I would like to thank Dr Heather Falvey and Dr Sean Cunningham for all the information they kindly shared with me and all their generous support. All errors, of course, remain my own.
Some time ago, while looking for something completely different and getting carried away by all sorts of distractions, I came across the mention of a “Sergeant of the King’s Bakehouse”.
The reference was to an existing brass in St John the Baptist Church in Shottesbrooke, Berkshire. It shows a man in armour with his hands held in prayer, bare headed with shoulder-length hair. He seems to be standing on a mound of grass, with a flower between his feet.
Underneath is an inscription, which explains that this is Richard Gyll Esq, Sergeant of the Bakehouse for both Henry VII and Henry VIII, and bailiff of the “Seven Hundreds of Cookham and Bray” and that he died on 7 August 1511.
Here lyeth the body of Richard Gyll squyer late sergeat of the Bakehous wt kyng henry VII and also wyth kyng henry the VIII and bayly of the VII hundred of Cokam and Bray.[i]
The reference to an official of a bakehouse caught my eye, because I like baking bread. And it is a necessity, too. For someone used to the variety and taste of German bread, the average Australian bread is not very exciting. Therefore I decided to find out more about Richard Gyll. Fortunately, his will is still extant. It gives us some information about his personal circumstances (see below).
For Halloween, the Salisbury Journal told his readers a ‘Ghostly tale of Henry, Duke of Buckingham’. It seems that the ghost of Henry Stafford is haunting the Salisbury Museum in the Cathedral Close, which used to be the Diocesan Training College. The college was established in 1841 to train female teachers for Church of England schools in the diocese of Salisbury.
For his involvement in the 1483 rebellion against King Richard III, Henry Stafford, second duke of Buckingham was beheaded in the Market Square in Salisbury on 2 Nov. 1483.
Though the once thriving market town of Hertford declined after the Conquest, this does not mean that nothing of note happened here. Hertford’s claim to fame is that it had the first recorded commercial paper mill in Britain.
Today, Hertford has the atmosphere of a quiet country town rather than that of a bustling and prosperous trading centre. However, in its Anglo-Saxon days that was completely different.
It all started when – according to Anglo-Saxon Chronicle – Edward the Elder (reigned 899 to 924) established a burh (a fortification) on the north side of the River Lea, “betwixt the Memer, and the Benwic, and the Lea” [i] in 912 (though there is some controversy about the year, it might have been 911 or 913 as well). The following year, his forces built another one on the southern side.
This post has nothing to do with history but concerns an artwork which speaks to me. I would like to introduce you to a sculpture in Bad Godesberg, a southern suburb of Bonn. Often remembered for its abundance of embassies during the time when Bonn was the capital of West Germany. The “Bad” (spa) refers to its older history as a place with a spring with health benefits. Continue reading →
The Venerable Bede wrote in the Ecclesiastical History of England (731) that a synod of the church in England took place “on the 24th day of September, at the place which is called Herutford … in the year of our Lord 673”.[i] Looks like a perfectly clear statement, doesn’t it? If only it was that easy. Continue reading →
The library of my alma mater, Bonn University, has reason to celebrate: 645 books, which had been missing since WWII, have returned home. Among the books, many of them unique, are 11 medieval manuscripts, 2 medieval documents and 39 incunabula. Continue reading →
This is the last of three parts dealing with Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire.
St Peter’s Church from Castle Street
St Peter’s Church
I made my way back to the High Street along Castle Street, the original access route to the castle. It used to end at the South Gate, the main entrance to the castle. However, both the gate and the moat in that part were knocked down to make place for the railway in the 19th century.
I walked past Berkhamsted School to St Peter’s Church, at the corner of Castle Street and the High Street. Continue reading →
This is the second of three parts dealing with Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire.
When I visited Berkhamsted, rather than the town itself, my first stop were the ruins of the castle. As the reason for my visit was to pay my respects to Cecily Neville, the mother of Richard III, it was only polite to go to where she had resided.
The castle is located a bit away from the town, on higher ground, instead of the marshy river area. Berkhamsted was an important strategic location, as it was on one of the main routes between London and the Midlands, approx. 30 miles (= 48 km) from the capital.
Don’t be confused by today’s entrance to the castle area. You will pass the Keeper’s House, but this is only from the 19th century. Continue reading →
This is the first of three parts dealing with Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire. The posts are based on a talk I gave at the recent Ricardian convention at Albury, where members of the Richard III Society from Australia and New Zealand met.
(This post was updated 21 Dec. 2018)
Grand Union Canal in Berkhamsted
A few years ago, while visiting the UK, I decided to go to Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire, where the mother of Richard III, Cecily Neville, duchess of York, had resided for a long period.
(Great) Berkhamsted is a town in western Hertfordshire. Not to be confused with Little Berkhamsted, a village, also in Hertfordshire, approx. 6 km east of Hatfield. When we lived in central Hertfordshire for five years in the 1990s, Little Berkhamsted was much closer to home and easily visited. However, a trip to the other Berkhamsted so far west had been in the too hard basket at that time!
It took the distance from Australia to put things into perspective. So, when, many years later, I was going to drive from St Albans to Oxford, it was the perfect opportunity to make up for my earlier negligence. In anticipation of my trip, I told some friends that I would be going to meet up with Cecily Neville for a coffee.