This Day in History: 1550-12-22

On 22nd December 1550, Richard of Eastwell, possible illegitimate son of Richard III (or Duke of Gloucester at the child’s conception) and half-brother of Richard’s other known illegitimate children, John of Pontefract, and Katherine Plantagenet, was buried at St Mary’s Church, Eastwell in Kent. Parish records note: ‘Rychard Plantagenet was buryed on the 22. daye of December, anno ut supra. Ex registro de Eastwell, sub anno 1550.’ Eastwell was said to have been boarded with a schoolmaster when growing up and visited four times a year by an unknown gentleman who paid for his upkeep. He claimed that on the evening before the Battle of Bosworth he had been taken to Richard III’s tent, informed that he was the king’s son and told to watch the battle from a safe vantage point. The king then told the boy that, if he won, he would acknowledge him as his son. If he lost, he told the boy to conceal his identity permanently. Eastwell was employed by Sir Thomas Moyle, the lord of the manor at Eastwell, as a gardener and bricklayer; in the rest hour, whilst the other workers talked and threw dice, he would sit apart and read a book in Latin. He was given a house on the grounds, a building called “Plantagenet Cottage” which still stands on the site and a well in Eastwell Park still bears his name.