30 July, 2017

Edward II Goes Swimming?

There is evidence that Edward II thoroughly enjoyed swimming: in February 1303, for example, when he wasn't yet nineteen and was prince of Wales, he had to pay compensation to his fool Robert Buffard or Bussard for playing a trick on him in the river in Windsor (they were swimming in *February*), and in October 1315 the king spent a congenial month swimming and rowing in the Fens with lots of 'common people'.

I've been looking recently through one of Edward's chamber accounts, and there's more evidence of his enjoyment of swimming. In June 1324, at Thundersley in Essex, the royal valet Thomas Bower was paid for "what he did" (which sadly isn't specified) "when the king went into the water at Thundersley." I'm not at all familiar with Essex so am not sure which water this means. Maybe it was a hot summer and Edward was cooling off by plunging into the nearest body of water. Unless 'went into the water' means that the king fell off a barge or boat and Thomas Bower saved him, and he wasn't going swimming at all. I know I've seen another reference to Edward going into the water in the same chamber account, but darned if I can find it now. I'll post it here if and when I ever do.

Three rather intriguing entries from the same account record payments from Edward II to "the women of Lambeth, singing in the water of the Thames in the company of Burgeys de Till." Burgeys was one of Edward's chamber vadletz, and came from Gascony. Women of Lambeth and a man from the south of France singing in the water of the Thames? The mind boggles. At Christmas 1324, Edward played something called rafle, no idea what that is, with Burgeys and two of his chamber squires called Giles of Spain and Garsy Pomit. Garsy was also a Gascon. What I love about Edward's chamber accounts is that the same servants pop up over and over, so that after a while you get to know who they are, and I know from another chamber account that Garsy had an adult son. Burgeys de Till and Giles of Spain appear in another entry: they were performing some kind of act with fire for Edward at his Westminster cottage of Burgundy in February 1325, but it went horribly wrong, and they burned their arms. Ouch.

And some more nice little snippets from the same source:

On Edward's fortieth birthday, 25 April 1324, at his favourite residence of King's Langley in Hertfordshire, the king rewarded two young members of his household with five shillings because they had "found and arrested three thieves." The two young men were called Janekyn and Jakynet, both nicknames for men called John. Well done, the Johns!

Two days later, Edward gave forty shillings to a married couple going on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

In May 1324, Edward's painter Jack of St Albans - who crops up a fair bit in the records - received forty shillings for painting scenes from the life of Edward's father Edward I in the painted hall of Westminster Palace (I've heard of the Painted Chamber but this definitely says 'hall'. though I assume it was the same place).

There are references to Edward's house La Rosere, which was in London on the opposite side of the Thames to the Tower, which he was building or renovating in 1324/25. Hope to look at La Rosere again in a future post.


Jerry Bennett said...

Thundersley is sandwiched between Southend and Basildon, and north of Canvey Island. There was a Thundersley Hall which spent a fair amount of time in crown hands and dated back to just before the Norman conquest. It had been sold by Henry III and was in the hands of Bartholomew de Baddowe in 1313, and at some point he gave it to Edward II. in 1329 Edward III gave or sold it to John de Sturmy. I wonder if his mother had much say in that, or if Thundersley hall had passed directly to Edward III by some means? The web page on Thunderley Manor house gives nothing away on that. The river Roach is not too far distant, but if Edward had "gone into the water" somewhere around Canvey Island, then Thomas Bower could have been paid for washing the mud off him. I doubt if the shoreline of the Thames estuary has changed that much over the last 800 years.

Anonymous said...

As prince of Wales, he went swimming in a British February? Did the climate has change a lot since that time, or, did Edward like being frozen? Could this be one reason why Edward's fondness for swimming raised some eyebrows?


Unknown said...

This isn't about swimming but you seem to be at a dead end about Adam. This is probably nothing but it may be a clue. In the sixties my father was tracing the family tree which took us to Canada.Joseph D.Wetherell born in 1869. He wrote in an article about him in a local paper that the family tree can be traced I quote, indirectly to King Edward the 1stof England and more directly to Edward the second. The original spelling of the name was Wetheral and a village bearing that name where the family was honored still exists in Scotland. In checking out the village Wetheral I found one on the boarder of England and Scotland.This peaked my interest. Checking further I found atext of the priory of Wetheral. I quote, Two interesting visits were paid to the priory of Wetheral vtsits of by Edward Prince of Wales, afterwards Edward the second. In October the Prince had returned from an expedition into the south of Scotland,and was about to proceed to Berwick to join the King. On the 20th he wrote two letters from Wederhal another spelling for Wetharal to the Chancellor,Sir John Deere Langetone,asking for a protection for his Chamberlain and for his fesicien.(is that like doc and lawyer). On February 19th 1306-7 the Prince was there again, only a few months before he came to the throne.The visits of the Prince of Wales to Wetharal had not improbably something to do with the promotion of prior William deTanefeld For we learn that when Edward the first was staying in the neighborhood,the prior so conducted himself towards the King and his son Edward that they were always afterwards very gracious to him. Does the time line look right ? Under the name Wetheral a Adam is listed during the reign of Edward the second as a Freeman of York.You thought maybe her father may be an Adam, may be nothing. Well that's it. Don't know if it's any kind of a clue or not.

sami parkkonen said...

Swimming in the winter? Man. Edward would have had a blast in Finland where people have been ice swimming for hundreds if not thousands of years. I bet he would have loved the Finnish sauna too, specially after dipping into icy water.

I have to say, more I learn this king the more I would have liked to invite him to our summer house by the Lake Saimaa. He would have loved it. Hunting grounds less than halt a kilometer away, fishing from the home pier and all the swimming he would have wanted, even in the icy waters.

And yes, there are two million saunas in Finland even today for roughly five million people and no, they do not have any naughty dimensions to us even though we prefer them in the nude.