The Society was again honoured by the Northamptonshire Heritage Forum in their awards given for 2020/21. The awards were combined due to COVID, and covered two years. Although the Society was praised for its contributions in all of the categories entered, it didn’t run out a winner in any of them. However, the judges were so impressed by the breadth of our entries, and the vigour with which we addressed both our subject area and the challenges presented by the last few years that we were awarded a Special Award. We are enormously proud of the recognition given to us by the Forum. We’re a small organisation compared to the others competing for wards, and we like to think we punch above our weight.
Northamptonshire Battlefields Society has been received the “Hindsight” Best Publication Award at the Annual Northamptonshire Heritage Forum Awards. The event, which took place on the 4th July at Holdenby House, was hosted by the owner of Holdenby, James Lowther, Deputy Lord Lieutenant. Also present were Earl Spencer, the Forum’s Patron, David Laing, the Lord Lieutenant of the County, and Chris Heaton-Harris, MP for Daventry.
The Award was given for Graham Evans’ book “The Battle of Edgcote 1469 – Re-evaluating the Evidence”, published to commemorate the 550th Anniversary of the Campaign and Battle. The judges were impressed by the quality of the research and the work done with Aberystwyth University to make the Medieval Welsh Poetry about this battle in Northamptonshire available to a wider audience.
Graham took the opportunity in accepting the award to draw the attention of those present, particularly Chis Heaton-Harris, to the lack of statutory battlefield protection.
Military Aspects of Medieval Welsh Poetry- Dr Jenny Day
The Welsh Poets of the 15th century were the hit of the Edgcote Conference in 2019. Jenny is the expert on weaponry in Welsh Medieval poetry, so we are excited she is able to come and tell us more about this fascinating historical resource.
Uncrowned Queen: The Fateful Life of Margaret Beaufort – Dr Nicola Tallis
Margaret Beaufort is a pivotal figure in English history and one who divides opinions. “Uncrowned Queen” is Nicola’s third book, following biographies of Lady Jane Grey and Lettice Knollys, Countess of Leicester.
Like Father and Son? Warwick the Kingmaker and Edward IV – David Santiuste
David makes the case for the much overlooked Edward IV. Often only thought of as Richard III’s older brother, Edward was the most successful war leader of the Wars of the Roses, and it is about time for a thorough re-assessment of his life and times.
The Arte Militaire – Warwick Louth
Warwick is an experienced battlefield guide and trained as a battlefield archaeologist. His book, “The Arte Militaire” is a ground breaking study of historic military manuals and their use today in understanding battles.
The Northampton Riots – Mike Ingram
Northampton has not always been a peaceful town. Under the pressure of a growing population and radical ideas, its citizens often vented their feelings in a violent fashion. This is the story of civil disturbance in Northampton
Northamptonshire and the Cuban Missile Crisis – John Bassett OBE
A couple of years ago John enthralled us with his talk on the SOE and OSS operations planned in Northamptonshire. Now he’s back to talk about our county’s role as the world stood on the brink of oblivion. John worked for over a decade in the Foreign Office and GCHQ, so offers us a unique perspective on events.
How Battles were fought in the Wars of the Roses – Phil Steele
Arrow storms, artillery barrages, cavalry charges or foot soldiers and men at arms in an unseemly brawl? What is the truth about the late 15th century English Art of War? Phil revisits the many sources looking for an answer.
August No talk
Medieval Rebellions – Matthew Lewis
Matt Lewis branches out to a multi-reign analysis of the cause and nature of rebellions in Medieval England, with his latest book. Matt is always an entertaining and popular speaker, and we are pleased to have him back.
AGM & talk (NB 7:00pm start)
Philip Skippon – The Christian Centurion – Dr Ismini Pells
Phillip Skippon was a very important part of the group of officers who won the Civil War for Parliament. Often overlooked compared to Fairfax, Cromwell, Essex and Waller, at last we get to hear his story
The Monstrous Regiment – Graham Evans
Long before the modern debate about whether women should serve in the front line, some joined up anyway disguised as men. The Wild Rat’s editor looks at some of their amazing stories, as we find out why they joined up, where they fought and how they did, and did not, escape detection.
All information is correct at the time of publication but may be subject to changes. Please keep in touch with the Society through our page on Facebook for the latest updates and news.
All talks start at 7:30pm unless otherwise stated
Venue: Delapre Golf Centre, Eagle Drive, Northampton
Members: Free, Non- Members £5
25 January – Overmighty Subjects: Factions and Feuds in the Wars of the Roses. Mike Ingram
Mike is the Society’s Chairman, a medieval historian, author of “The Battle of Northampton” the definitive account of the battle and local expert on The Wars of the
22 February – The Georgian Militia. Prof Matthew McCormack
Professor McCormack is an expert on the militia of the Georgian period. An absolute
must for anyone fascinated by those dashing chaps in Jane Austen’s novels.
29 March – The Black Prince. Dr Michael Jones
Dr Jones is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a member of the British
Commission for Military History and a noted historical writer.
26 April – The Princes in the Tower. Mathew Lewis
Historical writer Matthew Lewis returns to discuss one of histories most controversial mysteries.
31 May – Uncovering Edgcote: Re-evaluating the evidence. Phil Steele with Graham Evans
Phil is the Society’s Vice Chair, and is leading the project to mark the 550th anniversary of the Battle of Edgcote in 2019.
28 June – Forging Identities: Heraldry. Dr Conny Bailey
Dr Bailey lectures in Art History at the University of Leicester, and has previously given talks at Northampton Museum.
26 July – The Man who Arrested the Earl: William Boteler Northamptonshire’s Swordsman. Graham Evans.
The editor of the Wild Rat discusses the life and times of the man who was
Northamptonshire’s military governor after the Civil War.
August No talk
27 September – Eleanor of Castile: The Shadow Queen. Sara Cockerill
Sara is a historian and barrister who has written the only full length biography of Edward I’s beloved queen, and the woman after whom our Eleanor Cross is named.
25 Oct – AGM & talk (NB 7:00pm start) Agincourt past, present and future. Professor Anne Curry
Professor Anne Curry is the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of
Southampton. She is a Medieval Historian and the foremost expert on the Battle of
Agincourt. She was the Chair of the Trustees of the very successful Agincourt 600 Project. She is also a Trustee of the Battlefields Trust, and also the Royal Armouries.
The 600th anniversary of Agincourt in 2015 provided an opportunity to reflect on the
battle. But what more is there to know? Where next for studies of this iconic battle?
Professor Curry shares her views on this nation-defining battle.
Edgecote is another of Northamptonshires forgotten battlefields. This one marked the beginning of the second stage of the Wars of the Roses – Warwick’s rebellion and according to legend, decided by a Banbury barmaid. The Yorkist forces were slaughtered including 152 Welsh nobles. Their leader William Herbert, earl of Pembroke, captured and executed at Northampton’s Queen Eleanor Cross whilst Warwick and Edward’s brother Clarence looked on
Date: 26 July 2017
Where: The Griffin Inn, Chipping Warden
Due to circumstances beyond our control, we have a new speaker and talk for our next talk on 29 June. It will now be Rob Atkins from MOLA talking about Iron Age Northants. Rob has been a post-excavation manager at MOLA’s Northampton office since March 2016 and is employed to write up and publish backlog sites as well as help colleagues in report writing. Rob graduated from Birmingham University in 1989 with a BSocSc in Economic and Social History. He worked for various archaeological units before being employed by MOLA in 1993 as a site assistant and later as a supervisor. In 2002 he briefly left MOLA to be a project officer with the old Cambridgeshire County Council unit (now OA East) before returning in his current role. Rob has always been very interested in the post-excavation side of archaeology and has authored or co-authored various monographs and articles in local and national journals over the last 15 or so years.
When Edward I’s queen, Eleanor died in 1290 at Harby, her viscera, less her heart, were sent to the Angel Choir of Lincoln Cathedral for burial, and her body was then taken to London, taking 12 days to reach Westminster Abbey. Crosses were erected at the twelve places where her funeral procession stopped overnight. Today only three crosses still stand, at Geddington, Northampton, and Waltham Cross. The top of the Northampton Cross was missing in 1460 at the time of the battle.
Northampton’s Queen Eleanor Cross. Photo Nicola McKenna
In July 2016, Northamptonshire Battlefield Society began to express concerns about the deteriorating condition of the Northampton Cross in meetings with Northampton Borough Council and other stakeholders in Delapre park. NBS continued to bring it up at subsequent meetings but got no further than a than a dispute of who was responsible for its upkeep. Frustrated at the lack of action, NBS made their concerns public which were then taken up by BBC Radio Northampton. Starting Monday 24 April, for three days in succession it was headline news and the chair of NBS, author Sara Cockerill and others were interviewed on the radio. As a result, the Borough Council issued the following statement.
“We are aware of the many references to the cross on our website and sadly whilst this seems contradictory we still believe this isn’t proof of our ownership of the cross, however we have carried out extensive maintenance on the cross in the past we now intend to carry out further work to tidy up what is undoubtedly a fantastic monument of national importance”
And this was despite the cross being listed on the council’s asset register. So, on Wednesday 26 April this page was launched. The threat to the cross sparked outrage within the local community and further afield. Support grew rapidly and a twitter feed was greeted with a similar response, also gaining celebrity support from the likes of Tony Robinson and Al Murray. The cross’s plight made TV and interviews with the NBS Chair, plus Marie Dickie and Adrian Bell from the Hardingstone History Group was shown on BBC Look East on 2 May.
Some of the growth on the Cross. Photo Matthew Lewis
Then on the afternoon of 2 May, Northampton Borough Council released the following statement
“We are moving ahead as quickly as possible to get the permission we need to carry out work on the Eleanor Cross. We have met with Historic England and taken their advice and have already approached three accredited restoration and conservation companies with the experience of working on such important monuments. Two have already responded and when we have heard from the third, we will appoint a contractor to carry out a condition survey, commission initial works and advise on what further work is needed going forward.
“We have formally made an application to work on a scheduled monument and once we have received the permission necessary from Historic England work will begin straight away. We are well aware of the importance of the Eleanor Cross and how our plans for Delapré Abbey will raise its profile even further.”
There is a way to go yet. Support continues to grow and NBS will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that the council sticks to its promise. Responsibility needs to be confirmed and a long term maintenance program needs to be sorted. Better access to the site and some signage are also priorities. We will continue to report progress.
But all in all, not bad for little over a week. Thank you everybody.
Earlier low grade repairs. Photo Matthew Lewis
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