Archive for the ‘Medieval History’ Category

Japanese Garden, Dartmouth

Dartmouth, situated at the mouth of the river Dart in Devon is a town which has long-standing naval links. It was recorded in 1147 and 1190 as a departure port for the crusades and was twice raided and sacked during the Hundred Years War. This led to the practice of closing the estuary each night by stretching a chain across from Dartmouth to Kingswear on the other side.

Dartmouth Railway Station. Built in preparation for a railway connection to the South Devon line. Unfortunately, the Railway never reached the Town.

Naval references are found everywhere in the town.

Lots of little lanes ascend the hillside.

The town has many buildings dating back to the Middle Ages and Tudor periods.

The cherub public house, probably the oldest building in Dartmouth. Dating back to c 1380 it was originally the house of a townsman or merchant.

Inside The Cherub

It is home to the Royal Brittania Naval College, founded in 1863 and housed in an impressive hillside building overlooking the town, completed in 1905.

Britannia Royal Naval Academy

All that remains of the Medieval Franciscan Monastery in London, or the famous school which occupied the same site, are two blue plaques on the wall of a London office building.

The friary was founded in Stinking Lane, part of the Butchers quarter, in 1225. The land was donated by merchants, the timber by King Henry III and the church building was financed by the Mayor of London. It was a prestigious foundation and rapidly expanded -within 20 years it housed 80 friars. The church was expanded again in the 13th century to have 11 chapels and amongst those buried there are 3 queens of England – Eleanor of Provence (Henry III); Margaret (Edward I) and  Isabella (Edward II).

Greyfriars-site-map in early 16th century By Peter Damian – The Grey Friars of London by C.L. Kingsbury, Public Domain, https/commons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=12313224

It continued on the site until it was closed down in 1538 on the orders of Henry VIII as part of his dissolution of the monasteries.  The building passed to the City of London and the church continued to be used for worship. Henry’s son, Edward VI founded Christ’s hospital, a school for Orphans, in the friary buildings in 1552.

The church was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666 and was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren and became known as Christchurch.

Remains of Christchurch

For more details on Christchurch go to

( ).

View of Greyfriars site 1895 = Public Domain, httpsen.wikipedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=27356487

Christ’s Hospital school remained on the site until 1902 when it relocated to Horsham in Sussex. The site was redeveloped and now houses the offices of Merrill Lynch International.


Perhaps one of the strangest named churches in the city of London, St Vedast-alias-Foster lies within the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral. Its dedication is to Vedast, a sixth century Bishop of Arras in France, who had restored Christianity to that area by the conversion of King Clovis of the Franks. It is an unusual dedication in England and only two others are known – one in Tathwell in Lincolnshire and the other is in Norwich (the church no longer exists and is only remembered in a road name). There are a number of possibilities as to how a  parish in central London came to be named after such a little-known French saint. One is that St Vedast was particularly venerated by the Augustinian Friars and that this may have been how the dedication arrived in London. Alternatively, it may have been set up by the Flemish community living in London. A third possibility is that we know that one Ralph d’Arras was the Sheriff of London around 1275 and he may have brought the dedication from his hometown. Although there is some indication of a church on this site stretching back possibly as far as  1170, there was certainly a church on the site by the end of the 13th century. The ‘alias-Foster’ in the title refers to its position in Foster Lane, although if there was only one church with this dedication in London why did the location have to be added. Maybe there is another church yet to be discovered?

Entrance to St Vedast

The church was expanded in the 15th and 16th centuries, but as with many City churches succumbed to the great Fire of London in 1666. it would appear that although the church was gutted, the damage was not too severe as St Vedast appears to have continued in use form shortly afterwards. However in the 1690s, it became clear that the structural damage from the fire would need to be addressed and the church was rebuilt under the guidance of Sir  Christopher Wren, who completed the work in 1699. Again in keeping with many City churches, St Vedast was burnt out following the bombing raid of 29 December 1940. Plans for rebuilding were laid in 1947, but work on the restoration did not begin until 1953.



Stained Glass above main altar

Secluded courtyard garden entered through St Vedast church

St Vedast, as it stands today, is a haven of peace and quiet in one of the busiest parts of the city. In addition to its architecture, the church also has a  collection of church silverware which include some pieces from before the Commonwealth period. This is quite unusual as most of these were destroyed by the Commonwealth inspectors.

Elizabethan Chalice and Paten.

A fascinating find whether it is from the Middle ages or the 17th century. Whats under your garden?

Michael Bradley - Time Traveler

Four4Four Science: 700-year-old Knights Templar cave complex hidden beneath U.K. farmer's field; Jeff Bezos plans moon deliveries, mind-controlled robot, mold sells for $15,000
Hidden caves of the mysterious Knights Templar revealed

A rabbit hole in the UK conceals the entrance to an incredible cave complex linked to the mysterious Knights Templar.

New photos show the remarkable Caynton Caves network, which looks like something out of the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” The shadowy Knights Templar order is said to have used the caves.

The Sun reports that the caves are hidden beneath a farmer’s field in Shropshire. The site was visited by photographer Michael Scott after he saw a video of the caves online. “I traipsed over a field to find it, but if you didn’t know it was there you would just walk right past it,” Scott said.

Once inside, Scott encountered arches, walkways, and carved niches. He described the caves as cramped, noting that anyone nearing six-feet tall has to bend down inside the…

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Golden Hinde

Posted: March 24, 2017 in Devon, History, Medieval History, Ships, UK
Tags: ,

This full sized replica of the Tudor Warship, Golden Hinde, has been berthed in Brixham Harbour for over 50 years.

It serves as a museum to the life and voyages of Sir Francis Drake. The Golden Hinde was his most famous ship in which he circumnavigated the world on a journey of over 36,000 miles.

Castel Del Monte

Posted: March 23, 2017 in History, Italy, Medieval History

Castel Del Monte (the castle of the mount) sits high on a hill overlooking Apulia in Italy. It was built in the 13th Century by Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emporer as part of a series of defensive castles. It is Octagonal in shape with octagonal towers, a unique design of its time. It is now recognised as a Unesco World Heritage site

The view from the Castle entrance

Inside the Castle. Photo by Irene Grassi (

The Banqueting Hall, Whitehall

The Banqueting Hall, Whitehall

The first record of occupation of this site comes from the 14th century when it was occupied by York house, the London residence of the Archbishop of York. It was in 1514, that the then Archbishop, Thomas Wolsey,  occupied the house. As he grew in favour with Henry VIII, the King would often visit him here. But by 1520 the relationship between the two had begun to sour – Henry stripped him of his assets in southern England and the palace passed into royal ownership. At this time the Royal family didn’t have a residence in Westminster. The old Palace of Westminster had been destroyed by fire eight years earlier and the king had been living at Lambeth Palace. He seized his opportunity and embarked on a massive rebuilding programme to turn the Archbishop’s residence into a royal palace, adding extra buildings, a tennis court and a tiltyard. But at this time a banqueting hall was a temporary structure erected in the gardens when required. There is a record of one being erected for the marriage negotiations of Elizabeth I with the Duke of Alencon  in 1581 and it seems at this time that somebody decided that perhaps it was more efficient  not to keep taking it down and putting it back up again, but simply to leave in place and it remained on the site of the current banqueting hall  for the next 25 years.

In 1606 James I decided to remove this ‘temporary’ building and build a permanent Banqueting House, which opened in 1609. It lasted only 10 years before it was destroyed by fire. The new building was designed by Inigo Jones with ceiling paintings by Rubens. These were painted in his studio in Antwerp and shipped to London for installation in the Palace. There is no evidence that Rubens at she ever saw them in situ as he did not accompany them.

Inigo Jones plan for Whitehall Palace. Public Domain,

Inigo Jones plan for Whitehall Palace. Public Domain,

The Civil War of 1642 to 1649 came to its great climax at the Banqueting House, chosen as the site of execution for King Charles I after he had been found guilty of treason.  On 30 January 1649, the king was brought there from St James’s Palace, led up through the galleries and out through a window onto the scaffold. I can’t help but wonder whether there was some deliberate ploy in this to give him a final reminder of what had been as he experienced the lavishly painted galleries on the way to his place of execution.

The execution of Charles [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The execution of Charles [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Palace remained deserted for five years until in 1654 it was reopened as the residence of the Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell. He lived here until his death four years later. With the restoration of the monarchy in 1660,  it is interesting that Charles II  processed through London, ending up at the Banqueting House, where he received speeches of loyalty from the Parliamentarians. Was this in some way payback for what they had done to his father reminding them as they swore loyalty of that day in 1649 when they had killed the King? Charles’ successor James II was the last King who would live at Whitehall Palace. When the Crown was offered to William and Mary in 1689, the ceremony took place in the Banqueting House. However, William, being an asthmatic, did not like living in the city of Westminster and moved the court his new palace in the village of Kensington. The Banqueting House was still used however for state occasions such as the lying in state Queen Mary in 1694.

Horse Guards Parade and the Banqueting Hall by Canaletto 1749 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Horse Guards Parade and the Banqueting Hall by Canaletto 1749 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Part of the Palace had been damaged by fire in 1691 and in 1698 a major fire occurred which destroyed everything except for the Banqueting House and two gates. Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to redesign the remaining building as a Chapel Royal and it remained as such until 1890,  although from 1808 it was used as a Chapel for the Regiment of Horse Guards. In addition to its function as a Chapel, it was also used as a site for concerts. In 1829, the exterior of the building was dressed in Portland stone as we see it today. From 1893  the building was used as a museum, amongst whose exhibits was the skeleton of Marengo, the horse of Napoleon Bonaparte. The museum closed in 1962 and the building was restored to it’s Stuart appearance and reopened under the care of historic Royal palaces.




Some pictures of the 12th / 13th-century chapel at Launde Abbey. A wonderfully peaceful and calm place to sit and reflect in a moment of quiet,

The Chapel

The Chapel


The Font

The Font










carving of Last Supper behind Altar

carving of Last Supper behind Altar

Memorial to Gregory Cromwell

Memorial to Gregory Cromwell

Stained Glass Window

Stained Glass Window


Launde Abbey

Launde Abbey

Launde Abbey, south of Oakham in Leicestershire, was founded in 1119 as a priory for a group of Augustinian Black Canons. Over the century that followed it grew as buildings were added. It originally sat in a royal forest but in the 13th century, much of the surrounding land was cleared to create a deer park.

The front terrace and the deer park beyond

The front terrace and the deer park beyond

The priory was dissolved in the mid 16th century along with many other religious houses in England by act of Henry VIII. It was given to Gregory Cromwell, son of Thomas Cromwell, chief minister to King Henry. The Cromwell family lived here for about 60 years and restored and rebuilt many of the monastic buildings turning it into a domestic dwelling.

The oldest remaining section of the house. The 12/13th century chapel on the left and the section at the front of the house icorporates elements from the house of 1550.

The oldest remaining section of the house. The 12/13th century chapel on the left and the section at the front of the house incorporates elements from the house of 1550.


The house as seen from the gardens

The house as seen from the gardens

It then passed through a number of different families, most notably the Smiths in the 17th century, who pulled down many of the monastic buildings and built the manor house seen today.

The stable block, now converted into additional accommodation and meeting rooms.

The stable block – now converted into additional accommodation and meeting rooms.

Some elements of the history remain from before the 17th century. One part of the house dates back to the 1550s and the chapel is 12/13th century and was a side chapel of the original priory church.

The Chapel

The Chapel

In 1957 the house was presented to the Anglican Diocese of Leicestershire and is now used as a retreat and conference centre.

Textus Roffensis. Photo by Keith

Textus Roffensis. Photo by Keith

When Keith and I recently visited Rochester Cathedral we took the opportunity to visit the exhibition space in the crypt. This traces the history of the Cathedral through items from its collection.

Head of a medieval Bishop's crozier. Photo by Keith

Head of a medieval Bishop’s crozier. Photo by Keith

Reliquary.  Photo by Keith

Reliquary. Photo by Keith

The centre of the exhibition is a copy of the Textus Roffensis (The Book of Rochester).

Textus Roffensis. Photo by Keith

Textus Roffensis. Photo by Keith

The Textus Roffensis is a codex of books probably written from around 1120 AD and bound together in the 14th century. It was written by a monk at Rochester in a local ‘font’ known as Rochester Prickly. It is in two languages Old English (Anglo-Saxon) and Latin. Part of the codex contains the only existing copy of King Ethelbert of Kent’s code of Laws, which originated from around 600 AD. It also comprises a copy of the Coronation Charter of Henry I, used by the Barons as a template when composing the Magna Carta. Other items include documents relating to land holdings of the Cathedral and other legal documents. Together they seem to comprise a reference book to be used in legal disputes involving the rights and holdings of the Cathedral.



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