Where would I be without Layton and Legh – today on the 22 December 1535 the dastardly pair of monastic visitors were beginning their northern visitation at Lichfield (yes – I know its the Midlands but to Thomas Cromwell it was the north). Layton paused en route at Chicksand in Bedfordshire where the Gilbertine nuns “refused to admit him as visitor.” (I bet that went down well). He found two of the nuns were “not barren; one of them impregnavit supprior domus, another a serving-man.” How he discovered this if the Gilbertine prioress refused him admittance is open to speculation. He must have taken himself off to the local tavern and listened to the gossip. Rumour had it that one of the nuns was bricked up alive – its always good to go with the stereotype and offers us our festive ghost story- not that this prevented the prioress receiving a pension when the priory was finally suppressed in 1538.
‘Henry VIII: December 1535, 21-25’, in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 9, August-December 1535, ed. James Gairdner (London, 1886), pp. 340-350. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/letters-papers-hen8/vol9/pp340-350 [accessed 6 December 2016].
Jumping forward two hundred years James III of England also known as the ‘Old Pretender’ landed at Petershead. The Jacobites had been up in arms since September on account of George I not giving governmental position to nobles who felt that they deserved posts. However, the jacobites were disorganised and poorly led meaning that by the time James landed it was all over bar the shouting. By February it was all over and James was back in France. The National Library of Scotland has a useful time line which may be accessed here.
There’s one last event for the 22nd which requires slipping back in time to 22 December 1135. Stephen of Blois, grandson of William the Conqueror, was crowned king of England in Westminster Abbey. Stephen’s uncle Henry I had intended his daughter Matilda to rule but his barons, forced to swear their support for her, felt that a woman was unfit to rule so crowned Stephen in her stead. It didn’t help that she was married to Geoffrey of Anjou – a chap who the barons weren’t terribly keen to welcome as the king – given that a woman, no matter who she was, would by necessity be required to be subservient to her husband.