Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Legend of Queen Margaret of Anjou at Mucklestone

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A colourful legend exists regarding the location of Queen Margaret of Anjou during the battle. The King's wife was the driving force behind the formation of the Lancastrian army which intercepted the Yorkists, and hence triggered the battle. The Queen was known to be in the area prior to the battle, at Eccleshall castle which is eight miles south east of Blore Heath. The legend states that Margaret and her son Prince Henry, actually watched the defeat of her forces from the tower of St Mary's church in Mucklestone, which lies one mile (as the crow files) to the north east of Blore Heath. The legend also proclaims that once she had seen the defeat of her troops she ordered the blacksmith, one William Skelhorn, to reverse her horses shoes to disguise her escape, before having the poor smith executed to preserve his silence.

For many years, the presence of Margaret at Mucklestone was dismissed as the battlefield could not be seen from the top of the tower. However, records have been found which indicate that the church once had a steeple which could have overlooked the battlefield, so the legend persists.

An anvil found in the smithy, believed to have been owned by Skelhorn, now lies in the church yard at Mucklestone to commemorate this legend. Also, a stained glass window in the church depicts Margaret of Anjou.
So is the legend true? Some have maintained that it would have been too risky for the Queen to venture to Mucklestone, as this would have been behind Yorkist lines. However, dense woodland separated Mucklestone from the Yorkists at Blore Heath, and Margaret was in a Lancastrian area. Her presence at Mucklestone would indeed have been risky but not impossible. It is also possible that she got lost en route to Blore Heath, and therefore emerged from the Bishops wood at Mucklestone.
It has also been noted that Margaret was very short-sighted, which would obviously prevent her from being able to see the action from as far as Mucklestone. However, Margaret is known to have previously used one of her aides to relate information to her from the vantage point of a steeple.

Pictures of Mucklestone church

"An Old Battlefield"
Hanging in the church is a document written circa 1870 describing the history of Blore Heath and the surrounding area.

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