January might not be the cheeriest of months but every year the annual Katharine of Aragon Festival at Peterborough Cathedral is something to look forward to and attracts plenty of visitors.
If you like your history we’re pleased to see that the festival is still happening – but like most things it’s heading online because of the pandemic.
It will take place mainly on Friday January 29. It might be a little different this time but there’ll still be a variety of activities for all ages.
The Festival, which usually includes a variety of events at the Cathedral and at Peterborough Museum over the last weekend in January, marks the date on which Henry VIII’s first wife was buried at Peterborough Abbey.
A highlight of the Festival is an online talk by the historian and writer Sarah Gristwood, author of Game of Queens, who will explore the pressures and powers at work in Katharine’s family. These pressures came not just through her mother Isabella of Castille but also in the light of the times in which she lived, when large parts Europe were under a reigning queen or female regent. The talk is on Zoom at 7.30pm on Friday January 29. Tickets are £5 and they are available via the Cathedral’s website.
Usually the Commemoration Service is a large event and a focal point of the Festival, with civic dignitaries and schoolchildren paying their respects in the Cathedral. However this year the Dean of Peterborough, the Very Revd Chris Dalliston, will lead a short online ceremony during which there will be prayers and tributes laid at Katharine’s tomb. This will be available to view via the Cathedral’s Facebook and YouTube channels, from 9.30am on Friday January 29.
Two new videos have been made inviting schools and families to get involved in the Festival. In the first video you get to meet ‘Old Scarlett’ the Tudor gravedigger, who tells you about his job and shows the way to Katharine’s tomb. In the second video you find out why the pomegranate was Katharine’s special symbol, and learn how to make one at home.
Everyone who’as made their own pomegranate is invited to share a picture of it on social media using #pom21 so that the Cathedral can bring all the pictures together for an online display.
The Dean, Chris Dalliston, told ESP – “We may not be able to get together in person at present but it remains important to mark the anniversary of Katharine of Aragon’s burial here in Peterborough all those years ago. She was a person of great steadfastness and faith at a critical point in our nation’s history, and no stranger to the confinement and isolation that we experience something of today.
“We are delighted that Sarah Gristwood will be our speaker, and also very much looking forward to seeing the colourful pomegranates sent in by schools and families via our social media.”
For more information about the Katharine of Aragon festival programme just head to – www.peterborough-cathedral.org.uk/katharine.aspx
Photo of tomb: Matthew Roberts