Shropshire 15 - Battlefields /1403 hurrah for Hotspur /hung drawn and quartered / the boys in search of battles and gore .

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September 20th 2021
Published: September 20th 2021
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Well you think it would be easy wouldnt it ? Plan a trip out for a mammoth , a sheep , two humans and Alfie Dog . It had been a while since the boys had met up and that visit had involved knives and all things metal . Woolly had made a suggestion . Denbigh Castle . Sion thought it a good idea as he had not been there for some while and was due another visit . "It was left to the human in the household to sort out a date , a time and some tickets . Surely with two humans to sort it out it shouldn't go wrong " Well it did go Ok at the start . We all agreed a day when both Jo and I were not working . That was the easy bit . When we came to look at the castle the dates for tickets did not tally up. It said on the website the castle was open . Tickets though were not available . So that idea went quickly south . "I was not too worried " Sion uttered those words . He trusted us to find somewhere where Alfie Dog could walk and the humans could talk ."They do a lot of that " "What on earth they find to talk about I don't know " "It was at that point that the two humans started to trade messages via Facebook " "Valle Crucis Abbey - closed - same thing , Dates show it open on a Monday but no tickets " I think Jo and I began to wonder what was wrong with a Monday . Surely somewhere would be open . We tried The 50's Museum in Denbigh - no good for Alfie Dog ." Ha Ha that suits me and Woolly - no Alfie Dog " I told Sion if he continued along those lines we were going nowhere . We tried the Follies near to Shrewsbury - another one closed . Hodnet Hall Gardens - shut for the season . I was beginning to despair . Jo suggested the Dingle in Shrewsbury . The only problem for me was driving . With a sore elbow I was not sure how long it would take to get there . I would have to park at Battlefields and catch the bus in . Battlefields - now that was an idea "No not the park and ride pleeeeeese " came the plaintive cry from the Sheep . "Surely you can find something more interesting than a bus !!!!!"

Well yes actually I could . I explained to Sion that we could go to a battle field . " Whoopppeeee, I need a sword , I like a good old battlefield and I am sure my best friend Woolly will love it to" I had not got the heart to tell him that there was not much to see . The battle had been fought on the 21st July 1403 and was waged between the Lancastrian King Henry IV and a rebel army led by Harry Hotspur . On the way to Shrewsbury Sion decided he wanted to be on the side of Harry Hotspur . I did explain that whilst no-one really won the battle the king took the honours and cut the head off Hotspur . His head together with the rest of his body was displayed around the country . "Hung drawn and quartered -not sure about that one . Perhaps I should support Owain Glyndwr and not bother fighting up here in Shropshire " The battle was the first in which English archers fought each other on English soil .

We arrived at the car park early and we set off for the cafe . The sun was shining and we sat with a deserved double espresso . The first plan was pick up the key for the church . Jen signed for it and put it in her handbag . "Knowing Jens luck she probably will lose the key before we get to the church " Sion had little faith I would keep the key safe . As the boys discussed longbows and arrows , the lack of a battle field and the fact there were no bodies Jo and I caught up with all the news . There was much to talk about as we walked to the church .

The history of the battle is an interesting one with the Percy family stating that Henry IV had seized the throne illegally . They had initially supported him but when he failed to give them the land he promised the Percys had enough of him and raised an army against him . Owain Glyndwr who also felt slighted was to join the battle but failed to get the news that he was to head for Shrewsbury. The numbers of men who made up the army is disputed . Numbers of 5000 up to 10,000 men had been mentioned by various historians . However many there were in the rebel side they failed to kill the King and instead Harry Hotspur was killed . The dead were buried where they fell .

The church which is now redundant stood alone in the field . It felt a very peaceful place . The boys were deep in discussion about the merits of longbows and whether they would find the mass graves . We sadly had to tell them there was little left to see . The first door we came to had no keyhole . The second which seemed the obvious one had a number of key holes but the key seemed to fit none of them . Eventually I found the right keyhole and door swung open . . Gargoyles everywhere and a statue of Henry IV " " Lots of dates , the dates that church was erected and when the Victorians restored parts of it ". "While Jen was trying to fing the keyhole Woolly and I looked for the mass graves without any success " "Henry must have felt very guilty as he built a memorial chapel here , he paid for the building and ordered prayers and masses to be said for the dead of both sides " "It was funny watching Jen trying to find the keyhole " She tried one keyhole and the key didnt fit , she tried another - it felt like the planning for the trip " "Finally she found the right keyhole and the door opened "

. The Victorians had worked on the building but kept the original shape tower and walls on the outside . Inside they kept the magnificent hammerbeam roof , the reredos and all the fitting and furniture . The light shone in through the stained glass . A treasure of the church is the Piet and carving of the Virgin with the body of Christ in her arms . Initially the inside felt dark but once in it was a lovely space .

After we left the church we walked back to the cafe . It was time for lunch . "Lunch now your talking" With Alfie under the table being fed treats the boys compared notes . Jo and I ordered our food and admitted that the day had turned out well . From Denbigh to Valle Crucis , from Hawkestone Follies to the Dingle we had eventually managed a morning of a catch up and the two boys were happy too.

"So come on we might be going home now but when are we doing it again ?" That was the topic of conversation all the way home . In a few weeks Sion - in a few weeks .


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