Is Grimsby last resting place of a king’s jewels?
CROWN jewels, gold and money believed to have been lost by King John as he travelled across The Wash in East Anglia may actually be buried under housing estates in Grimsby, according to a new book.
Legend has it that the muchmaligned king was travelling from Norfolk to Lincolnshire to quell a rebellion against his rule when baggage carts heaving with treasure were swept away by rising tides in the bay in 1216.
But historian James Wright believes the hoard was divided by the monarch before the journey.
In Sucked Down By The Whirlpool – The Quest For King John’s Long-lost Treasure he says the ruler personally went into Wisbech to hire eight shipmen to carry “goods and merchandise to Great Grimsby” before crossing The Wash.
This was an errand which could easily have been delegated to an underling, so Mr Wright believes this cargo was gems, gold, silver,
‘This cargo was gems and gold’
and other crown jewels. He believes it was destined for safekeeping at Wellow Abbey.
King John then proceeded with his two mile column across The Wash, losing the rest of his hoard.
Until now it had been assumed he diverted to Wisbech to arrange for supplies to be shipped to his garrison in the fast growing port of Grimsby.
“If so, surely that was a task that could perfectly well have been delegated to one of his lieutenants?” Mr Wright said.
“Alternatively, could the cargo have included some of his treasure, perhaps to be safeguarded at the Wellow Abbey with whose abbot the king seemed to have enjoyed more cordial relations than with clerics elsewhere?
“It has been claimed that John liked to secrete some of his jewels at monasteries only known to him.”
Wellow Abbey, also known as Grimsby Abbey, was founded about 1110 by Henry I, as a house of Austin canons. It was dissolved
by Henry VIII in 1536 and later demolished.
Centuries later the land was developed for hundreds of terraced and detached houses.
Mr Wright says: “Could precious heirlooms of English history lie buried in the foundations or in the gardens of some of the smaller houses that have since sprung up on the land in Grimsby where monks once carried out their meditative perambulations?”
The streets sitting on top of finds which could be worth millions
are those on the former Abbey site with names like Wellowgate, Abbey Road and Abbey Drive.
He added: “Hundreds will now doubtless harbour lingering hopes that one day, while digging up a crop of potatoes, carrots or parsnips, their spade will strike something unexpectedly hard.”
Although none of the treasure trove has been found according to official records, Mr Wright points to a study by academics from Nottingham University who sank
four boreholes in the area in the 1950s. Samples analysed contained traces of silver and gold.
Grimsby town hall also contains a magnificent panoramic painting of the king and his courtiers hunting in Bradley Woods – a local beauty spot which still exists.
Mr Wright is confident an archaeological investigation of the area could yield riches beyond all imagination.
He said: “Most of the robes, silks, tunics and other goods would have long since disintegrated. Likely to have survived would be sceptres, wands, swords, crosses and chalices – all made from gold – plus crown jewels.
“There may also have been the regalia of John’s grandmother, Lady Empress Mathilda, including a great crown, plus four rings presented to him by Pope Innocent III in 1205 before the parting of the ways.
“They were set with emerald, sapphire, garnet and topaz as well as being embroidered with other precious stones.”