Fictional account of the Stidulphs at Badsell Manor

 

Marion Stidulph’s concentration over her needlework was disturbed by a noisy commotion outside. At first she ignored the ruckus but eventually her curiosity got the better of her. She was just about to peer out of the open shutter, which allowed light to sweep into the large chamber, when there was a loud rap on her bedroom door.

 

‘Excuse me Madam but the Master bids you join him in the hall,’

 

‘What is it Mary? What is all the noise? Do we have visitors?’The maid, red and flustered, shrugged her shoulders. ‘Don’t know rightly Madam. But there are hundreds of them! A right rabble by the looks.’

 

Stopping briefly to look in the polished steel mirror to check that her wimple was straight, the mistress of the house left the room and descended to the open hall by way of the steep ladder that served as stairs. When she got downstairs she was shocked to find the hall full of strangers, many of whom looked none too respectable. Her husband, the Lord of the Manor, beckoned her over.

 

‘These men need refreshment,’ he commanded arrogantly.

 

Marion looked at Thomas in askance, but a stony stare sent her scurrying off to oversee the kitchen staff. The kitchen building was separate from the main manor house as a fire precaution. Dark and dingy the walls were soot black from the cooking fire. Off to one side were the barrels of small beer; Marion was relieved that she had recently brewed some more of the week ale that she made from malted barley, her husband would have flown into a rage if there had been insufficient to sake the thirsts of his unusual guests.

 

It was not until some hours later, after the troop of men had streamed back out over the moat bridge, that Marion was able to question Thomas. ‘Who on earth were those men and why did you entertain them?’

 

Her husband looked at her in surprise, ‘That was Jack Cade and his troop, didn’t you realise?’

 

‘What the rebels? Was it really wise to entertain them in the Manor?’

 

‘Huh! And do you think it would have been sensible not to?   You saw how many of them there were, armed as well! Anyway I for one certainly sympathise with their grievances, even if I am not sure that marching on London is such a good idea.’