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Royal People: Queen Joan of Navarre’s Confinement as a Witch
As my blog has been up and running for just over 6 months now, I thought I would return to the topic of my Masters dissertation: Fifteenth-century English royal witches. My first post here was about Eleanor Cobham, the aunt-by-marriage of Henry VI who in 1441 was scandalously tried for using witchcraft, with her accomplices being convicted of treason against the King via sorcery. In my post, I mentioned how Eleanor’s trial was orchestrated for political reasons, to dislodge her husband Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester’s position at the ear of the young Henry VI. However, in a century when ideas about witchcraft were developing in England, this was not the first case in England of a royal woman being accused of witchcraft for political reasons. Thus, I come to Joan of Navarre.
Joan, imagined and illustrated by Agnes Strickland in her ‘Lives of the Queens of England’ (1852), the first (and one of the most comprehensive) accounts of her life written in English.
Joan was certainly a remarkable woman, and I could probably write another dissertation on her life alone (2019 update: I have now in fact written a book about Joan and several other Royal Witches which you can find on Amazon!), so I will try and give some brief background to her so that we can get to the accusation of witchcraft that we are interested in. Born c. 1370, Joan (or Jeanne) was the second daughter of Charles II, King of Navarre, and Jeanne de Valois who was the daughter of King John II of France. She therefore had royal blood through both parents, and great connections to various royal lines and important families. In 1386 she married John IV, Duke of Brittany, with whom she had nine children. When John died in 1399, their son John V became Duke of Brittany, but as he was a minor, Joan became regent. Shortly afterwards, Henry IV of England proposed to Joan. Joan, however, had to put the interests of Brittany and her children first, and said that she needed to first arrange the security of the duchy and her children she would not be able to take her sons to England, and once married to the King of England she would not be allowed to continue as regent of Brittany.
In 1402, Joan and Henry received a papal dispensation for their marriage, and on 7 th February 1403, they were married at Winchester Cathedral. The marriage was one of mutual affection, rather than a political marriage – historians are unsure as to when Joan and Henry first got to know each other, but it is clear they cared for each other deeply, and that Henry threw away the chance for a beneficial political marriage with other kingdoms to marry Joan. Initially, Joan was unpopular in England due to England’s rocky relationship with France, but in time she came to be deeply respected and loved by the people of England, and it is clear she enjoyed a good relationship with Henry’s children from his first marriage, often siding with the future Henry V in arguments with his father.
Image of Henry IV from an illuminated initial letter from the records of the Duchy of Lancaster, 1402. WikiCommons.
In 1413 King Henry IV died, widowing Joan and making his son ascend the throne as Henry V. Joan had a hefty dower left to her by Henry, and her excellent relationship with Henry V meant that she decided to stay in England after her husband’s death, rather than return to Brittany or Navarre. When Henry travelled to France he allowed Joan to use his royal castles, and she was still receiving favours from him in late 1418. However, in a shocking about-face, in August 1419 the goods of her confessor, Brother John Randolph, were seized, but it is clear from the inventory of goods that they actually belonged to Joan. One month later, Randolph accused Queen Joan of trying to procure Henry V’s death by using sorcery. Joan was arrested, her possessions confiscated, and Randolph was sent to the Tower of London. Joan was never officially charged, nor put on trial, but she remained under house arrest in the custody of Sir John Pelham for 3 years. In 1422, on Henry V’s deathbed, he ordered Joan’s release and full restoration to her previous exalted position as Queen Dowager.
So what happened? What is evident to us now is that the whole debacle was orchestrated if not by Henry V himself, by someone close to him in government with his knowledge and assent. When Joan was widowed by Henry IV, she was left with her dower of 10,000 marks (£6600) per annum. This was the largest dower granted to any English Queen up to this point, and at a time when the total revenue of the English Crown was just under £56,000 a year, this was a devastating chunk of royal finance being diverted to Joan. The Crown’s finances were already in a dire situation after disputes with rebellious barons under Henry IV, and especially so after Henry V had renewed the war in France. In Joan’s first year of marriage to Henry IV, her dower immediately fell into £5000 of arrears as the Crown simply couldn’t afford it. By 1419, Henry V was making plans to marry Catherine of Valois, the daughter of the French King Charles VI. This would seal the Treaty of Troyes, where Charles had agreed to disinherit his own son and ordered the succession of the French Crown to pass to Henry V and his heirs upon Charles’ death. It was crucial that Henry marry Catherine at this precise moment of time, and the wedding had to be as luxurious and over the top as possible for political show. Henry did achieve this, as the chronicler Monstrelet described their wedding thusly: “great pomp and magnificence were displayed by him and his princes, as if he were at that moment king of all the world”.
Marriage of Henry V of England to Catherine of Valois. British Library, Miniature from Jean Chartier, Chronique de Charles VII, France (Calais), 1490, and England, before 1494, Royal 20 E. vi, f. 9v.
As noted, however, the royal purse could hardly hope to cover such a lavish wedding. Despite his obvious affection for his stepmother, Henry and his council could not help but cast an eye on Joan’s hefty wealth. This is where the idea of accusing her of witchcraft came from. The previous century there had been numerous examples in European courts of high ranking members of the court being dislodged from a place of power by being accused of using sorcery. Accusing Joan of witchcraft was an easy choice to use – it meant that very little evidence was required (as it’s very difficult to prove you didn’t partake in witchcraft) and so she could be arrested and have her assets seized immediately. Accusing Joan of witchcraft also created the best of both worlds for Henry. He got access to her wealth, but he was also able to protect the woman he clearly held affection for, and this is evident in her lack of trial and punishment. By not formally charging Joan and placing her on trial, it meant that she was not officially tainted by the brush of using witchcraft for treasonous purposes. Moreover, it meant that the Crown could continue to utilise her lands and money for as long as they wanted – if they put Joan on trial, there was always the risk that she would be found innocent, and they would have to return all of her seized possessions.
So what was life like for Joan during her 3 years of captivity? Well, whilst it can’t have exactly been easy knowing your beloved stepson had turned on you, and she was confined to house arrest, she didn’t exactly have a rough time of it. Even in the first three months of her imprisonment Joan was living in great comfort, being allowed at least nineteen grooms and seven pages to wait on her. Many clothes of rich materials were granted to her and her servants, including gowns made from miniver, furs, silk, and Flanders linen. She had many items made of gold and silver bought for her, and Henry IV’s personal physician was appointed to attend on her. Throughout her captivity she had access to a significant pool of money with which to live a life of luxury, and bestowed many gifts on her attendants. She was allowed numerous distinguished visitors, including another of her stepsons by Henry, the Duke of Gloucester – that’s right, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, future husband to Eleanor Cobham who just two decades later would be accused of the same charges (but with far more severe consequences than Joan suffered). Joan also had the Bishop of Winchester, one of the richest Englishmen of the time, spend several days with her in 1420, and Lord Camoys, another distinguished Englishman, spent nine months with Joan.
The Entry into Bridport, Dorset, of Joan of Navarre, for her marriage to Henry IV, imagined by Francis Henry Newbery (1855–1946). Image from ArtUK.
So, Joan wasn’t exactly living the life of someone accused of using sorcery to try and murder the King of England (and designated heir of France), and the Crown gained a significant boost to their finances, gaining an extra £8,000 between 1421-22 alone by reducing her expenses. Obviously, this was still an awful thing to do to Joan, particularly by a member of her own family, and the inherent sexism in depriving Joan’s legal rights to gain a bit of cash is a long rant that I won’t get started on today.
However, as mentioned, Joan did eventually get fully restored, and there are no indications that she was at all negatively impacted for the rest of her life as a result of the false accusations. It appears that Henry V’s conscience got the best of him on his deathbed. In his address to Parliament, he wishes that Joan be restored “lest hir shuld be a charge unto oure conscience” and not only was everything she owned to be returned to her, but he ordered that she could have 5 or 6 gowns made of any expensive material she wished, and assuming that she would wish to leave the castle she had been imprisoned in all this time, he ordered that payments be made to provide her with horses and a coach to transport her. In his address, he called Joan his “Moder Quene Johanne”, emphasising her reinstatement, and showing he still held fondness for his stepmother who had done so much for him. All this occurred just six weeks before Henry died.
The tomb effigies of Joan and Henry IV in Canterbury Cathedral.
Joan lived for another 15 years, and enjoyed an esteemed position in Henry VI’s court as was her due. The New Year of 1437, Henry VI gave her an expensive gift of a gold tablet garnished with rubies, pearls, and a sapphire – one of the most expensive gifts he gave that year – and upon her death in 1437 she was buried with honours by Henry VI behind the high altar in Canterbury Cathedral next to her late husband, Henry IV.
Sadly, Joan seems to be a remarkable woman who has slipped by unnoticed by many English historians, and so there is not much published in English to read on her. I have, however, attached some sources I used at the bottom should you wish to read more, and if you can read French then I believe there is a fair amount published on her life in Brittany before she married Henry if you want to look for it! Update: Two years after writing this blog post, I have now published a book on Joan and three other royal women of her century who were accused of using witchcraft. If you want to learn more about Joan’s life and the accusations against her, then you can find my book on Amazon here.
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Buy my book via the picture below! Or why not check out the bookmarks in our shop?In the fifteenth century, lines between science and magic were blurred. Read the real stories of four women in the English Royal Family who were accused of practising witchcraft in order to influence or kill the king.
Ideological Associations and Henry IV’s Tomb: the first Lancastrian King’s connection to Thomas Becket
The monthly ‘Picture This…’ articles highlight items from the collections of Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Library and related collections, and are written by postgraduate students from the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University, staff from the three institutions and guest contributors. The year 2020 is an anniversary year of St Thomas Becket, and throughout the year ‘Picture This…’ will focus on Becket.
Author: Dr Daniella Gonzalez, Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, University of Kent
Located on the north side of the Trinity Chapel, and erected next to the site of St Thomas Becket’s shrine, is the tomb of Henry IV, England’s first Lancastrian monarch, and his second wife Joan of Navarre. In contrast to his predecessors, Henry IV chose to be buried in Canterbury Cathedral rather than Westminster Abbey, thereby breaking with a tradition of royal burial established by Henry III. Many reasons have been offered as to why Henry IV may have chosen to be buried at Canterbury Cathedral. Possible explanations are that there was no longer room available in the chapel of St Edward the Confessor in the Abbey, or that he wished to shun the Abbey because it contained the monument built for Richard II, whose throne Henry IV had usurped in 1399. Perhaps his burial here may have even been an attempt to start a royal mausoleum within Canterbury Cathedral. Whilst the reasons for this monarch’s affinity with Canterbury are not exactly crystal clear, what we do know, nevertheless, was that Henry IV specifically outlined in his will, written on 21 st January 1409, that he desired to be buried at Canterbury, ‘aftyr the descrecion’ of the then Archbishop, Thomas Arundel. Including this detail, however, was potentially Henry’s way of downplaying his demand to be buried in the most important site within Canterbury Cathedral, metres away from St Thomas Becket’s shrine.
It is from this monarch’s tomb that this month’s ‘Picture This’ image comes. Placed on a wooden panel on the western side of Henry IV’s tomb is a depiction of Becket’s martyrdom. In about 1931, Ernest William Tristram (1882-1952), painter and art historian, made a copy of this panel, which now hangs in the north aisle of the Trinity Chapel, close to the tomb. The watercolour shown here may also be by Tristram. Tristram is renowned for his copies of medieval wall paintings and had begun producing watercolour copies of these as a student. His paintings also survive at another historic site in the heart of Canterbury, the Hospital of St Thomas the Martyr, Eastbridge. These are a copy from of Eastbridge’s thirteenth-century wall painting of Christ in Majesty (located in the refectory) and a copy of the portrait of Eadwine, a monk of Christ Church Canterbury, from the Eadwine Psalter (Cambridge, Trinity College Library, MS R.17.1), produced in the second half of the twelfth century.
The image itself is grisly and a vivid depiction of Becket’s martyrdom. At the centre of the watercolour is Becket surrounded by the four knights – Reginald fitz Urse, Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy and Richard le Breton – who confronted and slaughtered him. Edward Grim, one of Becket’s loyal companions, who stood with him until the end, holds an important place in the image, having thrown his arm out to protect Becket, which resulted in a serious wound – highlighted by the droplets of blood oozing out of his left arm. The most gruesome and prominent part of the image, however, is Becket himself. We see that one knight has already struck the Archbishop, his sword dripping with blood whilst two others plunge their swords into Becket’s head, causing blood to stream down his face and body. During this assault, de Tracy sliced off Becket’s cranium, as shown by the crown of Becket’s head lying on the ground surrounded by blood, making the scene a harrowing reminder of the events that unfolded on 29 th December 1170.
This is a story and image that was well known in the later Middle Ages, during which Becket’s cult was cultivated and grew widely – Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is centred around a pilgrimage to Becket’s shrine in Canterbury. The Lancastrians, Henry IV included, were no exception to the widespread interest in the cult.
Strong links have been made between Becket and Henry IV, most recently by Dr Jon-Mark Grussenmeyer. For example, it is recorded that when crowned, Henry IV was anointed with the holy oil that the Blessed Virgin Mary gave to Becket during his exile in France. This was a tale that the pro-Lancastrian chronicler Thomas Walsingham recounted in his Annales Ricardi Secundi et Henrici Quarti, which form part of the writer’s Chronica Maiora. The chronicler wrote that Henry IV’s maternal grandfather, Henry Grosmont, the first Duke of Lancaster, retrieved this oil from France from a holy man and gave it to Richard II’s father, Edward of Woodstock (more commonly known as the Black Prince). The Black Prince then kept it in ‘a chest secured by many padlocks’ in the Tower of London. The Black Prince never became king, however, and was therefore not anointed with it, yet his son, Richard II, was not to be anointed with Becket’s holy oil either on his coronation day. It was only later in 1399, as recorded by Walsingham, that the holy oil was found in the Tower of London, by which point Archbishop Arundel refused to allow Richard II to have a second coronation. Richard then took the holy oil, which was kept in a gold eagle and its flask, with him to Ireland and brought it back at his return. At this point Archbishop Arundel requested the holy oil at Chester and, as recorded by Walsingham, stated ‘that it was now patently clear to him that it was not the divine will that he should be anointed with this oil, but that such a noble sacrament was destined for another’. The Archbishop then kept the holy oil under his care, saving it for the rightful king, Henry IV. This was a story which almost certainly circulated around the time of Henry IV’s coronation and which was intended to strengthen the new King’s links to this popular English saint – being anointed with St Thomas’s holy oil meant that Henry IV’s accession to the English throne came under the patronage of Becket.
The story of St Thomas’s holy oil can be found well before 1399, when Henry IV became king. It is recorded that in 1318, King Edward II asked the Pope for permission to be anointed with the holy oil, which he had been given by the Duke of Brabant who had discovered it over 150 years after it had been hidden by Becket. The Pope refused. The holy oil was unused and kept hidden away it was found in the Tower of London decades later. When recounted by Walsingham around the time that Henry IV became king, therefore, the legend had been altered to allude to the current king by linking St Thomas’s holy oil to the King’s ancestor, Duke Henry, thereby solidifying the Lancastrian monarchy’s connection to Thomas Becket. It was as if the holy oil was meant for the House of Lancaster.
Parallels were drawn between Becket’s and Henry’s links to the Trinity – not only was Henry IV buried in the Trinity Chapel near Becket’s shrine but his funeral took place on the Feast of the Holy Trinity. Henry IV was clearly a monarch blessed by God and the scene of Becket’s martyrdom is a clear indicator of the association made between the mighty king and the high-profile saint.
There were, of course, several benefits of aligning oneself to a saint. One of these was political – Becket was a political saint who was at odds with Henry II. Interestingly, Henry IV’s ancestor, Thomas of Lancaster, did this very thing in appealing to St Thomas before his execution, stating ‘by Seint Thomas, y was neuer traitoure’. In this way, he connected himself to the saint and thus presented himself as a symbol of justice over royal tyranny. This certainly seems to be how Thomas of Lancaster was perceived in the fourteenth century. In a British Library manuscript (Royal MS. 12 C. XII), which contains a collection of texts written in prose and verse, the scribe, who was writing c.1325-50, wrote in a tract on the Office of Thomas of Lancaster that Thomas of Lancaster ‘by death imitatest Thomas of Canterbury’. The purpose of this passage was to indicate that Thomas of Lancaster stood for the same cause. Whilst Thomas of Lancaster’s cult had somewhat diminished by 1370, it was revived towards the end of Richard II’s reign (Thomas of Lancaster himself was canonised in 1390), probably as a result of the then King’s bad kingship and authoritarian ways. We can imagine, then, that Henry IV likely associated himself with Becket – as well as with the cult of Thomas of Lancaster – for similar reasons. In doing so he too could be seen as ending Richard II’s tyrannous ways and restoring the health of the nation, thereby legitimating his position as King.
In having a portrayal of Becket’s martyrdom on his tomb, this link between king and saint was clearly not only something emphasised in life but also beyond Henry IV’s death. One function of tombs was to commemorate the individual buried, conveying information about them beyond the grave. Whilst the effigies of Henry IV and his wife, Joan, operate as a reminder of their royal status, the painting of Becket’s martyrdom serves a similar function, informing all those who pass the first Lancastrian king’s tomb of how he brought salvation to the nation after the tyranny of Richard II and, like Becket, was a symbol for justice.
Paul Binski, Medieval Death: Ritual and Representation (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1996)
Jon-Mark Grussenmeyer, ‘The Tomb of a King and the Ideology of a Dynasty: Henry IV and the Lancastrian Connexion to Canterbury Cathedral’ (unpublished MA dissertation, University of Kent, 2012)
John Guy, Thomas Becket: Warrior, Priest, Rebel. A Nine-Hundred-Year Old Story Retold (New York: Random House, 2012)
Ryan Perry, ‘Anointing History: Political Saints, Lancastrian Propaganda and the Middle English Prose Brut’, presented at the School of English Research Seminar, Queen’s University of Belfast, March 2006
The Chronica Maiora of Thomas Walsingham (1376-1422) ed. James G. Clark and trans. David Preest (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2015)
Christopher Wilson, ‘The Medieval Monuments,’ in A History of Canterbury Cathedral ed. Patrick Collinson et al. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995)
Christopher Wilson, ‘The Tomb of Henry IV and the Holy Oil of St Thomas of Canterbury’ in Medieval Architecture and its Intellectual Context ed. Eric Fernie and Paul Crossley (London: The Hambledon Press, 1990), pp. 181-190.
2. A Grand Entrance
As you enter the cathedral via the beautiful Southwest Porch, you'll instantly be struck by the grandeur of the tall, bright nave and aisles, with their cluster pillars, Gothic tracery windows, and ornate ribbed vaulting. Note in particular the west window, with its extraordinary tracery and 15th-century stained glass.
A loving brother
Joan was very close to her brother King Henry III, who was only three years her senior, and he gave her the means to live independently in England as and when she wanted.
Henry himself was married to Eleanor of Provence, although that marriage showed no sign of a child either. In late 1237, the two sisters in law went on a pilgrimage to Canterbury. Both young queens prayed for an heir. The difference was that Joan, of course, had no chance of conceiving when she was so far away from her husband – and she had critics even in England who thought it wrong for a wife to live so far from her husband.
Even so, Queen Joan spent Christmas in England. Her family gave her new robes and wine for the festive season. She was preparing to return to her husband when she fell ill. Joan failed to recover and died on 4 March 1238 with her brothers at her side. She was only 27.
Burial places of English Monarchs – History Jar challenge 3 answers
Friday again – time flies when you’re doing all those little jobs that you’ve been putting off for the last two decades.
William the Conqueror was of course the Duke of Normandy and is buried in St Stephen’s Abbey, Caen which he founded prior to the conquest and his wife Matilda of Flanders was buried in the sister abbey, the Abbey of the Holy Trinity or Abbey Aux Dames as it is also known in Caen. William the Conqueror’s funeral was a bit on the traumatic side according to Orderic Vitalis because the body was too big for the coffin and there was a bit of an explosion as a consequence.
William Rufus who had a nasty accident with an arrow in the New Forest on 2nd August 1100 was buried in Winchester Cathedral. His bones are believed to be somewhere in the mortuary chests that house the remans of Saxon and Medieval Kings which were desecrated in 1642 by Parliamentarians.
Mortuary Chests, Winchester Cathedral.
Henry I and his first wife Edith or Matilda of Scotland as she became after her marriage are the first royal burial in Westminster Abbey following the interment of Edward Confessor who was buried in the abbey he founded in 1066. His second wife Adeline eventually became a nun and was buried in Affligem Abbey in Brabant. Henry was buried in Reading Abbey.
King Stephen and his wife Matilda of Boulogne were buried in Faversham Abbey in Kent. The royal tombs were destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries.
Henry II is buried in Fontevrault Abbey in France along with his estranged queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and their son Richard I better known as the Lion-heart – Richard’s wife Berengaria can be found in Le Mans Cathedral. Henry’s daughter-in-law Isabella of Angoulême is also buried in Fontevrault whereas King John is is buried in Worcester Cathedral. It probably would have been complicated to transport his body to France given that the Barons War was underway and the french were invading England at the time.Illustration of King John’s effigy also at Worcester Cathedral
Henry III is another Westminster burial where as his wife, Eleanor of Provence, is buried in Amesbury Abbey in Wiltshire. The tomb was lost upon the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
Edward I famously died at Burgh-by-Sands as he was about to cross the Solway on yet another attempt on Scotland. His body was transported back to Westminster Abbey to lay beside his beloved wife Eleanor of Castile.
Edward II, who allegedly died after an incident with a hot poker in Berkeley Castle is buried in Gloucester Cathedral – although there is a theory that he wasn’t killed in which case he is clearly not in the cathedral but so far as regular history is concerned that’s where he can be located. Edward’s estranged wife Isabella of France was buried in Greyfriars Church, Newgate and was yet another loss during the Reformation.Edward II – Gloucester Cathedral
Philippa of Hainhault is also buried in Westminster along with her husband Edward III. Their grandson Richard II married Anne of Bohemia who died of the plague. She can be found in Westminster as can Richard who died in Pontefract Castle, possibly from starvation having been usurped by his cousin Henry of Bolingbroke. He was originally buried in King’s Langley Church in Hertfordshire but was relocated in 1413.
Henry of Bolingbroke who became Henry IV was married firstly to Mary de Bohun. She died before he became king so technically her burial place in Leicester is not the resting place of a royal. Henry’s second wife Joan of Navarre is buried in Canterbury Cathedral along with Henry.
Both Henry V and his wife Katherine of Valois are buried in Westminster Abbey. Their son Henry VI was murdered by Edward IV bringing the Wars of the Roses to a close on 21 May 1471. He was first buried in Cherstey Abbey in Surrey so that he couldn’t become a focus for disgruntled Lancastrians but he was then removed to St George’s Chapel in Windsor in 1485. Somewhat ironically the man who ordered his murder is also buried in St George’s Chapel along with his wife Elizabeth Woodville – thus disgruntled Yorkists didn’t have a focus either. Edward V was never crowned and disappeared in the Tower – depends which conspiracy theory you believe as to where his remains might be. There is an urn in Westminster Abbey that contains the bones of two children found in the Tower in 1674 during building work.
Richard III, famously the king under the carpark was initially buried in the Collegiate Church of St Mary Leicester and can now be found in Leicester Cathedral along with some beautiful modern stained glass windows. His wife Anne Neville who probably died from tuberculosis is in Westminster Abbey.
Richard III’s tomb at Leicester Cathedral
Henry VII and Elizabeth of York are in Westminster as are their grandchildren Edward VI, Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I. Henry VIII is in St George’s Chapel, Windsor. His wives are buried as follows: Katherine of Aragon is buried in Peterborough Abbey. her original tomb was destroyed during the English Civil War. Anne Boleyn was executed and buried in the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula in the Tower. Jane Seymour is next to her chunky spouse in Windsor. Anne of Cleves is in Westminster Abbey. Katherine Howard is in the Tower (and of course that’s where Lady Jane Grey the nine days queen of England can also be found) and Katherine Parr is buried in Sudely Castle Chapel.
On to the Stuarts. James is buried in Westminster with his wife Anne of Denmark. Charles I was buried in St George’s Chapel Windsor following his execution. His queen Henrietta Maria is in the Cathedral St Denis, Paris. Charles II is in Westminster but his wife Katherine of Braganza returned to Portugal following Charles’ death and is buried in Lisbon. James II was forced to flee in 1688 when William of Orange and James’ daughter Mary were politely asked to invade to save England from Catholicism. James’ first wife Anne Hyde is in Westminster but she died before James became king. James was buried in the Chapel of St Edmund in Paris. The idea was that he might one day be relocated to Westminster. Unfortunately his remains were still in France at the time of the revolution and somas people believe it disappeared.
William of Orange and his wife Mary are in Westminster as is Queen Anne and her husband George of Denmark. All of Anne’s children are also buried in Westminster Abbey in the same vault as Mary Tudor.
Anne was the last of the Stuart line and so the protestant Hanoverians arrived. George I is buried near Osnabruck but George II is in Westminster whereas George III, George IV and William IV are in St George’s Chapel Windsor. Queen Victoria initially buried her husband Albert in St George’s Chapel but he was removed to the Royal Mausoleum, Frogmore, Windsor where he is interred with Queen Victoria who died at Osbourne House on the Isle of White in 1901.
Edward VII is buried along with his queen, Alexandra in St George’s Chapel, Windsor as are George V and Mary of Teck. George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the Queen Mother are also buried in St George’s Chapel, Windsor.
Edward VIII abdicated before he cold be crowned. He is buried in Frogmore.
This post began as an attempt to visit as many of the burial places of the kings and queens of England as I could. I was intending to photograph each of the burial places and put them into this post. I have now made it to the vast majority as you can see from this list that I’ve been ticking off. There is one typo, George II is Westminster not Windsor. The only ones I’m missing are: Henry I, Stephen, John, Edward II, James II and George I. With Henry I, I have been to Reading but not to the Abbey as I was just going through the train station and didn’t have time for the detour. Unfortunately significant numbers of the burials are in St George’s Chapel Windsor and Westminster Abbey neither of which would let me take photographs. So this post has become somewhat denuded. Nevertheless I thought it was still worth posting because at worst it is a list of the burial places of the kings and queens and there are some nice photos of the ones that let me take photographs. This list begins with William I and go through to George VI. I hope you find it interesting.
1. William I
b. c. 1028 d. 1087 Reigned: 1066-187 Buried Caen
2. William II
b. c. 1056 d. 1100. Reigned 1187-1100 Buried Winchester Cathedral. William’s bones are said to be part of the mortuary chests seen on top of the screen, King Canute is also supposed to be entombed there.
Buried Reading Abbey, there are no remains of his tomb.
4. King Stephen/ Empress Matilda.
King Stephen: b. c. 1092 d. 1154
Buried Faversham Abbey, there are no remains of his tomb.
Empress Matilda: b. c. 1102 d. 1167
Reigned: For various parts of Stephen’s reign she was ruling significant proportions of the country, she controlled most of it for a time after King Stephen was captured at the battle of Lincoln in 1141. However she was never actually crowned.
Buried at Bec abbey but she was reburied in Notre Dame Cathedral in Rouen. The inscription reads: “Here lies Henry’s daughter, wife and mother great by birth, greater by marriage, but greatest in motherhood.”
b. 1133 d. 1189. Reigned 1154-1189 Buried Fontevraud Abbey. His wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, c.1124- 1204, lies beside him.
5.1 Henry the Young King.
Reigned 1170-1183. A note on this. He was crowned during his father’s lifetime and died before he could ever rule in his own right. For more information see Henry the Young King blogspot
Buried Rouen Cathedral. The effigy is not contemporary.
6. Richard I
Buried Fontevraud Abbey. He lies with his parents and next to Isabelle of Angouleme the wife of his younger brother King John.
Buried Worcester Cathedral. Unfortunately I haven’t been there. This is a copy of his effigy which is currently on display at the Temple church in London.
8. Henry III
10. Edward II
Reigned 1307-1327 with interruptions for more information
Buried Gloucester Cathedral.
11. Edward III
12. Richard II
Reigned 1377-1399, he was deposed before he died more information
Buried originally at King’s Langley, but moved to Westminster Abbey by Henry V.
13. Henry IV
b. 1367 d. 1413 Reigned 1399-1413 Buried Canterbury Cathedral. Henry is buried with his wife Joan of Navarre c. 1370-1437.
15. Henry VI
Reigned 1421-1471 there were significant proportions of this time where he wasn’t actually king. For more information.
Buried originally in Chertsey Abbey but moved to St George’s Chapel Windsor by Richard III
16. Edward IV
Reigned 1460-1483, again there was a disruption in his reign for more information
Buried St George’s Chapel Windsor
17. Edward V
Reigned April 1483 to June 1483 c. One of the ‘Princes in the Tower’ no one is sure what happened to him and his younger brother. For more information
Buried. Unknown but skeletons, at the time thought to be his and his brother’s, were found in 1674 and buried in Westminster Abbey. This is spurious.
18. Richard III
Buried originally in Greyfriars in Leicester reinterred in March 2015 in Leicester Cathedral after his bones were found.
19. Henry VII
20. Henry VIII
Buried St George’s Chapel Windsor
21. Edward VI
21.1 Lady Jane Grey
Reigned 10th of July 1553-19th of July 1553
Buried Church of St Peter ad Vincula Tower of London. I unfortunately don’t have a photo of the Church of St Peter ad Vincula, I’m not sure why I didn’t take one, but the photo below is of the monument that stands roughly in the place where Lady Jane, along with Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard and others, was executed.
23. Elizabeth I
25. Charles I
Buried: St George’s Chapel Windsor
25.5 Oliver Cromwell
26. Charles II
27. James II
Buried Church of the English Benedictines Paris, his tomb was looted during the French Revolution.
He was the son of John of Montfort and Joanna of Flanders. His father claimed the title Duke of Brittany, but was largely unable to enforce his claim for more than a brief period. Because his father's claim to the title was disputed, with only the English king recognising it, the subject of this article is often numbered in French sources as "John IV" and his father as simply "John of Montfort" (Jean de Montfort), while in English sources he is known as "John V". However, the epithet of "The Conqueror" makes his identity unambiguous.
The first part of his rule was tainted by the Breton War of Succession, fought by his father against his cousin Joanna of Penthièvre and her husband Charles of Blois. With French military support Charles was able to control most of Brittany. After his father's death, John's mother Joanne attempted to continue the war in the name of her baby son. She became known as "Jeanne la Flamme" (Fiery Joanna) for her fiery personality. However, she was eventually forced to retreat with her son to England to ask for the aid of Edward III. She was later declared insane and imprisoned in Tickhill Castle in 1343. John and his sister Joan of Brittany were taken into the King's household afterwards.
John returned to Brittany to enforce his claim, with English help. In 1364, John won a decisive victory against the House of Blois in the Battle of Auray, with the support of the English army led by John Chandos. His rival Charles was killed in the battle and Charles's widow Joanna was forced to sign the Treaty Guérande on 12 April 1365. In the terms of the treaty, Joanna gave up her rights to Brittany and recognized John as sole master of the duchy.
Having achieved victory with English support (and having married into the English royal family), Duke John IV was constrained to confirm several English barons in positions of power within Brittany, especially as controllers of strategically important strongholds in the environs of the port of Brest, which gave the English military access to the peninsula, and which took revenue from Brittany to the English crown.  This English power-base in Brittany was resented by the Breton aristocrats and the French monarchy, as was John's use of English advisers. However, John IV declared himself a vassal to king Charles V of France, not to Edward III of England. Nevertheless, this gesture did not placate his critics, who saw the presence of rogue English troops and lords as destabilizing. Faced with the defiance of the Breton nobility, John IV was unable to muster military support against King Charles V, who took the opportunity to exert pressure over Brittany. Without local support, in 1373, he was once more forced into exile to England.
However, King Charles V made the mistake of attempting to completely adjoin the duchy of Brittany to France. Bertrand de Guesclin was sent to make the duchy submit to the French king by force of arms in 1378. The Breton barons revolted against the takeover and invited Duke John IV back from exile in 1379. He landed in Dinard and took control of the duchy once more with the support of local barons. An English army under Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester, landed at Calais and marched towards Nantes to take control of the city. However, John IV subsequently reconciled with the new French king, Charles VI of France, and paid off the English troops to avoid a confrontation. He ruled his duchy thereafter in peace with the French and English crowns for over a decade, maintaining contact with both, but minimizing open links to England. Between 1380 and 1385, John IV built the Château de l'Hermine (Castle of Hermine) in Vannes, which became a defensive fortress and dwelling for the Dukes of Brittany. He built it inorder to benefit from the central position of the city of Vannes in his duchy. In 1397, Duke John IV finally managed to extricate Brest from English control by using diplomatic pressure and financial inducements. 
In 1392 an attempt was made to kill Olivier de Clisson, the Constable of France, who was an old enemy of the duke's. The attacker, Pierre de Craon, fled to Brittany. John was assumed to be behind the plot, and Charles VI took the opportunity to attack Brittany once more. Accompanied by the Constable, he marched on Brittany, but before he reached the duchy the king was seized with madness. Relatives of Charles VI blamed Clisson, and instituted legal proceedings against him to undermine his political position. Stripped of his status as Constable, Clisson now took refuge in Brittany himself, and was reconciled with John (1397), becoming a close adviser to the duke. 
John IV was knighted by King Edward III between 1375 and 1376 as a member of the Order of the Garter. He is believed to be the only Duke of Brittany to have attained this English honour.
Duke John IV married three times:
1) Mary of England (1344–1362), daughter of King Edward III and Philippa of Hainault.  2) Lady Joan Holland (1350–1384), daughter of Thomas Holland, 1st Earl of Kent and Joan of Kent, in London, in May 1366.  3) Joan of Navarre (1370–1437), daughter of King Charles II of Navarre and Joan of Valois, at Saillé-près-Guérande, near Nantes, on 2 October 1386. 
Joan of Navarre was the mother of all of John's children. After his death, she served as Regent to their son, John V, Duke of Brittany, and eventually married King Henry IV of England.
Pictures of Canterbury
Canterbury is an exquisite joyous place, it is submerged in history and is considered to be the birthplace of English Christianity. It glows with an abundance of charm, mostly this is owed to its stunning position on the River Stour, whose quiet waterways flow through Canterbury by-passing a wealth of gracious properties, some like the Merchant House of the 15th-century in which Flemish weavers once took refuge. The river, giving passage to bright sailing craft is one of Canterbury's most enjoyable sights.
The city is of course dominated by its great Cathedral. Amongst the glories of this ancient place of worship is its beautiful medieval stained glass, others are the armoured effigy of the Black prince, the memorable canopied tomb of Henry IV and his Queen, Joan of Navarre, and most importantly the magnificent shrine to Saint Thomas a' Becket who was murdered here in 1170. The gateway leading to the cathedral is notable for its fine statue figures. Today, the cathedral buildings surrounded by manicured lawns still retain the calm atmosphere of the days when medieval pilgrims flocked here, a period immortalised in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.
This is a place were there is so much to see it seems impossible to do it justice in one short feature. Visitors should go there themselves, be it for a weekend or a day - for to miss out on Canterbury is to miss out on one of life's most rewarding historic and spiritual experiences. A few of the places to see include the following -
Greyfriars, this is tucked neatly away in a picturesque secluded backwater of the River Stour, these are the remains of the first Francistern settlement in England.
Eastbridge Hospital, a building of 1175 spans a branch of the Stour. This is one of the gems of the city, it has a dark knapped flint exterior with a magnificent Gothic doorway leading to a wealth of architectural riches within.
The Old Weavers House provides one of the most pleasurable experiences as this glorious building of 1507 seemingly rises right out of the Stour.
Westgate, built in the 14th-century is the finest fortified gateway of its kind in England. This was used as a prison for many years, but is now an interesting visitor museum. Here you can experience prison cells, see arms and armour displays, and for those who make the climb to the top of the building, spread below is a thrilling panorama of the city.
The well preserved remains of the city walls built during the Middle Ages on top of the old Roman foundations.
Canterbury Castle, these ruined remains are all that is left of the castle, its keep was mentioned in the Doomsday Book. Centuries later the castle was used as a prison during the religious persecution of Queen Mary's reign. It is a stirring site with a fascinating history, this is told through a series of information boards.
Saint Augustine's Abbey. Founded in 598 this is one of the oldest monastic sites in Britain. It is of major importance and is part of the World heritage Site of Canterbury. Visitors can see the remains of Saxon and Norman churches, and Tudor brickwork from a Royal Palace built by King Henry VIII. There are hundreds of excavated objects to see amidst the ruins, and for the benefit of visitors there is interactive audio and visual information in six languages.
Dane John Mound is a delightful historic place from the Iron-Age, it is surrounded by peaceful gardens. Flower filled Lady Wootton's green also provides an area of peaceful tranquillity.
The cobbled streets and squares of Canterbury are crammed with interesting shops and quaint half-timbered inns, if you raise your eyes above the shop windows you will smile in wonder at the tall chimney's and glorious overhanging bay windows, lost to those whose only concern is the dazzling array of merchandise fronting the windows of the shops.
Canterbury's role as a seat of learning was enhanced during the latter part of the 20th-century when the new University of Kent was opened in 1965. At this time there was also a flourish of new building to replace those lost to German bombing raids - reprisals for the British bombing of Cologne. Happily, the new buildings blend well with the old, and although some form a dramatic contrast to the medieval core of Canterbury, they do nothing to detract from its charm.
That Canterbury is a noble place there is little doubt, it is after all the seat of the Primate of All England. But it is also a lively, bustling place, historic yes, but this is coupled with a modernity seen in its comfortable hotels, shopping parades, and restaurants serving multi-choice cuisine.
You should go there - there is all of this and so much more, for this is a unique city of endless fascination which will not disappoint
Britain’s best places to see: Burial places of the English monarchs 10
Many people are fascinated by anything to do with the monarchy, but they may not be aware of all the interesting and significant locations and tombs where our monarchs are interred. The following provides a comprehensive look at every location of buried British monarchs – from the 9th until the 20th century.
Winchester Cathedral Winchester
The exterior of Winchester Cathedral © Alan Levine (CC BY 2.0)
Winchester Cathedral is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe and was originally founded in 642 on a site immediately north from its current location.
Not long after the church was built it became a cathedral, and subsequently the most important royal church in Anglo-Saxon England. As such it was the burial place of the early kings of Wessex, including Alfred the Great (whose remains have been lost) and King Cnut the Great.
It was once a site of pilgrimage and a monastery until Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s.
The group of Renaissance era mortuary chests are thought to house the remains of early families of Wessex and England Cygnelis, Cenwalh, Egbert of Wessex, Æthelwulf, Eadred, Eadwig, Cnut the Great, and Harthacnut. The contents of the chests have been radiocarbon-dated to around the late Anglo Saxon and early Norman period, which fits with the time period of these monarchs and their burials.
They’re laid out in pride of place, neatly aligned in the Renaissance style and it’s interesting to ponder these early rulers of what became England and who exactly is buried where, or whose bones remain preserved. The cathedral is still attempting to decipher the mysterious chests and determine the truth.
Egbert of Wessex, d. 839
Æthelwulf, d. 855
Eadred, d. 955
Eadwig, d. 959
Cnut the Great, d. 1035
Harthacnut, d. 1042
William II, d. 1100
St Bartholemew’s Church, near the former Hyde Abbey Winchester
Saint Bartholomew’s Church in Winchester © Johan Bakker (CC By-SA 3.0)
Located just outside the old city walls of Winchester, Saint Bartholomew’s Church was long thought to be the final resting place of Alfred the Great (d.899) and his son Edward the Elder.
The church was formerly the lay people’s church of Hyde Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Winchester. Alfred’s remains were buried at the Abbey, along with his wife’s and children’s, and remained at the site even after the Abbey was dissolved and demolished in 1539.
The graves were rediscovered and destroyed by convicts during the building of a new prison in 1788 and, after the prison was demolished, a local amateur historian unearthed some bones which he claimed were those of Alfred. The bones were buried by the vicar of Saint Bartholomew’s but later proved to date from the 1300s.
In 1999 an excavation took place at the site of the Abbey, uncovering the Abbey’s foundation and a selection of bones. While a group of bones hoped to be belonging to Alfred proved to belong to an elderly woman, a small piece of pelvis radiocarbon-dated to the correct period proves a possible, but unverified, link to the lost king.
Westminster Abbey London
The Henry VII chapel at Westminster Abbey © Farrukh (CC By-NC 2.0)
Benedictine monks established a tradition of daily worship here in the 10 th century and it continues to this day. Westminster Abbey holds the tombs of 17 monarchs, and has been the location of coronations since 1066.
Not only are monarchs buried here, but some of the most important historical figures from the country are also interred including the poet Geoffrey Chaucer and the scientist Sir Isaac Newton.
You can see monarchs’ graves in Edward the Confessor’s chapel, Henry VII (Lady) Chapel and throughout the building.
Monarchs to visit whilst at Westminster
Edward the Confessor, d. 1066
The penultimate Anglo-Saxon king of England Edward got the name ‘the Confessor’ due to his deep piety. His huge shrine is ornately decorated with Purbeck marble and his wooden coffin remains entombed inside. The tomb is regarded as the centre of the abbey, which has five kings and four queens buried within the chapel. To the west of this foreboding and beautiful shrine is a stone screen depicting events from Edward’s life.
King for 50 years, Edward saw in the beginning of the Hundred Years War against France. His gilt bronze effigy with long hair and coronation robes sits atop an elaborate tomb that once featured 12 of his mourning children, although just six now remain. But it is the detailed yet simple effigy – without the overly gilded accessories seen on other monarch’s tombs – that catches the eye.
Henry famously united the Houses of Lancaster and York by marrying Elizabeth of York, ending the War of the Roses which spluttered sporadcially across England between between 1455 and 1487. A fine grille surrounds the effigies of the king and his wife, who used to have 32 angels surrounding them, of which only six remain. Also surrounding the pair are Henry’s patron saints, which include Mary Magdalene, John the Baptist and Edward the Confessor. The lifelike heads of the effigies carried at their funerals are also available to see in the abbey.
One of our most famous monarchs, Elizabeth’s reign was as a Golden Age, a time of flourishing popular culture, of Shakespeare and explorers Drake and Raleigh who sought to expand England’s territory overseas. Her burial chamber stands out with its white marble effigy, gold detailing and black marble pillars, and represents the way the country saw her: ornate, golden, and pure. Interestingly, she is buried atop her sister, Mary I, although the entire effigy is dedicated to her. An engraving on the tomb says “Partners in throne and grave, here we sleep, Elizabeth and Mary, sisters, in the hope of the Resurrection”.
Other monarchical tombs you can see at Westminster:
Henry III, d. 1272
Edward I, d. 1307
Richard II, d. 1400 (moved from Kings Langley Church in Hertfordshire by Henry V)
Henry V, d. 1422
Edward V, d. 1483 (est)
Edward VI, d. 1553
Mary I, d. 1559
James VI/I, d. 1625
Charles II, d. 1685
Mary II, d. 1694
Mary, Queen of Scots.
William III and II, d. 1702
Anne, d. 1714
Windsor Castle Windsor
The exterior of Windsor Castle © Kathryn Yengel (CC By-ND 2.0)
Windsor Castle is the oldest inhabited castle in the world, being a monarchical residence for over 1000 years. It is currently the official residence of the Queen and is a centre for ceremonial and State meetings.
St George’s Chapel is the spiritual home of the Order of the Garter and includes the burial chambers of a number of monarchs, including Henry VIII and Charles I.
Some of the graves have been replaced with memorial slabs on the floor, including Henry. The Chapel is open to the public every day excluding Sunday, when services are held. Admission is included in the price of entry to the Castle.
Monarchs to visit whilst at Windsor Castle
Buried in St George’s Chapel, Henry had been imprisoned in the Tower of London and the official history says he died of melancholy overnight on March 21 1471, but it is widely suspected that Edward IV had him murdered. His tomb – a simple stone structure, with his name on its side – is unimpressive and you are unlikely to spot it outright, but he was one of the important players in the War of the Roses, so much so that Shakespeare wrote three plays about his life. He also founded Eton and Kings College, London.
Henry VIII, d. 1547 and Charles I, d. 1649
Two of the most controversial monarchs of all time are remembered by a simple slab on the floor. Henry had intended to have a grand tomb with large bronze statues of him and Jane Seymour. He wanted it to be grander than all other tombs of the time, but it never came to fruition. Charles was added following his execution. It was uncovered in 1813 and subsequently a marble slab was laid to commemorate them both. It may be hard to spot but it is somewhat ironic that such grand and notorious monarchs be forced into semi obscurity with their simple memorial where they lie together as different symbols of English change. Henry changed the nation’s religion Charles’ reign saw the temporary removal of the monarchy.
An energetic ruler and ‘Uncle of Europe’, Edward was only king for 9 years following his mother Victoria’s long reign. His tomb boasts a gold crest, beautiful paneling and pristine white marble effigies of him and his wife, Alexandra. Standing high up, it is a prominent feature of the chapel and is magnificent to look – a poignant reminder of the man who waited 60 years to be king. His funeral was described as the “greatest assemblage of royalty and rank ever gathered in one place and, of its kind, the last.”
Other tombs at Windsor:
Edward IV, d. 1483
George III, d. 1820
George IV, d. 1830
William IV, d. 1837
Edward VII, d. 1910
George V, d. 1936
George VI, d. 1952
Frogmore House Windsor
View of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s mausoleum © Timelapsed (CC By-NC 2.0)
Queen Victoria had this mausoleum built following the death of her husband Albert as a place to hold his remains and, eventually, hers. Since 1928, it has been the official royal burying ground, and many members of the royal family are now buried here, including abdicated monarch, Edward VIII.
Members of the public can visit during special charity days and during August.
Monarchs to visit whilst at Frogmore House
The second longest-reigning monarch in British history, not only is the mausoleum commemorating her magnificent, but her effigy is symbolic of her everlasting love for her husband, who predeceased her by 40 years. Lying together it represents them finally back together and happy. The detail is exquisite, making them appear almost lifelike with the fabric draping loosely around them. Plus, you will get to see the beautiful gardens surrounding it.
Edward VIII, d. 1972 (abdicated)
Tower of London London
The Tower of London © Ian (CC By-NC 2.0)
At the Tower of London, one of the city’s most iconic buildings, various members of the aristocracy have been buried over the years and it is most notable for the burials of famous prisoners of the Tower, including Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, George Boleyn and Sir Thomas More.
Lady Jane Grey was queen for nine days following the death of Edward VI, son of Henry VIII. Edward had chosen her as his successor to keep the country Protestant, but his sister Mary had a lot of public support and usurped her and took her rightful place as queen. Her grave is inside the Chapel of St Peter Ad Vincula at the Tower. It was in an unmarked grave under the high altar, alongside a number of other bodies, but during Victoria’s reign they were exhumed and her bones, along with those of Anne Boleyn, were ‘identified’ and reburied in a common grave.
There is now a simple plaque identifying the location of the bodies (although some say they may have been moved). Tourists visiting the Tower can be taken around the chapel and view the grave markers.
Leicester Cathedral Leicester
Leicester Cathedral © Peter (CC By 2.0)
Richard III was originally buried across from the Cathedral in Greyfriars, where he lay lost for centuries. In August 2012, an excavation began to try and unearth Greyfriars and his body, and in 2013 it was announced that his skeleton had been discovered in a car park. He was interred in Leicester Cathedral in 2015, where his stone coffin is on display.
The coffin, which is not to everyone’s taste, is very plain and simple, with contrasting black and white stone. As it is the newest monarch’s grave it still looks pristine and neat and does not have the medieval flamboyancy of other tombs. The memorial slab itself features a plain representation of the English flag, allowing him a kind of understated honour and peace that history has denied him in the centuries since his violent death at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.
Leicester Cathedral was originally built in 900, but was called St Martin’s Church until 1927 when it became hallowed as a cathedral in its own right. It was rebuilt and enlarged between the 13 th and 15 th centuries and was restored in the 19 th century by Victorian architect, Raphael Brandon.
More like this
Canterbury Cathedral Canterbury
The tomb of Henry IV and his wife © Ken Eckert (CC By-SA 4.0)
Canterbury Cathedral was founded in 597 and was completely rebuilt between 1070 and 1077. It is the ‘home’ of the Church of England and has been a historically significant building for over 1000 years. It was the location of the brutal murder of Thomas Becket in 1170. Beckett’s tomb is in the cathedral and has become a place of pilgrimage.
Henry IV was buried in the cathedral following his death in 1413 and visitors are able to see his effigy and resting place alongside that of his wife, Queen Joan of Navarre, who died in 1437. The tomb is opposite the magnificent tomb and bronze effigy of his uncle, Edward the Black Prince, whose son Henry supplanted.
Worcester Cathedral Worcester
King John’s tomb and effigy in Worcester Cathedral © Rachel Clarke (CC By-NC 2.0)
Worcester Cathedral was built between 1084 and 1504 and represents several styles of English architecture – from Norman to Gothic. It was originally a priory and became a cathedral of secular clergy following the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII.
The notorious King John, who had attempted to usurp his brother Richard I whilst he was away at the Crusades, and eventually toward the end of his own reign put his signature to Magna Carta in 1215, was buried here upon his death in 1216. His imposing effigy is one of the oldest Royal effigies in England. It dates 1232 and has a pleasingly a solid heavy appearance to it with the three lions, the Royal Arms of England and gold painted pillars.
Herrenhausen Gardens Hanover, Germany
The Golden Gate, leading to the Royal Garden at Herrenhausen Gardens © Andrew Holmes (CC By-NC 2.0)
Okay, so this one isn’t in Britain, but as our first Hanoverian monarch in the UK we couldn’t leave George I and the beautiful gardens housing his mausoleum off the list. The German king notoriously never fully mastered English despite of being in charge of the country. The gardens are a heritage of the kings of Hanover and are one of the most distinguished baroque formal gardens in Europe.
George was originally buried in the Chapel of Leine Castle in Hanover but he is now buried in the mausoleum at Herrenhausen Gardens, after he was moved during World War Two. This burial site is a beautiful place and if on holiday it is well worth a visit to this popular attraction which also features museums and an extensive set of gardens, as well as the city of Hanover itself.
Gloucester Cathedral Gloucester
Gloucester Cathedral © Gary Ullah (CC By 2.0)
Gloucester Cathedral has been a place of worship for 1,100 years, and like many others it started as an abbey and was converted to a cathedral following the dissolution. It boasts the earliest English example of perpendicular architecture and has recently been used as a location for film and tv, including several Harry Potter films, Doctor Who, The Hollow Crown, Wolf Hall and Sherlock.
Edward II is buried here. He’s an interesting character, made more so by the powerful words written by Christopher Marlowe in his play of the same name. One of the most notorious aspects of Edward’s reign was his relationship with Piers Gaveston and historians have discussed the possibility of a sexual relationship between the king and the nobleman.
Aside from this relationship, Edward’s reign was controversial, full of famine and war, not to mention conflict with his wife, Isabella. Eventually, he was forced to abdicate and died a year later in suspicious and gruesome circumstances.
The tomb of Edward II at Gloucester Cathedral © Copyright Julian P Guffogg (CC By-SA 2.0)
Edward’s tomb was commissioned by his son, Edward III, and has been visited by pilgrims over the years, including Richard II these visits are said to have funded the expansion and improvements made to the cathedral across the centuries. It is rumoured that the presence of Edward’s tomb was also why Henry VIII did not destroy the site during his dissolution of the monasteries and it remains a beautifully ornate and acutely detailed effigy to a medieval king – within a structure that mimics the cathedral itself.