Visitors will experience a glimpse of medieval military life when the Woodvilles bring their team of soldiers and camp followers to Lydiard Park next weekend, Saturday May 19 – Sunday May 20.
This 15th century re-enactment group founded in Hampshire in the early 1990s takes its inspiration from Sir Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers and his illustrious kin.
To describe the Woodville family as ambitious would be somewhat of an understatement. Descended from Richard Woodville, a former squire to Henry V, the Woodville’s were adept at backing the winning side, changing their allegiance from Lancastrian to Yorkist as necessity demanded during the 15th century conflict.
The War of the Roses began in August 1453 with a skirmish at Stamford Bridge between the Lancastrian House of Percy and the Yorkist House of Neville. It would be more than 30 years before a victory was declared when Henry VII defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Reconciliation between the warring sides was sealed with the marriage of the new Tudor king to Elizabeth the daughter of Lancastrian Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.
But what has this period of history to do with the St John family’s Georgian mansion in Lydiard Park? During the 14th century the manor of Lydiard was owned by the Beauchamp family. Margaret Beauchamp, the daughter of John Beauchamp and his second wife Edith Stourton, brought power, prestige and a royal ancestry to the St. John family.
Following the death of her first husband Oliver St John in 1437/8 Margaret married John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset. Their only daughter Margaret was married off to Edmund Tudor, Henry VI’s half-brother, at the tender age of 12. A year later she gave birth to a son who would become Henry VII, founder of a Tudor dynasty that would span more than two hundred years.
The remodelled Palladian mansion of Lydiard House stands on the footprint of a much earlier property; a 15th century H shaped manor house dominated by a Tudor Hall and courtyard with kitchens and services in the west wing and family rooms in the solar wing.
The Woodville visitors will be cooking up an average meal, performing arts and crafts of the day and possibly engaging in some combat when they set up camp at the weekend. For a taste of what the Woodville’s will be bringing to Lydiard visit their website www.woodvilles.org.uk For more details about events at Lydiard House and Park this summer visit www.lydiardpark.org.uk