Posted on 05/03/2012
Time Team delved into the heritage of the De Vere family with the help of Dr Anna Whitelock, from the Department of History.
The episode, The Only Earl is Essex which was broadcast on Channel 4 last night (Sunday 4 March), saw Tony Robinson and the Time Team visit a beautiful stately home and garden in Essex owned by property magnate Paul Whight.
The site used to be owned by one of the nation's foremost families, the De Veres, who were better known as the Earls of Oxford.
In the twelfth century they founded a grand priory, which the Time Team believe is somewhere on the site. The show follows the team’s search of the grounds for the grand priory and also for evidence that the most famous and dissolute Earl of Oxford is buried there.
Dr Whitelock said: “It was exciting to be part of the team searching for the grand priory somewhere on this site. We know that centuries later they may well have built themselves a fine country house as well. I was discussing medieval monastic life, and the infamous seventeenth Earl of Oxford who, some believe, wrote Shakespeare's plays.”
The team rip up Paul's pristine lawns and subject his house to merciless scrutiny, gradually conjuring up the ghosts of the De Vere family.
To watch the episode again, visit the 4OD website.