April 23rd, St George’s Day, has two important historical associations with Titchfield; the royal wedding of Margaret of Anjou to Henry VI, and the birth of William Shakespeare.
Margaret of Anjou was the bride chosen for the hapless king Henry VI. She had royal connections in France; her father Rene, duke of Anjou, was a cousin to the king of France, but she came without a dowry as her father had bankrupted himself in the vain pursuit of a supposed title to the kingdom of Naples. English diplomats had agreed the marriage in 1444 in the hope and expectation that it would bring to an end the Hundred Years War with France. In this they were correct. War quickly ended with a complete loss of all French territory held by the English, with the exception of Calais. It was a high price to pay and perhaps not for the first time, a policy of appeasement ended with negative consequences. Within a decade, England was itself plunged into civil war.
Nevertheless, the wedding at Titchfield on 22 April 1445, the eve of St George’s Day, took place in a festive atmosphere at Titchfield Abbey. After this, the court journeyed back to London, where Margaret was crowned queen on April 30th.
The second association with St George’s Day is through William Shakespeare who was born on 23 April 1564 in Stratford upon Avon.The date is not accurate. He was baptised on April 26th and convention has assumed that he was born three days earlier. In the 1590s the young third earl of Southampton became the patron of our great poet and playwright and theories have been advanced that William Shakespeare, at one time or another, came to Titchfield. Strong advocates of this theory are our own Ken Groves and Londoner Stewart Trotter, who has written a book, Love’s Labour’s Found, which explores Shakespeare’s possible associations with Titchfield. The book is out of print but second hand copies can be found on Amazon.