King’s Mistress Buried in Upminster
How many people know, I wonder, that the mistress of Edward III, the hero of the battle of Crecy in 1346, when the Black Prince won his spurs and also of the battle of Poitiers in 1355, is buried in St Laurence Church Upminster?
Local Historian, Richard Moorey, provides an insight into the life and death of Alice Perrers, Mistress to King Edward III, who was buried in St Laurence Church.
After Edward’s Queen, Philippa of Hainault died of the black death in 1369, the King in his widowhood and approaching his dotage, took up with Alice Perrers, a former lady-in-waiting to Queen Philippa, and a political intriguer.
She earned the enmity of many of the courtiers by openly wearing the dead Queen’s gowns and jewels.
The Black Prince, heir to the throne died in 1376, leaving a son who was less than 10 years old to be heir apparent. He would eventually become crowned, Richard II.
Edward III worn out with constant wars and intrigue and stricken by the loss of his son, retired to his palace at Sheen Lodge, with Alice.
It was said that he had fallen into senility and he lived for tournaments, hunting and grandiose plans for a future that could never be. It was said that as he approached death, Alice took the rings from his fingers, as much moveable property as she could and quickly left. He died on 21st June 1377.
During her time with the King she persuaded him to give her riches and title to many manors, one of which was Gaynes Manor at Upminster and it was there that she died in 1400. She had four children by him
Sir John de Southeray
Nicholas Lytlington – became Abbot of Westminster
She was a strong woman and a fighter for her rights as she saw them as can be seen from her will.
“Alice, Widow of William Windsore Knight at Upmynster died on the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, August 15th 1400.
My body to be buried in the Parish Church of Upmynster on the north side before the altar of Our Lady the Virgin: to the said church one of my best oxen for a mortuary” (i.e. a gift to the church at the death of the donor); “for wax to burn about my body 40 shillings; for ornaments for the said church ten marks; for repairing the highways near the town 40 shillings. I will that ten marks (£6.13s. 4d) be distributed to the poor on the day of my sepulture: to the chaplain six marks; to John Pelham sacrist of that church three shillings and four pence; to Joane my younger daughter my manor of Gaynes in Upmynster; to Jane and Joane my daughters all my other manors and advowsons which John Wyndsore (or others by his consent) usurped, the which I desire my heirs and executors to recover and see them parted between my daughters for that I say on the pain of my soul, he hath no right to be there, nor ever had; and my manor of Compton Murddo.
To the poor of Upmynstre(sic) 20 shillings. And I appoint Joane my youngest daughter and John Kent, mercer of London my executors and Sir John Cusson Knight and Robert de Litton esq’ overseers of this my will”.
Her executors, did as she ordered them and petitioned the new King Richard II. The manors taken by her brother-in-law were not returned but money was paid in lieu.
There is no memorial in St Laurence Church,to Alice Perrers and the question is what has happened to the remains of this feisty lady of the 14th century?
In 1614, over two hundred years after her death, William Latham the Younger died and his widow, Alice, nee d’Ewes (whose family have a brass in the church) married Hamlett Clarke, a London merchant.
The then heir to Gaynes Manor was William’s son Ralph Latham, and he married Hamlett Clarke’s daughter Mary.
In 1630, Hamlett Clarke, in memory of the family of his wife, Alice Latham and of his son-in-law, Ralph Latham, completely rebuilt the medieval chapel that was built by Sir John Engayne between 1271 and 1297.
The old monuments and remains of the Engaynes were destroyed and it is likely that so were the remains of Alice Perrers during the rebuilding.