The Elizabethan Court Day by Day

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"The Elizabethan Court Day by Day" by Marion Colthorpe is licensed under an Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. This means that anyone who wants to read, search, share, remix, transform, and build on "The Elizabethan Court Day by Day" is free to do so, under the following conditions:

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Author's Introduction

This began, decades ago, as an investigation into the people and places visited by Queen Elizabeth I on her travels, known as ‘progresses’, and the entertainments presented before her. It gradually expanded until I had discovered the whereabouts of the Queen on every day throughout her long reign, what she was doing, often what she was saying, who her companions were.

Thus it shows the Queen at work as well as at play. Light is shed on her relationship with favoured courtiers, her dealings with foreign ambassadors and monarchs, with her Councillors, her Parliaments, her people. Although the focus is on the court, a number of events away from court, some overseas, are included.

Plays, tournaments, and other court entertainments, are covered in detail. Hundreds of extracts from contemporary books, many dedicated to the Queen, some by famous authors, build into an unusual anthology of Elizabethan literature.

Numerous sources not previously published have been used, including diaries, letters, and the account-books kept by senior officials of the Royal Household. To endeavour to make everything readily accessible spelling has been modernised, and references to sources have been made as brief as possible. The New Year has been taken to start on January 1st, not (as was the custom) on March 25th. Foreign languages have been translated; dispatches of Ambassadors often give revealing glimpses of the Queen.

As listed in a ‘Contents Summary’, a large number of Indexes are provided, for example of ‘Women at Court’, which has biographical details never brought together before. The ‘Prominent Elizabethans’ Index gives condensed biographies of the leading personalities of the reign. There are some 150 ‘Subject Indexes’ which cover a very wide range of topics, such as Apparel, Jewels, Music, Ships, Sports, Voyages. There should be something to interest everyone.

Marion E. Colthorpe, Cambridge, 2017.

The Elizabethan Court Day by Day

Contents Summary

Contents and Survey of Reign


Prologue: 1558


Anecdotes and Miscellaneous
Authors and Books
County Visits, Hosts, and Proposed Progresses
Court Entertainments and Tournaments
Court: Women at Court, and the Royal Household
Irish and Scots
Prominent Elizabethans
Prominent Foreigners; Ambassadors
Subject Indexes

About the Author

Marion Colthorpe is originally from Essex. After studying at Oxford and at one of the Inns of Court she moved to Cambridge in 1963, where she had a varied career, partly in publishing. Her keen interest in Elizabethan literature, along with visits to a number of places claiming that 'Queen Elizabeth slept here', led eventually to an interest in the Queen and her court. Innumerable Saturday trips to the Public Record Office (now The National Archives), the British Library, and other libraries and record offices led to two books, Royal Cambridge: Royal Visitors to Cambridge (1977) and Queen Elizabeth I and Harlow (1977), as well as numerous journal articles on the Elizabethan court. She then decided to concentrate on a comprehensive work following the Queen throughout her reign.


My first and most heartfelt acknowledgement must be to the late Dr Marie Axton, formerly of Newnham College, Cambridge. For many years she read and discussed my work with me and gave me unfailing encouragement, support, and guidance. I am so sad that she did not live to see this project completed.
When Marie’s failing health no longer permitted her to continue, Dr Jean Wilson, also of Cambridge, stepped into her place as a kind and friendly mentor.
I owe more than I can say to Marie and Jean.
I am grateful to Jane A.Lawson and Steven W.May, both of Atlanta, Georgia, specialists on the reign of Elizabeth, for valuable advice and assistance.
I also thank Pauline and Richard Freeman, and Claire Brown, all of Cambridge, for their enthusiastic support.
Two libraries have been essential for my research, and I am much obliged to their staff: the London Library, and Cambridge University Library.

I also make acknowledgement to:
The British Library.
The National Archives, Kew.
The Archivist, College of Arms, London.
The Archivist of the Duke of Northumberland at Alnwick Castle (mainly descriptions of Garter ceremonies).
The Archivist, Berkeley Castle (letters to Lord Hunsdon in 1602).
The Head of Archives and Library, Canterbury Cathedral.
The Archivist, Chatsworth, Derbyshire (letter of July 1587).
The Curator of Manuscripts, Folger Shakespeare Library.
The Curator, Longleat Historic Collections, Wiltshire.
English Province of the Society of Jesus, London (transcripts of letters from Father Rivers, 1602).
The Provost and Fellows, Eton College (Audit Books).
The Librarian, Lambeth Palace Library.
The Librarian, University College, London.
Robert Brudenell, for notes from Edmund Brudenell’s Almanac, at Deene Park, Northants.
The De L’Isle Manuscripts are quoted by kind permission of Viscount De L’Isle, from his private collection.
The Pepys Manuscripts. Transcriptions included by permission of the Pepys Library, Magdalene College, Cambridge.
The Marquess of Salisbury for his kind permission to quote from the HMC Calendars of Salisbury MSS and from microfilms of the originals at Hatfield, Hertfordshire.
Berkshire Record Office, Reading.
Bristol Record Office.
Cambridgeshire RO.
Coventry RO; Warwick RO.
Essex RO: Chelmsford; Colchester.
Hampshire RO, Winchester.
Hertfordshire RO.
Kent History and Library Centre, Maidstone.
Lichfield RO; Stafford RO.
Lincolnshire Archives, Lincoln (Ancaster MSS).
Norfolk RO, Norwich.
Oxfordshire RO, Oxford.
Suffolk: East and West Suffolk RO: Ipswich; Bury St Edmunds.
Surrey History Centre.

Marion Colthorpe, May 2017