6 November 1541 – Henry VIII Abandons Catherine Howard at Hampton Court Palace

Posted By on November 6, 2013

Hampton Court PalaceOn Sunday 6th November 1541, Henry VIII abandoned his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, at Hampton Court Palace. During the day, he “dined at a little place in the fields” near the palace “on pretext of hunting”, and then that night returned to London and met with his council from midnight “until 4 or 5 a.m. on Monday”.1 Catherine never saw her husband again.

Legend has it that Catherine managed to escape from her chamber and ran down the gallery to try and speak to the King who was at Mass in his chapel. She was caught before she had chance to explain herself to the King and she was taken back to her chamber screaming. That is apparently why a ghostly form is seen drifting down the gallery, now known as the Haunted Gallery, with a “ghastly look of despair” on its face and making “the most unearthly shrieks.”2 In reality, as David Starkey points out, Catherine was unaware of her husband’s departure from the palace and what was going on.3

Charles de Marillac, the French ambassador, writes of Henry VIII’s reaction to the news that Francis Dereham had confessed to knowing the Queen “carnally many times”:

“On learning this the King’s heart was pierced with pe[nsiveness, so that it was long] before he could [utter his sorrow]; “and finally, with plenty [of tears, (which was strange] in his courage), opened the same.” “4

The King was distraught that his wife was not the “rose without a thorn” he believed her to have been.

Notes and Sources

  1. LP xvi. 1332
  2. Ghosts at Hampton Court Palace
  3. Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII, David Starkey (2003), p671
  4. LP xvi. 1334