Tag Archives: Royal progress

On this day in 1541 – King Henry VIII and Catherine Howard arrived in York on royal progress

In 1541 King Henry VIII set of on royal progress to the north of England with his fifth wife, Catherine Howard. On 16th September 1541 Henry and his travelling court entered the city of York through Walmgate Bar where they were met by the mayor and aldermen of the city who would beg forgiveness from the King for the Pilgrimage of Grace, when the north rebelled against the King in 1536. The King and his wife were then presented with a gold cup that were both filled with gold coins as a token of welcome.

The royal progress was normally a grand affair and this one was no different Henry had not long been married to his young bride and wanted to show to the country that the disastrous marriage to Anne of Cleves was not his fault. The progress made many stops on their way to York after leaving London on 30th June. They arrived in Lincoln on 9th August and visiting Pontefract on 23rd August before arriving in York on 16th September via Cawood, Wressle, Leconfield and Hull. Henry had also arranged to meet King James V of Scotland at York to discuss the prospect of peace between the two countries. However, King James did not show to the meeting.
Chronicler Edward Hall wrote about King Henry’s progress of 1541;

This Sommer the Kyng kepte his progresse to Yorke, and passed through Lyncolne Shire, where was made to hym an humble submission by he temporaltie, confessing their offence, and thankyngthe kyng for his pardon: and the Toune of Staunforde gaue the Kynd twentie pounde, and Lyncolne presented fourtie pounde, & Boston fiftie pound that parte whiche is called Lynsey gaue three hundred pounde, and Kestren and the Churche of Lyncolne gaue fifte pounde. And when he entered into Yorke Shire, he was met with two hundred gentlemen of the same Shire in coates of Veluet, and foure thousande tall yornen, and seruyng men, well horsed: whiche on their knees made a submission, by the mouthe of sir Robert Bowes, and gaue to the Kyng nyne hundred pounde. And on Barnesdale met the Kyng, the Archebishoppe of Yorke, with three hundred Priestes and more, and made a like submission, and gaue the kyng sixe hundred pounde. Like submission was made by the Maior of Yorke, Newe Castle and Hull, and eche of theim gaue to the Kynd an hundred pounde. When the Kyng had been at York twelue daies, he came to Hull, and deuised there certain fortificacions, and passed ouer the water of Homber, and so through Lyncolne Shire, and at Halontidee came to Hampton Court.”

It was also on this royal progress that Catherine Howard had become involved with Thomas Culpepper, an affair that was discovered shortly after their return to London and seal the young Queen’s fate.

Catherine Howard portrait Henry Hans Holbein 1537

On this day in 1535 – King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn visited Acton Court

In 1535 King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn set out on a royal progress across the country and on 21st August the couple arrived at Acton Court in the West Country for a stay.

Nicholas Poyntz, the owner of Acton Court wanted to impress his King and so commissioned building to commence on a new East Wing onto his moated manor house and even went on to decorate the state apartments to impress his King. This extensive building work took nine months to complete, which shows how far in advance the King’s progress and route were planned. Only one wing of Acton Court exists today and it just so happens to be the East Wing that was built specially for a King.

A royal progress normally took place in the summer months when London was too hot and normally the plague had broken out so the King and his court took a break from life in the capital and travelled around a part of the country. Travelling meant that the King could go out and meet his subjects and in 1535 this was even more important. With the Henry recently becoming Head of the Church of England and marrying his second wife, Anne Boleyn, it was important for Henry to show off his new wife and convince his subjects that the Reformation was the best thing for the country.

The royal progress of 1535 took 14 weeks and Dr Glen Richardson in ‘Henry VIII and travel’ wrote about the progress and the journey they took;

“Starting from Windsor, the royal party moved to Reading and from there through Oxfordshire to Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire. They visited another six locations in that county in late August and early September before travelling down through Wiltshire and Hampshire, stopping at Winchester en route. In October, after a stay in Portsmouth, Henry headed back towards London through Hampshire staying at Bishop’s Waltham, Old Arlesford and at The Vyne, the home of Lord Sandys, the sheriff of Hampshire, Constable of Southampton Castle and a long time favourite of the king.”

Despite the aim of the royal progress to promote the Reformation and allow the King’s subjects to see his new wife, the progress would be the only one that Anne Boleyn would attend as less than a year later she was executed.

Acton CourtActon Court

On this day in 1575 – Queen Elizabeth I began a 19 day stay at Kenilworth Castle

The 9th July 1575 saw a royal visit like no other when Queen Elizabeth I arrived at Kenilworth Castle, home of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and the Queen’s favourite. Elizabeth would stay here for the next 19 days, the longest she stayed anywhere during her progresses. The relationship between Elizabeth and Dudley went back to their childhood and remained throughout.

With the visit of the Queen ahead of him Robert Dudley spared no expense in renovating his home in order to impress the Queen, some rumours at the time also claimed that it was Dudley’s last chance to try and win Elizabeth’s hand in marriage.

Elizabeth arrived with four hundred staff, 31 barons and on a daily basis at least 20 horseman arrived and left delivering messages to the court.

Leicesters buildingLeicester’s Building – a series of state rooms specifically built for Elizabeth’s visit

According to records at the time Dudley did the following to his home;

  • A new tower block called Leicester’s Building that was built that would provide state accommodation to the Queen and her staff, it was originally built for Elizabeth’s visit in 1572 but Dudley improved it further for the 1575 visit.
  • A grand entrance to the castle was created in 1572 called Leicester’s Gatehouse
  • The castle’s landscape was vastly improved with new flowers and trees planted as well a bridge that was built to connect the gatehouse with the chase
  • A privy garden was created for the Queen’s personal use

Robert Langham, a member of Dudley’s staff wrote about the privy garden he said;

“a garden so appointed to feel the pleasant whisking wind above, or delectable coolness of the fountain-spring beneath; to taste of delicious strawberries, cherries and other fruits, even from their stalks, to smell such fragrancy of sweet odours, breathing from the plants, herbs and flowers; to hear such natural melodious music and tunes of birds.”

Alongside the renovations to the castle Dudley put on a wide range of entertainment including;

  • A magnificent firework display
  • Many plays one of which included Triton riding on an 18 foot mermaid in a lake alongside the Lady of the Lake and her nymphs. This play was said to inspire a scene in William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  • Dudley ensured his grounds were well stocked for daily hunts
  • A masque was written but cancelled due to bad weather that was called ‘Zabeta’.

Robert Langham also wrote;

In the centre, as it were, of this goodly garden, was there placed a very fair fountain, cast into an eight-square, reared four feet high; from the midst whereof, a column upright, in the shape of two Athlants, joined together a back half; the one looking east, the other west, with their hands upholding a fair-formed boll of three feet over; from whence sun-dry fine pipes did lively distil continual streams into the reservoir of the fountain, maintained still two feet deep by the same fresh falling water; wherein pleasantly playing to and fro, and round about, carp, tench, bream, and for variety, pearch and eel, fish fair-liking all, and large: In the top, the ragged staff; which, with the bowl, the pillar, and eight sides beneath, were all hewn out of rich and hard white marble. One one side, Neptune with his tridental fuskin triumphing in his throne, trailed into the deep by his marine horses. On another, Thetis in her chariot drawn by her dolphins. Then Triton by his fishes. Here Proteus herding his sea-bulls. There Doris and her daughters solacing on sea and sands. The waves surging with froth and foam, intermingled in place, with whales, whirlpools, sturgeons, tunneys, conches, and wealks, all engraven by exquisite device and skill, so as I may think this not much inferior unti Phoebus’ gates, which Ovid says, and per-adventure a pattern to this, that Vulcan himself did cut: whereof such was the excellency of art, that the work in value surmounted the stuff, and yet were the gates all of clean massy silver.”

Elizabethan gardenThe current Elizabethan Garden

During her time at Kenilworth Castle the Queen also continued to work and knighted five men, including Thomas Cecil and she also received nine people who were ill so she could touch them as it was believed that one touch from the monarch could cure any illness.

Elizabeth’s stay cost Dudley a rumoured £1000 a day, which he suffered the effects of for the rest of his life.

How Kenilworth would have looked in 1575How Kenilworth Castle looked in 1575