August 3 – The new queen and her half-sister process through London

Aug3,2022 #Elizabeth I #Mary I

On this day in Tudor history, 3rd August 1553, the newly proclaimed queen, Mary I, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, processed through the streets of London. She was accompanied by her half-sister, Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

Mary had claimed the throne from Queen Jane, Lady Jane Grey, her cousin’s daughter, and Jane was now imprisoned in the Tower.

Hear a contemporary account of the procession and celebrations…


On this day in Tudor history, 3rd August 1553, the newly proclaimed Queen Mary I, rode with her younger half-sister, Elizabeth, from Wanstead to Aldgate to be greeted by the city as its new queen.

Chronicler Charles Wriothesley describes Mary’s appearance that day:
“Her gown of purple velvet, French fashion, with sleeves of the same, her kirtle, purple satin all thick set with goldsmith’s work and great pearl, with her foresleeves of the same, set with rich stones, with a rich bowdrick of gold, pearl, and stones about her neck, and a rich billiment of stones and great pearl on her hood, her palfrey that she rode on richly trapped with gold embroidered to the horse’s feet.”

Mary was then welcomed by the Lord Mayor of London, who presented her “with the scepter pertaining to the office”. After thanking the Lord Mayor and the aldermen for their “gentleness”, Mary handed the sceptre back to him and entered the city followed by Sir Anthony Browne, Elizabeth, the Duchess of Norfolk, the Marquis of Exeter and various ladies. In front of the Queen, processed the Lord Mayor with the sceptre and the Earl of Arundel bearing the sword.

The royal party passed St Botolph’s Church, where Mary was greeted by the children of Christ’s Hospital, through Aldgate, which was decorated with arras and streamers, past Leadenhall, down Gracechurch Street, up Fenchurch Street, down Mark Lane and to the Tower of London. There Mary was met by Sir John Gage, the Constable of the Tower, and Thomas Bruges, who welcomed her to the Tower. After entering the Tower, Mary encountered the Duke of Norfolk, Bishop Gardiner and Edward Courtenay, all prisoners at the Tower, who knelt and asked for her to pardon them. She saluted them “bidding them rise up.”

Wriothesley goes on to describe the city of London as it celebrated the accession of its new Catholic Queen, the daughter of their beloved Bluff King Hal:
“All the streets in London, from Aldgate up to Leadenhall, and so the Tower, were richly hanged with clothes of arras and silk, the streets gravelled all the way, and the citizens standing at rails with their streamers and banners of every Company or occupation standing at their rails, every Company in their best liveries with their hoods. Also there were 4 great stages between Aldgate and the Tower where clarks and musicians stood playing and singing goodly ballads which rejoiced the Queene’s highness greatly. Also there was such a terrible and great shot of guns shot within the Tower and all about the Tower wharf that the like hath not bee heard, for they never ceased shooting from the time her highness entered in at Aldgate til she came to Mark Lane end, which was like great thunder, so that it had been like to an earthquake. And all the streets by the way as her highness rode, standing so full of people shouting and crying “Jesus save her Grace!”, with weeping tears for joy, that the like was never seen before.”

It is obvious that the people were happy to see their new queen, and nobody seems to have given a thought to the fate of Lady Jane Grey, the young woman who was queen from the 6th July to the 19th July after being named Edward VI’s heir in his “Devise for the Succession”. She was imprisoned in the Tower and would finally be executed for high treason in February 1554.

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2 thoughts on “August 3 – The new queen and her half-sister process through London”
  1. Whenever I read an account of a great celebration in Tudor London and how the streets were decorated with hangings, etc. I always wonder where these “rich” accessories came from. Of course the great companies would own banners and hangings to bring out, but what about the private homes and businesses? Did the City of London have a warehouse full of such things on hand to be borrowed by citizens? If they did, I bet there was a hefty charge. And who arranged and paid for the “gravelled” streets? I have visited St. Botolph’s Church for its Pepys and Dickens associations, and I’m pleased to add Mary’s progress to those associations!

  2. Congratulations to Queen Mary 1st, it is very sad that she ascended the throne with much happiness from her subjects, only to leave the world five years later her reign being largely described as a failure, the loss of Calais the deaths of hundreds of people only served to earn her a place in history as a fanatical unmerciful blood soaked monarch, the term ‘Bloody Mary’ contrary to what people think was not used during her short reign, but is attributed to the 17th century, her unpopular marriage with the Spanish King did nothing to keep the trust of her subjects and it is he rather unfairly, who is often blamed for the Smithfield fires, but today she rode through the London streets with her sister Elizabeth and the contrast between the two sisters could not have been more startling, there was the middle aged queen resplendent in royal purple velvet, and the happiness that shone in her face was genuine, yet the trauma of her early life had made her look prematurely old, though very pretty when a child she had lost her looks as she grew into womanhood, psychological suffering had made a deep impact and now her small white face was pinched with lines and the fiery redness of her hair made her look colourless, Mary resembled her mother more than her father, she had her nose along with a thin pinched mouth and small grey eyes, she was described as short and very thin, but lacking in physical beauty she more than made up for in her kindly demeanour her ability to make and keep friends, the people also adored her particularly in the north, her household knew her as a benevolent mistress, the poor people of the city knew her well as a kindly benefactress who often visited them with food and medicines, her treatment during Anne Boleyn’s lifetime had aroused much sympathy for her and her mother and they were thought of as the true queen and Princess, the true heir to the realm, not her baby sister, she had two dearly beloved lifelong companion’s, Susan Clarinceaux and Jane Dormer, their loyalty towards her never wavered, the former often slept in her bed, she was also fun loving and adored beautiful clothes and outfits and jewellery, she loved to gamble at the cards like her father, she was a good horsewoman and like all the Tudors very musical, adept in foreign languages, very learned and cultured, she must have been overjoyed as she rode beside her much younger sister that day, the crowds must have compared them and seen maybe quite unfairly, a tiny not very queenly figure and a much more dazzling one, with all the presence of her father King Henry V111, Elizabeth was compared to her father time and again, something which always delighted her and the crowds, on this day she accompanied Mary and the crowds saw a tall very slender woman with the same fiery colouring as her sister, with dazzling ivory skin and large mesmerising eyes, she sat her horse gracefully and displayed her elegant long fingers so everyone could see their beauty, as vain as her mother, although this day was about her sister, she must have made it more about her, in just five years she to would be riding through the London streets with the accolade of the people ringing in her ears, she to would be greeted by the Lord Mayor and it is due to Mary that she did receive the crown peacefully, poor Mary being disinherited and declared a bastard, had a much tougher road than Elizabeth, she was then reinstated in the succession only for her fanatical Protestant brother to disinherit her again, but she was possessed of the same courage as her mother and father and like her legendary grandmother Isabella of Castile, who rode on horseback to battle against the moors, she vowed to herself she would regain what was rightfully hers, her crown and the common people who had always been her champion, rose up against her enemies and they were vanquished, she had succeeded and her parents would have been very proud of her, she in turn honoured her fathers will and left her kingdom to Elizabeth there must be no more bloodshed, what she wished Elizabeth to do was to keep England Catholic something however which she had no intention of doing, some of the London streets and landmarks are very old, I love the names of most of them, Shoreditch, said to be named after Elizabeth Shore a mistress of Edward 1V, sometimes referred to as Jane, St Martins By The Tower, Spitalfields, Aldgate where Queen Mary rode to be greeted by the Lord Mayor Of London, Ludgate Hill, named after an ancient king of the English ‘King Lud’, he died on the spot of which was named after him Ludgate by the Romans, old Mother Newgate as she was called, Barking where an asylum once stood, hence the phrase barking mad, I have in my possession ‘London The Biography’ by Peter Ackroyd it really is a fascinating read and one which I highly recommend.

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