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

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

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

https://sparkypus.com/2020/07/06/mary-plantagenet-daughter-of-edward-iv-elizabeth-wydeville-a-life-cut-short/

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. 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..

If you liked this post you might be interested in:

https://sparkypus.com/2020/05/26/the-coronation-chair-and-stone-of-scone/

https://sparkypus.com/2020/05/16/the-coronation-feast-of-king-richard-lll-and-his-queen/

https://sparkypus.com/2020/05/18/crosby-place-home-to-the-duke-and-duchess-of-gloucester/

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’.

 

 

 

 

 

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

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The Great South Gate now known as St John’s Gateway as it is today 

Shortly after the death of his wife, Anne Neville on the 16th March 1485 Richard rode to the Priory of the Knights Hospitaller of St John at Clerkenwell.  .  On the 30 March 1485,  which fell on a Wednesday (1)  King Richard III stood in the great hall of the Priory and addressing the Mayor, Aldermen and others gathered there denied in a ‘loud and distinct voice’ he had never intended to marry Elizabeth of York (2).   We know this thanks to the Croyland Chronicler.  The Chronicler never one to  miss out on an opportunity to throw some mud at Richard spitefully added that many supposed he made the denial,  to suit the wishes of those who advised him to that effect, than in conformity with his own’...yes because of course when one is lying and dissembling before a large crowd one always speaks in a loud and distinct voice!   The rest is history and it is the Priory which is my subject here today.

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Steel engraving of St John’s Gate by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd 1829-83.  Note the inscription as described by Stow appertaining to the rebuilding completed by Prior Docwrey 1504.

The original Priory  founded about 1100, by Jorden Briset (3)  on a site which covered 10 acres of land, had  a chequered  history,  being burnt down by a mob in the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt , who caused it to burn for seven days allowing noone  to quench the flames,  being  rebuilt,  and  not being finished until 1504 by Prior Thomas Docwrey.   However it must have been sufficiently grand enough in 1485  for Richard to hold  his  council there.   The Priory’s troubles were not yet over,  later being  suppressed by order of Henry VIII . Still,  according to Stow   the priory church and house were ‘preserved from spoil of being pulled down’ and were ’employed as a storehouse for the kings toils and tents for hunting and wars etc.,’ (4) .  Don’t hold your breath though,  for moving on,  in the third year of Henry’s son,  Edward VI, reign, ‘the church for the most part, to wit, the body and the side aisles, with the great bell tower, a most curious piece of workmanship, graven, gilt and enamelled, to the great beautifying of the city, and passing all other I have seen, was undermined and blown up with gun powder.  The stone thereof was employed in the building of the Lord Protector’s house at the Strand.  That part of the choir which remaineth, with some side chapels, was by Cardinal Pole, in the reign of Queen Mary, closed up at the West End and otherwise repaired.  Sir Thomas Tresham, knight, was then made lord prior with restitution of some lands” (5). me: the first Somerset House and also the porch of Allhallows Church, Gracechurch Street, which sadly was lost in the Great Fire of London)  Unfortunately this revival of fortunes did not last as the priory was again suppressed in the first years of Elizabeth l’s reign.

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Watercolour by John Wykeham Archer 1842 showing the poor condition the Gate was in.

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An engraving by Joseph Pennell 1860-1926 in which some the vaulting of the gateway can be seen.

As late as 1878  some of the remains of Prior Docwrey’s church had survived in the south and east walls and the capitals and rib mouldings underpinning  the pews (6)  The church was gutted by bombing in 1941 and what we see today is more or less after that date being rebuilt in the 1950s.    The outline of the original round church,  consecrated in 1185,  is marked out in St John’s Square in front of today’s church(7)

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Outline of the old church which stands in front of today’s church

Today all that  remains of this once magnificent  range of buildings are the Grand South Gate now known as St John’s Gate,  largely reconstructed in the 19th century  and the crypt which has survived beneath the nearby parish church of St John.

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Closeup of the badges.  Photo Rob@SONICA

So sadly we may not be able today to  stand in the Great Hall as Richard did when his voice, strong and steady, rung out to deny the insidious rumours – for we now know they were indeed just rumours as plans were afoot for him to marry a Portuguese princess and Elizabeth a Duke – but we can most certainly walk through the Great Gateway which Richard rode through that day.

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ST JOHNS PRIORY SUPERIMPOSTED ON A MODERN STREET PLAN @BHO

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THE PRIORY ENGRAVING BY WENCESLAUS HOLLAR 1656

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(1) The Itinerary of King Richard lll Rhoda Edwards p34 Mercers Court Minutes pp 173-4

(2) Croyland p.499

(3 ) Stow A survey of London p363

(4)  Stow A Survey of London p 364

(5)  Stow A Survey of London P364

(6)  Also spelt  Docwra

(7) St John Clerkenwell Wikipeda

(8) Survey of London: Volume 46, South and East Clerkenwell.

 

MINSTER LOVELL HALL, HOME TO FRANCIS LOVELL VISCOUNT LOVELL

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Minster Lovell at sunset @Colin Whitaker

Minster Lovell Hall, Oxfordshire  lies in beautiful,  atmospheric ruins set amongst trees besides the River Windrush in the heart of the Cotswolds.     Pevensey describes these ruins to be ‘still the most picturesque  in the country’.   It was at least the second manor house to be built by the Lovells on that site, the first having been built in the 12th century.  William Lovell Baron Lovell and Holand (d.13 June 1455) already rich and having  increased his wealth by a  very advantageous marriage,  built the second Hall  some time after  his return from the wars in France in 1431(1)  Its unclear whether part of the earlier buildings were incorporated into the new one as Pevensey suggests or the old buildings were entirely demolished.  But undoubtedly  materials from the older buildings would have been recycled in the new build.   The foundations of the earlier house were discovered beneath the east and west wings in the 1937/39.   It remained  home to the Lovells up until the Wars of the Roses.

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A drawing of the Hall as it may have appeared in the 15th c.  Alan Sorrell

DIAGRAM MINSTER LOVELL

Site plan.  Minster Lovell . Photo A J Taylor

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The porch and  Hall from the north.  Photo @ Guy Thornton

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Same view of the porch and Hall from an engraving by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck 1729

Undoubtedly one of the best known of the Lovells is Francis Lovell b.1457.   Francis was a close and loyal friend to King Richard III.  Both had been  wards of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, known as the Kingmaker and both spent part of their childhoods at Middleham Castle although possibly not at the same time.    Francis’ life is documented elsewhere and I dont want to go into it too deeply here but suffice to say history has judged him kindly.  He seldom fails to get a mention in any fictional work about Richard and as far as I can tell he generally comes over as a good egg.  Of course there is the infamous rhyme that was pinned to the door of old St Paul’s.  ‘The Cat, the Rat and Lovel our dogge, Rule all England under an Hog’.  The author of the rhyme William  Colyngbourne, was later to get the chop, or hung drawn and quartered to be precise, under a charge of treason for another matter, although I should imagine the rhyme was burnt into everyones memories present  at the trial.  Strangely enough Colyingbourne was once employed by Cicely Neville, Richard’s mother and its been suggested he may have copped the needle when Richard wrote to her requesting Colyngbourne’s position be transferred to someone of Richard’s choice (2 ).   However I don’t wish to go off on a tangent here so back to Minster Lovell and the Lovells.

Its  unclear whether Lovell was at Bosworth as Richard had sent him to guard the south coast against Henry Tudor’s threatened invasion     Attainted of high treason after Bosworth in 1486 his lands were granted to Jasper Tudor, who held them until his death in 1495 after which they reverted back to the Crown.  However having survived the  aftermath of Bosworth,  June 1487  found Lovell at the Battle of Stoke, where, as the story goes, he was last seen making his escape( 3)

After that Francis disappears into the mists of time.  This leads to the 18th century tale of   during  the process  of a ‘new laying’ of a chimney,  a  secret room was discovered  wherein  a skeleton assumed  to be that of Francis was found.   The skeleton, which was ‘sitting at a table. which was before him, with a book, paper, pen etc etc’, conveniently disappeared  into a puff of dust upon the room being opened (4).    The conversation which followed, if it ever happened, which I doubt,  can well be imagined  ‘what happened to the body dolt?’ – ‘it disappeared into a cloud of dust sir’.  Hopefully this old chestnut has been well and truly put to bed now.

Anyway – the manor house was built around a quadrangle with the southern side facing  the Windrush,.  Its hard to imagine a more idyllic site.  Approached from the north a diaper patterned cobbled  path leads up to the entrance porch which leads into the  hall.  The solar and private apartments are grouped to the west, the kitchen and service quarters to the east.  There was a chapel to the north of the hall above the entrance porch.  Nothing remains of the chapel today, the four windows of which can be seen in Buck’s engraving.

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The diaper patterned cobbled  path leading up to the Porch

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Vaulting on the ceiling of the porch

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Interior of the Hall.  Photo @Martin Beek

In 1602 the Hall was sold to the Coke family who owned it until 1812.  It was during the ownership of the Cokes that the Hall was dismantled about 1747.  ‘The remains were then left to fall into decay although part of them were used as farm buildings (5). It then passed through several owners until finally in 1935, the then owner, a Mrs Agnetha Terrierre passed the ownership into the hands of the state.

THE SOLAR

The solar was accessed by a staircase south of the dais in the Hall.  Lit by two large transomed windows, both with tracery, it had a fireplace, traces of which can still be seen, and set of stairs leading up to the chapel.  The solar would have been the personal and private  chamber for the family.  Perhaps it was in this room that Francis spent time with his friend, now King Richard III, when Richard stayed at the Minster Lovell in 1483 during his Progress  after his Coronation.

North West Building

This once two storied building, which probably contained further private apartments of the Lord and his family initially survived the  destruction of the 17th century and was being used in the mid 19th century as a barn –  a door being cut into one of the walls to enable carts to be driven in.  This unsurprisingly led to the roof collapsing.   Then a small cottage was built in that area, the foundations of which have now been removed.  All that remains of this cottage is a small fireplace built into the north wall and a window that was partially blocked up.   The upper floor had transomed windows with window seats on the west side.

WEST WING

There were five room in this wing which led to the South West Tower.

South West Tower

The tower consisted of 4 floors, the top floor having battlements.  Its slightly later than the rest of the buildings being later 15th Century.  On the ground floor were garderobes, the pit being on the side nearest the river.  A external staircase led to the first floor and access to the remaining floors.

On the East Side of the courtyard were situated the kitchens, bakehouse and stables.

ST KENELMS CHURCH

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‘Lovell’ tomb in St Kenelm’s church.   photo@Aidan McRae Thomson

We cannot depart the Hall without a look around  St Kenelm’s Church which stands close by.    Most of the church that can been seen today is 15th century built on earlier foundations.  In the transept can be found a fine alabaster tomb chest with the effigy of a knight.  The effigy’s armour and the costumes of the weepers  dates  it to the mid 15th century.  Traditionally a member of the Lovell family it could be either William Lovell d.1455 or more probably his son John d.1465 (6). Unfortunately  due to the lack of an inscription it cannot be said with certainty whose monument it is.

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St Kenelms Church seen beyond the ruins of the North West building.  Photo @Canis Manor

Entry into this  wonderful place, now in the care of English Heritage, is free of charge.  If you should ever fancy a wander around these evocative ruins I would suggest you wrap up and go in the quieter months.  The summer months  can be  rather busy with families picnicking and children splashing in the River Windrush.  And who can blame them – there are not many places that can match Minster Lovell for being quite so magical.

For an interesting article on the tomb click here

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1) BHO Minster Lovell: Manors and other estates pp184-192

2) Richard wrote a letter to his mother 3 June 1484 requesting ‘my lord Chamberlaine..be your officer in Wiltshire in such as  Colynborne had’  Richard III Crown and People p105 Kenneth Hillier

3) According to Francis Bacon ‘there went a report that he fled and swum over the Trent on horseback but could not recover the other side and so was drowned.  But another report leaves him not there but that he lived long in a cave or vault’.

4) Letter written by William Cowper, clerk of the Parliament to Francis Peck, an antiquarian 1737.

5) Minster Lovell Hall p3 A J Taylor

6) Memorials of the Wars of the Roses p151 W E Hampton

 

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