The Staffordshire Millennium Embroideries

Created by Sylvia M Everitt MBE

Twelfth Century Panel

12th century
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18th century
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Roger Marmion receives Tamworth Castle from Henry I. From Staffordshire Millennium Embroideries 12th century panel

Because of the ever constant threat of invasion from Scotland, Wales and Ireland and the continent, William the Conqueror had, during the previous century instructed his barons to either build or reinforce castlkes in the regions he granted to them. In return for their vast estates these lay lords were responsible for law and order, collecting taxes and providing the King with an army when the need arose - for, in these medieval times a king could not afford to maintain a regular army himself.

When William was parceling up and sharing out England he kept for himself the royal manors which had belonged to previous English Kings, such as Sedgley, Kingswinford and Penkridge. He also gave himself many of the manors that had belonged to the Earl of Mercia - Kinver, Uttoxeter and Leek for instance. Much of the rest of Mercia was divided between a few loyal followers including Henry de Ferrers, Robert Despenser, Robert de Toeni and William FitzAnsculf.

These lay lords, known as barons, lords, earls and later, dukes, owned so much land that it would have been impossible for them to work it themselves and so they acted as tenants-in-chief, letting many of their manors (estates including the villages and hamlets) to their relatives and followers.

King William had granted Tamworth including its Saxon fortress to Robert Despenser and when Robert died in 1114 a female relative, either a daughter or niece, who had married Robert Marmion, succeeded to the castle. During the reign of Henry I, Marmion fell out of favour for some obscure reason and his estates were confiscated by the Crown. However, after he died, Marmion's son Roger fought on foreign soil for King Henry and as Sylvia's cameo shows, he was rewarded with the restoration of the family castle and estates. Much of the castle that you can visit today was the rebuilding work of another Robert Marmion who entertained King Henry II and Thomas a Becket there in 1157. The Marmion's enjoyed the tenure of their castle until the end of tthe thirteenth century when the male line again ran out and their properties passed through marriage to the Freville family.

The above extract is from the book written by Dianne Mannering about the history of Staffordshire woven into Sylvia Everitt's embroideries. Click here to find out more about the book or to buy a signed copy

From Sylvia's library
  Sylvia's review:
The Staffordshire Hoard by Kevin Leahy and Roger Bland
This delightful little book attempts to date The Hoard and theorises on the how and why it came to be found in a field in Burntwood Staffordshire.
The book is well illustrated in full colour with photos of various pieces of the hoard, some still have the mud of centuries clinging to them.
The skill and craftsmanship of the Anglo-Saxon goldsmiths cannot be doubted(and they call this period the Dark Ages?) and the similarities between the Hoard and the treasure of King Raedwald unearthed at Sutton Hoo in 1939 are striking.
The story of Terry Herbert's exciting find, using a metal detector, is told in the first chapter, the second gives a short outline of the life and times of Anglo-Saxon England plus some thoughts on the how and why of the Hoard.
For those of us who have been fortunate enough to have seen the Hoard this book is a treasured memento and for those of us who have not a spur to make the effort to see it.
One pound of the purchase price is donated to a fund for the conservation of the delicate jewels.

Sylvia's review:

The Year 1000 - What Life was like at the turn of the First Millennium. By Robert Lacy and Danny Danziger.
For anyone curious to know what was happening in England before the usual cut-off date of 1066 - this book is for you.
Based on the Julius Work Calendar which was written by a monk of Canterbury around 1020, it list the high days and holy days of the Roman Church. Each chapter is headed with a charming little vignette of the agricultural task to be done in that month. Drawn in the typically naive medieval style each time I look at them I feel inspired to translate them into embroidery.
The world of 1000AD is less complicated with religion and women had more equality with men than post-Norman conquest. It presents the Anglo-Saxons as down-to earth, pragmatic and hard-working, although, some of the old English law codes of "Enga-lond" would appear strange to modern eyes, for example, "if a man fondle the breasts of a free woman uninvited, he shall be fined five shillings". The rape of a free woman incurred the penalty of sixty shillings, payable direct to the victim. This was the time of "Wer-geld" when everything and everyone had their price!
And this book is priceless for giving an in depth insight into the world of our highly skilled but often under-rated and ignored Anglo-Saxon forebears.

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Mary Queen of Scots Replica Embroideries
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