Bexley and English Folklore

We left The Shire again this weekend, to visit Bexley, Kent.

Hall Place and Gardens

There has been a house on the site of Hall Place for untold centuries. A Roman villa, burned down in the fourth century stood four hundred yards downstream from the present building. We do not know if there was any hall or manor house there when Cenwulf, King of Mercia, son of the great Offa, granted Bexley to Wulfred, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in 814 or even at the time of the Domesday survey, although the Hall Place Mill may have been one of the three recorded for the village.

Hall Place is said to occupy the site of the dwelling-place of the Black Prince.

Edward the Black Prince (1330-1376) eldest son of Edward III

The Black Prince is rumoured courted his wife Joan, known as the “Fair Maid of Kent” by the banks of the river Cray. There are tales after his death that his spirit clad in his black armour haunted the house and if seen foretold misforture to the owners.

Dick Turpin the highwayman was also know to have been carrying out his business in th area. Legend has it that he once jumped over the iron gates at the entrance to Hall Place on Black Bess, the only flaw in the story is the gates are 16 feet high, a mighty jump even for Black Bess.

Alfred Noyes (1880-1958)

The Highwayman

THE wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
Riding—riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

Another English archetypal legend we encountered this weekend was Robin Hood in the form of an open-air play. Despite the heavy rains elsewhere in Britain, we were extremely lucky to avoid a drenching throughout the performance.

The very first ballads that feature Robin Hood place him in Yorkshire. The first time he is mentioned in English literature is in a line from William Langland’s Piers Plowman, written in around 1377.

He features more heavily in A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode, a 13,900-word ballad that was printed in about 1500, but written earlier. This ballad is very different from the version of the Robin Hood story we are familiar with today. In it, Robin isn’t a nobleman but a yeoman (low-born freeman). However, the biggest difference is the setting: it is not Sherwood Forest. The poem is set in the forests of Barnsdale, between Doncaster and the village of Wentbridge in Yorkshire.

Stories of Robin Hood

 

An archaeological survey of the church at Crediton is now under way.

Looking for the Saxon cathedral

The surveys will be looking both for the underground remains of the Saxon cathedral and other evidence of Crediton’s Saxon and later heritage. They might also reveal evidence of the monastery which existed in the same area from 739AD and the remains of many other buildings and constructions (including any tunnels leading into the church). We also hope to learn more about the early building history of the present church.

History

During Saxon times Crediton was the cathedral city for Devon. The town’s historical significance began in c. 680AD when a child know as Winfrith was born here. Winfrith became St Boniface, a founding father of the Christian church in Europe and the Patron Saint of the Netherlands and Germany. A new Devonshire-based diocese was created in 909AD. Unfortunately, nothing of the cathedral built at Crediton remains today. In 1050AD the Bishop’s Throne was transferred to Exeter and the site of the current cathedral.

Flypast for Bentley Priory

TWO Spitfire fighter planes flew over RAF Bentley Priory on Thursday evening as part of a closing ceremony for the base.

The base, which is currently home to the Defence Aviation Safety Centre, Air Historical Branch and Ceremonial and Protical Branch, is due to relocate all its units to RAF Northolt in February next year.

The closing ceremony included a flying display by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

The RAF base was the Fighter Command’s headquarters when Britain fought a four-month battle with the Luftwaffe in 1940 when around 550 officers died in the battle.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill monitored the landings from the Allied Expeditionary Air Force War Room underneath Bentley Priory

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