Surrey is a subdivision of the English region of South East England in the United Kingdom. A historic and ceremonial county, Surrey is one of the home counties; the county borders Kent to the east, East Sussex and West Sussex to the south, Hampshire to the west, Berkshire to the northwest, Greater London to the northeast. Inhabited by about 1.2 million people, Surrey is the twelfth most populous English county, both the third most populous home county and the third most populous county in the South East. Guildford is considered to be the county town; however despite the town's designation, Surrey County Council has never been based there, being instead seated throughout its history in London. Since the borders of Surrey were altered in 1965 by the London Government Act 1963 which created Greater London, none of these places are now in Surrey, marking an example of a de facto capital, located outside of its administrative area. Surrey is divided into eleven districts: Elmbridge and Ewell, Mole Valley and Banstead, Spelthorne, Surrey Heath, Tandridge and Woking.
Services such as roads, mineral extraction licensing, strategic waste and recycling infrastructure, birth and death registration, social and children's services are administered by Surrey County Council. The London boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark and small parts of Lewisham and Bromley were in Surrey until 1889. Since the 1965 reform the bordering boroughs of the capital have been those taken from it in 1965 plus Bromley and Hounslow; the form of Surrey which remains since 1965 is a wealthy county due to economic, aesthetic and logistical factors. It has the highest GDP per capita of any English county, some of the highest property values outside Inner London and the highest cost of living in the UK outside of the capital. Surrey has the highest proportion of woodland in England, having been rural since it was shorn in 1965 of the urbanised swathes of South London which had hitherto been part of the county, it has large protected green spaces. It has four racecourses in horse racing, the most of any Home County and as at 2013 contained 141 golf courses including international competition venue Wentworth.
Surrey has proximity to London and to Heathrow and Gatwick airports, along with access to major arterial road routes including the M25, M3 and M23 and frequent rail services into Central London. Surrey is divided in two by the chalk ridge of the North Downs; the ridge is pierced by the rivers Wey and Mole, tributaries of the Thames, which formed the northern border of the county before modern redrawing of county boundaries, which has left part of its north bank within the county. To the north of the Downs the land is flat, forming part of the basin of the Thames; the geology of this area is dominated by London Clay in the east, Bagshot Sands in the west and alluvial deposits along the rivers. To the south of the Downs in the western part of the county are the sandstone Surrey Hills, while further east is the plain of the Low Weald, rising in the extreme southeast to the edge of the hills of the High Weald; the Downs and the area to the south form part of a concentric pattern of geological deposits which extends across southern Kent and most of Sussex, predominantly composed of Wealden Clay, Lower Greensand and the chalk of the Downs.
Much of Surrey is in the Metropolitan Green Belt. It contains valued reserves of mature woodland. Among its many notable beauty spots are Box Hill, Leith Hill, Frensham Ponds, Newlands Corner and Puttenham & Crooksbury Commons. Surrey is the most wooded county in England, with 22.4% coverage compared to a national average of 11.8% and as such is one of the few counties not to recommend new woodlands in the subordinate planning authorities' plans. Box Hill has the oldest untouched area of natural woodland in one of the oldest in Europe. Surrey contains England's principal concentration of lowland heath, on sandy soils in the west of the county. Agriculture not being intensive, there are many commons and access lands, together with an extensive network of footpaths and bridleways including the North Downs Way, a scenic long-distance path. Accordingly, Surrey provides many rural and semi-rural leisure activities, with a large horse population in modern terms; the highest elevation in Surrey is Leith Hill near Dorking.
It is 294 m above sea level and is the second highest point in southeastern England after Walbury Hill in West Berkshire, 297 m. Surrey has a population of 1.1 million people. Its largest town is Guildford, with a population of 77,057, they are followed by Ewell with 39,994 people and Camberley with 30,155. Towns of between 25,000 and 30,000 inhabitants are Ashford, Farnham and Redhill. Guildford is the historic county town, although the county administration was moved to Newington in 1791 and to Kingston upon Thames in 1893; the county counc
Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is a large Gothic abbey church in the City of Westminster, England, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is one of the United Kingdom's most notable religious buildings and the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English and British monarchs; the building itself was a Benedictine monastic church until the monastery was dissolved in 1539. Between 1540 and 1556, the abbey had the status of a cathedral. Since 1560, the building is no longer an abbey or a cathedral, having instead the status of a Church of England "Royal Peculiar"—a church responsible directly to the sovereign. According to a tradition first reported by Sulcard in about 1080, a church was founded at the site in the seventh century, at the time of Mellitus, a Bishop of London. Construction of the present church began in 1245, on the orders of King Henry III. Since the coronation of William the Conqueror in 1066, all coronations of English and British monarchs have been in Westminster Abbey.
There have been 16 royal weddings at the abbey since 1100. As the burial site of more than 3,300 persons of predominant prominence in British history, Westminster Abbey is sometimes described as'Britain's Valhalla', after the iconic burial hall of Norse mythology. A late tradition claims that Aldrich, a young fisherman on the River Thames, had a vision of Saint Peter near the site; this seems to have been quoted as the origin of the salmon that Thames fishermen offered to the abbey in years – a custom still observed annually by the Fishmongers' Company. The recorded origins of the Abbey date to the 960s or early 970s, when Saint Dunstan and King Edgar installed a community of Benedictine monks on the site. Between 1042 and 1052, King Edward the Confessor began rebuilding St Peter's Abbey to provide himself with a royal burial church, it was the first church in England built in the Romanesque style. The building was completed around 1060 and was consecrated on 28 December 1065, only a week before Edward's death on 5 January 1066.
A week he was buried in the church. His successor, Harold II, was crowned in the abbey, although the first documented coronation is that of William the Conqueror the same year; the only extant depiction of Edward's abbey, together with the adjacent Palace of Westminster, is in the Bayeux Tapestry. Some of the lower parts of the monastic dormitory, an extension of the South Transept, survive in the Norman Undercroft of the Great School, including a door said to come from the previous Saxon abbey. Increased endowments supported a community increased from a dozen monks in Dunstan's original foundation, up to a maximum about eighty monks; the abbot and monks, in proximity to the royal Palace of Westminster, the seat of government from the 13th century, became a powerful force in the centuries after the Norman Conquest. The Abbot of Westminster was employed on royal service and in due course took his place in the House of Lords as of right. Released from the burdens of spiritual leadership, which passed to the reformed Cluniac movement after the mid-10th century, occupied with the administration of great landed properties, some of which lay far from Westminster, "the Benedictines achieved a remarkable degree of identification with the secular life of their times, with upper-class life", Barbara Harvey concludes, to the extent that her depiction of daily life provides a wider view of the concerns of the English gentry in the High and Late Middle Ages.
The proximity of the Palace of Westminster did not extend to providing monks or abbots with high royal connections. The abbot remained Lord of the Manor of Westminster as a town of two to three thousand persons grew around it: as a consumer and employer on a grand scale the monastery helped fuel the town economy, relations with the town remained unusually cordial, but no enfranchising charter was issued during the Middle Ages; the abbey became the coronation site of Norman kings. None were buried there until Henry III, intensely devoted to the cult of the Confessor, rebuilt the abbey in Anglo-French Gothic style as a shrine to venerate King Edward the Confessor and as a suitably regal setting for Henry's own tomb, under the highest Gothic nave in England; the Confessor's shrine subsequently played a great part in his canonization. Construction of the present church began in 1245 by Henry III; the first building stage included the entire eastern end, the transepts, the easternmost bay of the nave.
The Lady Chapel built from around 1220 at the extreme eastern end was incorporated into the chevet of the new building, but was replaced. This work must have been completed by 1258-60, when the second stage was begun; this carried the nave on an additional five bays. Here construction stopped in about 1269, a consecration ceremony being held on 13 October of that year, because of Henry's death did not resume; the old Romanesque nave remained attached to the new building for over a century, until it was pulled down in the late 14th century and rebuilt from 1376 following the original design. Construction was finished by the architect Henry Yevele in the reign of Richard II. Henry III commissioned the unique Cosmati pavement in front of the High Altar (the pavement has undergone a major cleani
Kent is a county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the south-west; the county shares borders with Essex along the estuary of the River Thames, with the French department of Pas-de-Calais through the Channel Tunnel. The county town is Maidstone. Canterbury Cathedral in Kent has been the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England, since the Reformation. Prior to that it was built by Catholics, dating back to the conversion of England to Catholicism by Saint Augustine that began in the 6th century. Before the English Reformation the cathedral was part of a Benedictine monastic community known as Christ Church, Canterbury, as well as being the seat of the Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury; the last Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury was Reginald Pole. Rochester Cathedral is in Kent, in Medway, it is the second-oldest cathedral in England, with Canterbury Cathedral being the oldest. Between London and the Strait of Dover, which separates it from mainland Europe, Kent has seen both diplomacy and conflict, ranging from the Leeds Castle peace talks of 1978 and 2004 to the Battle of Britain in World War II.
England relied on the county's ports to provide warships through much of its history. France can be seen in fine weather from Folkestone and the White Cliffs of Dover. Hills in the form of the North Downs and the Greensand Ridge span the length of the county and in the series of valleys in between and to the south are most of the county's 26 castles; because of its relative abundance of fruit-growing and hop gardens, Kent is known as "The Garden of England". Kent's economy is diversified. In northwest Kent industries include extraction of aggregate building materials and scientific research. Coal mining has played its part in Kent's industrial heritage. Large parts of Kent are within the London commuter belt and its strong transport connections to the capital and the nearby continent makes Kent a high-income county. Twenty-eight per cent of the county forms part of two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty: the North Downs and The High Weald; the name Kent is believed to be of British Celtic origin and was known in Old English as Cent, Cent lond, Centrice.
In Latin sources Kent is mentioned as Canticum. The meaning is explained by some researchers as "coastal district," or "corner-land, land on the edge". If so, the name could be etymologically related to the placename Cantabria a Celtiberian-speaking coastal region in pre-Roman Iberia, today a province of Spain; the area has been occupied since the Palaeolithic era, as attested by finds from the quarries at Swanscombe. The Medway megaliths were built during the Neolithic era. There is a rich sequence of Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman era occupation, as indicated by finds and features such as the Ringlemere gold cup and the Roman villas of the Darent valley; the modern name of Kent is derived from the Brythonic word kantos meaning "rim" or "border", or from a homonymous word kanto "horn, hook". This describes the eastern part of the current county area as coastal district. Julius Caesar had described the area as um, or home of the Cantiaci in 51 BC; the extreme west of the modern county was by the time of Roman Britain occupied by Iron Age tribes, known as the Regnenses.
Caesar wrote that the people of Kent are'by far the most civilised inhabitants of Britain'. East Kent became a kingdom of the Jutes during the 5th century and was known as Cantia from about 730 and recorded as Cent in 835; the early medieval inhabitants of the county were known as the Kent people. These people regarded the city of Canterbury as their capital. In 597, Pope Gregory I appointed the religious missionary as the first Archbishop of Canterbury. In the previous year, Augustine converted the pagan King Æthelberht of Kent to Christianity; the Diocese of Canterbury became England's first Episcopal See with first cathedral and has since remained England's centre of Christianity. The second designated English cathedral was in Kent at Rochester Cathedral. In the 11th century, the people of Kent adopted the motto Invicta, meaning "undefeated" or "unconquered"; this naming followed the invasion of Britain by William of Normandy. The Kent people's continued resistance against the Normans led to Kent's designation as a semi-autonomous county palatine in 1067.
Under the nominal rule of William's half-brother Odo of Bayeux, the county was granted similar powers to those granted in the areas bordering Wales and Scotland. Kent was traditionally partitioned into East and West Kent, into lathes and hundreds; the traditional border of East and West Kent was the Medway. Men and women from east of the Medway are Men of Kent, those from the west are Kentishmen or Kentish Maids. During the medieval and early modern period, Kent played a major role in several of England's most notable rebellions, including the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, led by Wat Tyler,Jack Cade's Kent rebellion of 1450, Wyatt's Rebellion of 1554 against Queen Mary I; the Royal Navy first used the River Medway in 1547. By the reign of Elizabeth I a small dockyard had been established at Chatham. By 1618, storehouses, a ropewalk, a drydock, houses for officials had
Lady Margaret Beaufort
Lady Margaret Beaufort was the mother of King Henry VII and paternal grandmother of King Henry VIII of England. She was a key figure in an influential matriarch of the House of Tudor, she is credited with the establishment of two prominent Cambridge colleges, founding Christ's College in 1505 and beginning the development of St John's College, completed posthumously by her executors in 1511. Lady Margaret Hall, the first Oxford college to admit women, is named after her and has a statue of her in the college chapel, she was the daughter and sole heiress of John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, a great-grandson of King Edward III through his third surviving son, John of Gaunt by Katherine Swynford. Margaret was born at Bletsoe Castle, Bedfordshire, on either 31 May 1441 or, more on 31 May 1443; the day and month are not disputed, as she required Westminster Abbey to celebrate her birthday on 31 May. The year of her birth is more uncertain. William Dugdale, the 17th-century antiquary, suggested that she may have been born in 1441, based on evidence of inquisitions post mortem taken after the death of her father.
Dugdale has been followed by a number of Margaret's biographers. At the moment of her birth, Margaret's father was preparing to go to France and lead an important military expedition for King Henry VI. Somerset negotiated with the king to ensure that in case of his death the rights to Margaret's wardship and marriage would be granted only to his wife; as a tenant-in-chief of the crown the wardship of his heir fell to the crown under the feudal system. Somerset fell out with the king after coming back from France and was banished from the royal court pending a charge of treason against him, he died shortly afterwards. According to Thomas Basin, Somerset died of illness, but the Crowland Chronicle reported that his death was suicide. Margaret, as his only child, was heiress to his fortune. Upon her first birthday, the king broke the arrangement with Margaret's father and granted the wardship of her extensive lands to William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk, although Margaret herself remained in the custody of her mother.
Margaret's mother was pregnant at the time of Somerset's death, but the child did not survive and Margaret remained the sole heir. Although she was her father's only legitimate child, Margaret had two maternal half-brothers and three maternal half-sisters from her mother's first marriage whom she supported after her son's accession to the throne. Margaret was married to John de la Pole; the wedding may have been held between 28 January and 7 February 1444, when she was a year old but no more than three. However, there is more evidence to suggest they were married in January 1450, after Suffolk had been arrested and was looking to secure his son's future. Papal dispensation was granted on 18 August 1450, necessary because the spouses were too related, this concurs with the date of marriage. Margaret never recognised this marriage. Three years the marriage was dissolved and King Henry VI granted Margaret's wardship to his own half-brothers and Edmund Tudor. In her will, made in 1472, Margaret refers to Edmund Tudor as her first husband.
Under canon law, Margaret was not bound by the marriage contract as she was entered into the marriage before reaching the age of twelve. Before the annulment of her first marriage, Henry VI chose Margaret as a bride for his half-brother, Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond. Edmund was the eldest son of Catherine of Valois, by Owen Tudor. Margaret was 12 when she married the 24-year-old Edmund Tudor on 1 November 1455; the Wars of the Roses had just broken out. He died of the plague in captivity at Carmarthen on 3 November 1456, leaving a 13-year-old widow, seven months pregnant with their child. Taken into the care of her brother-in-law Jasper, at Pembroke Castle, the Countess gave birth on 28 January 1457 to her only child, Henry Tudor, the future Henry VII of England; the birth was difficult. She never gave birth again. Margaret and her son remained in Pembroke until the York triumphs of 1461 saw the castle pass to Lord Herbert of Raglan. From the age of two, Henry lived with his father's family in Wales, from the age of fourteen, he lived in exile in France.
During this period, the relationship between mother and son was sustained by letters and a few visits. The Countess always respected the memory of Edmund as the father of her only child. In 1472, sixteen years after his death, Margaret specified in her will that she wanted to be buried alongside Edmund though she had enjoyed a long and close relationship with her third husband, who had died in 1471. On 3 January 1458, the teenaged Margaret married Sir Henry Stafford, son of Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham. A dispensation for the marriage, necessary because Margaret and Stafford were second cousins, was granted on 6 April 1457; the Countess enjoyed a long and harmonious marital relationship during her marriage to Stafford and they were given somewhat ruinous Woking Palace where Margaret sometimes retreated and which she restored. Margaret and her husband were given 400 marks' worth of land by Buckingham, but Margaret's own estates were still the main source of income, their marriage bore no children.
In 1471, Stafford
Eltham Palace is a large house in Eltham in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, in south-east London, England. It is an unoccupied former royal residence owned by the Crown Estate, managed since 1995 by English Heritage which restored the building in 1999 and opened it to the public; the interior of the Art Deco house has been critiqued as a "masterpiece of modern design". The original palace was given to Edward II in 1305 by the Bishop of Durham, Anthony Bek, used as a royal residence from the 14th to the 16th century. According to one account, the incident which inspired Edward III's foundation of the Order of the Garter took place here; as the favourite palace of Henry IV, it played host to Manuel II Palaiologos, the only Byzantine emperor to visit England, from December 1400 to January 1401, with a joust being given in his honour. There is still a jousting tilt yard. Edward IV built the Great Hall in the 1470s, a young Henry VIII when he was known as Prince Henry grew up here. Erasmus described the occasion: I had been carried off by Thomas More, who had come to pay me a visit on an estate of Mountjoy’s where I was staying, to take a walk by way of diversion as far as the nearest town.
For there all the royal children were being educated, Arthur alone excepted, the eldest son. When we came to the hall, all the retinue was assembled. In the midst stood Henry, aged nine with certain royal demeanour. More with his companion Arnold presented to him something in writing. I, expecting nothing of the sort, had nothing to offer. At the time I was indignant with More for having given me no warning because the boy, during dinner, sent me a note inviting something from my pen. I went home, though the Muses, from whom I had lived apart so long, were unwilling, I finished a poem in three days. Tudor courts used the palace for their Christmas celebrations. With the grand rebuilding of Greenwich Palace, more reached by river, Eltham was less frequented, save for the hunting in its enclosed parks reached from Greenwich, "as well enjoyed, the Court lying at Greenwiche, as if it were at this house it self"; the deer remained plentiful in the Great Park, of 596 acres, the Little, or Middle Park, of 333 acres, the Home Park, or Lee Park, of 336 acres.
In the 1630s, by which time the palace was no longer used by the royal family, Sir Anthony van Dyck was given the use of a suite of rooms as a country retreat. During the English Civil War, the parks were denuded of deer. John Evelyn saw; the palace never recovered. Eltham was bestowed by Charles II on John Shaw and in its ruinous condition— reduced to Edward IV's Great Hall, the former buttery, called "Court House", a bridge across the moat and some walling—remained with Shaw's descendants as late as 1893; the current house was built in the 1930s on the site of the original, incorporates its Great Hall, which boasts the third-largest hammerbeam roof in England. Fragments of the walls of other buildings remain visible around the gardens, the 15th-century bridge still crosses the moat. In 1933, Stephen Courtauld and his wife Virginia "Ginie" Courtauld acquired the lease of the palace site and restored the Great Hall while building an elaborate home, internally in the Art Deco style; the dramatic Entrance Hall was created by the Swedish designer Rolf Engströmer.
Light floods in from a spectacular glazed dome, highlighting blackbean veneer and figurative marquetry. Keen gardeners, the Courtaulds substantially modified and improved the grounds and gardens. Stephen was a younger brother of Samuel Courtauld, an industrialist, art collector and founder of the Courtauld Institute of Art, his study in the new house features a statuette version of The Sentry, copied from a Manchester war memorial, by Charles Sargeant Jagger, - like Stephen - a member of the Artists' Rifles during the First World War. The Courtaulds' pet lemur, Mah-Jongg, had a special room on the upper floor of the house which had a hatch to the downstairs flower room; the Courtaulds remained at Eltham until 1944. During the earlier part of the war, Stephen Courtauld was a member of the local Civil Defence Service. In September 1940 he was on duty on the Great Hall roof as a fire watcher when it was badly damaged by German incendiary bombs. In 1944, the Courtauld family moved to Scotland to Southern Rhodesia, giving the palace to the Royal Army Educational Corps in March 1945.
In 1995, English Heritage assumed management of the palace, in 1999, completed major repairs and restorations of the interiors and gardens. The palace and its garden can be hired for weddings and other functions. Most of the rooms have been restored to resemble their appearance during the Courtaulds' occupation but some have been left as they were when the palace was used by the Educational Corps. Public transport is available at the nearby Mottingham railway station or Eltham railway station, both a short walk from the palace. Many films and television programmes have been filmed at Eltham Pal
London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans; the City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of the London Assembly. London is considered to be one of the world's most important global cities and has been termed the world's most powerful, most desirable, most influential, most visited, most expensive, sustainable, most investment friendly, most popular for work, the most vegetarian friendly city in the world. London exerts a considerable impact upon the arts, education, fashion, healthcare, professional services and development, tourism and transportation.
London ranks 26 out of 300 major cities for economic performance. It is one of the largest financial centres and has either the fifth or sixth largest metropolitan area GDP, it is the most-visited city as measured by international arrivals and has the busiest city airport system as measured by passenger traffic. It is the leading investment destination, hosting more international retailers and ultra high-net-worth individuals than any other city. London's universities form the largest concentration of higher education institutes in Europe. In 2012, London became the first city to have hosted three modern Summer Olympic Games. London has a diverse range of people and cultures, more than 300 languages are spoken in the region, its estimated mid-2016 municipal population was 8,787,892, the most populous of any city in the European Union and accounting for 13.4% of the UK population. London's urban area is the second most populous in the EU, after Paris, with 9,787,426 inhabitants at the 2011 census.
The population within the London commuter belt is the most populous in the EU with 14,040,163 inhabitants in 2016. London was the world's most populous city from c. 1831 to 1925. London contains four World Heritage Sites: the Tower of London. Other landmarks include Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, St Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square and The Shard. London has numerous museums, galleries and sporting events; these include the British Museum, National Gallery, Natural History Museum, Tate Modern, British Library and West End theatres. The London Underground is the oldest underground railway network in the world. "London" is an ancient name, attested in the first century AD in the Latinised form Londinium. Over the years, the name has attracted many mythicising explanations; the earliest attested appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, written around 1136. This had it that the name originated from a supposed King Lud, who had taken over the city and named it Kaerlud.
Modern scientific analyses of the name must account for the origins of the different forms found in early sources Latin, Old English, Welsh, with reference to the known developments over time of sounds in those different languages. It is agreed; this was adapted into Latin as Londinium and borrowed into Old English, the ancestor-language of English. The toponymy of the Common Brythonic form is much debated. A prominent explanation was Richard Coates's 1998 argument that the name derived from pre-Celtic Old European *lowonida, meaning "river too wide to ford". Coates suggested that this was a name given to the part of the River Thames which flows through London. However, most work has accepted a Celtic origin for the name, recent studies have favoured an explanation along the lines of a Celtic derivative of a proto-Indo-European root *lendh-, combined with the Celtic suffix *-injo- or *-onjo-. Peter Schrijver has suggested, on these grounds, that the name meant'place that floods'; until 1889, the name "London" applied to the City of London, but since it has referred to the County of London and Greater London.
"London" is sometimes written informally as "LDN". In 1993, the remains of a Bronze Age bridge were found on the south foreshore, upstream of Vauxhall Bridge; this bridge either reached a now lost island in it. Two of those timbers were radiocarbon dated to between 1750 BC and 1285 BC. In 2010 the foundations of a large timber structure, dated to between 4800 BC and 4500 BC, were found on the Thames's south foreshore, downstream of Vauxhall Bridge; the function of the mesolithic structure is not known. Both structures are on the south bank. Although there is evidence of scattered Brythonic settlements in the area, the first major settlement was founded by the Romans about four years after the invasion
Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers
Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers was an English nobleman, best remembered as the father of Queen consort Elizabeth Woodville and the maternal grandfather of Edward V and the maternal great-grandfather of Henry VIII. Born at Maidstone in Kent, Richard Woodville was the son of Richard Wydeville, chamberlain to the Duke of Bedford, Joan Bittlesgate, the daughter of Thomas Bittlesgate of Knightstone in the parish of Ottery St Mary in Devon, he was grandson of John Wydeville, Sheriff of Northamptonshire. Woodville followed his father into service with the Duke of Bedford. In 1433 the Duke had married the 17-year-old Jacquetta of Luxembourg; when the Duke died in 1435, Jacquetta was left a wealthy widow. She was required to seek permission from King Henry VI before she could remarry, but in March 1437 it was revealed that she had secretly married Richard Woodville, far below her in rank and not considered a suitable husband for the lady still honoured as the king's aunt; the couple were fined £ 1000.
Despite this inauspicious start, the married couple soon prospered, thanks to Jacquetta's continuing prominence within the royal family. She retained her rank and dower as Duchess of Bedford, which provided an income of between £7000 and £8000 per year, though over the years this diminished as a result of territorial losses in France and collapsing royal finances in England. Richard Woodville was honoured with military ranks. Further honours for both came when Henry VI married Margaret of Anjou, whose uncle was Jacquetta's brother-in-law; the Woodvilles were among those chosen to escort the bride to England, the family benefited further through this double connection to the royal family. Sir Richard was raised to the rank of Baron Rivers in 1448, their children therefore would grow up enjoying material comfort. Woodville was a captain in 1429, served in France in 1433 and was a knight of the regent Duke of Bedford in 1435, he was at Gerberoy in 1435 and served under William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, in 1435–36.
He fought under Somerset and Shrewsbury in 1439 and the Duke of York in 1441–42, when he was made captain of Alençon and knight banneret. He was appointed seneschal of Gascony in 1450, lieutenant of Calais in 1454–55, to defend Kent against invasion by the Yorkist earls in 1459–60, he was created Baron Rivers by Henry VI on 9 May 1448. Two years as Sir Richard, he was invested as a Knight of the Garter in 1450, he was appointed Warden of the Cinque Ports in 1459. In the Wars of the Roses, he was a Lancastrian, but he became a Yorkist when he thought that the Lancastrian cause was lost, he reconciled himself to his future son-in-law. On 1 May 1464, Edward married widow of Sir John Grey of Groby. Richard was created Earl Rivers in 1466, appointed Lord Treasurer in March 1466 and Constable of England on 24 August 1467; the power of this new family was distasteful to the old baronial party, so to the Earl of Warwick. Rivers was regarded as a social upstart, in an ironical episode, his future son-in-law in 1459, while accepting his submission, had rebuked him for daring, given his lowly birth, to fight against the House of York.
The Privy Council, in its horrified response to the King's marriage, said bluntly that Richard Woodville's low social standing in itself meant that the King must know "that Elizabeth was not the wife for him". Early in 1468, the Rivers estates were plundered by Warwick's partisans, the open war of the following year was aimed at destroying the Woodvilles. After the Yorkist defeat at the Battle of Edgecote Moor on 26 July 1469, Rivers and his second son John were taken prisoners at Chepstow. Following a hasty show trial, they were beheaded at Kenilworth on 12 August 1469. Richard Woodville's eldest son Anthony succeeded him in the earldom. Lord Rivers had a large family, his third son, Lionel became the Bishop of Salisbury. All his daughters made great marriages: Catherine Woodville, his eighth daughter, was the wife of Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham. "Woodville" is the modern spelling of the name: in their own time "Wydeville", "Wydville" and other variants were used. They had at least 14 children: Elizabeth Woodville, married first Sir John Grey of Groby, second Edward IV of England.
Lewis Woodwille, died in childhood. Anne Woodville, married first William Bourchier, Viscount Bourchier, second George Grey, 2nd Earl of Kent. Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers, married Elizabeth 8th Baroness Scales. Mary Woodville, married William Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke. Jacquetta Woodville, married John le Strange, 8th Baron Strange of Knockin. John Woodville, married Catherine Neville, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. Lionel Woodville, Bishop of Salisbury. Martha Woodville, married Sir John Bromley of Baddington. Eleanor Woodville, married Sir Anthony Grey, son of Edmund Grey, 1st Earl of Kent. Richard Woodville, 3rd Earl Rivers. Margaret Woodville, married Thomas FitzAlan, 17th Earl of Arundel. Edward Woodville, Lord Scales and courtier. Catherine Woodville, married first Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, second Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford. Ro