They have only gone and done it again mum!

 

Oh dear. Here we go again. Northants is once again doing its best to become philistine of the year. Yup the county that wanted to dig its battlefield up, brought you the Sekhemka debacle, and allowed one of the last surviving Queen Eleanor’s Crosses to crumble, is now attempting to price a visit to the local archives out of the market. This in effect stops anyone carrying out research into the town and counties amazing past (the archive is for both town and county, but run by the county). This is the county of spires, squires, kings and queens where national and international history was made. It was home to radicals from lollards to puritans, home and burial place of ‘founder of the Brownists and originator of the gunpowder plot. Amongst many others, it is the burial place of Napoleon’ s granddaughter and the inventor of the sandwich. And democracy was fought for in its fields many times! And that is just scratching the surface. Who knows what is there still waiting to be discovered. Are they really intent on making the town’s and counties history mere history?

To be fair, this time it is not the borough but the county council. However, the archive is in the middle of the town so both will no doubt, be tarred with same brush.

Over recent months there has been an awakening of the powers that be with the importance of the town’s and counties history and there have been serious attempts to raise the awareness of it locally and nationally, but in one foul swoop it has come crashing down to joke status again. The county sat on those meetings and went to events publically pronouncing the plans, so knew full well what was being admirably attempted, so why have they brought it all crashing down without consultation? No neither do I?

Perhaps it is a misguided attempt to cash in on the awakening?

For those of you who have not undertaken archival research before let me explain a typical process. You arrive at the archive and request the documents. Hopefully you have identified the correct file in which the information you are looking for is held. Sometimes there can be a number of different files in which the information may be found and you then you are typically restricted to three files at a time. You then have to wait for them to be found. Providing they have been put away from the last time they were viewed and not languishing on a trolley somewhere (that is assuming it has been catalogued and indexed correctly in the first place), and depending how busy the archive is, and how many staff are there, you should have the file within the hour, hopefully quicker, although it can be longer). These files are often little more than a collection of papers maps or rolls usually without indexes. It really is a case of trying find a needle in a pile of needles. This is a long and slow process. It can be much longer if it is not in modern English or before spelling was standardised or the writing is illegible. And even longer if in medieval Latin, French or Italian etc. So this might take several hours to complete.

You might not find what you are looking for, so you have to start the whole process again. And even then you might not find anything and have to go through the process several more times. I have spent a whole week at Kew researching one thing. On another occasion I spent two days going through the Astor Archive looking for evidence of an event but left empty handed. Kew of course is free but with the new system at Northampton, even a day is costing me serious money and a week? I will let you do the maths at £31.50 per hour. Yet there is still no guarantee that I will have found what I want. Speculative visits would of course be prohibitive under this new system.

The text then has to transcribed or copied (incurring additional costs).

You should now be able to see the problem! Contrary to popular belief writing history books pays little. You already have to pay a small fortune for images from recognised sources. So this puts any original research into the counties history out of financial reach especially if the intention is to write a paper, book or article. Instead people will be forced to rehash old accounts (some of dubious accuracy) and use less reliable sources. Or, and more likely, just ignore Northants contribution to history all together. This proposal will therefore be the death of historical originality and discovery. An immediate rethink is needed!

Here is a link to the petition, which at the time of writing had over 3,000 signatories.

https://www.change.org/p/northamptonshire-county-council-northamptonshire-county-council-don-t-charge-for-visiting-archives?source_location=petition_nav

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Battle of Northampton Event 15/16 July 2017

The international award winning Northamptonshire Battlefield Society will be at Delapre Abbey on 15/16 July for the commemoration of the 1460 battle where we will be giving walks, talks and demonstrations. Come and play our new battle of Northampton game. We will have our new Northamptonshire and Rutland Wars of the Roses Gazetteer and battle heraldry posters on sale as well as the book and game.

delapre poster 2017

 

 

Change of Speaker 29 June 2017

Due to circumstances beyond our control, we have a new speaker and talk for our next talk on 29 June. It will now be Rob Atkins from MOLA talking about Iron Age Northants. Rob has been a post-excavation manager at MOLA’s Northampton office since March 2016 and is employed to write up and publish backlog sites as well as help colleagues in report writing. Rob graduated from Birmingham University in 1989 with a BSocSc in Economic and Social History. He worked for various archaeological units before being employed by MOLA in 1993 as a site assistant and later as a supervisor. In 2002 he briefly left MOLA to be a project officer with the old Cambridgeshire County Council unit (now OA East) before returning in his current role. Rob has always been very interested in the post-excavation side of archaeology and has authored or co-authored various monographs and articles in local and national journals over the last 15 or so years.

Queen Eleanor’s Cross – The story so far

When Edward I’s queen, Eleanor died in 1290 at Harby, her viscera, less her heart, were sent to the Angel Choir of Lincoln Cathedral for burial, and her body was then taken to London, taking 12 days to reach Westminster Abbey. Crosses were erected at the twelve places where her funeral procession stopped overnight. Today only three crosses still stand, at Geddington, Northampton, and Waltham Cross. The top of the Northampton Cross was missing in 1460 at the time of the battle.

eleanor cross

 Northampton’s Queen Eleanor Cross. Photo Nicola McKenna
In July 2016, Northamptonshire Battlefield Society began to express concerns about the deteriorating condition of the Northampton Cross in meetings with Northampton Borough Council and other stakeholders in Delapre park. NBS continued to bring it up at subsequent meetings but got no further than a than a dispute of who was responsible for its upkeep. Frustrated at the lack of action, NBS made their concerns public which were then taken up by BBC Radio Northampton. Starting Monday 24 April, for three days in succession it was headline news and the chair of NBS, author Sara Cockerill and others were interviewed on the radio. As a result, the Borough Council issued the following statement.

“We are aware of the many references to the cross on our website and sadly whilst this seems contradictory we still believe this isn’t proof of our ownership of the cross, however we have carried out extensive maintenance on the cross in the past we now intend to carry out further work to tidy up what is undoubtedly a fantastic monument of national importance”

And this was despite the cross being listed on the council’s asset register. So, on Wednesday 26 April this page was launched. The threat to the cross sparked outrage within the local community and further afield. Support grew rapidly and a twitter feed was greeted with a similar response, also gaining celebrity support from the likes of Tony Robinson and Al Murray. The cross’s plight made TV and interviews with the NBS Chair, plus Marie Dickie and Adrian Bell from the Hardingstone History Group was shown on BBC Look East on 2 May.

eleanor growth 3

Some of the growth on the Cross. Photo Matthew Lewis

Then on the afternoon of 2 May, Northampton Borough Council released the following statement

“We are moving ahead as quickly as possible to get the permission we need to carry out work on the Eleanor Cross. We have met with Historic England and taken their advice and have already approached three accredited restoration and conservation companies with the experience of working on such important monuments. Two have already responded and when we have heard from the third, we will appoint a contractor to carry out a condition survey, commission initial works and advise on what further work is needed going forward.
“We have formally made an application to work on a scheduled monument and once we have received the permission necessary from Historic England work will begin straight away. We are well aware of the importance of the Eleanor Cross and how our plans for Delapré Abbey will raise its profile even further.”

There is a way to go yet. Support continues to grow and NBS will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that the council sticks to its promise. Responsibility needs to be confirmed and a long term maintenance program needs to be sorted. Better access to the site and some signage are also priorities. We will continue to report progress.
But all in all, not bad for little over a week. Thank you everybody.

eleanor patching

Earlier low grade repairs. Photo Matthew Lewis

YOU HAVE READ THE BOOK – NOW PLAY THE GAME

 

We are pleased to announce that we are launching our new Battle of Northampton 1460 game at Kettering Museum on Saturday 21 January from 11am.

“Northampton 1460” is a two player game of the nationally significant Wars of the Roses battle fought on the 10th July 1460 in the fields of Delapre Abbey, to the south of Northampton. The game is quick and easy to learn and enables the players to refight the battle on their own dining room table.1460-cover-small

The game provides the players with the opportunity to examine the decisions made by the opposing commanders on the day, as well as those of an array of supporting characters such as Henry VI, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Queen Margaret. Players can either follow in their footsteps or change the course of history. The game system presents each player with the decisions they could have made on the day as well as those that were made and provides for a range of outcomes. The scoring system enables the players to see how well they have done compared to their historical predecessors, – so it is possible to lose the battle and still win the game!

The game book contains all the components needed to play, – accurate heraldic game counters representing the nobles present, player decision cards, a game board and cards that control the weather, as well as clear, concise rules and a description of the battle. All the players need to add are some dice.

game-components

This two player game, which can also be played solo, is suitable for both children and adults, providing an insight to the events both preceding and during this important battle in the bloody and treacherous Wars of the Roses. Produced in a book format it is that rare thing, – an educational game that is also fun to play.
Speed of set up and play means that you can play the game multiple times over to try out different plans and strategies.
Can you change the course of history and defeat Warwick the Kingmaker?
The game is based upon the very successful Northampton Battlefields Society participation game “Northampton 1460” which the Society uses at historical shows and events to explain the battle and promote the Society. Originally intended only to be used for public display repeated requests from participants asking where the game could be bought has led to the Society producing a version that can be played at home.

Age 8+
Retail Price £12.99 Full NBS members £9.99

Speakers for 2017

Jan 26: Dom Smee and Richard Knox – Richard III armour
Feb 23: Mike Ingram – The Earls and Kings of Scotland and Northamptonshire
March 23: Thom Richardson (curator emeritus, Royal Armouries) – Arms and armour in England in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries
April 27: Mike Brown – The medieval pilgrim
June 1: Bob Woosnam-Savage (Curator of European Edged Weapons, Royal Armouries) – The reality of 15th century warfare – Tis but a scratch
June 29: Andy Chapman – Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age Northants
July 27: Peter Brearley – The story of archery
September 28: Mathew Morris – Revealing Greyfriars. The search for Leicester’s lost Franciscan friary.
October 26: AGM plus Matthew Lewis – Henry III
November 30: Prof Steven Upex. Medieval Field Systems in Northants

All start 7:30pm except AGM (7:00pm)

See our Facebook page under events for more details of individual talks.

All free to full Northampton Battlefields Society members otherwise £5.00 on the door.

Venue: Marriott Hotel, Eagle Dr, Northampton NN4 7HW http://www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/maps/travel/ormnh-northampton-marriott-hotel/

1460 Battle of Northampton timeline 3

10 July 1460

The Battle of Northampton

King Henry knights ten of his men including Thomas Stanley and the five year old grandson of the Duke of Buckingham.Both would be heavily involved in the demise of Richard III, twenty four and twenty five years later

The Yorkists send Heralds and Bishops to the Lancastrian camp to negotiate, still maintaining they do not want to fight, only talk with the King. A Yorkist Bishop changes sides and urges the King not to negotiate but fight.Buckingham declares “The Earl of Warwick shall not come to the King’s presence and if he comes he shall die.”

Warwick finally replies “At 2 o’clock I will speak with the King or I will die”. It would be the last time that any negotiations would precede an English battle. Coppini, the Papal Legate pronounced the most terrifying of all excommunications – an anathema on their enemies, exhibiting before the camp an Apostolic letter in which was believed to contain the formula for the excommunication forbiding them to have a christian burial. Warwick orders either spare the commoners or spare Grey’s men (depending on the source).

‘le seigneur de Greriffin’, who along with thirteen to fourteen hundred men, was outside the fortifications. He goes on to say that the Yorkists skirmished with Greriffin outside the town for an hour and a half. It is not clear whether the report means the whole Yorkist army or just part, but it is more likely that it was the Yorkist vanguard led by Scrope and Stafford when they first arrived. These Yorkists then assaulted the town itself which took another half hour from when Greriffin’s men retreated. They entered Northampton by force, pillaging and burning the town as they passed through it

The Yorkists then advance on the Lancastrian position, it would be the only time a fortified camp was assaulted during all thirty-seven years of the wars. Several accounts say that the Lancastrian guns fail to fire. Although the guns might not have worked, they were not defenseless and shower the Yorkists with up to 100,000 arrows. Despite this William Lucy in Dallington hears gunfire and races to join the King (was this then Yorkist gunfire?)

When Edward Earl of March (later King Edward IV) and his men reach the defences, Lord Grey of Ruthin in the Lancastrian left flank and his men start helping the Yorkists into the camp.

Its all over for the Lancastrian’s. A fight takes place around the King’s tent in which Buckingham, Egremont, Beaumont and Shrewsbury are all killed. So too is Vaux from Northampton. The King is captured by the Yorkists.

Many Lancastrians try to flee. With the bridge under Yorkist control and the river under flood plus a myriad of smaller waterways that flow east and west between the Abbey and the town, they can only go east and lots of miniature battles take place across the landscape. Many are recorded as dying as they try to cross the river (probably Rushmills).

William Lucy arrives on the battlefield only to be met by his wife’s Yorkist lover, who kills him with an axe. The two marry shortly after.

Aftermath.

Between 5-7,000 killed. All the Lancastrian lords are killed. King Henry is captured. He stays at Northampton for three days and takes mass at Delapre. He is then led back to London in procession. Soon after Richard of York returns and for the first time lays claim to the throne. Margaret of Anjou escapes with the Royal baggage but is overtaken at Gayton. The rogue bishop is arrested and thrown into the dungeon at Warwick Castle.

Want to know more? please buy our book “The Battle of Northampton 1460” published by NBS and available from either their stand at events, Northampton Museum, Bosworth Battlefield Visitor Centre or Amazon.

1460 Battle of Northampton Anniversary Event in pictures

1460 Battle of Northampton timeline 2

9 July 1460

The Yorkist army approaches Northampton through Blisworth and probably camps for the night at Hardingstone.

The Lancastrian camp begins to swell with men as towns answer the King’s summons. Twenty men from Beverley arrive after their mayor threw a party for them before they left. Men from Shrewsbury are also there too. Northampton’s leading gentry and their men such as the Wake’s, Catesby’s, Vaux’s and Tresham’s all come in support of the King. The Duke of Buckingham, as earl of Northampton draws men from his local estates, as does the Queen who owns Kingsthorpe Village. The town itself calls out the militia which fights under the town’s ‘Wild Rat’ banner.

The Yorkists send Heralds and Bishops ahead to the Lancastrian camp to negotiate, still maintaining they do not want to fight, only talk with the King.