Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Away from Radcot

Radcot has two bridges (well, three if you include the small modern one over a backwater), the oldest on the river dating from the 13th C, and the later one built in 1787, spanning the artificial cut that is the current navigation channel.
Here was the scene of a minor battle, minor in terms of casualties but important in it’s future significance.

In 1387 Richard II had been on the throne for 10 years, following the death of his grandfather Edward III. His father, the Black Prince, had died in 1376 following a long illness. As a young King, Richard surrounded himself with a core band of advisors and this led to conflict at court.
A group of nobles, styled the Lords Appellant, took a legal route to address the situation and succeeded in sidelining the monarchy for a year, a commission ruling the country until November 1387. Fearing a return to the old ways of favourites, the Lords Appellant then chose a more direct course of action and raised an armed rebellion against the Crown.
Henry Bollingbroke’s forces met those of the King’s, commanded by the Earl of Oxford, and defeated them at the crossing. This was 19th December 1387.
As I mentioned, the casualty rate was low, Oxford retreating as soon as he realised he had no chance of victory. The rebellion succeeded, and, although Richard remained on the throne, he was little more than a figurehead, and his band of loyal supporters (those that had not fled the country) were executed under various charges.

However the King was able to steadily recover power, and in 1397 was strong enough to take his revenge on the Lords Appellant. The principals in the group were either put to death or dispossessed and exiled, Henry Bollingbroke being one of the latter. He was also prevented from inheriting from his father, John of Gaunt.

Gaunt died in 1399 and Bollingbroke returned to England to reclaim his birthright. He raised a force which rampaged through Cheshire, raising enough support to have himself declared King Henry IV. Richard was in Ireland at the time, and on his return was captured, imprisoned and later died (conveniently…).

Henry IV was crowned in the October of the same year. His reign lasted until he died in 1413. He was the first monarch of the House of Lancaster, and his grandson (Henry VI) was to be embroiled in another contest for the throne with the House of York, known as the Wars of the Roses.

Old Radcot BridgeSAM_1260 Old Radcot Br
And the “new” one.SAM_1262 New Radcot Br

Looking at the old bridge I guess it needed to be by-passed due to low headroom, so the cut was dug and the new bridge built. This was around the same time as Tadpole Bridge was constructed, and it’s a shame this wasn’t made the same width. It’s known to be a bit of a problem when there’s a lot of water coming down, and this morning there was a fair bit…

I couldn’t take any photos as we ducked through, too busy hanging on to the tiller trying to stay in the middle of the arch.

Rock’n’Roll came through behind, but I couldn’t hold to take a decent picture…SAM_1263 New Radcot Br

Excitement over and we had a mile or so to Grafton Lock.

We passed a chap trapping crayfish, and when I asked him if there was any trouble locally with the invasive Signal Crayfish he told us that that was he was after.

Trapping CrayfishSAM_1267 Crayfish trapping

There are an awful lot of WWII pillboxes still sitting along the northern bank, part of domestic defences in the event of an invasion.

Type 22 below Grafton Lock….SAM_1269 Nother Pillbox

…and a thicker walled Type 24 complete with sentry above.SAM_1272 Nother Pillbox

We worked our way up Grafton Lock, the lockie was busy so let us get on with it. The weir above has already been upgraded with radial gates, like the ones to be installed at Rushey. They were wide open this morning, accounting for the fairly rapid flow downstream.

Grafton WeirSAM_1271 Grafton Lock Weir

We pulled over at Kelmscott, Carol wanted to visit the manor here, former home to William Morris.

It’s a pleasant, quite stretch of river, or at least it would be quiet were it not for the interesting assortment of aircraft passing overhead. There’s an airshow at RAF Fairford at the weekend, and these planes must be early arrivals.

Boeing based E-3A Sentry SAM_1286

US Marine Corps version of the Bell-Boeing V22 OspreySAM_1276

Trusty old Lockheed C130 HerculesSAM_1305

There’s footage here of one of these huge aircraft modified for short take-off and landing (STOL) for a special mission.

The smaller aircraft were generally too quick to get decent pictures of….

Not sure whether we’re stopping here tomorrow or toddling on to Lechlade. Either way there’ll be more aircraft pictures, so be warned!

Locks 1,  miles 2¾

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