By Bernie Bell
We’re recording Prof. Alice Roberts series ‘Britain’s Most Historic Towns’, and, most recently, watched the episode about Restoration London, which held much of interest. https://www.channel4.com/programmes/britains-most-historic-towns/on-demand/70449-002
The subject of one section of this programme, in particular, had me thinking “Hmmmmmmm?????”
Charles the First of England, had his head chopped off, basically for being a wastrel and a rubbish king. There were 59 men who signed his death warrant.
Crummell – as my Auntie Annie-Kate defiantly called him – he did much harm to Ireland – then took over, and had it his way, for a time.
Then, Crummell was out, and Charles the Second came back from The Netherlands, to be crowned King.
Whilst in the Netherlands, he signed a document, The Declaration of Breda, in which among other promises regarding what would happen were he to be restored to the throne, he promised clemency to those who had conspired against his father.
Some of these men had fled to other countries. Crummell had had his head chopped off and stuck on a pole, as a warning to any possible future rebels against the throne to – ‘Watch it!’.
The other men responsible for the death of Charles the First, were tracked down, chopped up and that, was that.
So much for clemency, so much for the promises of Kings.
And here’s where I bring in Mr George Downing. When it was expedient to do so, he lived quietly under the rule of Charles the First, then, he was one of those against Charles the First, and was very much complicit in getting rid of him.
Then, Crummell became persona non grata, and so Mr Downing was all for Charles the Second, and was active in hunting down those who had been responsible for his end – men who had previously been his allies.
The diarist/blogger of the time, Samuel Pepys, describes Mr. Downing as a “perfidious rogue”. Which just about covers it.
For his services to the new King, Charles the Second gave Mr. Downing a plot of land, on which he caused to be built a row of houses. To quote from Sir Anthony Seldon, in this article…… https://www.gov.uk/government/history/10-downing-street#:~:text=George%20Downing%20gave%20his%20name,the%20building%20we%20know%20today.
“In order to maximise profit, the houses were cheaply built, with poor foundations for the boggy ground. Instead of neat brick façades, they had mortar lines drawn on to give the appearance of evenly spaced bricks. In the 20th Century, Prime Minister Winston Churchill wrote that Number 10 was:
“Shaky and lightly built by the profiteering contractor whose name they bear.”
Plus ca change.
And my point is? Where do the actual leaders of Britain reside now? The political leaders, not the Royals, who live in Buck House and – I’m not sure how much actual power they wield, these days.
Where do the real leaders live? These who have power over our lives? In Downing Street, which is named after the ’perfidious rogue’, Mr Downing.
One thing I’ll never understand is, why, having got rid of the Monarchy, did the people of Britain choose to restore it? And we’ve been handing over our money to them, ever since.