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

God’s House: Part I

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

Memorial to the Duchess

Book Review:  Memorial to the Duchess

Jocelyn Kettle, Memorial to the Duchess.  Coronet Books, London, 1974 (first published 1968) (Pbk)

While we are on the topic of Alice Chaucer, here is a look at another novel on this fascinating historical character.

Alice Chaucer, Duchess of Suffolk, was a fascinating person, but I have yet to find any in-depth analysis of her life, preferably non-fiction.

However, you would think that she would also make the perfect protagonist for a work of fiction.  As seen, she is frequently a minor character (not that there is anything minor about Alice!) in the Sister Frevisse novels by Margaret Frazer, like for instance in the short story The Stoneworker’s Tale.  There is one full length novel about her, Memorial to the Duchess.  I had been warned, but I was still prepared to give it a try.  I should have headed the warning! Continue reading

The Stone-Worker’s Tale

Short Story Review:  

The Stone-Worker’s Tale

Margaret Frazer, The Stone-Worker’s Tale, Kindle edition, Dream Machine Productions, 15 April 2011

The Stone-Worker’s Tale is a short story by Margaret Frazer, featuring her medieval sleuth Dame Frevisse.  Gail Lynn Frazer, wrote a series of novels under the name Margaret Frazer.  The majority feature Dame Frevisse, a medieval nun, while several books have Joliffe, member of a troupe of travelling players, as the protagonist.  Unfortunately Ms Frazer passed away in 2013, so there will be no new encounters with either Dame Frevisse or Joliffe to look forward to.  Therefore it is even more rewarding to return to the old favourites. Continue reading