Haddon Hall, Henry Vernon and the Runaway Bride.

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Haddon Hall is one of the most beautiful and well-preserved Tudor houses in the country. It was originally built in the 12th century, and was occupied right up until the 1700’s. Its history is vast and overwhelming, and you could literally spend a day there, learning about the house’s occupants. During the Tudor period however, the house was owned by a favourite of Henry VII; a nobleman called Henry Vernon. The house has passed down his family line ever since.

During the War of the Roses, Henry Vernon proved himself to be a rather clever bloke. The throne changed hands more that the bed sheets in a knocking shop and so, like any wise nobleman of the time, Henry learned to keep his nose clean and just say ‘yes’ when needed. He was however a Yorkist supporter at heart, so quite how he ended a favourite of Henry Tudor is a bit of an oddity.

There are probably a few contributing factors to Vernon’s rise. Firstly, he managed to avoid most of the battle-fields during the wars of the Roses. He was also summoned by Richard III to attend Bosworth, but there is no evidence of him either being there, nor of him sending any troops. Had Richard won, Vernon would’ve royally fucked himself with this act of defiance. Luckily for Vernon, Richard got his arse handed to him, and Henry Tudor nicked his throne.

It would’ve also helped Vernon’s cause that he was married to Anne Talbot; the daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury, who was a staunch Lancastrian. He was at Bosworth, and kicked the shit out of the Yorkists on behalf of Henry VII, who would’ve rewarded him and his family after his ascension. Henry VII was also in the forgiving game after Bosworth, and those who had now ditched their Yorkist ways and pledged allegiance to him, were pardoned. Henry VII needed pals after all.

Now the country seemed settled, and the wars were apparently over, Henry Vernon apparently leapt at the chance to embrace the stability that the new crown offered, and set to making his house the Tudor jewel that it is today. Vernon was so well thought of by Henry VII, that he was made the treasurer and governor to Henry VII’s son, Prince Arthur. His son George was also appointed as Arthur’s tutor, and Arthur was apparently a frequent visitor to the house. In fact, Henry Vernon was so loved by Henry VII that he was knighted, and even invited to Arthur’s wedding to Katherine of Aragon, and allowed to locally go by the title of ‘King of the Peak’, (Peak referring to the Peak district…obvs).

The Vernon family stayed in favour with the Tudors throughout their reign, and seemed to manoeuvre their way through shit like the reformation, and Mary Tudors attempts to thwart the Protestants, relatively unscathed.

One of the most famous events that (possibly) happened at Haddon was the scandalous marriage of Henry Vernons great-granddaughter, Dorothy.  As the legend goes, in 1563, Dorothy Vernon did a legger and ran off with a bloke by the name of John Manners. It’s thought that Dorothy’s father, George, disapproved of Dorothy’s love for John, who was the son of the Earl of Rutland – the smallest county in England.

Dorothy, clearly not giving two shits what her dad thought, left Haddon amidst a great ball that kept the occupants of the house distracted long enough for her to leave the house and meet her beloved John. The couple then fucked the party right off and went and ‘eloped’, much to George’s dismay. I say ‘eloped’ in that sarcastic way because according to records, they were either married in Haddon chapel, which is about 20 meters from the banqueting hall where the great feast was happening, or the village of Bakewell, which is about 2 miles away.

All must have been forgiven, because two years later, George Vernon died; Dorothy and John inherited the house and, in similar style to her great-grandfather, went to town decorating the shit out of it, and putting both hers and John’s family sigils on just about every bit of wood and plaster in the place. Credit to them though because it looks mint.

The house has been home to the Earl of Rutland from then on, with many of its Tudor features remaining intact. Because the house is so fucking amazing, it’s used in pretty much any and every TV program and film about the Tudors, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s bloody gorgeous and if you get the chance to go, you totally should. However, in case you can’t go, here is a special Tudorials tour of the place, with facts and crappy mobile pictures, and all.

The Chapel

The chapel is the oldest part of the house, with parts of it being built during William the Conquerors reign. It’s chatted about in the doomsday book, when Bakewell village had a fucking huge population of 32 – I am informed that this was actually massive for a village of that time.

The chapel has the most impressive medieval wall drawings that I have ever seen. They’re understated, intricate and beautiful, and were painted in the 15th century. They were painted in a special kind of mould-proof powder, and later painted over during the reformation. Over the years, as the covering paint came away, the mould-proof powder protected the works, which is why we see them in all their original glory today.

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The church alter

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I have no idea whats happening here. No idea at all. I’m going to pretend its pirates, on a boat, on grass. That seems about right.

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So, this hideous painting is called the ‘trois mort’. The skeletons have rosemary in their mouths which was commonly associated with death as it stopped the smell of rotting flesh from corpses wafting around the place. Exactly what you need to be reminded of during one of your 5 daily prayer times.

The Banqueting Hall

The banqueting hall at Haddon is just full of stories. When Dorothy and John Manners inherited the hall, they built a minstrel gallery for the performers to entertain their guests, at one end of the hall. The minstrel gallery is basically a posh balcony that would’ve faced the head table, which is raised from the other tables by a daïs. The daïs was basically a small, passive aggressive step whose purpose was solely to point out the fact that those sat on it are wealthy and important, and those not sat on it were a bunch of shit-houses who should know their place.

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The banqueting Hall in all it’s glory.

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The daïs, or ‘posh twat step’ as I have just renamed it, over which hangs a tapestry from the reign of Edward IV (badman). It bears Edward’s coat of arms and was given to the Vernons by Henry VIII.

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If you ever go to Haddon, try and spot the ‘sobriety manacle’ in the banqueting hall. It was put there in medieval times to chastise anybody who had not had their daily quota of alcohol. Apparently, if you weren’t pissed up you were a heretic, and you would be cuffed whilst liquor was poured down your sleeves. There is some tenuous link to Jesus’ first miracle being turning water into wine, but I think they were just piss heads. I bet fucking nothing got done, and we could’ve had the TV centuries sooner if our medieval ancestors had sorted their shit out.

The Kitchens

The kitchens at Haddon freak me out. There is something about them – you can just imagine a maniacal Tudor cook coming running at you with a butcher’s hook and a dead swan, threatening to burn you alive if you don’t turn the spit. Ok, Ok, they’re not that scary, but still, you get the picture.

The most terrifying of the kitchen rooms is the butchery, with its blood drain and meat hooks. However, in the actual main kitchen itself sits a trough used to keep live trout for the house. This particularly freaks me out because I hate fish; they are slimy little fuckers with beady eyes, so the thought of having big fucking trout ambling about my kitchen on one side and cows being literally murdered alive on the other makes me want to shit with fear.

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The butchery, or ‘meaty murder room’ as I call it. Complete with its blood drain, original feature meat hanger and axe marked chopping block…not gross at all.

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One of the kitchen rooms. Looks quaint doesn’t it? Well now imagine it with live fucking trout in that tub on the floor! Not so quaint now is it?!

  • Fun Fact: During feasts, the whole of the kitchen and banqueting hall would have been draped in fine clothes, as this showed how rich the family was. During a feast, servants would wash the hands of the top table prior to their meal and then place their napkins over their left shoulders. They did this because the Tudors didn’t use forks, just their knives and hands, so when their hands were soaked in food grease, they  could easily just wipe them clean on their cloths without cutting into too much scoffing food time.
  • Another fun fact: women servers were not allowed in the banqueting hall at all during the feast, in typical Tudor misogynistic bullshit style.
  • A third fun fact: Tudors ate early so they didn’t have to sit in the dark. Makes sense really

The Great Chamber

This room is absolutely draped in Tudor arse-kissery. There are wall-to-wall carvings and paintings of Tudor roses and portraits. Above the fireplace is a carving of the Tudor coat of arms, with the initials ‘E.P.’ serving as a little fanboy nod to Henry VIII’s son, Prince Edward. Henry Vernon was no stupid man, he clearly realised that by praising the apple of Henrys eye, he would obviously score favour with the big man. There are also some small carvings on the wall of Henry VII and Elizabeth or York, and also, rather curiously, one of Will Somers; Henry VIII’s court fool.

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The carvings in the Great Chamber are awesome. The boar is the Vernon’s sigil and on the ceiling is painted a Tudor rose, as standard, and a small dog. The dog is the Talbot’s sigil; Henry had it painted as a little nod to his wife’s (rather influential) father.

 

The Gardens

Now, I don’t like gardens that much so I didn’t take any pictures of them. This is for a couple of reasons; the first being that they mean that I have to go out in the cold. Secondly, they are constantly being changed, and dug up and moved,  and thirdly, if I take pictures of flowers, I will be expected to name them, and I don’t have time for that shit. I can barely point out daisy’s so would stand no chance with the proper shit they have in stately homes and such.

Having said that, the gardens at Haddon are well worth a visit. They seem to have a lot of Rosemary, (which is morbid really given the trois mort in the chapel), but they are really pretty, and people seem to like to go and paint them. Since I didn’t take any picture of the gardens, I thought I would treat you to some shots of the exterior of the hall, which is fucking great as well.

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These are called the ‘Lady Manners steps’, as it is said that this is where  Dorothy made her escape when she ran off with John. I appreciate they are not that interesting, but they are well worth stopping off at  for a few minutes if you go to the Hall. Here you can laugh at the hilarity that is every Mum who comes across them, trying to resemble a ‘Tudor rose’, whilst screeching  ‘take the picture!’ at her husband, before somebody comes and stands behind her.

 

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This is the courtyard. It is the part of the house that is shot on every programme or film ever made. Please appreciate this shot, I waited forever for everyone to fuck off out of the way so that I could take it.

 

Upstairs

The parts of Haddon that are open to the public are tiny in comparison to the full size of the house. The house was only reclaimed by the Rutlands in the 1920’s, and they have been living there since then so vast parts of it are no go areas. There are only a few rooms open upstairs, and none of them are bedrooms, (though I swear I went in the bedrooms there as a kid which makes me wonder why they are now out of bounds… how much house do the Rutlands need!?).

Of the rooms that are up there, the Long Gallery is the most impressive – the other rooms are ace, but this one really is shit hot. The chances are that if you go to Haddon, and you have seen literally anything Tudor based ever, you will recognise this room. It seems to be THE ONLY place to film court scenes, but it’s not hard to see why. It’s reputedly built by Smythson, who built Hardwick Hall. I say reputedly because there is no actual evidence, but you just have to have 5 minutes nerding out about the plaster work and design of both houses to see that it clearly WAS built by him.

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The Long Gallery: Unlike the courtyard, I could not get people to move. In the slim chance you happen to be in this picture, then congratulations! You’re famous.

In Elizabethan times, it was popular to have a long gallery in your house, not only for entertaining, but also for ‘exercise’ (mincing about), when it was raining or cold outside. The Long Gallery at Haddon is chock full of peacocks and boars – in fact, who am I kidding – the whole house is. These were the family sigils of the Vernons and the Manners, and Dorothy and John had them created and stuck up to show their love and unity. It’s sweet really.

 

 

There is an absolute shit-tonne of stuff I have left out of this piece, because to be quite honest, I could write about Haddon all day. You will just have to either visit it yourself, or drop me a message, and I will geek out trying to answer any questions.

 

The house itself is just outside the village of Bakewell in Derbyshire. Bakewell itself is worth a visit because you can grab yourself a proper Bakewell tart, which is not anything like that Mr. Kipling bullshit that masquerades as one, and is made in fucking Stoke or some nonsense.

Also, if you go to Bakewell, you can pop into the church and see the rather grand grave of Dorothy and John Manners.

Haddon Hall’s admission is around £15 adult, free to under 16’s, and £3 for the car park. Please check opening hours before you go, as it operates on a seasonal calendar and may close for weddings etc. You can have a look at the website here. I should also say too, that the staff at Haddon are amazing.

Bakewell’s All saints Parish Church is open every day, 9-5 and is free to visit. You can view their web page

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28th July,1540: Henry Takes a Child Bride

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The very beautiful Katherine Howard.

On 28th July, 1540, Henry VIII married his fifth wife, the child bride Katherine Howard, (OK, OK, she wasn’t *technically* a child bride, but he was nearly 50 and she was around 17 years old, so its pretty fucking grim, even by Tudor standards).

Katherine’s life is a sad tale; riddled with abandonment, a lack of affection and constant occurrences of sexual abuse. It’s fucking heartbreaking reading it as a woman in the 21st Century. It really all started when her Mum, Jocasta Culpepper, died in 1531. Jocasta, or Joyce as she was known (because lets face it, Jocasta is a fucking stupid name*), had around fifteen children: ten from her marriage with Edmund Howard, Katherine’s Dad, and five from a previous marriage. Joyce was a strong and empowered woman; however Katherine’s Dad was the opposite in every way.

Edmund Howard was brother to Thomas Howard, the third Duke of Norfolk, who was powerful and prominent politician at court. Edmund forever lived in his brothers shadow, failing to gain any importance (and fucking it up when he did), and racking up a shit load of debt, so when Joyce died and he was left with fifteen kids, he shit himself.  To get himself out of the financial turd he was in, he decided the only course of action was to ditch some of the kids onto rich relatives, and being a Howard, there was no short supply of those. So that was it, off Katherine went to live with her step-Grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk.

Now don’t get it twisted – this wasn’t like going to stay with your Nan and having cake every day. This woman already had several girls in her care, and her guardianship was lax to say the least. Actually, scrap that, her guardianship was some pure, stone cold bullshit, because whilst Katherine was there she was pursued by her music teacher, Henry Manox, which incidentally was only discouraged due to him being a lower rank than Katherine, and then preyed upon and sexually exploited by the Dutchess’s man servant, Francis Dereham. These events would eventually come back to haunt Katherine and lead to her death a few years later.

In 1539, Katherine was sent to court to become a lady-in-waiting to the new queen, Anne of Cleeves. Now it will hardly be a spoiler when I tell you that Henry VIII didn’t really like his forth wife, Anne, and neither will it come as a shock when I say that he wanted to get his kicks elsewhere. Henry couldn’t get ‘aroused’ by his new queen, (which apparently had everything to do with her being supposedly smelly and ugly, and nothing to do with him being a vile old cunt who was rife with Syphilis, and dented pride), so when Katherine was brought to court, and waved in front of the King’s nose by her pimp-like Uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, it was no surprise that Henry had to have her.

Poor Katherine, she must have thought all her birthdays had come at once, the King and her Uncle offering her centre-stage at court, and allowing her to believe it was because she was special and neither had anything to gain. Conversely, poor Anne; newly arrived in a foreign country, called names by a fat pig of a King, and then to be embarrassed at court as he paraded his young mistress around like King of the peados.

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Henry VIII giving Rolf Harris a run for his money.

A few months after Henry’s annulment to Anne, he decided to wed his young bride, Katherine. Little is known about the actual ceremony, Henry had been so eager to impress everyone and pull out all the stops for his marriage to Anne, that he had managed to break the treasury and so decided to have a ‘low key’ affair with Katherine. The service was held at the chapel in Oatlands Palace, which he had built to rival Hampton Court as a gift for Anne of Cleeves… and then married her lady-in-waiting in it.

The pair were married by Bishop Bonner, but it is unknown who else was in attendance. After the ceremony, the wedding appears to have been kept quiet for a short while as Katherine was not announced as Queen until 8th August, when prayers were said for her at Hampton court – not that they did her much fucking good, prayers couldn’t save you from Henry. There is no record of plans for her coronation immediately after the wedding, which is unusual, but nobody could deny that Henry wasn’t smitten with his new bride, groping and grabbing at her constantly, and bragging about their bedroom exploits to his band of twats. The ceremony itself took place as Henry was having Tomas Cromwell executed for Treason for crimes only known to Henry, and after the pair went on a hunting holiday honeymoon around Surrey and Berkshire… how romantic.

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Oatlands Palace

You probably already know how the story ends: Katherine began an affair with a member of Henry’s council, Thomas Culpepper, then Francis Dereham rocks up demanding a place by her side, so she gives it to him possibly out of fear, and then everyone finds out everything and all involved lose their lives, including Katherine and Henry Manox, the music teacher. You can read more about their deaths by following the link at the bottom of this page, (I hated writing about it, as it’s depressing as fuck and makes me want to set fire to things).

As with everything ever EVER, I have opinions about the whole Katherine and Henry thing, (aside from him being a cretinous, lecherous jizz-sack of a man). I often find myself questioning whether Henry Manox actually deserved to die. Apparently he was totally in love with Katherine, but was banned from seeing her, and when he got wind of the slime bag Dereham sneaking into her dorms at night, he alerted the Dowager Duchess, who did fuck all about it. As for Dereham and Culpepper?… fuck them. They were equally as much the sneaky little shit holes as Henry was a dirty old mongrel of a man. Having said that,  some historians believe that Katherine and Tom Culpepper were in a relationship before Katherine became involved with Henry, but it never really went anywhere, because they argued like a couple in IKEA on a bank holiday Monday, but either way he was accused of raping a woman and continued to pursue Katherine after she was married, so he can go fuck a knife.

Now lets think about Henry…This old prick had his BFF executed on the day that he married his new bride. Thomas Cromwell was once the Kings closest and most trusted adviser, yet like the cruel bastard he was, Henry sent him to death and still managed to make it a day of celebrations. This wasn’t the first time Henry pulled shit like this. He married Jane Seymour the day after Anne Boleyn’s execution, and made a point of wearing yellow on the day of Katherine of Aragon’s death. I don’t know why Henry did this; possibly to illustrate his power, possibly to hide the feeling of guilt, though doubtful.

And so that brings us to Katherine, a child abandoned by her family and left with a woman who can only be likened to Miss Hannigan, the evil woman from Annie, only to crave affection and find it in the arms of those who would take advantage of a young girl. If it was modern day, she would be protected by social services and a Child Sexual Exploitation case would be opened. However, it wasn’t modern day, it was Tudor time, so instead she was branded a whore, and put to death. Tudor men were fucking cunts at times.

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Katherine Howard, looking smug because all said and done, death was preferable to  shagging Henry.

 

 

If you want to know more about Katherine’s downfall you can read about it here

Also, you can read about Anne of Cleeves’ betrothal to Henry here and about how she ultimately won the long game here.

If you want to know more about Thomas Cromwell and the events that led to his demise, you can find out here.

 

 

 

*Apologies to any readers who may be called Jocasta. I was showing off and it wasn’t big or clever. Jocasta is a great name and I’m sure you don’t ever get questioned about it.

16th July, 1546: The Horrific Death of Anne Askew

16th July marks the anniversary of the death of Anne Askew, the last martyr to be executed under the reign of Henry VIII, one of the first English women to ask for a divorce and the only woman on record to have been tortured in the Tower of London… Oh, and one of history’s biggest bad asses.

(c) National Trust, Tatton Park; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Anne Askew: Gave zero fucks about patriarchy, religion or pain.

Anne was born into a noble family, in Lincolnshire in 1520. Her Dad, William Askew, was a prominent courtier and landowner and pals with Henry VIII, whilst her two brothers were the Sherriff of Lincoln, and Henry’s cup bearer (which sounds like a shit job but was actually considered an honour, mostly because the Tudor courtier were the biggest bunch of brown-nosers in history, and fought to get close to the King, so much so that wiping the Kings fat, shitty arse was considered one of the highest positions a man could hold. Can you imagine telling your friends that is your job nowadays??

Anne was very well read and witty, and a devout protestant. The shit all started when Anne was fifteen and her sister, Martha, died.  So as to ‘save money’, Anne’s father arranged for Anne to marry the man her sister had been betrothed to, a local landowner, a vile scumbag called Thomas Kyme. Kyme was a strict catholic and didn’t approve of Anne’s protestant faith. He obviously though he could change her ways, but soon came to realise that he had bitten off more than he could chew when Anne refused to take his name and refused to refer to him as her husband.

In my opinion, Anne was the ultimate Tudor feminist, giving not one toss about society’s expectations of women of that time. Anne’s marriage was unhappy and abusive, and despite having two children with Kyme, Anne used the introduction of the reformation as a way to seek a divorce from her cock-wiff husband. Kyme grew tired of Anne’s belligerence and, under the advice of the local priest, and much to Anne’s pleasure, he kicked her out. Anne, being the indomitable rebel that she was, saw this as an opportunity to head down to London and spread the word according to the protestant bible.

Because he was a massive scrotum-faced fuckwit, in 1543 Henry VIII ruled that it would be illegal for all women and men of minor gentry and lower to read the bible. This was a bit to take back some control and hopefully forge some sort of relationship with the Holy Roman Empire. It was therefore seen as heresy to be somebody who would stand in towns reciting the bible for the ordinary folks who may not ordinarily have access to such texts, or a gospeller as they were named. For Anne there was no other way. She had been attending bible meetings in London, where groups would get together in secret to study the protestant text, and this was the next step for her. The people of London wanted to hear it and she felt duty bound to deliver it.

Anne was an amazing gospeller. The people flocked to hear her recite the protestant texts, and were enamoured that a noble woman of such high ranking would come to the streets to give the poor, uneducated and bible-less povvers faith and inspiration; plus she was easy on the eye, which I’m sure helped. She soon earned the name the ‘Fair Gospeler’ and became somewhat of a Tudor celebrity. Anne knew she was breaking the law but gave zero fucks about all that noise.

At one point she was arrested and her divorce request rejected, she was sent back Lincolnshire and imprisoned but escaped and returned to London to continue her good work. This is when the shit really hit the fan.

One of Henry VIII’s most trusted politicians, the militant Catholic Bishop of Winchester, was a snidey little gobshite called Stephen Gardiner. Gardiner didn’t take kindly to Anne Askew educating the poor with the protestant text and went out of his way to put an end to it by putting an end to her. At this point in time, Henry VIII was onto his last wife Katherine Parr, a beautiful, well-educated and very tolerant woman who also happened to be a devout protestant and a bit of a free thinker. Gardiner didn’t like the queen and so decided that there may be a way to kill two birds with one stone.

 

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Stephen Gardiner and his massive bollock of a face.

 

Anne was good pals with a high ranking noble woman called Catherine Brandon, the Duchess of Suffolk. Catherine Brandon was also the queens BFF so Gardiner, seeing a connection decided that was his way in. He had Anne arrested and sent to the Tower, then he had the Queen and her ladies arrested under suspicion of heresy. Katherine Parr, being the brain box that she was, had the foresight to burn all of her protestant literature prior to the arrest when she got a wiff of Gardiners plans.

Whilst Anne was imprisoned in the Tower of London she was asked to name all of the women that she knew who heretics were. Anne said nothing. Ordinarily what would happen next would be that the prisoner would be shown a man undergoing torture on the rack, with the threat of ‘this will be you if you don’t comply’, but because Anne was a woman, and one of high birth at that, it was deemed inappropriate for her to see a naked man, so instead, and with rather questionable moral benchmarks, Gardiner decided that the middle man should just be cut out and Anne would go straight to the rack in an attempt to get her to name her conspirators.

Anne was eventually condemned to be executed by burning, but Gardiner still needed Anne to implicate the Queen. Now, as I hope you are now seeing, Anne was nobody’s mug, and being the heroine that she was decided to write accounts of her time in the tower. According these these accounts Anne was stripped down to her shift, tied to the rack and stretched until she was taught and raised five inches from the table. She passed out from the pain, but was revived and the whole process was repeated twice more. The Tower constable, a man named Anthony Kingston, could not bear to see the torture and ran to the King to demand it be stopped.

The problem was that the two men who ordered the torture were Gardiner’s right hand men. These two utter fucking wankstains were named Tom Wriothesley and Richard Rich (which in hindsight is probably why they were angry men). Rich and Wriothesley ignored the gaolers request to end the torture of Anne and instead took hold of the reigns and decided that if the torturer wouldn’t do it, that they would simply do it themselves. The violence only ended when Anthony Kingston returned from Henry with a royal demand to get Anne off the rack and leave her the fuck alone until her execution. As I have already said, Anne was the only woman ever recorded to have been tortured in the Tower, and still she didn’t name one other person as an accomplice. What an absolutely amazing lady she was. The Queen and her ladies were released due to a lack of evidence, and also because of Anne’s silence.

On 16th July, 1546 Anne was put to death by being burnt at the stake, the standard, yet friggin horrific death reserved for heretics and martyrs. The problem was the Anne had been tortured so much that she couldn’t stand. She had been stretched on the rack until her tendons had snapped, her wrists, ankles, elbows, hips and knees had all dislocated and her muscle fibres stretched to beyond repair. These vile bastards had really gone to town on her to the point where Anne had to be carried to the stake on a chair. She was then tied with chains to a separate chair which was attached to the woodpile, which was then set alight. As if this wasn’t enough, the fire was set to burn slowly, ensuring that Anne endured as much pain in her last moments as the men could cause.

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The martyrdom of Anne Askew

It is thought that somebody who took pity on Anne, covered her in gunpowder to ensure a swift end, other accounts suggest that the fire burnt for over an hour and people flocked to see the burning of the Fair Gospeler. One thing is consistent though, and that is that Anne maintained her dignity and courage until the very end.

At the time of Anne’s execution, a motherfucker of a thunderstorm rolled into London. It was believed that this was a display of Gods wrath at the murder of innocents. I like to think of Gardiner, Rich and Wriothesley sat there shitting themselves, cry-wanking into a pulpit begging for forgiveness at the sound of weather, but I doubt they did.

It is unknown whether Anne and the Queen were in the secret protestant club that Gardiner had invented, or if they even ever met at all. One thing is for certain though, Anne Askew’s story is one of the saddest yet most empowering in Tudor history, so much so that in Victorian times interest in her peaked and a special ‘Anne Askew doll’ was created, (which came complete with a rack and stake… real talk). Apparently one can still be seen today in Leeds toy museum… though quite why you would want to make a special trip to see a vintage murder doll is beyond me.

Anne was the last martyr to die under the reign of Henry VIII. She was only 25 when she died.

June 6th, 1520: The Field of Cloth of Gold, (a.k.a. Histories most expensive dick measuring contest).

Back in 1518, when tensions between European countries were high, and each nation was acting like a chief to the next, declaring wars and generally being cunts to their neighbours, Henry VIII’s right hand man, Cardinal Wolsey, hatched a plan.

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Wolsey- more than likely hatching a cunning plan.

The idea was to invite all of Europe’s great monarchs to London for a sort of less shit, medieval G8 summit, where they would all sign ‘the Treaty of London’. The treaty was an agreement that stated that all those who signed would maintain peace in Europe, and if a country decided to break the treaty, war would be declared upon them by the others. It all sounded good in principal, but took less than a year to go tits up.

It all kicked off when Francis I of France and The Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V of Spain had a spat. Spain and France were the most powerful countries in Europe at the time, so shitting themselves both sought to form an alliance with England, the third most powerful. Whilst Henry must have loved all this attention, he was in a bit of a tricky situation: He was married to a Spanish princess, and the Aunt of Charles V, Katherine of Aragon, meanwhile France lies next door and could cause a potential shit storm for Henry.

Henry decided to meet Francis to talk shit through and try to ‘strengthen relations’. I feel it is important to say at this point that Henry fucking hated Francis, Francis was arty, rich and handsome, and knocked around with the likes of Leonardo Da Vinci , whilst Henry was athletic, spoiled and egocentric. The pair had one thing in common though, they were both competitive as fuck.

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The rather dashing Francis I of France, serving the painter come to bed eyes and a little coy smile.

 

They decided to meet at Balinghem, in the then English owned area of France known as the Pale of Calais. Henry took half the bloody country with him; he had around 5000 noble men and women, 3000 horses and a shit tonne of wine. Some of the noble’s had literally had to re-mortgage to be able to attend, but they wouldn’t have missed it for the world… to be fair would you? it was essentially front row tickets to see two kings make themselves look like right royal pricks (pun intended), in a display of self-provoked public humiliation. So off they all trotted, popcorn and front row tickets at the ready, off to France.

The whole event lasted nearly seventeen days, during which time each king tried to upstage and outshine the other. These cunts were so insistent on making the other look like a chump that they both nearly bankrupted their treasuries. Henry had a mock castle made to house him, which was draped in cloth made from real gold, (hence ‘the Field of the Cloth of Gold’). He had the finest, most expensive tapestries taken across, along with the most monumental feasts. There was dancing, jousting and archery tournaments and the whole thing became geared up to discover which country held the most wealth and power. It was less of a celebration of unity and more of a cock fight, (with Henry and Francis acting like big fucking cocks alright).

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‘I’ve got a tent’… ‘well I have a church’…’well I have a castle’… ‘WELL I’VE GOT A FUCKING DRAGON!’

The whole thing ended in tears when Henry challenged Francis to a wrestling match. Henry, who was built like a brick shit house, was no stranger to wrestling and confidently thought he could take the weedy, art loving ‘Renaissance Prince’, Francis. He was wrong, and to put a long story short, Francis owned his arse. Some say that Francis tripped Henry and therefore only won by cheating, but these ‘some’ would be English, and I like to think that Henry got pwned by a nerd.

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There is definitely no tripping to be seen in this instant replay still.

Henry, being the utter spoiled sore loser that he was, skulked off, and with that the Field of the Cloth of Gold was over. The whole event, which was designed to strengthen relations between the two nations, failed miserably. On his way home with his freshly bruised ego, Henry popped in to see Charles V and forged an alliance against France. Two years later England and Spain were at war with the French King and the Treaty of London went out of the window.

I love the story of the Field of the Cloth of Gold. It sounds like it should be a majestic and bromantic tale of two men finding peace, when actually its about a massive fucking mard arse with a big wallet having a pop at another massive fucking mard arse with a big wallet. I like to imagine that after the event Henry told Katherine, ‘you know what dear, I think as a way of showing my undying, eternal love to you, we will go and help out Charlie after all…’, and that’s why he decided to become allies with Spain. I’m pretty sure it was not because he was actually seething out pure venom from his sweat glands at the thought of a two stone when wet through, French as fuck hipster, kicking his hoop all over a posh field whilst his subjects look on… and then having to pay for the privilege as well. That would be childish.

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Henry VIII and Charles V, The Holy Roman Emperor…probably planning a dish of smack down for Francis. 

 

If you enjoyed this Tudorial, you may also like the Drunk Histories version of events told by Tiff Stevenson, which can be found here. Enjoy!

17th April 1534: Thomas More is sent to the Tower

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On 17th April 1534, The kings right hand man, Thomas More, was sent to the Tower of London to await a trial for charges of treason. More was one of henry VIII’s best chancellor and lawyers, and at one time the two were super pally, but More had over stepped the mark by refusing to give into the King and go against his own better judgement. More, being a strict catholic man, had refused to acknowledge Henry as the head of the church, and as far as henry was concerned this meant that More was proving to be a right pain in the royal hoop.

The trouble all came about when Henry decided that he wanted to divorce his wife of nearly 24 years, in order to bend his member up his fancy piece, Anne Boylen. The Pope was all like ‘ Hell no boy, that ain’t happening, Us Catholics don’t do divorce, or maybe you missed the scroll’. Henry was not in the slightest bit happy bout this so decided to sack off the Pope and make himself the head of the church in England. As you can imagine, this caused a bit of tension and people were pissed off at the idea that their king, who was previously kept in line only by the Pope, was now taking the liberty to make himself even more important and powerful by moving the moral goal posts and putting himself in charge of that aspect of English law too. So, like a spoilt little shit, Henry sought the council of his closest pals to go about binning off the Pope.

More wasn’t having any of Henry’s bullshit. He was Catholic like everyone else at that time, and like everyone else he too recognised that the Pope was the boss…not Henry. What gave Henry the right to make himself the head of a new church? How could Henry be so arrogant to assume that he is the best person for that job anyway? How did he have the nerve to piss off Rome in such a spectacular way that the whole country would suffer and Catholicism would be shaken to its very core? All because the King could’t keep his dick in his pants. Fuck. That. Noise. More wasn’t buying into that shit at all. So, like the predictable, overindulged twat that Henry was, he had More arrested for treason.

Henry was worried that More’s resistance to the idea of him running his own religion illuminated the fact that the Parliament were sceptical of it too, and if parliament had doubts that they dare to voice, then the public wouldn’t be on board either, putting a spanner in the works for Henry’s knobbing. More had to go. Henry found him guilty or treason and sentenced him to death.

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Thomas More’s decapitation at Tower Hill and a rather pleased executioner. Obviously not a fan of the Catholics.

On 6th July, 1535 More was beheaded at Tower Hill. To be fair he got off lightly: the standard form of execution of traitors was to be hung, drawn and quartered, but since Henry and Thomas were once friends, Henry thought he would be kind and lessen the punishment. What a kind ‘friend’ he was. Henry didn’t really want to kill More, he pushed and pushed for more to retract his statement and recognise Henry as the new gaffer, but More wasn’t budging. He was a moral man and knew that there was NO WAY Henry was entitled to  govern the church and break from Rome. More told Henry where to go, he told Henry’s men that he believed  that ‘no temporal man should be the head of spirituality’, (which is a confusing sentence from a man who heavily supported the Pope…another temporal man at one time).

So there we are, another one of Henry’s friends murdered so that the King could get his way. You have to admire Thomas More for committing to his beliefs and having the bravery to tell such a spoilt king to shove his Oath of Supremacy up his arse. The sad thing is that after More’s death Henry soon grew bored of Anne Boylen too, (who suffered the same fate as More).

Thomas more’s head was spiked and placed on London Bridge. It was there for a month or so, rotting away, until it was decided that it would be thrown into the Thames to make space for the heads of other traitors to the crown. Mores daughter, Margaret Roper, decided that she did not want to see her fathers rancid, decaying face sink to the bottom of the murky water so bribed one of the guards to pass it to her and brought it home to save as a relic. It is now presumed to be locked in the Roper family vault at St Dunstan’s church,  Canterbury.

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More’s daughter rescuing her Dad’s head from the spikes at London Bridge. There are better things to inherit.

 

 

 

December 10th 1541: The Executions of Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpepper

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Katherine Howard

If you’re not familiar with the names Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpepper then fret not; all will be explained. These are the chaps partly responsibly for the execution of Henry VIII’s fifth bride, Katherine Howard.

Young Katherine was only 19 when she was executed for treason. She had been found to be shagging a member of the King’s Privy council, a strapping young lad named Thomas Culpepper. To be fair,  You can’t really blame her when she was married to a fat 50 year old king, who stank of pus from his ulcerated leg and insisted on letching over the poor girl at any opportunity going.

Katherine’s start to life was far from that of a future queen. Although she was Ann Boleyn’s cousin, she had not been graced with the same upbringing and social status.She had been dumped in the care of her Grandmother because her parents, though noble, were too skint to raise her, so there she stayed, in a dorm with other unwanted girls. Her education was limited and she was by no means as intelligent as the other women that had graced Henry’s bed. She was however pretty and charming.

She came to court around 1539 to serve as a lady in waiting to Anne of Cleeves. Henry had married Anne but didn’t like her and so was desperate to get rid when young Kitty Howard caught his eye. To cut a long story short, he divorced Anne and married Katherine.He described Katherine as his ‘rose without thorns’ and was completely smitten. However, fairly soon into their marriage it became apparent that Katherine was not as innocent as Henry was led to believe.

At the time there were people at court who knew of Katherine’s past and the shit she got up to whilst living at her Grandmother’s. Basically Katherine had been getting frisky with her music teacher, Henry Mannox and had then gone onto have a relationship with a bloke called Francis Dereham. Now you may be thinking that there is nothing odd about that, a young girl having a boyfriend, but the problem was that she had declared her love for Dereham in front of God, which technically made them married, referred to themselves as man and wife and more than likely consummated the marriage, (who am I kidding, they defo shagged – Katherine later admitted that she knew her way around a man’s cock without getting preggers…not the words of a virgin).

Katherine thought she could hide her past and move on, be a queen and become the most important woman in the land. The problem is that when you are rich and have the world at your feet, it takes one dirty little bastard from your past to lay down a little blackmail for it all to come crashing down around you. Soon after she became Queen, Katherine found  that one of her old pals from back in the day, Joan Bulmer, had requested to come to court to serve as a lady in waiting. Joan was pure poison – she had dirt on the queen and was prepared to use it for her own gain, what could Katherine do? Joan was swiftly followed by  Dereham, who came knocking on Katherine’s door asking for a position of power. Katherine gave Dereham the position of her secretary, possibly to keep tabs on him and stop him running his mouth, keep your enemies close and all that.

Dereham wasn’t the only bloke at court to get close to Katherine. Whilst the King was ill earlier in 1541, Katherine had began a smoking hot affair with a dashing young chap named Culpepper, (but please don’t get a vision of a Tudor ‘Darcy’ type character in your head, this prick had not long before raped a gate keepers wife, then killed the gate keeper and got away with it like a slimy fucker… though some historians speculate that this was actually his brother, also called Thomas). It’s fair to say Katherine loved Culpepper, (who, incidentally was her distant cousin), very much and the whole affair was assisted by Katherine’s Lady in waiting, Lady Jane Rochford. Things were certainly complicated for Katherine, but she was young and naive, and spoiled by the king, who was besotted with her (and bragged constantly about the hot sex he was getting from the girl more than half his age).

Anyway, shit got real on November 2nd 1541, when the King was passed a letter pointing out that the queen was far from ‘a rose without thorns’ and had actually been married and was now shagging one of his pals behind his back. He went fucking mental. Everything went on lock-down and all parties were questioned. The ladies in waiting were sent to the tower and questioned, Henry Mannox was called in (the letter stated he knew of a ‘private mark’ on the queens body), Culpepper was tortured and confessed, as did Dereham.

Culpepper and Dereham were arrested as traitors and condemned to death. Mannox was allowed to go, he had gained his carnal knowlege of the Queen before the King had rocked up. Dereham had deflowered the Queen, and for that Henry could not forgive him. Katherine denied her marriage to Dereham (if she had admitted it, she would’ve been in a contract with another man and her life may have been spared). It was no good, she had not only made Henry look a right mug, but because she had now gained the reputation of a whore, any kids she had would have their paternity questioned, and since these kind were would be kings that shit wouldn’t fly.  She had to go.

Katherine was condemned to death, along with Lady Jane Rochford (who went mad, literally) and the whole of the Howard family. This however, is the story of Thomas Culpepper and Francis Dereham. Culpepper, being an old pal of the kings, got away lightly with beheading, Dereham on the other hand suffered a far worse fate, He was sentenced to a traitors death. That was some cold, bad shit about to come his way.

Dereham faced a traitors death, which consisted of: hanging, membering, disembowelling, beheading and quartering. In that order. It feels a little unfair that Dereham was handed this death whist Culpepper, who worked for the King, had been trusted by the King and was still bending his rapey little cock inside the Queen, got the easy option. Dereham had popped the Queen’s cherry long before Henry had a whiff of it, this pissed Henry off more than anything.

Dereham’s death was long, excruciating and humiliating.He was taken to Tyburn where he was hung but cut down before death, he than had his cock hacked off and his intestines ripped out and burned before him whilst made to watch. He was then beheaded and quartered. The Queens execution happened the following year, her last words being ‘I die here a queen, but I would have rather died the wife of Culpepper’.

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A traitors death: a jolly good show for all the family. No seriously, this was a day out in Tudor times.

29th November 1530: Suicide, Illness or Divine Intervention?

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The death of Cardinal Wolsey

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was, at one time, Henry VIII’s right hand man. He was the Pope’s representative in England, held a ridiculous amount of power and influence, and was the second richest man in the country next to the King, (Hampton Court Palace was actually commissioned by, and built for Wolsey – not Henry VIII, as most people believe). This dude was untouchable.

He died in 1530 after what can only be described as a ‘fucking nightmare’. Henry decided that Wolsey was to blame for everything that was going wrong with Henry’s love life, and that the only way to rectify this matter was to execute him. A common and predictable theme in Henry’s life.

It all started when Henry decided he had had enough of his wife of almost 24 years, and wanted to bin her off. He had found some bullshit clause in the bible which he reckoned made his marriage to Katherine of Aragon null and void in the eyes of God. The fact that Katherine had failed to give him a male heir, and that Henry was (almost)  wetting his end in the cock-tease Anne Boylen, had driven Henry’s desire to push for this annulment. His theory was that because Katherine had been married to his brother before him, the couple were doomed for failure and living in sin in the eyes of the Catholic church. Henry now needed Wolsey to pop and see the Pope and get an annulment.

Wolsey was rather stupidly confident that he could get this sorted so off he went. The Pope inevitably said something along the lines of ‘are you fucking mental? It’s not happening my friend’ (paraphrasing slightly), so Henry’s annulment was denied. Knowing what we know about Henry, you can just imagine how this went down. To cap it off Anne was now spouting a load of bollocks about Henry wasting the best of her youth by keeping her hanging on at the promise of marriage. Henry was not a happy chappy.

The problem was that the Pope was Wolsey’s boss, so Wolsey had to do as he was told, and the Pope was in turn told what to do by his boss, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V…Katherine’s nephew. There is no way that Charles was having it that a bell end like Henry was going to screw over his fab Aunt Katy and use Gods name as an excuse to do it. Wolsey could only do as he was told, and so sided with Katherine, Charles and the Pope. It was a bit of a rock and a hard place situation for the poor bloke.

wolsey  Anne now hated Wolsey, so decided that she would chip away at Henry in order to take matters into their own hands. Henry, who was now desperate to bend it up the manipulative genius that was Anne, was all about this and so decided that Wolsey was going down. How dare he fail to get the annulment and make him look a mug!

Henry had decided that because Wolsey could not secure the annulment, had cock-blocked him from Anne and had been a bit too chummy with Katherine, he should be accused of treason. Wolsey, who was now in York, was sent for. He was to come to London to explain why he couldn’t deliver the goods (and to ultimately be put to death).

At this time Wolsey had a new best pal, a bright young thing who went by the name of Thomas Cromwell. They were travelling together to London when Wolsey took ill. He rested in Leicester and it was quickly becoming apparent that he wouldn’t be able to continue the journey. Wolsey died of a bowel infection and was laid to rest in the Abbey at Leicester. Cromwell,  gutted at the death of his friend, still carried on to London to protest Wolsey’s innocence.

The curious thing about Wolsey’s death was that it happened just before he was obviously about to walk into a massive shit storm. If Wolsey had of made it to London he would have been greeted with accusations & public ridicule; his reputation pulled to shreds by the King’s concubine, a long stretch in the Tower and ultimately a humiliating and painful execution. In a lot of ways his death was conveniently well-timed. I don’t for one minute think that Wolsey would have committed suicide: he was devout Catholic after all. So was it illness, or something else all together? What if Wolsey’s death was the act of a kind friend  sparing the Cardinal his reputation at court, and preventing his public execution?

Before coming into Wolsey’s service, Cromwell was a mercenary who had travelled extensively, fought in wars and was ultimately a freaking genius. He was a lawyer and a badass, and exceptionally loyal to Wolsey. Its not implausible to think that he could’ve poisoned the Cardinal in order to maintain his innocence. By doing this he would also ensure the cardinal was comfortable in his remaining days and still able to get his affairs in order? Now I’m just speculating and there is pretty much no evidence for this, but a man like Cromwell was well-placed to protect his friend and take away the grief and worry the Cardinal would’ve undoubtedly had felt. It would also remove the need for suicide and bowel infections are synonymous with poisoning after all.

Whether it was illness or mercy that killed Wolsey, one thing remains for sure, Cromwell deeply missed the Cardinal and maintained his innocence for the rest of his life. Of course, it was Cromwell that later brought abut the downfall of Anne Boylen, and what happened to Henry in all of this? Well he just carried on being Henry.

 

If you fancy reading a bit more about Cromwell give this one a go: A Massive Fall Out