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Charterhouse Executions

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Charterhouse Executions

In 1534 Henry VIII passed the Act of Supremacy, giving him the position of supreme head of the Church of England. This gave him ‘permission’ to divorce Catherine of Aragon. The Act of Succession put Anne Boleyn by Henry’s side as his lawful queen and any children she produced would be heirs to his throne.

All English subjects were required to swear the oath to accept these legal and ecclesiastic changes, but many devout Catholics were prepared to defy the king. Any of the king’s Catholic enemies who refused to accept these new laws, were declared traitors.

Charterhouse Monastery, the flourishing Carthusian monastery in central London, was home to a group of monks who did refuse to accept these new changes to the country’s laws. Prior John Houghton was the head of the monastery. His monks bravely refused to swear the oath outlined by the throne, and thus paid the ultimate price for defying Henry.

www.thelegendsoflondon.wordpress.comIn April 1535 ten of the monks at Charterhouse were taken to Newgate Prison nearby and then taken to the Tower of London. The legal process was speedy, and within three weeks they were tried, convicted and executed for treason. Eye witnesses reported that the monks were dragged out of the prison in their habits, and in front of a crowd of people at Tyburn they were hanged and cut down before they were dead. As their limp bodies lay on the ground, they were cut open, their hearts and bowels removed and burned. Their arms were torn off and their blood and flesh was smeared on the faces of the other victims. Their heads were finally cut off and their bodies quartered.

As Prior John Houghton was disemboweled, his dying words were uttered, “And what wilt thou do with my heart, O Christ?”. He was canonized in 1970 for being the first martyr of the Tudor persecutions. He is represented carrying a noose, or with a noose around his neck, carrying a heart.

Inside the walls of the court of Henry VIII, there was nothing but love and passion, but outside of the palaces there were horrific and tragic stories that remind us of the heartless acts committed in the soul pursuit of gaining a male heir for the Tudor dynasty.

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Image: http://www.saints.sqpn.com

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Jousting Still With Us Today

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Jousting With Us Today

Cheapside, in the Square Mile, was one of London’s major jousting locations in the Middle Ages. It was abuzz with exicitement, competition and energy!

And, this medieval jousting is a part of our lives, even today. The British custom of keeping to the left on the roads developed when jousting competitors needed to keep their javelin or sword hand free to meet the oncoming horsemen. Most people were right handed, so they passed each other on the left.

But, on the Continent they drive on the right – and this was introduced by Emperor Napoleon, who was left handed. As he was responsible for  developing the Roman roads and establishing a ‘modern’ system across most of Europe, the right-hand drive was adopted on the Continent.

Dawn Denton©

www.thelegendsoflondon.wordpress.com

Image Source:www.englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com

Olympic East Enders

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Olympic East Enders

150 years ago the world’s first postcodes were introduced in London, and for the past 27 years the soap opera EastEnders, has been using E20 (East 20) for its fictional borough of Walford. 

500 days before the Olympic  opening ceremony, Royal Mail confirmed that the Olympic Park will be using the E20 postcode. The Royal Mail Director of Regulated Business said that it was important for such a significant development in the city to be “allocated its own easily recognisable postcode”.

So, from ficticious to famous, E20 will live on alongside fond memories of 2012 – the summer London will never forget!

Dawn Denton©

www.thelegendsoflondon.wordpress.com

Big Stink & Loos

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Big Stink & Loos

London loos have been an interesting topic of conversation for centuries.  Under the Romans, loos were a place to catch up with friends and business partners and instead of toilet paper, the poor used sponges at the end of wooden handles, but the rich used ostrich feathers…very posh!

By the medieval times, London was an open sewer and toilets called garderobes were emptied straight into the Thames. So, Lord Mayor Dick Whittington (yes, the one with the cat…but the cat didn’t really exist), paid for the public ‘Whittington Longhouse’ which allowed for 100 people in one sitting.

London commemorates public toileting in the street names of Pissing Lane, Dunghill Lane and Sherborne Lane (originally Shiteburn Lane).

The heatwave of 1858 caused the most famous ‘Big Stink’, when London and its filthy River Thames smelled like one giant toilet.  This encouraged the government (which had to take a break and leave Westminster as the smell was too much, even after they had perfumed the curtains), to start the construction of a modern sewer, which was complete in 1865.

Today the river is cleaner than it has been since the Romans arrived….and public toilets?  Still not always the most inviting.

Dawn Denton©

Image Source: www.wateraid.org

Cockerels and Coffee

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Cockerels & Coffee

10 Downing Street – home to the British Prime Minister during his time in office (or he stays in Number 11 if Number 10 is too small for his family). It is here where top ranking government officials meet to discuss important issues for and about the country – William the Conquerer would’ve done this at the Tower of London.

But, here at Number 10 was also one of London’s most popular ‘cock-pits’, where cockerels fought to the death. A famous cockerel called ‘Old Trodgon’ won £200 in a fight here in 1787.  He became a pretty famous cock!

Number 10 later became a coffee house and a popular place for thieves to deal in stolen goods.

Some might say it is still a place where thieves meet and cocks fight…

Dawn Denton©

www.thelegendsoflondon.wordpress.com

Image Source: www.attituderugby.com

Having an Affair?

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Having an Affair? 

The City of London has some unusual ordinances, which still remain on the books unchallenged, to this day. One of the most interesting of these states that it is against the law to check into a hotel under an assumed name for the purposes of lovemaking. The hefty fine of £20 is awarded to anyone ‘falsifying a hotel registration’ and then having sex and not sleeping in the room. How they can prove this is beyond me!

But, that is not all….In the City, it is still illegal to make love in a parked car, on a bus or a train, in churches and churchyards and in parks.

Can someone please let George Michael know!

Dawn Denton©

www.thelegendsoflondon.wordpress.com

Post, Parcels & Passengers

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Post, Parcels & Passengers

The Cross Keys are the symbol of St Peter, the keeper of the gate of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is a common name for a pub in England, as pubs were always named after something that was important to the local community. As religion often dominated all aspects of daily life in Old England, the Cross Keys was a logical choice for a name of an inn or a public house.

The Cross Keys on Wood Street, in the City of London, was a posting inn where coaches terminated their journeys from the countryside, bringing post, parcels and passengers to the City.

This is also the inn where Charles Dickens arrived from Rochester as a boy, when his family embarked on a new life in London.

Later, in Great Expectations, Dickens tells the story of an orphan Pip, who travels to London to seek adventure. He arrives in the City here at the Cross Keys:

The journey from our town to the metropolis was a journey of about five hours. It was a little past midday when the four–horse stage–coach by which I was a passenger, got into the ravel of traffic frayed out about the Cross Keys, Wood Street, Cheapside, London.

And so, along with many others, great journeys did not end at the Cross Keys…they merely began…

Dawn Denton©

www.thelegendsoflondon.wordpress.com