Katharine of Aragon Festival

23 - 26 January 2020

The Katharine of Aragon Festival commemorates 29th January 1536, when Henry VIII's first wife was buried at Peterborough Cathedral after her death in exile at Kimbolton Castle. She still lies here today and the occasion is marked by a programme of events on a Tudor theme.

Hotel accommodation

Park Inn Peterborough is just a short walk (450m) from the Cathedral, has on site parking, and is close to rail and bus stations. It offers a special rate for visitors to the Katharine of Aragon Festival. Please quote code: 173160 when booking either via their website - Park Inn Peterborough - or by calling 01733 353750.


Download at leaflet for the Katharine of Aragon Festival 2020 (.pdf)

Cathedral with candlelightThursday 23 January

7.00pm: Candlelight Tour

Tour the Cathedral with a knowledgeable Tudor-costumed guide, and meet ‘Old Scarlett’ the Tudor gravedigger as the candlelight flickers. (Approximately 75 minutes plus drinks afterwards).
■ Tickets: £15 including a glass of wine or soft drink after the tour. Book online here or call 01733 355315 or Peterborough Information Centre on 01733 452336.


Friday 24 January

8.30am: Mass

1Wreaths being placed on Katharine of Aragon's tomb0.30am: Service of Commemoration

A service attended by schoolchildren, at which dignitaries lay wreaths on Katharine’s tomb. All are welcome.

2.00pm: Tudor Peterborough Walk

Explore Peterborough’s historic city centre with a 60 minute guided walk.

Gather at Peterborough Museum where a costumed guide will take you on a tour where you will find out what the city was like during the time of Katharine of Aragon. The tour will then enter the Cathedral where you will hear about the funeral of Queen Katharine.

■ Tickets: £6 adults, £4 under 16s. Book online here or call 01733 864663.

5.30pm: Vespers

Worship in a form that would have been familiar in Tudor times, sung by the Cathedral Choir. All are welcome.

The King's Pearl book cover7.30pm: The King’s Pearl, The Queen’s Pride: Katharine, Henry and Mary, The Family Years

At the John Clare Theatre, Peterborough Central Library PE1 1RX

A talk by Melita Thomas, co-founder and editor of the Tudor Times website.
Melita will look at how Mary’s education – academic, political, courtly and religious – was shaped by her parents, and how that formed her character. Katharine and Henry both doted on their daughter, but envisaged her future quite differently – he wanted to mould a consort to spread English influence abroad, whilst Katharine was training a monarch. The talk will be followed by a book signing.
■ Tickets: £6 (£5 concs) including light refreshments. Book online here or call 01733 864663.

Los Musicos de Uruena7.30pm: A Homage to Katharine of Aragon from Spain

An evening of music, drama and dance from Katharine’s native Spain.
Los Músicos de Urueña
Using period instruments, the Spanish musicians will set the scene for the drama that follows.
Maria, Sangra
The world premiere of a play by Spanish Canarian author, Neftalí Díaz. The sSpanish actors in costumecript won the 2019 Katharine of Aragon Prize for Spanish Dramatists, and has been translated into English by The Open University.
The play tells the story of the relationship between Katharine of Aragon’s daughter, Mary I, and her husband, Philip II of Spain. Mary prays to have a son and heir to the throne, but miscarriages and a phantom pregnancy follow. At the same time, the streets of England are stained with the blood of persecuted Protestants as she attempts to restore Roman Catholicism.
The House of Bernarda Alba by Federico García Lorca
A stylised flamenco dance set in early 20th century Spain is the finale to the evening. The piece is adapted by Mayte Ballesteros Dance Company and tells the story of five sisters in their search for liberty in a small southern town.
■ Tickets: £20 including all three performances. Book online here or call 01733 355315 or Peterborough Information Centre on 01733 452336.
More details about the performances are here A Homage to Katharine of Aragon.


Saturday 25 January

The barber surgeon10.00am – 3.00pm: At Home with the Tudors

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 and try some period food. Take part in family activities and crafts with a Tudor theme.
■ Tickets: £3 children, £4 adult, £12 family. Last entry 2.00pm. Book online here or call 01733 864663.

Tour guide dressed as Old Scarlett10.00am, 11.00am and 1.00pm: Old Scarlett Tours

This family-friendly tour of the Cathedral will be led by ‘Old Scarlett the Tudor gravedigger’, who buried both Katharine of Aragon and Mary, Queen of Scots, and lived to be 98.

■ Tickets: £3.50 per person, £12 family (2 adults, 2 children). Book online here or call 01733 355315 or Peterborough Information Centre on 01733 452336. Children receive a free copy of the Monks, Mischief & Marauders activity book.

Cathedral interior

11.30am and 2.30pm: Digging Deeper Tudor Tour

A guided tour of the Cathedral interior with a specifically Tudor focus. (75 mins)
■ Tickets: £8. Book online here or call 01733 355315 or Peterborough Information Centre on 01733 452336.

12.00 noon: A Family Audience with Queen Katharine

Lesley Smith as Elizabeth I. [Photo credit: Graham Williams]The Knights’ Chamber, Cathedral Visitor Centre
Come and meet Queen Katharine in all her Tudor splendour, played by Lesley Smith, Curator of Tutbury Castle. Lesley has a great rapport with children and will remain in character as she tells her story and answers your questions, showing off her authentic costume. * The picture shows Lesley when she visited Peterborough Cathedral last year as Elizabeth I. Her Katharine of Aragon costume is still in preparation - we can't wait to see it! [Photo credit: Graham Williams]
■ Tickets: £3.50 per person, £12 family (2 adults, 2 children). Book online here or call 01733 355315 or Peterborough Information Centre on 01733 452336. 

7.30pm: An Audience with Katharine of Aragon

Lesley Smith, Curator of Tutbury CastleFor the first time Lesley Smith (pictured), who is famed for her compelling costumed monologues, will take on the character of Katharine of Aragon. The story begins when Katharine was born into one of the most powerful and warlike families in Europe, the youngest of five children born to Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castille. Many in her family  died young and madness showed itself too. Katharine arrived in England to marry Arthur, Prince of Wales, of the new Tudor dynasty. Within months of the marriage he was dead and she was effectively abandoned for six years with little  money and poor care.
Gareth WilliamsWhen the magnificent Henry VIII  leapt to the throne in 1509, he married  his brother’s widow and Katharine became Queen. Pregnancy after pregnancy failed and one boy died within weeks of his birth causing dismay throughout the land. One child of the union survived, a daughter, who would become Queen Mary I. Henry’s attention turned to Anne Boleyn in an attempt to get a male heir and Katharine, after more than 20 years of marriage, had to endure a divorce.  She lived in isolation, near poverty and ill health. She was fifty years old.

Queen Katharine's arrival will be heralded by period music from Gareth Williams.

Doors will open at 7.00pm and drinks will be on sale. The performance will begin at 7.30pm.  

■ Tickets: £10 (age 18+ only). Book online here or call 01733 355315 or Peterborough Information Centre on 01733 452336. 


Sunday 26 January 2020 

Services are held at Peterborough Cathedral on Sunday at 8.00am, 9.15am, 10.30am and 3.30pm. The 10.30am and 3.30pm services are sung by the Cathedral Choir. All are welcome.

10.00am to 3.00pm: At Home with the Tudors

See the Saturday 25th January above

2.00pm: Tudor Peterborough Walk

See Friday 24th January above.


Throughout the weekend

Artwork by students at Queen Katharine Academy

Exhibition Room, Cathedral Visitor Centre
Students from the secondary school in the city named after Queen Katharine show their work.
Open 10.00am to 4.00pm Friday and Saturday, 12.00 noon to 4.00pm Sunday


Vivacity logoWho is Katharine of Aragon? Find out more.

The Katharine of Aragon Festival is a collaboration between Peterborough Cathedral and Vivacity.

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