On this day in 1569, Catherine Carey breathed her last from the comfort of her sick bed at Hampton Court Palace. Having researched Catherine for such an extensive period of time, I knew this to be the case, but it wasn’t something that occurred to me when I actually visited the palace this autumn. Because I was so deep into my upcoming novel, I was focusing more on the rooms where Katherine Howard and Jane Rochford were arrested. When my dear friend, James Peacock, of the Anne Boleyn Society whispered, “This is where Catherine died,” the reality of where I was standing hit me hard. I felt the hair on my arms raise, followed by the prick of goose-bumps. We were in the Chapel Royal when he said it, and in that moment I had a vision of Catherine, kneeling at the altar to pray. As
I looked up at the brilliant blue, gilded ceiling, I thought of her standing in the same place, staring up at the gorgeous scene.
A few days later, I was fortunate enough to see her tomb at Westminster Abbey. I felt a surge of emotion swell within me when I reached out to touch her memorial. The docent who had shown me to her grave smiled at me, then offered this remark, “I believe she was royal, you know?” Beautiful.
“The Right Honourable Lady Katherine Knollys, chief Lady of the Queen’s Majesty’s Bedchamber, and Wife to Sir Francis Knollys, Knight, Treasurer of Her Highnesses Houshold, departed this Life the Fifteenth of January, 1568*, at Hampton-Court, and was honourably buried in the Floor of this Chapel.
This Lady Knollys, and the Lord Hunsdon her Brother, were the Children of William Caree, Esq; and of the Lady Mary his Wife, one of the Daughters and Heirs to Thomas Bulleyne, Earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde; which Lady Mary was Sister to Anne Queen of England, Wife to K. Henry the Eighth, Father and Mother to Elizabeth Queen of England”10