We are sorry this has not been blogged before.
Christmas is nearly here and also the close of an exciting and emotional year for us Ricardians. As a newly formed Group of the Richard III Society we have much to look forward to in 2016 and good times are anticipated if our proposed visits are anything to go by!
Hopefully, some of you will be attending the Society’s excellent carol service and lunch at Fotheringhay this month and it will be a pleasure to catch up with friends old and new. This is always an enjoyable occasion in the Ricardian year and really heralds the approach of Christmas.
Have a lovely Christmas and all the very best for the New Year! Janine Lawrence
Thank you to those who attended our recent events. In September, Alex McWhirter gave us an excellent tour of a thousand years of history at Moyse’s Hall Museum, after which we moved on to St. Edmundsbury Cathedral and the nearby St. Mary’s Church. For more photographs and information on the day, see our blog posts:
We then settled on an appropriately named venue for our AGM in November and, after a pleasant lunch, eight of us tucked in to business for the year ahead. As you will have seen from the minutes, we are starting at Stowmarket Parish Church on 26 March (Easter Saturday) and Framlingham (Castle and Church) on 21 May. In July, we expect to visit Otley Hall although we have a contingency plan, followed by Colchester Castle in September and an AGM in Beodericsworth, or Bury St. Edmunds as it is now known, on 19 November. Visits to Ely Cathedral, Wingfield Church, Beccles Museum and Christchurch Mansion are also being planned for 2016-7.
We now have a confirmed officer team for 2015-16 with Janine and I continuing, Joanne becoming Librarian and Murray becoming Treasurer. It was also good to see two new members at the meeting. Reburial year now draws to a close and we can look forward to the Stowmarket visit.
However, if anyone else would like to visit Christchurch Mansion in late January, we could easily fit in an extra event. Please comment.
Richard III Society Website
Just a reminder to members that this can be found at http://www.richardiii.net. Visit the website to check out dates for meetings and visits and keep your finger on the pulse of all that is happening in the Ricardian world! Browse the shop for those last minute Christmas gifts for your Ricardian friends (or for yourselves!)
Richard III Society AGM and Members’ Day
Janine gave the following report to the AGM which was held this year at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel in Ealing:
“The Mid Anglia Group was re-formed in 2014 and our first year has been very interesting with visits planned and enjoyed by members who come mainly from Suffolk and Essex.
Visits to historic Colchester and Ipswich have been enjoyed and in March several members were present during re-interment week in Leicester.
In March we visited St Peter’s and St Gregory’s churches in Sudbury. St Gregory’s is especially interesting as it is the home of the preserved head of Simon of Sudbury. He was a former Chancellor and was still Archbishop of Canterbury when he was beheaded by the mob in the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381! We were able to view the head which still has an ear attached!
Annette Carson visited us at our June meeting in Ipswich and gave us a fascinating illustrated talk entitled ‘Six Months in 1483’ which covered Richard’s roles as Lord Protector and High Constable of England, a subject which is covered in her latest book.
September saw us meeting up in Bury St Edmunds for the Historic Bury Festival and having a guided tour of Moyses’ Hall Museum.
At present, our newsletter is distributed to members on a quarterly basis and we constantly seek contributions for inclusion in it to make it an interesting and entertaining publication.
We have a Facebook and WordPress presence and so items of news and interest can be broadcast early.
We are in the process of planning our first AGM which will take place in Stowmarket in November and further details will be posted when final arrangements have been made.
We are a small group and a friendly welcome is extended to anyone thinking of joining us. New members are our future, after all.
We are constantly trying to find interesting places to visit, both linked to Richard and the fifteenth century and look forward to a full and exciting second year.”
The AGM and Members’ Day is a great day out giving an opportunity to meet up, browse the stalls and engage with other members. There is a full report in the December issue of the Ricardian Bulletin.
The 2016 AGM and Members’ Day will be held in York at the Merchant Adventurers Hall on Saturday 1st October.
Visit to Bury St Edmunds
Thanks to Jo Larner for the following account on the Group’s visit to Historic Bury St Edmunds in September:
The mid Anglia branch of the Richard III Society descended on Bury St Edmunds on Saturday the 12th September. We were lucky enough to have another brilliantly sunny day with no sign of rain and met up in Starbuck’s just across from our first and main objective, the Moyse’s Hall Museum.
This museum is housed in an ancient building dating from the time of the Town’s namesake, Edmund, who was king of England in the ninth century. Our knowledgeable guide, Alex, enthralled us with his tales of years gone by, beginning with Edmund himself. The ‘Bury’ in the town’s name has nothing to do with burying Edmund, but rather is another form of ‘burgh’, meaning ‘town’.
The town began as a shrine to St Edmund, who in 869/70 was captured and killed by the Danish Vikings who were in the habit of invading England at that time. They tied him to a tree and shot him with arrows before beheading him. When his men arrived they found his body, but no sign of his head. As they were about to give up the search, they heard a voice calling: “Hic! Hic!” the Latin for “Here! Here!” and, following it, they found a wolf keeping guard on Edmund’s lost head.
He was made a saint and his resting place became a shrine. Thus, also, began the wolf legend and it is still referred to today since, for the weekend, they had laid a ‘Wolf Trail’ around the town for visitors to follow. There is a skull of a wolf or dog found in the area, which is one of many found there and this adds to the legend.
Some of the architecture in the building itself even dates back that far and there are other sections of the building which have architecture from differing periods, providing a great tour through the ages.
One of the highlights of the tour was the ‘Crime’ section featuring a gibbet, a metal human-shaped cage in which criminals were displayed as a deterrent to others. However, apparently, the punishment wasn’t that you were placed in there until you died of thirst because it was after you were executed (usually by hanging), that your body would be displayed there.
The extra punishment was the knowledge that your body would be dissected afterwards by surgeons or your bones scattered. This meant that you would be unable to go to heaven. Moyse’s Hall Museum is unique in that it possesses a photo of the skeleton (still in the gibbet) of a man executed for murdering his sister – the said photo is displayed beside the very same gibbet!
Further on there is an exhibit of various objects associated with witchcraft, such as mummified cats (probably locked up alive within a wall to so its spirit would guard the house), shoes (used the same way), ‘voodoo’ type dolls and various other witchy paraphernalia.
Next came the notorious Red Barn murder. William Corder was accused of murdering his lover, Maria Marten, having been found out because her stepmother had a dream which showed where Maria was buried – in the Red Barn. The defendant said she had committed suicide, but the jury didn’t believe him and he was hung.
He was so hated that he was taken to his execution by an inside route to avoid the baying crowds. But the story didn’t end there; several death masks were made afterwards, one on display in the museum, as well as a death mask used for the study of his skull by phrenologists. His skin was tanned and used to bind a book (an account of the murder), which is one of the exhibits. Our guide Alex, did not believe that all was as it seemed and felt Corder had been harshly judged.
Up the stairs, which was devoted to one of the largest collections of Mary Beale paintings, would be found a room dedicated to the Suffolk Regiment through the years, with life-size, realistic mannequins of soldiers in different style uniforms, depending on the time and whether it was preferable to stand out from the crowd or blend in. They wore red when they wanted to stand out and be recognised by their own fellow soldiers, but when the sniper became common that was understandably changed and camouflage became the norm.
There was an exhibit of clothing and more paintings, and finally a room full of clocks and watches. Some of these were very intricate and exquisitely beautiful, and many were very rare examples. Alex told us that there had been a theft of some of them from the place where they were previously kept and that they would have no doubt been stolen to order by a collector as all the dealers would have recognised them for what they were.
It is a huge place and has many interesting exhibits from the time of Edmund himself right up until the present day; over 1000 years of history. We were there for one and half hours and the time flew by as our guide, Alex, was so interesting.
After we left there we wanted to visit St Mary’s Church, as we knew there was a wedding going on at the Cathedral. However, when we arrived, the church was closed as a service was going on for the WI. By this time the bells of the Cathedral were ringing indicating the wedding was over and so we trooped back there for a while.
The stained glass windows were impressive as well as the font which is gigantic, and we found a tapestry depicting King Henry VI visiting the shrine of St Edmund. I was pleased to see that the floral decorations included white roses. The cathedral was previously St James Church and became a Cathedral in 1914.
We then tried our luck again at St Mary’s and this time managed to get in and see the tomb of Mary Tudor (she of the lock of hair). It is right at the far left part of the church, but is clearly marked.
In addition there was the tomb of one William Carewe who fought at the Battle of Stoke and was subsequently knighted by Henry VII.
All in all a thoroughly good time was had and we learned a lot.
Chapel of St Nicholas, Gipping
The group are planning to visit the chapel as part of the outing to Stowmarket in March next year. It’s a little tucked away in beautiful Suffolk farmland, but is well worth seeking out. I visited it last month for the second time this year and took a few photographs as a ‘taster’ for those who are considering joining us for the visit.
As you can see, there is some beautiful medieval stained glass and the Sun in Splendour and Yorkist rose is featured many times. It is a small chapel and, being built for James Tyrrell in the 1470s, has very strong Yorkist connections. The Tyrrell knot features on pew ends and just about everywhere on the outside of the building, proclaiming the owner and resident of the nearby manor. Sadly, this is no longer extant, being demolished in the 1850s, although there is still a pond and some odd lumps and bumps in the ground.
The chapel is open all day, every day which is a refreshing change for those of us who have travelled miles to visit a church only to find the door stoutly locked against us.
What’s On – Diary Dates
• 12th December – Richard III Society Christmas at Fotheringhay. Details in December Bulletin
• 12th March – ‘Uncle Richard’ play performed by the Tell Tale Theatre Company and organised by the Norfolk Branch. Details in December Bulletin
• 26th March – Group outing to Stowmarket and the Chapel of St Nicholas, Gipping
Loyaulté me Lie
Annette Carson’s talk on 27th June is now FULL and I can take no more reservations. Annette will be bringing copies of her new book entitled Richard Duke of Gloucester as Lord Protector and High Constable of England to sign, so please be prepared to treat yourselves!!! Having read her previous books I know we will not be disappointed!
Welcome to the first edition of our Mid Anglia Group newsletter! The emphasis is very much on ‘our’ because your contributions are very welcome and will add extra dimension and interest to the newsletter.
So, if you have any interesting research projects you are currently working on or you have attended an interesting Ricardian-related event then here is the place to share your news, photographs, articles and more!
Don’t be shy! This is very much a work-in-progress and will, hopefully, grow and develop over the months. At present, a quarterly edition is envisaged although this could change. If there is enough content and demand it could become more frequent.
I hope you enjoy the edition and look forward to meeting you at the various events planned over the coming months.
Janine Lawrence (Secretary)
Huge thanks must go to Stephen who has worked long and hard with great dedication to resurrect the Mid Anglia Group from a silence of some years. And, thanks to his tenacity, we can now look forward to meetings, talks, visits and social occasions within our own locality as well as joining with main Society events. Here is his first letter as interim chairman:
I am, naturally, very pleased to see our Group re-established last September. Since then, we have walked through Ipswich, Colchester and Sudbury, seeing Pykenham’s Gatehouse and the Sun Inn in Ipswich, the Red Lion and Town Hall in Colchester and a number of churches in the three towns, of which St. Gregory’s in Sudbury, replete with the preserved head of Simon Theobald, the Archbishop and Lord Chancellor, is perhaps the most notable. Many thanks to those members who attended and those, such as Ian Fitzlyon who made the visits possible. In addition, a few of us met up during reburial week in Leicester, a city with several historical surprises for the first-time visitor, including a small church on the site of the Saxon Cathedral.
In the immediate future, Annette Carson will be addressing us on 27 June at Pickwicks, a suitably historic café in Ipswich town centre, on “Six months in 1483”. Please confirm your interest with Janine or me, as the venue is quite small. Those of you who arrive by car will be able to park in Cromwell Square, which is also close at hand. After this, we will visit Moyse’s Hall Museum in Bury St. Edmunds on 12 or 13 September and an AGM, with a speaker, is being planned for the late autumn. We can then be a little more ambitious with regard to visiting rural locations next year and we do have some ideas in this respect.
On a personal note, my small book on the siege of Colchester is now out, published by Bretwalda Books and hopefully demonstrating the marvellous fluidity of the town’s history, particularly in the two centuries including and following Richard’s time.
I think we’re probably all in a state of exhaustion after the events happening in and around Richard lll’s re-interment in March. In fact, the time since Richard was found has been a rollercoaster of emotion, what with court cases, arguments on the tomb design and even where he ‘would have liked’ to have been buried!
How many of you managed to travel to Leicester for Re-interment Week? Stephen and I were there and have each written a blog on the Group’s WordPress page (https://richardiiisocietymidanglia.wordpress.com/) describing just how wonderful it was.
Many of us will be having the inevitable ‘what happens now?’ thought. The following is an extract from the Society outlining the way forward:
“As we have done for the past 90 years, the Society will continue to seek a reassessment of King Richard’s life and character. For this to have substance it must be based on the evidence that can only be found in the surviving contemporary records. To find, access, transcribe and interpret these records in the proper context of the time and circumstances in which they were written, requires a considerable range of skills. Foreign archives, aside from the language issues, present a considerable challenge in this regard. So a focused and skills‐based approach is essential to any archival research.
The finding and honourable reburial of Richard III has created new opportunities for the study of his life and reign, to take advantage of these we need to channel our limited resources to where they can have real impact, and the Richard III Society will continue to do this with renewed vigour through its own research programme and through collaboration with others.”
The Executive Committee
So, there are still exciting times waiting to happen, especially as Philippa Langley has pledged to look further into My Lords Bastard in an effort to lay certain stories to rest!
Post Leicester Blues?
Have a look at http://kingrichardinleicester.net for lots of photographs, news, reports etc. There’s also an online shop for those who wish to answer the call of the plastic!
Richard III Society Website
Found at www.richardiii.net and a brilliant site to dip into, find information, check dates etc. It’s there for all to use and has up to date information and contact details of all branches and groups within the Society. The Society shop is a work in progress and worth a visit while you’re there!
The Battle of Towton Commemoration
Usually my and husband and I attend the battle re-enactment at Tewkesbury each July, but this year we decided to have a change and visit Towton instead.
The battlefield is a joy to walk and we did this two years ago in the full heat of a sweltering summer. This visit on Sunday March 29th was as different as it could be! Freezing cold, grey skies and, at times, driving rain. At least we were spared the weather of 1461 when blizzards and three foot deep snowdrifts were the order of the day!
This commemoration takes place on the actual anniversary of the battle, so it is very special in that regard. As yet, it appears to be a fledgling event, but is no less interesting for all that. The living village (much like those at Tewkesbury and Bosworth but on a much smaller scale) were an insight into medieval tented life and watching someone clambering into meticulously accurate armour is a sight to see!
The main barn was home to a number of stalls, amongst them the Society’s Yorkshire Branch, Tewkesbury Battlefield Society, The Battlefields Trust and Graham Turner and his marvellous paintings. Wondering around, chatting to the stallholders and saying hello to fellow Society members is a lovely way to pass time before heading out into the elements to watch the falconry display, or the archery or the armed combat!
Towton is a long way for us to travel from East Anglia, but if you’re thinking of having an early break I can heartily recommend a visit next Palm Sunday. And don’t forget, Towton is only a few miles away from the joys of York…!
Society Triennial Conference, Loughborough
Did anyone attend this year? Perhaps you would like to share your experience and write something for the newsletter? Please email copy to me on Janine.email@example.com
Our June Meeting
Annette Carson’s talk ‘Six Months in 1483’ is on 27th June at Pickwick’s, Dial Lane, Ipswich. Meet for lunch (if wanted) at 1pm with the talk following at 2pm.
As space is very limited I need to know who will be attending to enable me to keep an eye on numbers. It will be first-come-first-served and members only in the first instance. If there is space nearer the date then guests will be permitted. Entry fee £3.00
Please email notice of attendance to me on Janine.firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
What’s On – Diary Dates
A Final Plea…
At the risk of repeating myself… Please make this newsletter your own and send in items you think will interest other members. Suggestions for visits and speakers plus venues you know and can recommend can keep our Group vibrant and alive! Are there any medieval or Ricardian-related events in your locality? If there are, we want to know please! Email to Janine.email@example.com
I will post this newsletter on our various social media sites, but would prefer too, to email it to MAG members directly. Please could you email me on Janine.firstname.lastname@example.org as before.
Loyaulté me Lie
Today’s walk began at the Thomas Gainsborough statue, just outside St. Peter’s church, where there was an event in progress, with a lot of stalls inside from various organisations. However, we entered this fifteenth century church, originally a chapel of relief to St. Gregory’s and now technically redundant. Built on the site of a twelfth century structure, it features a nice font and a very unusual bearded angel.
In walking to St. Gregory’s, we happened to pass Gainsborough’s House, which is surprisingly compact. Outside the church is a memorial to some USAF bomber crews. The main feature, however, is the preserved head of Simon “of Sudbury” (Theobald), who was beheaded by a mob in 1381, in the vestry. Simon had been Chancellor and was still Archbishop of Canterbury at the time. His original head, in a case, still has an ear attached and there is a reconstructed head by a University of Dundee team (just like Richard III), with a portait derived from it, nearby. The Theobald family were very wealthy and much of the present church was paid for by Simon and his parents. The font is far more ornate than that at St. Peter’s but there was evidence of some Dowsing in both venues.
On the outside, a Saxon brick pattern is clearly visible in part before later sections such as the tower feature a chessboard roll of flint so there was evidently a Saxon brick church on this site. The Walnut Tree Hospital is clearly visible from the gate (with the Talbot dog symbol on it) as is the site of Simon’s college, which lasted until the first Reformation.
The whole visit was conducted on a dry, mild morning, just like our walks last year. We are extremely grateful to Ian Fitzlyon of St. Gregory’s, a parish which now includes St. Peter’s and St. Mary’s of Chilton. Now we look forward to Annette Carson’s talk on 27 June, in Ipswich or Colchester, although several of us will be at various events in Leicester later this month.
7 March Sudbury walk, including St. Gregory’s and St. Peter’s churches, with Simon of Sudbury’s preserved head in the former.
27 June “Six months in 1483” – talk by Annette Carson in Ipswich or Colchester.
12 or 13 September Bury St. Edmunds walk.
Today, we visited the Red Lion Hotel, Town Hall statues, St. John’s Abbey Gatehouse, Timperleys, St. Botolph’s Priory and Castle exterior.
Thanks to Liz for arranging the lunch venue and our photos will follow.
Provisional date for the next event: 7 March in Sudbury.
May/ June: Annette Carson in Ipswich or Colchester.
Visits to Otley, Sudbury and Framlingham – easily accessible for those who have not been.
A talk by Annette Carson and Dom Smee.
Please feel free to comment or make your own suggestion.
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