Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Fotheringhay Castle and Church

This site shows all that is left of the Yorks' home castle, Fotheringhay - not very much. It's sometimes said that King James I ordered the demolition of the castle in 'revenge' for his mother's 'murder'. The truth is that it was already regarded as unsatisfactory accommodation in Henry VIII's reign, and it became more and more neglected. Its demolition in the 17th century reflects the reality that it was no longer used for its original purpose but was a very suitable quarry for quality stonework.

Fotheringhay today is an extremely attractive village, and well worth a visit if you are in the area, though you may find the castle a disappointment. The church is exceptional, though what remains is less than half the former size.

Edmund of Langley planned a college of priests (intended to pray for his soul and those of other family members) inside the castle, based on an enlarged chapel. This was not completed before his death in 1402, probably because he hadn't the money to endow it. His son Edward, who probably felt he needed prayers more than most, put most of his lands into trust before his death at Agincourt so that his alternative scheme could be completed. This entailed a rebuild of the chancel of the parish church, within which he was buried. There was also accommodation for the staff of priests. Richard the third Duke had the nave rebuilt to match in the same style employed by his uncle. It is this nave that survives today. Inside is a magnificent 15th century pulpit and the rather cheap tombs provided by Queen Elizabeth I for the reburial of Dukes Edward and Richard - the originals having been left in disarray when the chancel was demolished.

There are more photos of the church here courtesy the Worcester Branch of the Richard III Society.

The photo was taken from the castle mound in 2004 and shows its relationship to the church.

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