The last article in the series covered Katheryn’s wedding night through Easter, or end of March 1541. It was at this point in time that Katheryn began to show favor to Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford.
Katheryn Howard – Part Three
It was around the same time as Margaret Pole’s unexpected execution at the end of May 1541, that Queen Katheryn had become noticeably upset about her relationship with the King. Rumors had been floating around Tudor court that the King wished to take back the Lady Anne of Cleves.
When the Queen’s behavior came to the King’s attention, Henry located his young wife and informed her that she was wrong to think such things – that if he were ever in the position to marry again he would not choose the Lady of Cleves. But I suspect that the reason Katheryn was so paranoid about her relationship was because there was a rumor circulating. The rumor was that Anne of Cleves being pregnant by the King. The Queen had not yet given the King a son.
Queen Katheryn left Greenwich Palace merely four days after the execution of Margaret Pole and was headed to Westminster. Greenwich was in need of a cleaning, a task that could take weeks to complete. Once it was clean she would return.
Upon her return to Greenwich Palace, the Queen was informed that her cousin, Sir Edmund Knyvet had been arrested for “shedding blood” in the precincts of the court. The punishment for said offense was for Knyvet to lose his right hand. As a right-hander, Knyvet begged to have his left hand removed instead – he insisted that it was so he could still yield a sword for the King. The Queen must have put in a good word for her cousin because not long after he was fully pardoned. He was also warned that if it were to happen again there would be no reprieve.
After unpacking Katheryn’s things the Queen’s household got back to their normal activities. Entertainment continued as always as there was much music and dancing – two things Katheryn thoroughly enjoyed. It was this atmosphere that would unleash a chain of events that would inevitably bring down the Queen of England.
Whether it was Margaret Douglas’ secret affair with the Queen’s brother Charles, or Dorothy Bray sneaking afound with the already married, Lord William Parr, Queen Katheryn was not performing her duty as guardian of her ladies reputations, to the extent that she was expected.
The recklessness of her ladies spilled over into Katheryn’s life when she eventually forgave her former flame, Thomas Culpeper. Apparently, the two had had a disagreement on Maundy Thursday and did not speak again. Something changed with the Queen to at this point open up her reputation to a fling with Culpeper. Was it that she wasn’t receiving the attention from the King that she desired? Was it because her husband was old enough to be her grandfather?
What exactly happened after they reconciled is unknown, but we do eventually come across evidence of Katheryn’s feelings for Thomas Culpeper. Queen Katheryn sent one of her page boys to bring several dinners to Culpeper when he was sick. This, at the time, was not seen as inappropriate but she walk walking a very delicate line.
The progress of 1541
Everything changed during the summer progress of 1541. Henry and Katheryn’s itinerary on the journey included twenty-seven stops in just over three and a half months on the road. In addition to traveling they also had many public appearances along the way. It was as this journey progressed that Katheryn Howard began plotting to be with a man who was not her husband.
A few hours after their departure from London, the royal retinue stopped in Enfield. A progress in the summer was not uncommon for the court – London was known to be unbearable in the summer. The heat and smell of the Thames would often chase away the King. This timing of this progress was perfect for Henry to get to the north and meet many of his subjects who had never seen him before – this was his first time in 32 years that he ventured past Boston, in Lincolnshire.
After stops in Enfield and St. Albans, the court rested in Dunstable. It was at Dunstable that Katheryn Howard became the first Queen consort of Ireland. Something that must have been very exciting for her.
As they continued along their way, the King and Queen enjoyed themselves immensely. The King was having such a great time that he sent the Mayor of London a great stag and two bucks that he had killed on the 14th of July. This shows that there was no shortage of meat along their journey. It was only a week later that it was noted that the Queen was in a great mood – she had never traveled to Northampton before and it made her happy to experience this new city.
Two stops later in their progress, while at Loddington, Katheryn gave her chamberer, Margaret Morton, a note that was to be delivered to Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford. This letter was missing a seal and was not addressed to anyone, this often meant that the sender wished to be kept anonymous. When Morton delivered the message to Rochford, she was informed that the Queen would have her response in the morning.
The following morning, Morton went to retrieve the answer from Rochford and was greeted with a warning, to ‘tell her Grace to keep it secret and not lay it abroad’. Morton would not forget this strange interaction.
As their progress continued, a stop at Collyweston was in order. Collyweston was the former residence of Margaret Beaufort, the King’s grandmother. It then belonged to the King’s illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, until his death in the summer of 1536. While no one had lived there since the death of Fitzroy, it was considered to be in great condition. Katheryn’s apartments at Collyweston overlooked the garden and she had access with a private staircase to her rooms.
A short three-day stop at Grimsthorpe Castle was next for the royal couple. This castle belonged to the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk and the Charles Brandon was there to greet the group when they arrived.
As the Queen’s chamberers finished unpacking for their short stay, Katheryn asked her former bedmate, Katherine Tilney to fetch Lady Rochford and ask if she had followed through on the Queen’s request. Rochford told Tilney that she would bring word herself when it had arrived. Yet another strange interaction that would never be forgotten.
The Queen and Lady Rochford had discussed Culpepper throughout the lengthy progress. At one point Rochford mentioned to Katheryn that another privy chamber gentleman, Thomas Paston had also showed interested in the Queen. If Rochford was trying to find more men for Katheryn, the Queen was not interested. The only person on her mind was Thomas Culpeper.
The group left Grimsthorpe on the 7th/8th of August and headed to the small market town of Sleaford. The manor house in Sleaford, where they stopped briefly, had previously been owned by Lord Hussey. Hussey was a man who was beheaded after supporting the Pilgrimage of Grace. A common theme while in the north.
Treason at Lincoln
The following morning they were on the move once again. Roughly 10 miles outside of Lincoln, while the royal cortege ate, messengers were sent to Lincoln to inform those in charge that the King and Queen would arrive shortly.
Henry and Katheryn’s entrance into Lincoln must have been quite the site – as they rode toward the city wall, a group of men in red robes gathered. As Katheryn (also wearing red) approached the men, they quickly bowed to their new Queen. A tent had been erected nearby so the royal couple could change out of their riding clothes. Henry changed into an outfit made of cloth of gold and Katheryn wore a silver dress.
Throughout the progress, she carried out her public duties perfectly. Accounts of the tour written years later, referred to her as Henry’s ‘fair and beloved queen’. Katheryn was a flawlessly behaved consort – content to dazzle as a supporting player, cloth of silver next to Henry’s cloth of gold, never pulling focus or openly pursuing her own agenda. Her first few months as queen had been considered a success.
With all that being said, it was during their stay in Lincoln that Katheryn began her late night chats with Lady Rochford. Both Katherine Tilney and Margaret Morton (two ladies who were already suspicious) were assigned to escort the Queen to Rochford’s room. When they arrived at Rochford’s door, the Queen dismissed both Tilney and Morton. This behavior was very suspicious. The fact that the Queen went to a servants room instead of inviting the servant into her own was unusual by social standards.
Once Katheryn and Lady Rochford were alone they snuck down the stairs to the back entrance of the apartments. It was there they waited for the arrival of Thomas Culpeper. As they waited that a guardsmen noticed the door was unlocked. Without assessing the situation he locked the door. Katheryn and Rochford had narrowly missed getting caught. Lucky for them, when Culpeper arrived he wasn’t concerned – he picked the lock and was there to calm a panicked Queen.
The three of them returned to Lady Rochford’s lavatory. The the size of the room wasn’t small by any means – Lady Rochford could sleep in the corner and not know what was going on between Katheryn and Culpeper.
In a room lit by candlelight, Thomas and Katheryn shared their darkest secrets with one another. Katheryn spoke of her history with Henry Manox and Francis Dereham. While Thomas Culpeper listened intently and appeared amused by her stories. The conversation became more intimate when Katheryn bragged about her skills as a lover to the attractive young man sitting across from her.
As the hours ticked away, the Queen’s household became suspicious of the relationship of Katheryn and Lady Rochford. Margaret Morton, who was already suspicious, decided to checked if the Queen was back in her bed – when she returned Katherine Tilney asked, ‘Jesus, is not the Queen abed yet?’ At which Morton replied, ‘Yes, even now,’ and went to bed.
The Queen and Culpeper talked for hours – they finally went their separate ways at around two or three in the morning.
The following morning, after only getting a few hours of sleep, the Queen had the energy to show her generosity to a woman called Helen Page. Page was a local spinster who had been condemned for several minor felonies. Page’s sentence is unknown, but was pardoned by the King on the Queen’s request.
I Love You
That evening, the Queen and Thomas Culpeper met again. This time she charged Katherine Tilney to escort her to Rochford’s room. She knew Tilney could keep a secret. Katheryn told Tilney to wait outside. This meeting would be the first time that Katheryn Howard, wife of Henry VIII, Queen, told Thomas Culpeper that she loved him. He reciprocated her feelings by saying he felt bound to her because he did love her again above all other creatures. As Culpeper left he kissed Katheryn on the hand because he could not allow himself to go further.
A day or two later the court moved on to Gainsborough, which was eighteen miles from Lincoln. It’s unclear where Katheryn and her household stayed during this visit but author Gareth Russell believes it could have been Gainsborough Old Hall, the home of the old Lord Burgh. Local legend says that the King and his Queen slept in the upper bedchamber of Gainsborough Old Hall’s tower. While it’s likely that the Queen stayed there it is highly unlikely that the royal couple shared a room.
After spending a few days in Gainsborough they were off to Scrooby and then Hatfield. It was at Hatfield that Katheryn’s lady, Margaret Morton later stated that she ‘saw her look out of her chamber window on Master Culpeper after such sort that I thought there was love between them’. Morton did not report what she had seen and instead made another mental note of the Queen’s behavior. The court stayed at Hatfield for roughly five days before moving on to Pontefract Castle – which would be their longest stop on their progress.
Nearing the end of August, the royal couple had been on progress for over two months. The Queen, at this point, was not adjusting well to all the traveling – I’m certain she’d never experience anything like it in her lifetime. She was tired and jumping. Whether it was her tiredness, or the excitement of seeing Culpeper we don’t know, but she was not acting herself and treated her ladies poorly.
At one point at Pontefract the paranoid Queen yelled at Margaret Morton and Maude Luffkyn after suspecting they were spying on her.
Things didn’t get any easier for Katheryn either. On the 25th of August, Francis Dereham showed up at Pontefract, unannounced. Dereham was there to get what was his. He had just had an agrument with the dowager duchess of Norfolk. Norfolk threw him out. He had lost everything. What more did he have to lose? He asked for a position in the Queen’s household.
Katheryn had to think on her toes – she needed to find a way to appease this ticking time bomb…but her household was full.
After having a private meeting with Dereham she introduced him to the rest of her staff as her gentleman usher.
Being the thorn in her side that he was, Dereham continued with his boasting and bad manners – something that would haunt them all later and cost Dereham his life.
It All Changed
During their long stay at Pontefract, Thomas Culpeper spent an increasing amount of time together with Katheryn in her rooms, until he had to leave to undress the King at night – at which he would, some nights, return.
A new habit formed for the Queen while at Pontefract Castle – she began to lock her the doors to her bedroom at night, only giving access to Lady Rochford.
Maude Luffkyn got in trouble with the Queen again when she attempted to enter the Queen’s bedroom one night. She either forgot the door was locked, or was suspicious of the Queen’s behavior. Katheryn was so upset with her that she threatened to remove both Luffkyn and Morton.
It wasn’t only Maude Luffkyn who tried to get into the Queen’s room but also a servant to the King. He had a message for Katheryn from Henry. The servant found the door locked and left – he hadn’t thought twice about it. That is until later.
In mid-September, the King required Culpeper’s service for his trip to inspect the northern port of Hull. One can imagine Queen Katheryn heartsick over the distance between them.
Upon his return from Hull, Katheryn was quick to restart their late-night meetings. At one meeting she begged Culpeper not to confess what they had been doing to a priest, because, she believed her husband, as head of the Church of England would hear his confussion. Culpeper promised her he would not tell a soul, not even a priest.
End of the Progress
After the long progress Katheryn returned to Hampton Court Palace on the 28th of October 1541. In only a couple of days her world would begin to change.
Katheryn continued to take risks in order to see Thomas Culpeper, after arriving back at Hampton Court. Her infatuation with the man was causing the Queen to make terrible decisions. Before too long she would never see him again.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s (Thomas Cranmer) official London residence was Lambeth Palace. It was there that he accepted the audience of a man called John Lascelles. What came from this conversation was not what Canterbury had expected.
Lascelles came with news that he had heard from his sister, Mary Lascelles – now Mary Hall about Queen Katheryn’s behavior. Hall was once a servant of the dowager duchess of Norfolk and lived in the same household with Queen Katheryn when she was a ward there. John Lascelles stated that he had recently encouraged his younger sister to petition for a position in the Queen’s household, but Mary Hall said that she would not feel comfortable having a mistress whose morals were lacking and who was ‘light, both in living and conditions’.
When Lascelles naturally pressed his sister for more information she told him of the Queen’s past romances with both Henry Manox and Francis Dereham. To prove that this was true he repeated what his sister had told him, but possibly in a more delicate way. She had approached Manox (as we covered in the last podcast) and informed him that he could not have a future with Katheryn due to his status. This is where Hall told her brother that Manox informed her that he had seen a very private part of Katheryn’s body and would recognize it easily.
After John Lascelles heard this story from his sister he chose to discuss with friends to help decide what he should do with the information. The consensus was to bring it to the Privy Council. This was when Lascelles paid visit to Canterbury at Lambeth Palace.
The entire matter was extremely delicate for anyone near the King who may have known of the Queen’s past. It would all have to be dealt with very carefully. Cranmer decided, most likely for fear of the wrath of the King, to leave a note for him to read after the mass for All Souls.
After reading the note, King Henry did not have the initial reaction that was expected of him. His biggest concern was in finding the truth in the story – not to lock up his Queen, who remained in her apartments, utterly clueless, for the rest of day. The King either hoped or believed it was all a big misunderstanding.
It did not take long before the Privy Council began to interview witnesses. At the top of the list was John Lascelles and his sister Mary Hall. The Earl of Southampton, a member of the King’s Privy Council began with John Lascelles, and the following day the Earl of Sussex stopped at the home of Mary Hall.
To stop rumors from spreading back to court where those involved in the accusations could find out, Sussex and some other men disguised their stop at the Hall residence as a place to rest on their journey from hunting. Eventually, Sussex was able to get Mary alone to inform her that the hunting trip was a ruse – to keep this matter as private as possible. He asked Mary if she would stand behind her words at which she declared she would.
After the confession of Mary Hall, Wriothesley and Canterbury examined Henry Manox at Lambeth. Manox said that he was appointed to the service of the dowager duchess of Norfolk about five years earlier. He fell in love with Katheryn, and she with him. Unfortunately their so-called fairy tale was interrupted when the lady of the household found them alone together.
Canterbury and Southampton proceeded to ask Manox if he had any displeasure with Francis Dereham. Manox stated that Dereham also loved Katheryn, and Edward Walgrave, who loved a maiden named Baskervile, used to visit her there until 2 or 3 in the morning.; so he wrote an anonymous letter to the Duchess, warning her that if she would rise half an hour after going to bed and visit the gentlewomen’s chamber she would be displeased. The Duchess did as he said and was furious with the girls.
Sometime afterward, Katheryn had become suspicious of the letter that informed the duchess and stole it from her room. She showed it to Dereham, who suspected Manox to have written it, and called him knave.
Manox during his interrogation also said that Joan Bulmer, who was Katheryn’s bedfellow had also been entertained by Dereham.
Manox continued on by listing more witnesses to the happenings in the dowager duchess’ household: Dorothy Dawby, then chamberer, Katherine Tylney, now chamberer with the Queen, Edward Walgrave, servant to Prince Edward, Mary Lascelles (or Hall) and Malyn Tylney, widow, can speak of the misrule between Dereham and Katheryn.
After the Manox interrogation, the men moved on to Francis Dereham, who was already in custody. They were careful about removing Dereham from the Queen’s household without causing suspicion. Dereham was told that he would be questioned about earlier claims of piracy during his time in Ireland. Once behind closed-door, he would learn it was even worse than piracy. It was treason.
Francis Dereham was questioned by the men about his doings in Ireland. What brought him there in the first place? Why did he choose now? Dereham’s new position in the Queen’s household was known and was considered suspicious as well. Francis told his interrogators that he had been invited to the Queen’s chambers, was given gifts and was told to ‘take heed what words you speak’.
He also confessed to have known Katheryn ‘carnally’ many times during their time at the dowager duchess’ home. He went so far to recall a time that he was ‘in his doublet and hose between the sheets’ with Katheryn, and there were witnesses to their love-making.
It hit very close to home when Katheryn’s aunt, Margaret Howard and her former bedmate, Katherine Tilney were both taken in for questioning. Katheryn’s aunt slyly told the men that she had suspected a relationship between Dereham and her niece but that’s as far as she went with it. Margaret knew better than to incriminate herself. Katherine Tilney, on the other hand, confirmed the words of Mary Hall and Francis Dereham during her interrogation.
On the 6th of November, Canterbury and Southampton paid visit to the King. This meeting filled the King in on the intelligence collected. This moment would have been nerve-wracking for them as well, to displease the King was terrifying and they wouldn’t want to be punished for telling him what had actually happened. Once all the evidence was revealed, Henry sat there quiet for a while, until eventually he began to cry.
Not long after, the King ordered both the dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk back to court. Once the men had arrived secretive council meetings took place, not to cause alarm at court. Unfortunately it did not take long for gossip to start after Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk was seen leaving a meeting noticeably shaken. At this point nobody had suspected that this was all related to the Queen.
‘Henry VIII: in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 16, 1540-1541, ed. James Gairdner and R H Brodie (London, 1898)
Byrne, Conor; Katherine Howard: A New History (2014)
Fraser, Antonia; The Wives of Henry VIII (1994) Loades, David; The 6 Wives of Henry VIII (2014)
Licence, Amy; The Six Wives and Many Mistresses of Henry VIII (2014)
Russell, Gareth; Young and Damned and Fair-The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of Henry VIII (2016)
Weir, Alison; The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1991)