No, the title of this article is definitely not wrong. Queen Elizabeth I will be making an appearance in Cambridge. Of course it will not be the real ‘Virgin Queen’, as she died over 400 years ago, but nonetheless Cambridge will be graced with the presence of Queen Elizabeth.
‘Gloriana’, as she was once referred to, will return to the city on Saturday 13th September after a break of four and half centuries as part of the Open Cambridge Festival. The Festival will also see courtiers and musicians accompanying the Tudor Queen.
The Queen will be met at the Guildhall by the Mayor of Cambridge Gerri Bird, recreating the single appearance that Good Queen Bess made in Cambridge in 1564. Councillor Bird commented on the upcoming event “Cambridge has lots of Royal links- the city recently welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Now we have a Tudor Queen visiting for the day.”
Following Elizabeth’s arrival there will be events for all the family to enjoy. Great St Mary’s Church will be hosting displays of Tudor crafts, baking and market traders after which the Queen will emerge and take part in a parade along Trinity Street to St John’s College.
Great St Mary’s heritage education officer Rosie Sharkey is the brains behind the event and had this to say, “In 1564 Elizabeth I came to Cambridge, visited all the Cambridge colleges and gave a speech in Latin at St Mary’s. Professional and amateur re-enactors are playing the parts of Elizabeth and her courtiers, who will appear in authentic costumes to give a flavour of the grandeur of the Virgin Queen and her entourage.”
As part of the parade and the fanfare two groups of musicians will also be performing, The Ely Waits and A Merrie Noyse, will be performing traditional Tudor music on early musical instruments such as the sackbut and shawm.
When Queen Elizabeth I visited Cambridge in 1564 it was the first time that a Monarch had been in the city since her father, King Henry VIII, visited some 42 years previously. Rosie Sharkey continued, “She is reported to have enjoyed her visit and would have stayed longer if provision of beer and ale could have been made. During her five day stay, Elizabeth attended church services, watched plays and visited the colleges where she received gifts of marzipan, gloves and gold coins.”
Queen Elizabeth I ascended the Throne on 17th November 1558 after her half sister, Queen Mary I, died. Her reign saw her establish an English church that helped shape a national identity and remains in place to this day. It also saw the spectacular defeat of the Spanish Armada as well as the flourishing of English drama led by playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe.
Ms Sharkey concluded by saying, “Elizabeth attended two debates held at Great St Mary’s before an audience of scholars, masters and dignitaries. Questions discussed ranged from political topics such as ‘monarchy is the best form of government’ to dietary dilemmas like whether its better to eat more at breakfast or dinner. The Queen castigated the scholars for speaking in ‘small and not audible’ voices and urged them, in Latin, to speak up.”
So if you have ever wanted to meet Good Queen Bess herself then the Open Cambridge festival is going to be your best chance but do remember that Gloriana passed some very strange laws during her reign, so if you happen to meet her make sure you are not wearing a cloak, wearing any clothing that is purple and if it is a Sunday, do your best to ensure you are wearing a woolly hat, you don’t want to risk being sent to the Tower now do you!