New page added – Memorials Map

Check out my new page with a map showing the location of memorials to Tudor noblemen – perfect for planning church crawls! I will be expanding the content to a wider time period and with more noblewomen & notable gentry.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tomb: Henry Fitzroy, duke of Richmond

The tomb of Henry Fitzroy in St Michael’s church, Framlingham

Who was Henry Fitzroy?

Henry Fitzroy was the second child, and eldest son, of Henry VIII – the result of the king’s affair with 18/19 year old Elizabeth Blount. Although illegitimate, Fitzroy was a person of importance at the royal court and received multiple titles and appointments. When he was 6 years old, he was made a Knight of the Garter; created earl of Nottingham, and duke of Richmond and Somerset; made Lord Admiral; and appointed as the warden-general of the Scottish marches. Between 1525 and 1529, he lived in Yorkshire – dividing his time between Sheriff Hutton and Pontefract – the traditional base of the royal representatives in the north. A number of potential foreign matches were suggested but came to nothing. In August 1529, he was summoned to parliament and, despite his young age, attended sessions where he was treated as an adult.

Continue reading
Posted in tombs, Tudor Nobility | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is the College of Arms, who is the Earl Marshal, and how are they connected to funerals?

What is the College of Arms and what do they do?

The College of Arms is the corporation of heralds for England, Wales and Northern Ireland (in Scotland, the Lord Lyon fulfills a similar role). There are thirteen ‘heralds in ordinary’/officers of arms in total – Garter King of Arms (the senior officer), the two provincial Kings of Arms (Clarenceux, and Norroy and Ulster), six heralds, and four pursuivants. They oversee the issue of coats of arms, and provide guidance on heraldic matters ie: orders of precedence, protocols around the use of arms/standards/banners/flags, correct usage of titles etc. The officers also play a ceremonial role in events such as the annual Garter Service and the State Opening of Parliament, they play a role in the organisation of coronations and royal funerals.

The officers of arms are all part of the Royal Household and receive a nominal (sub £50!) yearly salary from the Crown. Garter King of Arms is also paid for advising the government and Royal Household on heraldic matters, but the bulk of their income comes from private heraldic and genealogical work.

Where did heralds and the College of Arms come from?

In the medieval period, heralds were employed in the households of individual noblemen and the Royal household. They were used to carry messages, for example between armies – in the run-up to the battle of Flodden in 1513, heralds carried messages from James IV of Scotland to Thomas Howard and vice versa. At Flodden, there were concerns that the Scottish herald should be kept away from the main camp in case he reported back to his King on the English army, suggesting that heralds were expected to carry out some basic spying.

Another primary function of the heralds was promoting and organising tournaments – as a result they developed an in-depth knowledge of the coats of arms and crests borne by the knights participating in the tournaments. This expertise made it logical for them to become responsible for heraldic matters, a function that they retained as their other roles became redundant.

In 1484, Richard III granted the royal heralds a charter of incorporation and a property (though the house was taken away from them following the Battle of Bosworth) beginning the process of creating the College of Arms. Under Henry VIII heraldic visitations were introduced, whereby the heralds could investigate illegal uses of arms. Also during his reign, the dissolution of the monasteries, meant that the College of Arms increasingly held the genealogical records that had been kept by monasteries. A new charter was granted to the College of Arms in 1555 by Mary I. By the late-16th century, the heralds were under the supervision of the Earl Marshal and, in Elizabeth I’s reign, the then Earl Marshal, Thomas Howard 4th duke of Norfolk, was responsible for refining the structure and function of the College through a series of new ordinances.

Continue reading
Posted in Funerals, Tudor Nobility | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tomb: Mary FitzAlan and Margaret Audley

The tomb commemorating Mary FitzAlan and Margaret Audley

Who were Mary and Margaret?

Mary FitzAlan was the third daughter of Henry FitzAlan, 12th earl of Arundel, and Katherine Grey (Lady Jane Grey’s aunt). She married Thomas Howard, 4th duke of Norfolk, c. 1554 and gave birth to their son, Philip Howard, in June 1557. Tragically, she never recovered from his birth and died on 25th August; she was just 17 years old. Mary is known for the quality of her classical education – some her translations from English and Greek into Latin are held in British Library. It is also through Mary that the later dukes of Norfolk inherited the earldom of Arundel and its associated lands, including Arundel Castle, home of the present day dukes.

Margaret Audley was the daughter of Thomas, Lord Audley (Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor) and Elizabeth Grey (another of Lady Jane Grey’s aunts!). She married Lord Henry Dudley in 1554, when she was 14 years old, shortly before the Dudleys attempted to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne. Although her husband was pardoned for his part in the plot, she was widowed when he was killed at the Battle of Saint-Quentin in August 1557. In 1559, she married Thomas Howard, 4th duke of Norfolk. Thomas and Margaret had applied for papal dispensation to marry in 1558 – dispensation was needed because she was May FitzAlan’s first cousin – and were still waiting when Mary I died in November 1558. With the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I taking the throne, they went ahead and married without the dispensation – parliament subsequently ratified the marriage. Margaret and Thomas had four children before her death on 10 January 1564, aged 23 – like her cousin, Mary, she also died of complications from childbirth.

Continue reading
Posted in tombs, Tudor Nobility | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Who cares for our historic memorials and tomb monuments?

You don’t have to spend long in a Church of England parish church to see that the condition of many of the older memorial and monuments within them is deteriorating: cracks, spalling/flaked surface, loss of paint/gilding, lost elements. Some of this damage is the result of iconoclasm, the deliberate destruction of religious imagery, particularly during the 1540s and 1640s. Other damage is simply caused by the passage of time.

Empty niches on the tomb of Henry Percy, 4th earl of Northumberland, Beverley Minster. The statues were most likely destroyed by iconoclasts

So, who is responsible for the maintenance and repair of memorials in our parish churches and churchyards? And what repair are they allowed to do?

Continue reading
Posted in conservation, tombs | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Tomb: Henry Percy, 4th earl of Northumberland

The tomb of Henry Percy, 4th earl of Northumberland in Beverley Minster

Who was Henry Percy?

The only son of Henry Percy, 3rd the earl of Northumberland and Eleanor Poynings, the 4th earl is (in)famous for not joining the battle of Bosworth – an act that many have credited with contributing to Richard III’s defeat.

Earlier in the Wars of the Roses, his father had died fighting for the Lancastrians at the Battle of Towton (1461). Initially imprisoned by Edward IV, the young Henry Percy did homage to the Yorkist king in 1469 and Edward restored him to the earldom of Northumberland in March 1470. He remained in England during Edward IV’s exile of 1470-1 and was crucial to Edward’s retaking of the throne – when Edward landed at Ravenspur to retake the throne, the 4th earl of Northumberland made no move to stop him, allowing Edward to recruit supporters and march south without major opposition.

During Edward IV’s reign of 1471-83, Northumberland’s power in the north of England was challenged by the influence of Richard, duke of Gloucester. The two men appear to have initially had a good relationship, and Northumberland’s army helped back Richard’s claim to the throne in 1483. However, rather than rewarding Northumberland with increased power in the north, Richard chose to retain direct control of the area and to continue to build his own following. This is generally believed to have motivated Northumberland’s decision to keep his army on the sidelines at Bosworth (though poor communication and positioning may also have made it difficult for him to join the battle!). In the immediate aftermath of the battle, he was imprisoned but was soon released to help control the north for Henry VII.

Why was his death controversial?

Continue reading
Posted in tombs, Tudor Nobility | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Two tombs to Thomas, Lord Wharton (d. 1568)

Above: Tomb of Thomas Wharton and his wives – Eleanor and Anne – in St John the Baptist church, Healaugh

Where is the tomb?

The tomb pictured above is located in St John the Baptist church, Healaugh, North Yorkshire. However, Lord Wharton had two tombs erected to his memory – the second is located in St Stephen’s church, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria.

Who was Thomas Wharton?

Thomas Wharton was a member of longstanding gentry family based in the Westmorland/Cumberland area. He rose to prominence during Henry VIII’s reign – first through service to the Clifford and Percy familes, and then through royal service. Although he was an MP and administrator, his greatest claim to fame was as a military leader. In November 1542, he defeated a Scottish army at Solway Moss – he had just 3,000 men to 18,000 Scots. As a result of this victory he was created Lord Wharton in 1544. He had an extensive spy network in Scotland, led frequent raids across the border in the 1540s, and was responsible for keeping garrisons supplied during the English campaigns against Scotland in 1547-1550.

Although a successful soldier, Wharton seems to have been widely hated by contemporaries. The list of people he quarreled/feuded with included the Cliffords (his former patrons); William Grey, Lord Wilton; Robert, Lord Maxwell; his subordinate officials; and his tenants!

He married Eleanor Stapleton and Anne Talbot.

Continue reading
Posted in tombs, Tudor Nobility | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The wooden tomb of Henry Neville, earl of Westmorland

Tomb of Henry Neville, 5th earl of Westmorland and his first two wives, Anne Manners and Jane Cholmeley

Recently, I rediscovered photos of the tomb of Henry Neville, 5th earl of Westmorland (and his first two wives) taken while I was researching my PhD. Of all the tombs I visited during my research, this one stood out as the only one made of wood. I posted a couple of the photos on Twitter but I wanted to write a bit more about the tomb!

Starting with… Who was Henry Neville?

Henry was the eldest of the 18(!) children on Ralph Neville, 4th earl of Westmorland and Katherine Stafford, daughter of the duke of Buckingham. His career could perhaps be described as chequered… Married for the first time at the age of 11 or 12, he would go on to remarry twice – controversially, his 3rd side was the sister of his 2nd wife. In 1546, he was arrested for gambling debts and for planning to kill his first wife and his father. He admitted neglecting his wife and ‘naughty living’. He was arrested again in 1552 for plotting to rob his mother and seize treasure from Middleham Castle. His political career, in contrast, was of little note, though he was a relatively early supporter of Mary Tudor’s claim to the throne in 1553. He died in February 1564 at approximately 40 years of age.

Where is his tomb?

His tomb was erected in the church of St Mary in Staindrop, near to Raby Castle, the ancestral home of his family. His father and other relatives were also buried in the same church (although not all have surviving tombs).

Effigy of Henry Neville, 5th earl of Westmorland

How rare are wooden tombs?

Continue reading
Posted in tombs, Tudor Nobility | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Revamping!

After a long(!) break I am resurrecting and revamping this website to reflect my recent work and current projects so look out for new information over the coming weeks.

Still deciding what, if anything, I will blog about…

Posted in Announcements | Leave a comment

Would French hoods have been made of gauze?

One question that I have been asked about the BBC version of Wolf Hall is whether the headdresses worn by Anne and her ladies are accurate. In particular, whether they would really have been made of such light, gauzy fabric?

Ep1

Anne Boleyn in the BBC’s production of Wolf Hall

Ep1

Jane Seymour in the BBC’s adaptation of Wolf Hall

Ben Miles (Thomas Cromwell) and Lydia Leonard (Anne Boleyn) in Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall stage production

It has taken me a while to get round to looking into this and I have to say that, given how well most of this production was researched, I am not entirely sure where they have got this idea from. They are not the only ones to go with this interpretation. The stage production of Wolf Hall also seems to use a lightweight fabric in headdresses, although it is more substantial. It is possible that they have been inspired by contemporary portraits where the French hoods (with their distinctive horseshoe shape set far back on the head) appear less bulky than the gable hoods favoured by Catherine of Aragon and the English hoods worn by Jane Seymour.

Anneboleyn2 janeseymourcatherineofaragon

However, accounts and inventories relating to Princess Mary, Catherine Parr and Jane Seymour all refer to velvet French hoods. Furthermore, whilst costume makers seem to like producing colour coordinated headdresses, the velvet referred to was usually black. In portraits as well the fabric at the back of the hood is invariably black – although the decorative front might be a different colour. The final problem I have with the BBC version of the hoods is that the hair is visible through it and, when Anne is executed, they take her hood off to replace it with a white cap. In reality, they would have worn a cap under the headdress to protect it from the oils in the wearer’s hair – portraits sometimes show the edge of this cap peeking out. Whilst, the stage production shows this white edging, they make the error (also popular with the makers of the The Tudors) of showing Anne with her hair loose and visible over her shoulders.

Period dramas are often known for their stunning costumes but in this case their take on the French hoods slightly miss the mark.

Posted in Historical Drama | Tagged , , | Leave a comment