Posted by: Dorothea Preis   in News

Thank you, Karen!

We know from our New Zealand friends that the interest in Richard III and his times is very much alive in their beautiful country.  However, there also seems to be a link between my favourite wine, Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region on New Zealand’s South island.  I just read an article explaining this link.

Vineyard in the Marlborough region of New Zealand (photo by Dorothea Preis)

The largest river in the Marlborough region was named Clarence River in the mid-19th century.  It was thought that it referred to Queen Victoria’s uncle and predecessor, William IV, who had been Duke of Clarence before his coronation.

This accepted version has been discredited by George Holmes, who has investigated many place names and had about 95 spellings on maps changed to reflect his findings.

He suggests that the river had been named after a much earlier Duke of Clarence, one that we all know very well:  Richard’s brother George.  One hint was a tributary, Gloster River, which is named after none other than Richard himself, who before his coronation was Duke of Gloucester.  Mr Holmes intends to petition the New Zealand Geographic Board to correct the spelling of this river to reflect the family relationship.  Another hint was a stream near the mouth of the Clarence River, the George Stream.

The article may create the impression that the names were made up by Shakespeare for his infamous play, but of course we know he used real people and made up a story about them (not very different from many present day movies and TV dramas).  Shakespeare’s drama is referred to in the name of another stream, Murderers Stream, and a nearby hill, Warder, which might originally have been Mt Warden, named after the warden in the Tower of London, where George was imprisoned before his execution.  However, there does not seem to be any reference to George’s supposed execution method, no Malmsey Stream or Mt. Malmsey.

It is thought that the Clarence River was named by Sir Frederick Weld, who established a sheep station with business partner Sir Charles Clifford in the 1840s.  He had also named Lake Tennyson after his favourite poet.

Whether the inspiration came from Shakespeare or the real people behind his misrepresentation, I’ll remember this the next time we have some Sauvignon Blanc and lift my glass to George, Duke of Clarence, and of course to Richard, too.

You can find the article about the Clarence River here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/marlborough-express/news/8142481/Drama-behind-rivers-name

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