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York House Watergate

27th March 2021


.....The music was composed by Dowland who
was lutenist to James the First and died
in sixteen twenty six, the year that this,
the York House Watergate was built.
The River Thames then lapped against
its rusticated stone and I would have
been standing in a boat about to enter
through the arch. I might have heard lute music
from the palace which it led to, long
ago removed, York House, the residence
of York's archbishop. When the church had power,
the bishops all had palaces along
the Thames but Henery the Eighth reformed
the church and redistributed its lands
and by the sixteen twenties York House was
the Duke of Buckingham's abode and it
was he who hired architect and sculptor
Nicholas Stone to build this regal gate.
Stone carved in stone the ducal coat of arms
within the emblem of a garter knight,
the blue badge of its day, though both are weathered
now as are the lions either side
and just the cockle shells remain pristine.
They tell us that His Grace was Admiral
though naval warfare interested him
much less than dancing galliards to the lute.
He liked to show his legs the duke, and taught
Prince Charles the future king to dance but his
effeminacy was unpopular
and he was murdered in a Portsmouth pub,
The Greyhound, at the age of thirty five.