Catherine’s Ghost Returns to Castle Lodge
Catherine of Aragon was born on the 16th December 1485 at the Archbishops Palace in Alcala de Henares near Madrid. She was the youngest surviving child of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castille.
From a very young age she was considered to be a suitable wife for Arthur Prince of Wales, the eldest son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. On the 14th of November 1501 they were married at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. Arthur’s younger brother, Henry, escorted Catherine.
After their marriage, the young couple were sent to Ludlow Castle on the Welsh border so that Arthur could preside over the Council of Wales and the Marches as his position dictated. The couple stayed in Castle Lodge, Ludlow but less than five months into their marriage Catherine and Arthur became very ill, possibly with the ‘sweating sickness’, and although Catherine made a full recovery, Arthur perished. On the 2 April 1502 Catherine found herself a widow in a strange country.
Visitors to Castle Lodge have reported seeing the spectre of a teenage girl wearing Tudor costume. The apparition walks the attic corridors as well as visiting the nursery. Feelings of being watched and cold drafts have also been reported. One eye-witness even came rushing out of the attic room in a visible state of terror after allegedly having witnessed the young girl disappear through a closed door.
Legend has it that this young girl is the ghost of Catherine of Aragon who has returned to the home she once inhabited with her young husband, the Prince of Wales. Presumably, being drawn back by the happy memories they once shared within the walls of the lodge.
On the 23rd May 1533 Archbishop Cranmer ruled that King Henry VIII’s 24-year marriage to Catherine of Aragon was illegal. Only five days later, on the 28th May, he ruled that Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne Boleyn was valid.
Catherine was given the new title of ‘Dowager Princess of Wales’ although her faithful subjects continued to address her as queen.
In 1534 Catherine was sent away to live out her days in remote Kimbolton Castle. There her health deteriorated rapidly and this was only further exasperated by the fact that she was forbidden to see or communicate with her daughter, Mary. Although it seems likely that those loyal to Catherine and Mary did secretly carry letters between the two women.
Catherine spent most of her time confined to her rooms with only a few trusted maids and servants as company.
Perhaps the most famous of Catherine’s letters was penned here at Kimbolton Castle, her prison for well over a year. Sensing that her end was near Catherine wrote to Henry one last time.
My most dear lord, King and husband,
The hour of my death now drawing on, the tender love I ouge [owe] thou forceth me, my case being such, to commend myselv to thou, and to put thou in remembrance with a few words of the healthe and safeguard of thine allm [soul] which thou ougte to preferce before all worldley matters, and before the care and pampering of thy body, for the which thoust have cast me into many calamities and thineselv into many troubles. For my part, I pardon thou everything, and I desire to devoutly pray God that He will pardon thou also. For the rest, I commend unto thou our doughtere Mary, beseeching thou to be a good father unto her, as I have heretofore desired. I entreat thou also, on behalve of my maides, to give them marriage portions, which is not much, they being but three. For all mine other servants I solicit the wages due them, and a year more, lest they be unprovided for. Lastly, I makest this vouge [vow], that mine eyes desire thou aboufe all things.
Katharine the Quene.
It’s almost incomprehensible to think that after all Henry made her endure she still desired him above all others.
Catherine died at Kimbolton Castle on the 7th January 1536 and was buried in Peterborough Cathedral.
In one final act of cruelty, Henry refused to allow Mary to attend her mother’s funeral.
Legend has it that Catherine’s ghost walks the halls of Kimbolton Castle. On one floor she appears as legs and lower body projecting from the ceiling and on another her head and shoulders have been seen gliding along the floor seemingly unaware of the alterations made to the original floor levels.
One thing is for certain; Catherine remained true to her motto- Humble and Loyal.
Read more about Catherine’s death and funeral here.
Feel free to contact me with any other stories about Catherine of Aragon’s ghost.