Thursday, 10 January 2013

Hermit Blewbeard and Dover Castle

Sir Thomas Cheyne was a noble with his eye on the main chance - and that was Dover Castle. The defence of the Channel coast was under fierce scrutiny at the end of January 1450. This was due to an incident on Saturday 24 January when plans for a rebellion were hatched in the villages between Dover and Sandwich.


The perpetrator of these meetings was Sir Thomas Cheyne. He had a two-pronged plan - to take Dover Castle, and to behead a number of his enemies, among them, the Bishop of Salisbury, the Abbott of Gloucester and the Duke of Christchurch, Canterbury. Many of the rebels adopted names to hide their identities, including "King of the Fairies," Queen of the Fairies," and "Robin Hood," while Cheyne himself was "The Hermit Blewbeard." (sic).

The following Monday, 26 January 200 rebels met at Eastry and by the end of the week, thousands more had joined them. Cheyne was gathering a hardy band of volunteers to help him in his attack on Dover Caste. But the rebellion only got as far as Canterbury, where St. Radigund's Abbey Hospice, located outside the city, was attacked.

Thomas Cheyne was arrested on 31 January and later hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn, while Dover Castle remained unviolated. Cheyne's head was sent to London, and his quarters shared between London, Norwich and two of the ports.

No one else was executed as a result of the rebellion.

Sources:

Cameron, Janet, Murder & Crime, Dover, Tempus Publishing, 2006.

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