169

Details & Cataloguing

Vivien: The Vivien Leigh Collection

|
London

Queen Elizabeth I
DOCUMENT SIGNED ("ELIZABETH R")
commanding Sir Thomas Heneage to pay £133 6s. 8d., to her chief almoner Richard Fletcher, Bishop of Worcester, or his assistant John Dix, as Maundy money for distribution during Holy Week, one vellum membrane (175 x 257mm), "at our manor of St James", 7 April 1593, papered seal, docketed on the verso by Dix, window mounted, together with two prints of Elizabeth I, bound in brown straight-grained morocco gilt, lettered on the upper cover, inside dentelles, blue endpapers, small smudge to signature, spotted
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Catalogue Note

The distribution of money by the English royal family on Maundy Thursday is a ceremony that stretches back to the 13th century, although the striking of coins specifically for the purpose only began in the 1660s under Charles II. The distribution of royal alms is the responsibility of the Lord High Almoner, in this case Richard Fletcher (1544/5-1596). The mention of Fletcher in this document may have given it particular resonance to Vivien as he was the father of the great Jacobean dramatist John Fletcher, collaborator with Shakespeare and his successor as playwright to the King's Men.

The date and circumstances of Vivien's acquisition of this document is unknown, but it is listed in a 1948 inventory of Notley Abbey. It may have been a gift associated with a performance, most likely her first major film role in the 1937 Elizabethan romance Fire Over England, in which Vivien played a lady-in-waiting to the ageing Queen, whose heroic lover (Laurence Olivier, in their first pairing) engaged himself in uncovering perfidious traitors and (not entirely single-handedly) thwarting the Spanish Armada. Flora Robson as Queen Elizabeth had the best lines, mostly taken as they were from genuine speeches by the Queen.

Vivien: The Vivien Leigh Collection

|
London