Please forgive my morbid curiousity, but in the 500 years since the death of Queen Elizabeth I has her tomb ever been opened or the body examined ? I’d like to know how she was dressed , and if any jewells were burried with her ? Thank-you

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Elizabeth I was buried at Westminster Abbey on the 28th April 1603 in the vault of her grandfather, King Henry VII. In 1606, King James I had her remains moved to a tomb in the Lady Chapel which she shares with her half-sister, Mary I. As far as I know, her tomb has not been opened since then and I do not know what her body was dressed in, I'm afraid.

8 Responses to “Please forgive my morbid curiousity, but in the 500 years since the death of Queen Elizabeth I has her tomb ever been opened or the body examined ? I’d like to know how she was dressed , and if any jewells were burried with her ? Thank-you”

  1. PETER says:

    In the late 1970’s I was a guest at an evening cocktail party given by The Dean of Westminister- The Rev Edward Carpenter ( http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/obituary-the-rev-edward-carpenter-1174495.html ) in his lodgings at Westminister Abbey.
    I discussed with him the possibility of staging a production of Murder in the Cathedral at the Abbey; and to my surprise he was most supportive and even offered the use of the rostra which had lain in the Abbey, unused, since The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth 11.
    I asked if I could walk through The Abbey to view the area for production and he amazingly allowed me to roam freely with total access to everywhere. This was LATE evening with the Abbey completely closed to the public and dimly lit with only emergency lighting. It was an awesome experience. Unfettered by any restrictions I wandered through this vast complex in absolute awe. I stood silently at the tombs of each of the monarchs of England. There was absolute silence and stillness. It was so surreal. I realised that I was literally in the presence of Elizabeth l, just a few feet from her actual mortal remains, and this was perhaps the most private audience one could get under the circumstances. I have visited there many times during the day but it is always so busy with bustling tourists, but this was SO different. Awesome.
    Having arrived by train from Blackheath, London, where I was living, I realised by the time I had returned to the party that I had missed my last train home. I mentioned this and was asked if I would like to stay until the morning in one of the vacant bedrooms. I immediately accepted.
    Prior to my leaving the party I had a discussion with one of the clergy who was present at the soiree and he said that a few years previously there had been a gas leak somewhere in the Abbey and permission had to be obtained from The Queen to enter some of the Royal tombs. A small group, including himself, had been inside the tomb of Charles II, and he stated that one of the Kings’ leg bones was protruding from his decaying coffin and that he had actually touched it; but what intrigued me the most was that they had entered the tomb of Elizabeth I, via steps leading down into the vault which was accessed by the raising of a stone slab which covered the entrance a few feet from the actual tomb. Her coffin was covered with a tattered velvet pall and resting on the top of this was the coffin of her half sister, Queen Mary.
    James 1 of England was, I believe , baptised a Catholic, and it was he who arranged for the burial of Elizabeth, so perhaps he was making some kind of statement.
    Unfortunately the production never materialised as I had the opportunity of relocating to Los Angeles, and now having returned to the UK decided to share this tremendous experience with those interested.

  2. PETER ROBERTS says:

    In the late 1970’s I was a guest at an evening cocktail party given by The Dean of Westminister- The Rev Edward Carpenter ( http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/obituary-the-rev-edward-carpenter-1174495.html ) in his lodgings at Westminister Abbey.
    I discussed with him the possibility of staging a production of Murder in the Cathedral at the Abbey; and to my surprise he was most supportive and even offered the use of the rostra which had lain in the Abbey, unused, since The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth 11.
    I asked if I could walk through The Abbey to view the area for production and he amazingly allowed me to roam freely with total access to everywhere. This was LATE evening with the Abbey completely closed to the public and dimly lit with only emergency lighting. It was an awesome experience. Unfettered by any restrictions I wandered through this vast complex in absolute awe. I stood silently at the tombs of each of the monarchs of England. There was absolute silence and stillness. It was so surreal. I realised that I was literally in the presence of Elizabeth l, just a few feet from her actual mortal remains, and this was perhaps the most private audience one could get under the circumstances. I have visited there many times during the day but it is always so busy with bustling tourists, but this was SO different. Awesome.
    Having arrived by train from Blackheath, London, where I was living, I realised by the time I had returned to the party that I had missed my last train home. I mentioned this and was asked if I would like to stay until the morning in one of the vacant bedrooms. I immediately accepted.
    Prior to my leaving the party I had a discussion with one of the clergy who was present at the soiree and he said that a few years previously there had been a gas leak somewhere in the Abbey and permission had to be obtained from The Queen to enter some of the Royal tombs. A small group, including himself, had been inside the tomb of Charles II, and he stated that one of the Kings’ leg bones was protruding from his decaying coffin and that he had actually touched it; but what intrigued me the most was that they had entered the tomb of Elizabeth I, via steps leading down into the vault which was accessed by the raising of a stone slab which covered the entrance a few feet from the actual tomb. Her coffin was covered with a tattered velvet pall and resting on the top of this was the coffin of her half sister, Queen Mary.
    James 1 of England was, I believe , baptised a Catholic, and it was he who arranged for the burial of Elizabeth, so perhaps he was making some kind of statement.
    Unfortunately the production never materialised as I had the opportunity of relocating to Los Angeles, and now having returned to the UK decided to share this tremendous experience with those interested.

    PETER ROBERTS

  3. ADDENDUM:

    …from the appendix on the royal burials in the Henry VII Chapel to be found in Dean Stanley’s ‘Memorials of Westminster Abbey’:

    Dean Stanley originally says ‘the stately coffin of Elizabeth rests on the coffin of Mary” then goes on to say in the appendix entitled “The Royal Vaults” “It was instantly evident that it enclosed two coffins, and two only, and it could not be doubted that these contained Elizabeth and her sister Mary. The upper one, larger and more distinctly shaped in the form of the body, like that of Mary Queen of Scots, rested on the other. There was no disorder or decay, except that the centering wood had fallen over the head of Elizabeth’s coffin, and that the wood case had crumbled away at the sides, and had drawn away part of the decaying lid. No coffin-plate could be discovered, but fortunately the dim light fell on a fragment of the lid slightly carved. This led to a further search, and the original inscription was discovered. There was the Tudor badge, a full double rose deeply, but simply incised in outline on the middle of the cover, — on each side the august initials E.R., and below, the memorable date 1603.”

  4. ADDENDUM :

    My apologies for an error made in my initial submission. I stated the coffin of Elizabeth was beneath that of her half sister Mary. It should have read…her coffin was resting on top of Mary’s coffin.

  5. Anthony says:

    I find this topic very fascinating, after all these monarchs were such characters and details about the actual coffins and where they are kept is intresting. I wish tiny cameras could be inserted into a few of the coffins so we can see what they look like now and what clothing they could be wearing if it’s preserved perfectly. I would pay alot of money to see this, it would be life changing.

  6. Danielle says:

    Please do not read into the above this is clearly inaccurate information and mary and Elizabeth were not sisters at all they were distant cousins this is a very poor site for information on them!

  7. Jc says:

    Peter Roberts- FASCINATING story!! So jealous you had the Abbey all to yourself!

  8. Claire says:

    Danielle,
    Elizabeth I and Mary I were half-sisters, they had the same father: Henry VIII. I think you’re thinking of Mary, Queen of Scots.

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