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‘Outrageous Fortune’ book by Jane Greatorex
Jane Greatorex, Honorary Member of the DVS, is a publishing biographer of the de Vere earls of Oxford. Her eighth book in the de Vere series is called ‘Outrageous Fortune’: An Account of the de Vere Earls of Oxford Norman Keep and its environs at Castle Hedingham, Essex.
This is not a dedicated biography but a two-hundred-page, in-depth account of the Norman Keep and the ancient spur-mound on which it sits. No ordinary study of a ‘castle’ site, this A4, fully illustrated, fully referenced book begins with the origin of the local settlement[s], moving through ley lines, the Summer Solstice alignment, the Anglo-Saxon burgh, leading up to the arrival of the Normans.
The theme of Outrageous Fortune is based loosely on ‘Who-Why-When-Why here?’ and ‘-How’ theme, a compilation drawing on the expertise of many contributors. There is geology, arborology, geodetics, geophysics, meteorology, logistics, the role of two rivers and the Wash coastline. The presence of kings, queens, an empress and impact of several civil wars during construction, destruction and re-construction, together with the timeline of owners, their legal disputes and bequests, their embellishments and asset stripping are all part of the Keep’s rich history. Even the Spanish Armada has its impact in the insatiable demand for mature timber.
Several myths are laid to rest and, quite rightly, Edward de Vere, 17th earl of Oxford is placed in an open and more honest light.