While investigating the medieval London Road, I “bumped into” Catherine of Aragon a few times, and almost by accident discovered her itinerary in 1501, from her landing at Plymouth’s Sutton Harbour on 2 October, to arriving at Kensington Palace on 9 November (the rest is history).
That’s a slow old journey!
Her convoy included scores of attendants, and an escort made up of the local gentry. It was something like a small army which descended on the rural hostelries along the way.
There’s a fly-through of the steps on Google Earth, (recommended just to experience the new-ish Google Earth on the Web ). The presentation, if you follow it, includes external links to secondary and tertiary sources, which I’ve used liberally!
When you get to Google Earth, press the “Present” button, then use the arrow thingy to navigate through the steps …
Anyhow, here’s the itinerary:
- Plymouth (from 2 Oct 1501) Katherine landed at Sutton Harbour at 3 o’clock in the afternoon on 2 October 1501, and spent most of the next fortnight on terra firma, lodging at the mayor’s house in Notte Street before setting off on her horse litter.
- Tavistock. Date and precise location not known.
- Okehampton. Date and precise location not known.
- Crediton. Date and precise location not known.
- Exeter (up to and including 19 Oct). She stayed a few (?) nights in the Old Deanery.
- Honiton (20 Oct), where she changed horses at the very least.
- Charmouth, The Abbots House.
- Crewkerne, probably staying in the home of Richard Surland.
- Sherborne. Date and precise location not known.
- Shaftesbury, staying at the Abbey
- Salisbury (?). I’ve not found a record stating that Catherine stayed in Salisbury, but it would seem like a major omission if she didn’t.
- Basingstoke, in Winchester Street, possibly as the guest of Richard Kingsmill, a prominent Basingstoke citizen
- Amesbury, at the Priory
- Andover, at the Angel Inn
- Dogmersfield (6 Nov). This is where she met her husband Arthur and his father, Henry VII. There are lots of varying accounts of this meeting, but the one that goes: “Henry happened to be out hunting nearby, and was suddenly overcome by impulse” was obviously an early sign of spin-doctors at work. He’s documented as leaving London earlier on the same day so he and his son must have galloped a good 40 miles in order to intercept her near a convenient palace.
I digress, but the same cock-and-bull story was re-used by James IV of Scotland when he intercepted Henry’s daughter Margaret, on her progress up to Edinburgh.
- Chertsey. Date and precise location not known.
- Kingston upon Thames. Date and precise location not known. Given that she came so close to Richmond Palace, it must have been a deliberate choice not to stay there.
- Kennington Palace, Lambeth (9 Nov). She became one of the last royal personages to use the palace, while her retinue were preparing for her ceremonial entry into London.
Her husband, Arthur, must have ridden along beside her because, according to the Great Chronicle of London: “This yere, the Tuesday before Seynt Martyns Day or the 9th day of November, my lord prynce [Arthur] with a goodly cumpany came In through fflete strete [Fleet Street]; And so in to Powles Chirch yerd [St Paul’s] and there tourned vnto the kynges warderobe, where he was loged.
And the same day the pryncesse came vnto Lambhith, where she and hir cumpany was also loged.”
If anyone has more information regarding these stops, I’d be glad to include it here, and/or on the Google Earth presentation!