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It is August 1485. A boy watches the carnage of the Battle of Bosworth and sees the king die in a glorious cavalry charge. Sixty-five years later in the village of Eastwell the parish records the death of a stone mason. The name recorded: Richard Plantagenet.
Who was the old man? Was he Richard III’s illegitimate son? An impostor taking on royal airs and graces? Or was he Richard, son of Edward IV and one of the princes in the tower? Richard of Eastwell tells the remarkable story of a talented craftsman who survived turbulent times and kept an extraordinary secret.
Who was the old man? Was he one of Richard’s illegitimate children? An impostor taking on airs and graces? Or was the old man perhaps Richard, son of Edward IV, younger brother of Edward V and one of the princes in the tower?
The book is based on a Kentish local legend which has some foundation in fact and follows Richard’s life and adventures from his earliest years in the Plantagenet court to the Battle of Bosworth through the Tudor reigns of Henry VII & VIII to the early years of Elizabeth I.
Richard of Eastwell
In August 1485, on the eve of the battle of Bosworth, a young boy is brought by his guardian to the church of Sutton Cheney. In the church he watches a man as he prays before the altar. He recognises the man as the same that had watched him playing when he was seven. The man is intense in his devotions and the leader of a great army. The man is King Richard III.
The king tells him that tomorrow he will fight a battle against a Welsh usurper to the crown, one Henry Richmond. But he is worried. Reinforcements and the support promised to him had not yet arrived and the battle that could have been so easily won now hangs in the balance.
The king tells him a secret that should the boy reveal it would be his end, and should the king lose the battle the boy should go to London and find a new life. The boy swears on the king’s sword to keep the secret. The king hands the boy three gifts, they embrace and the boy is taken from the field.
The next morning the boy watches the battle and in horror sees the king and his guardian killed and the army utterly defeated. After a number of adventures he escapes to London and uses money given him by the king to become an apprentice to a stone mason. The stone mason takes the boy as his son and trains him.
Eventually the boy completes his apprenticeship. He builds many fine buildings and becomes renowned in his trade. He builds palaces, theatres and a grand country house in Kent, Eastwell Manor for Sir Thomas Moyle, a merchant who has become rich under the new king Henry VII. Sir Thomas and he quickly become friends and Sir Thomas gradually finds out more and more of the man’s story. Sir Thomas gives the man permission to build a lodge house in the grounds of the manor. As the years progress more of the story unfolds. The man is well-bred, can read and write and has a collection of Latin books, unusual for a stone mason.
On his deathbed, a few days before Christmas 1550, the stonemason tells his friend a secret and when he dies the old man is buried in the churchyard of Eastwell. The parish church records record the death: Rychard Plantagenet, December 22nd 1550.
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Mark J.T. Griffin
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