Members of The Friends of Markenfield’s Archive & Research Group, Alan Robiette and Eleanor Hart spent a number of months researching a letter written to Sir Thomas Markenfield (V) during his exile in the Low Countries. Few personal documents remain pertaining to Thomas, which makes this one – housed in the Harleian Manuscripts at the British Library – all the more special. Bearing a message from Markenfield – “your is poor but prayeth hard for you” – the letter is not all that it first seems.
First published in 1992, and now sadly out of print, Alan Chedzoy's "accessible and meticulous biography pays (as then) long overdue tribute to this fallible and fascinating woman, whose considerable political achievements echo across the decades - the opening salvoes in the fight for women's rights".
Fountains Abbey and Markenfield Hall stand just one mile apart, as the crow flies. Fountains Abbey Archivist William Barber explores the relationship between the owners of the Markenfield estate and the monks of Fountains Abbey from the mid 12th century to November, 1539 when that house was dissolved. It is based on information to be found in the few remnants that survive from the Markenfield papers, and the more plentiful, but still fragmentary, abbey records, the earliest of which are the monastic charters recording donations of land and other resources to the house during the first two centuries of its existence.
Although the Markenfields had a beautiful domestic Chapel in the heart of the house, at an early stage they established their own chantry chapel dedicated to St Andrew on the East side of the North transept of Ripon Cathedral, where two mediaeval monuments to two notable members of the family remain: both Sir Thomas Markenfields, one (d. 1398) the great-great-grandfather of the other (d.1497). They are all that is left of what must have been, before the reformation, a very fine place of worship and family mausoleum. These are their stories.
A study of the Parish of Markenfield Hall: a most unusual parish, partly because of its unique 14th century moated hall and also
because, over the centuries, the parish has remained small, its boundaries almost identical with those of the estate. Unlike
surrounding parishes, no hamlet or village has grown up around the hall. Through the ages the name has changed from
Merchefeld to Markenfield with the main variants being Merchingfeld, Merkingfeld, Markynfeld, Merkyngefelde, Markinfeild and Markingefeild. In addition, it has been a manor, parke, mannor, hall and today it is the Parish of Markenfield Hall.
The North aisle of Ripon Cathedral is dominated by a glorious stained glass celebration of the Grantley family - the owners of Markenfield Hall. The window’s artist was Thomas Willement, who was heraldic artist to George IV and artist in stained glass to Queen Victoria. Almost uniquely within the Cathedral church, this window has no religious or ecclesiastical content. Instead it is ‘a celebration of dynastic splendour’. The Grantley window was the first new window to be erected in Ripon Minster after its elevation to Cathedral status in 1836. At that time, the Cathedral’s windows included many coats of arms, including two small representations of the Norton arms, but this was going to be a much grander affair. Explore the panels in detail with Dr Brian Crosse.
Following the Rising of the North in 1569, one son of Old Sir Richard survived – the direct ancestor of Fletcher Norton who, one hundred and fifty years later, reversed the family’s downfall. Born in 1716 at Grantley, he became arguably the most successful Barrister of the day, and went on to become Speaker of the House of Commons. Elevated to the Peerage in 1782, he chose as his title ‘Baron Grantley of Markenfield’ – the property he bought when unable to reclaim Norton Conyers, irretrievably lost after the Rising. He clearly prized this link with the past, although he never lived at Markenfield, having amassed enough money to extend the modest Jacobean Grantley Hall into a formidable Georgian mansion. Learn more about Fletcher and the 7 Lords Grantley that have followed him.