Monday 14 March 2016

On the Trail of the Yorks: Kristie Dean's exciting new book.

I'm delighted to  welcome the fabulous Kristie Dean, author of "The World of Richard III," whose new book "On the Trail of the Yorks" has just been released by Amberley Publishing. Kristie joins us to share an extract of her new work, focussing on the buildings which the York family owned and inhabited, with details gathered on her own extensive travels:

From "On the Trail of the Yorks:"

                                                     The gatehouse, Wigmore Castle.

Wigmore Castle came to Richard, Duke of York, as part of his Mortimer inheritance. The original castle is said to have been built by William Fitz Osbern. After his death, his son Roger de Breteuil inherited his lands in England. The lands were forfeited to the crown when Roger entered into rebellion against the king and was imprisoned.

The king granted Wigmore, along with other lands, to Ralph de Mortimer. Most of the construction of the castle was completed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Roger Mortimer renovated and rebuilt large sections of Wigmore. Since the family was powerful and wealthy, the castle probably reflected their status. In the early fourteenth century, Mortimer hosted a large tournament here, inviting the young King Edward III and his mother, Isabella. Certainly, the castle contained lavish accommodations in which to house the royal party.

Wigmore Castle was originally of motte-and-bailey construction. The later sandstone keep was built atop the motte, and a strong curtain wall with at least four sturdy towers surrounded the entire fortress. The fortification was necessary since the castle was besieged at least once in its early history.

According to The History of the King’s Works, there are no records of the architectural history of the castle between 1461 and 1485. The castle was in ruins by the sixteenth century, and was further dismantled during the Civil War.

Richard, Duke of York, and Wigmore

Soon after his loss of the Protectorate, York realised that he needed to leave court for a time. He first retreated to Sandal Castle, but soon decided he needed to move closer to Wales. H. T. Evans in his book Wales and the Wars of the Roses says Margaret of Anjou and Jasper Tudor had been busy consolidating a power base in Wales. Realising he needed to go where his support was greatest, York chose to remove himself to Wigmore sometime in October. Cecily had been at Caister Castle in Norfolk, so it is doubtful she joined him here.

Edward and Wigmore

As Wigmore was one of his father’s holdings, Edward would have spent time here while a child. Perched on a ridge west of Wigmore village, the castle had three baileys. Edward and his family would have entered the castle by crossing the drawbridge to the first gatehouse, and then over another drawbridge to the inner gatehouse where the portcullis would have been raised. The keep was high on the motte, allowing for a spectacular view. While here, Edward and Edmund would have hunted in the park near the castle.

After learning of his father’s death, Edward continued to raise troops among the Welsh Marches. Hearing that Jasper Tudor was heading to Hereford, Edward made his way to intercept him. Wigmore is not far from Hereford and was a logical choice to lodge Edward and his troops.

Passing by the parish church of St James, Edward and his men would have made their way up the hill to the castle where Edward lodged in the great chambers in the keep. His men would have stayed in either one of the lodging towers, in the timber-framed buildings along the curtain wall or in the Great Hall.

Knowing that his family’s future rested on his shoulders, Edward possibly passed a sleepless night within the palatial rooms of Wigmore, kept warm by one of the fireplaces within the keep. Before the first rays of light flooded through the intricately cut stonework of the chamber’s windows, he was organising his men to march over the frosted moors towards Tudor’s troops.

Richard III and Wigmore

After Richard became king, he granted the stewardship of Wigmore to William Herbert. Herbert had married Katherine Plantagenet, who was Richard’s illegitimate daughter. Wigmore was only one of the many grants that Richard gave to Herbert and to his daughter.

About the Author:
Kristie Dean is passionate about the medieval era. This passion ignited an interest in history that drove her to gain her master’s degree in history. Today, she enjoys instilling a love of history in her students. Her first book,
On the Trail of Richard III (original title: The World of Richard III), focused on the controversial king.

Many thanks to Kristie for sharing her work with us. Her new book, and her first one, are available from Amazon from tomorrow, 15 March.