Non-national Knighthoods

HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN can confer knighthoods to non-British nationals known as honorary knights (and honorary dames for females) but such honoured individuals cannot prefix their names with ‘Sir’ (or ‘Dame’) but can add the appropriate letters after their names (usually KBE – Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire – or DBE – Dame Commander ……).  Nor do they go through the accolade or ceremony of having the sword touched upon each shoulder.

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No sword tapping for non-British knights

Now, I knew all this but until I recently read the wonderful Douglas Fairbanks Jr’s biography I wasn’t aware as to why (mainly because I had never bothered to think about it). Fairbanks Jr was suitably honoured in 1949 – and rightly so. We all know him as a swashbuckling Hollywood action man actor but there was much more to him than that.  He was awarded his knighthood for his tireless efforts to gain US support for Great Britain during the early years of the Second World War (before Pearl Harbour of course) and, among other things, for his services to the Co-operative for American Remittances to Europe (C.A.R.E.), a war relief organisation.  But, being an American he could not call himself Sir Douglas.  Why not?

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Highly-decorated Commander Fairbanks Jr., KBE, DSC, etc, after the war – and wife, Mary Lee

Well, as his biography says, “Membership in an order of chivalry is one thing and the accolade another; they go together but they are separate.” The reason is historical – it would be if it’s British.  In the good old medieval days when the king relied on his landowners for military support (which included a supply of soldiers), such a landowner would give allegiance to the Crown and, if he didn’t already have one , he may be granted a knighthood (and possibly more land if the war was successful). This was fine when he was a British national but that was not always the case.  For example, in the days of the Crusades (which particularly involved English and French) a man could be a member of an order of chivalry and become a knight of that order (Knights Templars, etc), but he could not swear allegiance to a foreign sovereign if he still owed a loyalty to his own feudal monarch, regardless as to whether that monarch was involved in that crusade. The accolade had only indirectly to do with becoming a member of the order. This meant that as the knight had no bond to the sovereign, as a liege lord, that sovereign could not demand that the knight present himself with his sword and armour (and soldiers) to fight the king’s cause.  Okay, the romantic days of chivalry are gone but the accolade still has implication in law.  With non-British honorary knighthoods the principles remain the same and a foreign citizen has no allegiance to the British monarch and so is not required to respond to the sovereign’s call to arms – and so have no right to the accolade of the prefix of ‘Sir’ to his  name.  Got it?

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That’s the idea in principle.  In practice, this day and age, it also applies to British national knights of course as, bearing in mind the age, etc, of many British knights, they are not going to be very useful if called to arms by the sovereign today (and none of them should have soldiers at their beck and call – well, I hope not).  But that’s not the point.

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To battle  Sir Roger,  Sir Michael,  Sir Elton …. hmm, perhaps not

There are quite a few non-national knights, from arts and entertainment, professional, humanitarian and exploration, politics and government, diplomatic, military, business, religion, and royalty.  As well as Douglas Fairbanks Jr., you might recognise names such as Bob Hope (USA), Steven Spielberg (USA), Edward Kennedy (USA), George S. Patton (USA), Bill Gates (USA), J. Edgar Hoover (USA), Angelina Jolie (USA), Magnus Magnusson (Iceland), Spike Milligan (Ireland), Bob Geldof (Ireland), Bono (lead singer of U2 – Ireland), Terry Wogan (Ireland – although he took British nationality in 2005 and the knighthood became substantive, i.e. he can use ‘Sir’).

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Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire


POSTSCRIPT

Douglas Fairbanks Jr is one of the few non-national knights who devised his own coat-of-arms with the motto Fides, Conatus et Fidelitas – ‘Faith, Effort and Loyalty’.  Being a Hollywood actor he was rather an exhibitionist – it goes with the job –  and so it was acknowledged by the College of Arms.  I’ve not been able to find a copy of it but below is a Fairbanks Jr bookplate which sort of resembles it:

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Fairbanks Jr bookplate

Another example of his exhibitionism:  He joined the US Navy as a reservist before America entered the war. One of the first orders that the US Navy issued was that officers were not to wear swords.  In fact, if they owned them they were encouraged to hand them in for the scrap metal promotion.  Not Douglas.  He arrived at the house of the Hollywood film producer, Darryl Zanuck, one night for a dinner party with his boat cape and sword.  His excuse was that he had just come from a drill at the Armoury.  The narrator of the tale said, “Well, I know that no one in the whole of California, if they went to a drill hall, would have a sword.  But he thought he looked like Lord Nelson or something. That is the ham in him, unfortunately.”

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Douglas Jr. coming to dinner

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Artemus Smith’s Notebooks

This is the last extract from the 2nd volume of Artemus’ notebooks (followers will recall Dr Artemus Smith was an archaeologist of great courage, determination and fiction) – I’ll let you know if I come across any more volumes or extracts of Artemus’ notebooks:

During a physical examination, a doctor asked my good friend, Sir Alfred Cucumber-Smythe, retired professor of archaeology now living in Canada, about his physical activity level.

He replied that he spent three days a week, every week, in the outdoors, and went on to give an example:

“Well, yesterday afternoon was typical; I took a five hour walk about 7 miles through some pretty rough terrain.   I waded along the edge of a lake.  I pushed my way through 2 miles of brambles.  I got sand in my shoes and my eyes.  I barely avoided stepping on a snake.  I climbed several rocky hills.  I went to the bathroom behind some big trees.  I ran away from an irate mother bear and then ran away from one angry bull Elk.  The mental stress of it all left me shattered.  At the end of it all I drank a scotch and three glasses of wine.

Amazed by the story, the doctor said,  “You must be one heck of an outdoor man!”

“No,”  Alfred replied,  “I’m just a really very bad golfer.” 

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A walk from Blackfriars Bridge to London Bridge

The other weekend Sarah and I visited Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on the south side of the River Thames in London – between the Millennium Bridge and Southwark Bridge – both of which are between Blackfriars Bridge and London Bridge.  Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre was originally built in 1599, destroyed by fire in 1613, rebuilt in 1614, and then demolished in 1644. The modern reconstruction is based on available evidence of the 1599 and 1614 buildings. It was founded by the American actor and director, Sam Wannamaker (Zoës dad), almost on the site of the original theatre, and opened in 1997.

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The Globe

Interestingly we went to see a variation on Aeschylus’ Oresteia, the ancient Greek play – nothing to do with Shakespeare!  However, as you do, we wandered around the area and what we found, within no more than a 5 minute walk, was quite fascinating.

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Inside the Globe  – the set of The Oresteia

If you hear the phrase “he’s in the clink” you think of someone in prison.  But where does the phrase come from?  If you walk eastward from the Globe along Bankside you come into Clink Street – and the answer to the question. Here you will find the Clink Prison Museum. The Clink Prison is the name given to all prisons that have stood on a number of sites around this particular vicinity over the years. The first prison dates back to 1127 and was a cellar in the Palace of the Bishop of Winchester (see below). The last was in Deadman’s Place – now Park Street (immediately southwest of Clink St) – which, at various times, held Protestant and Catholic religious martyrs. It was burned down in 1780 by anti-Catholic Gordon rioters (see Charles Dickens’ 1841 novel, Barnaby Rudge).

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The Clink Prison Museum – enter at your own peril….!

Just along from the prison (still going east) is the remains of Winchester Palace. This was the palace of the powerful Bishops of Winchester which was one of the largest and most important buildings in medieval London. It was founded in the 12th century (around 1136) by Bishop Henry de Blois, brother of King Steven. Its purpose was to house the bishops in comfort whilst they were staying in London on royal or administrative business.  And why not.

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Remains of Winchester Palace

The visible remains (above) were part of the Great Hall which formerly stood alongside the south bank of the Thames. You can see the magnificent rose window at the top. Below it are three glass ‘windows’ which were, in fact, entrances leading to the buttery, pantry and kitchen.  Below the hall was a vaulted cellar where goods such as wine could be stored, with a passage to the river wharf. The palace remained in use until the 17th century when it was divided into tenements and warehouses. It was destroyed by fire in 1814 and then rediscovered in the 1980s during redevelopment of the area.

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The foundations of the cellar (in between the pot plants) – the ground floor of the hall would have been immediately below the four glass entrances at the top

Along from the palace is the replica of Sir Francis Drake’s Golden Hinde. The original ship dates back to the 16th century when it circumnavigated the globe between 1577 and 1580 during the reign of Elizabeth I. The Golden Hinde II took two years to build and, as  there were no plans of the original ship, Loring Christian Norgaard, a Californian naval architect, spent three years researching manuscripts about Drake’s voyage, Tudor shipbuilding techniques, and the journals compiled by crew members.  The replica was launched in April 1973 from the  J. Hinks & Son shipyard in Devon.

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Golden Hinde II

From Winter 1974 to Spring 1975 the ship sailed from Plymouth to San Francisco to commemorate the upcoming 400th anniversary of Francis Drake’s discovery of Nova Albion in North America in 1579. She returned to England in 1980.  After a tour of Britain and Ireland, Golden Hinde II sailed to Canada to appear in Expo ’86, and a year later began a four-year expedition along the East and West Coasts of North America, returning to the UK in 1991.  Following another successful tour, she finally settled down in her current home at St Mary Overie Dock in 1996.

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Golden Hinde II

I don’t wish to be a spoil-sport but if you are in any doubt as to whether she really is a replica check out the propeller!

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16th century propeller?   …… perhaps not

Finally, just around the corner from the Golden Hinde II is Southwark Cathedral. This began its life in AD 606 as a convent. Around the 9th century, the Bishop of Winchester may have replaced the nuns with a college of priests. In 1106 the church was ‘re-founded’ by two Norman knights as a priory, living according to the rule of St Augustine of Hippo, dedicated to St Mary.   After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 it was appointed a parish church and renamed St Saviour’s.  It became Southwark Cathedral in 1905.

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Southwark Cathedral

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Southwark Cathedral – the nave designed  Sir Arthur Blomfield in 1895

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Inside the Cathedral – quite impressive

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Map of the vicinity – Winchester Palace is located between The Clink Prison Museum and the Golden Hinde II  (Blackfriars Bridge is about 300m off the map to the left and London Bridge is on the map, far right)

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 Artemus Smith’s Notebooks

I have discovered another volume of Artemus’ notebooks (followers will recall Dr Artemus Smith was an archaeologist of great courage, determination and fiction). Here is another extract:

My large friend, Paramount Hargrove, told me he had discovered that he had the body of a Greek god.

I had some difficulty trying to explain to him that Buddha is not Greek.

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Buying a Book of Hours 2

WELL, IF YOU ARE interested (and you are probably not but I’m going to tell you anyway), I’ve found the translation of my Book of Hours leaf I showed you last week. I could impress you by saying I translated it myself following my course on Medieval Latin, but that would be a lie (and you probably wouldn’t believe me anyway).  I found the translation on the internet, of course – although I did have to recognise the actual Latin words, some of which are in abbreviation (so give me a little credit!).

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just to remind you of the leaf

It reads:

eruere.   R: Qui Lazarum resuscitasti a monumento foetidum. Tu eis Domine dona requiem, et locum indulgentiae. R: Thou which didst raise Lazarus stinking from the grave: Thou O Lord give them rest, and place of pardon.
V: Qui venturus es iudicare vivos et mortuos, et saeculum per ignem. Tu eis Domine dona requiem, et locum indulgentiae. V: Which art to come to judge the living, and the dead, and the world by fire. Thou O Lord give them rest, and place of pardon.
[Lectio tertia Iob 10]
Manus tuae Domine fecerunt me, et plasmaverunt me totum in circuitu: et sic repente praecipitas me? Memento, quaeso, quod sicut lutum feceris me, et in pulverem reduces me. Nonne sicut lac mulsisti me, et sicut caseum me coagulasti?
[The third lesson Job 10]
Thy hands O Lord have made me, and framed me wholly round about: and dost thou so suddenly cast me down headlong? Remember, I beseech thee, that as clay thou madest me, and into dust thou wilt bring me again. Hast thou not as milk milked me, and curded me as cheese?

The fancy M begins the word Manus which is the beginning of the third lesson of Job 10 [Lectio tertia Iob 10]; above it is the end of the second lesson of Job 10; both are from the ‘Office of the Dead’.

This ‘Office of the Dead’ originated as a text for private mourning. It commemorates the deceased  in order to shorten his or her ordeal in Purgatory.  It also serves to remind the living of their own immortality (memento mori).  It’s made up of three liturgical hours: Vespers (vigil over the body the night before burial), Matins and Lauds (both recited in the church the following morning).

The above leaf is from the second hour – Matins. This consists of three Nocturns each containing three Psalms and three lessons. All nine are from the Book of Job.

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So there you have it.

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Artemus Smith’s Notebooks

I have discovered another volume of Artemus’ notebooks (followers will recall Dr Artemus Smith was an archaeologist of great courage, determination and fiction). Here is another extract:

I spotted a sign outside a house that read ‘Talking Dog for Sale’.  Intrigued, I knocked and asked for a demonstration

The dog owner looked at the dog and said, “So what have you done with your life?”

“I’ve led a very full life,” said the dog. “I lived in the Alps rescuing avalanche victims. Then I served with the police drug sniffing at airports.  After that I helped out with the visibly impaired.  And now I spend my days reading to the residents of a retirement home.”

I was flabbergasted and asked the dog owner, “Why on earth would you want to get rid of an incredible dog like that?”

The owner replied, “Because he’s a liar – he has never done any of those things!”

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Buying a Book of Hours

I FIRST BECAME interested in medieval books when I was given an introduction to the Book of Kells many years ago.  This is a group of manuscripts of the four gospels of the New Testament dating back to the 9th century AD (its exact date is unknown for sure). Today it comprises of 340 folios (pages) bound in four volumes. It takes its name from the 9th century Abbey of Kells (in County Meath, Ireland) where it was situated for most of its existence – until the 1650s when it was sent to Dublin for safe keeping against Cromwell’s motley troops. It then found its way to Trinity College, Dublin, in 1661, where it remains today.

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Illustrated page from the Book of Kells

My interest was rekindled when I visited the Winchester Bible. This is another fabulously illustrated book on show at Winchester Cathedral. It was produced at the Cathedral between 1160 and 1175 and is the largest surviving 12th century bible (468 folios, 583 x 396 mm). It’s in Latin of course and written on vellum [1]. It was described in 1622 as two volumes and has been rebound twice since – in 1820 into 3 volumes, and in 1948 into 4 volumes. The text is in the hand of one scribe and  is complete but many of the illustrations, which are the work of 6 different contributors, are not finished. Sadly some nine illuminated initials and at least one full-page illustration have been removed entirely and are now in the hands of private collectors  (I’ll say no more – other than one missing leaf is in the Morgan Library in New York …. can we have it back please?).

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Illustrated page from the Winchester Bible

Needless to say there is only one copy of each of these two medieval manuscripts so you cannot own them!  But you can own an original copy of the Book of Hours – at a price. These books are of prayers and get their name from the fact that monks have to pray at certain hours of the day (and night).  Saying that, they were produced for the laypersons as well – thousands of them in fact. And quite a few still exist today. Initially they were handwritten and illustrated with miniatures [2] on vellum.  By the early 16th century they became even more popular and the printing press took over from the laborious handwriting [3].  Printers churned out copies of the book but many of them still contained hand-coloured illustrations and lettering.

Although many of these books can be purchased today they don’t come cheap. Their price depends, of course, on the quality and quantity of illustrations.  Also size – many are very small for portability (averaging around 6″ x 4″ – 15 cm x 10 cm). Hand-written copies vary very much from $20,000 to $500,000 – although I believe the most expensive is the Rothschild Prayer Book (of Hours) which went for $13.5 million (£8.5 million) in 1999 at Christie’s in New York, purchased by Kerry Stokes and now lives in the National Library of Australia, Canberra.

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The Rothschild Prayer Book (Flemish, 1500-20)

Quite a few of those that still exist are in remarkably good condition. This is because many of them were owned as a status symbol (as they were very expensive to buy) rather than for religious purposes, and so hardly used!  In saying that, very few of these manuscripts have their original bindings. This is because many original bindings were in materials such as velvet and have long since deteriorated (with exceptions of course). The main chance of finding an original binding is if it was in leather.

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Original velvet binding 1586 (English)        Original leather binding 1510 (French)

The 16th century printed version comes in at around $30,000 (again depending on quality). Even quality facsimiles can fetch anything to around $3,000-$5,000 if not more. There are cheaper versions though – a Hungarian company produces (or produced) some of these. If you are desperate to get your hands on a taster, single leafs can be purchased from anything from $200 upwards into the stratosphere – again depending on how they are illustrated and whether they are handwritten or printed. The big problem here is that it means someone has broken a book up to sell these off separately which is sacrilege in itself. But it’s a means to an end (and, sorry, yes I have one such page …..).

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My humble c 1450 leaf – it’s handwritten with nice elaborate gold leaf letter but not, obviously, illustrated (I’m doing a course on Medieval Latin so I’ll get back to you when/if I ever translate it!)

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Footnotes:

[1] Vellum comes from the Latin word ‘vitulinum’ meaning ‘made from calf’. It is estimated that the hides of some 250 calves were used for the Winchester Bible ….

[2] This word ‘miniature’ comes from the Latin term for medieval illustrated book rather than small picture.

[3] The first printing press was introduced in the Holy Roman Empire by one Johannes Gutenberg in 1440. Documents printed before 1501 were known as incunabula (or incunable).

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Artemus Smith’s Notebooks

I have discovered another volume of Artemus’ notebooks (followers will recall Dr Artemus Smith was an archaeologist of great courage, determination and fiction). Here is another extract:

Late one night, a preacher with whom I am acquainted, The Rev. Jacob Aramatic, was driving on a country road and had a crash.

A farmer on his tractor stopped and said, “Sir, are you okay?”

The Rev. Joseph said, “Yes, thankfully I had the Lord riding with me.”

The farmer said, “Well, you better let Him ride with me, because you’re gonna kill him.”

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The Venerable Bede on immigration

THERE HAS BEEN much concern over the immigration problem in the UK lately.  Well, this is nothing new.  In the 7th century AD it was identified as a problem by the Venerable Bede (aka St Bede), a monk of the monastery of St Peter at Monkwearmouth (Jarrow) in Northumbria. He described the coming of the Anglo-Saxons in the 5th century (in his  Adventus Saxonum) in the following terms:

The newcomers came from three very powerful nations of the Germans, namely the Saxons, the Angles and the Jutes. From the stock of the Jutes are the people of Kent and the people of Wight, and that which in the province of the West Saxons is to this day called the nation of the Jutes, situated opposite that same Isle of Wight. From the Saxons, that is, from the region that now is called that of the Old Saxons, came the East Saxons, the South Saxons, and the West Saxons ….. In a short time, as bands of the aforesaid nations eagerly flocked into the Island, the people of the newcomers began to increase so much that they became a source of terror to the very natives who had invited them.”

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The Venerable Bede (672-735) – he knew you know

Don’t say we weren’t warned …….

Bede is widely regarded as the greatest of Anglo-Saxon scholars and known as the ‘Father of English History’.   Almost everything that we know of his life is contained in the last chapter of his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (The ecclesiastical history of the English people – written in Latin of course). It was completed in about 731. Bede implies that he was in his 59th year then, hence the supposed date of his birth as 672.

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Historia ecclesiastica – opening of Book 1: Southern England

Bede was the only native of Great Britain to be made a Doctor of the Church – in his case, by Pope Leo XIII   (Anselm of Canterbury also received the honour but he was an Italian by birth).

Just out of interest, Bede’s adoption of the dating anno domini (AD) in his De Temporum Ratione is the reason we use it today. It was, in fact, a third method of dating invented by Dionysus Exiguus in AD 525.  More recently, in the 19th century (although it does date back to the 17th century), Jewish academics adopted Common Era – or Christian Era or Current Era (CE) instead of AD, and BCE for Before Common Era instead of BC (Before Christ).  Call me old fashioned, but I cannot change a habit of a life-time and will stay with good old AD and BC.

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Bede’s tomb is in Durham Cathedral – he’s been there since 1022 and was moved to the Galilee Chapel of the Cathedral in the 14th century. You might not be very interested in that, but at least now you know. He obtained the name ‘Venerable’ after his death – it was simply written on his tomb:  HIC SUNT IN FOSSA BEDAE VENERABILIS OSSA
Here are buried the bones of the Venerable Bede – and it ‘caught on’ as they say.

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Bede’s tomb – pride of place in the Galillee Chapel


Artemus Smith’s Notebooks

I have discovered another volume of Artemus’ notebooks (followers will recall Dr Artemus Smith was an archaeologist of great courage, determination and fiction). Here is another extract:

My young cousin, Thomas, was telling me that he and his two friends, Richard and Harry, had been to a party.  After the party Thomas drove them all back to the hotel. The hotel was 90 floors high and their room was on the top floor.

Unfortunately for them, the lift (elevator) was not working.  So to while away the time they made a plan that for the first 30 floors Richard would tell jokes. The second 30 floors Harry would tell a happy story, and for the last 30 floors Thomas would tell a sad story. They then started up the stairs and Richard began.

Well-over an hour later, it was Thomas’s turn. He turned to the other two and said “Okay guys, here’s my sad story ….. I left the room key in the car.”

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The Magna Carta revisited

FOLLOWERS MAY RECALL my post on the Magna Carta, January 3 this year. Well, I omitted to mention the three copies of the document held at the Society of Antiquaries of London. This is particularly remiss of me as I’m a Fellow of the Society!

The first one is the Black Book of Peterborough Abbey. This is a 13th century copy of the original 1215 manuscript. This is the most radical version as it contains the clause referring to no taxation to be imposed without the common consent of the Kingdom and the revolutionary ‘security clause’ (see January 3 post).

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Black Book of Peterborough Magna Carta

The second is the Halesowen Abbey copy of the 1225 version. This is a scroll document and may have been produced by the Abbey because the Abbot had to go to Court to fight against unjust action by King John in 1279. So it was the Abbot’s legal defence document (and he won).

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Halesowen Abbey scroll copy

The third is the Hart Book of Statutes. This is a 14th century volume of law (statutes) probably produced especially for lawyers – a modern day law book in fact. They (lawyers) had to read the law from somewhere and these statues books were produced (most likely in London) for that purpose. This particular 14th century book contains the Magna Carta.

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Hart Book of Statutes

My apologies to the Society for overlooking these copies …….

 


 Artemus Smith’s Notebooks

I have discovered another volume of Artemus’ notebooks (followers will recall Dr Artemus Smith was an archaeologist of great courage, determination and fiction). Here is another extract:

My colleague, Benedict Tantamount made mention to me:

“I had a near miss with the constabulary the other day. I was speeding in my motor vehicle and was chased and apprehended by the police, but with my quick thinking I managed to get away with it.

When I was eventually stopped, the police officer approached the car and said, ‘It’s been a long day and my shift is almost over, so if you can give me a good excuse for your behaviour, I’ll let you go.’  

I thought for a few seconds and then said, ‘My wife ran away with a policeman about a week ago and I thought you might be that officer trying to bring her back!'”

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Herstmonceux Castle

CONTINUING my long overdue visitations of some Sussex sites (last week the Booth Museum, Brighton), I came upon Herstmonceux Castle, near Hastings in East Sussex. Actually, some Canadian students had recently attended a talk I had given on Maritime Archaeology at the Brighton Divers Club at Brighton Marina and I had met up with Dr Scott Mclean who teaches Archaeology and History at the Castle. Teaches at the Castle? Yes, in fact it’s the Bader International Study Centre of Queen’s University in Canada. In 1992, Alfred Bader wanted to buy the Castle for his wife (some people just buy their wives flowers) but she complained that there were too many rooms to clean!  And she would be cleaning them??  Bader, an alumni of Queen’s University, then liaised with the Principal of the University and ‘hey presto’, the International Study Centre was set up in 1994 (its name was changed to incorporate Bader’s name in 2009).

Herstmonceux Castle

The Castle’s name derives from the owners of the original building around the 12th century. A Norman nobleman, Ingelram de Monceaux, was married to one Idonea de Herst and the manor was called Herst de Monceux (makes sense). The Castle (although it’s not really a defensive castle – more of a palace) as it appears today in its red brick was built in the Tudor period in 1441  at the cost of £3000 by Sir Roger Fiennes (a familiar name), who was the Treasurer to Henry VII. 100 years later in 1541, Sir Thomas Fiennes, aka Lord Dacre, was unceremoniously hanged having been found guilty of the death of a gamekeeper of a neighbouring estate (naughty Sir Thomas had been poaching deer from his neighbour). Although the house/castle was confiscated by Henry VIII, it was returned to the Fiennes family after the King’s death and remained so until 1708 when Thomas Leonard, 15th Baron Dacre (and 1st Earl of Sussex) sold it to a lawyer, George Naylor. George’s half-brother, Robert, took possession of it in 1775 and began dismantling it leaving only its external walls (don’t even ask why).

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Naughty Sir Thomas Fiennes, 9th Baron Dacre (1515-1541)

Whilst still a ruin in 1807, it was bought by Thomas Read Kemp whose father (Thomas Kemp Sr) owned a farmhouse in Brighton rented by the Prince of Wales – the same building which was to become the Royal Pavilion (quiz trivia for you). It (the castle not the Royal Pavilion) remained a ruin until 1911 when it was purchased by the MP Lt Colonel Claude William Henry Lowther who began to restore it. This restoration was not completed until 1933, when it was under the ownership of Sir (Herbert) Paul Latham (whose architect, Walter Godfrey, wrote various books and articles on Sussex history published by, among others, the Sussex Archaeological Society). Now Latham was an interesting – if that is the correct word – character. In 1931 he became MP for Scarborough and Whitby and, even though he was exempt from military service during WWII, he joined the army only to be arrested for ‘improper behaviour’ with three soldiers and a civilian. He was the first MP to be court-martialled for ‘indecent conduct’ (10 charges) for over 100 years. He attempted suicide by riding his motorbike into a tree – attempted suicide was illegal then and so he was charged and found guilty of that as well. He was dishonourably discharged from the army and spent two years in prison and, needless to say, resigned his seat in Parliament. Not a very successful career.

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Unsuccessful Sir (Herbert) Paul Latham (1905-1955) 

In 1946, the Admiralty purchased the Castle and, in 1957, made use of the observatory in the grounds. It remained the Royal Greenwich Observatory until that moved to Cambridge in 1988. The Castle then sat lonely and empty until its banner was taken up by Alfred Bader who refurbished it into the magnificent building it is today.

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The Observatory in the grounds of the Castle

The Castle and grounds are also open to the public – click here. For more info on the Bader International Study Centre at the Castle, Click here

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Next week: The Mary Rose


ASIDE

Spooky or what?

I was at a talk on the First World War the other day and it was mentioned that the number plate of the car in which Archduke Franz Ferdinand was in when he was assassinated was AIII 118.  That is A 11 11 18 – Armistice 11th November 1918

     

 


Artemus Smith’s Notebooks

I continue my research of the notebooks of Dr Artemus Smith, archaeologist of great courage, determination and fiction. Here is another extract:

I was visiting a jungle outpost to meet a retiring colonel CO. After a welcoming (gin and tonic), the retiring colonel said, “You must meet my Adjutant, Captain Jameson. He’s my right-hand man, and he’s really the strength of this office. His talent is simply boundless.”

Jameson was summoned and introduced to me and I was very surprised to meet a humpbacked, one eyed, toothless, hairless, scabbed and pockmarked specimen of humanity, a particularly unattractive man less than three feet tall.

The colonel said, “Jameson, old man, tell Smith about yourself.”

“Well, sir, I graduated with honours from Sandhurst, joined the regiment and won the Military Cross and Bar after three expeditions behind enemy lines. I’ve represented Great Britain in equestrian events, and won a Silver Medal in the middleweight division of the Olympics. I have researched the history of…..”

Here the colonel interrupted, “Yes, yes, never mind that Jameson, he can find all that in your file.  Tell him about the day you told the witch doctor he was a joke.”

art-smth