A celebration of Tudor times at Katharine of Aragon Festival

Jonathan_Foyle. Photo PaulClarke
Jonathan_Foyle. Photo PaulClarke
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Peterborough honours Katharine of Aragon and celebrates Tudor history with a series of events this weekend.

The Katharine of Aragon Festival, which runs from January 28 - 31, is a collaboration between Peterborough Cathedral and Vivacity Peterborough.

Katharine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII, was buried at Peterborough Cathedral on January 29, 1536, and this important link with Tudor history is commemorated every year .

Schoolchildren, families and history enthusiasts are all invited to enjoy the Festival events at Peterborough Cathedral and Peterborough Museum.

On the Friday at around 10am a procession of civic dignitaries, schoolchildren and the period musicians of Hautbois will proceed from Peterborough Museum to the Cathedral for a Service of Commemoration. During the service wreaths will be laid on Katharine of Aragon’s tomb, and her moving last letter to Henry VIII will be read.

In the evening, TV historian and writer Dr Jonathan Foyle will give an illustrated talk about “The forgotten origins of the Tudor rose”.

Dr Foyle, one of the panellists on BBC2’s Great History Quiz on Christmas Eve and is a former curator at Hampton Court, will explain some of the mysteries behind the Tudor rose symbol in King Henry and Queen Katharine’s time.

Before the talk a Tudor-style Pottage and Ale supper will be served in the Becket Chapel at the cathedral, served by staff in Tudor costume, with Tudor music from Hautbois.

At Peterborough Museum on the 30th and 31st visitors will be able to travel back in time and discover what life was like “At home with the Tudors”. With the help of historical re-enactors they will be able to handle arms and armour, try Tudor food and hear about some of the gruesome cures offered by the Barber Surgeon.

The Katharine of Aragon Festival


5.30pm, Sung Eucharist in commemoration of Katharine of Aragon Sung by Peterborough Cathedral Choir.


8.30am, Mass at Peterborough Cathedral. The service will be conducted by Fr Adam Sowa of St Peter and All Souls Roman Catholic Church, Peterborough.

10.00am, Procession with civic dignitaries and schoolchildren, some of whom will be in Tudor costume, accompanied by the period musicians of Hautbois, from Peterborough Museum to the cathedral. The children have been invited to wear Tudor costume.

10.30am, Service of Commemoration at Peterborough Cathedral. All are welcome to this service for schoolchildren during which representatives of the Spanish Embassy, Peterborough and others will lay wreaths at the tomb of Katharine of Aragon. The moving final letter from Katharine of Aragon to Henry VIII will be read during the service.

Followed by Tudor Living History Workshops for schools.

2.00pm, Guided tour of Peterborough Cathedral. A fascinating historical tour of the cathedral interior, with a particular focus on the Tudor period. The tour, led by a trained cathedral guide, will be packed full of information and stories. The tour lasts around 1 hour and 15 minutes. Tickets: £8 per person (£6 concessions). Book online via the cathedral website www.peterborough-cathedral.org.uk or at Peterborough Information Centre on 01733 452336, or at the Welcome Desk on arrival.

6.00pm, A Tudor-style Pottage and Ale Supper in The Becket Chapel, within the Cathedral Precincts. Get into the Tudor spirit with a pre-lecture supper of traditional beef (or vegetable) stew served within an individually made loaf, followed by fresh fruit, or spicy Tudor “jumble” biscuits, washed down by Castor Ales’ Old Scarlett or a glass of wine or juice. Serving attendants will be in Tudor costume, and there will be musical accompaniment from Hautbois.

Tickets: £30, including drinks and your lecture ticket with a reserved seat. To book call Jackie Newman on 01733 355315 or email jackie.newman@peterbororough- cathedral.org.uk

7.30pm, Festival Lecture: The Forgotten Origins of the “Tudor Rose”, an illustrated talk by Dr Jonathan Foyle.

“Katharine of Aragon was central to the promotion of royal imagery in the early sixteenth century,” says Dr Foyle. His lecture, including original research, will explore the origins of the Tudor rose, one of Britain’s most recognised emblems. Dr Foyle will take questions after the talk, which will last around 45-50 minutes. The audience is then invited to stay on for a drink. Tickets: £11 (£5.50 U18s) including a glass of wine or a soft drink after the talk. Book online via cathedral website or at Oundle Box Office on 01832 274734 or from Peterborough Information Centre on 01733 452336. Also available in person at Peterborough Cathedral Shop.


10.00am–5.00pm: 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 or try period food. Take part in family activities and crafts with a Tudor theme and meet period musicians Hautbois, to be transported to the Tudor court. This is a drop-in event, so there’s no need to pre-book!

Admission: £4.00 adults, £3 concessions, £12 families, under 5s free. Last admission 4pm.

Call 01733 864663 or visit www.vivacity-peterborough.com for more information.

2.00pm, Guided tour of Peterborough Cathedral. Details as on Friday..


10.00am–5.00pm, At home with the Tudors, at Peterborough Museum. Details as on Saturday.

2.00pm, Tudor Peterborough Walk, starting at Peterborough Museum. A walking tour around Peterborough’s historic city centre with a costumed guide, exploring what the city was like during the time of Katharine of Aragon. The tour will end inside Peterborough Cathedral, hearing about the funeral of Katharine of Aragon and other stories from the cathedral’s Tudor history. The one hour tour will end in time for a short break before Choral Evensong, for those who would like to stay. Tickets: £6 (£4 children and concessions).

3.30pm, Choral Evensong at Peterborough Cathedral With Peterborough Cathedral Choir. Hear the sound of Church choral music in a form not so different to the monastic worship of Katharine of Aragon’s day.

For more call the cathedral on 01733 355315 www.peterborough-cathedral.org.uk