Archive for the ‘Westminster and the Wyatts’ Category

Cousin Edie at Westminster Abbey

(Blog by our Cousin Edie, at right.)“In September, I was in London visiting friends and family. On my ‘to do list’ was visiting Westminster Abbey. I spoke with my friend Elizabeth Sacks Chase, who is an official guide to the city of London, about our Wyatt ancestry and connection to the Abbey. As you know, the Abbey is dedicated to our relative through the Brooke line – King and Saint, Edward the Confessor, once considered the patron saint of England.

Normally, the shrine of Edward the Confessor is not open to the public, but Elizabeth arranged with the office of The Dean and Chapter, for us to have a private tour of the shrine. I wrote a ‘letter of introduction’ explaining our ancestral connection to the royal line through Sir Thomas Wyatt and Elizabeth Brooke.

It was moving to visit the shrine, which is at the heart of the cathedral. In the past,  pilgrims would kneel in the alcoves of the shrine and pray, taking specks of gold from the shrine’s exterior as a momento. As noted below, pilgrims still gather every October in honor of Saint Edward.
‘The shrine of Saint Edward the Confessor in Westminster Abbey remains where it was after the final translation of his body to a chapel east of the sanctuary on 13 October 1269 by Henry III. The day of his translation, 13 October, is regarded as his feast day, and each October the Abbey holds a week of festivities and prayer in his honour. For some time the Abbey had claimed that it possessed a set of coronation regalia that Edward had left for use in all future coronations. Following Edward’s canonization, these were regarded as holy relics, and thereafter they were used at all English coronations from the 13th Century until the destruction of the regalia by Oliver Cromwell in 1649.’
13 October is an optional feast day for Edward the Confessor for the Catholic Church of England and Wales, and the Church of England’s calendar of saints designates it as a Lesser Festival. He is regarded as one of the patron saints of difficult marriages.
Cosmati Floor at Westminster AbbeyEdward’s shrine is directly behind the high altar. Our guide opened a door from the shrine to the high alter, allowing us to see the Cosmati Pavement.
We stepped down onto the stone around the pavement to get a close up view of this beautiful tile floor laid in the 13th century as part of the original building commissioned by King Henry III.
I have included a link with the history of the Cosmati Pavement and it’s recent uncovering and restoration.
I also saw the chair of Edward the Confessor which is used in all coronations. It is behind a glass window at the moment as it is undergoing restoration.”
Thanks for sharing Edie. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s eating their heart out!

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Our ancestor Edward III.

Our ancestor Edward III.

Who among us did NOT rise at the break of dawn U.S. time to see Kate and William get married this morning?!

Are you aware of our connections to the abbey? We owe those connections to our ancestor Lady Elizabeth Brooke.

We are related to Edward the Confessor who dedicated his life to the building of Westminster Abbey. His cousin was Robert the Magnificent, a.k.a. “The Devil” – 5th Duke of Normandy. The Duke was the father of William the Conqueror; Robert and William are direct ancestors. 

Poor Edward was too weak to attend the dedication of his new church on 28 December; he died January 5, 1066. If you have time, check this link:


Note that some of the stories are so interesting I got a little carried away.

William I, a.k.a. William the Conqueror (DA) was crowned at Westminster on Christmas Day, 1066. He married Matilda of Flanders (DA). She was crowned queen at Westminster in 1068.

They had serious problems with their sons – who also had problems with each other. After William I died, their son William was crowned William II at Westminster on 9/26/1087. He was very much disliked and died (without heirs) in a “hunting accident.” He happened to be hunting with his brother Henry at the time.

Henry (DA) was William I’s youngest and the brains of the family.

He was crowned Henry I at Westminster Abbey on August 2, 1100. He quit his epicly whoring ways and married Edith (later “Matilda”) Atheling (DA), a Scottish princess on November 11, 1100 in Westminster Abbey.  She was the daughter of King Malcolm III of Scotland and Saint Margaret of Scotland, a.k.a. Queen Margaret of Scotland, Margaret of Wessex.  (How cool is that?)

Edith/Matilda was a great influence on him, but he still lost his temper, threw burghers* off towers and enjoyed blinding people.  

Henry and Matilda married their young daughter Matilda (DA) off to the (much older) German emperor and – sadly – her brothers died young. When the German emperor died,  Matilda the daughter (DA) made the mistake of “going home” and her father stuck her with Geoffrey V (DA), Count of Anjou – a.k.a. Plantagenet. (Yes, Henry VIII hated the Plantagenets because of their potential right to the throne. I’ll cover that some other time. Or watch “The Tudors.”)  

Matilda married Geoffrey V Plantagenet, 9th Count on 22 May 1127 in Le Mans Cathedral, Anjou.  When Henry I died, Matilda was made queen of England for a short time. She was crowned at Westminster Abbey December 19, 1154. She had two strikes against her – she was arrogant and she was female. Despite their hate/hate relationship, Matilda and Geoffrey had an heir – Henry (DA).

Henry’s mother lost her throne, so he worked to get it back. His marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine made him rich and powerful but they didn’t get along.  Henry managed to regain the throne in 1154 and his coronation as Henry II took place at Westminster 12/19/1154. He was the first of the Plantagenet kings, notorious for his stormy relationship with his frienemy Thomas Becket.

Henry and Eleanor’s son John “Softsword” (I think this term was as derogatory as it sounds) was crowned King May 27, 1199 at Westminster. John (DA) married Isabella of Angoulême Taillefer (DA). Wikipedia says he was such a bad guy his personality traits “provided extensive material for fiction writers in the Victorian era, and John remains a recurring character within Western popular culture, primarily as a villain in films and stories depicting the Robin Hood legends.”


John and Isabella’s heir was a third Henry (DA) – he inherited the crown as a child and – as such, missed out on the big, fancy coronation. Per Wikipedia (because I’m too tired to check multiple sources and rewrite stuff after getting up at 4 a.m. this morning) … “In 1220, a second coronation was ordered by Pope Honorius III who did not consider that the first had been carried out in accordance with church rites. This occurred on 17 May 1220 in Westminster Abbey.” 

Henry developed a true love for the abbey and had it rebuilt. Wikipedia again … “England prospered during his reign and his greatest monument is Westminster, which he made the seat of his government and where he expanded the abbey as a shrine to Edward the Confessor.” (I believe this is the area where the royal family retreated to sign papers immediately after the wedding today.)  

Henry III’s beautiful tomb resides in Westminster Abbey.
(Check it out – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_III_of_England)

Henry III married Eleanor of Provence Berenger (DA). Henry and Eleanor’s heir was Edward (DA). He was crowned Edward I (Longshanks) 1274 in Westminster Abbey.  Edward married Eleanor of Castile (DA).

Edward’s tomb is in Westminster Abbey. Edward and Eleanor’s heir was:

Edward, who was crowned Edward II (DA). Edward married Isabella of France (DA); they were both crowned in Westminster Abbey on February 25, 1308.   His rule was a disaster. Edward II was portrayed as a … well, a bit of a queen in Braveheart. Wikipedia says “Several contemporary sources criticized Edward’s seeming infatuation with Piers Gaveston, to the extent that he ignored and humiliated his wife.” Still, they managed to have children, including their heir …

Another Edward (DA). He was crowned Edward III at Westminster Abbey early in 1327/8 – after his father was deposed.

He was everything his father wasn’t – one of the most successful monarchs of the middle ages. He married Philippa of Hainault (DA). Per westminster-abbey.org “Philippa of Hainault was born in 1314 and often accompanied Edward on his foreign expeditions. She died in 1369. The king was devoted to her and spent about £3,000 on her tomb in the Confessor’s chapel at the Abbey. The queen’s alabaster effigy, by Hennequin of Liège, is undoubtedly a portrait. She originally held the string of her cloak in one hand and a sceptre but the hands are now broken. The tomb has been much mutilated over the centuries and most of its decoration has disappeared and there is no inscription.”

 “The king himself died soon after of a stroke on 21 June 1377 and was buried near his wife in the chapel of St Edward the Confessor in the Abbey. The wooden effigy carried at his funeral is preserved in the Abbey Museum and is thought to be taken from a death mask.”

They had 14 children – some died as infants and one died of the Black Death. One who survived was …

John of Gaunt, Plantagenet Duke (DA).

He was born Mar Mar 1340 in St Bavon’s Abbey, Ghent, Flanders.  He married Constance of Castile for political and dynastic reasons. After she died he married his true love Katherine to legitimize their relationship and their children.

(Katherine’s sister was the wife of Geoffrey Chaucer.John married Catherine Swynford Roet (DA) Duchess on 13 Jan 1396 in Lincoln Cathedral. King Richard legitimized their children under English law, but stipulated they were not eligible for royal succession. (That didn’t stop Katherine’s great-great grandson Henry VII from winning the crown.)

Between them, John and Katherine started the Tudor and Yorkist Royal Houses; most of the European Royal Houses trace their origins back to them through intermarriage.

Katherine and John fulfilled an ancient prophecy of Merlin: “thou shalt get kings though thou be none!” This was the problem Henry VII and Henry VIII had to deal with; we share their line to at least here. I’m too tired to figure out exactly where the lines separate …

I’m going to skim the rest of our line to Lady Elizabeth Brooke, since I don’t think we have Westminster connections again until our ancestors served the Tudors. When Henry VIII “hit on” our Lady Elizabeth Brooke, he was hitting on a distant cousin.  Pffft, typical Tudor.

Our line from John of Gaunt and Catherine Swynford comes through:

Joan De Beaufort who married Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmoreland
Their son Sir Edward Neville married Catherine Howard. (Yes, THE Howards.)
Their daughter Margaret Neville married John Brooke, Lord Cobham, 7th Baron of Cobham.
Their son Thomas Brooke, Lord Cobham, 8th Baron of Cobham married Dorothy HEYDEN or Haydon. Dorothy was the daughter of Sir Henry Heydon and Ann Boleyn; Anne Boleyn was the daughter of Sir Geoffrey Boleyn.  (Thus, relatives of THE Boleyns.)

Thomas and Dorothy’s daughter was our Lady Elizabeth Brooke who married Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet!!

That’s it. Hope you enjoy our connection to Westminster on this lovely wedding day. (I flew through it to get it done before midnight – please send me a note if you spot errors.) I didn’t take time to go through and check for all the christenings.

Your Cousin Micki

*Burghers were middle class citizens, not round beef patties in soft white buns.

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