TUDOR HACKNEY
The Daniells
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Chapter 1: The Source of Our Sorrows

Westminster Lodgings 1606

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John and Jane Daniell John and Jane Daniell
Scene 1: John and Jane Daniell

Jane Daniell sits at a long table by a window in a cramped and cluttered room writing a letter to King James I. Also in the room is her husband, John. At least 20 years her senior, he appears an old and broken man - much maligned by the hand that fate has dealt him.

In front of Jane is a pewter tankard containing a number of quills, an inkpot and pile of writing paper, a blank page already placed on the table in front of her. She dips a quill in ink and hesitates a moment before beginning to write:

"To your most excellent majesty, King James -"

She pauses and glances along the table. At the opposite end sits her husband, John Daniell. In his late 50’s, his appearance is unkempt. John seems deeply distracted as he intently examines a series of small notes and scraps of paper.

Jane returns to her writing with a look of weary concern

"It is now four years since my husband, John Daniell was imprisoned and fined £3000. Yet - though he was granted freedom two years since – we are still in want of justice. Those I looked upon as friends are now our bitter enemies and all that we once owned is in the hands of strangers. Four years ago our fortunes seemed assured"

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John plays blind-man's buff with his children John plays blind-man's buff with his children

Exterior of the parsonage

Scene 2: Happier times
John and Jane are playing blind-man’s buff with the children outside the parsonage, their home.

"- but now - our home in Hackney is lost to us forever – and we have no hope of relief in this, our insufferable extremity of want."

 

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Lady Essex and Jane Daniell at Yorke House Lady Essex and Jane Daniell at Yorke House
Scene 3: Lady Essex

The source of our sorrows lies in my true and dutiful attendance on her Ladyship, the Countess of Essex.

Lady Essex (Frances Walsingham) is in her mid-thirties.

She is an attractive woman who relishes her high position at court.

For ten years I served her honour faithfully, despite the troubled fortunes of Lord Essex

 

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Lord Essex playing chess Lord Essex playing chess

Yorke House 1599

Scene 4: Lord Essex

Lord Essex, a dashing figure with a distinctive red beard, is playing chess with their Secretary – a pinched and fastidious man.

Essex seems edgy and impatient with the game.

The Secretary appears to be winning.

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Lord Essex  angrily leaves the game of chess Lord Essex angrily leaves the game of chess
Scene 5: Lord Essex under house arrest

Essex was a man loved by many; but his position with Queen Elizabeth had long been unsettled. So when his campaign in Ireland failed - at great cost to the crown - he and my Lady were placed under house arrest.

Lord Essex angrily swipes his hand across the board, sending the pieces flying.The Secretary nervously picks up the scattered pieces.

"And I shared their misfortunes as a true friend would"

 

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Jane is given a casket for safe keeping by Lady Essex Jane is given a casket for safe keeping by Lady Essex
Scene 6: Jane is called for

So it was, on the eighteenth of October 1599, her honour sent for me and gave me a large casket for safe keeping at our lodgings.

With what love and trust for the Countess I received the casket.

 

 

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Jane reads the letter accompanying the casket Jane reads the letter accompanying the casket
Scene 7: The casket arrives

As Jane reads the accompanying letter John Daniell casually attempts to take it from her.

Jane resists:

John: "What’s in there? Her jewelry?"

Jane: "She doesn’t say."

 

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The casket - the original cause of all the Daniells' woes
The casket - the original cause of all the Daniells' woes
Scene 8: John is disgruntled

Disgruntled, John rattles the lock on the Casket. Jane forces his hand aside.

"John – please!"

John withdraws moodily as Jane carefully refolds the letter and picks up the casket.

In all my innocence I never dreamt how such a simple duty might cause so great a sorrow.

For here was the original cause of all our woes.

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This site, developed with funding from the New Opportunities Fund as one of the projects within Sense of Place, London, forms part of the National Archive's Education site. It was developed as a partnership between Hackney Archives Department, Immediate Theatre and the National Archive's Education Team