Tag Archives: House of Commons

Fall from grace (Archbishop William Laud, 1640)

Laud - Copy

On this day in 1640, Archbishop William Laud was arrested, and wrote in his diary:

“I was accused by the House of Commons for high treason, without any particular charge laid against me … .  Soon after, the charge was brought into the Upper House [of Lords] … .  I was presently committed to the Gentleman Usher, but was permitted to go in his company to my house in Lambeth for …  such papers as pertained to my defence … .  I stayed in Lambeth till the evening to avoid the gazing of the people … .  As I went to my barge, hundreds of my poor neighbours stood there and prayed for my safety and return to my house, for which I bless God and them”.

Laud was later imprisoned in the Tower of London, early in 1641.

Laud's trial in the House of Lords

After the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642, he was tried  for and convicted of high treason in the House of Lords, in 1643-4, and eventually executed on Tower Hill, in 1645.   Among the charges levelled  against him were:  “That, by false erroneous doctrines, and other sinister ways and means, he went about to subvert religion, established in this kingdom, and to set up popery and superstition in the church … .  […] That to suppress preaching, he hath suspended divers good and honest ministers, and hath used unlawful means, by letters, and otherwise, to set all bishops to suppress them.  […] That, to save and preserve himself from being questioned and sentenced from these and other his traiterous designs, from the first year of his now Majesty’s reign, until now, he hath laboured to subvert the rights of parliamentary proceedings, and to incense his Majesty against parliaments … .”

Laud had previously been made Bishop of London in 1628, and Archbishop of Canterbury in 1633, and become known for his “High Church” views, and his fierce opposition to and persecution of Puritans.

The church of St Margaret, Westminster

 

On this day, Palm Sunday, in 1614, the House of Commons assembled in the church of St Margaret, Westminster, to take Holy Communion together for the first time.

The church was probably originally  built in the late eleventh century, and subsequently rebuilt in the fourteenth and again in the late fifteenth to early sixteenth, between 1482-1523, although it has also been much modified subsequently.   It became the unofficial “parish” church of the House of Commons after  1614.   In 1647, under the Puritans, the wardens were fined for celebrating Christmas!

Among those buried here are William Caxton, whose printing press was nearby, at the sign of the “Red Pale”, in  1491/2; Walter Ralegh, in 1618; John Pym, in 1643; and Wenceslaus Hollar, in 1677.  And among those married here, Samuel  Pepys, in 1655; and John Milton, in 1656 – not to mention Winston Churchill, in 1908!  Sadly, photography is not permitted in the interior of the church, and I have been unable to find any images of it that I can share without infringing copyright.