The 1535 Progress: Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire
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The 1535 Progress: Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire

On Monday 26 July 1535, the royal party left Sudeley Castle and made the seven-mile journey north-west to Tewkesbury. In keeping with protocol for all royal arrivals, the mayor and other dignitaries would have received the king, queen and their retinue just outside the town, with the two parties merging to travel in procession to the cathedral or abbey church.

The 1502 Progress: Coates / Cotes, Gloucestershire
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The 1502 Progress: Coates / Cotes, Gloucestershire

Just as with Beverston, the mention of Cotes as a location on the 1502 progress is fleeting.

Coates is a parish about three miles west of Cirencester in Gloucestershire. During the medieval and Tudor periods, Cirencester was a thriving wool town. Henry had visited Cirencester before, on at least one occasion. The choice of Cotes Place as a lodging for the royal party may have meant that the King could rekindle acquaintances with the wool merchants of the nearby town.

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The 1535 Progress: Ewelme Manor, Oxfordshire

After staying at Reading Abbey, the second stop of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s 1535 progress was Ewelme Manor. While staying there Henry VIII asked for the property to be returned to the crown. Ewelme once more became a royal residence and was used by the king as a lesser house, a place where he retreated for greater privacy with a select group of friends while on hunting trips.

1502 Progress: Beverston Castle, Gloucestershire
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1502 Progress: Beverston Castle, Gloucestershire

If it were not for a single entry in the Queen’s Chamber Books, dated 27 September 1502, when payment was made to Robert Alyn for preparing lodgings for the Queen (see the quote above), we would be none the wiser about the royal visit to Beverston Castle. This would undoubtedly be our loss, as this lovely location has virtually disappeared from our awareness as a place of significance for those following the Tudor trail.

The main reason for this paucity of information is probably that the visit was fleeting. After five days resting at Berkeley Castle, the royal entourage was on the move and pressing on to reach the next notable destination on the geists: Fairford, where they were to be guests of the wealthy wool merchant Sir Edmund Tame. In a subsequent post, we will hear more about the Tame family and this fascinating location. 

However, even this transitory stay gives us ample excuse to bring Beverston back into the spotlight and discover its unassuming charms.

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The 1502 Progress: Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire
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The 1502 Progress: Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire

The next significant stop on the 1502 progress after Woolaston was Berkeley Castle, where the royal couple stayed for five days from 29 August to 4 September.

Berkeley Castle still stands largely untouched since it was set in stone during the eleventh, twelfth and fourteenth centuries. 

Berkeley Castle is highly distinctive in appearance. Built on a typical Norman motte and bailey design during the early and mid-medieval period, it has been constructed from local pink, grey, and yellow Severn sandstone, with its roofs mainly made of Cotswold stone, slate, or lead. 

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The 1502 Progress: Woolaston, Gloucestershire
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The 1502 Progress: Woolaston, Gloucestershire

On 28 August, the Queen’s Chamber Books for Elizabeth of York records, ‘Itm the same day to the mariners that conveyed the Quenes grace over the Severn besides Chepstowe’. The temptation is to immediately conclude that a ferry conducted the King and Queen across the River Severn into England at the point where the current bridge spans the river, close to the foot of Chepstow Castle, where the royal couple had been lodged. While this might be true, further close inspection of a later entry in the Chamber Book (dated 27 September) clarifies that the Queen moved from Chepstow to ‘Walstone’ before arriving at the next stop: Berkeley Castle.

This entry is a retrospective payment made to ‘Robert Alyn for his costes prepayring logging for the Quene from Ragland to Chepstowe by the space of twoo dayes, from Chepstowe to Walstone, ij dayes, from Walstone to Berkeley, ij dayes.’…

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