Henry VIII,the Reign
Leaving Wolf Hall
There was a Parliament scheduled to begin on 3 November, less than eight weeks hence.
Wolf Hall was at the heart of an overwhelming number of MPs with their constituencies in the western counties of England. The legislation at stake was the dissolution of the lesser monasteries, those with an annual income of less than two hundred pounds.
The ‘small abbeys, priories and other religious houses of monks, canons, and nuns, where the congregation of such religious persons is under the number of twelve persons, whereby the governors of such religious houses, and their convent, spoil, destroy, consume, and utterly waste, as well their churches, monasteries, priories, principal houses, farms, granges, lands tenements, and hereditaments, as the ornaments of their churches, and their goods and chattels, to the great infamy of the King's highness and the realm’…and so on.
In the days before the three-line party whip, it is not easy to imagine that Cromwell and Seymour would have missed the opportunity to assemble at Wolf Hall, the scores of MPs from Wiltshire and the surrounding counties. They surely would not have missed the chance to invite them there and brief and cajole them to support the legislation to be set before the upcoming Parliament session. Many of course did not need to be influenced, the intake of 1529 had, save death or breach of the law, remained together for almost six years now. They had, after all, granted authority for some of the most important laws ever introduced and so a large number of them may have had good reason to congratulate themselves – the forth coming session was the final ‘push’.
It is interesting to note that the speaker of the House of Commons at the time was Sir Humphrey Wingfield of Great Yarmouth, the first borough MP to be elected to the position, perhaps a further indication of the ascendancy of Parliament since the fall of Wolsey.
The next session was the last of the Reformation Parliament. Unforeseen at Wolf Hall in September, for reasons that we shall see shortly it was actually postponed, until February but as we all know now the legislation was passed successfully.
The morning of departure, at this time in September the dawn was later, six o’clock, he threw on a night gown, with ruffled hair Edward Seymour slipped out of a back door, shortly the place would be a bustling hive. Bright sunshine, the drayman had arrived to clear the barrels and he complemented himself on the neatly tended flower beds.
He walked away from the house.
Over on the other side of Wolf Hall in the fields beyond the buildings were hundreds of tents, the summer progress entourage, this morning they were decamping ready to move on to Thruxton.
Edward followed the arbour path, peace and solitude, but then in a moment of admiration he looked back at the house, his house, Wolf Hall, he would be away for a few weeks in which he would miss his home and long to return.
The future Protector of England reached the garden wall, redbrick contrasted with a green gate, on his instructions, recently painted, a dead fly was stuck in the remnants of thick dried brush strokes – a lazy painters work. The lazy painter would redo that, rub it back to the wood and damn well do it properly, he shook his head and hoped that no one else had noticed it. Edward clicked the latch, recently greased hinges – good. He stood on the threshold and stared across the field to the barn, red brick which this time contrasted against lush green fields. Beyond the barn, one day he would rule all England. He drew a deep breath. Sweet morning air, sweet Wolf Hall air.
A single cloud moved away from the sun, a fine day to come.
Then there were footsteps behind him, a voice, a man’s voice, a familiar man’s voice.
‘All has gone well, don’t you think?’ The voice belonged to William Paulet.
‘Very well I think,’ replied Edward.’ Very well indeed.’
‘And what of Jane?’
‘The Jane card, we will play at Christmas.’ Edward nodded towards the house. ‘By Christmas she – de Boulogne – will be begging to go back to France and escape what we have coming for her.
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