Page images
PDF
EPUB

HENRY VIII. ENTERS INTO POSSSESSION,

55

CHAPTER IV.

HENRY VIII. AT HOME.

As soon as Wolsey had been banished to Esher, Henry hastened to enter into absolute possession of Hampton Court and all its treasures; and he immediately gave orders for the enlarging, improving, and still further embellishing of Wolsey's palace. Among the first things taken in hand was the adding to the “King's lodgings," as they were termed, of a new gallery, a new library and study, and several smaller rooms; while for his Majesty's recreation a close bowling alley” and a "close tennys play," or tennis court, were built on the north-east of the palace. A new set of kitchens and “offices appertaining to the same," such as a new buttery, pantry, pastry, spicery, larder, dry-fish-house, cellar, etc., were also begun before Wolsey's death.

Another of Henry VIII.'s first cares was to mark his ownership of the palace by affixing his arms and badges to every part of the building. We consequently find that the bills for the years 1530 to 1532 abound with charges for carving of the King's arms, heraldic beasts, devices and badges in stone and wood, and for painting and gilding them. On every pinnacle and on every coping, on the gables and on the battlements, were lions, dragons, leopards, hinds, harts, grey-hounds, and antelopes, carrying gilded vanes, emblazoned with the crown, rose, fleur-de-lys, and portcullis.

The garnishing of the interior likewise involved much expense and labour, especially that of “the upmost gallary," the roof being of rich antique work, gilded, and decorated with carved badges, leaves and balls, and angels with the King's words or mottoes on scrolls, with cornices and casements of like splendour.

These galleries, which seem to have been brought into vogue by Wolsey some fifteen years before this, were peculiar to English architecture, and as such were objects of curiosity and admiration to foreigners. An Italian, the record of whose travels in England is preserved among the Venetian archives, and who visited the palaces, both at Whitehall and Hampton Court, which had formerly been the late Cardinal's, remarks with particularity on the “galleries, which are long porticoes or halls, without chambers, with windows on each side, looking on gardens or rivers, the ceilings being marvellously wrought in stone with gold, and the wainscot of carved wood representing a thousand beautiful figures; and round about there are chambers, and very large halls, all hung with tapestries."

The particulars which we have cited above relating to the painting and decoration of the exterior and interior of Hampton Court, and many similar ones which we shall notice further on, relating to the building and the works, are derived from the original manuscript bills still preserved in the Record Office, and comprised in twelve large folio volumes of some eight hundred or a thousand pages each. Most of them are written with exquisite care and neatness, and the headings of each fortnightly account are beautiful specimens of penmanship. They are replete with curious matter as to the cost of material, the price of labour, and the state of trade and the handicrafts generally, and afford a complete picture of the decoration and furniture, and even of the inner life, in the palace of Henry VIII. So elaborately and minutely were these accounts kept by the clerk of the works, that the name of every daily labourer, and of every mason, bricklayer, carpenter, joiner, painter, carver, glazier, gilder, and tiler employed, is set out in full from fortnight to fortnight, with the sum paid to him ; while every portion of the work is so particularized that we can identify every carving, every moulding, and every piece of colouring and gilding, and find by whom it was executed and what it cost.

In one of the volumes we find evidence of Henry's patronage of the fine arts. For there are entries of two or three payments to Toto del Nunziato (or Anthony Tote, as he was called in England), who, like Lucca Penni (Bartholomew Penne) and Holbein, was one of the foreign artists employed by the King

When Henry VIII. came to Hampton Court after the disgrace of the Cardinal, he was accompanied by Queen Katharine, and at this time they both, says a foreign ob

HENRY VIII. AND ANNE BOLEYN.

57

server, "paid each other reciprocally the greatest possible attention, or compliments in the Spanish fashion, with the utmost mental tranquillity, as if there had never been any dispute whatever between them. Yet has the affair not slackened in the least, as both parties are collecting votes in France, Italy, and other places. At any rate, this most virtuous queen maintains strenuously that all her King and lord does, is done by him for true and pure conscience's sake, and not from any wanton appetite.”

The foreigner refers to the canvassing, that was then going on in Henry VIII.'s behalf, of the most learned divines and doctors of the Civil Law, in all the Universities of Europe,

[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors]

LEAD WATER SPOUT, PUT UP BY HENRY VIII.

for an opinion favourable to the King's contention that his marriage with his deceased brother's wife was contrary to divine and natural law, and consequently null and void from the beginning. Pending their decisions, he summoned on August 11th, 1530, a numerous assembly of clergy and lawyers at Hampton Court, including Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, and More, Lord Chancellor, " to ascertain whether, in virtue of the privilege possessed by this kingdom, Parliament could and would enact that, notwithstanding the Pope's prohibition, this cause of the divorce should be decided by the Archbishop of Canterbury.” Their answer to this question does not appear to have been very encouraging ; so that Henry abandoned this idea for a while, and tried how he might influence the Pope by threats of setting his power at naught if his demands were not conceded. He sent for the Papal Nuncio to Hampton Court, and had a long conference with him, in which he told the Nuncio plainly that he was determined to carry out his intentions with regard to the divorce, and that at all hazards. Then, after reproaching the Pope for his conduct in the affair, he proceeded to declare that if his Holiness would not show him in future more consideration than at present, he should take up his pen and let the world know that he (the Pope) possessed no greater authority than that held by Moses, which was only grounded on the declaration and interpretation of the Holy Scripture, everything beyond that being mere usurpation and tyranny, and that should he be driven to take such a step, the damage and injury thereby inflicted on the Apostolic See would be irreparable and far more fatal than that caused by the writings of others, for with his learning and rank, kings, princes, and all others would side with him.” All this and much more the King spoke with a great appearance of regret, and with tears in his eyes.

In the meanwhile, Anne Boleyn—the Lady Anne, as she was now called—was living at Hampton Court, treated with every consideration by her royal lover. A suite of rooms was superbly furnished for her accommodation, a retinue of attendants was appointed to wait on her, and Henry passed a great part of his time in the society“ of his awne darling,” as he termed her, riding out with her, teaching her to shoot at the target, walking in the park, or strolling in the gardens in the summer evenings, and sometimes having supper with her in her own chamber.

Even as early as the year 1528, before the fall of Wolsey, the workmen were employed on “Anne Bouillayne's lodgynges at Hampton Courte”; while after the Cardinal's death we come across further entries on account of what were then termed “the Lady Anne's lodgynges.” The King's privy purse expenses, also, contain notes of large disbursements on her account. At Christmas, 1530, he made her, at Hampton Court, a present of £100, at another time of £180, and again of £40, "to play with ”; and, in addition, repaid her losses at bowls and other games.

Large sums are likewise debited for her dress—for crimson satin, furs, purple velvet, and crimson cloth of gold; and for

PRESENTS FOR ANNE BOLEYN.

59

a shooting costume, with bows, arrows, shooting gloves, and other articles for archery. And mention is especially made of a splendid evening dress of black satin, edged with black velvet, and lined with black fur, all the details of the cost, material, and making of which are minutely set out in the King's private account book, and which cost his Majesty £101 155. 8d. In fact, in three years he spent, on her dress alone, nearly £500, which must be regarded as an enormous sum, when we bear in mind that the then value of money was about twelve times what it is now. His extravagant outlay, where she was concerned, contrasts strangely, indeed, with the niggardly gifts he was accustomed to bestow on his daughter Mary, on whom he spent, in a whole year, not a fifth part of the sum he lavished on his “entirely beloved sweetheart's" evening dress.

Henry VIII. and Anne Boleyn were at Hampton Court when the news of Wolsey's death reached the King. Cavendish, who hastened to Court to give him the details of his last hours, found him shooting at the rounds in the park. “Perceiving him occupied in shooting," writes Cavendish, “I thought it not my duty to trouble him, but leaned to a tree, intending to stand there, and to attend his gracious pleasure. Being in a great study, at the last the King came suddenly behind me where I stood, and clapped his hand upon my shoulder, and when I perceived him, I fell upon my knee. To whom he said, calling me by name, ‘I will,' quoth he, 'make an end of my game, and then will I talk with you,' and so departed to his mark, whereat the game was ended.

“Then the King delivered his bow unto the yeoman of his bows, and went his way inward to the palace, whom I followed; howbeit he called for Sir John Gage, with whom he talked until he came at the garden postern gate, and there entered; the gate being shut after him, which caused me to go my ways.

“And being gone but a little distance, the gate was opened again, and there Sir Harry Norris called me again, commanding me to come in to the King, who stood behind the door in a nightgown of russet velvet furred with sables; before whom I kneeled down, being with him there all alone the space of an hour and more, during which time he

« PreviousContinue »