Marigold – Calendula officinalis

Still going! And still not stitching fast enough – though I now have many ideas. Oh well. We’ll see what August brings.

Two marigolds completed and a third underway. It’s another plant with many local names reflecting its widespread cultivation from medieval times onwards. Calendula comes from the Latin for calendar named because the plant can be in flower from spring to autumn. The Lyle Herbal compiled by Anthony Askham in 1550 called them ‘the flower of all months’. It also had associations with the sun – because the flower turns towards it and because of its appearance. One of its common names is ‘bride of the sun’.

I do grow marigolds – the petals are a substitute for saffron so can be used as a dye as well as being edible. In medieval times they were used to treat wounds and as a treatment for sore teeth (optimistic I know). Modern herbalism recognises that they have anti-inflammatory properties. And yes I do partake of a pot of marigold tea on occasion – not sure whether it helps the rheumatism or not but there’s a sense of achievement in using something you’ve grown yourself at any rate. Medieval, Tudor and Stuart herbalists thought that it might protect you from a fever and even from the plague…I’m not prepared to guarantee that though!

Inevitably there is rather a lot of folklore associated with the bloom. Picked at noon it strengthens the heart and drives away melancholy. And if you want to discover the love of your life, stick it under your pillow at Halloween so that you will dream of them…I always thought that was apple peels thrown over your shoulder but it’s always good to have a variety of pre-internet dating methodologies available! To avoid being accused of witchcraft when gathering the flower, advice was also often provided as to what prayers to use. And nothing is not going to scream witch like someone mumbling to themselves while they pick flowers from the herb garden. I’m not sure that sentence works but you get the drift.

And talking of religious respectability, in Christian legend one of the names for the flower is ‘Mary’s gold’ because while the Holy Family were fleeing to Egypt, Mary’s purse was stolen. When the thieves opened it all they found were petals. Early Christians placed the flowers around statues of Mary as offerings in place of coins. By medieval times it became popular to plant Mary gardens with plants associated with the Virgin Mary, of which marigold was one. By the seventeenth century a similar collection of flowers had more subversive undertones so far as the State was concerned. Catholics planted so-called Mary gardens as a means of connecting to their beliefs. An alternative name to Mary’s gold, if you need another, was holy gold.

Mary’s gold became something of a pun for Mary Queen of Scots who used the image as a personal device on occasion. Marigolds can be found in the Oxburgh hangings at Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk (check whether they’re back in situ from their restoration at the V and A before going). Marigolds turning to the sun represented courage in adversity and the Scottish Queen certainly needed plenty of that. The flowers feature next to her monogram. The marigold was perhaps the least conspiratorial of the messages contained in the images on the Oxburgh hangings…no prizes for working out who the caterpillars might represent.

Mary Queen of Scots – World Tour of Derbyshire…with a detour to Yorkshire and Staffordshire

Next week we’re off on a Tudor adventure, on the trail of Mary Queen of Scots with our middle grand daughter who is doing her GCSE in history next year. Some of the places on the list are more obvious than others and some are not accessible.

Wingfield Manor is in need of some renovations. English Heritage has had to close the site while it’s made safe which is a shame because the fifteenth century manor it is a splendid ruin with its twin court yards and walnut tree allegedly grown from a nut dropped by Sir Anthony Babington when he visited the queen there in secret – the fact that its a fairy tale is neither here nor there, it makes for a good story. Dethick Manor where Babington was born is in private hands and I’m not sure if the church, which the Babingtons patronised, is open on a daily basis.

Hardwick Hall was completed by bess of Hardwick in 1597 but some of the wooden panelling came from Chatsworth and there’s a statue of Mary. It will also be an opportunity to explore the medieval manor and Bess’s Tudor creation. History students are required to study a Tudor location as their exams approach, although it could be as random as the site of the Battle of the Armada. This year it was Sheffield Manor Lodge.

Mary spent much of her captivity in Sheffield Castle which no longer exists but she also stayed at Sheffield Manor, hence the stop there. It’s opening is restricted but school holidays are a good time to visit. The journey across the moors between Sheffield and the Cavendish residence at Chatsworth or to Shrewsbury’s home at Wingfield can be typified by a walk at Longshaw. Mary is known to have enjoyed the opportunity to ride part of the way across the moors.

Talking of Chatsworth, not much remains of the Tudor building apart from Queen Mary’s Bower, a raised platform near the entrance to the house. Haddon Hall is on the list not because of Mary but because its one of the finest medieval manor houses in the country. Henry Vernon completed much building work during the Tudor period but when the male line died out it was very little used – so a good example to explore in terms of architecture and evolution.

Ashover Church contains many Babington monuments and accounts for the families position in the Derbyshire gentry. Ashbourne Church houses a monument to one of Mary’s jailors; The Babington Arms was the family’s Derby home and does what it says on the can; the Earl of Shrewsbury is buried in Sheffield Cathedral while his countess rests in Derby. Both have rather splendid monuments.

Tutbury, which is of course in Staffordshire, was another of Mary’s prisons and the Old Hall Hotel is where she went to take the water as a cure from her rheumatism. It may also be the location for a cream tea if the aforementioned grandchild plays her cards right. And of course, as some of you will remember, this is the child whose first question at Fountains Abbey (when she was knee high to a grass hopper) was “does it have a cafe?” – to which the answer to all of the above is if it doesn’t, I know where one is.

Columbines, granny’s bonnet, Aquilegia…call it what you will.

Eight hours it took me to stitch the first granny’s bonnet on the coif and that’s not counting the two hours it took me to unpick my first effort – we won’t go into how many hours I’d already spent on it or the amount of time taken by the leaves. I am admittedly quite pleased with the end result but that could just be relief to have completed it!

Aquilegia were first listed as a garden plant by Hildegard of Bingen at Rupertsberg. She used it as a tincture to cure fever. The plant appears as an illustration in many medieval breviaries and psalters across Europe as a quick search will reveal.

To the medieval mind those fluttery petals were akin to bird’s wings – the association stuck. Columbine from the Latin columba meaning dove gives us the link to the Holy Spirit while aquila gives us the eagle – and Christ in the form of an eagle soaring heavenwards. Which makes me wonder if the bird on the left of the flower on the coif is in fact an eagle and the smaller one above it is supposed to be a dove (albeit a rather sooty looking one.)

The plant does have other common names because it it is indigenous to Britain. I’ve always known the flower as a granny’s bonnet – my mother comes from East Anglia – but it is also called boots-and-shoes; Dolly’s bonnet; lion’s herb’ rags and tatters and widows weeds among many others.

Wild columbines are largely blue and this was the colour of royal mourning in France – so the plant became associated with widows and the sorrows of Mary- the idea travelled. As if that weren’t enough apparently it was also known as herba leonis because there was a belief that lions favoured them as a light snack (don’t ask). As a consequence, carrying the flowers or even rubbing some sap into your hands was supposed to imbue a person with courage and fearlessness – qualities associated with lions.

The Hall family of Coventry are recorded as using columbines on their coat of arms – presumably so that they could be as gentle as the Holy Spirit, as warlike as an eagle, as brave as lions and as forlorn as deserted lovers (yup- yet another association).

Later, ladies who wished to find an example to turn into an embroidery might have used Gerard’s Herbal first published in 1597. Gerard described some of the variations to be found in the aquilegia as well as methods for their cultivation, indicating the move towards a more scientific approach. He noted that medieval medicine did not use it as a cure (he clearly hadn’t seen Hildegard’s thoughts on the subject) but he suggested:

Most in these days following others by tradition, do use to boil the leaves in milk against the soreness of the throat, falling and excoriation of the uvula: but the ancient writers have said nothing hereof. Ruellius reporteth, that the flowers of Columbines are not used in medicine: yet some there be that do affirm they are good against the stopping of the liver, which effect the leaves do also perform.            

Clusius saith, that Dr. Francis Rapard a physician of Bruges in Flanders, told him that the seed of this common Columbine very finely beaten to powder, and given in wine, was a singular medicine to be given to women to hasten and facilitate their labour, and if the first taking it were not suffficiently effectual; that then they should repeat it again.

I wouldn’t suggest trying it. For other sources the so-called Tudor Pattern Book of 1504 held by the Bodleian Library is part bestiary part herbal. The formalised image on the coif seems more Tudor than Stuart in form so I shall be taking myself off to Hardwick Hall to see if I can spot an embroidered slip that has a similar look.

Binham Priory

Located between Fakenham and Wells-next-the-Sea (which is someway inland these days), the priory is Norfolk’s most complete monastic ruin. It was founded by Peter de Valognes, the nephew of William the Conqueror, in 1091. Peter did rather nicely from the Norman invasion and the land he donated to the monks at St Alban’s for a news cell in Norfolk was on land his uncle granted him.

During the reign of Henry I, the monks were granted a market charter and free warren of their lands – which basically meant that they could slaughter as much small game as they wished without irritating the monarch who, according to feudal principles, owned it all under terms of forest law.

Not everything went so smoothly according to Matthew Paris the prior, Thomas, was removed in 1200 by the abbot of St Albans which led to a long running dispute and a falling out with Robert FitzWalter who was the prior’s friend not to mention an important baron in East Anglia. FitzWalter, who would gain his place in the history books during the First Barons’ War claimed to have a charter giving him, and him alone, the right to hire and fire the prior – it was forged but you can’t blame a baron for trying! FitzWalter even besieged the priory and King John not known for his good relationship with the Church had to send an army to raise the siege.

The priory as it stands dates from between 1227- 1244. The west window tracery was the first in England to be formed from bars of stone enabling more glass and less stone to be employed. Excavations have revealed some of the magnificent medieval stained glass.

Inevitably by the time Cromwell sent his commissioners to pay a visit in 1536 there were a series of scandals, three incontinent monks out of a small band six, but it avoided suppression until 1539. A gentleman from the King’s privy chamber, Thomas Paxton, rented the manor which was worth £101 a year. Part of the priory church became Binham Parish Church. Among the survivals are two misericords and four panels from the chancel screen incorporating words from the approved 1539 Bible – Coverdale. The words have been painted over the top of the medieval saints and of Henry VI.

Incidentally if you want scandal, one of the priors, William de Somerton (1317-1355), sold off monastic land to fund his alchemy experiments. And if that’s not lively enough for you there are folktales of tunnels running from Binham to Walsingham – for which there is absolutely no evidence!

Crows….in heraldry and their symbolism

Medieval bestiaries included birds and there are some examples that remain well known. Pelicans were thought to draw blood from their own breasts to feed their chicks – this translated as Christ’s sacrifice for the redemption of mankind. It’s a popular carving in churches. Doves haven’t changed very much and eagles were a symbol of resurrection because of its high flying.

Crows were devoted family birds and on occasion were described as an example of good parenting practise although they were also associated with death and war – something of a mixed message. The Twa Corbies was a popular medieval ballad and Shakespeare got in on the act as well -with crows and ravens as harbingers not only of death but also of defeat and planned murder. So I don’t think that the crow like bird on the unstitched coif is linked to any of those particular images – apart from the good parenting – I can’t imagine many women would want to associate themselves with war or defeat.

Ravens are, of course, rather important in the Tower of London as it is said that if they depart that England will fall. It derives from the idea of ravens keeping guard – making them much more benevolent than the ones that turn up in dreams and on battlefields.

There is a possibility my bird might be a heraldic image – corbie rampant regardant (standing upright looking back over its shoulder). A Complete Guide to Heraldry by Fox Davies identifies the raven as a significant bird. The Corbet family of the Welsh Marches have a raven on their coat of arms from the French Le Corbeau – it’s a canting allusion i.e. a pun. And the arms of the Yorkshire Creyke family is also a raven or crow as is the Korwin arms (think you can see the theme here). Unfortunately the Corbet ‘corbeau’ isn’t looking over its shoulder and the Creyke crest looks like an angry eagle with a hint of swan (probably a bad image I’m studying). The Isle of Anglesey has some very fine crows on its coat of arms and I love the raven on the arms of the episcopal see of Manchester (see below) but I don’t think that the bird on the unstitched coif is a heraldic bird although I did when I first saw it.

The next option is that it comes from an existing book of the period in much the same way that many of Mary Queen of Scots designs come from Gessner’s Icones Animalium, published in Zurich, 1560. The problem is that the coif dates to the seventeenth century by which time there was a wider range of printed material available for someone to use as inspiration for their own embroidery.

Of course, it might not be a corvid – it could be something else entirely?

Miller, Dean, Animals and Animal Symbols in World Culture

Holbein – random facts and a squirrel

Hans Holbein, who was born in Augsburg in about 1497, has a needlework stitch named after him- not that he ever knew it. Double running stitch involves running a thread in one direction but leaving sufficient space to repeat the process on the return journey. It ensures the pattern at the back of the fabric and the pattern on the front are identical and it is often used in blackwork embroidery. The name stems from the amount of embroidery of the style depicted by Holbein in his portraits.

Young Hans learned his trade from his father Holbein the Elder and, in all likelihood, from the town’s goldsmiths then went to Basel in about 1514 where he set about creating murals in the town hall and also created a set of woodcuts to illustrate the ‘Dance of Death’. Basically the message was that you can be having a lovely time but Death is just around the corner (cheery).

He became part of the cultural scene of Basel and received commissions from the humanist scholar Bonifacius Amberach and of the Dutch scholar Erasmus. However, the world was becoming more difficult for artists in Basel. The regime began to impose a strict censorship on the press.

Armed with a letter of introduction from the humanist Erasmus to Thomas More, Holbein arrived in England in about 1526. He worked in England for two years before returning briefly to Basel. In 1532 he returned once more to England where he spent the last eleven years of his life, having left his wife and children in Basel. During that time he painted approximately 150 portraits -including Sir Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell. Many of the portraits include detailed observations of fabrics decorated by blackwork embroidery made popular in the court of Henry VIII by his first wife Catherine of Aragon who famously stitched her husband’s shirts for him.

Henry’s third queen, Jane Seymour, is pictured wearing a chemise with blackwork embroidery on the cuffs under her gown and brocade sleeves. In fact Holbein was asked to paint all of Harry’s wives de jour while he was Henry’s court painter. A sketch of an unknown woman may be Anne Boleyn – in which case someone either has a very valuable portrait tucked away in their attic somewhere or when Henry had her arrested and executed it ended up on a bonfire. He was sent off to paint portraits of potential brides including a full length portrait of Christina of Denmark which looks very demure until you realise that the widowed Duchess of Milan has removed her gloves which in a polite world symbolises intimacy. More famously he painted the picture of Anne of Cleves causing Henry to ‘swipe right’ in modern language. Holbein obviously saw something in Anne that Henry didn’t as the image and the reality didn’t match up in Henry’s mind. It was probably just as well that executing artists wasn’t the done thing! Holbein also provided a portrait of Catherine Howard.

Inevitably Holbein’s patronage by the Crown meant that everyone wished to sit for their portrait and since blackwork embroidery was fashionable ruffs and cuffs abound in embroidery. Everything about Holbein’s portraits makes a statement and for later art historians the symbols contained in his works have often helped to identify the sitters or given a clue as to the way that they identified themselves in Henry’s renaissance world. It turns out that they weren’t all courtiers. Many of them were merchants from the Hanseatic league sending portraits home to their families. Jane Pemberton, pictured below, with blackwork collar and cuffs, was the wife of a cloth merchant.

And the man couldn’t resist a pun – A lady with a squirrel and a starling is likely to be Anne Lovell of East Harling. I’ve posted about her before : .

Squirrels feature on the Lovell coat of arms and Harling and starling rhyme – pushing it a bit I know but it does demonstrate the lengths educated Renaissance types went to to make a point. And people did keep squirrels as pets. They even turn up in everything from the Lutterell Psalter to depictions of eighteenth century children with their pet squirrel. Inevitably they have a range of meanings apart from identifying anonymous ladies in quilted hats. Which brings me to the tricky element of symbolism which depends on context – diligence, infidelity, greed, voraciousness and in some medieval bestiaries a squirrel was such an angry creature that on occasion it might even die from rage…presumably because a some wit made an inappropriate pun about cracking nuts – and I’ll leave you to work out the symbolism to go with that!

Squirrel hair- vair -from the backs and bellies of the winter coat of squirrels (it was combed out) was very popular at the court of King John but I have no idea how I know that! It is also theorised that all these pet squirrels and nifty winter squirrel fur outfits contributed to the spread of leprosy in medieval Europe.

Back to Holbein – he is likely to have died from plague in 1543 and is buried in an unmarked grave – probably somewhere in Aldgate where he lived which means that cross-rail has probably disturbed his final resting place. His will is dated the 29 November and it provides for two illegitimate children in England.

And why this particular post – well, I’ve arrived at the point where I’ve got to embroider a squirrel into the blackwork coif (#unstitched coif). I know some stitchers have opted for an acorn motif while another prefers pinecones. I’m still making my mind up but I think I want to use a stitch that create the impression of a luxuriant tail and tufty ears – I’m not sure I can come up with a motif that would be appropriate for a small angry creature that might expire from rage.

Foister, Susan, Holbein in England, (London: Tate Publishing, 2006)

Walker-Meikle, Kathleen, Medieval Pets, (Boydell Press, 2012)

Werness, Hope, Animal Symbolism in Art (London: Continuum, 2006)

Eudo Dapifer and his elder brother Ralph

My starting point for this post is Ralph FitzHubert who was one of Wiliam the Conqueror’s tenants in Derbyshire. He made his home at Crich even though the majority of his Derbyshire manors were closer to Chesterfield and he held other estates in Nottinghamshire – Crich was perhaps convenient to access his manors. Crich, with its woodland pasture, was home to the king’s deer – which all belonged to the Crown. So far so good. Ralph is sometimes called Hubert of Ryes because he was the eldest son of the lord of Ryes near Bayeux and in Derbyshire he had six under tenants and was required to put a total of 30 knights in the field in return for all his land holdings.

Rather unexpectedly I found his younger brother was someone I’ve written about before. Ralph’s brother Eudo, who along with his three other brothers and father, arrived in England after 1066. Eudo held extensive lands in ten counties and by 1072 he was the steward or dapifer to the royal household. He was with William the Conqueror in Rouen when he died and he accompanied William II or William Rufus as he’s better known back to England. He continued as dapifer. Basically, he was a very powerful man and he married into a powerful family – his wife was Rohese de Clare.

He is also part of the group of men suspected of having William Rufus assassinated in August 1100. As conspiracy theories go the idea that the de Clares and their extended kinship network gave William’s little brother Henry a helping hand to the throne is not a new one and like all good theories there’s not a lot of evidence kicking around. Nor should it be added that he was ‘heaped with rewards’ if he did play a part in William’s demise (Frank Barlow, p.172).

Dapifer held extensive estates in East Anglia and played an intrinsic part in the building of Colchester Castle. His only child, a daughter called Margaret, was married to William de Mandeville. Eudo was the grandfather of Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex. After Eudo’s death his estates largely reverted to the Crown – which led to a disagreement between the king and Geoffrey in the matter of who owned Saffron Walden, Sawbridgeworth and Great Waltham. The case was only resolved during the Anarchy when King Stephen granted Geoffrey the estates that he claimed the Crown had taken unlawfully.

All in all, I’m a long way from brother Ralph in Crich. His descendants took on the name FitzRalph and his son Odo FitzRalph of Bunny in Nottinghamshire inherited the lot. However, the estates were broken up by female inheritance. And as a final aside, the place name has nothing to do with bunny rabbits – I was always taught that the Normans introduced rabbits to Britain but it turns out from archaeological finds at Fishbourne Roman palace that it was the Romans and even more amazing it wasn’t lunch – it seems to have been someone’s pet lepus.

Barlow, Frank, William Rufus, (2008)

Warren Hollister, C, ‘The Strange Death of William Rufus’, Speculum, Vol 48. no.4 (Oct 1973), pp.637-653

From the unstitched coif via Cresswell Crags towards the motte and bailey constructions of the Anarchy

Its been a busy week and this is a bit of a different post from my usual one. As some of you are aware I’m taking part in the Unstitched coif project to stitch a 17th century coif. My first official blog on the topic is here: for those of you who would like to see my progress to date. Suffice to say I need to speed up. Other participants are blogging as well and its absolutely fascinating to see how one pattern can produce so many different results.

Inevitably I couldn’t help taking a dip into the history of embroidery. Tudors used brass or bronze needles – but steel needles started to be used more widely during the reign of Elizabeth I. They were a Spanish import – not something to be mentioned in the same breath as the Armada perhaps. Clearly they were expensive items. Some needles continued to be made from bone because they could be made at home – which made me think about my recent trip to Cresswell Crags and the Stone Age needle excavated there which I have included at the start of this post. It certainly makes me appreciate the relative cost of needles today and their availability. I would perhaps be taking a different approach to needlework if the instruction began – ‘first make your needle.’

And that just leaves the mottes and baileys. No, nothing to do with embroidery. I’m working my way through the history of Derbyshire having completed most of the first draft. I am now at the end of the reworked Norman section – i.e. the Anarchy between Stephen and Matilda- before handing it over to He Who Is Occasionally Obeyed for proof reading and difficult questions! I’m trying to work out what to include in the text about the Anarchy before moving into the next chapter. The difficulty lies in the fact that adulterine castles from the period often had a limited shelf life, the castle at Bakewell being a case in point. The original castle at Bolsover was a twelfth century creation of the Peveril family, not that a lot remains. (NB there is a lovely 17th century little castle!) Its possible that the castle at Pilsbury dates from the Anarchy but the evidence is inconclusive and I’ve already written about it in the context of the Norman Conquest.

My next castle stop will be a return journey to Peveril, with King Henry II in control, and then its a question of identifying suitable fortified manors for an entry in the medieval section – Codnor Castle has definite appeal being sited on a motte and bailey. Its half way between a castle and a manor and has similarities with Wingfield Manor. Codnor was held by Richard, 2nd Lord Grey and his son John who was a military commander for Edward III. Perhaps a map would help me to decide what to include as I need to have a balance of locations from around the county.

I think I need a new category – covering posts like this…what is the word that means ‘and everything else’?

Norman castles in Derbyshire…

Peveril Castle

Peveril Castle in Castleton springs to mind as does Duffield Castle which was razed to the ground thanks to an earl of Derby rebelling against King Henry III once too often. Peveril was one of the earliest post conquest castles to be constructed but what stands to day reflects the improvements of King Henry II after the confiscated it from the Peveril family.

No one could accuse Derbyshire of having an important castle within its boundaries, which raises interesting questions about Derby as a Norman administrative centre although it did apparently have some form of early castle as its remains can be found on Speed’s map of 1610 at Cockpit Hill. It has probably got much to do with the fact that the Normans linked Derbyshire to Nottinghamshire, providing only one sheriff for the two counties. William Peveril was the castellan for Nottingham Castle as well as holding the royal forest in the Peak on the king’s behalf.

There was a fortification at Bolsover as well but today we think of the seventeenth century ‘play’ castle built by William Cavendish, Earl of Newcastle rather than a motte and bailey castle designed to dominate the locals and control the area. Sir Charles Cavendish, William’s father, began to change the appearance of the old medieval castle in 1608. The so-called ‘Little Castle’ stands on the footprint of the original building.

And then there’s Codnor but that was built at the beginning of the thirteenth century while the motte at Bakewell, which looks more like a pimple on the hillside, is twelfth century dating from the Anarchy when Stephen and Matilda were taking lumps out of one another and the barony were busy turning to brigandage.

Further reading reveals that there are more Norman fortifications in the county than I first realised:

  1. Pilsbury Castle guarding the Dove Valley.
  2. It is suggested that the fortifications at Pilsbury and Hartington, at Banktop, may have been complimentary structures. All that remains at Hartington is a large mound with a flat top.
  3. Crowdecote is just down the road from Hartington and Pilsbury – there’s not much left and quite why the Normans wanted three forts to guard the crossing of the Dove and its associated trackways is another matter entirely. The manors were all in the hands of Henry de Ferrers who may have built a fortification to ensure he kept his territory. It’s also possible that they were thrown up during the troubles of the Anarchy – in which case Hartington and environs must have been rather dangerous to one’s health on occasion. Crowdecote doesn’t get a mention in Domesday but there were some Saxon pottery finds there.
  4. Camp Green at Hathersage, next to the church, was excavated during the 1970s and revealed itself to be a ringwork enclosure however lack of dating evidence means that it was unclear whether the Normans got to work with their shovels or whether earlier inhabitants of the Peak created a defensive position here. Based on analysis of many other similar sites Hodges argues it was the Normans.
  5. Harthill near Youlgrave may be a Norman construction but it’s also been argued that its Iron Age in origin. Certainly, that’s what I always understood it to be!
  6. Hassop Moss near Glossop has similar dating problems and may well be part of a rather grand hunting lodge dating from a later period.
  7. Hope had a Saxon Royal manor which seems to have been fortified.
  8. There’s another platform for a fortification at Stony Middleton on the optimistically named Castle Hill. Dating it is difficult – it could be British, Roman, or Norman and there were pot shards found there dating the for thirteenth and fourteen centuries. Interestingly the site is near to a lead mine which certainly explains the presence of the fortification.
  9. Tissington has a potential ringwork near its church but the problem is that there was rather a lot of earthwork activity during the English Civil War so its difficult to tell whether the remains are a Civil War redoubt or something olde being repurposed.

It may be the case that the Norman ringworks in the Peak District were built quickly to control some very grumpy farmers whose land had just been ‘harried’ by the Normans in the winter of 1069-1070. It has also been suggested that this was land which was agriculturally viable and needed to be protected. Not that it’s always clear who did the building or when it happened – it certainly demonstrates the importance of dating evidence.

Exciting as all this may be, Derbyshire’s castles are hardly on the same scale as the corresponding structures further north or the castles of the marches of Wales but in its turn it demonstrates that in the aftermath of the conquest matters settled themselves down and it was only during times of civil conflict that people felt the need to sling up a conical mound to perch on. There are, of course, many fortified manors in the region – some of them rather lovely, including Haddon Hall but that’s a slightly different story.

Creighton, O. H. Castles and Landscapes

Hodges, R (1980) ‘Excavations at Camp Green Hathersage (1976-77)’ Journal of the Derbyshire Archeological Society, Vol 100, pp25-34

Peter of Savoy and the Honour of Richmond

Peter of Savoy, statue in front of the Savoy Hotel, was Eleanor of Provence’s uncle. His father intended that Peter should enter the church but in 1234 he concluded that the life of a cleric was not for him. When he arrived in England, Henry III, showered favours on him because it would please Eleanor. In 1240 the king granted him most of the Honour of Richmond. However, the envy of the barons focused upon him and at the start of the Second Barons’ War he life the country for his own safety.

In 1265 Simon de Montfort confiscated the honour but in the aftermath of the Battle of Evesham, Henry III returned the estates to him. Peter, who married his cousin Agnes of Faucigny, had only one legitimate child, a daughter named Beatrice but she did not inherit the honour of Richmond after her father’s death in 1268. Instead the honour reverted to the Crown.

The first man who acquired the barony was the eldest son of Alice of Brittany and Peter de Dreux who became the 2nd Earl of Richmond in 1268. In the succeeding generations five of the earls of Richmond would be Dukes of Brittany. Only one of them lived most of his life in England in service of its kings. John, Earl of Richmond born in 1266 was granted the honour in 1306 by Edward I.

Morris, David, The Honour of Richmond