Henry VIII and Grafton Regis
Extracts from: Henry VIII King and Court by Alison Weir and Royal Stony Stratford by F. Markham
The king's giest from Winchester to Ampthill Tuesday 21 August. from Winchester to Thruxton, near Lisle's place six miles. Saturday 25th thence to Ramsey 12 miles, Friday 31st August thence to Compton 8 miles, Saturday 1st September thence to Langley, Tuesday 11 September. thence to Bycester 13 miles, Wednesday 12th Sept. thence to Buckingham 10 miles, Thursday 13th Sept. thence to Ampthill and there and at Grafton during the king's pleasure.
Henry VIII acquired the manor of Grafton, together with that of Hartwell in 1527 from Thomas 2nd Marquess of Dorset in exchange for the manors of Loughborough and Shepshed (Leics.).
Henry VIII left London to avoid the plague. He moved north to the healthier air of Ampthill, where he began to complain of pains in the head, causing a momentary panic. He was still feeling poorly when he moved to Grafton, but here his pains disappeared.
21st July. Hennege to Wolsey. I have this day put the king in remembraunce of the letter of his own hand, which he said he would write and present. Tomorrow he intends to go to Grafton to stay the Thursday and return on the Friday. I will get him to write without fail when I can. I beseech you continue gracious to my poor brother the archdeaon of Oxford for whom I thank you. At Ampthill 21 July
Hennege to Wolsey. 22d July. This day I received your letter with one to the chapter of Lincoln in favour of my brother, the archdeacon of Oxford for the deanery of Lincoln, which without your aid had not taken effect. As the plague is at Grafton, the king will not go there [George Heneage, archdeacon of Oxford 1522-1529, dean of Lincoln 1528-1538].
11th September. For a cart to carry the hounds from Grafton to Amptill after 15 miles 2s.-6d.
27th November. John Williams lease of all rents and services of free tenants and natives, demesne lands etc belonging to the lordship of Grafton, Northants which is to come in the king's gift by an exchange made between the king and Thomas Marquis of Dorset, with reservations for the term of 21 years at an annual rent of £21.
Most famously, the last meeting of Henry VIII, his chief minister and Chancellor Thomas Wolsey and Cardinal Campeggio took place at Grafton Manor on 19 and 20 September 1529. This occasion gives a vivid insight into the passion and fury which lay behind Henry's decisive break with Rome and the dangerous uncertainty surrounding this momentous event. The King had become infatuated with Anne Boleyn and was determined to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon, who had failed to provide him with the male heir he longed for. In order to obtain the divorce Henry needed the permission of Pope Clement VII, who was in the control of Catherine's uncle Emperor Charles V. Cardinal Wolsey had been instructed by the King to deal with the matter. In a last desperate attempt to persuade the Pope, Wolsey invited the papal envoy, Cardinal Campeggio, to come to England to discuss matters. When the negotiations proved inconclusive, Wolsey determined on a last interview with the King at Grafton. The final encounter took place at the Manor on the feast of the Virgin and has been vividly recorded by Wolsey's attendant and biographer George Cavendish.
1st September at Langley,
4th September Woodstock,
9th Sept. Buckingham,
10th September Grafton,
24th Sept. Buckingham,
25th Sept. Notley,
28th Sept. Byssham,
29th Sept. Windsor
Sunday 12th Sept. The king's offering on Our Lady Day, at Grafton
Grant 3rd November to William Dawe yeoman of the Guard. To have the fee of the crown at 6d a day, vice Walter David. Given at Grafton, 22nd Sept.
September. Thomas Bisley York Herald sent to attend Cardinal Compegius from London to Grafton and so to Dover, from thence to London again in post and immediately with the said Cardinal to Calais where he by the command of Mr Deputy thence was attended 19 days £18.
6th Sept. To Vaughan groom of the chamber, for the charges of the Ambassadors of Hungary at Stoney Stratford when they came to the king at Grafton16s.-8d. 1532 31st July. A monk that brought a letter in a purse to the Kings Grace to Grafton 20s
29th July. To Humphrey Raynez removing with the cart with hounds from Amptill to Grafton 2s.-6d.
31st July. To a monk who brought the king a letter in a purse to Grafton 20s.
2nd August. Grant to William Oxbridge, one of the pages of the king's chamber, given at Grafton.
At Grafton 2nd August. To William Walwayn and Robert Hennege to be auditors of possessions late of Edward Duke of Buckingham.
4th August. To lord Ferrers' servant for bringing an angle rod to the king at Grafton 15s.
5th August. Warrant to Cromwell as master of the Jewels to pay John Ellys and Hugh Norres £33-6s-8d for expenses about the king's iron mines at Llantrissant, given at Grafton
6th August. To Brian Tuke treasurer of the chamber, warrant for payment of £20 to Stephen Vaughan as fee for office of the writing of the king's books. At Grafton.
19th. September. John Husee to Lord Lisle. ' Arrived at Langley on Sunday last…..I think Mr Secretary will meet the king at Grafton.
20th. September. John Husee to lord Lisle. When Mr Secretary goes to the king at Grafton I will attend on him.
23rd September. John Husee the younger to lord Lisle. Received of Mr Vice-treasurer a letter which I delivered to Mr Secretary who is Master of the Rolls. He said after he had perused Mr Whethill's and your affairs he would learn the king's pleasure commending me to be at Grafton in the court on Thursday next.
24th October. Cecily Hall widow to Cromwell. Has received his letters dated at Grafton 29th September.
1st October. Henry VIII to city of Waterford. Has sent an army in Ireland to subdue his enemies. Given at Grafton.
Royal Stony Stratford by F. Markham.
A sidelight on Henry VIII's extreme sensitiveness to public opinion is shown in the administration of justice within Stony Stratford, for he was not only the a liberal dispenser of favours to those who pleased him, he was also the source of merciless law against those who questioned royal authority. Thus George Taylor, who is reported to have said that, 'The king is but a knave and liveth in advowtry and is a heretic and liveth not after the laws of God,' and further 'I set nought by the king's crown and if it had been here I would have played football with it', came under royal displeasure. Taylor denied having said these things, that in fact had he uttered them it had been done in drunkenness. But neither Cromwell nor the king could be sure that such sentiments were not common among the people of north Buckinghamshire, and on February 27, 1535, we find Sir Frazer Bryan writing to Cromwell that Taylor may be tried by the king’s command and hanged drawn and quartered and his quarters set up in Buckingham, Aylesbury,Wycombe and Stony Stratford.
This is an illuminating commentary on the sixteenth century administration of justice, the defendant being prejudged guilty before his trial “pour encourager les autres;” In the last sentence of Bryan’s letter the real reason for Taylor’s conviction was made plain: “This case”, he wrote “will be a very great example and the safeguarding of many.”
Queen Jane must have visited Grafton as the following work was carried out in 1536 Common laborers: Workyng as well uppon sweppyng caryng and makyng clean off the said manor as makyng clean and baryng off rubbysh frome there, the sayd workmen dyd worke as fellyng off cartes with the sayd rubbysh and makyng and heggyng off iij places in the back court, as one for to be the boylyng place and one fore the lyvere place and thother for a rostyng place as also to lyke makyng off a new hegge frame frome the kynges comon powndd unto the pastures by the quenes command:
30th Aug. 1536 John Husee to lord Lisle. Desires that his suit may have an end at Grafton. Has been a long suitor and at great charges. Has still some hope since the king has shown him favour, to be dispatched before Cromwell leaves Grafton.
6th Sept. 1536 John Husee to lord Lisle. Will go to the court at Grafton for Mr Treasurer's anwer tomorrow. The king will stay there 8 days.
6th Sept. 1536 John Husee to lady Lisle. Will do her best about Knebworth. Will ride to the court at Grafton tomorrow about it.
7th Sept. 1536 Pardon to William Jonson, at Grafton.
Letter 10th Sept. 1536 at Grafton. Antoine de Castelnau, bishop of Tarbes
25th Sept. 1536 Henry VIII to Mary of Hungary, at Grafton
Fellyng and hewyng of tymber in Sawcy Forest for makyng, framyng and setting up of 5 new dore steeds with 5 new cleare story wyndowes sett in the newe walles of the kynges bowlynge aley.
25th Oct. 1537 John Wellysburn to Cromwell. Reminds him of what he moved to him the day that the king left Grafton for Ampthill.
17th July 1537 Sir Francis Bryan to Cromwell. 'I cannot see in what way the king can come to Grafton. I hear they die at Reading and am sure they do at Thame and also within a mile of Mr Williams house at Buckingham. The king might come from Esthampstead to Bishops Owburne, thence to Berkhampstead 12 miles, thence to Eston, my lady Brays 7 miles, for neither my lord nor my lady is at home. Then to Waddon 7 miles and thence to Grafton 7 miles. They die at Tosseter very sore'.
3rd Aug. 1537 Robert Pakenham to Sir Thomas Dingley. The king goes from Windsor to Ampthill and Grafton Wednesday 8th August
7th Aug. 1537 John Husee to lord Lisle. My lord privy seal says your suit shall be rid before the king go from Grafton.
The king's jests made 22nd July 1537. Thursday St Anne's day 26th July from Esthamstede to Sonnynghall and the king, the Queen and the household to Windsor 7 days, 4 miles. Wednesday 8th Aug. the king apart to Mysildyn (Missenden) and there that night 1 day, 12 miles. Thursday 9th Aug. thence to Dunstable and there Friday 2 days, 13 miles. Sat. 11th Aug. to Ampthill 8 miles and there 6 days, Friday 17th Aug. to Grafton, 15 miles and there 10 days.
9th Aug. 1537 Sir William Parre to Cromwell. As the king is coming to Grafton he would rather have gone there.
21st Aug, 1537 John Husee to lord Lisle. Could not speak with my lord Admiral till the king came to Grafton.
13th Aug. 1537 Cromwell to Mayor and Corporation of Cambridge. At Grafton.
1st Sept. 1539 Marillac to Francis I. Having followed the king in his progress as far as this place, Grafton, 50 miles from London, has learnt that an excellent painter [Hans Holbein] whom the king sent to Germany to bring the portrait of the Duke of Cleeves sister. At Grafton 1 Sept.
7th Sept. 1539 Petition from Thomas Pylson to restore his fellowship at the King's Hall Cambridge. He repaired to the king at Grafton where he complained that fellowship withdrawn
17th Aug.-14 Sept. 1539 Mr Keys requests allowance of £8 for riding to the king at Grafton for money and waiting there 24 days
31st Aug. 1539 King's Sunday offering at Grafton, offering Sunday 7th Sept. 6s.-8d
2nd Sept. 1539 Royal pardon given at Grafton
9th Sept. 1539 Royal grant-temporalities restored to bishop of Bangor, at Grafton.
2nd Oct. 1539 Royal grant of office of clerk of the signet, given at Grafton.
7th Oct. 1539 Royal grant to John Evan, one of king's falconers, at Grafton
In 1540 Henry VIII’s progress was not to be just a hunting progress, by a display of calculated magnificence and majesty designed to overawe and impress disaffected subjects; and in case that were not enough, Henry was taking with him such a strong military presence that his train seemed ‘more like a military camp’ than a court. The progress started in June, when the King led his vast company northward towards Hatfield, Dunstable, Ampthill and Grafton, hunting and hawking on the way. Progress was slow and initially hampered by stormy weather: the roads became impassable, the baggage carts got stuck in the mud, and the Queen was unwell for a time. It took a number of weeks to reach Grafton. Not since the Field of Cloth of Gold, twenty-one years earlier, had a King amassed such a retinue. There, were five thousand horses, a thousand soldiers, most members of the court and two hundred tents and pavilions in which to accommodate those for whom there was no room in the houses where the King was to stay. The Queen - his 15 year old fifth wife, Katherine Howard - and Lady Mary were of the company, as were several ambassadors.
The French ambasador, Charles Marillac, who was a spectator, recorded Henry's infatuation: "The King is so amorous of her that he cannot treat her well enough, and caresses her more than he did the others. The new Queen is a lady of moderate beauty but superlative grace. In stature she is small and slender. Her countenance is very delightful, of which the King is so greatly enamoured, and he knows not how to make sufficient demonstrations of his affection for her".
They arrived on 29th August and stayed until 7th September and the King signalled his happiness by ordering a gold medal to be struck with Tudor roses and lovers entwined. He would have been horrified had he known what the Queen had got up to during the progress. During the King’s illness in the spring, Katherine had rashly begun a secret flirtation with Thomas Culpepper, which soon developed into something more serious. At every stop made by the court on progress, they contrived to meet, after Katherine had made a point of ‘seeking for the back doors and back stairs herself’. However like her predecessor Anne Boleyn, Katherine was executed when the King discovered that she had been unfaithful to him.
Culpepper, Thomas, esq [attained 1542]: Inventory of Goods at his office in the tiltyard, Greenwich; bill, memorandum and rental of lands at Paulerspury, [Northants]; extent of lands and offices.
22nd Aug. 1540 William Pitt vicar of Banbury, to appear before the council at Grafton29th instant.
30th Aug. 1540 Privy Council at Grafton. Placards under the Stamp to Gurley and Preston to take up swans, partridges, capons etc for the king during his abode at Grafton and Ampthill.
13th Nov. 1540 The Deputy and Council of Ireland to Henry VIII, has received the king's letters, dated Grafton 26th Sept.
29th Sept. 1540, king's offering at Grafton
Honor of Grafton
King Henry VIII who in 1541 (33 Hen. 8) erected the manor of Grafton into an HONOR by act of parliament.'Shall from henceforth be perpetually called the HONOR OF GRAFTON, and the same which has been heretofore taken for the manor of Grafton shall from the first day of May next coming, be adjudged the chief, principal, and capital park and place of the whole honor of Grafton.' Perhaps the date, May 1st being chosen, to commemorate the wedding day of his grandparents 67 years earlier.
7th Sept. 1541 King at Grafton
In July, Henry left with his bride (Queen Katherine Parr) and his eldest daughter (Lady Mary) on a long hunting progress that would take them via Oatlands to the south and west of England. After a short stay at Wulfhall, the court moved north to Woodstock, Langley and Grafton, then via Dunstable and Ashridge.
9th Sept. 1543 King to earl of Angus and others, from Grafton.
Royal grants given at Grafton 9th Sept. 1543, 12th Sept., 13th Oct. & 20th Oct.
11th Sept. 1543 Suffolk to Council, has received letters dated 9th at Grafton.
There was renewed expenditure at Grafton in 1545-8, although much of it was probably spent on lodges, palings and other works in the adjoining parks.