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Greenwich Palace, or as it was called in the pre-Tudor era, the Palace of Placentia, stood five miles down the river Thames from London, and was the birthplace of Elizabeth I.
The residence was originally built in or just after 1433 by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, brother of Henry V, who named it Bella Court. Remodelled and updated after 1447 for Margaret of Anjou, Henry VI's queen, it was renamed the Palace of Placentia. At the same time its surrounding park was stocked with deer. It was redesigned again between 1498 and 1504 by Henry VII, when the palace was rebuilt around three imposing courtyards, and the name was changed once again, to Greenwich Palace. At this point, it became one of the most luxurious Tudor royal residences. It differed from the others in that it had no moat or fortifications and was purely residential. As such it became a model for many of the great houses of the Tudor period.
This photograph shows the Queen's House, built next to Greenwich Palace and designed by Inigo Jones, in the foreground, with the University of Greenwich and Trinity College of Music to the rear and the skyline of modern London in the background.
The palace fell into disrepair during the reigns of James I and Charles I, when the Queen's House was built. Although attempts were made during the reign of Charles II to restore the building, the project was never completed and it was eventually demolished in the late seventeeth century. In 1694, work began on Greenwich Hospital. In 1873 the hospital was turned into the Greenwich Royal Naval College, and today the buildings are occupied by the University of Greenwich and Trinity College of Music.
David Starkey describes the elaborate preparations prior to a royal birth. The Queen's bedchamber was elaborately transformed with heavy tapestries and carpets, gold plate and all the trappings of state, as laid down in The Royal Book, the handbook of royal etiquette originally drawn up by the Lancastrians and handed down to the Yorkists, then to the Tudors. Even the designs of the fabrics were chosen with care to avoid any images of humans or animals as it was believed they could induce 'fantasies in the Queen's mind which might lead to the child being deformed'. Little, if any, light or air was allowed in before the birth, making the chamber extremely dark and stuffy. In effect, the Queen and her ladies were isolated in a female environment. While the Tudor world of male dominance paid homage to the female mystery of childbirth, expectations of the Queen were high. The supreme, if not the only, role of the queen was to produce an heir. It was inconceivable to the Tudor mind that a queen would choose not to do so; a notion Elizabeth would defy.
The Royal Palace of Hatfield in Hertfordshire is where Elizabeth spent part of her childhood. It is also where she held her first Council of State as Queen in 1558.
Despite the disappointment at the birth of a daughter rather than a son and heir for Henry VIII, Elizabeth was immediately proclaimed princess and treated as such. When she was just a few months old, Elizabeth was established in her own household and court at Hatfield Palace. But according to David Starkey, it was only when she officially acquired it in 1550 that it became important to her, and then for strategic rather than sentimental reasons. The bulk of Elizabeth's properties lay within the Hertfordshire-Buckinghamshire area, with her main residence, Ashridge, in the west. Her sister Mary's heartland was towards Essex, although Mary's main residence, Hunsdon, was in the east of Hertfordshire. Hatfield, being in the middle, with the added benefit of close proximity to London, was identified by the shrewd Elizabeth as a convenient base from which to keep in touch with events at court.
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is one of the capital's most famous historic buildings and a World Heritage Site. It is also one of the country's oldest buildings, dating back to the Norman Conquest. Used as a prison since the 12th century, it was, until the Tudor era, first and foremost a royal residence.
The Tower is an important prison in Elizabeth, not just for the princess herself during the reign of Mary I, when she was implicated in the conspiracy of the Wyatt Rebellion, but also for other prominent personnel of the era. Elizabeth's mother, Anne Boleyn, imprisoned there until her execution in 1536, is popularly said to haunt the castle. Others 'ghosts' include Lady Jane Grey, executed in 1554, and the Princes in the Tower. Although the Tower has acquired a somewhat gruesome reputation over the centuries, relatively few executions were carried out within its precincts. Such events occurred when concern over security and public unrest meant the execution of notable prisoners, such as Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey, were better held out of general sight. However, most death sentences were carried out a short distance from the Tower, on Tower Hill, where a plaque now stands.
It is the largest college, by number of students and fellows, in either Oxford or Cambridge.
Tower Hill, situated north-west of the Tower of London and just outside the limits of the City of London, became an execution site, frequently for 'high-born' traitors. The condemned included Anne Boleyn's brother George, convicted with Anne of high treason, Sir Thomas Moore and Henry, Earl of Surrey, the eldest son and heir of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. His father escaped the same fate on this occasion thanks to the timely death of Henry VIII. Both had been convicted of treason, but the Duke of Norfolk was later pardoned and had his lands and property restored by Mary I.
Chelsea Manor, no longer standing, was located in west London on the bank of the Thames. It was acquired by Henry VIII in 1536. It was home, at various times, to two of his queens, Anne of Cleves and Catherine Parr. It was also the scene of the near ruinous, for Elizabeth, scandal involving Thomas Seymour.
Described by David Starkey as 'not unintelligent' and 'physically impressive', Thomas Seymour also possessed 'insatiable' ambition. Brother to Jane Seymour, Edward VI's mother, he found himself uncle to the king but lacking the power he felt was due to him and which was wielded by his brother, Edward Seymour, Protector to Edward during his minority. After failing to secure marriage to one of the young king's two sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, he set his sights on the old king's widow, Catherine Parr. They married, probably in May 1547. Elizabeth at the time was staying with her step-mother at Chelsea Manor, and soon became the subject (not unwilling by acounts) of Thomas Seymour's attentions. Visits to Elizabeth's bedchamber early in the morning, tickling and dress ripping were all witnessed by the household, and in particular by Kat Ashley, Elizabeth's governess, who challenged Thomas Seymour about his behaviour. He laughed off the criticism, but by May 1548 Catherine herself was worried enough to send Elizabeth away from Chelsea.
Thomas Seymour, undaunted in his ambition, encouraged Edward VI to rebel against Edward Seymour's Protector rule. He was arrested on 16th January 1549 and executed on 20th March. Elizabeth became the subject of investigation as to her conduct with Thomas Seymour, and faced charges of planning to marry him without the monarch's permission, a grave sin at court and one which would have resulted in her giving up her right to the succession.
Ashridge, in Hertfordshire, was seized by Henry VIII as part of his Dissolution of the Monasteries and later acquired by Elizabeth, who as princess, was arrested for treason while there in 1552. The area retains part of the original forest and is situated in the Chiltern Hills, an Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty.
One of the five pageants staged for Elizabeth as she made her triumphal way to her coronation was at Cheapside, in the City of London. Formerly the site of the capital's produce markets, the word 'cheap' derives from 'market' in Medieval English. Indications of the market can still be seen in many of the roads leading into it: Poultry; Bread Street; Honey Lane, and so on. It is also where the church of St Mary-le-Bow with its Cockney and Dick Whittington associations, is situated. It is also where Geoffrey Chaucer grew up and where John Milton and Robert Herrick were born.