Posts Tagged ‘Clarendon’

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 20 May to Sunday 27 May 1257

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Henry spent all this week at Westminster. He was preparing for the great feast of Pentecost on Sunday 28 May. To join in the celebrations, he was joined during the week by Walter de Cantilupe, bishop of Worcester, Peter of Savoy, Simon de Montfort earl of Leicester and Richard de Clare earl of Gloucester. Both Savoy and Montfort used their presence to  secure concessions from the king.  Montfort’s was a writ to the  exchequer ordering it to pay him all of £500 for his losses while Henry’s seneschal in Gascony between 1248 and 1252, although, in the event, the order was cancelled as Montfort secured payment through an earlier writ.

The fine rolls for this week continue to record a good flow of judicial business. Some 18 writs were purchased to initiate or further common law legal actions. Another purchase seems more sinister. On 25 May, Henry accepted 20s from John son of Reginald of Rawcliffe in Yorkshire for a writ of grace which commanded the judge Roger of Thirkleby not to hear the assize being brought against him by the abbot of Selby for land in Rawcliffe. Was Henry here obstructing the judicial process, or are other interpretations possible?  Three fines this week to have cases brought before the court coram rege, the court which travelled with the king. One of these concerning land in Berkshire was to be held when the king was at Windsor, and another, concerning land in Wiltshire, when he was at Clarendon.  Litigants living in the west and the north of the country, which Henry rarely visited, were not, of course, able to have their cases heard on the spot in this way.

For the membrane covering this week, click here

Next week, the feast of Pentecost.

Henry’s Residence at the Tower of London in 1261

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Whilst Henry III’s lodgings at the Tower would probably not have been as lavishly decorated as at his other major residences of Westminster, Clarendon and Winchester, there is still plenty of evidence to show that it was comfortably appointed. During his stay in 1261, he and his family would have lodged in the royal apartments, built early in his reign, to the south of the White Tower overlooking the river Thames. These, and the adjacent Great Hall, had been smartly whitewashed on their exterior in the late 1230’s, and shortly afterwards, this was complemented by the whitening of the keep, later known as the White Tower. The great round turret, today called the Wakefield Tower, is the only part of Henry’s private accommodation to survive at the Tower. Its scale, and the beauty of the architectural spaces within, hint at the former splendour of the king’s lodgings. We know from detailed accounts in the Liberate Rolls how some of the king’s and queen’s rooms at the Tower were decorated.  Queen Eleanor’s chamber within the king’s apartments was to be painted with false pointing and embellished with flowers. Another room was to be whitewashed and painted with roses.  The window shutters of the Great Hall were painted with the king’s arms. The chapel in the Wakefield Tower was to be glazed with a great window, and painters were paid 19 shillings and sixpence to adorn its walls. In 1238, Henry ordered that a ‘good and suitable’ screen be made and situated between his chamber and this chapel. It is very likely that Henry received visitors in the first floor chamber of the Wakefield Tower during his stay in 1261, and one wonders if the decorations installed over twenty years before would still have shone as brightly. Perhaps, if the candlelight were subtle enough. Henry was much concerned with the embellishment of chapels at the Tower, as elsewhere. He and his queen worshipped in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula to the north of the inner ward, and this was decorated accordingly. Large glass windows were ordered in 1240, and beautiful stalls for Henry and Eleanor were installed. Polychrome sculptures, painted panels and possibly a wall painting of St Christopher were added, together with a magnificent rood. The carved Crucifixion on top of the rood was flanked by ‘two handsome cherubim’ standing to the left and right. A characteristically personal request was added that they should have ‘joyful and smiling faces’! Henry’s passion for the story of Edward the Confessor did not weaken at the Tower of London. In the same year, he ordered that fine painted sculptures of St Edward handing his ring to St John the Evangelist be installed in the chapel of the same name, in the White Tower. Alas, nothing of this magnificent decoration now survives.

Posted on behalf of Jane Spooner, Curator (Historic Buildings) at the Tower of London.

Henry III Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 24 April (Easter Day) to Saturday 30 April 1261

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Last week, Henry III at last left the Tower of London and set up court at St Paul’s doubtless in the bishop’s house there. He was able to celebrate Easter Day, 24 April, at St Paul’s rather than in the great fortress. Yet that was still a terrific breach with custom. Since 1239 Henry had always celebrated Easter at Westminster Abbey. The only exceptions were 1243 and 1254 when he was in France.  Between 1230 and 1238, the pattern had been different. The great feast had then been shared between Westminster, Gloucester, Canterbury, Clarendon and (most popular of all)  Reading abbey.  The change, of course, reflected  how Henry’s devotion to Edward the Confessor had come to dominate his life.  He would always celebrate Easter beside his patron saint. How grievous now to be unable to do so.

Even worse, St Paul’s itself  was not entirely secure, as the fine rolls reveal for the first time. The usual itinerary of Henry III has him at St Paul’s for the whole period from 23 to 29 April.  Indeed it was at St Paul’s, on 28 April, as the fine rolls show, that Henry took the homage of the Nicholas de Cantilupe in return for a relief of £5 for the knight’s fee he held from the crown. This was in strict accordance with the level stipulated by Magna Carta.  But the fine rolls also show that Henry was briefly back at the Tower on the twenty-sixth.  It was from there that he issued the order  putting Elyas de Rabayne back in possession of his properties.  Evidently Elyas, the Poitevin castellan of Corfe expelled in 1258,  had acted on Henry’s invitation (see the blog for 10-16 April) and had returned to England.   Elyas may have brought vital information about the situation at Dover for next day Henry ordered money to be sent there for the expenses of his household.  He had taken the momentous decision to dash to Dover and seize the  castle.  This was not a decision he made alone for  his brother, Richard earl of Cornwall and king of Germany,  the Queen and her  uncle, Peter of Savoy, the Norman John de Plessy (earl of Warwick through marriage), and the king’s most faithful and brilliant counsellor, John Mansel,  were all at court around this time.  Leaving Mansel behind in command of the Tower, Henry  left London on 29 April and by the end of the day had reached Rochester.

The exigencies of this week may explain a falling off in the routine business on the fine rolls. Only twelve of the common law writs were sought as opposed to seventeen the week before. It will be interesting to see how far the flow was affected by the move on Dover. For Henry, of course, that was not a consideration. The vital question was what would happen which he got there. Would he manage to get control of the great castle, widely thought of as ‘the key to England’?