Sunday, 6 January 2019

Royal Travel: following Henry VIII's fourth bride

Poor Anne of Cleves. She's gone down in history as the frumpy bride who left the always lascivious Henry VIII so cold, he rejected her within weeks of their wedding to marry someone else. However, his fourth queen is far more interesting than all that. Apart from the fact her contemporaries found her quite lovely, she also played Henry so well that following their divorce she ended up with a healthy set of lands and houses not to mention the title of Queen's Sister. And she kept her head which in any separation negotiation with Henry was a win and then some. So in tribute to her royal wedding, which took place on January 6th 1540, here are a few ideas of place to go to get the vibe of Anne as a bride.

If you want to follow in Anne's footsteps on the path to royal marriage, then head to Rochester where she first met Henry (didn't that go well). The old Priory of St. Andrews in the town was dissolved later that year, one of the last monasteries to be wiped away by Henry although whether it's because of its associations with his ill fated romance aren't clear. There are plenty of pretty places to visit in the modern day town including the cathedral which both bride and groom would have seen on the day they first met. From there, take a trip to Blackheath in London where a more formal and public introduction between the reluctant bridegroom and his soon to be fourth queen was effected on January 3rd 1540.

Anne of Cleves became Queen of England at the Palace of Placentia during a short ceremony on January 6th. The palace, a favourite of the Tudors, is now no more, having been pulled down (ironically given that its name means pleasure) by that fun loving king, Charles II. The Old Royal Naval College now stands on it site. It's pretty impressive and free to get into and although the buildings there are nothing to do with Anne, you are walking in her royal footsteps.

Getting there

There are trains between London and Rochester regularly throughout the day with prices starting at £8.50 for a single. You need to hop on at London Victoria or London Blackfriars. Journey time is around 40 minutes.

National Rail Services run from Cannon Street, Victoria and Charing Cross to Blackheath. You can travel between Rochester and Blackheath in about an hour by train, changing at Gravesend. Singles are around £15.

The Old Royal Naval College is a few minutes' walk away from Cutty Sark DLR station and Greenwich Pier.

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