The Gardens of the Tower of London

A large Elizabeth garden is indicated in the Haiward and Gascoyne Survey of 1597, and entry from the Bloody Tower as well as the Lieutenant’s Lodging are both shown.  Perhaps that’s why, when Lucy St.John was in residence at the Lodging, she gave Sir Walter Raleigh access to the hen house in her garden for his alchemy.  He also kept a still house there, and according to a contemporary account, the door of his lodging in the Bloody Tower was “always open all day to the garden.”  I like to think that the walled garden at Lydiard Park may have inspired Lucy to create her own apothecary garden within the Tower.

 

The Queen’s House in the Tower of London (Updated with Reference to The King’s House)

The gabled Lieutenant’s Lodgings in front of the green appear incongruous against the stone bulk of the surrounding towers,  But, along with the more famous profile of the White Tower, or Traitor’s Gate, these buildings are an integral part of the history of the Tower of London.  Officially called “The Queen’s House”, it is thought that this structure was originally commissioned by Henry VIIIth for his new wife, Anne Boleyn, although the existing buildings are a remodel of the home she purportedly stayed in prior to her execution in 1536.

Much of The Lady of the Tower takes place within the Lodgings, the gardens, and the Bloody Tower, where Lucy’s protagonist, the Countess of Somerset was lodged when Lucy arrived – a most unfortunate circumstance.

FOOTNOTE – March 2024:
When this post was written, Queen Elizabeth was on the throne, and the building was referred to as The Queen’s House. A respected colleague and friend, who I can say has impeccable authority to fact check any of my work concerning the Tower of London, has recently contacted me:
“On the (sad) demise of our late Queen the name of that building changed to ‘King’s House’. When they changed the name from ‘Lieutenant’s Lodgings’ in the 1870s it was dedicated to the reigning monarch, then Victoria. Contrary to Yeoman Warder myth the name has nothing to do with Anne Boleyn, who never stayed there, but was accommodated in the royal buildings south of the White Tower that no longer exist.”

Within the Lieutenant’s Lodgings

Leading from the Lieutenant’s lodgings is a small passageway to the entrance to the Bell Tower, where Sir Thomas More spent his last days.The present residences were constructed in 1540, based on medieval foundations, and have traditionally been the homes of the Lieutenant of the Tower and his deputies. They contain offices, receiving rooms, kitchens and bedrooms, as well as a formal chamber in which many prisoners were questioned – including such traitors as Guy Fawkes.  Lady Arbella Stuart was also lodged in the Queen’s House – because she secretly married the love of her life, William Seymour, and became a contender for the throne.  This made James I rather uncomfortable, so he imprisoned her to thwart any potential uprisings in her name.

 

 

Lady Johanna’s Booke

Lady Johanna Sainte John gathered recipes and physicks from friends and family throughout the late 1600’s. Compiled in a leather-bound book of some 300 pages, many of the recipes credit both the source and the person restored, giving us a fascinating glimpse of the health of Lady Johanna and her neighbours. I like to think that just as we do today, she asked far and wide for the best recipes and curatives – and that some of these were contributed by Lucy St. John and her daughter, Johanna’s cousin, Lucy Hutchinson.  Both women were renowned herbalists.

Many of the recipes include herbs and flowers that are found in any English garden.  Others require more complex compounds that would have been purchased from the apothecary shops in a large city.

Very little went to waste.  In this recipe, which calls for vast quantities of sack (probably a lot safer to drink than the water), the wine was reused to treat consumption, once it had done its work in creating the cordial.

Lady Johanna’s Book is now in the Wellcome Library London, a unique collection of medicinal manuscripts and artifacts managed by The Wellcome Trust.

Photo Credit: Wellcome Library, London