Henry VIII prayed for a child in Ipswich

THE TUDORS are a dynasty that fires the imagination to this day. They ruled England for more than 100 years, changed our state religion and transformed England from a comparatively weak European backwater into a powerful state that would dominate much of the world.

THE TUDORS are a dynasty that fires the imagination to this day. They ruled England for more than 100 years, changed our state religion and transformed England from a comparatively weak European backwater into a powerful state that would dominate much of the world.

In part two of Heroes of History, JAMES MARSTON discovers when the Tudor kings and queens visited Ipswich.

EVEN today, more than 500 years on, the Tudor period is regarded as a golden age of English history.

It was in 1485 that the Wars of the Roses finally came to and end. Henry Tudor settled the question by defeating Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth.

Henry was crowned on the battlefield and went on to found one of the greatest dynasties to sit on the English throne.

When he seized the throne, England was a second rate European power. By the time his granddaughter Elizabeth died, England was a force to be reckoned with. The Tudors had established the Church of England, seen off the Spanish Armada and had set in motion a process of expansion and exploration that would result in the British Empire.

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At the beginning of the Tudor period , Ipswich was a bustling port and market town. The town was also an important religious site and pilgrims came to visit the shrine of Our Lady of Ipswich.

It was in 1517 that Katherine of Aragon, wife of Henry VIII visited the shrine in Lady Lane just outside the west gate of the medieval town wall of Ipswich. Later, in 1522 the king made his own pilgrimage to the shrine. Today the site is marked by a modern replica statue.

David Jones, keeper of human history at Ipswich museum and historian, said: “The reason Henry came to Ipswich was to visit the Our Lady shrine. He would also have been aware this was the birthplace of his Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey.

“There were a number of stories of cures, believed to be obtained by praying at the shrine. At this time Henry was hoping Katherine would provide him with a son, which she failed to do.”

Henry was met by his friend Lord Curson, who lived at the corner of Silent Street and St Nicholas Street, where Curzon House appartments stand today.

Mr Jones said: “We do not know exactly where Henry stayed but he would have definitely stayed overnight. You couldn't get from London to Ipswich and back again in one day then.

“We do not know how he travelled. I suspect he came by boat as it would have been easier than going overland.”

Despite six marriages and several illegitimate sons, Henry only fathered three legitimate heirs.

When Henry died in 1547 his son Edward VI, then just nine years old, was the first to succeed him. But Edward's reign was short-lived because he was a sickly child and died in 1553.

When it became clear that Edward's life was to be short, the Device to Alter the Succession was drafted to exclude his two half sisters - the devout catholic Mary and moderate protestant Elizabeth - from the line of succession to the throne , in order to put Lady Jane Grey, his solidly protestant cousin, next in line to succeed the king.

Lady Jane was queen for only nine days before she was replaced by Mary Tudor. It was in this context that Mary, the first sovereign Queen in English history, came to Ipswich.

David Jones said: “When Edward died it wasn't clear who was going to succeed him and take the throne. Mary raised her standard at Framlingham Castle and came to Ipswich on her journey to London. She was gathering support and she stayed with Sir Humphrey Wingfield, in Tacket Street. Sir Humphrey was an ex - privy councilor of Henry VIII and a supporter of Mary.”

Though she only passed through at that time, Mary's reign was to later touch Ipswich in a more dramatic way. As she sought to re-establish the Roman Catholic Church in England, Mary began to persecute Protestants and it was in Ipswich in 1555-56 that the “Ipswich Martyrs” were burnt at the stake for their Protestant beliefs. Unpopular with her people, particularly after she married the devoutly catholic King Philip of Spain, Mary's actions and policy towards Protestants earned her the nickname Bloody Mary.

It was after Mary's death that the religious pendulum swung once again in favour of the protestant faith. In 1558, aged just 25, Elizabeth Tudor, the daughter of Henry and Anne Boleyn, succeeded to the throne.

Elizabeth I visited Ipswich twice during her reign, once in 1561 and later in 1579.

Philip Wise, heritage manager at Colchester and Ipswich Museums said: “Elizabeth travelled around England to be seen. There were portraits of the monarch but for most people the only way people saw the monarch was in the flesh.

" The other reason why Elizabeth travelled, was practicalities . She stayed with other people and invited herself. Because you were entertaining the Queen it was an honour and you paid the expenses of her and the whole court, it was a very expensive honour. Royal finances benefited as Elizabeth didn't have to pay for the court while she was staying elsewhere and she was always short of money.

Elizabeth's visits to the town would have been part of her summer ' progress ' or tour, possibly while on her way to Norwich or part of a visit to East Anglia.

Mr Wise said: “Ipswich at that time was under going a great deal of change. The dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII brought about a large redistribution of wealth.

“Christchurch Mansion is built on the site of a monastery. People, like the Withipolls who built the mansion, were living in Ipswich and doing rather well. The dissolution gave them the opportunity to invest in property on the edge of town.

“In terms of trade Ipswich was in a bit of decline. The wool trade was not as important as it once been, nevertheless it was still a significant place. It had a key role in the surrounding area.”

In the Ipswich Record Office there is a letter which directly refers to the 1561 visit. Bridget Hanley collections manager said: “The letter is written by Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper to Elizabeth, to the bailiffs of the town . It requests the help of the town for Master Withipoll to prepare his house, Christchurch Mansion for the visit.

Who is your Hero of History? What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

N Tomorrow: Nelson, Albert and Lord Kitchener.

A wooden statue of the Madonna and Child displayed in a church in the Italian seaside town of Nettuno, closely matches various descriptions of the Ipswich statue which disappeared in 1538. There is also evidence in the Netunno archives, that a statue arrived there from Ipswich so it may have been sold internationally.

There were five sovereigns of the Tudor dynasty: Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I.

The Tudors ruled for 118 years.

Men such as Sir Walter Raleigh took part in the conquest of the New World. Nearer to home, campaigns in Ireland brought the country under strict English control.

Court played a prominent part in the cultural Renaissance taking place in Europe, nurturing individuals such as William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser and the Ipswich-born Cardinal Wolsey.

There were two changes of official religion, resulting in the martyrdom of many Protestants and Roman Catholics.

Henry VIII famously had six wives, and none of his legitimate heirs had any children.

Elizabeth reigned for 44 years. On her death she was succeeded by James VI of Scotland. The date of her accession remained as a national holiday for 200 years.

The Tudors enjoyed feasting and their banquets often included five courses.

Henry and Elizabeth would have almost certainly been entertained to a menu that may have included:

First course: Civet of hare (red wine casserole), a quarter of stag which had been left in salt overnight, a stuffed chicken, and a loin of veal.

Second course: Roe deer, a pig, a sturgeon cooked in parsley and vinegar and covered with powdered ginger; a goat kid, two goslings, 12 roast chickens, as many pigeons, six young rabbits, two herons, a leveret, four chickens covered with egg yolks and sprinkled with powder de Duc (a spice), a wild boar.

Third course: A red and white jelly, representing the crests of the main guests

Fourth course: Cheese in slices, and strawberries; and plums stewed in rose water.

Fifth course: Fruits and sweet pastries.

source www.the-tudors.org.uk

According to one source Elizabeth I's visit to the town does not appear to have been universally popular.

In the 'Annalls of Ipswiche' by Nath Bacon in 1654 (edited by W H Richardson in 1884) is an entry for June 10, 1561. It reads:

“All the inhabitants of the town shall be assessed to the Costs and Charges for the intertainmt of the Q: at her next coming to the Towne. And the assessors are named, and suche as shall not pay their assessmt shall be disfranchised” which means the cost of the Queen's visit must be paid by the townspeople, else risk no longer being allowed to vote. Voting was a lucrative activity, rife with bribery and other ways to make money.

For the July 17, 1561, an entry reads: “There shall be two vessells or Botes, decently furnished, to attend uppon the Q.”

On September 26 1561, there was a note about plans to fine an objector Robert Barker, who had refused to pay up.

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