Tag Archives: Elizabeth I

“All London did eat and drink and made merry” (Henry Machyn, 1558)

Sixteenth-century statue of Queen Elizabeth I, St Dunstan-in-the-West (formerly Ludgate) .JPG

On this day in 1558, Henry Machyn (see also March 17th posting, entitled “Life and death in Tudor London”) wrote in his diary:

“Between 11 and 12 a’forenoon, the lady Elizabeth was proclaimed queen Elizabeth, queen of England, France and Ireland, and defender of the faith, by divers heralds of arms and trumpeters, … dukes, lords  … and the lord mayor and the aldermen, and divers other[s].  The same day, at afternoon, all the churches in London did ring, and at night did make bonfires and set tables in the street, and did eat and drink and made merry for the new queen Elizabeth … ”.

It was the start of a Golden Age.

Queen Henrietta Maria returns from exile (Samuel Pepys, 1660)

On this day in 1660, Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary:

“So to White Hall, where when I came I saw the boats going very thick to Lambeth, and all the stairs to be full of people.  I was told the Queen [Henrietta Maria of France, the widow of the executed Charles I, and the mother of the then recently restored Charles II] was a-coming [home from the continent, where she had been in exile since her husband’s execution]; so I got a sculler for sixpence to carry me thither and back again, but I could not get to see the Queen; so came back, and to my Lord’s, … and I supt with him, he being very merry  … .  [Eventually] … I took leave of my Lord and Lady, and …  coach …  home … .  So to bed.  I observed this night very few bonfires in the City, not above three in all London, for the Queen’s coming; whereby I guess that (as I believed before) her coming do please but very few”.

On a related note, Somerset House, which  was once owned by Henrietta Maria, is passed on our “St Paul’s to Westminster Abbey” standard walk, and on our “Tudor and Stuart London” themed special (see also below).

Further details of all our walks are available in the Our Guided Walks section of this web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, or by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com).

Somerset House

Somerset House in 1722 (Kip)

The original Somerset House was built for the Lord Protector Somerset in 1547-50.  After Somerset’s  execution in 1552, it came to owned, occupied and modified in turn by the then-future Queen, Elizabeth I, in 1553; by    the then King, James I’s wife, Anne of Denmark, in 1603; by  the then-future King, Charles I, in 1619; and by the then King, Charles I’s wife, the French Henrietta Maria, in 1626.  It then survived the Civil War and Commonwealth of 1642-60, during which time it was temporarily appropriated by Parliamentarian authorities, as well as the Great Fire of 1666.  In 1669, the then King,  Charles II’s wife,  the Portuguese Catherine of Braganza, acquired it, and in 1692, shortly after Charles II had died and James II, who was a Catholic, had been deposed,  she relinquished it, fearing  for her safety there in the midst of what by that time had become a fiercely anti-Catholic populace.

Somerset House (2).JPG

Somerset House (1).JPG

Cool analytical light 005.JPG

It was then  allowed to fall into disrepair, and substantially demolished to make way for the present building in 1775.

Archaeology Room

Of the original, only some footings survive, in the “Archaeology Room” …

Catherine Guilermet, French servant to Henrietta Maria (d. 1633)

Edmund Fortescue, usher to Henrietta Maria and Catherine of Braganza (d. 1674)

Fr Hyacint(h), priest (d. 1692).JPG

… together with some headstones from the former – Catholic – chapel, in the “Dead House”.

Anti-Slavery Day


To its  shame, a significant proportion of London’s wealth in  post-Medieval and later times  derived from the slave trade.  In 1562, John Hawkins took three ships from London or Plymouth (sources differ) to Sierra Leone, where he  seized 300 Africans, “by the sword”.   Then,  in the “Middle Passage”, he  transported them across the Atlantic to the Spanish West Indies, where he sold them, as slaves, as commodities,  in order to purchase sugar, ginger and other goods.   And finally, he returned to London and sold his cargo to City merchants for a fortune, completing the repugnant triangle.  Hawkins’s venture  was backed by the Mayor of London, Thomas Lodge.  It was also  supported by the Queen, Elizabeth I, although apparently only after she had been – falsely – assured  that the enslavement was unforced.   She actually described forced enslavement as  “detestable”, as something that would “call down the vengeance of Heaven upon the undertakers”.

There is a fine exhibit on “London, Sugar & Slavery” in the Museum of London Docklands on West India Quay.

“Shakespeare and his fellow actors promise to be good neighbours” (Henry Carey, 1594)

On this day in 1594, Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, wrote to the Lord Mayor of London:

“Where my now company of players have been accustomed … for the service of her majesty [Elizabeth I] …  to play this winter time at the Cross Keys in Gracious [Gracechurch] Street; these are to require and pray your lordship (the time being such as, thanks be to God, there is now no danger of the sickness [plague]) to permit and suffer them to do so.  The which I pray you rather to do for that they have undertaken to me that, where heretofore they began not their plays till towards four o’clock, they will now begin at two and have done between four and five and will not use any drums or trumpets at all for the calling of people together and shall be contributories to the poor of the parish where they play, according to their abilities”.

Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon

Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon (1526-96) was a nobleman, a courtier to his cousin, Elizabeth I, and a politician as well as a patron of Shakespeare’s playing company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men.  He was the son of Anne Boleyn’s sister Mary, and it has been speculated that he was fathered by Henry VIII.

Cross Keys  plaque.JPG

The site of the Cross Keys, which was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, is visited on our “Historic Shoreditch and Spitalfields” standard walk, and on our “Tudor and Stuart London” and “Tudor and Stuart City Highlights” themed specials.

Further details of all our walks are available in the Our Guided Walks section of this web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, or by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com).

Theft of the Queen’s Chamber-Pot (John Stow, 1564)

Another in the occasional series on contemporary accounts of events in the history of London, this one written by John Stow in 1564  …

“On the xxvi day of September in anno 1564, … ware arrayned at ye Guildhall of London iiii personas … for ye stelynge and receyvynge of ye queens lypott [chamber pot], combe, and lokynge glasse, with a bodkin of gold to brayd hir heare, and suche  othar small ware out of hir chambar in her progresse.  And on … ye xxviii day of September, ii of them …  were bothe hangyd before ye Cowrte gate … .”.


The church of St Andrew Undershaft, where Stow is buried, is visited on various of our walks, including the “Tudor and Stuart London” and “Tudor and Stuart City Highlights” themed specials.


The Guildhall, where the arraignment took place, is visited on our “Medieval London” and “Medieval City Highlights” themed specials.

Further details of all our walks are available in the “Guided Walks” section of this web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, or by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com).

Celebrating Sir Francis Drake

General view of exterior of Middle Temple Hall

General view of interior

On this day in 1586, Sir Francis Drake was feted in the Middle Temple on his return from the New World – where he had been busy “privateering” (plundering Spanish possessions).

Drake is also famous as  the first person to circumnavigate the globe, between 1577-80, aboard the “Golden Hind(e)”.  On April 4th, 1581, Elizabeth I visited his ship, which had been “drawn into a creek … at Deptford as a perpetual memorial for having circuited round about the whole earth”, and “consecrated it with great ceremonie, pompe and magnificence eternally to be remembered”; and knighted him (see also April 4th posting).  The ship  remained at Deptford for about 100 years, until it started to disintegrate and had to be broken up.  A  plaque on the water-front there marks the site and commemorates the event.  There is a modern reconstuction of it  in St Mary Overie Dock in  Southwark.

Middle Temple Hall is visited on various of our walks, including the “Tudor and Stuart London”, themed special.

Further details of all our walks are available in the Our Guided Walks section of this web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, or by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com).

A real-life Fagin in Tudor London 


On this day in 1585, the Recorder of London, William Fleetwood, wrote in a letter to William Cecil, the First Baron  Burghley or Burleigh (*):

“[W]e … did spend the daie … searching out … sundrye that were receptors of ffelons … .  Amongst our travells this one matter tumbled owt by the waye, that one Wotton a gentilman borne, and sometyme a marchauntt man of good credyte, who falling by tyme into decaye, kept … neere Byllingesgate … a schole howse sett upp to learne younge boyes to cut purses.  There were hung up two devises, the one … a pockett, the other … a purse.  The pockett had yn it certen cownters and was hunge abowte with hawkes bells … ; and he that could take owt a cownter without any noyse, was allowed to be a … ffoyster: and he that could take a peece of silver owt of the purse … was adjudged a … Nypper.  Nota that a ffoister is a Pick-pockett, and a Nypper … a Pickepurse, or a Cutpurse”.

(*) A statesman and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I through much of her reign.