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Posts Tagged ‘Sir Henry Wyatt’


Henry Tudor – son of Henry VII – was born 28 June 1491. Our Sir Thomas Wyatt was born in 1503.

In 1509 Henry VII died and his son was crowned Henry VIII. Our Henry Wyatt was the new king’s guardian as well as an advisor; his son Thomas became Henry’s friend – even through the Anne Boleyn debacle. It’s hard to imagine how Thomas felt when his childhood friends Anne and George Boleyn were beheaded, along with others of his creative friends.

Henry was openly brutal. He had no one to answer to; he was the head of the Church of England. He had his own damned church, Rome could kiss his ass.

Our Sir Thomas had the unpleasant task of representing the wishes of Henry VIII with Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor – nephew of poor dead Catherine of Aragon. I believe Henry killed her too – not with a Frenchman’s sword, but with emotional violence, by moving her to unhealthy places and denying her access to her beloved daughter. With Catherine out of the way, Henry shamelessly pursued an alliance with Spain.

Henry was manipulative, Charles was evasive and Thomas was caught in the middle. After time spent, he begged to be allowed to come home to Allington; but Henry wasn’t a man who cared about anyone but himself. Thomas finally retired to Allington, but was called back on a mission for the king. That’s how he died, leaving poems unwritten and his sister’s son (by Henry VIII??) “unraised.” (He was raising Lady Margaret Lee’s son at the time of his death.)

What happened to Henry? What turned him into a monster? I can’t get enough of the possible answers. Here’s another interesting article on the subject:

“As a young man, he was fit and healthy. But by the time of his death, the King weighed close to 400 pounds. He had leg ulcers, muscle weakness, and, according to some accounts, a significant personality shift in middle age towards more paranoia, anxiety, depression and mental deterioration. Among other theories, experts have proposed that Henry suffered from Type II diabetes, syphilis, an endocrine problem called Cushing’s syndrome, or myxedema, which is a byproduct of hypothyroidism.”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42041766/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/king-henry-viiis-health-problems-explained/#.T_w7T0DCqhV.facebook

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A SIGNIFICANT RESTORATION
By Agnes Conway, daughter of Sir Martin Conway.
From House Beautiful, August 1929

(Exactly as written except I have added paragraphs; I find great chunks of content oppressive. Forgive any typos, it’s a lot of typing!)

[Learn about Sir Conway here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Conway,_1st_Baron_Conway_of_Allington ]

On May 15, 1905, Sir Martin Conway inserted the following advertisement in the Times – ‘Wanted: To purchase old manor house or abbey, built in the sixteenth century or earlier, with old garden, not much land, no sporting facilities, preferably five miles or more from a railway station.’

Two replies were received – one about a stuccoed castellated mansion, suitable for a hotel or hydro; the other from Allington Castle on the River Medway, not far from Maidstone, in which we were picnicking after the purchase, six weeks from that date. Fortunately it was summer, for the castle was open to the sky, with the exception of the rooms in the gabled Elizabethan building which was the home of innumerable rats, who ran about inside the walls all day and night.

The age of the building exceeded our demands; for that a real medieval castle should be for sale, thirty-five miles from London, had never even entered our minds. This one contained remains of three successive castles and two manor houses – the earliest a moated mound raised at the time of the Conquest, and once crowned by a wooden fort, of which the mound and the moat are still extant.

Figure 2, The Moat Wall

The second, a stone castle, built toward the end of the eleventh century and pulled down in 1170 at a cost of sixty shillings by orders of the King, after a general rising of the barons. Of this castle, a gigantic fireplace, large enough to roast an ox, and the foundations of several rooms, marked out by us in cement in the inner courtyard, remain. The twelfth-century wall, surrounding the moat, is intact, and forms the background to our herbaceous border. (Figure 2).

For the next one hundred and twelve years, during which period no one took out a license to crenelate the building, Allington was merely a manor house, in the possession of the Norman family of Longchamp, relatives of the regent whom Richard I left to govern England when he went on crusade. But in 1279, Stephen of Penchester, Warden of the Cinque Ports, who owned Penshurst Place in Kent, afterward the home of Sir Philip Sidney, bought Allington and obtained a license to turn it into a castle again.

He put the battlements (restored in 1909) on the Longchamp gatehouse (Figure 4) and on the west wing (Figure 1) – also of the Longchamp period in the lower story – and built Solomon’s Tower (Figure 3) at the end of the block. This was the main tower of the castle; and the room on the first floor, with two arrow shoots, a window, two doors and a fireplace of his date, is my bedroom to-day. (Figure 6) All it needed was a roof and a floor.

The West Wing

Figure 1, The West Wing

Figure 3, Solomon's Tower

The Tower Bedroom

He built with Kentish rag, like his predecessors, but imported Caen stone from Normandy for the windows and doors.

The top of Solomon’s Tower, as restored by us, and the courtyard aspect of the west wing are seen in Figure 5.

Figure 5, the Outer Courtyard

Stephen was the best of the many builders of Allington, and his mortar is still as hard as a rock. But in two hundred and fifty years fashions changed; and when Allington was bought in 1507 by Sir Henry Wyatt, the father of Sir Thomas Wyatt, the poet, certain alterations were made.

The buildings had hitherto enclosed one large courtyard; but Wyatt, in the manner of his time, built a Long Gallery across it from the Penchester porch (Figure 5), dividing it into two almost equal-sized courtyards. Wyatt’s arch leading to the inner courtyard is also seen in Figure 5. He introduced larger windows throughout the building, as in the room over the entrance arch (Figure 4), and his son decorated it so sumptuously that it was famed as a splendid house in his day.

Here Sir Henry Wyatt entertained Henry VIII, whose dinner was served through the door and kitchen hatch found by us bricked up in the wine cellar. But the Wyatt reign at Allington was only of forty-six years; for the younger Sir Thomas lost his head and property in a rebellion against the Spanish marriage of Queen Mary in 1553 and Allington was never again a residence of consequence.

An Elizabethan gabled story was added all the way round the courtyard when the castle was turned into a farmhouse about the year 1600, and many drawings and water colors by Turner and others exist of it in that condition.

In 1840 the gables along the length of the west wing were pulled down, the beams of the floors taken out and sold, the paneling destroyed, and the bulk left in the state in which it was found by us.

The opposite side of the inner courtyard continued in existence as a farmhouse and then as laborers’ cottages, becoming even more and more derelict, till it sheltered us when we were planning our restoration.

The first thing we had to do was to rebuild Wyatt’s Long Gallery, which had burned down in 1820, and thereby gain access from the Elizabethan house to the ruined west wing without going out of doors or through the domestic quarters on the ground floor. This room is frankly modern, and has served us ever since as the general living-room. That completed, we could turn out attention to the west wing, a gutted shell with thirteenth century doors and windows intact. Here we had to strip the ivy, which, six feet thick in places, concealed every stone of the walls.

With the roof gone, we were at liberty to reconstruct the battlements built by Stephen of Penchester. This entailed rebuilding the top eight feet of wall, which had been cut away in places for the low gables; yet sufficient data remained to reerect them exactly as they had been in 1282 (Figure 1).

We then dug away the soil of ages, which hid the bottom eight feet of the west wall on the moat side, and leveled a grass terrace to the water, which still surrounded the castle on three sides. The fourth side had of course to be reconstructed. This building gave us a long drawing-room on the ground floor and a suite of bedrooms above.

We continued our work with the battlements and machicolations of the gatehouse, and made the room over the entrance arch into a library. The other two sides of the outer courtyard, which had at one time been injured by fire, were temporarily left a ruin.

Solomon’s Tower was intact, save for a giant bite out of the top story, and this was next repaired (Figure 3). We then had a habitable house, drained, lit by electricity, and centrally heated., with a bathroom attached to each important bedroom – sufficient for our needs and finished before the Great War.

The experience gained on this straightforward piece of restoration is now being utilized to rebuild the twelfth-century banqueting hall, a work of considerable difficulty. But excavation of the two sides, of which nothing remained above ground, has revealed the bottom of a fireplace with its stone fender, the base and mouldings of the chief door, and the tiles of the pavement. The remaining two sides are intact, so that the restoration which is proceeding now will be correct in every detail.

The tower behind the Hall, which contained the principal bedroom, slept in by Henry VIII, whose chair descended with the castle, has been roofed since the war, though not yet made fit for habitation. The chapel adjacent to the gatehouse and the solar still remain in ruins.

Although there is still much to be done, it is now just conceivable that we may live long enough to finish the building. The interior decoration has not proceeded far. Unfortunately our collection of Italian old masters does not look well upon stone walls, and we are gradually paneling and painting some rooms and hanging others with Persian rugs and woven country clothes of the Stone Age, still being made in Sierra Leone. Those, in lieu of tapestry, look better than anything else on the walls (see bed in Figure 6). A copy of a fifteenth-century tapestry being made for me for the Great Hall will take at least ten years to complete.

Many of the rooms are paved with copies of thirteenth-century tiles (Figure 6) and have been designed to be roofed with replicas designed to be roofed with replicas of sixteenth-century plaster ceilings. One such has just been introduced into the hall of a neighboring castle with great effect. The furniture is largely of Jacobean oak. But before the war, or even now, decoration is subordinated to actual structural progress and to the rescue of the grounds from the tar-paving factory, the railway cutting, the cluster of ugly oast [sic] houses, and the public right of way that used to cut the property in half.

Thousands of tons of earth went into the railway cutting; by degrees a green meadow by the river took the place of the factory, and a new road was cut out through the wood to lead to the castle.

Not till after the war could any progress be made with the garden. But moss on the inside of the courtyard walls took the place of ivy; and the farmhouse vines, which used to yield eighty gallons of so-called champagne a year, were left to ramp over the ruined walls of the banqueting hall. The outside of the castle was purposely left severe and flowerless; the inner banks of the moat were turfed and mown, and only the outer ones were allowed to bloom with thousands of daffodils, and to grow hay, a mass of marguerites in between (Figure 1).

Between the eastern side of the castle and the twelfth-century wall, which bounds the moat, is about an acre of enclosed lawn, approached by a thirteenth-century door at the back of the banqueting hall.

Against the moat wall, stretching from a round twelfth-century pigeon house (Figure 2) to the back bridge behind Solomon’s Tower (Figure 3), a long herbaceous border has been made. By degrees the fields in which lie a Roman villa, the eleventh-century moated mound, the second twelfth-century pigeon house, and the fifteenth-century barns, are taking their place in a garden scheme, and a yew garden planted after the Armistice can now be trimmed into walls of a respectable height.

Much remains to be done; but on summer days when the roses are out and sympathetic friends spur us on, we sometimes think we may live long enough, after all, to complete our task. But nothing can deprive us of the fun we have had: digging out the history of the building from the ground and that of its owners from the Public Record Offices; planning the alterations and discussing the alternatives; utilizing every opportunity of travel to pick up adjuncts such as the statuette of Saint Martin over the Long Gallery door; breeding swans and peacocks, and draining the moat for treasures which we never find.

Tradition has it that when the golden pig is dug up at Allington, the finder will swiftly vanish away. May that be the end of us all!

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Thomas Cromwell

Image from Wikipedia

He died 471 years ago this week.

Thomas Cromwell, Lord Great Chamberlain, Chief Minister of Henry VIII, Earl of Essex – he was feared, hated and envied. Like his predecessor Wolsey, he was a smart, ambitious man from humble beginnings.

He helped Henry rid himself of Catherine of Aragon so he could marry Anne Boleyn. He was a passionate advocate for the Reformation.  He provided most of the financial backing to make the Bible available in English.

In his precious free time he invited creative and spiritually inclined people to his home for long discussions.

Most important to descendants, he was a dear friend of our Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet.

When Sir Thomas was imprisoned in the Tower during Anne Boleyn’s last days, it was Thomas Cromwell who assured his aging father he would be OK.

On May 5, 1536 Sir Tom was imprisoned in the tower. On May 11, Cromwell assured his father Sir Henry Wyatt that he would be released without charges. Unfortunately, Tom witnessed Anne’s beheading on May 19 – his sister there with her on the scaffold. He wrote wrote “enemies surround my soul.” He was released, as Cromwell promised, June 14.

Cromwell continued watching out for Tom’s welfare as long as he lived. When the king sent Tom away from home, he paid small debts and resolved household problems on his behalf. Like he didn’t have bigger fish to fry:-)

Cromwell’s downfall came when he encouraged Henry to marry Anne of Cleves; his reasons were political – he felt a German alliance would strengthen England.  A painting of Anne was commissioned and – like match.com – the image was far from reality.  Henry committed to wed a woman he had never seen.

Henry met Anne on new year’s day 1540; he couldn’t stand the way she looked or smelled. I imagine she felt the same. She was a virgin who didn’t understand where babies came from. He was a fat, wife-killing lech whose leg reeked from a chronic oozing infection.

Henry was very vocal about his displeasure. He said her breasts and belly felt soft and old; he couldn’t “perform”.  He was quick to point out the problem was not his – it was hers. She did not inspire his lust. Their marriage was never consummated and he started warning people if this continued, they could not expect he would father more heirs to the throne.

Henry blamed Cromwell; he became verbally and physically abusive, literally smacking his Chief Minister around.

On June 10, 1540, during a council dinner in Westminster Palace,  the Duke of Norfolk (Sir Tom’s godfather ) arrested Cromwell . “My Lord of Essex, I arrest you of high treason.”  The duke tore off the St George medal he wore around his neck and Lord Admiral Fitzwilliam (formerly his friend) snatched at the Order of the Garter.

Cromwell was furious. He responded “This, then, is my guerdon [reward] for the service that I have done. On your consciences I ask you, am I a traitor? I may have offended, but never with my will. Such faults as I have committed deserve grace and pardon; but if the King, my master, believes so ill of me, let him make quick work and not leave me to languish in prison.”

During his time in the tower Cromwell was ordered to give Henry everything he needed to annul his marriage to Anne of Cleves; this was accomplished on July 12.

It strikes me as tragic that Henry killed Cromwell for pairing him with a woman who became one of his few true and loving friends. Based on what I’ve read to date, she may have been his only friend.  Of course – knowing how he had disposed of Anne Boleyn, she had to be grateful to keep her head. She was glad to stay in England, where she had friends and freedom. Henry was generous with her, gave her homes (including the Boleyn’s Hever Castle) and visited often. There were rumors of a romance.

Henry had Cromwell executed July 28.  The king had a nasty habit of mixing endings with beginnings. That same day he left to marry Catherine Howard, the “firm” young bimp who would make a total fool of him. Of course she lost her head in the bargain.

Before the axe fell on Cromwell’s neck he prayed “Grant me, merciful Saviour, that when death hath shut up the eyes of my body, yet the eyes of my soul may still behold and look upon Thee, and when death hath taken away the use of my tongue, yet my heart may cry and say unto Thee, Lord into Thy hands I commend my soul, Lord Jesus receive my spirit, Amen.”

Remember how Anne Boleyn had a French swordsman who came in to assure her end would be swift? Cromwell was not nearly as fortunate, his execution was performed by an inept butcher. The Tudors series doesn’t hold true to the facts, but their fiction is interesting and their visuals powerful:

“In July 1540 there was much rejoicing at Cromwell’s fall, for he was generally regarded as a tyrant and a destructive force. Few friends dared to speak up for his reputation openly and his constructive work went unrecognized until long afterwards. Yet one contemporary who knew his worth set down his feelings in the jewel of a sonnet. ‘Gentle Master Wyatt’, as Cromwell had so often written to him on public affairs during his service on diplomatic missions, in 1540 at last returned to his native Kent, where he was to enjoy barely two years of retirement before he died.”(Sir Tom died in service to Henry VIII, so this source is incorrect or the king may have called him out of retirement for a special assignment.)This was Sir Tom’s sonnet for Cromwell:

“The pillar perish’d is whereto I leant;
The strongest stay of mine unquiet mind:
The like of it, no man again can find,
From east to west still seeking though he went.
To mine unhap; for hap away hath rent
Of all my join the very bark and rind;
And I, alas! by chance am thus assign’d
Dearly to mourn, till death do it relent.
But since that thus it is by destiny,
What can I more but have a woeful heart;
My pen in plaint, my voice in woeful cry,
My mind in woe, my body full of smart,
And I myself, myself always to hate;
Till dreadful death do ease my doleful state.”

According to The Cardinal and the Secretary, “His [Cromwell’s] fall had made it easier to justify to the courts of Europe his parting from Anne of Cleves, but by the time Catherine Howard had gone to the executioner he had come to realize that Cromwell had been unnecessarily sacrificed.”Henry became his own Chief Minister. “After Wolsey’s fall he had found that he needed Cromwell’s service, but after Cromwell’s disgrace no one of the same calibre offered himself. Indeed the problems were far less pressing now that Cromwell had made him master in his own house.””Seeing in the new men about him no hint of statesmanlike qualities .. the King came to conclude that Cromwell had been condemned ‘on light pretexts’.”

Henry was unable to find any man in his court who measured up to Cromwell and later referred to him as ‘the best servant he ever had’.”

R.I.P. Thomas Cromwell; you are remembered.

(Quotes and sonnet from The Cardinal & the Secretary by Neville Williams.)

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