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

The Manor of Ware

The Manor of Ware in Hertfordshire during the Middle Ages

The town of Ware has a long history.  The oldest dateable artefacts found in the area go back to the late Paleolithic period (c.25,000 – 10,000BC).  There is evidence for a more permanent settlement in the Mesolithic period (8,000 – 5,000 BC).  The Romans were also there and so it goes on into the Middle Ages, which is the period this post will be dealing with.[i] Continue reading

Eulenspiegel Fountain, Braunschweig

Braunschweig Now and Then:

The Eulenspiegel Fountain in Braunschweig

Braunschweig, in Lower Saxony, Germany, is a city rich in history.  This became clear to me, when I recently had the opportunity to revisit the city where I was born.  We moved away when I was seven, long before its history held much interest to me.  Seeing it again, brought back to me the stories my grandfather used to tell me.  He was a wonderful story-teller.  His range covered stories by others (sometimes embellished to make them more attractive for his little granddaughter), and above all stories he made up on the spot, linking them to the buildings or monuments around us.

I would like to share with you a monument to one of the heroes of the stories he told me:  Till Eulenspiegel. It’s not very often that you get a chance to touch one of the heroes of the stories of your childhood.  However, this was what I able to do when I saw the Eulenspiegel for the first time, at the age of four or five.  Needless to say I went back to say “hello” to Till now.

Eulenspiegel Fountain Braunschweig

Eulenspiegel Fountain in Braunschweig

Continue reading

David Kindersley

Today would be the 101st birthday of David Guy Barnabas Kindersley, stone-carver and type designer.  He was born on 11 June 1915 in Codicote, Hertfordshire.  Among his extensive work is the Richard III Memorial Stone.  Some of David Kindersley’s work is at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The memorial stone was originally in Leicester Cathedral.  It had been a project of Rev T.C. Hunter-Clare, to which the Richard III Society had contributed. It was dedicated in August 1982.

Since January 2015, just prior to Richard III’s reburial in Leicester Cathedral, the memorial stone has been on permanent display at the King Richard III Visitor Centre, Leicester.

David Kindersley died on 2 February 1995 in Cambridge.

The photograph was taken in 2013, showing the memorial stone in its original position in Leicester Cathedral.

David Kindersley

Richard III Memorial Stone

To learn more about David Kindersley, you may wish his obituary in the Independent:

Leicester City – the unexpected EPL Champions

Congratulations to Leicester City on winning the English Premier League title.  This morning, this was the first thing I read, when checking the overnight news on my phone.  Imagine me cheering loudly in a still sleeping house.

Anyone who knows me, realises how utterly unlikely this reaction is.  I’m not interested in sport, never have been, and least of all in soccer.  Nevertheless, here I am supporting a soccer team on the other end of the world.  Just don’t expect any technical analysis of the Leicester’s game plan from me here.

At the beginning of the season, nobody had any hopes of Leicester City achieving anything.  Bookies apparently rated their chances of winning at 5000 to 1. The result is that in Australia the TAB faces a payout of over $1 million.  This will be the biggest loss on a sporting event ever for TAB, as the Sydney Morning Herald reports today. The losses to British betting agents will be considerably bigger.

Many journalists have made a connection between the Foxes’ success and Richard III, as the team’s chances started to pick up once the king had been reburied in Leicester Cathedral in March last year. After his reinterment with “dignity and honour”, I have no doubt that Richard would support Leicester City, if he could support any team from beyond the grave.  However, even if not accepting supernatural influence from long-dead monarchs, there is a connection.

Until August/September 2012, Leicester was hardly on top of any tourist’s visiting wish list. It certainly wasn’t on mine.   However, that changed, once the remains found in a car park were confirmed to be those of Richard III.  In March 2013, we set off to the Midlands, as I wanted to attend a conference on the archaeological dig organised by the Richard III Society at Leicester University.  Let’s start with the positive experiences.  The conference was great and I also enjoyed the Jewry Wall Museum.  The volunteers at St Mary de Castro were incredibly welcoming.  On the negative side was the hotel.  Our room was dusty, the bathroom mouldy, and the staff were anything but interested in providing service for their customers.  I felt the city itself was rather non-descript, and the grey and drizzly weather didn’t do much for it either.

We returned for the reinterment in March last year, and could feel the transformation, as soon as we got off the coach and walked to our hotel.  Everyone was excited and smiling.  We had decided to stay at a different hotel this time.  The choice of the Premier Inn City Centre  was validated as soon as we arrived.  The staff at reception was very professional and welcoming, the room clean and comfortable.

Not that I spent much time at the hotel after checking in.  I rather made my way to meet up with friends in Jubilee Square to wait for Richard’s cortege.  The sun was shining, it was relatively warm and the atmosphere tremendous.  What impressed me particularly was that people of all sorts of different backgrounds were there together, waiting in anticipation for the arrival of the coffin.  Leicester is one of the most multicultural cities in the UK and it has made a success of it.  The masses waiting for the cortege were certainly an example of what it can be like.  And I’m not the only one who noticed this change as this article shows.

The city itself had also scrubbed up very nicely for the big event.  Information boards now make it easy for the tourist to find his or her way around.  They also point out sites of interest, of which the city has its fair share.  All in all, this time round it was a much better experience.

And that brings me back to this unlikely fan’s unlikely interest in these unlikely champions.  I think it’s all due to a sense of excitement, of being caught up in the excitement of a larger group.  That was the case with Richard III’s reinterment, and it’s the same with sport.

The first time I experienced it, was, when as a teenager, I went with some friends to watch some boys of our group, who were part of the local village football team, playing the team from the next village. The same happened in 2011, when my husband decided to go to New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup.  Again, I wasn’t particularly interested in rugby, but the prospect of a trip to New Zealand was too good to be missed, and I gladly went along.  Once there, walking around in Wellington during the afternoon, the general excitement got to me.  By the time, we were at the stadium and watched South Africa play Wales, I was just as enthusiastic as the fans, who had supported their respective teams for ever.

My support for Leicester was the same.  My friends from Leicester were getting increasingly excited and that spilled over.  So when Leicester City got mentioned on the news in Australia, I started listening, while I normally just mentally switch off when the sport news come on.  Friends in Australia, who have no interest in Richard III and sometimes not even in soccer, started asking me whether I was supporting the Foxes.  With the result that this morning, the first thing I did, was to check how the game between Tottenham and Chelsea had gone, and then started cheering, even if nobody was listening.

It should also be mentioned that the soccer team are not the only champions from that city.  Also yesterday, Mark Selby from Leicester played in the final of the 2016 Betfred World Snooker Championship and won, which apparently was also a big surprise.

So you see, when it comes to Leicester you have to expect the unexpected.  In 2012, nobody seriously expected finding Richard III’s remains virtually as soon as the ground in that car park was broken. A year ago, nobody seriously expected Leicester City to be EPL Champions.

Let me add another remarkable coincidences, one that you won’t find in the media.  I just got a new mobile phone.  Yesterday morning, I was playing around with it, trying to discover more of all the wonderful things it can do (well, wonderful to me, as my old one had been rather limited).  When looking at the option to play music, I switched on the shuffle feature.  The first thing it decided to play was Queen’s “We are the Champions”.  That surely had to be a sign!

You might also like:

You can watch the lovely ‘Fox and the Ghost King: Morpurgo’s Leicester football tale‘ on YouTube.  It was originally broadcast on the BBC.

There is also an “updated” version of the words Shakespeare put into Richard III’s mouth by Stephen Moss in the Guardian.

How to Bury a King

Book Review:  How to Bury a King:

The Reinterment of King Richard III

Pete Hobson, How to Bury a King: The Reinterment of King Richard III.  Zaccmedia, 2016

On 26 March 2016, the one year anniversary of Richard III’s reinterment in Leicester Cathedral, three books and a CD were launched in St Martin’s House adjacent to Leicester Cathedral.

The launch was held in the great hall of St Martin’s House, with the choir singing to publicise the release of the CD.  He lieth under this Stone features much of the choral music performed at Leicester Cathedral during the reinterment week in March 2015.  Of course, it also includes ‘Ghostly Grace’, composed especially for the occasion by Judith Bingham.

The three books were How to Bury a King by Rev Peter Hobson, acting canon missioner at Leicester Cathedral, Flowers for a King by Rosemary Hughes, who was responsible for the floral arrangements in the Cathedral, and Richard III – His Story, by Leicester artist Kirsteen Thomson. Continue reading

Hatfield before Hatfield House, Part 4

Hatfield before Hatfield House –

the 15th century ‘Old Palace’

In this final part of Hatfield before Hatfield House, we look at the last medieval manor at Hatfield, and the only one of which a part is still standing.[i]

In 1478, a new bishop of Ely was appointed:  John Morton. Morton was a dedicated supporter of the Lancastrians and would be on very good terms with Henry VII, though considerably less so with Richard III.  However, he is not only remembered for political mischief, but also as one of the great builders of his age.  Soon after being elevated to the bishopric of Ely, he set about rebuilding the manor at Hatfield, as well as Wisbech Castle, which also belonged to the Diocese of Ely.  Another project was a great dyke, which was cut through the fens from Peterborough to Wisbech, and is considered a pioneer effort in drainage.  In 1486, a grateful Henry VII had him translated to the see of Canterbury, where he completed the Angel steeple on the cathedral and further buildings of the archdiocese, as for example the gatehouse of Lambeth Palace (also built of brick).[ii] Continue reading

Hatfield before Hatfield House, Part 3

Hatfield before Hatfield House –

the Medieval Manor of the Bishops of Ely

Part 1 and Part 2 of Hatfield before Hatfield House explained how the Bishops of Ely came to hold the estate and how the park and township developed.  Part 3 will deal with the medieval manor of the bishops of Ely at Hatfield.

It is known that the bishops of Ely had a substantial house at Hatfield from early on, though we don’t know exactly when it was first built or what it looked like. [i] Continue reading