Monday, 22 October 2012

St Helen and the Holy Cross, Sheriff Hutton

Spent yesterday with Towton Battlefield Society and the Frei Compagnie at the Diocese of York event at this lovely church. The theme of the day was Sheriff Hutton's connection to Richard III and guest speakers were Helen Cox and Prof AJ Pollard.
Sheriff Hutton had been a Neville castle used as a stopover by Warwick amongst others when on his way to York. After Warwick's death at the Battle of Barnet in 1471 Richard was given his northern estates by Royal Decree.This was welcomed by the locals as it prevented them from receiving any punishment for supporting Warwick's treason vs Edward IV. Approximately 20 years later Sheriff Hutton was estimated to be worth ~£600 per annum in income which is pretty sizeable (Middleham at the same time was estimated to be worth ~£900 pa), so no doubt Richard was pleased with the acquisition too.
The church guide identifies one of the alabaster tombs as being that of Richard's son, the Prince of Wales known as Edward of Middleham, but this is by no means certain and it may well have been that of a child of the Neville family, but the tomb must have been very fine at its time of construction.

Other interesting sites in the church are the effigy of Sir Edward Thweng who died at Stirling in 1344, a carved face of a coroneted head thought to be symbolic of a Neville chantry and a beautiful stained glass 'sunne in splendour' - badge of the Plantagenets. We also manned the TBS stall for the afternoon - a few more pennies in the coffers!
The church is open every day and tea and coffee are available - what more can you want? Sheriff Hutton castle is on private land but there is a circular walk that spans the perimeter - best when the leaves are gone from the trees.

Friday, 23 March 2012

The Colour of Treason - Book Review

Book Review

The Colour of Treason - S.M Harrison - Kingmaker Press 2011

This is Su Harrison’s first published novel and I excitedly knew that it was going to be a great read. I have known Su for some time as an active member of Towton Battlefield Society, re-enactor and creative writer and understood that this work was a life dream come true and I grabbed my copy and launched myself into the volume with great anticipation.

Fifty pages in and I was at a crossroads, I just couldn’t get into the story and I found myself a with a decision to take, “do I put the book down and pretend that I had read it, or do I hope for the best and keep going?” I was frustrated because I couldn’t comprehend the problem I was experiencing. The writing style was fluid, fast paced
and with reminiscent touches of the Gothic and the narrative, and crafted together in small sections which flowed with the fabric of the story. The subject matter was a labyrinth of intrigue, murder, lust, treason, greed and conspiracy which kept me turning the pages. The historic detail was beyond reproach and exquisitely researched and took you back to a time gone by. Su has been a long time student of the Wars of the Roses and passionate creative writer and I should be loving this work and the fault must be all mine.

The lead character, Elizabeth Hardacre, did not fit into my niche thinking of how a young medieval woman would behave and act in this period and these circumstances. To me she was headstrong, driven by lust, held and dropped allegiances like leaves in the wind, far too independent and too strong willed and I just didn’t like her. I explained this to a friend and was bluntly told that this was a time when England had gone mad, the age of chivalry was gone and the recognised order had been thrown upside down. This was a moment when a light was turned on, a moment when you realised that in an age where Englishmen slaughtered Englishmen, royal brothers conspired against royal brother, allegiances were formed with traditional enemies, commoners became noble and king makers became traitors that a character portraying a stereotypical English rose full of politeness, blushes and fluttering heart beats was not going to work.

When I saw Elizabeth Hardacre as a women of her times, avaricious, opportunist and determined, striving to succeed in a dangerous world which was 1470 England, I began to cherish the words and found that I just couldn’t put it down. Elizabeth Hardacre is born into a family with allegiances to both the king and Warwick the Kingmaker and she is plunged into the sea of conspiracy at a high level, as the tale ebbs and flows between Middleham, London, Calais and the maelstrom of the Battle
of Empingham. The major characters of Warwick, Clarence, Hastings and King Edward are realistically brought to life and this tale, firmly grounded with historic detail, is a pleasure to read.

I bought my copy expecting a tale of historic courtly love and intrigue championed by a damsel in distress and what I got was a tale of cold blooded treason and conspiracy from a dark time in history with a feisty character you might not like, but one you had to admire and one which made the novel work.

This work is really the crowning moment of years of research and craft, and the flawed Elizabeth Hardacre doesn’t fit the usual romantic heroine stereotype, and because of this flaw she sits perfectly alongside the other flawed gems of Warwick, Hastings, Clarence, Edward and many more in those troubled times.

Mark Taylor, Chairman Towton Battlefield Society

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Shop 'til you drop!

Whoo-hoo The Colour of Treason has arrived in the Towton Battlefield Society Shop! Here. 

Getting ready for the Battle of Towton Commemorative event which will also include authors George Peter Algar, George Goodwin, Helen Cox and Alan Stringer - almost need an event of our own!

Hope to see you there!

Monday, 30 January 2012


Hope to be attending a book signing at this event too - should be a great day out!

Monday, 16 January 2012

New Book Trailer for The Colour of Treason - Wars of the Roses Novel

The Colour of Treason is a medieval tale of love, loss, betrayal and ambition. One woman is many things...

Available from: