Thursday, 19 February 2015

Clink Prison Museum

We'd been planning this day out for months, and what does it go and do, it rains! Typical English weather. It was sunny yesterday, and then the heavens open on the day in which we wish to venture out.

After stumbling across this museum last year when we were on our way to QI, we made a decision to visit the infamous medieval/tudor/stewart/georgian prison when he found the time.

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It opened in the year of the Lord 1144, and was attached to the bishop of Winchester's household (otherwise known as Henry of Blois; brother to King Stephen of England).
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It housed vagrants, vagabonds, debtors and various petty criminals, and was in use until 1780 until it burnt down. 

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The torture devices that were on display, were fascinating, and I think one of the most vile, is the heretics fork - used for sleep deprivation.

`The heretic's fork was a torture device, consisting of a length of metal with two opposed bi-pronged "forks" as well as an attached belt or strap.
The device was placed between the breast bone and throat just under the chin and secured with a leather strap around the neck, while the victim was hung from the ceiling or otherwise suspended in a way so that they could not lie down.
A person wearing it couldn't fall asleep. The moment their head dropped with fatigue, the prongs pierced their throat or chest, causing great pain. This very simple instrument created long periods of sleep deprivation. People were awake for days, which made confession` 

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Its made me think about how lenient we are on felons today, and whether one would deserve the heretics fork, whipping post, stocks, or the infamous rack!

quote from http://www.medievalwarfare.info/torture.htm#rack



Saturday, 14 February 2015

Great Dunmow and St Valentine's Day

A few weeks ago, myself and the boy took a stroll around Great Dunmow in Essex. It was absolutely freezing and the shoes in the pictures below, had to be thrown in the bin!

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It is very difficult in the winter months to think of things to do (especially when you're on a budget and when medieval castles are closed), so that is why I have not blogged for a few weeks (don't fret, am working on part three of my Edward III post).
I have also just finished a draft essay about Cleopatra for my course, and still need to type it out, and have been working on a novel about Alice Perrers (80,000 words in folks) :)

Anywho, I had just dropped in to say, happy Valentine's day, and hope it's special

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(please excuse my boy's socks on the rad)


Monday, 26 January 2015

Cambridge (and i'm 24!)

It was my 24th birthday on Saturday, and as myself and the boy had not been to Cambridge for a while, we decided to venture there (accompanied by clear skies and warm air much to our delight!)

We ambled about the beautiful streets, gawping at the University buildings and churches, and wished that we could afford to up sticks and abandon Chelmsford for good. You cannot compare the two burghs and it is a great shame my parents decided to settle for the former Roman settlement.

A couple of snaps of Cambridge's beauty;

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I spent a little of my birthday money (a pair of shoes, a pair of owl socks, a t-shirt, 3 CDs and a second-hand book about medieval england), and soon dragged the boy off to the pub where I enjoyed a vodka and coke, and a creme cheese bagel. As the designated driver, he had to make do with a coke (and a huge bowl of chips covered with cheese and bacon), but he did not complain ;)

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The rest of my birthday was spent huzzahing over the fact that my OU History course starts in February, and that my mother bought me a bottle of Jack Daniels. The bottle has now been polished off, and we celebrated Burns' Night in style... see below.

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pajama shirt - topshop (part of a set - £22)
kilt - topshop (£15 in the sale)
scarf - topman (£12ish)
tights - topshop (£8, 7 years ago!)

My next blog-post will be in regards to the fine King that is Edward III, and will cover the years 1326-1330. 

Sunday, 18 January 2015

King Edward III of England Part two - 1323-1326

I had mentioned that this next post would include up to the year 1330, but I later decided to save the first years of the young King's reign for part 3.

By the year 1323, Queen Isabella and King Edward II were spending more time apart and allegedly by 1324 young John and Eleanor had been removed from their mother's care. Her income was also removed. The reason for this, was because there was grave tension between the realms of England and France and Edward simply did not trust his spouse.
What, would young Edward have made of this situation? Would he have sympathised with his mother, or would he have agreed wholeheartedly with his father?

The war of Saint-Sardos (based around English rule in Gascony - the last of the great Angevin empire), was the bubbling undercurrent of tension between Edward II and Charles of France. Charles did not want the English to remain as vassals to this stretch of land and was very eager to settle any disputes between the Gascon subjects and Edward II (also duke of Aquitaine).
War of Saint-Sardos

The other issue, was that Edward II had not yet performed homage to Charles for English lands in Gascony and had offered up some weak excuses as to why he had not complied. By January 1325, Charles had agreed that Queen Isabella (also his sister), could travel on Edward II's behalf in order to negotiate terms. One can guess that she tried her hardest for Edward II, for Charles relented and said that if he could not sail over the Narrow Sea, then the young earl of Chester; young Edward could perform homage on the King's behalf.
The King was now in a predicament, if he he allowed his eldest, precious son to cross into France, then there would be every chance that the Queen could hold the boy hostage until her income/estates were restored, however, if he sailed over himself, then he would be leaving his favourite Despensers to the mercy of the irate magnates who had remained loyal to those who had fallen at Boroughbridge (March 1322).

It must also be noted that Rogert Mortimer the younger (captured at Shrewsbury with his uncle in January 1322), had escaped the Tower in August 1323 and had otherwise become somewhat involved with Queen Isabella. Edward II could simple not allow his son to fall into the hands of the Mortimer as this would further propel the chance that the boy would not be released after homage was performed.
Eventually, in September 1325, 12 year old Prince Edward traveled to Dover with Edward II and received the duchy of Aquitaine and all English lands in France. The Prince was then placed under the guardianship of Walter de Stapledon (bishop of Exeter) and Sir Henry Beaumont.

For young Edward himself, this must've seemed like an adventure, and a huge responsibility rested on his shoulders for he was performing a Kingly act, was representing the throne of England.He must also have been anxious to see his mother as we do know he was close to her and adored her. If she insisted he remained with her in France, then he would have no choice but to do so.

As it so happens, Queen Isabella did insist the Prince stay in France, and she too refused to sail back to her husband in England. Charles, her brother, did nothing to persuade her to return to Edward II and refused to expel her from the country.
The King and Queen of England's united front was now crumbling and by December 1325, young Edward received a letter from his father asking him to take his leave. The Prince, did not abandon his mother, and replied saying the Queen would not allow it.
Whether or not he was able to leave, does not matter. From Edward II's point of view, his son had disobeyed him and responded in March 1326. He was evidently not best pleased...

Monday, 12 January 2015

Sunday walk

After days of rain, the south east of England saw some sunshine yesterday so myself and the boy thought we'd go for a lovely walk around Sandford Lock.


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^ coat - topshop via a charity shop (£8.99 - exactly the same as Alexa Chung's)
shoes - tesco (£6)
bag - topshop in the sale (£20)

It was windy and a bit muddy, but it was just nice to get a bit of fresh air. I've been ill this past week or so and have not ventured out much... been spending time editing my latest (albeit shortest) novel
Circling Falcons - it is finished, but it'll no doubt have another edit at some point!

I plan on working on something a little different for my next story - Alice Perrers, royal mistress of King Edward III of England will be my new subject - am really looking forward to it!

My next post will be part two in regards to my favourite monarch.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Edward III part one - 1312-1322



Born on 13th November (St Brice’s Day) 1312 at Windsor, Edward was the eldest child of King Edward II of England, and Queen Isabella (the so-called She-wolf).
He came into the world on the cusp of a great famine and when the King was at best, heartbroken over the murder of the Gascon knight and earl of Cornwall; Piers Gaveston (executed in June 1312).
The birth of a son must’ve raised the King’s spirits, as young Edward was made earl of Chester at just sixteen days old.
It must’ve also restored the faith of the nobility, as up until now, the King had somewhat ostracised himself from the great landowners of England, and had, despite the Ordinances of 1311 and various banishments of the earl of Cornwall, retained his affection for Gaveston.
After the murder of Gaveston (on earl Thomas of Lancaster’s lands, and on said earl instructions), the second Edward of England was left fuming, and it cannot be doubted that he yearned revenge on Lancaster.

The backdrop of young Prince Edward’s childhood (he was never entitled `Prince of Wales`), was abysmal. By 1314 vast amounts of rainfall clogged England, therefore poor harvests were the end result. A lack of food saw the majority of the poor starving and dying in their hundreds, and this became known as The Great Famine. It ravaged the kingdom for the best part of two years and wiped whole families out.
Young Edward, as a member of the royal family, would’ve been immune to the horrors battering the common folk, and most likely, at this time, would’ve been far more interested in when his next bout of milk would come from.
In July 1314 specifically, young Edward was in residence at Wallingford Castle whilst his father had suffered a heavy defeat against the Scots at Stirling (known as the Battle of Bannockburn – June 1314). Young Edward was most likely at Wallingford, for his own safety, as King Robert the Bruce of Scotland, and the Scots, were infamous for harrying and pillaging the land that stretched from the Northern March.
At not even two years old, young Edward would’ve been unable to understand what the loss at Stirling meant to the King (and to England), and was far more likely to have been encased with his nurse; Margaret Chandler, and be playing with a wooden rattle. A younger brother or sister was what he needed, and by August 1316, he had a brother; John (of Eltham) and in 1318, the princes had a sister to play with; Eleanor (of Woodstock). The three children lived in the same household at Chester for two years and were apart by June 1320.

By this time, young Edward had been summoned to the autumn Parliament (parlement), and at eight years old, this must’ve been an overwhelming occasion. The prince’s guardian; Sir Richard Damory, had been imprisoned due to supporting the rebel party - led by the cumbersome Lancaster against the Despenser clan (http://edwardthesecond.blogspot.co.uk/2007/03/despenser-war-of-1321-part-one.html), and it is likely that the prince had been called forward so as to witness the seriousness of the situation.

In late 1321, the Despensers had been banished, the rebel lords had been pardoned, yet by the winter, the King had mustered troops and was pursuing the rebels.
Roger Mortimer; one of the rebels, surrendered at Shrewsbury in January 1322, and by March 1322 (after the battle at Boroughbridge), the King had ordered the beheading of the earl of Lancaster (finally getting his revenge)!
Many other noblemen were hanged in various pockets of the realm and at this moment in time, these actions were unprecedented. Never before had a King of England beheaded his own cousin for treason, and these actions must’ve been difficult to stomach for young Edward. As a prince however, his true thoughts and feelings were most likely kept hidden, or shown to only close friends. He had a duty to respect the King, not only as the Sovereign, but as a father, and it is not in doubt that he loved the difficult and unworldly man that was Edward II.

Part two coming soon; 1323-1330!

Friday, 19 December 2014

Museum

With it being winter and there not being a lot to do, we found ourselves at our local museum again on Sunday. It is your average city museum - focusing heavily on local history and relying on donations to remain open.

As you walk in, you are bombarded with the image of Marconi, and how the revolution altered Chelmsford from a mere market town (awarded the status in 1199), to a city worthy of being pin-pointed on a map of the British Isles (slight exaggeration but meh).
Now, this does not interest me... although, perhaps it should. We bypassed most of this and entered the medieval section of the museum where images of the now derelict Pleshey Castle and the formidable King John's manor at Writtle dominate the plaques.
According to the information given, Kings Henry III and Edward I stayed at the manor on occasions and this somewhat impressed me as I had thought that Chelmsford would've had little significance in the 13th century.

Pleshey Castle;
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King John's hunting lodge

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The above pictures, are of various jugs and cooking pots that would've been used C. 13th-14th century. It is easy to imagine them being used, I think.

On the upper levels, there are some music and sporting rooms; the boy was mesmerised by Chelmsford City FC memorabilia!

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It was a fairly warm day so I felt a bit silly in gloves, but we had a nice, relaxing look around and it is nice to know that several Kings of England chose to spend their time relaxing close to my home city of Chelmsford :)

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coat - topshop via ebay (£14)
bag - oasis (£28, 7 years ago)
scarf - tesco (gift)
skirt - topshop (£20, 5 years ago)
gloves - primark (£2)

My Edward III post will be coming in the new year :)