The Border Abbeys-Jedburgh (Gedeworth), Kelso, Dryburgh and Melrose, three of which were founded by David I during the twelfth century, the exception being Dryburgh, which was founded by the Constable of Scotland, Hugh de Moreville.
I will hopefully be able to feature these abbeys, or the surrounding area, in posts soon, as soon as I finish the long overdue Bannockburn stuff (I’m doing it, I swear, it just takes a while).
Keggie Carew’s father was once known as “Lawrence of
Burma” and “the Mad Irishman,” and in her new book, Dadland, we find out why:
Tom Carew was part of the Jedburghs, an elite British unit
established during World War II. Keggie had heard stories about her father’s
war years, but she was never sure how much to believe until she went to a
Jedburgh reunion with him. There, she learned that they were trained in
everything from setting mines and neutralizing booby traps to silent killing
and night parachuting.
The small borders town of Jedburgh (or, to use earlier terms, Gedwearde and Gedeworth) seems to have been home to a site of Christian worship since at least the ninth century. The foundations for the great Abbey complex which we see today, however, were laid in the early twelfth century, when King David I and John, Bishop of Glasgow, jointly founded a community of Augustinian canons in the area in 1138. The canons may have come from St Quentin Abbey in France, and the initial priory grew quickly, achieving Abbey status in under twenty years. The close proximity of the royal castle of Jedburgh, where Malcolm IV died in 1165, may have helped the new foundation to find its feet, and certainly, the site is an archaeological treasure trove. Though only the cruciform Abbey church is anything near intact, the foundations of many of the Abbey’s other buildings, including the dormitories, chapter house, and cellars, survive. A number of interesting finds have also been discovered, from combs, a writing stylus, and game boards, to the piece of shrine pictured above, possibly dating from the 700s.
In 1285, the Abbey was the scene of the wedding of Alexander III to his second wife, Yolande of Dreux, where the king is supposed to have been confronted by a ghostly vision warning the king of his imminent death, which led to the Wars of Independence. During this war, Jedburgh’s monks were threatened by both sides, and, afterwards, had to deal with the consequences of its position in the newly turbulent Borders region, being destroyed several times in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. These attacks continued into the 1500s, when some defensive features were added as protection for the town, the castle having been destroyed in the early fifteenth century. Despite its ability to survive these dangers, however, Jedburgh’s community began to decline over the Late Middle Ages and early sixteenth century, and, by the time of the Reformation only a few canons still resided there. Their promise to adhere to the rules of the reformed Church meant that, after 1560, they were allowed to remain there until their deaths. After this, parts of the Abbey were used as a parish church, and a place of burial for local families. Other sections were built over. Restoration attempts finally began in the early nineteenth century and, as well as revealing the hidden parts of the complex, a new garden has been laid out as a medieval Abbey one might have been, for visitors to sit and contemplate in solitude.
The Most Noble Alexander Douglas Hamilton, 16th Duke of Hamilton and 13th Duke of Brandon, Marquess of Douglas, Marquess of Clydesdale, Earl of Angus, Earl of Lanark, Earl of Arran and Cambridge, Lord Abernethy and Jedburgh Forest, Lord Machanshyre and Polmont and Lord Aven and Innersole, the Hereditary Bearer of the Crown of Scotland and Keeper of the Palace of Holyrood House
Joan Plantagenet was married to the King of Scots while very young. Due to the vagaries of politics between Scotland and England and conflicts between her husband and her brother, her position remained tenuous. She would be overshadowed by her mother-in-law and never had any children.
Joan was born on July 22, 1210. She was the third child of King John of England and his second wife Isabella of Angoulême. In 1212, Alexander, son of William the Lion, King of Scots was in England and was knighted by King John. Alexander insisted from that point on that King John had promised him his eldest daughter as a wife and that Northumberland would be part of her dowry. In 1214, King William died and Alexander became king. It is most doubtful John would have parted with Northumberland but Alexander persisted with negotiations for Joan’s hand. King John had other plans. His intention was to use the marriage of Joan as an enticement to mend his relations with old enemies on the continent.
King Philip II of France was looking to marry Joan to his son but John spurned this offer and in 1214, she was betrothed to Hugh, future lord of Lusignan and Count of La Marche,
as compensation for him being jilted by her mother Isabella. At the age of four Joan was sent to France to be brought up in her future spouse’s court, with the promise of Saintes, Saintonge and the Isle of Oléron as a dowry. Hugh X tried to obtain these same properties by absolute grant prior to their marriage but was unsuccessful. His failed attempt to obtain Joan’s dowry lessened his eagerness to have Joan as a bride at that point.
On the death of John of England in 1216, the queen dowager Isabella decided she should marry Hugh X herself. The government of Joan’s brother, King Henry III, was in serious negotiations for a marriage with Alexander and in May of 1220 asked for Joan to be surrendered at La Rochelle. But Hugh kept her as a hostage in an effort to gain the properties he was promised as Joan’s dowry as well as Isabella’s dower which was being withheld from her by the English. On June 15th, Alexander agreed to marry Joan’s sister Isabella if Joan was not available but upon the intervention of the Pope and assurance of Isabella’s dower, Hugh finally returned Joan to England in the fall.
On June 18, 1221, Alexander officially settled on Joan lands in Jedburgh, Hassendean, Kinghorn and Crail which were worth one thousand pounds. Kinghorn and Crail at that point belonged to Alexander’s mother, Queen Ermengarde so Joan was to receive properties in Ayrshire and Lanarkshire until the other two properties became available. The marriage ceremony was performed on June 19 at York Minster. Joan was nearly eleven and Alexander was just past twenty-two.
There is a suggestion that Joan was not enamoured with Scotland and its society. She was hampered by her youth and had little political influence. Alexander’s mother, Queen Ermengarde was a forceful personality and had more authority at court than Joan. Joan remained childless throughout her marriage (that is not to say that she may or may not have suffered miscarriages or stillbirths in the whole of her marriage as no accounts have survived) and this lack of an heir was a serious issue for Alexander. However, an annulment of the marriage might have caused war with England as both her husband and brother were not on the best of terms and were hindered by strong tensions.
Although, this worked in Joan’s favour as she seemed to have found a purpose and would mediate between the two monarchs. Alexander would
often use Joan’s personal letters to her brother as a way of communicating with Henry, while bypassing the formality of official correspondence between kings.
One such letter is a warning, possibly on behalf of Alexander’s constable, Alan of Galloway, of intelligence that Haakon IV of Norway was intending to aid Hugh de Lacy in Ireland. In the same letter she assured Henry that no one from Scotland would be going to Ireland to fight against Henry’s interests. Another letter, this time from Henry, was of a more personal nature, written in February 1235 it informed Joan of the marriage of their “beloved sister” Isabella to the holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, news at which he knew Joan “would greatly rejoice”.
In December 1235 Alexander and Joan were summoned to London, possibly for the coronation of Henry’s new queen, Eleanor of Provence. This would have been a long and arduous journey for the Scots monarchs, especially in the deepest part of winter.
Henry’s use of Joan as an intermediary suggests she did have some influence over her husband, this theory is supported by the fact that Joan would accompany Alexander to England for negotiations with her brother King Henry over disputed northern territories in September of 1236 at Newcastle and in September of 1237 at York.
After the York summit, Alexander agreed by treaty to drop his claims and returned to Scotland. Joan and her sister-in-law Eleanor of Provence agreed to go on pilgrimage to Canterbury together to visit Thomas Becket’s shrine. Given that Joan was now 27 and Eleanor already married for 2 years, it is possible both women were praying for children, and an heir.
The chronicler Matthew Paris suggests that Joan and Alexander may have become estranged at this point as Joan wished to spend more time in England at her brother’s court. In 1236, Henry did provide her with manors in Driffield, Yorkshire and Fen Stanton in Huntingdonshire where she could take refuge if needed. Joan may have known she was gravely ill when she began travelling to Canterbury.
Joan died at the age of twenty-seven at Havering in Essex on March 4, 1238 in the arms of her brothers King Henry and Richard of Cornwall.
According to Matthew Paris ‘her death was grievous, however she merited less mourning, because she refused to return [to Scotland] although often summoned back by her husband’. And even in death Joan elected to stay in England. her will requested that she be buried at the Cistercian nunnery of Tarrant in Dorset.
Henry would be generous in giving alms to the nunnery after his sister’s death suggesting he loved her dearly. He arranged for a tomb to be erected over her body and later had a marble effigy carved and placed beside the tomb. The last mention of the church where she was buried is from the Reformation and there is no trace of this tomb or the church left.
Talking of her wedding day, the Chronicle of Lanercost had described Joan as ‘a girl still of a young age, but when she was an adult of comely beauty.’ After her death, Alexander would marry Marie de Coucy who finally provided him with a male heir.