Our timeline tells us that Longthorpe Tower was built in 1309/10. This was during the reign of Edward II. It was a time of national unrest and upheaval, largely caused by the total unsuitability of his personality and the divisiveness of his actions as King. He was followed by his son, Edward III, who reigned from 1327 to 1377. During this reign the paintings were added by Robert Thorpe, steward to Peterborough Abbey.
In Canterbury Cathedral the tomb of Edward III’s son may be found. He was known at the time of his life and death as Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales. The awe-inspiring title “The Black Prince” came much later.
The Prince died just one year before his father, of a lingering infection picked up on campaign in Spain, thought to be dysentery. His will requested that the epitaph inscribed on his tomb should be these words:
Such as thou art, sometime was I.
Such as I am, such shalt thou be.
I thought little on th’our of Death
So long as I enjoyed breath.
On earth I had great riches
Land, houses, great treasure, horses, money and gold.
But now a wretched captive am I,
Deep in the ground, lo here I lie.
My beauty great, is all quite gone,
My flesh is wasted to the bone
As Tower volunteers we are very familiar with the first two lines – the words of a French poem which explain the motif of The Three Living and the Three Dead.