Richard III Tour: Taking the tube to 15th century London

In 1990, I set off for England for a month to research my Richard III novel, “Rings of Passage.” This is my travel journal.

Looking back from 2014: After spending weeks in the country and small cities, London overwhelmed me with its size. It was more than a little intimidating, even though I had previously visited many large cities on the East Coast, as well as the largest cities in California. But nothing prepared me for the feeling of bigness exuded by London. Maybe it wasn’t its size in terms of square miles or population, but the sheer weight of its history. Structures of every era, from medieval times through the days of Swinging London, impressed me at every turn as I walked its streets toward the house called Crosby Hall, a fifteenth century mansion where Richard III often stayed when visiting the city as the Duke of Gloucester. Ironically, 40 years after Richard’s death, the house served as the residence of Sir Thomas More, whose biography of the fallen King painted his reputation black. With some additional help from Shakespeare, this villainous version of Richard has transcended centuries.

London
Sept 28, 1990

Sir Thomas More statue

Sir Thomas More statue

London was a bit overwhelming my first day there. I felt kind of lost, wishing I had company.

First, I took a train into Waterloo, then wandered around until I found the underground (tube). Then I had to figure out which underground train would take me to Victoria, so I could get my tube pass validated. At last I get to Trafalgar Square, where, at last, I decided to get on a tour bus, though I’ve avoided them up to this point.

It was very useful, because I did see all the places I’ve heard about for years – Nelson’s Column, Piccadilly, Hyde Park, the Thames with all its bridges.

We had a Cockney guide from the East End driving the second half of the trip (the first bus broke down). He showed us the church where the Bow Bells are.

“To be a Cockney, you have to be born beneath the sound of these bow bells,” he said.

He showed us the London School of Economics where Mick Jagger went, and the “Bag o Nails” pub where Paul McCartney met Linda Eastman.

When I got off that, I was starving and went to Pizza Hut. Then I got on the tube again to go to South Kensington (Sunny South Kensington, as Donovan says) and make for Richard III’s townhouse, Crosby Hall.

I wandered around there, going through Chelsea (expensive district) to where the house was on Cheyne (Chain-ey) Walk (also the street where Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull used to live). It was interesting.

Then I came back to West Byfleet to have dinner. Rosamond had made pizza!

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Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage” is a time travel historical fantasy, with Richard III as the romantic hero. Wizards control the events of history, but a woman’s love transcends all. Available for Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com.

 

Richard III Tour: York – Keys to the city

In 1990, I set off for England for a month to research my Richard III novel, “Rings of Passage.” This is my travel journal.

Looking back from 2014: In one day, I saw as many of the Ricardian sites in the City of York as I could. Richard spent much time there. He felt these citizens were truly his countrymen. I realized the City of York loved Richard at least as much as I did. This was proven by its preservation of the places in which he had lived and breathed. In a time before there were quite so many willing to defend the King’s honor, the City of York provided a sturdy wall around his reputation.

City of York
September 23, 1990

I “did” the city, today:

Jorvik Viking Centre
Merchant Adventurers Hall
St. Williams College
The Shambles
York Minster
Frigate Wax Museum
Monkbar
Mickelgate Bar
City Walls

Keys to the Merchant Adventurers Hall

Keys to the Merchant Adventurers Hall

Quite a list for eight hours. Of course, I did some places better than others. Jorvik was like a Disneyland ride without Animatronics.

The Merchant Adventurers Hall was exquisite as a 15th century structure. I especially liked the undercroft.

York Minster’s windows are fantastic, as is its tower and foundations. In the Chapter House, Richard had been involved in several ceremonies.

The  Bars were great, too. Sort of miniature castles. Very Ricardian. The Castle Museum was wonderful. I’d love to take my mother there. She’d love it.

At Friarsgate, they had a wonderful lifesize 3D model of Richard. I kept looking at his legs in black hose. Very attractive. I shot lots of photos, which I hope come out.

At last, I got to eat. I had a wonderful vegetarian lasagna and garlic bread, and a much needed pint of lager.

Then I came back and watched “Last of the Summer Wine” on BBC1. And a show called “Trouble Shooter” about a guy who figures out what’s wrong with failing companies. Tonight: Apricot computers.

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Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage” is a time travel historical fantasy, with Richard III as the romantic hero. Wizards control the events of history, but a woman’s love transcends all. Available for Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com.

 

 

Richard III Tour: City of York – Ghostly encounters

In 1990, I set off for England for a month to research my Richard III novel, “Rings of Passage.” This is my travel journal.

Looking back from 2014: I was Richard III’s biggest fangirl when I walked into York through Mickelgate Bar. If the King had been a rock star, then being in York was like going to his greatest concert ever. It was magical and moving and intense. I had close brushes with ghosts, real and imagined. And if you ask me where I think Richard should rest for eternity, it would be in this city, which has been unwaveringly loyal to the King for 500 years, long before he became an archaeological celebrity.

City of York
September 21, 1990

So far, York is my city – and Richard’s.

Richard III wax statue, Friarsgate Museum, York

Richard III wax statue

He’s still their favorite king. Everything has the Yorkist white rose and there’s even a pub, the King’s Arms, with his portrait on the sign.

I felt Richard the minute I walked through Micklegate Bar, where his father’s head was piked after the Battle of Wakefield.

Went on the Ghost Walk. Spooky. The guide was a great storyteller. We went into some dark places. A snicklewalk  – and the Judge’s Court. Little nooks right out of literature.

My guest house is outside the walls. After hearing about all those ghosts, I was nervous coming back through the dark. Also, Friday nights are kind of rowdy.

York is a wonderfully medieval place. I’m listening to my Gram Parsons tape, just for a contrast. “Sin City.”

September 22, 1990

Woke up in a sweat.

After that ghost walk, I was quite shaky about that stuff.  I slept well at first, but then I woke up after 2 a.m. to a noise I couldn’t identify.

So I listened and heard something else. And then the adrenalin started pumping. I lay perfectly still, eyes shut tight, pretending I was still asleep. Terrified.

Then I heard the noise again. And I identified it as my stomach. The curry I had for dinner was gurgling around down there.

I was relieved, but the adrenalin was already there. Had to take a Valium. I had bad scary ghost dreams the rest of the night.

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Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage” is a time travel historical fantasy, with Richard III as the romantic hero. Wizards control the events of history, but a woman’s love transcends all. Available for Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com.