A Sergeant of the King’s Bakehouse: Richard Gyll (d.1511)

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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.

The brass of Richard Gyll, in: Cassell’s Illustrated History of England, vol. 2, 1858, p.609

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).

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The duke of Buckingham haunts Salisbury

The King’s House. (Photograph by Richard Sutcliffe via Geograph)

The duke of Buckingham in the Cathedral Close

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.

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Anglo-Saxon Hertford

Anglo-Saxon Hertford 

a bustling town and its mint

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.

Edward the Elder (Wikimedia Commons)

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Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire, Part III

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 in Hertfordshire

Part II:  Berkhamsted Castle

This is the second of three parts dealing with Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire.

Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire, Part II

Castle Ruins

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

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)

Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire, Part I

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.

Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire, Part I

Cecily Neville

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God’s House: Part IV

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.

God’s House: Part IV

Passage to the alsmhouse from the church

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God’s House: Part III

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