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St. Helen and the Holy Cross

Alright now. Let's try again— You now know who Richard III is right? (For those of you who need it again, here's the quick review.) Good. You are now prepared to be properly impressed by the various places we went yesterday. We started the day at St. Helen and the Holy Cross Church, which has been a meeting congregation since 1100. The building is a Norman style church with 14th century additions, 16th century reforms, and 18th century box pews. Like a living creature, the building just has to keep shifting and growing to meet the current needs.

Richard III and Anne would have come here often, as he had possession of the lands and castle next door, Sheriff Hutton. He even made it one of the seats of his "Council of the North," when he was the Duke of Gloucester. It came as part of Anne's inheritance from her father, Richard Neville, the Kingmaker. Her mom continued to live in the neighborhood, and when Richard and Anne lost their only child, it was to Sheriff Hutton that they came to get his body. Possibly he is buried at St. Helen and the Holy Cross, as the legend of the church says that an effigy of him is on the north side of the church. I've put quite a bit of detail in my descriptions of the pics, so I'll let you get right to them.

Sugar Crafting

This evening Erin and I went to a sugar crafting workshop to learn some medieval sugar molding techniques. The gingerbread was really tasty, the plate sugar was just eh.

Pretty Pics:

Click on the thumbnails to see a larger version and enter a slideshow of the larger versions.

St. Helen and the Holy Cross
St. Helen and the Holy Cross
The original part of the church (the middle section) was constructed after the Norman invasion around 1100. The white limestone blocks were brought from Roman Yorkshire to build the church.
Left and right
Left and right
The church was originally white limestone, but later additions were made of local yellow sandstone.
The south addition
The south addition
In the 14th century a chantry was added by the Neville's for a specially hired priest to say prayers for the souls of their family.
From the Narthex looking East
From the Narthex looking East
These are random medievalists wandering about. The church warden showed us their plate and historical tidbits.
Ceiling of timber
Ceiling of timber
Through stones
Through stones
Over the archways, there are stones that go all the way through the thick carstal(?) walls, so that they channel the weight of the wall and the roof to the heavy corner construction. (The 42" thick walls are two layers filled with rubble.)
Edward Middleham, Prince of Wales
Edward Middleham, Prince of Wales
King Richard and Queen Anne's only son, Edward, died when he was only 10 years old. His parents traveled to Anne's mother's house at Sheriff Hutton to meet his body being brought home. (Sheriff Hutton was the castle near St. Helen and the Holy Cross.)
Edward or a Neville?
Edward or a Neville?
The church warden who took us around, told us that this is an effigy of Edward. However, the historian from the Leeds Armory said the clothing styles were from 30-40 years earlier. He thinks it's an important Neville child.
Sun in its Splendor
Sun in its Splendor
The little boy's effigy is under a set of windows with a York family emblem—the sun in it splendor. (The Yorks saw three suns in the sky the day of a decisive battle when they were fighting for the throne. So it became one of the family badges.)
King Richard's Badge
King Richard's Badge
The church flies Richard's heraldry above the effigy of the little boy. A boar (Richard's badge) with white roses (for the York family).
Sir Edward Thweng
Sir Edward Thweng
He died in the battle of Stirling (the battle in the movie, Braveheart) in 1344. The armor is carved to scale and is detailed, so students come to take measurements of it.
Box Pews
Box Pews
The box pews are from the 18th century and are obviously not all that desireable in a modern church. But as they are a historical feature (and there aren't many churches left with them) they can't take them out.
Heaters in the Box Pew
Heaters in the Box Pew
They served us coffee and as we sat in the box pews to listen to a presentation, we noticed that each box has a heater. Some of the boxes have teddybears and toys. Obviously the box pews are good for coraling toddlers during the service.
Elizabethan Reforms
Elizabethan Reforms
So one of the edicts that came out of the reformation was that all the fancy altars were supposed to be gotten rid of. This church complied, and bought this plain wood table for 2 shillings and 10 pence. (Five marble altars were removed.)
The Plate
The Plate
The useable plate is on the right, but the church warden got out the really old "good" stuff, that you see on the left. He told us sotto voice, "We don't like to use it because with that lip shaped like tulip petals wine just goes all over whoever is taking communion from it.
Cromwell's Reforms
Cromwell's Reforms
Every church had to have a lock box to put their plate in. The box had to have two locks, one key to be held by the senior warden, the other by the minister. (Kind of like requiring two signatures on a check I suppose.)
The Path to the Timber Castle Site
The Path to the Timber Castle Site
We walked past the graveyard and around it on our way to the site where the old wooden castle at Sheriff Hutton once was.
Sugar Loaf
Sugar Loaf
What sugar looked like once it was refined in the later middle ages (14thc forward).
Molded Plate Sugar
Molded Plate Sugar
Plate sugar (a kneadable bready substance of sugar) is in the plastic wrap on the right. The mold of a walnut is on the left. Below are sugar candies pressed into the molds, one left white and the other colored with cinnamon.

White Gingerbread
White Gingerbread

One makes a flat disk of gingerbread, then sandwiches it between two flat disks of white plate sugar. Then you press down hard with the mold. The sugar plate takes the impression really well, but you still get a "hit" of gingerbread when you bite into it. (This gingerbread was made of ground almonds, spices, rosewater, and sugar.)