Thursday 24 May 2018

What does Neville Audley, Blanche Heriot, and St Peter’s Church bell have in common? By Mary Anne Yarde #WarOfTheRoses #Folklore #Legends

What does Neville Audley, Blanche Heriot, and St Peter’s Church bell have in 

By Mary Anne Yarde.

For years England had been in turmoil as a bloody civil war raged across the kingdom. Families were torn apart, and neighbours were pitted against each other. You were either for the House of Lancaster or the House of York.

Fate favoured the brave, or so it was said...

Neville Audley wasn't sure if that was true. All he knew was that he wanted to go home and see the woman he loved, Blanche Heriot, just one more time. Once he had seen her, he would flee to the Continent and wait for King Henry to rally his forces. He could not stay in England, for that usurper, Edward of York, had claimed the throne for the second time and Audley now had a price on his head.

Audley almost made it home, but then disaster struck. Yorkist soldiers apprehended him at Chertsey. But Audley did not go down without a fight, he killed one man and a dog, before fleeing to Chertsey Abbey in the hope of seeking sanctuary.

He never made it.

Caught once again, he was sentenced to die at the sounding of the curfew bell. And may God have mercy on his soul.

Blanche was beside herself with grief, but Audley had a plan. He had once spared a York knight's life, and in gratitude, this York knight had given him a token of appreciation...a ring. If the owner of that ring could be found, then maybe, just maybe, he can return the favour.

Herrick Evenden, a mutual friend of both Audley and Blanche, agreed to go to London with all haste. Time was of the essence. The reprieve had to come before that bell rang.

Time marched on, and Audley knew that his dear friend would not make it back in time. As he was led towards the scaffold, he resigned himself to the fact that he would die to the sound of St Peter's church bell.

The rope was placed around his neck, and he closed his eyes briefly, seeking courage. When he opened them again, he searched for his beloved in the small crowd that had gathered, but she was not there.

The wait was agonisingly long, and the spectators began to look at each other. Something wasn't right. Surely the bell should have rung by now?

"Get it over with," Audley cried, for although he did not want to die, the wait was more than he could bear.

"Reprieve! Reprieve!" a man shouted as he pushed his way through the crowd. "A reprieve from the King."

Audley sighed with relief as the executioner removed the rope from around his neck.

Statue of Blanche Heriot in Chertsey
"Blanche, where is Blanche?" Audley asked as he stumbled down from the scaffolds. He had been given a second chance. And he was going to make the most of it. He would marry his beloved at the first opportunity.

"No one has seen her, my Lord," was the reply he received.

"We will find her," Evenden reassured.

"You are one lucky man," another replied. "God must have been looking out for you. For the bell should have rung by now." And they all watched as a detachment of soldiers headed to St Peter's Church.

Out of curiosity, Neville and Evenden followed.

And there they found Blanche, in the belfry tower, hanging on to the clapper of the bell for all her life was worth...

Mary Anne Yarde 

Mary Anne Yarde is the multi award-winning author of the International Bestselling Series — The Du Lac Chronicles. Set a generation after the fall of King Arthur, The Du Lac Chronicles takes you on a journey through Dark Age Briton and Brittany, where you will meet new friends and terrifying foes. Based on legends and historical fact, The Du Lac Chronicles is a series not to be missed.

Born in Bath, England, Mary Anne Yarde grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury — the fabled Isle of Avalon — was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood.

Mary loves to hear from readers, you can always find her here! You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook


  1. I love this tale! Do you know if it is actually true or folklore?

    1. It is a great story, Stephanie. In 1892, author, Albert Richard Smith, wrote a play for the Surrey Theatre, called "Blanche Heriot." He said he drew on the folklore of his home county. Blanche is certainly celebrated in Surrey. Is the story true...? It would be lovely if it was. It is so wildly romantic.

    2. No. It actually has no basis in fact


See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx