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Mistress of Gorhambury, Lady Anne Bacon, Tudor courtier and scholar

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This account by Deborah Spring describes the life of a remarkable woman who had a considerable impact on the Tudor era.

Lady Anne Bacon was mistress of Gorhambury, St Albans, from 1561 until her death in 1610. Educated, connected and astute, she lived through the upheavals and reverses of four Tudor reigns. Anne was committed to religious reform, and a published translator of key works of the English Reformation. Anne served both Mary I and Elizabeth I at court.

As a widow, Anne ran the Gorhambury estate alone for thirty years and supported the radical puritan preachers of St Michael’s and Redbourn. Her opinion of the townsfolk of St Albans was typically forthright: ‘tippling, taverning and drunken idleness and gaming… is almost this town’s profession’.

Married to Sir Nicholas Bacon, Elizabeth I’s Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, she was the mother of Francis Bacon, who became a leading statesman under James I and was created Viscount St Albans.

Like many women in history, Lady Anne Bacon has largely remained in the shadows. Drawing on contemporary evidence, including Anne’s letters, this account describes the life of a formidable woman and her place in the story of the sixteenth century.

This book is the first in our new ‘Concise Histories’ series. The series seeks to publish new research about the history of St Albans and surrounding areas.

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