By Tony Riches
Following in the footsteps of Henry and Jasper Tudor – Author Tony Riches goes down the secret tunnels.
There is an often repeated legend that on June 2nd, 1471, the fourteen year old Henry and Jasper Tudor went into hiding below the streets of the seaside town of Tenby in Pembrokeshire before fleeing to Brittany.
It is certainly likely that they could have hidden in the cellars of Jasper’s good friend Thomas White’s house in the high street, where Boots the chemist now stands. It is also said that they later escaped to the harbour through underground tunnels which run towards the harbour, and sailed to Brittany on one of Thomas White’s boats.
Today I was lucky enough to be shown the cellars and tunnels by Fiona Bousie, the Manager of Boots in Tenby, as part of the research for my new novel ‘Henry ~ Book Three of The Tudor Trilogy’.
Reassured to learn there are no rats living down there, we started in the extensive basement cellars, now used as store-rooms by Boots, and it is easy to see how Jasper and Henry could have remained there out of sight for as long as they needed to.
As we entered the tunnels we were plunged into darkness and had to rely on torches. I could see that the roof of the tunnel closest to the entrance had been rebuilt with bricks and the remains of a fireplace complete with chimney. This seemed a strange thing to have in a tunnel and could be further evidence for its use to hide people, who could need a fire for warmth.
Further down the tunnel the roof was roughly hewn through bedrock, with several other exits bricked up. This looked to have been done centuries ago, as there was calcification of the surface, which takes a long time to form.
After emerging back into the winter sun of Tenby I went to pay my respects to Thomas White, who rests with his son in St Mary’s church across the road. We may never know if the story is true but I am now convinced it was at least possible.
Tony Riches is a UK historical fiction author living in Pembrokeshire, Wales. You can find out more on Tony’s blog ‘The Writing Desk’ at http://www.tonyriches.co.uk and find him on Twitter @tonyriches. His best-selling book Owen ~ Book One of the Tudor Trilogy is available in eBook and paperback on Amazon. Jasper ~ Book Two of The Tudor Trilogy will be published at Easter and the final book in the trilogy in 2017.