Katharine of Aragon Festival goes online to adapt to Covid restrictions

Thursday 7 January

Peterborough Cathedral has confirmed that the annual Katharine of Aragon Festival will go ahead online this year due to the current Covid restrictions. It will take place mainly on Friday 29th January 2021.

The Festival, which usually includes a variety of events at the Cathedral and at Peterborough Museum over the last weekend in January, marks the date on which Henry VIII’s first wife was buried at Peterborough Abbey. Whilst it is online and more compact this year, it will nonetheless include a variety of activities for all ages.

A highlight of the Festival is an online talk by the historian and writer Sarah Gristwood, author of Game of Queens, who will explore the pressures and powers at work in Katharine’s family. These pressures came not just through her mother Isabella of Castille but also in the light of the times in which she lived, when large parts Europe were under a reigning queen or female regent. The talk is on Zoom at 7.30pm on Friday 29th January. Tickets are £5 and they are available via the Cathedral’s website.

Usually the Commemoration Service is a large event and a focal point of the Festival, with civic dignitaries and schoolchildren paying their respects in the Cathedral. However this year the Dean of Peterborough, the Very Revd Chris Dalliston, will lead a short online ceremony during which there will be prayers and tributes laid at Katharine’s tomb. This will be available to view via the Cathedral’s Facebook and YouTube channels, from 9.30am on Friday 29th January.

Two new videos have been made inviting schools and families to get involved in the Festival. In the first video we meet ‘Old Scarlett’ the Tudor gravedigger, who tells us about his job and shows us the way to Katharine’s tomb. In the second video we find out why the pomegranate was Katharine’s special symbol, and learn how to make one at home.

Everyone who has made their own pomegranate is invited to share a picture of it on social media using #pom21 so that the Cathedral can bring all the pictures together for an online display.

The Dean, Chris Dalliston, said:

“We may not be able to get together in person at present but it remains important to mark the anniversary of Katharine of Aragon’s burial here in Peterborough all those years ago. She was a person of great steadfastness and faith at a critical point in our nation's history, and no stranger to the confinement and isolation that we experience something of today.

“We are delighted that Sarah Gristwood will be our speaker, and also very much looking forward to seeing the colourful pomegranates sent in by schools and families via our social media.”

For more information about the Katharine of Aragon festival programme, please visit www.peterborough-cathedral.org.uk/katharine.aspx.

Katharine of Aragon’s story

Find out more about the life of Katharine of Aragon on our website here: https://www.peterborough-cathedral.org.uk/home/katharine-of-aragon.aspx

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