Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s 1535 royal progress

Thornbury Castle

On this day in history, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn arrived at Thornbury Castle as part of their royal progress. Here is an extract from my book, Tudor Places of Great Britain, about the castle:

“Thornbury Castle, a Tudor Castle set on the edge of the Cotswolds, dates back to 1510 when Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, obtained a licence to crenelate his manor of Thornbury. There had been a manor on the site since 930, but it was Buckingham who built the present ‘castle’, which is, in reality, a Tudor country house, with building work beginning in 1511. It was built to the standard medieval quadrangular layout with a large outer courtyard. The entrance front with its central gatehouse and octagonal corner towers is still standing today, as are two of the side ranges with their projections and towers. The surrounding curtain wall is intact on three sides.

Unfortunately, Buckingham never saw his project completed because he was executed for alleged treason against King Henry VIII in 1521. The manor was then seized by the king, who stayed there for ten days with his second wife, Anne Boleyn, as part of their progress to the south-west in August 1535.

The castle is now a luxury hotel and guests can even stay in the “Duke’s Bedchamber”, the very room in which Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn stayed back in 1535.”

A royal progress in the summer months allowed the monarch and his consort to get out of London in a season when disease was rife in the capital, and I expect it was rather smelly too! It also allowed a monarch to show themselves to the common people and to bestow favour on their loyal subject by staying with them (and perhaps bankruptcy too as it was very expensive entertaining royals). But this royal progress was also an opportunity for Henry and Anne to promote the Reformation and visit people who were seen as ‘pro-reform’, people like Sir Nicholas Poyntz of Acton Court and the Walshes of Little Sodbury Manor.

Henry and Anne set off on their progress from Windsor Castle on 8th July 1535 and returned to Windsor on 26th October 1535. There is a record of the proposed itinerary for the progress in Letters and Papers, in “The King’s gestes the xxvii year of his reign from Windsor to Bristowe”, but the itinerary was changed and “Bristowe”, i.e. Bristol, was never visited.

Here is the proposed itinerary:

“[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.”

And here is what actually happened – a big thank you to Natalie Grueninger and Sarah Morris for the work they did on piecing together this itinerary for their book In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn:

  • 8th July – Departure from Windsor Castle, arrive at Reading Abbey to be welcomed by Hugh Faringdon, Abbot of Reading.
  • 12th July – Arrive at Ewelme Manor, Oxfordshire, a crown property.
  • 14th July – Arrive at Abingdon Abbey, Oxfordshire. The abbot at the time was Thomas Rowland.
  • 16th July – Arrive at the Old Palace of Langley, Oxfordshire, a crown property.
Sudeley Castle
  • 21st July – Arrive at Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire, a crown property. The rest of the court was lodged at Winchcombe Abbey.
  • 26th July – Arrive at Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire.
  • 31st July – Entry into Gloucester, stay in Gloucester. Henry and Anne were welcomed to the city by John Falconer, Mayor of Gloucester, his aldermen, sheriffs and burgesses. The royal couple probably stayed in the Abbot’s Lodgings at Gloucester Abbey. William Parker was the abbot then.
  • 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. Henry and Anne probably stayed at the Priory of Stanley St Leonard or one of its properties.
  • 8th August – Arrive at Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire, a crown property.
  • 14th August – Arrive at Thornbury Castle, Gloucestershire.
Acton Court
  • 23rd August – Arrive at Acton Court, Gloucestershire, two days later than originally planned. Acton Court was the home of Sir Nicholas Poyntz, a royal favourite and zealous Reformer. In order to impress his royal visitors, Poyntz had added an entire new wing to his home. The wing had to be built quickly, so that it was finished in time for the visit, and so did not have proper foundations. Poyntz made it luxurious and fit for a king and queen by furnishing it with the latest luxury items, such as Venetian glass and Italian maiolica. He also modelled the rooms on those of the royal properties, Hampton Court Palace and Whitehall Palace.
  • 25th August – Arrive at Little Sodbury Manor, Gloucestershire, home of the Walshe family. Like their nephew, Sir Nicholas Poyntz, Sir John and Lady Anne Walshe were keen Reformers and had even hired Bible translator William Tyndale as a tutor for their children.
  • 27th August – Arrive at Bromham House, Wiltshire, home of the queen’s vice-chamberlain, Sir Edward Baynton, who was also a keen Reformer.
  • 3rd September – Arrive at Wulfhall (Wolfhall, Wolf Hall), Wiltshire, home of Sir John Seymour, father of the future Queen Jane Seymour.
  • 10th September – Arrive at Thruxton, Hampshire, home of Thomas Lisle.
  • 11/12th September – Arrive at Hurstborne Priors, Hampshire, owned by the Priory of St Swithun.
  • 12/13th September – Arrive at Winchester, Hampshire. It is believed that the royal couple stayed at Wolvesey Palace, the bishop’s palace.
  • 19th September – Consecration of Edward Fox, Hugh Latimer and John Hilsey, all reformers, as bishops at Winchester Cathedral.
  • 20th to 26th September – Probable stay at Bishop’s Waltham, Hampshire, probably at the bishop’s palace.
  • 26th September – Back to Winchester.
  • Around 30th September – Departure from Winchester, arrive at Southampton, Hampshire. The couple probably stayed at Southampton Castle or the property now known as the Tudor House Museum on Bugle Street. This house was owned by Sir Richard Lyster, a royal favourite.
  • 4th October – Arrive at Portchester Castle, Hampshire. Henry and Anne probably stayed in the King’s Lodgings there.
  • 9th October – Arrive at Church House, Salisbury, Wiltshire, which belonged to John Tuchet, 8th Baron Audley.
  • 10th October – Arrive at the Park and Palace of Clarendon, Wiltshire.
  • 15th October – Arrive at The Vyne, Hampshire, home of William, Lord Sandys, Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household.
  • 19th October – Arrive at Basing House, Hampshire, home of Sir William Paulet, Comptroller of the King’s Household.
  • 21st October – Arrive at Bramshill House, Hampshire. Henry and Anne had been meant to travel from Basing to Elvetham, owned by Sir Edward Seymour, but plans changed and the couple ended up staying at Bramshill House, home of Lord and Lady Daubenay
  • 22nd October – Arrive at Easthampstead, Berkshire, a crown property.
  • 26th October – Depart Easthampstead for Windsor.

Further Reading

Notes and Sources

  • Ridgway, Claire (2015) Tudor Places of Great Britain, MadeGlobal Publishing.
  • 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. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/70796 (accessed August 19, 2016).

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