Celebrating the First Elizabeth

Celebrating the First Elizabeth

This year’s Diamond Jubilee will be a time for celebrating the reign of a remarkable woman. Elizabeth II became Queen in 1952 and throughout her sixty years on the throne has shown a dedication, tenacity and above all, sense of duty that all of us have benefited from. Street parties, a public holiday and an enjoyment of all that uniquely British pageantry will rightly be the order of the day.

As part of these festivities, Christ Church New Malden will be holding an evening to celebrate the reign of another remarkable woman whose outstanding success as this country’s monarch blazed a trail for our current Queen. Elizabeth I became Queen in 1558 and, in an age when few believed women capable of leadership, established herself over the next forty-five years as arguably the finest leader this country has ever possessed. On 30th May at 8.00 pm Christ Church will host an evening entitled ‘Celebrating the First Elizabeth’. Admission will be free and everyone is welcome.

Our speaker will be Dr Tracy Borman. A member of Christ Church and resident of New Malden, Tracy is fast becoming one of Britain’s most dynamic historians with a string of successful books on a variety of subjects. These include King’s Mistress, Queen’s Servant: The Life and Times of Henrietta Howard (the mistress of George II) and Matilda: Wife of the Conqueror (on the wife of William I). Co-author of Royal Weddings from 1066-2011, Tracy has regularly appeared on television and radio and is currently writing a book on witchcraft during the reign of James I (most of which she is penning in Chicco's cafe!).

In 2009 Tracy also produced the groundbreaking book Elizabeth’s Women. Up to that point, historians had tended to focus upon Elizabeth I’s relationships with the men who dominated the world in which she lived such as Philip II of Spain, the Earls of Leicester and Essex and her ministers such as William Cecil and Francis Walsingham. There was also comparative neglect of the factors that formed Elizabeth, with many rather tempted to see her as ‘born great’. Both of these approaches were startlingly challenged by Elizabeth’s Women as Tracy focused upon the women whose influence shaped Elizabeth I. Uncovering vital new evidence, the book examined the role of those close to her such as her beloved governess Kat Astley, the influence of her various stepmothers, particularly Katherine Parr, and what the young Elizabeth learned about how not to be a queen from her sister Mary Tudor and Mary Queen of Scots. Further chapters on Elizabeth’s relationship with the sisters of Lady Jane Grey and others reveal more about the complexities of her character and motivations. Utterly compelling and readable, the result is a book in which Elizabeth I becomes much more fully human and therefore ‘knowable’ to its readers.

So do join us on 30th May. A central part of the ethos of Christ Church is the affirmation of women’s leadership in both the church and society and this evening will form part of celebrating the lives of two of the greatest leaders this country has ever had!

Revd Stephen Kuhrt, Vicar of Christ Church, New Malden