Ghost of Greenwich Christmas Past Part Two
A bit of a marathon today – both to write, and, I suspect, to read. Maybe I should have broken this one up. Such is Henry – a mountain of a man in pretty much every respect.
He might have been brought up in Eltham – but as a seafaring King, Henry wanted to be by the water and Placentia, (pretty much underneath the Old Royal Naval College) was ideal. He spent 17 Christmases in Greenwich and inordinate amounts of cash on masques, balls, jousting – and food. Spiced boar, roast swan, marchpane and ‘subtleties’ (enormous sugar centrepieces, often quite rude) were the kind of thing he would have consumed in large quantities, downed with copious amounts of Wassail (a sort of mulled ale.)
I don’t know about you, but although this must be the most regal, sumptuous and glorious time that Greenwich has ever known, I find it almost impossible to visualise the scene. Perhaps it’s because virtually nothing remains of this time in today’s town – the odd bit of crypt or a tiny bit of wall at best. There was the tiled floor of the chapel they discovered last year, but they covered it up so fast that we didn’t even get a peek (forcing me to climb a fence in the dark in order to see it. I felt like a criminal. Ok, so I was…) It is now, one of the only bits remaining of Good King Keith’s time, a car park. Go figure.