19th October, 1216

19/10/2018 all-day

King John of England died. Reckoned by historians to be among England’s worst ever monarchs, he perished in mysterious circumstances.

According to legend, a few days earlier, he had lost his crown jewels in the treacherous muddy marshes of The Wash, in the badlands west of Lynn.

John was facing disaster on two fronts; after he ripped up the Magna Carta he had signed the previous year, not only were many of his barons rebelling against him, there was also an allied French army on his soil threatening him from the south and east. Setting off from Lynn, John travelled west via Wisbech into Lincolnshire in order to rally support.

By some accounts his baggage train, perhaps 2,000 people in all, carrying the king’s wardrobe and crown jewels, took the short cut across the wide estuary of The Wash. They never made their rendezvous with John. There is some doubt about what happened – but it seems likely they drowned on the way, washed away by swift moving tides, and the jewels were lost.

John himself died ignominiously at Newark, and a persistent legend has it he was poisoned, perhaps by a monk.

As for the jewels, despite extensive searches over many years in the land around Sutton Bridge on the Norfolk/Lincolnshire border, they have never been found. Not yet. . .