Guest column: When Henry VIII came to stay in Gainsborough

Henry VIII is back at Gainsborough Old Hall this summer
Henry VIII is back at Gainsborough Old Hall this summer

The school holidays are almost upon us but do not worry we have plenty planned to keep the kids amused and entertained all summer long.

We have the Friday Fun Club running every Friday between July 28 and August 25.

The fun club offers families a chance to have a go at exciting and fun crafts guided by our staff with something different to take away each week.

Just turn up at either the morning (10am to 12noon) or the afternoon session (1pm to 4pm).

Entry to the club room is free and crafts are £1 each.

The topics this year include, heroes and villains, tomb raiders and folk of the forest.

On August 18 there will also be a very special guest to the Old Hall – King Henry VIII.

Especially for the Costumes from Wolf Hall event, this is a chance to meet Henry VIII himself in all his majesty. 

Hear his tales and discover how to meet and greet the King.

You can also petition the king and be granted a royal pardon or privilege.

In August 1541 Henry VIII, visited Gainsborough Old Hall on a progress from London to York.

The Great Progress was organised at speed after a conspiracy against the king was uncovered in Yorkshire that year.

It was armed and three times the size of a normal progress – and it travelled further than a royal progress had done for more than 50 years.

The aim of the progress was shock and awe – to show the power of the king, establish his authority, and to gain the submission of all his subjects

Historical letters relating to King Henry suggest that he left Lincoln on August 12 to coincide with important privy council meetings, taking place in Gainsborough on August 14, 15 and 16.

Henry, accompanied by his young wife Katherine Howard, stayed at the Old Hall for the duration of the meetings hosted by Lord Thomas Burgh.

However, Henry was not as young and athletic any more.

By the time he visited The Old Hall he was considerably obese and had a long standing medical problem relating to ulcerated legs.

Popular belief is that the king and queen slept in the upper bedchamber in the Old Hall’s Tower but Henry’s medical condition would have made climbing the narrow staircase rather difficult.

So come and meet England’s most famous king and ask him your burning questions.

Just be careful not to lose your head!

n Victoria Mason-Hines is site manager at the Old Hall