Video/Gallery: Queen Elizabeth I sails into Ipswich’s Waterfront as part of Red Rose Chain preview of Progress

The cast of the Red Rose Chain production 'Progress' renacting the historic moment Elizabeth I first

The cast of the Red Rose Chain production 'Progress' renacting the historic moment Elizabeth I first set foot in Ipswich. Photograph Simon Parker - Credit: Archant

Queen Elizabeth I sailed into Ipswich’s Waterfront amid great pomp and ceremony on Saturday in a recreation of the 16th century visit of the last Tudor monarch.

The cast of the Red Rose Chain production 'Progress' renacting the historic moment Elizabeth I first

The cast of the Red Rose Chain production 'Progress' renacting the historic moment Elizabeth I first set foot in Ipswich. Photograph Simon Parker - Credit: Archant

Theatre company The Red Rose Chain reimagined the day the Queen and her close companion Robert Dudley visited the town onboard the historic sailing barge Victor in 1561.

Her Majesty, played by actress Elsie Bennett, arrived at the Old Custom House promptly at noon and was greeted by around 100 of her loyal subjects and her fellow cast of actors, who put on a royal celebration of music.

The event was part of the Red Rose Chain’s new show Progress – the first to be staged at its new Heritage Lottery-funded venue The Avenue, located at the rear of their Tudor headquarters Gippeswyk Hall.

The historical play is based on the real visit of Queen Elizabeth I who, aged only 27, travelled to the town as part of a nationwide royal tour to promote a feeling of unity following the religious and social upheavals which characterised Bloody Mary’s reign and her own ascendancy to the throne.


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During the re-enactment, the whole cast admirably remained in character as the Queen spoke with well-wishers and waved her hand to bemused onlookers.

The sense of wonder was suspended temporarily when a black Ford Focus, clearly blocked by the travelling spectacle, forced the crowd and the Queen to split to either side of the narrow Waterfront road.

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“What a strange looking horse!” bellowed Robert Dudley, triggering a roar of laughter and preventing reality from spoiling proceedings.

The group rejoined and the Queen was soon talking to Aubrey Chadwick, who turns 102 on Tuesday, and his daughter Ann.

“We received a letter from the real Queen last year for my dad’s 100th birthday and now we’ve met another Queen,” laughed Ann.

Fate played its part as they usually go for a walk in Christchurch Park.

“It was a very nice early birthday present,” Mr Dudley said.

Meanwhile, in a royal first, this reporter was summoned to the Queen for an exclusive interview.

A royal bow was required first, before she declared: “It was a fine reception. This is a fine town, the people are very happy and very fashionable and this is a beautiful waterfront – one of the finest I have seen.”

Sarah Haskins, marketing assistant at the Red Rose Chain, added: “We all thought the recreation was a great idea and really appropriate given our history.

“The main reason Queen Elizabeth came here was to spread a message of hope and tolerance after the reign of Queen Mary, who as a Catholic and persecuted Protestants, but Queen Elizabeth said no-one should die for their beliefs. She was very tolerant and accepting of people.

“The recreation was brilliant and it was a nice surprise for people who didn’t know what was going on. Ipswich has a lot more to it than people think.”

Progress, by artistic director Joanna Carrick, runs at The Avenue Theatre from February 3-28. For more information, call 01473 603388.

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