Source: ODNB on William Waynflete
We had a look at him some time ago in ‘The “elder statesman of the educational revolution”’.
Richard III was buried in the choir of the church of the Grey Friars in Leicester. Polydore Vergil states that the burial was “without any pompe or solemn funeral”. This is often – mistakenly – seen to indicate that there were no religious rites. However, as John Ashdown-Hill explains, “solemnity” in the religious context refers to certain aspects of a service, which were not essential. It basically means that the service was a private ceremony by the friars, especially as a choir of their church would not have been open to the public.
To the day 527 years later, on 25 August 2012, on the first day of the archaeological dig in Leicester to find out where the church of the Grey Friars actually had been and hopefully to find Richard’s remains, parts of a human leg bone were unearthed. These wre later identified as being part of the remains of Richard III.
John Ashdown Hill, The Last Days of Richard III. The History Press, 2010, pp.91-96
Mathew Morris & Richard Buckley, Richard III: The King under the Car Park. University of Leicester Archaeological Services, 2013, pp.22 + 36-45
Mike Pitts, Digging for Richard: How Archaeology Found the King. Thames & Hudson, 2014, pp.99-105
Source: ODNB on William Waynflete
We had a look at him some time ago in ‘The “elder statesman of the educational revolution”’.
On Saturday, 5 July 2014, the new Cathdral Gardens in Leicester ‘Garden of Life’ were opened. We are very happy to be able to bring you a report by Rosalind Broomhall, a friend from Leicester, who was able to attend this event. Thank you also to Jo Mungovin for the photo.
“How do you open a garden?” said Canon Pete “…you ring the bells!” And ring out they did yesterday as, after an anxious night of heavy rain, the sun shone down and Bishop Tim and Sir Peter Soulsby cut the ribbon and celebrations began. Young people from Curve Theatre danced between the newly refurbished statue (sword restored!) and the artwork ‘Towards Stillness’ that tells the story of Richard’s final days and the centuries lost until he was rediscovered that day in 2012. The air of celebration continued with songs from the Emmanuel Gospel Choir and a concert performance of ‘Joseph and his Amazing Technicoloured Dreamcoat’ by the children of DioSing! Inside St Martin’s House, James Butler RA and Juliette Quintero spoke about their work and Dean Monteith posed the question of the relevance of the story of Richard III today. Outside people tried their hand at a drumming workshop and the All Saints dancing troup, young Asian Christians, expressed their faith through dance.
The race to complete the gardens – how many workmen can you get in one space? – had continued flat out all week but paid off magnificently as our new Cathedral Gardens were opened in style.
You can find the programme with further links here.
Death of Thomas Barowe, loyal servant to Richard III. In addition to long and distinguished career in the church, he was Richard’s Master of the Rolls from 22 September 1483 and Keeper of the Great Seal from approx. 1 August 1485. The exact date of his death is not known, but his will was dated 23 June 1499 and proved on 10 July 1499. In his will he remembers various other associates of Richard III.
In an indenture of 21 January 1495 to Great St Mary’s, Cambridge University church, he gave the enormous sum of £240 for building work at the church. The indenture also included masses and prayers for Richard III and Thomas Barowe himself. Both were to be enrolled in the list of the benefactors of Cambridge University. This shows a great deal of loyalty to his former patron, at a time when Barowe had made his peace with Henry VII and especially the king’s mother, Margaret Beaufort.
(Photograph of Great St Mary’s, Cambridge, by D Preis)
Christopher Brooke, ‘Urban church and university church: Great St Mary’s from its origins to 1523′, in: John Binns & Peter Meadows, Great St Mary’s, Cambridge University’s Church, Cambridge, 2000, pp.7-24. ISBN 0521775027
A. F. Sutton and L. Visser-Fuchs, ‘’As dear to him as the Trojans were to Hector:’ Richard III and the University of Cambridge’, in: L. Visser-Fuchs, ed, Richard III and East Anglia: Magnates, Gilds and Learned Men. Richard III Society, 2010, pp.105-142, in particular pp.130-134.
The decision of the British High Court in the Judicial Review whether the granting of the exhumation licence for the remains which were later established to be those of Richard III was announced today at 10 am (7 pm in Australia).
The court found that “there are no public law grounds for the Court interfering with the decisions in question. In the result, therefore, the Claimant’s application for Judicial Review is dismissed.” This means Richard will be re-interred in Leicester Cathedral, just a stone’s throw away from where his been for the last 500 years.
At the press conference in Leicester Cathedral it was announced that the reburial is expected for (the northern hemisphere) spring 2015.
In March 2013, I spent a weekend in Leicester to attend the Richard III conference, but also used my time there to do some sightseeing. I was also lucky to be able to visit the church St Mary de Castro. The word “lucky” is appropriate in this context, as visiting hours were limited. And in September, the church had to close completely because of fears the spire might collapse.[i]
St Mary de Castro, from Castle Yard
The limited visiting hours meant, I a short window of time before having to catch the coach back to Heathrow and the flight back to Australia, but I’m very glad that I did rush back to see. It is a beautiful church and the people assisting visitors were incredibly friendly and helpful. I’m glad to see that mine was not an isolated experience, because a blogger remarks: “If it’s the same man who opens it up most days as the fellow who did on Saturday, you will get a warm and knowledgeable, but never overbearing welcome.”[ii]
St Mary is the church of Leicester castle, hence the Latin ‘de Castro’; it was founded in the beginning of the 12th century by Robert de Beaumont, who was created Earl of Leicester by King Henry I.[iii] The church was a college of 12 secular canons and a dean. It is possible that a Saxon collegiate church had existed on the site before the Norman conquest of 1066. A wall includes a stone, which might be a Saxon coffin lid and might have come from an earlier Saxon church.
Possible Saxon coffin lid in St Mary de Castro
Robert’s son, Robert le Bossu (the Hunchback), founded Leicester Abbey and called it ‘St. Mary de Pratis’ (St. Mary of the Meadows). It seems his own foundation was more important to him, as he endowed it with the properties from which until then St Mary De Castro had received its income. However, a few years later the Abbot and the Earl restored the college, though on a smaller scale. At the same time, it also served as a parish church, which helped with the income for the church. While the college was dissolved by the Chantry Act of Edward VI in 1548, it continues to be a parish church.
The first Norman church was much smaller than today’s building, only approx. 40m long, without a tower or spire and no glass in the windows. Then Robert de Blanchesmains, third Earl, the son of le Bossu, supported Queen Eleanor and her sons in their quarrel with Henry II, with the unfortunate result that the town to be sacked in 1173.
Afterwards the church was rebuilt and in the process made longer and a chancel was built, possibly chapels were added on the sides. On one pillar a small sculpted figure can be seen, probably a page or squire indicated by the kirtle and hairstyle. This has also been dated as late twelfth century.
Little figure, possibly of a page or squire
Of interest are the sedilia (three seats) in the south wall of the chancel. They are said to be among the finest examples of Norman work in the country, with double columns, fine chiselled decoration and characteristic chevron moulded round arches. There was also a piscina (stone basin), but this was mutilated at a later stage and only re-discovered with the aumbries (i.e. the cupboards “for to lay anything in pertaininge to the High Altar”), in the middle of the 19th century.
By the early 13th century with the increased importance and size of the castle, it was decided to extent the church, by enlarging the south chapel, for the use of the parishioners. This aisle had its own altar, dedicated to the Holy Trinity. As a result there were basically two churches under one roof, separated by the original outside wall. The new church also has sedilia (this with pointed arches) and piscina, built in the south wall, these are in the Early English style.
Tower inside the church
Possibly before 1300, the tower was fitted inside the church, as on the outside it would interfere with the passage between the castle’s gates in case of attack. In the area underneath the tower is the font. In this area some floor tiles from the 14th century are preserved. The spire was added in 1400 and partly rebuilt in 1685. However, it now is in a perilous state and is at present being demolished. An appeal has been started to raise money for a rebuilding of the spire. (http://www.stmarydecastrospireappeal.co.uk/) .
St Mary De Castro has connections to a number of famous people. In the 14th century, the early dissident and translator of the Bible, John Wycliffe, preached at St Mary. The Lollards continued to have a strong hold in the Leicester area.
St Mary de Castro might be the church where Geoffrey Chaucer married Philippa de Roet, the sister of Katherine de Roet (Swynford), in the 1360s. Their great-grandson John married Elizabeth, a sister of Edward IV and Richard III. His parents were William de la Pole and Alice Chaucer, daughter of Thomas Chaucer, one of Geoffrey and Philippa’s children.
Katherine de Roet and John of Gaunt, who was also earl of Leicester from November 1362 onwards,[iv] are the ancestors of both Edward IV and Richard III as well as the Tudors.
In 1426, the so-called Parliament of Bats was held in Leicester. This was a time of a power struggle between the chancellor, Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, and the Protector, Humphrey, duke of Gloucester. As there was also a disagreement with the London mercantile community over tunnage and poundage, it was decided for parliament to sit in Leicester instead of London. John, duke of Bedford, returned from the war in France to resume his role as protector. The name ‘Parliament of Bats’ came from the lords’ retainers being armed with bludgeons, ‘battes’, although they had been instructed not to carry arms.[v]
At the time King Henry VI was only four years old. It was at St Mary de Castro that on 19 May 1426 Bedford knighted Henry VI, who in turn knighted 36 others. One of them was the then 14-year-old Richard, third duke of York (who was to become the father of Richard III).[vi] We can only speculate that this must have been a very exciting event for the 14-year-old boy. Of course, at this time nobody could foresee the later disagreement between duke and king, which would lead to what is known today as the Wars of the Roses. All through this period the town was loyal to the Yorkists and send its forces to fight for Edward, Earl of March (later Edward IV), at Towton in 1461.[vii]
The duke’s son, Richard (later Richard III), would have attended mass at St Mary de Castro. He visited Leicester [viii] several times before he became king and might very well have stayed at the castle. We know for sure that during his reign he stayed in Leicester twice in 1483. During the first visit, 17 to 20 August, we know for sure that he stayed at the castle, as two letters written “from my castle at Leicester” are extant. The second visit was 22/23 October, while assembling an army to fight Buckingham’s revolt. He also visited the town twice in 1484, but on these occasions does not seem to have stayed at the castle, which seems to have been already in a poor state of repair. During his first visit of 1484, on 31 July, he visited Leicester Abbey and for the second, on 5 November, Edwards says that he was at the “Town of Leicester”, though we do not know where. And of course, Richard stayed in Leicester 19-21 August 1485, before marching out to fight Henry Tudor’s army at Bosworth, supported by forces from Leicester. We do not know for sure where he stayed on this last occasion, though legend has it that he spent the nights at the Blue Boar Inn.
After his death, his body was displayed at St Mary-in-the-Newarke in Leicester, to show the people of the city which had supported him that he was indeed dead. In the meantime, Henry Tudor celebrated his victory at Coventry, where he stayed the night 24/25 August. Coventry citizens probably felt it was politic to welcome him lavishly, but in the city annals they recorded that King Richard “was shamefully Carryed to Leicester & Buryed their” .[ix]
i. ‘St Mary De Castro church shut for six months over spire collapse fear’, BBC News Leicester (7 September 2013). URL: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-23985692 Date accessed: 13 October 2013
ii. James Alexander Cameron, ‘The medieval churches of Leicester and their many sedilia study trip’, Stained Glass Attitudes (16 April 2013). URL: http://stainedglassattitudes.wordpress.com/2013/04/16/leicester-april-2013/ Date accessed: 6 November 2013
iii. Information on the church:
‘The ancient borough: St. Mary’s', A History of the County of Leicester: volume 4: The City of Leicester (1958), pp. 369-380. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=66579 Date accessed: 31 October 2013
St Mary de Castro (2006). URL: http://www.stmarydecastro.org.uk/history.htm Date accessed: 31 October 2013
Visitor’s Guide to St Mary de Castro, available from URL: http://www.stmarydecastro.org.uk/Visitors%20Guide.pdf Date accessed: 14 September 2013
iv. Simon Walker, ‘John , duke of Aquitaine and duke of Lancaster, styled king of Castile and León (1340–1399)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2008.
v. ‘The Parliament of Bats, 4 Hen. VI’, The History of Parliament. URL: http://www.histparl.ac.uk/volume/1422-1504/parliament/1426 Date accessed: 12 January 2014
vi. Ralph Alan Griffiths, The Reign of King Henry VI: The Exercise of Royal Authority, 1422-1461. University of California Press, 1981, pp.80-81
vii. Mathew Morris & Richard Buckley, Richard III: The King under the Car Park. University of Leicester Archaeological Services, 2013, p.11
viii. For Richard III’s visits to Leicester see Morris & Buckley, pp.11-12; as well as Rhoda Edwards, The Itinerary of King Richard III 1483-1485. Richard III Society, 1983.
ix. DeLloyd J Guth, “Richard III, Henry VII and the City: London Politics and the ‘Dun Cow’”, in: Kings and Nobles in the Later Middle Ages: a Tribute to Charles Ross, ed. by Ralph A. Griffiths & James Sherborne. Sutton, Gloucester, 1986, pp.194-195
All photographs by Dorothea Preis
He is mainly known as a writer of the Historia Regum Britanniae (The history of the kings of Britain), which includes stories of Arthur, Merlin and kings Leir and Coel.
Geoffrey will always remind me of my classes in medieval Latin at university, where we studied his story of King Arthur. Though I had disliked Latin at school and only did the course because it was a prerequisite for graduation, here I discovered that studying a ‘dead’ language could actually be fun.
J. C. Crick, ‘Monmouth, Geoffrey of (d. 1154/5)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
The college at Middleham was to have six priests, the one at Barnard Castle twelve. The priests were to offer prayers for the souls of Richard himself, King Edward IV and his Queen Elizabeth, his brothers and sisters and his father, wife and son.
While the college at Barnard Castle never materialized due to Richard’s death at Bosworth, the college at Middleham was established and continued until 1856.
(Photograph of St Mary and St Alkelda, Middleham, by D Preis)