Saturday, 19 August 2017

Caerphilly Castle Visit

It's been a couple of years since I visited Caerphilly Castle.  It's always a pleasure to visit  and I managed a visit a few of months ago.  It really is a magnificent castle and is best known for it's incredible 'leaning tower'.


The castle has gone under some restoration since my last visit, and the Great Hall has been restored to what it would have looked like in the time of Hugh Despencer, favourite of Edward II and married to his niece, Eleanor de Clare.  The inside of the roof was most impressive.



The hall has been set up as if the Lord and Lady were dining, with 2 chairs at the head of the table.  The table itself is covered with a cloth which tells the story of Hugh Despencer.  It's the first time I've seen it and I managed to take some photos.



First up, the wedding of Hugh and Eleanor.


The story of Llewelyn Bren.  Not Hugh Despencer's finest hour!

 The alterations carried out by Hugh Despencer at Caerphilly.



An unhappy Isabella heads to France as Edward is seemingly ruled by Despencer.

 Isabella and Roger Mortimer prepare to invade England.


Edward and Despencer flee to Despencer's castle at Caerphilly before making their way to Neath Abbey where they surrender to Isabella.  Below is the execution of Despencer.  Those familiar with this famous depiction of Despencer's dreadful execution will realise the embroiders  for this cloth have respected Despencer's modesty!

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Pride, Power and Politics

Pride, Power and Politics is an exhibition touring Royal Historical Palaces and was at the Tower of London from May 26-27.   Here's a review from History Revealed magazine.

'See how this formidable fortress has played a role in Britain's LGBT+history.  From the days of Edward II and his betrayal of companion Piers Gaveston to Henry VIII's and Queen Victoria's attitudes towards homosexuality, learn why the Tower has been a symbol of prejudice in our nation's gay history '.

Erm, I'm puzzled by Edward's betrayal of Piers.   This is History Revealed's error, not the Tower's. I haven't been able to attend the exhibition, unfortunately, but I cannot see how Edward could be responsible for a betrayal of Piers, when in fact he did everything he could to save him.   I'd be interested to hear if anyone saw the exhibition and how exactly Piers and Edward were portrayed.   

A similar exhibition, Pride at the Palace, runs at Hampton Court sometime in July.



Here's Edward II when I 'met' him at the Tower a few years ago.

Monday, 19 June 2017

June 19th - death of Piers Gaveston.

I have been so busy lately and have neglected this blog, but of course I cannot let today pass without mentioning the anniversary of the shameful 'execution' of Piers Gaveston.    Both Guy of Warwick and Thomas of Lancaster let their jealousy get the better of them and had Piers killed without a proper trial.   Little did they know they would unleash the vengeance of Edward II.   RIP Piers.



Sunday, 21 May 2017

Remembering May 19th

May 19th is of course the day Piers Gaveston surrendered to Amyer de Valance at Scarborough Castle on very favourable terms.  From a Tudor point of view, it's also the anniversary of the execution of Anne Boleyn - my heroine from very early childhood.  A remarkable woman, who had flaws and many virtues.   I've been to the Tower of London on May 19th previously, to see the famed basket of roses that have appeared for many, many years and the other bunches of flowers that have begun to appear over the years.   This year there were many more bunches of flowers than I've ever seen.  Here's a selection of photos from May 19th.   

And in my own garden, my Anne Boleyn rose bush was in bloom!


Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Royals magazine

The new issue of The History of the Royals has a fabulous article about Edward II by Kathryn Warner.    It's a 2 page article and focuses on the possible survival of Edward II.   It's a forerunner to Kathryn's book 'Long Live the King', out on June 1st.   Can't wait!

Monday, 1 May 2017

Gaveston Cross Update

 

As promised, here is an update on the Gaveston Cross.  And it's not good news, I'm afraid.   I contacted the Leek Wootton and Guy's Cliff History Society, who were very helpful.  Bertie Bertie Greetheed was responsible for the monument, completing it in 1821.  The Greatheed family had purchased the land in 1720 from Dame Charlotte Beaufoy.  Samuel Greatheed was a Whig politician and married Lady Mary Bertie, daughter of the Duke of Ancaster.  Bertie Bertie Greatheed was their son.   It was his ambition to build the Gaveston Cross, inspired it seems by a previous commemoration carved into a rock.  The original inscription was:

1311
P GAVESTON
EARL OF CORNWALL
beheaded here.


There is evidence of this inscription being here from at least 1656.    It could well have been there many, many years before.  So does this mean that the spot where Piers was killed was well known?  Bertie Bertie Greatheed was obviously keen to commemorate the historical event that happened on his family's land, rather than having a personal interest in Piers Gaveston.  Blacklow Hill was known to be the site of ancient settlements, with coins dating from Roman Britain found there.  From the picture above, you can clearly see how the surrounding trees and wood that have now grown around it.    The Gaveston Cross remains the property of Greethead's descendants and is on private property.   It is a Grade II listed  monument, but it is up to the landowner, not the local council, to maintain it.  So it seems it has been left to decay.   Such a shame!



Friday, 14 April 2017

Cardiff Castle


Cardiff Castle consists of 2 main buildings - an old, Norman Keep and a Victorian Gothic mansion, very much influenced by the history of the Norman keep.  The original castle was a wooden motte and bailey castle, built by Robert Fitzhamon at the command of William the Conqueror.  The castle's most famous prisoner was Robert of Normandy, the eldest son of William the Conqueror, who was held in custody by his nephew Robert the Consul.  Robert the Consul built the current stone keep in 1135.  Inside the Victorian building is a superb fire place telling the story of the 2 Roberts.



Robert the Consul is shown on his horse, whilst Robert of Normandy, or 'Robert Curthose' as he is known, is shown in his prison cell.  As the eldest, it might have been expected that Robert Curthose would inherit the crown of England from his father.  However, typical of the times, Robert had fallen foul of his father after a quarrel with his 2 younger brothers, William Rufus and Henry.  He openly rebelled against his father, meeting him on the battlefield and even unseating him.  There were attempts to reconcile, and when William I died, Robert was made Duke of Normandy, William Rufus the crown of England, and the youngest, Henry, was given money to buy lands.  Both Robert and William eyed each other with suspicion, and made a pact to name each other as the other's heir.  Robert was considered the more pliable of the brothers, and allowed himself to be drawn into plots and proved himself untrustworthy to all. Robert went to fight in the first crusade, and it was then that his brother William Rufus died - and younger brother Henry was there to seize the throne.  Worse was to follow when Henry captured Robert after a decisive battle and seized Normandy from him.  Robert was imprisoned in Cardiff castle for over 20 years, and died in 1134, when he was in his 80's.   he was buried in the church of St. Peter in Gloucester - later re-named Gloucester Cathedral.  His tomb is very striking, with the effigy dated to be put in place about 100 years after his death.

 Of course he lies in the same cathedral as Edward II.   Being buried in Gloucester Cathedral, I used to confuse him with the illegitimate son of Henry Ist, Robert of Gloucester, who later added to the Norman keep at Cardiff.