6 December – Sir Hugh Paulet died a natural death and the Feast of St Nicholas

On this day in Tudor history, 6th December 1573, soldier and administrator, Sir Hugh Paulet, died at his home in Hinton St George in Somerset.

He distinguished himself as a soldier in Henry VIII’s reign, served as Governor of Jersey in Edward VI’s reign, was a Protestant but survived Mary I’s reign and served as Vice-President of the Welsh marches, and had a successful career in Elizabeth I’s reign. He was an important man and a servant of the Crown, but still managed to die a natural death at his home.

Find out more about Sir Hugh Paulet, his life and career, in this talk…

Also on this day in Tudor history, I talk about the Feast of St Nicholas, and how it was the traditional day for a boy bishop to be elected.

Find out more about the tradition, why Henry VIII banned it, and how it’s been revived today, in this video

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One thought on “6 December – Sir Hugh Paulet died a natural death and the Feast of St Nicholas”
  1. St Nicholas really is just as famous as Jesus! How is it possible this man who was born thousands of years ago in Asia Minor became the epitome of Father Christmas was venerated as a saint and has a special calendar day named after him? He was born the son of wealthy parents who died young, a very godly family they instilled in the young Nicholas the need to give what he owned to the less fortunate and aid them when he could, he followed their advice and he did indeed use his inheritance to help the poor and the sick, he became much loved and was made Bishop of Myra a city in what is now Turkey, he was persecuted like many of his fellow Christians and thrown into prison, but was later released, he died on December 6th where later miracles where said to have taken place, years ago I heard the story of the three daughters of a poor man who hoped to marry, but needed a dowry to secure a husband or the only alternative was to be sold into slavery, three nights in a row a bag of gold coins was thrown into the bedrooms of each daughter and landed in the stockings near the fireplace, it was believed to be the work of St. Nicholas, that led to the tradition of hanging stockings by the fire, he became the patron saint of sailors and children and on his death was venerated as a saint, people travelled to his grave and it became a place of worship where miracles were said to take place, he is remembered to this day in the form of Santa Claus or Father Christmas, but the tradition only came about in Victorian Britain along with the Christmas tree introduced by Prince Albert a German tradition and spread around the world, however the decking of the tree is similar to the ancient custom the Britons had in bring greenery into the house, and hanging it round the doors and windows along with the holly bush and the Yule log of course also had pride of place in the hearth, this ancient custom symbolised the warm seasons where the earth was bountiful and fruit and vegetables grew, in contrast to the dark days of winter and the barren months that followed, I love the Tudor celebrations of Christmas where the men and women wore wreaths on their hair and the huge twelfth night cake, a fruit cake topped with marchpane that was eaten of course, on the twelfth night celebrations and which was the forerunner of our Christmas cake, the Christmas cake now is a much denser variety of fruit cake made with black treacle and alcohol, it is still however covered with marzipan as we know it to be now, marchpane being the traditional name for it, and covered with fondant or royal icing, it was traditional for the monarch to nominate someone king of the bean and in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, she infuriated her favourite Dudley, by granting the title to Sir Christopher Hatton, it was a clear sign he was out of favour but Elizabeth of course could never stay angry with her sweet Robin for long, the original Victorian St Nicholas was dressed in a long green furred robe with a wreath of Laurel leaves on his head the plant that stays forever green, I bought some reproduction postcards in the Cotswolds’ once of this early Father Christmas and much prefer it to the modern red garbed one that was on the Coca Cola advert in America, and which is popular today, I also have a figure of a green furred Father Christmas which is about four foot high which I bought from Costco’s or Macros a few years ago, he was about £25 and he was excellent value as his body is of hard plastic, his face is beautiful with white woolly hair and beard and rosy cheeks, he carries a staff with pine cones and a sack of toys in the other, everyone comments on him and I treasure him, I agree Henry V111 does sound a bit of a grinch with his decision to ban the Bishop boy custom as it sounds like it was fun, the little ones and elders must have enjoyed it, and really his view on the fact that it was unholy I find quite strange, maybe some became a bit boisterous on too much ale and were a bit of a disturbance to the rest of the community, as the lady called Gertrude did not allow the bishop boy into her house as she declared, in fear of theft, its nice now however that some areas have decided to introduce the custom in Britain today as I think most of the Christmas customs are fun, and brings a tough of festive spirit to the month, most customs anyway all have their origins in paganism, the Lord of Misrule and the decorating the houses and dwellings with boughs of greenery and holly berries, Christianity has really taken over these pagan rituals and today it is celebrated with the birth of the Jesus, the messiah but it’s roots are much deeper and darker, the Yule log itself is in the form of the delicious cake that resembles a bark, and which consists of chocolate cream and ganache and decorated with holly and ivy and little plastic robins, getting back to the Victorian’s though they did introduce a lot of the customs we enjoy today, they introduced the Christmas card the decorating the tree, and in those days little candles would be clipped onto the branches and the children of the house would make gingerbread cookies which would be hung with ribbon on the tree, also peppermint candy canes, which you still see in shops today, the Christmas ballet The Nutcracker is an old German Christmas fairy
    tale which is very popular, and which iv seen several times at the London Coliseum, iv also seen The Snow Queen too at the South Bank which was just as beautiful, the Victorians also are responsible for the Christmas cracker which is unique to Britain, and which was the idea of Tom Smith a gentleman who whilst in Paris saw some coloured Bon Bon’s, these were like the cracker and contained sweets and novelties, he brought the idea back to England and the Christmas cracker was born, now they make a noise when you pull them and the little toys inside are great for only the very young children, I recall when I was a child you would get spinning tops and foil fish which you laid on your palm, if it curled up you were said to be in love, the mottos and jokes are of course dreadful, but to pull the cracker and wear the hat is part of the fun of the Christmas dinner, even if you tend to get saddled with a hat that either is too small and sits on your head or the ones that are far too big and slides halfway down your face,!

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