September 2003

RogerAs a boy after the Second World War (1939-1945), I remember hearing on the wireless (radio) every Friday evening, a bandleader introduce his programme with the words, “this is Henry Hall speaking”. For those who at some future time may peruse this site, and as a gentle reminder to those who may be looking at it even now, may I begin by saying, “this is Roger Smith speaking” (1943-and a while yet, I pray!) 

If blame there is to be, then you must lay it at the feet of my parents, for it is they who instilled in me the respect I have for the institution of the monarchy and the pride I have in being English.

How fortunate then, that in celebration of my sixtieth birthday this adventure coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ii and what a bonus to discover, that the hotel at which I stayed in Malmesbury (next to the Abbey in which King Athelstan was buried), was displaying a photograph of Her Majesty The Queen taken when she visited the hotel just eighteen months before. As they say … “if it is good enough for The Queen …“. There is of course only one possible dedication for this:

To my parents – Iris and Albert

(And in memory of Roger who died in March 2016: sadly missed and remembered with warmest affection. Through this site we continue to enjoy his legacy and hear again his exuberant love of history!)

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In pursuit of England’s Kings and Queens it was inevitable that occasionally other members of their families would be encountered close by and where that has occurred (The Black Prince at Canterbury and The Queen of Scots in Westminster), they have been included here. With the exception of some of Henry viii’s wives and Lady Jane Grey (who were en-route), there has been no general attempt to seek the tombs of consorts or relatives.

However, tombs (or sites of) some notable non-royal personages are included because their closeness to the Monarch influenced the shape of this Island’s progress more than some royal relatives. But I have had to be a little flexible on this because for example, although Becket was buried in Canterbury Cathedral under the same roof as Henry iv, his remains no longer exist. On the other hand, Cardinal Wolsey resides in a lonely tomb in the ruins of Leicester Abbey, while Oliver Cromwell’s remains were exhumed from their place in Westminster Abbey soon after the Restoration of 1660 and taken to Tyburn to be posthumously ‘executed’ for the crime of Regicide. Winston Churchill’s grave by contrast, although remote from that of any royal personage, is among those of his family (the Marlborough’s) in Blaydon churchyard near to Blenheim Palace.

One might therefore ask whether Wellington or Nelson should have been included, as both were buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral with as much ‘royal’ splendour and dignity as a monarch. Well, it was tempting, but as always, who does one leave out?

Instead I have included some places of significance such as the battlefields of Hastings (King Harold killed 1066); the ‘Rufus Stone’ (King William killed 1100); Runnymede (Magna Carta 1215); battle site of Bosworth Field (King Richard iii killed 1485); Naseby battle site (the decisive battle in the Civil War 1645). Again, there are many others but which does one select?

The last resting place of some of the pre ‘Heptarchy’ (the seven kingdoms) Monarchs is unknown. Tradition has it that the tomb of the legendary ‘King’ Arthur is in Glastonbury. As for the likes of Stuf, Wihtgar, Ida, Oswin, Offa, Raedwald (Sutton Hoo burial site?) and many more, it’s a fruitless quest although the bones of several others together with a handful of pre-conquest kings, such as Cnut, are contained in Mortuary Chests in Winchester Cathedral. It’s also the case that King Alfred’s grave in Winchester continues to be the topic of much learned speculation.

In the case of a few, their sites have long since been built on i.e. Etheldred ii (the Unready) 978-1016 at ‘Old’ St. Paul’s Cathedral London, the graveyard of which is now a commercial thoroughfare. A similar situation applies to Harold Harefoot 1035-1040, buried at Old St Clement Danes in the Strand. Another is Queen Boadicea (far outside the scope of this project [AD61] but here to complete the example) is traditionally said to be buried under platform 10 of King’s Cross Station – the site of the last battle of the Iceni.

And what of the royal houses and Monarchies of Ireland, Wales and Scotland?

Because the Queen’s antecedents include the kinship of those Countries and the royal houses of Europe, the lineage of the Crown of Great Britain is extensive. Even though some Scottish Kings are laid to rest on the island of Iona and other monarchs are traceable too, they are of necessity excluded as the primary purpose is to be near the Kings and Queens of England.

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Kings and Queens of England

The peoples of these Islands can be traced far into the mists of time, progressing through stone, bronze and iron age, to produce, eventually, client kingdoms.  The Roman incursion of 55 BC gradually, but thoroughly subjugated over twenty tribes of Briton bearing such names as ‘Atrebates’, ‘Brigantes’, ‘Caledonii’, ‘Catuvellauni’, ‘Dumnonii’, ‘Iceni’ and ‘Trinovantes’ into client-kingdoms so that by the end of the ‘occupation’ (425 AD) there was but a mere handful.

With their common enemy gone, tribal chieftains gradually turned their attention to their neighbours, fighting each other in order to expand their territory and power. While concentrating on this introverted pre-occupation, the Country became vulnerable to new invasions by Angles, Saxons and Jutes (marauders and adventurers from north west Europe), so that by about 600 AD, the Country was under the administrative rule of seven major ‘kingdoms’ – Wessex, Sussex, Kent, Essex, East Anglia, Mercia and Northumbria – the ‘Heptarchy’. The word ‘king’ is believed to come from the Saxon word ‘cyning’ meaning ‘kin’ and among the first to be considered as such was Cerdic 519-524 – although Egbert of Wessex 802-839 is traditionally called the First King of (all) England.

In turn, regular raids by Vikings led to some patchy occupation until Alfred dispersed them in 878. But more forceful raiding resumed a hundred years later resulting in the reign of a line of Danish Kings, until 1042, when Edward the Confessor was crowned. At the end of his twenty-four year reign, these Islands were invaded for the last time in 1066 by William of Normandy.

English Monarchy, as we know it, is comparatively young (barely 1,500 years old), and began to evolve from a very shadowy period of history. However, what is known is that the lineage of the House of Wessex gradually gave way to that of the Saxon Kings and a few Danish ones prior to the Conquest, giving us the ten Dynasties of:

Saxons                              Tudors

Normans                          Stuarts

Plantagenet                     Hanoverians

House of Lancaster        Saxe Coburg

House of York                 Windsors

There is often a forceful urge to meet the ‘famous’ or at least see them if only at an event or on television. In the case of Kings and Queens, Princes and Princesses, those still alive are so few in number that any quest to be near more of them inevitably takes one to the tombs of their ancestors. This ‘pilgrimage’ is simply that – to be near, momentarily, those who were crowned and anointed King or Queen, to be near those who played such a large part in charting the direction of England, for without them, many notable achievements at the hands of their subjects may not have been possible at the time, and this Country and the United Kingdom might not have become the great nation it did.

I believe that one ought not judge them for all their harshness at this distance in time. Often, the ‘cruel’ and ‘barbaric’ punishment accredited to them was nothing more than the order of their day and indeed accepted as such by their own society. Many a seemingly pitiful act was born out of dedication to the nation. The fate of some of Henry viii’s wives was in origin the result of his (and the Country’s) desperation for a male heir. The beheading of The Queen of Scots was an inevitable outcome in defending the realm from the powers of the Catholic Church with which Mary had been scheming for Elizabeth’s overthrow.

And so my adventure begins.

 MC Download Queen large     hmqe02_006_final_bs_0000000001962280_new1

Above left: Portrait of The Queen, taken in 2002. © John Swannell/Camera Press.              Above right: Official portrait of The Queen taken in the Centre Room in Buckingham Palace in December 2011 © Royal Household/John Swannell

(Both images downloaded with permission from

The Imperial State Crown and St Edward’s Crown can be viewed through these links.

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Line of Cerdic of Wessex

Line of Cerdic of Wessex                                      Buried                                                       Cerdic                                        519-534                            ?                                                             Cynric                                        534-560                           ?                                                             Ceawlin                                      560-592                          ?                                                             Ceola                                          592-597                           ?                                                             Ceolwulf                                    597-611                            ?                                                             Cynegil                                       611-642                           Winchester                                     Cenwealh                                   642-672                          Winchester                                         Aescwine                                    673-676                          ?                                                         Centwine                                    676-686                          ?                                                       Ceadwalla                                  686-688                          ?                                                                 Ine                                               688-726                          ?                                                   Aethelheard                               726-740                          ?                                                           Cuthred                                      740-756                           ?                                                             Sigeberht                                   756-757                            ?                                                       Cynewulf                                    757-786                           ?                                                             Brihtric                                       786-802                          ?                                                             Egbert                                         802-839                         Winchester                               Aethelwulf                                  839-858                         Winchester                                   Aethelbald                                 858-860                          Sherborne                                       Ethelbert                                    860-866                          Sherborne                                             Ethelred                                     866-871                           Wimborne                                         Alfred the Great                        871-899                          Winchester


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Saxons and Danes

Saxons and Danes                                                       Buried                                                 Edward the Elder                          899-924                     Winchester                                                   Athelstan                                        924-939                      Malmesbury                                               Edmund i                                        939-946                     Glastonbury                                               Eadred                                             946-955                     Winchester                                                 Eadwig (Edwy)                              955-959                      Winchester                                                 Edgar                                               959-975                      Glastonbury                                               Edward the Martyr                       975-978                      Shaftesbury                                             Ethelred ii  the Unready              978-1013                                                                                              (deposed) and                             1014-1016                  Old St. Paul’s                                              Sweyn                                             1013-1014                  ?                                                                     Edmund ii Ironside                      Apr-Nov 1016           Glastonbury                                       Canute the Great                           1017-1035                  Winchester                                                   Harold Harefoot (i)                      1035-1040                  St. Clement Dane                                     Hardicanute (Harthac’te)           1040-1042                  Winchester                                               Edward the Confessor                 1042-1066                  Westminster                                           Harold ii                                         Jan-Oct 1066             Waltham Abbey                                       Edgar the Atheling                       Oct-Dec 1066             ?

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House of Normandy

House of Normandy                                                                Buried                                   William the Conqueror                           1066-1087                      Caen                                     William ii Rufus                                       1087-1100                       Winchester                             Henry i Beauclerc                                    1100-1135                        Reading                                   Stephen                                                      1135-1154                        Faversham

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House of Plantagenet

House of Plantagenet                                                          Buried                                    Henry ii Curtmantle                         1154-1189                           Fontevraud                         Richard i Coeur de Lion                   1189-1199                          Fontevraud                               John Lackland                                   1199-1216                           Worcester                                 Henry iii                                              1216-1272                           Westminster                       Edward i Longshanks                       1272-1307                          Westminster                         Edward ii                                             1307-1327                          Gloucester                           Edward iii                                            1327-1377                          Westminster                       Richard ii                                             1377-1399                          Westminster

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House of Lancaster

House of Lancaster                                               Buried                                                           Henry iv                         1399-1413                               Canterbury                                                   Henry v                          1413-1422                               Westminster                                               Henry vi                         1422-1461  (deposed) and                                                                                                                        1470-1471                               Windsor

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House of York

House of York                                                           Buried                                                     Edward iv                    1461-1470  (deposed) and                                                                                                                        1471-1483                                   Windsor                                                 Edward v                      Apr-June 1483                          Westminster                                             Richard iii                    1483-1485                                   Leicester

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House of Tudor

House of Tudor                                                    Buried                                                         Henry vii                         1485-1509                           Westminster                                             Henry viii                        1509-1547                           Windsor                                                         Edward vi                        1547-1553                           Westminster                                                       Jane Grey                        10-19 July 1553                  Tower of London                                             Mary                                 1553-1558                           Westminster                                               Elizabeth i                       1558-1603                           Westminster

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