I ws looking forward to coming here, as ever since I read Sharon Penman’s ‘Here Be Dragons’ series and ‘Falls the Shadow’, I’ve been fascinated with the de Montfort family and the last of the Welsh royal family. King John (of ‘Robin Hood’ fame when he was the prince) was Llewellyn the Great’s wife’s dad and I was eager to see his tomb.
We were driving near Evesham and I was racking my brains as to why this name was so familiar. Was it the last battle that Simon de Montfort had with the king? Was it where the family lived? Was it anything to do with them at all? Then we passed over a bridge: The Simon de Montfort bridge. I squeaked with excitement. My memory wasn’t so faulty after all.
They had some poppy petals that you could place on an altar in memory of anyone who’d died in a war. I put one on for my great-grandfather, Sidney Glanville, who died in France in 1916.
The cathedral has had churches built on it since 690 or something. Here is one of the Saxon walls.
Here’s one of the seats that the monks built to sustain them during their long prayers. See that little seat?
I asked our tour guide to demonstrate how they used them. It’s so they can sit down and take the weight off, while technically still standing.
Down in the crypt they had a case with the leather boots, shell (from a previous pilgrimage to somewhere or other) and his staff belonging to a man they were actually able to identify.
Here’s his boots.
We were zipping along and I was impatiently waiting to see Joanna’s dad (King John) when we paused at Prince Arthur’s chantry.
WHAT?!? Nobody mentioned Prince Arthur…. could it possibly be Henry VIII’s brother? The older brother who was supposed to be king but died of the sweating sickness??? No way!!
Then the guide started talking about Henry VII’s grief at his son dying 5 minutes after he married Katharine of Aragon, (well… ok… it might’ve been 6 months or so) and how he built this for his soul. I was cautiously very excited. This is all very well, but is Prince Arthur actually here?
Here he is. Well… he’s not actually in his tomby thing. They did an x-ray and discovered it was empty. The crypt is directly below it so they couldn’t bury him here. He’s a little to the side, under the floor.
Sorry for the blurry photo. Barry from Melbourne is standing on his grave.
The guide said that some of the decorations were damaged by the soldiers coming from Henry VIII, and they would’ve been more damaged except someone pointed out to them that they were actually desecrating the King’s brother’s tomb, so they stopped. The interesting thing was that the tomb wasn’t even properly finished. There are decorations lacking, as well as statues that weren’t placed in niches that were meant to contain them. The theory is that once Henry married Katharine of Aragon, they didn’t really want to call attention to the fact that she’d married his brother, so work gradually petered off.
Then we went to another part of the cathedral, where this statue really caught my fancy. I think it’s beautiful and a little bit sad.
Look at the lovely detail of her hair covering at the back.
FINALLY we get to Joanna’s dad.
By all accounts his effigy was extremely lifelike. The bones inside measure the exact length of this effigy. Here’s a look at his face:
Quite the hottie. This would’ve all been painted and you can see where the jewels would’ve been in the round hollows. These would’ve been confiscated by Henry VIII.
Here’s what it would’ve looked like in its day.
On the way out I saw the following:
I like that you can buy this in a cathedral.
Then I went outside and talked with a guy who had a half Border Collie, Half Kelpie. She likes to jump on walls. People here are so lovely to talk to. Anyone with a dog; I’m stopping and patting their dog and getting my Poppy and Jeff fix.
Then we went to Ironbridge, a town that has an iron bridge. Sometimes the English have awesomely inventive names… other times there’s a complete lack of imagination.
The view was nice, though.