Sweetbriar Dreams

So where shall we go on our journey today?

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Let Me Introduce You to Old Scarlett

So, how has your week been?  The routine filled days and evenings have made the week feel very long to me.  To finally sit down in my sun filled garden with the sounds of bird song, lawn mowers gently tidying the slightly overgrown grass along my road and my fountain faintly cascading, it is a welcome joy.  The temperature has risen into the mid twenties and the BBQ is primed for the meal this evening.

For some welcome peace and quiet yesterday, I decided to pop across to the Cathedral and enjoy the coolness of its interior.  The sun's warm rays can't penetrate the thick walls so the majestic building gives welcome respite to those of us that do not enjoy hot weather.  I made my way to the centre of the Cathedral where I love to look up and experience the feeling of physically being in a kaleidescope.  I could quite easily shake myself to see if the view would change!  It's quite hypnotic.
The arms from the centre which head North, South, East and West feel like life taking you along its ever changing path.  Which way shall we go today? it asks me.  I wonder if this colourful man ever thought this?  Meet 'Old Scarlett' (Robert Scarlett) who died in 1594 at the age of 98!
'Old Scarlett' was a Sexton which basically means he looked after the grounds and was a gravedigger during his lifetime.  He was obviously very well thought of to have a painting of him above the entrance of the great west door.  In fact, he has two!  The framed painting to the left and then this one to the right, painted directly onto the stone.
The words beneath read as follows:

"You see old Scarlett's picture stand on hie
But at your feete here doth his body lye
His gravestone doth his age and death time show
His office by theis tokens you may know
Second to none for strength and sturdye limm
A scarbabe mighty voice with visage grim
Hee had interd two queenes within this place
And this townes house holders in his lives space
Twice over: but at length his one turne came
What hee for others did for him the same
Was Done: No doubt his soule doth live for aye
In Heaven: though here his body clad in clay"

I have been told that he used to tell people he had buried three queens, Katharine of Aragon, Mary Queen of Scots and then his own wife.

So remember, if you ever come to Peterborough Cathedral and step through the door, do take a look above and behind you to say hello to Old Scarlett.
The first Queen he buried can be found in the North Aisle.  Katharine of Aragon was King Henry VIII's first wife who he divorced in favour of Anne Boleyn.  Katharine survived until 1536 when Old Scarlett was tasked with burying her in this part of the Cathedral.  Her tomb is distinctive by the Royal Banner of England and Spanish flags high above her.
On her marble slab are placed flowers and pomegranates.  Sometimes one, sometimes two but today there a number on there.  The pomegranate was her heraldic symbol.
The original gilded letters on her marble memorial were stolen by Oliver Cromwell's soldiers in 1643 and the Dean at the time, used the marble for the floor of his summerhouse in the 1700's!  Apparently in the 19th Century there was a public appeal for all the Katharines of England to give money to buy a replacement slab which now adorns her tomb.
The second Queen he buried was the decapitated corpse of Mary Queen of Scots in 1587.  Old Scarlett was by now 90 years of age, so still going strong!  The empty tomb of Mary can be found in the South Choir Aisle as James I (her son) had her body exhumed in 1612 and re-interred at Westminster Abbey.
 In front of the now empty tomb flies the Royal and National flags of Scotland.
So, Old Scarlett certainly was a busy man.  Burying all walks of life including those whose lives ended with the plague and two Queens in very different circumstances.

A history lesson and some peace and quiet in a magnificent building... perfect!

But now, it was back to work and viewing this amazing meccano from the office - you can almost make out the orange jackets of the scaffolders who have worked tirelessly over the last month.  Won't be long before the stone masons will be able to start work!
Over hundreds of years, this building and its workers never stop!  From Old Scarlett to the scaffolders of today - a credit to this amazing building.

Have a wonderful weekend and week.  I plan on being in the garden for the rest of this weekend and hoping that next week will go quickly before the Bank Holiday!

Take care.

You can also follow me on:

Follow on Bloglovin follow us in feedly


  1. Your photos and description are just amazing, I enjoyed reading the story of Old Scarlett, he must certainly have had a very interesting life, and as you say been well thought of to have had his picture painted in the Cathedral. Thank you for such an interesting tour! Hope that you have enjoyed a great BBQ! xx

  2. Bit of a horrible week settling my mum into her residential care home, Chel, so am enjoying the peace and sunshine of this weekend, knowing the visiting is being done by other family members. Love the Cathedral photos, magnificent place isn't it? Hope the BBQ goes well!

  3. I do love seeing round your cathedral. I like that pomegranates are still placed on Katharine of Aragon's tomb. I can imagine how beautifully cool and serene it is in there. Wonderful.

  4. That was so very interesting, and if I ever get to your Cathedral I will, indeed, look up and for the 'secret' that I can tell my husband about Old Scarlett.
    I've had a busy week and have enjoyed my day (early still) of reading blogs and weeding the flower beds.

  5. What an interesting story of Old Scarlett! I would love to visit your Cathedral someday! Have a lovely weekend my friend!

    Blessings, Vicky

  6. I hear you on the long week friend! That first photo is stunning! I am thinking that it would make such an extraordinary art piece! And how interesting is this post! I had no idea that so much of the tombs were still looked after in this manner! And Old Scarlett sounded like a very intriguing fella! Thanks for sharing and enjoy that garden! Nicole

  7. I enjoyed this historical posting and all the pictures inside the cathedral, especially that first one. So beautiful!

  8. I really enjoyed this post and the little tour of the cathedral, the history is amazing - our own history is only a couple of hundred years old and I love the great time span covered in Britain and Europe. Amazing.


  9. Lovely story about Old Scarlett! What a chap! I sometimes think it is characters like him that make history, rather than all the kings, queens and dignitaries. An ordinary man doing an ordinary job but becoming a real character in the process.

  10. Thank you for introducing me to Old Scarlett. I must've passed him by on several occasions but failed to turn to acknowledge him. I shall certainly bid his 'visage grimm' a cheery good day next time I walk beneath his gaze.

  11. Loved the story about Old Scarlett, such an interesting post.

  12. So interesting and lovely photos. Best wishes, Pj x

  13. What a fascinating story! I absolutely love the ceiling...you're right, it looks like a kaleidoscope. Wow. I love reading your posts- transforms me to magical places and gives me a picture of my long ago heritage.

  14. Old Scarlett sounds like a fascinating character. I like hearing the stories of not only the greats like Katherine of Aragon and Mary, Queen of Scots, but also the ordinary folk who lived and died in relative obscurity.
    I'm collecting ideas for a likely trip to England (and Spain) next summer. The link to this cathedral will be added to my file.

  15. What an interesting post about Old Scarlett. The Cathedral is so beautiful and to look up at that gorgeous ceiling is amazing. A bit dizzying too. ;) I hope your week passes quickly up to your holiday weekend. Enjoy!

  16. Very interesting - the cathedral is jammed full of history - a lovely place to work. That Old Scarlett was an ugly old blighter - he didn't do too bad for his age though

  17. I loved discovering the story of Old scarlett. I love how the portrait of Katherine Of Aragon that is above her tomb is my favourite, when she's young and loved!

  18. What a great old story, so many lovely things to look at in your post.

  19. When you go to visit *any* historic house or castle in Scotland (and even some in England), we always laugh that Mary Queen of Scots seems to have slept there or visited there. It's sort of a claim to fame. So it made me smile that she'd been to your cathedral too, Chel! Great photos and great stories. Thanks for sharing! :o)

  20. Wow...love this type of story, Chel! I never knew that Catherine of Aragon's symbol was a pomegranate, but it makes perfect sense. Her mother loved them, and she named a whole city (Granada) after them. Old Scarlett must have experienced a lot...Great story! (http://www.reflectionsenroute.com)

  21. Wow that was interesting. I like learning about history this way. Way better then in school.
    That ceiling was amazing and very much like a kaleidoscope.
    Scarlett was in very interesting man. I had never heard of him so now I've learned my something new for the day.

  22. Hi Chel, wow there is so much history in England and what and how interesting the story of Old Scarlett and a little scary too! I love the photos you took of the inside of the cathedral and thanks. I do hope you have a wonderful week and thanks for stopping by today.

  23. What gorgeous shots of the cathedral.


Thank you so much for visiting, I love reading your comments and will answer either by email or on the blog. You can also email me privately in my side bar. Have a great day x

Other Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...