Greenwich Park is one of eight Royal Parks in London and its home to a hollow tree named ‘Queen Elizabeth’s Oak.’ The Tudor queen was said to have often taken refreshment whilst relaxing in the shade of its branches which once grew in the grounds of Greenwich Palace.
Saint Thomas’s hospital in London was founded in around 1106 and was named after the popular Saint Thomas Becket, who it was believed had miraculous healing powers. The hospital community was shattered by Henry VIII’s policy of the forced dissolution of the monasteries. Thomas Cromwell’s deputy, Richard Layton, visited the ‘bawdy’’ hospital in 1538. The master, Richard Mabott, was accused of selling the hospital’s silver and exacting excessive fees from patients. On 14th January 1540, the hospital was surrendered to the King and the monks were pensioned off.
The London Stone was originally situated on the south side of medieval Candlewick Street (Now Cannon Street) opposite the west end of St Swithins church. This was very close to the homes of Henry VII’s financial agents Edmund Dudley and his next door neighbour Richard Epson. Both were falsely executed as traitors in 1510 and were Henry VIII’s first scapegoats for his father’s unpopular policies.
For centuries Speakers corner in Hyde park has been the place where Londoners have stood on boxes and practised their right of free speech. Today some speakers talk complete nonsense to make the crowd laugh, others tell smutty jokes and some shout their political or religious views to the London crowd who boo or applaud.
It was on this site close to Marble Arch where the infamous Tyburn hanging tree once stood and it was at the foot of these gallows that the tradition of free speech began.
It was at Tyburn that condemned prisoners gave their last speech on the gallows before their death making the area an ideal place for public debate and discussion. From this hanging tree culture speakers corner evolved into what it is today and the right of free speech was born.
The first hanging here was in 1108 and the very last was in 1759. After this date the gallows were moved inside Newgate prison. The local people were very angry about the dismantling of the tree as hanging days had always been public holidays for the labouring classes which sometimes drew crowds of over 200,000 people.
If you had ‘goose bumps’ in the 16th century it did not mean you had little bumps appearing on your arms because you were cold. Having ‘goose bumps’ was Elizabethan slang for having venereal disease. There were thousands of prostitutes or doxies as they were known, in Norwich, Exeter, York, London and elsewhere. In fact there were far more prostitutes in Elizabethan London than there are now in modern-day Birmingham or any other large British town in 2018. The most notorious stews, trugginghouses or brothels were in Southwark on the south side of the river Thames. Continue reading “Sex, brothels and prostitution…”