Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Pilgrimage to an Obscure Place.

I've been meaning to mention Burford (Salop) Church for some time, trying to find an excuse. It's an obscure location, most people have not heard of it, and no, I still haven't thought of an excuse, but I'm going to mention it anyway. The place is near Tenbury Wells, just a little way off the main A49. (It should not be confused with the better-known Burford in Oxfordshire, which was at one time a Despenser manor and belonged to Constance of York and later Warwick the Kingmaker.)

This Burford, at the end of the 14th century, belonged to Sir John Cornwall. Cornwall was sometimes known as 'the Green Cornwall' because he was born at sea - presumably from the colour of his mother's face at the time. He claimed descent by an illegitimate line from Henry III's brother, Richard, Earl of Cornwall.

Anyway, this Cornwall married Elizabeth of Lancaster, John of Gaunt's daughter, and her tomb is the gem of this obscure church. It isn't quite as classy as Richard Beauchamp's at Warwick (what tomb is?) but it has a very attractive painted effigy of Elizabeth and if you are ever in that part of the world I recommend a visit. The only thing is, you must go at weekend as the church only seems to be open on Saturdays and Sundays, as I discovered when I arrived midweek, camera in hand, only to be disappointed. Chance later got me back there on a Saturday but the camera was sadly not with me so I can't post a picture of the tomb, and sadly, nor can I point you to one on the web as there doesn't seem to be one. (I do have a photo, but it's copyright and so would be rather naughty for me to post! Sorry!)

John and Elizabeth had two children together, John and Constance. The latter was eventually to marry the Earl of Arundel. The name 'Constance' was rare in England at that time but Elizabeth obviously liked it as she had a daughter by John Holland with the same Christian name. Constance Holland may well have been named for her step-grandmother, Constance (aka Constanza) Duchess of Lancaster. As for Constance Cornwall, we may speculate that her godmother was none other than Constance of York, which gives me (at last!) a tenuous link back to the House of York.

Gardeners among you may care to visit the adjoining garden centre (which specialises in Clematis) or tour the nearby Burford House Gardens, which are more or less or exactly on the site of the Cornwall manor house. A grand day out, as they say.

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