Edward V, the Coldridge Mystery and the Telegraph article


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

Here is a link to an interesting article in the Telegraph.   For those unable to access the article it’s also available on Yahoo News.  Following my posts –   A Portrait of Edward V and Perhaps Even a Resting Place – St Matthew’s Church Coldridge and a guest post  –  A PORTRAIT OF EDWARD V AND THE MYSTERY OF COLDRIDGE CHURCH Part II –  by John Dike  a Coldridge resident and who has been leading Philippa Langley’s The Missing Princes Project team in Devon,  I am very happy to see this very plausible theory getting  the publicity it deserves.     Bill Gardner is Deputy News Editor of the Telegraph, and whose interest first being piqued by the Missing Princes Project,  decided to have a catchup and recently travelled down to Coldridge to interview John Dike and to take a look around the church.  The resultant article was published in the  Telegraph on the 29 December 2021.     I think its  exciting and hopefully an indication that this theory –  which is up to now  one of the most plausible –  of what became of one of the sons of Edward IV  will become more widely known about  and a refreshing antidote to the relentless,  tedious  and monotonous stories  that the ‘Princes in the Tower’ were murdered.    

A reminder of some of the clues in Coldridge Church : TELEMMGLPICT000280247840_trans_NvBQzQNjv4Bq1zPfz5GIcOQjfqmZGh-d0XyUesFH2oVwqDbDxMdqBnM

Yorkist emblems.  Here a White Rose of York and a Sunne in Splendour..  Photo Dale Cherry

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Sunne in Splendour effigy.  Photo John Dike.

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The open crown above the image of Edward V but which originally would have been in a different window – possibly the Chantry over a royal coat of arms.  Note the deer in the ermine instead of the usual stoats tails.  Surely a nod to John Evans as Parker at Coldridge Deer Park?


St Matthews Church, Coldridge beneath a glowering Devon sky.  Could this be the burial place of John Evans who possibly was Edward V, son of Edward IV who lived out his life incognito in Coldridge.

Footnote.  Another thought is that Edward V could have been present at the Battle of Stoke 16th June 1487.  A young lad had been crowned King Edward in Dublin on the 24th May 1487 by die hard Yorkists.  This  ‘King Edward’ was found after the battle but the heralds recorded that although the young King Edward was taken,  his real name was ‘John’  ‘And there was taken the lade that his rebelles called King Edwarde (whoos name was in dede John) – by a vaylent and a gentil esquire of the kings howse called Robert Bellingham’ (1)Is it possible that this ‘John’ was John Evans of Coldridge who in actual fact was Edward V.  Is it also possible that this young man was badly wounded especially around the face, or even had his face purposefully disfigured and then returned to live out his life in Coldridge?  This would explain why  the face of the older man in the window at Coldridge appears to be badly scarred?


The face in the window of the mature man who appears to be scarred around the mouth and an opaque eye.  Carries a crown and wearing ermine.   Could this be John Evans – who in his life as Edward V was wounded at the Battle of Stoke?

  1. Chroniques de Jean Molinet ed. G Doutrepont and O Jordogne Brussells 1935.  Translation taken from Michael Bennett’s Lambert Simnel and the Battle of Stoke. See also Heralds’Memoir  1486-1490 pp.116-17 E. Cavell.

Links to other posts with links to Coldridge.




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


6. Lady Katherine Gordon – Wife to Perkin Warbeck


The Augustinian Priory of St Mary Merton and its Destruction.


One of Merton Priory’s gates.  Possibly entrance to the guest accommodation or hospitium thought to have been located to the west of the priory.   Rebuilt and resited in 1935 outside St Mary’s Church, Merton.  Photo thanks to Mr Joel’s Photography.

Merton Abbey, Colliers Wood, London, SW19 does not exactly conjure up ‘magnificent’ does it?  In fact it sounds like the headquarters of one of those clothing catalogues so popular in the 1970s.  And yet that is exactly what Merton Abbey  or Merton Priory  to give it its correct name was – magnificent.   Founded in 1117 by Gilbert le Norman, Sheriff of Surrey who would die at the priory in 1125.  Built on the banks of the River Wandle the priory was on a par with great abbeys such as that at Westminster and  until its total destruction in 1538 numbered amongst the largest and most important of the monastic houses covering an area of 60 acres.  Westminster would  survive, although no longer a monastery, no doubt aided by the fact that even Henry VIII could hardly destroy the burial place of his parents.    However the Augustinian Merton Priory along with  many others did not.  It was razed to the very ground it stood upon and practically no visible signs a prestigious priory once stood there remains.     Every part of it from stones to roof  slates was carted away to build Henry’s new palace, later known as Nonsuch Palace, which was built upon the site of the medieval village of Cuddington. Fifty carters were employed from Cheam, Clapham, Cuddington, Malden, Merton, Mitcham, Morden, Putney, Sutton, Tooting, Wandsworth and Wimbledon. Each received eightpence for a ton load for the four mile journey and by July 1538 2719 tons of stone had been conveyed from the priory to Cuddington (1).

The village, its  church and burials,  were demolished  to make way for Henry’s new extravaganza.  Nonsuch would in its  turn suffer the same fate and also be totally razed to the ground.   However remnants of the priory were recovered from the site of Nonsuch such as the beautiful ceiling boss below.


Ceiling boss recovered from the site of Nonsuch Palace in 1959 but originally part of the Priory.  Museum of London. Photo Mike Peel.

The priory’s location was lost until the 1920s and later excavations in the 1970s revealed the foundations of the chapter house.   Further foundations were revealed in the 1980s.   Today a few remnants remain above ground such as a small  section of wall rebuilt using  materials from the original and a 12th century gateway that was also rebuilt in 1990 and moved to a different position.  A marker indicates its original site.   Much of the foundations of priory are now below Sainsbury’s Savacentre  but the remains of the chapter house  were left uncovered and can be seen today  in an enclosed area below Merantun Way, the road which was built in 1988.  This road was originally known as the A24, the straightness of which bear witness to its origins as a Roman road which later evolved into a medieval thoroughfare  known as Stane/Stone Street.  Such is progress although it pains me to say so.  


Head with coronet discovered in 1797 on the site of the priory by Sir William Hamilton. The head would have originally been painted, and the coronet  around the head, gilded, with traces of the latter still visible. Hairstyle closely resembling the popular hairstyle dating from the early 15th century  – think of a young Henry V.  In fact is this Henry V?  See portrait below for comparison. Owned by the Society of Antiquaries of London now on loan to the British Museum.   


Henry V, as Prince of Wales.  Artist Homas Hoccleve c.1411-1413.

Many important personages are associated with Merton Priory including:

Thomas a Becket (c.1118-1170) Educated at Merton from 1128 aged 10.    Thomas would later employ Robert, one of the priory’s canons as his chaplain and confessor.  

Nicholas Breakspeare In c.1120 the only Englishman to become pope as Adrian IV.

Henry Ist (1068-1135) Lay in repose at the priory in 1135.

King John (1166-1216) Said to have stopped off at Merton on his way to nearby Runnymede and it was from Merton that he issued letters of safe conduct to allow the barons to leave London.  

Henry III (1207-1272) A major patron and having stayed at the priory no less than 54 times had his own quarters there.  It was from Merton when he was nine years old he attended a peace conference between England and France. He would instruct his own mason to aid with major rebuilding work that was in progress between 1222 and the 1260s after a severe storm caused the spire to collapse.  Supplied a total of 16 oaks from Windsor forest towards the work.   Henry brought his bride Eleanor of Provence to the Priory 1236 after their wedding at Canterbury Cathedral for their honeymoon.  

Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent (1180-1243).  Henry III’s Justiciar.   Took himself to Merton  Priory to prepare his defence in 1232 after falling out of the king’s favour.  Things got a bit sticky for Hubert –  and the priory –  when he refused to leave and a very cross king ordered him to be seized dead or alive.    A mob of armed London citizens, who had their own axes to grind, Hubert having hanged the leader of a popular riot in 1222,  begun to wend their merry way to Merton (2).  Things were rapidly getting out of control  and the Bishop of Chichester pleaded with Henry to call a halt to these events while the Earl of Chester warned Henry about the danger of mob rule.   Henry wisely listened and aborted the lynching which no doubt would have taken place.  Hubert, who had spent the intervening period awaiting the mobs arrival prostrated in a state of undress  before the altar,  took the opportunity to leave the Priory, possibly by a back entrance if he had any sense, and enter sanctuary at Brentwood Chapel in Essex.  He would be removed from there and deposited in the Tower for a while until things blew over.   Surprisingly Hubert would survive until 12 May 1243 when he died ‘full of days’ at Banstead on  the 12th May 1243 and was buried at Blackfriars (3)  Today Hubert is remembered in a local road – De Burgh Road. 


Hubert de Burgh at Merton.  Hubert is depicted kneeling, holding a cross, before the altar at Merton in 1232.  Image taken from Historia Anglorum.  Artist Matthew Paris. British Library. 

Walter de Merton (c.1205-1277).  Studied at the priory.  Founded Merton College in 1264 and set aside two manors in Surrey for the support of ‘scholars residing at Merton‘.   This Merton College would later be transferred to Oxford after Walter purchased two houses there and so was founded the collegiate systems at both Oxford and Cambridge.   

Henry VI (1421-1471).  On Ist November 1437 Henry held a crown wearing ceremony at the priory to mark the emergence from his minority (4).   

Mary Ist (1516-58). Visited while she was still a princess in 1532 having supper there on the 17th October and staying until dinner on the 19th.  

The initial major building work was not to be the last for in 1393 the Prior notified the Bishop of Winchester that the chapel was ‘in a truely decayed and ruinous state and that further repairs were needed (5). Tragically it would take a much, much shorter time to destroy  the glorious priory that had evolved and taken centuries to reach completion.  Strange as it may seem but gothic buildings were fairly easy to demolish.  As Lionel Green who has made an extensive study of the priory explains ‘Each arch depended on the support of a neighbour. A miner could dig under one of the crossing piers, shoring up with timber as worked progressed. A fire lit within the shoring would sink the pier, and all the arches above it would collapse. Adjoining arcades, deprived of their abutment, would fall, bringing down the heavy vaults they had safely carried for centuries’ (6).   To add to the tragedy the destruction of the Priory was not even to echo what happened to other  priories and abbeys such as Whitby, Rievaulx, Hailes, Glastonbury and so many others that left glorious and evocative ruins.   Merton’s destruction would be complete.   

In the 17th century the site became known as Merton Abbey, a name that has stuck ever since and used for various industries.  It has been excavated several times  between 1921 and 2004 and a wealth of artefacts found including pre medieval finds such as prehistoric pick axes and Roman building material.  Medieval finds from the priory include moulded stone fragments, window glass, roof tiles, decorative tiles, pottery, lead coffin, leather shoes, buckles, keys, knives, coins and much else including 738 burials.   One poignant find was  a gold ring inscribed ‘je ne weil aymer autre que vous’  which translates  I am not seeking to love anyone other than you’..


Fragments of a glass window.  Museum of London.   Photo Mike Peel.


Remnants of a traceried window.  Now in the Museum of London.  Photo Mike Peel.


  Buried without coffins the remains of two adult males and child.  Tumbled together with obvious haste they were possibly plague victims. Photo Museum of London Archaeology Service 

But how did the demise of the Priory impact on the local population? These people would have always had the Priory in their lives, their parents and grandparents before them and its importance to them cannot be underestimated.  Throughout their lives it would have been a source of comfort to them, a hospital, a source of employment, somewhere they could get alms from should they fall on hard times and a safe haven for travellers.    It’s easy to imagine the despair which would have been felt by many as they saw it crashing down before their very eyes.   I will leave it to  Lionel Green  – whose in depth  and superbly researched articles on  the Priory can be found on the The Merton Historical Website  and who puts it so eloquently: 

‘Day after day, day after day, the smoke and dust must have pervaded the district, visible from the surrounding hills. Tears must have been shed as the villagers of Wimbledon, Morden, Mitcham and Tooting witnessed the collapse of the tower, so familiar as part of the view from the heights of Wimbledon and St Mary’s church, from the Ridgway, from Cannon Hill, from Morden and St Lawrence’s church, from Mitcham and its church of St Peter and St Paul and from Park Hill in Tooting. That which had dominated the view for centuries was no more’ (7).

  1. Destruction of a Monastery. Lionel Green. Merton Historical Society who quotes National Archives E 101/477/12 as his source.
  2.  Roger de Wendover Chronica vol.iv p.250
  3.  Seeking Sanctuary at Merton.  Lionel Green. Merton Historical Society.  Bulletin 134 June 2000 p.8
  4.  Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Henry VI. R.A Griffiths.
  5. historicengland.org.uk 
  6. The Destruction of a Priory.  Lionel Green.  Online article of the Merton Historical Society. Bulletin 148 p.11. December 2003
  7. Ibid.

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The Middleham Jewel, AD 1450-1500.  Photo Anthony  Chappel Ross, Courtesy York Museums Trust.

Two metal detectorists have recently had a sumptous litte find.  A tiny gold bible beautifully engraved.  Which is great.  But what makes their find super great is that it is yet another discovery made near the remains of castles that were once Neville strongholds.  For this new find was found close to  a footpath on farmland near Sheriff Hutton and the previous two finds, the jewel now known as the Middleham Jewel and a ring were both found near, of course,  Middleham Castle.  This has led to speculation they were both owned by members of the Neville family.


The tiny gold bible.  The Yorkshire Museum had said that the figures depict St Leonard and St Margaret, both patron saints of childbirth.

Now – before I proceed any further I must give thanks to John Cherry, of the British Museum and his book The Middleham Jewel and Ring from which I have gleaned much of my information.   I recommend this book for anyone wanting to know all there is to know about the Jewel and the ring, especially the ring which sometimes gets overshadowed by the grandeur of the jewel.  



The Middleham Jewel.  Photo yorkshiremusem.org.uk

This jewel which is nothing short of spectacular  was found in September 1985 next to a path which led from  Jervaulx Abbey to  Middleham Castle and then to Coverham Abbey  by a Mr Ted Seaton and initially was sold at auction by Mr Seaton and the owners of the land for £1.3 million.  However when it was deemed by The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art to be ‘outstanding’ the Yorkshire Museum mounted a fund raising campaign and managed to raise £2.5 million.  The jewel was thus saved for the nation. There is, pleasingly, at the back of the book a list of the donors who enabled the jewel to be saved for the nation.  Thank you very much, each and everyone of you!

The jewel consists of a gold lozenge shaped pendant 64 mm high and 48 mm wide weighing 62.65 grammes engraved with religious scenes and figures.  To the front is a beautiful sapphire,  a latin inscription and an engraving of the Trinity.  The back has figures of 15 saints, the Lamb of God and an engraving of the Nativity. Experts have dated it to the third quarter of the 15th century and it would have been worn as a pendant on a very rich lady’s necklace or collar.  There are several examples of similar pendants to be found on various effigies and  brasses as well as the drawings of the Rous Roll which features ladies of the Neville family.

Where would such a jewel, very likely a ‘specific commission’, have been made? John Cherry suggests London where large congregations of goldsmith were located in Cheapside.  There was, of course also goldsmiths on London Bridge aplenty which was a kind of medieval Bond Street.  Hmmm – perhaps – however there would surely have been goldsmiths in York?   There are small holes around the edges which indicate that when it left the goldsmith’s shop,  all sparkly and new,  it had a metalwork frame to which were attached pearls.  It must have been amazingly beautiful and it’s easy to imagine the joy of the lady who received it.  Was it a gift from an indulgent husband to his wife or had the lady commissioned the piece herself?


One of the illustrations from the book.  Detail from a border of a Flemish manuscript in the Bodleian Library, Oxford,  illustrating a similar jewel with its pearls intact.

The jewel was artfully designed so that by pressing against four of the saints the back slid open.  The sliding plate could be locked by means of the little key which turned a piece of gold inside the jewel.  This locking system no longer works.  Interestingly the jewel, which still retains remains of  enamelling in parts,  shows signs it was at sometime in its life repaired.  This would indicate it had been well worn and perhaps even passed on – perhaps mother to daughter?  

The sapphire probably was not the only precious stone that adorned the jewel.  Amazingly there are signs this sapphire did not begin its life on the jewel but had been recycled as it is pierced along its sides as if it was once worn strung perhaps on a necklace before it was placed on the jewel in a prominent position above the exquisitely engraved Trinity.   This stone  itself served a dual purpose – that of protection plus devotion.  

Around the edges of the front of the jewel is finely engraved Ecce agnus dei qui tollis peccata mundi (Behold the lamb of god who takes away the sins of the world). These words would have been recited by the priest in the Mass shortly before Communion and would have been very familiar to someone who lived in the 15th century  The first letter ‘E‘ still has remains of the original enamel.   The last two words of the inscription are Tetragrammaton, the four Hebrew letters used to indicate the name of God and Ananizapta, used as a magical word to protect against drunkenness or epilepsy.  These two words were believed to be  effective against illness and John Cherry believes that this would suggest the owner of the jewel was worried about health matters and would have looked upon the jewel as a protection against illness of even death.   

So who was the original owner of the Middleham jewel?   Well if the dating is correct the most obvious candidate for that would be Anne Beauchamp (1426-1492) Countess of Warwick and wife to Richard Neville later known as the ‘Kingmaker.’ They were married as children and later Middleham Castle would be one of their homes.   Anne was not greatly fecund only having  two children that made it to adulthood.  She was however known for her care and comforting of women in labour – ‘Glad to be at and with women that traueld of chyld’  – so it’s conceivable the jewel with its nod to protecting ladies in pregnancy and labour would have had a strong appeal to her (1).  It’s poignant to remember that Anne’s skill and empathy to women in labour would have been never more needed than  on the 16th April 1470 when her own daughter, Isobel,  had the misfortune to go into labour onboard a ship, outside Calais,  that had been denied permission to land.   A truly horrendous situation for all involved and with the tragic result that the baby was either born dead or lived only a very short time and was buried at sea.   

Could Anne have lost the jewel one day when she was travelling along that footpath close to her home?  Or bearing in mind that the jewel shows signs of wear and repair perhaps she gave it to her eldest daughter, Isobel who was to marry George Duke of Clarence and was to have, as far as is known, 4 children, two of whom died soon after birth including the little one born at sea.   When Isobel died on the 22 December 1476 aged 25 was the jewel returned to her mother who maybe then passed it to her youngest daughter Anne, then Duchess of Gloucester?  Middleham was the favourite home of the young duchess before she became queen.   Was Queen Anne the last owner and the one who lost the jewel?   Whoever it was it’s easy to imagine the distress its loss  would have caused the loser.  Perhaps it was  stolen and  lost by the thief making a hurried exit?   We will of course never know.  


Anne Beauchamp.  Latin version of the Rous Roll.   Photo the Heraldry Society.



Interior of the ring which has been engraved with the word ‘Sovereynly’ which translates to ‘In a regal or sovereign like manner’  Photo : York Museums Trust 


The exterior of the ring decorated with twelve esses similar to those found in the  livery collars of the Kings and Dukes of Lancaster including John of Gaunt. 

The ring which is large, and designed to wear over a glove, was found in the East Park at Middleham, in September 1990.  Decorated with 12 esses,  the areas between the letters were originally enamelled black.  Thus the gold letters would have shone out.  The engraved  word ‘Sovereynly’  in the interior of the ring may be linked  to ‘Sovereyne’  which was the motto of Henry IV prior to him becoming king in 1399 and when he was the Earl of Derby and if so it would have been worn to indicate the wearer was a supporter of Henry or it may even have been a gift from him (2).  


Splendid example of a Lancastrian collar of esses c.1447.  Lord Bardolph, church of St Mary, Dennington, Suffolk.  Photo mira66 @ flkr.

In the 1930s other objects were found when the moat was cleaned up including a  small copper alloy boar badge, which may have belonged to one of Richard IIIs retainers and which are now on loan to the Yorkshire Museum.  Let us hope these sublime and  important finds won’t be the last.  

  1. Rous Roll 
  2. The Middleham Jewel and Ring p.11. 

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Dublin, Ireland, Ascension day, 24th May,  1487 (1).     A young lad is crowned King of England and France and Lord of Ireland in Christ Church Cathedral by the last remaining diehard Yorkist rebels and leading Irish nobles.  As the coronation regalia was out of reach at Westminster, London, they enterprisingly utilised a crown from a statue of the Virgin Mary.  From the very get go there is confusion as to whether he was crowned Edward V or Edward VI but the consensus of opinions lean towards the latter.   Who this young lad was has baffled historians ever since not helped by the fact that the very people that crowned him annoyingly changed their minds over who they were actually crowning – was it Richard of Shrewsbury or Edward Earl of Warwick?  Perhaps Richard can be ruled out swiftly because the heralds of the time addressed the Dublin King as Edward. However there is no confusion as to whom the actual  ‘suspects’ in the case were though being :

Richard of Shrewsbury, youngest son of Edward IV

Edward,  Earl of Warwick, George Duke of Clarence’s son

Edward eldest son of the late Edward IV, who had been for a short time Edward V.

 Lambert Simnel the young boy whom the rebellion became named after.  Let’s take a look at them one by one.  


The choir Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin scene of the ‘Dublin King’s’ Coronation..Photo with thanks to Diliff – own work.  


It was Richard, born 17 August 1473,  who for a while was first named as the new king.  He was of course the youngest of Edward IV’s sons and had disappeared in 1483 with his brother, Edward V, from the Tower of London.  Their story has been told many times and is so well known I won’t  go into it here.  It being put forward that Richard was  the new king  was speedily abandoned and Warwick named in his stead.  Can we rule out for sure that Richard was not the newly crowned king?  Probably but nothing is entirely certain in this foggy story much of it written in the early reign of the first Tudor king.   Did Richard survive the cataclysmic outcome of Stoke  and make his way  to Burgundy to the safe haven that was the court of his aunt, the indomitable Margaret of Burgundy? Did he then go on to morph into Perkin Warbeck to try yet again to gain the throne that had been lost to the Tudors?  

Edward, Earl of Clarence.

 Edward b.25 February 1475, replaced Richard as being identified as the new king.  In the aftermath of the death of his mother, Isobel Neville,daughter of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick,  on the 22 December 1476, his father George,  Duke of Clarence,  may have taken off to Ireland for several weeks (2). He had put the death of his wife and their baby son squarely down to their having  been poisoned.   He was later accused, in the Act of Attainder against him,  of instructing friends and allies namely Abbot John Strensham of Tewkesbury, one of his son’s Godfathers,  John Tapton and Roger Harewell to aid him in getting the two year old out of England and to safety,  Ireland being one of the very places thought of as a possible haven.  This was to be achieved by the three men bringing a small boy to Warwick Castle to take the place of the true son of Clarence. Meanwhile another man, John Taylour was instructed to collect the real Edward in preparation of getting him out of England.    Tapton and Harewell under interrogation, whatever form that took, would deny that they had handed the child over.  Well they would wouldn’t they and their denials in the circumstances really don’t amount to much.  It is not known whether Taylour too denied whether he had carried out his part of the plan and indeed may have even been out of the country and not available for questioning (3).   Whether the plan was a success or a failure, on the execution of Clarence, the small boy,  genuine article or not, was firstly given into the guardianship his father’s enemy Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset and later on for a short time to his aunt, Queen Anne Neville.   He would eventually be placed with other royal children at Sheriff Hutton Castle, Yorkshire,  where following the deaths of both his aunt in March 1485 and his uncle King Richard III at Bosworth in August 1485 he would be given for a short while into the care of Margaret Beaufort at her London home of Coldharbour before being housed in the Tower of London until he was executed on the 28th November 1499.    It should be noted that none of his above guardians would have probably seen hide or hair of him prior to  their guardianship of him so it would be very possible indeed they would not have spotted a changeling boy had been brought to them.  It is rather disturbing to think that if this indeed happened a completely innocent young man  would have been executed, although indeed the true Earl was an innocent too.  

Interestingly a Burgundian  chronicler, Jean de Molinet, writing in about 1504 and free from the restraints of writing under a Tudor regime  wrote that ‘One little branch, engendered by a Royal tree, had been nurtured amongst the fruitful and lordly shrubs of Ireland…. this very noble  branch is Edward, son of the Duke of Clarence…’  As John Ashdown-Hill pointed out,  Molinet’s Burgundian background ‘makes him a very interesting source’ one of the ‘key supporters of the Dublin King’ being Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy.  Margaret was of course aunt to Edward of Warwick as she was to both the sons of Edward IV.  



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

Lambert born c. 1476/7 seems, to me,  the most unlikely candidate.  Why would they have crowned an imposter? It begs the question was Lambert truly Lambert the Imposter, a mere stalking horse,  or were there two Lamberts, one of them a true scion of the house of York or maybe even someone else?   Described by Virgil as a comely youth, and well favoured, not without some extraordinary dignity and grace of aspect’  his story is rather odd from the beginning with a name that screams ‘made up’  and  those not well read in history can be forgiven for confusing him with a character from panto or even a cake that you eat at Easter but in fact early documentation states his father’s name was Thomas Simnel who had connections to Oxford.    His metamorphosis from the son of a joiner or a baker, or organ maker  or a shoemaker, depending what version you are reading,  by a lone priest,  seems rather unlikely.  How would the priest, named either as Richard Simons or William Symonds, again depending on what version you are reading, have been able to coach him so successfully in the minutiae of the Yorkist court?   Certainly  the coaching was  successful for when Henry sent over a herald to Ireland to question him, the herald returned convinced he was someone who would have been at court having answered all his probing questions correctly. He had first appeared at the castle in Dublin in 1486 accompanied by Simons.   Gerald Fitzgerald, earl of Kildare welcomed him after Simons had explained that his young protégé was the young Earl of Warwick who had managed to escape his prison in the Tower of London.     But at the end of the day although we may not know who Lambert truly was, we do know where he was after the battle of Stoke for he was discovered and taken to Henry Tudor.  Henry had him placed to work in the kitchens as a scullion, it is said, although later he would achieve the giddy heights of a falconer and Simons was imprisoned for life.   At one point, Henry, who could be really mischievous at times, bless, had invited several Irish nobles who would have known Simnel by sight including the Earl of Kildare to dine.   The hapless Lambert was charged with pouring them their wine – ‘new King Lambarte Symenell brought them wine to drink…’    The Irish nobles failed to recognise the ‘servant’ attending on them.  Henry gave them a nudge – ‘Ah’ said Henry ‘here is the lad you lot crowned at Dublin – you’ll be crowning monkeys next’ or words to that effect (4).  The joke was somewhat on Henry when still they all failed to recognise Lambert.  Little is known about Lambert’s later life.  Let’s hope it was a good one.  

On Saturday 5 May 1487 John Earl of Lincoln, Francis Viscount Lovell and Martin Swartz, a highly experienced general,  arrived in Dublin along with  2000 veteran German troops supplied by the staunch Margaret of Burgundy.   Margaret   abhorred the mingling of the blood of York and Tudor and yearned to see it thrown down from the throne of England and that of York, pure and undivided, set up in its place’  besides which she liked nothing more than to wind Henry Tudor up.   Lincoln led the call for the young lad to be crowned.  Which he was – the Bishop of Meath performing the ceremony.  After the crowning he was ‘carried from the church to the castle by a chieftain of the name of Darcy’,  said to be man of great height (5). Swiftly following on from this, King Edward, Lincoln,  Lovell and the Irish lords, Thomas and Maurice Fitzgerald along with Swartz crossed the sea from Ireland to Lancashire arriving around the  5th June.   Kildare had recruited 4000 Gaelic kerne to augment their numbers.  Upon their arrival they were joined by Sir Thomas Broughton and his followers, their numbers now swollen to around 8,000.  Still hopelessly outnumbered – it has been suggested Tudor’s army amounted to as many as  36,000 – and expecting no mercy if they were taken the rebels fought bravely until they were almost exterminated to a man (6).  Among those fallen were Lincoln, the Fitzgeralds and the brave Swartz.  Lovell may have escaped and there is a story that he was given refuge in Scotland.  The rather lurid story that he escaped to his ancestral home of Minster Lovell and was there found, a skeleton,  walled up in a hidden room in the 18th century can be discounted as the manor and lands were at the time of Stoke owned by  a rabid follower of Henry, his uncle Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford who held them until his death in 1495.

Edward V  

After the battle, which was fought on the 16 June, the heralds recorded that the young King Edward was taken, only his real name was ‘John’  ‘And there was taken the lade that his rebelles called King Edwarde whoos name was in dede John – by a vaylent and a gentil esquire of the kings howse called Robert Bellingham’ (7).

 The inclusion of the name ‘John’ has been described by Gordon Smith as a perhaps a ‘spontaneous invention recorded shortly afterwards’.     Only wait!  It is perhaps more than a coincidence that there are reasons to believe that Edward V had been living since 1484 incognito under the name of John Evans (EVans…get it!) at Coldridge in Devon one of the properties owned by his half brother, Thomas Grey,  Marquess of Dorset.  After Stoke, if this theory is correct he would return there to live out the remainder of his life perhaps after being grieviously wounded during the battle.   To read more about this theory please read, if you have not already done so  A Portrait of Edward V and Perhaps Even a Resting Place?  and A PORTRAIT OF EDWARD V AND THE MYSTERY OF COLDRIDGE CHURCH…Part II.

And so the last terrible battle of the Wars of the Roses was over.  I’ll not linger upon it.  It is well recorded elsewhere.  But in very brief summary the Yorkist leaders, Thomas Fitzgerald and Martin Swartz lay among the slain but the majority were unnamed and would be  buried in mass graves far from their homes.   It is said only 200 of King Edward’s army survived.  The English and Irish who were captured after were executed while the foreign ones were dismissed.  


One of the most surprising victims of the rebellion was Edward V’s mother and mother-in- law to Henry VII, Elizabeth Wydeville.  Only having recently regained some of the status she had lost during the reign of Richard III she was now the dowager Queen Mother and it came as a bolt out of the blue when after a council meeting at Sheen in February 1487, held to discuss the revolt, her recently acquired gains were removed from her forthwith and she was sent to reside in Bermondsey Abbey while Dorset was sent to the Tower.  She lived out the last years of her life there and her will demonstrates that she was living, if not in penury,  in much straitened circumstances.  Yes, Elizabeth had been caught at it again.  She was involved in the Simnel Rebellion.  This was quite extraordinary as, if the rebellion had succeeded, her own daughter Elizabeth of York would have been ejected from the throne, her little  grandson Arthur disinherited.   No doubt her son-in-law would have got the chop too but every cloud has a silver lining as they say.   Why would she do this? Certainly not for the son of Clarence, a man she had hated,  to take the throne.  Let’s not beat about the bush.  Elizabeth knew that at least one of her sons survived but that is another story for another day.  

Recommended reading- Lambert Simnel and the King from Dublin GORDON SMITH

and The Dublin King by John Ashdown-Hill

  1.    The date of 24th May has  been accepted by some historians as this was the date given in the Earl of Lincoln’s attainder passed by the English Parliament in November 1487.  However historian Randolph Jones believes that the Coronation was actually held 3 days later on the 27th May, which was a Sunday and the usual day that Coronations were held.  See his article A Revised date for the Dublin Coronation of Edward VI.  Ricardian Bulletin June 2009 pp.42-44.2.
  2. John Ashdown-Hill The Third Plantagenet p.133.
  3. The Dublin King p.71 John Ashdown-Hill.

4.See the notes to Gordon Smith’s article ‘Lambert Simnel and King from Dublin, Ricardian:  Book of Howth p.190; Mackie p.74; Potter p.90. There is no firm date for the Irish visit with its jokes about apes and Lambert Simnel’s banquet, but it may be as early as February 1489, when Henry VII reaffIrmed the titles of the Irish lords at Greenwich, CP, vol.1, p.458. The banquet story has been charmingly told by Mackie, based on the Book of Howth. 

5. John Cassell Cassell’s Illustrated History of England p.83 1857.

6. Lambert Simnel and the Battle of Stoke p.131.  Michael Bennett. Chronicles of Jean Molinet.  See also John Ashdown-Hill’s The Dublin King p.100.  

7. Heralds Report.  c.1488-90.  Author: A herald or pursuivant at the court of Henry VII.  British Library, Cotton MS. 

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I’m very pleased to share this intriguing guest post from Janet Reedman aka hoodedman1 @MurreyandBlue. Love him or loathe him, probably the latter, where was the git  – ooooops sorry  – Duke buried??  Thank you hoodedman.


Henry Stafford Duke of Buckingham.  Engraving from a portrait at Magdalan College, Cambridge. Artists John and Paul Knapton, London, c.1747.

Where lies Harry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham?
No one can say for sure, his final resting place is as elusive and entwined with myth and legend as Richard III’s once was.
Stafford, leader of the October 1483 rebellion against Richard, was turned in by one of his own men while hiding in a cottage, apparently in peasant dress, after heavy rain and the flooding of the Severn caused his uprising to fail. He was taken to Salisbury, where on November 2, he was beheaded in the Market Square.
He supposedly begged to speak with Richard, who was staying either at the King’s House in the cathedral close or at the priory at nearby Wilton. Buckingham insisted he had important information for the King. Richard refused to see him, this man he had called ‘the most untrue creature living’ and the execution took place as planned. It was unusual, as it took place on a Sunday, and on All Souls…and it was also the birthday of Edward V (which just may be significant considering Buckingham was named in regards to the Princes’ murders, if murdered they were, in documents both in England and on the Continent.
But what happened to the remains of this great traitor, himself of royal descent, who had perhaps even dreamed of wearing the crown of England himself?
A near contemporary report says he was buried in the church of the Greyfriars in Salisbury. This Franciscan Friary has now completely vanished and stood near to St Anne’s street and Brown street; a commemorative plaque has been set into a building near the presumed spot. This is the only document that mentions his resting place, and there is always the vague possibility they are confusing him with his grandfather, who was buried in Greyfriars in Northampton.
However, a mile outside of the city centre, in the sleepy village of Britford, another tomb claims to be Buckingham’s. A Victorian plaque above it declares that it is his grave. It is the only large memorial in the church—comprising the top of a large canopied tomb, which stands above a smaller tomb-chest capped by Purbeck marble. The chest does in fact bear a shield bearing one of the devices of the Staffords.
But the top of the tomb is probably a hundred years too early, and the chest may be too early as well…although the lid has some features that suggest it was 15th century. Perhaps the tomb was reused for Buckingham’s burial?
Certainly both the canopy and chest came from elsewhere, probably from one of the ruined friaries after the Dissolution. They were not always situated in tiny Britford church. So it could have been taken from Greyfriars.
A good case for the chest actually being Buckingham’s last resting place can be made by one fact—his daughter Anne’s husband, George Earl of Huntingdon, actually owned the manor at Britford. It may well have been Anne who had the tomb removed from the friary at the Dissolution and transported for safety to the village church.
However, it appears to be empty…
So where are Buckingham’s bones?
If you go to Debenham’s, the site of the Blue Boar Inn where Buckingham spent his last night alive, you can have a nice cream tea whilst looked at Buckingham’s not-very-flattering portrait and read a little information the tea room has written on him. They claim that a skeleton was found many years ago under the kitchen flagstones, missing a head and a hand, and that these bones were thought to be the remains of Henry Stafford. They also claimed that the decapitated Duke’s head was sent to London to be placed on ‘Traitor’s Gate’ hence the skeleton found had no skull.
These two stories are problematic. It is highly unlikely even a traitor of the calibre of the Duke would be given a lowly burial in an inn’s kitchen…and goodness knows what the innkeeper would have said! Richard tended to give his slain enemies proper burials, and no doubt he did likewise with Buckingham. There is also no evidence that Buckingham’s head went anywhere other than into the grave with its owner, albeit separated from his shoulders. I believe Traitor’s Gate did not even have this name in Richard’s era. This skeleton, if it existed at all, was probably an Anglo-Saxon or even prehistoric resident of Salisbury.
Another distant possibility is that Stafford was buried in a chapel out at Old Sarum castle, a mile or so beyond Salisbury. This once mighty castle was already ruinous at the time of the execution, but there was one chapel still in use in the 15th century, mainly for wayfarers. In Victorian times the chapel was excavated and a skeleton found  either near the high altar or in the ambulatory–of a man who had been beheaded, but who was also wearing a prisoner’s manacles. His head lay between his knees. This unusual burial was never mentioned as a candidate for Buckingham but was rather mysteriously thought to be William of Eu, who lost a duel at Sarum in the reign of William Rufus. However, it is  is unlikely to be William, for it would be very hard to fight a duel wearing irons…and, besides that, William of Eu did NOT die at Sarum, but although hideously mutilated after losing the fight, retired somewhere near Hastings and lived on for some years….
So there was a mysterious medieval burial at Sarum, high status by its position in the church but decapitated and wearing criminals’ irons …which, sadly, has now gone missing (the bones, that is; the irons are still owned by Salisbury Museum.)
Maybe in a lab somewhere there is a battered box marked ‘Sarum’ that could contain the elusive Duke. Or maybe he is still under the floor of the destroyed Salisbury Greyfriars like Richard was in Leicester Greyfriars, with roads and buildings above him. Perhaps one day someone will open that dusty box or discover a likely burial, decide to take a closer look and do some tests.
Any Staffords out there who can donate some dna?

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

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

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

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

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

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

SCAN 2 1

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

Details of Isobel are rather scant.  But we know that on Tuesday 11 July 1469 life begun to change for her in a dramatic way when she and George were married in Calais her father being Captain of that place,  an act that had been furiously vetoed by Edward IV, his relationship with her father having grown hostile.  The papal dispensation that was required –  they were blood relations in the second and third degree –  had been granted on 14 March 1469.  The ceremony had been performed by the bride’s uncle George Neville Archbishop of York and was followed by five days of festivities.    However soon after the celebrations were over her father and husband sailed to Sandwich while the new duchess, her mother and sister remained in Calais no doubt in states of high anxiety (2).    Warwick and his new son-in-law’s  plan was to oust the voracious and annoying Widvilles – denouncing them in public for their  ‘disceyvabille covetous rule‘ –   once and for all.   At the battle of Edgcote the results went their way.  Earl Rivers and his son John Wydeville were captured and both executed at Kenilworth on the 12 August. Edward, although not disposed,  was in their custody.  Rumours were circulating at the time that Edward was a bastard.  If this were the case then George would be the rightful king and Isobel queen.  What’s not to like? They appeared to be on a roll.   Although the precise date is not known it was around this time that the  Countess, Isobel and Anne returned to England.   However man makes plans and the gods laugh as they say and Warwick and George’s plan soon went pear-shaped.  Warwick had no choice other than to release an uncooperative Edward.  It seemed an uneasy peace was made between the trio for the time being at least, forced upon them somewhat by the Council.  It’s highly unlikely given the personalities involved that any of the men were happy bunnies and things may therefore have been a bit sticky for the ladies who no doubt had to put up with some melodramatics in what must have been a period of more intense worry in their lives.  They didn’t have to wait too long for things to implode.   In March 1470 a rebellion in Lincolnshire led by Sir Robert Welles,  but highly likely fermented by Warwick,  led to Edward marching northwards to suppress it.   Warwick and George struck while the iron was hot. Leaving their family at Warwick, they travelled eastwards to attack Edward.  Failing in that endeavour they returned to Warwick to pick up the ladies with Isobel now being well advanced in her first pregnancy and made their escape to Calais.  Approaching Calais they were shocked to be refused entry by Warwick’s deputy, Lord Wenlock.  To add to their woes Isobel went into labour.  Lord Wenlock relented and sent two flagons of wine to help alleviate Isobel’s agony.  In what must have been a nightmare scenario witnessed by the 14 year old Anne,  Isobel’s baby was born on the 16th April but died almost immediately,  the little body being buried at sea.  The beleaguered band, led by Warwick and Clarence, were now no more than  ‘defeated traitors’ and life must have suddenly seemed very bleak for the two sisters.  Arriving in Honfleur they were welcomed by representatives of King Louis XI,  who was no doubt tickled pink to see this welcome turn of events with the relationship between Edward IV and Warwick now completely unravelled.  But Warwick was not quite ready to capitulate.   His back against the wall,  a meeting was arranged between him and his once arch enemy Margaret of Anjou.  Although at first the ‘Quene was right dificle’ a marriage was now suggested between Margaret’s son, Edward of Lancaster and the 14 year old Anne of Warwick (3).  We will never know what Anne or the young bridegroom-to-be thought about this.  We don’t know what the Clarences thought about it either but it can be easily surmised.  Isobel now understood it was not she who would be queen in the fullness of time but her younger sister instead.  George  was downgraded to  Duke of York and only in the event that the marriage between Anne and Edward remained childless would he ever  become king.  It must have stung mightily and Paul Murrey Kendall goes so far as to suggest that George was now demoted to an embarrassing encumberance (4).    On the 25 July 1470 in the cathedral of St Maurice at St Angers Anne and Edward were formally betrothed.   On 9 September and before  the marriage on or about the 13th December at Amboise had been celebrated,  Warwick and George headed back to England, leaving their ladies once again although Isobel would leave France and join George by the end of the year (5).   On their arrival  back in England Edward was forced to hastily take ship at Bishop’s Lynn (now King’s Lynn) and flee to the low Countries for a short time whereupon on his return an understandably miffed George would abandon his father-in-law and be welcomed back into the bosom of his family.  George has been accused of being disloyal, a turncoat etc., but yet if thought about, his actions become understandable and no worse than the actions by other noblemen of the time including Edward IV.    No doubt these travails impacted on his marriage but perhaps Isobel, who was closest to him, fully understood the angst he was experiencing especially as it mostly emanated from the actions of her own father.  This is not meant as a criticism as Warwick found himself between a rock and hard place as result of the extremity of the situation he  found himself and his family engulfed in.  The root cause and catalyst of all this turmoil was Edward’s cataclysmic marriage and cavalier attitude toward Warwick who, according to historian A J Pollard,  he ‘progressively marginalized’  despite his long history of loyal service to Edward’s father, Richard Duke of York and also to Edward himself.   Pollard also makes it clear  should there be any doubt  that ‘Edward IV owed his throne to Warwick and his kinsmen’ (6). Paul Murrey Kendall in his biography of Warwick wrote that George ‘eager to try to refurbish his honour by reconciling his royal brother and father-in-law’ tried to bring Warwick back to the Yorkist fold sending a messenger to him (7).  The author of the Arrivall of King Edward IV 1471 wrote ‘Sone aftar this the Duke of Clarence, beinge right desyrows to have 
curyd a goode accorde betwyxt the Kynge and th’Erle of Warwyke ; not only for th’Erle, but also for to reconsyle therby unto the Kyngs good grace many lordes and noble men of his land, of whom many had largly taken parte with th’Erle  and this for the weale of peax and tranquilitie in the land, and in advoydynge of cruell and mortall were, that, of the contrary, was lykly, in shortyme, to enswe ; he made, therefore, his mocions, as well to the Kynge as to th’Erle, by messagis sendynge to and fro, bothe for the well above sayde, as to acquite hym trwly and kyndly in the love he bare unto hym, and his blood, whereunto he was allied by the marriage of his dowghtar (8).This offer Warwick,  that larger than life warrior, scornfully spurned and went on to  lose his life at Barnet on the 14th April along with his brother, John, Marquis of Montague, a loyal man but yet another caught between a rock and hard place.  Such were the times.  On the same day as  the death of her husband the Countess of Warwick arrived in Southampton where she immediately took flight into sanctuary at Beaulieu Abbey, Hampshire.   We know that Anne remained with her mother-in-law until after the Battle of Tewkesbury.  

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

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


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

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

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

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

Which translates thus..

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

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


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

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

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

After Tewkesbury, the death of her first husband and the inheritance problems being sorted, not to everyone’s liking it should be said,  the papal dispensations necessary for Anne and Richard to be married were secured.   Presumably if Anne was in London at St Martin-le-Grand, as mentioned above,  Richard may have stayed at his mother’s home, Baynard’s Castle until the marriage took place which may have been in St Stephens Chapel, Westminster.  Afterwards they turned northwards to Middleham, which they both  knew so well  and where they were to spend most of their married lives.  They also gave a home to Anne Beauchamp,  the now widowed countess of Warwick although it is uncertain where.   They were only to have one son, Edward of Middleham.  There is some confusion about his date of birth but Annette Carson has suggested it was between mid June and early September 1476 (9).   It was probably for him that the countess had the Beauchamp Pageant, the pictorial history of her father’s life created.  The years spent at Middleham may have been among the happiest years of the married life of the Gloucesters but of course all this changed virtually overnight with the sudden death of Edward IV in April 1483.  Richard travelled to London and at first gave his support to his nephew, the 13 year old Edward V.  In a story that is well known and covered at great lengths elsewhere Richard found out the shocking truth about his brother’s bigamous marriage.   As we know the result of all this was that it was Richard and Anne who were crowned king and queen.  The Kingmaker’s hopes that one of his daughters would become queen was realised  although probably not in quite the way he had envisaged.    


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

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

And so passed away the Kingmaker’s last daughter.  The sisters were survived by their mother, Anne Beauchamp.  Anne would spend the last years of her life at Sutton Manor which at that time was in Warwickshire and a part of the Beauchamp estates (10). Her burial place has been lost to us but it’s possible that Anne was laid to rest in Sutton Parish Church.  As her burial has never been discovered hopefully that is where she still lays undisturbed.  

  1. False, Fleeting, Perjur’d Clarence  p.80 M A Hicks
  2.  Collection of Ordinences 98.  See Anne Neville Queen to Richard III notes p.226.  M Hicks
  3. False, Fleeting, Perjur’d Clarence  p.80 M A Hicks.
  4. Warwick the Kingmaker and the Wars of the Roses p.269 Paul Murrey Kendall.
  5.  False, Fleeting, Perjur’d Clarence  p.104 M A Hicks
  6. Neville, Richard, sixteenth earl of Warwick and sixth earl of Salisbury (1428-1471).  A J Pollard. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  7. Warwick the Kingmaker and the Wars of the Roses p.313. Paul Murrey Kendall.
  8. Arrival of King Edward IV p.p 11.12
  9. The Birth of Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales. © Annette Carson and Marie Barnfield, 2016 
  10. ‘Of lordis lyne & lynge sche was Ricardian Vol.XXX 2020 p.24. Anne F Sutton and Livia Visser-Fuchs.

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Anne Beauchamp Countess of Warwick – Wife to the Kingmaker


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

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

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

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

harry ann and anne

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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







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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

edward 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

4. Ibid p.166.M A Hicks

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

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