The Wars Of The Roses remembered in new stamp collection

Royal Mail Wars of the Roses stamp set
The Royal Mail is issuing a collection of eight special stamps remembering battles from the Wars of the Roses.

The new range will be released on Tuesday, May 4 to commemorate 500 years since the Battle of Tewkesbury, where Edward IV finally defeated the House of Lancaster. 

Each stamp features a battle scene painted by Graham Turner, a renowed Medieval artist whose historically accurate paintings you can find in many books on the period, and are available in the Promenades Travel shop

We asked Graham to tell us about this new series and the excitement of being involved. 

How does it feel having your images chosen for these special stamps? 
I am very proud to have had my paintings chosen for such a prestigious project, and it’s wonderful to think of my work travelling around the country - and the world – on people’s letters and parcels. I hope it helps bring this colourful and dramatic period of history into the public eye.

Several of the images that have been chosen are oil on canvas paintings that are more than 4ft wide, so there’s been a huge reduction in scale for the stamps, but I think they’ve reproduced remarkably well and retained the essential gist of the paintings. 

Has this project been long in the planning? 
I was approached in 2019 when Royal Mail were considering the Wars of the Roses as a future stamp. The battles had already been chosen so I supplied existing images for the stamps, and subsequently quite a few others for the presentation pack when Royal Mail realised the depth of Wars of the Roses subjects I’ve painted over the years.

Why is it important that we continue to remember the Wars of the Roses?
I have focussed on researching and painting the Wars of the Roses for over twenty-five years now, and I am currently working on a book of my Wars of the Roses art that is due for publication in 2023. 

It is a fascinating period of history, full of strong characters exhibiting the full range of human personalities (no different to today), strengths and weaknesses, set in a turbulent world of colourful pageantry, knights in shining armour - and bloody battles. 

You couldn’t make up a more dramatic script, with such twists and turns, triumphs and tragedies. It is also a poignant warning of the mess we humans can get ourselves into, often with similarly tragic results. 

We live on the same land where these events took place (not so long ago in the grand scheme of things), and can walk in our ancestor’s footprints on the battlefields where they fought to settle their differences – or those of the lord they followed – and many lost their lives. It is important we remember, to think of those who lived before us, and ideally endeavour to learn something from their lives.

What advice can you give to any budding historical artists?
To those who are similarly inspired to paint historical subjects I would repeat what I constantly try to remind myself – focus most of your effort on getting the foundations right, the people and settings, all of which we can see before us if we open our eyes and look. 

Get this looking natural and real in your paintings and drawings and you’re almost there - the carefully researched costume or armour is the finishing touch.

Buy the collection: the full set of stamps features the battles of St Albans, Northampton, Wakefield, Towton, Edgcote, Barnet, Tewkesbury and Bosworth, and includes stamps, postcards and presentation packs.

The range is available for pre-order here,

You can buy prints of Graham Turner's original paintings in the Promenades Travel Shop. See them here,

(Photo credit: Royal Mail)