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More from Alice Raw

Joan of Leeds: A classic tale of boy meets girl, girl fakes death to escape nunnery.

Joan was forced to enter a nunnery by her parents. In 1318, she faked her own death and ran away to live a life of ‘carnal lust’ in Beverley. We’ve all been there.

Further Reading:
The Northern Way Research Project: https://thenorthernway151149306.wordpress.com/joan-of-leeds-her-own-story/

Three dames and a dildo.

In c.1340, a professional scribe of Shropshire copied down a fun fireside tale. Three women are off on a pilgrimage. On the road, one of them finds ‘a great huge penis, draped about with just its muzzle peeking out’ from behind a hawthorn bush. This episode considers a variety of stories of wandering genitalia, and the problems with picking up a disembodied penis off the road.

Eleanor Rykener: On reading a trans life, and the long view of queer public sex.

In 1394, a sex worker and a Yorkshireman are arrested in a stable for public sex, and specifically for ‘committing that detestable unmentionable and ignominious vice’, sodomy. The ensuing deposition reveals that Eleanor has been known as John at various times in their life, and has had sex with both men and women. This episode places Eleanor in conversation with other cases of queer public sex, in particular that of Simeon Solomon in 1873.

Further Reading:
For Kadin Henningsen’s article on Eleanor Rykener: https://ir.uiowa.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2189&context=mff
For the work of Simeon Solomon: https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O126681/the-bride-bridegroom-and-sad-drawing-solomon-simeon/
For Neil Bartlett’s A Vision of Love Revealed in Sleep: https://www.simeonsolomon.com/documents-online.html

More in United Kingdom

Henry VIII’s Lost Palaces: Esher Place

Only the gatehouse of the once lavish Esher Place remains, but step back in time to imagine the palace in its prime. It was a house of exile for Cardinal Wolsey and a place of mourning for Henry VIII, before serving as a private residence for the remainder of the sixteenth century. It even witnessed an early seventeenth century exorcism.