June 13 – A pregnant Catherine Parr travels to Sudeley Castle

On this day in Tudor history, 13th June 1548, Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley, brother of the late Queen Jane Seymour and uncle of King Edward VI, accompanied his wife, Catherine Parr, the dowager queen, on a journey to the Cotswolds.

They set off from the dowager queen’s manor of Hanworth in London to travel to Seymour’s seat of Sudeley Castle. Seymour’s ward, Lady Jane Grey, accompanied them, along with around 100 others.

Catherine was pregnant and Seymour wanted his wife to enjoy the final months of her pregnancy away from the plague in London and for his first-born child to be born at Sudeley.

Find out more in this video, or in the transcript below.


On this day in Tudor history, 13th June 1548, Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley, and his wife, Catherine Parr, set off from Catherine’s manor of Hanworth in London to travel to Seymour’s seat of Sudeley Castle.

Catherine was the dowager queen, having been the sixth and final wife of King Henry VIII, who had died in January 1547. Before she had married Henry VIII, she had been in love with Thomas Seymour, brother of the late Queen Jane Seymour, but had broken off their relationship when the king started courting her, feeling that it was God’s plan for her to marry the king. Just a few months after the king’s death, she’d married Seymour in secret.

Catherine had been married three times before her marriage to Seymour, As well as her marriage to the king, she’d been married to Edward Burgh and John Neville, 3rd Baron Latimer, but all three marriages had been childless. However, she became pregnant quite quickly with Seymour and by June 1548 she was six months pregnant. London was dangerous in the summer months, with plague being rife, and Seymour’s Cotswold property, Sudeley Castle, was the perfect place for Catherine to spend the final months of her pregnancy and to give birth.

On 13th June 1548, Seymour and Catherine, accompanied by Seymour’s young ward, Lady Jane Grey, and over 100 others, left London behind. Sudeley was newly refurbished and in the south-east end of the inner quadrangle of the castle, rooms had been prepared for Catherine. Historian Elizabeth Norton notes that these rooms were connected to the kitchen and servants’ quarters by a covered corridor. Catherine was the dowager queen, an important woman, so had an extensive household to be housed at Sudeley, including her physician, Robert Huicke; her almoner, Miles Coverdale; her chaplain, John Parkhurst, Sir Robert Tyrwhitt and his wife, Elizabeth, who was one of Catherine’s ladies, and then her other ladies too.

Seymour spent the summer months with his wife and the two of them were clearly excited about Catherine’s pregnancy, with Seymour obviously hoping for a son and heir. Catherine also busied herself with organising the education of Lady Jane Grey, who was 10 or 11 years of age.

Catherine’s stepdaughter, Elizabeth, who had resided with Catherine following her father the king’s death, was not one of the party that travelled to Sudeley. Elizabeth had been sent away to the home of Catherine’s friends, Sir Anthony and Lady Denny, after Catherine had found her in an embrace with Seymour, and there had been other inappropriate behaviour, which many today would see as Seymour grooming the teenaged princess. During those summer months, though, Catherine and Elizabeth did correspond and were able to mend their relationship, although they never saw each other again. Catherine also corresponded with her other stepdaughter, Mary, with whom she’d been very close. Mary had been unhappy with the speed of Catherine’s marriage following the king’s death, but Mary wrote to Catherine in August 1548 signing her letter “Your highness’ humble and assured loving daughter, Marye”. When Catherine gave birth to a daughter, on 30th August 1548, she named her Mary after her stepdaughter and chose her to stand as godmother.

Although the birth went well, by 3rd September Catherine was seriously ill and she sadly died on 5th September 1548. She was laid to rest in the chapel at Sudeley in a Protestant funeral with her almoner, Miles Coverdale, preaching the sermon.

You can find out more about Catherine Parr’s death in my 5th September video – https://youtu.be/d4XIrkgjysk

Sudeley Castle is a wonderful place to visit, by the way. You can pay your respects at Catherine’s tomb in the chapel and you can see a collection of Catherine Parr artefacts too. There are also lovely gardens and haunting ruins with climbing roses. I love it there.

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One thought on “June 13 – A pregnant Catherine Parr travels to Sudeley Castle”
  1. In Sudeley Castle among many other Tudor artefacts there is a letter once written by Catherine Parr to Thomas Seymour, the paper is yellowed with age but the writing is very fine and delicate, it is a love letter and bears witness to the one true marriage she made not out of necessity or duty, but of love, a love which sadly was to cause her much unhappiness, this last queen of King Henry V111 was beautiful intelligent learned and gracious, she was popular with many even her eldest step daughter the Catholic firebrand Mary Tudor loved her apart from their religious differences, and the deep affection Catherine felt for her is evident in the way she asked her to be godmother to her baby daughter, and even named her after her, she had survived the old King Henry V111 and one can assume she breathed a sigh of relief when he passed away, not out of hatred or disrespect but her head must have felt more safer on her shoulders, she had come perilously close to the scaffold but by sheer good luck she had managed to get the old king on her side and had survived, as Henry V111 lay dying he had sent for her and she had wept, he must have looked pitiful in his great bed divested of his glittering robes and jewels, she had been married twice before to older men and she had been like a nursemaid to her second husband, who had been ill for some time, possibly she had not even consummated her marriages and Henry V111 was by now likely to be impotent and maybe preferred to sleep, his own health problems painful leg ulcers and blinding headaches must have ruined his once healthy sex drive, now Catherine had become wed to the lord protectors brother and was now pregnant for the first time in her life, it was rather scandalous behaviour but she wanted a real husband this time, one her own age and Thomas she had been in love with for many years, they had been engaged before but being very pious, she believed it was gods will she should marry the king when he asked her, but she must have lived in fear and there must have been many times when she wished she had not consented to marry him, maybe she thought Henry V111 would have been displeased with her had she refused, but it’s safe to safe she felt alive with her fourth and last husband and believed that marital bliss was to be hers at last, as she made her journey with a vast retinue to her new husbands home, Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire she must have been happy, although her husbands past behaviour with her youngest step daughter Elizabeth had given her cause for concern, Elizabeth was fourteen and Thomas was acting like an overgrown schoolboy coming into her bedchamber and tickling her, and generally embarrassing her so much she used to hide behind the door when he came in and made sure she was always up and dressed, her governess was perturbed and spoke to both Catherine and Thomas, it really was probably just harmless jinks but he overstepped the boundaries when Catherine had found them together one day locked in an embrace, this was unacceptable behaviour, she was his pregnant wife and Elizabeth was in her care, she was a Kings daughter and she could not afford any scandal coming their way, apart from the own grief she was feeling she felt betrayed by both of them, and had no choice but to send Elizabeth away, that Elizabeth suffered from remorse is evident in the letters she wrote to her dear stepmother in the continuing months that followed, she possibly had found with Catherine a mother’s love which was denied her when the sword had ended her own mother’s life, she was very close to her fathers final queen and felt sorrowful for the hurt she had caused her, as the dowager queens pregnancy advanced Elizabeth lived quietly and devoted herself to studying and both Catherine and Thomas, who by now realised how foolish his behaviour had been, lived in contentment along with Lady Jane Grey who Thomas had the ward ship of, but it was something that she could not ever forgive him for, and after she had given birth to their daughter, she succumbed to childbed fever and in her delirium accused her husband of taunting her, the happiness she had sought in her final fourth marriage had sadly eluded her and this once revered and much loved gracious lady, one time queen of Henry V111 ended her days in misery, many wept at her passing, she was highly educated fluent in Latin French and Italian she was the first queen ever to have her book published ‘The Lamentations Of A Sinner’, and yet her enemies tried to bring her to ruin for what they deemed her dabbling’s in heresy, she had been friends with Anne Askew who had been burnt for such a charge and she could well have gone down in history as the third queen of Henry V111 to lose her head, but by then the king was old and in poor health, Catherine was a mature sensible woman who knew how to soothe him and his children were fond of her, Henry V111 respected his sixth queen although there were times she angered him for daring as he called it, to lecture him on certain matters, she had a prudent tongue however and knew when to beg for forgiveness, she is very popular with many historians today who find her a very interesting subject, she was a warm hearted woman and far from the nursemaid of legend, had a very sensuous side to her, she loved clothes and jewels and the desecration of her tomb, centuries later was appalling, those who gazed upon her finely preserved features declared how beautiful she had been, coupled with a lively intelligent personality, patience and understanding and compassion, is it any wonder she inspired much love amongst her contemporaries including the King of England himself?

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