Did you know that Elizabeth I once visited Gorcott Hall, some time in the early 1560s. There’s plenty of archive information to back this up, and she even donated a fabulous stained glass window as a thank you.
So, what was she doing here? Let’s have a quick history lesson first. Well, Elizabeth, the ‘Virgin Queen’ was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Dad got a bit bored of Anne (his second wife), so he had her head removed when our Liz was still a toddler. She’d only just reached her teenage years in 1537 when lovely old Henry also popped his considerable clogs. Gorcott Hall was a new build then, construction having started on the current main Hall just two years earlier. Things got a bit messy for the Tudors around this time: Kings and Queens came and went while the Tudors decided whether they were Catholic or Protestant, and, in 1554, young Liz did a stretch in the Tower of London for supposedly supporting an anti royal rebellion.
But, by 1558, Elizabeth inherited the throne when her half sister “Bloody Mary” died. She went on to rule the country over some key events in history – the Spanish Armada, and the colonisation of America. She was a hugely popular queen, but she never married. Which brings the story to Gorcott….sort of.
Now, there was a dashing young man called Robert Dudley who Liz had known since childhood. We’ll call him Bobby D. He was the Earl of Leicester and his home was Kenilworth Castle, not too far away from us. He was, by all accounts, fairly unhappily married to a poor lass called Amy. In 1560, aged just 28, Amy “fell” down a flight of stairs at home, breaking her neck and bringing an untimely end to her time as Mrs. D. Her death caused a huge scandal at the time, with many people suspecting Bobby D of giving her a nudge downstairs. This meant that any form of relationship between Liz and Bobby would have been hugely unpopular. So, it appears they conducted their romance in secret.
It seems likely that it was during one of these secret liaisons that Liz came to Gorcott. We’re not quite sure who invited the Queen here, but it’s probable that it was arranged by one of the Throckmorton family, good mates with the Queen and owners of a fairly spectacular pad up the road in Coughton. We’ll assume that the Yardley family, who owned Gorcott at the time, made Liz very welcome, given that she had the stained glass window made at not inconsiderable expense. Or maybe that was the price for their silence! If word ever got out that Liz and Bobby were dating, the fallout would’ve been huge.
Liz never married Mr. Dudley, or anybody else for that matter. She had plenty of offers, but died a spinster in 1602, having ruled over one of the most exciting periods in our history.
Is Gorcott Hall a home fit for a queen? History says yes, and who are we to argue? Shame we weren’t running weddings here back then, we’d have loved to have seen Liz and Bobby rocking out on the dance floor.
Author’s disclaimer: I am by no means a Tudor historian, but I do have a GCSE in History as well as access to Wikipedia.