30 June 1541 – The Fateful Royal Progress to the North

Katherine HowardOn the 30th June 1541, Henry VIII and Catherine Howard, his fifth wife, set off from London on their royal progress to the North. Royal progresses allowed the monarch to escape London in the summer months when disease was rife and it was also good PR, but this progress also had two other aims: the meeting of Henry and his nephew, James V of Scotland, which was due to take place in September in York, and also “to emphasise the extent of his defeat of the Pilgrims [from the Pilgrimage of Grace] and the Percy interest, and to humiliate utterly all but the most clearly loyal elements”1

Unfortunately, James V did not turn up to the meeting, but Henry VIII definitely reminded the people of Yorkshire who was boss and who was in control. Henry, however, was not in control of his wife, who spent the progress having secret assignations with Thomas Culpeper, a member of her husband’s privy chamber. The couple were able to meet at night in Lincoln, Pontefract and York, and how were actually nearly discovered when Anthony Denny arrived at Catherine’s room to fetch her to the King but found her door locked. Another man had beat the King to Catherine that night!

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

Notes and Sources

  1. “Henry VIII’s Progress Through Yorkshire in 1541 and its Implications for Northern Identities”, Tim Thornton, 2009. Northern history: a review of the history of the North of England., 46 (2). pp. 231-244.

Related Post

9 thoughts on “30 June 1541 – The Fateful Royal Progress to the North”
  1. I am picking up my research again on Norfolk House in Lambeth, where Katherine lived with her step-grandmother; it has been on hold for a while until the refurbishment of Gainsborough Old Hall in Lincolnshire was completed. Apart from the comparisons of the styles of the two houses, I am looking into the records of Katherine’s short stay at Gainsborough with Henry in August I541 during the Northern Progress, and met with an official of Lincolnshire County Council at the Old Hall on Thursday. It was the first time I had had a proper look around since it reopened and I have to say, it’s fabulous! If this was an almost complete Tudor house in London, the tourists would be queuing round the block. The other visitors were as impressed as I was (and I’ve known it all my life) and I would strongly recommend a visit for all history lovers. (Incidentally, the owner, Lord Burgh (Borough) was Anne Boleyn’s Chamberlain, and his son was Katherine Parr’s first husband.)

    In the Tower Bedroom there is a mannequin of little Katherine with the massive King who is more than head-and-shoulders taller. Local tradition has it that the monarch was already too obese and incapacitated by his leg ulcers to be able to climb the tower stairs, and perhaps slept on the ground floor in the room that is now the Gift Shop. A couple of rooms not previously accessible to the public have been opened in the West Range, and their size and height help us to appreciate what very substantial structures these houses were. However, there must have been little privacy as you can hear, and feel, people walking about above, and hear them talking, so only the softest of whispers would do if you did not wish to be overheard. Katherine’s indiscretion at Gainsborough Hall with Culpeper is recorded, without elaboration or witness statements, by the Grand Jury sitting at Doncaster.

    Which brings me to what I really want to say. I have warmed to Katherine over the last couple of years and, like Claire with Anne Boleyn, I feel she did not deserve what she got and had no chance once the full machinery of power started working against her. I really do wonder if the records of her interrogation are worth the paper they were written on. I suppose if you don’t actually put the accused in the witness box you can make any accusation stick. In the words of Victorian historian Joseph Hunter writing in 1848 about Henry and Katherine’s Northern Progress,

    “Lightness of conduct undoubtedly there must have been, but it is hardly credible that in the midst of so many observers she can have been so guilty as the records of her trial represent her.”

    Information on Gainsborough Old Hall at http://www.gainsborougholdhall.com

    Comparison with Norfolk House at http://www.queens-haven.co.uk (Trouble in Paradise)

    1. How wonderful to here that Gainsborough Old Hall has been refurbished, as I have said before I used to live close by in a small village called Sturton-le-Steeple, and went many times. I would love to be able to pay it another visit. You are right in saying that if the Hall was in a place that attracted more tourists (no dis-respect to Gainsborough, but it wasn’t the most attractive of places, when I lived close by anyway) it would be heaving with visitors. And at £6 to go in is very cheap, most historic building are twice, if not more to enter…it is a perfect example of what people expect a Tudor building to look like.
      And of course it has the added connection with another of Henry’s wifes’, as you say, Katherine Parr.
      As for poor little Catherine Howard, I know she did wrong, and she wasn’t an innocent, but she seems to me to have been a child in the cut-throat world of the court and its polictics and machinations of men…

    2. I had the good fortune to visit The Old Hall in the summer of 2011. It is truly an amazing place. So well maintained and retains almost all of the original character from the Tudor era. I am always amazed, being from the US, at how many locals still draw their work from these marvelous old homes.
      When I think of Catherine at The Old Hall, I am surprised that she could have committed any indiscretions without a whole host of people being aware. While the building is large, the private rooms are typically small and often interconnected. So unless her lovers could scale walls, or tip toe without anyone noticing, any comings and goings would be noticed, especially by someone as important as the Queen or anyone visiting her.
      If the dress displayed was truly hers, or even a replica, she was indeed TINY!

  2. Thank you for such great information Marilyn! I am planning a trip to England next summer and I will add this place the stop and visit list.

    Although Catherine did commit adultery, she did not deserve her death, not at all. He could have divorced her, and let her live , but having her put to death for her behavior was horribly wrong, and shows the gross power of Henry, who had a trail of adulterous relationships, which shows the power of that double standard on sexual behavior in the time period.

    What amazes me is that any woman would marry the man after his track record, but once again I know women had little choice in who they married or didn’t marry.

    But, again, that young girl did not deserve her death.

    1. Mallory,Your so right on the one hand,how ever she new who and what she was upagainst.She was old enough to understand when your married to a Powerfull KING Henry the 8 111/ was notoreuse for for this King you bess not mess with.All if your cival, look upon her being put to death was very I do argree a trajic end ,as all the others that were suked into this Kings vortex. So Mallory, I very much agree,all of these souls died in vain, how sad for all,but when your married be it a, King or just your everyday man, adultrey is a sin ,against God,still in some country’s they stone you to death alot , of 3rd world countries pactice such a, unjust cruel pratice or just say murderd. THX Baroness.

  3. Claire, just noting that Alternet, a political US blog, has quite a good essay on Anne up at the moment discussing her role as really the first modern woman. I find it promising that at such a blog, where general knowledge of Anne would be likely shaky, the author presumes a level of knowledge of Anne that’s very positive to me. Presumably the reader would be aware of a correct bio of her life. I think you might find it interesting in any case. I did:


  4. Claire, I was just wondering have you read C. J. Sansom’s ‘Sovereign’ which covers the Northern Progress. I read it quite some time ago, but thought it was absolutely great. I felt I was there, and that Catherine was playing a very dangerous game. How could she not have learned from her cousin Anne’s downfall. I would love to have your opinion of C. J. Sansom’s novels. Maybe you have reviewed these books before I found your site – if so, perhaps you could give me the links.

  5. The problems with divorce were time and the fact the both parties were included in the process (at least nominally). The situation with Katherine of Aragon proved that it would be long-drawn-out, and that there would always be questions of the validity of the marriage. With Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard, going straight to execution cut Henry loose immediately, and questions no longer mattered once the spouse is deceased. He really proved that absolute power corrupted absolutely.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *