Monday, 20 July 2009


Having a writer's inquisitive mind, I couldn't help but do some digging about on the Web to see if I could find out more on the reservoirs we visited yesterday. The walk inspired a few plot ideas I wanted to scribble up before I forgot them.

There was lots of info on the building/architecture of the reservoirs etc but what I found fascinating was that the middle car park where we left our car, was on the former site of two great buildings, one of which was Linacre Hall and the other, I believe, was Linacre House. The latter was a three-storey mansion belonging to Dr Thomas Linacre (1460-1524), who was founder and first president of the Royal College of Surgeons and...wait for it...physician to both Henry VIII and the young Mary Queen of Scots.

I found a photo and more on him
here from when he was portrayed by Clive Geraghty on the TV series The Tudors. I'd have paid more attention had I known about the association.

Known for his intellectual fastidiousness and minute accuracy, he sounds a good sort, doesn't he? And he managed to escape having his head separated from his shoulders by Henry so he must've had a decent bedside manner too!

He was born in Brampton, Chesterfield, home of the Parish Church of St. Mary & All Saints' twisted church spire. There's evidence to support this in the Doomsday book, yet many websites quote Linacre as being born in Canterbury. From what I can gather, this is wrong. He was educated at Canterbury Cathedral under the direction of William Tilly of Selling (or William Selling of Tilly, depending on which website you fall on though I'm sure it must be the former)so maybe this is where the mix up about his birthplace comes?

From Canterbury, Linacre went on to Oxford in around 1480 to study Greek, and from there he accompanied Tilly to Italy where he took his degree of doctor of medicine. He was later called to court to tutor Arthur, Prince of Wales. Which is how, when Henry succeeded the throne in 1509, Linacre came to be Henry's surgeon. A case of better the devil you know as far as Henry was concerned, I shouldn't wonder.

I'm glad I don't write historical fiction because just researching for fun threw up so many conflicting facts. It took a while to pull out any bits that could be confirmed. It seems that incorrect text and dates get copied between websites which makes it difficult. On that note, please, don't take my ramblings as correct either...though I honestly do believe Linacre was born in Brampton Chesterfield. There's too much evidence to back it up for it to be incorrect.

If there're any historians out there reading this who think I'm way off beam, I'm sure you'll put me right!

Photo of St Mary's taken from Peak District Online website in an article by Tom Bates.


Happy Writer said...

Hi Sue, This is all really interesting. Goes to show how important it is though, to double check what you think are 'facts' found on the internet.

Sue Houghton said...

Some would argue this is where the library scores over the Web. Thing is, the Web is far quicker to access for most.