Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Sowing the Seeds of the Peasants Revolt.

John Bampton: 

Unlike later plots against government, such of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 or the Babington Plot in 1586 where conspiracies were formulated by a few men under one roof, the Peasants Revolt was the quiet murmurings of unrest among many unhappy and angry people who finally got together under one leader.

We get much of our information regarding the beginnings of the revolt from local level in the form of court cases brought against villagers who took part in the early stage, people from the villages like Fobbing, Billericay, Gold Hanger and Bocking. Evidence of the events that took place in Brentwood on the last days in May are also found in written accounts and this is backed up by the Anonimalle Chronicle written at the time by a Benedictine monk from St Mary’s Abbey in York, and a later inquisition headed by the Chief Justice of the King Bench and West County lawyer, Sir Robert Tresillian.
You can read more about John Bampton on my history blog on my website at

Battle of Stoke: The Battlefield Site

A Walk around the Battlefield

Standing with your back to the bell tower of St Oswald’s Church in East Stoke, and looking across the site that was once a medieval village, you can see England's third longest river, the Trent. The River Trent and the Fosse Way play an important part in the story of Stoke Field, both run parallel to one another and between the two, and a just over a mile in length, are the fields on which the last battle of the Wars of the Roses were fought. ​​

The Trent winds its way north east from its source in Staffordshire until it meets the River Ouse to form the Humber Estuary, and as it does, it passes through the county of Nottinghamshire. After flowing under Trent Bridge in Nottingham it makes its way towards Newark. At one point it runs in an almost north to south direction passing the village of Fiskerton on its west bank, after another a mile of meandering it gradually turns eastwards, this curve forms a flood plain which it encompasses on three sides before turning north once more. It is at this point the Trent is only a quarter of a mile from the village of East Stoke. This village, often referred to as Stoke, has now been returned to the pleasant village it once was, no longer are its residents troubled by volumes of traffic trundling through the village centre, tooting their horns impatiently at the cross roads traffic lights, for the traffic that traveled along the Fosse Way, now pass at a pleasing distance along the new A46.

The tiny village is dominated by Stoke Hall, a red bricked Georgian mansion once the home Sir Robert Howe Bromley, admiral and politician. Adjacent to the hall is the aforementioned St Oswald’s Church, in whose hallowed grounds lie the bodies of the slain of the Battle of Stoke.

The story of the Battle of Stoke and more images of a forgotten battlefield continues on my website at  

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Medieval Dress: The Bliaut

The Bliaut was a long gown worn by wealthy men and women from around 1100 and is thought to have originated in France, but is known to have been worn by the wealthy throughout Europe. It is it's long outer garment that we associate with the late Middle Ages.

The female bliaut was fitted, with the sleeves widening from the elbow to the wrist. Women wore the bliaut all the way to the ground and its skirt had many folds and used twice as much fabric needed for a flat skirt. The male garment was a looser and stopped at the ankle. You might hazard a guess as to the fabrics used in these garments, if you said wool for the peasant and silk for the wealthy you would be correct.

Sadly none of these garments survive today and we only know of them from statues carved into medieval architecture such as the example you see here or depicted in Victorian paintings.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Sir Thomas Vaughan

 Chapter Six 
Dismissing the Myth

“To Love and Wait Upon” is the motto of Sir Thomas Vaughan. Vaughan was a knight, an administrator and Chamberlain to Edward V yet he is only ever mentioned as one of the three men executed, in 1485, on the order of Richard Duke of Gloucester. Vaughan held an important role in the court of Edward IV, yet very few people are interested in him. 
Here is my attempt at telling his story.
Chapter Six: Dismissing the Myths: The Children of Thomas Vaughan.
Just as history has mixed up Thomas Vaughan and his contemporaries with regard to their military and administrative careers it has done the same with his family life. My research has found no mention of a wife, although a document in the Chancery records in the early reign of Henry VII shows a case of Raulyns Versus Boughchier where it states a Richard Raulyns, son and heir to Alice, late the wife of Thomas Vaughan, Knight. All Thomas Vaughan’s of this period (there were five!!) wives are named, an Alice is not one of them. This is intriguing, but it is not proof.

Margaret of Anjou

Should we cut Margaret some slack? 
Richard III wasn't the monster portrayed be Shakespeare, maybe Margaret wasn't either.

Shakespeare’s Margaret is a “Foreigner, white devil, shrew, virago, vengeful fury”. Throughout the four plays in which she appears, Shakespeare consistently demonizes her as “a foul wrinkled witch’ and a ‘hateful with’red hag” and attributes a series of malevolent/immoral actions to her including adultery and cruelty.

You can read more about this by clicking on the link

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Family History: The Seamstress

London: Family History

 It is always fascinating to find articles that relate to your ancestors, especially the ones who you have had the pleasure of knowing and whose life story has been told to you as a child.
My great grandmother was a seamstress, she was born and lived in the East End of London all her life. She was the mother of sixteen children and her husband was a dock worker. To provide for her children she would make and repair clothing, and my grandmother would have to go knocking 'door to door' trying to sell her mother's work.
A blog entitled the Song of the Trousers gives me some idea what life was like for my great grandmother.

The Parliament of Bats and the knighting of Henry VI and Richard Duke of York.

 On the 19th May 1426 in Leicester Henry VI and Richard, Duke of York were knighted in St Mary De Castro.

"In 1426, the so-called Parliament of Bats was held in Leicester. This was a time of a power struggle between the chancellor, Henry Beaufort, bishop of Winchester, and the Protector, Humphrey, duke of Gloucester. As there was also a disagreement with the London mercantile community over tunnage and poundage, it was decided for parliament to sit in Leicester instead of London. John, duke of Bedford, returned from the war in France to resume his role as protector. The name ‘Parliament of Bats’ has nothing to do with flying mammals, but more with cricket bats. It refers to the lords’ retainers being armed with bludgeons, ‘battes’, although they had been instructed not to carry arms.
At the time King Henry VI was only four years old. It was at St Mary de Castro that on 19 May 1426 Bedford knighted Henry VI, who in turn knighted 36 others. One of them was the then 14-year-old Richard, third duke of York (who was to become the father of Richard III). We can only speculate that this must have been a very exciting event for the 14-year-old boy. Of course, at this time nobody could foresee the later disagreement between duke and king, which would lead to what is known today as the Wars of the Roses. All through this period the town was loyal to the Yorkists and send its forces to fight for Edward, Earl of March (later Edward IV), at Towton in 1461.

Extract from Dorothea Preis article in Ricardian Places.

The Execution of Anne Boleyn

On the 19th May 1536, Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII was beheaded within the walls of the Tower of London.
A bright, intelligent woman whose strong opinions were partly the cause of her downfall, the failure to produce a male heir another but probably the real reason was the fracturing of the court regarding religion, shameful reasons to end someones life, but the common man had his head placed in the noose for less.

The Princes in the Tower

On this day in 1483 Edward, elder son of Edward IV was lodged in a room at the Tower of London. He was followed almost a month later by his brother Richard.
It has been suggested that both boys were still within the Tower in the July of the following year as an order issued by the kings household states that "the children should be together at one breakfast".
To whom did this refer?

The Indictment of Queen Anne Boleyn and her brother George Boleyn Lord Rochford.

".......and also with kisses, presents, and jewels; whereby he, despising the commands of God, and all human laws, 5 Nov. 27 Hen. VIII., violated and carnally knew the said Queen, his own sister, at Westminster; which he also did on divers other days before and after at the same place, sometimes by his own procurement and sometimes by the Queen's."
Anne Boleyn was accused of adultery with five men, including her brother George whose wife, Lady Rochford, testified that her husband had been 'intimate with Anne.
George's marriage had been a arranged, and was thought not to be a happy one. Jane is said to have hated both her husband and her sister in law and her words although untruths, carried a lot of weight.
It has never been proved it was Jane who set the wheels in motion regarding Anne's downfall, but someone did. However, Jane didn't learn anything from the whole affair, and went on to encourage the liaison between Catherine Howard and Thomas Culpepper. Jane must have known what would happen if Henry found out that she was involved but it didn't stop her meddling.