Four times wed, three times widowed, Katherine found love at last. But not for long.
The Widow Katherine
By Henry Tudor
Four times wed without her choice
No chance to speak, no thought of love.
No life for her but tend the sick.
To help them smile, their wounds to lick.
Edward, Baron Borough’s son
At just seventeen her hand was won.
He was to live just four years more
Soon a widowed baroness, a score.
Then single girl for just one more year
Along came John Neville, third Baron Latimer
Snape Castle, Yorkshire cold and damp
He too died soon, of gout and cramp.
Now Katherine’s heart was soon to seek
A real love to kiss her trembling cheek.
She now is rich, from widow’s wealth
Still young, still fresh, still full of health.
That dashing Thomas Seymour shone
She knew he was to be, the only one.
But in the frame King Henry came
And now she married a sick man again.
This King was kind and let her write
Her book, a best seller, overnight.
“Prayers or Meditations” read by all
But nearly caused this Queen to fall.
Again the widow’s well used veil, came out
Poor Henry died quietly, without a shout.
New King, his son dear Edward six
But his Uncle Seymour, saw new tricks.
I’ll marry the new dowager Queen, dear Kate
No mourning, no fearing, I’ll not wait.
Now Katherine took this as intervention devine
And he soon was fourth in marriage line.
Mrs Seymour at last she thought
Maybe a family and this she sought.
Mary her baby was born to loving bride
But sadly, fate, poor Kate, she died.
A sad end to life for darling Kate
Love did not last, fate would not wait.
Not many pray for last King’s wife
She outlasted five from Royal strife.
Go to Castle Chapel, see her there
Entombed in Sudeley with Royal care.
A real Lady born with dignity
Now her spirit is set free.
I must be cynical, after reading many books about Katherine Parr, I wonder why after so many centuries is her birthplace not exactly known. Some say Kendal Castle, others say the Parr house in Blackfriars London and many ignore the question altogether. Who am I to question the Historians?
So in my Henrician way I wandered up to the market town of Kendal to find an answer for my own mind. Not expecting actual physical evidence as the castle is a wreck, the decline from the Tudor time of about 1570 has left very little on the top of this once domineering building.
But then it takes a new set of eyes and an approach from outside the box to see evidence that is glaringly obvious to us mere outsiders. It takes a little time effort to understand the social position of the Parr’s family in Henry’s day. Maud Parr was Queen Katherine of Aragon’s lady in waiting, a very high position. Katherine’s father was high in Henry’s court and so they lived for most of the time near the scene, in Blackfiar’s. Kendal castle was not their seat from birth, they inherited it, and had houses in other parts of the country, I repeat Houses not castles. Castles were seen as out of date by Tudor Royals, the wet, cold atmosphere of a stone building did not bode well and the building of brick houses with chimneys and social rooms was the fashion.
Now look at the pictures below, this castle is balanced on a high, tight hills overlooking Kendal, the dimensions are tiny and it looks more like a watchtower rather than a large family home.
See the projected design before the demolition and see the scale. The old Baronial Hall was a small medieval building not big enough for a large family with many servants.
This is the evidence that moves my thinking to be that Katherine Parr was born in the family house near the Royal palaces and Blackfriars is the place. After her father died early in her life she would have still been in London until Katherine of Aragon lost her court after the divorce, then maybe she came up north with her widowed mother Maud, to Kendal. Not much longer after the death of Henry the house went into decline. The walk up the hill is so strenuous even today that I cannot see how it could have ever been a family home to a family use to luxury and splendour.