Day 16 of the Anne Boleyn Files Advent Calendar


Today’s Tudor treat is from historian, author and blogger Susan Abernethy – Thank you, Susan!

Simply click here or on the image to go to the Anne Boleyn Files Advent Calendar now.

Don’t worry if you’ve missed any days, you can catch up.

You can enjoy another Tudor treat on the Tudor Society Advent Calendar by clicking here.

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One thought on “Day 16 of the Anne Boleyn Files Advent Calendar”
  1. Reading the story of the sisters at Arden reinforced my long held belief that the Dissolution of the Monasteries was a land grab, nothing less. If the commission didn’t find anything wrong, they simply invented it. They either accused people of homosexual acts, sexual acts, murder or corruption. I think it actually says more about the commissioners. And who benefitted? The King, obviously, the lords involved in supporting him and the two men behind it, Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Cranmer. The nuns, monks and lay brothers lost their homes, living, property, protection and in some cases, their lives. Many where pensioned off but others were just turfed out. Poor people lost a refuge, the people lost examples of an ideal, help when ill and care for the elderly. Schools vanished and had to be reformed as state grammar schools, the chantry chapels went, the infirmary and employment for many people. They sheltered not only the old and infirm but often people who had mental health problems and mental disabilities. Now I am not saying there were not corrupt and there were some bad examples but if locals didn’t want them, then why did they try to reopen them in 1536? Near me are three of the most persecuted and yet most beautiful and holy of these sites, Whalley, Sawley and Cartmel. 14 monks where hanged from the towers of their own church at Sawley. 10 local people where hanged, drawn and quartered at Cartmel for merely refusing the King’s men access. They did so peacefully, they where not involved in the Pilgrimage of Grace, yet they were still its victims. Even houses that surrendered peacefully felt the blunt of vandalism by Dutch and German thugs hired for the job. Chester was saved as a Cathedral and a stained glass shows its peaceful surrender to the King. It’s a complete joke.

    Firstly the King never came to Chester, thank God. He would have taken a lot more if he had done. Chester was rich then and still is. It was also independent and it had it’s own courts. The Court can still be seen inside the Cathedral as can its reconstructed shrine and holy places. It still has cloisters. It has glass from the Middle Ages. It still has royal authorities. Henry missed a few things here. However, it didn’t surrender peacefully. Not entirely. Its monks did put up some resistance and hid a number of treasures. Why do people think they still exist? A standoff resulted and the hand over took three years to negotiate. We don’t know why its appeal to be granted Cathedral status was granted, we are just glad it was.

    It might surprise people to learn that Chester actually has two Cathedrals. Saint John’s, its old Parish Church was originally it’s Cathedral. A Church has stood there since Roman times, the oldest remains being found in the side of the Amphitheatre. Given that the city was so closely related to the Brereton family, as is the County they practically owned and Sir William Brereton was one of the men accused with Anne Boleyn, it’s a wonder Henry Viii granted Chester anything. But then again, the city has a Tudor connection of a special kind. The Royal Archers. Originally founded by Richard ii as a bodyguard, these elite archers served the King in most engagements and in putting down rebellion. They served the Tudors with just as much loyalty and gusto as the last of the Plantagenet Kings. The County Palatine is a special royal honour and the Princes of Wales where also Earls of Chester. The Brereton family have a long history of political office in the County and North Wales. They have served as mayors, aldermen and lieutenant to the crown. They have from time to time had divided loyalty. In the siege of Chester during the Civil War, cousins were on either side. Both where in positions of command and both have memorials in the family chantry in Saint John’s and in the Cathedral. The story of the resistance of Chester has been written out of history. The crown cleansed the history of the Dissolution to suit their own narrative.

    This has led to several fantastic stories as well. The most famous here in Liverpool is in Childwall which is not pronounced Child wall. All Saints Childwall and the most ridiculous story of the reformation going. The field opposite is called Blood Acre Field. Why? The legend goes that the King sent his men to dissolve the local priory. They said no and Henry sent a small army to make them comply. The local people came out and defended the priory and church. A lot of people were killed and hence the name of the field. The locals will tell you this story in the pub over the road on demand. I knew it well from childhood. It’s utter nonsense. For one thing there is no record of any priory in the area, let alone the city. The Church was there, but the Church was on Stanley land. The Church still has a Stanley Chapel. No way would the third Earl of Derby have a fight with the crown in 1536 to 1540 and there isn’t any evidence of resistance either. That doesn’t mean nothing happened. The men might have tried to remove some valuable statue and some locals tried to stop them and were hurt. Hardly a battle, especially in a field which didn’t exist either. The land was occupied at the time. A monastery did exist in the area in the 12th century, but more towards Allerton than Childwall and the Smyth Down Road is an old Medieval track to market and the Thingwall estate. The deeds of Whalley Abbey suggest a daughter house on the Wirral and a mother house somewhere on the Otterspool shore. Mike Roydon has published several articles on these matters. What is needed is a good sound Church history of Liverpool and the old villages which now form its outskirts. A good architectural and archaeology studies would be very illuminating in areas inhabited since the neolithic or earlier.

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