Tag Archives: Winchester Cathedral

On this day in 1486 – Prince Arthur Tudor was born

Following King Henry VII’s victory at the Battle of Bosworth he would have found it vital to secure the throne and produce an heir so when his new bride, Elizabeth of York announced her pregnancy there was great joy in the new Tudor court.

Just weeks before the new Queen was due to give birth; Henry moved his court from London to Winchester, 60 miles away. Henry believed that Winchester was the home of Camelot where King Arthur and his knights of the round table held court, Henry felt a strong connection to King Arthur and had even ordered a family tree to be commissioned that traced his ancestors back to the time of Arthur. The Queen had not been due for a few more weeks but Bernard Andre believed that the upheaval and the long journey caused Elizabeth to go into premature labour and she gave birth to a son in the early hours of 20th September 1486 at St Swithun’s Priory.

St Swithun's GateSt Swithun’s Gate, Winchester

Upon Arthur’s birth he was bestowed the title of Duke of Cornwall and his birth firmly cemented the union between the Houses of Tudor and York. Messengers were sent out and bonfires were lit across the country to announce the birth of the new Prince and Te Deum’s were sung in Cathedrals up and down England to celebrate the arrival of Arthur.

Due to Arthur’s early birth plans for his baptism had to be brought forward to the 24th September, with the King hoping that four days would be enough time for people to arrive at Winchester for the celebration as due to the early arrival key peers such as John de Vere, the Earl of Oxford had not yet arrived at the new court, in fact he was still at his home in Lavenham, Surrey over 100 miles away.

On the morning of the 24th September the Earl of Oxford, who was a godparent to the new Prince, had still not arrived. King Henry had been informed that Oxford was within a mile of the ceremony and so the decision was made to postpone the beginning of the baptism. However, after three hours, Oxford had still not arrived and the congregation was getting restless so Henry intervened and asked Thomas Stanley, his stepfather, to act as a proxy godparent. With this agreed Henry returned to being out of sight, as was the protocol at baptisms, and ordered the ceremony to begin.

With the ceremony underway the priest was beginning to name the child when Oxford entered the Cathedral, Oxford then proceeded to take Arthur in his right arm and presented him for his confirmation. Arthur’s other godparents would be William FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel, Elizabeth Woodville, Dowager Queen and Arthur’s grandmother and Cecily of York, Queen Elizabeth’s sister and Arthur’s aunt.

Following the ceremony Arthur was taken back to his mother, who had not been present as tradition dictated and would be missing from the court until her churching, which normally took place 60 days after the birth of a child but Elizabeth’s churching took place just 40 days after Arthur’s birth. Arthur was carried by his aunt, Lady Cecily and was followed by a procession that passed through the nursery with the King’s musicians. Arthur was then delivered back to his mother and nurses whilst the court went and continued celebrating the new heir to the Tudor throne.

Arthur’s nursery consisted of Lady Darcy who was in charge of the nursery itself, a position she held previously with King Edward IV’s son, Arthur’s wet nurse was Catherine Gibbs and his rockers were Agnes Butler and Evelyn Hobbes.

Arthur Tudor was idolised by his mother and father who viewed him as the future of the country until his untimely death in 1502.

ArthurPrince Arthur Tudor

On this day in 1554 – Queen Mary I married Prince Philip of Spain

On 25th July 1554 Queen Mary I married Philip of Spain, the son of her cousin, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. Philip was the heir apparent to many countries across Europe and the New World so was an appealing match, as part of the marriage negotiations 37 year old Mary was sena portrait of her new husband to be.

The marriage proposal was unpopular in England and led to many of Mary’s advisors urging her to marry an Englishman. A rebellion also broke out led by Thomas Wyatt the younger led a small army from Kent in an attempt to place Elizabeth on the throne. The biggest fear that many of the rebels held was that whoever Mary married would instantly become King of England and assume all the powers of the monarchy. This led to Mary introducing Queen Mary’s Marriage Act.

Under the terms of the Marriage Act Philip would be called King of England and enjoy the honours that are associated with the title, also all official documents including any Acts of Parliament would be signed by both Mary and Philip and Philip was to co-rule England alongside Mary but the majority of the royal authority still fell to Mary. The Act did prohibit Philip from appointing foreigners to any English office and was unable to take Mary or any child they may have outside of England. The Act also stopped the crown automatically passing to Mary if she died before him. Philip was unhappy with the terms of the Act but nonetheless agreed in order to go ahead with the marriage.

Philip did not view the marriage as one made for romance but instead as political and strategic. Philip’s aide wrote, “it will take a great God to drink this cup the king realises that the marriage was concluded for no fleshy consideration, but in order to remedy the disorders of this kingdom and to preserve the Low Countries.”

The marriage took place at Winchester Cathedral, just two days after they had met for the first time. Philip did not speak any English and so the couple conversed using a mixture of Spanish, French and Latin.

The wedding ceremony was presided over by Bishop Gardiner with Philip arriving at 10am wearing ‘His breeches and doublet were white, the collar of the doublet exceeding rich, and over all a mantle or rich cloth of gold, a present from the Queen…this robe was ornamented with pearl and precious stones; and wearing the collar of the Garter”

Mary wore a gown in the French style of ‘rich tissue with a border and wide sleeves, embroidered upon purple satin, set with pearls of our store, lined with purple taffeta’. Mary’s gown also had a high collar, a kirtle of white satin, a train and was embroidered with silver.

Mary arrived at Winchester Cathedral at 10.30 and was preceded by the Earl of Derby who was carrying the sword of state. Mary was given away by the Marquess of Winchester and the Earls of Derby, Pembroke and Bedford, who took on the role on England’s behalf. Bishop Gardiner began the service by announcing that Charles V had given his son and his new bride the kingdom of Naples as well as a short speech regarding the Marriage Act. The service was conducted in both Latin and English in order for both countries to understand the proceedings. During the service a small band of gold was placed upon the bible along with the traditional three handfuls of gold from both the bride and groom before the ring was placed upon Mary’s hand.

As the marriage was completed heralds took to the street to declare;

Philip and Mary, by the grace of God king and queen of England, France, Naples, Jerusalem and Ireland, defenders of the faith, princes of Spain and Sicily, archdukes of Austria, dukes of Milan, Burgundy and Brabant, counts of Habsburg, Flanders and Tyrol.”

With the ceremony completed the wedding party returned to Bishop Gardiner’s palace for a feast and an evening of entertainment and dancing before the couple were taken for the consummation of their marriage.

Mary was clearly in love with her new husband and soon wrote to her cousin, Charles V of her happiness;

I will only offer to your majesty all that my small powers enable me to give, always praying God so as to inspire my subjects that they may realise the affection you bear this kingdom and the honour and advantages you have conferred upon it by this marriage and alliance, which renders me happier than I can say, as I daily discover in the king, my husband and your son, so many virtues and perfections that I constantly pray God to grant me grace to please him and behave in all things as befits one who is so deeply embounden to him…”

Mary and PhilipMary I and Philip of Spain