|Church of St Peter ad Vincula|
Side of St Peter chapel that faces
the place of execution on Tower Green
|Location||Tower Hamlets, London|
|Denomination||Church of England|
The Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula ("St Peter in chains") is the parish church of the Tower of London. It is situated within the Tower's Inner Ward, and the current building dates from 1520, although the church was established several centuries earlier. It is a Royal Peculiar. The name refers to Saint Peter's imprisonment under Herod Agrippa in Jerusalem. The Chapel is probably best known as the burial place of some of the most famous prisoners executed at the Tower, including Queen Anne Boleyn, Queen Catherine Howard and the nine-day Queen, Lady Jane Grey and her husband Lord Guilford Dudley, and Sir Thomas More.
At the west end is a short tower, surmounted by a lantern bell-cote, and inside the church is a nave and shorter north aisle, lit by windows with cusped lights but no tracery, a typical Tudor design. The church is a Chapel Royal, and the priest responsible for it is the chaplain of the Tower, a canon and member of the Ecclesiastical Household. The canonry was abolished in 1685 but reinstated in 2012.
The original foundation date and location for the chapel is unknown. The chapel has been destroyed, rebuilt, relocated and renovated several times. Some have proposed that the chapel was founded before the Norman conquest of England as a parish church, predating the use of the area as a fortification.Others have concluded the chapel was founded by Henry I (r. 1100–1135), and perhaps consecrated on August 1, 1110 on the feast of St Peter ad Vincula. The chapel would have been outside the Tower's original perimeter walls so that the king could be seen worshiping in public. It would have stood in contrast to the king's use of the more private St John's Chapel, established around 1080 by William I inside the White Tower.
St Peter ad Vincula had been a parish church for at least a century before it became the chapel for the inhabitants of the Tower in the middle of the thirteenth century in the reign of Henry III,and the crypt under the church was built at that time. On December 10, 1241, Henry III issued a writ of liberate to have the ecclesia sancti Petri infra ballium Turris nostrae London (church of St Peter within the bailey of the Tower of London) enhanced. The writ indicates that by 1241 the chapel had been brought within the Tower walls. This structure had two chancels (dedicated to St Mary and St Peter). The chancel dedicated to St Peter contained Royal stalls that were wainscoted and painted, and there were two altars dedicated to St. Nicholas and St. Katherine.
The church, during Henry III”s reign, had an enclosed cell for an anchorite, which would have been directly attached or located nearby.Henry III supported the living expenses of at least three different recluses, both men and women, at the Tower's anchorhold: Brother William, Idonee de Boclaund (an anchoress), and Geoffrey le Hermit.
The chapel's dedication to St Peter ad Vincula has several possible meanings in the Norman-English context. The most obvious is in reference to the Liberation of Peter from prison, as first mentioned in Acts 12:3-19. The first prisoner of the Tower, Ranulf Flambard, the Norman Bishop of Durham, was incarcerated by Henry I on August 15, 1100.
The Chapel is also the regimental church of The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, whose connections with the Tower of London go back the 1685 raising of the Royal Fusiliers to guard the Tower and the Artillery train kept there. Officers of the regiment retain the right to get married there.
The existing building was rebuilt for Henry VIIIby the then Lieutenant of the Tower, Sir Richard Cholmondeley (whose tomb is in the Church), between 1519 and 1520, after a fire destroyed the church in 1512. The rebuilt chapel was probably designed by William Vertue.
St Peter ad Vincula was the church of the extra-parochial area of Tower Within, part of the Liberties of the Tower of London.On 16 December 1729 the church was added to the Bills of mortality, a record of burials in London, but was excluded in 1730 because of a successful claim by the inhabitants of it being extra-parochial and outside of the normal parish system. Extra-parochial places were eliminated in the 19th century, and in 1858 the area became a civil parish, following the Extra-Parochial Places Act 1857. The Tower of London liberty was dissolved in 1894, and the parish was absorbed by St Botolph without Aldgate in 1901.
The church contains many splendid monuments. In the north-west corner is a memorial to John Holland, Duke of Exeter, a Constable of the Tower, who died in 1447. Under the central arcade lies the effigy of Cholmondeley, who died in 1521, the year after he completed the rebuilding of the church.In the sanctuary, there is an impressive monument to Sir Richard Blount, who died in 1564 and is buried in the church, and his son Sir Michael, died in 1610, both Tudor Lieutenants of the Tower, who would have witnessed many of the executions. There is a fine 17th-century organ, decorated with carvings by Grinling Gibbons.
The church is the burial place of some of the most famous Tower prisoners, including Queen Anne Boleyn and Queen Catherine Howard, the second and fifth wives of King Henry VIII, respectively, and Lady Jane Grey, who was Queen of England for nine days in 1553. [ citation needed ] John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland and John Gates in connection with the 1553 succession crisis (1553);[ citation needed ] and James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, under the communion table (1685).George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford, brother of Anne, was also buried here after his execution in 1536, as were Edmund Dudley and Sir Richard Empson, tax collectors for King Henry VII, and Lord Guildford Dudley, husband to Lady Jane Grey, in February 1554, after being executed on Tower Green. Others were Sir Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher, who incurred the wrath of King Henry VIII, and after their execution, they were canonised as martyrs by the Roman Catholic Church; Philip Howard, a third saint who suffered under the Tudors, was also buried here for a time before his body was relocated to Arundel. After their executions, the following people were also buried here: King Henry VIII's minister, Thomas Cromwell (1540); Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley, the brother of Jane Seymour, uncle of Edward VI, who is remembered for his unseemly conduct towards his step-niece, Elizabeth I (1549); Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset (1552);
A list of "remarkable persons" buried in the chapel between 1534 and 1747 is listed on a table on the west wall.Thomas Babington Macaulay memorialised those buried in the chapel in his 1848 History of England:
In truth there is no sadder spot on the earth than that little cemetery. Death is there associated, not, as in Westminster Abbey and Saint Paul's, with genius and virtue, with public veneration and with imperishable renown; not, as in our humblest churches and churchyards, with everything that is most endearing in social and domestic charities; but with whatever is darkest in human nature and in human destiny, with the savage triumph of implacable enemies, with the inconstancy, the ingratitude, the cowardice of friends, with all the miseries of fallen greatness and of blighted fame. Thither have been carried, through successive ages, by the rude hands of gaolers, without one mourner following, the bleeding relics of men who had been the captains of armies, the leaders of parties, the oracles of senates, and the ornaments of courts.
During renovation work in 1876 three burials were discovered, identified as Anne Boleyn, Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, and John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland.
The church is a Chapel Royal and the priest responsible for it is the chaplain of the Tower of London, a canon and member of the Ecclesiastical Household. The canonry was abolished in 1685 but reinstated in 2012. The Reverend Roger Hall, MBE was installed as a canon the same year.
The chapel can be visited as part of a specific tour within the Tower of London or by attending the regular Sunday morning service.
Anne Boleyn was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of King Henry VIII. Their marriage, and her execution for treason and other charges by beheading, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that marked the start of the English Reformation. Anne was the daughter of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Howard, and was educated in the Netherlands and France, largely as a maid of honour to Queen Claude of France. Anne returned to England in early 1522, to marry her Irish cousin James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond; the marriage plans were broken off, and instead she secured a post at court as maid of honour to Henry VIII's wife, Catherine of Aragon.
Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset PC, also known as Edward Semel, was the eldest surviving brother of Queen Jane Seymour (d. 1537), the third wife of King Henry VIII. He was Lord Protector of England from 1547 to 1549 during the minority of his nephew King Edward VI (1547–1553). Despite his popularity with the common people, his policies often angered the gentry and he was overthrown.
Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, was an English peeress. She was the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, and the niece of kings Edward IV and Richard III. Margaret was one of two women in 16th-century England to be a peeress in her own right with no titled husband. One of the few surviving members of the Plantagenet dynasty after the Wars of the Roses, she was executed in 1541 at the command of Henry VIII, who was the son of her first cousin Elizabeth of York. Pope Leo XIII beatified her as a martyr for the Catholic Church on 29 December 1886.
Katherine Seymour, Countess of Hertford, born Lady Katherine Grey, was a younger sister of Lady Jane Grey.
Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, 3rd Marquess of Dorset, was an English courtier and nobleman of the Tudor period. He was the father of Lady Jane Grey, known as "the Nine Days' Queen".
Sir John Seymour of Wulfhall in the parish of Great Bedwyn in the Savernake Forest, Wiltshire, Knight banneret was an English soldier and a courtier who served both Henry VII and Henry VIII. Born into a prominent gentry family, he is best known as the father of the Henry VIII's third wife, Jane Seymour, and hence grandfather of king Edward VI of England.
Elizabeth Seymour was a younger daughter of Sir John Seymour of Wulfhall, Wiltshire and Margery Wentworth. Elizabeth and her sister Jane served in the household of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII. In his quest for a male heir, the king had divorced his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, whose only surviving child was a daughter, Mary. His marriage to Anne Boleyn had also resulted in a single daughter, Elizabeth. The queen's miscarriage of a son in January 1536 sealed her fate. The king, convinced that Anne could never give him male children, increasingly infatuated with Jane Seymour, and encouraged by the queen's enemies, was determined to replace her. The Seymours rose to prominence after the king's attention turned to Jane.
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Catherine Carey, after her marriage Catherine Knollys and later known as both Lady Knollys and Dame Catherine Knollys,, was chief Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth I, who was her first cousin.
The Dean of the Chapel Royal, in any kingdom, can be the title of an official charged with oversight of that kingdom's chapel royal, the ecclesiastical establishment which is part of the royal household and ministers to it.
In common parlance, the wives of Henry VIII were the six queens consort wedded to Henry between 1509 and his death in 1547. In legal terms, King Henry VIII of England had only three wives, because three of his marriages were annulled by the Church of England. However, he was never granted an annulment by the Pope, as he desired, for Catherine of Aragon, his first wife. Annulments declare that a true marriage never took place, unlike a divorce, in which a married couple end their union. Along with his six wives, Henry took several mistresses.
Sir Thomas Arundell of Wardour Castle in Wiltshire was a Cornish administrator and alleged conspirator.
Lady Jane Grey, also known as Lady Jane Dudley and as the "Nine Days' Queen", was an English noblewoman and de facto Queen of England and Ireland from 10 July until 19 July 1553.
Sir Richard Cholmondeley was an English farmer and soldier, who served as Lieutenant of the Tower of London from 1513 to 1520 during the reign of Henry VIII. He is remembered because of his tomb at the Tower of London and because he is fictionalized as a character in Gilbert and Sullivan's darkly comic opera, The Yeomen of the Guard. Cholmeley's name is frequently misspelled as Cholmondeley because of its misspelling in the plaque on his tomb, which led to the misspelling of the character's name in the opera; other branches of Cholmeley's family use the longer spelling.
George Brooke, 9th Baron Cobham KG, lord of the Manor of Cobham, Kent and of Cooling Castle, Kent, was an English peer, soldier and magnate, who participated in the political turmoil following the death of King Henry VIII.
Events from the 1530s in England.
Tower Green is a space within the Tower of London, a royal castle in London, where two English Queens consort and several other British nobles were executed by beheading. It was considered more dignified for nobility to be executed away from spectators, and Queens Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Lady Jane Grey were among the nobility beheaded here. Queen Victoria asked for information on the exact location where the executions took place and had some granite paving laid to mark the spot. However, it is unclear whether the location is indeed correct because other sources place it on the current parade ground between the White Tower and the entrance to the current Waterloo Barracks.
Honouring individuals with burials and memorials in Westminster Abbey has a long tradition.
Sir John Gates KB (1504–1553) was an English courtier and soldier, holding influential household positions in the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI. One of the Chief Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber under Edward VI, he became a follower of John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland and was a principal participant in the attempt to establish Lady Jane Grey on the English throne. For this he was executed for high treason under Mary I.