Tag Archives: Elizabeth I

Theobalds House

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A “prodigy-house” called  Theobalds House was built at the heart of a Hertfordshire park-estate in 1564-85, by William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, one of Elizabeth I’s most trusted advisers (the queen is known to have visited him here on a number of occasions).  After William’s death in 1598, it passed to his son Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury; in 1607, to James I; and after James’s death here in 1625, to his son Charles I.   It was substantially demolished in 1650, during the Commonwealth that came into being after Charles’s  execution in 1649.  Some  romantic ruins remain.

A new house called The Cedars was built, a little to the north-west of Theobalds House, in 1762, by the then owner, George Prescott (the estate in the meantime having  had passed through the hands of the Dukes of Albemarle, who were granted it  after the Restoration of the Monarchy, and the Earls of Portland).  The house later passed through the Prescott family, and thence, in 1820, to the Meuxes  (*).  When Hadworth Meux died in 1929, it  became in turn a hotel, a school, and adult education centre, and a conference centre, and as of 2015 is once more a hotel.

(*) The Meuxes, of brewery fame, made extensive alterations and added extensions to the house during the nineteenth century.  In 1888, Lady Meux, a banjo-playing former barmaid, re-erected at its  entrance Christopher Wren’s Temple Bar, a gate-house that had  formerly stood between Fleet Street in the  City of London and the Strand in Westminster (until it had to be taken down to allow for the free flow of traffic).  Temple Bar was moved again in 2004, this time  back to the City of London, to Paternoster Square, just north-west of St Paul’s Cathedral.

 

 

Osterley

Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …

Osterley was first recorded in 1274 as Osterle, from the Old English eowestre, meaning sheep-fold, and leah, meaning woodland clearing. It is now a leafy suburb of Outer London.

Osterley House

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Osterley House was originally built here in 1576  for the wealthy City of London financier and philanthropist Sir Thomas Gresham, who had bought the manor of Osterley in 1562 (*).  It was described as a “faire and stately brick house”, and is known to have been visited by the Queen, Elizabeth I, in 1576.  The house was subsequently rebuilt in the eighteenth century for  Francis and Robert Child, the grandsons of Sir Francis Child, the founder of Child’s Bank (the architect being Robert Adam).  It is now owned by the National Trust.

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Only the brick stable-block survives from the original house.  It now houses a cafe and shop.

(*)  Gresham also bought the neighbouring Boston Manor in 1572/3.

Essex’s rebellion (1601)

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On this day in 1601, Robert Devereux, the 2nd Earl of Essex, allegedly led an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the then Queen,  Elizabeth I, and her court, a treasonous act for which he was later tried, convicted and, on February 25th, beheaded (at the Tower of London).  Four of his supporters, Sir Christopher Blount, Sir Henry Cuffe, Sir Charles Danvers and Sir Gelli Meyrick,  were also executed, on March 5th, although all the  others, including the Earl of Southampton, were spared.

A painting of Essex

Essex had earlier been publicly disgraced and politically and financially ruined by being placed under house arrest and removed from his office as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, for  failing to execute Elizabeth’s orders to him to suppress an insurrection in that country (led by the Earls of Tyrone).  It was in Essex House – on the Strand – that he hatched his crackpot  plot.  On February 7th, 1601 he took a boat from Essex Steps to the “Globe” in Southwark to bribe Shakespeare’s “Lord Chancellor’s Men” to stage a special performance of “Richard II”, overplaying the scene in which the King was deposed, with a view to encouraging support among the watching crowd.  The plan began to backfire on the morning of the fateful following day, February 8th, when four of the Queen’s men arrived to arrest him, and he was forced to take them hostage (one of them being Thomas Egerton, the 1st Viscount Brackley, the Lord Keeper).  However, he decided to carry   on regardless, and, with some two hundred followers, marched from Essex House upon the City.  When  they  arrived at the gates, they met with a hostile reception, having by that time  already been denounced as traitors (by Robert Cecil, the 1st Earl of Salisbury, the  Secretary of State).  At this, most of Essex’s  supporters deserted him, and he was forced to return to Essex House, where after a short siege, during which he attempted to destroy any evidence that might incriminate him, he found himself forced to surrender to the Queen’s men (under the  Earl of Nottingham).

 

Wyatt’s Rebellion

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In late 1553 to early 1554,  Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger plotted a rebellion against the Queen, Mary, and in particular her plan  to marry the Catholic King of Spain, Philip (*).

The aims of the rebellion were  to overthrow Mary; to put in her place her half-sister Elizabeth; and to have Elizabeth marry the Protestant Earl of Devon, Edward Courtenay.

These aims were to be achieved by force of arms, with each of the four main rebel leaders responsible for assembling  an army in his respective corner of the country before marching on London: Wyatt in Kent; Henry Grey (the father of Lady Jane Grey), the Duke of Suffolk, in Leicestershire; Sir James Croft in Herefordshire; and Sir Peter Carew in Devon.

In the event, only Wyatt succeeded in raising much of a rebel  army, which grew further on its march to London through desertions from forces sent to oppose it, and eventually became some four thousand strong.

The  army arrived in Southwark on this day, February 3rd, in 1554, to find its way into the City of London blocked at London Bridge by further forces, responding to Mary’s stirring rallying-call at the Guildhall two days earlier (the army  was also  threatened by cannon in the Tower of London, commanded by the Lieutenant of the Tower, John Bruges or Brydges, who intimated that he was prepared to put them to use).   It then  withdrew, wheeled west to Kingston to cross the river there, marched back east and  attempted to enter the City again at Ludgate, on February 7th or 8th (sources differ)where it was again faced down, and where it broke up.

After the failure of his rebellion, Wyatt was tortured at the Tower before being tried, convicted and eventually executed (on April 11th).  His torturers had evidently hoped that he would somehow implicate Elizabeth, but he did not.  Elizabeth was herself temporarily imprisoned in the Tower while her supposed complicity was further investigated, but none was ever  proven.  She eventually became Queen after Mary’s death in 1558, and restored to the Wyatt family the titles and lands that Mary  had confiscated after the failed rebellion of four years before, including Allington Castle near Maidstone (substantially destroyed in a fire in the seventeenth century, and subsequently restored in the twentieth).

(*) His  father,  Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder (1503-1542), was, among other things, a fine  poet, widely credited with introducing the Petrarchan sonnet into English literature.  Wyatt the Elder was himself twice imprisoned in the Tower, the first time, in 1536, for his supposed adultery with Anne Boleyn.

Hanworth

Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …

Hanworth was evidently first settled in Saxon times, and during the reign of Edward the Confessor in the early eleventh century the manor was held by one of the king’s “huscarls”, Ulf.

However, it was first recorded in  Norman Domesday Book of 1086, as Haneworth, from the Old English personal name Hana, and worth, meaning enclosed settlement.  At this time, the manor was owned by Roger de Montgomerie, one of William the Conqueror’s principal counsellors.  By the later Medieval period, it had come to be owned by  Sir Nicholas Brembre, sometime Lord Mayor of London, executed for treason in 1387.

By the post-Medieval period, the manor was Crown property, owned by King Henry VIII and various of his wives, and after the King’s death, by his daughter, the Princess and later Queen Elizabeth.

The Hanworth Farms Estate was built here at the turn of the  nineteenth and twentieth centuries, by William Whiteley, owner of the famous department store in Bayswater.  Hanworth Airport opened here in 1929, and closed in 1946, shortly after Heathrow was built nearby.

Historically part of Middlesex, Hanworth  is now part of the London Borough of Hounslow.

Church of St George

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The church of St George was originally built in the late thirteenth  century, and subsequently rebuilt in 1812, and extended in 1865, when the chancel and spire were added by S.S. Teulon.  The rebuilt church  incorporates some stonework from the  original   (in the west wall).  The church’s first rector was Adam de Brome, who founded Oriel College, Oxford, in 1309.

Manor House

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The post-Medieval and later manor house was substantially destroyed by a fire in 1797, with essentially only the stable block surviving, as a block of flats (“Tudor Court”).

Hanworth Park House

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Hanworth Park House was built as a replacement in 1820, and is currently derelict.

Whose exchange?  The Queen’s Exchange

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On this day in 1570/1, Elizabeth I opened the – first – Royal Exchange …

As Stow put it:

“The Queen’s Majesty attended with her nobility came from her house at the Strand called Somerset House, and entered the City by Temple Bar, through Fleet Street, Cheap, and so by the north side of the Bourse through Threadneedle Street to Sir Thomas Gresham’s in Bishopsgate Street, where she dined.  After dinner Her Majesty, returning through Cornhill, entered the Bourse on the south side; and after that she had viewed every part thereof above the ground, especially the Pawn, which was richly furnished with all sorts of the finest wares in the City, she caused the same Bourse by an herald and a trumpet to be proclaimed the Royal Exchange, and so to be called thenceforth and not otherwise”.

The exchange, modelled on the bourse in Antwerp, was the brainchild of the aforementioned City financier and philanthropist Sir Thomas Gresham (1519-79), and was originally intended to have been called Gresham’s rather than the Royal Exchange.  Incidentally, Gresham also founded Gresham College, by bequest.  He is buried in the church of St Helen, Bishopsgate.

The building was burnt down in the Great Fire of 1666.  An eye-witness, one Thomas Vincent, wrote:

“The Royal Exchange itself, the glory of the merchants, is now invaded with much violence.  And when once the fire was entered, how quickly did it run round the galleries, filling them with flames; then descendeth the stairs, compasseth the walks, giving forth flaming volleys, and filleth the courts with sheets of fire.  By and by, down fall all the kings upon their faces, and the greatest part of the stone building after them, with such a noise as was dreadful and astonishing”.

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A replacement was built in 1669, and burnt down in 1838; a second replacement was in turn built in 1844.  The grasshopper on the top of the building is Gresham’s insignia.

 

The coronation of Elizabeth I (1559)

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On this day in 1559 (*), Elizabeth was crowned queen in Westminster Abbey in London.  Her coronation procession, which saw her borne amid the throng on a golden litter, paused on its way for the staging of five pageants in her honour.   The first pageant symbolised her Genealogy, and emphasised her “Englishness” and Protestantism (in contrast to her late sister Mary’s “Spanishness” and Catholicism), and her descent from Henry Tudor and Elizabeth of York, whose marriage had  unified the country after the Wars of the Roses.  The second, her Government, and its virtues of True Religion, Love of Subjects, Wisdom and Justice.  The third, during which the Lord Mayor presented her with a gift of gold, the Interdependence of the Crown and the City.  The fourth, during which a figure representing Truth presented her  with a copy of the Bible bearing the English inscription “The Word of Truth”, the Thriving – English, Protestant – Commonwealth.   The fifth, Elizabeth as Deborah, the prophetess of the Old Testament who rescued the House of Israel and went on to rule for forty years.

The symbolism and Elizabeth’s  own words  greatly reassured the anxiously watching public, and her dignified demeanour and common touch further warmed her to them.  At one point in the proceedings, she pledged “And whereas your request is that I should continue your good lady and be Queen, be ye ensured that I will be as good unto you as ever Queen was unto her people. No will in me can lack, neither do I trust shall there lack any power. And persuade yourselves that for the safety and quietness of you all I will not spare if need be to spend my blood. God thank you all”.

(*)  The date was chosen as a particularly auspicious one by Elizabeth’s astrologer John Dee.