Death Execution Gunpowder Plot Woodcut

Execution Woodcuts

Three woodcuts from the the mid seventeenth century. The first two depict execution by hanging, drawing, and quartering, which was the standard method of execution for convicted traitors. The third depicts Guy Fawkes’ head on a spike.





Art Books Shakespeare Uncategorized

A Room Of One’s Own

Shakespeare’s England travels forward in time in this post, to visit two historic and literary properties in Sussex. One dates from the seventeenth century, and one contains a unique Shakespeare collection, so I hope you’ll permit the deviation.

Today, armed with my trusty National Art Pass, a friend and I set out for an afternoon of Bloomsbury loveliness. The Art Pass is an excellent way of saving money AND contributing to the preservation and exhibition of the arts in the UK. It entitles the holder to free and discounted entry to many museums, art galleries, exhibitions, and historic houses. Single membership costs £53 a year. Find out more here.

Our first stop, and free entry for me with my Art Pass, was Charleston Farmhouse, situated in the rolling Sussex countryside not far from Lewes. Charleston was home to the artist Vanessa Bell and her partner Duncan Grant. They initially rented the house in 1916 to escape London during World War One, but they gradually fell in love with Sussex and relocated to Charleston permanently. The house, which dates back to the 1690s, is an eclectic cornucopia of Bloomsbury art. Inspired by French Impressionism, the couple and their Bloomsbury friends designed and painted the walls, furniture, curtains, and even the bathroom in bold geometric patterns, flowers, acrobats, and Greek gods. Charleston has had many famous house guests including Lytton Strachey, E M Forster, and the economist Maynard Keynes, who had a bedroom set aside for him in which he wrote for lengthy periods. Vanessa Bell’s sister, Virginia Woolf, was, naturally, a regular visitor. The house also has a large collection of paintings, including works by Renoir, Picasso, Derain, Matthew Smith, Sickert, Tomlin and Eugène Delacroix.

To find out more or to visit Charleston, and to view photographs of the interior, visit the website here


Door Knocker, Charleston


Our next stop was Monk’s House in Rodmell, just a few miles down the road from Charleston. Monk’s House was the retreat of Virginia Woolf and her husband Leonard. Unfortunately it does not as yet permit free entry with an Arts Pass, but I was happy to pay the entry fee since I’d saved so much money at Charleston. The interior of Monk’s House is similar in style to that of Charleston, although it has a calmer, less chaotic feel. Fortunately, unlike at Charleston, photography was allowed, so I did my best to capture the bohemian interior of the house. To find out more about visiting Monk’s House visit the website here.

Below are photos of both houses. I’m no photographer and almost all of these were snapped with my iPhone, but they should give a sense of both houses and perhaps even tempt a few people to visit. And if history is your thing, you might like to visit the wonderful new Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition at the British Museum this summer. Arts Pass holders save 50% on the entry price!


Vanessa Bell’s Bedroom, Charleston










Monk’s House


Monk’s House


Monk’s House


 Monk’s House


Monk’s House


Monk’s House


Monk’s House


Monk’s House


 Virginia’s bedroom


 Virginia’s bedroom


Chair in which Virginia wrote when it was too cold for the summer house


 Virginia’s personal Shakespeare Collection, with Bloomsbury dust covers


 Virginia’s Shakespeare Collection with her hand-written spines



Monk’s House, garden


Monk’s House


 Virginia’s writing desk in the summer house,


 Bronze marking the place where Virginia’s ashes are buried, beneath a Magnolia tree


Monk’s House


Church Custom London Monarchy

Englands pleasant May-Flower

In May 1660, following the death of Oliver Cromwell and the restoration of the English monarchy, Charles II was welcomed back to London. He was crowned a year later on 23rd April 1661. The following is an account of his Coronation proceedings.

As the King went from Westminster-Hall toward the Abbey, there went first before, the Aldermen of the City of London, Usher’d by a Herauld; next the Knights of the Bath in their Robes, each of them attended by his Esquire and Page; after them the Judges, the Serjeants at Law, the Kings Attorney Generall, and the Masters of Request; then the privy Councellors and the chief Officers of the Kings Houshold; next the Barons in their Parliament Robes with Swords by their sides and bare Headed; after the Barons came the Bishops also bare Headed, in their Scarlet Gowns and Lawn Sleeves; next the Viscounts and Earls in their Coronation Robes, and Coronetted Caps; in the last place went the Officers of State for the day, Viz. The Lord privy Seal, the Archbishop of Canterbury; the Earl of Dorset carrying the first Sword, the Earl of Essex the the second Sword, the Earl of Kent the third; the Spurs were carried by the Earl of Montgomery; the Globe with the Cross on it, by the Earl of Sussex; the Golden Cup and Plate for the Communion by the Bishops of London and Winchester: the Scepter was carried by the Earl of Rutland; the Sword of State naked by the Marquesse of Hamilton; the Crown by the Earl of Pembroke: among the Serjeants at Armes, went the Lord Mayor in a Crimson Vellet Gown, each of them carrying a short scepter; next, immediately after the King, went the Earl of Arundel, as Earl Marshall of England, and the Duke of Buckingham as Lord High-Constable for that day.

The King entred into the Abbey Church, at the West-Gate, under a rich Canopy of state, carried by the Barons of the Cinque Ports, and was himself supported on the one hand by Doctor Niel, Bishop of Durham, on the the other hand by Doctor Lake, Bishop of Bath and Wells; His Train which contained  Yards of Purple-Velvet was held up by the Lord Compton, Master of the Robes, and the Lord Viscount Doncastar, Master of the Wardrope: he was met by Bishop Laud (who supplyed the Deans place) and the Prebends of Westminster in their rich Robes; who delivered into his hand the staffe of King Edward the Confessor, with which he walked up to the Throne, which was framed from the Quire to the Alter.

There were appointed for the King three Chairs: 1. The Chair of Repose. 2. The ancient Chair of Coronation: 3. The Chair of State, which was placed upon a square Ascent of six steps. The King, after he had reposed himself a while, was by the Archbishop of Canterbury Presented bare headed to the Lords and Commons, East, West, North, South; of whom the Archbishop demanded, If they consented to the Coronation of King Charles their lawfull Soveraign? To which after they had exprest their readinesse by an Acclamation made four several times, the King be took himself again to his Chair of Repose, during the time of Sermon; which ended, the King, going to the Communion Table, and kneeling down, the Archbishop askt his Majesty, If he was willing to take the Oath usually taken by his Predecessors? To which he made answer, That he was willing, arose, and went to the Altar, where several interogations were rendred to him by the Archbishop, to each of which distinctly the King gave his Affirmative Answer.

Sir, Will you grant and keep, and by your Oath confirm to the people of England, the Laws and Customs to them granted by the Kings of England, your lawful and Religious Predecessors; And namely, the Laws, Customs and Franchises granted to the Clergy, by the Glorious King St. Edward your predecessor, according to the Laws of God, the true profession of the Gospel established in this Kingdome, agreeable to the prerogative of the Kings thereof, and the ancient Customes of the Realm?

I grant and promise to keep them.

Sir, Will you keep peace and Godly Agreement (according to your power) both to God, the holy Church, the Clergy, and the People?

I will keep it.

Sir, Will you to your power cause Law, Justice, and Discretion, Mercy and Truth to be executed to your Judgement?

I will.

Sir, Will you grant to hold and keep the Laws, and rightful Customes which the Commonalty of this your Kingdome have? and will you defend and uphold them to the honour of God as much as in you lyeth?

I grant and promise so to do.



Then one of the Bishops with a loud Voice before the people read to the King this following Admonition: Our Lord and King, We beseech you to pardon, and to grant, and preserve unto us and to the Churches committed to your Charge, all Canonicall priviledges, and to do Law and Justice; And that you would protect and defend us, as every good King to his Kingdomes ought to be Protector, and Defender of the Bishops, and the Churches under their Government.

The King answereth with a willing and devout Heart: I Promise and grant my pardon, and that I will preserve and maintain to you, and the Churches committed to your Charge, all Canonicall priviledges, and due Law and Justice; And that I will be your Protector, and Defender to my power, by the Assurance of God, as every good King in his Kingdome in right ought to protect and defend the Bishops and Churches under their Government.

Then the King arising was led to the Communion Table, where laying his hand upon the Bible, He, in the sight of all people made a solemn Oath (to observe the premisses) which was as followeth: The Things which I have promised, I shall perform and keep; So help Me God, and the Contents of this Book.

Afterwards his Robes being taken off, and offered at the Alter, the King stood for a while stripped of his Dublet and Hose of Sattin: then led by the Archbishop, and the Bishop of St. Davids, he was placed in the chair of Coronation, having a close Canopy spread over him, and while the Archbishop Anointed his Head, Shoulders, Armes, and Hands with a costly Oyntment, the Quire sung an Anthem of these words; Zadock the Priest Anointed King Solomon.

Thence in his Doublet and Hose, with a white Coif on his Head, he was led back again to the Communion-table, where Doctor Laud the Bishop of St. Davids, who supplyed the Dean of Westminsters place, Vested him with the ancient Habiliments of King Edward the Confessor, and conducting him back to the Chair of Coronation, presented him with King Edwards Crown, which the Archbishop put upon his Head, and in the mean time the Quire sung this Anthem, Thou shalt put a crown of pure Gold upon his Head.

After which, the Earls and Viscounts put on their Coronetted Caps of Crimson Velvet; then every Bishop came severally to the King, and gave him their Benediction and he rising from his Chair bowed to each of them apart. Next King Edwards Sword was girt about him, which he took off himself, and offer’d at the Communion-table, with two swords more, in relation to Ireland and Scotland: His spurs were put on by the Duke of Buckingham, as Master of the Horse; which done he offer’d first gold and silver, then bread and wine, to be used at the Communion.

Thus compleatly Crown’d, the King was conducted by the Nobility to his Throne, where he receav’d the Oath of Homage, (the Quire in the mean time singing Te Deum) The Duke of Buckingham, as Lord high Constable for that Day, who also swore the rest of the Nobility at the Kings Knee, to be Homagers to his Majesty; then the Earls and Barons laid their hands upon the Crown, as it was upon the Kings Head, making a solemn protestation to spend their blood to maintain it to him, and his posterity: the Bishops took no Oath, but kneeling down the King kissed each of them; then the King taking out of his bosome a scrowl of parchment, the effect of which was a promise of pardon under his broad Seal to all that accept it; gave the scrowl to the Lord Keeper, who read it four times, East, West, North, and South.

From the Throne the King went to the Communion-table, and after prayers had been read by the Archbishop, the Nicene Creed sung by the Quire; and the Epistle and Gospel read by the Bishops of Landaff, and Norwich; his Majesty recev’d the Communion, the bread from the Archbishop, the Wine from the Bishop of St. Davids: and at the same time, Gloria Patri was sung; which being ended, the Archbishop reading certain prayers, concluded the Ceremony. After which, the King disrobed himself in King Edwards Chappel, and came forth in a short Robe girt of red Velvet; lin’d with Ermins and a lesser Crown upon his head set with previous Stones, and taking barge with all his Train of Nobles at Westminster stairs, He returned to Whitehall.


Account taken from Anon, The manner of the solemnity of the coronation of His most Sacred Majesty King Charles (1660,OS)

Images from The manner of the solemnity, Anon, England’s pleasant May-Flower (1660), and J.P, The Loyal Subject’s hearty wishes to King Charles the Second (1660)

Books Printing Shakespeare

A reference to Shakespeare?

Reading a digitised copy of a 1688 edition of John Florio’s English-Italian Dictionary (original in the Henry E Huntington Library), I was, as usual, intrigued by the scribblings in the margins. However, what really caught my eye was this note alongside the entry for ‘Bragiare – To burn to coals or cinders’:



It struck me that the jotted ‘Shaks’ might be a reference to Shakespeare. Since Shakespeare uses ‘carbonado’ in Henry IV (1) ,’let him make a carbonado of me’, to refer to a grilled piece of meat, and ‘carbonadoed’ in The Winter’s Tale, ‘how a usurer’s wife…longed to eat adders’ heads and toads carbonaoed’ (see Crystal, David, Shakespeare’s Words, Penguin, 2002) it is tempting to assume this seventeenth century reader is indeed referring to Shakespeare in his or her scribbled marginalia. I’d love to know what others think.

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