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Richard de Vere, 11th Earl of Oxford

About a mile north east of the village of Bures, Suffolk off the Assington road lies the Chapel of St. Stephen and St. Edmund that is the final resting place of Richard de Vere, 11th Earl of Oxford. Having parked the car you will have to walk about a quarter of a mile along a farm track to reach the Chapel that was dedicated to St. Stephen on St. Stephen's Day in the year 1218 by Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury. It is one of the few thatched chapels in the country.

The chapel contains the effigies of the 5th, 8th and 11th Earls of Oxford, tombs that were originally at Earls Colne Priory and moved to St. Andrew's Church, Earls Colne after the dissolution of the Monastery in 1536. Subsequently they were moved again during the 19th century re-ordering when they were displaced before finally finding their final resting place at St. Stephen's.

It is long been popularly held that St. Stephen's is the site of the coronation of King Edmund, Saint and Martyr, crowned King of the East Angles. This is corroborated by the monk Asser in his "Life of Alfred" (871-899) where he states that Humbert, Bishop of Elmham anointed with oil and consecrated as King the glorious Edmund with much rejoicing and great honour at Burva (Bures) in which at that time was the royal seat, in the 15th year of his age on Friday the 24th moon, being Christmas Day 855.

The 11th Earl of Oxford was born on 15th August 1385 the eldest son of Aubrey de Vere, 10th Earl of Oxford and his wife Alice. He inherited the title on the death of his father on 23rd April 1400 whilst still underage. His wardship was initially granted to his mother but after her death in 1401 it was granted to his mother in law.

From 1410 onwards Oxford was appointed as a commissioner in Essex and in November 1411 was a Trier of Petitions from overseas in Parliament.

In August 1412 the 11th Earl was among those who sailed to Normandy under Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence, to aid the Armagnac party against the Burgundians.

On 5th August prior to sailing to France with Henry V Oxford was among the peers at the trial, presided over by the Duke of Clarence, which condemned to death Richard, 3rd Earl of Cambridge and Lord Scrope for their part in the Southampton Plot on the eve of Henry's invasion of France. Richard sailed to Harfleur with the King and was one of the commanders at the Battle of Agincourt on 25th October 1415.

In May 1416 Oxford was invested with the Order of the Garter and in that year sailed again with the fleet to France to relieve Harfleur taking part in the naval battle at the mouth of the River Seine on 15th August.

Next year on 15th February the 11th Earl died at the age of 31 and was buried at the families mausoleum at Colne Priory Church.

Michael Wren
November 2015

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