EDWARD OF MIDDLEHAM ‘SON TO KYNG RICHARD’ & THE MYSTERIOUS SHERIFF HUTTON MONUMENT

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Edward of Middleham from the Beauchamp Pageant.  Described  as ‘Edward Plantagenet, son to Kyng Richard’

Its often been written that,  along  with so many children of the times he lived in, even those of the nobility, not a lot is known about Richard III and Anne Neville’s small son Edward.  There is even confusion about both his date of birth and death, although some very plausible suggestions have been made,  as well as his place of burial which is what I would like to focus on here.

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King Richard and Queen Anne, The Beauchamp Pageant

The fullest account of Edward’s short life, as afar as I am aware , can be found in Peter Hammond’s book The Children of Richard III while Professor Pollard devoted a chapter with the the poignant title of Last Summer at Middleham in his book The Worlds of Richard III.   Both give details of expenditures covering the last months of Edward’s life some of which are quite charming including ’12d for Martyn the fole’.

Returning to Edward’s unknown  place of burial,  various locations have been suggested including Coverham , Jervaulx, Sheriff Hutton, York and Middleham.   I personally would plump on Middleham.  Rous, who would have been in a position to know states  quite clearly Edward was buried at Middleham which would make perfect sense.   In his Latin version of his Roll,  Rous states

‘ Edward,  illustrious Prince of Wales,  only son and heir to King Richard the third and his honourable consort Anne , Queen of England,  but in fact heir to Heaven;  his sacred soul was never infected by the blemish of guilt and he died a child before his parents and was taken with honour to a grave at Middleham’ (1)

If this were the case Edward would be lying at rest undisturbed in the church of St Mary and St Akelda, Middleham.    Lets hope it stays that way,

DocbrownChurch of St Mary and St Akelda,  Middleham.  Could Richard and Anne’s son have been laid to rest here?  Photo @Docbrown

Turning to the belief that Edward was buried at Sheriff Hutton and an alabaster tomb in poor condition being his.  Despite  informative articles now being available  a quick online search will still turn up numerous articles and photographs unequivocally identifying the monument in  the church of St Helen and the Holy Cross Sheriff Hutton, Yorkshire as that of Edward of Middleham.    Although in poor condition the  damage has now been stabilised by conservation work.   Jane Crease in her article on the monument notes that   it was  first suggested in 1904 it was Edward’s tomb was even though it was not mentioned before 1623 when Dodsworth visited the church (2)    Peter Hammond mentions that a George Hardcastle in a letter in Notes and Queries Dated 1870   ‘surmised’  that Richard may have buried his son at Sherriff Hutton and thus legends are born (3).  Tellingly the monument was not mentioned in 1584 when the church was visited by Robert Glove Somerset Herald (4). Other than the 1904 reference  there does not appear to be much beyond that as to why a parish church at  Sheriff Hutton would have been chosen as Edward Prince of Wales’  burial place.  It is also strange that Richard, no doubt accompanied by Anne, after hearing about his son’s death,  left Nottingham where the tragic news had been  brought to him, travelled to Middleham via York and  Nappa, failed to visit Sheriff Hutton(5). The King and his Queen as according to the customs of the times may not have attended the funeral of their son but would surely have wished to visit his grave.  

The monument itself, which is a cenotaph, that is its empty,  is not in its original position being placed where part of  a chantry chapel c1447 which would have been standing at the time of Edward death and burial.  So where could the monument have been prior to its removal to St Helens Church?  Dr Jane Crease suggests the weathering  it has  sustained indicates it may have been outside at one time and open to the elements. Prior to this she suggests it may have been inside Sheriff Hutton Castle in a chapel.  If this is the case its possible the monument  become open to the elements after the castle became ruinous, which is how it is described in 1618,  and  prior to being transferred to the church.    No other tombs in the church have suffered from the same damage as this particular one.

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The Sheriff Hutton Monument

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This manuscript dates from 1447 and depicts a young boy who can be seen with a pudding basin hair style as well as wearing costume – note the stiff pleats, sleeves, cuffs and collar  –  almost identical to that of the Sheriff Hutton monument.  @Chronicles of Hainault Rogier Van der Weyden.  

With  the costume etc of the effigy dating from approx 50 year earlier two possibilities have been suggested as to whom the monument was made for which make far more sense than Edward of Middleham.

  1.  Ralph b.approx 1440, son of Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury (1400-d1460) is known to have  been buried at Sheriff Hutton Radulphus mortuus. apud Shirefhoton sepultus  – Ralph died. buried at Sheriff Hutton(6).  Peter Hammond and W E Hampton in their article Sherrif Hutton : Historic Doubts Reconsidered say that ‘one  coat of arms indisputably on the tomb was that used by Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, and could have been placed on the tomb to represent any of his descendants’ (7).  However both the authors then go on to say that Ralph probably would have been too young when he died to have had such an elaborate monument. They both seemed determined, despite persuasive arguments from Pauline Routh and Richard Knowle,  that this is the tomb of Edward – despite the costume, hairstyle and donor figure clearly being from the first half of the 15th century although Hammond does seem to have softened his stance on this in his later book The Children of Richard III.

2.     John son of Ralph Neville Earl of Westmorland.  Ralph was the father  of the above Richard Neville as well father to  Cicely  Neville and thus John would have been Richard III’s uncle.  Ralph had 23 children by his two wives.   None of the sons by the first wife died young but 3 sons by  the  second wife ,Joan Beaufort , are known to have died young.  John was born about 1413 and would have about 12 in 1425 (8) .These dates equate with the time frame of the making of the memorial given its design, the style of clothes and hair style of the donor as well as fit the age of the child  portrayed in the effigy.   Note the identical  sleeves and cuffs of the effigy and those of Ralph’s sons.

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Ralph Neville Earl of Westmorland with some of  his enormous family – plus ‘pudding basin’ hair cuts galore.  

An important and glaring  clue is the small figure of the bare haired donor kneeling in prayer at the foot of the Trinity.   No doubt this would have been  the deceased child’s father but his closely cropped to the ears hair style or  ‘pudding basin’ hair cut was not a style Richard would have worn.  However both Westmorland and his son Salisbury  would definitely have had their hair styled this way as can be seen here below.   Think Henry V!  Sadly the donor’s wife is very badly worn.

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The Donor figure, facing east, in armour and ‘pudding basin’ hairstyle worshipping at the foot of the Trinity.  

 

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Richard Neville Earl of Salisbury’s effigy St Mary’s Church Burghfield. The effigy is much battered but his ‘pudding basin’ hair cut is still  very evident.  Could Salisbury be the donor?

Whereas we do know who would not have sported such a hair style and that is Richard III and his son.

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Richard III @ Society of  Antiquaries of London 

As Dr Crease, who wrote the definitive article on the monument , puts so succinctly

 ‘The heraldry reliably recorded on the tomb links it with the Nevilles and, at the period of its manufacture, Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland held the castle and manor of Sheriff Hutton, so it may be one of his children. It may be some comfort to Ricardians to think that the tomb may be that of a kinsman of his Queen, even if it is not of her son.” (9)

Its often been speculated that Edward was a sickly child, due no doubt to his dying at such a young age.  But I’m unconvinced.  Its pointed out to add to the argument that he was frail that  he travelled by  litter from Middleham to Pontefract, a distance of 58 miles and from Pontefract to York 28 miles.  This is absurd.  It would have been much safer for a young child to travel distances like this in a litter rather than horseback.     It may be that he was a perfectly healthy child until struck down with a sudden and fatal illness.  Certainly his death, the news of which was carried to his parents while they were staying at Nottingham Castle, devastated them which may indicate they were unprepared for the awful shock.  It does seem that Queen Anne’s health, sadly,  took a downward spiral  after that and she herself died the following year on March 16th 1485.

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

https://sparkypus.com/2020/05/20/did-richard-iii-love-anne-neville/

https://sparkypus.com/2020/05/14/queen-anne-nevill-her-burial-in-westminster-abbey-2/

1)The Ricardian Vol XXX 2020.  Of Lordys lyne and lyneage sche was.  Anne F Sutton and Livia Visser-Fuchs.  They make the comment that its ‘astonishing” this information given by Rous is ‘apparently never used’.

2)  J W Clay  first speculated this was Edward’s tomb in his Dodsworth Yorkshire Church   Notes 1904.  The Sherrif Hutton Monument Jane Crease

3)  The children of Richard III p38 Peter Hammond

4) https://churchmonumentssociety.org/monument-of-the-month/is-this-the-tomb-of-   richard-iii-son

5)  The Itinerary of King Richard III p18,19   Rhoda Edwards

6) Sheriff Hutton: The Great Debate Pauline Routh and Richard Knowles

7)  The matter was debated at length by  in 4 articles in the Ricardian in the 1980s: Sheriff Hutton: Historic Doubts September 1980 and Sheriff Hutton: The Great Debate June 1981 Pauline Routh and Richard Knowles  and Historic Doubts Reconsidered P W Hammond and W E Hampton December 1980 and Sheriff Hutton: Further Debate P W Hammond & W E Hampton June 1981

8) The children of Richard III p74 Peter Hammond

9) Is this the Tomb of Richard III’s Son Church Monument Society Jane Crease.

 

 

AVELINE de FORZ – AN EARLY PLANTAGENET BRIDE – HER TOMB IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY

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Aveline de Forz tomb and effgy.  One of the earliest tombs in Westminster Abbey.

 Aveline de Forz, Countess of Lancaster Edmund ‘Crouchback’s’ Plantagenet’s first wife died on the 10 November 1274.    Aveline was the daughter of William de Forz , Count of Albermarle, Lord of Holderness and Isabella de Fortibus, Countess of Devon.  and having been born on 20 January 1259, at Burstwick in Holderness was 10 years old when she married Edmund, famously nicknamed Crouchback in Westminster Abbey.  Initially, in 1268 Edmund had been granted royal permission to marry Aveline’s widowed mother, Isabella, a very rich lady,  after the death of her husband William de Forz but the following year he married the young Aveline instead (1).  Theirs was the first recorded marriage in Westminster Abbey,  Henry III’s new Gothic abbey,  shortly after the translation of the relics of the Confessor and on her death, only five years later, she was buried there in the Sacrarium on the north side of the altar (2). Her tomb was amongst the first of many in the Abbey and her heavily worn effigy on top depicts a rather maturer lady than Aveline actually was.    However it is still very beautiful and was drawn by Stothard in the 18th century when it still retained some of its original decoration and colouring.  It had once been richly gessoed and heavily gilded and   Stothard recorded the mantle green, the surcoat red with purple lining and the kirtle blue.  He also drew Edmund’s tomb and effigy.

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Aveline’s effigy as drawn by Charles Alfred Stothard ‘The Monumental Effigies of Great Britain’.

It has been speculated that Aveline may have died in childbirth but I have been unable to verify this and there were certainly many other causes that could have carried her off.  Its interesting that her five sibings all died young and all before Aveline herself.

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On his death in June 1295 Edmund was first buried in The Minories also known as the Abbey of the Minoresses of St Clare without Aldgate,  which he had founded jointly with his second wife Blanche of Navarre.  Four years after his death he was reburied in Westminster close to Aveline (although his heart remained at the Minories) their tombs being separated by that of Aymer de Valence.  His Second wife Blanche was buried elsewhere so perhaps he had requested to be buried close to Aveline.

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Edmund Crouchback’s  effigy as drawn by Stothard.

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Another view of Crouchback’s effigy as drawn by Stothard 18th century.

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Edmund’s tomb and effigy today.

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The tombs of Aveline, Aymer de Valence and Edmund.  A  drawing by Herbert Railton 1910

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The three tombs as they are today making one range of breathtakingly beautiful sepulchral monuments

Aveline died in Stockwell, which is now a busy South London suburb and I presume her death took place in the medieval Manor House,  which once stood to the east of Stockwell Road, and facing the north of Stockwell Green, the green disappearing a long time ago.  No traces of this manor house, the gardens and orchards of which were contained in about  4 acres ,  have survived, and the area is now covered by a housing estate, garages and wheelie bins  but traces still linger in the name of nearby Moat Place.  Remains of this moat, alleged to have been 40-50 foot wide could still be seen as late as  19th century (3)

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If you enjoyed this post you might like 

Queen Anne Neville https://sparkypus.com/2020/05/14/queen-anne-nevill-her-burial-in-westminster-abbey-2/

and Margaret Gaynesford   – https://sparkypus.com/2020/07/09/margaret-gaynesford-gentlewoman-to-elizabeth-wydeville/

(1) Royal Tombs of Medieval England Mark Duffy pp81-82

(2) Historical Memorials of Westminster Abbey Dean Stanley 1869 p140

( 3) Survey of London Vol. 26 Lambeth: Southern Area 1956 pp88-95 Originally published by London County Council

 

MARGARET GAYNESFORD – GENTLEWOMAN TO QUEEN ELIZABETH WYDEVILLE

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In the church of All Saints, Carshalton, now part of South London, can be found the charming 15th century brass of Margaret Gaynesford nee Sidney,  her husband Nicholas and their various children.  Due to the brass being attached to the wall and not the floor, as is usually the case,  it has still retained much of its original  enamelling including Margaret’s vivid red gown.

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Both Margaret and her husband Nicolas  served Queen Elizabeth Wydeville in various capacities including Margaret as one of the queen’s Gentlewoman.  There is much information can be found about Nicholas Gaynesford and his career, he being another one who changed sides when the need arose – including  taking part in Buckingham’s rebellion, October 1483,  although  Richard III later pardoned  him – but I would like to focus here on this wonderful brass.

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Margaret kneels in front of a prie-dieu, prayer book open, the folds of her red gown draped gracefully around her feet.  

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Margaret is depicted in front of a prie-dieu, wearing a collar of suns and roses, and a butterfly headdress.  The empty matrix for four now missing daughters is behind her although the small brasses depicting her four sons have survived.  A brass of the Trinity , which the family are adoring, is also missing.

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Nicholas who died about 1498 is shown in armour.

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What Margaret’s thoughts were regarding the shenanigans and  the  ups and downs of  Elizabeth’s turbulent life –  how much did she know? – what did she think about Elizabeth’s ‘retirement to Bermondsey’ ?- are sadly unrecorded.  However she lived long enough to see Elizabeth’s daughter crowned in 1487, with both her and Nicholas attending,  with Nicholas serving Elizabeth of York in the post of Usher of the King’s Consort.

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The church of All Saints, Carshalton.  Photo @Colin Castledine

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The tomb with the brass fitted on the wall above.

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If you enjoyed this post you might like https://sparkypus.com/2020/07/01/bermondsey-abbey-and-elizabeth-wydevilles-retirement-there/ 

https://sparkypus.com/2020/06/08/elizabeth-wydeville-serial-killer/

 

RECONSTRUCTIONS OF 17TH CENTURY PUDDING LANE, OLD LONDON BRIDGE AND THE TOMB OF THOMAS A’BECKET

Three  interesting   videos – all short – London in the year of the great plague, Old London Bridge and a reconstruction of the tomb of Thomas A’Becket at Canterbury Cathedral..

 

 

 

 

MARY PLANTAGENET – DAUGHTER OF EDWARD IV & ELIZABETH WYDEVILLE – A LIFE CUT SHORT

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Mary of York  Royal Window, Northwest Transept, Canterbury Cathedral

Mary Plantagenet or Mary of York was the second daughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Wydville.  She was born at Windsor Castle in August 1467 and died at her mother’s favourite palace of Greenwich 23 May 1482 aged just 14 years.   Strangely enough another royal child, even younger than Mary,  Anne Mowbray Duchess of Norfolk, her sister in law –  being  the child bride of her brother Richard of Shrewsbury – had also died at Greenwich just six months earlier  on 9th November 1481.  Even at a time when child mortality was high it must have been heart rending to have 2 deaths so close together for the royal household and by horrible coincidence in the same royal apartments.  Elizabeth Wydeville’s  whereabouts at that time are unknown so its impossible to say if she was at Greenwich at the time of Mary’s death although  it is known that her father had visited Canterbury on the 17th  May and was back  in London on the 23rd and thus it is possible he may, perhaps  accompanied by the queen,  have seen his daughter as she lay dying  (1 )

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A print by an unknown artist now in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich depicting the Palace c 1487.

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A view of Greenwich Palace from a print published by the Society of Antiquaries 1767

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The Royal Window, Canterbury Cathedral.  Elizabeth Wydeville and her daughters.  Mary is shown as the last figure on the right hand side.  

The cause of death of neither of the girls is known.   While Anne’s body had been taken by barge to her burial place in Westminster Abbey Mary’s was taken by stages to St Georges Chapel,  Windsor, where she was interred next to her 2 year old brother George who had died in March 1479 possibly of the plague.     Several Wydeville ladies were  among the mourners including Jane, Lady Grey of Ruthin, sister to the queen and Jacquetta, another sister’s daughter,  Joan Lady Strange, wife of George Stanley.   Another niece, Lady ‘Dame’ Katherine Grey, possibly the daughter of Jane Wydeville was also present.  Dinner for the funeral group was at the palace after which Mary’s body was taken from Greenwich parish church where it had been taken and begun its last sad journey to Windsor (2).

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Over time the exact location of the graves became forgotten and lost but in 1810 during the course of building work their coffins were discovered in the area known then as  Wolsey’s Chapel and now as the Albert Memorial Chapel.   These were easily identifiable because George’s lead coffin was inscribed with   “serenissimus princeps Georgius filius tercius Christianissimi principis Edvardi iiij” and it was known that Mary had been laid to rest alongside her little brother – her funeral accounts tell us that she was “buried by my Lorde George, her brother, on whos solles God have mercy”.   When Mary’s coffin was examined she was found wrapped in numerous folds of strong cerecloth (waxed cloth used for wrapping a corpse) closely packed with cords ( 3)

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Mary and George were then reburied in the small vault  close to  their father’s.   Their mother’s remains, a  skull and pile of bones found  lying on top of Edward’s coffin along with the remains of her cheap wooden coffin had  disappeared between the time of Edward’s vault being discovered and resealed in 1789 (4).    Edward’s remains had  been thoroughly poked about and  no doubt Elizabeth’s were appropriated by the dreaded Georgian souvenir collector along with numerous locks of Edward’s hair.      A slab was already in place with their names on it as mistakenly it was believed they had already been buried close to  their father  in the small vault adjoining his.

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St George’s Chapel, Windsor. Yorkist Mauseoleum photo @Roger Simon

Its not surprising that little is known about Mary of York a child of 14  who was hardly here ere she was gone.    She was mentioned along with her sister Elizabeth in the will her father made prior to leaving for France in 1475 – ‘Item we wil that oure doughtre Elizabeth have x ml marc towards her marriage and that oure doughtre Marie have also to her mariage  x ml marc , soo that they bee gouverned and rieuled in thair mariages by oure derrest wiff the Quene and by oure said son the Prince if God fortune him to comme to age of discrecion’ but ‘if either of oure said doughtres doo marie thaim silf without such advys and assent soo as they bee therby disparaged, as God forbede, that then she soo marieing her silf have noo paiement of her said x ml marc, but that it bee emploied by oure Executours towards the hasty paiement of oure debtes and restitucions as is expressed in this oure last Will’ (5).   Ah man makes plans while the gods laugh as they say for we all know how differently things panned out.  However its rather gratifying to know, at a time when so many ancient and royal remains have been lost that at least Edward has two of his children with him.

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Mary of York ‘Royal Window’ Canterbury Cathedral

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If you enjoyed this post you might be interested in my posts – 

https://sparkypus.com/2020/08/03/those-mysterious-childrens-coffins-in-edward-ivs-vault/

https://sparkypus.com/2020/07/01/bermondsey-abbey-and-elizabeth-wydevilles-retirement-there/ 

https://sparkypus.com/2020/06/08/elizabeth-wydeville-serial-killer/

https://sparkypus.com/2020/05/27/the-mysterious-death-of-edward-iv/

https://sparkypus.com/2020/07/09/margaret-gaynesford-gentlewoman-to-elizabeth-wydeville/

  1. The Royal Funerals of the House of York at Windsor p58 Anne E Sutton & Livia Visser-Fuchs
  2. Ibid p60
  3. D. & S. Lysons, Magna Britannia, vol. I, pt. I, Berkshire (reprint of an 1806 publication), p. 471
  4. Elizabeth had requested a modest funeral and that is exactly what she got.  Even the herald reporting on the funeral was shocked   The Royal Funerals of the House of York at Windsor p68 Anne E Sutton & Livia Visser-Fuchs
  5. Excerpta Historica : Illustrations of English History p369 edited Samuel Bentley

CLATTERN BRIDGE -A MEDIEVAL BRIDGE – KINGSTON UPON THAMES

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CLATTERN BRIDGE @Matt Brown

Clattern Bridge, Kingston upon Thames, was built prior to 1293 and is still in use today.  It was known as Clateryngbrugge in medieval times maybe because of the sound horses made crossing it.  Unfortunately I can find no trace of King Richard ever using it in his travels although there is a tenuous link  –  Shakespeare’s King Richard III was recently performed  at the Rose Theatre – a short distance away from the bridge!

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CLATTERN BRIDGE @ Photator

This wonderful old bridge  doesn’t actually cross the Thames, but the Hogsmill River which is a tributary of the Thames.  However it is but a very short distance from  the present Kingston Bridge..where  close by once stood an  earlier bridge.. and it is probable that it was this bridge that the funeral cortege of Richard’s niece, the 15 year old Princess Mary , crossed over,  on her way to burial at Windsor having died at Greenwich in May 1482.

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Clattern Bridge @Eric Hands

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Clattern Bridge @ Lloyd Rich

 

CARDINAL JOHN MORTON’S TOMB IN THE CHAPEL OF LADY UNDERCROFT CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL

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On Friday 13th June 1483 Cardinal Morton, along with others, was arrested at the Tower of London.  It is well documented the role Morton played in the downfall of Richard III.  Morton was Richard’s arch enemy and his deviousness, cunning and powers of manipulation being  well known,  there is no need to go into them here in detail,  only to recap briefly on his enforced stay at Brecknock castle where he latched on to the flawed Buckingham’s shallow and vainglorious character (what were you thinking of Richard?!)  inveigling him to rebel and  desert Richard, a  result of the ensuing rebellion being that Buckingham was swiftly defeated,  captured and ignominiously executed, while he, Morton, legged it to the Fens and his ‘see of Ely, where he found both money and friends’ (1)   It should be noted that Margaret Beaufort’s estate at Collyweston was but  a short distance of 40 miles  from Ely.     Morton then  ‘sailed into  Flanders, where he remained,   doing good service to the the  Earl of Richmond until the scheme at Brecknock had been realised and the Earl had become king of England’ (2 ).  As Bishop of Ely Morton would have been very conscious of the sanctity of the Coronation ceremony  but this did in no way deter him from playing a prominent role in the betrayal of King Richard.  How he came to terms with his treachery is difficult to understand,  and is of course something we will never know,  but manage he did somehow and the rest is history.

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His achievements are likewise well known and numerous,  including  Henry Tudor promoting him to the see of Canterbury and  Lord Chancellor in 1487,  eventually prevailing on the Pope to make him a cardinal  , the conceiving of the infamous Morton’s Fork – although to be fair some attribute this to Bishop Fox (3) – and his patronage of the young Thomas More who served in his household as a page.  Morton was without doubt an enormous influence in poisoning the young More against Richard.  More  later went on to write his ‘History’ which has proven to be extremely  damaging to Richard’s memory as it is oft quoted by ‘historians’ who should know better.  It is believed by some that it was in fact Morton who was the original  author including the late Professor A F  Pollard who opined Morton wrote a latin version which More translated later  into English (4).

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It is easy to imagine, as he lay dying, after achieving what was a good age in those harsh times, that Morton felt rather pleased with himself for had he not been instrumental in achieving practically the impossible? – the slaughter of a rightful king and replacing him with someone with very tenuous claims to the throne.  He had already made elaborate plans for where he wanted to be buried.in the Chapel of our Lady in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral beneath the pavement of the western bay.

He had chosen the spot himself as a quiet and retired one, “non in tumultu sed in secreto subterraneoque loco in criptis nuncupato, lapide duntaxat coopertus marmoreo coran Imagine Beatissime Virgin Marie, quam ex intimo diligebat sepulture locum elegit ubi ipsius corpus felicissimum jam quiescit” ‘ (5)

Which translates as he  had chosen for his burial ‘not an ostentatious place but rather a secret one with a simple marble cover before an image of the most blessed Virgin Mary., whom he held in very high esteem and where his most fortunate body might rest in peace’

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A splendid  altar tomb/cenotaph  was built nearby which incorporated Morton’s rebus of a bird (a mort) and a barrel (a tun), and the Tudor badges of  portcullis and rose.  And here he was laid to rest.

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Morton’s rebus, a bird (a mort) and a barrel (a tun)

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Morton’s  altar tomb/cenotaph in the western bay of the chapel

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However, this is where his plans finally went awry.   The crypt became a ‘repository for scaffolding poles and building material, and rendered unfit for sacred purposes (6)

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Turner’s painting of the Crypt in the 18th century showing Morton’s Tomb/Cenotaph amid building rubble

 The slab covering the tomb was eventually broken and smashed and the remains in their cere cloth  revealed   Over a period of time these were gradually stolen until none were left except his skull which a Ralph Sheldon rescued in 1670 leaving it to his niece on  his death.    Eventually the head  found a final resting place  at Stonyhurst College, where  it still is to this very day.  The head was  recently loaned to an exhibition on the life of  Thomas More in Washington DC (7).   It is both ironic and just that the king that Morton callously betrayed,  and whose remains were given a cut-price burial in Leicester,  have now been reburied with the honour that he deserved,  while all that remains of Morton is his head in a box in a cupboard.   As they say man makes plans and the Gods laugh…

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As a footnote to this story in my delving around I think I may have come across a ‘secret’ portrait of Morton in the wonderful medieval windows of St Mary’s Church, Fairford, Gloucestershire.  These windows have survived it is believed because they show hidden portraits of the Tudor royal family and important members of Henry Vll’s court.  One portrait is described as being that of Wolsey…but I believe this is erroneous..why would Wolsey’s portrait being included with those of Henry VII and his family including Henry VIII as a child.  I have since compared it with that of the wooden bosses thought to represent Morton at Bere Regis Church.  I show them here for comparison.  Any thoughts?

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The portrait in the nave of St Mary’s Church described as being of Wolsey? But could it possibly be Morton?  

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One of the bosses on the roof of Bere Regis Church thought to represent Morton for comparison.

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(1) R L Woodhouse The Life of John Morton Archbishop of Canterbury p.75

(2) Ibid

(3) W E Hampton Memorials of the Wars of the Roses p96.

( 4) A F Pollard Luminarium Encyclopedia.  On line article.

(5) C Eveleigh Woodruff.M.A. The Chapel of our Lady in the Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral p. 158.

(6) Ibid

(7) I am most grateful for this information kindly given to me by Mr J Reed,  Assistant Curator of the  College Collections and Museum by the Association, Stonyhurst College.

BERMONDSEY ABBEY AND ELIZABETH WYDEVILLE’S ‘RETIREMENT’ THERE

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Elizabeth Wydeville, unknown artist, Royal Collection.

If anyone today wandering around Bermondsey, South London, should find themselves in redeveloped Bermondsey Square they may be surprised to find that they are standing on the spot where once stood the quadrangle of the Abbey of Bermondsey, the entrance  to the square being the site of the Abbey gatehouse.

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Nothing much hardly remains today above ground (after the archaeologists had completed their study of the Abbey remains in 2006 they were once again covered over)  other than some remains of the south western tower which can be seen below the glass floor of a restaurant and nearby houses on Grange Walk, 5, 6 and 7 which incorporate in their structure remains of one wall of the Abbey’s stone eastern gatehouse, particularly No.7,  where the chamfered south jamb with two wrought iron gate hooks still project.

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5, 6 and 7 Grange Walk, Bermondsey incorporating the remains of the Abbey gatehouse seen in 18th century engraving below.  Note the roof line still recognisable today and windows still in original positions. 

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18th century print of the Abbey Gatehouse.

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Drawing by C R B Barrett 1906 where the two Gatehouse hinges can clearly be seen with the remains of a third one still visible.

It is intriguing to remember that in this Abbey,  Edward lV’s queen lived out the last five years of her life, in the Clare guest suite, dying there on 8 June 1492,  She was the second queen to both retire and die there, the first being Katherine of Valois, Henry V’s widow.  Elizabeth commenced her retirement there in 1487 and debate still rages as to whether she retired there willingly or unwillingly with some good reason to be believe that her withdrawal there was forced upon her by her son-in-law, Henry VII.   Certainly her removal there and the arrest of her son Thomas Grey followed hot on the heels of the news of the outbreak of the Lambert Simnel  rebellion and a council meeting at Sheen so that it might be reasonable to deduce that  Elizabeth and Thomas were implicated in that plot.  MacGibbon, Elizabeth’s biographer, who seems to have been slightly in love with her,  wrote ‘Henry is reported to have deprived Elizabeth of all her lands and estates, conferring them on her daughter, his queen, on the l May 1487, and finally to have induced her to spend the rest of her days in seclusion in Bermondsey Abbey in very reduced circumstances ‘(1).  Vergil, the Tudor historian was later to say that this was because Elizabeth had reached an understanding with King Richard three years earlier  upon which she removed herself and her daughters from sanctuary.  This is absurd and it may be that Vergil knew full well that Elizabeth’s retirement was not voluntary but did not know the precise circumstances or  chose not to repeat them it being unwise to record that Elizabeth and Grey may have got themselves involved in the Simnel rebellion because they both believed that Edward of Westminster and/or Richard of Shrewsbury were alive and well. Certainly it does seem a strange decision on Elizabeth’s part if she herself decided on the move to Bermondsey as she had only in the previous year taken out a 40 year lease on the Abbots House, known as Cheyneygates, at Westminster Abbey, conveniently  close to the Palace of Westminster ( 2 ).  Ah, man makes plans and the Gods laugh as they say.  MacGibbon also opines,  that ‘It is possible, if not probable, that Henry disliked his mother-in-law and in this he was no means singular, for there never was a woman who contrived to make more personal enemies’ which seems a rather contradictory statement for someone so besotted with her but adds as an afterthought ‘but he ever deprived her of either property or dignity, remains to be proved’.  Furthermore, ‘far from being exiled from her daughter’s court, she was in that same year chosen as Prince Arthur’s godmother and attended at the font’ ( 3).  Finally, he plucks his ripest plumb from the tree, that on the 28 November 1487 Henry and James III of Scotland agreed that the latter should marry Elizabeth as well as two of her daughters marry James’ sons.  However it must be remembered that at the time of James death, June 1488 none of these marriages had actually taken place and so it cannot be taken as a given that either King, particulary Henry,  fully intended these marriages to materialise.    Indeed David Baldwin points out that ‘the proposed marriages had been mooted before the Simnel rebellion,  at least as early as the Three Years Truce signed on the 3 July 1486’ ( 4 ).

It has been said that it is unlikely that Elizabeth would involve herself in the Simnel plot, which would have culminated not only in the eviction of Henry, her son-in-law.  from the throne but also her daughter not to mention have robbed  her small grandson Arthur of his future inheritance.  But on the other hand if she believed that the true intention of the plot was not to put Simnel/ young Warwick on the throne but one of her surviving sons, then it is highly likely that this is the very course she would have taken.  This may also explain any coolness that Elizabeth of York may have felt towards her mother and, if this were the case,   Elizabeth’s retirement,  brought about by  her diminished  financial circumstances,  leaving her with little choice, may have proved very  convenient for the royal couple, .  Certainly from Henry’s point of view Bermondsey must have seemed the perfect solution.  The accommodation itself, the Clare Suite, may have been deemed suitable by some  for an ex-queen although to Elizabeth, who had lived a life of luxury in many sumptuous properties  it must have seemed a massive case of downsizing, as we call it today, with a close watch on her movements and an occasional outing to keep any murmuring/speculation down.

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Interior of Great Gatehouse as it was in the 17th century.

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18th century print of one of the Abbey rooms before demolition

In summary

A)  1485.  Elizabeth is treated with deference by Henry, her title of Queen Dowager being restored to her in Henry’s first parliament which met a week after his coronation on 7 November 1485.  Acted as godmother to her grandson Arthur.

B) 1486.  Titulus Regius declaring the invalidity of Elizabeth’s marriage to King Edward was repealed in Henry’s first parliament  and on the 5 March 1486 she received annuities and a life interest in a raft of properties in southern England in full satisfaction of her dower (5)

C) 1486 July 10th.  Elizabeth takes  out a 40 year old lease on the Abbots House, Cheyneygates, at Westminster Abbey.

D) 1487.  February.  Shortly after news of the Lambert Simnel plot reached England Elizabeth retired to Bermondsey Abbey and her son Thomas Grey is arrested and put into the Tower of London.  Elizabeth’s biographer David Baldwin wrote Henry ‘deprived Elizabeth of all her properties, and confined her to Bermondsey on the unlikely grounds that she had imperilled his cause by surrendering her daughters, including his bride, to King Richard three years earlier’.

E)  1487 November 28th.  An agreement between Henry and James III of Scotland for the latter to marry Elizabeth.  However, James died in June 1488 without this proposed marriage taking place.

F)  1489 November.  Elizabeth is present when Francois, Monsieur de Luxemboug, head of a visiting French embassy, met Elizabeth of York and her mother-in-law, Margaret Beaufort.  Although this might appear prima facie to indicate that all was well within the royal family, as it was surely intended to do,  the possibility exists that Francois, her kinsman,  had insisted on meeting Elizabeth and to avoid suspicion and gossip the meeting was duly arranged with the presence of Margaret stiffling any chance of a private conversation taking place which might have occurred had he met her in private at Bermondsey.

G)  1492 April 10th.  Elizabeth makes her will in Bermondsey Abbey.  There is no dispute, with her will still in existence, that her  condition was, for a dowager queen, extremely impoverished.  I do not have to go into the entire content of the will which is well know other than to repeat the words ‘I’tm where I have no worldly goods to do the queens grace, my dearest daughter, a pleasure with, neither to reward any of my children, according to my heart and mind, as is to me possible….’

H)   1492 June 8.  Elizabeth dies at Bermondsey Abbey.

It could be said that Elizabeth was the human rock that the House of York foundered and finally crashed upon, taking with it her two young sons, although this in no way pardons Edward with whom the buck must stop.  Perhaps he was giddy with his triumphs but certainly raging testosterone overcome common sense.  Edward seems to have kept his brains in his pants and the ensuing problems and tragedy that this later caused is well documented elsewhere and I need not go into it here.  Perhaps it would be mean hearted not to feel some glimmer of compassion when reading the pitiful will made at Bermondsey.  Elizabeth asked for a humble funeral and that is exactly what she got – even the herald reporting it was shocked – and so she was laid to rest in a cheap  wooden coffin without the usual inner lead one so that when the vault  in which she and Edward were interred was opened in 1789 all that remained of Elizabeth was a pile of bones and a skull, the remains of the coffin having rotted away.  When the vault was resealed once again there appears to have been nothing left of Elizabeth, her bones having been stolen by Georgian souvenir collectors.  Elizabeth remains an important  footnote in history, taking any secrets she may have had to the grave with her, including perhaps the whereabouts/fates of her two young sons.  She died knowing that her daughter was queen and that her blood would run through the future Tudor monarchs and perhaps she gained some comfort from that, but I wonder, did she ever muse on what might have been and what had been lost.  I leave you dear reader to make your own mind up about that.

 

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Remains of the Abbey revealed in 2006 prior to the Square being redeveloped

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Abbey staircase

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1. David MacGibbon, Elizabeth Woodville, a Life p.134

2. J Armitage Robinson The Abbots House at Westminster pp22-23

3. David MacGibbon, Elizabeth Woodville, a Life p 135

4.  David Baldwin Elizabeth Woodville Mother of the Princes in the Tower p115

5. Ibid  p109

A NEW KING, A NEW REIGN – KING RICHARD III, LOYAULTÉ ME LIE

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Mural in the Royal Exchange,  Offer of the Kingship to Richard Duke of Gloucester at Baynards Castle June 26 1483 , Sigismund Goetz

On this day 27 June 1483 no doubt King Richard, and his wife Anne, both awoke shell shocked.  Perhaps they had slept little as they no doubt took in the significance of these life changing events.  For their lives would never be the same again and  the years at Middleham, where perhaps they had been their happiest  were over, although their small son, Edward,  would remain there,  perhaps with their hearts.  This was the first complete day of his reign having been asked to take the crown by the Three Estates on the previous day at his mother’s, Cicely Neville, house at Baynard Castle.  Accept he did and perhaps with mixed feelings for as we know it meant putting aside his brother’s, Edward, heir, Edward V.  Its well known the events that led up to this momentuous day and the tragic outcome three years later at Bosworth Field.  But lets focus on that wonderful and joyful  day, when Richard’s and his closest followers hopes were fresh, new and brave.

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Baynards Castle.  Cicely Neville’s London home and where Richard Duke of Gloucester accepted the offer of the throne from the lords and commons.    17th century artists impression.

After formally accepting the throne, the next day 27th June  he went on foot and with a ‘great traine’ to Westminster Hall where he sat himself on the marble throne and addressed the assembly.  With his loyal friend John Howard on his right hand side and the Duke of Suffolk on his left, Richard called before him ‘the Jugys Commaundyng theym in Rigth streygh maner that they Justly & duly shuld mynystir his lawe withowth delay or ffavour, Afftyr which commandement soo to theym govyn and othyr Ceremonyes there ffynsshid, he then good in to the abbay, where at the chirch dore he was mett wyth procescion, and by the abbot or his depute there delyverd to hym the Ceptre of Seynt Edward, he then yood ynto the Shryne and there offyrd..”(1)

And so begun the reign of one of the most enlightened kings ever to sit upon the throne of England –  LOYALTIE ME LIE.

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WESTMINSTER HALL

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WESTMINSTER HALL

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Westminster Abbey..

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1) Great Chronicle p232 Richard III The Road to Bosworth P W Hammond & Anne Sutton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SIR WILLIAM STANLEY – TURNCOAT OR LOYALIST?

 

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William Stanley crowning Henry Tudor with the fallen King Richard’s crown in the aftermath of the Battle of Bosworth.  Unknown artist..

It is well documented how, through the treasonable and treacherous actions of Sir William Stanley at Bosworth, Richard lost his crown and his life. He was hacked to death after Stanley, who brought 3000 men with him, intervened at the crucial point when Richard, with his household cavalry in a heroic charge, came within a hair’s breadth of reaching Tudor and despatching him.  There is a story that after Richard’s crown was found under a hawthorn bush, it was Stanley who crowned him.

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19th century engraving of King Richard hacking his way through the enemy ranks in an attempt to reach Henry Tudor.  Artist unknown

Sir William seems to have been one of those people who can run with the hounds and play with the foxes, doing well under Edward IV, who made him Chamberlain of Chester and, interestingly, Steward of the Prince of Wales’ Household(1).  Later Richard made Stanley Chief Justice of North Wales and finally Tudor made him Lord Chamberlain and Knight of the Garter.  It is said that Stanley – step-uncle to Tudor and brother-in-law to Margaret Beaufort – was one of the richest men in England.  Bacon estimated his income at 3000 pounds a year.  Stanley was also step-father to Francis Lovell, having married Lovell’s mother, Joan Beaumont,  widow of John Lovell, 8th Baron Lovell, but I digress!

Fast forward 10 years and it all ended ignominiously at Tower Hill, where Stanley was beheaded on 16 February 1495 for the treasonable act of communicating with Perkin Warbeck.  Stanley was accused of telling Robert Clifford, who informed on him, that if he was sure Perkin was indeed Edward’s son ‘he would never take up arms against him’.

The question I am raising here is not so much about Stanley’s interminable fence-sitting, which is common knowledge  – and a penchant he shared with his brother Thomas – but rather, did Sir William, an apparent dyed-in-the-wool turncoat, capable of the greatest untrustworthiness, actually possess a latent streak of honour, perhaps dating from the time when he was Steward to the Princes of Wales’ Household?  Did his time there give birth to a fierce loyalty to Edward’s sons, that later emerged with such a passion that he risked all, absolutely all,  when he joined the Perkin Warbeck plot?  Did he grow fond of young Edward, later focusing this affection on Edward’s brother, Richard of Shrewsbury, whom Warbeck purported to be?  OR, was he, as the historian Gairdner (2) suggested, merely attempting to secure his position in the event of an invasion?

(1)  Ramsay, Lancaster and York, ii 482

(2) W A J Archbold ‘Sir William Stanley and Perkin Warbeck’ English Historical Review 14( 1899) pp 529-534. ‘On 14 March (year unknown) Gairdner suggested in a note to Archbold that Stanley may ‘simply have wanted to secure his position with both sides in case of an invasion’.  I am grateful for this information which I have gleaned from Helen Maurer’s ‘Whodunit – The Suspects in the Case’.

 

 

 

 

 

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