Hunsdon House

Hunsdon House – 

One of the most important medieval houses in Hertfordshire

A few years ago, an attempt to find traces of Richard III’s family in Hertfordshire led me to Hunsdon.  This is a small village in the south-east of Hertfordshire, near the border to Essex.  The former manor house, Hunsdon House, is situated to the south of the actual village, next to the church of St Dunstan (find it on a map here).

Hunsdon House

A glimpse of the present-day Hunsdon House

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The Book of Hours of Richard III on-line

I just heard the fantastic news that the Book of Hours, which had belonged to Richard III, has been digitised and is now available in pdf format on-line.  This was Richard’s personal prayer book, which was found in his tent after the battle of Bosworth.

So far, we could only see one page at a time, when the book was exhibited, for instance at its present home of Lambeth Palace Library, or when it played a part in the Reinterment events of Richard III at Leicester in 2015.  Now we are able to see the entire book.

The Book of Hours of Richard III on-line

Anne F Sutton and Livia Visser-Fuchs wrote a book about Richard’s Book of Hours, The Hours of Richard III, which was originally published in 1990.  This has been out-of-print for years and finding an affordable second-hand copy is virtually impossible.  This book is also part of the digitisation and is now freely available.

The process was carried out by Leicester Cathedral, after Lambeth Palace Library gave its permission to this project.  The digitisation of this manuscript was made possible with the financial support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Richard III Society and the University of Leicester.  Thank you to all involved!  This is fantastic news indeed.

You can find the digital version here:  http://leicestercathedral.org/about-us/richard-iii/book-hours/

The ‘Brückenmännchen’ in Bonn

The Brückenmännchen in Bonn –

a cheeky little sculpture on a bridge

When we visited Bonn earlier this year, we went for a walk along the Rhine, as you do.  To our surprise, we spotted on the Kennedy Bridge the sculpture of a man rather cheekily sticking his bum out at us, the Brückenmännchen, which translates as “little bridge man”. It turns out that this little sculpture plays an important part of the history of the bridge.

The Brückenmännchen in Bonn

The Brückemnmännchen in Bonn – also a welcome resting place for pigeons

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Bonn’s bridges across the Rhine

Bonn’s bridges across the Rhine –

Connecting Bonn to its eastern neighbours

Bonn is situated on the western side of the river Rhine.  Understandably, a way to cross the river has been important for a long time, both for commercial and military reasons.  On the opposite, the eastern, side of the river is Beuel. Beuel has since 1969 been a suburb of Bonn, incorporating all the area on the right-hand side of the Rhine, which consisted of various parishes.  One example is Oberkassel, where the couple from the Ice Age was found.

There is a legend that Julius Caesar had the first bridge built in 55 BC when fighting the Gauls.  However, archaeologists say that’s all that it is:  a legend. Continue reading

Thomas Barowe – Richard III’s Master of the Rolls

Thomas Barowe – 

Richard III’s Master of the Rolls,

churchman, administrator,

and bound by loyalty[1]

Thomas Barowe was Richard III’s master of the rolls. It is a great pity that to most historians of the late middle ages that is all there is to be said about him, not warranting any further details.[2]

Richard III chose as his motto ‘Loyalty Binds Me’.  Obviously, he felt bound by loyalty to those around him, but it would also be fair to say that he appreciated the loyalty of others in return.  One man who remained loyal to Richard until his own death – 14 years after the Battle of Bosworth – was Master Thomas Barowe.  The following is an attempt to find out more about this man and to show him as an integral part of Richard’s closely interconnected affinity. Continue reading

The Liberei in Braunschweig

The Liberei in Braunschweig –

a medieval library ahead of its time

The Liberei in Braunschweig

Braunschweig in approx. 1550 (Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

The Liberei in Braunschweig is a unique medieval building:  1. It was the first free-standing library building in Europe north of the Alps.  2. It was the southern-most example of Backsteingotik. 3. It was one of the first public libraries in Germany.  4. It was a famous centre for research.  Quite remarkable for a building of just 5 by 5 metres. Continue reading

The Gewandhaus in Braunschweig

Braunschweig Now and Then:

The Gewandhaus in

Braunschweig’s Altstadt

The Gewandhaus in Braunschweig

Eastern facade of the Gewandhaus

One of the present-day tourist attractions of Braunschweig is the Altstadtmarkt with its historic buildings:  the Altstadtrathaus (town hall), St Martin’s Church, the Altstadtbrunnen (fountain) and the Gewandhaus.  Altstadt (old town) refers to one of the five medieval parts of Braunschweig, the others being the Neustadt (new town), Hagen, Altewiek and Sack.  Each had its own market, church and town hall.  The two most important parts, Altstadt and Hagen, also had their own Gewandhaus (cloth merchants’ hall).  Only the one in the Altstadt has survived, so this is the one which is referred to as the Gewandhaus today. Continue reading