Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire
Part III: A look around town
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
Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire
Part II: Berkhamsted Castle
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
Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire
Part I: Historical background & References
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.
William and Alice de la Pole’s God’s House at Ewelme[i] – Domestic Buildings & School
This fourth and last part of the series about God’s House in Ewelme will look at the domestic buildings and the school.
The domestic quarters
At the western end of St Mary’s church is an impressive wooden door. This leads down some steps to a covered passage connecting the church and the almshouse quadrangle. In each of the external walls of the passage there is an archway, opposite of each other. Originally, they probably had wooden doors, which could be opened on feast days to allow processions to walk around the church. Normally they would be kept closed to allow the almsmen to get to church without getting wet and being blown away by the wind. The passage is built in brick with stone details and can be linked architecturally to the later building period of the church.
Passage to the alsmhouse from the church
William and Alice de la Pole’s Foundation at Ewelme[i] – St Mary’s Church
Parts III and IV of this series about William and Alice de la Pole’s foundation at Ewelme will deal with the buildings of God’s House. Most of these still stand and provide a glimpse into a long gone-by time. This post deals with St Mary’s Church, which still serves as Ewelme’s parish church. Continue reading
William and Alice de la Pole’s Foundation at Ewelme[i] – Statutes and Community
The second part of this series of blogs is dealing with life of the community in the almshouse. Most of the information on this can be deducted from the Statutes, which have survived. Continue reading
William and Alice de la Pole’s Foundation at Ewelme[i] – Family Background and Ewelme Manor
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Ewelme and its St Mary’s Church with the adjacent almshouse and school. This was an experience which has resonated with me since that day. It was an opportunity to come close to “normal” medieval people, not just the high-status people.
Ewelme is a village approx. 25 km south east of Oxford. Its name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon “æwelme”, meaning a fresh spring, which refers to the stream which still runs through the village.
580 years ago, on 3 July 1437, William and Alice de la Pole, the Earl and Countess of Suffolk. received a royal licence to found an almshouse supporting a community of two priests and thirteen poor men, which was to be called God’s House. The priests and poor men were to pray for the King, and the Earl and Countess during their lives and later for their souls, as well as the parents and friends and benefactors of the Earl and Countess. Continue reading
As we have seen in my last post, John of Wheathampstead, abbot of St Albans, travelled in 1423/24 to Italy to attend the Council of Pavia/Siena and to visit the Pope. Both on his way to Italy and back, he visited Cologne. This part of his trip was of particular interest to me, as I grew up in the Cologne/Bonn area of Germany.
Cologne in 1531. The unfinished cathedral is on the right.
Digging deeper at St Albans
John Whetehamstede found at
St Albans Abbey
Most mornings, still half asleep, I have a look at Facebook on my phone to see whether anything monumental has happened overnight. Most mornings I am disappointed, but the other morning I was suddenly wide awake: Another cleric had been found, but not just any old cleric! This one is John Whetehamstede, well-known to anyone interested in the late medieval period and the Wars of the Roses as an eye witness to the two battles of St Albans.
St Albans Cathedral seen from the east
The Blue Boar Inn in Leicester –
A ‘Grand Hotel’ of Richard III’s time
On his way to the battle of Bosworth, Richard III stayed in Leicester, leaving on 21 August. According to tradition, he spent the night at the Blue Boar Inn[i], though Peter Hammond thinks it more likely that he stayed at the castle.[ii] However, as this post is about the inn, it doesn’t really matter where Richard actually resided.
Blue Boar Inn, in: C.J. Billson, Mediaeval Leicester, 1920 (Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)