Day 7 of the Discover the Tudors Tour

After another delicious breakfast at the Arden Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon – French toast and I shared it with Francis I and Elizabeth I, as you can see! – we said our goodbyes to Stratford and set off for London. We arrived in London for lunch and then headed to London Charterhouse.

London Charterhouse has such a fascinating history. The land was used as a burial site for victims of the Black Death in 1348 and then in 1371, the Carthusian monastery was built. You might remember me telling you about that Carthusian Martyrs of Henry VIII’s reign, monks from this very monastery who refused to sign the oath recognising Henry VIII as supreme head of the Church in England and who were brutally executed or starved to death. The monastery was dissolved in the 1530s and it then passed through the hands of Sir Edward North; John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland; North again; Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk; Philip Howard, 13th Earl of Arundel; Elizabeth I; Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk, and Thomas Sutton. Elizabeth I visited it on several occasions.

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5 thoughts on “Day 7 of the Discover the Tudors Tour”
  1. Did Elizabeth I visit as penance for her father’s crimes against the brothers? Those poor monks.

    Thanks for more pictures. The Charterhouse really is an incredible and moving place, a lost part of Medieval and Tudor history that few people know about.

    Enjoy your evening.

  2. The photos as ever are very interesting, and the plaque I find so sad, to commemorate the deaths of the monks who stuck by their beliefs and suffered because of it, a grim reminder of a grim age, I find the hall with its beamed vaulted roof lovely and the ceiling depicting the thistles of Queen Mary entwined with the arms of Thomas Howard quite droll as he plotted to marry her and lost his head because of it, not together in the marital sense yet they are wedded in another way through their personal emblems for all eternity, or at least whilst the Charterhouse survives, I wonder what Queen Elizabeth thought when she visited this building, did she think of the monks who died in such a horrible way because of her father and really, because of his desire to marry her mother which resulted in the Act of Spremacy in the first place, she was known as being more merciful than both her father and sister and she shied away from executing anyone, she reluctantly sent Norfolk to the block but whilst her ministers bayed for Marys blood also, she would not agree to her death, when told in graphic detail of the execution of Anthony Babington the full sentance for traitors, she commuted his fellow conspirators to mere hanging instead of the usual hanging drawing and quartering, revolted by the horror of it all she was not in that sense like her father, who when faced with the death warrant, told himself it was what traitors deserved, but then Elizabeth was a woman and so more sensitive, also I believe although she never spoke her name in public, and possibly not in private either, her mothers headless corpse haunted her more than history has acknowledged and could have had something to do with her distaste for sending people to their deaths, the skeleton of the plague victim is a sad relic from another grim age, in fact most of the underground is built on the burial pits of the victims of the Black Death, the grim reaper certainly had his work cut out then, the suffering of these poor people we cannot begin to understand but they were in a lot of pain and death when it came, would have been a happy release, there were two strains of bubonic plague, one was the most deadly and attacked the lungs, very few survived but the fact that some did, shows the resilience of man and his need to overcome adversity and survive, England would again suffer from another outbreak of the Black Death in 1665, which was particurlaly virulent as the summer was long and hot, before dying in the great fire a year later, like a candle that had suddenly guttered and gone out, London is an ancient city and she is said to have been built on the blood of sacrificial victims, millions are buried below the roads and parks and tall buildings old and new that are part of her landscape today, in fact the whole of London is a old graveyard containing bones that pre date history.

  3. The first time I went to the Charterhouse was accidental many years ago, but I was so moved that I had to find more about the individual monks and I found an old book about the martyrs from the sixteenth century. I was still in my late teens and knew about them as a group, but not so many. It was in 2009 that I returned. It’s a beautiful, peaceful and impressive building. Then you see the plaque and chapel and just like any memorial to the victims of the Reformation, whatever their creed, victims of violence, war, famine, tragic death, that is what hits you, the names of individuals, lost in time, but remembered here or by families or devotion and they are no longer names on a page. Every 15th April as a light lights on the names of each Liverpool fan on the ring of hope at the ground as their name is read out, I can’t stop crying. The pen portraits read out by families tear at your heart and soul. Every 11th September the stories of the victims and survivors of the Twin Towers and Pentagon and American 93 absolutely overwhelmed me. You can only see a person not a name and it doesn’t matter if it was 500 years ago or 17, you still feel for those poor people. The incidents of history that show the worst of humanity and the worst negligence by those in charge bring out our deepest human response of love and sympathy. There is often anger but also hope that we can help prevent such things. Even so human tragedy continues.

    Sorry to sound so mopping but it really gets to me. No matter back to the case in hand. It would be interesting to get into the mind of the Tudors, yes, I definitely believe it would be interesting to know what Elizabeth thought. Of course there would not have been the plaque and the Charterhouse had been the home of John Dudley and of Frances Duchess of Suffolk and her husband for a time. In fact she bolted there once her daughter’s reign came to a sudden end. Elizabeth probably knew the stories of some of the monks as they were well known before her father’s cruelty. Henry himself knew them, or at least some, because they were not strangers at Court. Elizabeth may have hesitated sometimes but I don’t see her as that merciful. After all she authorised the same fate to many Catholic priests and to lay people who hid them. The one thing that the Tudors had in common was the breaking of a taboo. Under the Plantagenets it was extremely rare and considered wrong to execute members of the clergy, no matter what they were accused of. The one that stands out is the beheading of Archbishop Scrope in York on the orders of Henry Iv. Of course Saint Thomas a Becket was murdered on the accidental orders of Henry ii who then did public penance. Now the Tudors were executing leading clergy left right and centre. Mary ordered or allowed the burning of leading clergy like Thomas Cranmer and Hugh Latimer and Elizabeth men like Edmund Campion and Father Southwell. Henry had killed John Fisher and Thomas More and monks and Abbotts and even under James it continued with Edmund Arrowsmith and William Southworth who you can see well preserved in Westminster Cathedral. Visiting such a previously holy place must have made Elizabeth uncomfortable. She must have been both sensitive to how these men had died and at the same time pragmatic as a Queen whose duty it was to administer justice, even though that justice was harsh and cruel. Or did she just accept the hospitality of Arundel and not even think about it? May such times never come again and may all the victims on both sides rest in peace. Amen.

    1. Yes the Tudor monarchs thought nothing about executing members of the clergy, when Beckets death became known it shook Europe as well as England, I was watching last night moments that shook Britain on the tv, cannot remember the full title and I’d missed the first half hour, but it had the Zebrugge ferry disaster which should have been avoided, and the sinking of the Belgrano during the Falklands, the Titanic which also was just down to human error, sailing too fast – the assassination of John Lennon, the twin towers 7/7 etc, my parents often spoke of Aberfan, I think that disaster struck more people harder as it concerned the deaths of children, the murder also of the schoolchildren with their teacher in the little village in Scotland, such senseless deaths and we can weep for them and their families, the Lockerbie disaster, Dianas death whilst dreadful was not on a par with most of them as the others contained huge loss of life, the murder of Earl Mountbatten years ago, as you say it does not matter if these events happened five hundred years ago or five years ago it is about mans inhumanity to man, most were just down to human error and at least we have learnt from them, after the Titanic the white star line changed its course so the voyages to America would not be so hazardous going through the iceberg littered seas of the Atlantic, and in future for every passenger there would be a lifeboat, but that disaster at the time must have shook Britain and America, her maiden voyage and deemed the unsinkable, but as we have seen, no ship is unsinkable, there will always be natural disasters too, Heruculean and Pompei was dreadful, it is said we can learn from earths creatures and days before the eruption the birds had been circling the air then disappeared, the same with the land animals, wild dogs and goats pigs etc, had run way to other pastures sensing something sinister was about to happen, we have an account of the days leading upto the disaster from Pliny yet he too died along with his fellow citizens, their deaths must have been dreadful, hot ash would have blinded them in the first fatal seconds and then death, caught in molten lava and preserved for all eternity, their agony and suffering can be seen in their anguished expressions, why had they not flown before? The citizens had stared at the volcano rumbling away for days watching the black smoke spew up into the air, surely a sixth sense would have warned them, but it was a simple age and they thought no doubt that they had displeased one of their many deities, they could not have foreseen such a tragedy which was about to unfold, it is said Naples is built on a volcano which can erupt any second natural disasters can be worse than man made ones, we now have terrorist attacks to fear the only good thing that comes from those is that it increases the security tenfold, I remember after 7/7 I did not like to get on the bus and If I saw a Muslim I felt afraid, you cannot help it because these people blend in with the crowd and you do not know if they are about to detonate a device right next to you, they look normal but you cannot read their mind, they always target cities and big events like the Ariane concert, then the ones who drove into Westminster bridge, thankfully these don’t happen often but when anything like it happens it makes you very jumpy.

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