Friday 9th June. 11 AM – Wells Cathedral, Somerset. Our last day away on location and filming in the cloister, which is for us a corridor leading to the Presence Chamber in the palace.
In these outer chambers and corridors much of the business of court life actually took place. Away from the formal presence of the Queen, the hard task of finding preferment could really begin. There were powerful magnates to befriend, husbands and wives to be found, bargains to be struck and bribes to be paid. For new arrivals the long trek to fame and fortune might begin by simply making friends with a retainer of a minor lord in the hope of being introduced to ever more powerful people, who might eventually prefer them to lucrative and influential positions. It was a game fraught with danger however for the political landscape constantly shifted as magnates fell in and out of favour with the Queen and alliances between individuals and families were made and broken for the sake of political expediency. Befriend a rising star and you might just get carried to the top in their wake, but many burnt out along the way and some crashed spectacularly into ruin and death taking their supporters with them.
This is the world Walter Raleigh is walking through in our scene this morning – glittering and terrible. But making powerful friends does not concern him now for he is playing an even more dangerous game. He is the Queen’s favourite and whilst she smiles on him he is untouchable. But the smile will not last.