Richard III and Little Malvern Priory ?
recent discovery of the remains of King Richard III under a car park in
Leicester has sparked a renewed interest in that monarch. Was he the
unscrupulous murderer of his two royal nephews (Edward the Prince of Wales and
Richard the Duke of York) in order to secure the throne of England or is he the
much maligned victim of subsequent Tudor propaganda? The Richard III Society
certainly believes the latter to be the case and, for reasons which are not
entirely clear, the American Branch of the Society makes a small annual donation
to Little Malvern Priory. What then, if any, is the link between Richard III and
east window is the obvious starting point, and indeed it features in the Richard
III Society’s website. As most of congregation will be aware it depicts,
albeit in a now fragmented form, the Yorkist Royal Family at the time that the
window was commissioned by Bishop Alcock in or around 1482. The reigning
monarch, Edward IV, is now missing as is his younger son Richard Duke of York,
but Edward Prince of Wales is clearly depicted, together with his mother Queen
Elizabeth Woodville and his sisters, Princess Elizabeth of York, Cecily, Anne
and Katherine. The window is of historical importance, not only because it is a
particularly fine example of late Medieval English stained glass, but also
because it is one of only two known contemporary depictions of
Edward Prince of Wales who nominally became King Edward V on the death of
his father in 1483, only a year after the window was installed.
is as far as the story in our window takes us. However, as Edward was only 13
years old when his father died he and his younger brother were placed under the
guardianship of their paternal uncle, Richard of Gloucester, who in May 1483 was
appointed Protector until Edward came of age. Only a month later the two boys
were placed in the Tower of London and Parliament petitioned Richard to accede
to the throne, which he did on 6 July 1483, around the time previously set for
Edward’s coronation. If Shakespeare is to be believed the boys, The Princes in
the Tower, are already doomed. (Richard III’s aside in Act 3
wise so young, they say, do never live long”). Whoever
was responsible for their deaths, they were never seen alive in public again.
Richard III’s reign was to be short lived as he was slain at the Battle of
Bosworth Field in August 1485 (A
horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!) by
the army of Henry Tudor. Richard’s body was taken to the nearby Greyfriars
Priory, and for over 500 years the exact location of his burial was lost until
it was rediscovered by a archaeologists last August beneath a council car park.
link in this chain is, of course, Bishop Alcock whose emblem of three cockerels
depicted in our window. He not only commissioned our east window, but was
tutor to the “Princes in the Tower”, Lord Chancellor to Edward IV, confidant
of Richard III, and subsequently Chancellor to Henry VII after his victory over
Richard at Tewksbury. He is also believed to have been instrumental in
encouraging the marriage of Henry VII to Princess Elizabeth of York, thus
reconciling the Houses of York and Lancaster, which brought the Wars of the
Roses to an end and ushered in the Tudor dynasty. Clearly he was a supreme
statesman who managed to remain at the centre of national affairs through
violent, changing, dynastic fortunes.
rather more tenuous link relates to Margaret of Anjou, Queen of Henry VI and
vigorous defender of the Lancastrian cause. Her army was defeated at the Battle
of Tewksbury in 1471 by numerically superior Yorkist forces which included
Richard, then Duke of Gloucester. It is just possible that Margaret, fleeing
from the battle, sought refuge at Little Malvern Priory.
our link with Richard, slender as it is, worth pursuing?
Does it warrant putting something on our audio-history?
Perhaps we should invite a speaker from the Richard III Society to come
and give us a talk to explore it further.
Many thanks to all those who came and joined in,
helping to make our pancake party such an enjoyable event.
Hugh and I only meant it to be a sociable time, but thought that as it
was at the beginning of Lent, it would be good for us to remember those in need.
The result was £150 in cash and a very large box of goodies of allsorts for the
Malvern Food Bank. Many thanks for all who contributed to such an unexpected (to
Annie Burge and Hugh
Day Plant Stall
forget that we need plants for the plant stall for the Open Day on May 6th.
If you are planting seeds for your garden, then plant every seed in the packet.
Any surplus plants can then be grown on for the Plant Stall. If you need extra
plant pots, give me a ring on Malvern 569003. I have a good supply of pots.
Similarly if you are dividing up existing plants, then take extra cutting for
the stall. I can also store some extra plants in my greenhouse if necessary.
the big weekend arrives, you can bring your plants up to Little Malvern Court
between 9:30 and 12pm on the morning of Saturday the 4th
of May when we are setting up. This will give us time to label and price
everything. If you can’t do this, you can still bring them on Sunday or Monday
and they will still be welcome.
Open Day Floristry
OPEN DAY FLORISTRY
Thank you once again for all your
help with the flower displays. They are a real reflection of the joy that goes
into creating them.
This year’s Open Day takes place
on Monday 6th May. We shall be decorating the church Saturday 4th May starting
at 9.30. The theme for this year is:
ANNIVERSARIES CELEBRATED IN THE YEAR 2013
The Queen’s Coronation - 60th anniversary
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice – published 200
Royal Philharmonic Society – 200 years old
Wagner – born 200 years ago
Verdi – born 200 years ago
RHS Chelsea Flower Show – 100 years old
Kennel Club – 140 years old *
Benjamin Britten – born 100 years ago
London Underground – 150 years old *
Beatles released ‘Please, Please Me’ - 50 years
Valentina Tereshkova the first woman in space – 50
Martin Luther King delivered “I Have A Dream”
speech – 50 years ago
The Lawn Tennis Association founded – 125 years ago
Doctor Who – first BBC broadcast 50 years ago
* denotes already chosen
You will probably find many more
anniversaries to add to the list. It should be an interesting display!
I hope to see as many of you as
possible on the above dates and hope that the arranging continues to give
pleasure and fun.
“I watched a blackbird on a bidding sycamore
One Easter day, when sap was stirring twigs to the core
I saw his tongue and crocus-coloured bill
Parting and closing as he turned his trill;
Then he flew down , seized on a stem of hay
And upped to where his building scheme was underway……”
watched a Blackbird” by Thomas Hardy
With winter now in full retreat, banished by a crescendo of
birdsong, we can now begin to look forward to listening out for the new sounds
of spring arrivals….. The birds that will be spending the summer with us that,
despite all the world’s troubles, Nature’s always there for us if we choose
to stop and listen.
In the old quarry the ravens, after a successful brood last
year, have again beaten off the peregrine falcons for the best nest site.
Feathers flew for days on end. Finally the falcons retreated
- 1t’s 2-0 to the ravens!
High on the Hills , skylarks and pipits are returning after their winter
foraging. At the foot of the Beacons, wild daffodils can be seen in small
clumps—” they come before the swallow dares , and take the winds of March
with beauty”. In these parts the county name is the Lent Lily. Buds on the old
chestnut trees are beginning to swell and are almost ready to open.
Talking of ‘old chestnuts’,
the abandoned Severn Barrage project is to be reconsidered. We are told
that it promises to generate 5% of UK electricity. The scheme will cost £30
billion and take seven years to complete. By changing the Severn estuary forever
in such a drastic way, an area of special designation and outstanding natural
beauty will be affected. Has the scheme taken into account that, alongside the
Wash ,the estuary provides the most important staging post and feeding grounds
in the UK for millions of birds? With wind farms failing to offer a reliable
source of energy, this plan may well be pushed through. If we really care about
what happens to our natural world, allow this to happen? This cannot be a
forward. Come on every body!
Register your concerns with the RSPB and/or
You may have seen the Malvern Gazette article about
the felling of the Victoria Park pine trees.
In addition to being an inappropriate species they
seem to have been planted far too close together.
However you feel about their demise I know some-one
who will be very pleased about their proposed
replacements, none other than the fastigiate form of
So-smile away "JHJ".
Pewsletter Churchyard Chatter Oct./Nov.2012]
I have recently been to see lots of
interesting films at the Borderlines Film Festival based around Hereford. One of
the most memorable for me was a Tibetan film called Sun Beaten Path.
It was about a young man who lived
in a remote area some way off the main road. He and his brother went off to the
main road where the bus stopped, to meet their Grandmother who was coming for
the imminent birth of her grandson. The brothers were showing off a little, one
on a motorbike and the other on a vehicle that was best described as a tractor.
Grandmother rode on the back of the motorbike, wearing a long scarf. This got
caught up in the bike chain and she got pulled off and run over and died. The
brother who had run her over was mortified and didn’t know what to do. They
went back to their relations in the village amidst noisy mourning. The young man
who felt responsible couldn’t interact with the family and just wandered off
with a big rucksac.Interestingly no one from the family seemed to be trying to
stop him. They seemed to know he needed to leave and sort it out for himself.
A lot of the film was about him
journeying, walking like clockwork along the big metalled road to and from
Lhasa, the sacred place for Tibetan Buddhists. The truck drivers gave him food,
he had a blanket for the nights and pots and pans for cooking. However, he
refused all lifts, which made him very strange in such a vast and inhospitable
country. He said the journey would be too short and not long enough if he had
lifts. He clearly knew somehow that he needed time to sort himself out and gain
his forgiveness.He did take a bus, though and met a man who engaged with him. He
was wearing a sky blue scarf which is the sacred colour for Buddhists in that
region, so will have been identified as a spiritual person. This older man was
thoroughly rebuffed initially, but persistence paid off. He managed to persuade
the young man that he had “paid his debt” by going to Lhasa and was now
“clean as snow” and it was time to return home. During this time, the older
man was repeatedly contacted by his son on his mobile phone. The son wanted to
know where he was. His constant reply was “I’m on the Way”. I think this
helped the young man to see a bit of what life could be about. Eventually the
young man caught another bus and got off at the same spot where he had met his
Grandmother all that time ago. Miraculously his sister in law was waiting there
for him with her baby. No words were exchanged except the young mother
introducing the stranger to her baby as “Uncle”. The baby then kept on
repeating “Uncle, Uncle” with much evident joy. And that was the end of the
I was affected by a lot in the film.
The family understanding that the young man had to go off and sort himself out,
with no obvious recriminations. The “Journey”, outwardly to Lhasa and
inwardly to himself. The older man who befriended and challenged him and who was
also “on the Way”. The wonderfully accepting homecoming by the youngest
member of the family whom he had never seen before.
A strange thing was that, had the
bible readings for the day not followed Mothering Sunday, they would have been
the Prodigal Son. There seemed to be a lot of connections between the two
stories, and some important differences. I hope you enjoy thinking about them!
Anne Burge March 2013
I had been quite busy in church
prior to the Eucharist, being Sidesman, and had taken some time to settle in to
As we were going through the service
the word “collect” jumped out at me. You will know that this is the special
prayer set for each particular Sunday and which echoes the readings and the
theme of the day. Eric always makes sure that it is preceded by a period of
The collect prayer was helpful, but
I found the word “collect” itself even more helpful.
I needed to “collect” myself. My
mind had been dodging about and it was as if I was in lots of different places
and needed to bring all the bits together to be really “me”. And only as
“me” could I relate to the worship and God.
It is good to be aware of others and
enjoy singing hymns and listening to the sermon. It is also vital for me to “Be still and know that I am God” as Psalm 46 says, and to know
that God was not in the roaring wind or flaming fire, but in the “still, small
voice”. For me this means letting go of all the concerns that occupy my mind
and make me anxious or worried or excited, and “let go and let God”. I am
not very good at doing this, but seeing “Collect” in the service book
reminds me to try and collect my whole self together and focus more on God and
the things that really matter.
If you have any helpful hints for
doing this, please pass them on to the rest of us!
The Church, Sex and Films
When I knew him some
years ago, Jack Dominian was a compassionate, common-sense psychiatrist. He has
subsequently written extensively on love, relationships and breakdown. He is
also a respected Catholic theologian who was invited by the Second Vatican
Council to give his views on love and sex: he emphasises that sex plays a vital
role in relationships far beyond that of procreation. He describes sex as a
sacrament expressing love, and our sexual drives are a gift from God. He abhors
traditional church teaching which so strongly associates sex and sin.
In the last 12 days
Annie and I saw 25 films at the Hereford Film Festival many of which explored
aspects of erotic drive. These included depictions of a child girl soldier in
the Congo, the upbringing of a young adolescent girl in Saudi, false accusations
of sexual abuse against a teacher, investigation of a murder in rural Turkey,
and a historical account of an affair between a ‘progressive’ king’s
adviser and a Danish queen. But the two which impacted on me the most were the 2
classics, namely Anna Karenina and Tess of the D’Urbervilles, each of which
expressed for me the unequal treatment of women by men and society. (The other
films served as a reminder that little has changed worldwide.) Tess, from a
lower social class, was raped by ‘gentry’ and bore a child, thereby
excluding her from a subsequent loving marriage. There was, of course, no
criticism of the rapist because it was the woman who had ‘fallen’. (This
reminded me of my involvement with a large mental ‘asylum’ when some
‘patients’ who had been incarcerated for upwards of 40 years were being
discharged – women labelled ‘moral defects’ because they exhibited sexual
behaviour or had an illegitimate child. Of course no men were so incarcerated.)
Anna Karenina was
different. She was an aristocrat who had been married off aged 18 to a man
perhaps 20 years her senior. (Parallels with a Saudi girl of 11 being married
off to a man of 20.) No erotic love or passion but a duty to produce a son and
heir. Anna had a passionate affair with a glamorous army officer with whom she
had a child. Her end then became inevitable: while her lover continued to be
accepted and welcomed by Society, she was rejected by all, lost her children
through divorce and committed suicide. Why are men and women treated so
differently? Why do so many operatic heroines have to sing their way to death at
the end of many great operas? ‘Used’ women no longer have an appeal – to
men or society (BBC news readers?). Why can society not accept that women too
have erotic needs which cry out to be fulfilled?
I was brought up to
believe that women would try to trap me into getting them pregnant then I would
have to marry them (sorry, her) and she would have a meal ticket for life. At
school, our sex education from a local GP emphasised the dangers of masturbation
and told us that if we wanted sex after we were married, we should bring home a
bunch of flowers. I was so sickened by that bribery image that I have always
refused to buy flowers for my partner!
societal attitudes make sex into a battle for power. Can Christian attitudes
help society towards equal and loving relationships where power is shared and
each can give and receive the love and acceptance we have all craved at some
level. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable implies losing power and control.
“Unless we become as little children ——-”, we will not find the joy of
love in all its forms.
Garner very kindly did a plant count for us and found 73 different wild flowers
in the churchyard and a further 13 in the car park.
Using this information, Roger Smith has now prepared a magnificent folder
with tables showing the flowering and fruiting season for each plant and
providing a page for each (in monthly order) with a coloured illustration so
that we know what to look out for as the year progresses.
The folder is in the church porch and is well worth studying. We aremost grateful to him.
Britain is covered in the vestiges of these ancient roadways. Some are absorbed into our modern roads and others have disappeared completely. In wandering around our local footpaths, I question why these paths are where they are. The line of the old railway from Malvern to Upton via Malvern Wells is a more obvious route but what about the old track on Fruitlands that goes from Peachfield Road behind the houses in Walnut Crescent to emerge near Cherry Tree Drive? It links the bridleway that goes under the railway and across the golf course to the club house at what was Wood Farm. From here it crosses a field and you can pick up the route again near the Corner of Green Lane. You can follow this path southwards to join another path that comes out in Assarts Lane and with not too much imagination it would continue along the field boundary hedges on 19th century maps straight towards Little Malvern Priory.
Was this the route of an ancient Monk’s Path? There are parallel paths above and below this one along which travellers could vary the route according to the season. Trade and communication was by foot or horse-back with goods being carried by mules and pack-horses along these ancient routes.
If you trace the route back towards Great Malvern it goes across Malvern Wells Common into College Road and along modern day Abbey Road or Priory Road to Great Malvern Priory, built some 40 years after the building of Little Malvern Priory. Was it a Monk’s Path?
Returning to Little Malvern Priory, there are roads, paths and tracks radiating outwards leading to Deerhurst,Gloucester, Winchcombe, Tewkesbury Evesham, Pershore and Worcester. These places had something in common– they all had Benedictine Priories, sadly there are few remains. They were mainly founded in the 12th century and were dissolved by King Henry VIII in the 1530’s.
Great Malvern Priory was built for around thirty monks and the Church, Pool and Abbey Gateway are remnants of this bygone era.
Little Malvern Priory was built for a community of around a dozen monks in 1125 and was originally known as St Giles Priory. (is this how the Church at Hanley Swan got its name?) It was built as an annex to the Church Of Worcester with Worcester's Prior having the right to remove monks from Little Malvern and indeed being able to choose the Prior of Little Malvern.
There is a list of priors with their dates inside Little Malvern Priory. The earliest Priors are not recorded but there is a reference to one ‘William of Broadway being appointed in 1269. There was a ‘John of Dumbleton’ (appointed 1299) who resigned after one year.Henry Staunton took over in 1360 and died 9 years later. In 1378 Richard of Wenlock became Priory until 1392.
Henry Morton was the Prior in 1480 and it was during his time that the remaining monks were sent to Gloucester Abbey whilst Little Malvern Priory was refurbished. They were able to return two years later. It was at this time that a Refectory known as the ‘Prior’s Hall’ was built there . Thomas Colman came next (1484) then there is a gap until John Bristowe is recorded as the Prior in 1529. On August 31st 1534, Prior John Bristowe and his remaining six monks were required to surrender the buildings and their lands with the dissolution of Little Malvern Priory (probably the smallest Priory in the land) as part of King Henry’s programme. In 1536, John Bristowe was awarded a pension and the Monastery buildings were already beginning to fall into disrepair.
This land was purchased by the Berington family shortly after the dissolution of the monasteries. They had Little Malvern Court built around the ‘Prior’s Hall’ and also on the site of the Monastic Cloisters. The ten acres now surrounding the Court (the house and gardens are open to the public on certain days) used to be part of the monastic grounds. Over the next three centuries the Priory Church deteriorated to a point where the barrel vault roof caved in and the Berington family had this repaired in 1864. Since then there have been a number of refurbishments and the remaining Priory Church and nearby ruins are listed as an ancient monument.
In 1954, The Society of Friends of Little Malvern Priory was formed and since then nearly a quarter of a million pounds has been raised towards various projects to maintain the building for all those who call by to visit or to worship at the regular services ( at least once a week, often more) held in this very special Priory Church.
As for Little Malvern Priory itself, it is just beyond the Parish of Malvern Wells but those who live there cannot help but feel that it is a very special place. If you have never been inside it is definitely worth a peep. If you are interested in its detailed history there is an excellent little book for sale in the entrance to the Priory Church.
There are examples of 14th century tiles in Little Malvern Priory that were made in the Grounds of Great Malvern Priory. Were these transported by horse and cart through the Parish of Malvern Wells along the old Monk’s Path mentioned here? Malvern tiles can be found in many local Churches and Cathedrals and as far away a St. David’s Cathedral in Pembrokeshire. This is further evidence of how far goods were transported along these ancient trackways.
When you are out and about walking the local footpaths and country lanes, spare a thought for all those who have gone before you and wonder, as I have done, why these tracks are where they are.
On one of the seats in the churchyard is carved the word ‘Listen’. At least that’s what I thought it said when I first saw it. Then I wondered if it said ‘Lister’ and was the name of the man who had made it, but I prefer my first interpretation because it is exactly the right place to sit and take in all that is happening around —–- the call of a blackbird, the song of a robin, grass being mown, the cry of a buzzard overhead ........... all the sounds of country life.
Why don’t you try it? Who knows, you might even hear the voice of God.
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