Archive for the ‘NSW Branch News’ Category


Season’s Greetings to all our readers

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis Tags: , ,

Wishing all our readers a very merry Christmas

and lots of happiness and peace for the New Year.



Enjoy a carol from King’s College Chapel in Cambridge (click here).

Richard III was a generous benefactor of the building of the chapel, which had been started by Henry VI.  By the end of his reign the first six bays of the Chapel had reached full height and the first five bays, roofed with oak and lead, were in use. [1]  It was the Tudor kings, Henry VII and Henry VIII, who would eventually finish the chapel.


‘History of the Chapel’, King’s College Cambridge.  URL: [last accessed 23 November 2018]


What we admire most about Richard III

   Posted by: Kevin Herbert Tags: ,

Richard III NSW Branch NewsOur last branch meeting took a completely different format.  Instead of all facing and listening to a speaker, we sat around a table and discussed what we admire most about Richard.

Jan, one of the longest serving members of our branch,  began by reminiscing about the origins of the NSW Branch of The Richard III Society.   Apparently in the 1970s a handful of Ricardians met in someone’s home, but as they became more numerous they ventured to a restaurant to share a meal together instead.  As the membership grew so, too, did the need to become more structured and meet in more formal surroundings, which got us to where we are today.

Our discussion showed that we all admire Richard for his loyalty to his friends and family, for his caring nature and thoughtfulness for the people as expressed by Richard’s innovative laws and justice.  Several members remarked that he worked to better the lives of ordinary people, citing several examples, among them especially the exemption of books and printing from taxation to foster learning.  This led to the idea to include a section on Richard’s achievements on our website, but we have to ensure only to include those reforms and innovations which can be easily proved.

Richard III

Illustration:  © Andrew Jamieson,

More individual experiences were also aired.  Kevin was especially impressed by the closeness which seemed to exist between John Neville and Richard, whose mottos, respectively, were:  Loyalty, Honour and Love (John Neville) and Loyalty Binds Me (Richard). Judith commented on what a joy it was to discover medieval history after she had been immersed in Victorian matters previously.  This joy was shared by Win who also spoke of the joy of learning to appreciate medieval history.

Carol shared a special experience with us by thanking Richard and his family for one of her happiest memories in England when she and her husband went to Fotheringhay and enjoyed a perfect day there with a picnic.

She commented on the fact and that his achievements in such a short time were incredible in comparison with other monarchs who reigned for much longer and did comparatively little in the first few years of their reign.

New members Leslie and Doug remarked on how noble a person Richard seemed to be and how wonderful it was to meet up with a group who shared their passion for this great and underrated man.

Everyone felt this discussion was a very worthwhile exercise.  And we were all grateful to him for making his times so interesting to us all – and for bringing us together.



   Posted by: Michael


SAVE THE DATE:  Saturday April 17th, 2021

from 2pm – 4pm.

We have chosen historical fiction novel “Mistress to the Crown” by Isolde Martyn, one of our most treasured and long-standing members of the society and are thrilled to welcome Isolde to be part of our Book Club discussion as well as answering questions on this intriguing novel.

“Mistress to the Crown” introduces readers to Elizabeth Lambard who is best known to history as Jane Shore, mistress of English King Edward IV. The novel follows Elizabeth’s life from the time of her marriage to merchant William Shore as teenager, to the start of her second marriage shortly after the death of King Edward. Told from Elizabeth’s perspective, the novel paints a vivid and authentic portrait of a woman about whom very little is known.

If you would like to participate in this wonderful LIVE Zoom event, please RSVP to Marnie Lo   at:  so we can send you an exclusive Zoom invitation.

To purchase this book for advance reading, it is currently widely available from Booktopia,, Abbey’s Bookstore, The Book Depository & Dymocks for $19.99 or for $8.99 on Kindle. A signed copy for $10 can also be purchased from Isolde directly by emailing:                                     or by calling Isolde on: (02) 9449-7962

We look forward to welcoming you all to this very special event and sharing your impressions         on this very unique & intriguing historical figure.



The Farewell to Kevin Herbert

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis

We are very grateful to our long-term member Ann Chandler for sharing her thoughts about Kevin Herbert’s funeral with us.

The Farewell to Kevin Herbert

The 5th of March, the day of Kevin’s funeral was a drear day with rain bucketing down in cold sheets……and the skies were grey, perhaps in reflection of our feelings. Inside the church, however, it was a different story. The light was soft and the leadlights glowed. Kevin’s casket was adorned with natives and our white roses were nearby, while Richard looked down from a close screen.

The service was just as Kevin wished and the music was sublime. So many lovely, traditional hymns sung by Jeremy Curtin, Giselle Grape, Gina Marshall and The Fathers Choir. Gerard Herbert, Maria Kelly and I presented the three eulogies. I made sure I was dressed in Richard’s colours, complete with Ricardian badges and a white rose. I also read out Julia’s letter on behalf of our society and Rob Smith’s (New Zealand Branch) letter to Kevin which he received before he passed.

After the beautiful mass, our dear friend was interred with his beloved mother. We all returned to the Belrose Hotel where we mingled and shared our stories and memories of Kevin. The food was fabulous, and Kevin’s family did Him proud! While we ate, drank and remembered, we were treated to a wonderful slideshow, compiled by our fellow Ricardian, Helen Porteus. It was great to see Kevin in his various costumes and familiar gestures. Helen’s husband, Allan, also generously gave a portrait of Kevin, which he had painted, to Kevin’s grateful family. It was a sad day and the end of an era but our dear Kevin was farewelled very well indeed… a true celebration of a life well lived.

The Farewell to Kevin Herbert

Kevin at the Australasian Convention in Sydney, 2013.

I will now include my portion of his eulogy:

I first met Kevin through the Richard The Third Society, almost thirty years ago. We immediately became great friends, bonded by our common interests and he became a most wonderful friend to my family—as he was to all of you. Kevin was always his own man, but he shared his life with extraordinary generosity. He was a tireless worker for our society and was the Social Secretary for many, many years and what a Social Secretary he was! We enjoyed so many great events, organised by Kevin and I know I speak for our society when I say that whenever Kevin was due to give a talk or deliver a speech, we were all excited because he had such a wealth of information and interesting anecdotes, all delivered with Kevin’s customary verve and enthusiasm. He was one of the most learned men I have ever met.

When I first met Kevin, I rather loftily stated, “I walk with the King!” Now other people may have looked over their shoulders with some alarm to check if Elvis was in the building………. but not Kevin. Quick as a flash, he replied, “And so do I!” And now our dear friend truly does walk with the King. He has taken his rightful place, by his side ….. his loyal and liege man. Yours was, indeed, a life well lived, so walk tall dear, dear Kevin.

Ann Chandler


Farewell our dear friend Kevin

   Posted by: Julia Redlich Tags:

All members of the New South Wales Branch of the Richard III Society will be saddened by news of Kevin Herbert’s death after such a long illness.

Kevin was a true Ricardian, always seeking more information about the man and his life and times. He devoured books, consulted maps, museums and libraries. He shared his knowledge and love, and our meetings were a joy for him, as were the conventions and conferences with other Australasian branches where he had so many friends (nearly as many as the costumes he wore to the banquets!).

To meet our travel needs Kevin’s information about train and bus time-tables, routes, and costs was encyclopaedic as was his knowledge of the period’s family trees. There was always something new to learn at the “C and Cs” (coffee and conversation) enjoyed with friends. These meetings with our fondly named “Special K” soon saw us discarding plans for world improvement and indulge in everything Ricardian. As you do.

A great thinker, a great Ricardian, a much-loved friend. That was Special K. How we’ll miss him.

Thank you, Kevin, for all you gave to us. God bless you.

A funeral service will be held on Thursday, 5 March 2020, at 10.30 am at Immaculate Catholic Church, Raglan Street, Manly.


Astronomy in the Middle Ages

   Posted by: Rhonda Bentley

The Plantagent Society has planned and exciting talk for their January 2020 meeting.  They have kindly invited members and friends of our branch to share this event:

The Plantagenet Society of Australia welcomes visitors to their next meeting on Saturday, January 18 at 2pm at St John’s Church, Gordon.

 We have been fortunate to book Professor Fred Watson who will speak about “Astronomy in the Middle Ages”.

 Entry $5. Afternoon tea supplied.

“A Closer Look at the Roses Used as Symbols During the Wars of the Roses”

presented by Dianne Herbert

Dianne Herbert, a long standing member of the Richard III Society, introduced us to the Alba Semi-Plena, the rose we know of as the White Rose of York. It is not like the mass produced roses we know today, being much simpler but more perfumed. Roses are thought to have originated in Persia (Iran) about 35 million years old and were brought to the west by the Crusaders. The Middle East was a major producer of rosewater, rose attar (rose essence or rose oil) and rose petals, for use in medicine, as food and in cosmetics. The Alba doesn’t interbreed successfully with other roses.

Review of 14 December 2019 Meeting

Rosa ‘Semi-plena’ (Photo by A. Barra via Wikimedia Commons)

There are a number of stories associated with roses. Apparently, roses only started to produce thorns when evil appeared in the world. At the Feast of Heliogabalus (204 – 222), guests died after being smothered in rose petals. The oldest rose bush alive today was established by King Louis the Pious (King of the Franks) in 815, and is at Hildesheim Cathedral in Germany. In the Middle Ages, a rose suspended from the ceiling meant that those present were sworn to secrecy.

Review of 14 December 2019 Meeting

Thousand-year-old rose, Hildesheim (Photo by Bischöfliche Pressestelle Hildesheim via Wikimedia Commons)

Edmund Langley, 1st Duke of York was the first nobleman to use the White Rose of York. Edmund Crouchback, 1st Earl of Lancaster used the red rose (Rosa gallica). Margaret of Anjou was known as the Red Rose of Anjou. Edward IV’s wife, Elizabeth Woodville used a white rose. Edward IV’s mistress, Jane Shore was known as the Rose of London. And it was not until 1829 that the term “Wars of the Roses” was used, when Sir Walter Scott included the term in his novel Anne of Geierstein.

White Rose of York

There is a “Jacobite” or “Bonny Prince Charlie’s” rose, as well as a rose called “York and Lancaster”. Roses have been cultivated in China since the 11th century, and a Rose Museum has recently been opened in Beijing. Unfortunately, there are no native roses in the Southern Hemisphere.

It was interesting to learn about the history of roses and the white rose in particular. We could hear Dianne’s love of roses in her talk. Amongst other roses, she grows “Mr Lincoln”, “Duchess of Provence”, and the “Peace Rose”. I’m sure her garden is spectacular.

The NSW Branch held its 1st Book Club at the Members’ Meeting on 8 June 2019 and it was a very lively and stimulating discussion.  It was so successful the Committee decided that the Book Club will become an annual event.

The books reviewed at our Book Club this year were: –

  1. “Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England” by Thomas Penn
  2. “The Devil in Ermine” by Isolde Martyn
NSW Branch meets for a Book Club

Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England

The “Winter King” was acknowledged as not an easy read due to the writing style and terminology used by Penn.  The book was a more scholarly read and the narrative was not necessarily chronological, however Members persevered, and a very interesting picture of Henry VII arose, one that we may not have previously understood.  Henry VII emerged as a paranoid, secretive, devious and duplicitous individual who would stop at nothing to hold on to his crown and fill his treasury – he was unsentimental towards those who had served him well and subsequently, had fallen from favour.  Henry was avaricious and Penn’s narrative about how this was enacted was revealing.  Although it was hard going, the majority of the book club members finished the book, and all acknowledged they found it interesting and learnt from the experience.

NSW Branch meets for a Book Club

The Devil in Ermine

“The Devil in Ermine” was acknowledged as excellent, as we have all come to expect from Isolde.  Isolde’s story on the Duke of Buckingham and his revolt was well researched and very informative about this troubling and treasonous event during the reign of Richard III.  Isolde made this complex event into an easy to read and understand narrative that brought to light a treacherous, inexperienced, reactive and emotional character in Buckingham that seriously threatened Richard III and his reign.

We look forward to the next Book Club, to be held on Saturday 4 April 2020.  The Books we will be reading are:

  1. “Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses” by Sarah Gristwood
  2. “Women of the Cousins’ War: The Real White Queen and Her Rivals” by Philippa Gregory, David Baldwin and Michael Jones

Please join us!


December 2019 General Meeting

   Posted by: Leslie McCawley

Our last general meeting of the year will be on the 14th of December 2019 at 2pm at the Sydney Mechanics Institute, as usual.

The featured speaker will be our long-time member Dianne Herbert on the topic of “A Closer Look at the Roses used as symbols for the Wars of the Roses.”

Looking forward to seeing you there!


Book Discussion 4 April 2020

   Posted by: Leslie McCawley

Announcing the books selected

to read for next April

I am excited to tell you about the two books that the committee has approved for the Book Discussion at our branch meeting 4 April 2020, in order to give everyone plenty of time to obtain and read them. The intention is to look more closely at the fascinating women of the Lancasters and Yorks. Both titles are nonfiction and come highly recommended.

Sarah Gristwood, Blood Sisters

Philippa Gregory, David Baldwin & Michael Jones, The Women of the Cousins’ War

If you prefer, you can, of course, choose any Ricardian or English History book, fiction or nonfiction, to read instead and share your opinion with us at the meeting. In our first discussion meeting this past June several members introduced the group to wonderful new titles to add to their ever-lengthening reading lists!

Book has the best prices I have seen along with free shipping, but of course if you can find them second-hand or at the library that would be even better. The SMSA library has The Women of the Cousins’ War by Philippa Gregory, David Baldwin & Michael Jones, and the City of Sydney library system has a copy of Blood Sisters by Sarah Gristwood.

Happy Reading!