Friday, 15 July 2016

The Bishop and the Green Dragon

From the diary of the Rev. Standish, Junior Chaplain to the 1st Loyal Ludlow Infantry Battalion, Ludlow Expeditionary Force (bivouacked somewhere around Brimfield):

"God be praised! The Bishop of Hereford is alive and safe - but only just! Reports confirm that he was being detained in the "Green Dragon" Hotel in Broad Street as recently as last week : the only news we have had of him since the Battle of Foy, the very first engagement of the Expeditionary Force in the VBCW.

And the manner in which this information came to light! But for an attempt to murder the Bishop himself, we should never have known! It appears that Lord de Braose had the Bishop under lock and key within the "Green Dragon", two burly guards at attention on the door, the corridor leading to his room covered by a fixed machine gun and crew, Broad Street and the grounds of the Hotel crawling with BUF undercover men. They couldn't afford to let the Bishop escape, and were taking no chances. And yet amidst all this tight security, Royalist Radio is suggesting that an unnamed fanatic - a "crazed anarchist" escapee from Burghill Asylum - somehow "broke into" the Bishop's room and "lunged" at the Bishop "with a kitchen knife" - before being wrestled to the ground by the Royalist guard. Poppycock! The only people who could have got through that kind of security without the alarm being raised (or being riddled by machine gun bullets) were none other than the senior Royalist officers in charge  - and who more senior than de Braose himself?

The Green Dragon Hotel, Broad Street.
Scene of the attack on the Bishop of Hereford.

I have the true story from the EIS Liaison Officer here with the Battalion. It appears that de Braose, driven to distraction by "L'Affaire Mustard", visited the Bishop in his hotel room, accompanied by Lord Grover, with the demand that the Bishop pronounce an immediate annulment of the marriage. There were no grounds for such an annulment demand, of course; not even a proposal that an Ecclesiastical Court be convened to consider the issue.

The Bishop refused. Seeing no way out of his political dilemma, de Braose lost both his reason and temper, and immediately attacked the Bishop with his ceremonial BUF dagger! Papers scattering, a chair overturned and broken, glassed smashed - the Bishop put up his best defence before intervention by none other than Lord Grover himself, who pulled de Braose roughly away, shouting that he'd never agreed to murder!

All this explains, of course, de Braose's comical media strategy, the subsequent denial of his own marriage, and the disappearance of those poor little de Braose boys. And the cover up - why, the cover up tied up a few loose ends. Someone had attacked the Bishop, obviously. But it couldn't be de Braose himself. Why not place the blame on an unnamed "anarchist", then - and have Sergeant Ellis play the role? The general factotum in charge of the de Braose boys at the time of their disappearance, and the man who knew de Braose's most guilty secret? No trial of course, no opportunity to tell his story, or even prove his actual identity - just off to Burghill Asylum with him!

"I'm Ellis! I'm no anarchist!!" yelled de Braose's batman as was being hauled away by the BUF."Call me bad - but I'm not mad! I'm just a patsy!" It is most unlikely that anyone shall see any more of him - at least, not until the LEF take Burghill itself - deo volente - and release all the political prisoners de Braose has stashed away there...

Hereford City and County Lunatic Asyltum, Burghill.
De Braose's holding area for "special" political prisoners.

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