Her Majesty

Charters like the one on the previous page were part of the royal display of wealth and power, and the Fellows of King’s College were in no doubt as to the quality of entertainment and hospitality they would be expected to provide during a royal visit. Fortunately they were already well on the way, because of a planned (but not executed) royal visit in 1536. Expansion and renovation of the Provost’s Lodge continued from 1536 right up until Elizabeth’s 1564 visit.

Early renovations mentioned in the accounts (see below) included demolitions, removal of a wall to create one large room and a gallery in the newer part of the house, and further repairs carried out in the rest of the house ‘against the king’s arrival’. In 1546 the porch and its upper room - manor-houses of the time frequently had rooms above the porch - were glazed with Normandy and Burgundy glass, which were the highest quality glass available at that time.

The high standard of furnishings might have contributed to Elizabeth’s decision to reside at King’s when she made that visit to Cambridge; the fact that the Provost of King’s made nearly as much as the heads of the 14 other Colleges (excluding Trinity) put together, might also have contributed to that decision. In any case the Queen enjoyed her stay and declared that she would have stayed longer if the beer had not run out.

By tradition until 1689, the Crown had nominated the Provost, or head of the College. The nominee would then be voted in by dutiful Fellows even though the statutes granted them the sole right to elect the Provost. When Elizabeth visited in 1564 her host as Provost was Philip Baker, whom she had nominated six years earlier - a privilege she enjoyed in the first year of her reign.

 

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