The Rotherwas Portrait

The Rotherwas Portrait

Portrait of a Noblewoman


Oil on wood panel | 30 ⅛  x 22 11⁄16 inches

Minneapolis Institute of Arts | 87.6



For J. Stephan Edwards and Hope Walker's assessment of the Rotherwas Portrait, see p. 80-87 of A Queen of a New Invention.

After identifying the Fitzwilliam Portrait partially based on the pattern of the lady's collar, stylized bridges for Brydges, a pattern that could be found again in other fully authenticated portraits of the Brydges family, I wondered if other clues could be found in the patterns of the collars of other sitters in portraits.

The Rotherwas Portrait (detail)

The pattern on the collar look like ferns to me.

This made me wonder if the lady's family or married name had fern in it. 

The Rotherwas Portrait (detail)

The pattern is repeated in the cuffs.

There was a prominent Ferneley family as this time. The problem is that I could find no lady belonging to that family of the right age.

J. Stephan Edwards and Hope Walker write of the sitter in the Rotherwas Portrait: «The lady does appear to be young, certainly less than 30 years of age.»[1]

The most famous female member of that family is perhaps Anne Ferneley, Lady Gresham.

She was married to Sir Thomas Gresham, the keeper of Lady Mary Grey (sister of Lady Jane Grey) after her marriage which displeased the Queen. Anne Ferneley, Lady Gresham, is the subject of a c.1560 portrait by Anthonis Mor.

Anne Ferneley, Lady Gresham, c.1560, by Anthonis Mor

All sources point to Anne being born c.1520[2][3], and therefore not of an age to be the sitter of this portrait. Her sister Jane Ferneley (d.1552) married Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal and had six surviving children by him, three sons and three daughters. Based on the above and everything else I could find, it does not appear as if Jane Ferneley were under the age of 30 either at the time the Rotherwas Portrait was painted.

A Joan Ferneley, parentage unknown, was born c.1546[4] and would therefore be too young.

Audrey Ferneley (d. 9 September 1584), the daughter of Thomas Fernley or Ferneley of Creating, Suffolk (1522–1591) and Dorothy Holdich (1534 – September 1567),[5] would, based on her mother's age, also have been too young, though her mother Dorothy is a possibility.

Audrey's father was the brother of Anne Ferneley, Lady Gresham and Jane Ferneley Bacon. (The Visitations of Suffolk) His wife's age discounts all his daughters. An exhaustive search into the genealogy of Lady Gresham's Ferneley family failed to offer up any other promising candidates.

An Alice Fernham was the first wife of Christopher Goldingham (d. September 1559).[6]

There was a Fernham family of Quorndon.[7]

Probably the same Farnham family who has a family vault at Quorn.[8]

And here I discovered something interesting:

HELEN CHALONER (before 1534 – 8 January 1569)

Helen Chaloner was the daughter of Roger Chaloner of London (c.1493–1550), a mercer, and Margaret Middleton (1497 – before 1534). She married Thomas Farnham of Nether Hall, Quorndon, and Stroughton, Leicestershire (1530 – 4 September 1562). Their children were two sons who died young, Katherine (14 February 1558 – 10 May 1621), and another daughter. By 1551, Farnham was residing in London. In 1552, he took over the tellership of the Exchequer from his brother-in-law, Thomas Chaloner. Helen married Francis Saunders of Welford and Brixworth, Northamptonshire (1513/4 – 20 June 1585) as the second of his three wives. They had one son, Francis. Portraits: effigy on Farnham tomb, Stoughton; brass at Welford. Helen Chaloner – A Who's Who of Tudor Women

The Thomas Farnham Monument © jmc4 - Church Explorer

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The Thomas Farnham Monument at Stoughton, Leicestershire, shows an effigy of Thomas Farnham (d. 4 September 1562), Teller of the Exchequer in the Reign of Queen Mary, and his wife Helen, née Chaloner (d. 8 January 1569). It has been photographed by jmc4 - Church Explorer, who has also photographed the brass of Francis Saunders (d. 20 June 1585), Helen's second husband, which shows Helen and their infant son. The brass showing Francis Saunders and his family is at Welford, Northamptonshire.

Infant son of Helen and Francis Saunders © jmc4 - Church Explorer

Helen Chalmoner Farnham Saunders – Detail of the funeral brass of Francis Saunders (d.1585), Helen's second husband, showing Helen, his second wife © jmc4 - Church Explorer

Another thing that to me spoke in her favour was the fact that she was residing in London from at least 1552. (Her husband from 1551, they must have been married by 1552 for her brother to be her husband's brother-in-law that year. According to a primary source cited in The Reluctant Ambassador: The Life and Times of Sir Thomas Chaloner, Tudor Diplomat by Dan O'Sullivan the couple married at Shrovetide 1551/2.[9])

This part is admittedly subjective and rather fanciful. But the lady in the Rotherwas Portrait has always looked defiant to me, angry

J. Stephan Edwards notices that she faces the viewer squarely, uncommon in portraits of women of the sixteenth century. And that even more unusually, she gazes directly at the viewer. 

What I noticed was the lady's pose

As the Lady Jane Grey Dudley walked solemnly across the frozen ground of the Tower of London and toward the scaffold on which she was to be executed, she read silently from a tiny hand-written book of reformist prayers that she carried with her. (The Lady Jane Grey's Prayer Book: British Library Harley Manuscript 2342, Fully Illustrated and Transcribed – Introduction by J. Stephan Edwards)

«To console herself in her final moments, Jane carried in her hands a miniature prayer book no bigger than the palm of her own hand. She recited the prayers from its pages as she walked.»[10]

Of her execution, The Chronicle of Queen Jane tells us that Lady Jane Grey ‘came fourthe, the levetenaunt leding hir, in the same gown wherin she was arrayned, hir countenance nothing abashed, neither her eyes enything moysted with teares, although her ij. gentylwomen, mistress Elizabeth Tylney and mistress Eleyn, wonderfully wept, with a boke in hir hande, wheron she praied all the way till she cam to the saide scaffold, wheron when she was mounted &….’[11][12]

The earliest source, The ende of the Ladye Iane vpon the scaffolde, speaks of how she addressed the people assembled there, saying 'I doo wash my handes thereof in innocencie, before God, and the face of you, good Christian people, this day,' and how she then 'wrong her handes, in which she had hir booke.'[13][14]

A few months earlier, on the 13th of November 1553, Lady Jane Grey, her husband Guildford Dudley, his brothers Ambrose and Henry, and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer were tried for treason at a public trial at London’s Guildhall. They were led from the Tower of London, through the streets on foot. The Chronicle of Queen Jane describes the procession, although some of the wording is missing: «Next followed the lorde Gilforde Dudley, between (blank) Next followed the lady Jane, between (blank), and hir ij. gentyll- women following hir. Next followed the lorde Ambrose Dudley and the lorde Harry Dudley. The lady Jane was in a blacke gowne of cloth, tourned downe ; the cappe lyned with fese velvett, and edget about with the same, in a French hoode, all black, with a black byllyment, a black velvet boke hanging before hir, and another boke in hir hande open, holding hir (the entry breaks off)[15][16]

My (again rather fanciful) thought was that the lady in the Rotherwas Portrait had witnessed either the execution or Lady Jane Grey on her way to her trial, and emulated her pose in sympathy.

Perhaps presumptively the procession to the trial, as Lady Jane Grey's execution was private, but then again, Lady Jane Grey's gentlewoman 'Mistress Ellen' has never been identified ...

The idea that she was Lady Jane Grey's old nurse, is sadly a modern invention.[17] The names Helen and Ellen were interchangeable in this time period. At least one book standardises the spelling of 'mistress Eleyn' to 'Mistress Helen'.[18]

For the sitter to have such sympathy for Lady Jane Grey, she must probably have been a Protestant. There is nothing decidedly in the Rotherwas Portrait to declare the sitter for either the New or the Old religion.

The inscription on the 'saile' or banderole on her brooch is in English, but this can be found in pre-reformatory jewellery as well.[19] Girdle prayer books were an originally Catholich invention, though of couse we know that they were also favoured by reformers like Katherine Parr and Lady Jane Grey herself. The writing in the book has been rendered illegible by too-aggressive cleaning, but it does appear to be in English, which could be an indication that the sitter was a Protestant, but not all Catholic devotional texts were in Latin, either, though most were.[20]

But what was Helen Chaloner Farnham?

Nothing could readily be found on that lady's thoughts on religion. But of her husband, History of Parliament writes that 'He opposed the initial measures to restore Catholicism'.[21] That sounds promising concerning Helen's persuasions, though it is of course by no means certain that she and her husband shared this conviction. Since her husband's History of Parliament page had a handy link to her brother's, I followed the link there and found that History of Parliament described him 'As a convinced Protestant' and that 'the potential danger from his Protestant sympathies was probably averted by his removal from the London scene to the north, where he was employed for most of the [Mary's] reign.'[22] There is a second entry for Helen's husband at History of Parliament, where we find the following information: 'His will is long, revealing his interests and friends in Leicestershire and London, and confirming the presumption, based on his appearance in the list of those who stood for the ‘true religion’ in the Parliament of October 1553, that he held radical religious views, for the beneficiaries included many of the leading puritans of the early years of Elizabeth’s reign. Probably 16 men who sat in the House of Commons during the reign are mentioned, most being puritans; nine were Farnham’s fellow-Members in 1559, when he was returned for Thomas Copley’s borough of Gatton.'[23]

With both a husband and a brother as convinced Protestants, chances are that Helen was the same.

I should have thought that would be a prerequisite for being a lady to Lady Jane Grey as well.

Having reached this far, I thought, I shall reach no further. Then I promptly discovered that Helen's brother, Sir Thomas Chaloner had written an elegy on the death of Lady Jane Grey.

Full translation by J. Stephan Edwards of Sir Thomas Chaloner’s Elegy on the Death of Lady Jane Grey

J. Stephan Edwards writes of the author in the introduction: «Sir Thomas Chaloner (or ‘Challoner’, sometimes called ‘The Elder’ to distinguish him from his stepson of the same name) was a courtier active primarily as an ambassador during the reign of Elizabeth I. He is best known as the first to translate Erasmus's Praise of Folly (Moriæ Encomium) into English, as well as for his own original compositions of epic poetry in Latin. Chaloner was a friend of many who had known Jane Grey personally, including Walter Haddon, John Cheke, and William Cecil. It is not known whether or how well Chaloner himself actually knew Jane, though he probably met her on more than one occasion. Chaloner was involved in the investigations into Thomas Seymour’s conduct in 1549 and may have met her briefly in the course of those duties. He was not a party to the events of 1553, as he was away on ambassadorial duties in France during the summer of that year. Chaloner died in 1565 at age 44.»

The elegy is interesting, and in parts, moving reading.

In spite of its panegyric nature, it is oddly personal in places:


I pass over in silence, what she knew about music, dancing and songs: in what way she excelled with the needle, or at drawing with a pen.

Who can suppose? Having expert grasp of the language of the Hebrews, she joined the Arabian language to the words of the Chaldeans.

On the other hand it would be a trifle to recall her speaking like the Greeks or the Italians: other women are heard speaking them in civilized places.

French also and Tuscan discourse added their number to English: if her languages were counted, twice four times together she acquired.

Aged Holy Stridon in acquiring five languages may envy you: our girl has excelled by three.


Hm ... 'our girl'.

There is also something that almost reads an eyewitness description of the execution:


the whitened noble neck (Oh grief!) to the cutting sword, the heroine calmly extending it to the death blow.

Such as Achilles slaughtered Polyxena at the tomb, to the perpetual enormous dishonor of Neoptolemi.

The watching crowd gave flowing tears: she [was] mindful of grace, she bore dying with a clear eye.

And after speaking powerful words the one considered most pleasant [Jane] gave appropriate quiet prayers in order to expel cruelties.


Of course, the author would probably have had access to Here in this booke ye haue a godly epistle made by a faithful Christian A comunication betwene Feckna and the Lady Iane Dudley. A letter that she wrote to her syster Lady Katherin. The ende of the Ladye Iane vpon the scaffolde. Ye shal haue also herein a godly prayer made by maister Iohn Knokes, published c.1554(?),[24] plus it could have been the author's own imagination and poetic embellishments.

That «[t]he watching crowd gave flowing tears is not mentioned in The Chronicle of Queen Jane. It could be author's own addition, or he heard it from an eyewitness, his own sister. If Helen was one of Lady Jane Grey's gentlewomen, her 'Mistress Ellen', she would have been one of the few people who were actually present.

It might also explain this puzzling line:


[Mary] did not forgive this [one], she was not stirred by [Jane’s] youth nor fortitude, nor by nearness of blood, nor (so holy) by pregnancy.


Chaloner is the only source to suggest that Jane may have been pregnant at the time of her execution, something that was highly unlikely.[25][18]

Just because his sister was an eyewitness, it does not mean that she was a particularly reliable one ;)

Sir Thomas Chaloner

Helen Chaloner Farnham – His sister?

Lady Jane Grey

From Elegy on the Death of Lady Jane Grey by Sir Thomas Chaloner:


And she was in the same degree humble, gentle, and possessed of discreet judgment; never at any time was she seen to speak haughtily.

And she who conquered every compassionate heart while alive, exhibited a gladdened heart at her own death.

And keeping steadfast spirits in the final moments, or until she had departed to the unfamiliar Socratic funeral pyres.

The Rotherwas Portrait (detail)

Previous attempts to identify the lady in the Rotherwas Portrait have devoted a lot of effort into researching her brooch.

We now know that it does not portray St. Cecilia, but probably Mary Magdalene playing the lute, in a garden or grove of trees, with a jar beneath the right-hand tree.[26]

The 'saile' or banderole says Praise the Lord for ever more.[27]

All three of of Lady Jane Grey's royal cousins, King Edward VI, Elizabeth I Tudor and Mary I Tudor played the lute. As did Henry VIII and his sisters Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland and Lady Jane Grey's grandmother Mary 'Rose' Tudor, Queen of France. Mary, Queen of Scots, did, as well. It seems exceedingly likely that Lady Jane Grey herself played the lute. Sir Thomas Chaloner's elegy mentions, as quoted above, «I pass over in silence, what she knew about music, dancing and songs». Her tutor John Aylmer sought advice from the Swiss reformer Heinrich Bullinger because he was growing concerned about the amount of time Jane was committing to music:

Moreover, I wish you would prescribe to her the length of time she may properly devote to the study of music. For in this respect also people err beyond measure in this country, while their whole labour is undertaken, and exertions made, for the sake of ostentation.

If the lady in the portrait chose her pose to commemorate Lady Jane Grey, it is possible she also chose a brooch, which – while undoubtedly probably actually of Mary Magdalene – reminded her of Lady Jane Grey. That is, if the lady in the portrait knew her well.

I have earlier mentioned that my subjective impression of the lady in the Rotherwas Portrait is that she looks defiant and angry – I now too see grief.

I have never found gargoyles particularly creepy of intimidating, neither when looking at them on actual buildings or in other art.

I have never liked the ones on the brooch.

While J. Stephan Edwards is of course right in that: 'The heads at the top [...] are classical satyrs. The use of that motif was very common in the period. See the portrait of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey [...] for a nearly identical example. They correspond to the fascination among the 16th century elite with classical Greco-Roman literature, languages, and art.' (Some Grey Matter – Questions and Answers About Lady Jane Grey)

There is something threatening about the way they are creeping in on the lady in the brooch. If somebody chose to wear the brooch because the lady in the brooch represented Lady Jane Grey to them, the symbolism of evil powers surrounding and preying upon a young girl becomes readily apparent.

Gargoyles in Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame – “Be our guest, be our guest ... ! Oops, wrong movie.”

The Chronicle of Queen Jane tells us of her execution that Jane's «countenance [was] nothing abashed, neither her eyes enything moysted with teares, although her ij. [two] gentylwomen, mistress Elizabeth Tylney and mistress Eleyn, wonderfully wept».[11]

«The text on the banderole above the lutenist’s head was also considered for any significance it may possibly have for identifying the sitter. The text is in English, indication that the sitter was herself English and that the portrait was not imported from the continent. It is tempting to interpret the usage of English, rather than Latin, as a marker of Protestant affiliation, but such an interpretation is contradicted by pre-Reformation inventories describing similar religiously-themed jewels with English texts. The phrase itself, ''Praise the Lord for ever more'', is not sufficiently unique to be useful for identifying the sitter. It appears in several Old Testament writings and in hymns composed in the sixteenth century. Although the jewel and its text may well have had personal symbolic meaning for the lady depicted wearing it, that meaning is now lost and seemingly unrecoverable.»[28]

Lady Jane Grey's last words were: “Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

The Chronicle of Queen Jane

The chronicle of Queen Jane, and of two years of Queen Mary, and especially of the rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyat: written by a Resident in the Tower of London  – “The Harleian MS. 194 is a pocket diary, extending from July 1553 to October 1554. It is written, or rather scribbled, in so bad a hand that even (John) Stowe, who printed some passages from it, has mistaken several words. In the Harleian Catalogue it is stated that ‘This book formerly belonged to Mr. John Stowe, who took from thence many passages which may be found in his Annals, at the reign of Queen Mary, and more yet remain by him untouched.’” John Gough Nichols, 1850[29][30]

This resident of the Tower and author of The Chronicle of Queen Jane is anonymous and has always been unknown. It is thought that it was someone who was there, who had a direct knowledge of things.

If his sister were there, one possibility is ... Sir Thomas Chaloner himself. (Obviously, he is not known to have been a prisoner, but neither was Helen one, and she may have been allowed to leave the Tower intermittently.)

Or ... Helen herself.

The presence of an open book in the hands of the lady in the Rotherwas portrait, at least indicates strongly the sitter could read, in a time not many men and even fewer women could.

Jane, with her scholarly interests, would undoubtedly have been drawn to those who shared them, and encouraged them in those who did not.

(I above suggest that Helen Chaloner Farnham may not have been the most reliable witness, but The Chronicle of Queen Jane was written from July 1553 to October 1554. The elegy was written certainly after Mary I Tudor's death in late 1558, as the elegy refers to it, and possibly several years after that. Some people have susceptible memories when it comes to some things, so that their memories and remembrances changes with time. (This is a huge problem with police investigations.) So I do not actually doubt that an account given right after facts could be completely factual, accurate and sober in the manner of The Chronicle of Queen Jane, while some years later, when grief and anger and sorrow and bitterness had been given their time to work, the same individual could add an embellishing detail, such as a pregnancy, as well as the crowd bursting into tears. Like she herself did.)

John Gough Nichols suggested that the anonymous chronicler of The Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary and Especially of the Rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyat; Written by a Resident in the Tower of London and the author of The ende of the Ladye Iane vpon the scaffolde were one and the same.[11]

According to The Reluctant Ambassador: The Life and Times of Sir Thomas Chaloner, Tudor Diplomat by Dan O'Sullivan Sir Thomas Chaloner actually was in England in February 1554 when or shortly afterwards Here in this booke ye haue a godly epistle made by a faithful Christian A comunication betwene Feckna and the Lady Iane Dudley. A letter that she wrote to her syster Lady Katherin. The ende of the Ladye Iane vpon the scaffolde. Ye shal haue also herein a godly prayer made by maister Iohn Knokes was published.[24] He had been abroad in his services as diplomat when the events of 1553 occurred, but was recalled by Queen Mary I when she took over. Since he was recalled by Queen Mary on her accession, it seems he was in England July 1553 to October 1554 when the anonymous Chronicle of Queen Jane was written.

And according to surviving notes of paper in his handwriting, he did actually call his sister 'Ellen'.[31]

According to Dan O'Sullivan, it is not known what Sir Thomas Chaloner's actions were in those turbulent days of February 1554. Many of his friends supported the rebellion (some had to flee), while one actually opposed it, fighting with the rebels at the city gate.

Mistress Ellen

From Moira Ackers's description of Helen Chaloner Farnham in The Thomas Farnham Monument (c.1562) at Stoughton, Leicestershire: a conundrum or two an image of intelligent, capable woman with an understanding of the world and a talent for manipulating public opinion emerges. One with organisational and planning skills as well. The same may be gleaned from the fact that she was the sole designated executrix of her husband's will.[32][23]

She must have been trustworthy too, because she and her daugter were only left the one-third of the estate mandated by law, the rest went to her husband's brother John.[32][23]

If Helen were the author the anonymous Chronicle of Queen Jane and Lady Jane upon the Scaffold, she wrote well, with an attention to accuracy and detail. (Though the author clearly meant to go back and fill in information that was missing, for instance regarding the procession to the trial, which never happened. Something rather relatable to many of us, I would imagine.)

She was from a family with strong ties to the Royal family and the Royal household. Her father, in addition ot being a London silk merchant who lived at St Mary-at-Hill Street, Billingsgate, was a courtier. Roger Chaloner was a Gentleman-Usher of the Privy Chamber to King Henry VIII, a Teller of the Receipt of the Exchequer, and a Freeman of the City of London through the Worshipful Company of Mercers.

Her mother, Margaret Myddelton was the daughter of Richard Myddelton of London. Visitations of Cheshire

She was from a literary family. Another brother, John Challoner (c. 1520–1581) went to Ireland and was the first Secretary of State for Ireland, appointed by Queen Elizabeth I of England in 1560. The third brother, Francis, followed him and was the father of Dr. Luke Challoner, who was one of the three founding fellows of Trinity College, Dublin in 1592, and also Pro-Chancellor of the College between 1612 and his death in 1613. Luke's sister, Helen's niece, was a bookseller in Oxford in the beginning of the seventeenth century.[33]

And thinking about it, what person would have had better access to the events as they were unfolding, than one of Queen Jane's personal ladies?

Who was actually in the procession to the trial? Who was one of the three named people that we actually know were at Jane's execution?

Who would have been with Jane as Guildford's body was carried into the chapel?

I doubt they let random prisoners of the Tower of London walk around recording all of this. It could be a guard, but even so it seems strange that the same one was present at all of these events.

I have always taken 'written by a resident in the Tower of London' as an attempt at obfuscation, to hide which of the two categories the author fell under. But of course, Helen was neither a prisoner or a guard, or in any way employed by the Tower of London, she was, simply, 'a resident'.

If it were Helen, her name is even cleverly partially anonymised by omitting a last name in the chronicle. Giving the impression that she was not important enough for her last name to be even mentioned or recorded, and hiding her identity from a wider audience.

If it were Helen, one can really talk about hiding in plain sight.

The cozy fiction that 'Mistress Ellen' was Lady Jane Grey's old nurse has put a certain image in our heads. But comforting as the thought is that Jane had a maternal presence there, there is nothing to indicate this.

If Jane's 'mistress Eleyn' were in fact Helen Chaloner Farnham, she would have been about the same age as Jane's other gentlewoman, Elizabeth Tylney.


Elizabeth Tylney was the daughter of Sir Philip Tylney or Tilney of Shelley, Suffolk (d. 8 January 1532/3) and Elizabeth Jeffrey. She was a lady in waiting to Lady Jane Grey, possibly by 1548, when Lady Jane was chief mourner for Queen Kathryn Parr. Through her mother, Elizabeth was related to Frances Brandon, Lady Jane’s mother. Elizabeth was with Lady Jane in the Tower, both during her short nine day reign and afterward, when she was a prisoner. She attended Lady Jane on the scaffold in 1554. She married a man named Peter Clarkson or Clark. Elizabeth Tylney – A Who's Who of Tudor Women

According to Leanda de Lisle, Elizabeth Tylney attended the funeral of Lady Mary Grey at Westminster Abbey on the 14th of May 1578.[34]


The painting came from the Bodenhams of Rotherwas House, Herefordshire.[35]

Helen Chaloner Farnham Saunders had one surviving child. Several sources found online speculate which, if any, of her second husband's children were hers. His brass, however, makes it clear that they had one son, who died in infancy.

The Funeral Brass of Francis Saunders – © jmc4 - Church Explorer

According to Moira Ackers in the The Thomas Farnham Monument (c.1562) at Stoughton, Leicestershire: a conundrum or two when Thomas died he had two heirs: Katherine and Anne. Anne, a baby, died 3 days after her father. Katherine was four years old.[32]

In his will he writes, according to the same source: to my said dear friend Nicholas Beaumont, Esquire, £100 to be paid conditionally that he procure of the Queen the Wardship of the body and lands of my daughter Katherine Farnham and that he shall after enjoin her in marriage to his son Thomas Beaumont my godson or to one of the sons of the said Nicholas which she the said Katherine shall like best.[32]

Katherine did indeed marry Thomas Beaumont.

The Family of Katherine Farnham, Lady Beaumont, Only Surviving child of Helen Chaloner Farnham

Sir Wingfield Bodenham of Ryal (born c.1615) married Frances Beaumont, daughter of Farnham Beaumont, second son of Sir Thomas of Stoughton.[36]

Their son Beaumont Bodenham, Esq. of Ryal married 1) Ursula, daughter of Gilbert Wigmore, of Shelford, in Cambridgeshire, who died issueless; and 2) Elizabeth, daughter of Daniel Wigmore of Stamford, by whom, who wedded secondly Edward Browne, he left at his decease in 1681 an only daughter and heir, Elizabeth, baptised in 1678, married to Thomas Burrell of Dowsby in Lincolnshire.[37]

This looked very promising. Unfortunately, this appears to be a side branch to the Bodenhams of Rotherwas, and which side branch died out.

Elizabeth Bodenham and Thomas Burrell of Dowsby had no children. Elizabeth Bodenham Burrell died in 1708, leaving everything to her husband and his heirs.[38][39]

This seems to preclude any connection between the heirlooms of Elizabeth Bodenham Burrell, direct descendant of Helen Chaloner Farnham, and the Bodenhams of Rotherwas. Unless the Bodenhams of Rotherwas bought what they considered Bodenham heirlooms back from the estate of Elizabeth Bodenham Burrell.

Which is ... always a possibility.

J. Stephan Edwards and Hope Walker writes: «[B]ecause the elder generation of Bodenhams lived largely in exile between 1550 and 1575, and the second generation remained in exile until the early 1580s, it seems altogether unlikely that in these turbulent circumstances the family would have commissioned a costly portrait of any of its members. Significantly, the Bodenham sale of 1913 included only one portrait identifed as a member of the Bodenham family out of a total of 122 lots, and that portrait was a late-nineteenth-century copy of a lost seventeenth-century original. More probably, the painting entered the Bodenham collection long after it was created and thus depicts some other, as yet unknown lady. Indeed, the history of Rotherwas House itself almost requires this to be the case. The first significant house on the manor was not built until the first years of the seventeenth century. It was seized by Parliamentary forces during the Civil Wars of the 1640s and fell completely into ruin, making it unlikely that any artworks contained within it survived that period. Rotherwas was re-built in 1731 and required furnishing entirely anew, from carpets to chandeliers. In all likelihood, the painting was purchased in or after 1731 to aid in decorating the new house. Because the inscription removed from the sleeve in 1913 appeared to date to the eighteenth century, it seems probable that the painting was actually purchased in the mistaken belief that it was an ‘authentic’ portrait of Margaret Tudor, Queen Consort of Scotland.»[40]

Thomas Burrell, Elizabeth Bodenham's widower, died in 1733.[41][39]

Thomas Burrell's second wife, Elizabeth Wright Burrell had predeceased him and was buried in 1718,[39] so it cannot have been on reason that she wished to redecorate, but it is entirely possible that Thomas Burrell's son by second marriage or his guardians[42] (he was fifteen when his father died, having been born a few months before his mother's death) had no interest in his father's first wife's old belongings. Of course, it is impossible to know if it were after or before 1731 that the errouneous inscription of Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland was added, but I would think that an 'authentic' portrait of Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland would be an heirloom as good as any.

Somewhere between the death of Elizabeth Bodenham Burrell in 1708, the death of her husband in 1733, the death of his son by a second marriage without issue in 1763, when the estate devolved on his cousin and co-heir, the Reverend Thomas Foster, and 1800 when the Reverend Foster sold the estate to Michael Pierrepont[38] – the house was probably cleared of all of the Bodenhams old possessions.

The Bodenhams, meanwhile, were busy re-creating The Rotherwas Room, a room originally installed in Rotherwas Court some time after 1600, and completed in 1611, but which was moved into the new rebuilt mansion on the property in 1731.

The Bodenhams of Rotherwas would probably have eagerly filled their Jacobean room with genuine Bodenham heirlooms period typical to 1611.

As J. Stephan Edwards and Hope Walker's excellent overview of the history of the Bodenhams of Rotherwas shows, they themselves would probably not have been in possession of any and may have gratefully jumped at the chance to obtain some.

The Rotherwas Portrait dates naturally to the Tudor, not the Jacobean, period, but most Jacobean mansions would of course have had Tudor portraits in them. Furthermore, in 1611, James I would only just have gained the English crown, and a picture of the reason of his claim to the English throne, Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland, would have been a perfect touch.

The Large, Bold Floral Motif of the Underskirt

The Rotherwas Portrait (detail showing the large, bold floral motif)

J. Stephan Edwards describes a part of the lady's dress as: «The underskirt is brown or rust colored and has a large, bold floral motif.»

The large, bold floral motif has a distinct similarity to a water lily.

Water lily

The Latin word for water lilies is nymphaeaceae.

Eleionomae or Heleionomai are a type of nymph in Greek mythology.

It is entirely possible that in Tudor times this could have been a pun on Eleyn or Helen.

As to the word nymph itself, the Greek word νύμφη has the primary meaning of "young woman; bride, young wife".

A holy well or sacred spring is a well or spring or other small body of water revered either in a Christian or pagan context, sometimes both. The presence of these in England, Wales and Ireland are considered connected with a similar phenomenon in ancient Greece and Rome, where a nymphaeum or nymphaion (Greek: νυμφαίον) was a monument consecrated to the nymphs.

There are over 20 holy wells in Britain dedicated to St. Elen and St. Helen.


[1] J. Stephan Edwards, A Queen of a New Invention, p. 81

[2] ANNE FERNLEY, FERNELEY, or FEARNLEY (1521 – 23 November 1596)

Anne Fernley was the daughter of William Fernley of West Criting or Cressing, Suffolk (1490–1556), a wealthy merchant, and Agnes Daundy (1480? – June 1572). In 1536, Anne married London mercer William Read (Reade/Rede) of Beccles, Suffolk (1505–1543/4), by whom she had two sons, William (1538–1621) and Thomas. In 1544, she married Thomas Gresham (1519 – 21 November 1579). She was a milliner and was making caps for Queen Elizabeth as late as 1569. The Greshams had only one child, Richard (March 1547 – 1564), although Thomas also had a natural daughter who was raised by his wife. At the time of their marriage, they lived in London, first in Milk Street and then in Lombard Street. In 1551, the family moved to Antwerp, where they lived in the house of Jasper Schetz. Anne did not like living abroad and by 1556 had returned to England, even though Thomas still spent most of his time abroad and had purchased his own house in Antwerp. He built Gresham House in London in 1559–62. He was knighted in 1559. He left Antwerp for good in March 1567 and in 1568 began building the Royal Exchange, the first “shopping mall” in England. By that time, his health was already failing. He was going blind and a poorly set broken leg caused him a great deal of pain. His relationship with Anne was acrimonious. They quarreled in particular over his tendency, after their son’s death, to lavish money on charity. It did not help matters when, in June 1569, the Greshams were put in charge of the Lady Mary Grey. She was under house arrest for marrying without the queen’s permission. Gresham was already asking to be relieved of the responsibility by 1570. One of the excuses he gave was that his wife wished to go to Norfolk to visit her mother, who was ninety and not likely to live much longer. Genealogies tend to give Agnes (or Anne) Daundy’s birthdate as 1496, making her closer to seventy than ninety, but that was still a very great age in those days. In spite of Gresham’s pleas, the Lady Mary remained his guest until May 1572. On 23 January 1571, Queen Elizabeth dined at Gresham House in Bishopsgate Street and toured the Royal Exchange, officially giving it its name. The Lady Mary was confined to her rooms while the queen was in the house. In early September, 1571, after the death of the Lady Mary’s husband, she was moved to the Greshams’ country house at Osterley in Middlesex. As her keepers, the Greshams went with her. By January, Sir Thomas’s letters were begging that the Lady Mary be removed from his keeping for the “quietness” of his wife and in March 1572 he referred to “my wife’s suit for the removing of my Lady Mary Grey.” He characterized his wife’s plight as “the bondage and heart sorrow she has had for these three years.” After the Lady Mary finally left the Greshams, taking with her what Sir Thomas called “all her books and rubbish,” they entertained the queen twice more. In August 1573, Queen Elizabeth visited them at Mayfield, Sussex. In May 1578 she was their guest at Osterley Park. The next year, after Gresham died of apoplexy, Anne inherited Gresham House and the rents from the shops in the Royal Exchange, giving her an income of £2,388 10s 6½d per annum. Not satisfied with that, however, she fought the other bequests in her husband’s will and kept that income also. The queen visited Lady Gresham at Osterley in April 1592 and again in June 1594. In 1595, Lady Gresham appeared in the Court of the Star Chamber to bring charges against a man named Booth for forging deeds to lands that were now hers by inheritance. He was sentenced to be fined, jailed, and lose his ears. After seventeen years as a very wealthy widow, Anne Gresham died at Osterley House. Perry Gresham, in The Sign of the Golden Grasshopper, gives this date as 15 December 1596 and says she was buried with her husband and son in St. Helen’s, Bishopsgate. After her death, part of Sir Thomas’s estate went to found Gresham College. Portrait: by Antonio Mor, c.1560–5, previously identified as “Anne Furnely, Lady Roydon,” in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam; a similar portrait of an “unknown woman,” now in the Art Institute of Chicago, was also painted by Antonio Mor c.1560–65, as was a third identified as Mor’s wife (this one with a dog); engraving of Mor’s portrait at Titsey Place, Surrey; portrait with her first husband and children kneeling at the feet of Henry VIII on a parchment deed in the PRO. Anne Fernley, Ferneley or Fearnley – A Who's Who of Tudor Women

[3] «Anne Fernely (c.1520-1596)» Antonis Mor and the portrait of Thomas Gresham – The National Portrait Gallery

[4] JOAN FERNELEY (1546–1625+)

Joan (or Jane) Ferneley’s parentage is unknown. She married Solomon Aldred (d.1592) and was living with him in Rome and receiving a pension from the Pope when he was recruited to spy for Sir Francis Walsingham. Solomon renounced Catholicism when they returned to England but Joan did not. In 1586, Catholic books seized in a raid in the Marshalsea Prison were carried across London Bridge and given to a “Mistress Allred” in Mincing Lane. She was involved in carrying a false rumor to the countess of Arundel, a notorious recusant whose husband was at that time a prisoner in the Tower of London, but the two women appear to have had a friendly relationship. In about 1598, Joan married Thomas Lodge (1558 – September 1625), a physician who was also famous as a poet and playwright. Biography: entry in Carole Levin, et al, editors, A Biographical Encyclopedia of Early Modern Englishwomen. Joan Ferneley – A Who's Who of Tudor Women

[5] AUDREY FERNLEY (d. 9 September 1584)

Audrey Fernley was the daughter of Thomas Fernley or Ferneley of Creating, Suffolk (1522–1591) and Dorothy Holdich (1534 – September 1567). Her first husband was Anthony Rone of Hounslow, Middlesex, auditor to Queen Elizabeth. They had four children: Edward (d.1600+), Jeremy, Humphrey, and Anne. On 12 December 1583, Audrey married Sir Edmund Brudenell of Deane (1521 – 24 February 1585) as his second wife. She died in childbirth. Her daughter, also named Audrey (1584–1623), was left an annuity of 100 marks and a marriage portion of £3000. She married Sir Basil Brooke of Madeley, Shropshire (1576–1646) and her badly damaged effigy can still be seen in the church there. Portrait: Brudenell brass with her daughter. Audrey is shown kneeling behind Agnes Bussy, first wife of Sir Edmund Brudenell. Audrey Ferneley – A Who's Who of Tudor Women

[6] The Manors of Suffolk; Notes on Their History and Devolution, With Some Illustrations of the Old Manor Houses by Walter Arthur Copinger and H. B. Copinger

[7] Quorndon records by George F. Farnham

[8] The Farnham Monuments: Myths, Legends and Family Fables (Part 1) – The Farnham Chapel at St Bartholomew’s, Quorn

[9] «Ellen's wedding was celebrated at length at Hogden, as Chaloner records, possibly somewhat resentfully as to the expense: [March 1551/52] memorandum/ the charges of meat and drink with the play and other things at Shrovetide for my sister's marriage with her apparal cost me above xx l. for iii days meat and drink x l. and iii l. sithyns [since]» The Reluctant Ambassador: The Life and Times of Sir Thomas Chaloner, Tudor Diplomat by Dan O'Sullivan

[10] The Lady Jane Grey's Prayer Book: British Library Harley Manuscript 2342, Fully Illustrated and Transcribed – Introduction by J. Stephan Edwards, p. 3

[11] The Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary and Especially of the Rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyat; Written by a Resident in the Tower of London, edited, with illustrative documents and notes by John Gough Nichols (1850), p. 56

[12] Prayerbook | Lady Jane Grey Reference Guide

[13] Here in this booke ye haue a godly epistle made by a faithful Christian A comunication betwene Feckna and the Lady Iane Dudley. A letter that she wrote to her syster Lady Katherin. The ende of the Ladye Iane vpon the scaffolde. Ye shal haue also herein a godly prayer made by maister Iohn Knokes. London: Successor of A. Scoloker, 1554

[14] The Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary and Especially of the Rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyat; Written by a Resident in the Tower of London, edited, with illustrative documents and notes by John Gough Nichols (1850), p. 56-57

[15] The Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary and Especially of the Rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyat; Written by a Resident in the Tower of London, edited, with illustrative documents and notes by John Gough Nichols (1850), p. 32

[16] The Trial of Lady Jane Grey – 13th November 1553 – The Anne Boleyn Files

[17] Myths About Lady Jane Grey’s and Guildford Dudley’s Executions – History Refreshed by Susan Higginbotham


[19] J. Stephan Edwards, A Queen of a New Invention, p. 84

[20] Some Grey Matter – Questions and Answers About Lady Jane Grey

[21] Thomas Farnham (by 1527–1562) of Stoughton and Quorndon, Leicester of London – History of Parliament Online

[22] Thomas Chaloner (1521–1565) of London; Hoxton, Middlesex; Steeple Claydon, Buckinghamshire and Guisborough, Yorkshire – History of Parliament Online

[23] Thomas Farnham (by 1527–1562) of Stoughton and Quorndon, Leicester and London – History of Parliament Online

[24] The Lady Jane Grey's Prayer Book: British Library Harley Manuscript 2342, Fully Illustrated and Transcribed – Introduction by J. Stephan Edwards, p. 4-5

[25] Thomas Chaloner’s ‘Elegy on the Death of Lady Jane Grey’ – Translation by J. Stephan Edwards at Some Grey Matter

[26] J. Stephan Edwards, A Queen of a New Invention, p. 83

[27] J. Stephan Edwards, A Queen of a New Invention, p. 84

[28] Ibid.

[29] The Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary and Especially of the Rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyat; Written by a Resident in the Tower of London, edited, with illustrative documents and notes by John Gough Nichols (1850), Prefacep. v

[30] Chronicle of Queen Jane –

[31] «Memorandum also paid to my brother Farnham mense [month] December 1553 parcel of my sister Ellen's marriage money xiii l.» The Reluctant Ambassador: The Life and Times of Sir Thomas Chaloner, Tudor Diplomat by Dan O'Sullivan

[32] The Thomas Farnham Monument (c.1562) at Stoughton, Leicestershire: a conundrum or two by Moira Ackers

[33] Luke Challoner, D. D. Author(s): N. J. D. White Reviewed work(s): Source: The Irish Church Quarterly, Vol. 2, No. 7 (Jul., 1909), pp. 207-223

[34] Leanda de Lisle – Lady Mary Grey Podcast | Lady Jane Grey Reference Guide

[35] J. Stephan Edwards, A Queen of a New Invention, p. 81

[36] A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland by John Burke, p. 84

[37] Ibid.

[38] «Beaumont Bodenham, son and successor of Sir Wingfield, was sheriff of Rutland in 1663 (fn. 77) and died in 1681 leaving an only daughter Elizabeth. She married Thomas Burrell of Dowsby (co. Linc.), but had no children. In 1708 she settled the estate at Ryhall on the heirs of Thomas. By a second marriage Thomas Burrell had a son Thomas, but he died without issue in 1763, and the estate devolved on his cousin and co-heir, the Rev. Thomas Foster, son of Jane, sister of the first Thomas Burrell. Foster sold the estate in 1800 to Michael Pierrepont, (fn. 78) who resided in 1811, when Blore wrote his history, in the old mansion house of the Bodenhams on the south side of the churchyard, which he considerably improved. He was majorcommandant oi the Militia of Rutland and had been lieut.-col. of the Rutlandshire Fencibles before their disbandment. He died in 1834.» 'Parishes: Ryhall', in A History of the County of Rutland: Volume 2, ed. William Page (London, 1935), pp. 268-275. British History Online [accessed 3 February 2021]

[39] ««Sir Thomas Burrell, of Dowsby,t and of Ryhall, co. Rutland, was baptized at Dowsby 2 July 1674,p and married first, Elizabeth,‡ daughter and sole heiress of Beaumont Bodenhamv of Ryhall, Esq. She was baptized at Ryhall 10 Jan. 1678-9,r and died without issue. Arms of Bodenham. — Azure, a fess between three chess rooks or. Modern Arms. — Argent, on a cross yules, five mullets or.

s From the Registers of St. Michael's, Stamford.

t Blore calls him ' Thomas Burrell Esquire. '

v Blore's Hist, of Rutland, vol. i., part ii., p. 49.

‡ This lady inherited all the estates of the Bodenhams, of Ryhall, and left them absolutely to her husband ; after the decease of his son, without issue, in 1763, they passed, together with the Burrells' estates, to the heirs of Redmayne Burrell.

He married secondly Elizabeth Wright, and by her (who died 17 Sept., and was buried in the Burrell Chapel 20 Sept. 1718p) had issue,

          1. John Burrell, who was baptized at Ryhall 30 Dec. 1714,r and was buried in the Burrell Chapel, at Dowsby, 6 Jan. 1714.p

          2. Thomas, his heir.

Sir Thomas was sheriff of Rutland in 1704, and died 22 Dec. and was buried in the Burrell Chapel 28 Dec. 1733,p aged 60. M.I.

Thomas Burrell, of Dowsby and Ryhall, Esq., was baptized at Ryhall 27 March 1717-18.r He was sheriff of Lincolnshire in 1739, and died unmarried 16 Dec, and was buried in the Burrell Chapel 22 Dec. 1763,p aged 47. M.I. His estates passed to the descendants of Judith Hyde and Jane Foster the daughters and co-heiresses of his uncle Redmayne Burrell. This Thomas Burrell was the last heir male of this ancient family, which was seated at Dowsby for about a hundred and sixty years.» Burrell, of Dowsby, co. Lincoln, and of Ryhall, co. Rutland by Charles Wilmer Foster, p. 9-10

[40] J. Stephan Edwards, A Queen of a New Invention, p. 85

[41] Thomas Burrell (1674–1733) – Find A Grave Memorial

[42] In his will, Thomas Burrell appoints three executors of his will, and appoints the same three men as the guardians of his son, with the specification that his son will be sole executor once he reaches majority. He also specifies that his son must be provided with a man-servant during his minority. These three men were his brother-in-law Francis Browne, Esquire, Thomas Trollope junior of Bourne in the county of Lincoln, Esquire, and Richard Green of Little Casterton in the county of Rutland, clerk. See Will of Thomas Burrell of Stamford, Lincolnshire | PROB 11/663/276, probate date the 7th of February 1734, at the National Archives.