Friday, 23 January 2015

HLD#1: Kings Langley Priory

Remains of Kings Langley Priory

     The first destination on my planned research trip across Hertfordshire, for my latest novel Heretic, took me to the neighbouring village of Kings Langley and it brought about a pleasant surprise.
     On what was a brilliantly sunny morning but still bitterly cold, I braved the short walk across muddy farmland that took me up to the top of Langley Hill. Which is supposedly the site of the once great, Royal Palace of Langley. Built by Queen Elinor wife of Edward I, the self proclaimed 'Hammer of the Scots'. It was built on top, or around, what was an existing manor house that had been built many years before, probably dating back to Roman times.
     As far as the Palace was concerned there was not much to see as none of the building remains and the land where it stood now belongs to the Rudolf Steiner School. Though on my visit, I was able to see several small artifacts, including a number of coins inside the entrance hall of the School. It is believed the palace had a triple court layout and excavations say, a large wine cellar. Edward III moved his court there in 1349 when the black death was rife in London and his son Edmund of Langley was born there and his body was later entombed in the Langley chapel at the church of All Saints situated at the bottom of the Hill.
     I had heard before arriving that a remaining part of the old priory remained. Kings Langley Priory was built adjacent to the palace in the gardens of the manor. The land was given to the friars by Edward II and it was in the priory's graveyard that Edward buried his lover Piers Gaveston after he was executed by the kings barons.
     All I could see from the road of the old building was a structure that looked very tudor in appearance and could have been no older than the 1500s. It was still an old building of course, but not as old as the medieval priory that had been built at least 200 years before.
     Having entered the allotments that grace the outskirts of the school, I brushed through the shrubbery to enter a small, somewhat secret garden that led to an amazing site. A stone building with beautiful arched windows. This building is the oldest part of the remains and dates back to the early days of the priory. It probably would have been no more than a guesthouse at the time, but the aura it gave off was satisfying nonetheless.

Church of All Saints, Kings Langley.