Sidmouth pensioner finds Sidmouth link with 1066
Plaques inspire woman in 80s to publish first book on King Harold’s link to Sidmouth
WHEN Tyrell Mead resident, Joyce Crabtree, spotted a blue plaque above an historic house in Sidmouth’s Chapel Street it prompted her to publish her first book.
The plaque and another depicting two red lions rampant, which Joyce, who is in her 80’s, also spotted, linked the site to Gytha, mother of King Harold II, who was killed in the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
Harold’s banner in that battle was of two red lions rampant and the blue plaque states the building was seized from Gytha, a Danish princess, who owned much land and property in the Exeter and Dartmoor area, by William the Conqueror and given to Mont St Michel in Normandy.
“She was a rich lady in her own right,” said Joyce, who has enlisted the help of neighbour and friend John Ankins, one of the town’s popular local history authors, to publish her book - The Story of Gytha and Her Times*.
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Joyce said: “She married Early Godwin and became the second most important person to the queen.”
Although not of royal blood, her son Harold, became king and Joyce’s book tells the story of the build up to the 1066 battle from Gytha’s marriage.
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Joyce said: “I was truly quite excited when I saw that blue plaque and looked at the building and then the chimney breast, which was probably original to the other house in the time of William the Conqueror.”
Although she cannot be sure Gytha lived in Sidmouth, after considerable research through Devon Studies Library, Joyce believes Tudor Cottage could have been an estates office for the large Manor of Otterton.
“I enjoyed finding out things from 1066, which is a date we all know,” said Joyce, who has always had an interest in history.
*The Story of Gytha and Her Times is available, priced 6.99, from Paragon Books, Sidmouth High Street.