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Duchess visits castle to mark anniversary of a former queen
9:41am Thursday 24th May 2012 in Cotswolds
THE Duchess of Cornwall has visited Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe to celebrate the quincentenary of Katherine Parr.
The castle is the former home of Queen Katherine, the last wife of Henry VIII, and she is buried on site at St Mary’s Church.
The Duchess visited the castle in her role as patron of the Queen Katherine Parr Quincentenary Festival, which marks the 500th anniversary of the birth of Katherine Parr.
She was welcomed to the castle last Thursday by pupils from Winchcombe Primary School and met Lord and Lady Ashcombe, its current owners.
In the castle’s library, historian Dr David Starkey showed the Duchess some artefacts, including Katherine Parr’s prayer book and a love letter she wrote to Thomas Seymour – her “true love” – which the Duchess described as “extraordinary”.
Dr Starkey said Parr’s situation was “close to home” for the Duchess because Parr married Henry because she said God had told her to, despite her desire to marry Seymour.
Following the presentation, he said: “I think it shows that the realities of public and private life cross in a way nobody would want them to.
“There’s a notion of duty on the one hand, and what I want on the other.”
She was then taken through the 100-year door, which is believed to have been used by Katherine Parr herself, and shown around the Queen’s Garden.
Children from Winchcombe Primary School were also dressed in period costume and were playing in the gardens as the Duchess walked through.
The Duchess was then escorted to St Mary’s Church where she was shown a number of artworks due to be installed in the church and around the grounds and a short blessing was given by the Reverend John Partington following a visit to Katherine Parr’s tomb.
Jean Bray, castle archivist, said the Duchess’s visit “recognises and enhances” the castle’s royal status.
She said: “It’s been a wonderful day and lovely to have the schoolchildren here. The castle is keen to work with the local community and it was a privilege to have the children here.”