On our way back home from a few days away in Bedfordshire a couple of weeks ago we thought we would like to re-visit Rockingham Castle We'd last visited in the 1980s so it was high time for a return visit. As we'd taken a laptop with us we decided just after breakfast in the hotel we'd use their 30 minutes free Wi-fi and check the castle opening times on line. It was a good job we did as we found out that they didn't open on Saturdays! So we revised our plans and went to visit another place we hadn't seen for a long time, the lovely village of Fotheringhay.
I took this first view of the church from the old bridge over the River Nene. It stands majestically on its hill in the centre of the village. It looked beautiful in spite of the morning mists and slight drizzle. If it had drifted away down river I wouldn't have been at all surprised as it did indeed look as if it was floating. I'll take you to the church later in this post because the first place we wanted to see again isn't far away from the church.
Still getting quite wet in the light rain we set off to find the mound on which had stood first a wooden Norman mott and bailey castle, built by Simon de St Liz c. 1100, about two centuries later it was rebuilt in stone and then refurbished in the early16th century by Katherine of Aragon who, after her divorce from Henry VIII, lived at nearby Kimboulton Castle. According to records it seemed to be still in use and habitable until around 1625 when it was reported to be 'meetly strong' but ten years later it had been abandoned. The castle passed by marriage to King David I of Scotland when he married Maud the widow of its builder Simon de St Liz. It was passed down several generations of Scottish Kings until William the Lion gave it to his brother David, who later became Earl of Huntingdon. In the 14th century it came into the hands of Edmund Langley, Duke of York one of the sons of Edward III.
It looks quite an unprepossessing mound but it was here that a King of England was born and a Queen of Scotland died. The castle came eventually into the ownership of Richard, Duke of York and his wife Cecily Neville and it was here that their youngest son Richard was born on October 2nd 1452. This Richard became Duke of Gloucester during the reign of his elder brother Edward IV and later for such a short time a king himself. Perhaps, knowing my Yorkist and Ricardian leanings, you can see why I wanted to visit again?
The castle stayed in the hands of the York family until Richard, now Richard III was defeated at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485; from then the castle and manor became the property of the Tudors. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, was tried and found guilty of treason here in the of October 1586 and executed in the great hall on 2nd February 1587. If you look closely at the photo above you will see one piece of stone left from the building in a little protective pen down by the river.
As we walked back along the main street towards the church we saw this wonderful building which we hadn't noticed on our first visit all those years ago. I do wonder why because it was a gorgeous old house. It is now called The Garden Farm but was previously know as the New Inn and was built on the instructions of Edward IV between the years of 1461 and 1476 to accommodate further visitors to the castle.
The church of St Mary and All Saints was built on the site of a Cluniac nunnery. It was built in the early 15th century to house the Collegiate Chapel or college which had been founded by Edmund Langley in the chapel of the castle. Edmund of Langley was killed at the Battle of Agincourt and was buried in what was called the Quire of the college and church. Later the bodies of Richard, Duke of York and his son, the Earl of Rutland who were killed at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460 were brought to rest in the Quire. Most of the collegiate buildings were dismantled in the 1540s leaving the church that can be seen now.
When we entered the church it looked as if it was decorated ready for a wedding and indeed as we walked around a couple of people arrived to make last minute preparations. They seemed quite happy for us to continue to look around. Below is one of the Yorkist tombs. When Queen Elizabeth I visited Fotheringhay in 1566 she was appalled by the desecrated tombs of the members of the York family buried in the old college Quire and ordered that they be brought into the church and fitting commemorative monuments be built.
In this tomb lie Richard,3rd Duke of York and his wife Cecily Neville known as The Rose of Raby.
In another monument exactly the same to the right of the alter are the remains of Edward, 2nd Duke of York who killed in 1415 at the Battle of Agincourt.
The York Window is in the Richard III or York Chapel and was a gift from the Richard III Society and dedicated in 1975. In the window and around the chapel are other symbols and images of The House of York including some of these below.......
The White Rose of York on kneelers...........
and in flower displays
Another kneeler decorated with a white boar, the insignia of Richard III.
I loved the richly carved and ornamented 15th century pulpit newly restored to its original colours.
After a walk around the churchyard it was time to leave this pretty little village and set off to our next destination passing back over the old bridge on our way.