Saturday, 25 March 2017

The Glory that is Rome. Triumphal Roman Entry into Rickmansworth.

Rickmansworth Young Ladies College Remembers

The Glory that is Rome.

The Triumphal Roman Entry into Rickmansworth.

It was time for lights-out in Boadicea dormitory at the Rickmansworth Young Ladies College formally known as Denham Hall when Rhonda informed us it was a Roman Centurion named Atticus Romulus who named the tiny hamlet on the road to Londinium Rickmansworth in the year… something or other A.D. Phaedra asked how she can be sure it was not already known as Rickmansworth before the Roman Army arrived. 

Good question, however there is certainly no record of a Rickmansworth ever existing prior to the Roman invasion of Britain, so it is quite possible the Romans could well have the named it Rickmansworth, the name everyone recognizes today.

I suspected Tamzin was in for the long haul when she asked Rhonda if Atticus had any brothers or sisters. It was the ideal moment to bail out. Turning over I whispered “Rhonda I am going to sleep, goodnight” followed by a further ‘goodnight’ from Patience. Rhonda had suddenly lost her audience.

It was Mr Crisis our Science teacher who on a fly-by of Earth from an unnamed universe whose people have been traversing the Galaxies and Universes as bolts of pure energy for the last 100,000 million years was attracted to our primitive planet and decided to stay a while, but I explained all this in another article.

It was also Mr Crisis that using powers we do not understand returned home the Ghosts of the Roman Soldiers that nightly wandered the corridors of Denham Hall that Rhonda and I had seen walking through the Concert Hall wall across the corridor and through the Science room wall. 

Tamzin said quote “Imagine being marooned for ever and an eternity in Rickmansworth it doesn’t bear thinking about”. I will not dwell on these events it is very sad.

Mr Crisis had not made himself popular with Miss. Pringle or Miss Sefton the Head Mistress when he accidently took Rhonda off to Epsilon Bootis by mistake using a machine he had knocked up in the science lab but he has now been re-employed and is back on staff. Rhonda’s mother was hopping mad and really tore a strip off Mr. Crisis over that debacle; you could tell she was not amused.

Today Miss. Pringle was to take the sixth form girls to Ruthin Castle near Plaxtol Mill for a history lesson. Colonel Carter–Brown said he would provide afternoon refreshments at no extra charge. I should explain Ruthin Castle was originally a Roman Fort and when the Romans left it had been gifted for services rendered by Cerdric King of Wessex to one of his Generals something like 1500 years ago.

Many years later it was restored and acquired by an early ancestor of the Carter-Brown family a man named Hagar the Bold which completely contradicts Rhonda’s version which she said was gifted to a Freeman by the name of ‘Ethelbert the Unready’. 

Hagar the Bold being the apothecary to King Henry 8th was the first to experiment using drugs to help alleviate King Henry’s painful Gout. Miss. Pringle glared crossly at Tamzin when she overheard her querulously announce “I didn’t realise Henry was on drugs"

The assembled girls boarded the school bus for the short ride to Ruthin Castle. Arriving at the Castle they were met by the man himself Colonel Carter-Brown in full country outfit wearing riding breeches and carrying a whip, or is that a Crop? The Colonel’s secretary led the girls into an Ante Room and gave them a potted history of the castle and a free souvenir brochure then led them into the huge library.

Tamzin’s first impressions of the ornate library were thinly disguised when she whispered “do you think we will get lemonade and cakes while we are here?” She had better pay attention or she would not be able to regale us with one of her famous lectures after lights out.

The tour culminated with a guide through the enormous picture gallery. There the Colonel introduced paintings of his ancestors. In pride of place hung a very large portrait of Hagar the Bold looking very grand and holding a bottle with something in it.

We were all suitably impressed. To Tamzin’s delight there was lemonade and cakes for the girls for afternoon tea. Miss. Pringle said we can roam the Picture Gallery for the next quarter of an hour before returning to College.

Phaedra, Rhonda and I went back to the table specially set up in the library to see if there was any cake left but there wasn’t. A couple of minutes later Tamzin rushed in. She said excitedly "Quick! Quick come and see what I have found in the Picture Gallery” We followed Tamzin back to the now empty Picture Gallery. “See the painting of Hagar the Bold and his dog, well I tapped on the wall to see if it was made of plywood or whatever and look what happened. I will do it again, look, watch”

She knocked twice on the mahogany wood panelling and about a foot below the painting a small disguised drawer appeared as if by magic. “OOER look” cried Phaedra.

In the small drawer there  was a small heavily illuminated manuscript. Phaedra withdrew it and turned the pages. There was a gasp from the girls; it was the long lost ‘Rickmansworth Codex’. It was the official Roman manuscript of the naming of the town by Atticus Romulus a Roman general in the invading Army.

It showed when the Roman divisions left England it was decided if there was to be a name change the choice was to be between retaining the Anglo Saxon name of Iolanthus or a name change to the Roman name Rickmansworth. The manuscript showed beyond doubt the name Rickmansworth was officially recognized in the year 400 AD.

Tamzin said “ How did the Codex end up here"

I surmised "maybe in our parlance  it was souvenired"

Tamzin said excitedly "Shall we tell Colonel Carter-Brown or Miss Pringle?” We told Miss Pringle, it was she who informed the Colonel.

Phaedra pointed out that the Rickmansworth council might even declare another public holiday and we might get an extra day off.

Denham Hall Concert Hall was agog with excitement, packed with the students, teachers, parents, and council luminaries. Tamzin, Rhonda, Phaedra and I stood on the stage. There were lovely things said about us and Miss Pringle actually smiled at us.

The town mayor confirmed there will be a special Day each year reserved to commemorate the finding of the lost Rickmansworth Codex. There was a reporter from the Sun Newspaper and the finding of the Codex even made it on the BBC National news. Being the heroine Tamsin was surrounded by reporters. Her parents had motored up from Cornwall to witness this very historic event.

If it was not for Tamzin the illuminated manuscript The ‘Rickmansworth Codex’ would have remained hidden for ever or an eternity, whichever is the longer. I don’t think we will be listening much to Rhonda for the next few days but rather to Tamzin and the story of her exciting find at Ruthin Castle. The college was given the keys to Ruthin Castle by Colonel Carter-Brown, whatever that means in appreciation for the huge free publicity but later he was forced to take on another two staff and a gardener to cope with the huge numbers of Japanese tourists. The history books will have to be rewritten. 

Rickmansworth had come of age.

Photo supplied by Alamy