Saturday, 25 September 2010

'Trixie' in the Tower of London.

You may have realised by now that I'm a bit of a cat addict. In today's blog I have combined my favourite things - cats and history - with the true story of Trixie and the Third Earl of Southampton in the Tower of London.
Henry Wriothesley, the Third Earl of Southampton, and his cat Trixie. (Tower of London. n the top RIGHT corner)
This portrait shows the long faced Earl with his beloved cat, Trixie, and over his left shoulder a picture of the Tower of London. A somewhat unusual portrait the true story behind it is fascinating.

Boughton Hall - the 'English Versailles.'
Henry was at court in the time of the ageing Queen Elizabeth I. In fact his ancestoral home, Boughton Hall (described as the English Versaille) houses he only portrait of Elizabeth I looking old.

Allegorical portrait of Queen Elizabeth I - she hated to be seen looking old.
Unfortunately Henry was close friends with Robert Devereux, Master of the Horse and one of the Queen's favourites. However the royal attention went to Devereux's head and he became cocky, disobeying the Queen's direct orders and squandering her money. The furious Elizabeth withdrew royal patronage and with Devereux facing financial ruin he masterminded a rebellion. Rightly or wrongly Henry was named as a conspirator, arrested for treason and sent to the Tower of London to await execution.
The Tower of London.

But Wriothesley's devoted black-and-white cat, Trixie, saw him dragged from the house and followed along the London streets. Taken to the Tower, the story has it that Trixie jumped onto the roof tops and popped down an unlit chimney into his cell. Goodness only knows what a comfort she was to him, sharing his incarceration at such a terrible time, thinking he might die any day.
Happily the story ends well. Wriothesley remained in prison until Elizabeth died in 1603. The new monarch, King James I of England, pardonned him and eventually made Henry Wriothesley a Knight of the Garter. To mark this momentous event, Henry did what any decent cat lover would do - commission a portrait of him with faithful feline friend Trixie.



  1. What a nice story! I love cats too. At the moment a cat doesn't have me for a pet. I'm sure he or she is missing me and will turn up when the time's right.

  2. You are so right Leigh - humans are only ever housekeeping staff for our superior feline friends.
    I hope you get 'adopted' by a cat soon.
    Grace x.


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