July

1215   A Royal Visit

King John had good reason to remember this year. In June he had been forced to sign Magna Carta at Runnymede but perhaps a more pleasant memory was a visit to Chipping Campden in July. The Earl of Chester, Ranulph de Blundeville, lord of the manor, would have been his host and this must have been one of the few occasions when it can be reasonably certain that Ranulph actually visited this one of his many manors. After all, he would not have missed an opportunity to entertain his liege lord!

Ranulph was one of John’s staunchest supporters at a time when John was sadly in need of such support. In 1212 he had been excommunicated; in 1215 the revolt of his barons had led to Magna Carta, but now he was negotiating with the Pope. We cannot be quite sure, but it could well have been while staying in Campden that the excommunication was withdrawn on 20th July. It is recorded that while here he witnessed six letters. Then the king continued his journey on to the royal hunting forest of Feckenham.

1860  Seeking the best in people

Reading between the lines we can get an interesting perspective on life in Victorian Campden. The vicar, Canon Kennaway, was required to complete a return to the bishop about his parish and seems to have been trying to keep to the truth whilst making things sound better for his parishioners. He wrote:

The sin of connection before marriage is not diminished, but there are scarce any known instances of cohabitation without marriage or post nuptial infidelity” and “Drunkenness is not diminished I fear, but it is certainly not increased.

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