Thursday, 24 October 2013

Golf Clubs or Broadswords?

Battle of Barnet
Medieval history isn't my main era of interest, so it took the TV series The White Queen to explain the Battle of Barnet and its impact on the Wars of the Roses in England.  Fought on April 14th 1471, this was where Edward IV is said to have led his Yorkist forces against the Lancastrian armies which were loyal to Henry VI.This and the Battle of Tewkesbury secured the throne for Edward IV.

Recently it came to my attention again, because apparently a golf club has decided to use the original battlefield as a land fill site.

What with a king found buried in a Leicester car park, this seemed a little unkind at first, though reading on I find that this is in order to create more greens for the club, so maybe that isn't quite as disrespectful as it may seem. However, a row of oak, ash, hawthorn and hornbeam trees where a hedge was purportedly used as cover by the Lancastrians may be destroyed by the changes.

Many of England's battle sites aren't being honoured in any way, and attention only focusses on them with something like the above happens. Sedgemoor for instance, the site of the Duke of
Monmouth's defeat at the hands of James II - specifically John Churchill, is also marked by a small engraved stone but nothing else. In fact it's easily missed.
Death of 'The Kingmaker'

In fact Researchers have just sought permission for a dig to determine the exact location of the fighting. I have no idea why they waited this long to look, but they apparently believe there are
some important artifacts buried at the site. Although there is an obelisk marking where ‘Kingmaker’ Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick was slain.

I don't in any way advocate that the countryside should be made into one giant museum, because there is history everywhere, but some sort of acknowledgement could be made without spoiling it for the golfers.

Source Daily Mail

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Archaic Church Laws

We all love all those quaint Norman churches in honey-coloured stone scattered through the English countryside. The ones set in a picturesque fields surrounded by lop-sided gravestones outside equally pretty villages.  

Whilst doing research for my next novel, I discovered there is a downside to those Medieval founded churches; an ancient church law which still applies.

The words Chancel Repair Liability must strike terror into many an English [and Welsh] village dweller. What it means, is that if your Parish church is in need of building repairs, and what church built between the 11th – 15th centuries isn’t? – householders whose properties were historically built on church land can be compelled to pay the cost – no matter how much that might be. 

In Medieval times, when rectors received a tithe from the parish, they were responsible for church repairs. When Henry VIII started dissolving monasteries in 1536, rectory land was sold and the chancel repair liability passed with it. It may not be a legal requirement to attend C of E services any more, but in some parts of England and Wales [not all] the law of Chancel Repair Liability has not been changed and word is – it won’t be any time soon. 

Last year, thirty households in a Worcestershire village within a three mile radius of a church which has its origins in the Twelfth Century, received letters informing them they would have to meet the cost of church repairs. The houses are scattered across the village, as the properties date back to previous layouts from hundreds of years ago, so not everyone is liable. 

A thirtieth share of any sum may appear manageable, but this church is Grade I listed and when English Heritage get involved - and they must - and demand things like hand-made copper nails, vast amounts of money can be eaten up pretty quickly.  Parochial church councils have until the end of this month to get the Land Registry to put chancel repair liability onto the deeds of these thirty properties, or the cost of any repairs falls to the church and cannot be enforced against householders. I'm sure I am not alone in hoping they fail to do this.  

This archaic law reared its head in 2003 when a couple from Aston Cantlow, Warwickshire, after a seven year battle, were ordered to pay more than £187,000 for repairs to a church, which fell within land they inherited. 

The minister involved in the thirty householders incident said that she 'hoped the villagers would not have to pay' – in which case why doesn’t the church simply waive the law? 

Source Articles

Friday, 4 October 2013

Stop Worrying

An author whose work I enjoy is Susanna Kearsley, who writes timeslip romances linking her characters through time and distance in a spiritual way. I visited her website recently and found some excellent advice for all authors, aspiring, struggling and otherwise:

Stop Worrying

No book or story will ever please everyone. Don’t worry if yours isn’t loved (or even liked) by every reader. How many books do you know of that could be passed around a group of friends, a reading group, a room, and be universally loved? Not many. Remember the tale of the Old Man, the Boy, and the Donkey, and write your own story the way that it wants to be written.

After reading that, I realised I waste too much time second guessing myself and my writing. Ms Kearsley is very wise on this one, because what made me think that everyone who reads my novels, even avid followers of my chosen genre, are going to 'get' what I or my characters are saying?

I checked Ms Kearsley's numerous reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, and she's right. To my mind, her books are beautifully written with some insightful emotions, but on average about ten percent of readers give her one or two star ratings.

Which tells me that an uncomplimentary review shouldn't put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day, nor does it mean I have no right to call myself a writer  and resolve to ditch the laptop and take up baking - Therefore I'm going to stop worrying and work harder to make the next novel better.

Here's a reminder of the old Aesop's fable: