Dear cousins … as I research our ancestors – specifically the medieval and Tudor era Wyatts – I am finding the most AMAZING and sometimes humorous discrepancies.

Everything must be quadruple checked, and even then the dates (within a few years) are not consistent. I possess a copy of The Papers of George Wyatt; even though it has a family tree, the tree does NOT have dates!

As you use the internet to work on your trees, beware of crazy dates. In most cases our ancestors were NOT elevated to high station before they were born. In many cases, decades old genealogies are chock full o’ wishful thinking. The exaggerations border on lies, but in some cases there are clues that lead to fascinating facts.

When will the book be done? When I get to the point where I feel I have opened all the doors. Hundreds of research pages later I am still at the point where every door leads to five more.

The good news is it’s all more interesting than we ever knew.

He liked soft beds, hard harlots and beautiful clothes.

(The photo is Alan Van Sprang, who played Bryan brilliantly in the Tudors series. Enjoy the series but note that casting and timing constraints forced them to distort facts.)

As a soldier, diplomat and poet it’s easy to understand that Sir Francis Bryan had everything in common with our Sir Thomas Wyatt. Henry VIII liked both men and yes, they were friends. (Wyatt’s writings to/of Bryan survive to this day, but Bryan’s writings have been lost in time.)

Most important, they were business associates; the king’s business. I think the difference between Wyatt and Bryan was that doing the king’s business was a heavy burden to Wyatt’s conscience whereas … well, Sir Bryan didn’t seem to have one.

This story tells us how Bryan got his nickname. “N. Sander, Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schism ( 1877), p. 24, records that Sir Francis Bryan ‘was once asked by the king to tell him what sort of sin it was to ruin the mother and then the child’. Bryan replied ‘that it was a sin like that of eating a hen first and its chicken afterwards’. The king burst forth into loud laughter and said to Bryan, ‘Well, you certainly are my vicar of hell’.”

Bryan was also a cousin of Anne Boleyn – who he betrayed. Note that our Lady Elizabeth Brooke was also a cousin of Anne Boleyn. I haven’t been able to establish whether our lines attach to Sir Francis Bryan in any way, but this morning I received this FASCINATING comment from Bryan descendant William Jones and wanted to share it with everyone.

“It’s so that great grandfather loved to do contests and hone his skills with the sword but he endeared himself in his works of poetry. He indeed wore a patch but something you may not know is this. In the writings of the Three Musketeers, the villain that challenged them was developed from the character and looks of grandfather Sir Francis Bryan. The evil and eye patch wearing character was developed from the image of ‘The Vicar of Hell.’

None the less in later generations of his lineage the town of Smithfield North Carolina was founded and layed out by his grandchildren of which two were by grandparents and the other a great uncle….Needham Bryan 1 and sons William ( my lineage) and Needham Bryan II ( a great uncle) were founders of that town.  Grandfather William Bryan and his brother Needham Bryan married daughters of Joseph Smith who by so marrying them proved Joseph Smith to be an indirect great grandfather that gave the land for the town of Smithfield.

Also it must be noted that another great grandson of Sir Francis Bryan, namely Morgan Bryan had two daughters and a son that married two children of Squire Boone. Rebecca Bryan married the great frontiersman of America, Daniel Boone.”

(Please note a descendant’s comment/correction to this quote below.)

I share this because – besides being FASCINATING – it may help some of you develop your trees. It may help me flesh out my line also because they also lived in this area and talked about a relationship with the Boones.

How wonderful it would be to learn – all these generations – that the descendants of old friends  had connected again.

A hero fell this week. I had an idealized view of Queen Elizabeth as a woman, a survivor, a creative genius who reinvented herself as necessary.

Our ancestor Henry Wyatt served Henry VII and Henry VIII; his son Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet served Henry VIII as ambassador, and in fact died prematurely while zealously conducting the king’s business. And his warrior son, Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger, served Edward VI (Henry’s short-lived male heir) and sought to prevent his older sister Queen Mary from marrying Felipe of Spain. (These three men and their times within the Tudor era are the focus of my book; I may stop with Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet as I find the circumstances of his son’s life unsettling.)

The actions of Henry’s grandson against Queen Mary cost the family dearly.  Elizabeth could have … should have … made it right, because his ultimate sacrifice was on her behalf.

Last night I was “visiting” with Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger via “The Works of Henry Howard Earl of Surrey and of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder” edited by Geo. Fred. Nott in 1815.  The poet’s son was a somewhat wild and reckless young man, but Nott tells us he transformed that aggression into a successful military career.

Towards the end of King Edward’s short reign, Thomas’ zeal for protestant causes led to “intrigues which aimed at placing the Lady Jane Gray on the throne.”  It’s even said that he appeared in arms in her favour. The short lived attempt failed; “his offence being either pardoned or overlooked, he was permitted to retire unmolested to Allington.”

In 1554 Mary’s Spanish match upset the nation so much that “a powerful party was secretly formed every where to oppose it, and nothing was wanted but a leader.” Wyatt had the right credentials, but his timing was off. “The measures he proposed, and concerted with the Duke of Suffolk, were those of wisdom, caution and prudence: but some unforeseen events compelled him to take arms before the general plans were ripe, and this ultimately proved his ruin.”

Imagine this day … “He had on a shirt of mail, with sleeves very fair; thereon a velvet cassock, and a yellow lace, with the windlace of his dag hanging thereon, and a pair of boots on his legs, and on his head a fair hat of velvet, with a broad bone-work lace about it.”

His forces penetrated as far as London, but was forced to surrender and fling himself on the Queen’s mercy.

“As he passed through the gate, Sir John Bridges took him by the collar and said, ‘O! thou villain, and unhappy traitor! How couldst though find in thy heart to work such detestable treason to the Queen’s Majesty, who gave thee thy life and living once already, although thou didst before  this time bear arms in the field against her? And now to yield her battle! If it were not that the law must pass upon thee, I would strike thee through with my dagger.’ To the which Wyatt, holding his arms under his side, and looking grievously, with a grim look upon the lieutenant, said ‘It is no mastery now!’ and so passed on.”

He was committed to the Tower February 7, tried and condemned March 15 and executed April 11 because it was hoped he would incriminate the Lady Elizabeth and the Earl of Devonshire.

While pleading his case he told the judges “I was persuaded that by the marriage of the Prince of Spain, the second person in this realm, and the next heir to the Crown, the Lady Elizabeth, would have been in danger; and that I, being a free-born man, should with my country have been brought into the bondage and servitude of aliens and strangers.”

Nott quotes Wyatt’s speech from his trial. “I confess that my crime is great; for nothing can excuse the rebellion of the subject against the lawfully constituted authority of the Prince. It is a great relief to my conscience that the motive which led me to the fatal measure was zeal, however misguided, for my country, and not private ambition. Still I do not on that account hold myself absolved. My life is justly forfeit to the law. If it be spared, I shall receive it as a free gift of mercy from the Queen; of that mercy, which is, as he strongly expresses it, the greatest treasure that may be given to any Prince from God.”

Of course that gift was not forthcoming.  He died a vicious traitor’s death wherein he was hung, drawn and quartered.

“He was considered by the nation at large as one who had voluntarily sacrificed himself for the Protestant cause.”

“With Sir Thomas Wyatt fell the hopes and the fortunes of his family. All his great possessions were resumed by the Crown, with the exception of the estate at Boxley, which Mary granted in small parcels to Lady Wyatt for the support of herself and her numerous family.”

Nott states that “It might have naturally been expected that Elizabeth, upon her accession to the throne, would have immediately removed the stigma of attainder and poverty from a family which had dared so greatly, and suffered so much from zeal in the general cause. But whether it was that she gave credit to the report of her having been accused by Wyatt in the Tower, or that she was influenced by motives of a personal nature, certain it is, that it was not until the thirteenth year of her reign that she reversed the attainder, and restored George Wyatt, the eldest son in blood. She does not seem, however, even then to have acted with that generosity which the occasion called for.”

This site has a much more detailed overview of Wyatt’s Rebellion:

Researching our Wyatts is part adventure, part mystery.

Yesterday I posted about Poins and a reader shared my passion for Holbein. I’m so mesmerized by his art I’ve started collecting books on his paintings. I have actually left one of them open to favorite pages so I could spend the day “appreciating” certain subjects. Did they know Sir Thomas? Were they friends – or enemies?

Today I was researching Henry Wyatt and came upon a book by Agnes Conway. The name rang a bell. This was the woman whose father bought Allington Castle pre-WWII! (See in menu at upper right.)

She and Lord Conway spent years restoring Allington. I wondered if she was affected by “the spirits” of the place or the passions of the previous owners.

Apparently she was.

While trying to find a complete version of a book she wrote about the reign of Henry VII, I found an art book she had written for children – The Book of Art for Young People. How appropriate to honor her memory here by sharing what she wrote about Holbein:

“In the best sense Holbein was the most Italian of the Germans. For in him, as in the gifted Italian, grace was innate. He may have paid a brief visit to Italy, but he never lived there for any length of time, nor did he try to paint like an Italian as some northern artists unhappily tried to do. The German merits, solidity, boldness, detailed finish, and grasp of character, he possessed in a high degree, but he combined with them a beauty of line, delicacy of modelling, and richness of colour almost southern. His pictures appeal more to the eye and less to the mind than do those of Dürer. Where Dürer sought to instruct, Holbein was content to please. But like a German he spared no pains. He painted the stuff and the necklace, the globe and the feather, with the finish of an artist who was before all things a good workman. [About Henry VIII’s son Arthur …] Observe how delicately the chubby little fingers are drawn. Holbein’s detailed treatment of the accessories of a portrait is only less than the care expended in depicting the face. He studied faces, and his portraits, one may almost say, are at once images of and commentaries on the people they depict. Thus his gallery of pictures of Henry and his contemporaries show us at once the reflexion of them as in a mirror, and the vision of them as beheld by a singularly discerning and experienced eye that not only saw but comprehended.

This is the more remarkable because Holbein was not always able to paint and finish his portraits in the presence of the living model, as painters insist on doing nowadays. His sitters were generally busy men who granted him but one sitting, so that his method was to make a drawing of the head in red chalk and to write upon the margin notes of anything he particularly wanted to remember. Afterwards he painted the head from the drawing, but had the actual clothes and jewels sent him to work from.

In the Royal Collection at Windsor there are a number of these portrait drawings of great interest to us, since many of the portraits painted from them have been lost. As a record of remarkable people of that day they are invaluable, for in a few powerful strokes Holbein could set down the likeness of any face. But when he came to paint the portrait he was not satisfied with a mere likeness. He painted too ‘his habit as he lived.’ Erasmus is shown reading in his study, the merchant in his office surrounded by the tokens of his business, and Henry VIII. standing firmly with his legs wide apart as if bestriding a hemisphere.”

This link demonstrates his technique:

You can also acquire a free online version of Agnes Conway’s illustrated book here:


Friend of Sir Thomas Wyatt
This looks like the face of a friend.

I came upon the poem “Mine own John Poinz” and was intrigued by the poem and the man. This is how Holbein sketched Poinz (or Poins) but who WAS he?

According to Edmund Lodge in Facsimiles of original drawings by Hans Holbein, “John Poins, or Poyntz, of Essex … was, as we have seen, a follower of the court, and, as we may fairly presume, a man of some taste, since the elegant Sir Thomas Wyat deigned to address two poems to him…”

I also found John’s family had a relationship with William Tyndall who started translating the Bible around 1521. Of course Cardinal Wolsey banned the book and demanded his arrest.  In 1530 Tyndall opposed Henry’s divorce, and … we all know how the king felt about those who disagreed.

Meanwhile our ancestor had friends who were close to the man. On 25 August 1535 Thomas Poyns wrote to his “well beloved brother” John Poyns …”It was said here that the King had granted letters in favor of one Wm. Tyndall, who is in prison, and like to suffer death unless the King help him. It is thought now that the letters have been stopped. He lodged with me three quarters of a year, and was taken out of my house by a sergeant-of-arms, otherwise [called] a door-warder, and the procurer-general of Brabant.”

Cromwell (friend of our ancestor and minister of Henry VIII from 1532 to 1540) tried to prevent Tyndall’s death, but failed.

In 1536 Tyndall was “tied to a stake, strangled and then his body burnt.” I don’t know if Sir Thomas met or knew Tyndall, but it becomes clear he could not be witness to the king’s behaviors without paying an emotional price.

That same year Anne Boleyn and her brother George – his lifelong friends – were beheaded by the king. He saw Anne’s death during his own imprisonment in the Tower.  His sister was at her side.

In 1536 Thomas was 33 years old and Simonds* wrote “but from now on his writings become more and more deeply tinged with the sober shades born of experience and reflection. It was impossible for a mind like his, – a mind so responsive to the charms of the new learning, – to pass through the troubled times of which we speak without profoundly realizing the uncertainty of fortune and the vanity of human success.”

In 1540 he wept at Cromwell’s violent death. He had seen too much.

According to Simonds, in 1542 Wyatt “was now once more living in retirement at his pleasant home of Allington; and here he evidently hoped to spend the remainder of his days in the enjoyment of those quiet delights which he pictures in the Satires. He had had enough of the life at Court, and could rightly estimate the doubtful happiness and vain security of those who ‘Stand … upon the slipper top of high estate.’”

He wrote his friend …

“Mine own John Poynz, since ye delight to know
The cause why that homeward I me draw,
And flee the press of courts, whereso they go,
Rather than to live thrall under the awe
Of lordly looks, wrappèd within my cloak,
To will and lust learning to set a law:
It is not for because I scorn or mock
The power of them, to whom fortune hath lent
Charge over us, of right, to strike the stroke.
But true it is that I have always meant
Less to esteem them than the common sort,
Of outward things that judge in their intent
Without regard what doth inward resort.
I grant sometime that of glory the fire
Doth twyche my heart. Me list not to report
Blame by honour, and honour to desire.
But how may I this honour now attain,
That cannot dye the colour black a liar?
My Poynz, I cannot from me tune to feign,
To cloak the truth for praise without desert
Of them that list all vice for to retain.
I cannot honour them that sets their part
With Venus and Bacchus all their life long;
Nor hold my peace of them although I smart.
I cannot crouch nor kneel to do so great a wrong,
To worship them, like God on earth alone,
That are as wolves these sely lambs among.
I cannot with my word complain and moan,
And suffer nought, nor smart without complaint,
Nor turn the word that from my mouth is gone.
I cannot speak and look like a saint,
Use willes for wit, and make deceit a pleasure,
And call craft counsel, for profit still to paint.
I cannot wrest the law to fill the coffer
With innocent blood to feed myself fat,
And do most hurt where most help I offer.
I am not he that can allow the state
Of him Caesar, and damn Cato to die,
That with his death did scape out of the gate
From Caesar’s hands (if Livy do not lie)
And would not live where liberty was lost;
So did his heart the common weal apply.
I am not he such eloquence to boast
To make the crow singing as the swan;
Nor call the liond of cowardes beasts the most
That cannot take a mouse as the cat can;
And he that dieth for hunger of the gold
Call him Alexander; and say that Pan
Passeth Apollo in music many fold;
Praise Sir Thopias for a noble tale,
And scorn the story that the Knight told;
Praise him for counsel that is drunk of ale;
Grin when he laugheth that beareth all the sway,
Frown when he frowneth and groan when is pale;
On others’ lust to hang both night and day:
None of these points would ever frame in me.
My wit is nought—I cannot learn the way.
And much the less of things that greater be,
That asken help of colours of device
To join the mean with each extremity,
With the nearest virtue to cloak alway the vice;
And as to purpose, likewise it shall fall
To press the virtue that it may not rise;
As drunkenness good fellowship to call;
The friendly foe with his double face
Say he is gentle and courteous therewithal;
And say that favel hath a goodly grace
In eloquence; and cruelty to name
Zeal of justice and change in time and place;
And he that suffer’th offence without blame
Call him pitiful; and him true and plain
That raileth reckless to every man’s shame.
Say he is rude that cannot lie and feign;
The lecher a lover; and tyranny
To be the right of a prince’s reign.
I cannot, I; no, no, it will not be!
This is the cause that I could never yet
Hang on their sleeves that way, as thou mayst see,
A chip of chance more than a pound of wit.
This maketh me at home to hunt and to hawk,
And in foul weather at my book to sit;
In frost and snow then with my bow to stalk;
No man doth mark whereso I ride or go:
In lusty leas at liberty I walk.
And of these news I feel nor weal nor woe,
Save that a clog doth hang yet at my heel.
No force for that, for it is ordered so,
That I may leap both hedge and dyke full well.
I am not now in France to judge the wine,
With saffry sauce the delicates to feel;
Nor yet in Spain, where one must him incline
Rather than to be, outwardly to seem:
I meddle not with wits that be so fine.
Nor Flanders’ cheer letteth not my sight to deem
Of black and white; nor taketh my wit away
With beastliness; they beasts do so esteem.
Nor I am not where Christ is given in prey
For money, poison, and treason at Rome—
A common practice used night and day:
But here I am in Kent and Christendom
Among the Muses where I read and rhyme;
Where if thou list, my Poinz, for to come,
Thou shalt be judge how I do spend my time.”

To me he sounds sad, tired and defensive. Exhausted by the violence and deceptions.

I read he wanted to devote those years to the education of his sister’s son, Lady Lee. Despite her relationship with Anne Boleyn, some say her son was one of the king’s bastards. How like Henry to cheat on his queen with the sister of a friend. And how like Henry to expect that friend to help raise another bastard son.

We have to wonder how long Sir Thomas might have lived if the king had not called him out of retirement.

*From Sir Thomas Wyatt and His Poems by William Edward Simonds,  D. C. Heath & Company, 1889.


By Agnes Conway, daughter of Sir Martin Conway.
From House Beautiful, August 1929

(Exactly as written except I have added paragraphs; I find great chunks of content oppressive. Forgive any typos, it’s a lot of typing!)

[Learn about Sir Conway here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Conway,_1st_Baron_Conway_of_Allington ]

On May 15, 1905, Sir Martin Conway inserted the following advertisement in the Times – ‘Wanted: To purchase old manor house or abbey, built in the sixteenth century or earlier, with old garden, not much land, no sporting facilities, preferably five miles or more from a railway station.’

Two replies were received – one about a stuccoed castellated mansion, suitable for a hotel or hydro; the other from Allington Castle on the River Medway, not far from Maidstone, in which we were picnicking after the purchase, six weeks from that date. Fortunately it was summer, for the castle was open to the sky, with the exception of the rooms in the gabled Elizabethan building which was the home of innumerable rats, who ran about inside the walls all day and night.

The age of the building exceeded our demands; for that a real medieval castle should be for sale, thirty-five miles from London, had never even entered our minds. This one contained remains of three successive castles and two manor houses – the earliest a moated mound raised at the time of the Conquest, and once crowned by a wooden fort, of which the mound and the moat are still extant.

Figure 2, The Moat Wall

The second, a stone castle, built toward the end of the eleventh century and pulled down in 1170 at a cost of sixty shillings by orders of the King, after a general rising of the barons. Of this castle, a gigantic fireplace, large enough to roast an ox, and the foundations of several rooms, marked out by us in cement in the inner courtyard, remain. The twelfth-century wall, surrounding the moat, is intact, and forms the background to our herbaceous border. (Figure 2).

For the next one hundred and twelve years, during which period no one took out a license to crenelate the building, Allington was merely a manor house, in the possession of the Norman family of Longchamp, relatives of the regent whom Richard I left to govern England when he went on crusade. But in 1279, Stephen of Penchester, Warden of the Cinque Ports, who owned Penshurst Place in Kent, afterward the home of Sir Philip Sidney, bought Allington and obtained a license to turn it into a castle again.

He put the battlements (restored in 1909) on the Longchamp gatehouse (Figure 4) and on the west wing (Figure 1) – also of the Longchamp period in the lower story – and built Solomon’s Tower (Figure 3) at the end of the block. This was the main tower of the castle; and the room on the first floor, with two arrow shoots, a window, two doors and a fireplace of his date, is my bedroom to-day. (Figure 6) All it needed was a roof and a floor.

The West Wing

Figure 1, The West Wing

Figure 3, Solomon's Tower

The Tower Bedroom

He built with Kentish rag, like his predecessors, but imported Caen stone from Normandy for the windows and doors.

The top of Solomon’s Tower, as restored by us, and the courtyard aspect of the west wing are seen in Figure 5.

Figure 5, the Outer Courtyard

Stephen was the best of the many builders of Allington, and his mortar is still as hard as a rock. But in two hundred and fifty years fashions changed; and when Allington was bought in 1507 by Sir Henry Wyatt, the father of Sir Thomas Wyatt, the poet, certain alterations were made.

The buildings had hitherto enclosed one large courtyard; but Wyatt, in the manner of his time, built a Long Gallery across it from the Penchester porch (Figure 5), dividing it into two almost equal-sized courtyards. Wyatt’s arch leading to the inner courtyard is also seen in Figure 5. He introduced larger windows throughout the building, as in the room over the entrance arch (Figure 4), and his son decorated it so sumptuously that it was famed as a splendid house in his day.

Here Sir Henry Wyatt entertained Henry VIII, whose dinner was served through the door and kitchen hatch found by us bricked up in the wine cellar. But the Wyatt reign at Allington was only of forty-six years; for the younger Sir Thomas lost his head and property in a rebellion against the Spanish marriage of Queen Mary in 1553 and Allington was never again a residence of consequence.

An Elizabethan gabled story was added all the way round the courtyard when the castle was turned into a farmhouse about the year 1600, and many drawings and water colors by Turner and others exist of it in that condition.

In 1840 the gables along the length of the west wing were pulled down, the beams of the floors taken out and sold, the paneling destroyed, and the bulk left in the state in which it was found by us.

The opposite side of the inner courtyard continued in existence as a farmhouse and then as laborers’ cottages, becoming even more and more derelict, till it sheltered us when we were planning our restoration.

The first thing we had to do was to rebuild Wyatt’s Long Gallery, which had burned down in 1820, and thereby gain access from the Elizabethan house to the ruined west wing without going out of doors or through the domestic quarters on the ground floor. This room is frankly modern, and has served us ever since as the general living-room. That completed, we could turn out attention to the west wing, a gutted shell with thirteenth century doors and windows intact. Here we had to strip the ivy, which, six feet thick in places, concealed every stone of the walls.

With the roof gone, we were at liberty to reconstruct the battlements built by Stephen of Penchester. This entailed rebuilding the top eight feet of wall, which had been cut away in places for the low gables; yet sufficient data remained to reerect them exactly as they had been in 1282 (Figure 1).

We then dug away the soil of ages, which hid the bottom eight feet of the west wall on the moat side, and leveled a grass terrace to the water, which still surrounded the castle on three sides. The fourth side had of course to be reconstructed. This building gave us a long drawing-room on the ground floor and a suite of bedrooms above.

We continued our work with the battlements and machicolations of the gatehouse, and made the room over the entrance arch into a library. The other two sides of the outer courtyard, which had at one time been injured by fire, were temporarily left a ruin.

Solomon’s Tower was intact, save for a giant bite out of the top story, and this was next repaired (Figure 3). We then had a habitable house, drained, lit by electricity, and centrally heated., with a bathroom attached to each important bedroom – sufficient for our needs and finished before the Great War.

The experience gained on this straightforward piece of restoration is now being utilized to rebuild the twelfth-century banqueting hall, a work of considerable difficulty. But excavation of the two sides, of which nothing remained above ground, has revealed the bottom of a fireplace with its stone fender, the base and mouldings of the chief door, and the tiles of the pavement. The remaining two sides are intact, so that the restoration which is proceeding now will be correct in every detail.

The tower behind the Hall, which contained the principal bedroom, slept in by Henry VIII, whose chair descended with the castle, has been roofed since the war, though not yet made fit for habitation. The chapel adjacent to the gatehouse and the solar still remain in ruins.

Although there is still much to be done, it is now just conceivable that we may live long enough to finish the building. The interior decoration has not proceeded far. Unfortunately our collection of Italian old masters does not look well upon stone walls, and we are gradually paneling and painting some rooms and hanging others with Persian rugs and woven country clothes of the Stone Age, still being made in Sierra Leone. Those, in lieu of tapestry, look better than anything else on the walls (see bed in Figure 6). A copy of a fifteenth-century tapestry being made for me for the Great Hall will take at least ten years to complete.

Many of the rooms are paved with copies of thirteenth-century tiles (Figure 6) and have been designed to be roofed with replicas designed to be roofed with replicas of sixteenth-century plaster ceilings. One such has just been introduced into the hall of a neighboring castle with great effect. The furniture is largely of Jacobean oak. But before the war, or even now, decoration is subordinated to actual structural progress and to the rescue of the grounds from the tar-paving factory, the railway cutting, the cluster of ugly oast [sic] houses, and the public right of way that used to cut the property in half.

Thousands of tons of earth went into the railway cutting; by degrees a green meadow by the river took the place of the factory, and a new road was cut out through the wood to lead to the castle.

Not till after the war could any progress be made with the garden. But moss on the inside of the courtyard walls took the place of ivy; and the farmhouse vines, which used to yield eighty gallons of so-called champagne a year, were left to ramp over the ruined walls of the banqueting hall. The outside of the castle was purposely left severe and flowerless; the inner banks of the moat were turfed and mown, and only the outer ones were allowed to bloom with thousands of daffodils, and to grow hay, a mass of marguerites in between (Figure 1).

Between the eastern side of the castle and the twelfth-century wall, which bounds the moat, is about an acre of enclosed lawn, approached by a thirteenth-century door at the back of the banqueting hall.

Against the moat wall, stretching from a round twelfth-century pigeon house (Figure 2) to the back bridge behind Solomon’s Tower (Figure 3), a long herbaceous border has been made. By degrees the fields in which lie a Roman villa, the eleventh-century moated mound, the second twelfth-century pigeon house, and the fifteenth-century barns, are taking their place in a garden scheme, and a yew garden planted after the Armistice can now be trimmed into walls of a respectable height.

Much remains to be done; but on summer days when the roses are out and sympathetic friends spur us on, we sometimes think we may live long enough, after all, to complete our task. But nothing can deprive us of the fun we have had: digging out the history of the building from the ground and that of its owners from the Public Record Offices; planning the alterations and discussing the alternatives; utilizing every opportunity of travel to pick up adjuncts such as the statuette of Saint Martin over the Long Gallery door; breeding swans and peacocks, and draining the moat for treasures which we never find.

Tradition has it that when the golden pig is dug up at Allington, the finder will swiftly vanish away. May that be the end of us all!

This is an angle I hadn’t seen before – a photo of Allington Castle as seen from the river. It was taken about 1890. (Obviously it had fallen on hard times.)

In 1905 it was purchased and partially restored by Lord and Lady Conway. The story of their purchase and renovation is fascinating. Lady Conway shares it in an antique magazine I just purchased. When I have time I will retype in full and share here. I could scan, but I think it would be very hard to read.

My friend Dr Linda Saether is an expert on Anne Boleyn. She’s so passionate about Anne’s life that she recently went to the Vatican to see Henry VIII’s love letters. She wanted to see them and hold them in her hands.

You can imagine the hoops she went through. She shares her experience here.


Why do we care? Anne Boleyn was Sir Thomas Wyatt’s childhood friend and romantic obsession before she caught the king’s eye.

I’ve always wondered how Sir Tom’s wife felt about all this. Anne Boleyn was Lady Elizabeth Brooke’s second (?) cousin.

Pretty cool to be distant relatives of this famous/infamous queen, eh?

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Professor Robert Bartlett

I LOVE the BBC! While researching over the holidays I discovered this wonderful history series by Professor Bartlett. He’s one of the world’s leading medievalists and he hosted a series Inside the Medieval Mind.

According to “The Open University” and BBC Four:

“The four-part series, co-produced by The Open University, will explore the mindset and lifestyle of medieval citizens and will reveal what motivated people who lived between 800AD and 1400AD and what beliefs we share with our ancestors…

Medieval expert Dr Rachel Gibbons, Open University Academic Advisor on the series, said: “This is an important series for several reasons. Robert Bartlett is one of the most authoritative voices on the subject of medieval history and is a voice the audience can trust. The academic research that has gone into this programme is impeccable and the viewer will learn so much about the times just by watching.

“The series’ approach is groundbreaking among history programmes. It doesn’t just present events and stories as historical fact, it examines why things happened and why people thought and acted as they did during the Middle Ages. It aims to understand a society rather than just talking about it. The series is not a conventional narrative of important dates; it uses the evidence of historical events and the words and thoughts of people alive in the time to truly get ‘inside the medieval mind.”

Each program is about an hour long. Make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy!

Inside the Medieval Mind – KNOWLEDGE – Part 1

Inside the Medieval Mind – SEX – Part 2

Inside the Medieval Mind – BELIEF – Part 3

Inside the Medieval Mind – POWER – Part 4