9 AM – The Backs, Cambridge. Filming today on the river Cam which is being the river Thames for us. At least we would be were it not for the rain – one of the pitfalls of filming in an English summer!
For this scene Elizabeth, her ladies and Walsingham are travelling down the Thames on the Queen’s barge – the same barge that was used for ‘A Man for All Seasons’ as it happens.
In Elizabeth’s London, the Thames was not a barrier but the main highway of the city. With only one bridge crossing the river (London Bridge) it was the easiest route for getting from the north to the south bank and the main transport link between the major palaces, noble houses and churches. Travelling by road was possible but it was slow, often muddy and generally avoided by any who could. For most that meant hiring a wherry (the small rowing boats that acted as the minicabs of the day), larger outings (or richer clients) might hire a tilt-boat (a large rowing boat with a canopy over it (the equivalent of a black cab perhaps). Wealthy lords however had their own barges at their disposal and Elizabeth’s was the grandest of all, gliding her down the river to the accompaniment of her own musicians – the perfect occasion for Walsingham to mention the prickly question of marriage….