This paper attacks the accepted account of a pivotal event. It is conventional to hold that though the ‘conference’ organised by James at Hampton Court was clearly a defeat for puritanism, it nonetheless left the godly with some solace: James promised them a number of reforms; and some of the opinions he expressed, especially where doctrine was concerned, were closer to those of John Rainolds, the puritan spokesman, than to the high conformists around Bancroft. The event was thus a foretaste of what is generally perceived as one of his unambiguous successes, his relatively tolerant religious settlement. In church affairs, at any rate, James is perceived as rising above party, enjoying the high-flying preaching of Lancelot Andrewes, but trusting the Church to the Grindalian Abbot, maintaining discipline and rule by bishops, but sending delegates to Dort and showing a prophetic scorn for the capacities of William Laud.