A PORTRAIT OF EDWARD V AND THE MYSTERY OF COLDRIDGE CHURCH…Part II A Guest Post by John Dike.

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EDWARD V – STAINED GLASS COLDRIDGE CHURCH 

A guest post from John Dike who is leading Philippa Langley’s Missing Princes Project team in Devon and following on from my post A Portrait of Edward V and Perhaps Even a Resting Place?  :-

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The window in the Evans Chantry, St Matthew’s Church, Coldridge.

As far back as the writings of Beatrix Cresswell in the early 1900’s, learned authors have been puzzled by the rare stained glass window of Edward V in the Evans Chantry at Coldridge Church, Devon,  one of only four contemporary depictions of him in glass. Edward V was one of the two Princes in the Tower who disappeared, presumed by some to have been murdered by his uncle Richard III.   Later authors than Cresswell have speculated that Evans was in fact Edward V,  living a secret life in Coldridge.  It might sound far-fetched but there are a number of clues that add up to this possibility. The true identity of John Evans is currently under investigation by a small team of amateur historians under the guidance of Philippa Langley MBE who was responsible for the discovery of the grave of Richard III at Leicester. The following points are of interest.

EVANS ARRIVES IN COLDRIDGE

At some point after the battle of Bosworth in 1485,  John Evans was granted the Manor of Coldridge and the Stewardship of the Royal Coldridge Deer Park by Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset and half brother to Edward V.   He took over these estates from Robert Markenfield who had been granted them by Richard in 1484. Robert was the brother to the more famous Sir Thomas Markenfield who fought for Richard at Bosworth. Both the brothers, who were from Ripon in Yorkshire, were friends and Richard was extremely generous to Thomas (1). It would thus seem very strange that although Sir Thomas was granted much wealth, his brother, another good friend, was sent to a small and remote village in Devon. I will come back to this later. After Richard was killed at Bosworth and Henry VII took the throne,  Robert Markenfield moved to nearby Wembworthy and become an associate of Sir John Speke who held the Manor there. 

COLDRIDGE DEER PARK

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Coldridge Deer Park

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Being appointed the Parker was a prestigious appointment for Evans and allowed him to give favour to local dignitaries on behalf of Thomas Grey. The Deer Park was approximately 3000 yards in circumference and in 1525 had 140 ‘beasts of the chase. Existing place names indicate the area of the park on a modern map.   Higher Park, Lower Park, Lower Park Break, Park farm, Park Wood  etc., Park Mill was originally called Parker’s Mill. Long Parks named from Parker’s Long Field but adjacent to Coldridge Barton, John Evan’s manor house. 

THE EVANS CHANTRY

The chantry was built by John Evans and completed in 1511.  We know this because it originally contained two prayer desks with the inscriptions ‘Pray for John Evans, Parker of Coldridge, maker of this work in the third year of the reign of King Henry VIII’ and ‘Pray for the good estate of John Evans, who caused this to be made at his own expense the second day of August in the year of the Lord 1511.

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The renovated prayer desks with original inscriptions

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‘Pray for John Evans, Parker of Coldridge, maker of this work in the third year of the reign of King Henry VIII’

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The prayer desk front with the bench behind.  Photo John Dike.

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Another view of the renovated prayer desks and bench.  It’s possible the bench and other pew ends were originally part of the furniture in the Evan’s Chantry and added in 1930s when the desk was restored.

By the early 1900’s these prayer desks were in poor condition and in 1930 the Rural Dean requested that these valuable objects be renovated. And so by 1931 a Miss Harris had rescued the desks by combining the remains into one with the new top engraved with the first inscription above. This desk is now in the Barton chapel as the Evans Chantry is now used as the vestry. The desks are significant as they confirm that John Evans was in Coldridge before 1511. As a chantry was intended to establish a ritual of prayer to speed the donor to heaven, it was likely that, with the then short life expectancy, he was around 40 years of age when it was finished. This would mean that he could have been the same age as Edward V who was born in 1470!.  

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Original carving from the two prayer desks now combined into one. Photos Devon Churchland,

THE TOMB

Situated in the chantry is the tomb chest memorial to John Evans with his effigy carved from Beer Stone and dressed as a knight in armour with shield and helmet. The tomb itself   is empty but the remains are probably below the slab at the base of the tomb. The shield is inscribed ‘John Evas’ which is rather strange as the surname Evans has been correctly spelt at many other locations in the church. It has been postulated that if Edward V was in hiding in Coldridge then Evas could be hinting at E V with the letters AS an abbreviation of ASA which in Latin means ‘in sanctuary’. Also situated on the shield is a very old inscription, perhaps mediaeval graffiti, which appears to be the inverted word ‘king’. Below it are nine very mysterious inscribed lines. Is this a reference to the year 1509 when Henry VII died and if all things were resolved Edward V living a life as John Evans should have become Monarch. We know from the Tudor Lady carvings in the screen that things to be kept secret in the church were depicted upside down.

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 The shield with Evans incorrectly spelt as Evas. Was this a hidden clue with ‘EVa s’  a disguised ‘E V in sanctuary’

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 Grafitti, possibly medieval, on the shield which appears to be the word ‘king’ inverted.

evanstombCARVED FROM BEER STONE JOHN EVANS EFFIGY LIES ON TOP OF HIS TOMB 

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JOHN EVANS EFFIGY BUT COULD THIS BE THE FACE OF EDWARD V AS AN ADULT ?

THOMAS GREY AND ROYAL PLOTTING?

Grey was the eldest son of Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen, who married Edward IV, and was the mother of the Princes in the Tower who were supposedly murdered at the hands of Richard III.  Thomas married Cecily Bonville,  a rich heiress,  and owned as a result much land in Devon including Coldridge.  After Richard III acquired the throne of Edward V in 1483,  the widowed Queen Elizabeth took sanctuary in Westminster Abbey, accompanied by Thomas Grey and Richard of Shrewsbury,  the brother of Edward V.  Grey then escaped to join the future Henry VII in France.

However on the 1st of March 1484 Elizabeth and her daughters came out of sanctuary after Richard III publicly swore an oath that her daughters would not be harmed or molested and that they would not be imprisoned in the Tower of London or in any other prison. He also promised to provide them with marriage portions and to marry them to gentleman born. The family returned to court apparently reconciled with Richard.  

I think we can agree that if the princes were still alive it would be at that point in time that their mother would have negotiated their safe sanctuary as part of the deal. So it would be really interesting to look for any activity promoted by Richard to facilitate this.   In particular the appointment of a person loyal to the king who would insure that the prince/ princes were kept out of the way.

Two days later on the 3rd of March 1484 Robert Markenfield was dispatched to Coldridge. Was he then at Coldridge with Edward V who had been renamed John Evans?  We know that after Bosworth the Markenfields were pardoned by Henry VII and that in 1495 Robert Markenfield was associated with Sir John Speke at Wembworthy,  the manor adjacent to Coldridge. A possible scenario may be that he had handed the manor  and deer park of Coldridge over to John Evans by then.   We also know that Speke gave support to Perkin Warbeck, who claimed to be Richard Duke of York,  the brother of Edward V.  Warbeck attacked the North Gate at Exeter and the route from Cornwall would have taken him close to Coldridge and Wembworthy.   Speke was related by marriage to St James Tyrell the alleged murderer of the princes and it would seem strange he would support Warbeck without Tyrell warning him off if the princes were dead.   So in a very small area of Devon there may have been an intriguing meeting between Edward V and possibly his brother Richard aka Perkin Warbeck.

With Richard III dead in 1485 and Henry VII on the throne,  Elizabeth sought to restore her fortunes by marrying her daughter, Elizabeth of York to the new king. Thomas Grey also had his estates, previously attained by Richard III restored to him. If Edward V was still alive at this point, Henry would have required, as part of a deal with Elizabeth Woodville, that Edward should disappear into the landscape. There is no doubt that Elizabeth would have used Thomas Grey to facilitate and control this and where better than Coldridge,  part of the Grey estates?

THE CROWN IN THE WINDOW

THE CROWN WITH 41 DEER INSTEAD OF THE USUAL STOATS TAILS.  PHOTO JOHN DIKE

The stained glass depiction of Edward V shows a large crown descending above the figure.  Some years ago the Curator of the Department of Ceramics at the V & A was shown the window and commented that the crown was too big to fit the figure and must have come from another position in the church. It is possible that the crown was shown hovering over another image, probably in the original chancel glass, now long gone. What is of real interest is that the crown has links with the Deer Parker. Most unusually, rather than having stoats tails as the black spots in the ermine of the crown, there are 41 deer depicted.   So 41 years before 1511 gives 1470 or the year of birth of Edward the fifth! No example of animals in Ermine other than stoats tales has come to light elsewhere.   

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A NOTE FROM THE KEEPER OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CERAMICS AT THE V & A VERIFYING THAT THE STAINED GLASS PORTRAIT IS EDWARD V

THE SMALL PORTRAIT

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COULD THIS PORTRAIT BE OF  RICHARD III OR THE ADULT EDWARD V/JOHN EVANS ?

Also in the Edward V window are the remains of a portrait of a man from a similar period as the main subject. The face appears deformed and certain academics have suggested that this could be only the second contemporary portrait of Richard III in existence. It is also possible that this is John Evans and that the partial image of a crown on his chest may indicate that he was a royal Yeoman to Henry VII.   Henry gained the support of many Welsh soldiers during his successful invasion. Certainly there was a John Evans at court as a Yeoman.   Many Yeomen were granted estates or deer parks and the unique Chancery Rolls we have today document these grants. However despite exhaustive research no record of grants of the Coldridge Estates to anyone, other than Robert Markenfield has been found which adds to the mystery of John Evans and the Edward V window.  

JOHN EVANS TOMB IN THE EVANS CHAPEL, COLDRIDGE CHURCH, DEVON

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Examples of the hidden clues of Coldridge Church.  Inverted heads of  Tudor ladies who appear to be vomiting..

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Pews perhaps made from the fittings from the Evans Chapel in the 1930’s.

  1. Sir Thomas Markenfield and Richard III Prof A J Pollard.

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A NEW MANCINI – by ANNETTE CARSON

A guest post by Annette Carson – author of The Maligned King.

Towards the end of 1482 an Austin friar by the name of Dominic Mancini  was sent to London by a senior minister of King Louis XI of France This was pursuant to France’s act of hostility in breaching her long-standing treaty with England, and Mancini was clearly on a fact-finding mission, as shown by the report he made for the information of the French court. Probably his original visit was not expected to take long, because Mancini was an Italian who is believed to have been unacquainted with the English language.

            It happened that he was still in London in April 1483 when King Edward IV died unexpectedly. Mancini had clearly made useful contacts already, and was able to follow and note down events over the ensuing weeks. His written report is the only contemporary eyewitness account of the three months between Edward IV’s death and Richard III’s accession in place of Edward V. First published on its discovery in the 1930s, it is a supremely important text which has been used by every historian and commentator on Richard III.

            When I first read his account in the English translation by C.A.J. Armstrong I was struck by the seething tone of censure and repugnance that permeated the text. He seemed to delight in seeking and emphasizing defects – especially in the case of the house of York and its court – ranging from mere ignominy to degeneracy and connivance at murder.

            This seemed such obvious prejudice to me that when writing Richard III The Maligned King I made free with my opinion that the text should be regarded as emanating from a biased and hostile source. Yet not only has it been cited as authoritative by those historians of the traditional persuasion, its overall thrust has been accepted without demur by many whose tendencies are revisionist. Until recently I wasn’t engaged enough to analyse the document as a whole, but I was unwilling to take it at face value. I also noted that the shortcomings in Armstrong’s translations were not insignificant.

            It was only when I seriously investigated the office of Lord Protector, and looked to trace where the wrong-headed idea originated which described Richard as ‘protector of Edward IV’s sons’, that I realised it emanated from writers like Mancini, Bernard André and Polydore Vergil. All were foreigners who had no prior knowledge of the settlement known as a protectorate, established for England’s governance in the event of her king being underage or otherwise incompetent to rule.

            All this was of course unknown to Mancini, whose arrival coincided with a low tide in Edward IV’s fortunes. This afforded fertile ground for a mouthpiece of the French inner circle to rake over and expatiate upon every sin and act of moral turpitude by the execrable Yorkists. Thus it was that Domenico Mancini set the tone for those who followed. For Mancini, Edward’s taking of his Woodville wife was not only an example of his unbridled sexual appetites, but an ignoble match for a prince – despite the reality that her lineage, though discounted in England, would have been respected in France, descended as she was from the ancient house of Luxembourg. From Mancini’s point of view she and her family would be regarded as fair game because his audience knew they had encouraged Edward IV to make alliances with Burgundy, in defiance of the King of France.

            France had even attempted to overthrow Edward IV of York in 1470 and replace him with Henry VI of Lancaster: doubtless King Louis’ breach of treaty with England in 1482 gave him much satisfaction after years of smarting in the aftermath of that failure. Evidently, despite Edward’s regaining of his crown, there remained undiminished pro-Lancastrian factions of some influence in England (witness those that later rebelled against Richard III). Mancini was listening to these voices, and had doubtless been provisioned with a list of contacts among them. They supplied the juicy gossip that fleshed out his lengthy descriptions of Edward IV luxuriating in his morally degenerate court.

            Mancini’s original editor complained of his lingering on Edward before properly embarking on the meat of his account of 1483; but this is to miss the point completely. Mancini was appealing to an audience who enjoyed, above all things, relishing the disparagement of the English king and his entire house, culminating in the failure of his seed to secure the crown.

            Having found it hard to dig up early misdeeds on the part of Edward’s brother Richard of Gloucester, Mancini supplies the lack in two ways. The first, to which he repeatedly returns, is Richard’s dissimulation, hiding his evil intentions and often cloaking them with an appearance of rectitude (an accusation incapable of proof per se, yet espoused with enthusiasm by those chroniclers who followed his lead). The second is a supposed long-standing antagonism to the queen’s Woodville family, which both Mancini and his editor Armstrong would probably be surprised to learn has no foundation. Knowing history as we do now, we could catalogue many attempts on sovereign power among the rulers of Europe, not unfamiliar to Mancini. For his purposes it was necessary to make Richard’s ambition both tainted and unworthy; so this alleged feud supplied the necessary element of malice.

            Moreover … shortly after Mancini returned to France (and before he wrote his treatise) it became of enormous importance to condemn any challenge to the reign of a minor king … because in August 1483 Louis XI died and was succeeded by a boy whose age was scarcely different from that of Edward V. This boy’s reign was already vulnerable and would soon be subjected to a number of challenges. It isn’t difficult to connect the dots.

            There are matters of detail in Mancini that make his account valuable, especially those that can be checked against an almost contemporary source like the Crowland Chronicle. But there are too many occasions where his French-influenced assumptions and attitudes have led him to make fundamental errors  about England. I hope I have flagged them up in my new edition, but there may yet be some I’ve missed.

            Scant chance was there in 1483 that a Franco-Italian should comprehend the role of the Protector under a unique constitutional system set up in England sixty years previously. This was not the antiquarian age when historic documents were assiduously studied in order to understand the past. Mancini was writing at a time when there was a great burgeoning on the Continent of chroniclers of history and writers of memoirs. Many of them were patronized by leading individuals and great European houses (Mancini himself shared Angelo Cato’s patronage with Philippe de Commynes). These inveterate information-gatherers pounced on all available narratives; they shared knowledge with members of their wider literary/humanist circles; and this later reached Tudor England thanks to Henry VII’s proclivity for importing foreign-born purveyors of official English history.

            This is not rocket science. Mancini was poorly informed about England. He was an agent of a hostile foreign power. He condemned the intolerable Yorkist dynasty and Richard’s taking of the throne. He shared his information. And yet academics in England have proclaimed with one voice that the de occupatione regni Anglie influenced none of those who would soon afterwards create Richard’s black legend. On the contrary, it is claimed he confirmed them.

I fail to understand the sense of this. Mancini tells us he recited his observations orally several times, and then wrote them so they could be shared more widely. We know there existed interconnecting networks of scholars. His audience at the French court and in literary Paris must surely have passed along such sensational stories, especially when they so satisfyingly disparaged France’s ancient adversaries. We can even trace a major error in chronology made by Mancini which is copied in most of the leading Tudor chronicles. If you read Mancini first and then Thomas More the adoption of Mancini’s themes and arguments is abundantly clear. Yet historian Charles Ross (among many others) puts the cart firmly before the horse by saying that Mancini ‘tends to substantiate Sir Thomas More’s account on many points of detail’ (Edward IV, page 434). My seven pages covering Mancini’s influence on the Ricardian legend offer ample evidence, I feel, to show that More and all those chroniclers are not ‘substantiated’ by Mancini – they echo him.

            I can safely predict that my new edition of Mancini will draw down condemnation, just as the very idea of reviewing the text was condemned when I first suggested it. I can only hope that genuine Ricardians will give it a fair hearing. Domenico Mancini: de occupatione regni Anglie is a self-published paperback in a limited edition and the cover price is £10. Sales worldwide are being handled by Troubador Ltd – Domenico Mancini – Troubador Book Publishing. It can also be purchased on Amazon.


 

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THE CHILDREN OF JOHN NEVILLE, MARQUIS OF MONTAGU and EARL OF NORTHUMBERLAND d.1471

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The Smythe monument Elford Church.  Photo Aidan McRae Thomson

Of the four sons of Richard Neville,  Earl of Salisbury, only two, Richard Earl of Warwick and John Marquis of Montagu had children.    Warwick, who would go on to  become known as the ‘Kingmaker’,  had two daughters, while  John who married Isabel Ingoldesthorpe/Ingaldesthorpe (d.20 May 1476) on the 25 April 1457 would have five daughters and two sons.   While the Kingmaker’s two daughters are well known being of course Isobel and Anne Neville,  wives to brothers George Duke of Clarence and Richard III respectively,  John’s children are rather less famous.     All were to lose their fathers violently at the Battle of Barnet 14 April 1471.    I will not be going into the careers of their fathers here but concentrate on  John Neville’s seven children.   

GEORGE NEVILLE  born c.1465 died 4 May 1483.  Betrothed to Edward IV’s three year old daughter Elizabeth, 5 Jan. 1470, when he was created duke of Bedford.   Not only his father’s heir but also the heir male of Richard Neville, earl of Warwick. However although neither his father or uncle had been attainted,  George did not inherit the Neville lands and in 1478 lost his dukedom on the grounds that he could not support the estate – this point is debatable –  see Prof M A Hick’s article What might have been: George Neville, Duke of Bedford 1465-83   – as well as all other dignities (1).  Little is  known of him after this shabby treatment by Edward IV, except that Richard Duke of Gloucester,  his cousin,  was on March 9 1480 granted the wardship and the marriage of George (2).  George who died 4 May 1483 was buried at Sherrif Hutton.

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Church of St Helen and the Holy Cross, Sheriff Hutton.  Resting place of George Neville Duke of Bedford.  Photo British Listed Buildings.  Photographer unknown.

JOHN NEVILLE: Died in infancy 1460, and was buried at Sawston, Cambridgeshire.

ANNE NEVILLE d.1486.  Anne became the third wife of Sir William Stonor in the autumn of 1481 and the only wife to give him children, a son and daughter.   The most advantageous of Sir William’s marriages for Anne had the blood of the old nobility of England coursing  through her veins.  The marriage became even more advantageous when on the early of death of her brother George in 1483,  Anne became a great heiress.  Hopefully love grew between the couple, as it often did between these marriages that were made for status rather than affection and  the charming letter she wrote  on the 27 February 1482 quite soon after her marriage  to her husband would indicate that it did. Written from Taunton Castle,  where she was staying with Thomas Grey Marquis of Dorset and his wife Cicely Bonville, the letter read:  

 ‘Syr, I recomaund me unto you in my most heartily wise, right joyfull to here of your helthe: liketh you to knowe, at the writyng of this bill I was in good helthe, thynkyng long sith I saw you, and if I had knowen that I shold hav ben this long tyme from you I wold have be moche lother then I was to have comyn in this ferre Countrey.  But I trust it shall not be long or I shall see you here, and else I wold be sorye on good feth….. And I beseche oure blessed lord preserve you’  Your new wyf Anne Stonor (3).

Anne saw her husband attainted in 1483 but lived long enough to see him restored to his estates in 1485 before her death the following year.  While it is known that Sir William was buried in the old Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey the whereabouts of his wife’s grave  as far as I can tell is unknown.  

Elizabeth:  d.1515 married first to Thomas, Lord Scrope of Masham (d 1493), and secondly, before 1496, to Sir Henry Wentworth, who died in 1500.  It was Elizabeth who would commission a tomb over the graves of her parents at Bisham Abbey,

Margaret: born c.1466.   Married 1.Thomas Horne, 2. Sir John Mortimer and 3. Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk  who divorced  her.  Brandon’s marital history is described as ‘murky and reprehensible as well as  controversial which is putting it mildly to be honest (4).   His first wife was Anne Browne, daughter of Sir Anthony Browne and Lucy Neville, Margaret’s sister.        He contracted to marry Anne and she became pregnant, but in summer 1506 he abandoned her to marry her widowed aunt, our Margaret Mortimer nee Neville.   On 7 February 1507 he had licence of entry on Margaret’s lands, which he rapidly began to sell. By the end of the year, probably £1000 or more in profit, he was negotiating the annulment of his marriage to Margaret on the multiple grounds of his consanguinity with Margaret, the consanguinity of his two wives, and the consanguinity of his grandmother with Margaret’s first husband.   He then went on to (re)marry Anne Brown in secret in Stepney Parish Church.  A later second, public,  marriage took place  at St Michael Cornhill. The legitimacy of their daughter Anne, please keep up at the back dear reader, was later questioned, depending as it did upon the exact sequence of events. After Anne’s death shortly after giving birth to a second daughter, Mary, Brandon went on  to marry Mary Tudor,  who was Queen of France for a brief time, and sister to Henry VIII (5).  It would seem she had always loved him and insisted they get married.  Why?  Brandon seems woefully lacking in honour where women were concerned.  Was there a dearth of men with integrity at the Tudor Court?  However, I think we have gone off on a tangent here so back to the Nevilles. Phew!

Lucy: Married 1. Sir Thomas Fitzwilliam  2.Sir Anthony Brown.  Lucy’s daughter by Sir Anthony,   Anne,  was to marry Charles Brandon Duke of Suffolk,  who abandoned her to marry her widowed aunt, Margaret Mortimer nee Neville,  see above.  What Lucy, who died c.1533, thought about it frustratingly is unknown.  Requested in her will dated 20 August 1531 to be buried at Bisham Abbey, Berkshire where ‘my lorde my father is buried but it appears that she was actually buried with her first husband Sir Thomas Fitzwilliam in the House of the Austin Friars, Tickhill, Yorkshire (6).   The friary was suppressed in 1537 and the tomb sometime thereafter was moved into the parish church of Tickhill where it still survives today.    During restoration work to the church in 2012, human remains were found in the tomb chest tightly packed together.  Osteoarchaeologists established the remains were of  two men and two women.  These were deduced to be the remains of Lucy, her first husband Sir Thomas and his parents whose remains were brought to St Mary’s Church, Tickhill after the dissolution of the friary.  The remains were reinterred in November 2013. An interesting article can be found on the examination of the bones can be found  here.

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LUCY NEVILLE’S EFFIGY IN TICKHILL CHURCH

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LUCY WAS REBURIED WITH HER FIRST HUSBAND SIR THOMAS FITZWILLIAM.  TICKHILL CHURCH.  PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN.

Isabel: Married 1. Sir William Huddlestone of Sawston,Cambs  2.  William Smythe d.1525 of Elford, Staffordshire.  There is a splendid monument to Isabel and her second husband in St Peter’s Church, Elford. 

And there we it –  the children of John Neville Marquis of Montagu and his wife with the wonderful name – Isobel Ingoldesthorpe.  Some were sad and were scarce here before they were gone.  Others made hopefully good, happy marriages, others disastrous with a diabolical spouse i.e.  Charles Brandon.  Some made scarcely any impact at all but perhaps those were the best and the luckiest ones of all.

(1) See Prof M A Hick’s article What might have been: George Neville,Duke of Bedford1465-83— his identity and significance.  The Ricardian December 1986

(2) Memorials of the Wars of the Roses, p.230.  W E Hampton.

( 3) Stonor Letter and Papers 1290-1483 p.61 Kingsford ed Christine Carpenter

( 4) Oxford DNB.  Brandon, Charles, first duke of Suffolk c.1484-1545.  S J Gunn

(5) Ibid.

(6) Lucy Neville, Montague’s Daughter.  Ricardian article.  Pauline E. Routh.

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THE GRAFFITI OF THE TOWER OF LONDON

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The graffiti commemorating the Dudleys.  Beauchamp Tower.  Photo Spitalfieldlife 

I am, to be honest not a fan of graffiti, also known as graffito, neither do I know anyone who is. However, if you are talking historical graffiti, and from no less than the Tower of London, well that is definitely a different ball game and count me in.

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Examples of graffiti including an oak leaf and acorns dated 1537.  Photographer unknown.

There are 268 examples of graffiti carved by prisoners who while incarcerated within the Tower walls, sometimes languishing there for many years,  wiled the time away leaving behind messages that have endured to this day.  I suspect they would have been shocked to know  their carvings would survive for so long, some over 500 years old,  to be marvelled  at as well as now carefully preserved.  Some of the prisoners were high status including Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester who was imprisoned with his brothers  after his father’s plot to put Lady Jane Grey, his daughter in law,  on the throne went pear shaped.     The Dudley graffiti which  is to be found in the Beauchamp Tower,  commemorating  Robert and his brothers features roses for Ambrose, carnation or  gillyflowers for Guildford, oak leaves for Robert, rober being Latin for oak leaf,  and honeysuckle for Henry.  The carving is thought to have been completed by John Dudley, the fifth brother,  who added his name at the bottom.  The carved letters read 

“You that these beasts do wel behold and se may deme with ease wherefore here made they be with borders eke wherein four brothers names who list to serche the grounde” 

 Guildford and Jane were unsurprisingly executed.   The other brothers were released but John died almost immediately afterwards at Penshurst Place.  He seems to have suffered greatly during his imprisonment and was said to have been ‘crazed for want of air‘ (1).  Robert would go on to become a close and dear  friend to Elizabeth Ist.  

Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel was imprisoned by Elizabeth.  His name is also to be found in the Beauchamp Tower accompanied with the words

‘The more affliction we endure for Christ in this world, the more glory we shall get with Christ in the world to come.

Arrested for practicing his Christian faith in 1585,  Arundel was to die in the Tower in 1595.

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The Arundel Graffiti.  Beauchamp Tower

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G Gyfford 1586 “Grief is overcome by patience Avgvst 8th, 1586”.  Photo Ann Longmore-Etheridge

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One of the more poignant – ‘My hart is yours tel death’ Thomas Willyngar date unknown.  Photo Ann Longmore-Etheridge

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Edward Smalley.   Smalley was the servant of a member of parliament who had neglected to pay a fine for assault. He was imprisoned in the Beauchamp Tower for one month in 1576. 

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 Thomas Rooper 1570. Photo The Royal Mint Museum

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A lovely example complete with the name Peverel,  fruit on a vine, shells and a little skeleton.  Photo The Royal Mint Museum. 

In 1912 because  of the perishable nature of the stone it was decided permanent records should be made of the prisoners inscriptions as some of them were in a state of powdery decay.  The Royal Mint was asked for their assistance to which they readily agreed.  At this time the Mint was busy using its newly-installed electrotyping plant for the production of postage stamp plates but nevertheless agreed to take on the project.  Wax moulds were taken of the whole series of 268 inscriptions with great care taken for the preservation of the original stone carvings.  The work was completed In 1914, and 458 electrotypes with a total area of 332.8 square feet were delivered to the Office of Works (2).

 

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Unfinished graffiti.  Dated 1573.  Name and fate of prisoner unknown…

I have only been able to mention here a handful of the remarkable graffiti at the Tower of London,  the greater part of it from the 16th century and thus over 500 years old.  Now protected hopefully it will survive another 500 years and the plight of the prisoners of the Tower of London never forgotten.  

 

  1. Loades 2008
  2. Writings on the Wall.  The Royal Mint Museum.   Online article. 

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THE ORANGE AND LEMON CHURCHES OF OLD LONDON

The Abbey of the Minoresses of St Clare without Aldgate and the Ladies of the Minories

 

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Anne Montgomery nee Darcy.  One of the much respected Ladies of the Minories from the window of Holy Trinity Church, Long Melford, Suffolk.

Shakespeare said ‘all the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players‘.  Following on from that if we may be allowed to say that the Wars of the Roses were a stage then surely some of the saddest players on it were the ladies of the Minories – the widows, mothers, sisters and daughters of some of the main players of that tragic and violent period who survived their menfolk but in what must have  been difficult and sometimes straightened circumstances.  I have here leaned heavily on W E Hampton’s excellent article, the Ladies of the Minories (1)

The Abbey of the Minoresses of St Clare without Aldgate was founded by Edmund in 1293 Crouchback Duke of Lancaster and his wife, Blanche of Navarre,  for the nuns that Blanche had brought to England with her.  Surviving until 1539  the abbey, which was very large,  was surrendered by the last abbess,  Dame Elizabeth Savage,  to Henry VIII.  The abbey had already suffered what must have been a catastrophic loss in 1515 when 27 nuns and other lay people i.e. servants died of the plague (2)

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Edmund Crouchback, illustrations of his tomb in Westminster Abbey by Stothard from Monumental Effigies of Great Britain 1832

According to Edward Tomlinson who wrote A History of the Minories there is an old manuscript in British Museum ‘which appers to have escaped the notice of any historian‘ which states that Edmund’s ‘hart ys buryed at the North end of the high Awter in the mynorysse And his body ys buryed at Westminster in the Abbey‘.  This manuscript which is probably a transcript from a register kept in the Abbey contains ‘the names of all psones beyng of Nobull Blode whiche be buryed wthin the Monastorye of the mynnorysse‘.  The names of these illustrious burials are too numerous to name here but a few..

Dame Elizabeth Countess of Clare

Dame Isabel daughter of Thomas of Woodstock Duke of Gloucester

Margaret Countess of Shrewsbury daughter of Humphrey Duke of Buckingham

Agnes Countess of Pembroke

Eleanor Scrope wife to Lord Scrope and Daughter of Raufe/Ralph Neville

Edmunde De La Pole and Margaret his wife

Elizabeth de la Pole, Edmund’s daughter (3).

Among the burials I am focusing on here are those of the ladies who lived in the turbulent period known as the Wars of Roses.   I shall start with one of the leaders of this little band,  Elizabeth Mowbray nee Talbot, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk and who lived out the latter years of her life  in the Great House within the Close of the Abbey for which she paid a rent of 10 pounds.   Elizabeth was the daughter of John Talbot Ist Earl of Shrewsbury,  sister to another lady of great importance from that period, Eleanor Butler nee Talbot  and mother to the tragic Anne Mowbray child bride to Richard of Shrewsbury, Edward IV’s youngest son.   Elizabeth,  it will be remembered, on the sudden unexpected death of her husband was forced soon after to take a diminished dower in order to augment the revenue of her young son-in-law.  Frustratingly Elizabeth’s thoughts on this  were, as far as is known, never recorded.  The   marriage of her daughter Anne to the youngest son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Wydeville,  whose own ‘ marriage’ had ruined her sister, Eleanor,   ensured that the vast Mowbray estates would pass to Richard if it should come to pass that her daughter died, which as it transpired is exactly what happened.   Anne died shortly before her 9th birthday at Greenwich Palace one of her mother-in-law’s favourite homes.  Anne was buried in Westminster Abbey but her body was removed from there in 1502 when the chapel she was buried in was demolished to make way for Henry Tudor’s grandiose new chapel.  Anne was returned to her mother at the Minories and buried there –  ‘Dame Anne Duches of yorke doughter to lord moumbray Duke of Norfolke ys buried yn the sayed Quere’ (4)

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Elizabeth Mowbray, nee Talbot, Duchess of Norfolk as depicted in the window of Holy Trinity Church, Long Melford, Suffolk.

Although the glory days must have been over for Elizabeth with the demise of her husband – her retirement to the Minories  would have been a serious case of downsizing –  a look at her will tells us that she had not lost absolutely everything  as did  her daughter’s mother in law, Elizabeth Wydeville whose pitiful will tells us that she was left more or less destitute.  Ah well Karma is a bitch as they say.

Jane Talbot, sister-in-law to the above, having married Sir Humphrey Talbot.  Humphrey was the son of John Talbot by  his second wife Margaret who was a daughter of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick.  Jane’s interesting will which left numerous bequests especially to her servants also requested that ‘I Dame Jane Talbott, wedowe late the Wif of sir Humfrey Talbott knyght…  my body to be buried within the inner choer of the churche of the Mynores withoute Algate of London nygh the place and sepulture where the body of Maistres Anne Mongomery late the wif of John Mongomery Squyer restity and ys buried within the same quere’.

Anne Montgomery widow of John Montgomery who was executed in 1462, brother of Sir Thomas Montgomery, Sir James Tyrell was her nephew.  Anne was clearly a person much revered.  As well as Jane Talbot, Elizabeth Mowbray also requested to be buried close to her in her will made 6 November 1506 – ‘And my body to be buried in the Nonnes qwere of the Minorsesses without Alegate of London nyghe vnto the place Wher Anne Montgomery lyeth buried’.

Mary Tyrell.  According to Hampton ‘Almost certainly one of the sisters of Sir James Tyrell – probably the youngest – and therefore a niece of Anne Montgomery  (5 )

Elizabeth Brackenbury.  Daughter to the loyal Sir Robert Brackenbury, Richard III’s Constable of the Tower,  who died with his king at Bosworth.  Hampton mentions that Elizabeth’s poverty was clear in her will of 1504 and  that she found shelter under the wings of the Talbots and requested in her will that her debts to Elizabeth Mowbray were to be paid –  ‘I Elizabeth Brakkynbury..beyng of goode and hole mind’… all such money as my lady’s grace of Norff to whom I am most specially bounde of her charitie’   (6).  Hampton also adds that there was some connection between Sir Robert and Sir Thomas Montgomery which could partly explain his daughter’s connection to these ladies, although it is not certain if Brackenbury’s daughter was an inmate at the time of Anne Montgomery’s tenancy at the Minories.

Hampton wrote  ‘All of these ladies, with the possible exception of Jane Talbot had suffered great loss, but it would perhaps be unwise to to think too much of them as sheltering in the Minories, where life may not have been too severe.  They may as Dr Tudor-Craig suggests have gathered around the Duchess yet Anne Montgomery’s influence may have been greater spiritually’.

While some ladies had  been most grieviously  injured by Edward IV and his Wydeville wife – i.e. the shabby way Elizabeth Mowbray was forced to augment the revenue of her small son-in-law, the betrayal of her sister, Eleanor, the executions  of  William Tyrell and John Montgomery, further injury was inflicted by Henry VII with the unjust attainder of Sir Robert Brackenbury and the execution and attainder of Sir James Tyrell.

FullSizeRender.jpgWynegaerde’s Panorama of London (1543)  in which the Minories can be seen just above  and to the left of the White Tower/Tower of London.   Note the close  proximity of the scaffold on Tower Hill, shown to  to the left of the Minories.  

Doubtless they were great comforters of each other and it is very easy to imagine them being of a great solace to Elizabeth Mowbray when her daughter’s remains were returned  to her.

The beginning of the end for the once grand Minories came when the last abbess, Dame Elizabeth Salvage surrendered the abbey to Henry VIII in 1539.  Stowe describes how in place of  ‘this house of nuns is now built divers fair and large storehouses for armour and habiliments of war, with divers workhouses serving to the same purpose’ although there is  ‘a small parish church for inhabitants of the close, called St Trinities’ (7)  Some of the abbey walls survived until a fire in 1797.  Around 1566 the parishioners came into possession of what had once been the Minories church but  was now the parish church and set about ‘renovating‘ it.  This involved the removal and destruction of ancient monuments and the adding of a steeple.  Finally around 1705 , having surived the Great Fire of 1666,  begun the final destruction of the fabric of  the ancient church and the rebuilding of a new one although the medieval northern wall was retained.

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Diagram of the 18th century Holy Trinity church showing the north 13th Century  wall retained.  This wall managed to survive the fire and bombs until clearance of the site in 1956-58.  

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The remains of the abbey after the fire in 1796.  Etching by John Thomas Smith 1766-1833

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Another print showing the abbey remains after the 1796 fire. Etching by John Thomas Smith 1766-1833

It would have been about this time that the building of new burial vaults begun in the process of which,  the ‘greater part of the ground beneath the parish church must have been evacuated which would have not been achieved without the unfortunate removal of the remains of those, who in the past centuries, would have been buried there‘ (8). Alas!

The 18th century  church was finally destroyed after being bombed during the war.   But that is not the end of the story of our intrepid band of  Ladies of the Minories or indeed the Minories itself, for in 1964 the remains of Elizabeth’s daughter, Anne Mowbray were  discovered by an excavator driver in a vaulted burial chamber of the church which had somehow been, fortunately,  overlooked.   Anne was once again reinterred in Westminster Abbey as close to her original burial place as possible but, that dear reader is another story.

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18th century Holy Trinity Church prior to its destruction by a bomb.    It was during excavation of this area after the war that Anne Mowbray’s remains were discovered in a vault.

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Holy Trinity Church looking slightly less stark in this painting,1881, artist unknown.

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The area now covering where once stood the Abbey of St Clare (The Minories).  Such is progress.  

1. The Ladies of the Minories, W E Hampton, Richard III Crown and People p195-201

2.  A Survey of London Written in the year 1599. John Stowe pp 122.1233.

3. A History of the Minories pp68.69 Edward Murrey Tomlinson M.A

4. Ibid p 69.

5. The Ladies of the Minories W E Hampton, Richard lll Crown and People p.19

6. Ibid p.198

7. A Survey of London Written in the year 1599.  John Stowe p.128.

8. A History of the Minories p 299 Edward Murrey Tomlinson

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THE ORANGE AND LEMON CHURCHES OF OLD LONDON

Old London – City of Churches.   Bow Church can be seen to the left.  Part of the The Visscher Panorama of London, 1616. Image Peter Harrington Rare Books.  

Orange and lemons say the bells of Saint Clement’s

You owe me five farthings say the bells of St Martin’s

When will you pay me say the bells at Old Bailey

When I grow rich say the bells at Shoreditch

Pray when will that be say the bells at Stepney

I do not know said the Great Bell at Bow..

This has to be perhaps the most charming of all nursery rhymes but did we, as kids, ever stop to cogitate about the six old London churches whose names rolled off our tongues?  On the whole I don’t think we did.  And yet there can’t be many adults who sung this old rhyme as children who can’t recall the names of those six lovely old churches some of which were destroyed in the disastrous conflagration known as the Great Fire of London in 1666.

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St Clement Danes at nightfall.  Note the statue of Hugh Lord Dowding.  Photo enacademic.com

St Clement Danes There is some debate about which of two churches is the one mentioned in the rhyme but the consensus is that it is St Clement Danes.  According to Stow the church was named after Harold, a Danish King and other Danes buried there. Harold was the son of King Canute by a concubine but we won’t go into that here except to say that after he popped his clogs Harold’s remains spent some time in the Thames after being thrown there by an annoyed brother, Hardicanitus (and no dear reader I’m not making this up!). However a kindly fisherman retrieved him and he was reburied in St Clement Danes churchyard. Another story suggests that the church was named thus after the burial of Danes that were slain in the aftermath of a great looting, murder and general mayhem committed by them. Time passed and the medieval church was partly rebuilt in 1640. The parish of St Clement Danes was heavily hit by the Great Plague in 1665 with 1,319 deaths from that awful pestilence alone (1). However the church managed to escape destruction from the Fire of London 1666 only to fall into such disrepair in 1679, except for the tower, that it was declared unsafe and rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren. Spire rebuilt by James Gibbs c.1719, with the surviving tower being, happily, incorporated. Interesting members of the congregation included Samuel Johnson and James Boswell.  William Webb-Ellis, was a rector between 1843 and 1855, who as a schoolboy at Rugby ‘with a fine disregard of the rules of the game (football) as played in his time, first took the ball in his arms and run with it, thus originating the distinctive feature of the Rugby game’

The interior was badly damaged during the Blitz in 1941 but miraculously the exterior and tower survived. The remains of the medieval crypt were discovered in 1942. Restored in 1958 and now in use as the Central Church of the Royal Air Force. A Latin inscription now over the main door reads

AEDIFICAVIT CHR WREN
AD MDCLXXII
DIRUERUNT AERII BELLI
FULMINA AD MCMXLI
RESTITUIT REGINAE CLASSIS
AERONAUTICA AD MCMLVIII

which translates as 

“Christopher Wren built it 1672. The thunderbolts of aerial warfare destroyed it 1941. The Royal Air Force restored it 1958”

However, it should be noted that the church referred to in the rhyme could very well have been :

St Clement Eastcheap.  First mentioned in the IIth century, repaired in 1632 only to be destroyed in the Great Fire and rebuilt by Wren 1683-7.    The grateful parishioners presented Wren with one third of a hogshead of wine cost £4 2s.  The claim to being the church mentioned in the rhyme is based upon its close proximity to the wharves where citrus fruit from the Mediterranean used to be unloaded although it should be said there were other churches that were even closer.  Yet another church badly damaged in 1940.

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Delightful carved cherubs from the 17th century pulpit St Clement Church.

St Martin Orgar  is gone.  Situated in Martin Lane and first mentioned 12th century.  Described by Stow as ‘a small thing’.   Popular with 15th and 16th century mayors and their families for a burial place.  Much damaged in the Great Fire,  although the Tower and part of the nave survived, it was abandoned.  French Protestants restored the tower and used it for worshop for over a century.  However it was finally demolished in 1820.

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Old Bailey.  The bells referred to are those of St Sepulchre’s, first mentioned in 1137.  Known in  Stow’s time as St Sepulchre’s in the Bailey.   Stow described it  as a fair parish church in a fair churchyard.  Another church gutted by the Great Fire with the outer walls surviving.  Famous burials include courtier Thomas Culpeper executed in 1541 accused of being the lover of Queen Catherine Howard and Captain John Smith d.1631 of Pocahontas fame.  In close proximity to Newgate prison, there is a story that posies were handed to the condemned as they passed the church on their way to execution.  A reminder of a less kinder practice is the hand bell kept in the church which was rung outside the condemned person’s cell the night before execution.

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The Newgate Execution Hand Bell..

St Leonard’s Shoreditch.  Probably founded 12th century.  In the 18th century part of the tower collapsed during a service.  Rebuilt by George Dance the Elder in 1736 who attempted to build the steeple in the same style as that of Mary-le-Bow.  Another city church damaged during the Blitz but since repaired.  Among the famous buried here is Will Somers d.1560, Henry VIII’s jester and the only man able to lift Henry’s spirits who was in chronic pain through an ulcerated leg. However he did sometimes overstep the mark which resulted on one occasion in Henry threatening to kill him with his own bare hands.  Will managed to outlive his tyrannical boss and a plaque marks his burial in St Leonards 15th June 1560.

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Henry VIII and his fool, Will Somers who was buried in St Leonard’s Shoreditch

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St Leonard’s Shoreditch

St Dunstan’s and All Saints Stepney.  The oldest of the Orange and Lemon Churches.  A church has stood on this site for over 1000 years, the existing building being the third church on the site.  One of its oldest bells still in use was cast in 1385.  The churchyard was enlarged to cope with the massive amount of deaths – 6,583 in 18 months –   during the Great Plague of 1665.  A disastrous fire in 1901 caused a large amount of destruction including an organ carved by Grinling Gibbons.  The funds were raised to repair the church although of course some of the features such as the 15th century roof were irreplaceable.  Fortunately St Dunstan’s survived the Blitz unscathed although the surrounding areas suffered greatly due to the proximity of the docks.  For anyone wanting to read more about St Dunstan’s here is a link to an interesting article.  

st-dunstansSt Dunstan’s, a survivor amongst the destruction of the Blitz.  Modern window by Hugh Easton.  Photo thanks to david.robarts

St Mary-le-Bow Cheapside.  Almost totally destroyed in the Great Fire and rebuilt by Wren.  Norman crypt survived the Fire and was allowed to survive the rebuild by Wren.  Pevsner wrote   ‘The glory of the church is its steeple,  the proudest of all Wrens steeples.   Built in 1678 at a cost of £7,388 as against £8,033 for the rest of the church.   It is a triumph of the skill of Wren’s masons Thomas Cartwright and J Thompson that it withstood the fire inside the steeple and the crashing down of the bells during the Second World War (2).  Bravo gentlemen!  The bells of this church are the famous bells that according to London folklore persuaded Richard/Dick Whittington as a young lad to turn around, turn around and return to London!  Which he did.  Became Lord Mayor and a great doer of many, many good deeds.   The bells nowadays can be heard tolling on every quarter of the hour.

bowBeautiful St Mary-le-Bow at twilight.   

So dear reader we have come to the end of our armchair perambulation of the Orange and Lemon churches of Old London.  I have only been able to touch briefly upon the rich history of each church due to time and space but if you wish to delve deeper I can thoroughly recommend A Survey of London by John Stow 1598 and Pevsner’s Cities of London and Westminster.

 

1.The Great Plague of London p.113.  Walter George Bell

2.The Buildings of England, London, Vol.1.p.170.  Nickolaus Pevsner. Third Edition.

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GREENWICH PALACE – HUMPHREY DUKE OF GLOUCESTER’S PALACE OF PLEAZANCE

Gloucester-Talbot-Shrewsbury-Book.jpegHumphrey Duke of Gloucester from the Talbot Shrewsbury Book

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

Greenwich Palace, or Placentia as it is often known, was built around 1433 by Henry V’s brother, Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, who named it Bella Court after he had been granted the Manor of Greenwich by his nephew Henry VI.  There had been   been an even older palace on  that site, perhaps dating from the reign of Edward I.  Henry IV dated his will from his ‘Manor of Greenwich January 22nd 1408′ and the palace appears to have been his favourite residence.  However, the grant in 1433 of 200 acres of land was for the purpose of enclosing it as a park.  It would seem that Humphrey was pleased with the spot because four years later he and his ill-fated wife, Eleanor Cobham,  obtained a similar grant and in that, licence was given for the owners to ’embattle and build with stone’ as well as ‘to enclose and make a tower and ditch within the same and a certain tower within the part to build and edify’ (1)

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View of the Old Palace of Placentia at Greenwich.  English School National Trust Kingston Lacey

Accordingly soon after this  Humphrey commenced building the tower within what is now the site of the Royal Observatory which was then called Greenwich Castle,  and he likewise rebuilt the old palace on the spot where the west wing of the Royal Naval College now stands which he renamed from its agreeable situation, Pleazaunce or Placentia although this name was not commonly used until the reign of Henry VIII.

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Greenwich Palace from Wyngaerde’s drawing c 1558

Upon Humphrey’s death the palace was granted to his nemesis, Margaret of Anjou.  Margaret added embellishments including terracotta tiles bearing her monogram, filled the windows with glass and built a landing stage and treasure house (2)

Later Edward IV enlarged the park, stocked it with deer and bestowed it as a residence upon Elizabeth Wydeville.  Greenwich has been mentioned as one of Elizabeth’s favourite homes and it certainly crops up regularly in Edward’s itinerary (3).  A joust was held there on the occasion of Richard of Shrewsbury’s marriage to Anne Mowbray and it was there at Greenwich  on the 19th November 1481 that Anne tragically died at the age of just 8 years old and a few short months later,  Edward and Elizabeth’s own daughter,  the 15 year old Princess Mary  was also  to die there on either the 20th or 23rd May 1482.  The manuscript covering Mary’s death says she died ‘in the town’  but it is probable this meant the palace and presumably she would have ‘lain in the chapel of the palace with appropriate services and perhaps the attendance of her parents‘(3).  A week after her death, on the 27th May,  Mary’s body was taken to the parish church of Greenwich on the first stage of the final journey to St Georges Chapel Windsor.  Mary may have been visited by her father,  Edward IV,  a few days before her death.  He was at Canterbury on the 17th and back in London on the 23rd which may have been the day that his daughter breathed her last so clearly if he did indeed visit he did not linger.  Numerous Wydeville ladies were conspicuous among the mourners including Jane, Lady Grey of Ruthin, sister to the queen and Jacquetta, another sister’s daugher,  Joan Lady Strange, wife of George Stanley.  Another niece, Lady ‘Dame’ Katherine Grey, possibly the daughter of Jane Wydeville was also present.  Dinner for the funeral group was at the palace after which Mary’s body was taken from the church and begun its last sad journey to Windsor.  Mary’s funeral is more than adequately covered in The Royal Funerals of the House of York at Windsor by Anne F Sutton and Livia Visser-Fuchs.  It may well be that sisters-in-law Anne and Mary knew each other well and that perhaps  Greenwich Palace was being used as a royal nursery in much the same way as Sheriff Hutton was later  to become, although the age gap would perhaps have prevented them from being actual playmates.

FullSizeRender.jpgThe Royal Window, Canterbury Cathedral.  Elizabeth Wydeville and her daughters.  Mary is shown as the last figure on the right hand side.  Greenwich was one of Elizabeth’s favourite homes and where her daughter Mary died in 1482.

Greenwich Palace was also one of the first places to be visited by Richard III after his coronation at Westminster which took place on Sunday 6th July 1483 for he stayed there between the 13th and 19th July.  A happy and promising occasion indeed.  It was from Greenwich that Richard wrote to Harry Duke of Buckingham, who was yet to turn his coat and be uncovered as that most untrue creature living…..a story well covered elsewhere.  

The Palace came into Henry Tudor’s hands when Elizabeth Wydeville was,  ummmmm,  retired to Bermondsey Abbey on an altogether frivolous charge. It is true to say that Tudor heavily rebuilt the palace between 1498 and 1504, renaming it Placentia, (the pleasant place),  and the result of which is that any reference to Placentia usually finds it referred to as a Tudor palace but it is the earlier years of the palace with its Lancastrian and  Yorkist links that I find the most intriguing.

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Modern plaque commemorating the ‘building’ of Greenwich Palace by Henry Tudor.  Visitors could be forgiven for mistakenly thinking , with no mention made of the earlier palace, that Tudor was reponsible for the building of Greenwich Palace from the onset.  

Later in its long history the palace was to see many important events including the birth of Henry VIII on the 28 June 1491 –  Oh Happy Day!  Henry jnr was later to spare no expense in beautifying Placentia and his marriage to Katherine of Aragon was solemnised there on the 3 June 1509.  Many sumptuous banquets, revels and jousts were held there (including the joust where Henry had a nasty fall)  –  Henry’s ‘Manor of Pleazaunce’  – and it was where both his daughters,  Mary and Elizabeth were born.   Details of these and other less salubrious events such as the arrest of Anne Boleyn are readily available to anyone who is interested in the Tudors and their shenanigans and I will not  cover them here.  The Tudors were emulated  by the Stuarts in choosing Placentia  as a favourite residence until Charles II,  finding the old palace greatly decayed,  ordered it to be taken down and yet another new palace to be built.  Thus Greenwich or Placentia – whichever name you prefer arose, phoenix like from the ashes and a new chapter in its long history commenced.

imageGreenwich Palace c.1680.  Unknown artist.

As a footnote to Greenwich Palace and its rich history, much excitement has been created by the discovery by archaeologists  working on the painted hall at the Old Royal Naval College  of the discovery of two room, thought to have been used as kitchen or laundry rooms from the old palace.  One of these rooms featured a lead-glazed tiled floor and wall cavities which may have been used to store food and drink or even ‘bee boles’ which would have housed beehive baskets or ‘skeps’ during the winter when the bee colonies hibernated.

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Lead glazed tiled floor believed to have been a service range  on the site of the kitchens, bake-house, brew-house or laundry room.

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The cavities from Greenwich Palace believed to be for storing food, drink or even ‘bee boles’.

 

  1. Old and New London, vol 6 p.165 Edward Walford.
  2.  The London Encyclopaedia pp 345, 346.  Edited by Weinren and Hibbert
  3.  The Private Life of Edward lV John Ashdown-Hill pp 48,49,62,63, 87, 88, 114, 115, 117, 118, 119, 155, 157, 158, 188, 189, 190,191, 192, 204, 205, 206

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THE PASSING OF ELIZABETH OF YORK – A ROYAL COINCIDENCE.

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A young Henry weeping on the empty bed of his dead mother Elizabeth of York.  His two sisters Margaret and Mary sit at the foot of the bed.  From the Vaux Passional, in the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth

As an enthusiastic amateur I do love all the minutiae of history particularly the coincidences which crop up now and again and which really pique my interest.     One I mentioned only recently was the burial of Sir James Tyrell in Austin Friars Church where also lay buried Perkin Warbeck the young man who claimed to be Richard of Shrewsbury, son of Edward IV and who if he were Richard would have spent time in Sir James’ home of Gipping Hall if the Tyrell family tradition be true. 

There is also Elizabeth Talbot Viscountess Lisle.   Elizabeth was married to Edward Grey Viscount Lisle.   Edward Grey was the brother of Sir John Grey,  first husband of Elizabeth Wydeville,  bigamous wife to Edward IV.   However the coincidence here is that Elizabeth Talbot was also the niece of Lady Eleanor Butler (Elizabeth Wydeville’s very own personal nemesis) who was true wife of Edward IV.  

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Possible portrait of Elizabeth Talbot, Viscountess Lisle c1468 Petrus Christus of Bruge Gemäldegalerie, Berlin.

Next on my list is the the coincidence of the timing of the deaths of the heirs and wives of both Richard III and Henry VII .  Strange to think that these two kings, so utterly different would have been able to commiserate with each other on the pain of having major bereavements so close to each other there was  scarce time to come to terms with their loss before another befell them. Richard’s small son Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales  died some time around the 9th April 1484 – there is some confusion over the exact date – his wife Anne Neville passed away but eleven months later on March 16th 1485.  Henry’s heir Arthur,  Prince of Wales,  15 years old and recently wed was to pass away on the 2 April 1502 followed by his mother Elizabeth of York on the 11th February 1503 –  not quite the eleven months that were between Edward and Anne but pretty close.   Both kings are said to have taken the deaths of their wives badly and for Richard the death of his heir was catastrophic.  Henry at least had a spare, the young Henry Jnr – Oh Joy!

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Holbein’s sketch of Henry VIII as a child.   What a little tinker..bless.  A  medieval Chukkie only more cuddly…Yikes! 

Elizabeth fared better than Anne,  well tombwise,  having a tomb and monument that cost a small fortune whereas  the grave of  Anne,   who was buried in Westminster Abbey  ‘with honours no less than befitted the burial of a queen’ , is lost and unmarked other than a plaque put up  courtesy of the Richard III Society in 1960 in the area where she is known to rest that is ‘by the South dore that does ledyth Into Seynt Edwardys Chapell’(1).  The plaque reads:

ANNE NEVILL

1456-1485

QUEEN OF ENGLAND

YOUNGER DAUGHTER OF RICHARD EARL OF WARWICK CALLED THE KINGMAKER WIFE TO THE LAST PLANTAGENET KING RICHARD III  

 ‘In person she was seemly, amiable and beauteous and according to the interpretation of her name Anne full gracious’

REQUIESCAT IN PACE.  

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The plaque given by The Richard III Society           

Arthur lays at rest in a beautiful tomb in Worcester Cathedral.  Edward’s grave is now lost but I believe he rests somewhere in the Church of St Mary and St Akelda, Middleham as that is where Rous said he was and I’m inclined to believe him as he would have been in a position to know.

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The tomb of Arthur Princes of Wales.  Worcester Cathedral.  Photographer unknown. Pinterest.

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Prince Arthur Tudor.  16th century oil on panel.  Philip Mould Historical Portraits

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Edward of Middleham from the Rous Roll

But back to Elizabeth of York.   The desperate attempts to get a doctor to her proved to no avail after she lay dangerously ill following the recent birth of a daughter who had not lived for very long.   

‘Itm To James Nattres for his costes going into Kent for Doctour Hallysworth phesicon to comme to the Quene by the Kinges commaundement.  Furst for his bote hyre from the Towre to Gravys ende and again iiij s, iiij d.   Itm to twoo watermen abiding at Gravys ende unto suche tyme the said James came again for theire expenses viij d.    Itm for horse hyre and to guydes by night and day ij s.iij d.and for his awe expenses xvj d.’ (2).

Having died on the 11th February  (which was her birthday and thus another coincidence) in the Royal Apartments at the Tower of London  her body lay in repose amidst the serenity of the beautiful chapel of  St John the Evangelist.   Her funeral was held on the Wednesday 22 February although she was temporarily interred in a side chapel in Westminster Abbey,  the tomb  her husband commissioned for  both of them having not yet been completed (3). However on completion of  the new Lady Chapel and tomb she was finally laid to rest besides her husband in a vault beneath their monument  as dictated in his will:

Also we wol that incontinent after our decefle, and after that our bodye be buried with in the said Towmbe, the bodie of our said late wif the Quene, bee translated from the place where it nowe, is buried, and brought and laid with oure bodye in ow said Towmbe, yf it be not soo doon by our self in our daies

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It was here in the stunning simplicity of the Chapel of St John the Evangelist in the Tower of London that Elizabeth’s body lay in repose.   Photo James Brittain

That is not the end of the story though because much later on someone thought it was a good idea for the  coffin of James Ist (d.1625) to be interred with them despite the instructions left in Henry’s will :

AND we wol that our Towmbe bee in the myddes of the same Chapell, before the High Aultier, in such distance from the same, as it is ordred in the Plat made for the fame Chapell, and signed with our haude: In which place we wol,  that for the said Sepulture of vs and our derest late wif the Quene, whose soule God p’donne, be made a Towmbe of Stone called Touche, sufficient in largieur for The us booth’.

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Elizabeth’s  bronze effigy on her tomb, Westminster Abbey, Torrigiano

I can only imagine Henry’s annoyance from up above when after the  fortune  shelled out for their tomb etc., a gooseberry albeit a royal gooseberry got to intrude on his and Elizabeth’s space. 

image  The Henry VII vault.  Opened in 1869.  Drawn by George Scharf.

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Elizabeth of York.  Her wooden funeral effigy.  Westminster Abbey.

The inscription on Elizabeth’s tomb reads:

‘Here lies Queen Elizabeth, daughter of the former King Edward IV, sister of the formerly appointed King Edward V, once the wife of King Henry VII, and the renowned mother of Henry VIII. She met her day of death in the Tower of London on the 11th day of February in the year of Our Lord 1502, having fulfilled the age of 37 years’ (4).

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  1. The Great Chronicle of London, written in the 1530s 
  2. The Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York Sir Nicholas Harris Nicholas 1830.
  3. Westminster Abbey p.171 Dean Stanley
  4. http://www.Westminster-abbey.org Online article.

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Elizabeth of York – Her Privy Purse Expenses

 

SIR JAMES TYRELL – CHILD KILLER OR PROVIDER OF A SAFE HOUSE ?

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 15th century stained glass from  great east window St Nicholas Chapel, Gipping.  Did Elizabeth Wydeville gaze up at this very window if the family tradition is correct.    Photo thanks to Gerry Morris @ Flikr

While there is much information on Sir James  Tyrell, c.1455-1502  available,  unfortunately some of it is erroneous and distortion at its best,  a fine example of history being written by the victor.  As we know Sir Thomas More in his History of King Richard III painted a slanderous characterisation of Sir James who he said  ‘devised that they ( the princes) should be murdered in their beds..’  which has been and still continues to be used to malign a loyal Yorkist and I have to say  Sir Thomas was a writer of rubbish.   There may be some small kernels of truth in his History, for example the meeting of the Council in the Tower on the 13 June 1483 does have some ring of truth about it but on the whole and as the story of Richard waving a  withered arm about perfectly illustrates the bulk of History is  so far removed from the truth to the point of silliness.  Sir Thomas did add as a kind of afterthought that ‘some remain in doubt whether they were in his (Richard’s) day destroyed or no.. ‘ but by then the damage was well and truly done.  Recently, and thank goodness for it, more enlightened historians have shredded Sir Thomas’ daft  version of events.  I won’t go into it too much here as it’s readily available for those who wish to delve deeper other than to point out one of the most blatant errors/lies,  besides the gammy arm,  is that there was no need for a  page to introduce Richard, while he was sitting on the loo –  really Sir Thomas! –  to Sir James as Richard already knew him very well.   Sir James had fought for York at Tewkesbury in 1471 and  had in fact been knighted by Edward IV after the battle.   ‘By the following winter he was in the service of Richard Duke of Gloucester.  He became a ducal councillor and feoffee and was used by Richard on sensitive business'(1).   For example Sir John Paston wrote ‘The Countess of Warwick is now out of Beaulieu Sanctuary, and Sir James Tyrell conveyeth her northward, men say by the King’s assent‘.   However Sir Thomas was not going to let the truth get in the way of a good story.

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The Tyrell Knot found carved above a door in the Gipping Chapel along with the words Pray for Sir Jamys Tirrell. Dame Anne his wyf.  Photo thanks to Simon Knott.

Moving on Sir James was not at Bosworth and was able to transfer his services to Henry Tudor.  However and cutting to the chase,  he become involved with Edmund de la Pole in 1499 which set off a chain of events that led to his arrest as well as that of his son, Thomas,  in 1502 and to their imprisonment in the Tower of London.    After a trial in the London Guildhall he was convicted of treason on Monday 2nd May and executed on the 6th.  After his execution it was given out that Sir James had confessed to the murder of the princes back in 1483.  No copies of the ‘confession’ have survived, quelle surprise!  

Now here’s a thing.   I  have recently become familiarised with the mystery of Coldridge Church in Devon and a very plausible story with some compelling evidence  that John Evans, who had been given the deer park and manor of Coldridge by none other than  Thomas Grey,  Marquess of Dorset,  could actually have been  Edward V incognito.  Dorset was of course half brother to Edward V.    This mystery is now being investigated by The Missing Princes Project led by Philippa Langley, who along with the late John Ashdown-Hill played such a pivotal role in the discovery of Richard’s remains in Leicester in 2012.   Philippa’s Devonshire team have uncovered much information, records and clues particularly in the church and   also the connections that certain persons such as Robert Markenfield and Sir John Speke had to John Evans.    

Surprising it is as well as a huge coincidence that it transpires that Sir John Speke was related by marriage to none other than Sir James Tyrell.   Anne Arundel, wife to Sir James, had a  half brother Thomas Arundel,  who in turn had a daughter Alice who was married to, yes none other than Speke (2).  Which leads me to the crunch point of my story – at last I hear you groan.   Audrey Williamson in her excellent book the Mystery of the Princes first published in 1972  unearthed a curious and intriguing story from a lady called Kathleen Margaret Drew,  a member of the Tyrell family,  who contacted Williamson following publication of her article in the Sunday Times Magazine in 1973 to inform her of  a ‘longstanding and specifically worded tradition  that had been handed down in the Tyrell family.   This family tradition had not been made public due to the stigma that was still, sadly, attached to Tyrells’s name as a murderer of the boys as well as the mistaken belief that Elizabeth Wydeville and her sons stay at Gipping Hall prior to the supposed murder of the princes.   For had not  the sainted Sir Thomas More himself named Sir James as the murderer ? – ergo it must be the truth.   This story had been handed down orally since before the 18th century (3).  I would suggest that the earlier Tyrells had felt it unsafe to talk openly about this  family tradition having received a stark warning by the execution of Sir James that it was dangerous to know or speak about the whereabouts of the missing princes.  The story told to Audrey Williams is that after Elizabeth Wydeville left the sanctuary of  the Abbots House at Westminster Abbey, she and the princes were ‘allowed to live at Gipping Hall by the permission of the uncle i.e. Richard III.   The  whereabouts of Elizabeth and her sons after Richard become king has always been a tantalising mystery.  

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The Tyrell Crest.  A Boar’s head with peacock feathers issuing from its mouth.  15th century glass from the great east window Chapel of St Nicholas Gipping. Photo thanks to Gerry Morris @ Flikr

Towards the end of 1484 Sir James, this ‘ right trusty knight for our body and counsaillour ‘ was sent by Richard III  ‘over the See into the parties of Flaundres for diverse maters concernying gretely oure wele’ ( 4).  Was this task escorting one of the Princes to the continent where he may have surfaced later as Perkin Warbeck?   Perhaps both princes even?  Or  did one of them, Edward,  remain at Gipping Hall until after the Battle of Bosworth after which there was a change of plan and he was removed elsewhere?  Possibly to Coldridge?  More himself quoted the Duke of Buckingham, who  in one of the earlier attempts to get Elizabeth Wydeville to agree to allow her youngest son, Richard join his brother Edward in the Tower suggested that she would be allowed to live with her sons in a suitable designated place –  ‘And we all,  I think content that both be with her if she come thence  and bide in such a place where they may with their honour be‘.  Was this exactly what happened in early 1484 – was the offer repeated to her and she realising that the game was up accepted?  We do know that she appears to have made her peace with Richard and send word to her eldest son Dorset to return home.  

One question that lingers for me is why did Henry Tudor, after the execution of Sir James, feel it necessary to put out the story of his confession to what is now becoming clearer was  a non existent murder and hopefully one day will be proven to be so.   Why Sir James?  Was it because Henry had some knowledge of the fact that Sir James had indeed had some link to the princes but what exactly that was he had been unable to figure out.  

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After Sir James’ execution his family were able to take his body for  burial in the west wing of Austin Friars church where his father William who had been executed in 1462 lay at rest.     Nearby, in a poignant coincidence,  lay the grave  of Perkin Warbeck – Pretender to the Throne or possibly a true son of Edward IV who may as a child have lived with his mother and brother for a time at Gipping Hall, home to the Tyrells.  

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St Nicholas Chapel Gipping.  Sadly the manor house was demolished in the 19th century.  

1. Tyrell, Sir James c.1455-1502.  Rosemary Horrox ODNB 3 January 2008.

2.Sir James Tyrell: with some notes on the Austin Friars London and those buried there.  W E Hampton.

3.  Audrey Williamson explained that ‘Mrs Drew was directly descended from one of three French boys refugees from the Revolution adopted as sons and given the Tyrell name by a descendent of James Tyrell in the 18th century. Mrs Drew’s grandmother obtained a story not only from her husband but also from her mother,  the daughter of the original French adopted sons.   It is said to be already a tradition of long-standing in the family’.  

4. Harleian MSS 433

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

 

 

Lady Katherine Gordon – Wife to Perkin Warbeck

 

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St Michaels Mount.  ‘A Strong Place and Mighty’  wrote Warkworth in his Chronicle. Perkin left Katherine and their son here prior to his march to Exeter.  Note the causeway.  Thanks to John Starkey @ Flikr for this atmospheric photo.

It may seem prima facie that Katherine was a tragic figure, and perhaps she was for a while, but a further delve into her story and it becomes apparent that this lady was the epitome of a survivor.  

Born into Scottish aristocracy around  1474, depending on who her mother was,   she was  kinswoman to James IV.  Her father was George Gordon Second Earl Huntley, described as the ‘most powerful Lord in Scotland below the King himself’.  There is some confusion which has long plagued historians  as to the identity of her mother, who could have either been Annabella Stewart, a daughter of James I and his English wife Joan Beaufort,  or his third wife, Lady Elizabeth Hay, the sister of the Earl of Erroll (1).  However the consensus of opinion does seem to be that her mother was Elizabeth Hay.  This is of some importance which I shall come to later.  

Around the time of Perkin’s arrival in Scotland in November 1495  James paid the enormous sum of £108.17s.6d for fifteen and a quarter ells of crimson satin brocaded with gold and fifteen ells of velvet to be delivered ‘My Lady Huntly in Edinburgh‘ which would appear to have been for a gown suitable for her to meet the young man who was to become her husband,  Perkin Warbeck,  who as we we know was presenting himself as Richard Duke of York, son to the late Edward IV and one of the “Princes in the Tower’.   With her noble linage she was ‘the closest and noblest woman of marriageable age whom James could offer‘ (2). In a time when all ladies of nobility seem to have been routinely  described as beautiful it would seem there is this time a fair chance  that Katherine was exactly that.  No doubt Perkin, for I shall call him that although he may well have been Richard, was totally smitten and perhaps she for him.  Certainly there was no procrastinating for the couple  were  swiftly betrothed and married on the 13 January 1496 with a child being born in September.   The wedding sounds as if it were sumptuous with Perkin in an outfit made up from fourteen and a half yards of white damask which had cost £28,  his six servants also suitable attired in outfits of damask, his two trumpeters in gowns of tawny cloth and red hose (3). How splendid it all must have been and how promising.    What could possibly go wrong?

On 6 July 1497, perhaps having outstayed his welcome,  Perkin, Katherine and their small son left Scotland and sailed to Ireland on a ship purchased for them by James aptly named “The Cuckoo”!!?    James was not there that day to wish them bon voyage but he had presented Katherine with a goodbye gift of three and a half yards of tawny Rouen cloth for a sea-gown and two and a half yards of black Lille cloth for a cloak.  Oh and yes he also paid Perkin the July instalment of his pension early on 27 June (4).  James’ relief at the departure of Perkin is almost palpable even five centuries later.    After a short stay in Ireland and finding little support they clambered once more upon The Cuckoo and sailed to Cornwall accompanied by one other ship plus a ‘Breton pinnace’  and it is said about 200 men arriving at Whitesand Bay on the 7 September.  Cornwall was at that time in a state of high tension  after a rebellion,  later known as the First Cornish Rebellion,  in May 1497  triggered  by Henry Tudor’s high taxes had only recently been quelled on the 17th June.   Why Perkin should choose to have his wife and child accompany him on such a dangerous enterprise  as the invasion of England is rather baffling.   But of course perhaps this would merely indicate a scarcity of options open to him.    In the event Katherine, and it is thought their son, were left at St Michaels Mount, although they may have moved on to  St Buryan, while Perkin marched eastwards heading towards Exeter gathering followers along the way.    It was while he was a short ride away from the Devonshire Village of Coldridge it’s possible he  had a meeting with  John Evans who there is very good reason to believe was actually Edward V incognito.

We can only guess at the extreme fear and stress Katherine suffered  while she awaited news of  the outcome of her husband’s perilous venture.    It was not a long wait as it transpired.  After his arrival on the 17 September Perkin was defeated after a valiant but doomed attempt on the gates of Exeter, and was captured after surrendering at Beaulieu Abbey where he had taken sanctuary.   On the 5 October Perkin was taken to Henry at Taunton Castle where he confessed to being an imposter (5).   Well his choices being rather limited he would have wouldn’t he?   A John Bowes of Hythe would be awarded  £1 in rewarde for bringing Perkin’s standard to Henry (6).36763448822_53deb23c03_c

An interior shot of a room at St Michaels Mount.  Did Katherine look out of this very window while awaiting news from her husband?  Thank you Lee Sullivan @ Flikr for this photo.  

Henry Tudor sent men to St Michaels Mount –  or St Buryan  – to bring Katherine to him at Taunton. Henry’s Privy Purse accounts records a payment made to a Robert Southewell for ‘horses, sadells, and other necessarys bought for the conveying of my Lady Kateryn Huntleye, £7.13s.4d.’    There was also ‘To my lady Kateryn Huntleye, £2’ on December 1.  It is said he was much captivated by her beauty – ‘much marveled at her beauty and amiable countenance, and sent her to London to the Queen‘  – but whether that is a load of old flannel, as they say in South London, or the truth who knows.  It is known that Henry could be taken by the sight of a pretty face as his privy purse accounts bear out – September 5th 1493.  ‘To the young damoysell that daunceth £30‘ – really Henry!   However and moving on Henry sent Katherine to his wife Elizabeth of York  to be taken into her household.  What Elizabeth  and Katherine made of each other is lost to us.  But they must have surely had some interesting and perhaps awkward conversations, these two ladies who may or may not have been sister in laws.  Of course this was a clever ploy of Henry’s as no doubt his wife could be trusted to relay anything back to him of interest that Katherine uttered about her husband.  

Perkin was taken to  London where he and his wife were allowed to meet at times.   Their child has disappeared off the radar by this time, who knows where, and as  Henry instructed the couple were not to be  allowed to have a sexual relationship there were to be no more little Perkies to grow up and upset his heirs.  Could this indicate that Henry may have lived with a fear that Perkin was indeed Richard and not a base born pretender? Bernard Andrè a French Augustian friar and blind poet wrote a wordy description, much in the mode of Thomas More’s witterings on Richard III, describing the scene where with Henry present, Perkin and Katherine were brought together for the first time, Perkin ‘confessing’ to her of his duplicity.  

Then his wife with a modest and graceful look and singularly beautiful was brought into the kings presence in an untouched state with great blushing and breaking into tears.  Henry addressed her ‘most noble lady I grieve too  and it  pains me very much second only to the slaughter of so many of my subjects that you have been deceived by such a sorry fellow….. because it has pleased God that you should be reduced to this miserable condition by the perfidy  and wickedness of this lying scoundrel here’.  Katherine had sunk to the floor during Henry’s speech soaked through with a fountain of tears…  “.   Henry  then ordered her husband ‘to repeat to her that same thing he had said to the King..’  Perkin then repeated his ‘confession’ whereupon Katherine sobbed/screamed  ‘So after you seduced me as you wanted with all your false stories why did you carry me away from the hearths  of my ancestors from home and parents and friends and into enemy hands? Oh wretched me!  How many days of grieving,  how many worries will this give my most noble parents! Oh  that you would never come to our shores. Oh misery…  I see nothing before me now but death since my chastity is lost.  Alas for me.  Why don’t my parents send someone here to punish you?   Most wicked man.   Are these the sceptres you were promising me we would have.   Most accursed man,  is this the honour of a king to which you boasted that our glorious line would come?   And as for me hopeless and destitute.. what can I hope for?   Whom can I trust?   With what can I ease my pain I see no hope ahead…  Poor Perkin and no doubt at this stage he was rapidly losing the will to live in any case.  Addressing Henry Katherine said ‘I would say more but the force of pain and tears chokes off my words..’ and give thanks for that.  However as Wroe points out both she and Perkin would have fully been aware of how things would go if he were to fail and such a ‘confession’  would be forthcoming if things went pear shaped which indeed they did.  What a dreadful and bitter moment that must been as their hopes and dreams imploded around them.  Katherine was indeed up the Swanee without a paddle.  

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No contemporary portraits of Katherine have survived.   However we do have this pencil sketch of Perkin c1560 as well as what is thought could be his portrait from the Valencienne  tapestry.  Note the blemish above the eye apparent in both these images.

Katherine seems to have been treated  kindly by the Queen while Perkin was taken on Henry’s progresses until on the 9th June 1498 he made his escape.  Gunn suggests this may have been with the king’s ‘connivance’.  Was this escape plan shared by Katherine?  The finale to Perkin’s story drew to a rapid conclusion shortly after when he was discovered at the Charterhouse at Sheen, the Prior begging Henry to spare his life. His end was ignoble, which if he was a true son of Edward IV, albeit illegitimate,  is rather disturbing.  Shackled he was displayed in stocks set up high on a scaffold made up of wine barrels from whence he was sent to the Tower of London.  There he became, conveniently, entangled in a plot with the tragic Edward of Warwick, son of George Duke of Clarence and a true scion of the House of York.  This plot was used by Henry as an excuse to kill two birds with one stone and after a trial in the White Hall of Westminster on the 16th November Perkin were found guilty, quelle surprise, and executed.  Warwick, found guilty two days later was beheaded but Perkin, his face said to have been bashed in by  Spanish Ambassadors who saw him , was drawn on a hurdle to Tyburn where he suffered death by hanging on the 23 November 1499.  His body was taken to Austin Friars for burial but his grave already lost in the 16th century when Stow undertook his  Survey of London would have been completely obliterated when the  church was destroyed in an air raid in 1940. 

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Photo taken in 1947 of a service being held in the ruins of Austin Friars

What became of Katherine after her husband’s execution?  What were her thoughts?  Was she in turmoil?  Perhaps she was pragmatic.  In any case time is a great healer and after Henry’s death in 1509 Katherine went on to marry three more times –  

  1. James Strangeways – Usher of the King’s Chamber.   Upon her marriage to Strangeways in 1512 Katherine resigned  the grant of Fyfield Manor made to her in  1510 for life.  Freshly re-granted to both her and  James on condition that she did not go to Scotland or any other foreign country without licence (7)

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Fyfield Manor.  Home to Katherine and second husband James Strangeways.  Also lived here with her last husband Christopher Ashton.  

2. Sir Matthew Cradock  d.1531.   Chancellor of Glamorgan and Steward of Gower.  Married almost immediately on the death of Strangeways.   Cradock had a double monument  built for Katherine and himself  in St Mary’s Swansea although Katherine would finally be buried at Fyfield, Berkshire with her fourth and final husband Christopher Ashton.   She was noted on the Cradock tomb, which was destroyed during a bombing raid, as ‘Mi Ladi Katerin‘.   Referred to Cradock in her will as ‘dear and well beloved husband‘.

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The Cradock tomb, St Mary’s Church Swansea after an air raid.  

3. Christopher Ashton of Fyfield.   Another  Usher to the Chamber.  Lived at Fyfield Manor.   Survived Katherine who having died in 1537  had requested burial in the Parish Church of  St. Nicholas Fyfield  (7).

Did Katherine herself ever leave any signs that Perkin was indeed the Duke of York OR that she herself had believed him?  Wendy Moorhen makes a good point in her article in the Richard III Society publication The Ricardian : 

“If Katherine was not the daughter of Annabella Stewart and therefore not related to the family of Edward IV through the Beauforts then the interpretation  of her description as Margaret Kyme as ‘my cousin’ in her will is reduced to them being cousins by marriage.“ This could indeed mean that Lady Katherine believed, almost forty years after his execution, that her first husband was the person he claimed to be for so many years, Richard, Duke of York’ (9 )

Lisa Hopkins also writing in the Ricardian in a similar vein points out that in her will dated 1537 Katherine left a bequest  to Mistress Margaret Kyme/Keymes whom she terms ‘my cousin‘. This Margaret Kyme was the daughter of Cicely Plantagenet, daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Wydeville who had disgraced herself by marrying a simple gentleman, Thomas Kyme,  after which she lived out her life in virtual exile on the Isle of Wight.  One of the possibilities this means is that if Perkin had indeed been Richard Duke of York, then Cicely would have been his sister and thus Margaret Kyme, Cicely’s daughter would thus indeed have been Katherine’s  first cousin by marriage (10).   If this was the case, and of course we can’t be sure,  it would be a clear indication that 38 years after her first husband’s death, Katherine had lived with the belief that her husband had truly been Richard of Shrewsbury Duke of York.  

 

  1. Lady Katherine Gordon, a Genealogical Puzzle Wendy E A Moorhen.  Article in the Ricardian December 1997 pp.191-213 
  2. Perkin, a Story of Deception p.264 Ann Wroe
  3. Ibid p.269
  4. Ibid p.313
  5. Warbeck, Perkin (Pierrechon de Werbecque; alias Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York).  S J Gunn Oxford DNB 4 October 2008
  6. Excerpta Historica:Or Illustrations of English History p.117.  Ed.Samuel Bentley 
  7. Parishes: Fyfield British History Online A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4
  8. Ibid.
  9. Lady Katherine Gordon, a Genealogical Puzzle Wendy E A Moorhen.  Article in the Ricardian December 1997 p.207
  10. Lisa Hopkins. ‘Research Notes and Queries, Lady Katherine Gordon and Margaret Kyme: A Clue to a Question of Identity The Ricardian. vol. I0, March I994, p. I9.  See also (1) above.p.208

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