King Edward II’s Stone Head Unearthed at British Abbey

An excavation at a medieval Abbey in Britain has uncovered a treasure trove of finds. But the most surprising artifact among the discoveries is a mysterious stone head. An examination of the object suggests that it may represent the face of the tragic English King, Edward II.

A team of archaeologists had been excavating Shaftesbury Abbey in southern England when they made the discovery. This was once home to a community of nuns and was one of the largest and richest abbeys in England, but it has all but disappeared. According to the Daily Mail , it ‘was once the second-wealthiest nunnery in England — behind only Syon Abbey, on the Thames in Isleworth.’ In its heyday, Shaftesbury Abbey was the same size as Westminster Cathedral . The abbey was ‘built by Alfred the Great in the 9th century,’ reports The Times .

Shaftesbury Abbey was once one of the largest and richest abbeys in England, but it has all but disappeared. (Mike Smith/ CC BY SA 2.0 )

Mysterious Stone Head

When the team was excavating under the ruins of the abbey they made an amazing discovery. The Daily Mail reports that the ‘archaeologists and students were thrilled when they dug up the life-sized head, which bears a crown.’ It is carved stone and was clearly sculpted by a master craftsperson. The head has been damaged but it is still in remarkable condition.

Is this King Edward II?

A 700-year-old stone head has been unearthed by archaeologists on the former site of Shaftesbury Abbey.

We've spoken to Archaeologist Julian Richards, who was part of the team who discovered it. #DigForBritain @archaeologyuk @RGS_IBG

— BBC Radio Solent (@BBCRadioSolent) October 2, 2020

The object was caked in soil and after it was cleaned it was found to have strange headgear, possibly a cap. The Guardian quotes Julian Richards, who led the project as saying, “Who could this be, wearing that sort of headgear? Then someone pointed out it wasn’t a cap, but a crown.” The jewels on the headband can still be made out. The fact that the head was crowned was something of an enigma.

Finder Julian Richards excavating the head. ( Shaftesbury Abbey Museum & Gardens )

Is it the Head of King Edward II?

The more the researchers examined the head, the more mysterious it became. According to the Guardian, ‘the sex of the subject was unclear. The flowing locks suggested a woman, the jawline a man.’ Therefore, it may represent a king or a queen. Archaeologists then began some detective work and they believe they may have identified who the stone head was meant to represent.

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Because the head was crowned, the researchers focused on English royalty. The possibility was raised that it may be a stylized depiction of an Anglo-Saxon king. However, the most likely candidate was deemed to be Edward II. Mr. Richards is quoted by the Guardian as saying that “It might be Edward II, but we’re not sure.”

Effigy of King Edward II on his tomb at Gloucester Cathedral. Source: Matthew /Adobe Stock

Edward II’s Defeat at the Battle of Bannockburn

Edward II, who reigned from 1307-1327, was the son of the ferocious Edward I, often called the ‘Hammer of the Scots’ for his brutal campaigns in Scotland. Unlike his father, Edward II was no warrior, he lost Scotland at the Battle of Bannockburn .

He was never popular and was widely seen as corrupt and weak. It was alleged that he was homosexual and that his favorite Piers Gaveston was his lover. Edward was deposed as king and imprisoned and he was later murdered, possibly by being starved to death. His life and tragic downfall are the subjects of a play by Christopher Marlowe.

The Times reports that the ‘carving is thought to have been part of a previously unknown gallery of statues of kings and queens inside Shaftesbury Abbey.’ It possibly was used to separate the nuns from members of the public during masses. There may have been several galleries in the church. The discovery of the head is helping archaeologists to better understand Shaftesbury Abbey’s layout. It is likely the head was once painted to make it even more life-like.

A depiction of the Battle of Bannockburn from a 1440s manuscript of Walter Bower's ‘Scotichronicon.’ This is the earliest known depiction of the battle.

The Dissolution of the Monasteries

Shaftesbury Abbey was also an important pilgrimage site. Many believers came here to pray to the relics of Saint Edward the Martyr (c 962-978 AD), an assassinated Anglo-Saxon King. The stone head is somewhat damaged, and this may be a result of the events that led to the ruin of this once rich abbey.

In 1539 Henry VIII ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries and nunneries in England. His agents, under the orders of Thomas Cromwell , destroyed many masterpieces of religious art during the closures. Richards is quoted by the Guardian as stating that “Somebody has taken a sledgehammer and smashed this up because it’s broken across the neck.” It is also possible that the carving was thrown to the ground.

If this is correct, the stone head is a testament to the violence and destruction that accompanied the Dissolution of the Monasteries . Within fifteen years of its closure, Shaftesbury Abbey had all but disappeared. Its stones were taken away by local people and used in their buildings.

It is believed that the stone head may have been left because it was deemed to be of no use. The head has been removed to Shaftesbury Museum, where it is hoped that it will eventually go on display.

Coronation Chair

The Coronation Chair, known historically as St Edward's Chair or King Edward's Chair, is an ancient wooden chair [a] [ clarification needed ] on which British monarchs sit when they are invested with regalia and crowned at their coronations. It was commissioned in 1296 by King Edward I to contain the coronation stone of Scotland—known as the Stone of Destiny—which had been captured from the Scots who kept it at Scone Abbey. The chair was named after Edward the Confessor, and was previously kept in his shrine at Westminster Abbey.


William's exact date of birth is not known, but it was some time between the years 1056 and 1060. He was the third of four sons born to William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders, the eldest being Robert Curthose, the second Richard, and the youngest Henry. Richard died around 1075 while hunting in the New Forest. William succeeded to the throne of England on his father's death in 1087, but Robert inherited Normandy. [7]

William had five or six sisters. The existence of sisters Adeliza and Matilda is not absolutely certain, but four sisters are more securely attested:

Records indicate strained relations between the three surviving sons of William I. William's contemporary, chronicler Orderic Vitalis, wrote about an incident that took place at L'Aigle in Normandy in 1077 or 1078: William and Henry, having grown bored with casting dice, decided to make mischief by emptying a chamber pot onto their brother Robert from an upper gallery, thus infuriating and shaming him. A brawl broke out, and their father had to intercede to restore order. [9] [b]

According to William of Malmesbury, writing in the 12th century, William Rufus was "well set his complexion florid, his hair yellow of open countenance different coloured eyes, varying with certain glittering specks of astonishing strength, though not very tall, and his belly rather projecting." [10]

The division of William the Conqueror's lands into two parts presented a dilemma for those nobles who held land on both sides of the English Channel. Since the younger William and his brother Robert were natural rivals, these nobles worried that they could not hope to please both of their lords, and thus ran the risk of losing the favour of one ruler or the other, or both. [11] The only solution, as they saw it, was to unite England and Normandy once more under one ruler. The pursuit of this aim led them to revolt against William in favour of Robert in the Rebellion of 1088, under the leadership of the powerful Bishop Odo of Bayeux, who was a half-brother of William the Conqueror. [12] As Robert failed to appear in England to rally his supporters, William won the support of the English with silver and promises of better government, and defeated the rebellion, thus securing his authority. In 1091 he invaded Normandy, crushing Robert's forces and forcing him to cede a portion of his lands. The two made up their differences and William agreed to help Robert recover lands lost to France, notably Maine. This plan was later abandoned, but William continued to pursue a ferociously warlike defence of his French possessions and interests to the end of his life, exemplified by his response to the attempt by Elias de la Flèche, Count of Maine, to take Le Mans in 1099. [13]

William Rufus was thus secure in his kingdom. As in Normandy, his bishops and abbots were bound to him by feudal obligations and his right of investiture in the Norman tradition prevailed within his kingdom, during the age of the Investiture Controversy that brought excommunication upon the Salian Emperor Henry IV. The king's personal power, through an effective and loyal chancery, penetrated to the local level to an extent unmatched in France. The king's administration and law unified the realm, rendering him relatively impervious to papal condemnation. In 1097 he commenced the original Westminster Hall, built "to impress his subjects with the power and majesty of his authority". [14]

Less than two years after becoming king, William II lost his father's adviser and confidant, the Italian-Norman Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury. After Lanfranc's death in 1089, the king delayed appointing a new archbishop for many years, appropriating ecclesiastical revenues in the interim. In panic, owing to serious illness in 1093, William nominated as archbishop another Norman-Italian, Anselm – considered the greatest theologian of his generation – but this led to a long period of animosity between Church and State, Anselm being a stronger supporter of the Gregorian reforms in the Church than Lanfranc. William and Anselm disagreed on a range of ecclesiastical issues, in the course of which the king declared of Anselm that, "Yesterday I hated him with great hatred, today I hate him with yet greater hatred and he can be certain that tomorrow and thereafter I shall hate him continually with ever fiercer and more bitter hatred." [15] The English clergy, beholden to the king for their preferments and livings, were unable to support Anselm publicly. In 1095 William called a council at Rockingham to bring Anselm to heel, but the archbishop remained firm. In October 1097, Anselm went into exile, taking his case to the Pope. The diplomatic and flexible Urban II, a new pope, was involved in a major conflict with Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV, who supported Antipope Clement III. Reluctant to make another enemy, Urban came to a concordat with William, whereby William recognised Urban as pope, and Urban gave sanction to the Anglo-Norman ecclesiastical status quo. Anselm remained in exile, and William was able to claim the revenues of the archbishop of Canterbury to the end of his reign. [16]

However, this conflict was symptomatic of medieval English politics, as exemplified by the murder of Thomas Becket during the reign of the later Plantagenet king Henry II (his great-nephew through his brother Henry) and Henry VIII's actions centuries later, and as such should not be seen as a defect of William's reign in particular. [c] Of course, contemporary churchmen were themselves not above engaging in such politics: it is reported that, when Archbishop Lanfranc suggested to William I that he imprison the rebellious bishop Odo of Bayeux, he exclaimed "What! he is a clergyman." Lanfranc retorted that "You will not seize the bishop of Bayeux, but confine the earl of Kent." (Odo held both titles.) [18]

While there are complaints of contemporaries regarding William's personal behaviour, he was instrumental in assisting the foundation of Bermondsey Abbey, endowing it with the manor of Bermondsey and it is reported that his "customary oath" was "By the Face at Lucca!" [d] It seems reasonable to suppose that such details are indicative of William's personal beliefs.

William Rufus inherited the Anglo-Norman settlement detailed in the Domesday Book, a survey undertaken at his father's command, essentially for the purposes of taxation, which was an example of the control of the English monarchy. If he was less effective than his father in containing the Norman lords' propensity for rebellion and violence, through charisma or political skills, he was forceful in overcoming the consequences. In 1095, Robert de Mowbray, the earl of Northumbria, refused to attend the Curia Regis, the thrice-annual court where the King announced his governmental decisions to the great lords. William led an army against Robert and defeated him. Robert was dispossessed and imprisoned, and another noble, William of Eu, accused of treachery, was blinded and castrated. [19]

In external affairs, William had some successes. In 1091 he repulsed an invasion by King Malcolm III of Scotland, forcing Malcolm to pay homage. In 1092 he built Carlisle Castle, taking control of Cumberland and Westmorland, which had previously been claimed by the Scots. [12] Subsequently, the two kings quarrelled over Malcolm's possessions in England, and Malcolm again invaded, ravaging Northumbria. At the Battle of Alnwick, on 13 November 1093, Malcolm was ambushed by Norman forces led by Robert de Mowbray. Malcolm and his son Edward were killed and Malcolm's brother Donald seized the throne. William supported Malcolm's son Duncan II, who held power for a short time, and then another of Malcolm's sons, Edgar. Edgar conquered Lothian in 1094 and eventually removed Donald in 1097 with William's aid in a campaign led by Edgar Ætheling. The new king recognised William's authority over Lothian and attended William's court.

William made two forays into Wales in 1097. Nothing decisive was achieved, but a series of castles was constructed as a marchland defensive barrier. [20]

In 1096, William's brother Robert Curthose joined the First Crusade. He needed money to fund this venture and pledged his Duchy of Normandy to William in return for a payment of 10,000 marks, which equates to about a quarter of William's annual revenue. In a display of the effectiveness of English taxation, William raised the money by levying a special, heavy, and much-resented tax upon the whole of England. He then ruled Normandy as regent in Robert's absence. Robert did not return until September 1100, one month after William's death. [21]

As regent in Normandy, William campaigned in France from 1097 to 1099. He secured northern Maine but failed to seize the French-controlled part of the Vexin region. According to William of Malmesbury he was planning to invade the Duchy of Aquitaine at the time of his death. [22]

William went hunting on 2 August 1100 in the New Forest, probably near Brockenhurst, and was killed by an arrow through the lung, though the circumstances remain unclear. The earliest statement of the event was in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which noted that the king was "shot by an arrow by one of his own men." [23] Later chroniclers added the name of the killer, a nobleman named Walter Tirel, although the description of events was later embroidered with other details that may or may not be true. [24] The first mention of any location more exact than the New Forest comes from John Leland, who wrote in 1530 that William died at Thorougham, a placename that is no longer used, but that probably referred to a location on what is now Park Farm on the Beaulieu estates. [25] [26] A memorial stone in the grounds of Beaulieu Abbey, Hampshire, states "Remember King William Rufus who died in these parts then known as Truham whilst hunting on 2nd August 1100".

The king's body was abandoned by the nobles at the place where he fell. A peasant later found it. William's younger brother, Henry, hastened to Winchester to secure the royal treasury, then to London, where he was crowned within days, before either archbishop could arrive. William of Malmesbury, in his account of William's death, stated that the body was taken to Winchester Cathedral by a few countrymen. [28]

To the chroniclers, men of the Church, such an "act of God" was a just end for a wicked king, and was regarded as a fitting demise for a ruler who came into conflict with the religious orders to which they belonged. [29] Over the following centuries, the obvious suggestion that one of William's enemies had a hand in this event has repeatedly been made: chroniclers of the time point out themselves that Tirel was renowned as a keen bowman, and thus was unlikely to have loosed such an impetuous shot. Moreover, Bartlett says that rivalry between brothers was the pattern of political conflict in this period. [30] William's brother Henry was among the hunting party that day and succeeded him as king.

Modern scholars have reopened the question, and some have found the assassination theory credible or compelling, [31] but the theory is not universally accepted. Barlow says that accidents were common and there is not enough hard evidence to prove murder. [32] Bartlett notes that hunting was dangerous. [33] Poole says the facts "look ugly" and "seem to suggest a plot." John Gillingham points out that if Henry had planned to murder William it would have been in his interest to wait until a later time. It looked as though there would soon be a war between William and his brother Robert, which would result in one of them being eliminated, thus opening the way for Henry to acquire both England and Normandy through a single assassination. [34] Tirel fled immediately. Henry had the most to gain by his brother's death. Indeed, Henry's actions "seem to be premeditated: wholly disregarding his dead brother, he rode straight for Winchester, seized the treasury (always the first act of a usurping king), and the next day had himself elected." [35] [36]

William's remains are in Winchester Cathedral, scattered among royal mortuary chests positioned on the presbytery screen, flanking the choir. [37] His skull appears to be missing, but some long bones may remain. [38]

A stone known as the "Rufus Stone", close to the A31 near the village of Minstead (grid reference SU270124 ), is claimed to mark the spot where William fell. The claim that this is the location of his death appears to date from no earlier than a 17th-century visit by Charles II to the forest. [39] At the time the most popular account of William's death involved the fatal arrow deflecting off a tree, and Charles appears to have been shown a suitable tree. [39] Letters in The Gentleman's Magazine reported that the tree was cut down and burned during the 18th century. [39] Later in that century the Rufus Stone was set up. [39] Originally it was around 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) tall with a stone ball on top. [39] King George III visited the stone in 1789, along with Queen Charlotte, and an inscription was added to the stone to commemorate the visit. [39] It was protected with a cast iron cover in 1841 after repeated vandalism. [39]

The inscription on the Rufus Stone reads:

Here stood the Oak Tree, on which an arrow shot by Sir Walter Tyrrell at a Stag, glanced and struck King William the second, surnamed Rufus, on the breast, of which he instantly died, on the second day of August, anno 1100.

That the spot where an Event so Memorable might not hereafter be forgotten the enclosed stone was set up by John Lord Delaware who had seen the Tree growing in this place. This Stone having been much mutilated, and the inscriptions on each of its three sides defaced, this more Durable Memorial, with the original inscriptions, was erected in the year 1841, by Wm [William] Sturges Bourne Warden.

King William the second, surnamed Rufus being slain, as before related, was laid in a cart, belonging to one Purkis, [e] and drawn from hence, to Winchester, and buried in the Cathedral Church, of that City. [42]

William was an effective soldier, but he was a ruthless ruler and, it seems, was little liked by those he governed. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, he was "hated by almost all his people and abhorrent to God." [43] Chroniclers tended to take a dim view of William's reign, arguably on account of his long and difficult struggles with the Church: these chroniclers were themselves generally clerics, and so might be expected to report him somewhat negatively. His chief minister was Ranulf Flambard, whom he appointed Bishop of Durham in 1099: this was a political appointment, to a see that was also a great fiefdom. The particulars of the king's relationship with the people of England are not credibly documented. Contemporaries of William, as well as those writing after his death, roundly denounced him for presiding over what these dissenters considered a dissolute court. In keeping with tradition of Norman leaders, William scorned the English and the English culture. [44]

Contemporaries of William raised concerns about a court dominated by homosexuality and effeminacy, although this appears to have had more to do with their luxurious attire than with actual sexual practices. [45]

Citing the traditions of Wilton Abbey in the 1140s, Herman of Tournai wrote that the abbess had ordered the Scottish princess Edith (later Matilda, wife of Henry I) to take the veil in order to protect her from the lust of William Rufus, which angered Edith's father because of the effect it might have on her prospects of marriage. [46]

The historian Emma Mason has noted that while during his reign William himself was never openly accused of homosexuality, in the decades after his death numerous medieval writers spoke of this and a few began to describe him as a "sodomite". [47] Modern historians cannot state with certainty whether William was homosexual or not however, he never took a wife or a mistress, or fathered any children. As a bachelor king without an heir, William would have been pressed to take a wife and would have had numerous proposals for marriage. [47] That he never accepted any of these proposals nor had any relations with women may show that he either had no desire for women, or he may have taken a vow of chastity or celibacy. [47]

Barlow said that the Welsh chronicles claim that Henry was able to succeed to the throne because his brother had made use of concubines and thus died childless, although no illegitimate offspring are named. Barlow also allows that William may have been sterile. Noting that no "favourites" were identified, and that William's "baronial friends and companions were mostly married men", despite having concluded that the chroniclers were "hostile and biased witnesses", Barlow considers that "there seems no reason why they should have invented this particular charge" (of homosexuality) and states that, in his opinion, "On the whole the evidence points to the king's bisexuality". [48]

Ten Interesting Facts about King Edward I

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King Edward I, son of King Henry III, had quite an interesting reign. Even from his earliest days as a prince and his father’s heir, Edward found himself caught in the middle of political squabbles that made Game of Thrones look quaint. Not long after his ascension to the throne, he joined the Ninth Crusade, and in the later years, he became a bane of the Scottish people. He proved to be a hard man to friend and foe alike, and you would expect the facts about him to be equally hard.


During his time as king, Edward had two primary nicknames. The first was “Longshanks” (or “Long Legs”) due to him being 6’2” at a time when the average height was 5’8”. For comparison, he was exactly one inch shorter than Prince William. The other was “Hammer of the Scots,” for a brutal campaign of repression that began with a bloody attack on Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1296.

Egg-cellent Fact

Edward is believed to have popularized Easter Eggs as a holiday tradition beginning in 1290 when he decorated eggs in gold leaf.

The First, But Not the First

King Edward I didn’t really see himself as the first, considering there had been three Edwards before him: Edward the Elder, Edward the Martyr, and Edward the Confessor. In fact, he didn’t even use the numeral during his reign, and it was normal to refer to oneself as “King Edward, the son of King Henry.” Numerals were added later by historians as Edward’s grandson was also Edward, so he became “Edward, the third of that name since the Conquest” (the conquest in question being the Norman Invasion of 1066). It was eventually shortened to the numeral and was only applied to monarchs from 1066-onward.

Crusading King

Edward actually participated in the Crusades twice. He took the Crusader’s cross in 1268 and first fought in the Eighth Crusade starting in 1270, then the Ninth Crusade in 1271. It was during this time that he found out about his father’s death and returned to England in 1272, though he opted for a longer route rather than heading straight home.

I’ll Just Keep It for Myself

Edward’s bloody campaign against Scotland began thanks to an invitation from the country. By the 1290s, Scotland and England actually enjoyed a peaceful relationship, but following King Alexander II of Scotland’s death, Edward was asked to help adjudicate the succession crisis there. Edward used his temporary authority over Scotland to demand concessions even after a successor ascended the Scottish throne. Edward’s demand that Scotland send troops to help fight against France was the last straw for the Scots, who joined the French against England instead. Edward then invaded in 1296 and crushed the Scottish forces, firmly asserting his rule over the country.

And That’s Not All

After Edward defeated Scotland, he stole the Stone of Scone (also known as “The Stone of Destiny” or “The Coronation Stone”), which was used in Scottish coronations, from Scone Abbey. He took it to the Palace of Westminster and set it under a chair he commissioned (now known as King Edward’s Chair), after which it became part of every monarch’s coronation to the present day. The Stone of Scone was only returned permanently to Scotland in 1996, though it is expected to be part of the next monarch’s coronation.

Inventing New Punishments

After William Wallace’s capture, King Edward devised a particularly brutal and humiliating execution for him. Thus, Wallace became the first person to be hung, drawn, and quartered.

Not the Only Ones Who Suffered

Edward was particularly brutal against the Welsh as well and was infamous for his treatment of England’s Jewish population. To finance his wars against the Welsh, he heavily taxed Jewish moneylenders. When the people could no longer pay the tax, he accused them of being disloyal and had 300 English Jews executed at the Tower of London, while others were murdered in their homes. He then expelled all Jewish persons from the country in 1290. Jews were not welcome back in England until rabbi Menasseh Ben Israel negotiated resettlement with Oliver Cromwell in 1655.

Inheriting a War

The First War of Scottish Independence began with Edward’s invasion in 1296 and continued well after his death in 1307. King Edward II inherited the war from his father, and after his death in 1327 (under quite suspicious circumstances following imprisonment by his own barons), the war fell to Edward’s grandson, King Edward III, who put an end to the hostilities and granted Scotland its independence.

Big Family

Edward is believed to have fathered anywhere from 18 to 20 children. Eighteen have been established in total, with fifteen from his first marriage and three from his second.

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About John Rabon

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King Edward II’s Stone Head Unearthed at British Abbey - History

The United Kingdom is awash with palaces, castles and stately homes, but not all of them are owned by royals, in fact Queen Elisabeth II actually owns only five royal residences, two castles, two palaces and one stately home and of those five only two are actually privately owned by herself. T hese five royal residences have not always been the homes of choice of former monarchs however, with several castles and palaces, some of which are no longer with us, having been used by previous monarchs.

Listed below, in alphabetical order, are thirty one royal residences which have been the official homes or holiday retreats of either the English, British or Scottish monarchs over the past one thousand years.

Balmoral Castle is situated in Royal Deeside in Aberdeenshire in Scotland and is one of only two privately owned royal residences of the monarch.

Originally built in 1390 by Sir William Drummond for Scotland's King Robert II, the castle was formerly rented by and then brought by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as a holiday home in 1848 and remodeled into what we see today.

Since then the castle, which is now part of a fully working 64,000 acre estate, is one of the royal family's favourite retreats, with the family taking regular annual Summer holidays there.

Beaumont Palace was built around 1130 by England's King Henry 1.

The palace stood in what is today part of the grounds of Blenheim Palace - the country's only non royal, non episcopal country house which is known as a palace - located in Woodstock in Oxfordshire.

The palace was the birthplace of the future King Richard I in 1157 and his younger brother the future King John in 1167.

The palace was dismantled during the years of the dissolution of the monasteries between 1536 and 1541 and it's stone used in the construction of the two great seats of learning, Christ Church University and St John's College, both of which are located in the City of Oxford.

Bridewell Palace was commissioned by King Henry VIII and became his official residence between 1515 and 1523. It was situated on the banks of the River Fleet in east London and named after a nearby well dedicated to St Bride.

In 1553 King Edward VI gave the palace to the City of London for the housing of the poor and homeless.

Since then the palace has been a poorhouse, a hospital and a prison before being demolished in 1863.

The palace is best remembered for being the site of the papal delegations concerning King Henry VIII’s divorce from his first wife Catherine of Aragon.

Built around 1480 Bolebroke Castle, which is located in Hartfield in Sussex, is actually a red brick manor house set in thirty acres of land. The castle, which has been designated as a Grade II listed building, was used extensively as a hunting lodge by King Henry VIII when he attended shooting parties in nearby Ashdown Forest.

Later Henry would use the castle as his main base for conducting his affair with Anne Boleyn as it is located just five miles from her family home of Hever Castle situated in the nearby village of Edenbridge in Kent.

Today the property is a four star hotel.

Situated on The Mall in the City of Westminster and known as Buck House throughout the land, Buckingham Palace has been the official royal residence of the British monarchy since the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837.

Originally built in 1703 from a design by William Winde for the Duke of Buckingham, the house first became a royal residence in 1761 when King George III had architects John Nash and Edward Blore remodel the building for his wife Queen Charlotte.

Today the palace is a massive 828,818 sq ft (77,000 sq mt) and the primary official residence of Queen Elisabeth II.

The palace is used for royal duties, royal functions, as a residence for visiting heads of state, the world famous changing of the guard ceremony and a rallying point for the British public in times of national rejoicing or crisis.

Dunfermline Palace was built in the eleventh century and became a royal house when Scotland's King Malcolm III moved there.

The palace, which is located in Fife and annexed to the former Dunfermline Abbey, was the birthplace of two of Scotland's monarchs, King David II in 1324 and King James I in 1394.

In 1589 the palace was given by King James VI as a wedding present to his new bride Anne of Denmark, who went on to give birth to three of their children there, Elisabeth in 1596, Robert in 1602 and the future King Charles I in 1600.

After the Union of the Crowns in 1603 the palace became little used and went into decline. Today all that is left of the palace are it's former kitchens, some cellars and it's south wall.

The above picture shows the palace's former gatehouse which linked the palace to Dunfermline Abbey.

Eltham Palace began life as a moated manor house located in Greenwich, South London. It went on to be used by subsequent royal families well into the sixteenth century, before it fell out of favour owing to it being situated too far away from the River Thames.

The first mention of the house was when it was given to King Edward II in 1305 by the then Bishop of Durham, Antony Bek. In the 1470's the house underwent substantial alterations by King Edward IV, including the building of the Great Hall and gardens.

The Palace went on to become a firm favourite of the Tudor monarchs who were known to hold their annual Christmas festivities in it's baronial Great Hall. It was also a particular favourite of Elisabeth Tudor, the queen consort of King Henry VII, who much preferred the solitude of the grand house to that of the bustling and vibrant Greenwich Palace.

The house and gardens went into a decline for two centuries after it became used as a farm and pastureland, before being given further restorations in 1828. In the early 1930's the house was then purchased by textile magnate, Stephen Courtauld and his wife Virginia, who proceeded to refurbish the house into the masterpiece of Art Deco elegance and sophistication that can be seen today.

In 1944 the house was commissioned by the military and used as an army education facility before being bought by English Heritage in 1995, where they then proceeded major refurbishment works on the house and gardens in 1999.

Today the house and gardens, which are now Grade II listed, are open to the public every Summer between April and September.

Falkland Palace is located in Cupar, near Fife, in Scotland and is one of the most important Stuart residences in the land.

The palace dates back to the twelfth century where it was then owned by the Clan MacDuff of Fife.

It was acquired by the Scottish crown during the fourteenth century and underwent several restoration programs by the Scottish monarchs King James IV and King James V, who also died there in 1542.

The palace became a popular haunt of the Stuart monarchs and was regularly visited by King James VI, King Charles I and King Charles II.

The palace went into a decline after Cromwellian troops set it on fire during the civil war.

In 1885 the palace underwent a twenty year restoration program which was funded by John Crichton-Stuart the third Marquess of Bute.

In 1952 the palace was bought by the National Trust For Scotland who now own and maintain it.

Today the palace, along with it's chapel, gardens and tennis courts are all open to the public.

Frogmore House is a Grade I listed building which stands in the grounds of Home Park near Windsor Castle in Buckinghamshire. The house was completed in 1684 and at first was used by Crown tenants of King Charles II but the king would later bestow the house upon one of his thirteen illegitimate children, George Fitzroy the Duke of Northumberland , who was the son of the king's long term mistress Barbara Villiers.

In 1792 King George III purchased the house for his wife Queen Charlotte and their unmarried daughters as a quiet retreat so as they could indulge in their passion of painting.

The house stands in thirty three acres of parkland known as the Frogmore Estate, which since 1928 has been sanctioned as the royal family's official burial ground. The burial ground with it's vast array of impressive mausoleums is the final resting place of thirty six royal family members and the two former monarchs Queen Victoria and King Edward VIII along with their respective spouses Prince Albert and Wallis Simpson.

In 1900 Louis Mountbatten, the grandson of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, was born there. Prince Louis as he was known at the time of his birth, would go on to become Britain's first Sea Lord, the last Viceroy of India and the longest serving head of the Armed Forces.

In 2008 the house was used as the venue for the wedding of Queen Elisabeth II's grandson Peter Philips, to the Canadian former model Autumn Kelly.

Today the house, gardens and estate, which are used mainly as a private entertainment venue for the royals, are open to the public over the Easter and August bank holiday periods.

Greenwich Palace was built in 1447 by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, the brother of King Henry V.

Built on the banks of the River Thames it was originally known as Bella Court, before being renamed by King Henry V’s wife Margaret of Anjou, to the Palace of Pleasuance or Palace of Placentia.

The palace was the birthplace of King Henry VIII, Queen Mary I and Queen Elisabeth I.

The palace was also where King Henry VIII married his fifth wife, Anne of Cleeves.

The building eventually become part of Greenwich Hospital in 1694 and then the site of the Royal Naval College in 1873.

Today the site of the palace houses the buildings of the University of Greenwich and the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.

Hampton Court Palace was built by the friend and advisor to King Henry VIII, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, and was completed in 1514.

When Henry was thwarted by the Catholic Church when he wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon, Wolsey, realising his fate, made a gift of the the palace to the king, whereupon the palace became a royal residence right up until the monarchs of the Royal House of Hanover .

The palace, which is located beside the banks of the River Thames in Richmond, Surrey, was designated as a Grade I listed building in 1952 and has been in the ownership of the preservation society Historic Royal Palaces since 1998. The palace, along with it's gardens, maze and deer park are all open to the public and the building it's self is the only former royal palace in the United Kingdom where visitors can rent apartments.

Hillsborough Castle is a Georgian mansion house which is used as the residence for the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the British Royal Family and other visiting dignitaries when they are in Northern Ireland.

Located in Hillsborough, County Down the house, which stands on ninety eight acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, was built in the 1770's and purchased by the British Government after the partition of Ireland in 1922 where it went on to become the official residence of the Governor of Northern Ireland between 1924 and 1973.

Today the house and gardens, which are owned and managed by the charitable organisation Historic Royal Palaces are open to the public between the months of April and September.

The castle, which is the first British royal palace located in Northern Ireland, offers visitors guided tours of the many state and function rooms located there.

The great Palace at Holyrood, situated on the Royal Mile in Scotland's capital city of Edinburgh, is the monarch's official residence when visiting Scotland.

Originally built in 1128 by David King of the Scots, the palace has officially been a royal residence since King James IV in 1501.

Today the Queen spends one week a year there on official public duties as well as using it as an official royal residence for other members of the royal family or visiting heads of state. Throughout the rest of the year the palace is open to the public.

Kensington Palace, situated in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, began life as a Jacobean house known as Nottingham House. It was purchased by King William III of Orange and his wife Queen Mary in 1689, who undertook the architect Christopher Wren to redesign it.

Since then it has been the official royal residence of several members of the royal family, including Queen Anne, King George I, King George II, Princess Margaret, Diana Princess of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

The palace was also the site of the deaths of Queen Mary II, King William III of Orange and King George II.

Today the palace is better known for it’s picturesque gardens and stunning state rooms, both of which are open to the general public.

There have been three palaces situated in Kew, the first of which was built during the reign of Queen Elisabeth I for her court favourite, Robert Darnley, after the death of his wife in 1560. Historians know little about this residence, other than it was probably known as Leicester House, after Darnley's ducal title, who was the Earl of Leicester.

The second palace, pictured above, is known as the Dutch House due to it's fine Dutch architecture and was built in 1631 by Samuel Fortey for the private secretary to King George II. In 1734 the Dutch House was purchased by his son, King George III, whose wife Queen Charlotte died there in 1818. In 1837 Queen Victoria gave most of the land surrounding the palace, known as Kew Gardens, to the nation followed in 1887 by the palace it's self. The palace, which is no more than a manor house really, is now owned by the preservation society Historic Royal Palaces and is open to the general public as part of Kew Gardens.

The third palace at Kew was a building commissioned by King George III and designed by George Wyatt. That building was demolished by his son King George IV in 1828.

This once important fortification located in West Lothian was used extensively by the Royal Family of Scotland during the 15th and 16th centuries.

Built in the 14th century by English king, Edward I, with major additions by Scotland's King James I, King James III and King James IV, the castle would eventually go on to become the birthplace of Scotland's King James V in 1512 and Mary, Queen of Scots in 1542.

After the union of the crowns of England and Scotland the castle became little used, so much so that in 1607 it's north wall actually collapsed. King James VI of Scotland / King James I of England had it rebuilt and bequeathed it to Lord Livingstone, Ist Earl of Linthgow and his wife Helen who later went on to become the wards of his daughters Elisabeth Stuart and Margaret Stuart, both of whom spent most of their childhood there.

In 1746 the castle was destroyed by fire by the army of William, Duke of Cumberland and has remained more or less unused to this day.

Today the palace and it's gardens, which are open to the public, are owned and managed by Historic Scotland.

Marlborough House was commissioned in 1711 by Queen Anne as a present for her best friend and confidante Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough.

The mansion, which was designed by the highly acclaimed architect Christopher Wren, is located in the City of Westminster and was bought by the Crown in 1817.

The house was the birthplace of King George V in 1865 and the royal residence of Queen Adelaide - widow of King William IV - between 1831 and 1849. The house was also the first marital home of Prince Edward and Princess Alexander, the future King Edward VII and his queen consort Alexandria.

Today the house is a Grade 1 listed building which is open for private guided tours and an annual open house weekend every September.

Monmouth Castle is located in the town of Monmouth in South Wales and was one of three early fortifications built by William the Conqueror after he took the British crown in 1066.

The castle, which was completed around 1068, was built in order to guard the crossings on the nearby River Wye and River Morrow and was at first used as a home by King William's cousin and trusted confidante William FitzOsbern, whom the king had made the first Earl of Hereford and one of Wales' first Marcher Lords.

As time went on the castle became the preferred royal residence of King Henry IV and his wife Mary de Bohun where it became the birthplace of their second born son, the future King Henry V, in September 1386.

Although most of the castle stands in ruins the fortification, which has remained one of Britain's oldest, continuously occupied military installations, is now a Grade I listed building and scheduled monument which is now home of the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers Regimental Museum.

Oatlands Palace was located in Weybridge Surrey and was a favourite retreat of the Tudor and the Stuart monarchs.

Henry VIII bought the original building in 1539 as a wedding present for his future bride Anne of Cleeves. However, the following year he would marry his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, at the palace.

The palace went on to become the favoured residence of Queen Mary I, Queen Elisabeth I, King James I and King Charles I. During King James I's reign his wife, Anne of Denmark, employed world renowned garden designer, Inigo Jones, to construct an ornamental garden in the grounds and during the reign of King James II the palace was used as the residence of Edward Herbert, the king's Lord Chief Justice.

The house was extensively destroyed by fire in 1794 and subsequently remodeled into a Gothic style manor house by Fredrick, the Duke of York. His wife Charlotte then sold it to the well known dandy of the day, Edward Ball Hughes, who completely refurbished the building yet again, before letting it to the Conservative politician Lord Wilbraham Egerton, between the years of 1832 and 1839. In 1840 Edward Ball Hughes then had the estate broken up into three lots and sold at public auction.

Today the Surrey village of Oatlands now stands on the site of the former palace and grounds.

Osbourne House was built between 1845 and 1851 by Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert. The house was built by Thomas Cubitt from a design by the prince.

Queen Victoria and her family loved the isolation of Osbourne House, built as it was on the Isle of Wight, and spent many family holidays there.

Queen Victoria died there in 1901 and after the house was made surplus to requirements by other royals, it became the Royal Naval College, Osbourne between 1903 and 1921, where future kings Edward VIII and George V studied.

Today the house is now owned by English Heritage, where, along with it's estate, gardens, private beach and woodland, are all open to the general public.


The Palace of Westminster, better known as Britain's Houses of Parliament, was originally constructed during the eleventh century by King Canute the Great, as his place of residence during the years of his reign from 1016 to 1035.

Most of this building was destroyed by fire in 1512, after which it went on to be the seat of England's parliament during the thirteenth century.

The oldest part of the building still remaining from that time is Westminster Hall, a cavernous area with a clearspan roof measuring sixty eight feet by two hundred and forty feet. The hall is best known for being the location of coronation banquets since the time of King William II.

Another fire in 1834 resulted in the architect, Charles Barry, designing yet another building on the site, the perpendicular Gothic building made of sand coloured limestone, that we see today.

This vast building, which commands eight hundred and seventy three feet of Thames riverfront in London's City of Westminster, contains one thousand, one hundred rooms, one hundred staircases and three miles of passages, housed on four floors.

The palace consists of the Halls of the House of Lords and House of Commons, two libraries, the Prince's Chamber, the Royal Gallery, the Queen's Robing Chamber, the Member's Lobby, the Peer's Lobby and several exits and entrances, including the grand Central Lobby, which measures thirty nine feet by seventy five feet and houses statues of former British monarchs and the four saints of the constituent countries of the United Kingdom.

The buildings five iconic towers are St Stephen's Tower, Speaker's Tower, which contains the official residence of the Speaker of the House, the Chancellor's Tower, Central Tower, Victoria Tower, which at two hundred and ninety feet high was once the tallest building in the world, and the three hundred and sixteen foot high, Elisabeth Tower, home of the palace's belfry, which houses Big Ben and four other bells which are synonomous with the Westminster Chimes, and it's four, twenty three feet wide, clock faces.

The palace is surrounded by several green spaces, including the Victoria Tower Gardens, the only public space within the palace, Black Rod's Garden, the Old Palace Yard, the New Palace Yard, Speaker's Green, Cromwell Green and the most famous outside area of them all, College Green, where outside broadcasts and interviews with politicians are televised.

The Palace of Whitehall was commissioned during the reign of King Henry VIII and was the largest palace in Europe upon it’s completion, being larger than both The Vatican Palace and the Palace of Versailles. The palace sat on twenty three acres of land and had around one thousand, five hundred rooms.

King Henry VIII married two of his wives there, Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour, and it was also the site where he himself died in 1547.

Over the years the palace would be remodeled by both King James I and King Charles I, before it was extensively damaged by fire in 1691 and had to be demolished.

The palace gave it’s name to the ashlar stone from which it was built, and it’s name lives on in the area of London known as Whitehall.

The only part of the palace which remains today is the Banqueting Hall, built in 1622 by Inigo Jones. The hall is best remembered as being the site of the execution of King Charles I in 1649.

Richmond Palace was built on the grounds of the former Sheen Manor on the south bank of the River Thames in Richmond, Surrey by King Henry VII when he was still the Earl of Richmond.

The old manor house and future palace has been the official residence of King Henry I, King Edward I, King Richard II and King Henry VII.

The palace was the location of the honeymoon of Queen Mary and Prince Philip of Spain after their marriage in 1554, the death of Queen Elisabeth I in 1603 and the home of King James I’s vast art collection.

The palace is reported to have been the first royal residence to have flush toilets, installed during the reign of Queen Elisabeth I.


Edinburgh's majestic castle, which sits atop the city's Castle Rock, has been around in one form or another since the twelfth century when it became the fortified home of Scotland's King David.

The Royal Palace, which is located in a part of the castle's grounds known as the Royal Square, was commissioned by King James IV during the early part of the fifteenth century.

The palace went on to become the birthplace of King James VI, the son of Mary , Queen of Scots, in June 1566.

Today the Royal Palace is open to the public where it is home to Scotland's vaulted Crown Room, the Stone of Scone, the impressive Laich Hall and the Birth Chamber of Mary Room.

This twenty thousand acre estate situated in the coastal village of Sandringham in Norfolk is the Queen's only stately home and is used by both her and other royals as a holiday home.

Originally built in 1771 by architect Cornish Henley, the house was brought by Queen Victoria in 1862 as a wedding present for her eldest son Edward, Prince of Wales and his new bride Princess Alexandra.

Queen consort Alexandra died there in 1925 as did her son King George V in 1935 and her grandson King George VI in 1952.

The future King Olav V of Norway was born on the Sandringham Estate in 1903 and Diana Spencer, the future Princess of Wales, was also born on the estate in 1961.

The house has received many renovations over the years and is one of only two privately owned royal residences of the British monarch. I t is here at Sandringham House that the Royal family gather for their annual Christmas holiday.

St James' Palace, situated in Pall Mall, London, was commissioned by King Henry VIII and built between 1531 and 1536 on the site of a former leper hospital which had been dedicated to St James the Less.

It has been the official royal residence of several royals and was the birthplace of both Queen Anne and King Charles II.

In 1941 the palace was the location of the establishment and signing of the Charter of the United Nations.

Today t he palace is also known as the Royal Court of St James as the royal court is formally based there, so t he palace is not open to the public as it is a working palace, but it’s chapel and gardens are.

Sometimes the palace is used as the London residence of visiting minor royals.

Stirling Castle is located in central Scotland and when constructed was the first ever renaissance palace to be built in Britain. The castle sits atop Castle Hill, an impressive quartz outcrop, where it can be seen for miles around.

The earliest remains of the castle buildings date back to the twelfth century but records show that there has actually been a fortification there since the ninth century when Scotland's first king, Kenneth MacAlpine, is said to have built a fortification there.

During it's turbulent history the castle has been a royal residence, a garrison, a prison and the site of several sieges during the Scottish Wars of Independence in the thirteenth century. The castle has also been the location of the death of King Alexander I in 1124, the principal residences of King Robert I and King Robert II during the fourteenth century, the principal residences of King James IV , King James V and King James VI during the sixteenth century, the coronation of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1543 and the baptism of King James VI in 1566.

The castle has received many restoration schemes during it's history including major improvement works that began during the Victorian era which are still ongoing to this day. Today the castle, along with it's outer defenses, chapel royal, great hall, royal palace and gardens, which are all open to the public, are owned and managed by Historic Scotland .

The Royal Pavillion is located in the English seaside town of Brighton. The Pavillion was built in 1789 by George, Prince of Wales, (the future King George IV) as a house for parties and secret liasons with his mistress, Maria Fitzherbert, whom unknown to everyone else, he had actually married in secret in 1785.

The house was extensively redesigned between 1815 and 1822 by architect John Nash into the Indian style building we see today.

The pavilion was also used as a holiday retreat by King William IV, but was so disliked by Queen Victoria, due to it's town centre location, thar she sold it to the city of Brighton in 1850.

Today the pavilion stands pride of place in the south coast resort where it has become the city's most visited tourist attraction.

Winchester Castle was one of the most historically important royal castles in the country.

Built in 1067 just one year after the Norman Conquest, the city of Winchester was at that time the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Wessex (also known as the Kingdom Of The West Saxons), the largest and most important of the seven royal kingdoms which made up what is now known as England.

The castle was the birthplace of King Henry III in 1207 and Margaret of York in 1472.

In 1603 the castle's great hall was the site of Sir Walter Raleigh's trial for treason.

Today little remains of the former royal dwelling other than a small portion of castle walls and it’s vast Great Hall which was built in the 12 th century by King Henry III.

Today the Great Hall is a museum which is home to an imitation Arthurian Round Table, which dates back to the 13 th century, and a large and impressive statue of Queen Victoria. Outside is a small medieval garden containing several old and unusual cottage garden plants which is known as the Queen Eleanor Garden.

Reputed to be the present monarch's favourite home, Windsor Castle situated in Berkshire, is the world's largest inhabited castle and Britain's oldest continually inhabited castle.

Originally built between 1066 and 1087 during the reign of William the Conqueror, the castle has been renovated and remodeled by every British monarch since.

As one of five official royal residences in Great Britain this four hundred and eighty thousand square foot castle is also home to St Georges Chapel, which houses the tombs of several former British monarchs and other high ranking royals.

Since the accession of Queen Elisabeth II in 1952, Windsor Castle has been the official weekend retreat for the royal family.

The castle is is open to the public where visitors can visit St Georges Chapel and the Queen Mother's Doll’s House among many other things. In the castle's grounds one can also explore Windsor Great Park with it's Long Walk that leads to the statue of the Copper Horse or visit the popular Royal Farm with it's onsite farm shop.

The castle is also situated just minutes from the small town of Eton, home to the world famous public school that has been the seat of learning for many British and foreign royals and other nobility.


James VI and I, who reigned over Scotland and later England and Ireland until his death in 1625, attracted similar scrutiny for his male favorites, a term used for companions and advisers who had special preference with monarchs. Though James married Anne of Denmark and had children with her, it has long been believed that James had romantic relationships with three men: Esmé Stewart, Robert Carr and George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham.

Correspondence between James and his male favorites survives, and as David M. Bergeron theorizes in his book “King James and Letters of Homoerotic Desire”: “The inscription that moves across the letters spell desire.”

James was merely 13 when he met 37-year-old Stewart, and their relationship was met with concern.





DORCHESTER (Augustine Canons)

635, St Birinus, sent to Britain by Pope Honorius, converts Cynegils, King of the west Saxons is consecrated Bishop of Dorchester, and builds many churches in the district&mdashAfter the Conquest, William the Conqueror gives the Bishopric of Dorchester to Remigus, a monk of Feschamp in Normandy&mdash1140, Monastery founded by Alexander, third Bishop of Lincoln, for Augustine Canons&mdash1205, King John visits the abbey-1300, South choir aisle added&mdashThe monks extend the chancel&mdash1330, South aisle of nave added and used as the parish church&mdashc. 1400, East end added&mdash15&mdash, Dissolved&mdashEast end of the church purchased by a relation of the last abbot for £140, to prevent its being pulled down and used for building purposes. Annual revenue, £677, 1s. 2d.

THE illustrious pile of Dorchester Church stands on the northern bank of the gently flowing river Frome. From the east end of the building the land slants rapidly down to the river side, whilst on either side of the body of the church is pleasant meadow land&mdashthe former site, probably, of the conventual buildings. All that remains of these is the guest house to the west of the church. The old Saxon cathedral, used now as the parish church of a country town, is an irregular building, and consists of a nave (Norman) with a south aisle&mdashonce used by the monks as their parish church, and containing an altar raised upon three deep steps above which is a blocked-up window&mdashchoir (Decorated), having a perfect east window <140>with a protruding central shaft, and also a “Jesse” window on the north side south choir aisle, in which are two chapels, recently repaired by Sir Gilbert Scott north choir aisle (part of which is probably Norman work, having a walled-up door to the west&mdashformerly the entrance to the cloisters) a western tower, low and massive in structure and partly Norman work and lastly, a Perpendicular porch on the south-west angle of the building. Undoubtedly the east end of the church is the most strikingly beautiful part of the edifice.

Exquisite stained glass, and perfect carving of the stone-work in the windows, graceful daintiness of the architecture, costly embroideries and delicate laces on the altars, are among the many beauties of this old abbey church. The “Jesse” window mentioned above is unique. It is of four lights and has intersecting tracery above.

“The centre mullion represents a trunk of a tree with branches ornamented with foliage crossing over the other mullions to the outside jambs. At the foot of the tree is the recumbent figure of Jesse, and at each intersection is a sculptured figure, while others are painted on the glass between the whole forming a complete genealogical tree of the House of David. The effigy of the King is at the bottom right hand corner, but those representing our Lord and the Virgin Mary have both disappeared. The figures are very quaint and of various sizes some of those painted in the window still have their names beneath, while most of the others in stone-work have scrolls on which the name was once painted.”&mdash Henry W. Taunt , Esq.

The canopied sedilia and double piscina on the south wall of the chancel are both beautiful specimens of early work&mdashthe stained glass in the former being the oldest in the building. Many interesting monuments remain, including several stone effigies of knights a judge of great note and of Æschwine, Bishop of Dorchester, 979-1002. Monumental brasses <141>too were formerly very plentiful, but, with a few exceptions, have been either ruthlessly destroyed or stolen for money-making purposes at various times. That of Sir Richard Bewfforest, Abbot of Dorchester (1510), dressed as an Augustine canon, lies near the chancel rails on the north side. He was one of the last abbots of the monastery. There is also part of a once magnificent brass to Sir John Drayton, 1417, a portion of another to “William Tanner, Richard Bewfforest and their wife Margaret” (1513), and one of a female figure belonging to “Robert Bedford and Alice his wife” (1491). Only a few shields of other brasses remain, but to the antiquarian the casements of these beautiful memorials contain much that is interesting, showing as they do the diverse and unique character these lost monuments once possessed. Six of the Dorchester bells bear many signs of great antiquity and two more have recently been added. The tradition connected with the former is, that

and is attributed to the belief that Birinus was “stung to death with snakes.”

DALE (Augustine and Præmonstratensian Canons)

1160, Founded by Augustine Canons&mdashDedicated to the Virgin Mary&mdashTwice refounded for monks of the Præmonstratensian order&mdash1539, Dissolved.

As so little is standing of this religious establishment, a few words will describe its chief features. The ruins consist only of the arch of the great east window of the chapel, some foundations, bases of pillars and various other relics. The chapel, consisting of nave and chancel, is supposed to have been built, together with the house&mdashnow a farm-house peculiarly situated under the same roof as the chapel&mdashby Ralph, the son <142>of Geremund, for a poor hermit whom he found living in a forest cave (the cell can still be seen) close by. Subsequently Serle de Grendon invited canons from Kalke, who came then to Deepdale and established the monastery. Many privileges and immunities were granted to them by the church authorities in Rome, and the abbey was visited at different times by persons of all ranks, some of whom became benefactors to the house.

Howitt, in his Forest Minstrel, sketches the history of Dale and the conduct of its inmates thus&mdash

But that later corruption set in among these Augustine monks is evident, for Howitt continues that the monks

They were then expelled from Deepdale and Præmonstratensian monks soon filled their place. John Staunton, last abbot, with 16 monks surrendered the abbey in 1539. A full account of the history of this monastic house was written by one of the monks, and through these manuscripts more particulars can be learned of this abbey than of any other in Derby.

NEWSTEAD (Augustine Canons)

1170, Founded by Henry II.&mdash1540, Dissolved. Annual revenue, £167, 16s. 11d.&mdashDemesne granted to Sir John Byron, Lieut. of Sherwood Forest, by Henry VIII.&mdash1818, Sold to Colonel Wildman, who enlarges and restores the abbey.&mdashAgain restored.

Just as Buckland Abbey possesses more than an ordinary interest in that it became the home of Sir Francis Drake after the Dissolution, so Newstead Abbey boasts a dual attraction. For besides being imbued with the romance and legendary lore inseparable from monastic houses, it came, after the Dissolution of the monasteries, into the possession of the Byron family, and, passing into the hands of the first Lord Byron (1643), then to the “wicked” Lord Byron (1722-98), it eventually became the home of Lord Byron the poet. Most picturesquely placed on the borders of Sherwood Forest, the Newstead Abbey of to-day takes more the form of a private residence than of a monastic ruin. Its undulating and beautifully wooded grounds, containing two sheets of water, extend over many acres. Very little is known of the early history of the abbey beyond the fact that Henry II. built and endowed it in expiation of the murder of Thomas à Becket, and that King John extended his patronage <144>to the house. The modern attraction that Newstead possesses dates from its coming into the hands of the Byrons. The first owner, Sir John Byron, known as “Little John with the great beard,” adapted a portion of the monastic buildings to a private residence, and in the reign of Charles I. the south aisle of the church was converted into a library and reception room.

With the exception of the exceedingly beautiful west front of Early English workmanship, the rest of the church has been allowed to fall into decay. The house itself, so greatly enriched by the poet Byron, is made up of the various monastic offices. The present grand dining-room was once the refectory of the monks, while the original guest chamber, with its grand vaulting, is now converted into the servants’ dining-hall, and the old dormitory into a drawing-room. No alteration has been made in Byron’s arrangements of the abbot’s apartments. Several rooms are still named after the English monarchs who have at various times slept in them. The chapter-house&mdasha building of remarkable beauty to the east of the cloisters&mdashis now used as a chapel for the convenience of the household and tenantry. Within can be seen some richly stained glass and other features of interest. Newstead passed at Byron’s death into the possession of his friend and colleague Colonel Wildman, who greatly restored it. Sir Richard Phillips, in his Personal Tour, relates that&mdash

“Colonel Wildman was a schoolfellow in the same form as Lord Byron at Harrow School. In adolescence they were separated at college, and in manhood by their pursuits but they lived in friendship. If Lord Byron was constrained by circumstances to allow Newstead to be sold, the fittest person living to become its proprietor was his friend Colonel Wildman. He was not a cold and formal possessor of Newstead, but, animated even with the feelings of Byron, he took possession of it as a place consecrated by many circumstances of times and persons, and above all, by the <145>attachment of his friend Byron. The high spirited poet, however, ill brooked the necessity of selling an estate entailed in his family since the Reformation (but lost to him and the family by the improvidence of a predecessor), and retiring into Tuscany, there indulged in those splenetic feelings which mark his later writings.”

No more vivid picture of Newstead has been penned than that of Byron’s in the 13th canto of Don Juan&mdash

EVESHAM (Mitred Benedictine)

692, Founded by Egwin, Bishop of the Hwicci and dedicated to the Virgin&mdashEgwin subsequently first abbot&mdash709, Kenredus, King of Mercia, and Offa, Governor of the East Angles, endows it with many possessions&mdash941, Secular canons replace the monks&mdash960, Monks again restored&mdash977, Monks expelled once more, and estate given to Godwin&mdash1014, King Ethelred elects Aifwardus, a former monk of Ramsey, abbot of Evesham&mdash1066-87, Walter of Cérisy appointed abbot by William the Conqueror&mdashHe rebuilds the church&mdash1163, The abbot receives the mitre&mdash1265, Battle of Evesham, and interment of Earl Simon de Montfort in the Abbey&mdash1539, Tower completed&mdashAbbey dismantled and given to Sir Philip Hoby, who uses the buildings as a quarry. Annual revenue, £1183, 12s. 9d.

In a certain beautiful spot in Worcestershire known as the vale of Evesham, the river Avon, by a curious bend in its course, encloses a piece of meadow land near the borders of Warwick and Gloucestershire. On this peninsula&mdashas it might be called&mdashthree most <148>remarkable ancient buildings still stand erect, as if immune from the ravages of time. The tall, graceful bell-tower, with the exception of a ruined archway, is all that can be said to remain of the former abbey. Built at the entrance of the abbey cemetery by the Abbot Lichfield, it is of pure Perpendicular work. Though very massive, yet it has the grace peculiar to English Gothic towers. It is built in three storeys, all parallel, and the whole square structure is crowned by an embattled parapet and delicate pinnacles, the height, roughly speaking, being 110 feet by 20 feet square. In the cemetery, close to the tower and forming with it a most striking group, are the churches of St Lawrence and All Saints. These churches were built in the 13th century by the monks for the convenience of the inhabitants of Evesham and with the intention of reserving the abbey church for the exclusive use of the monks. The church of St Lawrence is of more ancient date than that of All Saints. Of the former, only the tower and the greatly mutilated spire of the original church remain. Both churches, however, boast some exquisite work by Abbot Clement Lichfield, the last abbot, who built a beautiful chapel or chantry in St Lawrence church, desiring that daily masses might be performed there for the repose of his soul. The chantry in All Saints he directed to be his burial place. These chantries have particularly beautiful roofs in the shape of four fans richly ornamented. St Lawrence and All Saints have both been restored and are in use at the present time, under the care of the Vicar of Evesham.

In his Spiritual Quixote Graves writes with great delight of the beautiful vale of Evesham bounded by the Malvern Hills. The town lies on a hill on a well-cultivated plain, and its name, derived (some say) from Eovesham, conveys the impression of its picturesque situation, “the dwelling on the level by the river side.” Another tradition derives the name <149>from Eoves, a shepherd who, having seen in a vision a beautiful woman, attended by two other women, hastened to Bishop Egwin and related his marvellous tale. Egwin, accompanied by his servant, proceeded to the spot where he too was permitted to see and to hold converse with the radiant being. Fully convinced that the Blessed Virgin had personally revealed herself to him, Egwin determined to build a monastery on the spot. Ethelred, King of Mercia, granted land for the purpose, and thus the abbey was founded, Egwin becoming first abbot. According to one writer, Ethelred accused Egwin of tyranny and many bitter things. The matter was referred to the Holy Father at Rome, who commanded Egwin to appear before him and answer the charges. “So to Rome he went, but before starting, to show how lowly he accounted himself, he ordered a pair of iron horse-fetters, and having put his feet into them, caused them to be locked and the key tossed into the Avon. Thus shackled, he went forward to Dover, took ship and came to the Holy City when, lo, a miracle! his attendants had gone down to the Tiber to catch fish for supper, and scarcely was the line cast when a fine salmon took it and leapt ashore without a struggle to escape. They hurried home with their prize, opened him, and found inside the key of the bishop’s fetters. It is needless to say that the Pope after this made short work of the charges against Egwin. He was sent back to King Ethelred loaded with honours, who lost no time in restoring him to his See and appointing him tutor to his sons.”

Eighteen abbots ruled in succession, when, as was the fate of many other abbeys, Evesham became a source of strife between the secular canons and the monks. It was alternately under control of these two bodies until finally it became a Benedictine settlement. In the reign of William I., Abbot Walter of Cérisy began to rebuild on a scale of grandeur and great magnificence. The church, built in the form of <150>a Latin cross, possessed cylindrical piers of immense size, similar to those of Gloucester. Everything appertaining to the service of the church was solemn and impressive. The vestments were elaborate and costly, and the sacred vessels wrought with solid silver&mdashmany of them being enriched with various gems. The tomb of St Egwin was made of gold and studded with sparkling precious stones, while Simon de Montfort’s tomb was credited with miraculous powers by many ailing and weakly pilgrims. These sacred tombs were demolished by the rapacious Henry VIII. in 1539, during his wanton desecration of one of England’s most noble abbeys&mdashthe shelter of kings, and the home of religious and God-fearing men.


WESTMINSTER (Mitred Benedictine)

c. 184, Lucius, King of Britain, consecrates Westminster (then Thorny Island) to God, and builds the first church there&mdashAt the time of Diocletian’s persecution, the church converted into a heathen temple and dedicated to Apollo&mdash604, Sebert, King of the East Saxons, converted and baptized into the Christian faith by Mellitus&mdashHe destroys the temple and builds a church in honour of St Peter&mdashThis suffers greatly from the ravages of the Danes&mdash785, Offa, King of Mercia, grants the manor of Aldenham to the monastery and restores the church&mdash1050, Edward the Confessor, the actual founder of the present abbey, builds the church&mdash1065, The church completed and consecrated a few days previously to the royal founder’s death&mdash1066, Edward buried with great ceremonial&mdashKing Harold crowned&mdashWilliam the Conqueror offers a thanksgiving for his victory at Hastings before the Confessor’s tomb, and is crowned in the abbey on Christmas day&mdash1160, Becomes a mitred abbey&mdash1250, Henry III. pulls down the choir and transepts of Edward’s Norman church and begins the present structure&mdash1253, The chapter house completed&mdash1269, The choir opened&mdash1272-1500, The nave begun, gradually attaining its present length&mdashDuring these years Richard I. builds the north porch, and Henry V. his beautiful chantry&mdash1503, Henry VII. builds the chapel which bears his name&mdash153&mdash, Dissolution of the monastery. Annual revenue, £3471, 0s. 2d.&mdash1540, The church converted into a cathedral church and a new bishopric created&mdash1550, Bishopric suppressed&mdash1643, The Westminster Assembly meets&mdash1663, The See of Rochester joined to the Deanery of Westminster&mdash1673, Treaty of Westminster signed&mdash1720, Some restorations performed by Wren on north transept, front and west towers&mdash1740, Hawkesmoor completes the towers&mdash1802, Separation of Rochester bishopric from Deanery of Westminster&mdash1866, Sir G. Scott restores the north transept front and chapter house.

HOW utterly incapable the most experienced writer must feel when called upon to describe worthily the <152>abbey of Westminster! Apart from all the legendary matter connected with the noble pile, and the glamour which surrounds the ancient Benedictine church, the abbey stands out as the receptacle of all that is best and grandest in the history of England. The tombs of the kings and queens, the monuments erected since the Reformation in memory of notable men and women in literature, music, and all other arts, make history a nearer and more living thing. To pass beneath the noble west front into the sacred building, teaming with memories of the past, is to enter another world, so different is the peaceful and mysterious atmosphere within the abbey from the bustle and hum of London without. Looking eastwards from the west door, the aspect is truly inspiring and beautiful. From the graceful pointed arches, dividing the nave from the aisles, and surmounted by the triforium and clerestory, the eye falls on the choir, with its magnificent stone screen, and beyond this again to the dim and apsidal east end. The loftiness of the building, the fine triforium, the harmony of work in the nave (which took over 200 years to build), will deeply impress the beholder.

Though the plan of the church is French, the whole actual structure is an example of English Gothic work, of which the nation has every right to be proud. The abbey possesses side aisles to the nave, transepts, and choir. This is a very rare formation. Leaving the nave, filled with memorials of the illustrious dead, and passing up the south choir aisle, the south transept comes in view. The magnificent rose window is one of the largest, if not the largest, in England. On the south wall are some worn stone steps. These, no doubt, led to the domestic apartments of the monks, which were situated on the south side of the church. In this transept is the well-known “Poets’ Corner,” which contains memorials inscribed with the magic names of Shakespeare, Dickens, Tennyson, Goldsmith, Burns, Sir Walter Scott, Longfellow, <153>Browning, Milton, and many others. Beyond this is the small chapel dedicated to St Faith. Passing on into the south ambulatory the many interesting chapels can be inspected. Here indeed the visitor treads on holy ground, for he approaches the tombs of England’s divinely-appointed rulers, and of the last resting-place of the greatest of her sons. Leaving the chapels of St Benedict, St Edmund and St Nicholas, so full of historical memory, the visitor may pass into the chantry built by the illustrious Henry V. for the repose of his soul. This chantry lies in a direct line eastwards from the high altar and beyond Edward the Confessor’s chapel, which is immediately behind the altar. The figure of the warrior King reposes on the top of his tomb. It was carved from the heart of an oak, and once possessed a head and regalia of silver. These, however, have unfortunately been removed, probably by the rapacious Oliver Cromwell. The chantry itself is in the form of a screen or small room, which is reached by a stairway enclosed in a turret, and left by another on the opposite side. The screen is covered with images of saints, and also incidents of Henry’s coronation, besides many heraldic emblems. On either side are two octagonal towers, rich in sculpture. It is indeed one of the most beautiful monuments in the building. Below are iron gates and the tomb of Henry V., and above are displayed a saddle tree stripped of its elaborate housings, a small shield, and a helmet upon which can be seen the prodigious dent caused by D’Alençon’s battle axe. These remains of Henry’s armour, worn at the battle of Agincourt, were offered by the King in thanksgiving for his great victory. It is quite fitting that the burial place of this royal hero should be near the remains of the saintly ruler and founder of the abbey, Edward the Confessor.

St Edward’s chapel is perhaps the most interesting part of the noble structure, for though comparatively <154>small, events of the highest historical importance in our history have been enacted therein. The shrine has been visited by thousands of pilgrims, including many crowned heads, and has also been the scene of many miracles. Vigils were spent beside it by knights before setting out for the borders, or starting upon the crusades. Spoils of war were brought and laid before the tomb, and thanksgivings offered by victorious kings and warriors. Edward I., all stained as he was by the blood of the battlefield, offered the regalia of Scotland before the royal tomb, and many other mighty men came to seek consolation and encouragement in those days of dreadful warfare. Henry III. erected the present magnificent shrine in 1269. This now, alas, is shorn of the many and costly jewels that once enriched it, and which it is said amounted in value to £2500. The present oak canopy was added in the 16th century. The floor of the chapel is of tesselated blue marble and was laid by Henry III. The site of the Confessor’s altar is marked by a square of red tiles. The old coronation chair stands to the west of the chapel, near the enormous sword and shield of Edward III., and beneath it is the stone credited with being Jacob’s pillow, and which, after going through many vicissitudes in its long career, was at last brought from Scone to Edward the Confessor’s shrine by Edward I. The chair was first used at the coronation of Edward I., and lastly at that of our beloved King Edward VII. Every English monarch has been crowned at the abbey with the exception of Edward V. On all sides of the chapel are royal tombs, including those of Edward III., Henry III., and Edward I. The latter is of enormous length, and bears the inscription, “Scotorum malleus” and “Serva pactum.” This monarch&mdashnicknamed “Longshanks”&mdashwas over 6 feet when alive. After many years, his body for some reason was disinterred for a short space, and it was found to be in an <155>excellent state of preservation. That noble lady, Anne of Bohemia, who gained notoriety by the introduction of the side saddle, also lies buried near here.

Leaving this chapel and progressing eastwards, the visitor will pass under St Mary’s beautiful porch into the wonderful chapel built by Henry VII. This is one of the best examples of Early Tudor or debased Gothic style, and, consisting as it does of a nave with two aisles, is indeed a masterpiece of the builder’s art. On either side of the nave are the stalls of the Knights of the Garter, above which hang their respective banners. The tomb of Henry VII., the first monarch of the royal house of Tudor, is the work of Torregiano. The ornamental vaulting of the chapel is among the finest in the country&mdashits massive pendants being 7 feet long. Little of the original glass is left, but what remains is in the windows at the west end. The Duke of Cumberland, known as the Butcher of Culloden, and George II. and his wife lie in the nave. George III. discontinued the practice begun by Henry VII. of using this chapel as a royal mausoleum, having a preference for Windsor. Those two antagonistic sisters, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth lie in the north aisle, side by side under a magnificent stone canopy, while at the extreme east end of the aisle, appropriately called “Innocents’ Corner,” are buried the remains of the young princes so foully murdered in the Tower. The tomb of Mary, Queen of Scots, is in the south aisle, together with that of Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII. Many other interesting monuments can be seen, including that of Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Dean of Westminster, in the south-east chapel, and those belonging to the houses of Richmond, Suffolk and Lennox. Cromwell was buried in the east chapel, but his remains were disinterred and dragged to Tyburn gallows.

Retracing his steps the visitor will pass along the <156>north ambulatory&mdashthe chapel of St Edward being now on the left and those of St Paul, St John the Baptist, and the Islip being on the right. In the latter, which is the chantry of Abbot Islip, waxen figures of some of the royal line are shown. These, though of somewhat gruesome nature, are intensely interesting, being the actual waxen casts taken after death. It was the custom to carry the figure of the deceased at the funeral and then to leave it at the abbey after interment. Many have decayed&mdashthe oldest one now on view being that of Queen Elizabeth. The figures are dressed in the clothes of the Sovereigns they personate. The lace on the neck of Charles II. is of great value. Passing into the north transept or Statesmen’s Aisle, many stone memorials again confront the beholder, and include those of Beaconsfield, Gladstone, and William Pitt. Warren Hastings, Richard Cobden and Vice-admiral Watson&mdashthe gallant man who rescued the survivors of the “Black hole of Calcutta”&mdashare buried among many other notable men in the west aisle. The three eastern chapels of this transept contain many interesting monuments too&mdashthat of Lady Elizabeth Nightingale, in the chapel of St Michael, is perhaps the most popular. It represents her husband trying to shield her from the relentless form of Death, which takes the shape of a shrouded skeleton issuing out of a door below with a raised sword in his hand.

Progressing again towards the centre of the building, the ritual choir of three bays and the sacrarium claim the attention. The tombs here of Aveline of Lancaster, her husband Edmund Crouchbank and Aymer de Valence&mdashall of the 13th century&mdashare among the finest in the abbey. Near the insignificant tomb of Anne of Cleves lies Anne, wife of Richard III., and some of the abbots of Westminster. Busby and South are buried close to the altar. The mosaic pavement consists of porphyry, lapis lazuli, jasper, touchstone, alabaster, and Lydian and serpentine <157>marbles. These were brought by Abbot Ware from Italy and arranged in the reign of Henry III. by Roderick.

An excellent view can be gained by looking west from the altar rails. The absolute sympathy of all the parts of this lovely building, the graceful arches, the diaper work in the spandrils of the choir arches, the loftiness and mysterious atmosphere of the ancient structure will appeal to all the highest aspirations of the individual. It is the temple of God, and also the shelter of those either of noble or lowly birth who have, according to their capabilities, furthered civilisation and promoted the common good who, in fact, have done God’s work in this present world and endeavoured to make their fellow-men more worthy of the world to come. No one can enter this abbey and not be impressed by the dignity and solemnity of the surroundings. To look at the small, insignificant pulpit in the nave is nothing but to learn that Latimer preached from it is everything. All is in keeping&mdashnothing jars upon the artistic sense&mdashwith perhaps the exception of the numerous monuments. Still, these too have their place in showing that the mother-abbey takes into her arms all those who have worthily fulfilled the mission of their lives. The cloisters on the south side of the abbey are of great interest and contain many monuments, and the windows, too, in the south alley are remarkably beautiful. On this side are remains of the north wall of the former refectory. The chapter-house is one of the largest in England and was for many years used as a House of Commons. Earl Simon de Montfort assembled his first representative parliament here in the 13th century. The dormitory of the monastery is now used by the boys of Westminster School, founded by Queen Elizabeth, 1560.

The remote history of Westminster Abbey is enveloped in mystery, its earliest foundation being firstly ascribed to Lucius, King of Britain in the 2nd century, <158>and secondly to Sebert, King of the East Saxons, who, in the 7th century, was converted into the Christian faith by Mellitus, an emissary of Augustine. Be this as it may, the first certain knowledge concerning the abbey is that Offa, King of Mercia, gave some lands to the monastery at Westminster in the 8th century. Nearly three hundred years had elapsed when Edward the Confessor, persuaded by the monks, was induced to build an entirely new building at an enormous cost. This, the founder determined, should be the “place of the King’s constitution and consecration for ever.” Among other gifts, the bounteous King gave rich vestments, an embroidered pall, a dalmatic, some spurs, a golden crown, a sceptre, and also confirmed all the previous endowments. The new abbey was dedicated on Holy Innocents’ day, 1065. Unfortunately the King was too ill to attend this ceremonial. He died eight days after, and was buried in front of the high altar. In the time of William the Conqueror a great synod was held in the church. Archbishop Lanfranc presided over the meeting at which the conduct and capability of the English clergy were closely examined, “yet with covert design of making room for the new-come Normans.” The Conqueror in many ways endeavoured to ingratiate himself with the newly conquered people. For this reason he was crowned in the abbey by the side of its founder’s tomb. The Feast of Edward the Confessor was observed annually with much pomp in the sacred building.

In the 13th century Henry III. began to rebuild the abbey&mdashthe choir, transepts and chapels of the present structure being entirely his work. Little remains of the Confessor’s Norman building (the first of this style built in England) except some parts of the cloisters and the Chapel of the Pyx. The trial of the Pyx took place in the former apartment until the recent removal of standard coins to the mint. The Jerusalem Chamber is also an important relic of the Benedictine monastery. It was built in 1363 by <159>Littlington, who also rebuilt the abbot’s house. Henry IV. died within its walls. Henry V. gave the trappings of his coursers to the abbey&mdashto be converted into vestments. In this reign the building of the nave was pushed forward and the Te Deum sung after the battle of Agincourt. Caxton set up his printing press in the almonry at Westminster during the reign of Edward IV. Henry VII. added greatly to the beauty of the building by annexing his chapel to the east end. During his reign, Skelton, the first poet laureate, sought sanctuary in Westminster, which is the last instance on record of a person claiming this right. Sir Thomas More was imprisoned in the abbot’s house in 1534&mdasha few years before the Dissolution of the monasteries. The usual fate overtook the religious establishment at Westminster, but as in the cases of Chester, Gloucester, Peterborough, Oxford and Bristol, the monastic church was converted into a cathedral&mdashand a new bishopric formed. Thirlby became the first Bishop of Westminster in 1540&mdashbut was translated to Norwich ten years later and the bishopric suppressed. In this transaction the abbey lost some property which came into the possession of St Paul’s Cathedral, a circumstance to which the origin of the well-known saying, “Robbing Peter to pay Paul” may be adduced. The shrine of the Confessor was re-established in 1557, the old constitution having been restored two years previously. In the reign of Elizabeth this was again annulled.

In Henry VII.’s chapel the Westminster Assembly met in the 17th century, and through their misguided energy Presbyterianism was established as the national religion for a certain time. It is impossible to say what dire effects this Assembly might have wrought upon the welfare of the country.

“By its advice the public use of the Prayer Book was forbidden under penalties the very day that the Primate was executed, and a directory for public worship substituted for it. By the directory it was made an offence to kneel at the <160>reception of Holy Communion, or to use any kind of symbolism in sacred things, such as the ring in marriage, and when any person departed this life, the dead body was to be interred without any kind of religious ceremony, nor even the friends allowed to sing or read or pray or kneel at the grave although secular display in funeral processions of persons of rank was not restricted. Then the holy and beautiful petitions of our Liturgy, though sanctified by the devotions of Christians in every clime and by every tongue for 1500 years and more, gave place to long and tedious harangues from illiterate fanatics of two or three hours’ duration, and the observance of great church festivals, together with all anniversaries, was strictly forbidden. On December 19th, 1644, a solemn ordinance of parliament was passed by the advice of the Westminster Assembly commanding that the hitherto joyous anniversary of our Lord’s Nativity should be observed as a day of national fasting and humiliation.”&mdashEnglish Church History (Rev. C. A. Lane ).

The Parliamentarians under Cromwell fortunately soon put a stop to those irksome restrictions.

The Bishopric of Rochester was united with the Deanery of Westminster in 1663 and, after a partnership of over a hundred years, parted at the beginning of the 19th century. The treaty of Westminster was signed in 1673. Samuel Wilberforce became the Dean in 1845. Many well-known men followed him and during the time of office of Dean Bradley, 1881-1902, Queen Victoria held her Jubilee Celebration and Edward VII. was crowned in the Abbey.


ST ALBANS (Mitred Benedictine)

303, A church built to the memory of Alban, proto-martyr of Britain and Roman soldier&mdash793, Destroyed by the Saxon invaders&mdashKing Offa founds a monastery and builds a second church in honour of St Alban&mdash1077, Paul de Caen, first abbot, begins to rebuild the church&mdashDuring his life the eastern part of the nave, the transepts and the central tower completed&mdash1115, The church consecrated by the Bishop of Lincoln in the presence of Henry I. and Queen Maud&mdash1154, Nicholas, Bishop of St Albans, chosen Pope (Adrian IV.). He “granted to the abbot of this abbey that as St Alban was the first martyr of England, so this abbot should be the first of all the abbots of England in order and dignity” (Dugdale’s Monasticon)&mdash1218, Pope Honorious “confirms all lands and privileges”&mdash1349, Thomas de la Mare becomes abbot&mdashThe captive King John of France entrusted to his care&mdash1381, The monastery plays a prominent part in the Peasant Rising&mdash1464, The abbey stripped of its valuables by the victorious Queen Margaret after the second battle of St Albans&mdash1521, Wolsey becomes abbot&mdash1539, The abbey surrendered by Richard Boreham, last abbot, to the commissioners of Henry VIII.&mdash1553, Granted to the Mayor and burgesses for a parish church and grammar school&mdash1688, The scheme for the restoration of the building supported by public subscription&mdash1878, The diocese of St Albans founded&mdashThomas Leigh Claughton becomes first bishop&mdash1879, West front built by Lord Grimthorpe&mdash1885, Restoration of nave completed.

THE quiet little town of St Albans in Hertfordshire has sprung up on the site of the Roman city Verulamium, the ruined walls of which are still to be seen. Here, according to the legend, Alban, the proto-martyr of Britain, was born. Converted to Christianity by the priest Amphibalus&mdashto whom he had given shelter&mdashhe refused to renounce his faith, and was beheaded. The martyrdom took place <162>outside the walls of the town, on the exact site on which now stands the cathedral&mdashformerly the abbey&mdashof St Albans. A small church was erected on the hill a few years after St Alban’s death, and later a second church was planned in expiation of a still greater crime. Ethelbert of East Anglia had been treacherously murdered by his father-in-law, Offa, King of Mercia, who now sought to salve his conscience by building a monastery in honour of St Alban. Of this second church (the first was only a temporary shelter for the relics of the saint, which were supposed to have been miraculously discovered by King Offa) there are now but few traces. The town of St Albans lies on a high hill, while the Ver, a stream supposed to have burst forth miraculously to assuage the thirst of Alban the martyr, flows along the peaceful valley below.

The view of the massive structure of the abbey church is from all points impressive. The great length of the nave with its magnificent western front, the pinnacled transepts, the choir and Lady chapel, all crowned by the lofty castellated tower, make up a truly marvellous whole. The greater part of the church was built after the Norman Conquest by the Abbot Paul, whose uncle, Lanfranc, was first appointed abbot of St Stephen’s at Caen by William I. and afterwards made Archbishop of Canterbury. Founded on the spot where Alban was cruelly put to death, this immense monastery extended over the hill side as far as the river. With the exception of the monastery gateway, the entire conventual part was swept away at the Dissolution. Fortunately the abbey church was spared, and became, as in many other cases, the parish church of the district. Every style of architecture is shown in the building, from the time of the Normans to the reign of Edward IV. The nave is of thirteen bays with aisles the two transepts have no aisles, and, as in the case of Westminster Abbey, the choir is west of the crossing. The <163>presbytery and Lady chapel extend beyond the choir. The pillars of the triforium and south transept are of Saxon work and are all that remains of the 8th century church built by King Offa. The most ancient parts of the edifice are those most central, the east and west ends being of a different style of architecture and of a later period. The eastern part of the nave, the transepts and central tower, are all the work of Abbot Paul. Admirable in its proportions, the heavy Norman arches&mdashrelieved occasionally by those of Early English work&mdashthe beautiful moulding, the grand spaciousness of the whole building combine to make a grand and effective whole, while simplicity is undoubtedly the key-note of the entire structure. Although all the abbots of St Alban’s are buried here, very few of their tombs and monuments remain.

Shrines have been erected to the memory of St Alban and St Amphibalus, and in the Lady chapel lie many historical personages, including Henry Percy, Duke of Northumberland, son of Hotspur and Lord Clifford (killed in the first battle of St Albans). Great interest attaches to the high altar screen, erected by Abbot William Wallingford in the 15th century, the chantry of Abbot Ramyge, the Holy Rood screen, the watching chamber in the south wing of the transept, and also to the window in the south aisle representing the martyrdom of St Alban, below which is the following inscription&mdash

King David’s Border Abbeys

… they would certainly have some remarkable stories to tell. Built as centers of learning and piety during the 12th century, the four principal abbeys of the Scottish Borders—Dryburgh, Jedburgh, Kelso and Melrose—were also intended to impress visitors from England, showing that the Scots were capable of fine building projects.

T he Abbeys were founded by several religious orders, often with the patronage of King David I of Scotland. Building on such a scale was a costly business, and such was the amount of money David spent on religious houses that he was known as “the sair (sore) saint.”
The abbey churches, the focal point of each abbey, were cruciform. At the east end was the presbytery, which included the high altar, dedicated to a particular saint. On either side of the presbytery, the transepts form the arms of the cross, while the nave, the stem of the cross, was where lay people worshipped.
The layouts of the ancillary buildings vary from abbey to abbey, but the way of life in each was remarkably similar. At the center of any abbey complex was the cloister, an open area with a covered walkway around it, surrounded by imposing buildings. The cloister was used as a processional route by the canons during important services, and the open space was used for reading, writing and contemplation.
Much of routine life revolved around daily worship, but abbey life was generally spartan. Only the warming room was heated, for instance, where the monks or canons were allowed a brief respite from the cold before they returned to work. At Dryburgh, the daily routine started at 1 a.m. and finished at 8 p.m. This involved celebrating Mass and regular prayers, both private and for the abbey’s founder, relatives and other benefactors, while the remaining time was spent in the cloister. They survived on two frugal meals a day.
All too often, the abbeys found themselves at the center of unwanted attention, particularly during the Wars of Independence and other periods when tensions were high between England and Scotland. Although all of the abbeys were attacked, Dryburgh suffered worst following King Edward II’s unsuccessful invasion of 1322. English troops, hearing the bells rung in celebration of victory, were said to have gone out of their way to take revenge.
There were regular cross border intrusions by both sides after the Wars of Independence, but some of the greatest damage to the abbeys occurred during the period known as “the rough wooing,” when Henry VIII of England tried to “encourage” the Scots to marry Princess Mary to his son Edward.
The Scottish Reformation in 1560 saw the abbeys go into terminal decline. Generally, the canons were allowed to continue living in the buildings, although many joined the reformed church. As a way of life, however, the abbeys were finished and when the canons died out, so effectively did the abbeys. By 1580 only four canons remained at Dryburgh and by 1600 it was noted “all the convent thairoff now deceissit.” Following the Reformation, Jedburgh, Melrose and Kelso abbeys continued as parish churches before the ravages of time finally overcame them and replacement buildings were erected.

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Despite the passage of almost 1,000 years, enough of these beautiful abbeys remain to give visitors an appreciation for the craftsmanship, styles of architecture and quality of the original buildings, and to follow the lifestyle of the inhabitants.
First of the four abbeys, Kelso was founded by David before he ascended the throne in 1124. Initially based near Selkirk, the Tironsian monks later moved to Kelso, possibly because David had a favorite royal residence at nearby Roxburgh. It became one of the largest and wealthiest religious houses. Unfortunately little remains today, although what does survive is testament to the building’s quality. James III was crowned at Kelso after his father’s death by a bursting cannon during the siege of Roxburgh in 1460.

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M elrose Abbey, founded 1136, was another of Scotland’s wealthiest religious houses. There had been a settlement of Celtic monks at Old Melrose, some 2 miles east of the present site, possibly as early as 650. At the invitation of David I, the Cistercians set up an abbey there, and later moved to the present site.

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The second abbot of Melrose, David’s stepson Waltheof, was renowned for performing miracles, and when his tomb was opened in 1170 and again 1206, his body was found to be intact. In 1240 some small bones were removed as relics and remains of his shrine are on display in the commendator’s house.

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Melrose Abbey has a close connection with the Wars of Independence—as the site where King Robert the Bruce’s heart is buried. The body of Bruce, who died in 1329, was buried in Dunfermline Abbey. After having been taken on a Crusade to fulfill a vow the Bruce made, however, his heart was buried here in 1331. A lead canister in the area formerly occupied by the chapter house reputedly contains the Bruce’s heart, but in keeping with his status, more likely it would have been buried beneath the main altar—as King Alexander II was after his death in 1249.
Founded by Augustinians in 1138, the Jedburgh abbey church is one of the most complete in Britain. King Alexander III married Yolande de Dreux here in 1285. A ghostly figure is said to have appeared during the service, a portent of the king’s death. His death the following year sparked the succession crisis that encouraged Edward I of England to interfere in Scottish affairs, and led to the Wars of Independence.
Dryburgh Abbey, perhaps the most attractive abbey, was a Premonstratensian community founded around 1150, although much of what survives today dates from the 13th century. It never had the wealth or influence of its sister abbeys, but its location, away from any of the centers of population, mean that even today it captures the calm and spiritual element of medieval religious life.
The almost-intact north transept houses the graves of novelist Sir Walter Scott and Field Marshall Earl Douglas Haig, a still controversial World War I leader. Other well-preserved parts of the Abbey include the parlor, chapter house and warming room.
The Premonstratensians were a silent order the parlor was the only part of the abbey where conversation was permitted. Next door was the chapter house, where the canons met each day to receive their instructions and to confess their misdemeanors. Discipline was extremely strict and offences could include hoarding personal possessions.
Punishments generally involved beatings, fasting or being excluded from communal activities. While we know something of the abbey’s senior figures, we know little of the canons—other than a Brother Marcus, who was suspended in 1320 for punching the abbot. Sadly, we don’t know what caused the disagreement and as ever, the stones aren’t saying!

King Edward II’s Stone Head Unearthed at British Abbey - History

The Middle Ages in Britain cover a huge period. They take us from the shock of the Norman Conquest, which began in 1066, to the devasting Black Death of 1348, the Hundred Years' War with France and the War of the Roses, which finally ended in 1485.

The Normans built impressive castles, imposed a feudal system and carried out a census of the country.

20 September: He defeats the English at the Battle of Fulford

28 September: William of Normandy lands at Pevensey on the south coast of England

25 December: William of Normandy is crowned king William I of England

First Norman stone castle is built in Wales
The Normans quickly advanced into Wales, using castles to subdue the surrounding countryside.

Bayeux Tapestry illustrating the Battle of Hastings is completed
The Bayeux Tapestry is the primary visual source for the Battle of Hastings and the most important pictorial document of the 11th century.

9 September: William the Conqueror dies at Rouen, Normandy

26 September: William II is crowned at Westminster Abbey
William Rufus, second son of William the Conqueror

July: Malcolm Canmore, King of Scotland, unsuccessfully invades England
Malcom was killed in an ambush by Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumbria, in 1093.

16 November: Margaret, Queen of Scotland, dies at Edinburgh Castle
Margaret was the daughter of Edward the Ætheling, an Anglo-Saxon claimant to the English throne in 1066. She fled to Scotland after the Norman conquest and married Malcolm Canmore (Malcolm III) of Scotland in about 1070.

Oxford University is founded

2 August: William II is killed while hunting in the New Forest
William's brother had himself rapidly crowned Henry I.

5 August: Henry I is crowned in Westminster Abbey

25 July 1110 Henry I of England marries his daughter Matilda to the German emperor, Henry V. She was only eight years old.

25 November Henry I's only son, William, drowns while returning from Normandy to England on the 'White Ship'. The succession is thrown into crisis.

25 December: Henry I settles the accession on his daughter, Matilda

22 December Stephen (Henry's nephew) is crowned king after the death of Henry I in Normandy instead of Matilda. Many considered a woman unfit to rule and further resentment was generated by her marriage into the Anjou family in 1127.

30 September 1139 Matilda lands at Arundel, West Sussex, to claim the throne of England. A long civil war followed, but neither side was strong enough for outright victory.

May 1152 Henry of Anjou (Matilda's son and the future Henry II of England) marries Eleanor of Aquitaine. The marriage brought a vast area of France into Henry's possession.

24 May: David I, King of Scotland, dies
David I had succeeded to the throne of Scotland in 1124.

19 December Henry II, the first 'Plantagenet' king, accedes to the throne
He was not only king of England, but also ruled over most of Wales, Normandy, Anjou, Gascony and other parts of France (acquired through his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine). Henry, son of Empress Matilda, established stability after civil war between his mother and her rival Stephen. He asserted his authority over the barons and enforced law and governance. Regular financial rolls of government began in his reign.

6 July: Henry II dies and is succeeded by his son Richard I

Richard I joins the Third Crusade
The Crusades were a series of nine religious wars waged from 1095 to liberate Jerusalem and the Holy Land from Islamic rule. Richard raised taxes, sold assets and emptied the treasury to raise funds for his army.

Richard I dies and is succeeded by his brother John

University at Cambridge is established
A group of scholars migrated from the established centre of learning at Oxford to Cambridge, where they set up a new university.

15 June The Magna Carta is signed by King John and his barons at Runnymede on the River Thames.

28 October: Henry III is crowned king of England

Henry III begins to rebuild Westminster Abbey
The first abbey at Westminster was built by Edward the Confessor in the 1040s in the Romanesque style. Henry III ordered the rebuilding of the abbey in a Gothic style, with a central shrine to honour Edward the Confessor.

20 November: Henry III dies and is succeeded by his son Edward
He was crowned Edward I in August 1274.

Edward I conquers Wales. Llywelyn ap Gruffyd, the country's last prince is killed

July: Edward I expels all Jews from England

23 August: Scottish rebel William Wallace is executed by the English

7 July: Edward I dies and is succeeded by his son Edward II
Two years after Edward's accession, he married Isabella, daughter of the French king.

1315 - 1322 Millions die in the Great European Famine
The famine was the product of a cooler and damper climate, coupled with the medieval inability to dry and store grain effectively.

September: Isabella invades England and overthrows Edward II
Edward II's wife, Isabella, had left England for France in 1325 on the pretext of helping to settle a dispute over territory. But she had been badly treated by Edward's favourites, the Despensers, and declined to return. Instead, she remained in Paris, where she found a lover, Roger Mortimer. In 1326, she returned to England with a large force, whereupon the king's supporters deserted him. Edward was captured, as were the Despensers who were executed in the autumn of the same year.

20 January: Edward II is murdered and Edward III becomes king
Edward II abdicated in favour of his son. He was later murdered at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire on the orders of Isabella and her lover, Roger Mortimer. Isabella and her lover Mortimer ruled while her son Edward III was in his minority (too young).

19 September: Edward the 'Black Prince' (Edward III's son) defeats and captures John II, King of France

22 June: Edward III dies and is succeeded by Richard II
Edward III's eldest son, Edward the 'Black Prince', had died in 1376, so the succession passed to Edward's grandson, Richard II, who was only 10 years old. In the first part of his reign, because he was so young, the country was ruled by his uncle, John of Gaunt whose son Henry Bolingbroke eventually murdered Richard and became king as Henry IV.

15 June: Peasants' Revolt
In the aftermath of the catastrophic Black Death, agricultural workers were in demand but landlords were reluctant to pay higher wages or allow migration for work. Coupled with heavy taxation and an unpopular government, it caused an uprising. The rebels converged on London. The Tower of London was stormed and prominent individuals were executed. After rebel leader Wat Tyler was killed, Richard II successfully defused the situation by promising concessions. Reprisals followed instead.

30 September: Henry IV is proclaimed king of England

St Andrews is established as the first Scottish university

20 March: Henry IV dies and is succeeded by his son, Henry V

25 October: Henry V defeats the French at the Battle of Agincourt

31 August: Henry V dies suddenly, leaving his son Henry VI, who was less than a year old and now king of England and France under the terms of the Treaty of Troyes (1420). He is today still the youngest ever king of England.

England was ruled by a Regency Council. In France, the king's uncle, John, Duke of Bedford, gradually extended English control. Henry VI of England was crowned king of France in Paris in December 1431.

Henry VI assumes power as king of England
Henry VI, who had acceded to the throne before his first birthday, was now considered old enough to rule for himself.

22 May: Civil War: The War of the Roses begin with first Battle of St Albans
York was then driven out by Henry VI's wife, Margaret. York marched on London and defeated Henry's supporters (the Lancastrians) at St Albans. This relatively small battle marks the beginning of a civil war between two branches of the royal family - York and Lancaster - that lasted intermittently until 1485.

The Duke of York was the main figure on the Yorkist side and Margaret, Henry's queen, took charge of the Lancastrian cause.

29 March: Lancastrians are defeated at Towton and Edward IV (Duke of York's son) is proclaimed king. Henry VI and Margaret flee to Scotland.
Edward was crowned in June 1461.

30 October 1470 Henry VI is briefly restored to the throne

4 May 1471 Yorkists defeat the Lancastrians and kill Edward, Prince of Wales
and heir of Henry VI. Henry VI himself survived little more than a fortnight after the battle. He was murdered, probably in the Tower of London, on 21 May 1471. Edward IV was king of England again.

William Caxton publishes the first printed book in England

9 April: Edward IV dies and is succeeded by his 12-year-old son, Edward V
Edward’s uncle, his father’s brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was named protector. Gloucester met the new king on his journey to London and when they reached the capital, lodged him in the Tower of London with his younger brother, also called Richard. In June the boys were declared illegitimate. It was alleged that their father's marriage to their mother, Elizabeth Woodville, had been invalid.

July 1483 Richard III becomes king and the 'Princes in the Tower' disappear
Both his nephews, the 12-year-old Edward V and his brother, were not seen alive after this time. They had been imprisoned in the Tower of London and were presumed murdered, although it is not clear who was responsible.

22 August Henry Tudor defeats Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth

Since 1308, all anointed sovereigns of England (until 1603) and Great Britain (after the Union of the Crowns) have been seated in this chair at the moment of their coronation, with the exception of Queen Mary II (who was crowned on a copy of the chair). [1] The most recent occasion was the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953.

The high backed gothic style arm chair was carved in 1297 from oak by a carpenter known as Master Walter, who was paid the considerable sum of 100 shillings for his work, which included gilding and painting the chair. Four gilded lions act as legs to the chair, added in the 16th century and then replaced in 1727. Under the seat of the chair is a platform and cavity which until 1996 contained the Stone of Scone this has now been returned to Scotland with the provision that it be returned to the chair on the occasions of future coronations. [2]

The chair was originally richly painted and gilded. It had an image of either Edward the Confessor or Edward I painted on its back, with feet resting on a lion. Today, however, its appearance is of aged and bare wood, except for the lower parts of the front seatback and the side pieces, where some of Master Walter's paintings of foliage, birds and animals have survived. During its history many early tourists, pilgrims, and choir boys in the Abbey appear to have carved their initials and other graffiti onto the chair in the 18th and 19th centuries. The carved finials at the back of the chair have also been partially sawn away. In addition the chair was damaged in 1914 when it was the object of a bomb attack, thought to have been instigated by the suffragettes.

Over the eight centuries of its existence it has only been removed from Westminster Abbey three times. The first time was for the ceremony in Westminster Hall when Oliver Cromwell was inducted as Lord Protector of England, and the second during World War II when it was evacuated to Gloucester Cathedral for the duration of the war. The third was on Christmas Day 1950, when the Stone was stolen.

Today it is highly protected, and leaves its secure resting place (in the ambulatory on a raised modern pedestal near the tomb of Henry V) only when it is carried into the theatre of coronation near the High Altar of the Abbey for the rare occurrence of a coronation.

King Edward I of England

King Edward I of England, the firstborn child of King Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence, was born on June 17, 1239, at the Palace of Westminster in London, England. It was the first time the Anglo-Saxon name Edward (Anglo-Saxon Ēadweard, ead: wealth, fortune prosperous and weard: guardian, protector) was used for a child of the monarch since the Norman Conquest. Henry III was devoted to St. Edward the Confessor, King of England and named the infant after the monarch/saint.

        (1240 – 1275), married Alexander III, King of Scots, had issue (1242 – 1275), married John II, Duke of Brittany, had issue (1245–1296), married (1) Aveline de Forz, no issue (2) Blanche of Artois, had issue (1253 – 1257)

      Henry III (top) and his children, (l to r) Edward, Margaret, Beatrice, Edmund, and Katherine Credit – Wikipedia

      Edward was raised under the care of Hugh Giffard of Boyton, a royal justice, and his wife Sibyl, daughter and co-heiress of Walter de Cormeilles. After Giffard’s death in 1346, Sir Bartholomew Pecche became Edward’s tutor. Edward spoke Norman French as did his ancestors, but he mastered English fairly well. His closest childhood friend was his first cousin Henry of Almain, the son of his paternal uncle Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall, who remained a close companion of Edward.

      In 1254, a possible invasion of the English territory Gascony (in France) by Castile, caused King Henry III to make a marriage alliance with King Alfonso X of Castile. 15-year-old Edward was to marry 13-year-old Eleanor of Castile, the half-sister of King Alfonso X of Castile. Eleanor was the daughter of (Saint) King Ferdinand III of Castile and his second wife Jeanne de Dammartin, Countess of Ponthieu in her own right. The young couple was married on November 1, 1254, in the Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas in Burgos, Kingdom of Castile, now in Spain.

      Edward and Eleanor (sculptures on the facade of Lincoln Cathedral) Credit – Wikipedia

      Edward and Eleanor had a loving marriage and were inseparable throughout their married life. Edward is one of the few English kings of the time period to apparently be faithful to his wife. Eleanor accompanied her husband on Crusade and on other military campaigns. The couple had 14-16 children, but only six survived childhood.

      • Daughter (stillborn in May 1255)
      • Katherine (before 1264 – 1264)
      • Joan (born and died 1265)
      • John (1266 – 1271) (1268 – 1274) (1269 – 1298), married Count Henry III of Bar, had issue
      • Daughter (born and died 1271) (1272 – 1307), married (1) in 1290 Gilbert de Clare, 6th Earl of Hertford, had issue (2) in 1297 Ralph de Monthermer, 1st Baron Monthermer, had issue (1273 – 1284) (1275 – after 1333), married John II of Brabant, had issue
      • Berengaria (1276 – 1278)
      • Daughter (born and died 1278) (1279 – 1332), a Benedictine nun in Amesbury, Wiltshire
      • Son (born in 1280 or 1281 who died very shortly after birth) (1282 – 1316), married (1) in 1297 John I, Count of Holland, no issue (2) in 1302 Humphrey de Bohun, 4th Earl of Hereford, 3rd Earl of Essex, had issue (1284 – 1327), married Isabella of France, had issue

      Edward’s father King Henry III was a weak king. His wife’s family and his half-brothers from his mother’s second marriage were rewarded with large estates, largely at the expense of the English barons. From 1236 to 1258, the weak king fluctuated repeatedly between various advisers including his brother Richard of Cornwall and his Lusignan half-brothers, which greatly displeased the English barons. In addition, the English barons were displeased with Henry III’s demands for extra funds, Henry’s methods of government, and widespread famine.

      The displeasure of the English nobility with the king ultimately resulted in a civil war, the Second Barons’ War (1264–1267). The leader of the forces against Henry III was led by his brother-in-law Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, who was married to Henry’s sister Eleanor. de Montfort wanted to reassert the Magna Carta and force the king to surrender more power to the baron’s council. Edward loyally supported his father during the Barons’ War.

      In 1264 at the Battle of Lewes, Henry III and his son Edward I were defeated and captured. Henry was forced to summon a parliament and to promise to rule with the advice of a council of barons. Henry was reduced to a figurehead king, and de Montfort broadened parliamentary representation to include groups beyond the nobility, members from each county of England and many important towns. Fifteen months later, Edward led the royalists into battle again, defeating and killing de Montfort at the Battle of Evesham in 1265. Ultimately, authority was restored to King Henry III and severe retribution was exacted on the rebellious barons. In 1266, a reconciliation between the king and the rebels was worked out with the Dictum of Kenilworth. In the years that followed his death, Simon de Montfort’s grave was frequently visited by pilgrims. Today, de Montfort is considered as one of the fathers of representative government.

      King Henry III was increasingly ill and infirm during his final years. Edward became the Steward of England and began to play a more prominent role in government. King Henry III died at the age of 69 on November 16, 1272, at the Palace of Westminster and Edward became king. in 1270, Edward had gone off on the Crusades accompanied by his wife Eleanor, and at the time of his father’s death, he was in Sicily making his slow way back to England. The new king thought England was safe under his mother’s regency and a royal council led by Robert Burnell, so he did not hurry back to England. On his way back to England, King Edward I visited Pope Gregory X in Rome and King Philip III of France in Paris and suppressed a rebellion in Gascony. He finally arrived back in his kingdom on August 2, 1274. On August 19, 1274, King Edward I and his wife Eleanor were crowned in Westminster Abbey.

      Edward I’s relentless, but unsuccessful campaign to assert his overlordship over Scotland was resisted by William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, (later King Robert I of Scotland) but it gave him one of his nicknames, “Hammer of the Scots,” which was inscribed on his tomb. In 1296, Edward I captured the Stone of Scone, an oblong block of red sandstone that was used for centuries in the coronation of the monarchs of Scotland. Edward had the Stone of Scone taken to Westminster Abbey, where it was fitted into a wooden chair, known as King Edward’s Chair, on which most subsequent English monarchs have been crowned. In 1996, 700 years after it was taken, the Stone of Scone was returned to Scotland. It is kept at Edinburgh Castle in the Crown Room alongside the crown jewels of Scotland (the Honours of Scotland) when not being used at coronations.

      Coronation Chair with Stone of Scone in Westminster Abbey, 1885 Credit – Wikipedia

      King Edward I’s campaign in Wales was much more successful and Wales was completely taken over by England. It ended with the deaths of the last two native Princes of Wales: Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. who was ambushed and killed in 1282 and his brother Dafydd ap Gruffydd, who was the first prominent person in recorded history to have been hanged, drawn, and quartered in 1283. Edward I made sure that Wales remained under English control by building the castle fortresses at Rhuddlan, Conwy, Denbigh, Harlech, and Caernarfon, all of which still stand today. The tradition of conferring the title “Prince of Wales” on the heir apparent of the monarch is usually considered to have begun in 1301 when King Edward I of England invested his son Edward of Caernarfon (later King Edward II) with the title at a Parliament held in Lincoln. Since then, the title has granted (with a few exceptions) to the heir apparent of the English or British monarch.

      Early 14th-century depiction of Edward I (left) declaring his son Edward (right) the Prince of Wales Credit – Wikipedia

      In the autumn of 1290, while traveling north to meet her husband who had been attending a session of Parliament in Nottinghamshire, Eleanor, Edward’s beloved wife, fell ill. As she reached the village of Harby in Nottinghamshire, 22 miles from Lincoln, she could go no further, so she sought lodging at the house of Richard de Weston in Harby. Eleanor’s condition worsened and messengers were sent to summon the king to her bedside. King Edward arrived in Harby before Eleanor died on the evening of November 28, 1390. Eleanor was 49 years old, had been married to Edward for 36 years, and had given birth to 14-16 children.

      King Edward I was devastated when Eleanor died. Eleanor’s body was taken to the Gilbertine Priory of St. Catherine in Lincoln, where she was embalmed. Her viscera were buried at Lincoln Cathedral and her body was then taken to London, where Eleanor was to be interred at Westminster Abbey. It took 12 days to reach Westminster Abbey and twelve crosses, known as Eleanor Crosses, were erected at the places where her funeral procession stopped overnight. Charing Cross in London is perhaps the most famous, but the cross there is a reconstruction. Only three original crosses survive although they have had some reconstruction: Geddington Cross, Hardingstone Cross, and Waltham Cross.

      Original Eleanor Cross, in Geddington, England Photo Credit – Wikipedia

      Statue of Eleanor of Castile which was part of the Eleanor Cross at Waltham, Hertfordshire, England Victoria and Albert Museum in London Photo Credit – Susan Flantzer 2015

      When Eleanor died, only six children, five daughters and one son, were still living. The son was the youngest child and only six years old. Edward I had to be worried about the succession, and a second marriage with sons would ensure the succession. On September 10, 1299, in Canterbury, 60-year-old King Edward I and 17-year-old Margaret of France were married. This was followed by four days of wedding festivities. Margaret was never crowned, making her the first queen since the Norman Conquest in 1066 not to be crowned.

      Edward and Margaret had three children:

        (1300 – 1338), married (1) Alice de Hales, had issue (2) Mary de Brewes, no surviving issue (1301 – 1330), married Margaret Wake, 3rd Baroness Wake of Liddell, had issue including Joan of Kent (The Fair Maid of Kent) who married King Edward III‘s eldest son Edward, Prince of Wales (The Black Prince) and was the mother of King Richard II of England
      • Eleanor of England (1306 – 1311), died young

      Edward I of England and Margaret of France Credit – Wikipedia

      As King Edward I’s first wife did, Margaret accompanied him on military campaigns. Margaret got along well with her stepson Edward, Prince of Wales, who was two years younger than her, and Margaret often reconciled the prince with his father when the two disagreed. In the summer of 1307, Margaret accompanied Edward I on a military campaign in Scotland. On the way to Scotland, the 68-year-old king died on July 7, 1307, at Burgh by Sands in Cumbria, England. King Edward I was buried in Westminster Abbey near his father and his first wife Eleanor of Castile, adjacent to the tomb of his namesake Edward the Confessor, which can be seen in the background on the left in the photo below.

      Tomb of Edward I at Westminster Abbey Photo Credit –

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