Nichola de Haye of Swaton

Another old medieval tomb. Another dainty looking woman in old fashioned clothes. Be not deceived; this gentle dame is none other than Nichola de Haye. At the time of Richard the Lionheart and King John, she was hereditary keeper or castellan from 1214 of Lincoln Castle and Sheriff of the county. During that year, the Count de Perche laid siege to the castle but Nichola maintained a brave defence, holding it for her king. She had already held it in 1191, when she was besieged by William de Longchamp, and his small army of sappers and knights, her husband being away with the monarch.

King John came to Lincoln in 1216 and a document describes a meeting between the King and the Lady. Nichola offered the keys in her hand to her liege lord. She said she was an old woman of great age and had withstood many labours and anxieties in the defence of the castle and could bear such troubles no longer. King John replied to her gently, saying: “Please preserve as hitherto.” Her tomb bears a life size statue of her in Swaton, Lincolnshire, the manor to which she finally retired. This may account for why so small a village boasts so gigantic a church.

Medieval women could not and did not lead armies, bear weapons or fire catapults. But they could, evidently, hold castles, withstand sieges and be faithful to their king even when they were left on their own. Nichola de Haye offers each of us a challenge- both men and women. We may not be physically strong, but can we hold the fort for our great King until He comes? We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but fight we do. Will you stand firm in faith, hold fast in prayer, be unswerving in  loyalty to the Captain? She did, and John was a pretty awful king. Our Lord Jesus is far worthier a monarch.

but you shall hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day.

Joshua 23:8