Princes in the Tower talk by Bill Cash MP at Upton Cressett, Bank Holiday Monday

16th August 2012

Princes in the Tower talk by Bill Cash MP at Upton Cressett, Bank Holiday Monday American Historian and Bill Cash MP reveal new evidence to support county legend that the 'Prince in the Tower' - King Edward V - stayed at Upton Cressett in 1483 on his way to being murdered in the Tower of London

A leading medieval historian and expert on the reign of Richard III has travelled from America to the 15th century manor of Upton Cressett, near Bridgnorth, to investigate a county mystery relating to the reign of Richard III and the murdered Princes in the Tower.

The story of the Princes in the Tower - and their abduction by their uncle Richard III - is one of the most famous stories in English history.

In a sell out history talk at Upton Cressett Hall entitled 'The Summer of Three Kings', part of the Hall's summer long 'Festival of Shropshire History', Professor Peter Hancock presented new historical evidence that appears to substantiate the long held county legend that the royal party of young King Edward V - one of the famous 'Princes in the Tower' - stayed at Upton Cressett manor in April 1483 on route to London after leaving Ludlow Castle to be crowned king in Westminster Abbey.

According to Hancock, the royal party left Ludlow Castle on 24 April 1483, in a bid to reach London as soon as possible - as the mysterious death of Edward IV had created a power vacuum. The young royal princes were not together in Ludlow at the time, only the young king Edward whose uncle Richard - brother of King Henry IV - stepped in to act as their 'protector'. He ordered his two young nephews to be locked in the Tower as he claimed they would be 'safe' inside its walls. But they were never seen again. 

The most compelling evidence that young King Edward stayed at Upton Cressett on 25th April, 1483 is that the royal party would almost certainly have had to cross the River Seven at Bridgnorth - just a few miles from Upton Cressett, which had a moat and was a heavily fortified and hidden manor.

In the 15th century, the only bridges in the county to cross the river were either at Shrewsbury or Bridgnorth, with Bridgnorth being a much faster route to London. Other than Upton Cressett - built in the 14th century- were almost no other suitable fortified manors for the royal party to have stayed at close to Bridgnorth.

The new findings will feature in a follow up book to Professor Hancock's 'Richard III and the Murder in the Tower' which explains the background to the murder of young King Edward V, who was only 13 at the time of his death.

The young king had been anointed king at Ludlow Castle but for the coronation to be recognised he needed to be crowned in Westminster Abbey. His younger brother Richard, Duke of Shrewsbury, was not travelling with Edward at the time. He was with his mother and only met up with his brother at The Tower Of London, under his uncle's orders.

The tradition of the famous royal guest is backed up by Cressett family reports and papers. Bill Cash MP, who lived at the Hall from 1970-1998, before passing the property over to his son William, has also joined the historical detective trail. He will be discussing all the evidence surrounding the Princes in the Tower in a talk he will be giving at Upton Cressett Hall on Bank Holiday Monday at 4pm. 

The talk on the history of Upton Cressett Hall is called 'Royal Princes and Peacocks' and is being given to commemorate the anniversary of exactly 40 years when Bill Cash and his wife Biddy moved into the hall, after completing two years of renovation fro 1970-72.

Mr Cash said he was first made aware of the KIng Edward V legend at Upton Cressett when he received a letter out of the blue in the 1970s by a descendant of the Cressett family. 'The letter said that it was an important part of the Cressett history and was the first of many times that the Cressett family were called on to do royal service' said Mr Cash. 

Hugh Cressett, who lived at the Hall in the 15th century, had been close to young Edward V's father Edward IV. He was appointed Royal Commissioner along the Welsh March, the Constable of Mortimer Castle and on the Duke of Exeter's Council. He also served as a Member of Parliament and as the Sheriff of Shropshire. 

Mr Cash is a respected historian and lawyer who has been a member of parliament in the Midlands for nearly 30 years. 'The Cressetts were definitely trustworthy as being loyal to Edward IV' added Mr Cash. 

The evidence that the young King stayed at the early medieval manor - which was built between 1340 and 1380 - is 'compelling' says Bill Cash. In addition to being an MP, Mr Cash is a historian whose most recent historical biography, on the life of the 19th century liberal statesman John Bright, was published to acclaim earlier this year.

'Hugh Cressett was well known to Edward IV and the remote position of the fortified manor made it an ideal safehouse for the royal party', Mr Cash said. 'Upton Cressett is seventeen miles from Ludlow - exactly a day's march in the middle ages’.

The royal party reportedly stayed at Upton Cressett before crossing the River Severn at Bridgnorth. ‘Hence the name of the ancient town, which meant the town north of the bridge’ added Mr Cash.

Other notable historic connections between Upton Cressett Hall and royal guests have recently been highlighted by the Historic Houses Association in a special Great British Royalty Trail map of Great Britain (enclosed) they have published to commemorate the Royal Jubilee Summer and the Olympics. 

In the 17th century, Charles I visited Upton Cressett Hall as his personal steward was Sir Francis Cressett, whose portrait by Wissing hangs in the Great Hall dining room at Upton Cressett. Sir Francis also became Treasurer to Charles I. Sir Francis tried to rescue the King from Carisbrooke Castle when he was imprisoned there in 1648. It is also recorded in various 19th century history books that a troop of royal horse were garrisoned at the Hall when Prince Rupert - King Charles's nephew and commander of the royalist forces - hid at Upton Cressett while escaping from the Parliamentary forces during the Civil War.

Up until the 1960s, before the Hall fell into disrepair, a famous oak chair, known as the 'King's Chair' - belonging to Charles I from a royal visit - still survived at the Hall. But it vanished after the Hal became unoccupied before being rescued by Bill Cash and his wife Biddy in 1970. 

For more information on Bill Cash MP's talk on Bank Holiday Monday, please contact William Cash on 01746 714 308 

Upton Cressett Hall and Gardens will be open from 11am-4.30pm on Bank Holiday Monday, 27th August.  The talk is free with entry to Hall and Gardens.  Tickets £6.50, £5 seniors (over 65). Tea and home-made cakes also available all day.