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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)

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The Friends of the Guild Chapel Stratford-on-Avon

Guild Chapel Paintings virtual reconstruction project

See also

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Bridleway in Snow Revisited

Bridleway in Snow Revisited : Roantrum on Flickr (Click image)

Just a quick post to say Happy Christmas to everyone who has ever looked at Tudor Stuff.

This blog is now very nearly one year old, from a slow start it is has grown really well – it has had thousands of  hits and is looked at by people all over the world. In the process of putting all of this together I have learnt a great deal about this fascinating period in our history – which was always what the blog was intended to do.

Dressed in white

Dressed in white : Robert Silverwood on Flickr (click image)

An important feature of this blog has been the photographs it has featured. Some of these are my own work but the majority are kindly lent to Tudor Stuff by talented people on Flickr who have kindly agreed to allow me to use their work – thanks then to those people.

I thought that by way of a post I ought to have a Christmas theme. Much that we associate with Christmas today was unheard of in Tudor times – but I have managed to find a few things that the Tudors would have recognised. Of course, this is also an excuse to show some suitably snowy scenes from the English countryside, as I type this I can see the snow on the road outside & for once I don’t feel a fraud associating England, Christmas & snow!

Winter sprinkles by Nige in Somerset on Flickr

Winter sprinkles by Nige in Somerset on Flickr (click image)

The Christmas festival in Tudor times

For the most part, Christmas traditions were those that had been practised by people for hundreds of years. Houses were decorated with holly, ivy and mistletoe – all of which reflect ancient pre Christian beliefs.

Other traditions involved games of football, house to house visiting ( a bit like modern ‘Trick or treat’ in the USA) as well as plays performed by ‘Mummers’. Some of these traditions were discouraged under Edward VI and banned completely under Cromwellian puritan rule. Despite occasional official dissaproval however many of these traditions survive to this day.

Marshfield Mummers 2 : Mark Dixon on Flickr

Marshfield Mummers 2 : Mark Dixon on Flickr

The 12 days of Christmas were celebrated between 25th of December to 6th of January, the longest festival of the year. In 1511 the Christmas festivities were extended by Henry VIII in celebration of the birth on New Years Day of a son named after himself. Sadly as with many of Catherine of Aragon’s children this child lived for only 52 days.
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Shakespeare – ‘Loves labours lost’


WHEN icicles hang by the wall
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail;
When blood is nipt, and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl
Tu-whoo!
Tu-whit! tu-whoo! A merry note!
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.
When all around the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson’s saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marian’s nose looks red and raw;
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl—
Then nightly sings the staring owl
Tu-whoo!
Tu-whit! tu-whoo! A merry note!
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.


Christmas Carols

Many of our Christmas Carols date from after the Tudor period although apparently one of the earliest books of Carols was produced in 1521 by Jan Van Wynkn – this included the Boars Head Carol

Another Carol that would have been known at this time was ‘The first Noel’ – which dates from the 13th Century- although it was not written down until much later.

Happy Christmas!

Do you follow any Christmas traditions? Are these old ones or have you developed new ones, perhaps associated with your own family?

If so – it would be great to hear from you

Anyway..

All that remains for me to do is to wish you all a Merry Christmas & Happy new year. If you get a minute to say hello – please feel free to do so

Love & best wishes to you all

Andy

PS Check out Roantrums (photographer featured at top of this post) web site

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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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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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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.

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