On this day in history : 12th October 1216 – Bad King John loses his Crown Jewels in an attempted crossing of the Wash in East Anglia….

King John hunting – Public domain

King John has always had a reputation in the history books as being evil and incompetent…. 1216 – a year after the Magna Carta and the country was in a state of Revolt and King John had never been so unpopular; he had lost most of England’s land in France, had been excommunicated and had been forced to sign the Magna Carta….

An original version of the Magna Carta – Public domain

He was travelling from Spalding in Lincolnshire to Kings Lynn (then called Bishops Lynn) in Norfolk….and to avoid the rebel held area of East Anglia it was decided they should cut across the marshy area of the Wash…. As it was the King did not make the journey himself as he was taken ill with dysentery – but he sent his baggage train on ahead of him…. Some 3,000 of his entourage carried with them the Kingdom’s valuables, which included the Crown Jewels….

The tide was out on the Wash; the conditions were wet and muddy on the causeway – and the wagons moved too slowly…. Disaster was inevitable – the wagons sank in the mud and were engulfed…. The King’s men tugged at the horses but to no avail – and the tide was now coming in…. Soon everything was covered – and lost…. The Crown Jewels were never found – and as for King John – he died of his illness a week later….

King John’s tomb, Worcester Cathedral – Image : Greenshed at English Wikipedia – Public domain

2 thoughts on “On this day in history….12th October 1216

  1. Another great post Hazel, poor King John, lying on his sick bed whilst the Crown Jewels were lost in the mud of the Wash. Looking from todays perspective when we can’t always believe what we are told, perhaps it was a cunning ploy and the King had the Crown Jewels stashed away somewhere, knowing the crossing was bound to end in disaster……….. As they have never been found, we will never know……..


    1. Yes indeed! There are many who think King John was on the fiddle and hid the gems…. If he did, then he certainly got his just desserts!


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