Photos By Phil Steele
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Earlier low grade repairs. Photo Matthew Lewis
It is the welcome return of Mike Brown. This time talking about the medieval pilgrim. Mike has walked all the pilgrim routes of Europe dressed as a medieval pilgrim and will tell their story and play some of tunes of the time on authentic instruments.
Free to full Northampton Battlefields Society members otherwise £5.00 on the door.
Location: Marriott Hotel, Northampton https://www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/maps/travel/ormnh-northampton-marriott-hotel/
NBS has received an international award. The silver plated figurine of Nathaniel Wade was given to NBS at the International Guild of Battlefield Guides annual dinner on Saturday 14 January 2017 and collected by Vice-Chair Phil Steele and committee member Graham Evans.
The GBG Nathaniel Wade Award is named after one of the first Battlefield Guides. Wade was a Bristol lawyer and the hardworking creator of the rebel army during the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685.
The award publicly recognises the contribution of an individual, group or organisation associated with the GBG, who through their efforts has made a significant contribution to the craft of battlefield guiding and the wider Military History community. Last year it was awarded to the Belgian Tourist Office so we are in good company.
In July 2016, Chair Mike Ingram and the society received the Presidents Award from the Battlefields Trust for outstanding contribution to battlefield preservation and interpretation which was presented by Sir Robert Worcester. Previous to that, in 2015 it received an award from the NN4eight local community group for its work on battlefield preservation.
Chair Mike Ingram said afterwards “We are proud and pleased to receive the award and thank the GBG for considering us. It reflects the commitment and the hard work of our committee and members to preserving nationally important battles such as Northampton.”
The award came the day after NBS gave a display and talk about their work to the GBG at Delapre Golf Club.
Dominic Smee has a form of scoliosis similar to King Richard’s and for the recent Channel 4 documentary, Richard III: The New Evidence, Dominic was subject to various riding and training tests to determine if the condition could have had any negative effects on the King’s ability to fight in battle.
Richard Knox, Heritage Development Manager at Bosworth Battlefield Centre opens the talk by giving a history of armour, relating it to Richard 111. Dominic will then talk about his experience during the making of the Channel Four documentary. The talk concludes with Richard arming Dominic in the armour made by Channel Four and adding his own pieces.
Free to full NBS members otherwise £5.00 on the door.
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/
29 September – Phil Steele, Medieval Battle in contemporary illustrations.
20 October – AGM and talk Richard Brooks, William Marshal: The Knight who saved England
24 November – Paul Blinkhorn, Anglo-Saxon Northamptonshire
December – No talk
26 January – Dominic Smee and Richard Knox, The armour of Richard III
All talks at the Marriott Hotel, Eagle Drive, Northampton. 7:30pm start and are free to full NBS members otherwise £5.00 on the door.
Please dont forget this months talk – this Thursday 21 July.
Our speaker is Harvey Watson of the Battlefields Trust and co-author of “The Battles of St. Albans” talking about the first battle of St. Albans.
7:30pm start, free to NBS members otherwise £5.00 on the door.
Location: Marriot Hotel, Eagle Drive Northampton https://www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/maps/travel/ormnh-northampton-marriott-hotel/