30 June 1541 – Henry VIII and Catherine Howard Head North on Progress

Gainsborough Old Hall
Gainsborough Old Hall

On the 30th June 1541, Henry VIII and his fifth wife, Queen Catherine Howard, set off from London on their royal progress to the North, aiming to return to Hampton Court Palace by “All Hallowtide”. Not only would this progress allow them to be out of London in the disease ridden summer months, but it also allowed the King to affirm his authority over the North, after the recent rebellions, and to arrange a meeting with his nephew, James V of Scotland, in York in September.

Chronicler Edward Hall records the royal progress:

“This Sommer the Kyng kepte his progresse to Yorke, and passed through Lyncolne Shire, where was made to hym an humble submission by the temporaltie, confessyng their offence, and thankyng the kyng for his pardon: and the Toune of Staunforde gaue the Kyng 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 fiftie pounde. And when he entred into Yorke Shire, he was met with two hundred gentlemen of the same Shire in coates of Veluet, and foure thousande tall yomen, 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 Kyng an hundred pounde. When the Kyng had been at Yorke 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 Halonticle came to Hampton Court.”

As you can see from Hall’s record, these northern towns were showing their complete submission to the King, so the progress was successful in that way. However, James V snubbed Henry VIII by not turning up to their meeting in York and the Queen spent her spare time having secret assignations with Thomas Culpeper, a member of her husband’s privy chamber. Hall records:

“And sithe her Mariage, she was vehemently suspected with Thomas Cnlpeper, whiche was brought to her Chamber at Lyncolne, in August laste, in the Progresse tyme, by the Lady of Rocheforde, and were there together alone, from a leuen of the Clocke at Nighte, till foure of the Clocke in the Mornyng, and to hym she gaue a Chayne, and a riche Cap.”

Quite what they were doing from 11pm to 4am in Catherine’s chamber, we can only imagine, but they also met in secret at Pontefract and York, and Lacey Baldwin Smith adds Greenwich and Hatfield to the list. This affair, on top of her previous sexual relationship with Francis Dereham, was to be Catherine Howard’s undoing.

You can read more about Catherine Howard in the following articles:-

Notes and Sources

  • Hall, Edward. Hall’s Chronicle, p842
  • Baldwin Smith, Lacey (2010) Catherine Howard p162

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12 thoughts on “30 June 1541 – Henry VIII and Catherine Howard Head North on Progress”
  1. Greetings from Lincolnshire, according to Henry VIII ‘the most brute and beastly’ of all the shires!

    It was at Lincoln Castle, not Gainsborough Old Hall, that they stayed in her room several hours and also where the outer door had been left ajar and was closed by the passing watchman, necessitating Culpeper’s servant having to pick the lock. The local Grand Jury said dreadful things about Katherine and mentioned a liaison at Gainsborough (none of the other Grand Juries do) but we just don’t know what, if anything, happened here between her and Thomas.

    Local tradition has it that Henry was too large and lame to negotiate the tower stairs, which are narrow and spiral, to the chamber (with ensuite latrine – all mod cons here!) and had to sleep on the ground floor in what is now the gift shop. On your photo her supposed room is on the second floor of the tower and his is the lower window to the left of the tower. It is true that at another place where they lodged further south, a ground floor room was specially fitted out and an extra large bed installed, but we don’t know for sure where they slept in Gainsborough Old Hall, and with there never having been an external door to the tower it would have been very tricky for Thomas Culpeper to find his way to Katherine.

    I cannot praise Gainsborough Old Hall enough and am proud to have been associated with it for many years – if it was in a more populous area near a big city it would be a major tourist attraction. As it is, its relatively rural position means it is seldom packed with tourists and one is able to enjoy it to the full, including the finest Tudor kitchens after Hampton Court.

    It was my privilege to be a guest speaker on the London and Lincolnshire parts of Alison Weir’s ‘Lancaster and York’ Tour last month and I am now preparing a talk on Katherine Howard and Gainsborough Old Hall for Alison’s ‘Six Wives’ Tour in July (www.alisonweirtours.com). The Hall was the home of the Burgh family, and the young Katherine Parr lived here for a short time after her first marriage to Sir Edward Burgh. His father, apparently not the easiest of men to get along with, was Anne Boleyn’s Lord Chamberlain.

    (Claire, did you get my e-mail with the info on Norfolk House?)

    1. Hi Marilyn,
      Thanks for that correction.

      I replied to you thanking you, so that’s rather weird! Thanks again for all your help with that, it was driving me mad!

  2. One thing that strikes me when reading this over is that five hours is an incredibly long time for a secret assignation which had that level of risk to it. Either they were incredibly reckless, the servants were really short-sighted, or the king must have been in such bad shape that it was clear he wouldn’t be visiting Katherine any time soon. Or of course, the accounts might have exaggerated just to show how abandoned and wicked they were. Still, though — if it were even half that amount of time those two must have had nerves made of pure cast iron.

    1. Sonetka: just YES. Nerves made of cast iron, or incredibly reckless. Best summing-up of this breach of marital law I’ve heard.

    1. I think it was as much the thrill of danger and the feeling of superiority she got from pulling the wool over Henry’s eyes as much as it was desire. Tricking Henry probably made her feel very much like she secretly held the upper hand in the relationship.

      1. I know but I can’t believe that she went that far just to be queen but I guess that’s the way it was back then kind regards maritzal

        1. I don’t think feeling superior about cuckholding H8 was part of the equation for Catherine Howard. There are very few beautiful, young trophy wives who don’t feel they hold the upper hand in a relationship; it may have made her feel invincible to recriminations if caught, but I don’t get the impression she was malicious at all. More like always trying to pick up the pieces of the results of her own impulsivity.

  3. Gainsborough Old Hall is beautiful, so out of place where it is situated, it should be in beautiful grounds surrounded by woodlands and gardens, instead of a relative unknown and smallish town. I was born and lived within a few miles of it until I came to Scotland 13years ago, and visited it often. It has added a lot of attractions since I was last there, and the website is very good to get a ‘look round’.

    And to think, Katherine Parr lived there for a short while too….

    Ummm, 4 hours eh…I doubt they were playing cards…

    1. lol!!!! Certainly not!!!! Four hours is more like a game of Risk or Monopoly. . . .haha.

  4. I know but I can’t believe that she went that far just to be queen but I guess that’s the way it was back then kind regards maritzal

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