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

Northampton Battlefields Society receives new international award

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.”

 

award

The award came the day after NBS gave a display and talk about their work to the GBG at Delapre Golf Club.

 

 

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

1460 Northampton battlefield update

Last year we asked all of you to object to a planning application from the local Golf Club to build a car park on the site of the battlefield.

Many of you did and in the end there were 217 objections. Thanks very much to all of you who took the time to write.

Since then things have moved on. The application was scheduled to be dealt with by the local planning committee last week. If you objected you should have had a letter offering you the opportunity to attend.

However the Golf Club withdrew the application at the last minute. This might sound like good news but for those of you who don’t understand the labyrinthine ways of the English planning process it actually isn’t.

You see the Club were going to lose. The application was inappropriate and the “Heritage Assessment” they paid for was a joke. Local press was opposed and then there was also all those objections. If they’d lost then that was it, pretty much.

What the Golf Club have decided to do is withdraw the application and resubmit a completely new one. This will mean that all the objections and work opposed to the old application won’t count any more. They now know all the reasons for objecting to the application, so they may well be able to deal with them in the new application which they will probably introduce on a shorter time frame.

What this means is that some time over the next few months I’ll probably be asking you all to object again and we will be hoping that you won’t be bothered because you did it last time. If the objections drop then the Golf Club will be able to argue that they have addressed the concerns of the community and interested parties.

In the interim what can you do? If you aren’t already a member of the Northampton Battlefields Society you could join (find us on Facebook). Membership fees go towards the costs of running the Society and organising opposition to damage to the local battlefields.

Or, if you haven’t bought a copy already, buy Mike Ingram’s book about the battle, available through Amazon: link

Profits from the book go into the Society’s fighting fund.

Thanks everyone for you support so far,

Graham Evans NBS committee member and editor of the NBS newsletter ‘The Wild Rat’

New Book

We are pleased to announce the publication of our new book on the 1460 Battle of Northampton. Written by medieval historian Mike Ingram and illustrated by Matthew Ryan. Forward by Earl Charles Spencer.

It should have been the battle that ended Richard of York’s rebellions. With the Yorkists politically destroyed and the estates confiscated, all that remained was to carry out the punishment for treason – death. On 10 July 1460 King Henry VI and his army waited for the Yorkists in a heavily fortified camp in fields outside Northampton. However, they did not count on the treachery of Lord Grey of Ruthin. For the first time, this is the full story of the Battle of Northampton which took place during the turbulent period now known as the Wars of the Roses. It was the first and only time that a fortified camp was assaulted and was the last time protracted negotiations took place before a battle. In its immediate aftermath the House of York laid claim to the throne of England for the first time and so began the bloodiest phase of the Wars of the Roses – the war of succession. As well as the battle itself, the book looks at Northamptonshire’s medieval history and its involvement in the Wars of the Roses.

Foreword by Earl Charles Spencer

Northampton today is, frankly, an under-appreciated, often overlooked, town. The joke is, people only know of Northamptonshire because they shoot through it on the M1: they note the name of the county town on notice boards from exits 15 to 16. But this was, once, one of the great centres of power and influence in early and Medieval England. It was also, with Oxford, home to one of the first two universities in the land. Mike Ingram brings fine scholastic research to play, in reminding people of Northampton’s past importance – strategic and social. His energetic prose gives colour to every page, while his revelations intrigue and entertain. He helps us appreciate why one of the great battles of English history took place in this Midland town, and he skilfully resurrects the generals and ordinary soldiers who clashed in an engagement that helped lay the foundations of this nation’s past. You don’t need to be a champion or resident of Northampton to appreciate this overdue appraisal of the battle that bears its name. This is a book that everyone who loves History – particularly the almost forgotten kind – will savour.

The book is published by Northampton Battlefield Society priced £9.99 and is available in printed version and for kindle etc. Available from Amazon or from Northampton Battlefields Society.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/099307779X?keywords=mike%20ingram&qid=1449230084&ref_=sr_1_5&s=books&sr=1-5

 

Dates for your Diary

Our forthcoming talks

Thursday, 26 March 2015 – Andy Lubienski is giving a talk on medieval games. Marriott Hotel Eagle Drive, Northampton. 7:30 start £3,00 per person.

Thursday, 30 April 2015 – Andy Chapman, “In search of Northampton Castle”

Marriott Hotel Eagle Drive, Northampton. 7:30 start £3,00 per person.

13/14 June 2015 – Battle of Naseby Anniversary Event. See http://www.Naseby.com for more more details

Saturday, 4 July 2015 – 1460 Battle of Northampton anniversary event, with foot tournament by Sir William Harrington’s Companye, Delapre Abbey, Northampton

Friday, 10 July 2015 – 1460 Battle of Northampton memorial walk from Delapre Abbey to Queen Eleanor’s Cross where flowers will be laid in memory of the fallen.

History of Northamptonshire

Northamptonshire has always played an important part in the history of Britain. Sadly it is a current trend that modern historians leave the county out of narratives of important events such as the wars between Saxons and Vikings, the sealing of the Magna Carta, the Second Barons War, the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War.

In an attempt to redress the balance, we are making available below a potted history of the county as two pdf’s. Part 1 covers Saxons to the mid 15c, Part 2. the Wars of the Roses to the Black Watch Mutiny.

northants history part 2 northants history part 1

January Meeting

Although we will not be having a meeting in December due to the Xmas hols we are pleased to announce our first meeting of 2015 will be on Thurs 29 Jan at 7:30 pm. Marriott Hotel, Eagle Drive, Northampton. Our speaker will be Rev. Peter Wadsworth from St. Albans. He will be talking about medieval religion. If you have not seen him before, he is brilliant and has incredible depth of knowledge.£3.00 per person

Northamptonshire and the Magna Carta

Concerned over King John’s warlike preparations and Papal support, the Baron’s agreed to muster at Stamford near Peterborough during Easter week (19-26 April) 1215. Five Earls and forty Barons, mostly from the north, are mentioned by name as being present at the muster,” with many others“; they all came with horses and arms, and brought with them ” a countless host,” estimated to comprise about two thousand knights, besides other horsemen, sergeants-at-arms, and foot soldiers.

From Stamford they marched to Northampton, John, who had spent Easter in London, sent William Marshal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Steven Langton and some other bishops and magnates to parley with them. Several meetings appear to have taken place. At some point the Baron’s moved to Brackley. It was here they met with Marshal and the Archbishop on 27 April, and “presented to the envoys a certain schedule, which consisted for the most part of ancient laws and customs of the realm, declaring that if the king did not at once grant these things and confirm them with his seal, they would compel him by force.” It was this list of demands that became the Magna Carta.

Langton and the Marshal returned to the king, now in Wiltshire, with the list of demands. One by one the articles were read out to him by the Archbishop. According to Roger of Wendover, after he had heard them all John said ” Why do these barons not ask for my kingdom at once ?… their demands are idle dreams, without a shadow of reason” Then he burst into a fit of rage, and swore that he would never grant to them liberties which would make himself a slave.

He then sent the two back to the Barons and instructed them to repeat his words verbatim. On hearing this, the Barons immediately renounced their fealty to the King and chose Robert Fitz-Walter as their leader, to whom they gave the grandiose title of ” Marshal of the army of God and Holy Church.” They then marched back to Northampton, occupied the town and laid siege to the castle. However, they had not brought any siege equipment and after two weeks, were forced to give up, but not before many had been killed including Fitz-Walters standard bearer. The Barons moved to Bedford where William de Beauchamp readily gave up his castle and then to London.

A truce was brokered between the two sides but by the beginning of June  it had ended. On 29 May, John wrote to the Pope, complaining about the barons, and how it was impossible for him to fulfil his vow of a crusade. In reality, John knew it was all over. The king was almost deserted and at one point only had seven knights left. Four rebel armies were now in the field, one besieging the Tower of London, another capturing Lincoln, with none of them paying any attention to the truce. The townsfolk of Northampton had also risen against the royal garrison of
the castle and slain several of them. Although the King’s men had sallied out and burnt half the town. Finally, sometime at the beginning of June, John despatched William Marshal to the Barons in London saying “…that for the sake of peace and for the welfare and honour of his realm, he would freely concede to them the laws and liberties which they asked ; and that they might appoint a place and day for him and them to meet, for the settlement of all these things.” In the words of Ralph of Coggeshall, ” By the intervention of the archbishop of Canterbury, with several of his fellow-bishops and some barons, a sort of peace was made.” A meeting was arranged where John would agree to the Barons demands. The meeting was set for 15 June, and the place, a meadow between Staines and Windsor called Runnemede.