Ethelred and other Stuff


I have just watched Danny Dyer a Right Royal Family and found it a wonderful surprise.

I decided to run a quick scan of my own findings regarding my mothers side of my family Bracebridge. It has always been a bit mysterious to me as my mom and great uncles always said they were from wealthy stock and always mentioned The Arden family and of course this was a family joke. But after watching Danny Dyer and having a dig about on genealogy sites I came up with this.  If anyone ever asks me my ethnicity. I always state Anglo Saxon and I have said this for years. What Larks Pip! What Larks!



I know we are all related to William Shakespeare within our gene pool.

That is his atoms that have been released on his passing have crashed about a bit and zoomed off to create other things but somewhere Sue found out that I as a Bracebridge descendant have come direct from Mary Arden and William Shakespeare.

I am as always doubtful of this but anyhow I am putting the link up here to the Bracebridge family because I find the tale interesting in many other ways.

The sculpture remained in place until 1869 when it was acquired by Charles Holte Bracebridge of Atherstone Hall who presented it to the town of Stratford-upon-Avon in 1871. It now sits in a quiet corner of New Place Garden.

Selina Bracebridge (née Mills; 1800 – 1874) was a British artist, medical reformer, and travel writer. Selina Bracebridge studied art under the celebrated artist Samuel Prout, and travelled widely as part of her art education.

She married Charles Holte Bracebridge (1799-1872) in 1824, and lived in Athens for much of the 1830s. She became close friends with Florence Nightingale in 1846, and the Bracebridges travelled with her to Rome from 1847 to 1848, and around Europe, Greece, and Egypt between 1849 and 1850.

The Bracebridges acted as administrative assistants to Nightingale for nine months at the Barrack Hospital during the Crimean War in November 1854. When Nightingale fell dangerously ill at Balaclava they escorted her back to Scutari.

She and Nightingale remained close until her death in 1874, and Nightingale lamented her loss in a letter, saying ‘She was more than a mother to me’

The Bracebridge family that for centuries were the lords of Kingsbury Hall in Warwickshire, England.

Emanating from the village of Bracebridge in Lincolnshire around the 10th century, this does not seem all that surprising. People during this period did not have what we would recognize as standard surnames and one of the most common practices for this period was to use the village name as your surname.

Surnames really did not become significant or fixed until after the Reformation in the 16th century. So when we read about Ralf of Bracebridge in 975 we know that we are reading about an important family in the village of Bracebridge just to the south of Lincoln.

Then,in the year 1130, the prominent Sir Peter de Bracebridge (meaning from Bracebridge) married the equally prominent Lady Amecia de Arden, Great Granddaughter of the Lady Godiva, and they made their home in Kingsbury Hall, the great three storied manor of Kingsbury in Warwickshire. The Bracebridge family would go on to serve as the lords of Kingsbury Hall for over 450 years and as members of this great family moved to other locations they would change their surname to de Kingsbury.


Alfred `the Great’
Edmund (Eadmund) I
Edgar `the Peaceful’ King
Lady Godiva of Coventry
Ethelred II `the Unready’ King
Osbert de ARDEN
Amicia de ARDEN


The Kingsbury family’s earliest known member is Sir Ralf of Bracebridge, who was born in 975 in Bracebridge, Lincolnshire, England.
Kingsbury descendants in Warwickshire traced their ancestry to Leofric, Earl of Mercia and Lady Godiva.

The children of Leofric and Godiva include Ælfgār and possibly, Hereward the Wake. The Earl of Mercia is said to be descended from the Saxon kings of Mercia. He inherited their ancient seat.


The Bracebridge family first appear in records of the town of Kingsbury, Warwickshire in circa 1115, when Sir Peter de Bracebridge and Amicia Arden were married there.
The first-known family member to bear the surname “Kingsbury” was Adam de Kingsbury,’ who was born about 1240 in Kingsbury, Warwickshire. His name meant only that he was from the locality of Kingsbury, before surnames were widely used.

According to family genealogist F. J. Kingsbury, writing in 1905 when standards had not been established, William Shakespeare was a descendant of the Kingsbury family. Leofric’s daughter married Turchil de Arden, one of William the Conqueror’s Norman knights. Their granddaughter married Peter de Bracebridge, in whose family the lordship remained until the time of Queen Elizabeth I. A daughter of this side of the family married Sir John Arden, of Arden, who was the grandfather of Mary Arden,

Screenshot 2019-02-05 14.02.20

Shakespeare’s mother. Kingsbury thinks Shakespeare referred to this in his lines:
‘When nightingales in Arden sit and sing
Among the daintie dew-empearlèd flowers..’
In his genealogical study on the Ardens and the Shakespeares, French also makes similar claims, tabulating the linkages between the Bracebridges, Kingsburys, Ardens and Shakespeares




The first severe frost of the New Year was on the ground and lay thick on the yew – the river was full and flowing fast. It was so full that the crossing at Bidford was now impossible. The sun was bright and sat just above the line of birch and hawthorn creating a spectral glow in the mist.

Blackbirds were busy and calling the day, and darting from the thicker parts of the bank, when Wattle walked to find Daub.

Daub was sitting looking hard into the sun; hand on his brow, shielding his eyes from the flare on the water.  He must have sensed it was Wattle approaching as he knew his step as if it were his own. Wattle approached Daub from behind and Daub didn’t even turn around.

“I’ve been thinking”, he said, before Wattle was at his side.

I’ve been thinking, Wattle mouthed the words in a childish repeat without sounding the words aloud. Daub was good at thinking.

“I’ve been thinking”, Daub repeated as Wattle squatted down on the straw matting that was piled next to the yew – What now? – He thought.

The last time Daub had sat here on such a morning was last year, and the year before, and the year before that.

In those previous years his thoughts had always been the same, and Wattle being Daub’s oldest and very best friend, let him tell him his thoughts, as if the idea was the first time that he had heard it.

“I’ve been thinking”.

Wattle held up his hand to his eyes against the same sun. Now, they both sat there, looking hard towards the water and the other unobtainable bank. A coot called and paddled past them. Across the river, on the north bank, the sun sparked on two bright metal objects – they were discarded shields – Roman legion shields. They had not been there the previous morning or on any morning that Wattle and Daub had sat there in seventeen years.

“I’ve been thinking”, Daub said, this time in a slower softer voice. Now, Wattle thought that he was going to hear what he had heard for the past four years, once more, but, this time it would be different as there were these two shields.

Rome had been mighty, if you could imagine total control and total terror and total submission to one thing and one thing only – and that total experience being every day of every year, and within that, you were nothing, then that was Rome. That was Rome for the likes of Wattle and Daub. Obviously, if you were on the Emperor’s side of the coin, then life was much better, and life was indeed very good – but – the percentage of the Roman coin side was minimal, and for those in Britania was maybe one percent of the total population. In the hamlets of the Shire of Warwick, that one percent was Bagatrix and his family.

Bagatrix was an unusual Roman; he had been born in the shire and of a Roman family. Being born by the river, his life had begun and been overshadowed by the great yew for the past 79 winters.  Everyone knew him; everyone was in awe of him. Everyone, be them Roman or Briton trusted him. That was unusual; he had no family, only servants,


and servants were never Romans.  Bagatrix lived with his three servants, two women Callia, the elder at 40 and Famise who had a young son Bone. 

Bone was 14 years old and had bright red hair and pale skin covered in freckles.  He was as thin as a fish and pale as the moon.  His father had been killed in a fierce fight the day before he was born.  His father had been in the legion, a conscript, a forced soldier and his death was marked on the dead hawthorn along with many, many sons of the village.

Each death was cut into the now failing tree, and each mark had a story, only now most of the tales were lost to them.

This morning, Bone was tending the fire, as he did every day, that was his task – he kept the flame for Bagatrix and he collected the wood and kept the fire high and hot. Bagatrix must never be without the fire, it was a must.

The frost cracked under Bone’s feet as he headed to collect more of the birch for the fire.   He could see Wattle and Daub sitting on the river bank, and, he looked beyond the water to see what they were so interested in.  He too raised his hand to mask the bright piercing sunshine.  At first, he struggled to focus on the distant gleam.  He gathered some wood and then gathered more as he walked towards the two old friends.

“What you two looking at then”?

“We are not quite sure, as yet, young Bone” said Wattle, “Daub has been here a while longer than me and, he’s been thinking”.

Bone sat beside the two friends, and now they sat like three tree stumps, hands all held up against the glare, looking towards the mystifying scene.

Bagatrix stirred out of his bed.  He could have lived like a noble, but he chose to live near his birth spot, in a humble dwelling. The dwelling was much bigger than those of his neighbours, much more of a villa than a hut, but still only small, compared to the huge properties on the North Bank. Most of this bank being made up of the Fort which lay 100 metres beyond the ford, up a slight rise. This fort was built mostly on the area where once the Saxons dwelt. These same people had been forced off the high ground over to the South side of the river.

 This is where the yew tree grew, and this is where Bagatrix slowly walked to his doorway, stopping to look at the cold embers that sat in the huge grate. He moved at his best pace to make the doorway and called out for “BONE”. The call was dominant, but his longevity had added a touch of kindness to his voice “BONE”. Looking left and right, up and down the bank, he searched for his slave.  His eyesight was now poor, so, with the brightness of the morning, the vision of the day was totally lost on him.

A dog, more like a big rat, black, brown, matted and with an expression of shock, if a dog can show such things, crashed around the corner of the villa and dashed full pelt into Bagatrix, nearly knocking him clear out of his sandals.

The dog stopped, and put its head down as if in a sulk. He too was called Bone.  Now this could be confusing, as the dog’s name was the same as the boy’s. To prevent confusion we will call him Dog for the rest of the story.

Dog had answered the call of Bagatrix, the two old adversaries now stood nose to nose as Bagatrix was on his knees. Dog stopped and sat looking, like he had planned the crash all along. Bagatrix grabbed dog and used him to get to his feet, and Dog knew better than to move, but, as soon as Bagatrix had gained his legs, he ran for cover, rushing like a fast rat past Bagatrix towards what he thought would be the warmth of the fire.


Except, when he reached the huge central grate, a look of amazement appeared on his doggy face. He could not believe there was no fire, and he looked in disgust at Bagatrix who was still struggling to regain his composure.

At this, they both turned to the door and stood together looking out into the morning light.

The sun was getting higher in the sky and more and more of the opposite river bank was falling out of shadow and mist, and Bagatrix was now able to see more of what the day had in store for them.  Dog looked at Bagatrix and visa versa.

“Where is he”, Bagatrix barked at Dog, “find him, find him”

Dog was as needful to find Bone as the old man, for he was cold and hungry.  So, Dog set off towards the river, he moved at a hunting pace, his rigid set legs moving as if on a march with the legion, and totally in step, nose down to the ground, gathering frost on his nose as he gathered the sharpness of the scent.

The two young friends and Bone were still by the old yew, and Wattle was still waiting for Daub to release his thoughts to the company.  Bone’s feelings towards the two old friends were one of hero worship.  Many times in the past he had been on hunting trips with them, and, although that was a luxury for the two friends in the last four years, they had taken young Bone, his friend Erin, and Dog, along with them.

Erin was two years older than Bone and lived in the next village of Welford. It was to Welford that the two friends, Wattle and Daub, would have to go to cross the river, if that is what they intended to do today.

“Well Daub” asked Wattle, staring into the distance across the river, “are you now going to tell us what you have been thinking.

“I’ve been thinking” said Daub, while Wattle and Bone mouthed the same words in unison, “I think they have gone”.

This was not what Wattle, or in fact Bone had expected to hear, and they looked at each other and then, as one, gazed at Daub.


Eh was not a word as such I their dialect, it was more of a release of disbelief.

“Eh!!!”. It came again from both Wattle and Bone, only this time in a whisper. I think they have gone is not what they had expected to hear.  It was not the sentence that Daub had uttered time after time whilst the winter sun had climbed over the horizon for the past 4 years.

The two amazed men again looked at Daub, and, Bone, now fighting under a mass of matted brown/black dog, was shouting “What did he say”?

Dog jumped off him and barked and barked with distracted the friends and caused them to release their fixed gaze.

Bone held Dog and calmed him.

“I think they have gone”.

Bagatrix now approached the group, Dog tried to hide beneath Bone’s cloak, and this sent Bone into a crazed rolling and shouting fit.

Bone saw Bagatrix and tried to hide under Wattles cloak, and now, all four entities, Wattle, Daub, Bone and Dog rolled in a circular motion beneath the old gnarled tree.


Bagatrix went to scold Bone, but instead he cast an inward smile, watching the small group tumble around the sacred tree. Dog snapped to the old man’s feet, quickly changing sides, and sat down detaching himself from Bone as if to join in the telling off.  He waited for Bagatrix to express the harsh words over the cold fire situation, but, Bagatrix was a kind fellow and he never really showed any other face other than a wise understanding one.

The fire had never before gone out, not in 50 years. Never before had Bone let the flame die.

In Welford, the morning air was as in Bidford, but the river casting around in its wide loop was shallower here, and broad rounded stones, placed there over ages, glistened and sparkled as the fresh water swirled over and about them. It was possible to cross the river here, even today. The Romans had promised a bridge here, but that was due to be started in the coming summer. 

Wattle and Daub, who were masters at the trade of such structures and especially that of dwellings, were targeted by the 8th Legion to be involved in the project.  Any man in the village under the age of 70 years, and able to walk, was targeted to build the bridge.

Herring was tall, maybe 2 metres, and strong for his age.  His thick black hair and his olive skin made him appear more Roman than the Romans.  He had green/blue eyes, and, this was unusual and even unheard of in Welford.  Everything about Herring was unusual and unheard of.  He spoke in a different tone. He walked with a striding gate, and his pace was twice that of normal villagers. Even Dog had a time of it keeping up with him  His thick black hair, like a streaming battle banner, played out behind him, and people could see him coming from a great distance.

Erin was 16 to 17 years of age, nobody knew really. As a baby he had been bundled in grass and left at the edge of the ford.  Like Moses, he was rescued and taken into the village, accepted by the elders and brought up there as a Saxon.

His looks, as a baby, brought much attention, and indeed, they paid goods and tributes to come and stare at him.  This was before the Romans got wind of it, and then Erin was taken and brought up in the villa of Bagatrix to study a little, but not too much, the art of hunting and providing food for their table. This never went down well with Erin, and he distributed part of what he caught to the elders in Welford. The rest was given by Bagatrix to the Romans. If it had not been for Bagatrix keeping the secret, Erin could well have ended up in the gladiator circus in Rome.

Erin, now a man, chose to live in Welford and he hunted all year.  He even knew the art of fishing, and his small hut nestled close to where he had been found on the South bank of the thrice divided flow on the Saxon side of the waters.

He treated Bagatrix rather as a father and Bagatrix treated Erin as a son.  It was in the villa in Bidford that Erin had met and befriended Bone. The clash of looks and situations of the two friends could never be imagined, unless one had seen them together. Erin and Bone, Wattle and Daub, Bagatrix and Dog, a bizarre collection of misfits.

If you saw Wattle and Daub together you would think them twins, but they were not.  They were both strong, dark haired, with smoke grey pale skin.  Both were well under 2 metres tall and both their heads touched the first branch of the dying hawthorn without standing on tiptoe. Their eyes were brown, all four of them, and the only real difference


Was Wattle had a blue tattoo, a circle within a circle, on his left cheek. In woad it formed the mark of the Warrior.

Daub had a similar tattoo, but, his was the ever increasing circle on his right cheek, this was cut through with a scar like a lightning bolt, again woad, and this was the mark of the Talker, the doer of great deeds.

Both the young men’s mothers were dead; they had died 8 years ago in the legion induced famine, (that’s what the Saxons called it anyway).

Stories said that the Legion had stolen all the grain and livestock for their march north, and their campaign of war there.  This left the Saxons under the strict control of a hard handed Centurion Governor, Quintus Ardus.  He had left them without food and stock, and many villagers had starved to death. This was also at the time of the big flood, and the village was totally cut off and many homes swept away.

Both their fathers were unknown to them, and legend said that they had been taken to war or to the circus, no-one knew.

Quintus Ardus was still in control, as he had been elevated in power on the Legion’s return.  He now had total rule over Bidford, Welford and everything within a ten mile radius of the river crossing.  It was his task to get the bridge built in the coming summer.

His family, and generations of Romans before him, had been ordered to exploit and destroy these war- like areas, and remove the posts of talking heads. These posts had marked the northern shore for 3 miles when the Romans first arrived, and it took 2 years of hard fighting to bring this small group of Saxons under total control.

Erin was striding on the north bank towards the Roman Fort at Bidford.  He had crossed the ford before dawn, and had been to all his regular spots and traps.  He had been very pleased with the results.  He was thinking that Dog had not been at his side, but, there again, that was not unusual, Dog was very much his own master.  Now the sun was well clear of the trees and blazed.  The river flowed fast on his left and he was just a few hundred metres from the guard house at Bidford.  He was made to stop mid stride, something was amiss, something was definitely different.

From the other side of the river, the now standing group could see Erin approaching the fort, dog barked, drawing his attention. Dog ran to the river bank and barked again excitedly. Wattle called to Erin who began to move towards a place opposite the group where the sound of their voices could reach him.

Erin raised his hands to his ears cupping them to amplify the words that were shouted to him.

“Hello Erin! Hello Erin!”

Erin’s attention was then transferred to the unusual items on the water’s edge. The items were so unusual only because they were not normally there.  They were two Roman battle shields and two javelins.  The shields and javelins were part buried in the mud, side by side at attention.  Not at all like the tidy Roman legion. If Ardus had seen them there like that, he culprit’s heads would not have remained on their shoulders for long. Erin grasped the shields and drew them from the mud.  He took them back and away from the torrent and displayed them for his friends across the water to marvel at.

“Something very strange is happening this side of the river” Erin’s shouts carried in the light breeze so that Wattle, Daub and Bone stood up and moved to get a better look.


Bagatrix and Dog approached the river; Dog was now silent but very alert and aware. He too could feel the difference.

Bagatrix told Wattle to shout to Erin to “leave them be”, but Wattle shouted

“What legion are they”.

“No” said Bagatrix, “tell him to leave them well alone”

“Why have they been left so” said Daub to Bagatrix.

He replied “It is very strange but something has changed and we will have to find out what has happened.  You will have to go across to Erin and investigate”.

The three friends turned and headed past Bagatrix, and, as they did so, he grasped Bone by the collar and halted his progress.  Dog looked up at Bone and quickly doubled his step to get away from the situation. He didn’t want to be stuck at the villa and miss the action, and besides, there was still no fire.

Bagatrix made sure that Bone gathered the birch wood and the two of them set off back to the villa.  The two women were standing at the entrance, Callia was the older of the two, and by far the more handsome with dark hair and eyes and a womanly figure. She was holding a chicken and a basket of food stuff ready to make Bagatrix’s breakfast. Famise, the mother of Bone, was standing with her back against the door frame. She was kicking her heels against the wood and looked angry and ashamed, and tried hard to appear normal, but, the mishap of the fire had caused her trouble too from Callia, and she was waiting to take it out on Bone.  She had expected Bagatrix to be full of the fire chaos, but, when they entered the Hall she could see that the old fellow had other things on his mind. Darn came round from the back of the villa and he was a different kettle of fish.

“You lazy, good for nothing slacker”. Darn was half Bagatrix’s age and a full figured man. Full too, of his own importance.  Bone didn’t take much notice of his pomp, not even looking at him.  Bone threw down the wood and rushed at his mother.

“What are you doing” she said, “the fire, get to the fire”?

“No, no, something has happened, something very important” shouted Bone.

Bagatrix reinforced the excited words of Bone and now everyone was listening to the young man with more respect. Now, that too, like the dead fire, was also a first.

Bone’s mother began to help Bone to fix the fire, which after a few moments burst into renewed flame flooding the room with smoke and then a flickering warm orange glow.

Bagatrix had dismissed Darn, who had left the room mumbling to himself about Bone’s laziness.

Bone’s mother, Famise, was a mirror image of her son, both in skin colour and hair colour. She was pale and thin and looked permanently tired.  She was between 28 to 30 years of age and had been in the village since being brought south from beyond the wall.  Her hair was the same colour as the flames now showing in Bone’s fire.

She scowled at her son “Where were you? How could you let this happen?”

“I told you mother” said Bone “I told you something strange has happened, the whole village is talking about it, have you not heard?”

“You let the fire go out, what were you thinking of” continued Famise.

“Mother! Daub thinks they have gone.” Said Bone.

“What!” said his mother “What a surprise? Daub thinking. Not again”. And she walked away.

Bone followed after her, again letting his attention to the fire lapse. “But mother, listen”.

“I have heard it all before” she replied.

“No, this is not the same as before. He thinks they have gone”.

“Who? Who’s gone?” said his mother impatiently.

Bone drew closer to her ear. “The Romans” he whispered, and with the sound of the cracking birch fire, the words were almost lost to her. But, she did hear and now she began to take closer notice of her son.  Bone held his mother and looked her in the eyes, and moved closer still and said “He thinks the Romans have gone”!!!

Chapter II

Wattle and Daub attempted to cross the small wooden bridge that spanned the river at Bidford It was laying just below the swirling water and the swell was running too fast for them to cross in safety so they started along the south side of the big river and headed to the ford where they knew that they must still be able to cross, after all Erin was already on the north side so they were sure they could get across where he must have.

Dog now rattled along at a pace in the full sun and Wattle and Daub had broken into a run at his heels.

Not even a scampering rabbit as it darted for cover along the grassy river bank made Dog loose step. Dog was moving to a new adventure he could sense it.

Wattle and Daub exchanged few words as they ran behind the animal, all of their faces showed signs that they were in a solid study of readiness.

It took but a short time to reach the ford and stepping with care as the water was still fierce here they passed to the other side where Dog watched them with almost a smile.

Before the two friends feet hit dry land Dog was headed for Erin.

It took them about the same time again to reach the spot where Erin was seen holding the two shields but when they arrived there, there was no sign of Erin or the shields.

They ran slightly up hill from the wooden swamped bridge and there was Erin.

Dog had caught his scent on the wind and launched himself into flight crashing into Erin as he turned to greet his friends.

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