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 (, 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


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 :)

Saturday, 29 November 2014


The reason for not blogging for a few weeks, is because i have done nothing remotely interesting (save for a lot of writing and reading!)

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About a month ago, myself and the boy took a trip to Colchester, had lunch and loitered about the shops  - me purchasing a couple of classics from an independent bookshop, and snorting over the prices in Waterstones.
I have asked the boy for The Winter Crown by Elizabeth Chadwick for Christmas just so I do not have to buy it for myself... it's just ridiculous.

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Anyway, with that aside, we are thoroughly looking forward to our first Christmas together in our flat and are hoping to purchase a tree tomorrow. It will be so strange this year not waking up to my excited siblings; eager for their presents at 5 in the morning, hogging the tv, bickering as they cannot decide what to watch... ah, that I will not miss.

I am planning on writing a post concerning King Edward III as the novel I have just finished writing, is concerned with the battles of Sluys, Crecy and Neville's Cross.
Hopefully I can do this by the end of next week... I had wanted to post it on Edward's birthday (13th November), but alas, other commitments thwarted me...

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Hylands Park

Huzzah, finally, myself and the boy made it to Hylands Park this afternoon!

The day did not start out fantastically though. We experienced biblical rain until about lunchtime, then, as I was eating my soup and the boy was munching on chicken pie, it ceased.
The Hylands estate, began life in 1726 where the land was purchased by a Sir John Comyns. The construction was complete by 1730 and was red-brick, not white as we know it to be today.

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Sir John, died in 1740 without a surviving male heir, so the estate passed down to his nephew, John Comyns of Romford. In turn, this Sir John left the family home to his son Sir John Richard Comyns in 1760 (too many Johns!)
By 1797, it no longer belonged to the Comyn dynasty and was swiftly purchased by Cornelius Kortwright who employed the famous landscape architect Humphry Repton to redesign the gardens of the house. Kortwright however, moved to Fryerning (Essex), and the property and land was bought by Pierre Cesar Labouchere in 1814. By his death, his son Henry sold it to Mr John Attwood. Attwood then sold it to Arthut Pryor, who then sold it to Sir Daniel Gooch (explored the South Pole alongside Sir Eustace Shackleton), then after returning with frostbite, the estate found itself within John and Christine Hanbury's hands (this gets a tad more exciting now).
In 1923, John Hanbury died and Christine was left with the grand, huge manor and during WWII, it was the base for a German prisoner of war camp and was used by the SAS as their headquarters.

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I watched a documentary about the house a while ago, and a few of the US soldiers thought it would be a good idea to drive a car up one of the staircases! I can imagine the venture was an unsuccessful one.
Christine Hanbury passed away in 1962 and left the house to trustees. Chelmsford Borough Council purchased it in 1966 and opened up the grounds to the public, yay! It became a Grade II listed building the following year.

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I have many childhood memories playing about these grounds - playing hide and seek with my siblings and playing football with my brother.
Note the cottage in the last picture - this is called Flint Cottage and looks remarkably creepy. Not much is known about the building but I believe at one point it was used by a caretaker of some sorts.


coat - vintage (£6.99)
wellies - primark (£12)
blouse - topshop via a charity shop (£4.79) - can kind of see this - twas purchased in Colchester on Friday
skirt - topshop in the sale (£7)

We did, as mentioned above, go to Colchester on Friday but I will leave posting about that for now as this has been a long account!