Mid Anglia Group, Richard III Society

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A Peterborough mystery


Peterborough is a well-planned city. The walk from station to Cathedral passes through two short subways, with an optional detour to start of the Nene Valley Railway heritage line, to a semi-pedestrianised street with the Cathedral ahead,  with a range of shops, restaurants and even a parish church on the approach. The Queensgate Centre includes a footbridge over the main road from the centre back to the station. The Cathedral is adjacent to a cafe and bank in other ancient structures.

The building itself was converted from of the remains of Peterborough Abbey and the last Abbot, John Chambers, became the first Bishop, a fate very unlike that of his counterparts. Katherine of Aragon (left) is buried there, as was Mary Stuart (below) until her son removed her remains to Westminster Abbey. It is, however, the second Bishop that concerns us here.

As the plaque in that Cathedral relates, his…

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Raedwald again


Basil Brown’s work at Sutton Hoo, on secondment from Ipswich Museum, began in summer 1938 and reached “Mound One” today in 1939. In time, he explored the many mounds on that site, one of which probably includes the remains of Raedwald, King of East Anglia to about 624 and Bretwalda of England from 616. Raedwald, of the Wuffing dynasty, was a Christian convert and his collateral descendants fed into the House of Wessex and their successors from 1154.

Here are some pictures from The Cricketers, Ipswich, about Raedwald, his family and his times:

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There’s still hope

This mediaeval hat badge , linked to Edward IV and the battle of Mortimer’s Cross, was found in a field in Lincolnshire. Bearing his “sun in splendour” emblem, it was unsuccessfully auctioned last month.


A group of ram-raiders in Dedham, drove their vehicle into the facade of a plain, old Co-Op, causing considerable damage – and revealing behind the 1950’s front a timbered-framed merchant’s house built around 1520, with earlier medieval features such as a hearth and a large cauldron blocking the doorway, possibly as a talisman to ward off evil. The talisman seems to have worked as the ram-raiders fled empty-handed.


The Staple

In early medieval times, ‘the staple’ meant England’s staple export: wool. But it was inconvenient and inefficient for the king’s men to collect the customs duties that were payable on the exported wool from every one of the hundreds of little English ports all around the country. London, Bristol, Ipswich and Sandwich were major ports but little ships could sail from any small harbour or river estuary. Therefore, since wherever the ships had sailed from, they were all taking their cargo of wool to Flanders (modern day Belgium and north-east France), it was easier to collect the customs when they arrived at their destination. In 1313, Edward II ordained that all merchants had to land their ‘staple’ at a port he would designate. During the Hundred Years War, England acquired Calais from the French and from the mid-fifteenth century until 1558 this port became the convenient Calais Staple, where customs duties were collected on all English wool exports.

From “A Year in the Life of Medieval England” by Toni Mount.

The image is Old bird’s-eye view plan of Calais by Braun & Hogenberg 1597

A free public lecture in Leicester

This will take place, as you can see, on Tuesday 28 May, about money and the economy in Richard’s time. Booking instructions are included.

Coming to Minster Lovell

Sadly, most of the Mid-Anglia group cannot make this event as we will be busy Howard-hunting in Thetford on 18 May. Nevertheless, with Stephen David and Michele Schindler speaking about the mysteries of the life and death of Francis, Viscount Lovell, it promises to be fascinating.

Here is a link to the event.

The Mortimer History Society

I have been sent the following which I think will definitely be of interest!

This is very good news for anyone who can’t attend lectures organised by the Mortimer History Society. For the first time people around the world will be able to see lectures held at their events. All three lectures at the recent event on medieval chronicles and other writings, with reference to the Mortimers, have been uploaded to Youtube and they are freely available to download.
Synopses of the talks are given below, together with the links to each. It will help the Society if you could click the “like” symbol for each lecture and also hit “Subscribe”. Don’t worry, no money is involved!

Writing & Reading Chronicles in Medieval England
Michael Staunton, Associate Professor of History at University College, Dublin
This talk looks at historical writing in England between the 12th & 14th centuries, a period especially rich in chronicles. In particular, it looks at how medieval writers saw their task, and how their readers might have approached such works. Chronicles are valuable sources of information about the past and they were intended as such, but there is more to them than a record of facts. English writers were often influenced by various traditions of writing, including classical and early Christian traditions as well as their own indigenous historical heritage. Furthermore, medieval historians took an interest in matters that now attract less interest and this paper will look more closely into these less explored corners of historical writing in an attempt to come closer to the way contemporaries wrote and read such works.
Link to the above lecture

Chronicles & Colleges: Constructing the Image of the Mortimers in the Middle Ages
Philip Morgan, Senior Lecturer in History at Keele University
This talk looks in some detail at chronicles such as those associated with Wigmore Abbey, the college at Stoke-by-Clare, and an unpublished short chronicle describing the battle of Pilleth in 1402 during Owain Glyndŵr’s rebellion. It examines how the Mortimers were portrayed within these diverse sources.
Link to the above lecture

The Mortimers in the Writings of Iolo Goch & Adam Usk
Helen Fulton, Professor of Medieval Literature at Bristol University
The Welsh poet Iolo Goch, composing in the middle decades of the 14th century, and the chronicler Adam Usk (c.1350–1430) were both keen observers of Welsh & English politics. A professional praise poet composing in Welsh for some of the great families of Wales and the March, such as Owain Glyndŵr, Iolo Goch also addressed eulogies to the English aristocracy, including Sir Roger Mortimer and Edward III. Adam Usk, most famous for his Chronicle, records many of the deeds of the Mortimers during these stirring years which saw the deposition of Richard II and the rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr. This paper looks at selections of work by both writers to assess their viewpoints towards the Mortimer family and its role in the power politics of the late 14th century.
Link to the above lecture

Of course, nobody ever married in secret …

Will they dig down for St Edmund, do you think….?


abbey gardens, bury st edmunds

Searching for historic remains seems to be the thing now. More than ever since Richard III. I hope that the work of the folk who went to the Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds on International Dowsers Day will lead to another great discovery.

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