“Anne seems to have been a strong woman, and she certainly had a close relationship with Edward IV. Her early marital life was likely quite turbulent, but she seemed to have weathered the storm well.” ~Kristie Dean
Medievalists.net is excited to host the On the Trail of the Yorks book tour today. Author Krisitie Dean brings much needed attention to other members of the House of York who have overshadowed by the fame of the most famous Yorkist, Richard III (1452-1485). She explores their stories through the places they visited and lived. For this portion of her book tour, Kristie Dean discusses Anne, Duchess of Exeter (1439-1476) and her home, Dartington Hall, Devon.
Anne, Duchess of Exeter
Anne was the elder sister of Edward IV, George and Richard III. She was probably born at Fotheringhay in 1439. In 1446, she married Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter. The couple had one child, also named Anne. It must have been difficult for the duchess to be married to Exeter once he chose to align himself with the Lancastrians against her father and brothers.
After Exeter’s attainder in 1461, Anne received grants of lands from her brother, including much of the Exeter inheritance. She also retained custody of her daughter, the heiress to the Exeter fortune. She betrothed her daughter first to George Neville, the son of John Neville, but the match was later replaced by one with the son of the queen, Thomas Grey.
Anne later divorced Exeter and married Thomas St Leger. Her first daughter, Anne, had died, and when she and St Leger had a daughter they also named her Anne. Soon after her daughter’s birth, Anne died and was buried at St George’s Chapel at Windsor.
Dartington Hall, Devon
Constructed on a low rise overlooking the River Dart, there has been a residence here since at least the twelfth century. The lands passed to the Crown, and Richard II granted the area to his half-brother, John de Holland, who is credited with much of the building of the immense structure. He envisioned a set of buildings laid out in a large double quadrangle. Later, the home came to Henry Holland, and was eventually granted to Anne by Edward IV on account of ‘the true and deep affection which the aforesaid Anne, our sister, has and bears towards us’.
The earliest part of the structure was the old hall, located at the north-east corner of the quadrangle, which dates from the early fourteenth century. The west side of the court contained the buildings built by Holland, including a new hall and kitchen. The hall was to lie between the two quadrangles. According to Anthony Emery, the courtyard was immense at 265 feet by 164 feet and was never spanned by any range. Dartington Hall was described by a visitor in the nineteenth century:
Dartington Hall is one of the most picturesque and charming seats in Devon; noble ruins, a fine old mansion, ancient outbuildings, surrounded by quaintly-terraced and beautifully-kept gardens, and lying in the midst of a richly-wooded, undulating park, almost within sound of the murmur of the rushing Dart.
Following Anne’s death, the home passed through a series of hands until it came to rest with the Champernowne family. It remained with this family until the twentieth century. By the time the Elmhirst family took ownership in 1925, it had fallen into a severe state of ruin. They restored the home, including the Great Hall with its massive fireplace and ornate hammer-beam roof.
Visiting Dartington Hall Today
Not only can you visit the hall, you can also spend the night in one of its chambers. For those who want to spend a day here, the visitor centre offers a map of the grounds. The estate contains a cinema and gardens, along with a chance to visit some of the medieval sections. Once you have explored the grounds, a wide range of dining choices is available. Parking is on-site.
For more information, please visit: dartington.org
About the Author
Kristie Dean has been fascinated by the medieval era since she was a child. She combines her love of history with her love of travel and spends quite a bit of her summer in the British Isles. When not writing, traveling or teaching, she enjoys spending time with her husband, three dogs and two cats.
For more information about the author, please visit: kristiedean.com
Follow Kristie Dean on Twitter: @kristiedavisdea
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