A New Reign
ON APRIL 6TH, 1603, the new sovereign, James I of England and VI of Scotland, crossed the River Tweed at Berwick. Then, 'banqueting and feasting by the way', receiving the ready homage of noblemen and gentlemen, and acknowledging the enthusiastic applause of an 'obsequious and submissive' people, he led his courtiers slowly south. On May 3rd, he drew up at Theobalds, Sir Robert Cecil's splendid country residence, which Lord Burghley had begun to build in 1564 and his son had completed in 1585; and there the Privy Council welcomed him, Mr Secretary at their head, and he was conducted around the house and gardens. That England's premier civil servant, out of his own personal fortune, should have been able to build himself so rich and fantastic a setting sufficiently illustrated the kingdom's power and wealth. The roof of one hall, for example, represented the movements of the stellar system; stars shone forth as soon as dusk descended, and, driven by an ingenious clockwork device, the sun regularly revolved between the symbols of the zodiac. Up the walls climbed a procession of oak-trees, their trunks and branches clad in natural bark, blossoming into a wealth of leaves and flowers, with heraldic shields hanging from the boughs and birds' nests lodged among the foliage. Other apartments showed the march of English history and a huge map of the entire realm, which included 'the armorial bearings and domains of every esquire, lord, knight and noble who possesses lands and retainers to whatever extent'. There was also a polychrome fountain, and a gigantic chimney-piece topped by bronze statues.