The best Bamburgh Story of all! Wars of the Roses, the Castle falls.
It is 1464. Edward of York has been battling the crowned King Henry VI for some years to capture the throne. The battles go to one side, then the other, Henry’s kingdom has contracted to a small area in the North. He is a weak King; his Queen, Margaret of Anjou feisty and determined. He has been resident at the Castle for some months but has fled to Scotland at the approach of Edward’s troops, led by the Earl of Warwick. The Castle is held for the Lancastrians by Sir Ralph Grey, of Chillingham. Margaret had fled to France leaving Henry at Bamburgh; but he too has gone. The final siege using King Edward’s Guns “Newe-Castel”, “London” and “Dysyon”. The bombardment was so severe, “stones from the walls flew into the sea”. One of the Castle Towers, where Sir Ralph was positioned, collapsed under bombardment; he fell with it. It was thought he was dead; sadly for him, he survived and was later executed at York.
For sheer horror, read the contemporary report:
This yere Quene Margaret toke Bamburgh, Anwyke, and Donsynburgh with the nombre of vj Ml of Frensshemen; and in this same yere the kynge did make grete gunnes and other grete ordynaunce at London, and did do cary hit in to the northe contre. And ther the kynge with thes lordis laide sege to thes castelles a for wreten; the whiche were yolden, savynge Bambrough wold not yelde till the wallys were betten downe; and ther in was take Sir Rauffe Graye, knyght, and he was be heded at Yorke.
A further account of the time is more graphic. Do you have a strong stomach? Can you picture the scene?
The earls of Warwick and Nurthumberland took Bambrough Castle ; and sir Ralph Grey being taken in Bambrough, forthat he had Sivorn to be true to kiiig Henry, was condemned, and had judgment given upon him by the earl of W orcester.High Constable of England, as followeth : ‘ Sir Ralph Grey, for thy treason, the king ‘ had ordained that thon shouldest have had thy ‘ spurs taken off by the hard heels, by the hand ‘ of the master cook, who is here ready to do as was promised thee, at the time that he ‘ put on thy spurs… thou be not true to thy sove’ reign lord, he shall smite off thy spurs with bis ‘ knife, hard by the heels, and so shewed him ‘ the master cook, ready to do his office with ‘ his apron and his knife. Moreover sir Ralph Grey, the king had ordained here thou may’ est see the kings of Arms and Heralds, and ‘ thine own proper coat of arms, which they ‘ should tear off thy body, and so shouldest thou ‘ as well be disgraded of thy worship nobles and ‘ arm”, as of thy order of knighthood. Also ‘ here ¡s another coat of thine arms reversed, ‘ the which thou shouldest have worn on thy ‘ body, going to’ thy death-wards, for that be’ longeth to thee after the law : notwithstand’ ing, the disgruding of knighthood, and of thine ‘ arms and nobles, the king pardoneth that, ‘ for thy noble grandfather, who suffered trouble ‘ for the king’s most noble predecessors. Now ‘ sir Ralph Grey this shall be thy penance i thou ‘ shall go on thv feet unto the town’s end, and ‘ there thou shalt be laid down and drawn to a ‘ scatfold made for thee, and thou shalt bave ‘ thy head smitten off, thy body to be ‘ burnt in the fires, thy head, where the ‘ king’s pleasure shall be.’ This judgment was pronounced at Doncaster, against the said Ralph Grey.