Yorkshire Branch Activities
Below is a rundown of our activities in 2012:
September 29th 2012. Yorkshire Branch Dinner, Black Swan, York.
This year’s Society AGM took place at the Merchant Adventurers in York. The Branch was in attendance with the sales stall and enjoyed an excellent day with sales. In the evening the Branch held a Dinner at the Black Swan. Once again we enjoyed a good meal and excellent company. The Branch always try to make these fun occasions and the meal was followed by a quiz with a prize of a bottle of wine, for which there was thankfully only one winner, and a raffle. However, the high spot of the night was the rendition of two monologues by Lesley Lambert. The Battle of Hastings and Albert and the Lion never sounded so good. An enjoyable night for all.
September 1st 2012, Jacobs Well, York. Yorkshire Branch AGM.
This year’s Branch AGM was the best attended for many years. The present Committee were returned unopposed and the meeting was friendly and constructive with members joining in with ideas for the policy of running the Branch. At the close of business everyone enjoyed a substantial tea and opportunity to catch up with old and new friends. Many members then returned to the upper floor for a talk on The Lesser Known children Of Edward IV. An enjoyable and constructive AGM.
Visit of the American Ricardian’s June 2012.
The American Ricardian’s made their usual pilgrimage across the water in June and were met on two occasions by members of the Yorkshire Branch. Angela, Hannah, Marjorie and Lynda met them in Middleham on a beautiful sunny Midsummers day. As always a good time was had by all exploring the castle which was Richard’s principle home for twelve years. This was followed by a visit to the church where Angela was able to relate the church’s history and its creation as a Collegiate foundation by Richard. After lunch at Middleham’s White Swan the group were waved off for a visit to one of Yorkshire’s Falconry Centres.
Three days later, by contrast on a day of pouring rain, Pauline and David met the group in Lincolnshire at Gainsborough Old Hall. Built by Thomas Burgh the Hall played host to Richard in 1483. As always the visitors were fascinated by the history of one of our loveliest houses and its first owner. It is always a pleasure to meet the Americans and we look forward to greeting the group in 2013 and again cementing ties with overseas Ricardian’s.
Yorkshire Branch Study Day - Middleham, June 9th 2012.
We are very pleased to report an excellent response to our first Branch Study Day, held at the Key Centre in Middleham. The Committee would like to thank all those who attended and made the day so worthwhile. There have already been requests that we hold another Day next year, probably in York.
Unfortunately our opening speaker at Middleham, Scowen Sykes, was unable to attend due to illness, but the rest of the programme was as arranged. Members were also able to go to the castle where a living history event was being held - which we hadn’t known about when we planned the day.
Lynda Telford was our first speaker, dealing with Middleham and the dales in pre Neville times (yes there was life here before the Kingmaker). In fact, lead mined up in Dentdale and Arkengarthdale would have been brought in Roman times to a port just down river from Middleham for shipment by barge to York and overseas. Remains of Medieval posts can still be seen, on Roman foundations. There was a large Roman fort between Middleham and Ulshaw, and traces of a hypocaust (central heating system) have been discovered in a nearby field. This fascinating information put Middleham in perspective as an area of continuous occupation long before the castle on William’s Hill.
In St Alkelda’s Church Angela Moreton spoke about the College which King Richard founded there in 1478. He seems to have had a typically decisive and in its organisation, for example having the statutes set out in English. However even before Richard died at Bosworth it appears the College was not receiving sufficient income to maintain the Dean and six canons, and it had quite probably lapsed well before the Chantries Act of 1547 ended such foundations. Middleham was not included with those Royal foundations like Eton College and St George’s Windsor, which were specifically exempted in the Act. Although the Rector of Middleham was called Dean until the mid 19th century, and there was an attempt to revive the college with non resident canons in the 1840’s (one of them was Charles Kingsley) it seems likely that the college’s life ended only some thirty years after that of its royal founder.
After lunch Jean Gidman gave a power point presentation on the intriguing relationship between Henry VII and Sir William Stanley. Although Stanley (allegedly) handed Tudor King Richard’s crown after Bosworth, he was executed ten years later. How could things go so wrong? Family loyalties and squabbles over land were as much a cause of as the appearance of Perkin Warbeck.
Finally Pauline Harrison Pogmore gave a detailed account of the early Lords of Middleham from the conquest to Richard’s fall at Bosworth. The talk gave details of Middleham’s owners from Alain the Red granted the castle by William the Conqueror, through the FitzRanulph family and the Neville’s until it came into the ownership of Richard and traced its rise in importance as its owners took more and more of a role in affairs of state. All in all a highly enjoyable day.
Arthur Cockerill Spring Lecture, April 28th 2012
“The Character of Richard III” by Dr David Baldwin
This year’s Spring lecture at our new permanent home Jacobs Well in York proved both lively and informative. The speaker, brave man, was Dr David Baldwin, speaking on the subject of his new book “The Character of Richard III”.
Despite the weather, rain of course, there was a good attendance to hear David’s opinion on what made Richard, in common parlance, tick. There was a small problem to begin finding a lectern for David’s notes but with a little ingenuity, or as Jan Scott describes it a touch of the Blue Peters, the problem was solved and we were away.
David began by reminding us that there is no documentation clearly telling us Richard’s character traits or the reasons he acted as he did. He was after all followed by the Tudors who hardly wished anything good to remain of the man’s reputation. David spoke about Richard’s child hood and the way the successes and failures of his father and elder brothers challenge to the authority of Henry VI and his ministers. He touched on the capture of Duchess Cecily and her two youngest sons after Ludford Bridge and what must have been a miserable eight months under the custody of Cecily’s elder sister the Duchess of Buckingham. This was followed within the space of just a few months with the victory at the Battle of Northampton. York’s return from exile, the disaster of the battle of Wakefield and York’s death along with that of Edmund of Rutland, the Yorkist victory at the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross, defeat at the 2nd Battle of St Albans, his own exile to Burgundy in company with his brother George, Edward becoming King and the tremendous victory at the Battle of Towton. By any stretch of imagination for a boy of eight in the space of less than a year this was a real roller coaster ride.
Richard’s time under the guardian ship of the Earl of Warwick learning his knightly duties was mentioned and the effect of the decision he needed to take in 1469 when Warwick and Richard’s own brother George betrayed Edward. As we well know Richard chose to stay loyal and shared his brother’s exile before fighting beside him at both the battle of Barnet and of Tewkesbury in 1471.
David went on to the arguments with George of Clarence over the Earl of Warwick’s lands. Most of us I believe can see no problem with Richard receiving Warwick’s northern estates rather than the greedy George, but David believes the argument did show Richard could be as determined and ruthless as anyone else in achieving his ends. There was no criticism of the success during Richard’s time ruling the north on behalf of his brother. In the City of York and speaking to our Branch it would have been a brave man who suggested otherwise.
Speaking of the period following Edward’s death David said we have no idea if Richard believed the story of his nephew’s illegitimacy but he must have feared for his own safety bearing in mind what had happened to previous Kings uncles in the exact same position as himself. Luckily we did not hear anything on the thorny question of the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower.
His opinion on Richard’s rule is that Richard became increasingly insecure in his own mind after the Buckingham rebellion and lost a sense of perspective. The subject of what would be the outcome on northerners was mentioned when a rumour began that Richard intended to marry Elizabeth of York. A lot of these points are speculation on the speaker’s part since as he himself mentioned there are no documents extant. David mentioned accounts in Chronicles but bearing in mind that most of these were altered after Richard’s death this is hardly an insight into Richard true character. Even when mentioning the entry in the York City Records David was of the opinion that that was not the view of many northerners?
The entire lecture was thought provoking. Did it do anything to change member’s views of Richard? In a word no. The question session afterwards was lively and showed that much of David’s point of view on Richard as a man is not that of the members of our Branch.
The day ended with tea and cakes for which the speaker stayed and chatted with members. Speaking to the Yorkshire Branch on anything but praise for Richard III can be somewhat like being thrown to the lions. However, on writing to David afterwards to thank him formally we received a reply of which the piece below is an excerpt:
“I enjoyed the afternoon, particularly the questions. Quite often these bring out ideas I wouldn’t have thought of myself. You have some very friendly and enthusiastic members”.
For a full report on the lecture see Jan Scott’s excellent report in the August 2012 issue of Blanc Sanglier.
April 1st 2012
This year’s Towton Commemoration took place for the second year running on a bright sunny day in contrast to the freezing snow on the day of the battle in 1461. Once again the Branch had a stall in the barn displaying the new stock acquired since last year. Although not as busy as the previous year the event was well attended and we again made a decent amount of sales, (however some of us were disappointed that the Merry Monk was absent this year meaning we could not purchase any of his potent ales t6o sample later at home).
We were able to greet several of our members who were enjoying the event and chat to others interested in both Richard III and the Branch’s activities. Once again it was an opportunity for the Branch to be seen and recruit new members.
Previous activities in 2011:
Battle of Wakefield Commemoration.
December 31st 2011
By George Nairn Briggs, Dean Emeritus of Wakefield.
The tap of a drum echoed through the air. Pauline and I paused in our conversation. We looked up the hill to the ruins of Sandal Castle and saw the banner of Richard, Duke of York, waving in the stiff breeze coming towards us.
Through the banks of parked cars emerged members of the Frei Compagnie re-enactment group. The winter sun glinted off helmets and armour. A flock of small boys, brandishing plastic silver swords, surrounded the drummer. Each one was torn between trying to march in step with the drum beat and skipping with excitement.
I was especially pleased to see the banner as I had helped commission it as part of the Wakefield Historical Society’s reconstruction of Duke Richard’s funeral procession from Pontefract to Fotheringhay in 2010. (That is, the reconstruction took place in 2010. The original funeral procession happened in 1476!)
The Frei Compagnie halted opposite the memorial to Duke Richard and smartly “left faced” to face it. Standing as straight and tall as any royal personage inspecting her troops, Angela, our Chairman, delivered a clear and engaging account of what had happened on 30th December 1460. Members will know that it was a messy, confused fight with no one knowing for sure why Duke Richard decided to leave the safety of Sandal Castle to meet what turned out to be an army three times the size of his own. Treachery? Blunder? Miscalculation? Whatever the reason, the result was the death of Duke Richard and the ruthless pursuit of his son Edmund, Earl of Rutland, and his merciless cutting down by Lord Clifford on Wakefield Bridge as he desperately tried to reach sanctuary in the nearby Chantry Chapel.
Angela reminded us of the removal of Duke Richard’s head from his body and its being subsequently spiked on Micklegate Bar at York, adorned with a paper crown to mock his claim to the throne of England. However, following the victory of his eldest son Edward over the Lancastrian army at the Battle of Towton on Palm Sunday1461, the head was reunited with the body and lay at Pontefract until it was finally reburied at the family home at Fotheringhay in 1476.
Angela ended her simple but moving address by inviting the crowd – and it was a big one this year – to admire the newly restored stone head on the Duke’s memorial (again, thanks to the Wakefield Historical Society who found the funds to have the work carried out) and the beautiful wreath of white roses which had, once again, been created by Pauline Harrison Pogmore.
After much clicking of cameras and parading of the Frei Compagnie in front of the memorial, the drum once again started to beat and the procession returned to Sandal Castle.
After the “captains and kings” had departed, all that remained was for Angela and Pauline to get in their cars and take a posy of white roses to the Chantry Chapel on Wakefield Bridge, where it was gently laid to commemorate Edmund’s death. I think this was the first time this has been done and I hope it will become as beloved a part of the Wakefield Commemoration as the wreath laying at the Duke’s memorial.