[MR] Medieval Abbey Escape Tunnels

Garth Groff and Sally Sanford mallardlodge1000 at gmail.com
Fri Aug 6 03:23:48 PDT 2021

Noble Friends,

Yesterday I reported on the discovery of a tunnel near and possibly somehow
connected with Tintern Abbey in Wales. I briefly speculated on its possible
uses, including as both a sewer and an escape tunnel. This is not a
far-fetched idea, and I offer you two cases when this is known to have
happened in history.

King of Scots James I made many enemies during his reign, ruthlessly
dispossessing and executing any nobles whom the King feared were too
powerful, particularly his own Stewart relatives. He successfully
eliminated the Albany Stewarts, and began maneuvering against the Atholl
branch, including Walter Stewart, Duke of Atholl, who was next in line for
the crown after the King's own son. In February 1437 the King was in
residence at the Blackfriars monastery in Perth. He enjoyed playing tennis
during his off-hours, and had ordered a sewer to be grated to prevent the
loss of his tennis balls. On the night of 20 February, a large band of
Atholl Stewart supporters snuck into the monastery where they attacked the
King and Queen. James tried to escape through the sewer, but found his way
out blocked by the very grating he had ordered installed. Here he was
dirked multiple times in the approved Scottish fashion:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_I_of_Scotland .

Another sewer escape was more successful. Around 1187 Robert Norreis (or
Norris) was a monk at Christ Church Priory, a house attached directly to
Canterbury Cathedral. In a dispute between the monks and the Archbishop,
Norreis was sent by the monks with an appeal to King Henry II. At court
Norreis switched sides to support the Archbishop, and was awarded with a
royal appointment as the priory cellerar. The monks objected to the
appointment, as well as the treason, and imprisoned Norreis when he
returned. In 1188, Norreis escaped captivity through a sewer, earning
himself the name Roger Cloacarius ("Roger the Drain Cleaner"). Norreis went
on to a long career in the Church marred by deceit, consorting with "low"
women, theft of church funds and property, and mistreatment of the monks
under his administration, particularly at Evesham Abbey:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Norreis .

Yours Aye,

Lord Mungo Napier, Laird of Mallard Lodge  🦆

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