Christening of Prince Edward

(15 Oct 1537)

The christening of Prince Edward took place three days after his birth in the chapel at Hampton Court amid scenes of suitable splendour. There had been no christening of a prince in England for more than a quarter century, and every care was taken to make the event as elaborate and impressive as possible. Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk; and Archbishop Cranmer were godfathers, the Lady Mary, godmother.The Marchiones of Dorset had been appointed to carry the prince in his christening, but had been obliged to send her excuses because of sickness in the nieghbourhood of her house at Croydon and was replaced by Gertrude Blount, Marchioness of Exeter. The baby's other sister, the Lady Elizabeth, and arrayed in robes of state, to perform the part assigned to her in the ceremony, bearing the 'richly garnished' chrysom, or christening robe. This burden proved rather too much for the four year old Elizabeth, so 'the same lady, for her tender age' was carried in the procession by the Queen's elder brother, Edward Seymour. Every notable of the Court and government was present as the christening procession formed in the Queen's apartments. Jane received the courtiers from her bed, and she and Henry watched as the churchmen and officials took their places and walked two by two towards the chapel.

The ceremony lasted for hours. The font of solid silver was guarded by Sir John Russell, Sir Nicholas Carew, Sir Francis Bryan, and Sir Anthony Browne in aprons, and with towels about their necks. The Earl of Wiltshire, the father of the murdered Anne Boleyn, and grandfather of the disinherited Elizabeth, made himself an object of contemptuous pity to every eye by assisting at this rite, bearing a taper of virgin wax, also with a towel about his neck. The Marchioness of Exeter carried the child under a canopy, which was borne by the Duke of Suffolk, the marquis of Exeter, the Earl of Arundel, and lord William Howard. The prince's wet-nurse (whom he afterwards called "mother Jack," from her name of Jackson), walked near to her charge, and after her came the Queen's domestics, among whom was the midwife. While his attendants were making the royal infant ready in the traverse (which was a small space screened off from the rest of the chapel), Te Deum was sung. The ceremonial was arranged for the lord William Howard to give the towel, first to the lady Mary, lord Fitzwalter to bear the covered basins, lord De la Warr to uncover them, and lord Stourton to give the towels to Cranmer and the Duke of Norfolk. Finally the tapers carried by the gentlemen of the Court were lighted to indicate that the naming was complete, and the Garter King of Arms proclamied his style:

"God, in his Almighty and infinite grace, grant good life and long to the right high, right excellent, and noble prince Edward, Duke of Cornwall and Earl of Chester, most dear and entirely-beloved son of our most dread and gracious lord Henry VIII"

As the group left the chapel, Mary took Elizabeth by the hand and led her out, with Lady Kingston and Lady Herbert bearing their trains. It was after midnight when Edward was brought back to the Queen's apartments to be blessed once more, by his parents and in the name of God, the Virgin Mary and St. George, and then food was provided for the entire company, hypocras and wafers for the nobles, and bread and sweet wine for the "gentles and all other estates".

The lady Mary gave her godson a cup of gold, by lord Essex; Cranmer gave him three great bowls and two great pots, which were borne by the father of Anne Boleyn. The Duke of Norfolk presented a similar offering.

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