Swineshead link to King John’s death

It’s claimed, among other things, that King John’s lost treasure is under someone’s grandma’s kitchen.

Over the years, there have been a number of searches in secret locations to try to uncover the hoard.

The Lost Treasure of King John author Richard Waters. Photo: SG181214-124TW

The Lost Treasure of King John author Richard Waters. Photo: SG181214-124TW

To add to the mystery – the jewels were supposedly lost in the Wash in 1216 – are the local legends that have built up concerning the coincidence of the king’s death just a few days later.

Now, just ahead of the 800th anniversary of that medieval document signed by King John, the Magna Carta, a new book attempts to throw more light on that time in history.

Richard Waters, bridge engineer for Lincolnshire County Council – he has overseen strengthening work on many bridges in South Holland – has brought out the third, updated edition of The Lost Treasure of King John.

The loss of the treasure in the estuary of what was called the Wellstream, where the Nene runs through Sutton Bridge, means the historical event is very much a part of this district’s history.

However, what is less known is that although King John died at Newark in the early hours of October 19, 1216, legend has it that it was a monk at Swineshead Abbey who was responsible for his death.

The king spent at least two nights at the Cistercian abbey, where the baggage train carrying the treasure was meant to have caught him up, before continuing his journey.

Richard says: “There are two local legends I have picked up and both relate to a character called Brother Simon, a monk at Swineshead Abbey who is said to have poisoned the king.”

The legend, depending on the version being told, either has it that Brother Simon did it because he unwittingly gave the king information that would lead to higher taxation and starvation among the people, or because the king asked for the abbot’s sister to be brought to his bed.

Richard says: “To lose the treasure and be potentially poisoned is too much of a coincidence. It was a plot possibly, or the treasure was disposed of by the king because he was short of money. The country was really bankrupt before he inherited it.”

The book is being launched at the Wheatsheaf Hotel, Swineshead, on Thursday, January 15 (7.30pm).