The Christening of Edward VI

Oct15,2010 #Edward VI

On this day in history, 15th October 1537, three days after his birth, Henry VIII’s son, the future Edward VI, was christened in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court in a lavish ceremony.

The day started with a procession from the Queen’s apartments to the chapel where Archbishop Thomas Cranmer 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 4 year old Elizabeth, bore the chrisom cloth, helped by Edward’s uncle, Edward Seymour. Thomas Howard, the Duke of Norfolk, Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk, and Archbishop Cranmer stood as godfathers.

A report of Edward’s christening in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, tells of how Sir John Russell, Sir Francis Bryan, Sir Nicholas Carew and Sir Anthony Browne surrounded the font, equipped with aprons and towels while a procession of 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, the Earl of Wiltshire, bore a “taper of virgin wax”, and a salt of Gold was carried by Henry Bourchier, Earl of Essex. Behind these gentlemen came little Elizabeth with “the crysome richly garnished”, supported by Edward Seymour, Viscount Beauchamp.

The baby prince 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.

Fires were lit in the streets of London and churchbells rang across England in celebration of the christening of Henry VIII’s son and heir – Prince Edward, the future King Edward VI.


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13 thoughts on “The Christening of Edward VI”
  1. As an AB fan, it is hard to feel joy at this occassion. Just reading the list of the attendees makes me snarl: Cromwell, Suffolk, Norfolk, Seymour.

    1. You do realize that in real life neither Suffolk nor Norfolk had anything to do with her downfall, right? And it’s arguable whether Edward Seymour had. Also, they simply chose the highest ranking nobles and churchmen as godfathers, this had nothing to do with whether they had liked Anne Boleyn or not.

  2. Wait a sec; Thomas Boleyn participated in this? I guess that was the way they did things back then…I highly doubt he ever even really spoke to his little granddaughter, especially not during this event.

  3. I must say that I think the painting of Edward as a baby is so cute! I wonder how Holbein got a young one to sit for a picture,

  4. I knew that Thomas Boleyn was back in favour with the King by 1537 and participated in the christening. It must have been difficult for him, though, to take part in the King’s joy just one year after his children’s execution.

    I visited the Chapel Royal in March and it is truly beautiful!! I think it was there that I saw the Henry’ famous moto on the walls “Dieu et mon droit”. They didn’t let us take pictures..

  5. ….meanwhile his mother lay dying of puerperal fever. Trust Henry to celebrate what he wanted and to ignore the more unpleasant things of life!

  6. I think (not sure though) that Jane Seymour seemed well for the first days after Edward’s birth. She developed the fever a week or so after the childbirth. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong!

  7. I have read that Jane Seymour was well at the time of Edward’s christening. After the christening took place, the guests were received by The King and Queen in The Queen’s Apartment. Jane became ill a few days later. She died on the 24th October – 12 days after Edward was born.

  8. possibly they were all a bit deranged with henry leading,but seriously id say thomas boleyn had no choice and just went along with it,but still ,how could he ,what sort of a father or anyone for that matter continue on in court after what happened to his son and daughter ,i wonder sometimes were people back then ,ignorant,hard and not caring,or just totally selfish or all three ,was there no emotion in these people at all.

  9. This is very interesting, but correct me if I am wrong, wasn’t Cromwell given the title of Earl of Essex in 1540? Therefore, if an Earl of Essex was there, you are referring to Henry Bourchier, who died in 1540.

  10. If Mary I was godmother, was she not carrying Edward, or at least holding him for the christening? (The Lady Mrquis of Exeter Gertrude Blount is listed.)

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