Imperial Ambassador

A few years ago Peter Marsden, the author of Who Sank the Mary Rose?, brought to our attention evidence that an ambassdor from the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V once resided in Mortlake.

François van der Delft was Imperial Ambassador to the court of Henry VIII, and then Edward VI, from 1545 to 1550. Van der Delft represented Charles V in the negotiations prior to the Battle of the Solent, a naval engagement in which two hundred French ships attempted to invade England. The engagement was inconclusive but the Mary Rose sank due to overloading.

A letter in the Spanish State Archives from Cornelius Sepras, an ambassador for Charles V, to Loys Scors, President of the Council of Flanders, records his visit to van der Delft's house on Mortlake riverside:

The King ordered me to thank you on his behalf for the good offices you have done in his affairs, and I now do so, although I have no doubt he will also write letters of his own to the same effect. He has withdrawn to one of his pleasure houses, where there is neither a town nor a village for us to lodge in; and the ambassador [Van der Delft] and I have therefore come to this village of Mortlake, where the ambassador has his residence very appropriately situated on the Thames, seven miles from London. We here await the good pleasure of the Emperor and the Queen (Dowager).

It has not been possible to identify the house in Mortlake which was the residence of François van der Delft. However, it was probably his private residence and not an official residence of the Imperial Ambassador. There is no evidence that van der Delft's predessor, Eustace Chapuys, resided in Mortlake.