We got within the city limits of Peterborough and were on the lookout for a shopping center when we came across a HUGE cathedral! We'd been told there were some older churches in the area to go look at, but we were not expecting this at all! We parked and made our way to the entrance of the cathedral which is open to visitors every day.
You walk through this archway and into a sort of courtyard in front of this massive gothic cathedral. It honestly took my breath away. I mean, I realize we're in a place where history actually happened, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect that on an ordinary day just out to do some shopping that we'd come across a church that was built in 1118. I mean seriously, 1118?!?!?! That is incredible!
Now, onto your history lesson for the day.
Peterborough Cathedral, dedicated to St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. Andrew was once a Monastic Church founded by King Peada in 655 AD. The cathedral that is standing now was built between 1118 and 1238 after being destroyed once by the Danes in 870 and then accidently burned down in 1116.
Among the tombs in the Cathedral, Katherine of Aragon is buried here. Katherine of Aragon was Loui the VIII's first and arguably his only legal wife. She was born in 1485 to Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain... they are the king and queen who comissioned the travels of Christopher Columbus. She was betrothed at a young age to Arthur, King Henry VII's son. They were married in 1501 and he died about 6 months later, probably of consumption.
For a tumultuous few years, Katherine's fate was unknown, until Henry VII died and Henry VIII took the throne. One of his first acts as king was to marry Katherine in 1509. Soon after their marriage, Katherine became pregnant, gave birth to a stillborn daughter. A year later, she gave birth to a son who was celebrated all throughout the kingdom, but died when he was only 52 days old. She suffered a miscarriage after the Prince and then lost another son shortly after that. In 1516, she gave birth to the only child of theirs that lived, Mary (who would later become Queen Mary I). Its also said that she had 2 more miscarriages after Mary's birth.
After 24 years of marriage, King Henry VIII petitioned to have the marriage annulled on the grounds that their marriage was cursed since he married his brother's wife. In reality, he'd fallen in love with Ann Boleyn who encouraged him to marry her so she could produce a male heir to take the throne, as by that time, Katherine was no longer able to conceive. After 4 years of debating it in front of the church, King Henry VIII broke away from the Roman Catholic Church to get what he wanted. And as we know continued to do what he wanted and ended up with many wives.
After she was banished from her court, she lived out the rest of her life, its said, in dark, dank castles, banishing herself to her room and to mass only, in constant prayer. And until the day she died, she still considered herself (as did many followers) the Queen of England. She died in 1536 and was buried in Peterborough Cathedral, but not as Queen of England, as Dowager Princess of Wales. King Henry VIII did not attend, and he did not allow Katherine's daughter Mary to attend either.
So there you have it, a little history mixed in with our adventures! Pictures to come soon! We only had our small camera with us, we are going to try to go back Sunday or Monday and take pictures with the big Nikon!
Peterborough Cathedral: http://www.peterborough-cathedral.org.uk/