Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived – Bonhams to Sell Lock of Hair Belonging to Henry VIII’s Sixth Wife

. January 9, 2008

A lock of hair reputedly belonging to Catherine Parr (1512-1548), the last of King Henry VIII’s wives, will go under the hammer in the Gentleman’s Library sale at Bonhams, New Bond Street, London, on 15 January 2008. The lock of blonde hair is mounted in an oval frame on ink inscribed paper which states: “Hair of Queen Catherine Parr, Last Consort of Henry, the night she dyed September 5th 1548 was in the Chapel of Sudeley Castle, Near Winchcombe”. It is estimated to fetch £150-250.

Named after Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine Parr was the last of King Henry VIII’s six wives. She led an extraordinary life, marrying a total of four times. She was first married to the elderly Edward Borough when she was 17 years old although he died four years later. It was during her second marriage to a Yorkshire nobleman that she first caught the King’s eye. In 1536, during a pilgrimage, Catherine was held hostage by rebels in the North. She suffered violence at their hands but was able to flee south where she sought refuge with Mary Tudor and met Henry for the first time.

On the death of her second husband, Catherine fell deeply in love with the late Jane Seymour’s brother, Thomas. She was forced to abandon him though and accept the King’s proposal instead. She married Henry on 12 July 1543 in a small ceremony at Hampton Court Palace.

As Queen, Catherine took pains to reconcile Henry with his two daughters Mary and Elizabeth and she developed a good relationship with his son Edward. She reigned for a time as Queen Regent, whilst Henry went on his last, unsuccessful campaign in France. It is thought that her ability and strength of character during this time greatly influenced her stepdaughter Elizabeth I.

When the King died in 1547 Catherine secretly married her true love, Thomas Seymour and for a while it seemed she had found happiness. The marriage was plagued however, by rumours that Thomas had taken liberties with the teenaged Princess Elizabeth, who was living in their household. At the age of 35 Catherine became pregnant for the first time. She moved to Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire and gave birth to a daughter, Mary, on 30 August 1548. She died six days later on 5 September 1548. She was buried, with Lady Jane Grey as the chief mourner, in the chapel of Sudeley Castle, where her tomb can still be visited today. Thomas Seymour was beheaded a year later for treason.

Other items with a royal connection featured in the sale include: a fine George III bookcase presented by His Majesty George III to his lawyer Peter Still, £20,000-30,000; a 17th Century tobacco box embellished with engravings of Charles II and Catherine of Braganza, £80-120; a photograph of the late Queen Mother together with the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, £80-120; three Royal Standards, £300-500 each and a portrait of Charles I by Emille Keller (19th Century), after Sir Anthony Van Dyck, £1,000-1,500.

Category: Auction News

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