‘Evoking Memories’, by Amanda Harvey Purse

Short stories
Penshurst Place historic Kent estate

Sitting within De Pulteney’s Hall at Penshurst Place, the Queen had itchy feet. This wasn’t a symptom of the illness she had just recovered from, it was because her mind was elsewhere. Lady Mary Sidney, whose home she was at, had nursed the twenty nine year old Queen back to health, however she had suffered for her loyalty gaining the marks of the Pox herself. Making the nurse’s home apart of the Summer Progress was all the Queen could think of doing to show gratitude, but now the Queen was not listening to anyone. Preferring to look upwards towards the high vaulted chestnut wooden ceiling, occasionally glancing to the tall arcaded windows, which reached almost to the floor, allowing this great hall to be flooded with light.

In the centre of the floor was an octagonal hearth and with a vent in the roof, the smoke from it floated thickly upwards. Her other courtiers were not happy with this hearth being lit on such a warm Summer’s day but the Queen was thankful for it as she felt she could hide behind the smoke as she allowed her mind to drift off.

She had often thought of this person many times but this was different. Perhaps it was her own brush with death or maybe it was just being a few miles from this person’s childhood home that had enhanced the sense of this person, the Queen did not know. All Queen Elizabeth did know was that the feeling of her mother, of Queen Anne Boleyn, was too strong an emotion to deny it any longer.

She stood up, quieten the room within a moment and she called for her horse. A mad panic consumed the hall, as servants rushed to complete the Queen’s orders and the dignitaries whispered, concerned about who was going to ride out with the Queen.

‘No’ the Queen demanded ‘I want to ride out alone’.

Facial expressions were exchanged within the room but ultimately the Queen’s orders must be obeyed. Strapped to her horse, Queen Elizabeth took off in a fast ride towards Hever Castle, enjoying the speed and her mission, knowing that her mother was calling her home.

However before entering into the final stage of her journey, Elizabeth decided to get off her horse in the grounds of St Peter’s Church, which had always stood as a stone guardian at the entrance to her family’s home.

The Queen found the church empty, so that she was able to walk straight up to the tomb of her grandfather, Thomas Boleyn. Even though her grandfather had passed away twenty three years ago, the Queen was happy to see the brass upon his tomb still shone enough for her to be able to see her own reflexion in it. It was odd, all these years she had seen her father’s face in hers but now there was someone else there, someone that was sadly unknown to her. She was only six years old when she was told of her grandfather’s death but much like the death of her own mother, Elizabeth had known from an early age that she was not to show any signs of grief for the Boleyn side of her family. If she was to gain the throne of England, she would have to prove she was a ‘Tudor’ through and through, her flaming red hair had helped in this.

When Elizabeth was a young teenager, she had tried to rebel over the matter of her mother in her own way, wearing initial jewellery similar to what she had heard was known of Anne Boleyn and even choosing her mother’s sense of style in clothing for big events. But in truth her rebellious nature was more to do with attention seeking rather than any real appreciation for her mother. Being almost three years old when her mother was found guilty of being a traitor, being the first Queen of England to have ever been beheaded for that very reason, Elizabeth was not widely aware of the person she had lost. But with her father paying more devotion to the Seymour boy, Elizabeth had felt neglected and tried to do something about that.

As the years rolled by, Elizabeth’s maids were a little more free with their speech about her mother, especially her maid, dear old Kat, who had taken up the role of mother in Anne’s stead. However Anne Boleyn was still a mystery to Elizabeth, she did not even know what her mother looked like.

After sometime had passed within the church, the Queen took a deep breath and walked with her horse over the meadowed knoll until the view of Hever Castle came in to view. Unexpectedly, the Queen did not feel remorse when she saw the moated castle, it was once said that it was in the gardens of Hever, that her father fell in love with her mother. It was also here that her mother had received love letters from her father, because her father had loved her mother at one point, of course he had, he had changed so much to be with her.

It was true that by the end, when her father thought he had been cheated on, he had hated Anne Boleyn but was hate really on the opposite side to love or were they the product of each other? Hever Castle was where it had all started, the Great Matter, the great love affair that changed the world as many people saw it and of course without this place, Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth would have not come to be. So no Elizabeth did not feel remorse when looking at Hever Castle, she actually felt contented with its history, she felt favourable towards the place.

Allowing her horse to drink from the moat, the Queen looked up at the closed wooden doors and the pulled down portcullis at the entrance, no one was at home at Hever Castle. Walking around the side of the castle, Elizabeth was surprized to see how quaint a size the whole building was, but it was when Elizabeth looked up to the second floor window that she was really speechless. There looking back at her was an youngish girl, with dark hair, dark eyes and slightly tanned skin. She stood at the window sill face on, however because of the size of the young girl, Elizabeth was unable to tell what clothes the child was wearing, however she couldn’t help but noticed the French hood upon the girl’s head.

The child smiled down at Elizabeth. All the Queen could do was to mouth the word ‘mother’, to which the child breathed on the glass and drew in the fog like pattern that had appeared, a symbol Elizabeth understood very well, for it was a crown. With that, the child was gone and Elizabeth collected her horse.

Riding back to Penshurst Place, the Queen wasn’t too sure what had happened but she did know that whenever she could, she would embraced her mother’s spirit throughout the rest of her reign and who knows how long that would last?

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