The Garden Guide

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

State Barges and Elizabeth's accession at Greenwich

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It was at Greenwich that the boy king, Edward VI., died, and Mary and Elizabeth were constantly there. Their state barges bearing them to and from the Palace must have been no uncommon sight on the Thames. It was on landing on one of these occasions that the famous episode of Sir Walter Raleigh laying his cloak in the mud for the Queen to tread on, happened. One of the many brilliant scenes in the Park took place after Elizabeth's accession, when the citizens of London, overjoyed, wished to give her a very special greeting. It was on July 2, 1559, that "the City of London entertained the Queen at Greenwich with a muster, each Company sending out a certain number of men-at-arms" (1400 in all), "to her great delight.... On the 1st of July they marched out of London in coats of velvet and chaines of gold, with guns, moris pikes, halberds, and flags; and so over London Bridge unto the Duke of Suffolk's Park in Southwark; where they all mustered before the Lord Mayor, and lay abroad in St. George's Fields all that night. The next morning they removed towards Greenwich to the Court there; and thence to Greenwich Park. Here they tarried till eight of the clock; then they marched down into the Lawn, and mustered in arms: all the gunners in shirts of mail. At five of the clock at night the Queen came into the gallery over the Park Gate, with the Ambassadors, Lords, and Ladies, to a great number. The Lord Marquis, Lord Admiral, Lord Dudley, and divers other Lords and Knights, rode to and fro to view them, and to set the two battles in array to skirmish before the Queen: then came the trumpets to blow on each part, the drums beating, and the flutes playing. There were given three onsets in every battle; the guns discharged on one another, the moris pikes encountered together with great alarm; each ran to their weapons again, and then they fell together as fast as they could, in imitation of close fight. All this while the Queen, with the rest of the Nobles about her, beheld the skirmishings.... After all this, Mr. Chamberlain, and divers of the Commons of the City and the Wiflers, came before her Grace, who thanked them heartily, and all the City: whereupon immediately was given the greatest shout as ever was heard, with hurling up of caps. And the Queen shewed herself very merry. After this was a running at tilt. And lastly, all departed home to London." This fete took place on a Sunday, and the time between the muster and the fight was probably mostly spent in refreshment. The account for the supplies of the "Mete and Drynke" for 1st day of July and Sunday night supper is preserved. They were far from being starved, as, among other items, 9 geese, 14 capons, 8 chickens, 3 quarters and 2 necks of mutton, 4 breasts of veal, beside a sirloin of beef, venison pasties, 8 marrowbones, fresh sturgeon, 3 gallons of cream, and other delicacies were provided for them. Floral decorations in their honour were not forgotten, and appear in the accounts- "gely flowers and marygolds for iii garlands, 7d.; strawynge herbes, 1/4; bowes for the chemneys, 1d.; flowers for the potts in the wyndowys, 6d."