Meeting on 18th May 2022 – “Nell Gwynne” – a talk by Peter Cotton

We were delighted to see so many of our members at the May 18th meeting. We were also pleased to welcome members from Sandbach Heath Branch who came to join us for this meeting.

After welcoming everyone and a short opening service we introduced our speaker, Peter Cotton, to the meeting, for his talk about Nell Gywnne, the well known mistress of Charles II. Peter then treated us to to an extremely interesting and fascinating talk about this famous lady.

We learnt about aspects of her life of which many of us were totally unaware. We all knew that she was the mistress of Charles II. It is also well known that Nell was born into poverty and didn’t have a good start in life. Her mother was a drunkard and her father wasn’t around. Nell was determined to make something of her life. Nell became an orange seller in a theatre, now the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane. Here she caught the attention of someone at the theatre and became a successful actress.

Charles II had many mistresses, Nell Gwynne probably being the most well known. Charles is noted to have had up to eighteen mistresses . Of all his various mistresses, Nell was seen as being the least greedy for royal favours, but she did want recognition for her sons and was given property. On his deathbed, Charles made the request ‘Let not poor Nelly starve’. She was then given an annual pension of £1,500 (£150,000 in today’s money) and all her debts were paid. Nell never forgot her beginnings and appreciated all she had received. There are possible links to our present Royal Family down the bloodline with Nell and also possibly to Samantha Cameron.

This is just a brief synopsis and taster for the fascinating and interesting talk we had. If you get the opportunity to hear Peter’s talk in full, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as we did. The hall was buzzing with conversation following the talk and we were delighted that Peter stayed afterwards to chat and have refreshments with us.

If anyone is interested in joining the branch, please contact me or Carole Elliott (HC 533882), or just come along to one of our meetings – you’ll be made very welcome.


Dorothy Wood (HC 533704)