On this day in Tudor history, 30th July 1553, Elizabeth, daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, left her new home, Somerset House, to ride to Wanstead and greet her half-sister, Mary, who'd been officially proclaimed queen on 19th July.
Somerset House was Elizabeth's new London residence and you can find out more about how Elizabeth acquired it and who built it originally in today's talk.
Also on this day in Tudor history, 30th July 1540, in the reign of King Henry VIII, men of both the Catholic faith and the reformed faith were executed in London. Find out more about them in last year’s video:
Also on this day in Tudor history:
- 1550 – Death of Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton, at Lincoln House in Holborn. He was buried in St Andrew's Church, Holborn, but then moved later to Titchfield. Wriothesley served Henry VIII as Lord Privy Seal and Lord Chancellor.
- 1563 – Birth of Robert Parry, writer and diarist, at Tywysog in Denbighshire, North Wales. His works included “Moderatus: the most Delectable and Famous Historie of the Black Knight”.
- 1570 – Burial of Sir William Godolphin, soldier, at Breage.
On this day in Tudor history, 30th July 1553, Elizabeth, daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, left her new home, Somerset House, to ride to Wanstead and greet her half-sister, Mary, England’s new queen.
Elizabeth had moved into Somerset House, a house just off The Strand, on the north bank of the River Thames, just the previous day. Mary had been proclaimed Queen Mary I on 19th July in London, following her successful overthrow of Queen Jane, or Lady Jane Grey, who’d been queen just 13 days. Mary had managed to rally support, particularly in East Anglia, and the Earls of Pembroke and Arundel had managed to turn Jane’s council to Mary’s cause.
Elizabeth had been at her estate at Hatfield when she heard that Mary had taken the throne, and she set off on horseback for London, entering via Fleet Street on 29th July and riding on to Somerset House.
The contemporary source, The chronicle of Queen Jane, and of two years of Queen Mary, and especially of the rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyat, states:
“The lady Elizabethes grace came the 29. of July to Somerset place, well accompanyed with gentlemen, and others, righte strongly, and theare she rested a nighte, and the morowe ensuinge she went throwghe Cheapside to meete the queenes grace to London-wardes, who is loked for the 3. or 4. of Auguste.”
Chronicler and Windsor Herald Charles Wriothesley backs this up:
“The 30 July Lady Elizabethes grace, sister to the Quenes Highnes, rode from hir place at Strand, where she had lyen the night afore, through the Citie of London at xii of the clocke in the forenone, beinge Sonday, and rode out at Algate toward the Quenes Highnes, accompanyed with a 1000 horses of gentlemen, knightes, ladyes, and their servauntes.”
Elizabeth met up with Mary at Wanstead on Wednesday 2nd August 1553.
Somerset House was the former home of Edward Seymour, the 1st Duke of Somerset, who had acted as Lord Protector for Elizabeth’s half-brother, King Edward VI, between 1547 and 1549. Somerset had built the house during his protectorate, using stone scavenged from the charnel house of St Paul’s Cathedral. It had cost him £10,000 to build, and was built in a Renaissance style. After Somerset’s fall, and subsequent execution in 1552, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland and new leader of Edward VI’s council, offered Somerset House to Elizabeth in return for her acquiescence to him taking Durham Place, Elizabeth’s townhouse.
Even though the house had only been completed in 1550, and Somerset had not exactly used it much, historian David Starkey writes that £900 was spent on preparing the house for its new royal mistress in 1553. Starkey also points out that the keeper of the house was no other than Robert Dudley, Northumberland’s son and Elizabeth’s childhood friend.
Somerset House was demolished in the late 18th century after it fell into disrepair. The present neoclassical Somerset House was built on the site of the old one at the turn of the 19th century.
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