Henry Howard - Earl of Surrey (1516 – 1547)
Henry was born in Hunsdon, Hertfordshire , the eldest son of Thomas Howard, third Duke of Norfolk and his second wife , Lady Elizabeth Stafford (daughter of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham). Thomas commanded the vanguard of the English army at Flodden. Despite having such a distinguished military career he only escaped execution by it being set for the day after Henry VIII died – his son was not so lucky….
Henry led a privileged life, being reared at Windsor with Henry VIII’s illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond. He, inherited the title Earl of Surrey in 1524 following the death of his grandfather.
The young Earl led an eventful life being very involved in the intrigues of court life – a very dangerous place to be. He was both a renowned soldier and a talented poet and is thought to have been the first English writer to use blank verse. Along with Thomas Wyatt, he introduced sonnet form to England, together, the couple are known as the "Fathers of the English Sonnet."
Being a staunch anti protestant Henry Howard was increasingly viewed by Henry VIII as a threat. Eventually the King became convinced that Henry Howard had planned to usurp the crown from his son Edward and the Earl was executed for treason on 19th January 1547. He is buried in an alabaster tomb at St Michael the Archangel, Framlingham.
Surrey House was originally built as Henry Howard’s city house. Soon after it was begun the name of the street on which it stood was changed from Newgate Street to Surrey Street – a name it retains to the present day.
Unfortunately, Henry Howard never had time to enjoy his splendid residence as it was in the year the house was completed that he met his untimely end.
It is quite incredible that more than 450 years later, stained glass that was in Henry Howard’s original Surrey House can still be seen today in George Skipper’s sumptuous 20th century masterpiece. A building that the Earl himself would be proud to own.