Stamping your mark in history

I noticed a few days ago an announcement of a new set of commemorative stamps from the Royal Mail.  I’m not one to be obsessed over stamps but the theme of these ones caught my eye as they are all relating to the War of the Roses.

As you’ll see below, these aren’t stamps that are ordinarily to be used on letters and parcels but are instead aimed at stamp collectors but whether you like stamps or not, I’m sure you’ll agree that these are beautiful to look at.

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The Yorkist King Edward IV is seen leading his men forward. Royal Mail released the set of commemorative stamps to mark the 550th anniversary of the Battle of Tewkesbury on May 4th 1471

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King Richard III is seen with his men before his final charge in The Battle of Bosworth (depicted above). It was one of the last battles of the Wars of the Roses since Henry VII killed Richard III. King Henry VII married Elizabeth of York which united the two sides together going into the Tudor era.

There are quite a few stamps being released along those theme but the one that really caught my attention is the one below however as it is just up the road from where I live.

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You may remember a few weeks ago I wrote about finding a Holy Well, said to be visited by the father of King Arthur.  That all took place in St Albans and though there has been a slight bit of artistic licence with the painting, it’s clearly recognisable from the street today.  For some reason the Cathedral tower has been put where the clock tower is but you can see the details of the two towers precisely match up with the photo and the painting must surely be centred roughly on the where the photo below was taken.

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The scene depicted is from the start of the War of the Roses on the 22nd May 1455, the struggle for control of the government of England boiled over into armed conflict. The following thirty years would see the throne itself become the prize for the rival Royal houses of Lancaster and York.

When King Henry VI regained his sanity in January 1455, the Duke of York`s brief protectorate came to an end and his chief rival, the Duke of Somerset, regained his position of influence at court.

the Duke of York withdrew to the north and began mustering men, supported by his brother in law, the Earl of Salisbury, and Salisbury`s son, Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick, later known as the `Kingmaker`.

Advancing towards London, the Yorkist force found the Royal army positioned in the small town of St. Albans. When negotiations for the Duke of Somerset’s surrender broke down, York`s men stormed the town`s defences while Warwick broke into the market place through alleys and gardens, attacking the Lancastrian centre.

Graham Turner`s painting dramatically recreates the scene as Warwick’s men, wearing their red liveries and badges of the Bear and Ragged Staff, advance through the medieval market place, while the ‘Kingmaker’, in the latest Milanese armour, raises his visor to greet the Duke of York. York, with his Standard bearer beside him, is indicating in the direction of the Castle Inn, site of Somerset`s last stand and if you’re not fighting hand to hand combat, about two minutes behind the photo and artists viewpoint.

It was a momentous moment and one even immortalised in the writings of William Shakespeare.

So, lie thou there;
For underneath an alehouse’ paltry sign,
The Castle in St Alban’s, Somerset
Hath made the wizard famous in his death.

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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2 Responses to Stamping your mark in history

  1. I collect stamps! I would love these! I get so few stamps nowadays … not much snail mail anymore. These are fabulous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They re beautiful aren’t they? I don’t collect stamps but I do like sending and receiving letters and the stamps always catch my eye. As you say, sadly there aren’t too many letters these days except for bills and circulars. Mind you, I also still use cheques!

      Like

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