Longthorpe Tower is a rare survival of a domestic tower building from the medieval period. It was given to the nation just after World War II, by the then owner.
During the War, the Tower had been used by the Home Guard. The battlemented area at the top gives a view for miles over the locality. After the Home Guard moved out, leaving a messy interior, some Italian prisoners of war were drafted in to clean up. Behind the whitewash on the interior walls, they found an astonishing series of wall paintings.
Renowned as one of the most complete set of domestic wall paintings in Northern Europe, the Tower is now managed by Vivacity, a charity, on behalf of English Heritage.
It is mostly staffed by volunteers, and is open only during the summer months.
The volunteers are specially trained by Vivacity to give as much information as possible about the pictures to visitors.
Above, the “Three Living and the Three Dead”. Only one of the living kings is still visible.
Below, a “real” king on a throne with a coat of arms alongside. To the right, either his Queen, or a son, and another coat of arms. We don’t know, it is too worn away.
I’m one of the volunteers, and after two seasons of meeting visitors, answering their questions (or noting them down to find an answer!), and becoming aware of the astonishingly rich archives of information on life in medieval England, I decided to start this blog.
On it, I try to collect together in one place further information about some of the themes of the paintings in the Tower, some of the interesting questions visitors ask, and some of the aspects of medieval life that interest me.