Archive for May, 2011

The Gelre Armorial

The Gelre Armorial (Dutch: Wapenboek Gelre) is a Dutch armorial, written between 1370 and 1414. Most historians claim that the book was written by the herald Claes Heinenszoon. The book displays some 1,700 coats-of-arms from all over Europe, in colour. It is now located at the Royal Library of Belgium.

The book is especially important as a historical source, for instance for the history of Denmark. The armorial gives the first known undisputed colour rendering of the Dannebrog – Denmark’s flag, whose precise origin is shrouded in mystery and myth.

On page 55 verso we find the Danish coat-of-arms surmounted by a helmet with horns. Behind the sinister horn is a lance tip with a banner, displaying a white cross on red (see image). The text left of the coat of arms says “die coninc van denmarke” (The King of Denmark). This is the earliest known undisputed colour rendering of the Dannebrog.


Historic Salford hall gets a facelift

Ordsall Hall re-opens after a multi-million pound programme
of refurbishment

In Salford, a historic manor house is welcoming visitors again after the completion of a £6.5m facelift.

Ordsall Hall was closed two years ago to allow restoration and renovation work to take place on both the inside and outside of the building.

The project has meant some areas of the hall will open to the public for the first time.

Originally built around 1351 during the reign of Edward III, the hall reached the peak of its grandeur in the Tudor era.

The restoration of the building has concentrated on returning it to the way it looked in this period.

Inside the hall, areas such as the Great Chamber have been opened up for the first time.

Councillor Barry Warner, lead member for culture, leisure and sport at Salford city council, has been instrumental in the renovation project.

He said the hall was "one of the region’s oldest buildings and is a huge asset to the city and the wider community".

"We have a great responsibility to maintain buildings such as Ordsall as a way to preserve the city’s history," he said.

"In recent years, Salford has gone through a period of intense development and we have seen some magnificent new buildings arriving in the city, but we still need to protect these old treasures that give our children the opportunity to learn how life has changed and see first hand how people used to live."

He said that he had been very proud to be involved with the project and that "hopefully the work we have done will help to preserve this building for another 700 years".

The restoration project was funded by £4.1m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with a further £2.4m raised by Salford City Council, donations and other grants.

It was, for 300 years, the family seat of the Radclyffe family and continued to be a family home until 1871 when it was surrounded by factories and industrial housing. Four years later, it was let as a workingmen’s club, then a training school for the clergy.

Salford Corporation purchased it in 1959 and it was opened to the public 39 years ago as a period house and local history museum.

Reputedly haunted, there is a ghost webcam set up by the city council at night time.

The £6.5million restoration of Ordsall Hall has been timed to fit in with the whole regeneration of the Ordsall estate, which nestles between Salford Quays and MediaCityUK on one side, and Manchester city centre on the other.

Although the hall has reopened to the public, the official opening party will take place in July.

View article…

Archaeological Desk-Based Assessment of Derby

In May 2008, ARCUS were commissioned by Norseman Investments undertake an archaeological desk-based assessment on land at Siddals Road and Copeland Street, Derby (SK 3579 3597). The assessment was required in association with a planning application for the redevelopmentof the site. The desk-based assessment comprised a site visit,documentary and cartographic research.

An Archaeological Resource Assessment of Medieval Derbyshire

Battle of Tewkesbury

The Battle of Tewkesbury, which took place on 4 May 1471, was one of the decisive battles of the Wars of the Roses. The forces loyal to the House of Lancaster were completely defeated by those of the rival House of York under their monarch, King Edward IV. The Lancastrian heir to the throne, Edward, Prince of Wales, and many prominent Lancastrian nobles were killed during the battle or were dragged from sanctuary two days later and immediately executed. Tewkesbury restored political stability to England until Edward’s death in 1483.

William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk, KG (16 October 1396 – 2 May 1450)

William was the second son of Michael de la Pole, 2nd Earl of Suffolk and Katherine de Stafford, daughter of Hugh de Stafford, 2nd Earl of Stafford, KG, and Philippa de Beauchamp.

Almost continually engaged in the wars in France, he was seriously wounded during the siege of Harfleur (1415), where his father was killed. Later that year his older brother Michael de la Pole, 3rd Earl of Suffolk was killed at the Battle of Agincourt, and William succeeded as 4th Earl. He became co-commander of the English forces at the siege of Orléans (1429), after the death of Thomas Montacute, 4th Earl of Salisbury. When that city was relieved by Joan of Arc in 1429, he managed a retreat to Jargeau where he was forced to surrender on 12 June. He remained a prisoner of Charles VII of France for three years, and was ransomed in 1431.

After his return to the Kingdom of England in 1434 he was made Constable of Wallingford Castle. He became a courtier and close ally ofCardinal Henry Beaufort. His most notable accomplishment in this period was negotiating the marriage of King Henry VI with Margaret of Anjou (1444). This earned him elevation to Marquess of Suffolk that year but a secret clause was put in the agreement which gave Maine and Anjou back to France which was partly to cause his downfall. His own marriage took place on 11 November 1430, (date of licence), to (as her third husband) Alice (1404–1475), daughter of Thomas Chaucer of Ewelme, Oxfordshire, and granddaughter of the notable poet Geoffrey Chaucer and his wife Philippa (de) Roet.

With the deaths in 1447 of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester and Cardinal Beaufort, Suffolk became the principal power behind the throne of the weak and compliant Henry VI. In short order he was appointed Chamberlain, Admiral of England, and to several other important offices. He was created Earl of Pembroke in 1447 and Duke of Suffolk in 1448.

The following three years saw the near-complete loss of the English possessions in northern France, and Suffolk could not avoid taking the blame for these failures, partly because of the loss of Maine and Anjou through his marriage negotiations regarding Henry VI. On 28 January 1450 he was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London. He was banished for five years, but on his journey to France his ship was intercepted, and he was executed on 2 May 1450. It was suspected that his archenemy the Duke of York was responsible for his beheading on the gunwales of a boat and his body was thrown overboard. He was later found on the seashore near Dover and the body was brought to a Church in Suffolk, possibly Wingfield, for burial, seemingly at the wishes of his wife Alice.

Williams, Edgar Trevor and Nicholls, Christine Stephanie (eds) (1981) The Dictionary of national biography, Oxford University Press, 1178 p., ISBN 0-19-865207-0

May stories

In 1557, a diarist called Henry Machyn wrote:

“The xxx day of May was a goly May-gam in Fanch-chyrchestrett with drumes and gunes and pykes, and ix wordes dyd ryd; and thay had speches evere man, and the morris dansse and the sauden, and an elevant with the castyll, and the sauden and yonge morens with targattes and darttes, and the lord and the lade of the Maye”.

Translation: On the 30th May was a jolly May-game in Fenchurch Street (London) with drums and guns and pikes, The Nine Worthies did ride; and they all had speeches, and the morris dance and sultan and an elephant with a castle (saddle in the shape of a castle) and the sultan and young moors with shields and arrows, and the lord and lady of the May.

The earliest recorded evidence for a Maypole comes from a Welsh poem written by Gryffydd ap Adda ap Dafydd in the mid-14th century, in which he described how people used a tall birch pole at Llanidloes, central Wales. Literary evidence for maypole use across much of Britain increases in later decades, and “by the period 1350-1400 the custom was well established across southern Britain, in town and country and in both Welsh-speaking and English-speaking areas.

To a Birch-tree Cut Down, and Set Up in Llanidloes for a Maypole Gruffydd ab Addaf ap Dafydd, c. 1340-1370Long are you exiled from the wooden slope, birch-tree, with your green hair in wretched state; you who were the majestic sceptre of the wood where you were reared, a green veil. Are now turned traitress to the grove. Your precinct was lodging for me and my love-messenger in the short nights of May. Manifold once (ah, odious plight!) were the carollings in your pure green crest, and in your bright green house I heard every bird-song make its way; under your spreading boughs grew herbs of every kind among the hazel saplings, when your dwelling-place in the wood was pleasing to my girl last year. But now you think no more of love, your crest above remains dumb; and from the green meadow and the upland, where your high rank was plain to see, you have gone bodily and in spite of the cost to the town where trade is brisk. Though the gift of an honourable place in thronged Llandidloes where many meet is good, not good, my birch, do I think your rape nor your site nor your habitation. No good place is it for you for putting out green leaves, there where you make grimaces.Every town has gardens with leafage green enough; and was it not barbarous, my birch, to make you wither yonder, a bare pole by the pillory? If you had not, at the time of leaves, to stand in the centre of the dry crossroads, though they say your place is a pleasant one, my tree, the skies of the glen would have been the better. No more will the birds sleep, no more will they sing in their shrill note on your fair gentle crest, sister of the dusky wood, so incessant will be the hubbub of the people around your tent a cruel maiming! And the green grass will not grow beneath you, for the trampling of the townsmens feet, any more than it grew on the wind-swift path of Adam and the first woman long ago.You were made, it seems, for huckstering, as you stand there like a market-woman; and in the cheerful babble at the fair all will point their fingers at your suffering, in your one grey shirt and your old fur, amid the petty merchandise. No more will the bracken hide your urgent seedlings, where your sister stays; no more will there be mysteries and secrets shared, and shade, under your dear eaves; you will not conceal the April primroses, with their gaze directed upwards; you will not think now to inquire, fair poet tree, after the birds of the glen, God! Woe to us a cramped chill is on the land, a subtle dread, since this helplessness has come on you, who bore your head and your fine crest like noble Tegwedd of old. Choose from the two, since it is foolish for you to be a townsman captive tree: either to go home to the lovely mountain pasture, or to wither yonder in the town.