Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An evening with the history of Stafford

Last night we attended a buffet reception for the Stafford Coastal Cruising club who were the guests of the deputy mayor in the mayor's parlour, Stafford Civic Centre. We were guests of Katy's sister and brother in law who are yacht owners and club members.

The mayor's sergeant who is his mace bearer and keeper of the regalia showed us round and gave a lecture on the history of Stafford right back to a 8th century hermit. In the year 913 Stafford was fortified by Ethelfleda, Lady of Mercia and daughter of Alfred the Great, becoming the new capital of Mercia . Queen Ethelfleda ruled Mercia from Stafford for five years as Queen of Mercia, after the death of her father and husband. At around this time the county of Staffordshire was formed. King Alfred's son Edward, with the crucial aid of Ethelfleda, finally conquered and Christianised the Vikings who had settled in the east of England.

In 1206, King John granted a Royal Charter which created the Borough of Stafford. The actual charter was on display, a vellum document older than Magna Carta. Two silver maces, originally to protect the civic officers were over 800 years old and had been handled by both our queens, Elizabeth, A magnificent golden mace worth £500,00 was Jacobean dating from the first mayor of the borough. It so impressed James I that he said it should never be laid down and it always stands upright, one of only two royal maces to survive the Commonwealth.

It was though a Commonwealth relic which lead me to regret not having my camera. The metal breastplate Bradshaw, judge at the trial of Charles I is on display. I knew he had an armoured hat but did not know about this armour worn under the judicial robes.

After declaring Charles I guilty as a “Tyrant, Traitor, Murderer, and a public enemy,” Bradshaw did not allow the king any final words. Under English law, a condemned prisoner was no longer alive and therefore did not have the right to speak, and Bradshaw followed this tradition strictly. He was buried with great honours at Westminster Abbey.] On his deathbed Bradshaw said that if called upon to try the King again he would be "the first man in England to do it".

Charles II was restored to his throne in 1660. On 30 January 1661 – the twelfth anniversary of the regicide – the bodies of Bradshaw, Cromwell and Henry Ireton were exhumed and displayed in chains all day on the gallows at Tyburn. At sunset the bodies were beheaded. The bodies were thrown into a common pit and the heads were displayed on pikes on top of Westminster Hall.

Bradshaw said disobedience to tyrants is obedience to God.

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