Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Tudor Places’ Category

Share

Guild Chapel Stratford face

Face to face with the past at the Guild Chapel

This post features the Guild Chapel in Stratford, one of many fine old buildings in the town. It is situated next door to Shakespeare’s last house ‘New Place’ on the corner of Chapel lane and Church street.

R0013708_Nash's House & New Place, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK

(Photo taken by Traveller‧旅人 on Flickr : Picture shows Guild Chapel on the left, Nash’s house is to the right & the garden area in the middle is where Shakespeare’s house used to be. The black and white beamed building on the other side of the road is the Falcon Hotel which I can recommend!)

The Guild Chapel dates from 1269 when the Bishop of Worcester allowed the establishment of  a Chapel and hospital. In the following centuries the Guild of the Holy Cross grew in size and influence, becoming a significant landowner in the town of Stratford and attracting many followers.

Postcards - Stratford

(Photo of old postcard showing Guild Chapel taken from mrpb27 on Flickr )

Hugh Clopton.

The chapel took on much of its present form in the 1490’s when an ex-resident paid for extensive re-building. Hugh Clopton was born in Clopton near Stratford in about 1440, he was apprenticed as a mercer in London in 1456 and by 1491 he had achieved the position of Mayor of London.

Despite his success he never forgot his roots in Stratford and he was responsible for building New Place which was purchased by Shakespeare in 1597. He is also credited with building Stratfords stone bridge over the Avon which still bears his name.

Clopton Bridge

(Photo of Clopton Bridge by Nickscape on Flickr : also see his website here)

Clopton funded  extensive development of the Guild Chapel in the 1490’s when the tower and nave were built  and the wall paintings were competed.

The wall paintings

Prior to the reformation, Church interiors in England would have looked quite different to those we see today, being full of colour and religious drama. Ordinary people were active in the maintenance and management of the Church and reading about these times one gets a feeling that this was an important part of community life.

The Guild Chapel would have been no different – imagine how it would have looked when brightly painted with coloured images of saints favoured by the local people.  The most impressive painting was above the chancel arch – this showed a picture of doom with its vivid images of heaven and of sinners falling into hell.

This account from Simon Schama’s history of Britain gives a good idea of how many churches would have changed at this time.

In 1573 the Guild Chapel was attacked , many of the Statues were smashed ( is this where the expression to ‘de-face’ originated?) and the wall paintings were painted over. In churches throughout England, religious wall paintings were being replaced by the Queens coat of arms, ones loyalties in future were expected to be directed towards the Tudor State.

William Shakespeare was aged 9 at the time the Chapel was defaced, one wonders how his family who were surely familiar with the Chapel, must have felt about the changes being imposed upon it.

The Chapel today

As mentioned at the top of the post, the Chapel is well worth a visit today. Although the ravages of past neglect are still apparent, one can easily make out the outlines and colours of many of the original wall paintings. With a little imagination it is possible to get a feel for how things used to be (Nash’s House – next to New place contains illustrations of how the chapel would have looked).

A face from the past that survived the attempt to erase it

I have added some pictures to the post so that you can get an idea of what it is like here. It is possible to see the outlines of figures and to make out faces still vaguely present on the walls. If  you want to see more about the chapel then there are some links below – if you visit then do remember to add a donation to the Chapel funds and help to preserve this for future visitors.

I am keen to find more defaced images – if you know of any, please let me know.

Photo montage : Guild Chapel

Photo montage : Guild Chapel - click image to magnify (takes a second or two to download)

Share

The Friends of the Guild Chapel Stratford-on-Avon

Guild Chapel Paintings virtual reconstruction project

See also

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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


Read Full Post »

Packwood House

Packwood House

Packwood House

The English Midlands is blessed with a very rich selection of Tudor period houses, indeed, these have been the inspiration for many of the posts on Tudor stuff.

I have been meaning for quite some time to do a post about one of my favourite local places, therefore, this post is about Packwood House, a National Trust property just outside Solihull.

Packwood House

Packwood House by Joy Shakespeare on Flickr

Origins

Packwood House dates from the 1550’s although like many houses of this age it has been extensively altered over years. In some parts of the interior one can clearly see it’s Tudor origins, whilst other parts appear designed to evoke ‘Mediaeval’ type surroundings.

Apparently, many parts of the house were deliberately re-modelled during the 1930’s to create this effect.

Through The Window

Through The Window (cosygreeneyes on Flickr)

In the past, the English Midlands was a major centre of Catholic recusant resistance, many of the Gunpowder plotters came from or were supported here. However, unusually for a local house of this period, the family don’t seem to have been covert Catholics, as for example the occupants of nearby Baddesley Clinton, Coughton Court or Harvington Hall most certainly were.

Packwood House roses

Packwood House roses (by yyrek on Flickr)

There are no hidden priest holes and no history of sheltering Catholic Priests – the house can claim that General Henry Ireton slept here the night before taking part in the battle of Edgehill. There is also a story that King Charles the second stopped here briefly after leading his forces to defeat at the battle of Worcester in 1651.

packwood house flower

packwood house flower by camperman999 on Flickr (CLick image)

Grounds

For me, a big part of the appeal of this house lies in the grounds, at some times of the year the gardens are absolutely stunning – and it is clear that a great deal of work and planning goes into maintaining these.

Packwood House, from Yew Garden

Packwood House, from Yew Garden : Matthew Walton on Flickr

One of the most distinctive features of the garden is the yew topiary which is said to be based upon the sermon on the mount. There are over a hundred Yew trees which make up a maze like formal arrangement which leads up to a spiral walkway through a hedge into a hidden seating area at the bottom of the garden.

Packwood Yew garden

Packwood Yew garden (by recursion on Flickr)

This garden provided the backdrop to the 2005 BBC TV production ‘The Virgin Queen’

(Packwood gardens can be seen between 1.17 seconds until 2.42 seconds in the video clip below – )


Read Full Post »


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.




Read Full Post »

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

Chimneys

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!

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.

Bricks

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.

end-bit-5

digg

Read Full Post »

Autumn

Autumn pathway by littlespelk on Flickr - (Click image)

Autumn pathway by littlespelk on Flickr - (Click image)

As I have been driving around the last few weeks I have noticed how fantastic the  autumn colours are this year. I was trying to think of a reason to get a hint of the autumn into a Tudor Stuff post. I had also been trying to thing of a good reason to add a few more of the great pictures I have seen on Flickr. This post then is the result of my looking for the best Tudor related autumn photos that I can find.

So, in no particular order here are my choices.

First up is Autumn pathway (top of post) by ‘littlespelk’ from North Yorkshire – this is a lovely image that has had over 750 views on Flickr & has drawn a lot of attention and comment.  Quick quiz time (no prizes) – where was it taken?

Secondly is a picture entitled ‘Dovecote, Athelhampton’ which was taken by ‘Gazzat’ from Somerset. According to the photographer this house is appearing in the film ‘From time to time’ which is currently being filmed.

Dovecote, Athelhampton by Gazzat on Flickr

Dovecote, Athelhampton by Gazzat on Flickr

This picture (below) features a place not far from where I live and is one that we have featured previously on Tudor Stuff (see here and here). This is a photograph of a little church in the grounds of Coughton Court.

St Peter Church, Coughton by Arden 58 on Flickr

St Peter Church, Coughton by Arden 58 on Flickr

The next picture to catch my eye was this shot (below) of Upnor Castle in the Medway, Kent.  This atmospheric image was taken by ‘Olddanb’. Apparently, Upnor castle was built during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the first to protect shipping in the Medway.

Upnor Castle by olddannb on Flickr

Upnor Castle by 'olddannb' on Flickr

The picture below is by a photographer who calls himself ‘Flash of light’ on Flickr ( we have used his work before).  I love looking at landscape photography, I have even occasionally managed to take a decent photo. This guy however, consistently takes wonderful photos – if you get a minute have a look at his work on Flickr or on his website, it is well worth the effort.

River Severn, Autumn by Flash of light on Flickr

River Severn, Autumn by Flash of light on Flickr

The last two photos are part of a collection posted on Flickr by Steve Ward ‘Swardy’.  He has taken some photos of Packwood House – another local (to me anyway)  Tudor house and one that is shortly to get it’s own Tudor Stuff post. I could easily have used all of his photos for this post but settled on just two examples  – take a look at his other photos on Flickr and you will see why I had a hard time choosing.

Side of the House - Swardy on Flickr

Side of the House - Swardy on Flickr

To complement the last image of this post I have included Shakespeare’s sonnet 104 which has an appropriate theme:

To me, fair Friend, you never can be old,

For as you were when first your eye I eyed

Such seems your beauty still. Three winters’ cold

Have from the forests shook three summers’ pride;

Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turn’d

In process of the seasons have I seen,

Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burn’d,

Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.

Ah! yet doth beauty, like a dial-hand,

Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived;

So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,

Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceived:

For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred,

Ere you were born, was beauty’s summer dead.

More Autumn leaves Swardy (again)

More Autumn leaves Swardy (again)

To end with I decided to add a distinctly un-Tudor but appropriate video from You Tube. By the way – if you know of any better autumnal Tudor photos just let me know.

end-bit

digg
Stumble

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: