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Catherine of Aragon

People > Catherine of Aragon

Catherine of AragonThe Priory Church in Dunstable is famous for its connection with the first divorce of Henry VIII.

Henry married Catherine of Aragon (his first wife) in 1509. Thirteen years later he met and fell in love with Anne Boleyn. In 1527, Henry asked the Pope to annul his marriage to Catherine so that he could marry Anne but the Pope refused. Henry decided to ignore the wishes of the Pope and instead consulted the bishops of England. For ten days, in May 1533, a committee sat at Dunstable Priory. They decided he should be allowed to divorce Catherine and marry Anne Boleyn. 

This defiance of the Pope , which took place at Dunstable, not only led to a new queen on the English throne but also to a split with Rome and the forming of the Church of England with King Henry as its head.

Catherine of Aragon also has links with Ampthill. During 1533 she lived at Ampthill Castle before being removed to Buckden and then Kimbolton Castle in Cambridgeshire, where she died in 1536 aged 51. Ampthill Castle no longer exists but Catherine's time in Ampthill has been commemorated with the erection of Catherine's Cross in Ampthill Park.

Further Reading:

  • Dunstable in detail, by N. Benson (Book Castle, 1986)
  • Dunstable down the ages: an outline history from prehistoric to modern times, by V. Evans & J. Schneider (Book Castle, 2002)
  • Priory church of St Peter, Dunstable: a brief history, by F. Fowler (Parochial Church Council, 1977)

Catherine of Aragon, by Bedfordshire Libraries, 2005.

Page last updated: 24th January 2014