The Garden Guide

Book: London Parks and Gardens, 1907
Chapter: Chapter 5 Greenwich Park

Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth I at Greenwich

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Queen Mary was born at Greenwich, and there she was betrothed to the Dauphin of France. She resided here much during her short and troublous reign; and perhaps her fondness for this Palace came from the association of her early youth, when she was the centre of attraction. Greenwich cannot always have been pleasant for the Princess Mary, for here came Anne Boleyn. From Greenwich she was escorted in state to London by the Lord Mayor, who was summoned by the King to fetch her, and from Greenwich she was taken up the river, her last melancholy journey to the Tower. The oak under which Henry VIII. is said to have danced with her is still standing. It is a huge, old, hollow stem, though quite dead, kept upright by the ivy. The trunk has a hole 6 feet in diameter, and it is known as Queen Elizabeth's Oak, as tradition also says she took refreshments inside it. It was fitted with a door, and those who transgressed the rules of the Park were confined in this original prison. It was at Greenwich that Queen Elizabeth was born; and to Greenwich Henry brought his fourth bride, when poor Anne Boleyn's short-lived favour was at an end, and Jane Seymour dead. The less beautiful Anne of Cleves, who so signally failed to please the King, was escorted in state from Calais by thirty gentlemen, with their servants, "in cotes of black velvet with cheines of gold about their neckes." On January 3, 1540, the King rode up from the Palace to meet her on Blackheath with noblemen, knights, and gentlemen, and citizens, all in velvet with gold chains. The King rode a horse with rich trappings of gold damask studded with pearls, a coat of purple velvet slashed with gold, and a bonnet decorated with "unvalued gems." Anne came out of her tent on the Heath to meet him, clad in cloth of gold, and mounted on a horse with trappings embroidered with her arms, a lion sable. She rode right through the Park from the Black Heath to the northern gate and round through the town to the Palace, the guns firing from the Tower in her honour.