Wednesday 7th June. 9 AM – Wells Cathedral, Somerset. Our fourth and last cathedral on this shoot. Here we’re using the Chapter House and staircase leading to it as the outer part of Elizabeth’s palace.
The Chapter House at Wells (completes in 1306) is one of the architectural treasures of England. Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, begun by Elizabeth’s father Henry VIII, most cathedrals had their ancillary buildings demolished. Wells’ however was never a monastery but had always been run by a Dean and Chapter. As such its magnificent Chapter House, where the Dean and Prebendaries met to discuss church business, survived.
Today this mediaeval meeting place is transformed into one of the outer rooms of the palace, where Raleigh tries to bargain his way in to the Royal presence.
The Elizabethan court was both a physical and a social entity. It was the centre of patronage, of government, of social life and a legal court in its own right. Around the court lay an invisible line known as the verge, inside of which any occurrence was under the jurisdiction of the Court of the Lord Steward. As such it was almost a State within a State. The Court was divided into two main parts. These were known as The Domus Regie Magnificencie and the Domus Providencie.
The Domus Regie Magnificencie (DRM) was the court that physically surrounded the Queen i.e. the actual rooms in which the Queen lived and worked and those people who served her within it. Originally the DRM had consisted of two staffs, the Chamber and the Hall staff. As the role of the Hall was so diminished however, by Elizabeth’s reign they had ceased to really appear in the accounts.
The Domus Providencie (DP) consisted of the places and people who kept the household going i.e. the ‘below stairs’ element of the court. Physically the DP consisted of all the service areas of the court and was run by the Household Staff under the control of the Lord Steward.
Raleigh’s problem today is that everyone inside that invisible, magical verge, has more access to the Queen than he has.