October 15 – The christening of Edward VI

On this day in Tudor history, 15th October 1537, King Henry VIII’s newborn son and heir, Prince Edward (the future King Edward VI), was christened in a lavish ceremony in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace. He was three days old.

In the video and transcript below, I share details of Edward VI’s christening, including who played prominent roles, who stood as godparents and what gifts were given to little Prince Edward.

I mentioned the re-enactment of Edward VI’s christening done for the documentary “Britain’s Tudor Treasure: A Night at Hampton Court”. You can see that at https://youtu.be/MgTysacfxzI, or just search for it here on YouTube.


On this day in Tudor history, 15th October 1537, Prince Edward, the future King Edward VI, was christened in a lavish ceremony in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace. This son of King Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane Seymour, was three days old.

The day started with a procession from the Queen’s apartments to the chapel, where Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, performed the baptismal rites in front of three to four hundred people. Edward’s half-sister, Mary, stood as godmother, while his other half-sister, the four-year-old Elizabeth, bore the chrisom cloth. Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and Archbishop Cranmer stood as godfathers.

A report of Edward’s christening in “Letters and Papers”, tells of how Sir John Russell, Sir Francis Bryan, Sir Nicholas Carew and Sir Anthony Browne surrounded the font, equipped with aprons and towel, and gentleman carrying torches; children and ministers of the King’s chapel (with the Dean); gentlemen esquires and knights, chaplains, abbots and bishops, King’s councillors and lords, the comptroller and treasurer, ambassadors, lord chamberlains, Lord Cromwell, the Duke of Norfolk and the Archbishop, all processed, two by two, into the Chapel. The Earl of Sussex, supported by Lord Montague, carried a pair of covered basins, Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire and father of the late Queen Anne Boleyn, bore a “taper of virgin wax”, and Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, carried a salt of Gold. Behind these gentlemen came little Elizabeth with “the crysome richly garnished”, supported by Edward Seymour, Viscount Beauchamp, the baby prince’s uncle.

Little Edward was carried under a canopy by the Lady Marquis of Exeter, Gertrude Blount, supported by the Duke of Suffolk and her husband. The Earl of Arundel carried the train of the Prince’s robe, helped by Lord William Howard, and the canopy above them was supported by Sir Edward Nevyll, Sir John Wallop, Richard Long, Thomas Seymour, Henry Knyvett and Mr Ratclif, all of the King’s Privy Chamber. The Prince’s wetnurse and midwife walked alongside the bearers of the train, and torchbearers surrounded the canopy. After the canopy, processed the Lady Mary, with Lady Kingston carrying her train, followed by the other ladies of the court.

After Archbishop Cranmer had performed the rites of baptism, all of the torches were lit, and the Garter King of Arms proclaimed the Prince’s name and titles, Prince Edward, Duke of Cornwall and Earl of Chester. The Te Deum was then sung, spice, hippocras, bread and sweet wine were served, and then the torchlit procession made its way out of the Chapel, and the little prince was taken back to his mother and father, King Henry VIII and Queen Jane Seymour.

Christening gifts included a gold cup from the Lady Mary, three bowls and two pots of silver and gilt from the Archbishop, and the same from the Duke of Norfolk, and two flagons and two pots of silver and gilt from the Duke of Suffolk.

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