Tag Archives: Richard III

On This Day – Leyburn and Middleham in Yorkshire

Even though travel restrictions are easing I am not yet minded to risk it so I still have no new stories to post so I continue to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.

On 1st August 2016 I was in Yorkshire on ‘Yorkshire Day’…

02 Yorkshire

Middleham describes itself as a township, smaller than a town but bigger than a village and it is a very fine place. Less frantic than other towns in Wesleydale but blessed with history and a magnificent castle, almost as big as the town itself. We parked the car and found a pub for lunch called ‘Richard III’.

Richard III was the last Plantagenet and House of York King of England, the last King of England killed in combat, at the battle of Bosworth in 1485, and succeeded by the victorious Henry Tudor of the House of Lancaster.  Before he became King in 1482 he lived for a while in the castle here in Middleham.

Richard III

 

Read The Full Story Here…

Entrance Tickets – The Forbidden Corner

Forbidden Corner

There is something quintessentially English about Follies, buildings or places without any real purpose except to satisfy a mad ambition and this is one of the best.

Read the Full Story…

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

East Anglia, Sutton Hoo and Rainy Day Caravan Holidays

Suffolk

Over time I calculate that I have visited forty-seven of the forty-eight traditional (ceremonial)  English Counties (often for pleasure but sometimes for work) but I am fairly certain that I have never visited the County of Suffolk so this holiday was my opportunity to fill this glaring geographical gap in my UK travels.

Today we drove south almost as far as Essex and the plan was to start at Sutton Hoo and then work our way back north.

I don’t want to be accused of exaggeration but Sutton Hoo is perhaps the most important archeological site in the whole of England because it sheds light on a period of Dark Ages history that is on the margin between myth, legend, and emerging historical documentation.  It is the site of an Anglo Saxon burial ship for King Rædwald of East Anglia who was in his day the most powerful chieftain/King in all of the South-East of England.

This is King Rædwald…

003

The discovery is a great Indiana Jones/Howard Carter sort of story.  Local folk reported seeing ghostly figures wandering around the mounds and in response the initial excavation in 1939 was privately sponsored by the landowner Edith Pretty and carried out by a local freelance archeologist called Basil Brown and a couple of estate workers as labourers who could be spared for the task.  Unsurprisingly when the significance of the find became apparent national experts took over.

The most significant artifacts from the burial site were those found in the burial chamber in the centre of the ship, including a collection of metalwork dress fittings in gold and gems, a ceremonial helmet, shield and sword, a lyre, and many pieces of silver plate from Byzantium.

Sutton Hoo Face Mask

It is a good story but it has some holes in it.  These mounds had been there for a thousand years or so and must surely have generated some interest before Edith Pretty financed the operation.  And so it was because four hundred years earlier Henry VIII (no less) authorised a dig to search for treasure and those entrusted with the task began their excavations.  They discovered one tomb and made away with the loot but failed to make their way into King Rædwald’s ship and gave up rather prematurely.

The point is if people knew there was treasure in the field in 1540 why did no one look again until 1940.  Did everyone just forget?

So is it the most important archaeological site ever uncovered in England?  There are some challengers for the title.

The Staffordshire Hoard represents the largest find of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork ever found. Consisting of over three thousand, five hundred items found by an amateur detectorist buried in a field in Staffordshire. The discovery is said to have completely altered our perceptions of Anglo-Saxon England and the hoard accounts for over 60% of all the Anglo-Saxon items conserved in English museums.

The last Plantagenet King of England was Richard III and he was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 and hastily buried somewhere in the city of Leicester. The Richard III Society are obsessed with the King with a bad reputation and one member in particular, Phillipa Langley, was convinced that she knew where he was. She persuaded the University of Leicester to finance an excavation in a city centre car park, pointed to a spot, the excavator started to work and bugger me there he was!

All we need to find now is King John’s Treasure lost in The Wash in 1216 somewhere between Spalding and King’s Lynn, somewhere down the A17 and whoever finds that is going to be very famous and very rich.

Watch this short clip to see what it is all about…

The Detectorists TV show.

Suton Hoo Guided Tour

There is a pleasant walk through the gentle Suffolk countryside to the site of the excavation but the reality is that there is very little to see except for seventeen burial mounds which look rather like giant mole hills.  This is a place that requires some considerable imagination to appreciate it and it really doesn’t take long to view.  The point I suppose is this, some places we visit to spend time and see things, a museum for example but some places we visit simply to say that we have been there for the significance of the place and the Sutton Hoo burial mounds fall firmly into the latter category.

There is an interesting exhibition hall and interpretation centre but there are no original artifacts on display because these are all in the British Museum because although it was decreed that the treasure belonged to Edith Pretty she promptly presented it all to the nation which was at the time the largest gift and most valuable made to the British Museum by a living donor.  Edith Pretty was either very generous, very stupid or very rich anyway.

After five days of glorious sunshine it was raining today, pouring actually, so this cut short our visit to Sutton Hoo and with no chance of any improvement we made our way back to the caravan at Kessingland and sat inside for the rest of the afternoon.

This was exactly how I remembered caravan holidays when I was a boy.

Click on an image to scroll through the gallery…

 

North Yorkshire – Leyburn, Middleham, Yorkshire Day and Richard III

Richard III Middleham castle

“Now is the winter of our discontent 
Made glorious summer by this sun of York.”

William Shakespeare – Richard III, Act 1 Scene 1

The following morning we drove once more to Leyburn and this time the chocolate factory workshop was open so we spent a full morning there while the children made chocolate pizza and Kim and Sally drank coffee and ate chocolate cake.

Next we drove to the town centre which was horribly busy once more and after we had secured a much prized parking place I gave in to the demands of the others and visited the shops.  Actually, I rather liked the shops in Leyburn  and the reason for that was that there were none that I recognised.

Usually in England every town has the same shops, there is practically no individuality in the town centres.  Every shop that I can expect to find in my home town can be found anywhere else.

Leyburn postcard

These are not shops that interest me a great deal in Grimsby where I live so it was completely unlikely that they would do so elsewhere.  To make it worse, in a typical English town there is an over-supply of banks, building societies and pay-day loan money lenders and the trouble with financial service providers is that they simply cannot make their window displays interesting and except for a different logo all they can display is a list of lending and savings rates most of which are exactly the same anyway.

This, I am happy to report was not the case in Leyburn where there were an abundance of traditional shops owned and run by local traders and I rather enjoyed an hour or so looking around.  Please don’t spread that around too much, it might get back to Kim.

In one shop we were invited to choose a white rose from a basket because today, as it turned out, was ’Yorkshire Day’. 

Yorkshire Day is 1 August to promote and celebrate the historic English county of Yorkshire.  It all began in 1975 started by the Yorkshire Ridings Society, initially in Beverley, as a protest movement against the Local Government re-organisation of 1974 which effectively dismantled the historic old County.

The White Rose County of Yorkshire is the largest in England and for administrative convenience was once divided into Ridings, North, West and East, but no obvious fourth and I wondered why?  Well it turns out that there is a simple explanation because the word Riding is derived from a Danish word ‘thridding’, meaning a third. The invading Danes called representatives from each Thridding to a Thing, or Parliament and established the Ridings System.  I rather like the idea that Parliament is called a Thing! I have heard it called worse.  To this day, Yorkshire consists of three Ridings, along with the City of York, and that’s why there is no fourth, or South, Riding.

Quite a few English Counties have a celebration day, it seems to be a modern thing to do.  Hampshire is 15th July, Suffolk is 21st June but in both cases for no specific reason that I can see.  My County of Lincolnshire has chosen the 1st October which celebrates a Catholic rebellion against the reforms of Henry VIII in 1536.  A look through the list leads me to think that most dates are chosen at random except perhaps for Northamptonshire.  25th October is the feast dates of Saint Crispin, the patron Saint of cobblers and Northampton is famous for making boots and shoes.  The local football club is called ‘The Cobblers’.

Further afield, Melbourne Day in Australia is 30th August and celebrates the founding of the city in 1835.

After some shopping for essential supplies (beer, wine and cracker biscuits for the over-supply of Wensleydale cheese after the previous day’s visit to the dairy) we left Leyburn and carried on to nearby Middleham.

Middleham Postcard

Middleham describes itself as a township, smaller than a town but bigger than a village and it is a very fine place. Less frantic than other towns in Wesleydale but blessed with history and a magnificent castle, almost as big as the town itself. We parked the car and found a pub for lunch inevitably called ‘Richard III’.

Richard was the last Plantagenet and House of York King of England, the last King of England killed in combat, at the battle of Bosworth in 1485, and succeeded by the victorious Henry Tudor of the House of Lancaster.  Before he became King in 1482 he lived for a while in the castle here in Middleham.

Thanks to William Shakespeare poor old Richard is mostly remembered as a bad man and an evil King who got what he deserved at the battle of Bosworth but history is now beginning to revise this judgement following the discovery of his bones in an unlikely burial place under a public car park in my home town of Leicester, interestingly no County Day yet surely it has to be the day they found his bones on 25th August.

Richard III

Yorkshire demanded that he should be immediately returned to York for a final decent burial but the discoverers held firm and he now lies in the Cathedral of his adopted County of Leicester.

Leicester has laid claim to Richard III. Some people claim that this is significant.  Leicester City are a football team in England who have never really done anything spectacular.  In 2014 they were playing badly and looked likely to be relegated from the Premier League but after the bones of Richard were found they suddenly began to play like champions and in the following year won the English Premier League.  The reversal of fortune has been attributed by some to Richard III and though it is unlikely it is such a good story that I really want to believe it.

Although Leicester is a large city in the UK there are only three places in U.S.A. named after it, in Massachusetts, North Carolina and Vermont.  As far as I can see there is no Leicester in Canada or in Australia.   Perhaps it is too difficult to pronounce correctly?

After lunch we walked to the castle.  Between us there were mixed opinions about paying the entrance fee but with my new castle enthusiast pal, William, eager to climb the battlements everyone finally gave in and we went inside.

It was once a massive castle, one of the biggest in Northern England built on a site previously garrisoned by both the Romans and the Normans and deep within the labyrinth or towers and walls is a statue of Richard III and for those who say he was evil he looked arm less enough to me!

Middleham Castle

Another from my lead soldier collection, this is Sir John Cheyney, bodyguard to Henry Tudor who is said to have brought down King Richard with his lance…

Sir John Cheyney