In brief – Tudor London —Page 6

The coronation of Anne Boleyn as Queen of England at Westminster Abbey on Whit Sunday, June 1533. It was the last time a Queen Consort was to have a separate coronation.

The new forms of Christianity caused continuous conflict around Europe from the mid-16th century onwards and once it was clear that England was on the side of the new religion it became a safe haven for persecuted Protestants from the Continent. In August 1572 around eight thousand Huguenots were massacred in France causing the first of several waves of emigration to neighbouring Protestant countries, with many arriving in London.

By the end of the 15th century London was the leading city in England for the manufacture of clothing, with much of it for export. By the middle of the 16th century over twenty percent of the workforce was employed in the creation of clothes of one sort or another. The Elizabethan period was a time of high fashion for those with the means to pay for fine garments. There were many shops catering to the requirements of the wealthy, selling silks, gold thread and stockings. Their customers were not only from within the city but from around the country and no self-respecting provincial gentleman or lady would be content without their fashionable London clothes.

While theatrical performance became increasing popular the attitudes of the authorities within the City of London were ever more puritanical. James Burbage established the Theatre playhouse in 1576 outside the city walls at Shoreditch where he performed plays by playwrights including Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare. The Rose playhouse was built at Southwark in 1587, joined several years later by the Swan. After Burbage died his sons moved the Theatre to Southwark and renamed it the Globe.

The most popular male sport during the 16th century was bowls, with tennis (or what today we call ‘real tennis’) popular with both men and women. Football had long been played by young men in the fields surrounding the city but lacked the formal rules of modern-day soccer or rugby and was a violent game with frequent injuries occurring. Other popular spectator events during the Tudor period were bull and bear baiting and cock-fighting. There were a number of baiting pits around London including Islington and Clerkenwell although the most famous were at Bankside, close to the theatres, where there were two separate pits for bull and bear-baiting (at the modern-day Bear Gardens).