Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, and his second wife, Lettice Knollys Devereux Dudley, the Countess of Leicester
Kenilworth Gardens, designed for Queen Elizabeth I’s visit in 1575
Kenilworth Castle ruins
Beauchamp Chapel at St. Mary’s Church in Warwick, England
On this day in 1588, my 14th great grandmother, Lettice Knollys Devereux Dudley, accompanied her second husband’s casket from their home at Kenilworth to the Beauchamp Chapel at St. Mary’s Church in Warwick. Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, a one-time paramour and favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, married Lettice without the Queen’s permission ten years prior when Lettice became pregnant. Though married in secret, her father witnessed the ceremony to make sure it couldn’t be denied later. They had flirted with each other for years, so much so that there were rumors Robert poisoned Lettice’s first husband.
Although she was the daughter of one of Queen Elizabeth I’s dearest friends, Katherine Carey Knollys, and devoted servants, Francis Knollys, the Queen never forgave Lettice. She did, however forgive Robert. Lettice loved to flaunt her position as his wife, and though Robert’s loose relationship with money left their estate in massive debt upon his death, Lettice commissioned an elaborate tomb with effigies of them both. She was buried alongside him when she died in 1634, having outlived three husbands and all of her children.
Join us next spring as we explore and share two magical places in England for a beautiful and nourishing seven-day/six-night retreat in the Cotswolds and Bath. We will explore the forests and landscapes of the Cotswolds and enjoy the sacred waters in Bath as we create art, write, and explore our surroundings between April 26 – May 2, 2018. We’ll celebrate the ancient Gaelic festival of Beltane together as we mark the transition between spring and summer, and learn about the history and traditions of this important annual celebration. You will have plenty of time for relaxation and conversation as you explore these inspiring places with our small and intimate group. Both Gretchen and Laurie have traveled to England many times and will serve as your tour guides as they show you the best parts of this enchanted country.
We’ll start and end in London, taking the train through the English countryside west towards the Cotswolds where we will spend four nights and three days in one of its charming villages. We will enjoy the cobblestone streets, thatched roof houses, and access to walking paths that weave through woodlands, along ancient hedgerows, and cross sheep-filled fields. Then we will take the train south to Bath and stay for two days and two nights near the heart of the town’s ancient Roman spring-fed baths, within steps of Pulteney Bridge and its artisan-owned shops. This is the same town filled with the Georgian architecture that inspired Jane Austen. We will return to London by train. We have a lot of fun things planned including: natural plant dyeing, watercolour studies, tarot and oracle card explorations, journaling practice, guided plant walks, sketching, DIY herbal facials, and more.
On my last day in England I spent the morning at the Temple Church, ate a luxurious lunch at The Wolesley, and then spent the rest of the day laying in the grass, painting, and soaking in the warm sun and all that is beautiful about summer in two of London’s royal parks – St. James’s Park and Green Park. In the late 19th century these parks inspired Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of landscape architecture, to design public spaces and park systems throughout the U.S. and in turn his work has inspired me. He crafted landscapes by teasing out their essence, and it is the essence of place that I’m on the trail to find. (Turn on your sound to get the full effect of this beautiful day and place)
As a landscape historian I’m intrigued by what communicates the sense of place. Earlier this year I spent three weeks traveling through England and Scotland researching, experiencing and trying to capture base layers of each place’s essence. The Cotswolds was one of the landscapes that resonated the most. I recorded its landscapes, sounds, colors and objects – historic and contemporary, sacred and profane. Here are some impressions from that study. (Make sure your sound is turned on to get the full effect.)