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  • Michael Smith

Celebrating a royal visit to St James' and Stansteadbury

Image of drawing of Queen Elizabeth 1

In 1571 and again in 1578, Queen Elizabeth I visited Stansteadbury on one of her "progresses" around her kingdom. While potentially beneficial to a monarch needing to be in the fresh air away from London, such visits were perhaps less so to the nobility she visited. Despite the honour bestowed on her hosts by her presence, the costs of maintaining the Queen and her household during their visit was not insubstantial!

Nonetheless, it is wonderful to imagine Good Queen Bess visiting Stansteadbury in her prime; despite the fact that much has changed in the 540 years since her visit, she may well still recognise some of its features if she returned today - particularly parts of the house and of course the central nave of the church.

Earlier this month, local primary school children from St Andrew's CofE Primary School were invited to celebrate the visit of 1578 by drawing pictures of Queen Elizabeth. Fittingly, they were displayed in the Baeshe chapel of St James' - built by Edward Baeshe, most likely reflecting his rise to prominence under the Queen when he became General Surveyor of the Victuals for the Navy Royal and Maritime Affairs .

The charming results are shown on this page in the gallery below; we particularly like the contrasting images of the first Elizabeth with the second - as you'll see when you view the gallery pictures!

Although today the Queen still tours her kingdom, it is no doubt with some relief that the costs of her visits are no longer borne by her hosts!

For more information about the progresses of Elizabeth I, please read this brief description by Ron Dale of the Stanstead Abbotts Local History Society

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