Mid Anglia Group, Richard III Society

Archive for the tag “Colchester”

John Ball and Colchester


Here are some of the panels just inside the door of the Colchester Playhouse, now a theatre-themed public house. They illustrate John Ball, after whom a minor town centre road is also named, becoming a priest, a prisoner at Maidstone and then participating in the 1381

Peasants’ Revolt (from 30 May), fighting at Blackheath (on 12 June) and then being executed at St. Alban’s on 15 July that year.

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Here are some of the panels just inside the door of the Colchester Playhouse, now a theatre-themed public house. They illustrate John Ball, after whom a minor town centre road is also named, becoming a priest, a prisoner at Maidstone and then participating in the 1381

Peasants’ Revolt (from 30 May), fighting at Blackheath (on 12 June) and then being executed at St. Alban’s on 15 July that year.

View original post


Newsletter June 2018

MAG Newsletter June 2018

Newsletter June 2017

MAG Newsletter June 2017

Red Lion Walk in Colchester

This informative and picturesque wall was not there when we walked through Colchester in November 2014:

Colchester Castle

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.

Memorial at Colchester Castle


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.


Iron age boar

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.

Colchester castle

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.


Those Howards again

GoldenLionWe 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.

Ideas for 2016

A visit to Stowmarket in March, on 12th, 19th or 26th, to include the Parish Church. We can finalise the date at the AGM.

Visits to:
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.

Richard III Society, Mid Anglia Group Newsletter May 2015

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:

Chairman’s Letter

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.

Stephen Lark


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…!

Palm Crosses and red and white roses at Towton Battlefield

Palm crosses and red and white roses, Towton Battlefield

Living History Village, Towton Battlefield

Living History Village, Towton Battlefield

Medieval Cannon

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.frances8@gmail.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.frances8@gmail.com as soon as possible.

What’s On – Diary Dates

  • 13th June – Requiem Mass at Fotheringhay Church. Postponed from last year. Details in March Bulletin
  • 27th June – ‘Six Months in 1483’ talk by Annette Carson, Pickwick’s, Ipswich 1pm
  • 11/12th July – Tewkesbury Medieval Festival. Free event and an annual highlight of the re-enactment calendar. Definitely one to catch if you can!
  • 18th July – London Branch trip to Cambridge. Visits to Duxford Chapel and the Botanic Gardens in Cambridge. Details in March Bulletin
  • 22/23 August – Bosworth Weekend. Main Society visit on Sunday 23rd with a service at Sutton Cheney Church followed by a trip to the battlefield. Details will be in the June Bulletin with a booking form.

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.frances8@gmail.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.frances8@gmail.com as before.

Loyaulté me Lie

More memories of Leicester

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.

The Statues on St. Martin's Cathedral, including Henry of Huntingdon

The Statues on St. Martin’s Cathedral, including Henry of Huntingdon

The Town Hall Square lions

The Town Hall Square lions

St. Nicholas; Church, the Cathedral in Saxon days

St. Nicholas; Church, the Cathedral in Saxon days

The Last Plantagenet in Granby Street

The Last Plantagenet in Granby Street

Colchester photos

EdwardTheElder Gatehouse RedLion1 Timperleys1 Timperleys2

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.

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