6 November 1541 – Queen Catherine Howard is abandoned

Hampton Court PalaceOn Sunday 6th November 1541, Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, was abandoned by her husband at Hampton Court Palace, never to see him again.

During the day, the King had “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 The investigation into John Lassell’s claims that Catherine had engaged in two sexual relationships during her time in the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk’s household had proved them true.

The French ambassador, Charles de Marillac, reported the King’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.'”2

The King was devastated.

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.”3 In reality, as David Starkey points out, Catherine was unaware of her husband’s departure from the palace and what was going on.4

Also on this day in history…

  • Mary Tudor, Queen of France, processed into Paris following her coronation the day before at St Denis – click here to read more about the lavish procession.

Notes and Sources

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

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One thought on “6 November 1541 – Queen Catherine Howard is abandoned”
  1. Had Katherine even been told the reason for her being confined to her chambers? I know she was being investigated, but one would have thought that someone would have told the girl something. And now the King has turned his back on her; abandoned her; yes, he must have been shocked and horrified at the accusations to do with her past but I think Henry was acting oddly at this time. I sympathise with the King but I also feel for Katherine as she must have by now been out of her mind with worry about what was going on. I can well imagine her escaping and trying to reach the King; it was her last and only hope of attempting to reach him and to put her case. The idea of the King dining in a field; well; as i say behaviour is odd.

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