It’s said that today in 1455, the Wars of the Roses began in England.

The civil wars over who should be king led to, well, mostly battles, but also the legendary love story of Blanche Heriot.

Some or maybe all of the story is likely legend, but it’s rooted in the real battle of Tewkesbury, in the spring of 1471.

The House of York had regained the throne, and people who had fought for the House of Lancaster had essentially become traitors.

According to the story, one of them was Neville Audley.

He was planning to leave the country, and first stopped in the town of Chertsey, which was home to his beloved, Blanche Heriot.

Audley came to Chertsey Abbey seeking sanctuary, but what he found instead was a group of Yorkists.

They took him prisoner, but decided that since he had committed treason he would have to… well, we all know what the punishment for treason is.

And they decided that they would carry out the punishment the very next night.

In Chertsey, nighttime officially began after the ringing of the town bell, which was a reminder that everyone needed to put out their fires and hit the hay.

Neville and Blanche knew for whom that bell would toll.

Fortunately, they also knew that, in these situations, it was not unusual for a guy in Neville’s position to be given a royal pardon.

The Yorkists got to be tough guys in the situation, while the king would get to show how forgiving he was.

So they sent a guy to ride to the king in London, he explained the situation, and the king granted the pardon.

But the rider had to make it back to Chertsey before nighttime, or the pardon would end up being posthumous.

And in those days, it was a good long ride from London to Chertsey.

Legend has it that when it was time to ring the bell and bring on the night, the rider carrying the pardon was still a mile out of town.

The Yorkists went forward with the night’s plans, and had someone pull on the rope to ring the town bell and start the execution.

But when they did so, the bell didn’t make a sound.

Blanche Heriot had climbed into the bell tower and grabbed onto the bell’s clapper, to keep it from hitting the side of the bell.

No matter how hard someone tugged on that rope, the bell wasn’t going to ring.

Blanche bought the rider just enough time to make it to town and explain to everyone that the king had called off the execution.

She and Neville could then live happily ever after.

Centuries later, the legend became the subject of a ballad poem and a play.

And there’s actually a statue of Blanche Heriot in action in Chertsey today, holding tight to that bell literally like someone’s life depended on it.

Today in 1980, Pac-Man burst forth into the world.

The hungry yellow dude became a worldwide hit – so well known that political protesters could use his image to try to make a point.

In 2021, a group of artists in the Czech Republic created a crop circle in the shape of Pac-Man to protest the prime minister and a big agricultural company.

They did not, however, give the crop circle Pac-Man a power pellet.

Women of Runnymede (Chertsey Museum)

Huge Pac-Man crop circle was guerrilla art protest against Czech prime minister (Boing Boing)

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Photo by Sarah via Flickr/Creative Commons