by Nick

This afternoon I went over to Cheam and looked round Whitehall, a sixteenth-century house that has survived remarkably intact, save for eighteenth- and nineteenth-century extensions. The photo above is of an original, much graffitied door that is now exhibited within the house. Two of the most prominent additions, both against a white boxed-out background, are:




The guidebook for Whitehall says that these probably indicate royalist sympathies. “Remember” was supposedly one of Charles I’s last words, spoken to William Juxon on the scaffold as he attended the last minutes of his king’s life. D.O.M. is an acronym for Deo Optimo Maximo – “to the best and greatest God”.

The Whitehall website also mentions two supposedly royalist clergymen, implying they may have been at the centre of a royalist hub in Cheam. During the 1640s, Cheam was home to John Hacket [DNB], a royal chaplain who had a living at Cheam and who spent the civil war there after being accused of papist superstition by Parliament. However, he was sufficiently ideologically compliant to use the Book of Common Prayer, and to be elected to the Westminster Assembly in 1644. In a similar vein, George Aldrich had been curate of Cheam from 1633 to 1644, before being ejected from his position. Some accounts have him moving to Crowhurst at the eastern side of Surrey, some distance from Cheam, while others have him setting up a school at Whitehall.

Whether Aldrich had anything do with the graffiti, whether it was the work of somebody else disaffected by the regicide, or whether it means something else entirely unrelated to royalism, is not really clear. Irritatingly, none of the works which imply an Aldrich connection state their sources. It’s a good story, though, to imagine one of Aldrich’s scholars dutifully painting this on the door!