King Rufus,,

Tuesday 8th January 2013

The brief story from the New Forest,,

Picture of Medieval King and leaders

King William Rufus…
The story and biography of William Rufus which contains interesting information, facts & the history about the life of William Rufus. William of Malmesbury (1095 – 1143) was an English historian during the 12th century who described the court of the Red King as being filled by “effeminate” young men in extravagant clothes mincing about in “shoes with curved points”.

King William II ( William Rufus – The Red King )
William the Conqueror was obliged to let Normandy pass to Robert, his eldest son; but he thought he could do as he pleased about England, which he had won for himself. He had sent off his second son, William, to England, with his ring to Westminster, giving him a message that he hoped the English people would have him for their king. He is sometimes called the Red King, but more commonly William Rufus. William Rufus let his cruel soldiers do just as they pleased in England, and spoil what they did not want. He cared only for being powerful, for feasting, and for hunting.

The atrocities in Jerusalem started the preaching of Peter the Hermit and led to the First Crusade.  Many thousands promised to go on this crusade and among them was Robert, Duke of Normandy. But he had wasted his money, so that he could not fit out an army to take with him. So he offered to give up Normandy to his brother William while he was gone, if William would let him have the money he wanted. The Red King was very ready to make such a bargain, and he laughed at the Crusaders, and thought that they were wasting their time and trouble.

In England Rufus removed the Archbishop of Canterbury, St. Anselm, and everyone else who tried to object to his behaviour. He was hated by the people who dislike the court and the favor that King William II showed to Ranulf Flambard, whom he appointed Bishop of Durham in 1099. Rufus had never showed any interest in women. He did not marry, nor produce any heirs to the English throne.

In the year 1100, Rufus went out to hunt deer in the New Forest. He was later found dead under an oak tree, with an arrow through his heart by peasants. A wood-cutter called Purkis took his body in his cart to Winchester Cathedral, where he was buried. Who shot the arrow nobody knew, and nobody ever will know. Some thought it must be a knight, named Walter Tyrrell, to whom the king had given three long good arrows that morning. Walter Tyrrell rode straight away to Southampton, and went off to the Holy Land; so it is likely that he knew something about the king’s death. The Norman friends of Rufus fled the English court and returned to Normandy.

The Death of King William Rufus – The Rufus Stone…

The death of the Red King remains a mystery. A stone, known as the Rufus Stone, marks the place where he was found. The inscription on the Rufus Stone is as follows:

“Here stood the oak tree, on which an arrow shot by Sir Walter Tyrell at a stag, glanced and struck King William the Second, surnamed Rufus, on the breast, of which he instantly died, on the second day of August, anno 1100. King William the Second, surnamed Rufus, being slain, as before related, was laid in a cart, belonging to one Purkis, and drawn from hence, to Winchester,
and buried in the Cathedral Church, of that city.”

The Rufus Stone

Here it says that nobody knew who shot the arrow but there is a story that it was Sir Walter Tyrell..The story goes that an arrow was shot, supposedly at a stag, by the Frenchman Sir Walter Tyrell who was the King’s best archer, but the arrow struck an oak tree and ricocheted off it straight into the chest of the king, puncturing his lung and killing him there and then. Depicted below with this lithograph.

An 1895 lithograph of William Rufus' death

There are differing stories about Sir Walter Tyrell and one is that ..Sir Walter hot-footed it back to Normandy in fear of being charged with the King’s murder, the tale says that he stopped at a blacksmith on the way and had his horse re-shod with backwards facing horseshoes, so as to confuse the chasers! 
As it happened, there were no chasers because no-one was particularly upset about the King’s death. 
Indeed, there wasn’t even an effort to recover the king’s body by the Crown; a local charcoal burner named Purkis loaded the corpse onto his cart and carried it to Winchester Cathedral, where a somewhat low-key burial was performed.

Where I used to live there was a shop, grocery store in the high street of a New Forest village of Brockenhurst, just a few miles away from this, Called Purkis’s. Their history is goes back, but not sure if it is true to going back to charcoal burner taking the body to Winchester. There is the stone which is pictured, and further along the road there is a public house called ‘The Sir Walter Tyrell’ it is a very popular pub. Back in the 1970’s I play a couple of gigs there. Oh such times.

Sir Walter Tyrell at Brook The Sir Walter Tyrell.

Enjoy0.jpg     Publication198CyKlopps req


20 thoughts on “King Rufus,,

    1. Well, if you like this then watch this space, because this is part of my change for 2013, more local stories if I can find them or remember them.. welcome and appreciated.. 😉

  1. I kept passing by the Rufus stone, but on our last visit, after staying with a friend in Brockenhurst, we did get there. I also have pictures of it. I remember thinking at the time that getting punctured couldn’t have happened to a more appropriate person.

    1. Hey it really seems weird to write something like this and actually read that another blogger has encountered it as well.As you know it is not to far away from Brockenhurst, and such a wonderful place to be. live by the arrow die by the arrow.. thank you so much, welcome and appreciated..:)

  2. Love to travel vicariously to historical destinations on my wish list through posts like this. This is fascinating and the story telling of this should be shared repeatedly so the history and connection to your village is never lost.

    Interesting that the King was so ruthless; and that he also died in a ruthless and violent death at the hands of someone else, quite possibly foreshadowing that the way he lived his life was how it was in the end.

    Thank you My Kind Sir for sharing this. I favor this new direction that you are taking restawyle. Please kindly bring on more ~

    1. My lady thank you for your words and it is feed back like this that I need as i know what to do and continue with new stories of the New Forest of mostly nearer my home. It was pretty weird when I can relate the gigging in the nearby pub. The stone that was erected is allegedly in the wrong place… more feed back welcome and thank you so very much…:)

      1. My Kindest Sir you bring such great folklore to the current attention of those of who would no doubt ever be privy to such a great piece of history.
        Re-telling is documenting, documenting is archiving…..
        Excellent as it was meant to be.
        Again thanks so much for sharing.~

  3. So, it may not have been murder or assassination but instead manslaughter. In any case, it rings true to the old adage, “What goes around, comes around.”

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