The Road to Fotheringhay 21st – 29th July 2010

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis   in News

This year marks the 550th anniversary of the death of Richard Duke of York and his son Edmund Earl of Rutland at the Battle of Wakefield on 30 December 1460.  Though they were initially buried at Pontefract, their bodies were later exhumed and brought in with great ceremony to Fotheringhay.

Chief mourner at this procession was the Duke’s youngest son Richard Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III).   He rode at the head of his father’s effigy, followed by the lords of the land, including the Earl of Northumberland, Lord Stanley and Lord Welles. They were to stay with the body throughout, attend all the services and masses en route, and have the privilege of standing and kneeling within the barriers of the hearse.  The courtege was also accompanied by officers at arms, the kings of arms and many poor men on foot.   The procession travelled along the Great North Road (now A1) and rested overnight at Doncaster, Blyth, Tuxford le Clay, Newark, Grantham, Stamford and finally at Fotheringhay.  At night sixty men with torches kept guard around the hearse.

This year Wakefield Historical Society will retrace that journey on the anniversary dates of 21st-29th July.   Each day will include visits to places of interest and a chance to walk some stretches of the original route. Each evening will include a performance of a medieval Vespers of the Dead, in the church where the body rested if possible, as well as a talk by an invited lecturer.

You can find out more on the fascinating webpage of the Wakefield Historical Society.  You can order the book by Anne F Sutton & Livia Visser-Fuchs The Reburial of Richard Duke of York, 21-29 July 1476, which is mentioned on the webpage, from the Richard III Society (go to ‘Publications’, then ‘Books, Monographs and Booklets’, then ‘Books by the Richard III Society’).

The above illustration is a drawing of Fotheringhay Church c. 1850.

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