This summer, with a series of events, we will bring to life the moment Henry VIII visited West Horsley Place in July 1533. 

In our latest blog we have introduced his hosts, Henry and Gertrude Courtenay, and explored their fall from grace only a few short years after. 

Along with Henry and Gertrude Courtenay, who would have been with the king in 1533? 

Henry wasn't surrounded by the whole court. It was an intimate party with just a few of this (current!) favourites...

Thomas Cromwell

In July 1533, Thomas Cromwell was forty-eight and, due to his intelligence, ruthlessness and network of spies, was an indispensable servant of Henry VIII. Despite not being a particular fan of hunting he was surely present at the festivities at Horsley. The significance of this moment for King Henry would have been too important to miss out on. He also had another motive – a need to keep an eye on two people he distrusted - the West Horsley Place hosts, Henry and Gertrude Courtenay. 

In the summer of 1533, he would have been drawing in as much intelligence as possible about how the king’s marriage and Anne’s coronation had been received. To this end, he certainly new that the visionary Elizabeth Barton, ‘Maid of Kent’, was speaking out against Henry. Perhaps he knew of the Courtenays’ were interested in her. If he did, he would not have made it clear to them in their company. Cromwell was good at stockpiling intelligence for future use!

Sir William Fitzwilliam

Fitzwilliam was potentially another snake in the grass for the Courtenays.

More-or-less the same age as King Henry, he had been his boyhood companion from the very beginning of the reign. Even in 1533, the Courtenays were not close to him and later he turned against them and helped bring about their downfall. 

Henry Pole, Lord Montagu

Pole was an aristocrat descended from the House of York which had lost the throne of England when Henry Tudor defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

This lineage would hardly make him a natural Tudor loyalist. While the king celebrated his marriage to Anne Boleyn, Pole was uncomfortably aware that his brother Reginald, a churchman had taken himself in to exile to demonstrate his hostility to the divorce and Break with Rome. Nonetheless, in 1533, Pole seemed committed to cementing his ties to King Henry and there was no word of opposition from him. His closeness to the Courtenays make him a likely guest and ally to them on 29 July 1533.

Sir John Russell 

Russell was a man of the south-west, like Henry Courtenay. Russell’s West Country pedigree was politically useful to the king given the general volatility of the region. Almost certainly he was present at Horsley. 

Sir Edward Baynton 

From a family of Wiltshire landowners Baynton generally impressed Henry VIII with his physical prowess and military record. He was seen as sympathetic to the cause of reform in Church and religion. When the king’s marriage to Anne Boleyn was formally recognised in 1533, Baynton was named as Vice-Chamberlain of her household. His bond with the king and new role with Queen Anne may well have placed him at Horsley in July 1533. 

Anne Boleyn and her household 

Was Anne Boleyn with the King at West Horsley Place? Unfortunately, we don’t know.

She was certainly in the king’s company in the days after her coronation in June and July. However by the beginning of August she was lodged at Windsor Castle for her period of ‘lying in’. Perhaps, because she was so close to giving birth, it is not likely she was at the hunting party in Horsley. 

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