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.


trav4adventures said...

Thanks for the tour! We'll probably never get to England in our lifetimes, so I appreciated it! :-)
Cheryl Ann, in California

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

A very interesting post and great photos, Anerje! That must have been a sight: you alone trudging through the battlefield :-)

As far as I can recall, the Lancastrians (Duke of Somerset and the others) were put to trial before they were executed. Of course I cannot deny that the verdict must have been sealed before delievered, but did it really matter in the Lancastrian/ Yorksist clashes? Young Edward of Wales's cruel death for example. On the other hand the Lancastrians too mercilessly put a seventeen-year-old to death and later had his cut off head dispalyed on the gates of York. Atrocities occured on both sides.

Anyway, thanks for paying a visit to us on Henry's blog :-)

Kathryn Warner said...

Lovely pics! I really love Tewkesbury. Also did the battle walk a few years ago, but it was pouring with rain and we also had trouble reading the maps :)

Anerje said...

Thanks for leaving a comment Cheryl Ann - you never know you may make it one day.

Hi Katia, the issue I have with Tewkesbury with the Yorkists is the fact they dragged Lancastrians from sanctuary - from the Abbey itself. We don't know how the Prince of Wales died - whether in battle or executed afterwards. Both Edward of Lancaster and Edmund of York willingly fought in battle - both a lot different from 17 year-olds today.

Kathryn - so it's not just me struggling to follow battle maps;)

Wendy Hull said...

Actually, they were tried and executed afterwards.