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.