Edward VI Coronation Procession
The topic of this entry stemmed from a visit to Cowdray Park in the summer of 2012 which sparked my interest in the property (more on that in a future blog entry). Sensing my fascination, my husband purchased a book for me as a gift titled, Cowdray: the history of a great English House …With illustrations, etc. by Julia Roundell. While reading the book, there was a brief mention of Anthony Browne, 7th Viscount Montague giving permission for several of the murals that adorned the “parlour” to be copied. Specific mention was of the one depicting the coronation of Edward VI.* That triggered a connection to the painted screen of that very subject that was at Kentwell Castle—another property visited in the summer of 2012. The quest began to discover whether they were one and the same. I contacted Kentwell and heard from Patrick Phillips. The emails are recreated below.
On 19 Dec 2012, at 18:23
I recently read a book about Cowdray by J. Roundell in which it was stated >that permission had been granted for an artist to duplicate the piece of art >of Edward VI coronation. Was wondering if that was the basis for the >lovely screens at Kentwell. Not sure if the Cowdray piece was a framed >art work or a mural but it did get me wondering. Any information would be >appreciated. Thank you.
Date: Wednesday, December 19, 2012, 10:12 PM
>Yes our screens came from Cowdray Park.Originally there were six early >murals in the main hall in Tudor Cowdray Park. The then owner of the >Hall allowed engravings of one of the six, namely the Coronation >Procession of Edward VI, to be engraved from tracings made by >S.H.Grimm and the engraving was published in 1788. It is this engraving that you may find illustrated in books on Edward VI’s reign.
>Unfortunately, Cowdray Park itself was destroyed by fire in 1793 and all >trace of the original murals was lost. These painted leather screens derive >from the engraving and (possibly) also the tracings. >Regards >PP
Talk about serendipity! Not much more was needed to influence me to investigate the coronation procession of Edward VI and the other events associated with the celebrations.
The coronation procession of Edward VI depicted on screens displayed at Kentwell. Copies of the murals from Cowdray were reproduced luckily before fire destroyed the originals.
There are varied claims as to where Edward and Elizabeth were at the time their father’s death was announced to them. Two things are consistently shown: the children were together and their reaction was sorrowful. Hayward poetically relayed that “Never was sorrow more sweetly set forth, their faces seeming rather to beautify their sorrow, than their sorrow to cloud the beauty of their faces” (Tytler 17).
Although this blogger agrees that Edward was most likely at Hertford Castle and moved to Enfield where Elizabeth was staying, below is a sampling of accounts of the children’s whereabouts.
Linda Porter claims that Edward was living with Elizabeth at the time of Henry’s death at Hertford Castle and they both heard the news together three days after the king’s death. The next day, February 1st, after the reading of the will to the Privy Council on 31 January, Edward VI returned to The Tower of London prior to his coronation” (Porter 278).
Sir James Mackintosh reported that the “young prince, who was at the royal mansion of Hatfield at the time of his father’s death, was brought thence in regal state, and proclaimed king of England. His proclamation took place when he was nine years and about three months old” (Mackintosh 136).
Christopher Hibbert says that Edward was at Ashridge at the time and they thought it would be easier to tell him if he was with his sister so they took him to Enfield to break the news to the two of them in the Presence Chamber there (Hibbert 28).
Patrick Tytler confirms contemporary sources reporting that Edward Seymour and Anthony Brown (of Cowdray), went to Hertford to convey the boy to Enfield, “and there they first declared to him and the Lady Elizabeth the death of Henry their father” (Tytler 56).
David Starkey claims that Edward was at Hertford Castle when his uncle, Edward Seymour, arrived. Instead of telling him of his father’s death, he was told he was going to London for his investiture as Prince of Wales and they would stop at Enfield where Elizabeth was staying. They were told of their father’s death there” (Starkey 59).
Drawing of Enfield Palace
In a letter to the Council on 30 January Edward Seymour relays, “We intend the King’s majesty shall be a-horse-back tomorrow by xi of the clock, so that by iii we trust his Grace shall be at the Tower…. “From Enwild [Enfield] this Sunday night, at xi of the clock” (Tytler 18).
Edward VI reveals in his diary that he and his sister Elizabeth learnt of their father Henry VIII’s death from his uncle Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, at Elizabeth’s Enfield residence on 30 January 1547 (Edward VI). His diary describes the grief experienced in London at the news of the death of Henry VIII but does not reveal his own feelings. He describes the Privy Council’s choice of Edward Seymour as Protector and Governor of the King’s Person and mentions how his father’s officers broke their staffs and threw them into Henry’s grave at his burial.
It is difficult to tell from the diary if these are Edward’s own thoughts. He may have written the diary at the urging of one of his tutors and the entries from 1547 – 1549 are simply a chronology of events that refers to Edward in the third person. Many historians wonder if the entries were even completed by Edward. From March 1550 until November 1552, when it ends, it is more like a diary, with entries for individual days.
Historian James Mackintosh was less impressed with Edward’s scholarship as he proclaimed that his essays and letters, “might have been corrected or dictated by his preceptors” But he does acknowledge that “perhaps, somewhat brief and dry for so young an author; but the adoption of such a plan, and the accuracy with which it is written, bear marks of a pure taste and of a considerate mind” (Mackintosh 138).
A page from the diary of Edward VI. Below is a transcription of the entry.
After the death of King Henry th’eight his son Edward prince of Wales was come to at Hartford by th’erle of Hartford and S[ir] Anthony Brown Master of t’horse for whom befor was made great preparation that he might be created Prince of Wales, and after ward was brought to Enfield whear the death of his Father was first shewed him, and the same day the death of his father was shewed in London, wher was great lamentation and weping and sodenly he proclaimed King. The next day, being the _ of _ he was brought to the Towre of London whear he taried the space of three wikes… (Edward VI). Those three weeks were spent in preparation for Henry VII’s funeral and Edward’s coronation.
Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth Regina, 1597, Art Institute of Chicago The procession left the Tower of London for the Palace of Westminster about one o’clock in the afternoon of 19 February. This was the chance for his subjects to see the new king. Edward was on horseback dressed in a gown of gold cloth with a sable-lined cloak. The clothing he wore underneath was embellished with “rubies, diamonds, and pearls arranged in lovers’ knots” (Loach 32).
Along the route near the Tower “stood members of the craftsmen’s guilds, and, on the other side of the road, priests and clerks in holy orders” stood. Houses were decked out in tapestries and banners “as Richely as might be Devysed” (Loach 33).
Making up the procession preceding the King were his messengers, gentlemen, servants of foreign ambassadors and heralds. There followed chaplains, knights, the sons of various nobles and barons arranged by their degree. The bishops, the sons of earls, marquesses and dukes were followed by their fathers the earls, marquesses and dukes. Those closest to the king were his Household Officers. Riding literally beside the king were the Lord Protector, the Duke of Somerset, Edward Seymour, the Lord Admiral, John Dudley and the King’s Master of the Horse, Sir Anthony Browne (of Cowdray). The entire scene was depicted in a mural at Cowdray House, Sir Anthony’s home. “Surviving only now as an eighteenth-century drawing, the procession makes its way through the winding narrow streets, stretching out across the entire length of the city” (Skidmore 57). Bringing up the rear were the servants of the noblemen and gentlemen.
Coronation procession of Edward VI in watercolor. A copy of the original that is now lost
The pageants performed along the route were not rehearsed enough to run smoothly but that did not matter. Their purpose was to present the imagery that “reflected a world of allegorical meaning closely pondered upon by Tudor contemporaries” (Skidmore 58). Sources tell us that Edward favored the tight rope walker and when at one stop along the route, he was presented with £1,000** in gold coins he asked, “Why do they give me this?” (Skidmore 58). A charming story and one that reiterates how very young Edward was.
Close-up picture of the coronation procession.
By the time Edward had reached Westminster it was six o’clock and the procession had lasted about four hours. No elaborate ceremonies or celebrations were held that evening and notice was given to all noblemen to “be at Westminster in their best array by seven the next morning” (Skidmore 59).
On 20 February, Edward entered Westminster Abbey to be crowned. Some concessions were made to the ceremony to the age of the king so it would not make him “weary and be a hurtsome peradventure to the Kinges Majestie being yet of tender age fully to endure and bide owte” (Loach 35). There were points within the ceremony in which he could rest and he was carried in a chair for part of the procession within the Abbey. The ceremony itself was shrunk to accommodate the King’s young age. The celebrations for Edward lasted seven hours when typically they lasted about twelve.
The consecration was not curtailed much though and followed the Liber Regalis*** a “formula that had been used on every such occasion since 1375” and was conducted by Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer (Meyer 328). For the first time, an English king would not pledge allegiance to Rome as he would become the head of the Church within the framework of the Protestant service. Dale Hoak has pointed out the revisions made by Cranmer to the coronation service were for the “unprecedented advent of a protestant supremacy” (Hunt 84). The changes shifted the relationship between of the king and his people and the king and his nobles.
Illustrated page of the Liber Regalis
After the nobles pledged allegiance to Edward, the events moved to Westminster for the celebratory banquet in Westminster Hall. When the Champion, Edward Dymoke, threw down the gauntlet challenging combat to anyone questioning Edward’s right to rule, it certainly pleased the king as this episode is “described in more detail than anything else in Edward’s own account of the dinner” (Loach 38). The rituals surrounding the banquet may not have been too appealing for a young boy. Edward’s entry in his diary is bare-boned. He recorded that he sat with his uncle and the Archbishop “with the crown on his head” (Skidmore 63).
Liber Regalis showing the crowning of a king and a queen.
Edward’s half-sister did not participate in any of the coronation celebrations. Elizabeth was away from Court under the care of Katherine Parr. We are told she was “subdued and depressed, remained with her stepmother” (Perry 40). The closeness the siblings had shared at one time could not be recreated. At one point Edward wrote to Elizabeth when their households were separated that “change of place did not vex me so much, dearest sister, as your going from me. “Now there is nothing pleasanter than a letter from you … It is some comfort in my grief that my chamberlain tells me I may hope to visit you soon (if nothing happens to either of us in the meantime). Farewell dearest sister” (Hibbert 28).
Now not only was the age difference more than likely beginning to make a difference, Edward’s new responsibilities and the deference due to him as king altered their relationship. We do have the charming story of them exchanging portraits shortly before their father’s death. Elizabeth wrote a letter to accompany the delivery of the painting. “I most humbly beseech your Majestry that when you shall look on my picture you will vouchsafe to think that you may have but the outward shadow of the body before you, so my inward mind wischeth that the body itself were oftener in your presence…” (Perry 43).
This famous painting of Elizabeth is attributed to Guillim Scrots and identified as the painting mentioned in the above letter–both statements are in dispute.
Edward as Prince of Wales attributed to Guillim Scrots. Karen Hearn states that dendrochronological evidence shows that these two paintings may have been done on panels from the same tree (Hearn 50). The background shows Hunsdon House where Edward and Elizabeth spent much time together as children. When Elizabeth Regina inherited the house on her accession she made her cousin, Henry Carey, First Baron of Hunsdon and gave him the property.
*Brussels, 9th September 1785,
Mr. Newman,–Mr. Astle of the Socieity of Antiquaries will write you a Letter by a Person I have given leave to take a Copy of the procession of Edward the Sixth in the parlour at Cowdray, and I desire you will let hime have every Convenience for that purpose, but he is not to take any other Copies of paintings in the House without applying to me: in haste.—Yours, &c.,
MONTAGUE (Roundell, 97).
**The equivalent of £1,000 in 1547 would be worth £455,000 in 2010 currency of the retail price index. This was calculated using the website, Measuring Worth.com.
***The essential elements of the coronation service used in modern times can be traced back to the crowning of King Edgar at Bath in 973. That tenth-century liturgy, drawn up by St Dunstan, underwent various adaptations in the early middle ages. Around 1382, probably in preparation for the crowning of Anne of Bohemia (Richard II’s consort), a new fine copy of the order of service was made. This illuminated manuscript, known as the Liber Regalis, is one of the great treasures of the Abbey’s library. It provided the order of service for all subsequent coronations up to, and including, that of Elizabeth I. For the coronation of James I the liturgy was translated into English. Nevertheless, with occasional adaptations to suit the political and religious circumstances of the time, the Liber Regalis remained the basis for all later coronation liturgies (“History”).
Edward VI. “Edward VI’s Diary.” Edward VI’s Diary. British Library, Learning Timelines: Sources from History, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.
Frye, Susan. Elizabeth I: The Competition for Representation. Oxford: Oxford Univseity Press. 1993. Print.
Hearn, Karen. ed. Dynasties: Painting in Tudor and Jacobean England 1530-1630. New York: Rizzoli. 1995. Print.
Hibbert, Christopher. The Virgin Queen: Elizabeth I, Genius of the Golden Age. New York: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., 1991. Print.
“History.” Guide to the Coronation Service at Westminster Abbey. The Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.
Hunt, Alice. The Drama of Coronation: Medieval Ceremony in Early Modern England. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2008. Google Books. Web. 26 Apr. 2013.
Levin, Carole. The Heart and Stomach of a King: Elizabeth I and the Politics of Sex and Power. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 1994. Print.
Loach, Jennifer, Penry Williams, and George Bernard. Edward VI. New Haven: Yale UP, 1999. Google Books. Web. 26 Apr. 2013.
Mackintosh, James, and R. J. Mackintosh. The History of England: From the Earliest times to the Final Establishment of the Reformation. Vol. 2. London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1853. Google Books. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.
Meyer, G. J. The Tudors: The Complete Story of England’s Most Notorious Dynasty. New York: Delacorte Press. 2010. Print.
Perry, Maria. The Word of a Prince: A Life of Elizabeth from Contemporary Documents. Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press, 1990. Print.
Porter, Linda. Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr. London: McMillian, 2010. Print.
Ridley, Jasper. Elizabeth I: The Shrewdness of Virtue. New York: Fromm International Publishing Corporation, 1989. Print.
Roundel, Julia. Cowdray: the history of a great English House …With illustrations, etc. London: ballantyne, Hanson and Co., 1884. Print.
Skidmore, Chris. Edward VI: The Lost King of England. New York: St. Martin’s, 2007. Google Books. Web. 27 Apr. 2013.
Starkey, David. Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. 2001. Print
Tytler, Patrick Fraser. England under the Reigns of Edward VI and Mary: With the Contemporary History of Europe, Illustrated in a Series of Original Letters Never before Printed; with Historical Introductions and Biographical and Critical Notes. London: Bentley, 1839. Google Books. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.