Tournament Tapestry at Valenciennes


Perkin Warbeck.  Pencil sketch c1560.  Note the eye blemish in both portraits.

Following on from my earlier post and the high likelihood that John Evans ,who lies buried in Coldridge Church Devon,  was indeed Edward V,  has led me to wonder did he ever meet Perkin Warbeck who  claimed to have been his brother, the youngest ‘Prince in the Tower’  Richard Duke of York.   Warbeck’s story is very well covered elsewhere, and I will only be focusing on the events of late 1497, the  Second Cornish Rebellion  and a window in time where it is possible that Warbeck met John Evans.  The one opportunity would have arisen  after  Warbeck’s  arrival  at Whitesand Bay near Land’s End, Cornwall on 7 September from Ireland on ‘2 ships and a Breton pinnace.’   Attainders would later  say that he came with a ‘a great multitude and number‘ while Raimondo Soncino, Milanese Ambassador to England ‘thought they amounted to 80 savage Irishmen‘ who arrived on ‘fishing boats‘.(1)  For some baffling reason, Warbeck chose to bring with him his wife, Lady Katherine Gordon or Kateryn Huntleye as she was called in Henry VIIs Privy Purse Expenses  and their almost one year old child, as you do when you embark on a perilous invasion of a country (2).  However common sense must have prevailed as both she and the child were sent to safety at St Michaels Mount then, according to Wroe perhaps to St Buryan, to await the outcome.

St Michael’s Mount and the Causeway. Photograph © Richard Bowden/Shutterstock

Notwithstanding the defeat of the Cornish rebels at Blackheath on the 17th June  – known as the First Cornish Rebellion and sparked off by Henry Tudor’s heavy taxation –  Warbeck raised his standard at Penzance and begun his march eastwards gathering followers described as ‘undisciplined’ along the way. 

What was his route and did it take him close to Coldridge?  Bodmin is mentioned where his following had grown to three thousand.  Crossed the River Tamar at Launceston and entered Devon.  Crossed Dartmoor and thus to Exeter, the north Gate to be precise, his followers now amounting to nearly eight thousand men arriving on 17 September, St Lambert’s day.    It’s interesting to note that  Coldridge would have been as the crow flies just a little over 18 miles to Exeter.  Surely it’s inconceivable that John Evans/Edward V would not have made a short journey to meet up with this young man who claimed to be his brother and who was now being addressed in some quarters as King Richard IV?


John Evan’s effigy in Coldridge church.  Depicted wearing chainmail beneath his robe.  

It should be remembered that the Edward V and Richard Duke of York as children would not have had the chance to bond.  Edward grew up in Ludlow, in the Welsh Marches and the younger brother Richard grew up with his sisters in Westminster and probably Greenwich Palace where their mother Elizabeth Wydeville appears to have had a royal nursery.   A few short weeks were spent together in the Tower of London in  the summer of 1483 and then no doubt the brothers were speedily separated after failed rescue attempts forced Richard III’s hand.   However casting that aside it’s not hard to envisage that John Evans/Edward V would have for whatever reason been, perhaps  enthusiastically, interested in having a meeting with his possible brother.     This creates a number of  intriguing scenarios.

Working on the hypothesis that John Evans was Edward V –

  1.  Did John Evans on meeting Warbeck/Richard of York and ascertaining  that Warbeck was the genuine article perceive that his younger brother’s intention was to gain the throne from himself and not to put his older brother on the throne?  Did a row ensue?
  2. Did John Evans realise that Warbeck was a fake and thus turn around and leave him to it?
  3. Or did John Evans on meeting his genuine brother after such a length of time, realise that it was too risky to throw his lot in with him for some reason.  Perhaps he was underwhelmed by Warbeck’s followers, quickly perceiving that the enterprise was doomed to  fail? Henry Tudor made the comment ‘on Monday last,  the 18th day of September, there was not one gentleman‘ (3).
  4. Was John Evans comfortable with his life, living incognito as well as wealthy, and having no wish to risk losing it all plus the danger it would put his wife and children in not to mention Thomas Grey his half brother?
  5. Did a quarrel erupt? Noblemen of that time, even those living incognito,  were well known for their massive egos and were prone to throwing their toys out of their prams at any given time – picture Richard Neville aka Warwick the Kingmaker.   Did John Evans and his brother not hit it off  for some reason lost to us now resulting in  John Evans turning  around and riding back to Coldridge in a fit of pique?
  6. There is no indications that John Evans took part in the attempted storming of Exeter but might he have?  Could he possibly have taken part and perceiving it was going disastrously wrong made his escape? Alternatively did they meet betwixt Coldridge and Exeter – a meeting that amounted to nothing?

Please feel free to add any other possible scenarios to the above.   I think it was Sir Thomas More  who said you might as well shoot too far as to shoot too short – well if he didn’t say it he should have!

Despite ‘King Richard’s’ promise to the citizens of Exeter that he would make their city like ‘another London‘  the gates were closed to him. The attacks on Exeter’s North and East  gates failed, despite valiant attempts by Warbeck,  repelled by the doughty  citizens who amongst other thing were eager to prove their loyalty to Henry Tudor after the Cornish rebellion earlier in the year.     The attempts to take Exeter and its  defence are well told in Perkin a Story of Deception by Ann Wroe.  A further good account can be found  here Devon Perspectives which covers both Cornish rebellions and Warbeck/Richard’s flight to Beaulieu Abbey, where he took sanctuary.  The rest is history.


Medieval Exeter.   The North Gate can be seen to the left.  From a map c1587.


The North Gate from outside the city. Courtesy Devon Library Services


East Gate from the Exterior.  Steel line engraving by C J Sprake 1831.  The gate was demolished in 1784.

  1. Perkin, a Story of Deception p.324 Ann Wroe
  2. Excerpta Historica: or, Illustrations of English History p.115. Samuel Bentley.
  3. Perkin, a Story of Deception p.337 Ann Wroe

If you liked this story you might be interested in

A Portrait of Edward V and Possible Resting Place

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The Ancient Gates of Old London



The beautiful and irreplaceable Merlina…

It has recently been reported, 13 January 2021, that one of the famous Tower of London ravens has gone missing and it is now sadly presumed she has passed away. Merlina or Merlin as she was first known arrived at the Tower in 2007 after being found by the side of a Welsh road aged about a year old and later went on to become the favourite raven of Chris Skaife, present Ravenmaster of the Yeoman Warders – well one of them. She had originally been taken care of by the Swan Rescue Centre in Barry where she became well known for ‘throwing tantrums and mimicking the other birds‘. A strong character she refused to sleep with the rest of the ravens at night in their purpose built enclosure (thought to be built on the site of the Grand Hall where Anne Boleyn was imprisoned prior to her execution 1536) and instead had her ownprivate night box behind an old window on the ground floor of the Queens House on Tower Green where she graciously allows the Constable of the Tower and his family to live where she would return to most nights. Along with the other ravens she was free to leave the Tower and tootle around the perimeter , their flight feathers not being so harshly cut as in previous times thanks to Chris Skaife who prefers a more gentler approach, the idea being that with good plentiful food and accommodation the ravens would choose to live at the Tower of their own free will. This unfortunately entails some risk and give some ravens an inch they will take a mile as the old saying goes – However, some ravens have gone absent without leave in the past and others have even been sacked. Raven Munin flew off to Greenwich and was eventually returned by a vigilant member of the public after seven days. Raven George was dismissed for eating television aerials and Raven Grog was last seen outside an East End pub‘. (1)

The full, and amusing, story of the retaking of Raven Munin is in Chris Skaife’s book The Ravenmaster: My life with the Ravens at the Tower of London which is full of funny anecdotes and recommended if anyone wants to go more fully into the story of the Ravenmaster and the Tower Ravens.

Merlina and the other ravens are fed twice a day, the official diet being  6oz of fresh meat daily, including chicken, lamb and pig hearts, liver, kidney, peanuts in their shells, defrosted rats, mice, day old chicks, hard-boiled eggs, biscuits soaked in blood, and the occasional road kill rabbit. However her favourite food was crisps or Pringles if she could get hold of any i.e. purloin from unsuspecting tourists which she would soften by dipping into water. One of her favourite tricks was to lie on her back, legs sticking in the air, faking dead to the distress of passing tourists. What a girl!

Chris informs us in his book for ease of identification the ravens wear coloured anklets: Munin lime green, Jubilee Gold, Gripp Light blue, Harris purple, Rocky brown, Erin red and Merlina bright pink and quotes Charles Dickens who described their walks as ‘like that of a very particular gentleman with exceedingly tight boots on, trying to walk fast over loose pebbles’. (2)


A watchful Raven on the lookout for unsuspecting tourists and their sandwiches,  especially the ham version, sausage rolls and Pringles..


Jubilee and Munin  conspiring – Whats not to love?   photo

There is a legend that says Charles II initially ordered the ravens removal from the Tower following complaints from the Royal Astronomer,  John Flamsteed (1646 – 1719) that they were ‘flying in front of his telescope’ and interfering with his observations‘.  However,  after someone brought to his attention the story that if the Ravens ever left  the Tower, a great disaster would come about and both the Tower and the monarchy would fall,  a rattled Charles had a change of heart –  the ravens stayed  at the Tower and the Royal  Observatory found a new home Greenwich. I should think so too.  It is said that it was also Charles who decreed that the number of ravens should not fall below six and indeed at least seven are kept there just in case.

“History and prehistory, legends, fables, and stories, they’re everywhere here. I sometimes think that the Tower is just a vast storehouse of the human imagination, and the ravens are its guardians….” Chris Skaith Ravenmaster 

A spokesperson from Historic Royal Palaces said “Since joining us in 2007, Merlina was our undisputed ruler of the roost, Queen of the Tower Ravens.   She will be greatly missed by her fellow ravens, the Ravenmaster, and all of us in the Tower community.”



Ravenmaster Chris Skaith and raven38025486-9149317-image-a-113_1610666607254

Queen Raven Merlina..much missed and a very hard act to follow.  

  1. Historic Royal Palaces – The Tower of London On line article.
  2. The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London p.63 Christopher Skaith

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Ancient Gateway at Astley Castle.  Photo

Astley Castle, Warwickshire, was the marital home of Sir John and Elizabeth Grey nee Wydeville.  Sir John has somewhat been cast in the shadows by the eminence of his wife.   He fought and died for Lancaster at the Second Battle of St Albans in 1461 and his widow would go on to catch the eye of a king with tragic results.   This story is of course well known and documented and I won’t go into it here but rather focus on Astley Castle itself.  Astley has a long and rich history.  Beginning life as a Manor House in 1266, the then owner, Warin de Bassingbourne was given a licence to crenellate and enclose with a moat.    The medieval house was much added to during the 17th century but I’m sure John and Elizabeth would still have been able to recognise the old original rooms and features.



Medieval fire place Astley Castle

In the 1960s the parts that had survived the centuries were in use as a hotel and perhaps the very rooms used by John and Elizabeth deployed as rooms for paying guests.  Alas in 1978 a disastrous fire took hold and Astley, reduced to a shell , was abandoned.  Various proposals to rebuild proved to be too financially prohibitive and the ruins were declared a Scheduled Ancient Monument.  However in 2005 the Landmark Trust came forward with a solution and what was left of Astley was saved by the novel idea of building and incorporating modern accommodation within the ruinous walls.  Astley arose, like a Phoenix out of the flames, as they say, and today its possible to stay in what was once the marital home of the Greys.


An old photo date 1900 showing the stone archway.


The same view during renovation work


The Great Hall today in use as a dining room.  Note the remains of the lovely 14th century windows and brickwork incorporated into the renovated castle.

But that is not all.  In one of those strange quirks of history in the nearby church of St Mary the Virgin, a Talbot lies buried.   No other than  Elizabeth Talbot,  later Viscountess Lisle,  who was niece to Eleanor Butler nee TalbotElizabeth Wydeville’s very own nemesis,  who married John Grey’s brother Edward.   This Elizabeth Talbot was to become the heiress to John Talbot, lst Viscount Lisle.  John Talbot was the son of that staunch warrior, John Talbot lst Earl of Shrewsbury, Eleanor’s father and known in history as Great Talbot. Both father and son perished at the Battle of  Castillion 17 July 1453.   Elizabeth Talbot, having married our John Grey’s brother, Edward, was  thus also Elizabeth Wydeville’s sister-in-law. Elizabeth Talbot, having lived until 1487, saw the disastrous outcome of  her former sister-in law,  Elizabeth Wydeville’s bigamous ‘marriage’.  What her thoughts on the matter were,  frustratingly we will never know.


Elizabeth Talbot Viscountess Lisle.  John Ashdown-Hill suggests this portrait was painted in Flanders during the wedding ceremonies of Margaret of York (1).   Certainly the likeness is very similar to Elizabeth’s effigy in the church.  See below.  Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz Gemaldegalerie, Berlin. (no.532)


St Mary the Virgin Church, Astley,  Mausoleum of the Grey family.  Photo

The effigy of Elizabeth Talbot Viscountess Lisle now lies between those of Cecilia Bonville, Marchioness of Dorset (wife to Thomas Grey, son of John and Elizabeth Grey nee Wydeville) and her husband Edward Grey.  These effigies were not originally one monument and have been unfortunately moved together at some time (2).   Photo
  1. Eleanor the Secret Queen p.8.  John Ashdown-Hill

    2.  Memorials of the Wars of the Roses p.188.  W E Hampton.



The Emperor and Empress – South Wall Eton Chapel


The Empress from the Eton Wall Paintings.  Her eyes have been deliberately damaged. 

If you should happen to visit Eton College and enter the chapel there you will find the glorious range of medieval murals now known as the Eton Chapel Wall Paintings.  Painted between 1479-87 and thought to  be the work of at least four different artists they were whitewashed over by the College barber in 1560 as part of the drive by the Protestant Church to ban pictures of apocryphal miracles and largely forgotten until 1847 when they were discovered and finally, with the removal of stall canopies making it possible,  restored in 1923.   

The paintings on the north side of the chapel tell the story of the miracles of the Virgin Mary while those on the south the popular medieval story of ‘The  Empress Falsely Accused‘  (for a synopsis of this story see below).   Its the latter paintings I find the most intriguing not the least because I believe some of the portraits, particularly the Empress and the Emperor were  based on actual members of the royal family at the time – namely Queen Anne Neville and King Richard III.  Interestingly the Emperor and Empress have been painted  wearing the closed crowns of Edward the Confessor and Queen Edith which are so recognisable in portraits of our medieval monarchs. It is this which caused me to take a closer look at the portraits.  

The first facial representation of the Empress is the most detailed and with more of her personality shining through.    Could this be a portrait of Queen Anne Neville?  Compare it with the drawing of Anne from the Rous Roll.  Rous’ drawing should be a good likeness as he would have known Anne by sight.  Is it just wishful thinking on my part but I can see a resemblance particularly around the mouth although the eyes have been obliterated. REVERSE


Queen Anne Neville from the Rous Roll wearing the closed crown of Queen Edith –  almost identical to the crown in the Eton Mural.

Sadly the portrait of the Emperor, amongst others, has,  with his livery collar been deliberately defaced.  But we are still able to discern the hairstyle is one very similar to the hairstyle worn by Richard in his portraits.


Portrait of the Emperor from the Eton mural,  Note the strong chin.


Portrait of Richard III  Society of Antiquaries.

We do know Richard –  no doubt sometimes accompanied by Anne –  visited Windsor, which is but a short distance from Eton on numerous occasions ranging from 19th July 1483 to 16th May 1485 – the last visit shortly after Anne’s sad death 16th March 1485.  Did they also visit Eton on some of their visits?   If they did they would have seen the murals which were then a work in progress having been begun in 1479.  Did the royal couple give their permission and were indeed pleased to see their portraits featured in the mural?  OR was the legend tweaked and the portraits added after Richard’s death at Bosworth in 1485 to be used as another fine piece of mud to be thrown at the now dead king.     Of course if this were the case then the likelihood of the portraits being those of the Yorkist King and his Queen grows more certain.   It does seem a little odd that Richard would have no objections to being depicted as the Emperor who, to be honest comes across as a bit of a plonker and is portrayed assaulting his wife.    Of course the legend predates the reign of Richard III and it’s just an unfortunate coincidence that it contains a couple of  similarities with the false story – given out by Richard’s enemies and hostile historians –  including a wicked brother who committed infanticide.  

Furthermore I believe at least one more of the portraits may have been based upon another member of the Plantagenet royal family, that of Anne’s sister, Isobel.  An interesting and plausible article found here has suggested that one of the ladies in the Luton Guild Book could be Isobel Neville, sister to Anne and wife of George Duke of Clarence.  Can anyone else see the quite remarkable similarity between that portrait,  shown below,  and that of St Catherine in the Eton mural?

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Possible portrait of Isobel Neville Luton Guild Book – thanks to The Dragonhound for their very  persuasive article on this theory..scan 1

St Catherine Eton Wall Painting.  A  resemblance to the possible portrait of Isobel Neville in the Luton Guild Book?

Finally to summarise the legend – An Emperor goes on a pilgrimage leaving the running of his realm to his chaste and beautiful wife.  After his departure his gittish brother,  whom  fancied her, tried to pursude her to be unfaithful to her husband.  She indignantly refused and morever imprisoned him in a tower.  After five years the Emperor returned.  His brother who had been released just prior to his return went to the Emperor and accused the Empress of infidelity and treason.  Whereupon the Emperor whacked his wife in the face when she came to greet him and ordered that his guards take her away into a forest and slay her.  Just in the nick of time a noble knight who happened to be passing rescued her and took her to his castle although he was unaware of who she was.  She took up the vacancy of the knight’s baby son’s nurse.  The knight’s brother, another evil git – where do all these evil brothers come from? – tried to have his mucky way with her.  She was having none of it and said evil brother, thwarted, plotted her ruin. He crept into her bedchamber, which she shared with baby, cut the infant’s throat and left the blood stained knife in the hand of the Empress.   However instead of putting her to death, the knight took pity on her and put her on a ship whereupon the captain and the whole crew were tempted by her great beauty.  So they marooned her on a little island just to be on the safe side.   Here the Virgin Mary appeared before her in a dream and assured her all her travails would soon come to an end and showed her where a herb grew that was capable of curing leprosy.  Gathering a supply of it she returned to the mainland where she proclaimed she was able to cure lepers.  Her fame spread although no-one recognised her as to her true identity. The knight on hearing of this wonder  took her back to his castle where none other than his gittish brother had contracted the disease.  However despite the great harm he had done to her the Empress still agreed to cure him on the condition that he owned up to the heinous crime he had committed.  This he did and was cured.  Then the Empress returned to her homeland only to find that none other than her brother-in-law had also become a leper.  Posessing a great heart she agreed to heal him if he too confessed to his sins.  Which he did.  Thereafter she revealed her true identity but,  presumably really hacked off by men and their silliness refused to return to her old life/husband and took herself off into a convent to live out her life in perpetual chastity.  

scan 8 2

The Emperor draws his hand back in order to strike the Empress..lawks!

scan 6 2

The Knight’s evil brother creeps into the bedchamber of the Empress to slit the throat of the baby..Yikes!


Eton Chapel.  Photo 


Another view of the chapel.  Unknown photographer Pinterest.

If anyone wishes to delve deeper into the story of Eton Chapel and its paintings I can recommend Wall Paintings of Eton.  

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A Portrait of Edward V and Perhaps Even a Resting Place?- St Matthew’s Church Coldridge


Stained glass image of Edward V Coldridge Church, Devon,  

This wonderful church in Devon contains some little gems including a charming portrait of the young Edward V  in  a stained glass window,  king for such a short while.  

The story of Edward and his brother, Richard of Shrewsbury is well known,  their disappearance still a matter of great debate and  well documented elsewhere so I won’t go into it here.    Over the years his ‘murder’ has, in general,  been attributed to his uncle Richard III but now more enlightened historians plus a great band of Ricardian followers have taken up the cudgel on his behalf and are now disputing that version of events and seeking to find the truth.  Whatever that truth is, and personally I think they were separated and then taken to places of safety, it is hard not to feel sympathy towards the young boy who for eleven weeks was king only to be informed this was not actually the case.  For all his short life up until then he had been shielded from the harsh realities of life and utterly indulged as heirs to the throne are.   Even while still a tiny child his wardrobe was extravagant.  A surviving account records clothing being delivered for his use not later than November 1472:  five doublets priced 6s 8d,  two of velvet –  purple or black  – and three of satin,  two being  green or black,  five long gowns price 6s 8d,  three being satin –  purple,  black and green and the others of black velvet;  two bonnets,  price 2s,  one of purple velvet lined with green satin and the other of black  velvet lined with black satin;  and a sixth,  even more splendid long gown cloth of gold on damask priced £1 (1) .   When they broke the news to him and  reality kicked in – there was to be no coronation, no crown and a complete and utter loss of status – it must have come as  a massive, massive shock and through no fault of his own.  Poor little blighter.  That fault and blame must land fair and square on his parents shoulders, particularly his father.  Yes the buck stops with Edward IV who kept his brains in his pants and a lot of people paid a heavy price for that…tsk.   Historian Michael Hicks in his biography of Edward V say as much:  ‘The blame rests firmly with Edward V’s father whose dishonourable conduct,  faithlessness and duplicity as much as his sexual immorality was two decades later to place in doubt the title of a son who had not then even been born’ (2 ). 

Not surprisingly because of the window, which is in the Evans chapel, and a tomb with an effigy of a young man, John Evans, the story has grown that this church could be the final resting place of the disappeared Edward V.  John who died 1511,  is said to have came from Wales – thus the name Evans which is Welsh –  EVans – Edward V –  one time Prince of Wales – get it? – please keep up at the back dear reader.   It should also be remembered that Ludlow, where Edward spent most of his life up until 1483 was in the Welsh Marches and not Shropshire as it is today.   The effigy is  wearing chainmail under his robe and the story goes that John turned up in Coldridge in 1485 after the battle of Bosworth.  IF he had been Edward he would have been around 15 at that time.     It is indeed strange and as the author of an article on the Devonchurchland  website (and what a beauty of a website!) points out  why would a small church ‘in a gritty little village lost in the boondocks of Devon’  have such a wonderful royal and extremely rare window.   It  is also pointed out the plot thickens for John Evans was given ‘Coldridge Manor and a job as keeper of the deer park by Thomas Grey, the half-brother of Edward V’.  This much is true, confirmed by  historian Michael Hicks in his biography of Edward,  that  the village of  Coldridge was once the property of Thomas Grey Marquis of Dorset, Elizabeth Wydeville’s oldest son and that Sir John Evans was indeed his park keeper.  Crickey!  John must have at some stage come to the attention of Henry Tudor and left an impression as he appears to have been knighted  and thereafter known as Sir John Evans.  

There is also a medieval stained glass portrait of a man who appears to be holding an open crown very similar to the one hovering over Edward’s head  – you can clearly see the fleur-de-lis at the bottom of the portrait.   If you look closely you can also spot an ermine collar, ermine would of course only been worn by the nobility.    How strange. Is this a portrait of John Evans, who if he was indeed Edward would have been around 41 when he died.  


Medieval portrait of a man.  He appears to be looking down at an open crown which is almost identical to the one in the image of Edward V.   Is this man the mature John Evans/Edward V? Compare to the image of the young Edward.



  • IMG_7676


John Evans, his effigy in the Evans Chapel, gazing at the window depicting the young Edward V. The effigy has an angel at his head carrying a shield inscribed with his name ‘John Evas’ (sic). 

Apparently according to the article,  and thank goodness for it,   there are ‘folk looking into it, one of them the lady who discovered Dick’s body in that car park’.   So lets hope the indefatigable Philippa Langley does indeed get to the bottom of this mystery and no doubt the late Dr John Ashdown Hill will be cheering her on.  Meanwhile John Evans’ effigy gazes in perpetuity,  at the portrait in the window said to be that of himself,  to this day.

However back to the church.  These are just a few of the many delightful photos I have taken from Devon Churchland, after being alerted to this amazing website by a post on the  Medieval Buildings Facebook page – thank you, thank you thank you!     


Coldridge Church of St Matthew under a glowering Devon sky.


Ancient priests door


Carving in the Rood screen


Another view of the Rood Screen


Medieval pulpit.  Once possibly gilded.  Can you imagine?


Detail of the Pulpit carving..


Close up of the fine carving…just no words!


Wooden ceiling of the church


Screen carved by Breton craftsmen – rare.image



Medieval benchends..


Examples of the numerous wooden roof bosses


The alter with east window above


The lectern.




Could these portraits and the effigy be one of the same person – Edward V?

So is the portrait in the window really that of Edward V and was John Evans actually Edward reinvented? You will have to make your own minds up dear readers. Hopefully one day further research into Sir John Evans will prove or disprove this intriguing story once and for all.

In the meantime its tempting to speculate which leads to further questions :

If John Evans was indeed Edward what where his thoughts on the young man known as Perkin Warbeck who claimed to be Edward’s younger brother Richard? Would Warbeck’s brutal fate in 1499 have strengthened his resolve to remain incognito especially if he liked his head where it was – on top of his shoulders?

Did Elizabeth Wydville who died in 1492 go to her grave with the knowledge that at least one of her sons was safe and living in rural Devon on his half-brother’s property?

And finally did Henry Tudor,  who seems to have spent a substantial  part  of his reign being plagued by imposters,  actually knight the very person whose whereabouts were so elusive and troublesome to him?

(1)  Edward V, The Prince in the Tower, p.63.  Michael Hicks.

(2) Ibid p.48

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The English Medieval Cathedral


Durham Cathedral in the moonlight..

A familiar sight to both medieval royalty and commoners alike our Cathedrals soar above us, centuries old,  constant, enduring, and kind of  reassuring.   There is nothing more thrilling as you approach a cathedral city than the first glimpse of their cathedral appearing on the horizon.   So to all that toiled to build these wonders – some of whom would have lost their lives – the architects, artisans, workmen, carpenters, stonemasons, labourers, roofers and any I have forgotten, thank you, bravo, we salute you.

As we draw to the end of the year, and thank God for that, here are some of the best of the stunning  photos of the year mostly from the Association of English Cathedrals although some are from other sources.


A tantalizing glimpse of  Norwich Cathedral through an ancient gateway.


This wonderful view of ‘Lincoln breaking through the mist…..’ Thanks to Adrian Fox for this wonderful photo..

Worcester Cathedral at night..


The Pipes of Rochester Cathedral


Canterbury Cathedral…no words needed


Fan vaulting Henry VII’s Lady Chapel Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey censing angel, south transept east angel, deta

Censing Angel – one of four.  Westminster Abbey.  Described as ‘supreme examples of English medieval art’.  From ‘The Glory of Westminster Abbey’.


A mysterious door beckons at the top of these well worn steps at Wells….


Winchester –  sublime




Lincoln soars above the city rooftops 


Another view of Lincoln .  Photo reposted from @italiangirlabroad


Lichfield at night..image



York Minster by moonlight.




St Edmundsbury


Norwich at night.


Wells Cathedral Library..


Ely Cathedral..


Hereford…reflected in the rain swept pavement. Photographer unknown. 



And last but not least, thanks to all the Cathedral cats who keep the pews warm for us, keep the mices away and can be relied upon to always provide a warm welcome:


One of the Cathedral Cats.   This is Louie of Wells.  Sadly passed away last year.  


The Construction of the Tower of Babel.  German.  Unknown artist..

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

Canterbury Cathedral and the Royal Window

The Coronation Chair and the Stone of Scone.






The glorious ceiling of the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court.  Photo James Brittain . Historic Royal Palaces.

 The main reason, and perhaps the only reason,  why the bones in the urn in Westminster Abbey supposedly to be those of the sons of Edward IV known as the Princes in the Tower, Edward of Westminster and Richard of Shrewsbury   cannot be re-examined is because the Abbey is a Royal Peculiar and is thus owned by the Queen who has refused to give permission for this to happen.     Are there any more Royal Peculiars?  Yes there are – fortunately  none of them have mysterious urns containing even more mysterious bones that are crying out to be examined and maybe help towards solving a 500 year old mystery and proving Richard III innocent of the heinous crime of having his brother’s sons murdered in the Tower of London.  They are :

St George’s Chapel, Windsor


The glory that is St George’s Chapel, Windsor.

Edward IV,  father to Edward of Westminster, for a short while Edward V,  and Richard of Shrewsbury, lies buried here as once did the boys mother Elizabeth Wydville although her remains are now lost.  Another two of Edward and Elizabeth’s children were interred here, Mary  aged 15 and her brother, three year old George.

 The Chapel Royal, Hampton Court



Details of the Chapel ceiling. Photos

Originally built by Cardinal Wolsey.  What can be seen of the chapel today is the result of two major refittings by Henry VIII with little of the Wolsey decor remaining.   For an interesting link to the chapel click here.

Chapel Royal St James Palace

Built around 1530 by Henry VIII on the site of a leper hospital run by the Augustinian order of  monks.   What became of them and their patients?   Altered in 1837 with much of the  Tudor interior decor swept away.    Original ceiling said to have been painted by Hans Holbein.  Bomb damaged from the War has been repaired and now the chapel is used regularly by the royal family including Diana Princess of Wales lying in repose there prior to her funeral in 1997 and lately  the christening of Prince Louis.


The rather austere facade of the Chapel – see the window between the tower and the black gate.

The Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy,

Built where John of Gaunt’s Savoy palace once stood until it was destroyed in the Peasants Revolt 1381.     Henry VII left instructions in his will for the creation of  a charitable foundation to be known as the  ‘Hospital of Henry late King of England‘ which was completed in 1515 to provide a night’s lodging for 100 ‘pour and nedie men as well as ‘rogues and masterless menwho had fallen on hard times.   Dissolved in 1771 and falling into a poor state it was  finally demolished in the 19th century.   All that remains today  is the Chapel of St John the Baptist, now known as The Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy.  For more information on the Chapel click here


The Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy as it stands today.  Repaired in 1723 and hemmed in by modern builds the Chapel stands as one of the remarkable  survivors of Old London.  

The Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula 

Original chapel may have been built around 1100, possibly even earlier,  and would have originally stood outside the perimeter of the Tower of London.  The one we see today built around 1519 after the previous one was destroyed by fire in 1512.  Interior dates from 1876 after yet another fire in 1841.    Burial place of some of Henry VIII’s better known victims including two wives,  Anne Boelyn and Catherine Howard, hapless Lady Jane Grey and her husband, Sir Thomas More and Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, one of the last Plantagenets.  An interesting link can be found here.  


Yeoman Warder Moira Cameron standing in the nave of the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula.

St John the Evangelist in the Tower of London 


The stunning simplicity of the Chapel.  Photo James Brittain


Photo James Brittain


Photo James Brittain

This chapel, stunning in its simplicity, is 900 years old.  From here in 1381 Simon Sudbury Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor was dragged out and taken to Tower Hill where he was beheaded by the mob during the Peasants Revolt.   It was also here in 1503, after her death in childbirth while she was in residence at the Tower that Elizabeth of York’s body lay in repose before her burial in Westminster Abbey.   Connected to what were then the Royal Apartments this beautiful chapel has been used for prayer by all monarchs while resident in the Tower.  Astonishing!

For an interesting link click here.

The Royal Foundation of St Katharine.


The Chapel and Hospital of St Katherine’s prior to demolition.  

Today nothing remains of the  ancient church founded by Queen Matilda, wife of King Stephen in 1147 having been demolished in 1825 to build St Katherine’s Docks.   Matilda described the Foundation as My hospital next to the Tower of London”.   Stood close to the Tower of London.  When in use as a hospital it is probable the patients would be cut off by a screen when services were being held. The Royal Peculiar survives to the present day as the Royal Foundation of St Katharine To read more about the history of St Katherine’s  click here.  

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The Priory of St John at Clerkenwell and a visit by Richard III

The Bones in the Urn again!…a 17th Century Hoax?





Possible portrait of Elizabeth Talbot, Viscountess Lisle c1468 Petrus Christus of Bruge Gemäldegalerie, Berlin.  Note the gleam of the pearls, the pattern of the brocade gown and the little gold pin used for pinning the fine lawn partlet onto the bodice.  How delicious!

Could this charming portrait  be of Elizabeth Talbot, Viscountess Lisle –  Lady Eleanor Butler/Boteler nee Talbot’s niece –  as  suggested by the late historian John Ashdown-Hill?  Elizabeth was born about 1451 and would have been around 16 when she sat for this portrait if this is indeed her.  John,  a historian who delved deep,  based his suggestion upon the  fact that there was once an inscription on the now lost original frame identifying the sitter as a member of the Talbot family.  This is also been confirmed by a letter dated 1824 written by Gustav Waagen,  Director of the Berlin Museums who gave his interpretation of a lost Latin inscription identifying  the sitter as “a niece of the famous Talbots” (eine Nichte des berühmten Talbots).   It is known that Elizabeth Mowbray, nee Talbot, Duchess of Norfolk,  took some of the Talbot family children with her when she travelled to Flanders for the marriage of Margaret of York to Charles the Bold in 1468. 



Close up of the effigy.  Photo Kate Keens


There are clearly similarities between the portrait and effigy.   Effigy photo from John Ashdown-Hill’s book Eleanor the Secret Queen.

It’s interesting to compare the portrait with Elizabeth’s monument in St Mary’s Church, Astley,  where she was buried with her husband Edward Grey who was created Viscount Lisle by Richard III in 1483.  This is where it gets interesting because Edward Grey was the brother of Sir John Grey,  first husband of Elizabeth Wydeville,  bigamous wife to Edward IV.   As our Elizabeth was the niece of Lady Eleanor Butler (Elizabeth Wydeville’s very own personal nemesis) who was true wife of Edward IV, things get very intertwiney.  Elizabeth  would have still been a child when Sir John Grey met his death for Lancaster at St Albans 1461  and it’s highly unlikely she met him.  However  her other aunt Elizabeth Talbot, Mowbray Duchess of Norfolk, would surely have recalled the time when Elizabeth Wydeville had been Lady Grey but she unfortunately left no indications of her thoughts on the bigamous Wydeville marriage and its disastrous results although she must have had them aplenty.  


Elizabeth Talbot Duchess of Norfolk.  Described as ‘a very beautiful English lady’  by a bystander who saw her in Flanders.  Edward IV treated her appallingly in her widowhood. Stained glassed window Long Melford church (1)

Elizabeth, dying in 1487,  predeceased her husband who died in 1492 who requested in his will to be buried next to her in St Mary’s  Church,  Astley :  My body to be buried in the new tomb in the new chapel of our Lady, by me began,  in the College of Astley where the body of Elizabeth lieth (2).    His monument has been destroyed while Elizabeth’s has been moved and now lies inexplicably betwixt the monuments of Cecilia Bonville, Marchioness  of Dorset and Edward Grey, Lord Ferrers of Groby d.1457, father to John and Edward Grey (3)


The monuments of Cecilia Bonville Marchioness of Dorset, Elizabeth Talbot Viscountess Lisle and Elizabeth’s father in law Edward Grey Lord Ferrers of Groby  St Mary’s Astley.     Photo Caroline Irvine.

Viscount Lisle was treated well by Richard after the failure of the Wydvilles to gain control of the young Edward V.   Bore the Rod with the Dove Richard’s Coronation.   May have withdrawn from Richard prior to Bosworth.  He was well received by Henry Tudor (4).


St Mary’s Church Astley, Warwickshire.   Mausoleum to the Grey Family.


  1. 1. Olivier de la Marche described Elizabeth as  ‘duchesse de Norfolk, une moult belle dame d’Angleterre’.  Eleanor the Secret Queen p.236 .  John Ashdown-Hill.
  2. Testamenta Vetusta p.410
  3. There is some confusion as to whether the third monument/effigy is that of  Edward Grey Lord Ferrers of Groby,  Elizabeth’s father-in-law or her husband Edward Grey Viscount Lisle.   According to W E Hampton it is the former and that Viscount Lisle’s monument has been destroyed.   See his Monuments of the Wars of the Roses p.314.  John Ashdown-Hill has attributed the monument to be that of his son Edward Viscount Lisle.
  4. Memorials of the Wars of the Roses p.314.  W E Hampton. 



The two QCs prepare to do battle
Following on from my earlier post.  The day had dawned – the trial commenced.  Because of the length of the trial I only give snippets here which stand out and which I think are the most pertinent/funny/excruciating.

The judge addressed the jury as to whether  Richard III was  responsible for the alleged murder of his brother, Edward IV’s sons,  Edward and Richard known as the ‘Princes in the Tower’.   The judge pointed out that Richard, killed at the battle of Bosworth ‘is beyond the power and jurisdiction of this or indeed any other human court.  What you are invited to do today in these proceedings is to pass a historical judgement upon him. He stands in a sense indicted at the bar of history.  The charge against him as you’ve just heard is one of the greatest charges in the calendar of crime –  murder’.  Mr Dillon had,  in the absence of the defendant had already entered in a firm voice the plea  My Lord, the plea is one of Not Guilty‘.  

Mr Russell for the  prosecution set the historical scene, the ‘unpopular’ Wydeville marriage, the death of King Edward, the taking of his heir into Richard’s care, the Wydvilles ‘disarray’,  the eventual disappearance of both Edward’s sons and the discovery of bones at the Tower in the 17th century, which is so well known I need not go into it here.

The first witness for the Prosecution was Jeffrey Richards, lecturer in history at Lancaster.      Questioned by Mr Russell, Mr Richards enlarged further on the circumstances of the times i.e  the building up of the now all powerful Wydevilles ‘ who were in control of the court, the council, the late kings treasure, the fleet and what is the most important of all the two princes who through they hoped to rule England’ .  Mention was made of the famous letter to York in which Richard asked for aid against the queen and her adherents.  Mr Richards perception of this was the troops from York were needed to cow and threaten London.  The upcoming Coronation was used as a ‘pretext’ to prise Richard of Shrewsbury, the youngest prince,  out of Sanctuary.   Now Richard could secure his position.  Only he didn’t.  This was on account the princes represented a focus for rebellion.  However moving on – in the interim Margaret Beaufort plotted with the boys mother for a marriage between their offspring which in Mr Richards view  Elizabeth would not have done unless she ‘knew her sons were dead’.
Mr Dillon questioned Mr Richards asking him his opinion of More and what would he say to the statement that ‘More  is full of probable false facts and is too discredited to build on

Mr Richards: No I don’t think that is so.

Mr Dillon: You do not accept that statement?

Mr Richards: No not entirely .

Mr Dillon: I take it from the statement served which you have provided for my learned friend for the prosecution.  These are your very own words that I have in typing before me.

Mr Richards: Can you repeat them?….(I know… me neither!) 

Mr Dillon then went on to repeat them..

Mr Richards: Yes…..  well I wrote that in the early stages in my research, since then I have re-read More  and I don’t stand in entirely by that…. Ouch!

Asked  why he thought Elizabeth would surrender her children to Richard if she  believed  he had murdered her two sons he responded ‘Because she was a canny political old bird and she knew she needed to survive’.


To be fair Mr Richards has never been A Mother – but would it be so onerous to at least try to imagine?

Next to be called was Dr Jean Ross senior lecturer in anatomy at the Charing Cross hospital medical school. Dr Ross had seen and examined Professor Wright’s 1933  report on the bones.  Concluded  ages of the bones at the time of death were consistent with 12 and 10 years old and some evidence they were ‘possibly’  blood related.  Inconclusive as per usual.

 Then came the turn of Dr Tony Pollard

Dr Pollard asserted the precontract was a ‘tissue of lies’ quoting Croyland who described it as ‘the colour for this act of usurpation’.  Everyone knew this was the case – ‘except for Stillington!’ interjected the Judge.

Dr Pollard : This bad wicked Bishop as Commynes  called him

Mr Dillon – I respectfully suggest that he is not a bad or wicked Bishop at all…

frighred rabbit


looks to heaven for assistNCE
Dr Pollard : You have thrown in so many different things it’s very difficult to know where to start.

Mr Dillon then touched upon the issue of all the chroniclers were southerners or like Mancini reporting southerners perceptions.  

Mr Dillon:  There is not a single northern chronicler. One of the things that marks the whole of this period is the fear of the south of the barbarians or aliens from the north and the distrust from those of the north for those of the south.   One of the things that one finds is a substantial prejudice running through Croyland…..Henry VII was visiting York and there was an uprising there.  The Chronicler reported ‘Although by these means peace was graciously restored still the rage of some of the malignants was not averted but immediately after Easter sedition was set on foot by these ingrates in the north whence every evil takes its rise’.

Dr Pollard:   Splendid stuff isn’t it..

Mr Dillon:  Isn’t it and this is even although the king was staying in those parts I mean the impertinent northerners when the king is  there,  daring to rise!’

Dr Pollard: That’s very fair.

Then the pièce de résistance of the Prosecution was called – Dr David Robert Starkey – drum roll …

Dr Starkey begun as he meant to go on…

Mr Russell: Did you hear what Dr Pollard said about the precontract?

Dr Starkey:   Yes I agree with everything that he said.   It is clearly a concatenation of lies, rumour and absurdity.   But we can go very much further. It is not merely a   concatenation of absurdity it was a red herring and was known to be.

Questioned on Thomas More Dr Starkey will brook no criticism – 

Dr Starkey :  The criticisms of More on the whole are very small minds attacking a very big one.  

He then goes on to relate the ludicrous More story of  the page advising Richard while he is sitting on the toilet (really Sir Thomas!)  of whom he could rely  to do the dirty deed…’out  there beyond the lavatory door there is lying on a pallet mattress the man  James Tyrell who will do the deed for you’.   This is dear reader, despite the fact that Richard had known Tyrell for many years.  Tyrell had been in Richard’s service since 1471 after he was knighted by Edward IV  after the Battle of Tewkesbury.  Dr Starkey attempted to twist the story asserting that either the page or Tyrell was a  gentlemen of the stole.  However Rosemary Horrox has written Thomas More’s elaborately circumstantial account which is, however, demonstrably inaccurate in detail, notably in the lowly status assigned to Tyrell before the murder  I know! You couldnt make it up! however onwards...

Referring to these Tudor stories the defence questioned Dr Starkey who suggested they would now be called Tudor Propaganda

Mr Dillon:   I thought I might say Tudor legend

Dr Starkey I’m sure you would sir yes

Mr Dylan does that sound better to you

Dr Starkey:  It won’t be the first time you’ve misused a word

Mr Dylan:  I dare say

Dr Starkey : Nor the last

Mr Dillon: I see – then if this small lawyer’s mind may ask you some questions about the topics on which you have given evidence

Mr Dillon, brave man, then points out some problems with More’s account…

Dr Starkey :  And I think you would be wrong

Mr Dillon: May I finish the question

Dr Starkey: No sir…… The statement has gone on so long I am now entirely unclear as to the question.


The ‘Daggers’ look….takes a lot of practice…yikes!


After returning to his seat Dr Starkey gets an attack of thirst.  “Water, water gasped Dr Starkey..this Death Stare look is hard work..”

starky getting thiursty

Dr Starkey requested a glass of water although a custard pie would have been more appropriate  but was unfortunately not available.

DRINK“Ah thats better…being so petulant always leaves me with a dry mouth…”

Next to be called was Lady Wedgwood – and for the defence.  Medieval Art historian and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. Responsible for mounting the exhibition on Richard III at the National Portrait Gallery in 1973 and for gathering together almost all  known portraits of Richard, mounting to nearly 30, most of them duplicates and not originals.  

Mr Dillon questioned Lady Wedgwood on the Thomas More description of Richard quoting ‘ill featured limbs, crook backed, his left shoulder much higher than his right…also a withered limb’.  

Lady Wedgwood:  That is I claim was an exaggeration.  The first record of that is a written one where it is accepted that there was some disparity in the shoulders. 

Lady Wedgwood held up a portrait from the Royal Collection at Windsor which under X ray  can be seen the shoulder line has been tampered with including the links in the collar –


The mouth has also been altered as well as the face more lined and narrowed eyes  c.1530

Numerous portraits were also discussed including an infra red photograph of  the ‘Broken Sword’ portrait with alterations including a ‘hump’ back as well as a withered hand.  


Lady Wedgwood and the Broken Sword Portrait from the Society of Antiquaries

Next to be called was Anne Sutton, archivist,  fellow of  Society of Antiquities, editor of the Ricardian and co-editor of the Coronation Records of Richard III.  Called for, among other things, her knowledge and understanding of the pre-contract.


Anne Sutton. 

Mr Dillon:  it’s been described – this question of the pre-contract  – as being simply a pretext used by Richard to seize the throne for himself.   Do you agree with that assessment?

Miss Sutton:  No. 

Mr Dillon:  It has been described by one of the witnesses and I hope I have the language right as a red herring, do you agree with that assessment?

Miss Sutton: No.  It’s the crux of the matter .

Mr Dillon : Referring to the pre-contract as reported in Croyland….  could this  private, clandestine marriage,  not celebrated in church,  with no publication of banns  have been a valid ground for objecting to the validity of the marriage between  Edward and Elizabeth subsequently and leading to the bastardisation of their children?

Miss Sutton:  yes the two things together

Mr Dillon:  Was adultery taken very seriously in fact in mediaeval times.  

Miss Sutton:  Oh yes it was a heinous crime

Mr Dillon when there was a question of succession raised

Miss Sutton:  yes undoubtedly .  

Following further discussion on the legalities of the pre-contract Mr Dillon played a blinder.

Mr Dillon:  It is said by Dr Starkey that once proclamation had been made of Edward as King Edward V then all questions of illegitimacy would have been wiped out.  Do you agree with that?

Miss Sutton I think it’s true of Dr Starkey’s period but he is forgetting the reign of Henry VIII and the great increase of the theory of the absolute king so the situation was entirely different in 1483…


Cue soundtrack from Jaws….

Miss Sutton pointed out only the act of the annointing and the coronation could have wiped out the illegitimacy.  Then followed some robust questioning by Mr Russell which led to Autumn Rebellion 

Mr Russell : A lot of the south of England and Wales supported that rebellion to free the princes whether or not they were bastards

Miss Sutton:  There were a lot of people involved in that rebellion who had their own personal axes to grind … touché!

The last witness to be called, Mr Jeremy Potter, Chairman of the Richard III Society and as seen earlier to be among those who first suggested the Trial of Richard III.  Mr Potter made many a good point: 


Mr Potter:  Richard behaved impeccably. The reason why he has a bad reputation is that the Tudors had to say that he was being hypocritical and deceitful.  If he behaved badly they would have said look how badly he behaved.   Since he behaved very well they said he must be a hypocrite…. The real peculiarity of Richard is that he is the only king of England who has came from the north with northern support, his northern affinity to claim the throne. This naturally upset southerners,  men of Edwards household who lost their jobs to these intruding northerners, savages from places like Yorkshire….when the Woodvilles  made a pre-emptive strike for power this naturally put Richard on his mettle.  It become clear that the sensible thing was that Richard should become king.  A boy king would have been a disaster.  Nobody wanted a boy king.   It would’ve started the Civil War over again.   If Richard had been made  Protector he was open in two or three years time to the vengeance of the Woodvilles and not only Richard himself but everyone who has supported him.

Mr Potter touching on the pre-contract pointed out that:

Stillington  was probably right. Stillington was a man of considerable importance, had been Chancellor of England for seven years under Edward IV which was the number one job equivalent to the Prime Minister today and so Stillington was very far from being a nobody.  He had fallen out with Edward IV and been imprisoned at the time of Clarence’s disgrace.   Some historians assume the reason for this was that Stillington told Clarence some years earlier of this pre-contract which would’ve made Clarence heir to the throne and not the boys and was the reason for Clarence’s execution.

Mr Potter also pointed out that Clarence’s heir, Edward of Warwick, was alive at the time and as attainders could be reversed was in much the same position as the ‘princes’.  

Mr Potter:  And what happened to Edward of Warwick?   We  know he was well treated by Richard , kept in Yorkshire in a royal nursery with Edward IVs daughters ,even made Richard’s heir at one time.   He survived Richard’s reign quite happily but immediately after Bosworth put in the Tower of London by Henry Tudor and judicially murdered some years later.   So we do know what happened to one nephew who had a very good claim to the throne, as good as the two princes once they’ve been declared illegitimate.

Further debate followed with Mr Russell questioning Mr Potter on the Hastings execution possibly without a trial.  

 Mr Russell: … but very much a barrack room trial over a very short space of time if it took place at all  yes?

Judge:  Killing without trial was not an unusual event in these days I gather

Mr Potter: No it become commoner when the Tudors were on the throne

Judge : That’s a good tu quoque if I may say so!

There then followed summaries by both QCs and also the Judge.  The Jury were then invited to retire to consider their verdicts.  Which they did.  Of course they reached the right and fair verdict which was Not Guilty.  Brief notes were given as to how they reached the not guilty vote including –

 MR RICHARDS  Traditional historical  statement of events but without strong expression of belief  in Richard guilt.
DR POLLARD noted Mancini could not make categorical statement re Richard’s guilt.   Mancini an Italian without much knowledge of English was considered unreliable.  Pre N|contract  seen as decisive area debate.  Little  doubt cast upon marriage of Edward IV and Eleanor

DR STARKEY encouraged to shoot from the hip by defence barrister.  Dynamics of confrontation overshadowed his evidence.  

MISS SUTTON undermined contention that Richard III had motive for killing princes. Satisfied  jury on marriage of Eleanor Butler and Edward IV.   Richard’s consequent legal and moral justification in taking throne and his lack of motive for murder on grounds that the princes were bastards.

MR POTTER Established favourable impression of Richards character.  General conduct appeared reasonably decent and honest.   Impressive loyalty to brother,  quality of rule.  Elizabeth Woodville’s apparent reconciliation with Richard suggested she believed him innocent.  

LADY WEDGEWOOD Compelling evidence that Richard’s portraits have been purposefully tampered with and altered over the ages to show him in a malignant light.  

Factors in favour of the prosecution.   Throne gave Richard strong motive to dispose of Princes.   Execution of  Hastings showed preparedness to be ruthless.   Impossible for anyone who was not a close associate of Richard to have killed the princes while they were kept in the tower.

Factors in favour of the defence  Princes might easily have been killed without Richard’s knowledge or approval. Lack of direct accusation. Richard’s general conduct. Edwards pre-contract of marriage to Eleanor Butler. General feeling that information about Richard was distorted or biased.

So there we have it.  The common sense of a mixed jury from all walks of life came through and thank goodness for that.  

I have to give immense thanks to Richard Drewett and Mark Redhead for their book The Trial of Richard III from which I have drawn heavily for my two posts.  

Loyaulté me Lie

For those who would like to view the trial for themselves it is available on Utube

For those who have enjoyed these posts you might be interested in my post on William Lord Hastings








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