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tons, which, with the labour in laying them down, would give a cost of something like £50,000. We find, also, that there were in several parts of the palace baths and other conveniences—facts which go to modify the too common notion that cleanliness is entirely a modern virtue, and was little thought of in mediæval times.
To these wise precautions, as much, perhaps, as to the natural salubrity of the locality, we may ascribe the immunity from any serious epidemic which Hampton Court has enjoyed during the last 370 years, when the sweating sickness, the plague, small-pox, and scarlet fever have been fiercely raging around.
All this, however, was only subsidiary to the main concern of the building of the palace itself, which was planned on a most extensive scale. As to who was Wolsey's architect we can arrive at no certain determination. Whoever he was, there can be no question as to the skill and taste with which the building was carried out. The general plan and scope of the building were, no doubt, determined by the Cardinal himself.
The material selected was red brick, stone being employed for the windows, the doorways, the copings of the parapets and turrets, the string-courses, and the various ornamental details,—such as pinnacles, gargoyles, and heraldic beasts, on gables and elsewhere.
The first portion taken in hand was, doubtless, the great west front of the building, which extends, with its two wings, from north to south 400 feet. The façade, though only two storeys in height, has considerable beauty about it, and the picturesque turrets at the angles of the building, the embrasured parapet, the chimneys of carved and twisted brick, the graceful gables with their gargoyles and pinnacles, and the varied mullioned windows, form an admirable specimen of Tudor domestic architecture.
An especially striking feature in Wolsey's west front, as in other parts of the Tudor building, is the delicately moulded forms of the chimney shafts, which rise in variously grouped clusters, like slender turrets, above the battlements and gables. They are all of red brick, constructed on many varieties of plan, and wrought and rubbed, with the greatest nicety, into different decorative patterns. Some are circular,
BUILDING OF THE PALACE.
some square (but set diagonally), and some octagonal; and they are grouped together in twos or fours, with their shafts sometimes carried up solid, and sometimes separate.
Another charm is the deep crimson of the bricks, approximating often to a rich purple, which contrasts favourably with the staring scarlet of modern red brickwork.
As to the use to which this part of Wolsey's palace was
FROM WOLSEY'S WEST FRONT. put, it appears to have been intended entirely for the suites of guest chambers, which were always in readiness to receive friends and strangers.
By the month of May, 1516, the building had so far advanced that Wolsey was able to receive the King and Queen at dinner in his new abode. This was a time when Henry delighted to honour with his company his “awne goode Cardinall," as he termed him, at pleasant little entertainments, when he could throw off the restraints of royalty, and join in unconventional intercourse with his personal friends. During dinner or supper the minstrels usually played music, and afterwards the King and a few intimate friends took part in a masquerade or an impromptu dance. Sometimes he "would oblige the company with a song,"accompanying himself on the harpsichord or lute. At other times, the King would visit the Cardinal in state accompanied by his whole Court. “And when it pleased the King's majesty," says Cavendish, "for his recreation, to repair unto the Cardinal's house, as he did divers times in the year, there wanted no preparation or goodly furniture with viands of the finest sort, that could be gotten for money or friendship. Such pleasures were then devised for the King's comfort and consolation as might be invented or imagined. Banquets were set forth, masques, and mummeries in so gorgeous a sort, and costly manner, that it was a heaven to behold. There wanted no dames, nor damoselles, meet or apt to dance with the masquers, or to garnish the place for that time, with other goodly disports. Then was there all kinds of music and harmony set forth, with excellent voices both of men and children. I have seen the King come suddenly thither in a masque with a dozen masquers all in garments like shepherds, made of fine cloth of gold, and fine satin paned and caps of the same, with visors of good proportion and physiognomy; their hairs and beards either of fine gold wire or of silver, or else of black silk, having sixteen torchbearers besides three drums, and other persons attending them, with visors, clothed all in satin, of the same colour."
And he goes on to tell how they startled, with the noise of guns, the Cardinal and his guests, “who mused what it should mean coming so suddenly, they sitting quiet at a solemn banquet," and how he sent his attendants with torches and drums and fifes to receive them; and how he entertained them as strangers, and they played at dice with the ladies; and how Wolsey mistook which was the King, and went up to one of the gentlemen of the Court, hat in hand. On which, the King hearing and perceiving the Cardinal so deceived in his estimation and choice could not forbear laughing, but pulled down his visor, and dashed out such a pleasant countenance and cheer, that all the
WOLSEY ENTERTAINS HENRY VIII.
noble estates there assembled, perceiving the King among them, rejoiced very much."
These were the earlier days of Henry's reign, when he conceived nothing but implicit trust and respect for his faithful Wolsey, and regarded Katharine with nothing but tender love, before the bright black eyes of Mistress Anne Boleyn had come to fling discord and suspicion between them. No one, who was acquainted with the “vie intime”
ENTRANCE TO KATHARINE OF ARRAGON'S ROOMS. of Henry at this time, could have imagined, for a moment, that unbridled passion and despotic power could effect so great a change, as that wrought in him in his later years.
Besides Wolsey's more private entertainments, he frequently gave splendid banquets to the foreign ambassadors, and now and then to any royal guest who might be in England. On these occasions, and at the King's own banquets, he was always seated in the centre of the high table among the most distinguished guests, with a lady on each side of him. Giustinian, the Venetian ambassador, who was invited to one of them, declares that, “the like of it was never given either by Cleopatra or Caligula ; the whole banqueting hall being decorated with huge vases of gold and silver, that I fancied myself in the tower of Chosroes, where that monarch caused divine honours to be paid to him.” After dinner came the masquerades and mummeries, which were nowhere more splendid than at the Cardinal's palaces. The general company awaited the masquers in the Withdrawing Chamber, into which the procession advanced, headed by the minstrels, and followed by the ladies and gentlemen, among whom was sure to be the King, all attired in rich fantastic costumes, and attended by knights bearing torches. At one of the Cardinal's banquets there were as many as "thirty-six masquers disguised, all in one suite of fine green satin, all over covered with cloth of gold, undertied together with laces of gold, and masking hoods on their heads : the ladies had tyers made of braids of damask gold, with long hairs of white gold. All these masquers danced at one time, and after they had danced they put off their visors, and then they were all known.” Then they were served with a supper of “countless dishes of confections and other delicacies. Having gratified their palates, they then regaled their eyes and hands; large bowls, filled with ducats and dice, being placed on the table for such as liked to gamble: shortly after which, the supper tables being removed, dancing commenced," and lasted till midnight, and often many hours later.
Wolsey's avocations in London, and his business with the King, and especially the negotiations that followed on the death of the Emperor, for which dignity Henry VIII. had been a candidate, did not permit of his often visiting Hampton Court between the years 1517 and 1520. But he occasionally went down there to spend a few days of rest and quiet in the country air, and would give orders that he was not to be troubled with business till he came back to town.
Nevertheless, on these occasions he was frequently annoyed by importunate questioners and suitors, who pursued him into his country retreat, and then complained that they were received with impatient curtness. Even the