There She Lived: Nell Gwynne's House
by Gloria Schramm
A lovely work of art has been hanging on the wall in our home for
26 years, since the birth of my first son, Ryan. It is a replica
of the Windsor Church Street storefront home of Nell Gwynne,
"pretty, witty Nell," mistress of King Charles II of
England. The manner in which it picks up angles of light gives it
One day, I decided to search the Internet for Nell Gwynne. I
examined the artwork and saw a sign over the entrance, which
says,"Ye Old Nell Gywnne's House," while a brown
crooked sign on the sidewalk by the entrance informs the visitor
of the year of her birth: "A.D. 1640" and tells us,
"There She Lived." Who was she? The Internet quickly
revealed the answer.
Nell Gwynne was born in 1650 and died in 1687. She once sold
oranges on the street until she got her first acting break in
theater. At 19, Nell became mistress to King Charles II, and was
the most popular of his long line of mistresses -- not only with
Charles, but with the public as well, partly thanks to her acting
career. Nell bore the King two sons and died at 37.
chose the Church Street locale -- or perhaps Charles chose it for
her -- for its obvious convenience. Charles II lived from 1630 to
1685, and his reign was known as the time of Merry Olde England.
Charles was a patron of the arts, and is remembered for being the
king who restored the monarchy, retrieving it back from Oliver
Cromwell. He also dallied with at least 13 mistresses (that
history has recorded), and fathered many children.
The tour guide says the street where Nell lived hasn't changed
much, with a pub from the 1500s still in operation. In my picture
of Nell's house, antiques are being sold in her residence while
accoutrements preserve the landmark that it is. Today, the house
is actually an Internet café on the still charming street.
The painting of her image still hangs above the doorway. Gone
are the santiques and flowers and crooked sign on the sidewalk
near the entrance. But the bow window, white façade and
upper brickwork remain intact. Ironically, today, I can sit
inside and browse the web and read all about Nell and the abode
in which she once dwelled.
My husband bought that framed painting of Nell's house long ago
from a street vendor on a corner in downtown Brooklyn, New York.
Who knew that one day we would step 'inside' that work on my wall
at home, and that it would come alive for me on a quiet street in
- Berkshire Biographies: Nell Gwynne
- Nell Gwynne
- Nell Gwynne's House
- Interesting documentation of the history of the house itself.
Freelance writer and career counselor Gloria Brigio Schramm
has earned her publishing credits in The New York Times, Newsday, Diabetes Forecast, Romantic Homes, The Annals of St. Anne de Beaupre, Nursing Homes, TimeTravel-Britain.com, DabblingMum.com, and many others. She also has an e-book on Mother Teresa online at http://www.1chapter.com. Married for 35 years to Fredrik, she is the mother of Ryan, 29. Another son, Erik, is deceased.
Article © 2006 Gloria Schramm; Photos © Fred Schramm