The Tower of London. A Historical Romance. Illustration for Book the Second, Chapter XXVIII. 6.7 cm high x 9 wide, vignetted, bottom of p. 306: running head, "Wyat's Interview with Mary." [Click on the image to enlarge it.]— George Cruikshank. Tenth instalment, October 1840 number. Sixty-ninth illustration and and forty-first wood-engraving in William Harrison Ainsworth's
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Associated Passage: Wyat confronts Mary in the Council Chamber of the Lieutenant's Lodgings
Ushered into the council-chamber, Wyat found Mary seated on a chair of state placed at the head of a row of chairs near a partition dividing the vast apartment, and covered with arras representing various naval engagements. The wooden pillars supporting the roof were decorated with panoplies; and through an opening on the right of the queen, Wyat perceived a band of armed men, with their leader at their head, cased in steel, and holding a drawn sword in his hand. Noticing these formidable preparations with some uneasiness, he glanced inquiringly at Bedingfeld. [Chapter XXVIII. — "Of the Queen's Speech in the Council Chamber; and of her Interview with Sir Thomas Wyat," p. 307]
Commentary: The Lieutenant's Lodgings
After approximately 1880, The Lieutenant's Lodgings have been called "The Queen's House." Prior to the construction of the two-storey Tudor framed residence about 1530, the Constable of the Tower occupied the Constable Tower, built during the reign of Henry III in the thirteenth century. After the initial construction of the Tudor residence, "A floor was inserted in the upper part of the hall and the resultant became known as the Council Chamber" (Department of Environment, p. 43), not to be confused with the "Presence" or "Council Chamber" in the White Tower where the Imperial ambassadors recently negotiated the marriage terms for Mary and Philip of Spain on 2 January 1554.
The Queen's House is among the more recent buildings in Ainsworth's Gothic romance set in 1553-54: as The Lieutenant's Lodgings, from 1540 under Henry VIII the Tudor style, two-storey framed building served as the home of the Resident Governor of the Tower of London. Miraculously, it is one of the few remaining wooden houses to have survived the Great Fire, as the stone fortress's walls surrounded and protected it. Because of its prominence in Ainsworth's novel, it was not one of the post-medieval buildings that Anthony Salvin swept away in his renovations of the Tower two decades later. A second storey was later added which the Royal Council subsequently used as its audience chamber. That room, to which Ainsworth now takes the reader, features a rafted ceiling and artifacts surrounding the early seventeenth-century Gunpowder Plot. Guy Fawkes was interrogated in this room after his torture, and signed his confession of treason here. Here also Nazi leader Rudolph Hess, the Tower's last notorious prisoner, was kept under house-arrest following his capture. The present half-timbered Queen's House which overlooks the green is not where Henry VIII imprisoned Anne Boleyn since these well-appointed apartments were probably not completed until around 1540, some four years after Anne Boleyn's execution. The half-framed building is briefly the scene of Courtenay's incarceration in Chapter XVII:
The subject of all this plotting, it has been stated, was confined in the lieutenant’s lodgings. Every consideration due to his rank and peculiar position was shown him by Sir Henry Bedingfeld. He was permitted to occupy the large chamber on the second floor, since noted as the scene of the examinations of the Gunpowder Plot conspirators. He was, however, strictly guarded. No one was allowed to hold any communication with him, either personally or by letter, except through the medium of the lieutenant. And every article either of attire or furniture that was brought him was carefully inspected before it was delivered to him. [p 232]
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Last modified 22 October 2017