Tag Archives: Queen Elizabeth I

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

November 17th –  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 … the which was there present … the lord mayor …, and divers other lords and knights.  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.

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

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

 

St Etheldreda (and Ely Palace)

St Etheldreda – detail (Statue in Ely Cathedral)

June 23rd –  Today is the Feast of St Etheldreda …

The church of St Etheldreda

The church of St Etheldreda in Ely Place was originally built as a private chapel in Ely Palace (see below), owned by the Bishops of Ely,  in  around 1293, and pressed into service as an Anglican church after the Reformation.  It was undamaged  in the  Great Fire of 1666, although it has been somewhat modified subsequently.  It was “restored to the old faith” in 1874.  The interior contains a number of memorials to Catholic martyrs, including John Houghton, Prior of Charterhouse, who was hanged, drawn and quartered  at Tyburn in 1535 for challenging King Henry VIII’s  supremacy over the Church.  The exterior  is a rare, restrained  and fine surviving example of the Decorated Gothic style of ecclesiastical architecture.  The church is easily  overlooked on account of its tucked-away location (and small size).  Etheldreda was the Abbess of Ely in the seventh century.

John of Gaunt

John of Gaunt

Ely Palace

John of Gaunt lived in Ely Palace after his own Savoy Palace was destroyed in the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381, and he died there in 1399.  In a scene in Shakespeare’s  “Richard II”, set here, his dying speech includes the immortal words:

“This royal throne of kings, this sceptr’d isle,

This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,

This other Eden, demi-paradise

This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England”.

Reconstruction of Ely Palace (in the Crypt of St Etheldreda)

Reconstruction of Ely Palace (in the Crypt of St Etheldreda)

The palace’s gardens were said to produce the finest strawberries in London, in honour of which a “Strawberrie Fayre” is still held nearby  every June.  In a scene in “Richard III”, Gloster says to Ely:

“My Lord of Ely, when I was last in Holborn, I saw good strawberries in your garden there; I do beseech you, send me some of them”.

The palace’s Great Hall was famed for its banquets.  One such, in 1531, attended by the then king, Henry VIII and his queen,  Catherine of Aragon, is said to have lasted for five days!  According to surviving records, the guests managed to get  through 24 oxen, 51 cows, 91 pigs, 100 sheep, 168 swans, 444 pigeons, 720 chickens and over 4000 larks!

Sir Christopher Hatton

Sir Christopher Hatton

In 1576, the palace was ordered by Elizabeth I to be leased to  her  favourite Sir Christopher Hatton, for a rent of £10 a year, ten loads of hay, and a rose picked at mid-summer.   It remained more or less continuously  in the possession of the Hatton family until the death of the last Lord Hatton in 1772, when it was finally demolished to make way for what is now Hatton Garden.

The church and the site of the palace are  visited on our “Historic Smithfield, Clerkenwell and Holborn” standard walk, and on our “Medieval London”  themed special.

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, by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com), or by phone (020-8998-3051).

Wyatt’s rebellion

Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger (by Hans Holbein)

Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger (by Hans Holbein)

April 11th – On this day in 1554, on Tower Hill, Sir Thomas Wyatt was beheaded and quartered for high treason for his part in “Wyatt’s 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 February 3rd, 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 at Ludgate, where it was again faced down, and where it eventually broke up.

Site of execution of  Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger, Tower Hill

Site of execution of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger, Tower Hill

After the failure of his rebellion, Wyatt was tortured at the Tower before being tried, convicted and eventually executed.  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).

Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder (by Hans Holbein)

Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder (by Hans Holbein)

Note, incidentally, that Wyatt’s father, also Sir Thomas (1503-1542), was among other things a fine  poet, widely credited with introducing the sonnet into English literature.

 

 

 

The Tower of London, where Wyatt was executed, is visited on our “London Wall” and “Tower to Temple” standard walks, and on our “Tudor and Stuart London”, “Tudor and Stuart City highlights”, “Rebellious London” and “Lost City highlights”  themed specials.

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

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com), or by phone (020-8998-3051).

The Golden Hinde

Bow (Golden Hinde reconstruction)

April 4th –  On this day in 1581, Elizabeth I attended a banquet on board the Golden Hinde, which had shortly beforehand been “drawn into a creek … at Deptford as a perpetual memorial for having circuited round about the whole earth under the captainship of Francis Drake in 1577-80  (a plaque on the water-front there marks the site, commemorating the event).

She  “consecrated it with great ceremonie, pompe and magnificence eternally to be remembered”, and then knighted  Drake.  Readers may be interested to know that the ship, prior to its voyage of circumnavigation, was renamed the Golden Hinde in honour of Drake’s patron Sir Christopher Hatton, whose family coat-of-arms featured the device of a golden hind (it was originally named the Pelican).

Drake Plaque

Drake Plaque in Deptford

The original Golden Hinde remained in Deptford  for about 100 years, until it started to disintegrate and had to be broken up.

The modern reconstruction of the ship in St Mary Overie Dock is visited on our “Historic Southwark” standard walk.

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, by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com), or by phone (020-8998-3051).

Essex’s rebellion (1601)

Robert_Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex

Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex

February 8th – On this day in 1601, Robert Devereux, the 2nd Earl of Essex, 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.

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).

The site of Essex House is visited on our “Rebellious London” themed special.

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, by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com), or by phone (020-8998-3051).

Whose Exchange? The Queen’s Exchange

Sandwiched between a Bus and the Gherkin!

A Modern day contrast  – sandwiched between a bus and a Gherkin!

January 23rd – On this day in 1571, Elizabeth I opened the – first – Royal Exchange (see also blog on the Royal Exchange dated 7th June  here). As Stow put it:

“The Queen’s Majestie attended with her nobility, came from her house at the Strande, called Somerset House, and entered the City by Temple-bar, through Fleet streete, Cheap, and so by the north side of the Burse, to Sir Thomas Gresham’s, where she dined”.

The old Royal Exchange

The old Royal Exchange

The building,  originally intended to have been called Gresham’s rather than the Royal Exchange, was the brainchild of the financier and philanthropist Sir Thomas Gresham, and was modelled on the bourse he had seen in Antwerp. It 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”.

The Royal Exchange today

The Royal Exchange today

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 – image below.

Grasshopper, Royal Exchange

Grasshopper, Royal Exchange

Royal Exchange - a closer view

The site is passed on our “Tower to Temple – The Heart of the City” walk – details here.

Further details of all our walks are available in the “Guided Walks” section of our website.  Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the website, by email (lostcityoflondon@sky.com), or by phone (020-8998-3051).

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

Queen Elizabeth I croppedNovember 17th –  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 … the which was there present … the lord mayor …, and divers other lords and knights.  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.

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

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