The siege of Colchester took place 163 years after the battle of Bosworth ended the Yorkist era, together with the life of John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, the local magnate. However, a time travelling visitor in either direction would have noticed surprisingly few differences, some of which were quite subtle:
St. John’s Abbey had mostly been demolished during the Reformation but the land had passed to the Lucas family, of whom Sir Charles was a Royalist leader. The Gatehouse (left) remained, as did the Abbey church, by then a family chapel.
During the siege, a gunner named “One-eyed Jack” Thomson was reputedly perched on the tower of St. Mary-at-the-Walls (left). He was eventually shot down by a sniper, possibly leading to the “Humpty Dumpty” nursery rhyme.
The siege lasted from mid-June to late August 1648. At its conclusion, General Fairfax sentenced to death: Lucas, his colleague Sir George Lisle and Bernard Gascoigne. The latter, being foreign, was reprieved but Lucas and Lisle were shot on 27th August, to the north of the Castle, on a spot (left) where it is said that “the grass never grows”.
Mediaeval Colchester’s Lost Landmarks, John Ashdown-Hill.
The Siege of Colchester 1648, Stephen Lark.
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.
We know Richard III was first buried (and exhumed many years later) on 25 August and it seems logical, although we don’t know exactly, that John Howard, Duke of Norfolk was interred on the same day. So, it seemed to be the ideal date to visit the 1107 Cluniac Priory, which lies only five minutes from the station. It was a dry day, which is very helpful because Thomas Cromwell’s commissioners were ruthless in implementing the Dissolution and so is the Priory today. The foundations and first foot of the walls remain as well as more at the north end, away from the entrance gate. Norfolk was moved here to join his family a few years after 1485 but before about 1540, when they were taken to St. Michael’s, Framlingham.
The local Wetherspoon, in the market place, bears the Howard heraldic name of the Red Lion and I lunched in there. The walls were festooned with local history – from the Iceni, the Priory building to the Dissolution and the local factories – but I couldn’t photograph these because there were diners in the way. There was a poster about Ayrton Senna, who lived in Attleborough during his Lotus days.
Just round the back was the Dads’ Army Museum, which gave me two ideas about Edward IV. He had a brother with an apparent drink problem and, whilst married, had feelings towards a widow named Grey, both of which apply to Captain Mainwaring.
This excellent Channel Four series reached part four on 28th April as Dr. Alice Roberts came to Norwich, showing streets, civic buildings and even a pub that I have previously visited, describing it as Britain’s most “Tudor” town. She began by describing Henry VII as “violently seizing” the English throne (or at least watching whilst his uncle Jasper and the Earl of Oxford violently seized it for him).
As the “Tudor” century progressed, she changed into a red woollen dress and explained how the sumptuary laws would have prevented her from wearing other colours and fabrics. Henry VIII’s attempts to obtain an annulment were mentioned, as was Kett’s Rebellion on Mousehold Heath under Edward VI. The Marian Persecution was described in detail and some of her victims in Norwich were named, most of them being burned at the “Lollards’ Pit”, where a pub by that name now stands. As…
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“Sculptures of angels designed for the tomb of Cardinal Wolsey and then lost for hundreds of years will go on display next week.
“The Wolsey Angels will be exhibited at New Walk Museum from Saturday, April 28, as part of a touring exhibition from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.”
This link also contains a very interesting video about the history of Leicester.