Meetings 2001

Tuesday, November 27, 2001. 7-9pm

  • Jenny Jacobs: Discovering history through conservation: Bath Abbey, Cirencester parish church, and St. Paul's Cathedral

Thursday, October 25, 2001. 7-9pm (A free meeting.)

  • The Battle of Agincourt: October 25, 1415
  • As dawn broke on the morning of October 25, 1415, the prospects for the English army camped around the village of Maisoncelles in northern France could hardly have seemed worse. Ten weeks previously, England's 26-year-old King Henry V had landed an expeditionary force in Normandy where he planned to take Harfleur on the Seine estuary before marching on Paris. Henry shared with his forefathers the ambition to add France to his domains. The English army was racked by disease and short of food. But even worse, the French had managed to raise a huge army and assemble near the village of Agincourt, blocking the English path to Calais and home.
  • The Battle that followed inspired William Shakespeare to pen one of his most popular history plays, Henry V, including the stirring patriotic passages that continue to inspire. A recent example is the recent tile for HBO's World War II series, Band of Brothers taken from Act IV, Scene 3: We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
  • Our program has inspired contributions by four Sarum Seminar members on various topics related to the Battle of Agincourt and its larger context, the intermittent fighting between France and England that we know today as the Hundred Years' War.
  • We had:
  • Don McDonald, reading the Prologue to Act I of William Shakespeare's Henry V
  • Marion Harris, Cry, 'God for Harry, England and St. George' -- St. Crispin's Day 1415
  • Bob Nyden, Gules, Azure, and Lions Passant: Heraldry at Agincourt
  • Ann Jones, Living Through the Hundred Years' War

Tuesday, September 18, 2001. 7-9pm

  • John Gillingham (Profesor Emeritus of the London School of Ecxonomics, and author of many notable books including Richard the Lionheart, The Wars of the Roses, and The Angevin empire): Gentlemanly conduct in medieval England.

Tuesday, May 15, 2001. 7-9pm

  • Virginia Jansen (Professor of Art History, University of California at Santa Cruz): Medieval secular architecture.

Monday, April 30, 2001. 7-9pm

  • Tom Beaumont James (Professor of Regional Studies, King Alfred's College, Winchester, England): Clarendon Palace, near Salisbury: rediscovering a lost palace of the Plantagenets. (See below)

Thursday, April 19, 2001. 7-9pm

  • Elaine Kriegh: Castle as midwife: the relationship between Helmsley Castle and Rievaulx Abbey.
  • John Wilkes: slide show - some northern French cathedrals.

Thursday, February 15, 2001. 7-9pm

  • The CD Medieval Stained Glass of Fairford Parish Church presented by Ann Jones. (See below.)

Thursday, January 11, 2001. 7-9pm

  • Members reviews: good books, useful websites and newly-found research tools

Detailed notes about specific meetings

Tom Beaumont James - Clarendon Palace, near Salisbury: rediscovering a lost palace of the Plantagenets

30 April 2001

Caution: these are my very rough notes from the presentation - john wilkes

Lots of historical significance; now ruined.

  • 1164: Thomas a'Becket & Henry I first disagreement - chronicle talks about King+knights in one building, Beckett+bishops debating in another
  • assize of Clarendon a few years later
  • 13C - Henry III expands it considerably, using same people as were working at Salisbury cathedral
  • surrounded by a large park - possibly extending out to include Salisbury! fine collection of medieval hunting arrow-heads
  • early 14C Edward II parliament
  • Roger of Clarendon - born there 1355-57 (bastard son of Black Prince)
  • 1346 Edward III brings his captured "sub-kings" here: David I of Scotland, and John I of France (Poitier 1356)
  • 1453 - onset of Henry VI 1st madness

Clarendon park

  • huge extent to the east, about 2.5 miles east of Salisbury
  • 11mi circumference around the hunting path; ringed by a 3m high wall, plus wooden/stone pail (wall); to keep the fallow deer inside; largest deer park in England
  • deer leap to trap incoming deer, but forbid them leaving
  • New Sarum didn't exist when Clarendon was founded; originally a Saxon place - "the clover-covered hill"
  • palace is at the central point of the park
  • even today, the primary economic aspect of the estate is shooting - deer and pheasant
  • Charles I imagined he might make some money by turning Clarendon into a red deer breeding ground; map of three portions of the estate: deer lawns, coppiced space (protected from the deer), and rough pasture for the pigs to graze
  • - later: a hunting course with a grandstand (betting sport)
  • - timbers found from 1537, and under James I rebuilding

1933-39 - major excavations of the site

  • Berrenius (Finnish art historian looking for wall paintings);
  • John Charleton (a young archeology graduate student of 21 from Univ. Durham) was put in charge of the site
  • ended by the onset of war
  • 1977 - Tom picked up the baton (partly provoked by letters in the Queen's jubilee year)

Buildings include:

  • stables
  • kitchen (40' square); fire large enough to roast 2 oxen at a time (later, Henry I had his own, private kitchen built); evidence of very large "treen plates"
    • salcery (place for making sauces, or perhaps where deer were salted for shipment elsewhere)
    • in 13C King's household: 300-350 people travelling around, needing to be fed
    • by 14C King's household: 400+
  • great hall (80' long)
  • royal apartments (Henry III)
    • gilded lead stars and moon crescents, probably from walls and ceilings, set against blue backgrounds
    • plaster-work fragments, with false ashlar-block boundaruies, and a blue pigment made from crushed lapis lazuli from Afghanistan
    • external walls plastered and whitewashed
    • pigments in pots suggest a scriptorium (supported by documents sealed there)
    • kings chapel, marvelous circular tiled floor, including letter tiles; "Antioch chamber", named after disreputable Old Testament king
  • Queens chapel and buildings
    • some fragments similar to old Romanesque work at Old Sarum
    • "Richard and Saladin" tiles - now stolen
  • large wine cellar - cut out of the living rock; begun by Henry II, then doubled in length by Henry III in 1252 (Tom showed graphs of wine deliveries over time)
  • specialized houses, such as space for the children
  • 1723 - ruined by the time of a visit of an antiquary, who drew pictures; landscape very bare as a result of turning the land over to sheep
  • extant documents from 1072, 1130, and then many more from 1150s onwards
  • courtyard
    • unusual 1240s tile-kiln (only one not from a monastic site) rescued and moved to British Museum - in the tile-pottery room; some of the "wasted" tiles can be matched to ones elsewhere in the palace; very early use of brick in England; tiles decorations include woodland-inspired scenes, such as birds and animals of the chase
    • lots of pottery: from a local kiln at Lavestock (93 shelves in Salisbury museum!)
    • lots and lots of roof tiles; which led to suggestion of tall, steep roofs (in one morning, 17,500 pieces of tile!)
    • - glazed tiles
    • - coxcomb roofline
    • - much lead, in small pieces from when palace burned
  • Original appearance? perhaps similar to Sainte Chapelle in Paris (Henry III had seen this)
  • Later: the Earls of Clarendon helped put Charles II back on the throne; they built a new mansion house in the south east of the park (in ~1715); some architectural similarities with their palace in London

More recently/currently

  • removing 1930s spoil heaps, sampling 25% of them in the process
  • capping/repairing/burying walls
  • using animals to graze vegetation down
  • site of annual undergraduate field trips
  • specialized analysis (e.g., tree ring dendochronology, access analysis)
  • seeking out medieval lodges (which were centrally placed in the woods in this time, to do useful work, rather than their later position near the edges - to help keep people out)
  • Roman villa sites found recently
  • now getting English Heritage funding

Ann Jones on the CD: Medieval Stained Glass of Fairford Parish Church

February 15, 2001

Ann Jones presented a tour of the CD associated with the following book: Life, death and art: the medieval stained glass of Fairford Parish Church. Edited by Sarah Brown and Lindsay MacDonald. Sutton Publishing (Phoenix Mill, Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 2BU) in association with Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education, 1997, ISBN 0-7509-1523-4. (Circa £40; $81 at on 2/15/2001.)

Fairford is in the Cotswolds, England, a few miles north east of Cirencester. The foundation stone of the church was laid in 1491; bgun by John Tame, a local clothier (d. 1500), and finished by his son, Edward. (Both are buried in the Lady chapel.) The tower dates from an earlier 13-14C church on the same site, heightened and strengthened in the late 15C.

A major feature is a series of 28 late-medieval stained glass windows, installed from circa 1500-1515. Their placement is described in the floor plan [right].

CD-ROM components related to a tour of the church

  • Aerial views
  • Walkthrough, with 360 degree views every few feet.
  • A guided tour of the windows: this displays each of the windows while a voiceover describes their contents, and a cursor points out details such as the attributes of the saints.
  • General exterior views, including some old photographs.
  • Details of the masonry

Most of the glass dates from the 16th century, although there are occasional 18th century restorations, and a fair amount of the west window is from the 19th century, in a remarkably similar style.

Other components on the CD-ROM

The CD-ROM contains additional information on:

  • Medieval England
  • Religious themes, using the church's windows as a guide
  • Artistic developments, including some of the techniques used in the stained glass - including, in some cases, incredible detail in the images.
  • Restoration techniques, including the use of a separate, modern 1mm thick backing onto which missing details could be restored, without risk of later mis-interpretation.
  • "Facts and fables", including a modern reading (in dialect) of a guide to the windows recorded from the church clerk in the middle of the 19th century.

Other items at the meeting

  • Linda Jack's talk on Ela of Salisbury - delivered yesterday in Salisbury itself - went extremely well.
  • Julia recently found, which allows you to nominate a charity of your choice - such as the American Friends of Sarum College.
  • Trinity Church, Menlo Park is the new venue for the Sarum Seminar (it's on Ravenswood Avenue).
  • New officers are being assembled for the group; volunteers are very welcome.
  • Steve Murray, Bob and Julia are interested in doing a virtual tour of Salisbury Cathedral, and applying for a planning grant to get this started.
  • Bob Scott had looked at a couple of books ...
    • Dunbar Ogden, The staging of drama in the medieval church (ISBN 0-87413-709-8, 250pp), Associated University Presses, 440 Forsgate Drive, Cranbury, NJ 08512 (fax: 609-655-8366, tel 609-655-4770). $39.50, including US shipping. Based on the flyer describing it, sounds good.
    • George Hersey, The monumental impulse - architecture's biological roots. MIT Press. Not recommended!