August 1535 – Sir Nicholas Poyntz plays host to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn

Nicholas Poyntz by Hans Holbein the Younger
Nicholas Poyntz by Hans Holbein the Younger

On 23rd August 1535*, King Henry VIII and his second wife, Queen Anne Boleyn, were scheduled to visit Sir Nicholas Poyntz (c.1510 – 1556) at his home, Acton Court, in Iron Acton, South Gloucestershire, as part of their progress to the south-west. This progress was an opportunity for the couple to promote the Reformation and to visit the households of people seen as ‘pro-Reform’.

Poyntz was a favourite of both the king and queen, and had accompanied them on their visit to Calais to meet with King Francis I of France in autumn 1532. His biographer Alasdair Hawkyard writes of how he was “brought up in the reformist zeal shared by so many of his closest relatives” and that “he displayed his contempt for traditional religious observances by incorporating in several of his properties, including Ozleworth, Gloucestershire, stones from smashed crosses from churches.”

In preparation for the royal visit and to impress the king and queen, Poyntz added an entire new wing to Acton Court. It had to be built so quickly that there wasn’t any time for proper foundations. The new lavish wing was furnished with the latest luxury items, such as Venetian glass and Italian maiolica, and Poyntz modelled the rooms on those of Hampton Court Palace and Whitehall Palace. Perhaps it was worth the effort as Hawkyard believes that Poyntz “may have received his knighthood at the culmination of this visit”.

You can read more about this progress and the visits Anne and Henry made to Poyntz and the Walsh family of Little Sodbury Manor in the following articles:

There is a record of the proposed itinerary in Letters and Papers for 1535, in “The King’s gestes the xxvii year of his reign from Windsor to Bristowe”, but this was changed and “Bristowe”, i.e. Bristol, was never visited. Here is what was proposed:

“[The King’s g]estes the xx[vii. year of] his reign, from [Windsor to] Bristowe.—Monday, 5 July, Windsor to Reading, and there Tuesday and Wednesday, St. Thomas Day; three days, 12 miles. Thursday, 8 July, Reading to Ewelme, and there Friday, 2 days, 10 m. (In the margin, [M]yssenden.) Saturday, 10th July, to Abingdon, and there till Monday, 3 days, 8 m. (In the margin, … arringden [p]ark, [W]odstock.) Tuesday, 13 July, to Langley, and there till Friday, 12 m. (In the margin, …. wnell.) Saturday, 17 July, to Sydley, and there till Thursday, 14 m. (In the margin, ….. mbe …. aylles.) Friday, 23 July, Sedley to Tewkesbury, and there till Monday, 7 m. (In the margin, …… gtor the …. ttes place.) Tuesday, 27 July, Tewkesbury to Gloucester, and there till Sunday, 7 m. (In the margin, …… eyerd the …. ttes place.) Monday, 2 Aug., Gloucester to Berkeley Heron, and there till Sunday, 15 m. (In the margin, ….. Pointz.) Monday, 9 Aug., Berkley Heron to Thornbury, and there till Monday, 5 m. (In the margin, [Mr. W]alshes.) Tuesday, 17 Aug., Thornbury to Bristowe, and there till Friday, 10 m. Saturday, 21 Aug., Bristowe to Acton, Mr. Poyntz’s place, and there Sunday, 7 m. Monday, 23 Aug., Acten to Mr. Walshe’s, where he dwelleth, and there till Wednesday, 6 m. Thursday, 26 Aug., from Mr. Walshe’s to Bromham, and there till Wednesday, 12 m. (In the margin, …. stock.) Thursday, 2 Sept., Bromham to Whofall, there till Monday … m. Tuesday, 7 Sept., Whofall to Thrukstone, there till Thursday, 12 m. Friday, 10 Sept., Thruckeston to Pryor’s Horsborne, and there a night, 8 m. Saturday, 11 Sept., Priors Horsborne to Winchester, and there till Wednesday, 10 m. Thursday, 16 Sept., Winchester to Bishop’s Waltham, and there till Tuesday, 7 m. Wednesday, 22 Sept., Waltham to Alsford, 7 m. Thursday, 23 Sept., Alsford to Alton, to dinner, that night to Farnham, and there till Sunday, 14 m. Monday, 27 Sept., Farnham to Esthamstede, and there till Thursday, 12 m. Friday, 1 Oct., from Esthamstede to Windsor, and there during the King’s pleasure, 6 m.”

Natalie Grueninger and Sarah Morris have a detailed section on this royal progress in their book In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn, which looks at the properties visited and which helped me to do the itinerary you see below, which takes account of the delayed departure and changes made to the proposed itinerary.

Here is what the royal couple actually did:

  • 8th July – Departure from Windsor Castle, arrive at Reading Abbey.
  • 12th July – Arrive at Ewelme Manor, Oxfordshire.
  • 14th July – Arrive at Abingdon Abbey, Oxfordshire.
  • 16th July – Arrive at the Old Palace of Langley, Oxfordshire.
  • 21st July – Arrive at Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire.
  • 26th July – Arrive at Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire.
  • 31st July – Entry into Gloucester, stay in Gloucester.
  • 2nd August – Arrive at Painswick, Gloucestershire.
  • 3rd August – Hunting around Coberly and Miserden, Gloucestershire.
  • 7th August – Departure from Gloucester Abbey. Stay the night at Leonard Stanley, Gloucestershire.
  • 8th August – Arrive at Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire.
  • 14th August – Arrive at Thornbury Castle, Gloucestershire.
  • 21st August* – Arrive at Acton Court, Gloucestershire.
  • 23rd August* – Arrive at Little Sodbury Manor, Gloucestershire.
  • 27th August – Arrive at Bromham House, Wiltshire.
  • 3rd September – Arrive at Wulfhall, Wiltshire.
  • 10th September – Arrive at Thruxton, Hampshire.
  • 11/12th September – Arrive at Hurstborne Priors, Hampshire.
  • 12/13th September – Arrive at Winchester, Hampshire.
  • 19th September – Consecration of Edward Fox, Hugh Latimer and John Hilsey, all reformers, as bishops at Winchester Cathedral. It is believed that the royal couple stayed at Wolvesey Palace, the bishop’s palace.
  • 20th to 26th September – Probable stay at Bishop’s Waltham, Hampshire.
  • 26th September – Back to Winchester.
  • Around 30th September – Departure from Winchester, arrive at Southampton, Hampshire.
  • 4th October – Arrive at Portchester Castle, Hampshire.
  • 9th October – Arrive at Church House, Salisbury, Wiltshire.
  • 10th October – Arrive at Clarendon, Wiltshire.
  • 15th October – Arrive at The Vyne, Hampshire.
  • 19th October – Arrive at Basing House, Hampshire.
  • 21st October – Arrive at Bramshill House, Hampshire.
  • 22nd October – Arrive at Easthampstead, Berkshire.
  • 26th October – Depart Easthampstead for Windsor.

Notes and Sources

*Although Letters and Papers gives 21st August as the scheduled date for the royal couple’s visit to Acton Court, which is why I’ve written about it as happening on that date before, Natalie Grueninger and Sarah Morris state that the progress was delayed slightly so the royal couple stayed there on 23rd and 24th August, and Little Sodbury Manor on 25th August.

  • Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 8, January-July 1535, 989.
  • Morris, Sarah and Grueninger, Natalie (2013) In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn, Amberley, p. 176-270.
  • Hawkyard, Alasdair. “Poyntz, Sir Robert (b. late 1440s, d. 1520).” (includes Sir Nicholas Poyntz) in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Online ed., edited by David Cannadine, September 2015. (accessed August 19, 2016).

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