The Last Days of Thunder Child

The Last Days of Thunder Child
War of the Worlds - spin off adaptation novel.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Where Richard III was Born and Where Mary Queen of Scots Died - A Little Village Called Fotheringhay

My eldest son, Lloyd and his wife Claire, are planning to come up to Cambridgeshire and do some Carp fishing. They are both keen carp anglers and both regularly appear in national fishing newspapers.

I had to find a place called Bluebell lakes which are just over the county border and into Northamptonshire. Just a few miles west of Peterborough. It was a beautiful sunny day so I decided to find the lake's location before the 26th of May when Lloyd and Claire come up to fish the place.  This was a sort of trial run for my son and his wife.

Carole and I set off in the car to find the lake and we did so with comparative ease, stopping at a service station on the way for a coffee and a bite to eat. As we found the lake entrance and were about to leave, Carole noticed a church tower in the distance. It looked rather grand for a church. More like that of an abbey tower. It was just nestled in the distance among the lush green meadows and the trees against the clear blue sky.

We followed the country lane and passed over a small picturesque humpback bridge into a small typical English village called Fotheringhay. It was a tiny little village with a few thatched cottages, but the name meant something to me. There was once a castle here and that flicked a switch. It’s one of those things about England. The place is steeped in history that many of us know and take for granted. Sometimes things of historical significance are right under our noses and we don’t always appreciate the significance of such.

Behind the road where the terraced cottages stood was a rise and upon this was the church that looked like an abbey but for its small size. It looked as though it had been grand in its time but like many places in England, I assumed the Reformation during the time of Henry VIII may have brought about its demise. This is the usual thing about English county abbeys and churches. There are derelict ruins across the country. However, Fotheringhay church was still in use and had a little of the old splendour about it.

Carole and I decided to go inside and look about. I walked through the graveyard to get a good photo shot of the church and noticed that the arched windows to the front were blocked up and had been for some time, while the arched windows along the side were still there.

Once inside the realisation of where I had heard the name blew the cobwebs out of my eyes when I began to read the notices. It was Mary Queen of Scots last prison and the place where she was tried and executed by England’s Elizabeth I for her involvement in the Babington plot. This small unassuming little place with a population of around 100 people had this historical significance. It was also where King Richard III was born too.

As Carole and I wondered about the church an old man with an old dog came in. He had a staff shaped walking stick and he smiled at us knowing we had some interest in the place. He said he was the retired churchwarden of the place and began to tell us the story of how Mary Queen of Scots came to be imprisoned at Fotheringhay Castle which was a little way away from the church grounds. He said the castle was no longer there but the mound and foundation was. It was at this place where Richard III was born and later Mary Queen of Scots would be tried and executed.

He also said the church was only one-third of its original size and pointed to an architectural design of the original church. Where there had been seven arched windows to the side, it now has but three windows on each side. As suspected it was during Henry VIII’s reformation that Fotheringhay church met its demise and was rebuilt and renovated by Queen Elizabeth I in later years.

Two of the queen’s uncles who were buried inside the original chapel were outside in the graveyard after most of the church had been pulled down. The Tudor queen had the bones of both uncles dug up and reburied inside the smaller chapel that remained.

During the last months of Mary Queen of Scots' life, she was made to live in Castle Fotheringhay because Queen Elizabeth I owned the grounds and it was in a very Protestant area of the country. It was also close to Lord Cecil Burghley’s grand house near Stamford. It was two days from London by horse and coach. Close enough should the need for immediate attention be needed from Queen Elizabeth I.

After listening to the churchwarden, we walked out of the church and headed for the old castle mound just outside the village. We found the place and the only incline of Fotheringhay castle was a huge mound with rough grass steps going to the top. I went up there anyway and looked out over the wonderful meadows of English rural countryside. The small area was where Mary Queen of Scots would have been executed back in 1587. I don’t suppose the late queen looked upon the same fields with the same tranquil appreciation I had.

I was looking at a Red Kite circling the meadow below. Forgetting that such a dreadful thing happened here. Also, the baby who would grow to become King Richard III was born here in 1452. This small unassuming village had been host to such significant historical things and no one would even suspect this as my line of vision swept about the panoramic view following the Red Kite and then My gaze stopped at the church tower of Fotheringhay once again. What a remarkable and unassuming little English village this place is.

If you blinked while driving through the village you would miss it altogether.

The gate entrance to the old church

The Approach

Only one-third of the chapel remains today

Looking up at the church tower

Fotheringhay is the birthplace of Richard III

Also the place of Mary Queen of Scots Execution

Leaving the church and heading for the mound. All that remains of Castle Fotheringhay

What Castle Fotheringhay looked like in the day.

Another impression of Fotheringhay Castle.

Me going up to the top of the mound where once upon a time, King Richard III was born
and again, on another time and occasion, Queen Mary of Scotland was Executed.

The Castle mound, the bridge and the church

The old church still looks grand


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