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Archive for the ‘Tudor people’ Category

Stratford

The Garrick ( Jeff Land on Flickr : Click image)
The Garrick ( Jeff Land on Flickr : Click image)

It was the day after Boxing Day, the sales were on and Town centres were stuffed with shoppers. Desperate to get out and about whilst avoiding the crowds and the sales I decided to take a walk around Stratford. Whilst the Town has its share of shopping centres I guessed that the old part might be a bit quieter.

Stratford is a popular place and attracts many visitors from across the world. Despite this it (usually) doesn’t feel too overcrowded.  Over the years Stratford has managed to quietly accomodate its many visitors. It is possible to be here on a busy day and still feel that you can have a pleasant day out.

Many buildings remain that would have been recognisable in Shakespeare’s day and usually these have been well cared for.

Stratford England, River Avon and Holy Trinity Church

Stratford England, River Avon and Holy Trinity Church

The Theatre

The RSC is progressing well with the rebuilding of the theatre, last time I was here it was a building site but now the outlines of the new theatre can be seen clearly. Frankly, the old theatre was not a great place to watch a play.  I much preferred the Courtyard theatre where the audience surrounded the stage and were not kept at a distance like they were down the road.  I am looking forward to seeing the finished theatre which seems to be an attempt to address some of these problems.
The building currently being replaced was built in 1932 as a replacement for the original theatre which burnt down in 1926 – I found an old photo of this which is reproduced below. This link contains some other photographs of this building, interestingly the stage was a lot closer to the audience in the old building.
Fire at Stratford Memorial Theatre : March 6th 1926

Fire at Stratford Memorial Theatre : March 6th 1926

Shakespeare’s birthplace

This is the one building that everyone who comes to Stratford wants to see. It sits in Henley Street, a fairly unremarkable road that has changed greatly since Shakespeare’s day. The house gets a bit crowded on busy days and the new visitor centre (to the left of the photo below) is a bit of a monstrosity – you can tell that others agree by doing a search on Flickr – notice that people (usually) choose to take or to crop the photo so this doesn’t show up!


Shakespeare's birthplace ( mrpb27 on Flickr)

Holy Trinity Church

Finally, I took a walk by the side of the Avon,past the Dirty Duck pub and the Courtyard Theatre and stopped at Holy Trinity Church, Shakespeares burial place.

I read Christopher Rush’s wonderful book ‘Will’ an ‘autobiography’ of Shakespeare as dictated to his lawyer – I quote a little of it below because it sets the scene perfectly in describing Shakespeares last journey through Stratford in his funeral procession:

‘ along by the willowy banks of the Avon, following the glittering river to Holy Trinity. They carried me among alders and limes, my ears deaf now to the lapping of the river-wave and the rustle of swans, and so in at the porch and up the nave to the resting place in the chancel, close to the north wall’

A bit more from Stratford in the next post – in the meantime, happy new year from Tudor Stuff

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Nicholas Owen at work (adapted from an original drawing by Ian Fletcher)

This blog has covered various aspects of Catholic persecution during the Elizabethan and early Stuart period. Many of the characters involved are well known to us and would have been recognised as ‘players’ in the struggle between the authorities and the Catholic underground movement.

People such as John Gerard, Henry Garnet and Richard Topcliffe were well known figures of the day, however, for the most part, the supporting players are forgotten. This post looks at Nicholas Owen, who despite spending his time in the background, nevertheless managed to play a vital part in preserving the Catholic faith in England.

Oxford in HDR (Max-Design on Flickr:Click image)

A carpenters son from Oxford

Nicholas Owen was born in St Peter le Bailey in Oxford. His father, Walter Owen was a carpenter and Nicholas followed him into this trade when he was apprenticed for a period of 8 years on February 2nd 1577.

Fr Henry Garnet

Oxford at this time was a centre of Catholic recusancy and it is clear that Catholicism was a strong influence onthe Owen family. Nicholas had three brothers, two of whom became Priests and one who was known as a printer of secret Catholic pamphlets and religious materials.

In 1588 Nicholas was engaged as a manservant by Henry Garnet (see earlier post) who was at that time the Jesuit superior in England. Garnet employed Nicholas’ carpentry and building skills in the service of the recusant Catholic movement.

A typical older hide - cut the floorboards, disappear down the shaft & cover the entrance(Harvington Hall)

Hiding holes across England

Today, England contains around about a hundred houses which have a secret hiding place. Many of these are of a simpler design i.e. a hole in the floor leading to a space below, usually within a wall. The hide entrance is covered by a hatch which would have been hidden with reeds and rushes typically used to cover floors during this period. Harvington Hall has two such hides and a similar hide at Moseley Old Hall was used to conceal Charles the Second after the defeat and flight from Worcester in 1651.

The master craftsman of the secret hiding place

Unlike the simple (and predictable design) of the older hides, Nicholas Owen’s constructions are recognised because of the ingenuity of their construction.

Alan Fea’s book ‘Secret Chambers and Hiding Places’ (freely available to download on Project Gutenberg) contains a description of Owens work;

“With incomparable skill,” says an authority, “he knew how to

conduct priests to a place of safety along subterranean passages,

to hide them between walls and bury them in impenetrable recesses,

and to entangle them in labyrinths and a thousand windings”

Scotney Castle - hiding place made by Nicholas Owen? (Photo by Tom Hills on Flickr)

Although it is possible to question the accuracy of Feas work ( hide builders didn’t generally make subterreanean passages for example) the ingenuity of Owens work cannot be questioned.

Nicholas Owens hides were always different, discovering one in a house would not help a searcher to find a hide in another house. Often ceilings and floors were raising or lowered and hides were concealed in roof spaces, behind panelling and walls, in or below false fireplaces.

Baddesley Clinton - scene of a close escape aided by an Owen hide (click image to read story)

Owen worked alone and despite his small stature (hence the nickname ‘little John’) he must have been a really powerful man. Creation of the hides involved cutting through walls, floors and wooden beams. Nicholas Owens work helped to save lives onmore than one occasion (see example) and he was probably also involved in a spectacular escape from the Tower of London.

The Tower of London - scene of Owen's death

Martyrdom in the Bloody Tower

His knowledge of the Catholic underground movement must have been vast – he was a prize catch for the authorities and the fact that he died (see link to earlier post) rather than reveal his secrets helped to elevate him to heroic status among his peers and amongst people ever since.

Nicholas Owen was canonised in 1970 – he has a church named after him in Lancaster.

Oxburgh Hall - site of a probable Nicholas Owen hide (nickpix on Flickr)

(PS Check out this photography website owned by Nick who took the Oxburgh Hall photograph)

Also, I have linked to this film before but if you haven’t seen it I thought you might want to take a look, it gives some background to Nicholas Owen’s work at Harvington Hall.

And finally – check out ‘Henry, mind of a tyrant’ theme – now available to download – see details on Philip Sheppards blog


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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).

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

Juliers-Cleves

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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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”

[picapp src=”1/1/7/8/Westminster_Abbey_Announce_2f22.jpg?adImageId=7072527&imageId=5062899″ width=”500″ height=”356″ /]

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.

[picapp src=”e/f/9/7/Westminster_Abbey_Announce_c51b.jpg?adImageId=7072495&imageId=5062910″ width=”396″ height=”594″ align=”aligncenter” /]

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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