Sudeley Castle festival celebrates the life of Henry VIII's final wife Katherine Parr

By Kat Hopps | 30 March 2012
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a conservator adjusting a gold brocade dress
A conservator puts the final touches to Katherine Parr's wedding dress at Sudeley Castle.© Courtesy Sudeley Castle
The quincentenary of the birth of Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth and only surviving wife, will be celebrated in a new festival opened by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at Sudeley Castle this Sunday.

The Katherine Parr Quincentenary Festival will reveal unseen artefacts of its most famous Tudor resident including a tooth and lock of hair, a love letter to Sir Thomas Seymour, published copies of books, access to her recently discovered doorway and a welcoming video from the festival’s historical advisor, Dr David Starkey.

Katherine’s spell at Sudeley Castle may have been brief – only a few months in all – but her legacy is paramount. Highly educated and proficient in a number of foreign languages, she was the first Queen to become a published author under her own name but also courted controversy amongst Henry VIII’s supporters for her forthright views on religion.

She was not immune to the passions and desires of her fellow bed-hopping Tudors; she carried a secret love for Sir Thomas Seymour despite marrying Henry VIII and created a scandal when she secretly married him just months after the King’s death.

The pair moved to Sudeley Castle where Katherine died not long after giving birth to her daughter Mary after she contracted puerperal fever.

Her grave was discovered at Sudeley in 1728 during the English Civil War and, an elaborate tomb later erected in her honour can be seen today in the grounds. There are even reputed reportings of a ‘lady in green’ parading through the gardens for morbid ghost lovers.

Sudeley Castle recently announced HRH The Duchess of Cornwall as the festival’s Patron ahead of opening its doors on April 1 for its 43rd season.

The Duchess spoke of her joy at becoming the new patron: “Sudeley Castle has many stories to tell; but none greater and more inspiring than that of its most famous Tudor resident, Queen Katherine Parr.

"[This festival] will unravel the fascinating life of this historic female character and share it with all who visit the very place where she lived, loved and died.”

  • The Historical,  literary & musical event runs throughout the 2012 season. For more information visit www.sudeleycastle.co.uk or call 01242 604244.

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