I had planned another serious blog for today, exploring the differences in looks, personalities and characters of Richard of Shrewsbury and Perkin Warbeck, but due to my particularly unfortunate personal circumstances this week, I have decided to take a light hearted look at the reasons why Richard of Gloucester who became Richard III, liked the North of England.
My week has been terrible. Mrs Jefferty Jeff discovered my attraction to Mrs Shonas and having had a hissy fit, flounced off to stay with her mother. Imagine Margaret Beaufort crossed with Ivan the Terrible and you will have some idea of Mrs JJ in a temper.
But, to the blog: I am doing this as a little test for you, gentle reader. One of the facts is fictitious, the rest are fact*. The first person to give me the correct answer will win – er – I will leave it at that. They will win!! – they will have the honour, pleasure and prestige in knowing they have won a global completion and will be mentioned in despatches.
Reasons why Richard of Gloucester liked the North, with specific reference to Yorkshire, his most beloved county.
The Yorkshire Pudding: The earliest recorded recipe for Yorkshire pudding dates from 1437 when the batter-based dish was cooked beneath a shoulder of mutton to catch the dripping. It was designed to be a cheap and filling dish for poorer families, and was often served on its own before the meat course. However, times have changed, and on National Yorkshire Pudding Day earlier this year (2014) one Dales hotel created the world’s most expensive Yorkshire pud, made with truffle and gold leaf, and on the menu for an eye-watering £500. When Richard was doing his knightly training at Middleham he will have been introduced to the humble ‘Battyre Pudding’. It often featured on the Kingmaker’s menus, such as the sumptuous feast he put on to rival the sumptuous feast of Edward iv, out–sumptuousing his King by the number of courses, variety of dishes and sheer extravagance of presentation.
The North York Moors: a special place, forged by nature, shaped over generations – where peace and beauty rub shoulders with a rich history and a warm welcome.
Fountains Abbey is one of the largest and best preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries in England. It is located approximately three miles south-west of Ripon in North Yorkshire near to the village of Aldfield. In Richard’s day it would have been located approximately three miles south-west of Ripon in North Yorkshire near to the village of Aldfield. Founded in 1132, the abbey operated for over 400 years. There is no contemporary evidence currently available to suggest that Richard ever went there, but it is assumed by this author that he would have done as everyone else visiting Yorkshire always does. I did in 1994 when Mrs JJ and I were on honeymoon.
The Yorkshire gene: Sir Bernard Ingham made a rather more unusual observation when talking about what makes the iconic Yorkshire – the ‘Yorkshire gene’. He said: “Of course, the gene is being weakened by the diaspora of families and inter-marriage with lesser mortals. But in its pure form it is to be found in the wonderful stubborn awkwardness of the true Yorkshireman.” (Oh, don’t I know it.)
Names we will probably know of people who exhibit this gene are Alan Bennett, the original Calendar Girls, double Olympic gold medallist Andrew Triggs Hodge, Jeff Boycott ** and Nick Clegg. As the reader knows, these people are never ever wrong even when they are wrong! In amongst his retinue Richard had men by the names of Benitte, Terigs, Hoge, Clegg, Boicote, Ennyss and Hylle, proving conclusively without further research that he knew the ancestors of all the famous names today. (If you wish to check this out for yourself please look at any genealogy forum. It is always possible to find someone there who is related to everyone, most often to every member of the European royal family. Richard III has 14,000,210 direct descendants, rivaling only Cleopatra with 18,987,675)
Saint John Fisher (c. 19 October 1469 – 22 June 1535) was an English Catholic Cardinal-Priest, Bishop, and theologian. He was a man of learning, associated with the intellectuals and political leaders of his day, and eventually became Chancellor of the University of Cambridge. There is extant an interesting letter from Fisher to Richard asking if his sole was clean. It is assumed that Fisher meant soul, but with a name like Fisher one cannot be sure.
(Picture here reproduced with the kind permission of no one.)
Wensleydale is the valley (dale) of the River Ure on the east side of the Pennines in North Yorkshire, England. Wensleydale lies in the Yorkshire Dales National Park – one of only a few valleys in the Dales not currently named after its principal river, but the older name, “Yoredale”, can still be seen on some maps and as the Yoredale series of geological strata. The village name ‘Wensley‘ is a derivative of Woden’s ley, or meadow of the pagan Woden, while the valley itself takes its name from the village which was formerly a market town.
The valley is famous for its cheese, with the main commercial production at Hawes.
Wensleydale Cheese: Wensleydale cheese was first made by French Cistercian monks from the Roquefort region, who had settled in Wensleydale. They built a monastery at Fors, but some years later the monks moved to Jervaulx in Lower Wensleydale. They brought with them a recipe for making cheese from sheep’s milk. During the 14th century cows’ milk began to be
used instead, and the character of the cheese began to change. A little ewes’ milk was still mixed in since it gave a more open texture, and allowed the development of the blue mould. At that time, Wensleydale was almost always blue with the white variety almost unknown. Nowadays, the opposite is true, with blue Wensleydale rarely seen. When the monastery was dissolved in 1540 the local farmers continued making the cheese right up until the Second World War, during which most milk in the country was used for the making of “Government Cheddar”. Richard of Gloucester mention the ‘Chees’ in his letter to his ‘most entyrely belovid wyfe’ Anne Neville just after their marriage. The letter will be familiar to you so I will not reproduce it in its entirety, but in it he reassures her that they will soon be ‘hom in Midleam’ where they can ‘see the mores and eet the chees’.
Wallace and Gromit is a British stop-motion comedy animation. Created by Nick Park of Aardman Animations, the series consists of four short films and a feature-length film. The series centres on Wallace, an absent-minded inventor and cheese enthusiast, along with his companion Gromit, a silent yet intelligent anthropomorphic dog. Wallace was first voiced by veteran actor Peter Sallis, but this role has been handed down to Ben Whitehead as of 2011. Gromit remains quiet, communicating only through means of facial expressions and body language. They are included here because of their love of Wensleydale Cheese and because the spirit of Richard was sitting on the sofa next to me enjoying watching it on television one night. I tried to change to a serious documentary about the ‘Cousins War’*** but Richard got the hump and left.
I am very sure that Richard III never saw this village sign, but I just had to share it as my final reason for Richard liking Yorkshire. Any county that can have such wonderful town and village names as Fry Up, Litle Fry Up, Wet Wang, Booty Lane, Giggleswick, Penistone, Rimswell, Shitlingthorpe and Slack Bottom deserves to be liked by a Mediaeval King.
And leaving you with that final chuckle, Jeff Jefferty Jeff goes away to see Mrs S, chuckling with mirth.
* I lost track. Maybe one of the facts is fact and the rest are fictitious or one of the fictions is nonfiction and one of the….. Oh. Judge for yourself! You are all highly intelligent otherwise you would not be reading my blog.
** Jeff Boycott is actually Geoff Boycott. I changed the spelling of Jeff both for comedic effect and to protect the innocent.
*** I am not at war with my cousins. I get on rather well with them all.
© December 17th 2014 Jeff ‘Jefferty’ Jeff.
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