Ramsbury’s Royal Connections
Records begin of Ramsburys royal connections in 909, where King Edward I “the Elder” of England reorganised the Church in Wessex by creating a new bishopric at Ramsbury.
Bertwald of Ramsbury (1005) has the favour of Canute (Danish King of England from 1016-1035). Bertwalds principal claim to fame is a prophesy, revealed to him in a vision of St Peter, that Edward the Confessor would succeed to the throne.
In 1227 King Henry III granted the Bishop of Salisbury the right to hold a weekly market in Ramsbury, to be held every Tuesday. 13 years later, the market was blocked by a Royal decree dated 4 May 1240 as it was affecting the King’s own market at Marlborough, (although Ramsbury rebels by continuing to hold their weekly market). Instead, Ramsbury was permitted by the King to hold two annual 3-day fairs, held in May and September.
Edward I, the first born child of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence. He was named Edward in honour of his father’s favourite saint, the Saxon King Edward the Confessor. It is believed King Edward I stayed in Ramsbury for 3 days in 1302.
William Darrell, under treasurer of England in the reign of Richard II, his son Sir George Darrell became keeper of the great wardrobe to Edward IV. George died early in 1474, leaving as his heir an eight year-old son Edward. Sir George Darrell had held the manors of Hockwell and Putteridge Bury in Hertfordshire, Littlecote and eight other manors in Wiltshire. Edward Darrell was knighted by Henry VII at the battle of Stoke, and in October 1489 he was described as the King’s servant and granted an annuity of £20.
In 1520 Henry VIII courted his third wife Jane Seymour at Littlecote House. Jane was a descendant of Sir George Darrell and her family lived at Wolfhall near Burbage. Henry and Jane married on 30 May 1536, soon after Anne Boleyn was beheaded. Jane’s romance with Henry is recorded in a stained-glass roundel high in one of the windows in the Great Hall at Littlecote, where their initials are wired in a lover’s knot, over which is set a little cupid’s head.
Seymours at Ramsbury Manor
The Seymours held Ramsbury Manor in 1545 but on 22 January 1552, between 8 and 9am, Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and former Lord Protector, was executed on Tower Hill. Charged by his nephew, King Edward VI of “ambition, vainglory, entering into rash wars in mine youth, negligent looking on Newhaven, enriching himself of my treasure, following his own opinion, and doing all by his own authority, etc.“. King Edward VI then granted Ramsbury Manor to William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke, who substantially rebuilt the manor house, replacing the earlier building.
Queen Elizabeth I was entertained at Littlecote House in 1601 as was King James I and his wife Anne of Denmark visited Littlecote in 1603 and again in 1613.
Following the lead of the Earls of Pemborke, Ramsbury decalred for Parliament during the Civil War. Oliver Cromwell stayed at Ramsbury Manor in 1649 and the appointed clergy in Ramsbury church were Puritan.
Littlecote, held by the Pophams, was also on the Parliamentarian side (as witnessed by the unusual Puritan chapel which still survives). However, Colonel Popham changed his allegiance to support the restoration of Charles II in 1660 and was elected a member of the Council of State and received a Royal pardon for his involvement in the war. He entertained King Charles II and Queen Katherine of Braganza to a “costlie dinner” when they visited Littlecote on 21st September 1663 whilst making a Royal Progress from London to Bath.
In 1663 the Duke of York (later King James II) visited Littlecote.
After the Restoration, the Puritan curate at Ramsbury, Henry Dent, was ejected from the benefice. He set up a dissenting movement and a school in the parish and probably sowed the seeds for the large number of non-conformists and chapels in the parish.
In 1688, William of Orange, on his way from Torbay to London in order to claim the throne of England, stayed at Littlecote at the time of his meeting with the Commissioners of King James II at The Bear in Hungerford.
On 21 June 1887 Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee is celebrated in Ramsbury with a ‘General Feast’ for 1,790 people which featured a horse race.
Within 1923-1940 Princess Beatrice, Queen Mary, Princess Marie Louise and King George VI all visit Littlecote. In 1941 The Duke of Gloucester, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth also visit Littlecote
In 1953 Peter Holdsworth pottery produced a commemorative mug to mark the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. A further mug was produced in 1977 to mark her Silver Jubilee and in 2012, the Parish Council commissioned a cup to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee.
1973 saw the Queen grant a new appointment to the bishopric of Ramsbury which was reinstated having ceased in 1075. Reverand John Neale was appointed.
The 1977 Silver Jubilee is celebrated by Ramsbury with a tea party in the High Street. The village celebrated the 2012 Diamond Jubilee again with a tea party and a game of tug-of-war across the River Kennet.
Recent Royal Guests to Ramsbury
Stefan Persson regularly hosts King Carl Gustaf, Queen Silvia and crown princess Victoria of Sweden at his Ramsbury Estates.
In December 2017 Prince Charles paid a formal visit to Ramsbury, he completed a tour of the Ramsbury Brewery owned by Stefan Persson and met local school children from Ramsbury Primary School.
Queen’s Honours from Ramsbury:
Dr Rowan Whimster MBE for services to Heritage and Conservation
Sheila Glass BEM for services to the community in Ramsbury and Axford
Susie Eliot-Cohen MBE for services to charity and to the community in Ramsbury
Ian Smith MBE For services to the community in Ramsbury
On 20 November 1992, a fire broke out in Windsor Castle, the largest inhabited castle in the world and one of the official home of Queen Elizabeth II. Ramsbury Firefighters were one of the fire crews called out to provide support.