The Short, Unhappy Life of England’s King Edward VI

England’s King Edward VI began life as the hope of an entire nation; the male heir that Henry VIII at long last produced after a series of unfortunate marriages ending in a couple of beheadings and a divorce that completely changed the religious map of England. Unfortunately for Edward especially, but really almost all concerned, his birth occurred too late in his father’s life to ensure the smooth transition that such a celebrated event was intended to guarantee. A mere child when he was handed the crown of England, Edward VI was never more than a figurehead; a puppet monarch whose strings were pulled by a variety of ambitious overseers. But such was the instability of transition in a monarchy that even the powerful Duke of Somerset was not free to rule young Edward as he might have hoped.

Henry VIII died when Edward was just nine years old. Henry’s will requested that sixteen executors be named as members of a Council of Regency until his son turned 18. Almost as if knowing he never would, the Council voted to lower Edward’s age of assumptive majority to 16 in a vote taken in 1552. In addition to the sixteen executors, Henry also willed the addition of twelve assistants who would assume the mantle of executor should any of the original sixteen not prove fit for their duties. The council quickly moved to elect Edward’s uncle, Edward Seymour, as Lord Protector of the Realm and Governor of the King’s Person until Edward achieved maturity. Seymour was then given the title Duke of Somerset and appointed to the positions of Lord High Treasurer and Earl Marshal.

Another unfortunate thing for young Edward was that he assumed the throne during one of the most politically contentious periods in British history to that point. His father’s divorce had resulted in a break with the Catholic Church, setting up centuries of deep division within the country between reformists and those loyal to Rome. The Duke of Somerset set for himself the goal of reaching a state of unification between Protestant England and Catholic Scotland. Of course, Somerset was hardly alone in figuring that control of the boy king meant control of the direction of Britain. As a result, Edward’s short reign was marked by political infighting and manipulations intent on ensuring that England became a rigidly Protestant country, which meant battling both Catholic interests from without. Somerset rose and fell, the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer was deeply influential on Edward, and the Earl of Warwick eventually rose to prominence to take on the same position in Edward’s life as Somerset. The wives and offspring of Henry VII, as well as political figures of the court constantly conspired against each other to ensure that their wishes would result in Edward’s issuance of edicts.

The political maneuvering only became more intense once it became obvious that Edward’s reign would not see him reach maturity as a result of contracting tuberculosis. The hard-line Protestants conspired not only against the Catholic Mary in Scotland, but against the moderate Protestant Elizabeth, hoping to place the hard-line Protestant Lady Jane Grey in line for succession upon his death. Though successful, Lady Jane’s reign was infamously short, paving the way for the glorious reign of Edward’s sister Elizabeth.

Richard III, King of England and Murderer

The “Princes in the Tower”; Edward V and Richard, the Duke of York; were murdered by their uncle Richard III in 1483. Richard, then the Duke of Gloucester, coveted the crown and contrived an elaborate scheme to disinherit his nephews and obtain the throne. Once he had set the crown upon his head the boys were a threat to him and his rule as long as they were alive. He had no choice but to sanction their murders.
Richard had the two boys confined in the Tower of London, supposedly for their protection. In his capacity as Lord Protector, the effective ruler of the kingdom, he kept delaying the coronation of his nephew, Edward V, until finally putting it off indefinitely. Then, lastly, he had the English Parliament pass a law declaring his nephews bastards and unable to inherit the throne so he could become King of England in 1483. After the late summer of 1483, the boys were seen less and less until they finally disappeared from the public view all together. It was rumored in many quarters that they had been murdered by their uncle.

Though Edward V and his brother had been declared bastards, this was no absolute guarantee that they would not inherit the throne one day. William the Conqueror had been an illegitimate child and eventually gained the throne of England on the battlefield from Harold II in 1066. Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, the Lancastrian claimant to the throne, based his claim on illegitimate decent from John of Gaunt and was currently aspiring to due the same against Richard III. Thus, the king was faced with both internal and external threats to his rule. He would have to eliminate both of them for him to stabilize his reign over England.

Sir James Tyrrell admitted in 1501, under torture, while being interrogated on charges of rebellion, that he killed the Princes on Richard III’s orders. He described how he and two other men murdered the Princes. This confession by one of Richard’s trusted aids provides the most damning evidence against Richard III for the murder. It links motive to action.

All evidence points to Richard III in the disappearance and murder of his nephews. It is undisputed that he had them imprisoned and disinherited. His own long time servant admitted to killing the Princes on his orders. Then, lastly, several rumors existed that he had murdered Edward V and Richard, the Duke of York, and he never took any opportunity to disprove them and better legitimize his rule.

First Ever Cast-iron Bridge in Shropshire England

Historical Article About the History of the First Ever Cast-iron Bridge in Shropshire England

The Ironbridge gorge in Shropshire England is famous for housing the location of the first iron bridge ever built. According to many experts the iron bridge in Shropshire is where the industrial revolution has its roots. This first iron bridge took four years to build construction lasted from 1777 to 1781 the bridge crosses the famous Severn River. The area of the Ironbridge gorge gained much notability early on for the variety of the wealthy materials near the Severn River. Before the construction of the bridge had been completed if someone who wanted to cross the Severn River they could do so only by taking a ferry. An important aspect that gave rise to great incentive to build the bridge was the developing industries that were beginning to emerge. Many of the new industries were going to soon need a better form of transportation.

According to the Ironbridge Gorge museum website, Thomas Farnolls Pritchard was the architect who was influential in the designs, and earliest plans of the bridge. Also according to the Ironbridge website Pritchard first approached John Wilkinson about his designs for the development of the bridge. Wilkinson was then quick to seek out Abraham Darby III who added the most financial support to the project. Darby also saw the bridge’s construction after the untimely death of Thomas Pritchard through to the end. In 1977 the first construction work began on the new bridge, the iron work began two years later in 1979 it holds great significance for being the first arch bridge to contain cast-iron. The bridge finished its construction in the summer of 1979, and enjoyed its opening a couple of years later in 1981.

The immediate effects of the newly constructed cast-iron bridge were plentiful. The construction allowed for a more efficient means of transportation than the old ferry system that had previously existed. This new means of transportation allowed more access to the precious material that provides the majority of incentive for the design in the beginning. The building of the bridge also had a great deal to do with growing the town of Ironbridge, also helping it to become a great 18th century tourist attraction. The result of using cast-iron made the use of cheaper iron for future architectural designs more main stream. Iron Bridge leaves behind an incredible legacy of historical importance, the most significant of which was spurring on the Industrial Revolution. The iron bridge’s legacy is everlasting although the actual bridge itself has not shown the same resolve. Shortly after its construction the bridge was already showing signs of wear and tear in the form of cracks. Traffic over the bridge is no longer allowed by cars, but tolls for pedestrian traffic are still open to the public. Even though the iron bridge does not have the same practical purposes that it used to, it still remains a staple in English history, and a major tourist attraction. The iron bridge located at Ironbridge Shropshire England is ranked as one of England’s great 21 icons.

Revd Frances Forshaw-Our Priest

The Revd Frances Forshaw has been Mission Priest at Gordon Chapel since December 2010.  Frances originally hails from Perth but spent her schooldays in Glasgow.  She read Nursing at Edinburgh University and subsequently working in various nursing and midwifery posts before gaining a qualification in Neonatal Intensive Care. 

After marrying James, they moved to Derby and then to Cumbria where their two children, Thomas and Marianne, were born.  After moving to Perth, she embarked on a Masters degree in Nursing at Glasgow University.  Frances and James moved to Moray for the first time in 1990 and spent eleven years here before returning to Perthshire in 2001.  Shortly afterwards, Frances started a part-time degree in Theology at Aberdeen University as well as undertaking part-time lecturing at both Dundee and Perth Colleges. 

Frances was ordained in 2003 and served at St John’s Perth, Holy Trinity Pitlochry with Kilmaveonaig Blair Atholl and finally at St Ninian’s Cathedral in Perth.  She completed her theology degree in 2009.  Following James’s early retirement from teaching, they returned to Moray in 2010 and Frances took up her role as Mission Priest at Gordon Chapel.  She has said that she felt a strong calling to come back to Moray and she most definitely wanted to come and serve in Fochabers and Gordon Chapel is delighted to have to her as our priest.

Weddings at Gordon Chapel

Gordon Chapel, with our beautiful stained-glass windows and idyllic Speyside setting, is the perfect choice for a church wedding. 

The church can accommodate up to around 120 people at a service and marriages are conducted according to the rites of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

If you are considering a religious ceremony in the Moray or Speyside area and are interesting in learning more about a wedding at Gordon Chapel please feel free to contact us using the form opposite.