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.



Susan Higginbotham said...

Love the pictures!

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

Thank you Anerje for another interesting post. I wonder why there is no access to George and Isabel's tomb. Do you know?

Anerje said...

Thanks Susan and Kasia for your comments. Tewkesbury gets flooded an awful lot, so the vault underneath must have flooded. George had no tomb built for his remains - he and his duchess were buried in a vault, and I presume the coffins were damaged in a flood. I have to say I think it a bit disrespectful that their remains are merely placed in a glass case. I think they deserve a proper burial. I have no idea when the grill is opened, if ever, to visitors. As I mentioned, there is some dispute as to whether the bones are actually George and Isabel. Interesting to note, whatever happened to George, the bones, if his,show no sign of beheading..

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

How interesting! George's death is another great mistery. You're right, it seems a bit disrespectful- whether they are actually George and Isabel or not- to keep human remains in a glass case.

Kathryn Warner said...

Lovely pics, Anerje, and thanks for the link! The pics brought back happy memories of trips to Tewkesbury! It's a lovely place, and the abbey is wonderful.