On this day in 1066 Harold II was crowned

On 6th January 1066 Earl Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex and former Earl of Essex and East Anglia, was crowned as King Harold II of England in the West Minster Church.   The first King to be crowned there.   (You really must not believe all those who think England’s history began with the Norman Duke William the Bastard and say that he was the first to be crowned in the new church as William I.)

No doubt the villagers and canons of Waltham, where Harold had been Lord of the Manor, rejoiced at his coronation.   And in 2016, on the 950th anniversary of that coronation, we in today’s Waltham Abbey marked the occasion by a Service of Compline in the Abbey Church.

Our Rector, the Rev’d Peter Smith, devised a special litany for the service after much research into what might be suitable.   And the Abbey Church’s Founder’s Banner was brought into a prominent place.

It was a wonderful, peaceful and inspiring service in the quiet of the evening, and one we will all remember.   Photograph courtesy of Richard Walters.

Australia King Harold 314 (RW)

Lego, Meccano – forget it; Just build your own castle

This film came up on Facebook today, although it is actually older having been a television programme on BBC2.

Amazing what has been achieved using only tools and methods from medieval times.  The before and after pictures of the site show how much work has been done.   It’s not finished yet, hopefully in 2023, maybe?

For 20 Years The French Have Been Building A Medieval Castle Using Medieval Techniques, And The Result Is Incredible

Published in: on January 4, 2022 at 8:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Waltham Abbey to mark anniversary of King Harold’s death with Ceremony at Memorial

14th October is the anniversary of the death of King Harold II 1G6A0872on the battlefield of Senlac Hill in 1066, generally known as the Battle of Hastings.

An important date for us in Waltham Abbey as King Harold had been Lord of the Manor of Waltham before he ascended the throne of England, had married a local girl and raised a family here, and had founded a splendid Minster Church in thanksgiving for having been cured of paralysis when he prayed at the miraculous Holy Cross of Waltham

So on this coming Thursday, 14th October, we shall be commemorating Harold Godwinson, the last Anglo Saxon King of England, at a ceremony in the Abbey Churchyard at 10.30am when flowers will be placed on the King Harold Memorial.

The ceremony will be led by Waltham Abbey Historical Society.

Those who would  like to mark the life and death of King Harold are very welcome to attend the ceremony, or to place flowers on the Memorial at another time.

Please though keep social distancing around the Memorial, and wear a face covering if you wish to do so.

Stamford Bridge – the second great battle of 1066

Today, 25th September, is the anniversary of the second great battle of 1066. Following the Battle of Fulford, where the northern Earls lost to the Norwegian King Harald Hardrada, word reached King Harold II who raised his army and marched at speed to York. The Vikings, together with the former Earl Tostig, King Harold’s estranged brother, had camped at nearby Stamford Bridge. King Harold’s army surprised them there and a fierce battle took place., with this time the English being the winners.

BBC's picture of Battle of Stamford Bridge

Chas Jones tells the story of the Battle of Fulford

It is said the one date every schoolchild knows is 1066  –  the Battle of Hastings.   But in fact there were three great battles in that year.   And the first was the Battle of Fulford on 20th September 1066.

At that conflict the Norwegian King Harald Hardrada joined forces with Earl Tostig, (estranged brother to King Harold II of England), against the English Northern Earls and their armies, led by Earl Morcar.   The result was a win for Harald Hardrada with the first round of the three battles going against the English.

Fulford is on the outskirts of the city of York and the battlefield remains much as it was nearly a thousand years ago albeit under threat for a number of years from the developers.

Fighting his own battle to preserve the historic battlefield is Chas Jones and here he uses a model to explain the course of the day and tells the story of Fulford 1066.   We show this video courtesy of Chas, who has himself re-enacted the journey that King Harold Godwinson made later from Yorkshire to Senlac Hill in Sussex stopping off on the way to visit us at Waltham.

Published in: on September 20, 2021 at 4:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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From Monasteries to Palaces – like Waltham

Waltham gets an honourable mention in the Freelance History Writer’s blog with a post by Richard Taylor about monasteries that became great houses for Henry VIII’s courtiers after the Dissolution.

Three monasteries/palaces are featured:- Leez Priory in Essex (Richard Rich who rose from protege of Thomas Cromwell to become Lord Chancellor himself); Netley Abbey in Hampshire (William Paulet); and Titchfield Abbey also in Hampshire (Thomas Wriothesley).

Waltham Abbey was in this category itself, of course, as it became the great house of the Denny family, also courtiers to the monarch. But it was different in that the three mentioned were all conversions of existing monastic buildings, whereas at Waltham, other than the nave which became the parish church, the monastic buildings were demolished. and the stone was re-used to build the new house. That too was eventually demolished, but thankfully we still have some remnants from the monastery in the Abbey Gateway and the Cloister Passage, and some walls from the Denny house.

It is a most interesting article and includes some old engravings of the converted monasteries. Here’s the link to the full story.

Engraving of Leez Priory in 1738 by the Buck Brothers. Leez is not too far from us, between Chelmsford and Felsted.

Saxon building reconstructed in Oxfordshire

An Anglo-Saxon building, the remains of which were found during an archaeological dig, has been reconstructed at Long Wittenham, Oxfordshire.    It has been named “The House of Wessex” and took two years to build using traditional materials.

The replica 7th century building cost £120,000 and received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund of nearly £100,000.  It is one metre from the original site to preserve any remaining archaeology, and is believed to have formed part of a settlement associated with a leading family of the West Saxons.   Timber from more than 80 trees from the Blenheim Estate was used, and the walls were plastered with daub made out of clay, straw, and cow dung.

The Wulfheodenas, an Anglo-Saxon living history society that runs educational courses for schoolchildren., will use the building as its headquarters.   Dr Gabriel Hemery, chief executive of the Sylva Foundation, said: “This reconstruction celebrates the birth of the kingdom of Wessex 1,300 years ago on this very spot.”

Here is the link to the story on the BBC’s website.

Anglo Saxon building in Oxfordshire constructed April 2021

Bayeux Tapestry too fragile to come to Britain

It looks like the proposal for the Bayeux Tapestry to come to the UK whilst its home in Bayeux is being redeveloped will be postponed, if not cancelled.

A recent inspection of the tapestry found that it is in such a fragile condition that it can only leave its home for repair work to take place. The French authorities are planning for those repairs to take place from 2024 onwards and the redevelopment of the museum will be complete by 2026 so there is little scope for the restored tapestry to visit us.

Here’s the link to the story.

Harold's Coronation (2)

Published in: on April 8, 2021 at 12:09 am  Leave a Comment  
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6th January – King Harold’s Coronation

On this day in 1066 Harold Godwinson was crowned King Harold II of England. It was the first Coronation to take place in the newly-built West Minster Church, (subsequently called Westminster Abbey), which was founded by Edward the Confessor.

On the 950th anniversary of the Coronation, in 2016, we in Waltham Abbey held a special service of Compline which was devised and led by the Rector, The Rev’d Peter Smith. It was a wonderful quiet, peaceful service.

The photographs show the part of the Bayeux Tapestry depicting the Coronation and the Waltham Abbey Church on the day of the Compline mentioned above, with the Church’s King Harold banner prominently on show.

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Published in: on January 6, 2021 at 4:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Archers at King Harold Day 2008

Bowmen - 1 from The Feudal Archers, 2 from the Company of Saint Joseph

Published in: on November 23, 2020 at 12:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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