I'm late with my next blog because I've been away in London for the day, visiting my editors Joanne Dickinson and Barbara Daniel at Little Brown. Our lunch, with my agent Carole Blake, was partly business and partly social and altogether enjoyable. Little Brown's offices are right on Waterloo Bridge and not far from The Temple Church. Since May 19th was the anniversary of William Marshal's burial there, and thus fairly close, I took some time out to honour him and lay a posy on his breast... or on his effigy's breast. No one knows whereabouts his remains are now, as they were moved some years after his burial, and the church has suffered bomb damage too. Suffice to say that his presence remains somewhere in the precincts. The posy was just three simple flowers and a bit of foliage, but I chose his colours - green, yellow and red, and made a donation to the church in his honour.
I was somewhat taken aback to find that the effigies had changed placards since I was there last year. (see the earlier post on my blog 'Marshalling my thoughts where the names can be distinctly seen). The knight on the right of the photograpy is William's eldest son, William Marshal II. However, the placard at his feet currently says that it's the 'effigy of a knight' and the title of William Marshal II has been given to another worn, ratty effigy, wearing what looks to me like much earlier kit.
I am convinced this is an error. The effigy beside William Marshal I bears the Marshal lion on his shield and stylistically is very similar to the effigy of Gilbert Marshal, who lies out of shot, below his father. The Temple Church's own website even says that William senior and William junior are side by side, not at diagonals! I queried the positioning of the placard with the chap at the door, but he looked at me as if I had lost my marbles and asked me on who's authority I had this information. He also said that he would ask the Master of the church (i.e. the vicar) but that the vicar was in the best position to know who was who. (implying I didn't know anything and was just a nutty tourist). I am currently following this up as I know my Marshal men upside down and inside out and I know I'm right!
While I was there, I was amazed at the number of tourists visiting the church because of its links to the Da Vinci code. Two years ago when I visited the Temple Church, I had William to myself, apart from 2 Americans and an Australian. Last year there were considerably more wandering about the precincts taking photos. This time the place was like the January sales!
As soon as I had laid my posy, people were taking photos of it. You could tell they had no idea why the flowers were there, or that this was one of the greatest men in England's history. I suppose I can understand the custodian being a bit dismissive. He probably gets asked hundreds of ridiculous questions throughout the day by the Da Vinci Code lot, so some woman coming to tell him the effigies have the wrong names is probably just par for the course!
June is going to continue busy. I am talking at Borrowash Library as part of Derby literary festival this Thursday June 1st from 2-4pm. The week after, I'm away all weekend at the Southern Writers Conference, which looks as if it's going to be fun. I shall have to take my laptop with me so I don't get totally behind. Here's the url.