Born on 28th December, 1635, at St James’s Palace, Princess Elizabeth was the second daughter and fifth child of King Charles I and his consort, Queen Henrietta Maria. She was however a prisoner of Parliament from the age of six until her death at Carisbrooke Castle in 1650.
Tutored by a great female scholar called Bathsua Makin, she was said to be fluent in Hebrew, Greek, Italian, Latin and French by the time she was just eight years old. She was known as ‘Temperance’ in the family due to her good nature, and was described by the French ambassador as a “budding young beauty” with “grace, dignity, intelligence and sensibility that enabled her to judge the different people she met and understand different points of view.”
Although Princess Elizabeth was buried in the church her grave here in the Minster remained unmarked and the actual spot was forgotten over the years. Then in 1753, workmen had to lift the floor and stumbled upon the tomb.
A brass plaque was placed on the small coffin but it wasn’t until later in the reign of Queen Victoria that an examination of her remains was undertaken and then the memorial created. The former revealed she suffered from rickets, however her cause of death was probably something as sad and simple as a common cold.
The stories handed down of her death detail that she had travelled on a long journey to the Island during which she caught a chill that quickly developed into pneumonia.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
When Queen Victoria chose the Island for her holiday home, she heard the story of the princess and commanded that a more suitable monument be erected. Sculptor Carlo Marochetti used Carrera marble to create this masterpiece, which was presented to the church in 1857.
The Bible beneath her head reads:
“Come unto me all of you who are heavy laden and I will refresh you.”
Her Majesty also called for a stained glass window to provide a gentle light upon the tomb. You can find out more about them here.
Prince Albert laid the foundation stone of the new church building on Thursday 24th August, 1854.
After he died in 1861 a plaque with a carved portrait of him was placed on the north wall of the Lady Chapel between the two stained glass windows Queen Victoria commissioned.
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, KG, GCVO, CD, ADC
HRH The Earl of Wessex, KG, GCVO, ADC is the patron of the Newport Minster Renewal Campaign.
“The next three years and phases of work are perhaps the more exciting as we finish the exterior repairs and turn our focus on the interior. This part of the campaign is intended to renew the Minster’s heritage, its role in the life of the Island and its service to the community.”
In 2016 he visited the Minster to view the progress of the Campaign.