Friday, 19 April 2013

Inside Tewkesbury Abbey

My last post focused on the battle of Tewkesbury in 1471, and as promised, here are some pictures from inside the Abbey.   It's a remarkable place when you consider who is buried there.  This brass plaque marks the resting place of the Lancastrian Prince of Wales, Edward, son of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou. He is buried near the altar but it is not known exactly where.
It isn't known if the prince was killed in battle or executed shortly afterwards.  One account mentions him seeking mercy from his treacherous brother-in-law, George, Duke of Clarence, brother of Edward IV.   George was married to the Earl of Warwick's elder daughter, whilst the prince had married the younger, Anne Neville, who would of course go on to marry Edward and George's younger brother, Richard, then Duke of Gloucester, later King.  Another account has the captured prince being brought before Edward IV and defiantly claiming his birthright.  Edward then allegedly struck him and his men then fell upon the prince and killed him.  Whatever happened, IMO, there was no way Edward would have left Tewkesbury alive.
Ironically, Clarence himself ended up being buried at Tewkesbuy when he again fell foul of his brother Edward.  Grief-stricken over the death of his duchess, Isabel, in childbirth, Clarence hanged the servant who had cared for her without any trial and antagonised the king.  He was arrested, taken to the Tower of London, and legend has it, drowned in a butt of malmsey wine.  His remains, and those of his duchess, are kept in a vault under Tewkesbury Abbey and there is no access.  They are contained in a glass case, and recently, research into them has claimed they may not be his remains as they appear to be of someone much older.  Edward IV and his brother George were completely ruthless, and it therefore makes sense to me that their younger brother Richard was influenced by them and was equally, if not more, ruthless than them.  

The grating that covers the resting place of George and his wife, Isabel, the plaque explaining their burial arrangements, and a picture of the glass case containing their remains.  You cannot see this glass case through the grill.

The Abbey is also the resting place for the many of the de Clare and Despencer families.  Eleanor de Clare was the niece of Edward II, and was married to Hugh Despencer, the later favourite of Edward II (after the murder of Piers Gaveston of course).  To find out more about Despencer, read Kathryn's well-researched blog Edward II,  here   For some reason, his tomb has another sarcophagus placed on top of it.


Thursday, 11 April 2013

Tales of Tewkesbury

I've been to Tewkesbury about 3 times in the last 4 years.  Before that, I hadn't been for quite some time.  My interest in the place was re-ignited after reading Susan Higginbotham's novel 'The Queen of Last Hope', about Margaret of Anjou.  Of course, it was at Tewkesbury that Margaret's last hope was lost - her 17 year-old son was killed at the battle, and her husband Henry VI 'died' in the Tower of London shortly after and Margaret herself was taken captive.  You can read about the battle here -
Battle of Tewkesbury .

Last Year, I decided to walk the battlefield - easier said than done!  I naively assumed it would be well sign-posted and there would be plenty of others walking the route on a sunny July day.  This was mainly because I'd walked Bosworth and that walk was well signposted with lots of information and the standards of those taking part were flying so you could gauge what it might have been like.   It turned out to be just me, which was unfortunate, because I have huge problems reading maps - and very few signposts or even memorials.  It took me through a huge housing estate, pass a  graveyard, (not form the time of the battle), across the main road into Tewkesbury, onto a hew housing estate, through a very muddy field, pass local government offices and then through a small wooded area.  I was trying to get an idea of the battle - the camp of Queen Margaret etc, but it proved very difficult, and signposts were few and far between.  Anyway, it took me a good hour.  I only passed one memorial and the odd plaque.  Strangely enough, the lasting memorial to the battle is on the new housing estate - the names of the roads are called 'Battle Way', 'Meadow Road', etc, and I wonder if the people living there realised the view from their windows was of 'bloody meadow'.  My imagination running away from me, I wondered if they ever heard anything at night.  Maybe they know nothing of what happened there.

I did a short study of the battle for my dissertation, and being the staunch Lancastrian I am,  was appalled at the behaviour of the Yorkists after the battle - dragging Lancastrians from the sanctuary of Tewkesbury Abbey (which was an important fact for me in my study of Richard III - the Yorkists were no respectors of sanctuary, and Elizabeth Woodville must have known if she did not hand over her younger son to Richard III, he wouldn't hesitate to break the sanctuary at Westminster Abbey),  and executed them without trial.  I'll re-visit this in another post.  There's a memorial to those victims in Tewkesbury.  In the meantime, here are some of my photos.

The latter picture shows the memorial in the town centre.  The museum is  worth a visit, as it has some artifacts from the battle - but don't expect too much.  The town is a pretty town and is known as the town with the flags as it flies all the colours of those who took part in the battle.  I find it quite ironic that the Abbey contains the remains of George, Duke of Clarence and his brother-in-law, Edward, the Lancastrian Prince of Wales.  It is also the final resting place of Hugh Despencer, the younger. I'll post pictures from inside the Abbey next time.

Monday, 1 April 2013

The Prince in the Pay and Display

Just got back from Tewkesbury and have exciting news regarding the burial and discovery of the remains of Edward, Prince of Wales, son of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou, killed in the battle of Tewkesbury 1471.  I took these pictures from the window of the John Moore museum in Tewkesbury, and as a staunch Lancastrian,  rushed in and congratulated the museum attendant.  The pictures speak for themselves.

I do hope you are all able to read the writing and see the pictures clearly.  Clicking on the pictures should enlarge them.  What a wonderful day to be in Tewkesbury, Monday, APRIL 1st.