When I was a child, I wanted to be Robin Hood. Then at the age of 7 or thereabouts, I gave up the bow and arrow for a sword, becoming a self-proclaimed knight… ‘Sir Stephen of the Greenfields’. Then, one evening in winter in 1989, after discovering and poring over the pages of a book on Westminster Abbey, I went for the top-job; king. I liked the picture of the Coronation Chair, first used by Edward II in February 1308, and I fancied sitting on it. A crown of course, was a bonus. As my childhood gave way to being a grown-up, I was torn between the rather more realistic, but equally exciting world of the heritage professional, a lawyer or a writer. Rather unexpectedly, while I did not make it as a king past the age of 11, I have at least travelled down the path of historical writing and heritage management.
Since 2003, I’ve held a Bachelor of Arts with honours in History from King’s College London. My research based degree was taught through rigorous interrogation, debate and presentation of our historical past through an Oxbridge style university education, giving me insight into historical analysis, interpretation and historical writing. I am also an Associate of King’s College.
Departing from my postgraduate Law studies in 2004, I began working in heritage, first for English Heritage in early 2006 and then the National Trust since late 2007. Currently a General Manager, I spend my time looking after a portfolio of beautiful and perfectly formed properties in Warwickshire, England including the moated medieval manor house Baddesley Clinton, famous for its priest holes and Catholic recusants; Packwood House, a gentleman farmers dwelling grown into a large manor house with award winning herbaceous borders and iconic Yew Garden. The last in my portfolio is Coughton Court, seat of the Throckmorton family for over 600 years, whose ancestors include George Throckmorton, boon companion of Henry VIII, Elizabeth Throckmorton, wife to Sir Walter Raleigh, as well as three of the Gunpowder Plotters of 1605 fame.
I started researching the fourteenth century in my teens, carried on during my time at university with support from academic historians like Prof Anne Duggan and Prof David Carpenter, and sixteen years later haven’t stopped. Back in 2015, I dipped my toe into professional writing, and now have a monthly column in a Midlands magazine. I began pulling all my years of research on Edward II together, and with the help and support of Amberley Publishing, have published my first book, Edward II the Man: A Doomed Inheritance, which is available in places across the world. I have caught the writing bug, and I am currently working on my next project, a biography of Robert the Bruce, King of the Scots.
So many years on, I may not have made it as a professional Robin Hood, a chivalric knight or a king, but I guess with my readers in support, and time spent with my head in many a book or manuscript, I have at least tried to come close to a world I have always found much solace in.
I divide my time between Warwickshire, London and Birmingham, England.