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Event Review – The Battle of Barnet

by Guest Editor The Almighty Kof


The Fog of War

Last weekend, Sir William and the Companye had the pleasure of being part of the first, and hopefully inaugural, Battle of Barnet event in North London. Bringing together the Medieval Siege Society, Households from the Wars of the Roses Federation (including some northern Harrington cousins), the House of Bayard, Barnet Museum, and The Barnet Battlefields Trust this was truly a stupendous undertaking and an event we hope will grow.

Theresa Villiers MP

Theresa Villiers MP, who opened the event.

Commemorating and reenacting the 1461 Second Battle of St Albans in the morning, before advancing 10 years and portraying the 1471 Battle of Barnet in the afternoon, the fighters of the Companye had a thorough workout!

The Battle of Barnet, one of the decisive battles of the Wars of the Roses, as it, along with the Battle of Tewkesbury, secured the throne of England for Edward IV and ensures 14 years of Yorkist rule thereafter. A difficult battle to reproduce, due to a 90-degree shift of the field of battle mid-way through, the spectacle nevertheless went off without a hitch, to great acclaim from the enthusiastic crowd. Sir William and his retainers were under particular scrutiny this time, as they had the honour of forming the bodyguard of the king himself on the battlefield.


“Well how do you know he is the King..?”

Not to be outdone, the ladies of the companye, left behind to guard the camp, made do with shopping, cooking, needlework, gossip and chatting to some of the 5000 public visitors over the weekend. Three Harrington ladies even went so far as to perform the famous 15th century ‘reverse striptease’ as they first stripped off, then re-dressed for a ‘Dressing of the Lady’ display, which was surprisingly well attended, even when the spectators knew the clothes were going on, not coming off!

The visitors to this show were the real highlight of the weekend, coming armed with enthusiasm, incisive questions (occasionally throwing us the hard ones!) and an interest in everything the societies had to offer, rarely have we had a crowd who matched us in our zeal for all things medieval!


A really appreciative crowd – thanks to all those who attended!

Now for a quick breather, before our next show – off to Kenilworth next weekend for one of our favourites – the Kenilworth Grand Medieval Joust! See you there!

Dead Douglas

Oh look. A dead Douglas – how novel!


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Event Review – The Siege of Hedingham Castle (2018)


Slightly later than planned but finally a review of our opening Medieval Siege Society event of the season, which took place on the early May bank holiday.

Hedingham Castle is the jewel in the MSS crown, and a welcome return every year – and 2018 was one of the best in recent memory.

For a May bank holiday it was hot. Dang hot. (Hottest place was my braies, you could cook things in them).

The Companye arrived and were set up in the lower Bailey area along with our great friends and battlefield rivals in the De Cobhams, which meant some great campfire singing was the order of the day.

This year’s events were based around the year 1469, and the unrest started by the Earl of Warwick in order to remove the family of the new Queen (Elizabeth Woodville) from positions of power around his nephew King Edward of York. This would of course culminate in the 1469 Battle of Edgecote, which the MSS has previously recreated on the actual battle site in 2009/10.

The scenario was that a steward of the castle in the service of the De Vere family, was still holding out against a Yorkist force sent by King Edward to starve them out, and to preserve the castles integrity. However, as the morning of the event started and the castellan agreed to surrender, news arrived of rebellion in the north, and the return from Calais of the Earl of Warwick. This changed the calculus of both sides – for the Lancastrians it was now worth holding out to see the outcome of the national squabble, for the besieging Yorkist force, time was no longer on their side and they now sought a quick end to this matter, regardless of the cost.

As it was a siege event, as well as the mighty MSS trebuchet (melon tossing with a smile TM) this year also had the cannon from our friends in the House of Bayard! Le Boom.

The fighting was fierce, and although the Yorkists had the better of the morning, the final assault upon the walls of Hedingham proved to be much for the attacking force. The Lancastrians carried the day, and with it hope that their absent queen Margaret of Anjou may one day return.



We were delighted that there are some videos of the event on YouTube, the links to which can be found below:

5th May Afternoon – Video

6th May Morning – Video 1

6th May Morning – Video 2

6th May Afternoon – Video

It was a great event, and there are far worse places to be than North Essex on a May Bank Holiday. We can’t wait to go back next year!


The annual Hedingham steps photo.

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The Ballad of Lady Bessy

Here is the section of the Ballad of Lady Bessy which talks about Sir William Harrington…

That noble knight in the West Countrey,
Tell him that about Michaelmas certaine
In England I do hope to be :
Att Millford haven I will come inn,
With all the power that make may I,
The first towne I will come inn
Shall be the towne of Shrewsbury :
Pray Sir William Stanley, that noble knight,
That night that he will look on me.
Commend me to Sir Gilbert Tallbott, that royall knight,
He much in the North Countrey ;
And Sir John Savage, that man of might,
Pray them all to look on me :
For I trust in Jesus Christ so full of might
In England for to abide and bee.
I will none of thy gold, Sir Prince, said Humphrey then,
Nor none sure will I have of thy fee ;
Therefore keep thy gold thee within,
For to wage thy company :
If every hair were a man,
With thee, Sir Prince, will I be.

Thus Humphrey Brereton his leave hath tane,
And saileth forth upon the sea ;
Straight to London rideth he then,
There as the Earle and Bessy lay ;
He took them either a letter in hand,
And bad them behold, read and see.
The Earle took leave of Richard the King,
And into the West wind woud he.
He left Bessye in Leicester then,
And bad her lye in privitye ;
For if King Richard knew thee here, anon
In a fire burned must thou be.
Straight to Latham the Earle is gone,
There as the Lord Strange then lee,
He sent the Lord Strange to London
To keep King Richards company.
Sir William Stanley made anone
Ten thousand coats readily,
Which were as redd as any blood,
There on the harts head was set full high,
Which after were tryed both trusty and good
As any coud be in Christantye.
Sir Gilbert Talbot ten thousand doggs
In one hours warning for to be,
And Sir John Savage fifteen white hoods,
Which wou’d fight and never flee,

Edward Stanley had three hundred men,
There were no better in Christentye,
Sir Rees ap Thomas, a knight of Wales certain,
Eight thousand spears brought he.
Sir William Stanley sat in the Holt Castle,
And looked over his head so high ;
Which way standeth the wind, can any tell ?
I pray you, my men, look and see.
The wind it standeth south-east,

So said a knight that stood him by.
This night yonder Prince truely
Into England entereth hee ;
He called a gentleman that stood him nigh,
His name was Rowland of Warburton,
He bad him go to Shrewsbury that night,
And bid yonder Prince come inn ;
But when Rowland came to Shrewsbury,
The port culles it was let downe ;
They called him Henry Tydder in scorn truely,
And said in England he shou’d wear no crowne.
Rowland bethought him of a wyle then,
And tied a writeing to a stone,
And threw the writeing over the wall certain,
And bad the balifFs to look it upon.
They opned the gates on every side,
And met the Prince with procession ;
And wou’d not in Shrewsbury there abide,
But straight he drest him to Stafford towne.

King Richard heard then of his comeing,
He called his Lords of great renowne ;
The Lord Pearcy he came to the King,
And upon his knees he falleth downe :
I have thirty thousand fighting men
For to keep the crown with thee.
The Duke of Northfolk came to the King anone,
And downe he falleth upon his knee ;

The Earle of Surrey, that was his heir,
Were both in one company :
We have either twenty thousand men here
For to keep the crown with thee.
The Lord Latimer, and the Lord Lovell,
And the Earle of Kent he stood him by ;
The Lord Ross, and the Lord Scrope, I you tell
They wer’ all in one company ;

The Bishopp of Durham he was not away ;
Sir William Bonner he stood him by :

The good Sir William of Harrington, as I say,
Said he wou’d fight and never fly.

King Richard made a messenger,
And sent him into the West Countrey ;
And bid the Earle of Darby make him bowne,
And bring twenty thousand men unto me,
Or else the Lord Strange his head I will him send,
And doubtless his son shall dye ;
For hitherto his father I took for my friend,
And now he hath deceived me.

Another herald appeared then :
To Sir William Stanley, that doughty knight ;
Bid him bring to me ten thousand men,
Or else to death he shall be dight.

Then answered that doughty knight,
And spake to the herald without letting ;
Say, upon Bosse worth field I mind to fight,
Uppon Monday early in the morning ;
Such a breakfast I him behight,
As never did knight to any King.
The messenger home can him gett,
To tell King Richard this tydeing.
Fast together his hands then cou’d he ding,
And said the Lord Strange shou’d surely dye ;
And putt him into the Tower of London,

For at liberty he shou’d not bee.
Lett us leave Richard and his Lords full of pride,
And talk we more of the Stanley’s blood,
That brought Richmond over the sea with wind and tyde,
From litle Brittain into England over the flood.
Now is Earle Richmond into Stafford come,
And Sir William Stanley to litle Stoone :
The Prince had rather then all the gold in Christentye
To have Sir William Stanley to look upon.
A messenger was made ready anone,
That night to go to litle Stoon :
Sir William Stanley he rideth to Stafford towne,
With a solemn company ready bowne ;
When the knight to Stafford was comin,
That Earle Richmond might him see,
He took him in his arms then,
And there he kissed him times three :
The welfare of thy body doth comfort me more
Then all the gold in Christantye.
Then answered that royall knight there,
And to the Prince these words spake he ;
Remember man, both night and day,

Who doth now the most for thee ;
In England thou shalt wear a crown, I say,
Or else doubtless I will dye :
A fairer lady then thou shalt have for thy feer,
Was there never in Christanty ;
She is a Countesse, a King’s daughter,
And there to both wise and witty.
I must this night to Stone, my soveraigne,
For to comfort my company.

The Prince he took him by the hand,
And said, Farewell, Sir William, fair and free.
Now is word come to Sir William Stanley there,
Earley in the Monday in the morning,
That the Earle of Darby, his brother dear,
Had given battle to Richard the King.
That wou’d I not, said Sir William anone,
For all the gold in Christantye,
That the battle shou’d be done,
Unless that he at the battle shou’d be done ;
Straight to Lichfield cou’d he ride,
In all the hast that might bee ;
And when he came to Lichfield that tyde,
All they, cryed King Henry,
Straight to Bolesworth can they go
In all the hast that might be.
But when he came Bolesworth field unto,
There met a royall company ;
The Earle of Darby thither was come,

And twenty thousand stood him by ;
Sir John Savage, his sisters son,
He was his nephew of his blood so nigh,
He had fifteen hundred fighting men,
That wou’d fight and never flye ;
Sir William Stanley, that royall knight, then
Ten thousand red-coats had he,
They wou’d bicker with their bows there,
They wou’d fight and never flye ;
The Red Ross, and the Blew Boar,
They were both a solemn company.

Sir Rees ap Thomas he was thereby,
With ten thousand spears of mighty tree.
The Earle of Richmond went to the Earle of Darby,
And downe he falleth upon his knee ;
Said, Father Stanley, full of might,
The vaward I pray you give to me,
For I am come to claime my right,

And faine revenged wou’d I bee.

Stand up, he said, my son quickly,
Thou has thy mothers blessing truely,
The vaward, son, I will give to thee,
So that thou wilt be ordered by me :
Sir William Stanley, my brother dear,
In the battle he shall bee ;
Sir John Savage, he hath no peer,
He shall be a wing then to thee ;
Sir Rees ap Thomas shall break the array,

For he will fight and never flee ;
I my selfe will hove on the hill, I say,
The fair battle I will see.
King Richard he hoveth upon the mountaine ;
He was aware of the banner of the bould Stanley,
And said, Fetch hither the Lord Strange certain,
For he shall dye this same day :
To the death, Lord, thee ready make,
For I tell thee certainly
That thou shalt dye for thy uncles sake,
Wild William of Standley.

If I shall dye, said the Lord Strange, then,
As God forbid it shou’d so bee,
Alas, for my Lady that is at home,
It shou’d be long or she see me ;
But we shall meet at dooms day,
When the great doom shall be.
He called for a Gent, in good say
Of Lancashire, both fair and free,
The name of him it was Lathum :
A ring of gould he took from his finger,
And threw it to the Gent, then,
And bad him bring it to Lancashire,
To his Lady that was at home ;
At her table she may sit right,
Or she see her Lord it may be long,
I have no foot to fligh nor fight,
I must be murdered with the King.

If fortune my uncle Sir William Stanley loose the field,
As God forbid it shou’d so bee,
Pray her to take my eldest son and child,
And exile him over behind the sea ;
He may come in another time,
By feild or fleet, by tower or towne,
Wreak so he may his fathers death in fyne,

Upon Richard of England that weareth the crown.

A knight to King Richard then did appeare,
The good Sir William of Harrington : .
Let that Lord have his life, my dear
Sir King, I pray you grant me this boone,
We shall have upon this field anon,
The father, the son, and the uncle all three ;
Then shall you deem, Lord, with your own mouth then,
What shall be the death of them all three.
Then a block was cast upon the ground,
Thereon the Lords head was laid ;
A slave over his head can stand,
And thus that time to him thus said :
In faith there is no other booty tho’
But need that thou must be dead.
Harrington in hart was full woe,
When he saw the Lord must needs be dead :
He said, Our ray breaketh on ev’ry side,
We put our feyld in jeopardie.
He took up the Lord that tyde,
King Richard after did him never see :

Then they blew up the bewgles of brass,
That made many a wife to cry, alas !
And many a wives child father lesse ;
They shott of guns then very fast,
Over their heads they cou’d them throw ;
Arrow’s flew them between,
As thick as any hayle or snowe,
As then that time might plaine be seene.
Then Rees ap Thomas with the black raven
Shortly he brake their array ;
Then with thirty thousand fighting men
The Lord Pearcy went his way ;
The Duke of Northfolke wou’d have fledd with a good will
With twentye thousand of his company,
They went up to a wind millne upon a hill
That stood soe fayre and wonderousse hye,
There he met Sir John Savage, a royall knight,
And with him a worthy company.
To the death was he then dight,

And his son prisoner taken was he ;
Then the Lord Alroes began for to flee,
And so did many other moe.
When King Richard that sight did see,
In his heart he was never soe woe ;
I pray you, my merry men, be not away,
For upon this field will I like a man dye,
For I had rather dye this day,
Then with the Standley prisoner for to be.

A knight to King Richard can say there,
Good Sir William of Harrington,
He said, Sir King, it hath no peere
Upon this feild to death to be done,
For there may no man these dints abide ;
Low, your horse is ready at your hand ;
Sett the crown upon my head that tyde,
Give me my battle ax in my hand ;
I make a vow to mild Mary that is so bright,
I will dye the King of merry England.
Besides his head they hewed the crown down right,
That after he was not able to stand ;
They dunge him downe as they were woode,
The beat his bassnet to his head,
Untill the braine came out with bloode ;
They never left him till he was dead.
Then carryed they him to Leicester,
And pulled his head under his feet.

Bessye mett him with a merry cheere,
And with these words she did him greete :
How like you the killing of my brethren dear ?
Welcome, gentle uncle, home !
Great solace it was to see and hear,
When the battle it was all done.
I tell you masters without lett,
When the Red Ross so fair of hew
And young Bessy together mett,
It was great joy 1 say to you.

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Event Review – Kenilworth Castle Medieval Festival 2018


Kenilworth Castle at Night.

The Companye have returned from our spiritual home of Kenilworth Castle. We are indelibly associated with this location, and have undertaken events here for English Heritage since the Companye first started. This was our first of two events here in 2018, if you missed us we will be back here again in June.

This was the Medieval Festival Bank Holiday event, taking place over the Sunday & Monday, and which was a replacement for the St George’s weekends that we had been doing previously. We were delighted to work once more with our great friends Myal Pyper (followers of this blog may remember them from our banquet), Raphael Historic Falconry, Peterkin the Fool, and Higgerflo.

We arrived on the Saturday, and were treated to the most amazing thunderstorm overnight. This was truly spectacular, and when one is just in awe of nature. The lightning was truly awesome and the thunder would probably have been so had it not been for some of the snoring going on which was giving it a run for the money.. (We know who you are – Editor)


Rob is currently on secondment from the North Pole, where he usually makes all the toys for the Good children!

Despite the Thunder God’s best efforts (Heretic, burn them – Editor) Sunday started with an archery display, there was some excellent shooting, with Master James emerging as the champion on the day. We culminated in a recreation of the 1415 Battle of Agincourt, where our brave French Knights advanced into the withering hail of arrows. For extra special sauce, this year our arena was at the base of Leicester’s Tower, which can best be described as Higher Nepal. Credit must got to Normous Nick for making it so far up the hill before meeting his gruesome end.

Then, in the afternoon it was time to demonstrate the arms and armour of the period. We had a great crowd, and showcased sword and buckler, longsword, and poleaxe, before moving into the team rounds. The latter was highly popular with the audience, partly because the hill we were fighting on caused much merriment as people kept hitting the deck!

Footage there of Corin dealing with someone who obviously looked the wrong way across the campsite at him. Readers can be reassured that the Lord gave Spencer two of them – it’ll be fine.

Unfortunately on the Sunday afternoon it started raining just as the public were leaving. This was not part of the plan.

So… it’s raining. Well, what do you do? You can either sit there moaning about your existence or you can get on with it. And if you are a Harrington, what better way to feel alive than dancing in the rain. With some members of the public (who enjoyed it immensely).

Here is some public footage of the dancing..

As someone once said – it can’t rain all the time. And so the weather cleared up, just in time for some evening campfire cooking and singing.

Monday was more of the same, but with even more public. We also had time for some keep fit..


Harrington Pilates – the Floor Sprung Dirk Technique! Wait, is that the fabled Rock Star Lenny in the background?

It was a great weekend, and we can’t wait to go back next month. See you there!

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April Training Dates


Next combat training session will be Wednesday 4th April 8:15pm at Pitsford Village Hall.

Get in touch if you are looking to take part!

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Event Review – Banquet 2018


The assembled throng next to the fire!

Last weekend saw the Companye celebrate the medieval feast of Twelfth Night with a banquet at the spectacular Bede House.  The Bede House is a 15th C building that was created by Archbishop Henry Chichele, you can read more about this amazing building here.  It is a wonderful place complete with vaulted wooden ceiling, gargoyles, and a large fire hearth that is still in use to this day.


The Bede House

This year we hosted jointly with our great MSS friends the House of Bayard and it was great to see so many of them there.


Twelfth Night is a festival in some branches of Christianity marking the coming of the Epiphany. Different traditions mark the date of Twelfth Night on either 5 January or 6 January; the Church of England, Mother Church of the Anglican Communion, celebrates Twelfth Night on the 5th and “refers to the night before Epiphany, the day when the nativity story tells us that the wise men visited the infant Jesus”. In Western Church traditions, the Twelfth Night concludes the Twelve Days of Christmas.

In some places, particularly southwest England, Old Twelfth Night is still celebrated on 17 January. This continues the custom on the date determined by the Julian calendar.

In medieval and Tudor England, Candlemas traditionally marked the end of the Christmas seasonalthough later, Twelfth Night came to signal the end of Christmastide, with a new but related season of Epiphanytide running until Candlemas.

A popular Twelfth Night tradition was to have a bean and pea hidden inside a Twelfth-night cake; the “man who finds the bean in his slice of cake becomes King for the night while the lady who finds a pea in her slice of cake becomes Queen for the night”. Following this selection, Twelfth Night parties would continue and would include the singing of Christmas carols, as well as feasting.

Twelfth Night was an evening of merry making and tomfoolery, hence the naming of William Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night which was originally to be staged on that date.

Since the Companye’s inception, we have always celebrated the winter season with either a banquet or twelfth night celebration. This year for the first time we would combine both!


Firstly, the High Steward sent finger bowls for people to wash their hands before the feast. The servers had their sash denoting their function,  which was also useful for dealing with hot dishes.

As appropriate for the time, the food was served in removes, with guests allowed to choose from what they wanted.

This year we had:

  • Onion Pottage with bread trencher (Editor’s Note: This was delicious, I could have eaten a truckful)
  • Roast Pork, with stuffing
  • A Pie of Apple, with cream from the Dairy.
  • Local Cheeses
  • Marchpane
  • And culminating in an aforementioned twelfth night cake!
  • 26961723_10155037927686746_8312724918214935264_o.jpg

    2008 King Cake in production.. (excuse the modern kitchen)

Our very first twelfth night cake was made for us all the way back in 2010 by our dear friend Rob Atkinson who sadly passed away in 2017, and was very much missed at our table this year – Nodo Firmo.  This year, Clark was King for a night, and Sarah was Queen for a night. All hail King Clark and Queen Sarah! Well, until tomorrow anyhow.

The Marchpane was decorated in an interesting but authentic style!

During the feast, we presented our annual awards, these are granted annually for the best combat, archery and living history encampment. Finally there is a secret vote for the person who has done the most for the Companye that year, and it was a close run thing but Phil D. was selected for his outstanding ability to engage with the public throughout our events – well done Phil! Richly deserved.


Back in the 80’s, the Musicians Union ran a campaign called “Keep Music Live”. They have a sound argument, as you simply can’t beat it.

Firstly, we were treated to two songs from our own Phil and Kof. We are blessed to have such talent within our group and it is always a joy to hear them sing.

(Hint: if you enjoyed that, you can listen to songs from previous years here.)

This year, we had a special treat lined up. We were privileged to have our friends Myal Piper play for us throughout the banquet, and to lead us in some wonderful dancing as the evening drew to a close. Their performance was world class, our dancing – less so.


The first dance we did was a simple ring dance.

Dance 1 – Simple Ring Dance

Dance 2 – aka the Shake and Wag

Our second dance was similar, but featured the man shaking his thing, and his lady partner shaking her finger to tell him off. Eat your heart out Beyonce Knowles!

Dance 3 – Line Dance (with nods to Oranges & Lemons)

This one was more complicated and took a while to learn (and even then the start was, er less than optimal!). Those of a certain age will recognise ‘casting off’ from Country Dancing at school, and the arch is reminiscent of the ‘Oranges and Lemons’ children’s game of yore.

There were more dances but sadly we were too busy having fun to record them all. Dancing by candlelight in an original 15th Century building to  period music was a fantastic experience, and one we hope to repeat again.

In addition to the dancing and singing, we had our annual Mummer’s Play. This took place on the raised dais and was fun – we all quite enjoyed “Laid Marion”!

All in all, it was an amazing evening, possibly our best banquet yet.

And so, as the winter fire burns bright we turn our attention to the season ahead – who knows what it will bring…?


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Connections – Sir James Harrington & the Cornish Rebellion of 1497

Once again, historian Mike Ingram has unearthed a gem during his research  which sheds some insight into the later years of the 15th Century and the fate of the Northants Harringtons.

Examinacions taken at the Towne of Northn the xxvi day of April, in the xxxiii’ yere of the reigne of our Soveraine Lord Kyng Henry the viiith, before Sir Edward Montague, Knyght, Sir Thomas Tresham, Knyght, and Richard Catesby, Esquyer, by virtue of the Kyng’s Comission to theym dyrected for the pte of Thomas Latham, keapr of the Parke of Molton.

Also he saith that one Nicholas Assheton, gent beyng under keapr to Sir James Harryngton, knyght,of the said pke James a Latham, yoman, and William Harryngton, yoman, underkeaper to the said Sir James of the said waren and conyes wtin the said felds of Kyngsthorp, &c., from the beginning of the reigne of Kyng Henry the vii untyll Blackheyth feld, which the said deponent supposd was above the space of xiv or XV yeres, had the keapyng of the said waren, toke the pfits of the conyes within all the said felds of Kyngesthorp, &c., wtout lett or intrupcion of any pson or psones ; and further the said deponent . . . sayd William Harryngton

were there in the tyme of the said Sir James Harryngton. And imedyatly after the said Backhethfeld the said Sir James Harryngton was put from the office of the said Pke and waren, and then the same office was gyven to Sir Nicholas Vaux, and he was Mastr Keapr of the said Pke and waren … his life, which was by the estymacion [of the said deponent the] space of xxviii yeres . . .
H. Maye, gent, was his underkeap of the said pke and waren, and had the keapyng and pfetts of the conyes w’in the said felds of Kyngsthorp, &c., duryng the said tyme of xxviii yeres or therabouts, savyng at one tyme aboute xxi yeres past the inhabytaunts of the said towneship of Kyngsthorp complayned to the kyng’s moost honorable counsaill that the said keapr and warener had increased the nomber of the conyes witn the felds of Kyngsthorp aforesaid so greatly, that their corne and grasse in the same felds of Kyngsthorp was utfly destroyed and spoyled, and when they could not upon their said complaynt gain redresse and remedy, that then the said inhabitaunts did put in tillage and ayre Wt ploughs the same ground where the conyes had made their clappers and had their moost resorte ; and after the death of the said Sir Nicholas Vaux . . . son Lord Harryngton had . . . beyng his underkeapr by the space of iii or iiii years ; and the same Richard Humphrey had Wagstaff under him to walk and keape the said warens, and duryng the said tyme of iii or iiii yeres the said Richard Humfrey and his underkeapr had the keapyng of the said waren, and toke the pfetts of the conyes in a peysable manr, as any other prsone or prsones dyd at tyme within the remembraunce of the said deponent. John Relson, of Kyngsthorp … of the age of Ixxi years or therabouts … in the said townes of Boughton and Kyngsthorp by the space of Iv yeres last past, and now he is a bedesman in Seynt Devys in Kyngsthorp aforesaid, sworne and examyned, deposeth and saith that he did know James Latham, Nicholas Aysheton, and William Harryngton, underkeps to Sir James Harryngton, knyght, whiche Sir James had by the kyng’s gyft the keapyng of the said parke, and his said underkeap had the keapyng of the conyes within the said felds of Kyngsthorpe, &c., and toke the pfetts of the same conyes by the space of xiiii or xv yeres, but whether they had any waren w^in the said felds of Kyngsthorp, &c., or not, he knoweth not, and furthermore, the said deponent saith that the nombr of conyes is increased in the felds of Kyngsthorp in dyverse places, wherby the grasse and corne that groweth yerely there is greatly hyndred and apeyred,^ but he saith that he hath known many moo conyes wtin the said felds in a certeyn place called Blackwell Hill than are at this present day of his deposition. Richard Abbey, of the towne of North”, of the age of Ixii yeres . . . saith that one Sir James Harryngton, Knyght, at the begynnynge of the reigne of Kyng Henry Vii was maisf keapi’ of Moulton pke, and in that tyme one Thomas Abbey, father to the said Richard, another called John Lawforde, of the seid towne of Northampn, bocher, went oute of North” towne in a dark nyght with a lantern and a candell lyght in the same unto the warren betwene the felds of the said towne of Northn and Kyngsthorpe feld, intending to stele conyes wt a ferrett and pursenette, and then the underkeap of the said pke for that tyme beyng mette wt them, and they told him they went to seek for a bullock that was broken from them, and they inquired if the said keapr had sene any, and he said nay, and dyd bydde them goe on theyr weys to loke if they could fynde hym, and after they were depted from hym they had that that they dyd come for.

So, what is this all about and why is this interesting?

The above is an inquest taken  in the year 1516 into some land south of Brixworth, near Kingsthorpe, which changed hands away from the Harringtons following the Battle of Blackheath Field. This battle, also known as the Battle of Deptford Bridge took place  in Blackheath (south east London) on the 17 June 1497 and was the culmination of the first of the Cornish Rebellions against Henry Tudor.

Following the battle,  Sir Nicholas Vaux is rewarded with the land. Sir Nicholas was knighted by Henry Tudor after the battle, and Henry VII took the opportunity to reward those who took part and punish those who rebelled.

What is also interesting, is the date.  We know from Sir James Harrington’s will that he apparently dies on 26th June in 1497, nine days after the battle.  He is aged ~54.

It is also worth remembering the context here:

  • We believe Sir James is knighted at the coronation of Henry VII in 1485 (aged 42). The is strange given the previous family allegiance to York, and the Stanley – Harrington feud over Hornby Castle. (There is a great blog on this here, and a great piece on the castle here). However, history is what it is!
  • His uncle Sir Thomas Pilkington leads the rebel army at Stoke Field. After Bosworth Sir Thomas Pilkington seems to have holed up at Urswick in North Lancashire.
    Sir Thomas was attainted and his estates confiscated by the victor, Henry VII, for being on the losing side at Bosworth. He might have got his manors back later if he had kept his nose clean and sworn loyalty to the new regime. But it seems he was a “conviction Yorkist” and he just couldn’t do that. He joined the rebellion of the Earl of Lincoln and Lambert Simnel. This was crushed at the Battle of East Stoke in 1487
  • Sir James loses his only son and heir William to an accident whilst crossing the mersey  on his wedding day (March 4 1490). His estates will be split between his 11 daughters on his death and pass to their husbands.
  • We known from his will that a large amount of his lands had already been feoffe’d to his relatives. This was a fifteenth century form of tax avoidance and also made it hard for others to claim ownership.

It is interesting to speculate on Sir James’ involvement in the first Cornish rebellion.  Why is he being punished?  There are perhaps three possibilities:

    1. It is a pure coincidence. Henry uses the later death of Sir James to reward the Vaux family.
    2. Sir James Harrington is involved in the battle and perhaps dies of his wounds. But which side is he on? Has Henry summoned him for war following his knighting? The army of 8,000 men assembled for Scotland under the command of Giles, Lord Daubeny (Henry’s chief general and Lord Chamberlain) was recalled and directed south. Is Sir James and his household part of that army? If so, punishing him by reassigning land may be harsh (though perhaps convenient).
    3. Or, has he rebelled? By this point, the Harrington’s are out of the picture on Hornby Castle and the Stanley’s firmly in control. Henry Tudor will not look again at that issue. Aged 54, and with no male heir, perhaps he decides for one final roll of the dice?


At this point, we must speculate. Without a blue box and a glamorous assistant we won’t know for certain, but the dates have aroused enough interest that this line of enquiry is worth investigating further and we’ll report back if we find anything.

As to the ultimate fate of Sir James, his will states that he is to be buried in the parish church in Brixworth if he dies within the county.

First I bequeth my soule to Alle myghti God and to oure blissid Lady Saint Marye and to alle the glorious Companye of Hevin and my body to be buried in the Parifsh Chirch of Brixworth aforesaid yf I fortune to deceafse iiygh the Countre And if I do not, thenne where myne Executpurs shall seme best

Did he die elsewhere? Well, in 2015 the Churchwarden at Brixworth allowed us to lift the victorian carpets over the Choristry and examine some of the medieval tombs underneath. The brass has gone, but we hope further work will reveal whether these are Verdun’s or the Harringtons of Wolfage Manor. One will be his father Sir William for sure.

Sir James also had a final request:

I woll that a prest be founde for ever to singe in the Parissh Chirch of Brixworth to pry for my soule my children soules and all cristin Soulis


The Vicars of Brixworth Church

Thomas Newbury was priest at Brixworth for 44 years, he must have known Sir James well and would no doubt have sung as instructed. Perhaps next time you are passing Brixworth Church – a world famous heritage site – you will visit and light a candle in memory of the Lords of Wolfage Manor and hope that one day all their secrets will be revealed!

All saints brixworth

All Saints Church, Brixworth. Showing the Medieval Annex.

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