The White Princess

This weekend sees the start of a new historical drama series, The White Princess, which has a particular relevance for lovers of Lydiard Park.

The White Queen, based on The Cousins’ War series of novels by Philippa Gregory set in the time of the War of the Roses, was televised in 2013 on BBC 1. This second series picks up from where the White Queen finished and features again the Lady Margaret Beaufort.

In her new role as the King’s Mother, Margaret Beaufort is central to the success of the new Tudor dynasty, powerful and influential. And she also shares a kinship with the St John family who owned Lydiard Park for 500 years.

Margaret Beaufort’s mother, Margaret Beauchamp was born in c1409, the daughter of Sir John Beauchamp and his second wife Edith Stourton. Her father died when she was very young and following the death of her brother John in 1420/1, eleven-year-old Margaret became the sole heir to her father’s considerable estates, which included property at Bletsoe in Bedfordshire and the Wiltshire estate at Lydiard Park.

Margaret Beauchamp married Sir Oliver St John in c1425 and the couple had seven children, two sons, John and Oliver, and five daughters, Edith, Elizabeth, Mary, Margaret and Agnes.

In 1445 and 1458 conveyances were made of Beauchamp held manors at Lydiard and Bletsoe and secured for Margaret’s two St John sons. Her elder son Sir John St John headed the senior branch of the family at Bletsoe while second son Oliver inherited the manor of Lydiard in Wiltshire.

Lady Margaret Beaufort was the daughter of Margaret Beauchamp and her second husband John Beaufort 1st Duke of Somerset. Margaret Beaufort enjoyed a close relationship with her St John half siblings, finding minor positions for them at the court of Henry VII and arranging advantageous marriages for her kinsfolk.

Margaret Beaufort was known to be scholarly, devout and ambitious for her son. She was also shrewd, calculating and some would say murderous. There is a school of thought that puts her in the frame for the murder of the two Princes in the Tower. The two sons of Edward IV stood in the way of their Uncle Richard’s accession to the throne, and also to Margaret’s plans for her own son Henry Tudor. The jury is still out on that one, but Margaret did have a large part to play in arranging the marriage of her son Henry to Elizabeth of York, the daughter of Edward IV.

See how it all pans out in The White Princess, which begins tonight (Saturday) at 9 p.m. on the Drama Channel available on Freeview 20, Sky and Virgin and catch up on UK TV Play.

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