A small group of us met at the front of the Castle, at the southern end of Castle Park, on Saturday afternoon. We first viewed the outside of the present Norman structure, as well as the Lucas-Lisle memorial around the back, marking the spot that these two local Royalist leaders were shot in August 1648 after the siege. It is said that grass never grows there as a result.
The inside of the Castle is arranged chronologically. The upstairs is devoted to the Iron Age and Roman eras. The many artefacts include some Iron Age tools and then illustrate the arrival of Claudius’ army (43 AD), the Temple of Claudius now laying under the Castle, Boudicca’s revolt (60), the later Roman period after Constantine’s conversion and their departure. We saw, by chance, a depiction of a boar among the Iron Age artefacts.
The rest of Colchester’s history is displayed downstairs, starting with the Anglo-Saxons who abandoned towns for their first few centuries. Under a Viking threat in the North and Midlands, Edward the Elder and other Wessex Kings reurbanised the parts of England they still ruled. The Castle and other town landmarks such as St. John’s Abbey date from soon after the Norman Conquest. Several town charters, from the reigns of Richard I to William III, are on display. John Howard Duke of Norfolk, Francis Viscount Lovell and the Stafford brothers of Grafton are glossed over a little here but the two centuries after Bosworth are not. The final exhibit in order is the siege and prison department, which names twenty-three people held here and then burned during Mary I’s short reign, amounting to eight per cent of her national total. Matthew Hopkins, the “Witchfinder-General” caused several mostly harmless people to be hanged between Bury St. Edmunds and Chelmsford during the 1640s although he died before the siege. Sir Charles Lucas, whose family bought St. John’s Abbey after it was dissolved, was a Royalist leader during these three months as was Sir George Lisle. Arthur Capell Baron Hadham, descended from Richard’s sister Anne of Exeter, was beheaded on Tower Hill the following March. James Parnell was a teenaged Quaker preacher imprisoned here until he died of starvation in 1655.
In the century following the Restoration, Colchester Castle was intended to decay entirely but was purchased and rescued so, from the outside, looks like the complete article, although it may originally have been a little taller.
We all know by now that the Red Lion in Colchester was originally the White Lion because this was the emblem of the Howards but was renamed because the family was out of favour at James I’s accession.
History definitely wasn’t on my mind today but fish and chips in Ipswich town centre was. I chose the Golden Lion, a well-known Wetherspoon by the Cornhill, and read the above note on my menu. Again, it is a former White Lion in Howard country and is unrecorded before 1571, unlike the Colchester venue which is established as the home of Sir John Howard in the years before the Mowbray Dukes of Norfolk became extinct in 1482.
The latter date is significant because the fourth Howard Duke of Norfolk, Thomas, was executed in 1572 for treason that encompassed marrying Mary of Scotland. His attainder was not reversed until the Restoration, perhaps because Mary’s son and grandson were the next two Kings of England, although another Thomas Howard was Earl of Arundel and Norwich during the Civil War years. As early as July 1603, the fourth Duke’s second but eldest surviving son, inevitably nThomas, was raised to the Earldom of Suffolk.
Cheers and a Happy Easter to all. Hope to see you all at Stowmarket and Gipping tomorrow.
A visit to Stowmarket in March, on 12th, 19th or 26th, to include the Parish Church. We can finalise the date at the AGM.
Framlingham Castle and Church,
Otley Hall (privately owned so we would need to book it),
Wingfield Church (the tombs of the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk),
Colchester again but in a different way.
Columbine Hall is being discussed by the Visits Committee as it would need more people and a significant fee.
Feel free to comment or make your own suggestions.
I was also in Leicester for the beginning of the reburial week. It is a very historic city with, like Colchester, pre-Conquest, Mediaeval and Civil War history. I studied at the Polytechnic, now de Montfort University, for three years a quarter of a century ago.
Most of my academic time then was spent in the Fletcher building, ten storeys or more of concrete and glass, but visited the adjacent Hawthorn Building on occasion, over the Newarke (“New Work”) church that was Richard’s “chapel of rest” for three days. I remember visiting the Castle and passing the Holiday Inn in Jewry Walk then, in which the Society’s Monday buffet took place, but was oblivious both to St. Martin’s Cathedral and to St. Nicholas’ Church, the site of a Cathedral in Saxon times. I watched the procession highlights in “The Last Plantagenet” near the station and was able to find Mrs. Bridges’ Tea Rooms, my old favourite lunch site, near the Cathedrals. The Adult Education College, in Wellington Street near the New Walk, survives as the building in which I first attended Society meetings.
Sadly, two of the bookshops I visited regularly (Silver Street and Sherratt & Hughes) have gone as has the Southgates subway with a door into the Magazine Museum. Although Richard would scarcely have recognised Leicester 530 years later and a hundred times larger, with a little cannon damage from the 17th century, it has changed relatively little since summer 1991 – a flat and compact city centre with a lot of surprises such as Town Hall Square with the lion statues. Even St. Martin’s has eight miniature statues on the front and Henry Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon and Richard’s great-great-great-nephew is one of them, in the hose.
From the top: Edward the Elder, at the side of the Town Hall (Richard’s ancestor).
St. John’s Abbey Gatehouse.
The Red Lion (a home of the Duke of Norfolk).
Timperleys, until very recently a clock museum.
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.