Zoom in Zoom out Reset Full screen Find settlement:  Settlement names
Royal itineraries: Richard II Henry IV Henry VI
Key to royal itineraries:    = Start/end of journey    = Recorded stop    Wickham = Stop not on Gough Map

Context for the royal itineraries

The royal itineraries show that a significant number of the recorded stops were locations marked on the Gough Map. Of the stops shown above, eighty-five percent are named settlements, and those not on the map often appear to be on the line of travel. For example, Henry VI's stops at Hilborough and Litcham in 1449 are to the south and north, respectively, of Pickenham (marked on the Gough Map) on the route from Brandon to Walsingham. Likewise, his stop at Wickham in Hampshire in 1447 was on a road between Havant and Botley. When Henry IV stopped at Berkeley Castle on 27 July 1399, he was just 1.4 miles from Newport, and his later stop at Leominster is on the modern main road between Hereford and Ludlow.

Some of the other stops were for religious or domestic reasons. Henry VI visited Woolpit in Suffolk, a well-known place of pilgrimage, and Newark Priory on his way home from Guildford to Windsor. Richard II stayed at Clipstone, a royal residence, in the Forest of Sherwood, while travelling between Nottingham and Blyth.

Richard II: 9 January - 14 April 1396

Richard II's journey took place while negotiations were underway for a peace settlement with France, and before he had embarked on a more tyrannical style of kingship. It formed part of his annual pattern of movement. Generally, he spent Christmas at Westminster or one of his nearby residences, such as Windsor or Eltham. In the new year, he would move out into the provinces, with such journeys including, in various years, trips around Kent and Hampshire, to Bristol and Somerset, and to East Anglia. He usually returned to Windsor in April for the Garter ceremonies. In early summer, he would set out again, settling in substantial towns such as Nottingham and Lichfield. In the autumn, he would return to the southeast, often visiting royal residences such as Kings Langley, Kennington and Sheen.1Nigel Saul, Richard II, Yale English Monarchs (London: Yale University Press, 1999), p. 337.

Henry IV: 1 July - 1 September 1399

Henry IV's itinerary was more purposeful than Richard II's perambulation a few years earlier. Henry's return from exile, nominally to reclaim his inheritance following its confiscation by Richard II, resulted in the latter's overthrow and Henry's assumption of the crown. On landing at Bridlington, he visited the Duchy of Lancaster strongholds - Pickering, Knaresborough and Pontefract. After gaining support there, he headed south to Leicester, recruiting more followers from both Lancaster lands and the earl of Warwick. He proceeded to meet the Duke of York, Richard's keeper of the realm, at Berkeley Castle, where York agreed not to impede Henry's progress. They both went to Bristol, which surrendered, and then Henry headed north to Cheshire, the heartland of Richard's support. Richard himself, having just returned from Ireland, was also en route to the Palatinate. At Shrewsbury, Henry heard that Chester had submitted, and he subsequently occupied the city. He made two brief excursions from Chester (not marked above on the map) to Holt, and then to Flint, where the earl of Northumberland had detained the king. Henry returned to Chester with Richard, and they then headed directly to London, covering the 200 or so miles in twelve days. Note that what looks like a diversion to Stafford is misleading. Stafford has been sited too far to the south and west on the Gough Map, as a glance at a modern map quickly reveals.2Chris Given-Wilson, Henry IV, Yale English Monarchs (London: Yale University Press, 2016), pp. 127-140.

Henry VI: 10-27 January 1447; 20 August - 5 September 1449

When staying in London, Henry VI moved frequently between royal residences such as Windsor, Sheen, Eltham, Kennington and Westminster. But, like his forebears, he toured the provinces in most years, and between 1437 and 1450 he spent an average of ninety days per year away from his London bases. During his reign, the size of the itinerant household expanded rapidly, and became the "largest single institution in the realm, at least twice the size... of a parliament in session". In 1445, the king's household included 53 knights and 36 yeomen. By 1451, these numbers had risen to 301 and 228, respectively.3Bertram Wolffe, Henry VI, Yale English Monarchs (London: Eyre Methuen Ltd, 1981), pp. 93-98.

Politically, the two journeys shown above took place while negotiations were underway with France for a peace, with the 1449 progress occurring as the English forces were on the brink of collapse in Normandy. Domestically, there was growing discontent with the maladministration of law and order, corruption and the losses in France, but the full-blown war and disorder of the 1450s were yet to come.