Posted in Activity, Bringing Alive The Past, Decorative Arts, Event, History, Museum

Tudor Revels Southampton

The ‘Floating Flemyngs’ monument, St. Nicolas’ Church, North Stoneham, Hampshire.

On Sunday 10th June I attended Southampton-based Tudor Revels’ inaugural study day, ‘Money, Class and Wealth: Rescuing Forgotten Lives’, at the historic and recently refurbished Dolphin Hotel, Southampton.  The event was a huge success with nearly eighty people in attendance. A truly inspirational day for historians and anyone who loves Tudor history. I went home stimulated and inspired to revisit this important historical period. The obvious popularity of the event is proof that history really is enjoying a surge in popularity and long may it continue.

A few words on Tudor RevelsThe Southampton Tudor Project: From Records to Revels is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and supported by a large number of community partners (CLICK HERE). The aim of the project is to celebrate Southampton’s Tudor past and document, using surviving archival records, material remains and portraiture, the people who flourished in Southampton between 1485 and 1603.  It is hoped the project will widen scholarship on the city and raise its heritage profile.

A stylish new website (CLICK HERE) has been created to support the project and I encourage you to have a look, it was officially launched during the study day. The interactive map of Tudor Southampton is genius and very easy to use if you are a dab hand with your computer mouse. When you see a red flag appear above a building, click on it and a short description of that building’s use in Tudor times will appear on-screen.

The website also has a searchable database (CLICK HERE) with biographical information on some of Southampton’s Tudor citizens.  The database is very easy to navigate and already contains a large number of entries.  It is estimated that by the end of 2013, there will be 5,000 completed biographies.  Scholars, historians, genealogists, population statisticians and the general public can access, for free, this valuable biographical data.

Dr Cheryl Butler, a member of the editorial board, commented on the website and project in general: ‘It will be a place for preserving lost research facilitated by the use of new technology.  The project will help to enthuse and engage the wider public in a celebration of Southampton’s Tudor citizens. We have already trained twenty volunteer researchers, from the community, to work with us. These volunteers will become heritage champions.’

The project additionally funds an Artist in Residence, Alys Scott-Hawkins, who will document meetings and events, run workshops on the founder of Southampton, Sir Bevis, create a banner depicting Bevis’ wife Fair Josian and encourage fellow artists to become involved in the project’s flagship event, a Michaelmas Fayre on the weekend of 29th-30th September 2012, St. Michael’s Square, Southampton.

The study day began with a lecture by Harry Willis Fleming on the ancestry of his own family, the Flemings (later Willis Fleming), with a focus on their activities during the Tudor period.  Harry is a cultural historian, writer and currently a 2012 Research Fellow at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds investigating the artist Richard Cockle Lucas (1800-1883).   Harry offered plenty of helpful hints for anyone researching Tudor biographies, including the fact that Parish Registers began in this era and from 1500 onwards wills were no longer written in Latin. He drew our attention to a number of material artefacts, relating to the Flemings, that still survive today in and around Southampton.  One artefact was the Fleming coat of arms on the outside of the Bargate. The Fleming’s coat of arms consists of three owls on a background with a chevron.

The Bargate, Southampton.
The Fleming’s coat of arms, Bargate, Southampton.
The Fleming coat of arms displayed on the top of the ‘Floating Flemyngs’ monument.

The other artefact was a sculpture by Anthony Griffiths (1991) of John Le Fleming (1295-1336), a former Mayor of Southampton, located on Southampton City Walls.  During the lunch break I made a quick dash to these two locations and took a couple of photographs.

Sculpture of John le Fleming (1295-1336) by Anthony Griffiths (1991), located on the Southampton City Walls. John Mayor of Southampton in 1315.

Harry then discussed the tomb of Sir Thomas Fleming (1544-1613) and wife Mary, a monument known locally as ‘the Floating Flemyngs’ on account of its configuration.

The ‘Floating Flemyings’ monument, St. Nicolas’ Church, North Stoneham, Hampshire.

The tomb is located in St. Nicolas’ Church, North Stoneham, Hampshire. Sir Thomas was the judge who presided over the trial of Guy Fawkes and others involved in the gunpowder plot (1605).  During the course of my own research on the Wriothesley family, I discovered that the manor of North Stoneham was acquired by Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton, c1540.  In 1599, the Wriothesley family sold the manor and advowson to Sir Thomas Fleming.

St. Nicolas’ Church, North Stoneham.

I visited St. Nicolas’ Church last Saturday on the off-chance it might be open (it very rarely is). I was lucky, on account of an afternoon wedding, I gained entry. The very helpful verger allowed me to take a few photographs before the guests started to arrive and I had to beat a hasty retreat.

Detail from the ‘Floating Flemyings’ monument.
Sir Thomas Fleming.
Lady Mary Fleming.

The ‘Floating Flemyngs’ monument is stunning close-up.  Mary and Thomas Fleming’s facial features are exquisite. Whilst at the Church I also purchased a guide-book written by Anne Bakes, The Parish of North Stoneham and Bassett: Its History, Churches and People 932-1995.  The chapter on the monument is a fascinating background read. Bakes’ description of the monument reads: ‘Their [Thomas and Mary] elaborate memorial in the church depicts them both in court robes, lying on their sides, with their remaining children kneeling along the base.  Their heir, another Thomas, is in the centre depicted rather larger than the other children…Lady Mary was left with four of her sons and two daughters from eight sons and seven daughters!’ (Bakes, M., 1996, p.11) For more information on the Willis Fleming family, CLICK HERE.

Detail from the base of the ‘Floating Flemyngs’ monument showing some of Thomas and Mary’s children kneeling.
One of the Fleming children at the base of the monument.
Thomas Jnr, son and heir, kneeling at the base of the monument.

Another fascinating study day lecture was given by Dr Mary South who discussed some of the challenges faced by historians when using Tudor portraiture to stimulate biographical research. Dr South gave as her example a painting, thought to be of Nicholas Fuller (b. 1557), that hangs over the fireplace in the Banqueting Hall at Tudor House and Gardens, Southampton.  As a result of extensive research, Dr South discovered that the gentleman in the painting was not in fact Nicholas Fuller but John Sotherton (1562-1631), who from the 16th June 1579 until his death, was Baron of the court of Exchequer.

Tudor portrait that was the subject of Dr Mary South’s lecture. The portrait hangs over the fireplace in the Banqueting Hall at Tudor House and Gardens, Southampton.

Dr Cheryl Butler gave the lecture, ‘Dyperes, Dippers & Diapers: Bricklayers? Birdcatchers? Belgians?’.  Dr Butler is herself a descendent of the Diaper family. The Diapers left just one will and 10,000 descendants. They are a local family who have a long association with the village of Itchen Ferry, near Southampton. Dr Butler focussed upon what the family were up to in Tudor times. The Diaper Heritage Association have their own website, for further information on this extraordinary family, CLICK HERE.

Dr Butler gave a further lecture on the life of Edward Willmott and his hostelry The Dolphin Inn, Southampton. Edward had a wife, Margaret and four children, Edward Jnr, Alice, Averyn and Elizabeth.  Edward was an important citizen of Tudor Southampton, he was a wealthy merchant adventurer and a man of substantial property. He occupied a number of high-ranking positions of civic responsibility in the town, including: Steward (1550-1); Bailiff (1554); Sheriff (1555); Parliamentary Burgess (1558) and finally Mayor (1558-60). Dr Butler discovered that in 1559, whilst Edward was Mayor, he was presented with a sugar-loaf.  This was a very expensive and rare gift to have received in Tudor times and would have come from new discoveries being made in the colonies. The sugar-loaf was a symbol of Edward’s status in the Town, that he was deemed important enough to have merited such a gift.

Tudor produce showing sugar-loaf in a cone shape. For more information on Tudor cookery, please see my article ‘A Taste of the Tudor Kitchen’ (August 2011). CLICK HERE.
Tudor part of The Dolphin Hotel (formerly The Dolphin Inn).

Dr Butler’s research on Edward Willmott involved the use of Southampton Probate Inventories, 1447-1575, (2 vols., Southampton Records Series, vols. 34 and 35 by E. Roberts and K. Parker (1992)).  These ground-breaking publications are a valuable resource for anyone wishing to research Tudor Southampton.  Contained therein is Edward’s Will, dated 21st November, 1569, created from an inventory of chattels compiled on 16th February, 1569. Edward is referred to as a ‘merchant and innkeeper’.  The Will makes for an illuminating read and confirms the extent of the Willmott family’s material wealth and social status.

Below are two extracts from Edward Willmott’s Will. The first, details the contents of Mrs Willmott’s bedchamber:

Mrs Willmottes chamber; a stondinge beddsted, xx s; ij fetherbedes, xl s.; a flockebedd, vj  s viiij d.; iij coverlettes, xiij s iiij d.; a great cofer, xij s; another greate chest, xv s; ij other small chest where she lyeth, v s; a table wth the frame, x s; a strory wth a frame, x s. (a little story); the back & a bench xiij s iiij d; (a bible); payntid clothes, vj s viij d; a curtyn & the rod for the windo, xvj d.

(Roberts & Parker, 1992, p. 284)

In the kitchen:

brochis; xiij wherof ij byrd broche, xxx s; a great payer of Rackes, xvj s viij d; a iij payer cottrelles, vj s; ij flatt barrs to defende the dripping pannes, iij s iiij d; iij great gryddyers, ix s; iij payer of potthokes, xvj d; ij payer of tonges & iij fyer pannes, v s; ij fryinge pannes, ij s; ij dogges, xij d; a morter of brasse & a pestell of Iren, iij s; j chopinge kniffe, ij d; ij great pannes, xxx s; iiij lesser pannes, xxvj [s] viij d; iij kettles wth Iren bandes, x s; a Flaundrs bottle of copper, viij s; a olde bed panne, ij s; iij skomers of brasse, xij d; ij little pannes, ij s; v small skillettes, v s; iij caste posenettes, vj s; ij chafers of brasse x s; vij brasse pottes, xl s;  j chafyn dishe wth a fote, iij s iiij d; iij other chafindisshes, iiij s; a musterd Querne, xx d; a small sesteren of ledes weghing by estimacon di’C, iiij s; a wenles & a bocke wth the rope for the well, iij s iiij d; a water fossere, ij s; Summa, xij li vj s vj d.

(Ibid, p. 286-7)

The Dolphin Inn had twenty-two rooms, a cellar and counting house, it was the largest Inn in Southampton. Glass and wood panelling were deemed moveable objects and therefore classed as chattels. Carpets were not laid on the floor but hung on the wall and fine lawn would have been used at windows. A large number of fireplaces and chimneys in your house was seen as a sign of wealth. These architectural symbols of prosperity can be seen a plenty in the ruins of Wriothesley’s country seat, Place House, Titchfield.

Averyn Willmott married an apprentice of her father, John Sedgewick and they received the Tenancy of the Inn.  Edward Jnr died without issue and Alice Willmott inherited the rest of her father’s estate.  Unfortunately, Alice married Clement Smith, Town Gunner. Clement sold-off the birth rights that his wife had inherited from her father’s estate. The original estate had been valued at £372 5s 10d, he sold it for £13 6s 8d!  Clement also owned a privateering ship called Godspeed and was by all accounts a bit of rascal. He also sold-off a farm that Alice had inherited from her father.  The farm was sold to John Croke, Merchant and former Mayor of Southampton.  During Croke’s mayorship (1568-9) he entertained Queen Elizabeth I and her vast retinue at a cost to the town of £360.  The entertainment included bear-baiting, bagpiping and theatrical performances. The Queen was passing through Southampton on her way to Basing.  She had been staying at Titchfield Place as a guest of Henry Wriothesley, 2nd Earl of Southampton (1545-1581)Following Dr Butler’s lecture on the Inn’s history, we re-assembled at the back of the building to view what remains of the structure from the Tudor period.   In one of the back bedrooms, original timbers are still visible.

Acting companies and players often stayed at The Dolphin, performing at either the Inn’s gallery or in the courtyard. In C. E. C. Burch’s Minstrels and Players in Southampton 1428-1635 (1969) reference is made to the Town Steward’s accounts of 1539-40 which gives details of one such performance. Although, in this case, the performance appears not to have taken place but the actors were paid anyway: ‘The 14 daye September to the kyngs pleyers at the dolffyne which pleyd nott 6/8d’. (Burch C. E. C., 1969, p. 16) Burch observes that: ‘The players who did not play at the Dolphin in Southampton in 1539-40 would have played in the yard, approached, as now, through an arch from the High Street. (Ibid. p. 20)

The Dolphin Hotel has long been of historical interest to scholars. In Rev. J. Silvester Davies’A History of Southampton (1883) he includes an entry for The Dolphin:

At the beginning of the sixteenth century the parish appears to have had some interest in the Dolphin. Thus in June 1506, a tenant came before John Godfrey, mayor, and before the churchwardens and parishioners of Holy Rood, and ‘bound himself sufficiently to repair all such building as is now in the house that he dwelleth in, called the Dolphin, upon pain of forfeiting his indentures of the same house.’ The present Dolphin Hotel is partly in Holy Rood parish and partly in St. Lawrence’s, a former owner having thrown two houses into one by joining to his hotel, which was in Holy Rood parish, a wine merchant’s shop contiguous in St. Lawrence’s parish.

(Davies, Rev. J. S., 1883, pp. 364-5)

Nearly a century later Nikolaus Pevsner and David Lloyd, wrote The Buildings of England: Hampshire and The Isle of Wight, describing The Dolphin thus:

The Dolphin Hotel is the best C18 building in the city proper.  It has a mainly red-brick symmetrical façade with a small pediment, and another elliptical archway in a stuccoed rusticated ground storey.  It’s specially distinctive features are the great bow windows, one each side on the ground and first storeys, among the largest anywhere.  There is a lower, yellow brick early C19 N extension, recently heightened a story.

(Pevsner & Lloyd, 1967, p. 547)

The Tudor Revels team have put together a superb programme of educational activities and workshops, a majority of which are free of charge.  I recently attended one of the first workshops from this programme, ‘Making Ends Meet Tudor Style: Feltmaking’ by the textile artist, Vicki Hodgson. An article on this will follow shortly. Here are brief details of Tudor Revels’ forthcoming events, more information on each activity can be found on their main website. CLICK HERE.

Tudor Revels Programme of Events 2012

  • 21st July – Edible and Medicinal Plants. St. James’ Park, Shirley, Southampton. Walk with botanist Celia Cox. Not suitable for children under twelve.  (Pre-booking essential), 2.30-4pm, FREE;
  • 21st & 22th July – Making Ends Meet Tudor Style: Pottery, Hawthorns Urban Wildlife Centre, Southampton, 10-4pm, FREE;
  • 28th & 29th July – Making Ends Meet Tudor Style: Beekeeping & Candlemaking, Hawthorns Urban Wildlife Centre, Southampton 10-4pm, FREE;
  • 29th July – Centenary of Tudor House and Garden Museum, Southampton, 6p entrance fee on this day only, guided tours at 10am, 11am, 12 noon, 2pm and 3pm (pre-booking for these essential);
  • 11th August – The Old Bowling Green Open Day, Lower Canal Walk, Southampton, 11-2pm, FREE.  This is the oldest bowling green in the world, dating from c1299.  A rare opportunity to look around and hear more about the history of bowling in Southampton;
  • 12th August – Craft Workshop, The Fair Josian: Banner Making Workshop, The Bargate Monument Gallery, High Street, Southampton, 10-4pm, FREE (Pre-booking essential).  A family workshop with artist Alys Scott-Hawkins exploring the town legend of Bevis and Ascupart and drawing inspiration from the sixteenth century oak panels in the Bargate gallery.  The completed banner will then be carried in the St. Michaelmas Fayre procession on the morning of 30th September 2012;
  • 18th & 19th August – Making Ends Meet Tudor Style: Pole Lathe Turning and Woodcarving, Hawthorns Urban Wildlife Centre, Southampton 10-4pm, FREE;
  • 18th August – People of Tudor House, Guided walk, organised by Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery, old cemetery, Southampton, 2-3.30pm, FREE (booking required, details given on Tudor Revels’ main website);
  • 19th August – Procession to Our Lady of Grace, pilgrimage in the footsteps of Henry VIII’s visit to Southampton in 1509;
  • 12th September – Guided Walk of St. Andrews Church, Hamble-le-Rice, Nr Southampton, 7-8.30pm, FREE;
  • 20th September – Pastimes and Good Company, Tudor Games and Pastimes, illustrated talk and replica artefact handling session, evidence from King Henry VIII’s Mary Rose, 7-9pm, North Guild Lecture Theatre, Civic Centre, Southampton, FREE;
  • 29th September – Michaelmas Fayre, St. Michael’s Square, Southampton, FREE. Free entry to Tudor House and Garden on this day.  Guided tours of Tudor House at 11am and 3pm (pre-booking essential);
  • 29th September – Concert of Tudor Music, St. Michael’s Church, Southampton, 7.30-9.30pm, FREE;
  • 30th September – Michaelmas Fayre, St. Michael’s Square, Southampton, 11-4pm, FREE;
  • 4th October – Alison Weir – Author Talk, ‘Mary Boleyn the Great and Infamous Whore’, 7.30-9.30pm, North Guild Lecture Theatre, Civic Centre, Southampton, £4;
  • 6th October – Guided walk around Netley Abbey, 2-3.30pm, FREE;
  • 13th October – Court and Port Study Day –  The Tudor Court and The Port of Southampton, Avenue Campus, University of Southampton, 10-5pm, £20;
  • 19th October – Propeller Theatre’s Pocket Henry V, 7pm, The Point, Eastleigh, Southampton, £10;
  • 21st October – Guided walk St Nicolas’ Church, North Stoneham – a rare opportunity to visit this delightful and fascinating church associated with the Willis Fleming family 2-3.30pm, FREE.
  • Tudor House and Garden, Southampton:
  • 14th & 15th July; 11th & 12th August; 8th September – 11-2pm Tudor Hawking – Bird of Prey, the event is FREE but entrance charges to the Museum apply. Meet costumed Tudor falconers and real-life hawks, learn more about falconry heritage too;
  • 14th July – 10.30-4pm – Tudor Tiles, £38 per person (pre-booking essential).  This workshop will enable you to learn about the history of medieval and Tudor encaustic inlaid tiles and also have the opportunity to work with a professional ceramicist  (ex-Poole potter Debra Marsh) to create your own tile which will fired off-site for you to collect on a separate day. All materials provided.  If you want to gain some inspiration for taking part in this workshop, then have a look at my earlier article on Titchfield Abbey, ‘The Wriothesleys of Titchfield’.  The medieval tiles that have survived from the former Abbey are some of the best in the South of England. For the article, CLICK HERE. (The tiles can be found towards the end of the article).
    Gardens at Tudor House, Southampton, Hampshire.

    Tudor House and Gardens, Southampton, Hampshire.