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 “The wooden tomb of Henry Neville, earl of Westmorland”

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 with very narrow hoods?

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Anne Boleyn in the BBC’s production of Wolf Hall
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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.

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catherineofaragon

However, accounts and inventories relating to Princess Mary, Catherine Parr and Jane Seymour all refer to velvet French hoods, which would likely have been more substantial than those seen in the images above. Furthermore, whilst costume makers seem to like producing colour coordinated headdresses, the veils would invariably have been black – this can be seen in portraits. 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, a linen cap would have been worn 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.

The Three Wives of Henry VIII

“Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, behind, survived.” It is a familiar rhyme, used to help remember the fates of the six women who married Henry VIII. So, why am I saying that he only had three wives? After all, he had six marriage ceremonies. The answer lies in the definition of an annulment which declared a marriage null and void, as if it had never happened, as opposed to a divorce which dissolves a valid marriage. Which of the women would Henry have considered to be his wife? Continue reading “The Three Wives of Henry VIII”

New Discoveries and New Potential!

History’s in the past, so we must know everything that has happened, right? There is nothing new to find? Well, maybe not… One of the things, I love about history is that there is still so much to discover. On the one hand, this can mean looking at events and sources from a new perspective but it can also mean finding new sources – whether that is archaeological find, books or manuscripts.

People, and then governments, have been recording buildings, collecting books and preserving manuscripts so it seems crazy that there are still finds to be made but the truth is that the sheer volume of material means that things get forgotten or pass unnoticed. The National Archives in England have boxes of medieval documents that have never been fully catalogued and a recent find in a National Trust property shows that the same is true of private libraries. Continue reading “New Discoveries and New Potential!”

Lady Rochford – malicious or misunderstood?

In my post on Anne Boleyn’s family, I commented that I was interested to see how they were going to depict Jane, Lady Rochford’s involvement in Anne’s fall. In the end, they showed her talking to Cromwell after flirtatious chatter between Anne, Mark Smeaton, Francis Weston, Henry Norris and William Brereton gets out of hand. She then goes on to claim that her husband has committed adultery with his sister. Cromwell makes reference to Anne’s other ladies having talked after her arrest but we don’t see them. This is a departure from the book where Cromwell is shown talking to Elizabeth, countess of Worcester and Margaret Shelton before he talks to Jane Rochford.

Lady Rochford intrigues me as a character because of the contrast between her depiction in popular culture and the lack of evidence we really have about her. So, what do we know about her?  Continue reading “Lady Rochford – malicious or misunderstood?”

Wolf Hall Explained – Why did the Duke of Norfolk try his own niece?

One of the striking points of the trials of Anne and George Boleyn was the presence of the uncle, Thomas Howard, duke of Norfolk, on his raised seat presiding over them. Surely it could be construed as a conflict of interest? And did Norfolk want to be trying his relatives? Continue reading “Wolf Hall Explained – Why did the Duke of Norfolk try his own niece?”

Wolf Hall Explained – Where was Mary Boleyn?

Fans of Philippa Gregory may have found themselves wondering where Mary Boleyn was as his sister was falling from favour and ultimately meeting her fate at the hands of the executioner. After all, in The Other Boleyn Girl book, Mary is at court when Anne is arrested and her daughter is taken to the Tower as a companion to Anne. In the 2008 film, Mary rides back to court to plead with Henry for her sister’s life and then sees Anne, promising to look after her daughter, Elizabeth. In contrast, Mary Boleyn disappeared from sight after episode 3 of Wolf Hall. Continue reading “Wolf Hall Explained – Where was Mary Boleyn?”

Wolf Hall explained – Why no defence lawyers?

I have watched the final episode of Wolf Hall twice now and both times it has moved me to tears. I am familiar with numerous instances of executions ordered by Henry VIII to the extent that I had become matter of fact about them, feeling little emotion. Peter Kosminsky changed that with his powerful depiction of the interrogations, trials and executions that humanized this stories for me.

The episode also raised several questions for me that I wanted to explore and explain. In this first post looking at Anne’s fall, I want to ask whey there were no defence lawyers in sight? Continue reading “Wolf Hall explained – Why no defence lawyers?”