Image courtesy of Dents Museum
Image of Bess, Lady Raleigh, as featured at Fairlynch Museum
One of the most powerful and the most calculating politicians of the time, he was a man whom both she and Walter regarded as their friend. In a letter to Cecil at this time Raleigh wrote that Bess ‘says that she must envy any fingers whosoever that shall wear her gloves but your own.’
Sir Robert Cecil, created 1st Earl of Salisbury by King James I Image credit: National Portrait Gallery
Aware that the most likely successor to the increasingly frail Queen would be the King James VI of Scotland, Cecil was making plans for a transfer of power in which Raleigh would be sacrificed.
It was important, he saw, that the character of the old Queen’s favourite be blackened in the eyes of the Scottish king so that Cecil would be seen as a supporter of the new regime.
King James I of England and VI of Scotland, c.1606, after John De Critz the Elder (c.1551-1642) National Portrait Gallery
It was in a letter of this time that Cecil wrote to King James about his supposed friend that he was a person ‘whom most religious men do hold anathema’. The underhand accusation was, as described by Sir Walter’s biographer Raleigh Trevelyan, a ‘stunningly disloyal’ act.
St Mary’s Church, Cerne Abbas
It is likely that this contributed to the guilty verdict reached by the court, a verdict which would prove fatal after the failed 1617 expedition to Guiana.
Rosemary Harden supervises the installation of the gloves in the Raleigh 400 display, with Fairlynch Museum Trustee Martyn Brown. Rosemary, curator of the Fashion Museum in Bath, worked with Dents Collection on the Museum's loan request for the gloves
These gloves are fabulous. You can imagine Bess Raleigh’s hands at work as she gives the finishing touches to a similar pair destined for the hands of her husband’s supposed friend Robert Cecil.