Excerpt from his new book, Brandon – Tudor Knight (Guest Post by Tony Riches)


New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

From the author of the international bestselling Tudor Trilogy comes a true story of adventure, courtly love and chivalric loyalty. 

Handsome, charismatic and a champion jouster, Sir Charles Brandon is the epitome of a Tudor Knight. A favourite of King Henry VIII, Brandon has a secret. He has fallen in love with Henry’s sister, Mary Tudor, the beautiful widowed Queen of France, and risks everything to marry her without the King’s consent.

Brandon becomes Duke of Suffolk, but his loyalty is tested fighting Henry’s wars in France. Mary’s public support for Queen Catherine of Aragon brings Brandon into dangerous conflict with the ambitious Boleyn family and the king’s new right-hand man, Thomas Cromwell.

Torn between duty to his family and loyalty to the king, Brandon faces an impossible decision: can he accept Anne Boleyn as his new queen?

Excerpt from Chapter One, April 1505:

Cold rain dripped from the brim of Brandon’s hat as he waited in the shadows at Anne’s back door. He cursed and tried his secret knock again. Candlelight glimmered through the gap between the closed wooden shutters, so he knew she was at home. He was beginning to wonder if she would ever answer when the door opened.

Anne Browne leaned out and glanced down the narrow street, then ushered him inside before anyone could see. She looked beautiful, in a cornflower-blue silk gown, and wore a fine silver necklace with a pearl pendant, his present to her last New Year’s Day. Her dark hair, normally plaited under a fashionable French hood, hung loose and lustrous, reaching over her shoulders.

Anne’s father, Sir Anthony Browne, had been the king’s standard-bearer and an important man at court. He’d found her a position in the Palace of Westminster, which was how she shared her lodging with two ladies of the king’s household. As they were away at Richmond Palace, Anne had the lodging to herself – a rare chance to entertain in private.

Brandon, at over six feet tall, had to duck his head under the wooden roof beams in the low-ceilinged room. He glanced around out of habit to make sure they were alone. There was always the risk of being discovered, yet he felt more at home in Anne’s cramped lodgings than in his Uncle Thomas’s grand manor house in Southwark.

A welcoming log fire blazed in the stone hearth and beeswax candles lit the room with a soft yellow light. Brandon pulled off his damp coat and hat while Anne poured him a goblet of warmed mead. He sipped it gratefully and felt its sweet heat warm his throat.

She studied his face and frowned. ‘The bruising is worse.’ She reached out a hand as if to touch his swollen cheek but stopped herself and let it fall to her side. ‘My mother used to make a poultice from parsley – or perhaps it was daisies – for the bruising.’ She gave him a mischievous look. ‘I don’t think I’ll find either at this time of night though.’

He drained his goblet of mead. ‘I’ll live.’ Taking her in his arms, he gave her the long, slow kiss he’d been looking forward to all day. He liked the soft touch of her hands on his back, holding him close. The delicate scent of lavender aroused memories of their first time together. With reluctance he pulled himself away and gave her a wry grin. ‘It might have been worth it, after all. I have news. Good news.’

‘You’ve been spared a flogging?’ She raised an eyebrow.

He smiled. ‘It seems my luck is changing, for the better. Sir George Talbot has agreed to put my name forward for the King’s Spears.’

‘His personal bodyguard?’

‘The king’s yeomen are his bodyguard.’ He had to think for a moment, and then decided to be honest with her. ‘In truth, the Spears are something of a club for gentlemen adventurers – I’ve yet to learn what they get up to all day. The important thing is I’ll be one of the king’s trusted men.’ He heard the pride in his voice.

‘You already are. You’ve been serving at his table for how many years?’

Brandon frowned as he tried to remember. ‘Three, maybe four – but this is different. The king takes little enough notice of his servants.’ He realised she was teasing him.

Anne looked thoughtful. ‘You’ll be paid more?’

‘Of course.’ He grinned.

‘Enough to make an honest woman of me?’ There was an edge to her voice.

Brandon studied her face, unsure what to say. ‘I need the forty pounds’ worth of estates which would make me eligible for a knighthood. Then we shall talk of marriage.’

‘You talk of being a knight but do you think it will ever happen?’ She sounded doubtful.

‘I do. My father and my grandfather were both respected knights, and one day I will be too. This chance with the Spears is just the beginning. I’m going to make a name for myself, Anne. The King’s Spears are chosen men. If we go to war against the French we’ll be made captains and commanders – and I’ll be in all the jousts now, not just filling in when everyone else has fallen off.’

It was the most heartfelt speech he’d made in a long time and he believed the truth of his words. He’d somehow won over the Lord Steward and been offered the chance he’d been waiting for since becoming a servant of the king.

She pulled him closer with a look of concern. ‘You will take care? I’ve seen good men horribly wounded and even killed at the king’s jousts…’

Brandon kissed her again to silence her. ‘I promise to take care. That’s how I will become famous – by winning.’


Purchase: on Amazon UK and Amazon US

* * * 

About the Author

Tony Riches is a full-time UK author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the history of the Wars of the Roses and the lives of the early Tudors. Tony was a finalist in the 2017 Amazon Storyteller Awards and is listed 130th in the 2018 Top 200 list of the Most Influential Authors. For more information about Tony’s books please visit his website tonyriches.com and his popular blog, The Writing Desk and find him on  Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches

Why The Tudors?

I was having a difficult time coming up with a topic for this week’s podcast. I reached out to my followers on Facebook and a couple of them mentioned that they would be interested in finding out what got me interested in The Tudor dynasty in the first place. I thought it was a fantastic idea and so I ran with it.

This episode begins talking about Henry VII and the Battle of Bosworth as well as Elizabeth of York and leads up to the birth of Prince Arthur.

I discuss my genealogy, my DNA, favorite programs and so much more. If you really want to get a feel for who I am and what drives me then you’ll love this episode.

*side note – I discovered later that I am NOT related to the person I mentioned. It was a bad hint. (You’ll know what this means after you listen)

As always, I say thank you to all my patrons and to those of you who have supported over the years. Thanks again!

A very special thank you to Nathen Amin for allowing me to share the quote from his social media account.

Written by: Rebecca Larson
Voiced by: Rebecca Larson
Produced by: Rebecca Larson
Music Credits:
Suonatore di Liuto Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Monasteries (Guest Post)


By Patricia Deegan

This is an article about the buildings and grounds of the monasteries rather than the religious people within them or their religious practises.

Although a number of the original Christian communities in Britain (the Celtic Church) had had monasteries, the monks during that period lived almost like hermits in separate cells within the monastery grounds. However there gradually came a movement within western Europe that led to a more communal way of life for those who took vows to be monks.

By the medieval period some monastic communities were quite large, with up to 150 professed religious members (monks) at their height, and were notable land owners, with one example being Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire. Other communities would have been simpler and not as rich, for example priories could have just eight monks. The ideal community was thought to be at least 12 monks or nuns in addition to the head of the community.

Somewhat confusingly, abbeys had a head called an abbot (or abbess if a convent) but their subordinate would be called a prior or prioress although the monastery was an abbey and not a priory. One definition of the difference between abbeys and priories is: “An abbey is a monastery governed by an abbot, while a priory is a monastery ruled by a prior under the auspices of the abbot of the mother abbey.”[1]

The term ‘convent’ is used to describe buildings used by nuns but originally, in it’s Latin form conventus, it actually referred to the buildings used by any religious order whether male or female.

There were even smaller communities, called a cell, of just two or three who were wholly subservient to the mother house (the founding house of a religious order). The initial legislation passed in 1535, the Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries Act, gave the King the power to dissolve religious houses with annual incomes declared in the Valor Ecclesiasticus of less than £200.

There is an existing ninth century plan of a monastery, St Gall, in Switzerland which was quite a large and complex plan. This was a Benedictine monastery and most English monasteries were based on Benedictine plans. There is also evidence available from archaeology, and old records, of monasteries within England which help to show the likely layouts of medieval monasteries here.

Most religious houses would often have a gatehouse, in the enclosing walls, which acted as the main entrance. There would be various buildings and a church.

The main buildings for the monks or nuns were arranged in a square – often on the south side of the church but the geographical landscape they built on would sometimes dictate the layout. This square of buildings surrounded a central area of grass, which would sometimes have water at the centre of it and scented plants. This garden was known as the cloister garth. The covered paths, just in front of the buildings which edged the garden, with low walls and arches were known as cloisters.



The church, being the centre of their world, would be the grandest building of all and, as all Christian churches were, was orientated towards the east so people would pray towards the east from whence the Saviour would come. The main or high altar, would be in the sanctuary area (an especially holy area often slightly raised), within the apse (the semi-circular end to the building) on the east side and edged by a rail. This was considered especially holy as there was a belief in the literal physical presence of God in the Eucharist during mass and in the tabernacle the rest of the time. However, the term ‘sanctuary’ was also used for consecrated areas where ordinary people could claim asylum and protection, even from the law for a time. The entire church was often a place where sanctuary could be invoked. In Westminster abbey there was an entire separate building called St. Peter’s sanctuary within the abbey grounds, with a chapel and residential rooms, where sanctuary could be claimed.

The sacristy, a room where the vestments (clothing used by the priests in rituals) and holy vessels were kept, might be at the top of the church near the high altar.

I have attempted a plan to show the layout of a possible ‘average’ medieval monastery that might be found in England during the medieval and early Tudor period:

A: Gatehouse  - Entrance into the monastic grounds
B: Secular Buildings – including workshops and stables
C: Church
C1: High altar
C2:  Sacristy where clothing for the priest in the mass and the holy vessels were stored (some churches)
C3: Main entrance into the church for guests, servants and local people (if they were allowed to use the monastery church.
C4:  Entrance into the church from the cloisters for the monks
D: East range of buildings
D1: Library and scriptorium or sacristy
D2: Chapter House where the monks led for administration and discipline daily
D3: Slype which was a covered pathway through to the area behind the east range
D4: Parlour which was a day room and where monks could talk, if necessary, to each other

First floor: The dormitory for the monks
E: South range of buildings
E1: Calefactory where monks were permitted to warm themselves at a fire
E2: Refectory (frater) or dining room for the monks

First floor above E1: Muniment room where deeds and valuable documents were held
First floor above E2: Vestiary where communal clothing for the monks was held
F:  Kitchen in a separate building to reduce the risk of fire spreading
G: West range of buildings
G1: Refectory for the lay brothers (or the prior if this was a smaller monastery)
G2: Cellarium or store room for monastery supplies

First Floor: Dormitory for the lay brothers or accommodation for the prior in a smaller monastery
H: Cloisters or covered and arcaded pathway in front of the buildings comprising the monk’s accommodation
H1: East Cloisters
H2:  South Cloisters
H3: West Cloisters
H4: North Cloisters
I: Cloister Garth or garden in the centre of the cloisters. Often it would simply be grass but some had scented plants.
I1: Lavatorium or simple washing room with a basin of piped water and towels for monks to wash their hands before meals.
J: Hospitaller – the office of the monk who looked after any guests the monastery may have. the St Gall plan placed a small cell for him in this location and it would make sense for guests to have an accessible monk to raise any query or let him know of any problems without the guests having to make their way into the area dedicated to monks to find someone.
K: Hospitium – guest house.
L: Brewery
M: Bakehouse
N: Vegetable Garden
O: Abbot’s House
O1: Abbot’s necessarium or privy
P: Herbularius – the physic garden of medicinal plants
Q: Infirmary buildings (on site care for sick and elderly monks)
Q1: Infirmary privies
Q2: Main hall with beds
Q3: Infirmary chapel
Q4: Infirmary frater
Q5:  Infirmary kitchen
Q6: Herbarium  which was the workshop of the infirmarer (the monk in charge of the sick)
R: Balneary – bath house.
S: Reredorter or necessarium – communal latrines for the monks.
T: A fish pond – although monasteries were located near running water, there tended to be fishponds too. Presumably to ensure there was plenty of fresh fish.
U: Cemetery Orchard – useful trees (fruit and nuts) and a location for the bodies of the monks


The east building range of the cloisters would be likely to include:

* A library with a scriptorium, for copying books, in monasteries where this was an important part of their work. Though some monasteries did copying work in the cloisters, as these walkways tended to be wide enough to allow for a desk to be placed next to the arches (to get the natural light) and still have enough room left allow monks to easily go past the desks. Though some floor plans of monasteries, such as Roche abbey near Sheffield in Yorkshire, had the sacristy next to the church instead of a library. All five friaries in London had libraries.

* A chapter house where the monks would meet each day. Here they would discuss faults the monks had shown and be given penance, the duties would be assigned for the day and they would also a reading from the Rules (e.g. of St Benedict). In very large communities, the chapter house could be a separate polygon shaped building behind the east range. as was the case for Westminster abbey and their chapter house survives with the abbey church to this day.

* A slype, or covered passageway, which could be next to the chapter house or parlour, allowing access to the area behind the east range of buildings.

* A parlour was where necessary conversation could take place between monks – often there could be vows or regulations that enforced silence generally within the monastery. This room could also act as a day room for monks.

* On the first floor of this range was the dormitory (or dorter) where the monks slept and, at the end of the dormitory that was next to the church, were the night stairs into the church. These stairs would allow the monks to go straight into church, especially for Matins and Lauds.

The south building range of the cloisters would be likely to include:

* A calefactory – which was a warming room with a fire and useful for monks who had been working outside on cool or cold days. Other rooms in the monastery did not have fires in the early part of the medieval period, except for the infirmary, the guest house and the kitchen.

* A refectory – which was a dining room, also known as the frater. By the refectory was the lavatorium. This was not a toilet, as the name might suggest to modern people, but a trough full of water for monks to wash their hands in before their meal. As far as I can tell, it might be in the cloister next to the refectory and towels were made available or it might be in a separate building with octagonal basin in it, in the centre of the cloister garth.

* Near to the refectory (but not adjoining it, presumably to prevent the spread of fires) was the kitchen in a separate building.

* On the first floor, above the calefactory was the muniment room where documents and deeds were kept (at least it was in both Fountains and Netley abbeys). Why they put the room with flammable material above one of the few rooms with fires is unknown.

* On the first floor above the refectory, according to the St Gall plan, was the vestiary. This was where clothing was kept. As monks were not supposed to have private property, the clothing would have been communal too. Although they would not regularly wash their clothing, accidents would happen and habits would have needed replacing occasionally or washing so spare habits must have been kept. The cold winters of the late medieval and Tudor periods would have meant that cloaks and boots would have been needed for going outside. No matter how healthy and young the monks may have been, wearing the same open toed sandals that they had in summer, when the temperature dropped below freezing and their accommodation was generally unheated, would have led to illness and injury. Presumably the spare towels were kept there together with some additional blankets for the coldest parts of the year. I presume there must have been stairs at the west end of the south range as the muniment room can’t have been used as a passageway through to the vestiary as it held valuable documents.

Between the east and south ranges of buildings, on a few plans, there was a reredorter or necessarium, in the corner between the dormitory and refectory. These were the communal latrines. However, monasteries generally seem to have been built by a natural source of water such as a stream. Westminster abbey was built next to tributaries of the Tyburn river. This running water seems to have been a favoured way to deal with the human waste produced by the communities. Monasteries do not appear to have adopted the town practise of simply throwing their waste into channels down the middle of the road. Thus the course of the river involved would dictate where the latrines were to be placed, i.e. presumably downstream from where water was being extracted for washing, brewing or drinking and thus not in a set location each time a monastery was built.

Monasteries did also have a bath house called a balneary (such as Westminster abbey in London and Margam Abbey in Wales). Westminster abbey had hot water but the monks only bathed four times a year.

The west building range would be likely to include:

* A cellarium or store room for the monastery’s supplies.

* A refectory for the lay brothers (who had a simplified prayer schedule and did most of the manual work).

* Above this range was the dormitory for the lay brothers.

* However, in a smaller community without lay brothers, the accommodation for the abbot may be in the west range instead. This can be seen in the Priory of St Mary and the Holy Cross at Binham in Norfolk.

Although one of the vows of a monk was poverty, the abbot always had separate accommodation. In the St. Gall it is a fairly small house but the surviving late medieval abbot’s houses suggest they became bigger as time went on in bigger communities.

Bigger communities sometimes had a second square of buildings south of the main cloisters, in Westminster abbey this was called the “little cloister”. This might accommodate the novitiate (where trainee monks lived), the infirmary (for sick or elderly and frail monks) and even some guest accommodation could be ranged around that cloister garth. Westminster abbey noted that their main cloister garth itself was a simple square of green whilst their little cloister garth had a fountain, scented plants and turf seats for the recuperating or elderly monks in the infirmary.

Other plans, with a single set of cloisters, show the infirmary in a separate building slightly apart from the main accommodation. Presumably this was to reduce infections spreading. They may not have understood how illnesses could spread but their treatment of leprosy shows that they understood that diseases could be passed onto other people. The kitchen for the infirmary could prepare more meat for the infirm than monks were generally supposed to eat. On my plan I have placed the herbularius, the physic (an old word for medicine) or infirmarer’s garden, next to the infirmary and placed the herbarium (or infirmarer’s workshop) close to it. This would allow the infirmarer, the monk in charge of the sick, to dry the medicinal plants and store them. Also to create medicinal teas, balms, poultices, honeys and vinegars as they were required.

Where the novice’s accommodation would be in an average monastery, with only one set of cloisters, is not terribly clear from my searches. As they were likely to be separated from the fully professed brethren, it may well be male novices were accommodated with the lay brothers in the west wing until they took their final vows. However, an average convent might have had to place female novices in with the fully professed sisters as there simply wasn’t the space for a separate building for a few novices in a more modest land holding.

A community so small that it was termed a ‘cell’ of monks might live and work in a single building.

As well as the buildings for the monks, and the main other buildings mentioned above, there could be a number of other buildings for a self-sufficient community: stables for horses, workshops for crafts (such as candlemaking), probably some hives, maybe near the medicinal plant garden.

I have placed the orchard, with it’s cemetery in it, to the east of the church as it is in the St Gall Plan. This area was, as it’s names suggests, a place both for ‘useful’ trees (such as apples, pears, nuts, etc) and for deceased monks to be buried. Westminster abbey had a cemetery orchard but some monasteries had a separate cemetery on the east side of the church to their orchards. Fountains abbey had separate burial plots separated by stone partiions.

Bigger communities had farms and woods too and the orchard would have been much bigger.

Bibliography http://www.westminster-abbey.org/visit-us/abbey-gardens http://www.stgallplan.org/en/plan.html http://www.mcah.columbia.edu/courses/medmil/pages/non-mma-pages/text_links/cloistergarth.html http://www.keystothepast.info/Pages/pgDetail.aspx?PRN=D34867 http://www.timeref.com/life/abbey5.htm http://www.photographers-resource.co.uk/a_heritage/Abbeys/Monastery_layout.htm http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/content/visit/places-to-visit/history-research-plans/roche-abbey-phased-plan http://www.britainexpress.com/History/medieval-monastery-map.htm http://www.historyfish.net/images/monastics/plan_beaulieu_med.jpg

Wikipedia: Leicester Abbey, Abbey, Dissolution of the Monasteries

THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF ELY: A HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION OF THE BUILDING WITH A SHORT ACCOUNT OF THE FORMER MONASTERY AND OF THE SEE BY THE REV. W. D. SWEETING, M.A [ http://www.ajhw.co.uk/books/book350/book350q/-book350q.html#VI_1 ] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d7/Plan_of_Netley_Abbey.jpg http://www.stbees.org.uk/history/priory/benedictine.html https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/news/technology-reveals-archaeological-discovery-at-fountains-abbey http://www.monasticwales.org/article/27 http://www.aedificium.org/MonasticLife/GeneralAspects.html http://www.askacatholic.com/_WebPostings/Answers/2012_04APR/2012AprWhatIsAnArchAbbey.cfm http://www.binhampriory.org/ruinstour/ruinstourplan.html http://www.binhampriory.org/ruinstour/ruinstourplan.html http://www.luminarium.org/encyclopedia/westminstersanctuary.htm

Members of Henry VIII’s Privy Council in 1540


The Privy Council was a group of men who were advisers to the King. It included a variety of men including those from the religious sector to very important state offices, as you’ll note from the list.

After 1540 the Privy Council (19 men) worked together as a board having letters and warrants signed collectively by them.

The Privy Council sat virtually every day. Within it Court and State became as one, for the Privy Council met almost exclusively at Court after the reconstructions of 1536-7 and 1540. It also sat judicially as the Court of Star Chamber on Wednesdays and Fridays: councillors commuted by horse or barge to Westminster. -Tudors.org

Here are the nineteen men who were part of Henry VIII’s Privy Council in 1540, with a brief description:

Thomas Audley, Lord Chancellor

untitled-design-45Thomas Audley, Lord Chancellor became a member of Henry VIII’s Privy Chamber in 1527 and was appointed Lord Chancellor in 1533 after the resignation of Thomas More.

Thomas Audley had a very illustrious career at Tudor court. In 1529, he received two titles when he was made Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Speaker of the House of Commons. In 1532, Audley was knighted and also succeeded Sir Thomas More as Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. In 1533, he was appointed Lord Chancellor succeeding Sir Thomas More and on 29th of November 1538 he was created Baron Audley of Walden and installed as a Knight of the Garter shortly afterward.

It is easy to see that Audley was friendly toward Henry VIII’s agenda. One could say this is why he was given so many great titles, especially Lord Chancellor. He backed the King on his desire to divorce Katherine of Aragon and his marriage to Anne Boleyn. Audley presided at the trials of Fisher and More in 1535, and was again part of the trials in 1536, during the downfall of Anne Boleyn and the men around her.

We know that Henry VIII “interfered so much in the chancellor’s domestic concerns as to command him to marry, and to bring about the match, and promise to endow him accordingly…

Audley married Elizabeth Grey sometime between 1538 and 1540 – she was his second wife. About 1540 Elizabeth gave birth to their first child, a daughter, Margaret Audley.

Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden died on 30 April 1544

Sir John Baker, Chancellor of the Court of First Fruits and Tenths

untitled-design-46Sir John Baker was a well-known figure at court and had the reputation as a brutal persecutor of protestants which earned him the nickname ‘Bloody Baker’. Legend says that he was riding to persecute some protestants when he heard Queen Mary had died. The place where he turned back became known as Baker’s Cross

In June 1540 he was knighted and the same year he was a member of Henry’s Privy Council. In 1545, he was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Baker first married Katherine Sackville and then Elizabeth Dineley with whom he had five children with.

He died in London from a short illness in December 1558 less than a month after the death of Queen Mary.

Sir Anthony Browne, Master of the Horse

untitled-design-47“Browne gave early evidence of a wayward personality when, in March 1519, he struck a colleague in Sir Thomas Boleyn’s embassy to France. The King demanded the recall of both, but Browne’s career was not to suffer: Boleyn gave him a good report and Francis I on leave taking made him a gentleman of his household with a pension of 200 crowns a year.” – The History of Parliament

When Browne was appointed ambassador to France in 1527, he revealed an animosity to the French court that only grew over the years. “His despatches strike a slightly petulant note, he found fault with everything, the French manner of hunting, the King’s latest mistress, the Order of St. Michael which he considered a poor copy of the Garter, and the fact that he could find nothing worth purchasing.” Henry VIII must have found Browne a loyal and competent servant since continued to send him on French embassies.

As Master of the Horse, Browne was in charge of the maintenance of the royal horses. This would include their feeding and training. He would also accompany Henry VIII whenever he rode.

Browne’s sister, Elizabeth Browne, Countess of Worcester was one of the principle accusers of Anne Boleyn. It was her brother that she confessed an affair between Anne and court musician, Mark Smeaton, as well as incest with her brother, George Boleyn.

William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton, Lord Privy Seal

untitled-design-48Fitzwilliam, a former servant of Cardinal Wolsey, was a prominent member at court. Like his half-brother, Anthony Browne, in 1536, he was instrumental in bringing down Anne Boleyn.

Raised at court alongside young Henry, Prince of Wales he indeed had a close relationship with the future King. After Henry’s coronation in 1509, Fitzwilliam was made a Gentleman Usher and King’s Cupbearer, and gradually rose at Court.

As Lord Privy Seal, Fitzwilliam supervised the staff of clerks plus he prepared documents for authentication by the Great Seal.

‘He acted as “enforcer” for Henry in the fall of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, the Pilgrimage of Grace and the Exeter Conspiracy. In 1539, as Admiral, he conveyed Anne of Cleves from Calais, and on first meeting her wrote letters in her praise to Henry, ‘considering it was then no time to dispraise her, … the matter being so far passed.

Sir John Gage, Comptroller of the Household

untitled-design-49As Comptroller of the Household, Gage was responsible for the royal household’s finances. Along with this position he held several prestigious offices including: Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Constable of the Tower and Lord Chamberlain.

“An Esquire of the Body to both Henry VII and Henry VIII, he served offices in the Pale of Calais, becoming Comptroller in 1524. After receiving a knighthood in 1525, he moved to the post of Vice-Chamberlain of the Household in 1526, leaving court in 1533.”

“He remained active, attending, in 1537, the baptism of Prince Edward and the funeral of Jane Seymour.”

Sir John Gage died on 18 Apr. 1556. 

Sir William Petre, King’s Secretary

untitled-design-50As a conservative Catholic he became a secretary to Henry while his second wife, Anne Browne served as lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine Parr. Petre is said to have been employed by Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire, as tutor to his son George.

Petre was married twice, firstly to Gertrude Tyrrell in 1533, and after her death in 1541 he married Anne Browne in 1542.

In January 1544 Petre was knighted and appointed one of the King’s two principal secretaries, the other being William Paget; a member of the Privy Council virtute officii, he attended its meetings regularly. He was one of the six persons authorized to sign documents with a stamp of the King’s signature and one of the five appointed to advise Queen Catherine Parr during her regency in July 1544.”

Sir Richard Rich, King’s Solicitor

untitled-design-51Due to Rich’s testimony in 1535, Thomas More was condemned for treason because of a personal conversation the two men had together. Rich was also instrumental in the downfall of Thomas Cromwell in 1542.

As King’s Solicitor, he went to Kimbolton Castle in January 1536 to take the inventory of the goods of Katherine of Aragon – he then wrote to the King advising how he might properly obtain her possessions.

Rich was also an assistant executor of the will of Henry VIII and received land for it. In February 1547 he was created Braon Rich and then became Lord Chancellor from 1548-1551.

Rich and his wife Elizabeth Gynkes had a wopping fifteen children together.

Sir Richard Rich died in June 1567.

Sir John Russell, Lord High Admiral

untitled-design-52John Russell was present throughout the entire reign of Henry VIII. He was knighted in 1522 and was created Comptroller of the King’s Household in 1537. In 1540 he was appointed Lord High Admiral until 1543 when he relinquished his title to become Lord Privy Seal.

His wife, Anne Sapcote was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine Parr and was a frequent member at court.

“After Henry VIII met Anne of Cleves at Rochester, the next day he asked Russell if he “thought her fair”. Russell replied with his natural diplomacy and prudence that he took her “not to be fair, but of a brown complexion”.In 1542, Russell himself resigned the Admiralty and succeeded to the Privy Seal on the death of Southampton. He was High Steward of the University of Oxford from 1543 till his death.”

Russell fell ill at the beginning of 1555, making his last appearance at Council on the 11th of January – he died the 14th of March.

Sir Ralph Sadler, King’s Secretary

untitled-design-53Sadler served as secretary to Thomas Cromwell and was knighted in 1540, as well as becoming a joint secretary to the king alongside Thomas Wriothesley.

When Cromwell went to the Tower in June 1540, Sadler was the only one who dared to carry Cromwell’s letter for mercy to the King. The King did not grant mercy and it’s unknown if he actually read the letter.

In January 1541, Sadler himself was imprisoned in the Tower, only to attend a Privy Council meeting six days later having cleared himself.

Sir Ralph died 30 March 1587 reputedly, “the richest commoner in England.”

Sir Anthony Wingfield, Vice-Chamberlain

untitled-design-54Wingfield was a member of court since the reign of the first Tudor King – Henry VII. He was Esquire of the Body at the court of Henry VII in 1509. Wingfield was at the funeral of the King.

It is during the reign of Henry VIII that Wingfield showed great advancement. In 1513 he was knighted his part in the capture of Tournai and he only grew from there.

Similar to his prominent kinsmen he served a long time  in the administration of his county (Suffolk).  In 1539 his responsibilities included being part of the royal household and he had a seat on the Privy Council – which allowed him to profit from the Dissolution of monasteries.

Anthony Wingfield was made a Knight of the Garter on St George’s Day 1541.

He died on 15 Aug. 1552 at the house of his friend Sir John Gates (listed above) at Bethnal Green.

Sir Thomas Wriothesley, King’s Secretary

untitled-design-55Wriothesley was the one of two secretaries of King Henry VIII, along with Ralph Sadler. “A naturally skilled but unscrupulous and devious politician who changed with the times, Wriothesley served as a loyal instrument of King Henry VIII in the latter’s break with the Catholic church.”

In 1532, Wriothesley was sent abroad as a bearer of despatches.

In late 1539, when Anne of Cleves was due to arrive in England, Wriothesley lead the naval escort. On 27 December, Anne arrived at Deal Castle in Kent.

Wriothesley continued to support Norfolk’s and his pro-Catholic faction, but like many of the time did so when it suited him at court.

He died 30 July 1550.

Also on the Privy Council but not included:

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury
Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester
Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, Lord Treasurer
Robert Radcliffe, Earl of Sussex and Lord Chamberlain
Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of Durham
Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, Privy Councillor
William Lord Sandys, Lord Chamberlain of the Household
Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, President of the Privy Council


Evans, Victoria Sylvia; “Who’s Who at the Tudor Court” (Dorothy M. Gladish, The Tudor Privy Council, p. 141 - where list was taken from)

Strype, John, Ecclesiastical Memorials, vol. 1 part 2, Oxford (1822), 454, deposition of Southampton.

Strype, John (1822). “Rich to Henry, 19 January 1535/6”. Ecclesiastical Memorials. 1. Oxford. pp. 252–255

Strype, John, Ecclesiastical Memorials, vol. 1 part 2, Oxford, 1822 p. 455, deposition of Russell

Potter, David (January 2010). “Gage, Sir John (1479–1556)”. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press.

The History of Parliament – British Political, Social and Local History

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Queen Mary: Her Last Sickness


Queen Mary’s Sickness: 17 November 1558:

This is taken from “Annals of Queen Elizabeth” by Sir John Hayward (1564-27 June 1627), found via public domain through National Archives.

The last sickness of Queen Mary was long and hard, her body was tired, “and almost wasted, with the violence of her disease; her mind anguished with thoughts, no less strange for variety, then strong for the great importance they drew, whereof some (doubtless) were secret and singular.”

While Mary lay in pain, “under the heavy hand of death” many rumors had spread in England and abroad that she was dead. The reaction of the people at the time showed the importance of the safety of their Queen. Some were saddened by the loss of their Queen and others were happy for their own political views would now be allowed under the rule of her Protestant sister.

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Mary Tudor, Queen of England: 18 February 1516 – 17 November 1558


“The Days of Queen Mary; Or, the Annals of her Reign” -by George Stokes

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