A to Z – Whitehall Palace or How Many Bathrooms Does One Need?

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]April 2016 A to Z Challenge – I’m blogging about history.

W is for Whitehall Palace or How Many Bathrooms Does One Need?




2006_tud_whitehall_1In the 11th and 12th centuries, the center of the action in London was Westminster Palace. Since 1049, the king had lived there, and subsequently, government held their operations there. As you can imagine, the surrounding neighborhood became too expensive for any normal person to afford. So, in 1240, the Archbishop of York bought a more affordable piece of land a little further away and called it York Place. He built a pretty nice house on the 23-acre property. So much so, that King Edward I stayed there while Westminster was being rebuilt to accommodate his large entourage. It must have been a large and splendid house. The photo is a depiction of the property from the show Tutors.

Years later in the late 1400s, Cardinal Wolsey owned the property (confiscated and passed down through a couple wars), and he expanded and expanded and expanded it. For some reason, this guy wanted bigger and bigger. In 1530, Wolsey got on the wrong side of the king, and King Henry VIII removed Wolsey from power and confiscated his house. It is suspected that Henry’s girlfriend Anne Boleyn wanted the house for herself and had something to do with Wolsey’s downfall. Neither here nor there, Henry married Anne Boleyn in 1533, and the two lovebirds moved into the house. Due to the building stones being white, they renamed it Whitehall.

anne and henry monogramHenry expanded the house even larger than York and Wolsey had done, adding a bowling green, indoor tennis courts, and a full tiltyard for jousting. After dumping beheading Anne, Henry married Jane Seymour in the house in 1536. Masons spent the next few years removing Anne’s monogram from all the woodwork and stonework as embroiderers replaced it in the needlework. A decade and much drama later, Henry died within the walls of the great estate in January of 1547. By then, the palace had grown to 1500 rooms, overtaking the size of the Vatican.

Following Henry’s death, the palace passed from his children Mary to Elizabeth, to their cousin James, who in 1622 constructed the Banqueting House, and finally to Charles I who was beheaded on the lawn of the Banqueting House by Parliament during the English civil war, and to his son Charles II, who also died in the house, but of a stroke.

This brings us to 1691. On April 10, a fire broke out and destroyed much of the living quarters and damaged much of the rest. In 1698, a second fire took what remained. Sadly, it is said that Michelangelo’s Cupid, a mural of Henry VIII, and a marble sculpture of Charles I was also lost in the fire.

The only thing left today is the Banqueting House.

52 Ancestors #7 Catherine Howard


This challenge is set forth by No Story Too Small, and this week’s theme is “Love.”

One of the most interesting stories of “Love” in my ancestry comes from the journals of Tudor history.

howard2Catherine Howard was the fifth wife of King Henry VIII. She was also my cousin. Her father was Edmund Howard and her mother was Joyce Culpepper. Joyce’s father was Sir Richard Culpepper.

In the 1200s, the Culpepper’s were split into two definitive lines by brothers Walter and Thomas into the Preston Hall Culpeppers and Bayhall Culpeppers, respectively. In the 1400s, the Bayhall line split into two lines with brothers again, so instead of Preston Hall and Bayhall, we now have Preston Hall, Wigsell, and Bedgebury. Catherine’s maternal grandfather, Sir Richard Culpepper, was of the Preston Hall line. Catherine had many Culpepper cousins, one being my 12th great grandfather William Culpepper of the Wigsell line, and another being Thomas Culpepper of the Bedgebury line. Though distant, Catherine Howard and Thomas Culpepper were cousins.

Just to make history even more confusing…Catherine’s paternal grandfather was Thomas Howard Duke of Norfolk. This man was Anne Boleyn’s grandfather too. Catherine and Anne (Henry VIII’s second wife) were first cousins.

On 28 July 1540, sixteen-year-old Catherine married King Henry after he ended his politically motivated marriage to (fourth wife) Anne of Cleaves. Henry was nearly fifty years old. For fourteen months, the newlyweds were happy, but then the rumors began. Henry became convinced his young bride was having relations with a few men, the most painful being his trusted servant, Catherine’s cousin, Thomas Culpepper.

In my opinion, one can imagine Catherine at sixteen-years old being quite overwhelmed by all the attention she was receiving along with her new-found feelings of superiority and immortality simply because she was Henry’s wife. And it is possible that Thomas in his mid-twenties, was merely playing a game with a teenage girl. The excitement of this game would be hard to top, especially with a prize as valuable as the wife of the King. Then again, they may have actually loved each other.

Catherine and Thomas were charged with treason, tried, and convicted. Thomas was beheaded 10 Dec 1541. Catherine was stripped of her title of Queen, locked in her chambers, and her future remained in limbo until Parliament decided what to do with her. On 10 February 1542, she was taken to be executed. She traveled by boat to the Tower and undoubtedly passed under the bridge where Thomas’s head was impaled. I wonder if she looked up. Her execution was held Monday, 13 February 1542.

According to popular folklore, her final words were, “I die a Queen, but I would rather have died the wife of Culpepper”. Did she really die for love, or was she simply a young girl who didn’t realize the place next to the King was a fragile one?

The above portrait, which has always been reported to be that of Catherine Howard, is now in dispute by the National Portrait Gallery in London. Apparently the poor girl lost her head…and now her face. Below is a letter she sent to her cousin/lover Thomas Culpepper.


GW402H604Master Culpeper,

I heartily recommend me unto you, praying you to send me word how that you do. It was showed me that you was sick, the which thing troubled me very much till such time that I hear from you praying you to send me word how that you do, for I never longed so much for a thing as I do to see you and to speak with you, the which I trust shall be shortly now. That which doth comfortly me very much when I think of it, and when I think again that you shall depart from me again it makes my heart die to think what fortune I have that I cannot be always in your company. It my trust is always in you that you will be as you have promised me, and in that hope I trust upon still, praying you that you will come when my Lady Rochford is here for then I shall be best at leisure to be at your commandment, thanking you for that you have promised me to be so good unto that poor fellow my man which is one of the griefs that I do feel to depart from him for then I do know no one that I dare trust to send to you, and therefore I pray you take him to be with you that I may sometime hear from you one thing. I pray you to give me a horse for my man for I had much ado to get one and therefore I pray send me one by him and in so doing I am as I said afor, and thus I take my leave of you, trusting to see you shortly again and I would you was with me now that you might see what pain I take in writing to you.

Yours as long as life endures,

One thing I had forgotten and that is to instruct my man to tarry here with me still for he says whatsomever you bid him he will do it.


It’s Monday! What are you reading? The Kiss of the Concubine






I just finished…

The Kiss of the Concubine

by Judith Arnopp




917aga--6ZL._SL1500_Blurb from Amazon

28th January 1547.
It is almost midnight and the cream of the English nobility hold their breath as King Henry VIII prepares to face his God. As the royal physicians wring their hands and Archbishop Cranmer gallops through the frigid night, two dispossessed princesses pray for their father’s soul and a boy, soon to be king, snivels into his velvet sleeve.
Time slows, and dread settles around the royal bed, the candles dip and something stirs in the darkness … something, or someone, who has come to tell the king it is time to pay his dues.
The Kiss of the Concubine is the story of Anne Boleyn, second of Henry VIII’s queens.


This is the same tale of Ann Boleyn and King Henry VIII we already know, but it’s told from Anne’s point of view, which puts a unique spin on her, personally.  Looking at the story from a different angle was enjoyable, and I couldn’t put the book down. I don’t know what it is about these characters that intrigues us so, but Judith Arnopp fulfilled our desire to know more. Thoughts, yearnings, and motivations are brought to a new light as Ms. Arnopp reveals Anne’s side of the story. Bravo!