Francis Bacon, in his essay Of Prophecies, wrote that he heard this saying when he was a child in the Elizabethan period. He explains that the letters of the word ‘hempe’ refer to the monarchs of the Tudor line from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I: Henry, Edward, Mary and Philip (Mary’s husband, the Spanish King), and Elizabeth. The prophecy claims that when this line is finished, so is England. Francis Bacon speculates that this actually did come to pass, but not in the disastrous manner expected. At the end of Elizabeth’s reign, James VI of Scotland became King of England. He called himself King of Britain, unifying England and Scotland.
The image shows the ruling members of the Tudor line: Henry VIII (middle), Edward VI (to the right of Henry), Mary I and her co-regent Philip of Spain (left), and Elizabeth I (far right).
Hemp is a strong and durable fibre from the cannabis plant. The fibre would be spun (twisted together) to make yarn. This was used historically in canvases, ropes, sacks, clothes and other materials.