Heritage column: Elizabeth I and her female confidants

A portrait of Queen Elizabeth, who visited Redbridge and the surrounding area on a number of occasio

A portrait of Queen Elizabeth, who visited Redbridge and the surrounding area on a number of occasions - Credit: Archant

The Elizabethan court in all its glory came to Ilford Historical Society and Redbridge on Monday.

The is an excerpt from the talk by Jef Page, for International Women’s Month, entitled: “Elizabeth I: the Sun around which her courtiers and country warily orbited.”

I’m not a fan of Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell, but I do like Elizabeth and her court, especially William Cecil Lord Burghley her chief trusted minister, Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester who had a home in Wanstead and wanted to marry Elizabeth after his wife Amy Robsart died, and Sir Christopher Hatton and Sir Francis Walsingham- her spy chief.

But for this talk I also wanted to highlight Elizabeth’s female confidants and Chief Gentlewomen of the Privy Chamber and bring them to the fore: Katherine ‘Kat’ Ashley and Blanche Parry along with Lady Catherine Carey (Chief Lady of the Bedchamber) and Lettice Knollys who Elizabeth called a mischevious “she-wolf” when she secretly married Dudley which enraged Elizabeth.

He went to The Tower for two months.

Elizabeth herself had spent two months in the Tower in 1554, as had Dudley whose father and brother were both executed after the fall of Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth never forgot that both her mother Queen Anne Boleyn a d Grey never left the Tower alive.

Trying to be top dog with Elizabeth and influence policy could be very dangerous and finally it was Mary Queen of Scots (trapped by Walsingham) who sadly fell before the executioner’s axe in 1587, which in turn led to the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 by Sir Francis Drake and his famous game of bowls.

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Thanks to Father Martin who opened and closed up Ilford Hospital Chapel for us to use.

The next talk is on April 10 at 7pm. Ilford Hospital Chapel, Ilford Hill, Ilford.

Annual general meeting at 7pm, followed at 7.30pm: “The Solace and Inspiration of Nature. Poetry by John Clare, Edward Thomas & others connected to Epping Forest.” Speaker: Georgina Green vice president and editor of Ilford Historical Society newsletter.