As the Sun passes through the Astrological Sign of Pisces, and this month’s Zodiacal journey across the Kingston Zodiac takes us to Hayes, Heston and beyond, it is perhaps doubly significant that Kingston’s Coat of Arms, the Three Fishes, has its origins in the overtly Piscean activity of fishmongering. At the centre of the town’s ancient Market Place, in its historic church, lies the burial place of one John Lovekyn; founder of the nearby Mediaeval Lovekyn Chapel. Lovekyn, although a native of Kingston, was eventually to rise to high office as Lord Mayor of London; having originally made his fortune as a trader in stock fish with the City’s Fishmongers’ Company.
Lovekyn’s eventual successor as Lord Mayor, William de Walworth, was like his predecessor, a successful trader in stock fish with links to the Port of Newcastle. As his name suggests, his ancestors originally hailed from the now vanished Mediaeval village of Walworth; cleared of its population by the ravages of the Black Death during the fourteenth century. Of further significance perhaps is that the nearby river Tees empties into the North Sea close to the ancient manor of Bellingham; original home of the Belasyse Family before their eventual decampment to Henknowle near Bishop Auckland. Ancient but obscure sources link the name Belasyse with Blaise, Merlin the Magician’s North British mentor according to Thomas Mallory.
Walworth’s role as Kingmaker is often forgotten, but his slaying of Wat Tyler, leader of the Peasants’ Revolt, in London’s Smithfield, was re-enacted annually at many a Lord Mayor’s Pageant. Perhaps this all has a connection with the unfortunate Henry Beauclerk, younger brother of William Rufus, whose ingestion of a surfeit of Lamphreys in December 1135 was to result in his death from dysentry soon after: an event that was to inspire a memorable ‘Fairport Convention’ instrumental of the same title.
Of further significance perhaps is the fact that nearby Sedgefield’s ancient football game is played at Hocktide. The same date as its Kingstonian counterpart. Do these connections hold the key to Walworth and Lovekyn’s original association with one another? And, if so, was there a similarly ancient connection between County Durham’s Witton-le-Wear and the Mediaeval village of Whitton on Kingston’s Arian Effigy? Perhaps next month’s blog will be more revealing?