Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Tudor year: May

Theme: gardens

Photo credit

May 1 -- May day
May 16, 1568 -- Mary Queen of Scots takes refuge in England
May 19, 1536 -- execution of Anne Boleyn
May 20, 1536 -- betrothal of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour
May 30, 1536 -- marriage of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour

The picture shows some of the gardens of Hampton Court in all their glory. Hampton Court had been the private residence of Cardinal Wolsey, and was taken from him by King Henry VIII in 1529, when Wolsey fell from power. Anne Boleyn was the first mistress of the refurbished palace. The age of exploration brought many new plants -- among them tulips, lilacs, sunflowers, and nasturtiums -- into the English garden, which previously had bloomed with old favorites like primroses, daisies, columbine, roses, and the great favorite, "pinks" (carnations). Plants were grown as much for medicinal as for decorative use, and "every literate man or woman" would know what herbs could be distilled into what "simples" to cure what ailments. A grander home would have a stillroom, and a family its treasured recipes, for this purpose.


Ian Dunlop, Palaces and Progresses of Elizabeth I. New York: Taplinger, 1970, p. 87

Ibid., p. 93 (Anne Boleyn first mistress)

Elizabeth Burton, The Pageant of Elizabethan England. New York: Charles Scribner's, 1958, pp. 230-231 (English gardens)

Ibid., p. 182 (knowledge of herbs and simples)

F.G. Emmison, Tudor Secretary: Sir William Petre at Court and Home. London and Chichester: Phillimore & Co., 1970, p. 34 (a stillroom)

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