Archive for November, 2009

Although history has much to say about king Henry VIII there was relatively little interest in him as a child. Although Henry was one of six other children, only four lived to adulthood, Henry himself, two sisters, Margaret and Mary and Henry’s older brother, Arthur.

Arthur was born in 1486 (only one year after his fathers victory at Bosworth) in Winchester and was named after King Arthur. His birthplace was chosen specifically for its connection to King Arthur, at the time, Winchester was believed to be the historical site of Arthur’s court, Camelot.

Henry VII was always aware that his claim to the throne was quite a weak one, it was his intention that associating his son with King Arthur would help to re-enforce his position.

Marriage & early death

Ludlow Morning 3

Ludlow Morning 3 by geospace on Flickr (Click image)

As part of a further attempt to ensure his position, Henry VII arranged a marriage between his son and the Spanish princess, Catherine of Aragon. Catherine arrived in England in 1501 and the couple were married in St Paul’s cathedral. As Arthur was Prince of Wales the couple headed for Ludlow from where Arthur was head of the Council in charge of Wales.

It was in Ludlow that Arthur died in 1501, possibly of tuberculosis or from ‘sweating sickness’ a mysterious and feared illness of the day. The body lay in state in Ludlow for three weeks before being moved for burial.

Ludlow Castle

Ludlow Castle by orrellsphoto on Flickr (Click image)

Catherines family had been a little reluctant to allow the marriage because of fears about the possible overthrow of Henry by rival claimants. However, after such a short marriage they felt justified in asking for the dowry back.  Henry VII was reluctant to comply and instead played a game of cat and mouse with her parents, not wanting to return her but not wanting to actually marry her to his second son Henry.

This lasted for 7 years and she was still not married to Henry VIII, when Henry VII died.  The decision to marry eventually fell to the new king, Henry VIII married Catherine shortly after he came to the throne.(1)

Worcester Cathedral

Worcester Cathedral : Taken by Flash of Light on Flickr (Click image)

Burial at Worcester

Arthur was taken to be buried at Worcester Cathedral where his ornate tomb stands to this day. Prince Arthur’s Chantry is an ornate addition to the Cathedral, and is sited to the right of the Altar. The step leading into the chantry has been worn smooth over the years – it is strange to stand here and imagine that previously Queen Elizabeth the first also passed by here – she is known to have visited the tomb during one of her Royal progressions through Worcestershire.

Heraldic symbols on Prince Arthur’s chantry

Heraldic symbols on Prince Arthur’s chantry : by Little Miss Sunnydale (Click image)

The chantry is decorated with carvings of the Tudor rose – note also the pomegranate which is the heraldic symbol of Catherine of Aragon. I suspect (but am not sure) that this would have originally been painted, if anyone knows it would be great to hear from you.

Prince Arthur's tomb

Prince Arthur's tomb by AJK Photography on Flickr (Click image)

The Chantry  at Worcester was seriously damaged during the time of King Edward VI. Many churches suffered at the hands of iconoclasts who believed that reverence for physical objects was akin to ‘idolatory’.

During this period mass books, priests vestments and carved images such as crosses and saints figures were deliberately vandalised. It was during this period that English churches acquired their stripped down and uncluttered appearance that has largely survived to this day.

Iconoclasm on Prince Arthur’s tomb

Iconoclasm on Prince Arthur’s tomb (Little Miss Sunnydale on Flickr)

Worcester Cathedral

The Cathedral overlooks the river Severn in the heart of Worcester. Building commenced in around 1084, over the years the Cathedral has been through many stages of development and features a range of building styles.

Worcester is particularly proud of its choir – I was lucky enough to be there one day when they were practising and it is hard to describe just how wonderful this sounded. If you ever get the chance then you must visit the cathedral – in the meantime, take a look at this video which will give you an idea of what it is like.

(1) Note – update 18.12.2009: this section contained an inaccuracy which was kindly corrected by Gussiebuns (see comments) – many thanks

PS You may like to check out geospaces photography website & also Worcester Cathedral website – also, if you like the English landscape then do yourself a favour & take a look Neil Dotti’s work ‘Three Counties Photography’

Also take a look at Andrew Kelsalls website

PS Events have conspired to hinder my usual blogging activities – I hope to get back on track over the next few weeks.

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ANNA AND HER SISTERSWhilst doing a bit of research for another post I found out a little more about Anne of Cleves. Anne is well known to us because of the famous Holbein portrait, she is also remembered because of Henry VIII’s famously negative reaction to her.

A powerful family

Born on the 22nd September 1515, Anne was the second daughter of Johann (or John) III – known as ‘the peaceful’. John ruled the duchy of Juliers-Cleves an independent part of the Holy Roman Empire and a territory he partly inherited and partly acquired through marriage to his wife Maria.

Although she came from a relatively small territory, Anne had an impeccable royal lineage – she was descended from Edward I of England and John II of France.

John III Dule of Cleves – Annes father

Annes brothers and sisters.

Anne was the second of four children, her oldest sister Sybille was born in 1512 (top of post on the right) William, born in 1516 who succeded his father as Duke (pictured below) and Amelia (pictured top of post in the middle/rear).


William, Duke of Cleves, brother of Anne of Cleves (Borrowed from Lisby1 on Flickr : click image))


Juliers-Cleves occupied a strategically important area within the empire – it maintained it’s own armed forces and conducted it’s foreign affairs independently -it also had it’s own official state religion. This area now lies partly in the modern German State called North Rhine-Westphalia and partly in the Dutch province of Gelderland.The river Rhine meets the river Lippe within it’s borders – there is an online map of the area here

The next bit is trivial, superficial and trashy!

Look at the pictures above – don’t you think that they are a fine looking bunch of people?History has arguably been a little unkind to Anne – the famous  ‘Flanders Mare’ jibe  was not in fact uttered by Henry VIII. This was actually made by the historian Bishop Gilbert Burnet writing in the 17th Century.

Gilbert Burnet historian, bishop & lets be honest here - no right to criticise anyone about their physical appearance!

Gilbert Burnet historian, bishop & lets be honest here - no right to criticise anyone about their physical appearance!

See our earlier post about Anne of Cleves

Check out this article on the Raucous Royals blog – it does a good job here

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the merchants house (Circa 1558) Avoncroft nr Bromsgrove: Photo by Ruth 1066 on Flickr : click image

The black and white appearance of housing has become very closely associated with the Tudor period – arguably it is the most widely recognised architectural style – in the world?

Perhaps this is why the header image at the top of ‘Tudor Stuff’ shows such a building (actually it is the side of Anne Hathaway’s cottage). As will be discussed on this blog at a later date, this association may not be completely accurate. However, in this post I decided to look at other features of period architecture.

Tudors by the fire by Ruth1066 on Flickr : Click image


In previous times, homes would burn wood on open fires in the middle of the house. The smoke from this was vented through an opening in the roof. Take a look at the picture at the top of this post – the Merchants house at Avoncroft museum. This house which was built in approximately 1558 did not have a chimney – note the opening on the left hand side of the roof.

As coal use became more widespread the need for chimneys to take away the increased smoke became necessary. Also, anyone who has ever tried to light a coal fire will know that the downdraft from the chimney is really important in getting the fire going.

At this time, a lot of land and property was passing from religious institutions to a new class of wealthy landowner. Many of these people built large houses and an important reason for these houses was to show off wealth and prestige. One way of doing this was to incorporate lots of chimneys into the design – coal was still relatively scarce & this was a way of demonstrating wealth.


Fire was an ever-present risk – especially amidst closely packed timber and thatched houses. Although some areas required people to have a bucket on standby, there was little in the way of fire fighting equipment or organisation.

In the long winters nights people would have gathered around the fire, partly for the warmth but also because this would have been one of the main sources of light.

A lot of superstitions grew up around fire – for example coals burning in a hollow heap is a sign that a parting is soon to occur. Cinders flying from the fire might mean a birth was to take place whereas in other areas it was the custom to spit on cinder – if it crackled this meant wealth was on the way.


Many of the chimneys in this period feature extravagant brickwork – brick making and layingbecame well recognised crafts during the Tudor period.

On big projects, bricks were made on site by specialist craftsmen. The bricks produced had a tendency to vary in size – necessitating quite thick layers of mortar to straighten things out.

In places bricks were deliberately discoloured to make elaborate patterns when laid – as can be seen in this example from Hampton Court.

decorated tudor brickwork by rabinal on flickr (click image)

decorated tudor brickwork by rabinal on flickr (click image)

If anyone knows of any good examples of Tudor structures & especially if there are any good pictures  then please let me know – I would happily make some space on the blog for them.



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elizabeth death bed


In the spring of 1603, Elizabeth had been Queen for 44 years, and it was clear she would die without an heir. Robert Devereux (1566-1601) had been executed on Tower Green on 25th February 1601, and this appears to have had a huge impact on Elizabeth who is reported to have missed him a great deal.  Some writers say she may have feared she was losing her hold on state affairs.  Elizabeth must have felt very much alone as many of the men she had loved, and who had shared her life, had gone.

March 1603 – the Queen is fading

In March 1603 Elizabeth was described as being unwell and seemed depressed.   She took up residence in one of her favourite palaces – Richmond – close to the River Thames.   She refused to allow herself to be examined, and she refused take to her bed – standing for hours on end.  As her condition deteriorated her ladies-in-waiting spread cushions on the floor, and Elizabeth eventually lay down on them.  The painting shown below depicts this scene beautifully.  Elizabeth lay on the floor for nearly four days – mostly without speaking.

The death of Queen Elizabeth 1st : Paul Delaroche (1828)

The death of Queen Elizabeth 1st : Paul Delaroche (1828)

She grew weaker and weaker until her servants insisted on making her more comfortable in her bed.   Elizabeth’s Councillors gathered around her bed, and it is said that gentle music was played to soothe her.

Cause of death?

Elizabeth had not named yet named a successor, but she made a sign to Robert Cecil which he took to be an indication that she wished James to succeed her to the throne. Death finally came on 24 March 1603, and she is said to have yielded ‘mildly like a lamb, easily like a ripe apple from the tree’.

Elizabeth was buried without post mortem so the cause of her death remains unknown. She is generally believed to have died of blood poisoning, possibly caused by her white make-up – ceruse – a mixture of white lead and vinegar; the lead in the make up being highly poisonous. It is also possible that she simply died of old age.

At her funeral on 28 April, the coffin was taken to Westminster Abbey on a hearse drawn by four horses hung with black velvet

At her funeral on 28 April, the coffin was taken to Westminster Abbey on a hearse drawn by four horses hung with black velvet

Elizabeth’s body was embalmed and laid in state in a lead coffin at Whitehall – having been carried from Richmond to Whitehall at night on a barge lit with torches.  On the day of her funeral on 28 April the coffin was taken to Westminster Abbey on a hearse drawn by four horses robed in black velvet. In the words of the chronicler John Stow:

“Westminster was surcharged with multitudes of all sorts of people in their streets, houses, windows, leads and gutters, that came out to see the obsequy, and when they beheld her statue lying upon the coffin, there was such a general sighing, groaning and weeping as the like hath not been seen or known in the memory of man”

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Over one thousand official mourners joined the funeral procession; and this crowd was swelled by the many Londoners who watched the procession go by. The coffin was covered with a purple velvet cloth, purple signifying royalty. The coffin was covered by a large canopy which was held by six Knights of the Realm. On top of the coffin was placed an effigy of Elizabeth, as she would have appeared dressed in the finest of clothes. The effigy was so life-like it made onlookers gasp. The chief mourners were all dressed in black – in cloth which varied according to their rank.

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This long procession wound its way to Westminster Abbey where Elizabeth was first buried in the vault of her grandfather, King Henry VII.  Her successor, James I, erected the large white marble monument to her memory in the north aisle of the Lady Chapel at a cost of £1485, and her body was moved to it in 1606. Elizabeth I was the last monarch buried in the Abbey to have a monument erected above her.




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