All you need to know about Peterborough’s Katharine of Aragon Festival this weekend

The tomb of  Katharine of Aragon at Peterborough Cathedral
The tomb of Katharine of Aragon at Peterborough Cathedral

Peterborough’s popular three-day Tudor-themed Katharine of Aragon Festival returns to the city on Friday.

It marks the date in January 1536 when King Henry VIII’s first wife was buried at Peterborough Abbey, having died in exile at Kimbolton Castle. She rests at the cathedral to this day.

Historian Tracy Borman ENGEMN00120131027163715

Historian Tracy Borman ENGEMN00120131027163715

The Festival programme includes a talk by the bestselling historian and author Tracy Borman , Tudor history tours of the city and cathedral, drop-in living history days for families and a candlelit ‘Merrie Tudor Evening’ with hog roast and period musicians.

The Festival starts with the traditional Service of Commemoration for schoolchildren and dignitaries at 10.30am tomorrow. Wreaths will be laid on Queen Katharine’s tomb and all are welcome to attend. School groups then stay for a Tudor day in the cathedral, and later visitors can take the Tudor Peterborough Walk, exploring the city’s historic centre with a costumed guide.

Friday 25th January

8.30am: Mass

10.30am: Service of Commemoration. A service attended by schoolchildren, at which dignitaries lay wreaths on Katharine’s tomb. All welcome. Free entry.

2pm: Tudor Peterborough Walk. Meet at Peterborough Museum and explore Peterborough’s historic city centre with a costumed guide and find out what the city was like during the time of Katharine of Aragon. The tour then enters Peterborough Cathedral where you will hear about the funeral of Queen Katharine. (60 mins).

5.30pm: Eucharist service for the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul. A special service, sung by Peterborough Cathedral Choir. (60 mins)

Saturday 26th January

10am – 3pm: At Home with the Tudors at Peterborough Museum. Travel back in time to the 1500s, with a chance to meet Tudor characters such as the barber surgeon with his gruesome cures. Mind your manners with a Tudor lady, handle arms and armour with our soldiers and try some period food, take part in family activities and crafts with a Tudor theme.

10am, 11am and 1pm: Old Scarlett Tours. This family friendly tour of the Cathedral will be led by ‘Old Scarlett the Tudor gravedigger’, who lived to be 98 and buried both Katharine of Aragon and Mary, Queen of Scots.

2pm: Guided Tour of Peterborough Cathedral. A full and fascinating historical tour of the Cathedral interior, with a Tudor focus. (75 mins).

7pm: A Merrie Tudor Evening. After a candlelit guided tour of the cathedral’s dramatic Tudor past, feast at a 16th century-style hog roast in the beautiful, fan vaulted New Building. The costumed musicians of A Merrie Noise will entertain and plenty of Old Scarlett ale will be served. Who knows, you may like to end the evening with some dancing or singing with the musicians. Wearing Tudor costume encouraged, but not essential.

7.30pm: Henry VIII and the Men who Made Him at John Clare Theatre, Peterborough Central Library - a talk by Tracy Borman. King Henry VIII is well known for his tumultuous relationships with women, and he is often defined by his many marriages. But when we see Henry through the men in his life, a new perspective in this famous king emerges. In this talk, Tracy will tell the story of England’s most famous monarch through different eyes, revealing his personality in all its multi-faceted, contradictory glory. Tracy Borman is an historian and bestselling author of a number of highly acclaimed books on the Tudors. Tickets: £6, £5 concessions including light refreshments via vivacity.org or on 01733 864663.

Sunday 27th January

10am – 3pm: At Home with the Tudors at Peterborough Museum (details as on Saturday).

2pm: Tudor Peterborough Walk, meet at Peterborough Museum (details as on Saturday).

For ticket details contact 01733 452336.