A to Z of Elizabethan times

H is for


London houses were seldom made from stone, except the few grand houses belonging to wealthy individuals who had acquired the stone from, or converted one of the former monasteries. There was no natural source of stone in and around London, but there was its clay, that made excellent bricks, on-site, with no transport costs. The Elizabethans loved its warmth and adaptability and almost all of the buildings were made of brick and timber, according to Stow, the famous diarist.  He also complained about the number of small houses going up all over London. Perhaps there was a steady market in what estate agents today call “first homes”. Oddly, none of the houses had street numbers, which made them difficult to find if you were new to London. They were often described as being “hard by the Star Inn or some other Tavern”, so if you didn’t have directions, you had to enquire.   It helped if you knew the right parish, because the churches in the city had existed for hundreds of years.


Sir Christopher Hatton was a handsome and accomplished man, especially distinguished for his elegant dancing, he soon attracted the notice of Queen Elizabeth and became one of her gentlemen pensioners in 1564, and the captain of her bodyguard in 1572. He received valuable estates and offices from the Queen, and this prompted rumours that he was her lover, a charge made by Mary Queen of Scots. Hatton had been made vice-chamberlain of the royal household and a member of the Privy Council in 1578, and had been a member of parliament since 1571, first representing the borough of Higham Ferrers and afterwards the county of Northamptonshire. In 1578 he was knighted, and became the Queen’s spokesman in the House of Commons. As a lawyer, he was a member of the court which tried Anthony Babington in 1586; and was one of the commissioners who found Mary, Queen of Scots, guilty of treason.

Having been the constant recipient of substantial marks of the queen’s favour, he vigorously denounced Mary Stuart in parliament, and advised William Davison to forward the warrant for her execution to Fotheringhay. In the same year (1587) Hatton was made Lord Chancellor; he was the last MP to hold this position until Jack Straw, some four hundred and twenty years later. He died penniless, have squandered all of his money on the magnificent Holdenbury House making it fit for a visit from Queen Elizabeth. She never did visit.

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